Monday, October 31, 2016

Don't Breathe

Victor and Nicholas stumbled down the walk. They leaned on each other; one thought he was holding the other
upright. Victor took a deep swallow from the bottle then passed it to his friend.

Nicholas took the offered libation. “Ah, there’s still half of the amber left in there. We must be getting light my friend.”

Victor chuckled. “Light? Nay, well, you maybe. You know what we need Nicky boy?”

He passed the bottle back to Victor. “Oh bloody hell. No, not that.”

Victor grinned a bit lopsided. “Oh yes.” He took a deep breath and began. “Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”

Nicholas took the cute as Victor paused for a drink. “From glen to glen and down the mountain side. The summer’s gone and all the flowers dying…”

Victor shoved the bottle back into his friend’s hand. “Och! Take another swig to tune those pipes.”

Nicholas pushed the bottle back and hooked his thumbs into the pockets of his waistcoat as his chest puffed up with pride. “I will have you know, Reverend Blake said my voice could wake angels.”

“No, he said, you could wake the demons in all nine hells.” Victor started to laugh when he saw the policeman pop around the corner. He leaned against the brick wall and smiled. He knew he was to far gone to pass for sober any other way.

Nicholas straightened and tossed the bottle over the high wall. “Evening, officer. Lovely night for a stroll don’t you think?”

“Aye, evening gents. You should be heading on home at this hour though.” The bobby eyed the men, he could see they were a few sheets to the wind. They weren’t causing trouble so why bother with the paperwork of taking them in.

Nicholas tipped his cap to him. “Yes, sir. That’s right where we’re headed.”

The cop scoffed then continued to walk. Once he was gone around the next corner, Victor breathed a sigh of relief. “That was close. Let’s totter on before he patrols back. Where’s our fine nectar, boyo?”

“I tossed it over the wall. I wasn’t going to spend the night in the tank.” He thumbed over the top of the bricks to point where.

Victor pulled himself up enough to peek over. “I see it, still intact even. Good thing you throw like a lass. It landed on a new grave, the fresh turned soil cushioned her fall.”

“Grave? This is Westfall Cemetery? Oh no, I don’t want another drink that bad. The bobby was right it’s time to call it a night, Vic.”

“You can’t be afraid of a few old bones. No one in there is going to bite.” Victor laughed as he started to walk toward the gate of the cemetery.

Nicholas grabbed his arm. “You cannot go in there, it’s past midnight and the moon is high. There’s a fresh grave. We can just walk around the other way and go home.”

The other man shook his head.  “For the love of Pete, the bobby went that way. I’m not getting pinched again because you’re superstitious. “

With a deep sigh, Nicholas conceded. Neither of them could afford to get busted again by the cops for public drinking. “Alright, but when we pass the gate you have to hold your breath. They can pass through a gate, the spirits that is, and steal your body.”

Victor rolled his eyes and walked toward the gate. Just before they got to the rusted iron barrier Nicholas took a deep breath and readied to rush past it.

His friend had other plans, Victor tried the gate and when it gave he pushed it open. The iron creaked and squealed a bit as it swung on hinges that begged for a drop or two of oil. The horrible sound echoed into the night.

Nicholas was so startled he let go of the breath with a bit of a whelp. “What are you doing? You’re going to bring that bob back around.”

He realized he’d let go of his breath and the gateway was open, the ghosts had permission now to roam. As quickly as he could Nicholas drew another deep breath careful to do it away from the gate.
Victor shook his head. “You are mad boyo. I’m not going to leave some spook half a bottle of third shelf whiskey.”

With that, Victor left his pal on the walk and ventured into the cemetery. It was much darker on this side of the wall. There was only one lantern hung along the walk. He made his way through the row of headstones to the fresh turned soil. He could see the glint of moonlight reflecting off the bottle glass. “There you are my beauty.” He turned and called out over the wall. “I found it.”

Nicholas huffed exasperated and worried. “Don’t breathe you, damn fool. Just hurry up and don’t breathe.”

Victor grinned, plucked the bottle from the earth. He took a swig and turned to head back.

