In the spirit of Halloween, a few of our authors have put together a collage of stories, some of which are based on their personal true encounters with the other side. Warning! Do not read if you are afraid of having nightmares.
A TRUE STORY ABOUT THE DARK ARTS
Years before my constant stumbling in search of life’s meaning, long before my mother’s prayers were answered and I returned to believe in and love God, I ventured into the dark arts.
My parents and teachers had told me often enough that I asked too many questions. “Isn’t that a good sign?” I’d ask them. “Sometimes too many doors are opened and later you regret asking too much,” warned my father.
Still, I wanted answers. Why am I here? What comes after this? Do I lie in my wooden box till the worms have had their way with me or does my deathless soul fly to Heaven or Hell?
In my search I read books that offered incantations that were supposed to lead to the next life. Caught between theists who believed in God and atheists who did not, I wanted to see for myself, a kind of proof positive, that one side or the other possessed the truth I seemed sorely lacking.
In 1965 I purchased a Ouija board. It was a game, devoid of any value to a truth seeker, but I wasn’t convinced of that at all. One September evening friends and I took turns asking questions of the board, our fingers gently holding the planchette while it slowly moved, seemingly on its own, spelling out words a letter at a time. When I asked if I’d meet and marry a woman in Sicily, the board spelled out “D-A-N-G-E-R.” In answer to “What kind of danger?” It spelled C-A-R-L-O.”
We laughed about it. I bought the game back in my closet. In early October I went to Sicily where I committed the cardinal sin of flirting with a young unmarried woman (a married woman would have meant my doom). Word got back to her brothers and walking down Via Giudice one evening I was attacked by four of them, the most brutal of them named Carlo.
Skip ahead fifteen years. My good friend Dan and his wife came to visit. He suggested the four of us play poker. I suggested playing the Ouija board instead. Dan’s face paled. “You serious?” he asked. I placed the game on the kitchen table. “It’s just for fun,” I explained. But Dan grabbed hold of it and I followed him out the door towards the giant dumpster.
“This is Satan’s way of winning souls,” Dan said. I started laughing but not for long. He broke the board over his knee. And from the two halves we heard a cacophony of bloodcurdling screams, louder than anything we had ever heard.
“What did Satan say?” asked Dan. “‘We are Legion’?”
It was the closest to Hell I will ever want to be.
Copyright© Sal Buttaci, 2014
Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci
His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2347
TRICK OR TREAT
The small house stood 500 feet or so from the street on this gloomy, misty Halloween night, silhouetted by a tall oak tree, branches stretching over the left side of the roof. A cracked, broken cobblestone path led up to the darkened front door.
“Do you think a ghost lives there?” asked my friend Emma.
“Maybe a witch but I don’t think a ghost.”
“I dare you to knock on the door,” Emma said, a smile curling at the corners of her mouth.
It sure looked scary and spooky and not at all inviting to a seven-year-old girl, yet I couldn’t back down on a dare. Plus, Emma would be sure to tell everyone what a scaredy-cat I was. I could hear her giggling at my side.
“Go ahead, you aren’t scared are you?” she mocked
I faced the house, pulled my shoulders back, and with knees trembling, slowly walked down that broken cobblestone path until I stood at the door. The house looked even more frightening, with cracked loose paint hanging from the dingy, dirty window frames and siding. There wasn’t one bit of light unless you counted the dull glow from the lamppost at the curb.
Okay, you can do this Lisa, it’s only a house… there are no such things as ghosts, I mumbled to myself
I knocked twice and waited, my body trembling, knees shaking, and lips quivering. Whew, I let out a long breath, relieved that no one seemed to be at home.
Just as I was about to turn away, I heard shuffling footsteps growing closer to the other side of the door.
All I could do was stand there, unable to move, with eyes so wide it felt like they were bulging out of my face.
The door creaked and opened. Before me stood the oldest man I had ever seen in my life. His gray hair was wild and disheveled, deep wrinkles etched into his face, and his jowls sagged. He touched some sort of microphone or speaker at his throat.
“Is it Halloween?” the sound came from that microphone. It wasn’t a voice, per say, but I could understand the words emitted from the contraption.
I stuttered my response of “Yes,” and added, “Trick or Treat.”
He placed his hand back at his throat, motioned with his other hand for me to wait, and said, “I have no candy but I want no tricks. You stay there a minute, I’ll be right back.”
What was he going to do? He had no treats. Oh Lisa, you’ve really done it this time.
