The Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Suzanne Madron @suzannemadron @Sotet_Angyal #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image02

The Ritual
by Suzanne Madron

Tradition is stronger than progress in the hidden backroad places, and the tradition of the Ritual was at least as old as any of them could remember, going back generations. The rag-tag group trudged through the cold and muddy streets to the backbeat of frozen raindrops on their plastic masks. They carried with them a bag of their trick-or-treat spoils and an assortment of objects to appease their nightfears – objects meant to fulfill their obligations for one more year until the next generation would carry the burden.
One boy held a carved pumpkin with a lit candle to light their path through the darkness. A girl carried a sugar skull, the decoration on the sweet, hollow face running like tears down the sugar cheeks to coat the girl’s lace gloves. Another child, nondescript in a mummy costume, carried a plate of food that grew soggier with each step the children took through the October rain. The oldest child carried an ancient besom. She brandished it before them as if to clear the rain from their path.
“How much further?” the mummy asked, its voice muffled beneath the bandages.
The witch pointed with her besom. “Just down that street.”
“Where the haunted house is?” asked the boy with the pumpkin.
“Where the haunted house was.”
Their conversation ceased as they turned down the street leading to their final destination. Their feet stumbled over holes in the asphalt. After the house at the end of the street had burned down, the other houses along the lane had been subsequently abandoned soon after until the street itself was little more than the nightmare left in the wake of an American dream.
Potholes in the lane went unfilled until there were muddy water sinkholes to twist their ankles and soak their shoes. The sidewalks were all but gone with only a glaring space like exposed vertebrae here or a crumbling curb there to indicate there had ever been a walkway at all. Dead vines reached for the small group as they passed through and the children avoided the thorns of the wild blackberry brambles and creeping ivy as they kept their focus on the thing at the end of the lane.
The troupe’s steps slowed as they passed between the rows of vacant and staring windows of broken houses on either side. A shroud of misgiving settled over them and they glanced, one to the other, silently confirming their shared thoughts.
“Let’s keep moving,” the witch whispered, her words muffled beneath her mask. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can go home. Pay attention when we get there.”
This year would be the witch’s last year for performing the Ritual. After this final night, the younger children would be on their own.
They came to the dead-end and stopped at the base of a large, gnarled tree. A ragged kite whipped Morse Code in the wind, the SOS torn from the jagged cloth and tangled tail. The tree’s massive trunk was blackened with what looked to be pitch oozing from crisscrossing slashes up and down its length.
At the base of the tree was the remnants of a pumpkin patch. The orange of the gourds was blackened and sunk with rot, the tendrils and dead leaves of the vines drifting toward an old chimney stack of crumbling brick.
“Stay close, and do not go near the chimney.” The witch adjusted her mask so she could better see through the eyeholes.
“Are there monsters in it?” asked the mummy.
“No, there’s a stone foundation under all that mess around it and if you don’t watch out, you’ll fall in and break a leg or worse. Now help me light these candles.”
She handed a candle to each of the children and the boy with the jack-o-lantern placed his grinning pumpkin on the ground to better hold the candle. When they all had lights, she told them the story, though they knew it all by heart.
Years ago, on Halloween night, a man had come to town. He had stolen children and killed some. The others he took with him and they were never found. Some adults in town said he had been killed by townspeople as punishment, others said the ghosts of the dead children had gotten him, and still others said he had had an attack of conscience. In the end, they found him dead and his house burned to cinders.
As the years went by, the story evolved to include the tree. Some said he was found at the base of the tree, others said he and the children had been hanging from the branches, and in the version the witch told, he had been found clutched by the tree, its branches closed around his crushed body like a fist.
The gashes in the tree’s trunk were first from the Grim Reaper’s scythe when it came for the man’s evil soul and then from the axes of the townspeople as they tried to release the body from the branches. None of it worked.
When the children of the town came to see their bogeyman’s body, they brought offerings of thanks for the tree. As each of the treats and treasures was placed at the base of the tree, at last it released the man.
And so the Ritual was born. Every year, on Halloween, the relatives of that original group of children brought offerings to the tree. A broken telescope now half-buried in the mud leaned against the base of the tree along with mounds of old candle wax and faded toy cars and trains. Newer dolls poked dirty faces from the hollows of the trunk, surrounded by a halo of squirrel-chewed candy wrappers.
The witch indicated where the children should place their candles and offerings, then reached into her trick-or-treat bag. She wrapped a fist around the candies within and threw a handful of sweets up into the branches. The other children followed suit and the tree glimmered with rain and foil wrappings.
“One last thing,” the witch told them, her voice stern now. “Never look back. No matter what you hear or what you’ll see, never ever turn around to look back at the tree.”
“Why?”
“The man will get you.”
“You’re lying.”
“There were more of us five years ago,” she pointed out and the children gasped. “So… Don’t look back. OK?”
They nodded and one by one, they removed their masks and hung them on the tree. The mood was solemn now as they made their way back up the lane, toward the lit streets and houses. Behind them, they could hear a mournful sigh and see the glow of a housefire reflecting in the puddles of the street before them, but none of them turned to look back.
Fiction © Copyright Suzanne Madron
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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More from Suzanne Madron:

