Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Not So Brave Soul



A thick fog drifting over the ground and a full moon hanging overhead--who could think of anything better to stir fear in such a spooky place? Maybe it was the passing of the dark shape I thought I saw. I may not believe in all things paranormal, so explain my racing pulse and tell me why my mouth feels like I swallowed cottonballs.

Dropping behind a headstone, I hold my breath lest someone hear me. Blast the dewy grass that dampens my pant leg and turns the October air even colder. I should have worn a heavier jacket.

What had I been thinking, coming to the cemetery in the middle of the night? If I don't breathe, I'm going to explode, so I release pent up air and embrace myself against a shiver. It has to be my mind playing tricks. I don’t believe in ghosts or I wouldn’t be here.

So, explain that eerie shadow, I chide myself. A little brave voice somewhere in my gut tells me it’s probably something simple and explainable. Still, my plan to visit a graveyard didn't include me encountering someone's dead relative. Evidently, I’m not as brave as I profess.

I cock my head and listen but I don’t hear anything more because my thudding heart masks any other sounds. Some valiant soul I turned out be.

Still hunkering, memories take hold and I recall my mission. The past week has been the worst in my life. I haven’t cried, but maybe I need to curl into a ball and release all these emotions gnawing at me. Dad is gone and I’m still in disbelief. I came here to say one last goodbye and let him know how I feel. Leaving him for burial today was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The idea of him being all alone here is unbearable,and more than that, I’m not ready to be the man of the family even if I am almost eighteen. Emotions make me uncomfortable and I want to get this over and done. I peer over the hunk of granite and see the weird outline disappear. But whatever it is makes a crunching sound on Fall's carpet as it departs.

Ghosts don’t make rustling noises do they? I duck back in my hiding place. Wait! Didn’t I say I don’t believe in spirits? Keeping low, I brave another glance. I see nothing except rows and rows of other headstones. Some are shrouded by tall grass and lean haphazardly. I’m saddened by the disrepair, but I’ll make sure my father’s final resting place is maintained.

“Budget, smudgets… there are just some things that shouldn’t be eliminated, and cutting staff in a cemetery is just plain wrong,” I mutter. I’ve really lost my sanity. Now, I’m talking to myself. And why am I still crouched like a coward?

Feeling foolish, I stand and brush the leaves and grass from my clothing and check my bearings. Under the biggest tree was where we had Dad’s funeral. He’d purchased the plot years before, in preparation for this day. Mom’s resting place will be next to him when her time comes. I shudder to think of losing her too, but the reality is, we all die.

I hone in on the right tree, wait and listen. All is silent except for a slight hum of the wind that blows the fog along the ground. That must be what stirred my imagination. I chuckle at my silly fear, but places like this create weird thoughts. I square my shoulders and wonder why I’m trying to convince myself the dead don’t creep about in the darkness. I know they don’t. The supposed apparition was probably only something caused by the breeze and fallen leaves.

After a deep breath, I shuffle across the fall-colored quilt that blankets the ground. I can’t see the colors now, but they were vivid during the day, and brought consolation to an otherwise dreary time. Dad died so suddenly. A heart attack that none of us expected stole him from me and Mom. I didn’t get to share all the things I wanted to say—to tell him one last time how much I loved him. Does he think I didn’t? I have to make sure. I’ve given him such grief in the last few months. Even the full orb overhead doesn't provide enough light to find his grave.

Finally finding the familiar spot where he's buried, I pause. Again, I hear crunching noises, and my heart leaps into my throat. I risked squeezing between the iron gates at the entrance, and I can’t imagine anyone else would be here. Too coincidental. I know it’s not my imagination this time. The noise is too real. Not the wind.

I flatten myself against the ground, too frightened to move. The fresh smell of newly-disturbed dirt fills my nose, but I feel safe because I’m with my father. His courage and strength drift up to me.

As the footsteps draw closer, I see that same eerie shadow stretching across the ground in front of me. Fear roots me to the spot and I need to do what I’ve come to do before… Before what?

“Daddy,” I whisper. “It’s me, Nick. I didn’t want to leave you here alone but Mom said it was time to go. Are you scared? I wonder what it’s like to die, but that’s not why I came.”

The approaching footsteps stop and I wonder again if I’m reacting to my environment. Still prone, I try to picture that I’m giving my father one last hug. “Dad, I want to apologize for being such a screw-up since I got into high school. I know I should work harder on my grades, and I realize you restricted me for good reason. You want me to be responsible and have a good future, and I will. I promise, Dad. I’ll make you proud of me.”

“Nick?” I hear my mother’s voice. What are you doing here?”

End

Okay, that was my spooky offering for Halloween. Now you can go trick but before you I have a special treat for all of you. The publisher of Damnation Books is going to be my special guest on December 1, their launch day. Kim Richards has authorized me to make available a free download of Beauty Is. Here's the directions on how to get your copy:

Beauty Is, a Mary Kay lady vs a zombie, is a short story written by Kim. It sounds very appropriate for the moment. :)





Go to www.damnationbooks.com, click on Beauty Is. Then during the check out, input the promo code: 61beautyis

Thank you, Kim, and I look forward to hosting you and some of your new authors in December.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Black Bet's Home


