Tag Archives: Halloween

The Gathering by Monica Brinkman


The night was approaching and with it growing excitement for what was to come. Maurice had heard about the gatherings which took place on this very special day. His dream was to one day be part of the exclusive group. They only selected the most perfect to partake in the festivities, and here he found himself, amid the flawless beauty of the others.

He knew Sheila would be picked, with her round curves and broad smile. She was second to be chosen. He could see why with a face that lit up the night with its brightness and warm glow. He’d secretly had a crush on her, yet would never let on, for she had her heart set on Louis.

Suppose if you were to measure excellence in form and face, Louis would win by a landslide. Somehow the crooked leering grin and arched eyes drew the crowd. He’d come in first place with the judges who selected those who would be part of the celebration. Maurice was tiring of the relentless reminder of superiority Louis exuded. Still, it was worth putting up with his boastful nature to be within this exclusive assembly.

Darkness now engulfed the night, which only accentuated the glow emitted from the windows behind them. So proud were they, for they had been carefully chosen from hundreds, maybe even thousands to bring in the season. And now they sat on the porch, he on the bannister, Sheila on the stool and Louis on the front step.

Though he realized he did not have the firm, broad form of Louis, or the curvy elegance of Sheila, he had something special indeed. He was the tallest and leanest of them all and he wore a devilish grin, accented by the wink of an eye. It somehow captured the heart of the people, and he was delighted!

So, they did what only the winners of the gathering were meant to do. They shined their beauty upon the world, and people stopped and looked and laughed and smiled. It felt so good to bring such joy to others, especially the children, who delighted in their excellence.

The night grew longer and soon the people were far and few and a chill set in, forming ice spots on his lids and mouth. He noticed Louis and Sheila were experiencing the same discomfort. Wasn’t it time to go inside the house and warm their cold at the fire? Why wasn’t anyone coming for them?

The light from the windows disappeared and they were in total darkness, apart from the glow of the candles, which were melting at rapid speed. He could feel the flicks of melted soy against his skin. Now it was becoming unbearable. Icy cold around his form and extreme heat within his body. He heard Sheila gasp and Louis groan.

What was such glory, had now turned into the worst nightmare. Where were the judges? Why had they abandoned them? Winners should be protected.

Wait. He heard footsteps and the sound of rustling leaves. They had not forgotten them. Maurice sighed with relief, his spirit perked. Two young boys approached, one tiptoed onto the porch and seized Sheila, tossing her hat to the floor, while the other raised Louis off the step and lifted him high into the air, and, no, Maurice could not believe his eyes, the young man threw Louis to the ground with such force it broke his body into pieces. The once magnificent Louis lay crumbled and dying.

Maurice heard the thud and saw his once lovely Sheila split in two.

The last thing Maurice heard was the taller boy state, “What a mess this will be for old man Phillips when he wakes up tomorrow.”

As Maurice lay broken on the porch, his insides leaking out onto the tattered floorboards, he realized this was not a great reward to be chosen as the best of pumpkins. In fact, it was the ultimate punishment.


Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her books, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, The Wheels Final Turn and in her weekly broadcast of It Matters Radio.

An avid writer, who has been proclaimed a true storyteller, she has been published in several anthologies and wrote a weekly column for over two years at Authorsinfo. Her works can be found at various sites throughout the internet. Visit her blog @ http://itmattersradio.wix.com/on-the-brink

Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.

Halloween – Stories About Things That go Bump in the Night


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.




Sal Buttaci

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 Sicilianswhich 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





Monica Brinkman


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





Charline Ratcliff


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).





Dave Edlund

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.

Margaret screamed!

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).







John Rosenman


“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 what?”

“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.

Two links:



The Write Room Blog post — http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2362






Micki Peluso


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





Trish Jackson


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

PUMPKIN By Eduardo Cervino

pumpkin-writers group copy


I KNEW that a family from a nearby city had converted a double-camber roof barn on the property next to us into a large, comfortable, open-plan home. As the conversion had progressed, I had sneaked inside several times after the carpenters ended the day’s work.
They built a large bedroom in the former hayloft, and added a terrace outside the rolling door once used to stow bales of hay into the loft.

THE rumble of the construction crane broke the silence. I went out to watch. The crane lifted the massive blob of a young man’s body from the bed of a red pickup and hoisted him up in the air. Neighbors from the adjacent farm gathered to watch the surreal spectacle.
A bird flew by the crane and escorted the boy through his short trip.

The operator deposited him on a bed on wheels waiting on the terrace. Afterwards, I walked back inside my house.

“I guess I will never have direct contact with that young man,” I said to my mother that afternoon.

That’s how he entered my life.