There in a moonbeam stood a man a bit older than Victor but finely dressed. His expression was dower as his eyes took in the sight of the man before him. It was a judgmental glare.

Victor coughed having choked on his whiskey. Once his lungs were clear of the burning liquid Victor placed his hand over his pounding heart. “Mister you gave me a fright.  They almost needed to dig another plot.”

Victor chuckled while the man considered him. When the stranger didn’t respond Victor brushed his hand off on the thigh of his pants then offered it. “Name’s Victor Mason, my mate and I just lost our libation.” The silent man made Victor nervous. “May I ask your name, sir?”

The stranger’s lip twitched then he shook Victor’s hand. The stranger’s hand was ice cold and his voice sent a shiver down Victor’s spine. “Jacob Crest. You live here in the village?”

Victor rubbed his palm against his thigh again this time to rid it of that awful sensation. “Yes, all my life.” Something started to feel very off, very wrong. He tipped his hat. “Nice to have meet you, Mr. Crest. I should be going. Early day at the mill and all.”

Jacob nodded and pointed to the headstone of the fresh grave. “Nice, to meet you Mr. Mason. Before you go would you kindly hand me my cane.”

Victor glanced back and saw the cane with a shiny silver bird on top. “Uh… sure.” He stepped back to the freshly covered grave and picked up the walking stick. Just as his hand closed around the shaft a moonbeam illuminated just enough of the tombstone for him to read…

Here lies
Jacob Crest

His eyes grew large and he took a deep breath to shout out for Nicholas….

After a couple more minutes, Nicholas shook his head and called into the cemetery. “I’m not waiting any longer, Victor.”

Victor stepped out with the bottle still half full in one hand and a walking stick topped with a silver bird in the other. “No, need to wait. I’m ready to go home.”

Nicholas looked at his friend, something was off, something was wrong. His voice was an octave deeper than it was before. “Are you alright? Where did you get that fancy cane?”

Victor smiled, it wasn’t a lopsided grin. “I’m fine, it was a gift.”

Nicholas took the bottle and drank as they walked back to their flat. His companion didn’t talk or sing. He didn’t even seem tipsy any longer and refused any of the bottle he’d risked his soul to retrieve. When they reached their door Nicholas fumbled with the key.

With an impatient sigh Victor stepped up and took the key. He unlocked the door and looked at Nicholas who stared back. “Victor… your eyes.”

His lip twitched. “Yes, there are two just like yours.” Victor ushered him in and put him to bed quickly to silence any more questions.

In the morning Nicholas woke and sat, bolt upright with the memory of those eyes. He jumped up and hurried into the next bedroom. “Victor….”

The closet was open and Victor’s best clothes had been removed. His suitcase was gone as were any valuable effects. The photo of his ma and siblings still stood on the dresser, as did his journal. Two things Victor would never have left without.

Nicholas sat on the bed and wanted very much to disbelieve. He knew it the moment he had looked into those eyes. Blue eyes, Victor’s had been brown. “You damn fool. I told ya don’t breathe.”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cóiste Bodhar The Black Coach

A wail cut through the night, a warning, the black coach was coming for him. The dying man pulled himself from his bed. He fought with his weakened body to reach the door and lock it tight. He called his wife to push the dresser over, blockade them in. Maybe it would stop him.

The banshee’s wail called the Dullahan from slumber. The large chest took a deep waking breath; he could feel the moon high in the darkened sky. It was time once again to ride. He walked out to the barn hidden deep in the black forest. The nightmares that would pull him through the night stamped impatient to run.

No ordinary horses were these. Their coats shone black as oil, red eyes shaped like almonds, they were evil souls cursed to live eternity as demon spirits in his service. He fastened them in their harnesses and led the beasts to the coach.

His half-rotted flesh began to work the straps and buckles.The nightmares screamed into the night anxious to be on their way. Hooves dug at the earth impatient and sparked flame. He stroked the beast’s neck, he felt it too, the call of the dying.

The  Dullahan climbed aboard and took the reins. The nightmares reared and screamed as they took to the unseen road.

The living did not see him but felt the cold chill down their backs as he passed. The night became darker, thicker with dread as he road toward his destination. His arm drew back to crack his bone whip, the spine snapped and spurred the beasts into a full run.