Black Bet’s Home for Toothless Vampires
By Kim McDougall








First published in Necrotic Tissue Magazine. www.necrotictissue.com

Black Bet’s home spawned much speculation and rumor, but one legend among all others was consistent. You left your name at the gate. I gladly shrugged mine off and crushed it underfoot. I had eyes only for the tall house that lurked up from the gloom. My veins ached for blood.
A blond, angel-faced boy met me on the path.
“My name ith Brututh,” he said, not asking mine. We approached the front door. “That’th Goliath.” He pointed to a dwarfish man dozing in the shadows of the porch. Beside him, an old codger tilted back on a rocking chair.
“And that’th Beaver,” said the boy. “Watch out for…”
Beaver’s lightning fingers pinched me on the bum. I whirled, grabbed him by the throat and lifted him off his chair like a rag-doll. Goliath woke with a start at the gurgling, whistling sound that came from the old vampire’s chest. It wasn’t breath, but laughter. His toothless grin was the maw of a suckerfish.
“Don’t ever touch me again,” I said and threw him down. His rocking chair cracked against the house.
“Lady, you’ve got ithueth,” said the boy, following me inside.
I threw him my best evil eye, laced with a bit of motherly ire. He backed away.
“Thank you, Brutus. I’ll take care of our new guest from here.”
A black-haired beauty stood at the foot of a stairway. I resisted the urge to fall on my knees. My kind doesn’t worship anyone but if we did, Black Bet would be a saint. In her presence, I felt every crust of dirt on my skin. The hunger that has sustained me for so long faded next to her radiance. She smiled and held out a delicate hand. Her teeth were perfect chips of whiteness that soothed like memories of sunshine. I had traveled months to find her, battled demons, both real and imagined, starved, stole, scrounged and begged. When I took Black Bet’s soft hand, something inside me broke. I fell at her feet and bathed them in my salty tears. Bet’s arms circled me like a cape in the cold.
“Come child, don’t cry. Let me look at you.” She wiped the tears from my face, and tucked my greasy hair behind one ear. “A might scruffy, but we can fix that. We’ll need to find you a name. What do you think, Hermit?” She spoke to a wisp of a man at her side. I hadn’t seen him lurking behind her skirts. He wore only a loincloth, and his nakedness was painful to witness. His chest was thin and concave. His legs were sticks, his arms twigs. I cringed when he reached out and tilted my head with one gnarly finger under my chin. His thorn-like nail traced the fading bruise around my eye.
“Susan.” He grinned, showing grey gums. “Black-eyed Susan.”
I jerked away from his touch, and let my skanky locks fall across my face again, hiding my shame.
“A name needs to come from within,” said Bet. “That black eye is no reflection of you, my dear.” She ran her lovely fingers through my hair, not caring about the tangles and dirt. “Come now. We’ll think on it some more.”
I almost corrected her. My black eye might have faded, but the bruise had been stamped on my heart with indelible ink. I had only to close my eyes, to see the fist coming at me. The one that knocked out my teeth. The one that blackened my eye. Others aimed at my stomach and kidneys. The one that finally rattled my brain, and left me for dead, with life oozing from my womb.
Only I didn’t die, not then. Death came later from a black angel who took my blood and pain, and left a shell. I saw him only through a haze of dizziness, my angel, but when he fed me his own blood, my wounds began to heal. Only my teeth were gone for good, and my child.
I wanted to tell Bet that Black-Eyed Susan was a perfect name, but before I could, the rafters shrugged and a scream tore through the house. The floor rumbled and Bet’s crew scurried into action.
“Hermit, get the bladder, and warm it this time. Brutus you’re up.”
“But I fed him thith morning!” wailed the blond boy.
“Baby likes you,” said Bet. “Now go, before he sets the nursery on fire again.”
Hermit shoved a pig’s bladder filled with warm blood into Brutus’ hand. The tangy-sweet smell nearly crazed me. My tongue flicked across my barren gums. It had been so long since I drank. I scrambled up, intending to get that bladder by whatever means. Hunger is so like rage; I could no longer tell them apart.
“Hold on,” Bet said, pushing me back to the ground. “There’s plenty to go around. No one goes hungry here.” She fell sideways as the house lurched again, and then the wailing stilled. “Come on. Let’s get you fed.”
Later, with warm blood filling my belly and tingling up my limbs, I slept in a room of my own. I washed with warm water in a copper tub and slept on a feather mattress. For days, I kept to my room, indulging in these luxuries I had never known, even in my mortal life. Now that my roaming had ended, my hunger sated, I felt not an easing of discomfort but a burgeoning disquiet. As a woman, I had cowered under the fists of men; as a vampire, I ran from their stakes and crosses. I thought the running would never end. When I closed my eyes, the hunt began again. Shadows chased me, wore me down until I could only hide under my lavender scented blankets and wait for the imagined blow to come.
Downstairs, voices rose in argument and laughter. Where would I fit into this strange family? I had come here out of desperation. My few kills had been disasters. My victims looked like death came from a soupspoon, their necks mangled by my toothless bite. I learned to harvest rabbits and rats, to drain their blood and drink like a mortal from a cup, but it was poor fare that barely sustained me. Then I heard of Black Bet’s home for toothless vampires, and made the long journey to this quiet room. Now what? Would they find me a name so that I could live out my endless days with these other helpless creatures of the night?
The floor rumbled. Baby was hungry again. His cries shook the old house, vibrated up into my bones. I opened my door, Brutus rushed by with the pig bladder, and in a moment, the night was quiet again.
“Come down for dinner,” said Black Bet. She stood at the bottom of the stairwell. Her eyes caught the sconce-light and beckoned from the darkness. “We’re having a special Solstice feast. Please join us.”
I looked back at my room and the haven it offered before descending the stair. When Brutus joined us, looking a little shaken, we all sat at the table in the great room. A fire burned high in the hearth. Blood pudding glistened on our plates.
“Beaver why don’t you give thanks tonight?”
The old vampire nodded heartily. With bowed heads, we waited in silence.
“Cockles and mussels! The fox ate all the chickens and spit out the gizzards!” Beaver cackled and stuck his face in the pudding like a pig at a trough. The black, jellied blood smeared his jowls and flew off his lips like spittle. The others took this as a sign to begin. Goliath ate quietly. Brutus jiggled his pudding on the spoon before gobbling it down. Hermit picked at his with those long, vulture claws. Black Bet smiled at her charges.
“We have new business tonight,” she said. “This fine lady needs a name. It’s tradition here. We all left our past lives, along with our old names when we crossed the threshold of this house…”
A shout interrupted her. Spoons clattered to the table. Hermit crept to the window and peered behind the heavy drapes. More shouts of “Devil!” and “Demon!” filled the night. Black Bet scraped back her chair.
“I’ve had enough of this,” she said. “Why can’t they just leave us alone to enjoy a simple Solstice feast?”
She took her cloak off a hook by the door and went out. Brutus and I joined Hermit at the window. An army had amassed on the front lawn and a bonfire at the base of a giant cross lit the night.
“Demons!” yelled a man on horseback. “Undead nightcrawlers!” He brandished a long wooden pike. “Come face the wrath of God!” Behind him, dozens of men, wielding hoes and pitchforks, cheered.
“Hmph,” said Hermit. “The wrath of idiots, you mean.”
Bet emerged from the shadows. The vigilantes raised their weapons even as they stepped back. She was magnificent. The fire highlighted her hair like a black halo. Wind resurrected leaves, and whipped Bet’s cloak around her. She raised her arms and the bonfire spiked toward the sky, enveloping the cross, reducing it to ash in seconds. She turned her attention on the vigilantes.
I peered anxiously into the gloom. A small hand tucked itself into mine. I looked down at Brutus’ toothless smile.
“Don’t worry, lady. Bet hath a way of talking to people. You’re thafe here.” I squeezed his hand, more to reassure myself than him. Bet still confronted the vigilantes. Her billowing cape puffed up like the mantle of a cobra, but her voice was quiet. I couldn’t hear her words. After a moment, the men turned and left without a fight.
“Won’t they be back?” I asked Bet as she hung her cloak by the door.
“Be back? No. They were never here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“They’ve been drinking at the inn all night. Tomorrow they’ll have wicked hangovers but no memories of bonfires or vampires. Now come, let us finish our feast.”
Later that night, I lay in my feather bed, listening to the ticks and creaks of the old house that sheltered us. Brutus was right. I was safe at last. I needed only to find a name. I had been called so many: wife, wench, bitch. They all rolled off the tongue so easily, and stuck like scullery grease. I had a chance to remake myself, but in what image? Bet assured me that my name would come when it was ready.
A cry of pure rage ended my quietude. Baby was hungry. I slipped out of my room. Downstairs the others rushed to prepare a meal for the monster in the bassinet. I opened the nursery door. Baby lay in his crib. His face was puckered, fists tiny white nuggets of rage. One hundred and fifty years old, they told me. An infant for all eternity. Insatiably hungry and frustrated, Baby had learned to be heard. His cries pitched higher, sending the washbasin crashing against the door. I ducked the missile and picked him up, not thinking that he could boil my eyeballs in my head, only that a baby needed solace. I held him to my chest and we rocked. His mouth searched for succor. With a nail, I ripped the skin on my breast and he latched onto me like a leech, drinking the blood I had stolen from another.
“There, there, little one. Nanny’s here,” I said. “Nanny will take care of everything.” His mouth was soft and hot. His fists kneaded my flesh and he grunted little sighs that echoed my contentment.


End.

For more creepy fun, visit Between the Cracks Fiction at www.kimmcdougall.com

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Events of a Trick-or-Treater

Hi Readers,
Before we begin the fun journey in the history of this Trick-or-Treater, I must thank Miz Ginger for asking me to be one of her guest bloggers. It’s always a thrill to be here. I’m paranormal romance author, Tabitha Shay and today, I’m going to share with you some of the funny things and not so funny things that happened to me as child growing up during that special holiday events….Halloween.

The earliest Halloween I can remember, I must have been about three or four. We still lived in California and since I started first grade in Oklahoma, I can easily pinpoint the age to a close margin. Oh my, for a small child, it was a bit overwhelming… Candy?
Gosh, I wasn’t even sure why I was out there being dragged from house to house in search of this special treat, but hey, it sounded like fun to me and I was always a sucker for a sucker.

Woe is me! How little did I know this would be one of the most frightening experiences of my life? Of course, Mom and Dad was with me, after all, they wanted to show off their little Trickster. I remember the house that changed my view of Halloween and forever scared my little soul. The house was sooooo dark and creepy and on the front door was this skeleton. Nothing in this world was going to force me up that front door to ask for candy. Heck no! I set my stubborn little mind, planted my feet in concrete and wouldn’t budge. That skeleton was out to get me. I can still hear Daddy’s laughter today and his gentle encouragement.

Finally, he gave up, lifted me in his arms and carried me to the front door that housed those spooky bones. Amazing, once the lady opened the door, smiled and dropped candy in my sack, I was fine. After all, the skeleton hadn’t gobbled me up and it left my treats alone. I was a happy little girl.

But one does have to wonder about the trauma we as adults bring on our little ones by taking them out to Trick-or-Treat at such an early age…however, it didn’t stop me from taking my children around when they were the same age. It was tradition, still is, and now that I’m an old lady, I try to make Halloween a fun-filled scary time for the kids who ring my doorbell at Halloween.


Oh, boy…the second memory upper most in my mind is a time when I was about ten. I’d reached the age where I could take a couple of my siblings along with me and walk a few blocks around the small rural neighborhood where I grew up…As we trudged out way up the road, I felt an unusual burning in my left leg. Because it was dark, I had no idea what had happened. I thought a snake had bit me, before I realized it was way too cold for snake to be out crawling on the road. Well, it happened again, but this time, it hurt a bit more and I screamed and rubbed my leg. And I decided a hungry vampire bat had bit me instead of a snake. Had to be a bat…what else would bite me on Halloween?