The local TV station had gotten a whiff of the situation and dispatched a film crew. They transformed a moment of privacy into bizarre entertainment news.

Now I knew who would occupy the bedroom under the heavy rafters of the remodeled barn. On subsequent mornings, the boy’s parents rolled him out to the open terrace where he basked in the sunrise.

Curiosity molded my behavior. My bird-watching binoculars allowed me to spy from my house window.

His pale face reddened the first day. His large blue eyes and pleasant expression kept me watching.

“Gee, what could make a guy like him smile all the time?”

I made up my mind to visit him.

FOOD was an inappropriate housewarming present. Flowers? A plenitude of them carpeted the fields following a bee-filled spring.

He could use my softball cap during his terrace escapades. It didn’t cross my mind that the pink color could be objectionable to him.

To go, I chose the short way through the field where my father grew pumpkins for Halloween. One stood out above all others. Destined for the annual competition, we touched, hosed, and admired it every day.

My father estimated its weight at six hundred pounds or more. On my way to the neighbor’s, its waxy orange skin attracted my hand as a magnet draws a nail.

I noticed the young man on his distant outside perch. I’d learned his name from the news program, Mario Hidalgo. I was sure he was observing me.

A hummingbird buzzed my ear and hovered midair, inches from my face. The iridescence of his feathers and vibration of his wings froze me in place. The bird took off as fast as he had come. My eyes followed the trajectory of his flight until he landed on Mario’s terrace.

“I’m Samantha Jones, from the next farm over. Welcome to you and your family.”

“How sweet. Thank you. How old are you?”

“Seventeen. Why?”

“No reason. Please come inside. I’m Anna, Mario’s mother.”

I thought she acted with the guarded courtesy of a protective parent, but she guided me upstairs and out onto the terrace.

“Mario, you have a visitor. May we join you?”

“Of course, Mom.”

“Hi, Mario. I’m Samantha. I live over there.” I pointed.

“I’ve watched you come and go to see that pumpkin. Want to hear something funny?”

“I guess so.”

“Tell her, Mom. Tell her my nickname.”

Anna hesitated, turned to me, and said, “Pumpkin.”

Mario let out a genuine, ponderous laugh. It shook the bed. His flesh rippled like Jell-O, and we laughed with him.

“Please sit if you want,” he said.

His mother offered me a chair, and I accepted after a quick look around the terrace. From his high-up nest, Mario could enjoy the expanded horizon like a child in a tree house.

Anna measured me. “What can I offer you, Samantha?”

A cup rested by Mario’s side, close to his hand.

“Whatever he’s having would be fine.”

“Coffee, black, no sugar?”

I nodded.

“I’ll be back. Make yourself at home, please. ” She took two steps backward before turning and leaving.

“How old are you, Mario?’

“A very old twenty.”

If something is not done soon, you will not reach thirty.

He smiled at me and waited. I had nothing to say.

With his eyes on my face, he extended his arm in the air. The gesture distracted me.

A hummingbird appeared, another one flew in, and both landed on Mario’s arm.

His mother returned. The birds flew away, leaving me speechless. She looked at me as if she understood my amazement.

“Hope I’m not disturbing. I just wanted to welcome you. Being our new neighbors and all.”

“Don’t mention it, please. We love visitors,” Anna said.

Mario interrupted. “Maybe the Universal Spirit preordained our encounter as he chose the paths for both our lives.”

Wow, what kind of talk is that?

Mario and I started talking about school, and his mother put down the tray with coffee and looked at me. She relaxed.

I hope she knew I wasn’t motivated by insensitive curiosity.

Mario talked nonstop, and I learned of his interest about school, which he could not attend. Anna and various tutors had home-schooled him. He was eloquent, his prose lyrical at times.

“Do you like poetry?” I asked.

He pointed to still-unpacked boxes strewn around the room. “My books: novels, poetry, and history.” He pulled a book from under the pillows and handed it over. “Tales of the Alhambra, by Washington Irving, 1851 Edition. Have you read it?”

I began to feel inadequate in his presence.

“No. Tell me about it.”

He explained the content and its connection to a poem written by Alexander Pushkin and an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov. This conversation challenged me, but I liked hearing it. It differed from the kind of talks I had with my friends in town.

“Take it with you. I just finished it for a third time. Reading is my way to travel. I do not get around much, as you might imagine.”

Mario’s constrained body couldn’t tether his vivid imagination.

He gave me a short rundown of his family, city dwellers not enthusiastic about rural communities.

Mario’s health had declined in the city. In their suburban home, the patio door in Mario’s room looked onto a barren, fenced yard.

His father purchased the small farm to let his son enjoy the outdoors, the stars, or the sun whenever he wanted.