For Sale or Rent

The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.

Available on Amazon!

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Sumiko Saulson @sumikoska @Sotet_Angyal #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image01Squeak
by Sumiko Saulson

The Earth has grown quiet as the humans have grown ill and fallen dead one by one. The streets, absent of loud motor cars. The hustle and bustle of downtown ceased. It started with their death flu. Next, it exploded into a series of forest fires. Finally, there were the bombs.
Squeak and I would not have survived if we weren’t in the basement of a government lab. The thick cement walls were strong enough to endure the aftershocks caused by the blast. The insulated workspace kept us safe, inside our cages, eating our pellets and grains. 
Squeak is my daughter. My name is Whiskers. Our human, Dr. Jones, kept us caged together with three other female mice, none of whom survived the experiment. Telepathy… it occurs naturally, to some extent, between mothers and children. It is not natural between humans and mice. It is very unnatural. Yet, here we are.
The first day after the blast, Dr. Jones’ skin began to bubble. Progressively, these bubbles grew and twisted into tumors. The tumors and boils bled and oozed pus. And the worst part of it, was his constantly communicating to me telepathically as he suffered and eventually died. He communicated with my daughter, sometimes, too. But Squeak is just a child. So she had little to say.
Near the end of his tragic, twisted decline, I reminded him of how little he cared about me or the other mice. He wanted me to sympathize with him, but he’d had no sympathy for us, as my cagemates contorted and died horrible deaths.
The fifth day, something snapped in him, and he recognized me and my daughter for what we are – sentient beings. He opened the cage, and set us free. Moments later, he fell to the floor, never to rise again. I sat by him, comforting him, in those last few moments.
Then Squeak and I walked outside, into this nuclear wasteland. Poignantly beautiful, no matter how dangerous it is. And I smiled at the irony. At last, the meek have inherited the Earth.
Fiction © Copyright Sumiko Saulson
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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About Author Sumiko Saulson:

Pronouns: ze/hir/hirs

Sumiko Saulson is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Zhe is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic WomenScry of LustBlack Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Zhe is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”

Zhe has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView.

Find more about Sumiko here!

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Alex Grey @indigodreamers @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image04

At the top of the stairs
by Alex Grey

Cissy and Jake and Milo the dog.
Silhouettes in the flickering light
Of their favourite cartoons
On the TV in their bedroom
At the top of the stairs.
On the bottom step
Far below, it seems,
I sit in darkness,
Thoughts swirling in shadow.
I know I am useless,
Can’t see a way forward,
My life needs to end.
I can’t leave them behind.
But how should I kill them?
I can’t hurt them.
It has to be quick,
All three together,
So they don’t know any grief,
They love each other
So much.
Not as much
as I love them,
But I have to die.
Maybe I could
Just kill myself,
But what if their father
Can’t cope?
What if they end up in care?
The dog in a shelter,
Their hearts will be broken.
Can I hurt them so much?
Best if I kill them.
Cissy and Jake and Milo the dog.
Laughing and woofing
As innocents do.
Enjoying their cartoons,
Playing with toys.
Maybe I could wait.
But their dad will be home soon,
I’ll be back to the humdrum
Routine of my life,
The cooking,
The laundry,
While screaming inside.
My chance will be gone.
It needs to be now,
But how?
Fiction © Copyright Alex Grey
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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More about Alex Grey:

After a lifetime of writing technical non-fiction, Alex Grey is fulfilling her dream of writing poems and stories that engage the reader’s emotions. Her ingredients for contentment are narrowboating, greyhounds, singing and chocolate – it’s a sweet life. Her poems and short stories have been published by a number of ezines including The Siren’s Call, Raconteur and Toasted Cheese. One of her comic poems is also available via a worldwide network of public fiction dispensers managed by French publisher, Short Edition. Alex’s original view of the world, which shines through her writing, has led to her best friend to say “For someone so lovely, you’re very twisted!”