Men woke and cried out with terrifying dreams, women wept in their sleep. Death was coming.

The dark coachman pulled the beasts to a stop, their destination before them. He stepped down to earth once more and it trembled beneath his boot.

The slowing beats of his soon to be passenger’s heart pulsed in the Dullahan’s veins. He was the harbinger, nothing could stand in his way. The gate opened at his approach. The front door on the modest cottage swung inward.

The dying man cried out for mercy as the candles snuffed leaving him and his wife in darkness. A loud scrape echoed in the room as the dresser moved aside, pulled by an invisible force. The locks he was so sure were strong enough to hold tumbled and turned, the final door opened with a creak of bone on bone.

The dying screamed as he watched the dark creature walk toward him. The barrel-sized chest took deep breaths, beneath the cloak’s hood there was nothing but darkness. The wife looked into it and felt the emptiness there, as though she stared into the pits of hell itself. She covered her own mouth to hold back her horror. Least his attention be drawn her way.

The Dullahan reached into the dying man’s chest with its black hand and tore out his soul. The man’s corpse gave one last breath in life. The spirit struggled in the grip of death as he was escorted out to the black coach. The coach’s door opened beckoning the soul to enter and be taken to his fate. 

The wife cried out as her husband’s essence stepped inside. The dark coachmen growled low, her skin turned to gooseflesh, her hair stood on end. The Dullahan turned toward her, she screamed and begged him to not to take her.

The coachman dowsed the wife with the blood of the dead. A mark, she would live this night and maybe the next, but at the banshee’s next cry he would come for her first.

He mounted the coach and cracked his bone whip.  Cóiste Bodhar and its headless coachmen rode into the darkest part of night to carry their passenger to judgement.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Photo prompt courtesy photographer  Danielle Tunstall
His eyes snapped open, darted about the darkened bedroom. The room was too quiet, too still. His breath panted. They were almost here. No, not again.

A soft whirring sound made his muscles tense and jump. Then he felt the warmed air on his feet from the vent just below his bed. It was just the heat, he let out a breath.

There was a sound a claw scratching on the wall. The breath turned into a gasp as a dark blur shifted in the corner of his vision. His body stiffened and stilled, his heart raced until all he could hear was his pulse pound in his ears.

“Please.” His voice squeaked as his hands gripped the bed sheet.

The room fell into utter silence, until it began to quake. Mild tremors that caused nick nacks to clank on shelves, then stronger until the bed moved side to side. His hands tightened onto the mattress. “Please, please.”

The quake stopped as he begged into the still silence of the room. He began to pant, his fists balled around the sheet and pulled it up to his face. The clack of claw on the tiled floor became louder.

He tried to hold his breath, if he was still enough they may not see him. Sudden pain coursed though him as electricity lit every nerve ending on fire. The blaze faded enough for him to catch a breath.

It was difficult to take that desperate breath as though a weight sat upon his chest. He couldn’t sit up, couldn’t move any part of him.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see a blur, it reached out to press something by his head. He attempted to struggle against his paralysis as he felt his body being lifted then lowered. Cool thick liquid oozed over his skin until he was submerged.

He tried to hold his breath but it was too long and his lungs gulped in the gel. It burned as it filled his lungs. Then he felt them, their tentacles crept across his skin. Some of the creatures latched on. He screamed wordless as the tentacles bore into his flesh.

They crawled over his face reaching into his ears and mouth. He felt first one then another push its way down his throat. His screams were choked off by the creatures. Sensations of the arms inside him probing made him were sickening.

Worse as the paralysis wore off. He screamed and pleaded for mercy from the things. After minutes that seemed like hours of hell he felt the shock of pain down his spine once more.

The electricity jolted his body forcing the tentacles to flee their host.  He cried out in pure agony until….

He sat up, screamed wildly, his hands pulled at his face, hair and clothing. His breath came in hard gasps. He could see his reflection in his dresser mirror. The realization made him look around the room.

It was morning… He pulled off his shirt and tossed it aside as he searched his chest and arms for any evidence. Nothing. “It was a dream… just another nightmare.”