When fall breezes undressed the trees, golden leaves carpeted Mario’s terrace.

“Don’t clean them, Ma.”

“It’s a mess out here.”


“But I like the crackle of leaves under your feet. I imagine I’m walking on them. They and the birds are my visitors.”

In fact, flocks of birds flew away from the terrace every time I visited him.

Mario’s magical relation with birds puzzled me.

He hardly moved, and they flew all day. But we never talked about it.

We read and discussed books together. By mid-fall, we were the best of friends, and I was in love—but not with him.

MY high school’s Halloween Parade Committee met in the library. We took charge of the school float design. We developed a concept, selected music for the school band, and chose costumes for the float riders.

Mario’s friendship had increased my confidence and improved my vocabulary. Now my opinions turned heads.

“We need lots of your father’s pumpkins for the float,” Francis, our treasurer, said. “I hope he gives us a decent price and we don’t have to buy them at the supermarket parking lot.”

I would have to stand on my toes to kiss him, I thought. He looks gorgeous in his football uniform.

Francis’ olive complexion, black eyes, mane of hair, and square jaw excited me.

“Would you talk to your father?”

“Talk about what?”

“Did you hear a word I said, Samantha?”

“Yes. The pumpkins.”

He neither encouraged nor discouraged my infatuation. However, he glanced and smiled at me more often than he did the other girls, except for Roselyn. With her long legs and resemblance to a movie star, she made me jealous.

One afternoon we got a tip about the competing school’s float. It was similar to ours, but already under construction.

“Everybody will say we copied them. You have to come up with a different idea,” the drama coach said and sent our brains into a spin.

THE same afternoon, I visited Mario. He commented about the big pumpkin in my father’s garden patch. “It’s bigger than me,” he said and laughed. “I’ve given it a name: from now on, she is Cinderella.” We grinned.

“Okay. Cinderella does look a lot bigger.” As soon as I said it, an idea popped into my mind.

“Mario, would you like to go to the parade?”

His laughter faded.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Not at all. Would you like to go?”

No answer, only a questioning stare into my eyes.

“I’m sorry I asked. I did not think it through.”

An awkward minute later, Mario spoke.

“I would. I would like to go to the parade.”

THE committee loved my extreme concept. Ideas flowed like chocolate syrup, and the next day I called Mario’s house to ask permission for the group to visit him.

Anna remained silent for a moment.

“Let me put you on speaker. Tell it to his father.”

“WHAT? Do you want to parade my son as a circus freak?” Mario’s father yelled when I explained. “The cheerleaders’ boobs are not enough excitement?”

“Calm down, please,” Anna said. “Mario can hear you.”

Mario’s voice came loudly over the phone, “Daaad! It’s about time.”

“About time for what, son?” yelled his father.

“To stop hiding me. Despite what you see, Dad, I’m a human being. I’m willing to go if they take me. Descartes once said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Oh shit, Dad, you should read a book once in a while. I’m sorry to shame you. Let them come here and talk.”

Anna came back on the line. “Samantha, you are welcome anytime.”

THE project moved quickly. Every day, I kept Mario in the loop. Sometimes others came with me. We laughed and planned every detail.

“We need insurance for me,” Mario said, “in case the crane splatters me on the ground. Like an egg falling from the nest.”

One day I came too early. Anna asked me to come back later.

“We are giving him a bath,” she said.

I had never thought about it. The images that flooded my mind sort of revolted me.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said. “I mean, I’ll be back.”

I left, walking faster than usual. I looked back at the house and caught Anna’s sad expression.

God, help me be a better person.

MARIO turned anxious as the day approached. He obsessed over the move to the float.

“When alone, I watch Cinderella from up here. That pumpkin is growing like a sumo wrestler. Just like me.”

I ignored the remark, but the pumpkin’s girth had increased. Mario, too, had added pounds.

“Can’t explain it, but I feel connected to Cinderella,” he said.

Halloween morning, we moved the float below Mario’s terrace. The float depicted a vine and carved pumpkins crawling up a hill amid girls in rabbit and bird costumes. Atop the hill was Mario’s place. The crane flew him from his bed to the float. He sat inside a customized orange sphere as big as Cinderella. His voluminous arms dangled over the curved sides. A microphone would allow him to engage the crowd.

We drove away from the farm. Mario looked at the pumpkin. “Bye, my friend. I know how it feels to be stuck. I will tell you all about it when I return.”

The parade route through our small town overflowed with spectators. Happiness permeated the afternoon.

The school band marched in front. The girls on the float exchanged quips with Mario. His cleverness gave them a harder time than they expected. People applauded. We heard no pity, no cruel remarks from the crowd. Francis and others from the football team rode on the float.