It felt as if I was waiting there for hours until the old man appeared again. He handed me a small box, and closed the door.
I raced to get back to Emma who had watched this entire episode, and slipped on the damp stone, almost dropping the treat in my hands to the ground.
“What did that old guy give you Lisa?”
We walked closer to the lamppost light, pulled the lid off the box and squealed with delight. Inside was a stuffed kitten, a fluffy pure white stuffed kitten with the bluest bead eyes.
The year passes quickly and it was once again Halloween and time to go Trick or Treating. I couldn’t wait to see my robotic-voiced neighbor again to see what special treat he had in store for me this year.
I sped toward his house, ran up to the front door and knocked three hard raps, and waited for the sound of his footsteps. Nothing happened. I knocked again, this time more forcefully. He never appeared.
As I turned away from the house, and headed down the cobblestone path, I looked up to see Mrs. Jenks, the neighbor from next door, peering over the fence.
“Where is the man who lives here?” I said.
A chill went down my spine when Mrs. Jenkins came up to me, peered into my face and said, “Child, there hasn’t been a man living here since Fred Oliver passed away over seven years ago.”
Copyright © Monica Brinkman, 2014
Monica Brinkman looks at life as a wonderful journey and believes those ‘bumps in the road’ bring us understanding and knowledge. Laughter is a mandatory part of her life, thus many readers are surprised to see horror and the paranormal within many of her stories. Her stand-alone sequel to The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, aptly named The Wheels Final Turn, will soon be seeing its release. Along with writing, Monica hosts the It Matters Radio broadcast each week.
The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2336
A LIFE LOST ALONG THE MORMON TRAIL
An excerpt from my 06/06/2013 dream…
The ghost of a long-dead woman haunted my sleep this night. She showed me the story of her short life. And at its end, when she faced the memory of her betrayer, she forgot herself and entered my physical body…
“Is she still with you?” the ‘betrayer’ had asked me, and I stared at her in disbelief.
As if from a distance, I heard the ghost’s voice, and then I felt her simply inhabit my earthly body. I could feel my face distort with fury while the betrayer’s face, with its guise of concern, now swam before my eyes.
“You bitch,” I heard myself say aloud in a guttural, almost non-human voice. “Do you not know what you have done?”
I felt this ghost’s white-hot rage and an evil hatred seep into my very bones. I felt myself (the real me of my body) recoil from these alien feelings in terror.
I felt the intense fear that made me want to cry, but at the same time would not allow it.
With a huge, struggling gasp I managed to wake from this dream only to discover her spirit floating above me. In my dream I had seen her flesh. In waking, all I saw were her bones; starkly white and eerily illuminated by the faint moonlight.
Mentally I lashed out at her. However, I was too exhausted to do more than keep my eyes open until she allowed the vision of her remains to dissipate as her spirit finally floated through the glass pane of the closed window.
The real question is – do I commit her story to paper?
Do I tell the world of her plight; of the fate that befell her and her oh-so-young daughter?
She spared me the gory details, but the America of the late 1800s was a harsh world. Oregon was barely discovered. ‘Savages’ roamed the lands freely and the only ‘real’ law was survival of the fittest. By any means necessary…
Will I ever forget this dream? I think not.
Will the jarring experience soften and fade over time? I hope so…
And finally, did she show me (the storyteller) so that she could, at long last, release her heavy burden of hatred and finally rest in peace?
Copyright©Charline Ratcliff, 2014.
Charline Ratcliff is an author of historical fiction. Her stories are themselves inspired by her own vivid, real-to-life dreams; each one providing her with glimpses of times long ago passed.
The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2447
Cynthia B. Ainsworthe
Blackness. Silence. Mouth opens and words don’t come. Suspended in a void with no top, bottom nor sides. Fear grips my heart. Wishing for the sweet comfort of death that brought me to this place. Eyes strain to see. But, see what? Beings abound so close as terror grows. Lungs strain to expand and bring a breath of freedom. A vice of control grabs my throat. It’s the control of others. Unseen others, but I know they are.
I look down. Nothing is there. Still, the feel of them persists, ever growing closer. A brief, fleeting touch? What was that? Did a crazed mind create that sensation? Has lunacy taken all lucid thought? Anxiety and terror builds. Frantically I look for an escape. Black deadly void remains at each side. Clothes drift away, fiber by fiber until innocent nakedness is the cover for my soul. Now, totally exposed for the imagined claws of the others. I feel no breath, no warmth, no cold. A neutral hell is my new surroundings. A hell that I have yet to cross, that eternal threshold of torment.