He didn’t know why they had begun, but hoped they would end soon as he swung his feet to the floor.

His foot stepped on something soft…wet…  His pulse in his throat, he looked down to what it was. A tentacle. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Rosary

Father McKenna looked out at the congregation as they stood from their pews to sing with the choir. His eyes slipped shut as the organ notes began to echo though the sanctuary.
 The high ceiling echoed with the faith filled voices of those present for mass this night. Did they know? Could they see the difference in him?
 His eyes turned to the crowd. Some stood with their hands out palms upward to catch Heaven’s blessings. While others lifted their faces as if God would press his lips to their brow to take the sorrow from their souls.
 What of his soul, did it exist or did she drink it with her seductions. He gingerly touched the edge of his collar, grateful it hid his secret beneath. The church faded before his eyes as his mind replayed the memory of last night.
 He couldn’t sleep, the night was too warm in the rectory. After restless minutes of failed attempts to find comfort, the Father walked out into the garden. He knelt before the stone cross in the center with his rosary.
 McKenna bowed his head and crossed himself as he began the prayers. He turned the beads in his fingers as he spoke. “Our Father, Who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name… “
 As the words fell into the night, his soul began to calm, his eyes closed as he opened to deity’s touch. The air around him stilled, a dark silence descended. He took a deep breath to clear the distraction his focus on God as he continued to pray.
 A soft giggle broke the silence, Father McKenna opened his eyes and fell backward with a startled breath. A young woman stood behind the stone cross her arms wrapped around it. Her petite fingers covering her mouth to stifle her laughter. 
 Her eyes were dark sunken into her face as though it had been a hundred years since she last slept. McKenna could feel darkness in her. “The church is open for prayer. The rectory is private, my child.”
 The girl, no thing… pushed from the stone, her tongue slowly moved across her bottom lip. “Child? Priest… you’re not even old enough to be my father.”
 McKenna stilled as she stood over him. His eyes couldn’t focus on her face, dizziness fell on him.
 She… it, bent to bring her face to his and sniffed at the air before him, then again at his neck. McKenna’s pulse jumped as she moved closer, her lip curled wickedly. “I smell fear on your skin. Is your faith not strong enough?”
 Her breath a bouquet of decay, soured milk, and roses filled face. The father coughed and swallowed back the sickness. “He will protect me, my faith is strong.”
 Her fingers slid through his hair slowly as she gave a sound something between a scoff and curt laugh. “No, priest, faith can’t protect you. Your hair is so soft, you do smell nice, fresh.”
 The creature nuzzled his neck, for a brief moment the gentle touch of her fingertips along the line of his neck distracted him from what he was. His hand clenched and he felt the rosary wrapped in his palm.
 He drew back from her. “I am a man of God, I will not be corrupt.”
 The creature was undeterred rested her brow to his. “You were corrupt the moment you spoke to me, priest.”
 That last word she spat into his face with contempt for all he was and believed.
 This close he could see her eyes were dead, soulless things. He felt his heartbeat slow, her tiny hands grip his shoulders. Those hands had strength that defied their size. She moved closer, her head tilted toward the side of his neck as if to kiss.
 McKenna pushed her off as he scurried backward until he could stand and put distance between them. “Be gone unclean spirit.” He swung the crucifix; the silver cross struck the monster across her cheek.
 She hissed and pressed a hand to her wound but not before, he saw blood thick and black ooze forth. The blood of a corpse. Her eyes shifted until there was no white left in them. He gazed into orbs of pure onyx.
 McKenna tried to look away but those orbs held him captive. In an attempt to break the spell, he rose the crucifix between them. Bluish smoke rose from the bits of flesh and ooze that clung to the holy item.
 “Unclean, perhaps you should look in the mirror, priest.” She brushed the ooze from her cheek; the wound closed and began to fade from her skin.
 When it vanished, McKenna looked at the rosary to see the gore still present. He hadn’t dreamed the gash. Though his faith was strong, the hand which clutched the beaded strand trembled. “I am a child of God.”
 She laughed, not the girlish giggle that brought his attention from prayer. This was as though gravel were being poured into his ears. Only something made of darkness could laugh like that. “Does he love you, priest?”
 He gasped as her voice whispered behind him against his ear, she had moved faster than a blink. “Despite the blood I smell on your hands?”
 He could not stop the shiver which coursed down his spine when her breath fell down the line of his throat. “Old blood, long forgiven. He loves me.”
 McKenna turned his head to look at her, but his eyes focused on her lips not her eyes. “He has love for you.”
 She cackled again, the sound dug painfully inside his ears. “Love for me, an unclean beast? You think I still have a soul to save? Perhaps I don’t want your salvation.”
 The edge of her fingernail trailed down his neck. “You have to wait for your rewards in Heaven. I get my rewards when I take them.” The nail turned and sliced into his flesh.
 He froze caught by fear and her gaze. Her lip curled into a grin that would haunt his dreams for the rest of his days on earth. She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My reward tonight shall be you.”
 McKenna tried to push her away again but he was powerless held in her gaze, one hand at his throat a razor like nail dug at his skin as the other hand fisted in his hair. His mouth opened to scream, protest, cry for help, but nothing uttered forth. Only a groan of pain as she drew back his head and struck the line of soft flesh she exposed.
 The next moment he knew dawn had begun to break. The beams of soft light danced over his face to open his eyes. The creature had gone but her kiss remained on his neck, he felt the punctures gingerly and hissed in pain. He lived… at least part of him had survived.
 As McKenna stumbled to his room he felt changed, the world seemed too bright, the light ached his eyes.
Silence called him back from memory to Morning Mass. The songs were finished, the voices of the blessed quiet to receive the message. McKenna stood and approached the pulpit. Was he cursed, could he speak the words?
 His rosary clean and polished lay gazing at him. It had burned the thing; if he was cursed, it would him also. It was time to see if his soul was her reward. McKenna closed his eyes and uttered a prayer as his hand descended on the rosary, and the truth of his soul. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Woman in the Woods