Come to find out, it was a couple of young boys from the neighborhood hiding in a ditch and when kids walked past them, they’d shoot them with their Bee-Bee guns. I put a spell on them and turned them both into pumpkins.

Moving fast forward here, boy, I still have never confessed doing this to my mom, she’d kill me and I’m all of sixty…bad when one still fears their mother’s wrath…Laughs…but this was just too much fun to pass up doing….we still lived way out in the country and had no modern facilities. Oh yes, the dreaded outhouse was a common part of our lives in those days and Mother guarded ours like the wicked witch from the West and East every Halloween. No one was going to tip our toilet over! Ha! Little did she know the culprits came from within? While Mom was busy making the traditional popcorn balls and passing out candy, my aunt sneaked into the house and eased me outside. I was about twelve by this time and no longer went out in search of treats. But I did love a good trick. My aunt said “Come on, we’re going to dump over the outhouse.”

Why I thought this was a great idea, I’ll never know, after all, it was where I conducted business… But we sneaked right past my mother’s guard and tilted over the toilet. It wasn’t until early the next morning Mom discovered the toilet was lying on its back like a big fat turtle. I can still hear her angry shouts.
Would you confess your guilt? Didn’t think so…

There you have it readers, some of the things that happened to me in my early years of growing up. I hope you’ve had a laugh or two and enjoyed the random events in this child’s life, because no matter how old I get, I’ll always be that little girl at heart…Happy Halloween to all your little pumpkins….Tabs


NOTE FROM GING: What Tabitha forgot to mention is that she is the author of a wonderful "Witch" series available at Eternal Press.
You can read more about Tab and her work on her wonderfully, inventive website. Step carefully into the realm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where Zombies & Autism Meet


Robin Wolfe writes erotica and her first book, Ink Me, is being published this December by Eternal Press. Her home on the web is www.robinwolfe.com, and here she shares an unusual way that she and her autistic son have fun.

For most of us, crowds of people aren't that big a deal. We may find them annoying or inconvenient, perhaps even obnoxious, but they aren't a serious problem. They're something we push our way through or navigate around, and then it's over and we're on to tackling the next obstacle in our day.

My five-year-old son, Gavin, is not like most people. Crowds freak him out on a primal level. There's a very good reason for his nervousness: he's autistic, and has to deal with sensory sensitivities. For him, navigating through a crowd of people is an experience that few of us will ever understand.

The first thing he has to cope with is auditory sensitivity. What this means in practical terms is that sounds at normal volume can be upsetting for him, because he hears them louder than most of us do. Sounds that we'd find loud usually leave him cowering, covering his ears, and high-pitched sounds are even more painful for him. Our apartment building's fire alarm is like the boogeyman and Freddy Krueger all rolled into one for that child; the blare of the alarm will cause him to hide under our duvet, sobbing and hysterical.


In addition, he also has some visual hypersensitivity, which means he sees things in a much more intense way. I can't really describe it because I don't know exactly how he sees things, but certain patterns - for example, the raised grid of a manhole cover - are incredibly exciting and stimulating for him. The problem is that when he gets overstimulated (through too much auditory or visual input or both) another sensitivity kicks in: procioceptive hyposensitivity. Procioception is your awareness of where your body is in space, and the boundaries of your body. Now, notice that his procioception is hypOsensitive, not hypERsensitive - that means it isn't as strong as it should be. So when he starts paying too much attention to what he's hearing and/or seeing, he'll suddenly lose his ability to feel parts of his body. This is about as upsetting and panic-inducing as you'd expect, and he'll start flailing and pushing to re-establish sensation to his body. This is obviously a problem when there's people around, because whoever is in his vicinity will probably get injured.

These days life isn't particularly stressful on a daily basis, because we've figured out a lot of accommodations. For example, he's in a smaller class at school, in a classroom designed for autistic kids (so it reduces visual input and has a strong emphasis on routines, etc). Our home is set up to reduce overstimulation. If we're out on a walk and a fire truck starts heading our way, he'll stop while the truck is still at least half a block away and put his hands over his ears.

I'm telling you all this so you understand what he deals with every day, and why a child like him would have great difficulty with noisy, bustling, aggressive crowds. And I'm telling you this so you understand how remarkable this is: my child loves Zombie Walks.

Caption: Gavin with comfort objects (bobby pins). He looks angry, but that's actually just him focusing intently

Do you have a Zombie Walk in your city? It's essentially a parade of the undead. Anywhere from a few dozen to several hundred people gather at a public location, all dressed as zombies, and then they lurch their way to another location, confusing and amusing passersby on the street. Plenty of cities have them now, but my city, Toronto - has one of the very largest Zombie Walks of any city worldwide; last year's Walk had well over a thousand people.

And my autistic son, who goes into a flailing panic when surrounded by twenty other children in a classroom, somehow has no problem with this. No, it's more than that: he loves it. For weeks before a Walk he'll be giving me a running countdown: "Twelve more days until the Zombie Walk, Mama!" When the big day finally arrives, he wakes up early in the morning, impatient to get going. It's not quite at the excitement level of Christmas, but it's close.

I can't explain it. More than a thousand people, all covered in Liquid Latex and fake blood, moaning and shrieking, "Brains!" periodically... and there's my child, right in the middle of it all, having a blast. There's makeup and strange sights and people moving in erratic, unpredictable ways. You'd think that for a child with his sensitivities, a Zombie Walk would be like something out of a nightmare. Hell, for most neurotypical (average/non-autistic) children, a Zombie Walk would be something out of a nightmare!

And yet, the Zombie Walks are among his very favorite days of the year. Now, I'm not saying that he magically becomes non-autistic. We still need to take his autism into account; for example, getting dirt on himself sends him into a panic, so we need to have clean clothes on him (underneath his dirtied-up zombie clothes) and his makeup needs to be minimal. But being at the Zombie Walk does something positive to him, that's for sure.

I see him doing self-soothing behaviors, such as dancing to re-establish his body when he starts feeling disconnected. And he'll make sure to carry "comfort objects", which are small items he can carry in his hands so he can focus on those when everything else is too overwhelming. But the fact that he can do that at all is remarkable, since usually he's not self-aware enough of his emotions to realize when things are getting too stressful. Something about being at a Zombie Walk puts him more in touch with his internal state, and he's able to help himself better. What is it about being in a crowd of a thousand zombies that allows him to have more understanding of himself? I have no clue.

The only conclusion I can draw is that my child is, in fact, awesome. Or maybe he's part of the impending zombie apocalypse, and being among "his people" at a Zombie Walk makes him feel better. I'll probably never know, at least not until the morning he wakes me up by tearing my throat out with his teeth.

I suppose there's worse ways to go. At least we'll be zombies together!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planning my Costume


My scheduled poster failed to show up so I'm filling in. Gads, I wasn't prepared, but I'm finding life is full of "spooky stuff" and most of it has nothing to do with Halloween.

I'm supposed to take my grandson trick or treating because his Dad will be out of town and his mom has two bum knees. Like my arthritic one isn't a obstacle, but anything for my Spencer. He's so excited.

I considered dressing up, but after looking in the mirror this morning, I think I'll just leave on my pajamas and robe, sleep in as late as possible, and let the blanket creases, lack of brassiere, and sleep-crinkled hair do the work. At least it's free, and despite squinting through my cataracts, I think it's quite frightful.

I'll wear my slippers...the ones I mistakenly bought in the men's section, and the very ones my sister refers to as my "limosines." And I suppose I could put on some lipstick...now that I have no lips at all, I've become the same women my grandmother was when the color drifted closer to her nose every day. Actually, I'm not a lipstick wearer...haven't ever been. When God sent me to the "lip" line, I got in "hip" line again. Needless to say, I think you get the picture.

Yep....growing old is a scary thing. I can type an entire paragraph with no hands if I don't wear a bra... I continually clean my glasses because everything looks dirty, but it's really just my eyes. I creak and groan when I bend my joints, and I suddenly have gas all the time. Yep...at least after October 31st, everyone else can take off their costumes. I'm stuck in mine. *lol*

I just tell myself that any day I spend on 'this' side of the grass, is a great one! After all, my favorite saying..."Life is an attitude, have a good one." But...some days I'm tested to the limits. *lol*

Monday, October 26, 2009

Victoria Returns



High School Vampires Bite
A Plea from Victoria Welshire, beloved daughter of The Vampire Family

I've had to visit Ms. Simpson earlier this year with my complaints, but apparently no one was listening. This emo, girlie girl, kiddie vampire phase has to stop. I've lived NINE hundred years and this whiny, teeny bopper vampire moment can't end fast enough for me. When I was what we now call a teenager, there wasn't high school cliques and bad boy romantic decisions. All this black eye makeup and spunky hair really gives the rest of us vampires a bad name.