Please click here to discover more! 

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Ela Lourenco @ElaLourenco @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image03Cursed
by Ela Lourenco

Air gods, hear me now
Mother Sky heed my call
Summon forth your wrath
Of Thunder and Grey Clouds
Gather your lightning bolts
To strike them down
Avenge me, avenge my family.
Burn them down
Electrocute them with your anger
Decimate them into dust
Have no mercy
Unleash your entire being
Until you have erased their pasts, presents and future.
Fiction © Copyright Ela Lourenco
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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More from Ela Lourenco:

awakeningDragon Born: Book Three
Awakening

The Royal tournament, the Karnac, is fully underway. But there is deception and betrayal at every turn. Unseen dark forces are at play, both within the school grounds and out with. Even the Gods are unable to help when a new threat looms over them all.The very existence of Azmantium depends on Lara fully becoming the Child of Fire and casting aside the Shadows lurking in every corner of her beloved planet.Can she overcome the challenges that await? Will the Shadows cover the world in darkness? Only Lara and her friends can change the fate of Azmantium.

Available on Amazon!

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The Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Naching T. Kassa @NachingKassa @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image02

The Scent of Pine and Wildflowers
by Naching T. Kassa

The moon gleamed outside Margo’s window as she placed the silhouette against the glass. Cut from black construction paper, it cast a tree-shaped shadow over her bedroom.
“What’s that, Margo?”
Margo turned. Her father stood in the doorway.
“Something we made in school.”
“Are those your friends?” He pointed to the girlish shapes around the tree.
“Yes.”
“And is that Mr. Crinkles?”
Margo nodded. A tear trailed down her cheek. “He liked climbing trees.”
“It looks good. Especially with the moonlight behind it.”
“Oh, it’s not for decoration. Emily Wallace said it would keep the monster away.”
Margo covered her mouth with both hands and glanced at her father. The man shook his head and smiled.
“Sit on the bed, Margo. We need to talk.”
Margo climbed up on her bed and sat with her hands in her lap. Her father switched the light on, and the tree silhouette vanished.
“I know you’re upset about your friends, sweetheart. It’s a hard thing to lose people so young.”
“He took them, Daddy,” Margo said. She brushed another tear away. “And he killed Mr. Crinkles.”
“I know. But he isn’t going to get you.”
“Sarah’s doors were locked, and he took her anyway.”
“He won’t get you.”
“What about Lisa? He took her from her grandma’s house. Emily Wallace said he hid in her closet. She said Lisa didn’t put up the picture, so he came and got her.  
“Emily is making things up.”
“But—”
Father held up a hand.  “Margo, no monster will come in this house and take you. He won’t dare.”
“Because of the picture?”
“No. Because I’m the scariest thing in this house. Nothing will mess with me.” He pulled back the covers. “Time for bed.”
Margo slipped beneath the blankets. Her father tucked her in and kissed her forehead.
“Daddy?”
“Yes?”
“If I’m scared, and I call you, will you come?”
“I’ll be here faster than you can blink.”
***
The silver moon crawled across the velvet sky and the paper tree’s shadow shifted with it. Margo yawned. She shut her eyes and slipped into twilight. Dreams bloomed in her mind.
Margo ran with wolves along a mountain ridge. They jogged beside her, their eyes reflecting the silver moon, tongues lolling. 
Seconds later, they reached the shore of a lake. Margo joined them at the water’s edge. She leaned down and lapped up the sweet, clear water.
Something rustled in the brush.
The wolves rose, ears pricked. Something padded out of the trees. The man-like beast grinned at them. It’s cat-like eyes glowed. Blood dripped from the talons of its right hand.
Margo screamed.
She pushed herself up and stared, panting into her bedroom. The scent of pine and wildflowers lingered. 
The moon had moved on and only a sliver of silver light remained. Margo’s gaze swept the room, halting when she encountered a shadow. One which hadn’t been there before.
“Are you awake, Margo?” the shadow asked. It lunged toward her.
Margo shrieked.
Clawed hands covered her mouth and green, feline eyes glared into her own.
“I didn’t know which room was yours,” the monster said. “I’m glad you listened to my daughter.”
“Daddy!” Margo cried.
The beast laughed, low and hoarse.
“Margo!” Her father called from beyond the door.
“Daddy, help me!”
The creature snatched her up from the bed and covered her mouth with one hand, muffling her cries. Something crashed against the door as they headed for the window. The door jamb splintered. 
Margo’s eyes grew wide.
The thing which entered her bedroom bore no resemblance to her father. Black fur covered its human form and the strange snout which emerged from its face. The eyes glowed with animal shine. It howled and rushed forward.
The monster hissed and dropped Margo to the floor. It lashed out with a clawed hand.
The man-wolf ducked the blow and went for the throat. Strong teeth latched on. Together they fell through the window. Glass shattered, sparkling in the moonlight.
The world fell quiet.
Margo rose to her feet. She approached the broken window and peered down onto the lawn below. A man lay upon the grass. Margo’s breath caught in her throat. She hurried out of the room, down the stairs, and out the door.
The man still lay on the lawn. A shard of glass protruded from his eye.
“Margo?”
She turned. Her father stood near the front steps. He wore no shirt, only pants. 
“Daddy!” She rushed into his arms.
“I told you he wouldn’t get you.”
She clutched at him. His hair smelled of pine.
And wildflowers.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of PChristina Sng
 