“Get on the team, Mario,” a man shouted. “They need help. They are playing like sissies this year.”

Mario was a town celebrity.

BACK at the farm, the crane carried Cinderella onto a trailer truck to move her to the fairgrounds the next day. The truck driver parked beside the house and near Mario’s terrace.
When we returned, the sun had declined over the evening’s edge. The crane operator lifted Mario up.

“Would you raise me as high as you can before taking me to my bed, please? Then shut off the engine and let me rest a few minutes in silence,” Mario said.

The operator complied. He leaned back in his seat, lit a cigarette, and grinned, watching Mario floating in mid-air.

In the early darkness, I thought a bird landed on Mario’s knee.

“How did you feel up there?” I asked later.

“Like a hummingbird with lead wings. I had an out-of- body experience. My mind connected with Cinderella on the trailer. She wanted to know what I did today.”

Almost everyone had gone home. I was alone with Mario on the terrace, releasing the lingering euphoria. We heard voices and I went to see. Francis and Roselyn were looking at the giant pumpkin. Then they sat at the end of the trailer, their backs toward Cinderella.

“It was nice to win first place, and we did not spend the entire budget,” Roselyn said, unaware their voices carried up to us.

“We were lucky that Samantha convinced that freak to go along for the ride. We couldn’t lose,” Francis said. Rosalyn leaned on his shoulder.

“She is so naive. She thinks you are in love with her.”

“It saved us almost three hundred dollars on the cost of the pumpkins.”

“Poor thing. She should look in the mirror,” Roselyn said. “My gosh, Samantha is at least thirty pounds overweight.”

“I know, love. The two of them could compete with this huge pumpkin.”

My eyes got glossy. I turned my face towards Mario. His eyes flamed with anger. His clenched fists yellowed, and his bed shook as he attempted to stand up.

I heard a snapping sound and looked down. The cinch holding Cinderella had broken, and she was rolling along the trailer’s bed. Francis and Roselyn turned around, looked at the pumpkin, and saw me.

Surprised, they did not move. Cinderella barreled down on them. They jumped to the ground, but it was too late. Cinderella vaulted from her bed and landed on top of them. I gasped, and looked away.

“OH my God, Mario. My father said Cinderella weighed fourteen hundred pounds.”


About the Author

Eduardo Cervino, AKA E. C. Brierfield, was born in Havana, Cuba, and has resided in the US since 1968. He has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Latin America working as an architectural designer.

He is also a painter and his oil canvasses have been exhibited in the US and abroad.
He has written and published several novels and numerous short stories. He resides in Arizona with his wife and writing collaborator, L. S. Brierfield.



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Return of the Dwarves

by C. C. Bye

“The one holiday I miss is Halloween. I’m sure you understand.”

“What’s that? You’d still like to hear the whole long story?”

“Well, it’s not so much long as it is convoluted. And you really are interested?”

“OK then.”

The virus cropped up in all major countries at the same time, which had the pundits screaming ‘Terrorist attack!’ And they might be right at that.

But how do you take in something when it appears on Halloween and doesn’t have any long-term, deadly effects?


“Yes, I know you and I are still Dwarves, but then so is everyone else. 100%. We all have to breathe, and there doesn’t appear to have been any immunity. So you see, no sustainable effects—everyone is the same. The world has moved on and we in it.”

It was even good for the economy; everyone scrambling to re-size things and to be the first on the market with their particular doo-dad.

“What’s a doo-dad? Well it’s a term my parents and grandparents used to describe something they didn’t quite understand. “‘Corina get me that do-dad from over there on the bench!'” or sometimes they’d mix it up and say “‘Get me that Whatchamacallit.'””

“But let’s get back to the story.”

Can you imagine going out on Halloween, being anything you wanted to be, and people pretending with you, so that for a few minutes at each knock you were something or someone else— anything else—other than the boring, every day, you? Then, still wrapped in the charm of the evening, the kids barely containing themselves in their urgent need to dig into their goodie bags, you open the door and…the kids start screaming…and this short, thick-bodied, hairy-headed man with a beard down to his leather belt is trying to get his arms around you…so you take a nearby kitchen knife and lop 3 fingers off the nearest hand, which is the left hand, and that’s a good thing because you suddenly recognize the eyes of the dwarf as your husband’s. And he’s wearing his business suit, but it has been chopped up and chopped off in various places, and he’s right-handed…he’s grabbing for the knife…which is when you look down at your hairy hands…and try to put the knife back, but your suddenly short arms won’t reach far enough over the counter to do so…and you start screaming and screaming and screaming until the black rises up and takes you down.

There were a lot of heart attacks that night.