Should you meet me in a dark alleyway in Philadelphia or London this Halloween, remember the true meaning of masks and Samhain. I'm not you're friend, and I'm not your lover. You wish! But no, I'm a vampire to be feared and run away from, for I will eat you the first chance I get. Yes maybe I'll bat my eyes at the foolish gents or admire a lady's leather jacket. But when he's spent and she has no use for the jacket, only I'll remain. I can't speak for this other *dreamy* vamps, but our house is not one to be trifled with.

My webmaster Kristin would have me remind you our complex, torrid tale can all be found in The Vampire Family. And I have to say, it's a real pain the in ass googling myself and having to weed through all these other references to some 'Cullen' family. The Welshires were here long before and from further away. Occultist Professor A. James is in the process of compiling our earlier records in order to make his fortunes. Until then, you'll just have to keep up with us through Kristin's efforts. Someone has to chronicle our latest adventure-to combat this hormonal vampire drivel if nothing else.

Victoria crept into her room and shut the door. She stood a moment in the dark. Her dress was not plain, and she didn’t eat crumbs. They lived better than anyone anywhere although she knew no one beyond her castle.

Is Gaston right?

She lit the candle beside the entrance and saw Stephen on her bed.

“Did you have fun?” He inched toward her and pulled some moss from her hair. “Our dear mothers have told us not to venture off. Yet every night you get on your dark horse and ride off into the sunset. You are hiding something, and I want to know what it is.”

“Mind your own business.” Victoria crossed her arms. Where James over sought books and art, Stephen divulged in people too much. “We are too alike for you to blackmail me.”

The door opened, and Samantha peaked in.

“Mother is coming.” She shut the door.

Goody Goody Girl.

“Tell me.”

“No.”

The door opened again and Ann entered.

“Stephen," she said sternly. “Get to your room and go to sleep.”

The boy reluctantly followed his mother’s orders.

“You best be getting to bed, too, Victoria.”

Ann was strong willed, unlike Elizabeth, but Victoria enjoyed chiding her father’s mistress.

“I already have a mother. I don’t listen to you.”

Ann blew out the door side candle and left Victoria in the dark.



Now, visit http://vampfam.blogspot.com and don't bother me again. I have vampires to do and people to bite.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pentagram Dance


Tom Olbert shares the following excerpt and link to more if you dare read on: BWWAAAAHHHHAAA!

His knees turned to mush. The blood drained cold from his face as he screamed and ran for the door. “Todd!!” he called out frantically in a cracking voice, running from room to room. He found nothing but empty beds and the odd sign of a struggle. He clutched his head, blood pounding through his temples. He sobbed, hysterically. “Hold it together, dammit! ‘Got to think. Think.” He heard gravelly, slithering voices, clawed feet creaking up the stairs.

You can read the rest at Black Petals #45

Note from Ginger: I borrowed the art work from the link above. The artist is identified as Christopher Stine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't Venture Into the Woods Alone


Multi, multi-published author Jane Toombs' website heading has more meaning than just the type of books she rights. Stroll along the wooded path in her story and see if you don't get a shiver or two:

At sixteen I was alone at a family cottage on the south shore of Lake Superior. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is, even today, a wilderness area, so there were many large trees around the cottage and between the road and the lake. As I often did I walked east along the beach searching for agates, all the way up to where the Mineral River flowed into the lake. Since this river was too wide and deep to wade across, I turned back, head down, still looking at the waterline for the translucent brown of an agate. I have
never been a fearful person, but suddenly I looked up at the woods, a shiver running along my back. There hadn't an unusual sound or anything to alert me. Nor did I see anything under the darkness of the big trees. But I KNEW something evil watched me. I ran as fast as I could back to the cottage and locked myself inside. Not then, or any time since did I believe it was a wild animal. At that time we did have bears and porcupines in the woods. (Wolves, coyotes and fishers came much later).

Something other than an animal watched me--I don't know what. That same year I came across a bear in our apple tree, and though scared, I didn't feel the sheer terror that came over me that day on the beach. I've never had the same feeling again--thank heaven.



Jane has authored more books than I can list here, so please visit her website and be as awed as I was at her achievements.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For Some, It's always Halloween

Some authors have the knack of infusing hair-raising scenes into their writing...especially my guest today, Carol Shenold. If you haven't enjoyed the escapades of Tali Cates, then here's a couple of excerpts to show you how exciting mystery can be:


In this scene from “Bloody Murder” Tali Cates visits the funeral home to see if her gift of “sight” will allow her to see Marcia’s murderer:


I stopped. “Wait. Can you show me where Marcia is? I never got to really say goodbye, and I don’t want to intrude on the family time.”

Tara hesitated. “I guess it would be all right. No one is here right now, except for me. We don’t usually let visitors go into the preparation room but let me see… wait, she’s in a closed casket, so you should be able to go in. No problem.”

We turned around to go the opposite way, stopped halfway down the center hall,and entered a plain, no-frills room with several caskets lined up in a row.

I shivered and Tara patted me on the shoulder, obviously assuming I was grieving. She murmured comforting sounds and left me alone in the room. Guilt coursed through me that I’d fooled a nice kid who was trying to be kind. Another rumble shook the room. I knew, deep in my soul, that a casket lid would open and a thing would sit up, climb out, and come after me.

I couldn’t stand there and watch the coffins for movement. I needed to open this one and touch Marcia in case I could sense anything that would help us catch whoever caused her death. I took a deep breath, reached for the lid, and opened it. I kept my eyes on the end of the casket to avoid seeing her face again.

No one had changed her clothes so she was still in her jeans. I guessed, since she Would be in a closed casket, they must have re-dressed her in the same clothes after the autopsy. I reached for the hem of her jeans, expecting another clap of thunder. Instead, the room became quieter, hushed.

I touched the denim and saw—nothing. Dark slammed into me, pushed at me. Red tinged the edges. Emotions flew through my mind—envy, fear, desire. Black emotions threatened to take over and I jerked back.

I saw no concrete images, only colors, feelings, and strong evil. After slamming closed the casket, I ran out of the room and down the hall, ran into a dead end. Wrong way—dark hall—panic—shouldn’t have come.


In another scene from “Bloody Murder” Tali and her friend Cherilyn take shelter from a storm, only to face a worse storm on the inside:



Cherilyn stood right beside me. “Look at those clouds. They’re turning in circles.”

“Shit, shit, shit. We’re going to have a tornado, and it’s not much after noon. They’re not supposed to hit until afternoon or evening.”
“Tell that to those clouds overhead.”

I scanned the kitchen and saw a door on the opposite side from the one outside.

“Quick, in here.”

“If it’s a cellar, I’m not going to be trapped inside a death trap.”

“Oh, don’t be a baby. It’s just a pantry but it should protect us.”

She pulled back. “But it’s dark and old and there’s no telling how many critters are in there. Besides, how do you know it’s a pantry?”

I shrugged and pulled open the door, then looked around for light. In the middle of the pentagram on the floor stood a large candle. Plucking that from its resting place might not be good but it was better than being in the dark. I grabbed it, attempting to ignore the energy washing through me.

We barreled through the pantry door and closed it. Now we were in the pitch dark with an unlit candle.

“It’s noon in October, not late afternoon in May,” I shouted. “We shouldn’t be having this strong a thunderstorm.”

“Did you tell that to the weather gods? I don’t think they’re playing by the rules,”

Cherilyn yelled back. “How about some light?”

“Do you have a lighter or something?” An abrupt flare of light blinded me as the wick of the candle I held burst into flame. I barely managed to hold onto the wax when I jumped. Thank God I’d dropped the sack of grass at the last thunderclap or I’d have a
bag of flame.

“Okay. That was just plain weird. I know you have some gifts, but lighting things with your mind?”

“It wasn’t me. Not on purpose.”

Shelves held the usual things for an abandoned house—dust, cobwebs, more dust, spiders, a discarded, dented can of corn. The hail, wind, and rain had stopped, or else we simply couldn’t hear them, which made no sense. Was this the eye of the storm? I didn’t remember that tornadoes had an eye; they came and went so fast.