It was nearly dusk and he was completely turned around on the forest trails. He hoped he was going in the direction of the cabin. After a few more minutes walk he could hear the  soft swoosh of water rushing over rocks.
His lungs took a calming breath and let it go slowly. There wasn't a creek anywhere near the cabin. He was lost. The canteen was almost empty, he should fill it while he had the  chance.
With the sky turning a pinkish gold overhead he made his way off the trail toward the soft splashing sounds. As he moved closer a soft voice humming blended into the sounds of the creek. Maybe another hiker and he wasn't as lost as he thought.
He stepped through the brush toward the song to the rocky edge of the creek. His hand gripped a hanging tree limb to keep his footing on the moss slickened stones as he picked his way along the edge. He kneeled on a flat rock and watched bubbles float upward as he held the canteen below the water line.
The bubbles calmed as the last of the air was replaced with refreshing cool liquid. He capped the canteen and cupped his hands to scoop up a drink and bathe his face and neck. As his hands dipped under a face appeared in the water not his own.
With an unmanly yip he jumped back and looked behind him. No one was there. He sighed and shook his head. "I've been out in the sun too long today."
As he stood the humming became louder, clearer. He turned and saw a young redheaded woman, she sat on the rocks at the creek edge with a washboard.
He blinked, was she there before? Maybe he was just too tired from the long walk to notice. He watched her pick up a large bar of soap and rub it up and down the board as she continued her song, seemingly oblivious to his presence.
She had to live near by. "Excuse me.... Miss?"
She picked up a shirt from her basket and started to scrub up and down over the washboard. He stepped forward and lost traction on the damp stones. He hit the ground  hard enough to see stars. His eyes watered with the ache in his head as he sat up.
The woman had stopped her song and now looked at him as she turned the shirt and continued to scrub. She turned back to her work as she spoke. "Does it hurt?"
He rubbed the back of his head. "Not really, I think I just showed how much of a city boy  I am." His lips curled in a soft grin. "I'm completely turned around on these trails. Do you live near the campground?"
She glanced up for a moment then rinsed the shirt in the creek and examined it carefully. In the dying light he could see the white shirt was still stained. She sighed and began to  scrub it up and down the board again. "I live in the wood."
He raised a brow at the short answer. Maybe she was one of those Rainbow People he was always being told to be cautious of. They traveled to different areas sometimes camping out in the forest like a wild hippy commune. Maybe she her family was a bunch of cannibal axe murderers on the run or weird apocalypse get back to nature groupies.
If he was lucky she had a phone and he could call for help before she went all Blair Witch on him. "It must be nice to live out here in the quiet. Could I use your land line to call someone to pick me up? My cell is useless out here and I am totally lost on these  trails."
She continued to push and pull the cloth over the board. "There is no phone."
His spine tingled as he moved closer to her, more carefully over the rocks this time. He  made a silent promise to pay more attention to signs and maps next time if hiked. "There's no phone? Could you give me a ride back to camp? I'll be glad to pay you for the gas and trouble. I'm sure you get a lot of lost hikers up here."
She held up the shirt, in the dying light, the dark stain glistened. He thought it looked larger than it had before. The woman seemed satisfied as if it should be worse not better."You're not lost, Thomas." She began to sing a little louder this time as she worked the cloth once more.
He swallowed, how did she know his name. He rubbed his arms as gooseflesh covered them and chill filled him to the bone. "I really need to get out of the woods, my friends are going to wonder where I am. Is there someone that can give me a ride to camp or town?"
The woman's lips curled ever so slightly. "Soon, he will come for you, Thomas."
She stood her hair flowing around her as she turned and pointed. "Don't worry so, you're not lost."
Thomas felt a knot of fear in his throat as he gazed down the line of her finger. His knees felt weak as he walked back to where he had slipped. He looked down at his own face, eyes open, blankly staring at the rising moon. Blood still glistening covered the rock beneath his head. "No... this... isn't real."
She put a dainty blood speckled hand on his shoulder. "Some fairy tales are very real, Thomas."
His chest rose and fell rapidly, his pulse beating in his ears. "Who is coming for me?"
She turned and picked up her basket with its bounty of stained clothing from those she had called for today. Silently she stepped back into the wood disappearing from sight.
He looked up and down the rocky bank as hoof beats began to fill the empty night air. Thomas stood frozen at the sight of the black coach drawn by a demon horse with red eyes. As the coach drew near he could hear the woman singing again. Only now the soft  sweet song had turned into a wail.

  1. C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
  2. Erica Damon Penance'
  3. J. Q. Rose Sorry
  4. Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
  5. Barbara Lund Spooky Space
  6. Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours
  7. Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
  8. Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
  9. Sherri Conway Ants
  10. Elizabeth McCleary Over James Henry Wilcox Dead Body
  11. Canis Lupus The Picture
  12. Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
  13. Bill Bush Trapped
  14. Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade
  15. Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost
  16. Viola Fury 911

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Old Lady Creeper's Meat Pies

“What do we do now? You told me nothing could go wrong and look what’s happened.” Kurt pushed and  
shook the basement doors again. “We’ll just go in and get the ball, he said, nothing will happen, he said, the old lady isn’t even home, he said.” 

Pete gave his friend a shove. “Shut up! It’s not my fault the wind blew the doors shut.” He gave the other boy another shove to the side. “Stop acting like a baby, they probably just need a good shot of elbow grease.”

Kurt scoffed, “Yeah, my sister can bench press more than you in weight class.”

Pete gave him an evil eye, then rubbed his hands together and pushed on the cellar doors. When they didn’t give he put his back into it, added a grunt or two for good measure. The doors rattled a bit but didn’t budge.

Pete looked to Kurt panic started to rise in both the boys. “Holy crap, Kurt! We’re gonna die down here!”

Kurt swallowed, then stomped his foot. He wasn’t going to end up in one of Old Lady Creeper’s meat pies. “Shut up, Pete.”

After a few panted breaths of musty basement air, Kurt squinted as he tried to see in the dark. “There’s got to be another way out of here. We never see the old hag leave ‘cept to go to the Piggly Wiggly.”

Pete started to search with him, both boys took a tentative step further into the dark room. He swallowed. “Do you think this is where she stores the bodies? You know… the ones for the pies.”

Kurt gulped hard and elbowed his pal in the side. “Don’t be stupid, that stuff is just stories to scare kids like us.”

They took a few more steps into the dark, Kurt squinted again and peered into the dark corner. “Hey, it’s the ball.” He ran over and picked it up. “Pete, here’s stairs. We can get out of here before Old Lady Creeper gets home.”

Pete yelped when his hand hit the edge of a worktable. His hands crept along the surface. “Yeah, I’m too young to be a pie.”

He took another few steps, his hands felt along the table for guidance. A box turned over onto his hands and he froze in place. “K..kKurt…. “

Kurt was done with this freaky place, the old lady would be home soon. She’d call his parents, he would get grounded and miss the carnival this weekend. “Come on, stop being a baby.”

He walked over to Pete and grabbed at the items that lay over his friend’s hands. It felt…. No, it couldn’t be…

The sun had started to shift and shine into the tiny filth smudged window. Kurt held up one of thet hings. He swallowed hard and started to tremble as his gaze fell on a skeletal hand. Kurt dropped the hand as Pete joined him in a high-pitched girly scream.

They ran full steam to the basement doors the force unjammed them. When the double doors flew open, they ran for the closest house, the boys emitted that girly scream all the way.

Mrs. Caraway walked down the stairs taking care with her bad hip. When she reached the bottom, the old dear gave out a long breath of relief. She set her Piggly Wiggly woven market bag by the deep freeze and looked over at the worktable.

There were skeletal remains scattered over the surface. With a deep sigh, she walked over and started to clean up the mess. She dropped a skull into the box on top of a witch’s hat and pumpkin tablecloth. “Damn kids, always getting in here and making a mess of my holiday decorations. Maybe I should start putting more mince pies on the window sill.”

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stand up for Your Right To Read!

Happy Banned Books Week 2016! One of my favorite weeks of the year. It's like a license to be bad reading all those books that have been banned, challenged, and protested through the year and all of literary history.

The theme the American Library Association has chosen this year is Stand Up for Your Right to Read. The theme encourages you to express your first amendment rights regarding reading and writing about whatever you want. It is a freedom that we often take for granted, something we don't
think about every day.

By challenging a book's right to be shelved in a school, library, or even a bookstore that person or group is challenging the First Amendment which gives us the right free speech. That doesn't mean we have to agree with or even like every item in our local library's catalog.

There may be something in there that offends you deeply but there are other items that you check out over and over again. As the saying goes "a great library will have something in it that offends everyone."

If every book challenged had successfully been banned the loss of great literature would be staggering. Your children would never grow up sharing the adventures of a stuffed bear and his piglet pal, never chase after a white rabbit or explore the wonders of Middle Earth. You wouldn't find out if that guy really had ties in 50 shades of grey or what happens to the young lovers Romeo and Juliet.

These stories and more are in our libraries today because someone stood up for their right to read them. This week reminds us that we can make a difference every day by showing support for the stories we love and are important to our lives.

Here are 5 ways you can celebrate Banned Books Week and Stand Up for Your Right to Read
1. Go to download the banners and social media avatars, then plaster your profiles with them.
2. Check out the lists of books that have been banned/challenged last year and share it with a friend.
3. Visit your local library or bookstore and check out the displays for Banned Books Week.
4. Check out /Buy a banned book and read it this week.
5. Read ande banned and challenged books all year long.

This week I'm reading Blood and Chocolate by annette Curtis Klause and The Immortal Life of Henretta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

How are you going to celebrate Banned Books Week?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: Project Kid: Crafts That Go!

This is a wonderful book for librarians, teachers, moms, and caretakers. All of the projects in Project Kid: Crafts That Go! come with a complete list of tools and materials. Most of the tools and materials will be used for each of the crafts, which can save time and money when planning a series of crafts for a class or story time. Each craft can also be adjusted for the age/skill level of the crafter/s.

Directions for each project are simple to follow with photos to illustrate the steps.  The book is well organized and full of colorful photos that make it enjoyable to work with.

Definitely a book for every librarian, teachers or parent’s shelf for project fun. Caesar gives Project Kid; Crafts that Go! a thumbs up in the Gladiator's Pen arena. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ketching up with K-U for Blogging from A to Z with One Word/60 Seconds

This is going to be a multi-letter post starting with K for Ketching up. I know I know it's not
supposed to be spelled like that but hey, making up words worked for Shakespeare. :)

The following Ketching-up entries will be from my One Word/60 Second list. What's One Word you ask? Well, it's actually a fantastic site You are given a single word with a 60-second timer. You are to write as fast as you can what that one word inspires. It's a great way to warm up your muse or even shake a bit of writer's block. Maybe even get a good story starter or prompt to save for later. Okay, now I'm going to Ketch-up, I hope you enjoy the following OneWord/60 Second entries. 

Instead of staking out the local chop shop he could be out with Gina, or Lola. Oh yeah, Lola. He popped the lid off his coffee and tossed it onto the dash with the rest of the night's collection. Maybe this one wouldn't taste like used oil.

After seven hours of crap coffee and no action, he watched the sleek sedan pull up to the garage door. The detective took a tentative sip and sighed as a big man stepped out of the car and straightened his coat, the hood he’d been looking for. He regretfully tossed the first decent cup of java all night out the window and flipped on the flashing lights. At least his wasn't the only date night to get ruined. 

M- Mystery 
The clatter of a coffee cup being set on the desk brought his attention from the files long enough to grunt thanks. This was one hell of a mystery, he had no idea where to start the search for this dame's sister. She was like smoke in fog, and he was one puzzled gumshoe.

The gun trembled slightly in his hand, this was his first day in uniform on patrol. The leather of his new holster still shiny. He was supposed to be sitting in the coffee shop eating donuts not in the middle of a face-off with a gang punk and an AK pointed at his head.

Have some optimism, there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud. That’s what my mother would say when we were frightened of the creatures in the dark. She couldn’t see them so she didn’t think they existed. Even now as I cower under the covers, a grown woman I find myself whispering those words. Could there really be a silver lining to the dark shadow looming over my bed?

Looking down he saw a wooden panel loose on the desk. The jutting corner begging for discovery. Gently he pried at it with the tip of a pin. The panel fell to the floor revealing a compartment. Reaching inside he pulled out a diary, the first line read…. “My God,what have I done?”

The room was quiet but for the sound of water dripping from the corner. It was dark and damp, smelled like dirt, a basement maybe. She twisted and pulled at the ropes on her wrists. A sound from the corner made her pause. Scratch.. scratch...the rustle of paper or maybe cloth then a large rat ran across her feet. She gasped and wiggled her feet as much as the ropes would let her. There wasn't much time left, she worked harder and managed to loosen the knots just enough. Her hands trembled and pulled furiously on the other bonds until the door creaked and a sliver of light crept toward her. He was back.

A routine day in the shop was all I wanted. Just a normal unbothered day of customers, dusting antiques, and inventory. Until the crate arrived, until I opened it. The contents would change everything I knew. No more routine days in the shop.

This part of the jogging path was secluded from the park. Usually, she enjoyed her run in the quiet of the night, but something about the thick copse of trees on each side made her feet move just a bit faster. She felt eyes bore into her back as she broke out into a full run. Her breath panted harder as footsteps began to echo hers from behind. They were getting faster, closer. She didn't dare glance back. Run just run, she told her feet, and they might make it out alive.

The door slammed shut, he could hear the bolt slide into place. "Damn." There was always a reason those mysterious notes say come alone. It was a trap, his gut was right instinct had been right but he came anyway. Now he had two options, wait for his captor to kill him or search for escape.

U- Unplanned  
He stepped back and gazed at the blood spattered on the wall. The victim had been removed but evidence of his violent death was painted dark red across the wall like a high gloss white canvas. The pattern of spray and dots seemed geometric, a kind of unplanned art. Or was it? Maybe the killer fancied himself Monet or Van Gogh. Maybe Dali, the bastard was definitely mad. 

There we go all Kaught up. Oh, you really didn't think I'd stop with Ketch did ya? :D Now it's your turn to try a muse wake up with One Word. Pick one of these words above and time yourself writing for 60 seconds. What did you get?