But the transition wasn’t nearly as bad as it might have been. Good old American ingenuity kicked in and soon people were adjusting their homes with whatever materials they had at hand. Planking for ramps because the steps were too high for everyone’s now short legs. Kitchen stools were in high demand. The president declared a state of emergency in order to set up peace keeping units. I understand his reasoning now. Once people realized their jobs were still going to be there come Monday morning, things would calm down, but until then all bets were off. There was a rush on ammunition; Johnny’s place, just down Cumberland Street was actually looted then burned to the ground.

It was our neighbours, you understand. And who could blame them?

The only thing that brought me any sense of reality was taking Stan over to the hospital to get his fingers looked after. We had to walk, something I always find calming, and when we reached the emergency department, everyone was doing their job—as if nothing had happened. That was a splash of cold water, mind you, an awakening to the fact that this was real and that it needed to be dealt with.

That’s why I did it, you know. What right did someone have to try to drive off with our car, even if we couldn’t drive it at the moment? The old shotgun was right there on a rack, so I pushed a chair over, got up there and grabbed it and a couple of shells. That’s when I found out the little weasel in my car was that Connery fellow from 2 blocks over. He said one too many things though, and I filled him full of heavy shot… twice.

Anyway, the cops came and got me Monday morning. The self defense bit didn’t go over well, seeing as it was a single shot shotgun and Connery was dead with the first shot I made. Still, I was free by supper time. Too many real criminals to attend to, I was told.

What an unbelievable thing! A murderer let loose because there were worse out there. I turned on the TV right away. Sure enough: rape cases everywhere, people being cut down and their life’s work taken too. Then the worst thing. I never would have believed it…

Someone had found a pocket of elves—thin, wraith like beings, white skin and silver eyes. No funny ears though. Anyway, they hung them. Men, women and children. And burnt them. And hacked them to pieces, what was left of ’em.

I don’t get it. With all the prejudice of the old world, why would someone, let alone a group of people, do such a thing? From what I understand they were beautiful beings. Was that it? Because if it was, I don’t think I can stand it.

“What’s that nephew? No, nobody’s going to come and hang you. Because we look just like them sort, don’t we? But let’s forget that for the moment… I’ve just had an idea. You should help me take my son and daughter—we should go out for a boat ride. The water’s just fine. Yes, it’s…just…fine.”

Copyright © 2013 Clayton Clifford Bye

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– Halloween –



“Please come over? I swear I’m so freaked out right now… I don’t want to be alone.” She cupped the phone handset like it was her life’s blood. She wriggled lower into her bed covers so she was hidden up to her neck.

“C’mon, you’re not that scared of a dream. What’s really going on?” her friend Sarah yawned. She had been sleeping soundly before Madison’s ring tone (Bukowski) rudely shook her awake.

“It wasn’t a dream. That’s what I keep trying to tell you. I’ve seen this same guy in, like, six different dreams. Each time, he’s disposing of a woman’s body. I swear, Sarah, he looked around like he knew I was watching him. It was so creepy–and so real. I don’t think it was a dream at all. What if he can follow my trail? What if it was like a two-way mirror? Sarah, what if he can find me?”

Madison sounded like she was about to have the mother of all anxiety attacks, her friend surmised. “Okay, tell me exactly what happened in this one. Spare no detail. Just close your eyes and tell me the dream,” Sarah instructed. She was out of her bed now, pulling on leggings and a tunic sweatshirt in the dark as she hugged the cell phone between her face and shoulder. She had dropped her phone three separate times doing the same stunt and now the glass was all cracked and crazed; she held it together with a screen protector so she could stop cutting up her fingers.

“Not until you’re here. I’m afraid to conjure his image at all, Sarah. I’m worried he might see me, somehow. It’s almost like there is an invisible tether between the two of us. I think he knows the tether is there, but he hasn’t found it yet. Every time I think of him, every time I dream about him, I think it gets him closer. I’m afraid, Sarah.”

Sarah jumped into her Sanuk flats, placed a scribbled note on her pillow for Mike, and grabbed her bag and car keys. “Okay, I’m walking out the door. I’ll be there in five,” her friend promised.

“Thank you, Sarah. I’m sorry to get you up in the middle of the night. Please tell Mike I’m sorry I woke him.”

“Are you kidding me? Nothing wakes that man once he hits REM sleep. Crap, he slept through the earthquake.”

“Okay, well anyway, I’m really sorry, but I really appreciate this, Sarah.”

“Forget about it,” she tried with her best New Jersey accent. “I’m in the car now so I gotta hang up. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” She changed her tone to one of untimely cheerfulness and added, “think about baskets of Pit Bull puppies.” She disconnected the call and hit the gas.