The pantry was enormous, as were Cherilyn’s eyes. She wasn’t looking at me, but above my head somewhere.

“What? What’s wrong?”

She pointed to the wall behind me. “Look.”

I turned. Symbols covered the wall. Most pantries had shelves on at least three walls but this one was as large as a living room, and one wall was covered with hundreds of drawings crammed together, one on top of each other. They glowed with a light of their own—or took the light from the candle. I moved closer to try to identify the drawings but an immediate chill shot through me.
My hands shook, my entire body trembled, sending the candle flame jumping like a demented firefly, throwing shadows in odd shapes all over the wall. I swore the shadows moved on their own. More than anything in the world, I didn’t want to see the things that made those shadows. Fear also moved on its own, pushed into me, froze my
blood, stopping all movement, including my heart. Unreasonable fear that made me want to claw my way out of the room took over.

To see more about this amazing author's work and Tali's series, visit Carol's website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kayden's Contribution



Here's a spooky excerpt from Deadly Fetishes, an Erotic Paranormal written by Kayden McLeod and due to be released in March 2010. Kayden wants to stress this is an UNEDITED excerpt from the manuscript.

To learn more about Kayden, click here.

Excerpt:


“What has gotten into the two of you?” Ryder asked when we stood, kicking aside a moaning Jonas.

“We are death.” Sara responded emotionlessly, tonelessly.

“We are revenge.” My own demonic voice thundered through the room. The volume shuttered the fog floating in the air around us.

“All right then. Remind me the next time that I mouth off, of this moment. Please, and thank you.” He nodded briskly, and followed us silently when we moved through the room once more.

Ryder watched our backs, following us closely. I could taste his fear. Not of us, but what we were capable of in this perfect killing state. He seemed to know exactly what was happening, but his cautiousness told me of his shock at our strength of will.

I turned my head to the right, hearing Marcus’s enraged snarl. Sara turned with me as one, until the very end. We were inseparable. Everyone against us would die for threatening what was ours.

Marcus and Dallas were both in a low crouch across from each other, waiting for the other to attack. They were wounded, cut and bruised.

I snarled as the rather nasty cut on Marcus’s forehead, realizing someone had ripped out his eyebrow ring.

Seeing brutal and endless red, my eyes filled with blood. I screamed an insane wail that swelled in volume to fill every corner of the room.

Sara screamed beside me, ruffled because of my outburst. We were almost like birds in our actions.

Dallas’s head turned to take us in, and visibly paled. I knew we were already covered in Jonas’s blood, and he could smell it.

He would know where we’d just come from, heard the screams, never guessing who’d induced that terror, until he caught sight of us. His eyes focused on mine and ignored Marcus, seeing us as the bigger threat.

My mate stepped aside to stand beside Ryder, but he wouldn’t let Marcus come anywhere near me.

“Kelly?” Marcus whispered painfully. His fangs snapped at Ryder’s restraining hand when he moved towards me again.

Just as Sara launched onto Dallas, I stood there expressionless. While my Curse and I both recognized him, I also acknowledged that he was severely hurt.

He limped, his jeans torn and stained with dark red. It was his own, and Coren’s, and some of Dallas’s.. I whimpered in confusion when he reached for me.

“Don’t bother.” Ryder pulled Marcus another inch or so away. “Dude, all I have to say is; never piss off your fiancĂ©..”

I leapt atop of the struggling figures, my saliva-coated fangs piercing through Dallas’s t-shirt into his chest, right above his heart.

He shrieked, gripping my hair to try and pull me off. I turned like a snake, latching onto his offered wrist to stare into his eyes. He was too scared, not even his survival instincts kicking in to save himself.

“What’s happening to them?” Marcus’s voice was a thread of a whisper, half fear and half admiration.

“I don’t have a name for it, nor have I actually seen it before. They are past reason or simple anger. I haven’t seen anything like this, especially not from human converts.” Ryder’s hand locked around Marcus’s biceps, preventing him from joining the fight.

“Marcus, you seriously have to leave them alone. At this time, they’re just as likely to strike at you, as they are them. Both of them are animals right now, and they will protect their meal until they are finished with it.” Ryder warned.

“But what if she gets hurt?” Marcus pulled at his arm again, his eyes filled with turmoil when Dallas hit me in the back of the head.

“Look at her! Does it look like pain could even pierce that thick head right now?” Ryder waved his arms in front of himself, daring Marcus to gain a brain, and lose the testosterone.

I backhanded Dallas, hard enough to knock out any human. My engagement ring caught his face, tearing his cheek wide open. I smiled ruthlessly, blood dripping from my mouth as I held him still while Sara drained him.

Still, neither of us was sated.

His blood curdling screams set the stage for the others. Confused shouts surrounded us from all sides, wondering who was screaming this painfully, and why.

I smiled viciously, my head rising from the gushing wounds. I almost felt like howling, but I was a vampire, not a werewolf.

My name being said made me swivel my head back towards Marcus and Ryder.

Sara threw Dallas’s body into the fog, and away from us. His dull grunt told me he was still alive, for now.

Marcus came to his knees in front of me, holding his hand out cautiously. He trusted me not to hurt him, not to bleed him like I had the others, regardless of the warnings from his friend.

Ryder swore viciously, and tensed to leap onto me if I snapped. He seemed to know that Marcus wouldn’t raise a hand to defend himself if I attacked. He’d rather die, than hurt me.

My head cocked to one side, nuzzling his hand that cupped my cheek. No matter what Ryder though, I wouldn’t ever hurt him.

“Are you in there my love?” He asked me, smiling sadly.

I couldn’t respond, neither mentally nor vocally, but I kissed the tips of his fingers with my blood-coated lips, before I bound away from him

End Excerpt!

If you want to read Kayden's interesting information on the celebration of Halloween, click here:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scotland is Spooky, too


ADVENTURE AT HOLLYROOD PALACE, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

The following true story came from author, Foery K. MacDonell, Author of Laird of the Mist and The Fool's Journey. You can read more about Foery here.

Onward to Scotland for a shiver or two:

In September of 2005, I decided to return to Edinburgh. This time, I took my son, Jameson with me. Both Jameson and I are very psychic and have seen ghosts, and more, all of our lives. We were not afraid of them. Especially me, who had often been called upon to cleanse homes or locations and send them on their way to the other side. Ghosts can not physically harm you, but they can scare the hell out of people.

We had had a lovely morning on the Royal Mile—Jameson having a psychic reading by one of Edinburgh’s top psychics. My appointment with the psychic was scheduled in two hours time, so we decided to spend that interval touring Hollyrood Palace. Hollyrood, located at the foot of the Royal Mile, has been the Royal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 15th century. Prior to that, it had served as a monastery.

We toured the lovely and ancient ground floors – the throne room, dining areas, and galleries. We were then led upstairs to Mary, Queen of Scots’ chambers.

As we stepped into the room, I was struck by how small the bedroom was. A Queen, I thought, should have had an enormous bedroom, shouldn’t she? Off to one side was a tiny room where the Queen’s secretary, David Rizzio, had spent his time working. To the other side was an open door with a spiral staircase that led downstairs into the King’s bedroom.

As I looked toward the bed, encased in a glass enclosure, I was suddenly disoriented and my vision blurred badly. (I had excellent vision at the time). I felt as though I was stepping outside of my body. I had to fight hard to throw oft the strange sensations.

The tour guide began leading people toward the open door of the spiral staircase so that they could continue into the King’s bedroom.

Jameson and I looked at each other. His face was pale and he appeared shaken.

“Are you all right?” I asked him.

“No,” he said in a low tone. “There is something really terrible in here. Can we leave?”

I felt the same urgency to leave, so I grabbed his arm and turned him toward the door through which we had entered – away from the group.

“Let’s go,” I said firmly. I had felt the worst evil in that room I had ever experienced and I suspected he was feeling it, too.

We walked out of the room and addressed a guard who was standing outside the room.

“Is there another way we can leave, please?” I asked, trying to sound calm. “We just can’t go down that staircase. There is something terrible in that room.” I am never shy about telling people what is going on. I always end up finding out that they have had their own experiences with the supernatural.

“Of course,” she replied. “Just come over here and go down those stairs.” She unhooked a red velvet rope that blocked a normal, well-lit staircase. “Those stairs will take you right out to the courtyard,” she said.]

We didn’t think twice, but thanked her profusely and fled down the stairs.

Once in the bright sun outside, we sat down at a table and compared notes. We had both felt an evil energy in that room. Yes, it had been the room in which David Rizzio had been stabbed to death by several Lairds put up to the murder by Mary’s husband. They had murdered Rizzio in front of the pregnant Queen. But that was not the energy we were felling.

The energy we felt was ancient and had been there from time immemorial. We both had the strong impression that it had been influencing the behavior and politics of inhabitants of the castle for hundreds of years.

We were nauseated, light-headed, and disturbed. We felt as though we had come face-to-face with something powerfully demonic. It took about an hour to collect ourselves and go on with our day.

The last time I was in Scotland, I sat in the courtyard sipping a lattĂ© while Kevin toured Hollyrood alone. Mary’s bedroom was no longer on the tour. “Closed for renovation,” they told him. I should think so!

When I return in two weeks, I will not enter that Palace. Never again!

As a side note, we had so many paranormal experiences there that it prompted Jameson to answer when asked how it was, "The whole damned country is haunted!"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Madame May I?


True Ghost Story – from Cheryl Wright


Many years ago my mother decided to take up a cleaning job to earn some extra money.

She asked around and found out a local minister needed a cleaner for his home. What she didn’t realise was his ‘home’ was a rambling mansion that was more than 100 years old.

On her first day, after working for nearly two hours, it was time for a break. She made a cup of tea, and while she drank, read the newspaper. She felt that someone looking over her shoulder reading the newspaper with her, but as no one else was there, she tried to shake the feeling away.

It didn’t work.

Later that morning, the minister arrived back from a meeting, so my mother asked him about her experience. She told him she was certain there was a ghost in the house.

Rather than brush the idea aside, he told her she was correct - there was a ghost in the house. His daughter moved out as soon as she was old enough, because she couldn’t cope with the ghostly being that lived there with them.

“She was a Madame,” he told my mother. “The building was once a brothel, and she was murdered in an attack by a client.” He quickly added, “But she’s friendly, she won’t hurt you.”

My mother agreed and said she wasn’t afraid, just curious. She worked there for many years, and encountered the friendly being every single day while she drank her morning cup of tea.

All these years later I often drive past that beautiful old building, and can often feel the presence of the Madame. I sometimes wonder if the minister’s daughter ever returned to the house, and if so, if she ever came to terms with the situation.

If you'd like to learn more about Cheryl, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Smell that Smoke?



Reader and member, Brenda, from the Books We Love group shared this story on that loop and has graciously given permission for me to share it here. Prepare to shudder:


We have a ghost living in our home! I've seen the gray man at the top of the basement stairs, I turned and thought I saw someone standing there, then when I looked again he was gone. I heard my husband and his buddy talking, Tom had left his buddy downstairs in his room, Tom has a room downstairs filled with military stuff he's brought home, from all of the wars, and we think he brought someone with him. Anyway, the neighbor was sitting on the futon waiting for Tom to come back down stairs and the gray man walked into the room and then disappeared. Mark came hightailing it up the stairs and said he wasn't going to stay down there alone any more. I heard them talking and said, you are speaking about the gray man, right? I hadn't had a chance to tell my husband I had seen him. They just looked at me!

We've been in our family room and in one spot in the room, and not anywhere any windows we'll smell cigarette smoke! It's happened twice and we don't smoke, and our furniture is new. Tom yelled at the ghost and told him he could hang out with us and watch tv but he had to smoke outside because he was making his wife sick. It seems to have stopped. I was laying on the couch and could smell it by my face, and Tom couldn't smell it on the other side of the room, he got up and walked over to where I was and then could smell the cigarette smoke!

Wild, yes?

If you live in or around Michigan and enjoy dancing...check out the following sites:
DanceMichigan.com or DanceAlertReads.BlogSpot.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Author, Chris Redding's Spooky Offering


Excerpt from the Corpse Whisperer:

The corpse grabbed her arm with cool fingers.

Grace Harmony took a deep breath, the antiseptic hospital smell filling her nostrils. “What?”

The lifeless woman’s eyes flipped open. “Help.” Her voice came out as hollow and raspy, a lone word uttered in a subway underpass. Grace cringed as the chill moved along her skeleton, settling in the marrow.

She glanced at the door. No one would come to save her.

“Let me guess. You’ve been murdered.”

“Yes,” the corpse said, the last part sounding like a snake.

The noise sent a shudder through Grace’s body, but only briefly. Talking to dead bodies had ceased to scare her.

Dragging in a ragged breath, Grace braced herself for the time slip, the trek down the dark tunnel. “What’s your name?”

“Dolores Holten.”

Colors danced and flashed before Grace’s eyes as if they were a precursor to a migraine. Numbness deadened her limbs. She catapulted down a black shaft; only the passing of lights indicated movement. Her breath caught in her throat as her nose filled with a burning electrical scent. A sneeze that would have relieved her didn’t come.

Something squeezed her body, but not for long. Then she slammed into a wall and she was back in time.

Read more about Chris and her work on her website.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Seances, Murder and History

Imagine enjoying an evening out with your husband and witnessing his death by gunshot. You're holding his hand as his head sags to his chest. Your clothing is splattered with his blood.

But the nightmare doesn't end there. Because you deal with the grief in a manner not considered "rational," your eldest son has you declared insane and, after a court hearing, you're confined to an asylum. Hard to believe? The whole riveting story of Mary Todd Lincoln is captured in Janis Cooke Newman's novel, Mrs. Lincoln.

When I first looked at this novel, I shuddered. It's 565 pages long and I rarely engage my precious time in something so lengthy. The only problem I found was trying to put it down once I got engrossed in the story--tales of the horrible things that happened to affluent women of that era, how Mary Lincoln developed a taste for buying on credit, and why her purchases comforted her in her times of need.

The story revolves around the political career of Abe Lincoln, war, slavery, and the seances that Mary Todd Lincoln held, trying to connect with her dead children. Written in first person, the descriptions are vivid and real. I pictured the asylum furniture, plucked and picked apart by the mad residents, and I shared Mary's anguish at every loss in her life--especially her freedom.

I cannot imagine the myriad of emotions that must have shook Mrs. Lincoln to her very soul. The son she loved, and her only surviving child ruled her life, her visitors, and kept her prisoner in a place where she truly didn't belong. As I read the descriptions of Robert, I wondered if might have been autistic, as he shied away from touch and affection. Perhaps the condition has been around even much longer than we know.

Regardless of my mind wanderings, I was fascinated with this book. The very idea that your life can be stolen from you in a flash qualifies my review of this book for my "Spooky Stuff" month.

Kudos to Janis Cooke Newman. I'm so happy I decided to venture into such a lengthy read. It was well-worth the time spent and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Empty Chair

My neighbor, Hilda, had just returned from her brother-in-law's funeral. She and husband, Troy, had traveled from California to somewhere mid-US and the week had left both of them drained. They were a large family, and the sudden death of her sister's husband came as a shock to all.

I didn't see Hilda for a while, while she recuperated and rested, and I figured I should give her time to grieve her loss. When we finally did get together for coffee, she greeted me at the front door with a puzzled look while holding a photograph.

"What's wrong?" I asked, her confusion apparent in a raised brow.

"This. It can't be real." She handed me the photo, her hand trembling.

I stared at the images, but noticed nothing uncanny. A woman sat in a recliner, a rather sad smile on her face, while family surrounded her.

"It's a nice picture, but..." I handed the snapshot back.

She shoved it back at me. "You don't understand. My sister bought that recliner for her husband. It's practically new. All weekend, no one sat in it out of respect for him. When we got ready to leave, I wanted a picture of everyone, and I insisted she sit in the center.

"So," I held up my palms, waiting for the rest of the story.

"Look at my sister's face...the one sitting in the chair." Hilda's face paled.

I inspected the images a little more closely. Sure enough, superimposed, but oh so faintly, over the woman's face was that of a man's. I shrugged. "A quirk of development," I said, unfazed.

"B-but...that's my brother-in-law."

Not getting the inference, I continued with my uneducated guess. "Probably from another picture you took on the same roll. It happens often, or so I hear."

Hilda swallowed. "You don't understand. This is a new camera, and my brother-in-law was dead before we arrived and started taking pictures."

A chill ran up my spine. I finally got why she was so upset. The grieving wife sat in her deceased husband's chair, and had no idea she shared it with her beloved. Sort of a eerie romance tale, don't you think? True, too! Yep...Ghosts are around us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On The Silver Edge of Time

Friend and author, Ciara Gold, has contributed to my "Spooky Tales" month by sharing an excerpt from one of her releases. The girl can write!!! You can check out more about Ciara on her website. In the meantime, please enjoy this 'edge of your seat' excerpt:

Leaves rustled, and a great flapping noise accompanied the flock of birds that took sudden flight. Upon entering the dense covering of oak and beech trees, she hadn’t given much thought to the lurking dangers. Her mind had been too occupied with escaping Erik and avoiding the dragon. Wolves howled in the distance, filling the forest with an eerie echo. Something slithered near her foot, causing her to jump back with a soft shriek. Maybe, this wasn’t such a good idea. As she careened into the tree at her back, a small flock of birds scattered. The farther she ventured into the unknown, the more frightened she became. With labored breath and a rapidly beating heart, Keelin leaned against the rough bark of a huge oak. She needed to gather her thoughts and relax. Her frenzied plan to escape from Erik was quickly going awry.

Calm down and breathe slowly. The screech of a hoot owl broke the silence and was quickly followed by a flight of birds. With a soft cry of despair, Keelin sank down with her back to a tree. She would just sit here and wait for Erik to find her. Suddenly, her fear of the forest had become more prevalent than her fear of Erik’s anger.

“Funny, I remember having the same thought with regard to the dragon and Erik. I’ve come full circle with my emotions this day,” she muttered to take her mind off her fright. But oh, how she wouldn’t mind if Erik were to find her at this moment.

For a brief time, she entertained the romantic idea of Erik falling in love with her. What would happen if they followed through with the prophecy? Could she marry without benefit of love? Could she make Erik love her? And if so, would the emotion be enough to surpass the many obstacles she envisioned? Marriage to Erik would be a commitment to a whole new way of life. Could she love the man enough to give up all she’d known for a life that was centuries in the past? Could he love her enough to make up for all that she would be giving up?

Her heart had settled to a more normal beat when she realized how still everything had become. Maybe her fears were unfounded after all. “Get a grip, Keely. You’re letting your imagination run away with you.”

On shaky limbs, she rose and decided to go on a little farther. If she did end up in the forest through the evening, she would need to find a clearing in which to set up some sort of camp. She had ventured out ill prepared to brave nature’s elements.

“You can do this. It’s just like camping.” She tried to console herself. A sudden image of her family camping in one of the National Forests brought about an intense pang of homesickness. She pushed the painful memory away. Now wasn’t the time to indulge in self-pity over all that she had been forced to leave behind. Staying alert and focused would see her through this new adventure unscathed.

She had only taken five steps when the cry ripped through the forest walls. It was a sound that caused her hair to stand on end and her eyes to widen. She knew that sound, would never forget the terror it brought. The dragon was in the forest, and by the sound of its awful, shrill voice, it was not that far away. Running would only alert the creature to her presence. She needed to hide, but where?

Glancing around, she found another large oak with heavy brush around its trunk. Wedging herself between the brush and the rough bark, she buried her head between her knees and covered her head with her hands. How did the beast maneuver in this dense forest with its large wings? It couldn’t fly amid all these trees, so that meant it was on the ground. Silently, she began to pray and lamented the absence of her rosary beads. She had no way to fight the demon creature. Her only hope was that Erik would find her before the dragon did. Despite her anger at Erik, she knew she’d been foolish to run. She had taken the coward’s way out, and now she was about to pay for her folly.

The ground trembled. A heavy branch broke nearby and fell to the ground with a crash. The dragon let out his mighty screech again, and Keelin bit her tongue to keep quiet. He was so close. She felt his nearness, sensed his deadly intent. And then it hit her: the dragon was stalking something, and she had the dismal feeling she was its target. She lifted her head from between her knees and froze. The dragon’s hot breath caressed her cheek as his long snout bent to sniff her body.

The dragon was upon her.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is It Real or is It Memorex?

I borrowed these images from Rock and Roll Bad Boy.
Looks like a normal picture of someone taken at rocker, Jim Morrison's grave? Check between the headstones...or scroll down for the Zoom! You can read the story by clicking on the above link.

Where Did He Put His Hands?


I may have blogged about this already, I've been doing this for a while and can't possibly remember every post I've made. Hell, I can't even remember what I posted yesterday. *lol* But, this one fits in with "spooky stuff" month.

I still remember the day my sister called and told me Dad had passed. January 28. I expected it when we left their house after our visit at Christmas, and I cried all the way from So. Cal back to No. California, knowing I probably wouldn't see Daddy again.

Mom and Dad had lived in the same house for quite a while. My dad's health had failed, and he became more possessive of my mother. She was the center of his world and he didn't want to share her with anyone. For some reason, right before he died, he asked Mom to promise not to sell the house. I think he knew it would be paid off soon and he wanted to provide for her.

Anyhow, Daddy died in his den, doing what he loved most...watching TV. He passed sometime during the middle of the night and by the time Mom found him, it was far too late to call for help.

My sisters and I set about trying to change the "look" of the house to help Mom forget how and where Dad had died. We took the recliners out of the den and transformed it back into the bedroom it was supposed to be. We changed the appearance, but we couldn't disguise the memories.

When it became apparent that Mom couldn't deal with her grief, we decided she needed to start a new chapter of her life, and encouraged her to sell the house and move somewhere else. She was reluctant at first because of her promise, but we convinced her Dad wouldn't really want her to stay in a house where such a void existed.

We didn't figure on all the strange things that would happen: First, she couldn't sell because she didn't have an easement to the driveway...the only way into the yard. She had to go to court and gain access to a house she'd lived in for years. You know how tiring the legal system can be. It took a long time and a lot of effort.

Then the Real Estate agent told her that California Law required a home to have a carport or garage. Dad and my Uncles had transformed the old carport into an apartment for my grandmother. So, Mom had to invest money she didn't have in putting up a carport for a potential buyer. Dad hadn't left any insurance...there had never been money for a policy or a job that provided any.

The stress of selling and the hurdles took pounds off my mother and made her hair thin. I worried about her...as did my sisters and brother. But, one day someone did buy the house. Wanda. It was perfect for her daycare center, and her mother who lived with her.

She and Mom liked each other from the beginning, but Mom was warned by the agent NOT to divulge that someone had died in the home. Such news could possible drive the buyer away. So Mom stayed mum.

Mom then found another hurdle...a buying frenzy in the area she wanted. She had to camp out overnight to be in line to buy the home she wanted. I have to give her credit for perseverance... she got it. She and granny moved into their new "chapter."

Mom and Wanda stayed in touch for a while after the move as Mom had left a few boxes behind to be picked up later on. One day, Wanda called and asked my mother a most disturbing question.

"I know this sounds strange, but did your husband stand a certain way in front of the toilet...you know, when he peed?"

Mom was stunned. He had. Dad was a portly man and had developed a habit of leaning forward and putting his hands on the window sill. Wanda had been putting up curtains in the bathroom to replace the beaded valance Mom had left behind when she claimed to have heard a voice from behind her say, "Now, where will I put my hands."

Mom shared the information, amazed that Wanda would know something so personal. She was really shocked when Wanda asked, "Your husband died here, didn't he?"

I'm sure Mom didn't know what to say. Guilty for keeping the secret, reminded of her pain...what a myriad of emotions to deal with. But Wanda knew everything...how else could she tell Mom..."I think he must have died in the front bedroom because it's coldest in that room. And on certain nights, I'm sure he's in the master bedroom because my dog growls and won't go in there. Did he spend a lot of time in bed?"

The front bedroom had been the den, and Dad had spent most of his time in bed as his condition grew weaker. But Wanda also knew one more place Dad went.

"Your husband must have sat at the end of the bar in the kitchen a lot. That part of the room turns icy cold from time to time."

We were convinced. Dad was still 'living' in West Covina with Wanda. She wasn't afraid or threatened by him. It seems she was an empath and dealt with spirits. She assured Mom that she'd help Dad move on.

Well, Dad was stubborn. We assumed he was mad at us for selling the house and now he was going to stay there come hell or high water. It seemed strange to visit his grave but know he was still at Wanda's. *lol*

He stayed around for quite a while, but one day, Wanda called and told us Dad had finally passed to the other side. I guess he just missed Mom too much, and Wanda seemed like the type that wouldn't put up with his habits.

I miss my Dad, but at least I know he finally found peace even if it took a while. I hope there aren't any curtains in heaven.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Do You Believe in Ghosts - Repeat


I posted this true story in October 2008 after we moved into this house:

At last, I have my computer back and some order of semblance in the house. My sister is a whiz at getting things into shape, and I'm sure by the end of the day, she and Kelly will have the few remaining wall pieces hung. But while they are working up a sweat, I've sneaked into my 'new' office to tell you about the first few days here.

While cleaning up remnants from the previous tenants, I swept a pair of little girl flip-flops from a bedroom closet. I also noticed something shiny, and bent (with great effort) to pick up a dime. I threw it on my desk and continued. The next day, we moved a piece of furniture outside, and while sweeping away the dust bunnies and crumbs remaining beneath it, I found another dime. I picked it up (getting my exercise by bending) and added it to the other, now thinking, 'hmm'.

The first night we spent here, I was undressing (a pretty scary imagine in itself) in the bedroom, and I found another dime on the floor. Okay, now things were getting weird. What's with all the change!!!

I mentioned it to my husband, who later found another dime in the living room. I made several loud announcements to the new house that I didn't want anymore dimes. If whoever 'it' was insisted on leaving money, I demanded dollars.

The next day I found a few more dimes, but then realized my sister had said something to my nephew and, I of course told my son. A few of the dimes can be attributed to their 'slinging' them around when I wasn't looking to fuel my fear, but I do have a few that both swear on my pending grave they did not leave.

The second night in the house, I awoke with a start to someone sitting on the edge of my bed. I bolted up, expecting to see someone there, but nothing! I clearly felt the bed dip beneath someone's weight. No repeat occurrences thus far.

Strangely, I'm not bothered by all this. I don't feel any hostile vibes and I already feel like I'm home.

Current Note: The dime dropping finally ceased after a few weeks and I haven't felt anyone in bed with me that wasn't supposed to be. *lol* I can't believe it's already been a whole year, but I did do a little research, and the "Dimes Dilemma" happens to a lot of people and most associate them with dearly departed. Google it and be amazed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Scary Tale from Paige Ryter


When my husband were but newlyweds…having been married less than a year, we bought an older home from a retired couple, in Cary, NC. They had six children—all grown and moved away at that time, even though the home was a small home with only three bedrooms, one of which was the size of a nursery. But for us, it was perfect. I was five months pregnant and after being married for a little over a year, gave birth to our son. Two years later, I had a daughter, and thirteen months after that, another daughter. After our youngest daughter was born, strange things started happening in our home.

My husband would stay up later than the rest of us, because he wrote music at night, after putting in a full day as a computer programmer-type. He worked downstairs while the rest of us would be asleep upstairs. One night, he was eating something in the living room, which was separated from the dining and kitchen areas by three stairs. All of a sudden, dirty silverware fell off the counter in the kitchen, but no one was around. He chalked it up to an unseen and unheard truck nearby, but I knew better. A few nights later, he heard someone running upstairs, sounding like a child, but when he went upstairs, all of us were asleep.

Since I was watching children and working full-time, I used to take naps on the couch after the children were all walking. I could put up gates for the kids and take a short nap while they played beside me. My husband would work on music in a different room, keeping an eye on everyone, and all was happy. One evening, I woke up from my nap and a face was in my face…the face of a man. It only lasted a split second, but it was scary. I didn’t recognize the man, but he was staring at me, while the children played nearby, ignoring all but their toys. A few days later, I spoke to my next-door neighbor, who knew the family that lived in our house before we bought it. The old retired father that had lived in our house most of his life, had just died a week or so earlier, and the more I thought about it, that was the man whose face was in my face that evening after my nap. We moved not much after that, but not until I also saw a woman in white walking down the stairs. I was glad to leave that house.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ohhh, those Side Effects....


Possible Side Effects of Medication
By Donaya Haymond,Author of Halloween Romance and Bite Me from Eternal Press.

You can read more about Donaya's work on her website. Here's an example of her creative mind:

"Possible side effects of medication: numbness and itching."

I took the pills anyway because my migraines had reached such intensities that I could not stand up and had hallucinations. After I felt a sweet cessation of pain, I decided to celebrate, so I went to see that new horror/comedy movie, Slither.

It wasn't until the credits began to roll that I thought, "How can something make you numb and itchy at the same time?"

When the movie commenced, my face itched! It started as invisible caterpillars gyrating on my nose. I scratched it, raking my long fingernails through it.

Then the air conditioner broke, and the theater heated up. I peeled off layers of clothing until I sat in a tank top, sweating. The itch spread to my cheeks, chin, and forehead. So did the moisture.

I could barely take in the movie. While others screamed or laughed, I scratched. It felt positively bestial, making me grunt and moan, scrabbling at my skin.

My fingers and face grew wet and slippery with perspiration. The man sitting next to me let out a shriek.

"Yes, yes, I know, it's a well-crafted film," I snapped. "No need to go all high-pitched into my ear."

He swiftly exited the theater, quivering. Such people annoyed me, because I thought if someone was squeamish, they shouldn't come watch such movies in the first place.

Eventually, I couldn't bear the heat or irritation any longer. I stood and walked out to find a bathroom where I could splash on some cold water.

People in the aisles screamed too. Geez, wimps composed the whole audience! It wasn't even that scary a scene.

I went to the ladies' room and scrubbed my face with my eyes closed. Ahh, refreshing water. I opened my eyes...

The sink was full of red.

I looked up at the mirror.

I had scratched my face off.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chains in the Attic

I'm always overjoyed when a reader wants to contribute to the blog. One of the fans from Books We Love, Susan Leech, contributed her ghost story, and I thank you Susan for wanting to join in the "Spooky Stuff Month." Here's her ghostly experience:

When I was a young girl we could be in bed and hear chains being dragged across the attic floor. Nothing ever showed up and we were never really scared by anyone or anything. We were told that our place was haunted and we often wondered about the whole deal but no one knew much about it. I often wondered if some relative was kept there because they were mentally ill as in those day family would hide members they feared were not able to be around others or else they were shamed of them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Free Halloween Gift




Author Cheryl Wright has been kind enough to offer up a copy of her Halloween Craft book in PDF format for anyone who visits and would like a copy. If you are interested in receiving this very special gift from Cheryl, just click on the following link: http://www.aussieauthors.com/spooky-halloween-crafts.pdf - this will open the book and you can save it to your hard-drive. (Right click and ‘save as’ will keep you on this page.)

Thank you Cheryl. What a great gift!

A Ghostly Tale


A new and cherished friend, Paige Ryter, has submitted a true accounting from her childhood. She'll be submitting more throughout the month, so stay tuned. She's also going to ask her sister, who just happens to work with the "dead", to supply us with one or two from her experiences. I'm excited:

Check out Paige's web site, but first...enjoy:

When I was a young child, from the age of about two to five, my father was a college professor in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. It snowed year round, it seemed, with flurries on the fourth of July from lake effect snows. Thus, the place was dark and cloudy most of the time, letting a young child’s imagination and fear run wild every time the sun went down.

The house was older, with one bathroom on the first floor. So if you needed to use the bathroom, you’d better do it before you trudged upstairs to bed. There are four girls and one boy in my family, and my youngest sister was a newborn at this time, sleeping in a crib in the hallway. I’m next-to-youngest, and my older two sisters and I shared a very long room with three beds. The only way out was a door through the closet, with clothes hanging on both sides. It was terrifying at night if you had to use the restroom. Many nights, we’d hear voices in the basement of the old house, as if the ghosts were having a party. I’d have thoughts of monsters in our room, coming through that closet door, which was right at the foot of my bed.

My mother was the most affected by the eeriness of the house. She had five children, and many nights, she’d hear a baby crying. She’d get out of bed and check on all of us, but we’d all be asleep—even my youngest sister. But that baby crying would keep her awake, sounding like it was coming from the attic. My brother had a bedroom that contained the same attic door, but he was never bothered by it. But Mom would hear it, and being the tough woman she is, she’d just ignore it and go back to sleep.

My parents decided when I was five that it was time to move from the darkness of Erie county and go south, to Lancaster county. Dad got a job at the university in Lancaster, and two weeks before we were to move, he went into town and told some guys at some store that we were moving and where we were going.

One of the guys turned to him and said, “Oh, the haunted house.”

“Haunted?” Dad’s ears perked up.

“Yes. That’s the place where a baby died in the attic. No one goes near that house, because it’s haunted.”

Dad and Mom had us packed up fast, and within a week, my uncle came to the house to help us move in a U-Haul. My uncle slept in my brother’s room—the room attached to the attic, and stayed up all night reading comic books, he was that scared of that house. We moved out, and since then, have found out that the house was sitting on a gold mine of natural gas, which may have been the sound of voices talking coming from the basement. We’ll never know. The house was demolished, from what I’m told, and the story of the baby that died in the attic died with it. But I know I’ll never forget it. Ghosts are around us…

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