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More from Naching T. Kassa:

abArterial Bloom

Lush. Brutal.

Beautiful. Visceral.

Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.

Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.

With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.

Available on Amazon!

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author R.A. Clarke @RAClarkeWrites @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image01In a Field of Wheat
by R.A. Clarke

The sky darkened, the golden sun disintegrating into hues of rusted metal. We walked through the field of wheat, each seed-tipped stalk whispering secrets in the light breeze. Our footsteps slowed as we approached the tree at the top of the hill—our tree.
The tree we carved our initials into senior year. The tree we were married beneath. 
There wasn’t any better place than this.
“Do you think we’ll change?” Emmy asked, voice quiet.
“I don’t know.” I stared at the amber cloud billowing on the horizon. Churning mounds of smoke and dust, growing and morphing as they steamrolled towards us.
Emmy turned to me, eyes imploring. “Maybe we should go back to the house? We still have time to plug the vents.”
“This isn’t something we can ride out, babe.” I squeezed her hand, meeting her gaze. “Eventually we’ll need to go outside. For food, water, medicine. Our supplies won’t last forever. I mean, we couldn’t even get enough wood to board the windows. The shelves are bare. Everyone’s gone crazy.” 
The last shred of hope withered on her face, and my heart fell. Wrapping her in my arms, I kissed her forehead. “Boarded windows and plugged vents won’t help. The air would still get in no matter what we did. Or something else would.”
“You mean one of them…” Emmy said, her words a breathy whisper. She buried her face in my chest, shoulders shaking as tears swelled.
I nodded, unable to keep the moisture from gathering. Blinking fiercely, I cleared my throat. “Everyone we know might become one of them. You and me—” My voice broke.
I couldn’t let that happen. 
News reports all over the world showed the horror this cloud carried. It was moving so fast. People within the mist were changing, ripping each other apart. 
Before long, emergency broadcasts started telling people to run.
But to where? Early projections showed this unearthly cloud would cover the globe in a week. Maybe two. It would be the same no matter where we went. Chaos.
The sun was engulfed now, only a threaded outline visible through the haze. Our surroundings steadily darkened, tones of stained sapphire dripping from an ominous brush. 
From our vantage point, we watched the cloud swallow our nearby town—the community we grew up in.
It wouldn’t be long now.
I questioned my decision to wait. Whether we were immune or not didn’t matter. The end result would be the same.
Emmy pulled back, grasping my face, eyes urgent. Her blue irises shone green in the citrine glow. “You know how much I love you, right?”
“Oh, Emmy.” My mouth fell upon hers, our kiss filled with passionate goodbyes. When we parted, I rested my chin atop her head. “I love you, too.” 
I had to wait. Had to be sure of the change. I couldn’t bear it otherwise.
The wind stirred, whipping the wheat against our legs. Volatile gusts of dusty air swept up from the valley, flattening the clothes to our bodies. 
“Do you hear that? Is that screaming?” I asked, straining to listen.
“Oh, God. I hear it too.” 
An explosion rocked the town below, fiery light slicing through the murk as it barrelled up the hill. We kissed once more before the amber storm crashed into us.
The wind howled, its force nearly pushing us over. I planted my feet, holding my wife tighter. But in the next moment, the world fell still. Within the heart of the cloud, it was eerily silent. 
The invasive air smelled sour, thick with swirling particles that irritated my nose. Emmy coughed, gagging from the rotten odour. 
Hardly any light reached us now, and I strained to see. “Are you okay, babe?”
She coughed again, groaning as she held her abdomen. “I don’t feel so well. I’m scared, Jackson. I don’t want to change—don’t want to hurt you.” She was shaking. 
Oh God, it’s happening.
A ragged cough raked my throat. My hands and feet tingled, stomach rolling. It felt like something was scratching at my insides. A weight settled like lead on my chest. The cool steel of the pistol burned against my back.
“You won’t, Emmy.”
Her fingers dug into my skin as she moaned in pain. An inhuman shriek ripped from her lips. With moist eyes, I watched my beautiful Emmy began to convulse. The scratching in my guts intensified—like a nest of rats trying to chew their way out. Gritting my teeth, I pulled the pistol from my waistband. My hand trembled trying to raise it.
“I promise you won’t.”
Movements laboured, it felt as though I were running through water. What was happening to me? Wincing, I managed to press the muzzle to her temple. 
Her eyes widened. I pulled the trigger.
Emmy’s body fell limp, but my sluggish arms failed to catch her. In instant retaliation, the clawing pain inside my gut scored deeper into the tender flesh there. I doubled over and the gun slipped from my grasp. 
No. Reaching for it, I toppled, an unseen force forbidding my attempt to end the terror. To complete my task. 
Convulsing, my joints popped. Fog seeped into my mind, dulling my senses. I heard the bones in my back crack, and with a final violent shudder, the pain was gone. 
Lying there motionless, my vision slowly blurred and refocused. My body twitched.
A body I no longer controlled.
I battled to reclaim what belonged to me, but my efforts proved fruitless. A sense of insatiable hunger took hold, surrounding and permeating my fragile sense of being. Desperate, I fought to keep this thing from feeding on my wife’s still-warm body, but my pleas filtered through deaf ears. It didn’t care what I wanted.
Floating somewhere behind its eyes, I existed only as a passenger now.
Standing in one swift motion, my haggard form turned towards town. With an echoing shriek, my legs stumbled forward.
Sniffing the air, it licked my lips.
Fiction © Copyright R,A. Clarke
Image courtesy of Christina Sng. 