They were stretched sideways across Madison’s queen bed. Madison glanced at the alarm clock as she passed the joint back to Sarah. It was 2:35 in the morning. They both were supposed to be at work tomorrow, although Madison was contemplating the use of a sick day. She couldn’t face all of those kids with no sleep. The smoke was calming her anxiety attack, though. She no longer felt like her heart was beating too fast. She sighed.


“Oh my God, I’ll never be ready for this,” Madison answered quietly.

“Come on, close your eyes and, you know, fly, float, or whatever it is you do; let go. I’m right here.” Sarah soothed.

“Okay.” Madison’s eyes closed. “The first time I saw him he was pulling clothing and crap out of a big, dusty trunk in what looked like an attic space, and I’m pretty sure there was a body wrapped in cellophane, laid next to that trunk. I just didn’t know what I was seeing at the time.  The next time I saw him he was in, like… I guess it could have been attic space too, but it was long and narrow and had sharply-angled drywall floor-to-ceiling on one side. There was a bank of mullioned windows all across the other side that looked out upon the roofs and penthouses of neighboring buildings; it was eerily pretty. The moon was full and it cast strong white light upon him—and that’s why I saw the plastic-wrapped… thing. He was laying the parcel down in front of the windows.” She squeezed her eyes tighter. “I saw hair… brown; I saw polished nails… a hand had broken free of the plastic casing. I think she was wearing acrylics.” She felt her friend grab her hand and squeeze it gently.

“Tell me what happened this time, Madison. What did you see?”

“Okay. I was sort of floating, I guess, over someone’s backyard. It’s a pricey neighborhood. Um… there’s a built-in swimming pool and pretty landscaping with stone, Birds of Paradise, and Malibu lights.  There’s a sliding glass door from a master bedroom; it’s open. There’s gauzy, white tab drapes stirring in a slight breeze. Then I see him. He has a cocktail in one hand and he is standing at the edge of the pool. He’s kind of handsome, in a scarred and rugged way. Nice body, too. He seems so relaxed… so normal. Now I see the woman…” Madison was back inside her dream, even as an urgent voice inside her head begged her to stay away. “A really pretty woman in a white, one-piece swimsuit just passed briefly in front of the slider and curtains. She’s fussing around her bedroom, readying herself for him.

“He just heard her close a dresser drawer. He’s turned away from the still water to watch her brush her hair into a high ponytail. His free hand is traveling to the small of his back where he’s reaching for something… uhhh!” Her quick intake of breath whispered as it escaped her. At the exact moment of Madison’s exclamation of horror, the killer suddenly looked all about the backyard. “Oh, no! He heard me!” At that, the killer looked up into the air. “Oh my God, did he just hear that, too?” Now the killer drew a bead on just one spot in the air above him, and a slow, wicked smile seeped across his face. Madison quickly imagined herself reeling in an invisible tow rope before the killer reached for it—for her. This was too slow! She imagined she held a knife as wicked as the one the killer sported, sheathed at his belt in back; she sliced through that tether, quick and mighty. Her eyes popped open.

“What the hell? What was that?” Sarah’s arms and legs had sprouted gooseflesh.

“I swear he heard me. He looked around when I caught my breath. And when I asked aloud if he heard that, he zeroed in on the air above him; Sarah, I swear he looked right at me.”

“Wh… what did he do when he saw you?” her friend was now trembling.

“He smiled. He just smiled.”

“What did you do?”

“I tried to reel in the tow rope. I think I was too slow. I imagined myself with his knife, and I cut the cord. But, Sarah, I think I was too slow. He saw me, I just know it.”

“Jesus, Madison.” Sarah was no stranger to her friend’s weird psychic bouts—she’d known her since the fourth grade. “Do you think he can follow your… string?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping that by following his string, I might get some details that would tell me who he is, or where he is, or who his victims are. I’m just not getting very much and I’m worried he’s learning more about me with each try.”

“What do you mean? He may know what you look like, but he has no idea where in the world you are, right?”

“I don’t know. It was the way he smiled, like he knew something.” She turned around to see what was behind her; her eyes surveyed the wall. She saw nothing tell-tale on her vanity, nothing identifying on the wall about the mirror, either. And then she saw it, in the mirror: Palm Dessert Pre-school Calendar 2013. There stood Sarah and Madison with their class; their names listed below… pretty much everything a serial killer needs to find his next victim. Madison turned back slowly to her longtime friend. “Sarah, do you think he could see the calendar?” Madison’s voice took on a husky quality.

“No, I don’t. This is silly; he could be in Belize for all we know.” She held her friend’s stare. “You know I’m right.”

“Okay. But you’re going to stay here for the rest of the night, aren’t you?” Madison’s bottom lip actually quivered.