My eyes look upward for the slightest glimpse of an escape. Nothing. They come closer. Weakness and a lead weight fills arms and legs. A sinking feeling pulls , drawing me deeper into that black hole of obscurity, ready to swallow my being into the wrath and terror of those gone before me.
Their presence bears ever closer, teasing me with the hope of freedom before the eventual capture of my soul. With a sliver of remaining strength, arms and legs flail about, pushing at the void. The void wants to consume my every cell. Stronger I fight. Faster my legs move in pedal like fashion. Arms reach up as I imagine I must have fallen into this black hell. Up must be the way out.
In the mist of my desperation, I find the breath to scream. My ears hear nothing. My mind hears the words clearly, “I don’t want to die. I will never wish for death again.”
A cold sweat. Body trembles. Eyes open. I’m alive in my bed. Damp sheets cling to my still lingering terror. The sweet breath of life fills my lungs. Gratefully, I hug my pillow. I am thankful for the glimpse of terror that could have been my fate.
Never will I pray for an end.
© 2014 Cynthia B. Ainsworthe
The Write Room Blog Piece, What Did I do Wrong? http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2217
Raised in Yorktown Heights, New York, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe has dreamed of being a writer. Life circumstances put that dream on hold for most of her life. In 2008 she released her debut novel, Front Row Center, which won the prestigious IPPY Award and has a script in development with notable Hollywood screenwriter/producer/director Scott C Brown. Ms. Ainsworthe has been a guest on several radio talk shows, and garnered the awards: Excellence in Writing (for short story It Ain’t Fittin’), and Reader’s Favorite International Award for her contribution to The Speed of Dark anthology (for two short stories: When Midnight Comes andCharacters).
BEWARE THE BEAST
The firelight cast a flickering glow on the tent fabric. Although we were both tired from the pack trip, Margaret wasn’t ready for sleep. “Was that a wolf howling?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, and yawned. “They’re pretty common in these woods.”
Howww. The wail was louder than before, closer.
“You heard that creepy man yesterday at the gas station,” Margaret said, her voice soft.
“He’s just a crazy old man, having fun with the tourists.”
“He said the sheep were mutilated.”
“You’re letting your imagination get the better of you. It’s just a story.” I yawned again, bigger this time. Closing my eyes, I drifted off, only to be startled awake by rustling in the bushes. Propping myself on an elbow, I listened. There it was again.
Then I saw the shadow cast by the flickering flames—pointed ears and elongated snout. Slowly, it circled on long, muscular legs, stopping at the front of the tent.
Margaret saw it too. As the shadow grew larger, the last of the flames died.
“Did you see that?” she said.
“Shhh…” My heart raced as I strained to hear every sound, no matter how faint.
The creature ran claws down the tent fabric. Margaret stifled a scream. “It wants in!” she whispered.
I wrapped my hand around the revolver lying on a white handkerchief, drawing comfort from the heft of the cold steel-and-wood grip. For several long seconds we were totally silent, neither of us daring to move.
I clicked on a flashlight and reached for the zipper, only to jerk my hand back as claws raked down the fabric again. “What are you doing?” she whispered, panic rising in her voice.
“Do you think that nylon flap is going to keep it out?” I said, and pulled the zipper up allowing cool air into the tent. On my knees, shining the light forward, I parted the fabric in front of my face… a rhythmic thump reverberating in my ears with every heartbeat.
Suddenly, a large hairy snout thrust in through the parted tent flap, fangs glistening in the light beam! The nose slammed into my forehead, propelling me backwards. The flashlight lay on the tent floor, projecting a shaft of light at the clawed feet of the beast. Margaret scrambled within the tight confines to get behind me, away from the creature.
I raised the gun and then the flashlight, but the fanged head had already pulled back, out of sight. Seconds passed like minutes, and then the beast surged forward and was upon me in one leap, its raven fur absorbing every photon of light.
Only then did I recognize our wolf for a Labrador retriever.
Copyright©Dave Edlund, 2014
Dave Edlund is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a doctoral degree in chemistry. Crossing Savage (book #1 in the Peter Savage Series), an action-political thriller based in Central Oregon, has received critical praise for its realistic action sequences plus cutting-edge science and technology. Relentless Savage (Peter Savage book #2) is scheduled for release in February 2015. An avid outdoorsman and shooter, Edlund has hunted throughout North America for big game ranging from wild boar to moose to bear. He is a long-time resident of Bend, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, son, and three dogs (Lucy Liu, Murphy, and Tenshi).
A CERTAIN KNACK
“Wanna see somethin’ really scary?” Mark said.
Tommy looked at Mark, who, like him, was carrying a bag stuffed with candy, the reward of visiting 59 houses this Halloween night.
“Like somethin’ so scary it’ll make your hair stand up, that’s what!”
“That depends,” Tommy said. Mark was spooky, unpredictable, and got into trouble. Tommy’s parents had warned him to stay away from Mark. If they knew…
“Shhh,” Mark whispered. “Just watch!”
Nervously, he followed Mark up yet another walk and watched while he pressed the 60th doorbell of the night. Mark’s impish face glistened expectantly in the moonlight.
The door opened and a kindly, white-haired woman beamed at them.
“Well, what do we have here? Two boys?”
Tommy adjusted his Batman cape and raised his bag. “Trick or treat!”
The old bitty practically went into conniptions. “You wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Tommy nudged Mark as she disappeared. “C’mon, let’s split. We ain’t gettin’ nothin’ out of her.”
“Wanna bet?” Mark winked.
Footsteps. She returned with a bowl of overripe peaches. Disgusted, Tommy reached for one.
She snatched it back. “Nooooo, you don’t!”
“Do a trick first. That’s the rule! Least it was when I was a girl.”
Mark smiled. “What kind of trick you want, lady?”
“Oh, something clever. Surprise me!”
“With the greatest of pleasure.” Something happened in Mark’s dark eyes. “Hershey bars!”
Tommy stared. The bowl was filled with Hershey bars, the half-pound size that cost over two bucks.
The woman gasped. “Where did they come from?”
“You want trick or treat?” said Mark. “Lady, you got it.”
Sores appeared on her face. Some burst and ran. She dropped the bowl. One of her fingers fell off.
“How about flying, lady?” Mark said. “Like to be a bird?”
Screaming, she rose and shot through a doorway. Tommy saw her whirl about the living room, banging into walls.
“It’s a knack,” Mark said. “I don’t use it much ’cause I’ll get caught.”
Tommy swallowed. “What…”
Mark contemplated the moon. “You know, maybe I’ll turn her into a pig. Or something really weird.”
“No! Stop it, please!”
“Oh, all right.” Mark pouted and the woman swooped back, disease-ridden and terrified. Then she was unblemished, standing before them again with a bowl of overripe peaches.
“Hey, lady,” said Mark, “you don’t remember a thing.”
She blinked and held out the bowl. “Have a peach, son.”
“No thanks.” Jauntily, Mark hooked Tommy’s arm. Tommy felt himself being escorted back toward the sidewalk. Looking down, he saw his bag was filled with Hershey bars.
This was crazy! How could Mark do this, and what was he, anyway? Though stunned, he knew he’d finally had enough.
“Mark,” he said, “I—”
Shouts. Half a dozen kids came running up the walk.
Mark laughed and moved to block them. He raised his hands like a magician.
“Tommy,” he said, “would you like to see something really scary?”
Copyright © John B. Rosenman 2014
John B. Rosenman, a retired English professor from Norfolk State University, has published over 300 stories and 20 books. His work includes science fiction and dark erotic fiction. “The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes won the 2011 annual readers’ poll from “Preditors and Editors.” In 2013, Musa Publishing awarded his time travel story “Killers” their Top Pick. He is the former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and the previous editor of Horror Magazine.
The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2362
GHOSTS — FRIENDLY OR EVIL?
Who could’ve known? I finally find the house of my dreams, a 100-yr-old renovated farmhouse and now my six kids insist it’s haunted by evil ghosts. Worse, my normally, (well almost) sane husband agrees. I love this house, bonded instantly.
The varmints are the first to share our house. Barn rats visit from the farm down the road; starlings fly in through the roof, and torment our new kitten. One thing I really fear — bats —make daily appearances which immediately evacuates us — me trampling over the kids to reach the front door.
The kids see and hear the ghosts first. I don’t believe them. Five out of six are teenagers with enough hormonal eruptions to cause poltergeist activity. At first it’s mild hauntings; bumps in the night, beds shaking, shadows whisking by; typical stuff. And yes, no small pets, like hamsters or birds ever live long in Mike’s room but then it’s so, let’s say sloppy to be kind, that nothing could live there.
Things go downhill the night my husband tells me that the house breathes, when I thought it was only the local black bear coming down the mountain for garbage can snacks. That’s when I start believing my beloved house might be haunted by good spirits. In spite of Kelly seeing a floating head of ghost that Noelle names ‘Orville,’ Kim’s hotlips balloon spinning with no wind, and Dante dreaming he’s Napoleon — this from a kid who failed history, I feel loved and protected by my home. But things are getting a little weird, causing eight-year-old Nicole to start sleeping in our bed.
While cleaning up from a summer barbecue, Kelly screams out of her attic windows to come quick. Inside her dormered attic room, shared with her sisters, all the lower wall panels are kicked out from behind with not even a bent nail. All their red clothes, tossed across their beds—only red. This is impossible. I blame Dante our resident troublemaker.
“Ma, why do you think I do everything around here?”
“Because ninety nine percent of the time you do!”
This is a bit scary. A few days later I come home from work to find the cat near death. I place him in a shoebox and rush to the vet.
“This cat looks like he was hit by a car,” he says.
“No, he was alone in the house until I got home from work.”
Driving back I wonder if something evil got to him. The kids get off the school bus and are horrified by the wounded kitten.
“Now do you believe us?” the girls say at once.
Yeah I kind of do. Yet if these apparitions are evil why do I feel loved and safe? Do we have both good and evil spirits?
We’re about to find out.
Copyright © Micki Peluso, 2014.
Micki Peluso, journalist, author of …And the whippoorwill Sang—with the humor of ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ and the heart of ‘To Kill a Mickingburd.’
The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2290
THE CAM AND MOTOR MINE
When I got married, my husband had just taken a new job as the group geophysicist for an international mining group. It meant we had to relocate to a small mining community called Eiffel Flats on the Cam and Motor Mine.
I was not impressed. It was hot, dry and dusty. The crumbling Eiffel Flats Hotel, known to the locals as the “Cockroach Inn,” marked the entrance to the mine compound.
Housing was provided to all employees, and it was with some trepidation that we drove around the mine looking at those that were available at the time. The house we chose was a typical old Rhodesian brick mine dwelling, with three bedrooms and one bathroom, and a green corrugated iron roof. The spacious yard was graced by tall jacaranda and avocado trees.
The Cam and Motor Mine was the biggest gold mine in the country, and beneath the housing complex was a network of shafts and tunnels going down more than a mile underground. A few hundred yards away from our house was a ‘ventilation shaft’—a square hole in the ground, from which steam or smoke billowed constantly.
We hadn’t lived there more than a few days when we were woken in the night by bangs and crashes that sounded like they were in the house. We were certain something was being smashed into the walls. I imagined our lamps and ornaments being in pieces, but when my husband got up to investigate, he found nothing out of place. This happened on more than one occasion.
I was beginning to wonder if we would ever be able to have a good night’s sleep when to add to the chaos, we both woke up to a cacophony of noise outside the house one night. We could hear the mine head-gear turning, (that’s the enormous wheel you see on the pylon-like structure over the top of a mine shaft). Bearings creaked, men shouted and there was the unmistakable clamor of heavy machinery in operation.
“I don’t know how anybody sleeps in this place with all the noise the mine makes,” my husband said at work the next day.
Nobody commented – they just looked at him strangely as if to say: “What did you expect? It’s a mine.”
Another week passed and we were still being woken up most nights by the mining operations, so he mentioned it again.
“What are you talking about?” someone said.” This mine hasn’t operated for four years now.”
Strangely enough, we never heard the mine working again.
The bangs and crashes in the house continued, though and one night I actually watched the bolt on a locked door slide across and unlock. Then someone told us there had been a particularly gruesome murder in our house. The man of the house was working night shift on the mine, when his wife was woken to a loud knocking on the kitchen door in the dark of night. She grabbed her rifle and went to the door.
“I have a note from your husband,” came the voice on the other side of the door.
“Push it under the door,” said the wife.
“He said I have to give it to you in person.”
They argued for a while, but the bearer of the note was insistent that she should open the door so he could give her the note. Eventually, she lifted the rifle to her shoulder and fired one shot through the door, and went back to bed.
When her husband returned the following morning, a dead body lay outside his kitchen door, shot once through the heart. He told his wife he didn’t send the note.
We decided to ask if we could relocate to a different house. It was a huge relief.
We never figured out why that strange vapory stuff flowed constantly out of that ventilation shaft. If nobody was down there, then why was anything being disturbed enough to come up to the surface?
Copyright © Trish Jackson, 2014
Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense and romantic comedy focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. Soul-stirring, passionate, thrilling – and fun.
The Write Room Blog post – http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2206