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More from author R.A. Clarke:

Rachael Clarke pictureR.A. Clarke is a former police officer turned stay-at-home-mom living in Portage la Prairie, MB with her sport-aholic husband, two mischievous children, and a couple quirky dogs. She survives on sloppy toddler kisses, copious amounts of coffee, and immersing her mind in fantastical worlds of her own creation. R.A. keeps busy writing/illustrating children’s literature, and is currently working on a novel. Her short fiction has been published by Polar Borealis Magazine, Writers Weekly, The Writer’s Workout, and Sirens Call Publications. 

Find more about R.A. Clarke here!

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author A.F. Stewart @scribe77 @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image04Always Listen to Your Cat
by A.F. Stewart

“What do we do now?” Elise’s voice trembled and the five-year-old squeezed her big sister’s hand. Beside her, Max their cat meowed.
“I don’t know.” Cindy, as scared as her sister but trying to be brave, glanced at their pet. The cat had known. It had led them away to this hilltop. “We might go live with Aunt Ruth.”
“Do you think our wish came true?” Elise squeezed Cindy’s hand tighter.
“Maybe.” Cindy stared at the cat, who licked his paw. Max had taken them to that weird stone in the woods. The one that glowed when they made a wish.
“But all the bad people are gone, right?” Elise persisted in talking. “Mommy and Daddy are gone? They won’t hurt us anymore?”
“They won’t hurt us ever again.” Cindy looked around. Other children, pets, families stood on other hills, roads and fields beyond where they had lived.
We all look the same. Confused and scared. I wonder how many others made wishes?
Cindy shivered.
Elise picked up Max and moved closer. The cat purred loudly. “Do you think the adults will know what to do?”
Cindy shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe.” The two of them stared as Max purred. Smoke rose from below. “I’m not sure anyone knows what to do after the monsters eat your town.”
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Christina Sng
 

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More from A.F. Stewart:

vnVisions and Nightmares

Tragedy spares no one… and takes no prisoners.