“Of course, Sweetie. I have my overnight bag and everything. We’ll go in to work together, okay? That is, if we can get some sleep now.”


Madison checked her wristwatch; the lunch period would end in about ten minutes and after that, story time. The day was so pretty it had the power to chase away the black clouds of her nightmare from the night before. Invisibly tethered to a serial killer? Sometimes even she didn’t know where she got such goofy ideas; she looked over at her best friend, smiled, and shook her head at her own silliness. Sarah seemed to understand exactly what Madison was thinking, and smiled back.

   Look up!

Madison’s head jerked up at the command. Wait! That command issued from inside your head! Her mind screamed just a fraction of an instant too late. Her eyes locked onto the same dead eyes of the killer from her dreams. He stared at her from across the playground; he lifted something he had draped over the palm of one hand, something she couldn’t see… something invisible. With his other hand, he mimicked an invisible pair of scissors and sliced right through that invisible string.

Anne Sweazy-Kulju, Author





By T.R. Heinan

Tom Thibodaux was the first uniformed officer on the scene. Until he saw the body, he thought the call would turn out to be another Halloween prank. That’s what he told Homicide Detective Bart Pellerin. The two cops stared down at the bloody corpse as the crime scene crew finished taking photographs. Every cop present was asking the same question.  “What happened to the rest of her face?”

After returning to the station, Pellerin played back the tape.  A “demon” killed a girl on Governor Nicholls Street next to the Lalaurie Mansion. At least that’s what all five callers told the 911 operator. None of the callers had actually seen this “demon,” but that’s what the only eye witness kept screaming. The flurry of cell phone calls weren’t going to be much help.

Even with half her face missing, it didn’t take long to get an initial identification of the victim.  Her name was Candice Boggs, a student at Tulane.  According to her boyfriend, Candy had become obsessed with a new television series about Delphine Lalaurie. She wanted to take a haunted walking tour on Halloween night and see the building people in New Orleans call THE haunted house.

The only person who would admit to witnessing Candy’s death was a drunk who called himself Pauley. Pellerin would know his true identity in a few minutes, after his prints were scanned.  Pauley was beyond intoxicated, so Officer Thibodaux was keeping an eye on him in Interrogation Room #3.

Pellerin watched boyfriend Steve Iverson in Room #2. The young man was nervous and his mood appeared to shift from confusion to anger to extreme grief and back to confusion, in the span of less than two minutes.

“What happened?” Pellerin asked Steve in a calm, controlled tone of voice.

“Candy took a photo when our tour group was standing on Governor Nicholls Street.  It showed an orb in front of the Lalaurie Mansion,” said Steve.

“An orb?”

“A ball of light in the photo,” Steve tried to explain.  “Sort of a big deal for people into ghost hunting.”

“And Candice was into ghost hunting?”

“She loved all that paranormal stuff.  Can you take these cuffs off me?”

“Maybe in a few minutes.  Why is it that you didn’t see what happened?”

“Our tour group had rounded the corner onto Royal Street so the guide could explain the front door of the mansion.  It has all these odd carvings. Candy ran back to see if she could get one more orb picture.”

“So she went back to Governor Nichols Street and the rest of you were on Royal, is that right?”

“For a few minutes, yes.”

“Then what?” asked Pellerin.

“This drunk guy came around the corner screaming at us.”

Pellerin was about to follow up with another question when a knock signaled that Officer Thibodaux was outside the door.  Pellerin walked out to the hallway to see what the uniformed cops had learned.

“Our witness is Paul Jefferson,” Thibodaux said in a low voice.  “Been in and out of every rehab in New Orleans.  He’s useless. Delusional. The tour guide thinks the girl left the rest of the group and disappeared around the corner. The ticket agent for the tours doesn’t even remember her.”

“Boyfriend probably bought the tickets,” said Pellerin.  “So, tell me about this demon.”

“Pauley says he was having a drink on the sidewalk when a ball of light appeared over the Lalaurie house.  Says the girl came around the corner with a camera, from then on it just gets weird.”

“Weird, how?” Pellerin asked.

“He says the light grew in size, turned into a fourteen foot tall female with bat wings, bit the woman on the face and then vanished into thin air. I’m gonna ask him for a blood sample.  See what else he’s on besides booze.”

Pellerin scratched his head and asked, “So what do you think happened?”

“Boyfriend did it,” said Thibodaux.  “It’s always the boyfriend.”

“The tour guide says he was with the group.”

“The guide thinks he saw him, but none of the rest of the group remembers whether he went with her or not.  All they recall is Pauley running around the corner screaming about a demon.”

“Maybe,” said Pellerin, “but her face looked like it was bitten by a shark.  How long did it take for you to respond to the call?”

“Less than two minutes,” answered Thibodaux.

“So where is the rest of her face?” We talking about an eye, and a chunk of flesh, bone and brain larger than my fist!”

“We’ve searched everywhere, not a trace,” said Thibodaux. “I don’t know how, but that kid did it.”

“Detective,” the desk sergeant called out.  “You better hear this.  Caller says a creature from hell is attacking a taxi driver in front of the Lalaurie Mansion.”


T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité.




The Night of Reckoning

By Micki Peluso

     Vera dreaded the night. Each October 31st, the dark shadow grew closer. Soon the demonic essence would claim her. All her magic, herbs and chants were useless against it. Scorpio, her pit bull/poodle mix with high intelligence and a killer instinct would be no match for what came closer and closer each Halloween Eve. Lord, how much longer must I suffer until the wicked marauder whisks me off to his evil lair? What have I done to deserve such threat of future eternal torture?

“Gram, why don’t you believe in Halloween?” asked eight-year-old Tyler.  “It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m gonna be dressed in black like the grim reaper.” His blue eyes gleamed with anticipation.

“That’s nice,” his grandmother replied, trying to sound enthusiastic for the boy. “Come for treats before sunset tonight. I’m going to bed early.”

“Okay, Gram. Save me some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and don’t let the goblins get ya.” He jumped off the front porch laughing at his own joke.

How she yearned to share his excitement on Halloween Eve. It was once her favorite holiday, but no more. When did it begin? She knew exactly when. It was on a Halloween night when Hank and she had the terrible fight. He had accused her of flirting with the local butcher, which she denied, admitting only to being alluring enough to secure the best cuts of meat. The argument raged on through the evening, when Hank suddenly grasped his heart and fell to the floor. Vera tried hard to resuscitate him after she called 911, but it was futile. She mourned her loss, certain that their quarrel had killed him.  Then the dreams began, growing more terrifying as each Halloween neared. The nightmares were never clear, just a black clawed hand beckoning and the scent of evil wafting over her. Her heart pulsated wildly through her chest as she felt haunted by fear and guilt… it would be the death of her.

Halloween arrived with all its costumed, hidden faces. She handed out candy until evening, but then refused to answer the constant ringing of the doorbell. Scorpio laid by the entrance, growls rumbling from his throat. It seemed to go on forever, until the children gave up and went to other houses. The night was nearly over and she could finally rest.

Sudden rapping on the door made her jump—who would pound so loud? she wondered. It awoke her from a deep dream of Hank, one that was so realistic she reached out to touch him. He was telling her that his death was not her fault. He had kept something from her; his heart had been failing for many years. She felt his love wash over her body, mind and soul. That pounding! Why now when she finally felt liberated by years of torture, knowing this dream would wash away the nightmares?

Vera slowly rose from her bed, ever dutiful. She donned her bathrobe and apprehensively walked to the front door. If death greeted her now she was no longer afraid. She even looked forward to it, knowing Hank awaited her with love. The door creaked as it opened–a figure clad in black, holding the scythe of the Grim Reaper stood poised before her.

“Hi, Gram!” Tyler said. “Sorry I’m so late.”




A Path of Destiny

Jagged tones of lightening cracked in deafening volume followed by the rumbled claps of thunder. My body thinly protected in black polo shirt and khaki pants, shivered and trembled in trepidation of the menacing darkness.  Freezing rain whipped across my face sharply stinging my checks, as tears fell from the corner of each eye with every rip of intensity.

It had commenced as a warm, sunny autumn day, the sort that teases you with hints of summer now passed. I, Arthur Barnes, Jr., began my travel to Zeznabar Castle, deep in the Canadian forests. Winter caretaker of the grand structure; this was a job I relished.  I’d had great success and recognition in this particular field of service, mainly due to my love of preserving structures and antique relics of the past.

Not knowing the outline of the land, I’d managed to over react to a sharp turn in the extensive winding road leading to my destination. Pitifully, my once pristine 1962 Fiat was now set firmly against an unforgiving large Maple tree, smoke escaping from under the mangled front hood.  You’d think at thirty-seven years of age, I’d known better than to set off on foot in unfamiliar territory. Hindsight is always a fools’ observation indeed.

Night fell instantaneously. The storm hit without warning and I stumbled from the edge of the road, propelled under the ancient, crumbling servants building.  My blonde covered head hit the ground; blue eyes searched the landscape, lower body hinged beneath the rocky composition of the unyielding structure.

Time had not meaning; each second a minute, each minute an hour, each hour a day, each day an eternity.

Is it my imagination as I glance up to see small movement of wings, tongue protruding from a wide-mouth, lips smacking for this creature’s next meal?

Author, Monica M. Brinkman

Column:  A Touch of Karma

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