In the twilight shadows, secrets are revealed past the whispers of madness.

Wander into the realm of the old gods with Elenora, where humanity and marriage are a prison.
Step through a looking glass of dark horrors with an Alice you never knew.
Join with Zenna to seek the truth as her death by magic grows closer.
Journey with Olivia as she crosses paths with a monster of the forest and runs for her life.
Watch Isobel summon the faerie to solve her problem of an unwanted husband.
Shiver as Doctor Killbride experiments with corpses to create life from death.
All that and more await within the pages.

Ten stories. Ten women.
Who will survive? Who will fall? And who will succumb to their inner evil?
Find out in Visions and Nightmares.

Warning: This book contains disturbing scenes that may be upsetting to some readers.

Available on Amazon!

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Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Sonora Taylor @sonorawrites @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image03

The Little Summoner
by Sonora Taylor

Jenny sighed with a forceful huff that blew a strand of hair from her face. She stared at the sky ahead of her.
“Why won’t you storm?” she asked.
She’d tried all the spells, even tried coming up with a few of her own. She could make forest animals stay still when she entered the clearing, could keep her morning tea hot and her ice cream cold.
But what she wanted most was to make it rain. Jenny loved thunderstorms, so much that her mother was amazed at her bravery. “Most five-year-olds are terrified of thunder,” she said as she smiled over her own still-steaming cup of tea.
“Not me,” Jenny declared. “It makes me feel powerful!”
But Jenny felt powerless as she watched the blue and purple sky remain without rain. She wiggled her fingers, took a breath, and pointed towards the clouds.
“Clouds above, may you rise,
“Winds and rains shall fill the sky …”
The wind picked up, and the clouds turned a darker shade of grey. Jenny’s eyes lit up, and she continued.
“Lightning, thunder, show your rage …”
The wind whipped her skirt. The clouds began to swirl. Jenny gasped, grinned, and finished the spell:
“And pour your storm upon Earth’s stage!”
She threw up her arms and watched, waiting with glee for the storm to appear.
The clouds stayed still. The wind blew. No rain fell. No thunder clapped, no lightning struck.
Jenny’s arms stayed in the air. She pressed her lips, and felt her cheeks grow warm despite the chill in the air.
“You big stupid cloud! Why won’t you rain?!” She clenched her fists and shouted into the wind, “Storm, storm!”
She closed her eyes, clasped her hands, took her deepest breath yet, and in time with a sharp breeze, screamed, “STOOOOOOORM!”
A clap of thunder cut her off. She opened her eyes, and gasped at both the sight of dark clouds and the shock of cold rain against her face. “I did it!” she squealed, her voice in range with the howling wind.
“Jenny! Come inside!”
Jenny turned and ran towards her house, where her mother waited in the doorway. “I made it storm!” Jenny said as her mother closed the door.
“You did! You should be very proud.”
Jenny walked into the kitchen puffed with triumph. Her mother smiled to herself, then struck her teacup with her spoon three times. “Thank you,” she said to the sky, as three lightning bolts cut across the clouds.
Fiction © Copyright Sonora Tayor
Image courtesy of  Christina Sng

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More from Sonora Taylor:

109145576_574942933170007_3972308087135148283_nSeeing Things

Abby Gillman has discovered that with growing up, there comes a lot of blood. But nothing prepares her for the trail of blood she sees in the hallway after class – or the ghost she finds crammed inside an abandoned locker.

No one believes Abby, of course. She’s only seeing things. As much as Abby wants to be believed, what she wants more is to know why she can suddenly see the dead. Unfortunately, they won’t tell her. In fact, none of them will speak to her. At all.

Abby leaves for her annual summer visit to her uncle’s house with tons of questions. The visit will give her answers the ghosts won’t – but she may not like what she finds out.

Available on Amazon!

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Posted in Authors, Dark Fiction, flash fiction, FREE, Horror, Ladies of Horror, Writing Project | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Michelle Joy Gallagher @Aphelia @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image02

Watchers
by Michelle Joy Gallagher

Greta had come into the world watching. Wide eyed and inexplicably wise. So too had her sisters. And what had they to watch? They knew without knowing for sure. While the river of time teemed beneath them, one eon indistinguishable from the next, they waited with an infinite patience and a silent knowing between them. They watched as the river brightened and darkened, while it rushed past over jagged rocks and while it trickled almost down to nothing. Once they even thought their watch was over, never having fulfilled any purpose. Greta bit her fingernails nervously and suddenly felt watched herself and she felt the gentle tug of her sister Heba’s voice right outside of her thoughts on the edge of her mind. 
I want to sleep.”  
Her voice was as a melodic hymn that cascaded and echoed within her. 
Greta had never slept. Greta knew what sleep was. She’d watched a multitude of creatures sleep. Creatures that breathed hydrogen and creatures made of silicon and carbon, creatures that lived in the toxic clouds surrounding hellish planets. It was one of the things that creatures did best and when they did, they’d dream, and she could hear their dreams reverberating on the surface of the river below. A living thing that breathed and asked and loved and wept and died a thousand times a night. Her sister had never slept either. She knew they weren’t meant to. They were meant to watch.  
“No.” Greta sent the word back to Heba with an edge of finality but not unkind. What was Heba made of that she would even desire it? Greta had never felt tired, never bored or scared or listless.  
Selen was the oldest and she had never spoken before. They had been here together an incalculable amount of time. They were outside of time. Suddenly, Selen slipped her legs over the edge of her perch and sat down. She’d never sat.  
“I want to sleep too.” 
Greta closed her eyes for the first time in a millennium. She repeated the word for Selen, feeling fear bloom in her chest.  
“No.” 
Suddenly, Heba stepped into the empty air in front of her perch and plummeted into the stream below. The surface flashed with a blinding white light, and roiled, before pulling her under. She never surfaced.  
Selen did the same, without another whisper, leaving Greta entirely alone outside of everything. The only being untouched. She watched the waves consume her, too, in a detached way that one does when they are not quite alive, not quite real.  
Greta stranded in the stars, never strayed from her duty. The only safeguard left in the universe bit her lip and suddenly knew what it was to want to sleep. 
 
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
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Café Macabre

This collection of twelve stories and artwork by women is truly a collection of the macabre. Make a reservation for terror and get ready to delve into the deepest, darkest fears of some of the best writers and artists in the fiction game. Leah McNaughton Lederman has collected an anthology of the truly strange… a tome of the weird. Take a seat and order a cup, you’re dining at Café Macabre!

Available on Amazon!

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Posted in Authors, Dark Fiction, flash fiction, FREE, Horror, Ladies of Horror, Writing Project | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ladies of Horror Flash Project – #Horror #author Rie Sheridan Rose @RieSheridanRose @Darc_Nina #LoH #fiction

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

Sept_2020_Image01
Yellow Sky

by Rie Sheridan Rose

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Bwacaw asked Crree.
“Yes. I’ve never seen the sky that color.”
“I have, but not for many years. I was as young as you, fledgling, last time I saw it. Then, we simply fled—able to get out of the area to blue sky and clear air.”
“Can’t we do that this time?”
“Look around us…we sit on these marble pedestals that once flanked a lovely curves stairway…to a house that no longer exists. So much no longer exists. Why do we sit on marble? Because only the Great Tree survives, and no one sits there. No, sweet youth, today we sing our last. Do you feel the heat approaching?”
“Yes, ancient one.”
“Then look to the moon and sing…until the fire’s false dawn washes over us. Our song is all that is left.”
Fiction © Copyright Rie Sheridan Rose
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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More from Author Rie Sheridan Rose:

Skellyman

“I have always preferred the supernatural in tales of horror, the knot between life and death. Rie Sheridan Rose’s Skellyman is cool and creepy. Her first horror novel is a chilling read.” — Charlee Jacob – Stoker winner, Best novel, “Dread in the Beast”

Brenda Barnett is trying to cope with raising her four-year-old daughter all alone after an accident tore her family in half. As she and Daisy go for a much-needed treat, the little girl spots a Skellyman on the corner.

This pivotal encounter leads to a wave of mounting terror as Brenda’s life begins to come undone around her. Who is the Skellyman? Why does he keep appearing? Can the sympathetic policeman Brenda turns to stop the madness before it is too late?

And why does Daisy insist that her dead brother is trying to tell them something important?

Available on Amazon!

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Posted in Authors, Dark Fiction, flash fiction, FREE, Horror, Ladies of Horror, Writing Project | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments