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OCTOBER 2019

Only The Best SELF PUBLISHED BOOKS EXCERPTS & Short STORIES: VOICES FROM THE DARK

EXCITING NEW TITLES GREAT STORIES FOR THE SCARIEST TIME OF THE YEAR!

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Halloween reading magazine

Executive Editor - Tanja Slijepčević Graphic Designer - Mirna Gilman Ranogajec

Produced by BooksGoSocial Argus House, Blackpitts Dublin 8 BooksGoSocial.com Admin@booksgosocial.com

https://bgsauthors.com

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Table of contents 04 Editor’s Letter 24 The True Hallowe’en Genre by Holly Bell 28 Has Your Character Ever Celebrated Halloween? by J.L.Canfield

31 NO MERE MORTAL by Amara Dey

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Finders by Amy Romine

41 The Devil’s Daughter’s Doll’s Diary by Lawrence Jay Switzer 47 53

A TALE FROM THE CRIPT by George Tyrrell Running into Ghost A short story by Bandy Naef

56 Haint it Da’ Blues? by CLABE POLK

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Editor’s letter

You are very welcome to our Halloween magazine ‘19! From scary stories, ghosts, paranormal sights, excerpts, and advice on how to write a perfect villain, we have a delicious mix of Halloween goodies for you! We start with the basics - Holly Bell shares her view on a true Halloween genre. Author J. L. Cranfield shares her tips on how to incorporate Halloween into your story. For a good scare, I suggest Clabe Polk’s short story about the blues and old haunted places. Author Lawrence Jay Switzer will introduce you to the devil - it might be slightly different to what you expect.

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What would you do if a ghost visited you in the middle of the night? Author Bandy Naef knows. Don’t miss our excepts section, for anyone who wants a taste of writing before committing to a full book. This and much more in our new magazine! And if you have any ideas for articles or things you would like to see covered in our magazines, let me know. Tanja Slijepcevic Editor in Chief Halloween Magazine 2019

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Who Controls America by mark mullen While Congress continues to argue over the Mueller Report and engage in partisan politics, a far more dangerous adversary goes unnoticed and unanswered as they surreptitiously whittle away middle-class liberties and freedoms. This opponent has been assaulting America relentlessly for over four decades. To make matters worse, the attackers are not terrorists; they are Americans. They work out of sight in secret rooms and hallowed halls. Their goal is the same as the Russians and Chinese: world dominance at the expense of the American middle-class. Who Controls America? is very highly recommended for social issues, political, economic, and American history collections and classes alike. -Diane Donovan, MidwestBook Review. The reader will understand who truly holds power in American society and it isn’t the masses.- Romuald Dzemo

Roads to Meaning and Resilience with Cancer by Morhaf Al Achkar, MD, Phd The book tells the stories of 39 patients with incurable lung cancer. It aims to help patients, families, and healthcare providers understand the experience of living with cancer. It also invites reflections on the essential questions of meaning, resilience, and coping with adversity in life. The author is a family doctor, teacher, and researcher who is also a stage 4 lung cancer patient himself. He is patient #40. Patients with cancer often have an urgency to find meaning in life. They struggle with the illness, its emotional impact, and the consequences of treatments. However, with time, reflection, and support from others, they develop resilience. This is an excellent book written by a physician who happened to be a patient with stage 4 lung cancer at a young age. As a physician, I can say it is an eye opening for me. It reflects the experience of forty individuals with lung cancer. The book is written in a very attractive, yet scientific style. 6


A Dog’s Purpose by sandra glosser My Name Is Bacci Bogie: Frequent Flyer Extraordinaire is about a 4-pound, adorable Maltese, whose humanlike antics drew people to him wherever he went. People, of all ages, stood in line for his autograph as he performed funny tricks. Bacci traveled over 500,000 air miles as my ‘jet pet’ experiencing life in a very unique way I wrote his memoirs from his point of view and in his voice. Most of all Bacci’s story is a great example of the multi-faceted richness that a pet can bring to those who love him. Readers experience the excitement as Bacci relates adventures in California, Florida, Colorado, and Washington, to name a few cities. The pup amassed more than 500, 000 air travel miles. Bacci introduces readers to the other pets he encounters during his travels and the humorous antics he employs to gain attention. There are romps in the snow and walks on the beach. Bacci reveals his fear and sadness on 9/ 11 and during times of family crisis.

True Course - Lessons From a Life Aloft by Brigid Johnson Raised in a small town in an era when aviation was a male profession, with parents who didn’t support her ambitions, Brigid nevertheless learned to fly. From solo to an airline career, Brigid captures with understanding, humor, and grace the moments that change the path of our lives. With lyrical expression of her love for flight, she writes old and new stories of family, adventure, and the thrill of taking to the sky. It is than a story of the lure of aviation--it’s a story of learning to let the spirit soar and unfurling the wings of personal freedom, an inspiration to adventurers everywhere. This is a book to use as a reward for yourself - to read a little at a time on evenings when the day has gone well. It is an introspection into one person’s world of flight yet it carries truths for all those who have given their soul to the wonders and mysteries of the sky - and sometimes wonder why. 7


Wholly Aligned, Wholly Alive by Ciara Jean Roberts The state of medicine today has its challenges. If you’re suffering from ill health, and you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, there is a path for you to become wholly aligned if you’re willing to take responsibility for your healing. In this insightful book, nutritionist and yoga teacher Ciara Jean Roberts shows us the path to happiness and healing through her personal journey of dealing with a lifelong kidney condition charting from childhood to teenage dialysis to transplantation and beyond. An honest and utterly compelling story of a woman’s experience navigating life long kidney disease and empowering herself towards health. Sometimes moving, sometimes hilarious, she shines a light on both the arrogance and humanity found within the medical world and the importance of trust in one’s own innate ability to heal. I found it a hugely enjoyable read.

Don’t Feel Stuck! by Jaclyn Johnston Are You Tired of Feeling Stuck In Your Life? I will teach you how to manifest your success & happiness! This book is designed to help you: • Learn how to release your stubborn & limiting mental blocks that no longer serve you. • Develop your own newly empowering & positive belief system through soul-exploring mindset journaling. • Secure your empowering belief system into your soul’s core through the use of cognitive training exercises. • And learn how to take inspired, soul-based actions to SHOW the Universe what you truly desire in order to speed up your manifestation process! This book is amazing. It makes you reach in and grab those deep feelings you may have been holding back. It uproots all negativity and reinsert in spirit with love and light. I love it and I love the process. - Rockie (reader, Amazon.com) 8


Jake’s America by Glen Daniels This is the story of Jake, a disgruntled Vietnam vet who isn’t happy with the course the nation is taking, so he decides to give up his lavish lifestyle and escape to a simpler life. The question is, can he do it? Then, there is Lydia, a widowed mother of two who is running from a life of pain and remorse toward a life she doesn’t even know exists. The two collide in remote Montana. Differences aside, are they good for each other? An excellent story, so appropriate for the times we live in. A storyline that grabs you from the first page to the last. Didn’t want it to end and can’t wait for a sequel.

Searching for Edgar’s Five Dancers by Efren O’brien It’s Santa Fe, New Mexico in the early 1940’s - full of smuggled art from Europe, USSR spies, and FBI agents. In the midst of it all is Quinn Chase, a former police detective turned Private Investigator is trying to start a new career after being fired by the Albuquerque Police Department. Quinn seeks one painting that has been smuggled into Santa Fe above all others......”Five Dancing Women (ballerinas)” by nineteenth-century French Artist, Edgar Degas. At the same time, atomic secrets from Los Alamos are being smuggled by Nazi spies out of Santa Fe and back to Germany. An American mole is being paid by the Nazis and is coordinating the smuggled art entering and leaving Santa Fe for South America. This well written, reads fast, and you can’t be sure of the outcome. It’s an exciting read. - Amazon review

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Horrors of the Mind: Twisted Tales of Terror by H.E. Kline 2019 Bronze Medalist for Horror - Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards! Are you ready to open your mind to the possibility that the weird and unexplained tales of folklore and legend could actually be true? Terrifying nightmares, Native American shapeshifters, and phantom hitchhikers all meld together to bring you a paranormal trilogy that will have you questioning your beliefs, even your own sanity, as each explores a supernatural theme in a unique way. Three tales of nail-biting horror connected by one common thread.

EIGHT: Terror Has A New Species by WW Mortensen Deep in the Amazon lies a mysterious source of power that could solve the global energy crisis. But when entomologist Rebecca Riley joins the team assembling there, she uncovers far more: strange statues in the jungle… a ruined city built by the refugees of a lost Pacific continent… and a terrifying new species of animal. An ancient enemy has awakened, with implications for all of humankind… and the planet itself.

Undying Witch by B. Austin Dima, an ancient gypsy finds a shapeshifting stone and with it, the ability to live forever. Medea is resentful of a mother who passes as her sister, a mother who claims all magic as her magic and treats her daughter like a slave. In secret, Medea develops her own powers. Dima makes a good living with magic until her daughter decides to compete with her.

Death at the Dakota: A Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery by M.K. Graff Nurse Trudy Genova works a film shoot at NYC’s famed Dakota building when her star disappears and an actor dies. Her boyfriend, NYPD detective Ned O’Malley, tackles a murder whose victim is burned beyond recognition. When Ned’s investigation leads him to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself targeted in this mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

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ANGELS OF LIGHT: Beyond the Veil by Mark Vance A cocky, wise-cracking, commercial airline pilot has a surreptitious, life-long relationship with the apparition of a dead relative, killed decades earlier in a military plane crash. When the apparition urges the pilot to solve the mystery of that crash, government censorship and stonewalling ensues, eventually surmounted by confidential information provided by entities disguised as the pilot’s dead relative and murdered comrades. Angels of Light: Beyond the Veil is a beautifully riveting tale that follows a young boy’s dream of becoming a pilot as he matures into a grown man. Through his life-long love of planes and flying, the spirit of his dead uncle is his constant encouraging companion and guardian angel.

Sister Witch: The Life of Moll Dyer by David W. Thompson The legend of Moll Dyer originated in earliest colonial Maryland. Despite 300 years of civilization, Moll’s name is still often heard there, especially around campfires late at night, or as a warning to misbehaving little people. Her spirit is often seen as a wisp of unnatural fog in the swampy woodlands near her homestead, with her half-wolf companion at her side. This is her story.  Sister Witch is the 1st place winner of the Golden Quill Award for Fantasy and 1st place (Magical Realism) in the Ed/Pred reader’s poll. Official Selection of New Apple and Reader’s Favorite contests. Meticulously researched & well-written. The voice of Moll Dyer- strong & prominent. The issues of rape, intolerance, & “witch hunts” - wonderfully incorporated into the narration- a highly riveting read, but an important one as well.

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Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein When Diana’s mama comes home from an European vacation engaged to an English duke, she jumps into action to stop her erratic mother from making a huge mistake. Andrew, the duke’s nephew and heir, has similar ideas and leaves Monte Carlo’s gaming tables and heads to Mississippi. Andrew and Diana join forces to prove just how incompatible their parents are. However, along the way their an attraction sparks and Diana and Andrew fall in love. When an old family secret comes to light, Diana and Andrew must decide if their love is strong enough to withstand divided loyalties, crazy relatives, and unexpected truths. Spirited humour! The corners of this reader’s lip rose up on numerous occasions at the dialogue, repartee and shenanigans that occur in this story. Absolutely marvelous characterizations from the main male and female characters, through to a whole assembly of supporting characters.

Inspector Kirby and Harold Longcoat: A Northumbrian Mystery by Ian Martyn A pair of shoes at the side of the road, how weird can that be? Newcastle Detective Inspector Jonah Kirby, called ‘old school’ by his junior colleagues ends up with the cases other officers don’t like to handle, the weird ones. When a young girl is reported missing Kirby investigates. All he has to go on is the pair of shoes. It’s only been a few hours, but to Kirby it doesn’t feel right and in his experience things not feeling right often lead to things not being right. I really enjoyed reading this book – Kirby’s thoughts and asides are often utterly hilarious because they are so realistic, both in content and in the way his mind wanders onto unconnected and irreverent topics without any permission! Mine does the same!

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Rescued by the Ranger by Dixie Lee Brown A wounded Army Ranger, his military K-9, a beautiful woman and her stalker each have their own reasons for staying at a remote Idaho hunting lodge. Rachel has a dangerous secret, but she’s learned how to survive the hard way, and she’s not about to accept help from an arrogant stranger who shows up unannounced looking for answers to an old mystery.

The Neighbour At Number 18 (Reloaded): Stand By Me by Hawa Louisa Crickmore Maria’s scared emotions could not allow her to love any man. However she married a teacher who was devoted until the perfect couple were noticed by ‘The Neighbour at Number 18’. Packed with Romance, life changes events, long lost families, mental health and dementia and child grooming

The Long Road Home by J H Morgan Emily Winter has spent more than half her life hiding from her past and the demons that still reside in it. She has tried to hide her pain with booze and mindless sex, never letting anyone close. When her social worker and the closest thing to a friend she’s ever had calls Emily for help, Emily knows she can’t say no. Paige’s daughter Casey had been kidnapped and held for days in a foreign land. Paige knows the only person who could understand what Casey is going through would be Emily. This book was simply amazing. Actually amazing may not be strong enough of a word to describe the magnitude brilliance that demonstrates how impressive this read was. This story had any and everything that a thriller should contain within its pages. It intricately detailed the devastation that a sexual assault leaves upon its victims, even almost after 20 years has passed. - LeTresa Payne, Author 14


It Ain’t Over... (Cole & Srexx Book 1) by Robert M. Kerns Buy a planet and disappear...That’s all Cole wanted. He spent thirteen years hiding on the fringes of society, piloting freighters for criminals and building a stash to do just that. But life happens when you’re busy making plans. When Cole chooses to save an ejected castaway and stumbles into a crew of his own, he starts down a path that will force him to choose. Will Cole protect those who have become his people? Or will he slip away quietly in the night? A great story about a well-developed and interesting character (group of characters), striking the right balance between enough detail to tell the story, while not getting bogged down in the weeds. And GREAT character interaction and humor. And unlike so many books lately, there were few distracting typos or word choice errors...in fact I do not recall a single one. --SrchNResQ, via Amazon.com

Love You Holy, Wild Child by Fran Steinberg My name is Max or Kid Arrins, and I come from a smaller-than-a-hole-in-the-wall town in Texas called Dead End. People have been leaving there since the railroad moved its stop two towns away. Need a truck now to get your produce to the train station. It’s in South Texas, but on the wrong side of the tracks, if you know what I mean.I’ve lived in this courtroom five days a week, every month or so of my life since I was nine years old. You see, the Foster Care Powers Over Me figure I’m a disturbed orphan. This book is unbelievable! Literally. It’s like the old Pecos Bill and Slue foot Sue stories or tall tales. The story gets so exciting at times. You know a lot of the happenings can’t be possible but you love reading them. Great book. I’ll want to read it again. Those are the only books that get a five star rating from me.

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AN AMERICAN MOM: A Son’s Confession by C.L. Devine New! Don’t miss this murderous true story as told by the child who saw it all happen, Kyler Denton. As the son of Penny Denton, he reveals the shocking true story of growing up with a serial killer mother in a life of drugs, money and murder! Kylers story is a book you cannot stop reading. The story is incredible and keeps you wanting more. I couldn’t put it down, it is so well written. I am sooo looking forward to the next book!

Moon Over London (Werewolves and Gaslight Book 2) by Shawna Reppert Werewolves are disappearing from the gaslit streets of London. Are they being murdered? Kidnapped? Few beyond the ’wolves’ own families notice, they’re missing, and fewer still care. With the aid of a clandestine toff werewolf and a lady alchemist with attitude, Inspector Royston Jones is determined to protect all those who dwell in his city. But his superiors are indifferent, the werewolf community suspicious, and he has too few leads and too many suspects—including his estranged uncle. Only one thing is certain—unless he can solve the mystery, more ’wolves will be taken every time the full moon rises.

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“Imagine that Sherlock Holmes was stalking Jack the Ripper in a slightly steampunk version of Victorian London in which werewolves roamed. That might convey a bit of the flavor of this book. There is plenty of action to keep a reader wanting to turn the page and finding it hard to put down in favor of sleep. The author does an excellent job of conveying the bounds and rules of the different social classes. This is something woven through the book and central to the story. . . .” Amazon reader review of the 1st book in the series


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Fairfield Corners from LA Remenicky! Love stories with a TWIST of paranormal Each is a suspense filled standalone ebook, pb, AUDIO & FREE on KU! From Book 1: Some secrets are too dangerous to keep. After ten years in the big city, Cassie Holt is back in Fairfield Corners. She may look like the same girl who left home a decade before but she’s hiding a dark truth from everyone. When her life is threatened by the demons of her past, her best friend— who happens to be the local sheriff—offers his help.

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Award winning THRILLERS from A. Nicky Hjort Psychological & Medical fans don’t miss out Dark, horror & MA Reads – each a stand alone Ebook, PB & FREE on KU From Book 1: Devyn Mitchell has a choice… listen to the voice of her unborn baby – or die- again. After a near death experience, Doctor Devyn Mitchell finds herself not only mysteriously pregnant but able to communicate with her fetus. She has two choices: give in to total madness or surrender to her new reality, which just may be the only way she and her family will survive the obsessions of the Homeless Hunter’s mind. A true paranormal romantic thriller, A Sinister Bouquet: Awakening, the first of the Sinister Series, will take you right to the edge of what you know to be possible and then drop you in a place so dark, so terrifying, that the only passageway out is through the blinding light of awakening. Wake up. Open your eyes. Finally. We’ve missed you so. (MA18+ for graphic sexual and violent content)

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Magical DRAGON FANTASY from Kevin J Kessler Humans are blissfully ignorant of Terra’s past inhabitants But they want it back! Read in Order – Ebook, PB & FREE on KU From Book 1: The Rosinanti Dragons are no more. Since their extinction nearly one thousand years ago these primal powerhouses have fallen into the obscurity of history’s forgotten lore. In that time, humans have come to dominate the world of Terra, peacefully ignorant to one horrifying truth: ancient evil stirs around them, waiting to reclaim its lost world.

The Wicked Awakened by Sam Jacobey

. It’s a sexy witch hunt when Sarah and Blake take on his brother’s coven - they want to steal her body for a reincarnation!

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Beyond Blue Eyes Series From Sara J. Bernhardt Fleeing the French invasion of Geneva Switzerland in the 1700s, Adam Gold books passage to America with his family. On the ship, Adam’s daughter falls fatally ill. A mysterious man comes to Adam with a way to save his child by turning Adam into something darker than human.

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By Danielle DeVor An amazing vampire tale unlike any other – a legendary king murdered centuries ago is reincarnated into an ordinary street kid, but will he realize his place of power before Lilith can kill him‌ again?

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The True Hallowe’en Genre by Holly Bell

Go on .. guess …. Horror, right? Are you sure? Sure you don’t see the one standing behind it, lurking in the shadows, breathing quietly in the night …. The rival contender is none other than the comparatively new kid on the block: the cozy paranormal mystery. If you haven’t yet investigated its delights, here is a brief summary: There is a mystery, customarily murder. The sleuth is most likely an amateur female, usually a witch. There are ghosts. There is no explicit engagement of a romantic nature. The untimely death typically takes place off-stage. The language is inoffensive, and descriptions of fatalities and casualties are not graphic.

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Here’s a rundown of horror from literary historian J. A. Cuddon: ‘A piece of fiction in prose of variable length ... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing.’ The cause of extreme unease is often, but not necessarily supernatural in nature. So which of these is most faithful to where Hallowe’en comes from? Where is that? Closely allied to the Feast of Samhain (sah-oo-wn) that celebrated the turn of the season, it was a time to remember the dead. First, saints, then everyone. Presumably, not everyone had fond memories of those who had passed, or had reason to suspect that the deceased had less than fond memories of them! Consequently … the moment had come for some anti-phantom action. Time for a costume change and to see if you could out-ghost them with a scary makeover, and send them scurrying back to the Netherworld. On the other hand, there was a useful aspect of the three-day spectrefest. As the veil between the human and spirit worlds was thought to be thinnest at that point in the calendar, what better time to tune in for the inside track on where your future was headed? What you need then was a diviner. In short, a witch. See where we’re going with this? There you have it: witches and ghosts. Furthermore, it would be reasonable to assume that those were the two focus points of the stories that were told on the three nights of the Hallowe’en celebration. You might appreciate a word on the subject from M R James, a giant of the genre, of what makes a ghost story: ‘A pleasing terror’, no ‘explanation 25


of the machinery’, set in ‘those of the writer’s (and reader’s) own day,’ with an absence of gratuitous physical intimacy or exsanguinations. Surely cozy paranormal mystery is the closer fit with that list. So, if it really is the grassroots and culture of the Halloween story, how did it get hijacked by horror? Here’s my theory. It’s all because of a film. A film called … yes, that one: Hallowe’en. Made in 1978, and in case you’re not au fait with the cult classic, here’s a brief summary. On Hallowe’en night, a 6-year old takes a knife into overly close quarters with his sister, resulting in a fatality. Thought to have some mental health issues, he is delivered into the hands of a secure facility, where he becomes resident. Fast-forward 15 years. He is being transported to a court hearing. It is the same night of the year, please note. He escapes and goes off to stalk an intrepid teen (Jamie Lee Curtis) littering the plot with bodies along the way, and provoking much screaming. It did well at the box office and has been the subject of analysis over the years. The result for our purposes is that, because of the title and the popularity of the movie, the season became linked with themes associated with horror.

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So, even if cozy paranormal is more Hallowe’eny, what if you are a fan of more hardcore speculative fiction, would you enjoy a walk on the perkier side? You’d be surprised how many horror and dark fantasy readers do enjoy a break with a taste of something lighter. You’ll find that cozy paranormals are not less, just different. Surprise rather than shock, with puzzles, riddles and laughs out loud. Maybe even making the experience of your favourite genre that much more enjoyable by contrast.


Where to start? The top-selling authors currently, according to the latest K-lytics statistical report on the genre, are Annabel Chase, Amanda M Lee and Tegan Maher. You can check them out on Amazon. So this year, why not get back to our Hallowe’en story past, dig up a cozy, something not too grave, let it spirit you away to a mystery in a charming village and entertaining characters witch you will love, without a ghost of a chance of a sleepless night afterwards. Happy Halloween Holly Bell Holly Bell - Humorous and quintessentially English with excitement and magic. Cat adorer and chocolate lover, Holly Bell is a photographer and video maker when not writing. Holly lives in the UK and is a mixture of English, Scottish, Cornish and Welsh, among other ingredients. She had long experience of non-fiction writing before being told she could write cosy mysteries! Her favourite feline is a black cat called Bobby. Join the newsletter for updates http://amandacadabra.com/come-on-in/

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Has Your Character Ever Celebrated Halloween? by J.L.Canfield

Characters are people we give birth to. Sometimes they are children when born other times they are adults. Every writer knows it’s crucial to understand dialogue and age connection so that a reader relates to the character. Few writers go deeply into a character’s background. But they should. Most writers never get beyond physical appearance, age, setting, or religion. These are critical to breathing life into the creation, but more is needed. Bringing a character to life on paper before you begin telling its story, helps make the bond between reader and character stronger. To bring it fully to life, you must give it flaws and scars, and every one of those things has a history also. One way to build the path of bonding is to go beyond researching the setting a character lives in. Dive deeper. How does this community celebrate holidays? Does the high school and or middle school have Halloween dances and festivals? Is there a group of teens who gets community service hours for dressing up and handing out candy in the hospitals to kids who are stuck there unable to take part in a time-honored American ritual of childhood called trick to treat-ing? After Halloween, what’s going on at Thanksgiving? Is there a Christmas parade downtown? Unless a work is centered around a holiday, the back story of a character does not typically consider the influences such events may have had in the characters past. But if a writer wants the reader to emphasize with a protagonist or antagonist completely, then they should. For example, let’s say your character refuses to decorate their home, inside or out for a holiday. The reader may not 28


think this is a big deal, but psychologically there’s a disconnect, especially if the reader is a colossal decorator no matter the occasion. Back story can put into context the reason this character does not celebrate. Was it because on Halloween he was scared by older kids who took his treats? Did a playmate or sibling run in front of a car while trick or treating and die in front of them? Perhaps one Christmas the character had a parent who left the family after the gifts were open? Celebrations are critical times in human lives, and so they are valuable in creating the personality of your characters. Every human has some terrible memory of a holiday gone wrong. Maybe they were sick, or someone died. Perhaps they didn’t get a gift they were wanting. Maybe a tree fell on the house. Food poisoning was served as a side dish or a hurricane or snowstorm that kept them inside. Was it something else? You, as the writer, have the right to determine how traumatic the incident was and the long term effects it has had on your character. Research heavily into a country’s traditions if you are setting this story somewhere away from your homeland. That will help guide you in how your character handles celebrations and holidays. Most countries have a Thanksgiving celebration, just not the same day as America. Europeans celebrate All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve in ways based on ancient pagan rituals. Old World and New World have similarities, but knowing the differences in how each culture celebrates will affect your storyline, deepen it. If you understand they like cutting down trees at Christmas or carving pumpkins with evil faces, show it. That knowledge will craft a believable personality a reader either loves, empathizes with, or hates. Strong characters can keep a reader turning the pages even if the storyline fails to make them give-up or suspend the innate disbelief that lives in humans. Sharing a little backstory on why your character always dresses as a witch for Halloween or is afraid of clowns or cowers when Christmas lights twinkles will keep the reader engaged. More stories with the same characters are the start of a series and a series for a writer is the beginning of a new family. Make this family the one you always wanted. How will your character family be celebrating Halloween this year? J.L. Canfield, born in Florida, raised in North Carolina, currently residing in Virginia with her two dogs, believes books are the best way to escape the stresses of life and hopes you’ll enjoy escaping in hers. Life is best lived in well-written books, so live yours well. Find out more about her here:

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NO MERE MORTAL by Amara Dey “Bolt?” Silence answered her. Where was Bolt? Accustomed to having him around, an unexpected pang of disappointment hit her. The door into the communal hallway lay wide open. Venus popped her head out. The street door swung ajar, and although reluctant with an imminent storm brewing, she headed for it. What Venus saw in the road halted her. A strangled cry wedged at the bottom of her throat, her breath shut off, her mouth hung agape. A swarm of repulsive decayed phantoms swirled above Bolt, who knelt on the pavement, slumped forward, helpless. While the creatures flicked him with remnants of tattered garments and scratched him with skeletal fingertips. Their raspy growls froze her blood, and terror, like an evil creeper plant, twisted around her spine. “Bolt-on your feet,” Venus shouted, and sprinted the length of the path from the front door to the sidewalk. The sight of her strong protector down on his knees appalled Venus. The gruesome specters didn’t scare her as much as seeing this brave man look defeated. 31


“Bolt, please stand.” She grabbed him under his armpits. Her attempts at heaving Bolt to his feet failed. He did not budge. She didn’t have the strength to drag him, either. He weighed a ton. The creatures brushed at her with their bony hands, as they whooshed, and flapped, and swarmed. Venus shivered at their icy touch and gagged at their decayed stench. She batted at them, forgot her distaste for profanity, and swore at the apparitions. “Sod off, you smelly bastards.” Zaru’s maniacal laugh came at her from every direction. Panic squeezed her throat tight, and she couldn’t breathe. Oh, dear Lord, she didn’t know how to defend them from this horror attack. Venus filled her lungs with oxygen. The action pushed her terror down and kick-started her brain. She stopped pulling Bolt from behind and stooped at the front of him. Bolt’s glazed eyes bulged, and he gasped for breath as if fighting to reinflate his lungs. Venus waved a hand across his face. He showed not a glimmer of recognition. His ripped, red shirt hung off his shoulder. Venus adjusted it, covering him as best she could. She didn’t want the vile specters touching his skin with their dead flesh. Bolt’s armor birthmark caught her attention, and a bright idea hit her. His activated body shield would protect him from the phantoms. With a grunt, Venus hauled up Bolt’s leaden arm. Inch by labored inch, she persevered until she pressed Bolt’s fingers against the arrow mark on his neck. The phantasms continued swarming. An invisible Zaru cackled nonstop. Venus paid no attention and whispered over and over, “Please activate your armor. You must survive, even if I don’t.” When did Bolt grow so dear to her? As the question ran across her mind, Bolt’s fingers moved. He pressed onto his birthmark, without 32


her help, while Venus shook her aching arms. Bolt’s body unfolded, gradual at first, then he blurred red into a standing position. Upright, legs planted apart, Bolt resembled a six-foot-tall action hero. With a slow smile, Venus stepped aside to give him space. The corpse swarm followed her lead and floated away from the refreshed Bolt. “No. Attack.” The creatures obeyed Zaru’s eerie, disembodied yell, surged, and scratched what changed from flesh into armor plate. Baffled, they formed an arc and hovered. Vivid flashes zinged off Bolt’s fingertips, and a fascinated Venus watched light run around Bolt’s entire body, outlining it in dazzling white. With painful mewls the phantoms covered their faces with ragged arms, and floated skyward together like thousands of translucent, hideous jellyfish. Bolt’s bright outline thickened. Brilliant as a million-watt bulb, it made Venus squint, and sent the creatures off into the foreboding darkness further afield. In response, Zaru’s loud and incorporeal voice chanted strange pagan words. Bolt’s light switched off, and Zaru’s chant stopped. Gripped by invisible arms of steel, Venus left the ground at speed. Shocked, speechless, and ensnared, she peered downward at a swirl of dense cloud. Sidewalk, road, houses, and Bolt were no longer visible. “Caught you this time, pet. Brilliant diversion, don’t you think?” Zaru asked, his voice alight with glee as he materialized. Venus came to her senses and squirmed. “Put me down, you wanker.” Her fists pummeled Zaru’s iron breastplate of a chest. It bruised her knuckles and didn’t affect him in the least bit. Zaru pushed her a full arm’s length away, and she thought he’d comply with her demand.

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“No, you’ll make a mess of the nice clean road, and that’s too easy a death, half-breed. I will torture you in a myriad of ways before you die.” “Not happening, you git.” Venus wished she could gouge his merciless tawny eyes from their sockets. “Yes, it will. We want the Glow extinguished, and Bolt can’t rescue you. He’s a weakling whom I can switch off as and when I please.” “Bet he can switch-on whenever he wants.” Venus aimed a kick toward Zaru’s crotch. Zaru’s lower body floated backward as if he were boneless, and she struck air. Venus screamed and flailed, desperate to free herself of the evil Wizard’s stronghold. His touch made her skin crawl, and a frantic need to scrub herself clean overcame her. Then thunder rumbled. Oh no! The storm would soon hit, with her stuck in the middle of it with a maniac. The substance around her oozed and billowed. Venus’ phobia seized control, and her reasoning became irrational. Her parents died in a gale, and today she’d die, too. Her frame stiffened, awaiting her death. Always fascinated by myths and magic Amara Dey writes paranormal romance featuring the Gods of Santeria, the Orishas. With their passionate love affairs, distinct personalities, wide variety of strengths, weaknesses and interests they are the inspiration for Amara’s characters and the magical world where they live. While from the rich folklore of her native Guyana come the creatures they must defeat. Amara lives in London and like her characters she loves dancing, and dance is a part of all of her stories. When not writing she enjoys Zumba, reading, supernatural TV shows and movies. Vacation time takes her to tropical shores. Find out more about Amara here: https://www.amazon.com/Amara-Dey/e/B07NDZ5KR4

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Finders by Amy Romine When an expert Demonologist meets a Reality Show Producer on the Ghost Hunting Show Finders, sparks of true love fly so brightly even the Devil takes notice. Demonologist Luke Melloy has seen the face of pure evil. He’s fought it and sent it back to hell. It’s what he does. To Claire Westin, ghosts and demons are just great television and good for ratings. When she’s faced with the truth Luke has seen, her reality is turned upside down as the two are swept into dire straits moments after they meet. Desire sparks between the unlikely pair, throwing their hearts into chaos with a love neither of them expected nor wanted. When the Demon targets an unsuspecting Claire with his wrath, Luke finds his focus split between his oath to God and the awakening of his heart. Together, can they face the ancient evil and defeat it, or will they lose everything? Despite Walt trying to get a few final words in, Claire disconnected the blue tooth, ending the call. “I think the conversation went well. What do you think, Pip?” Claire asked the mid-sized Catahoula-boxer mix lying in the passenger seat. 35


Her faithful companion and best friend barked in response. She gave his scruff a scratch. He sat up, looking out the front window. The GPS directed her to make a right. Pip growled. The GPS disconnected. Claire pulled over to reset the phone, while Pip stood on the seat, looking tense. “Now look at what you’ve done. You broke it.” The dog whimpered in response. “Just kidding. Calm down. I know we’re far from home, but it’s fresh air and gorgeous here. Lighten up, will you?” The phone reset, and still no GPS signal. “Looks like we’re going to have to find this place the oldfashioned way.” Claire brought up a picture of the church on her phone before attaching the phone to the hands-free cradle. She followed the steep narrow treelined road, searching for any signs or indications of houses, buildings, or churches. Mailboxes or well-marked driveways seemed to be nonexistent. She drove a few more miles and was about to give up until Pip barked, bringing her attention to a small opening in the tree line. Claire slowed, debated, and went for it, making the tight right turn. The small opening widened. She drove through. A few miles later, the familiar caravan of four black SUVs and a large black van with the Finders logo plastered on the side brought a smile to her face. Craig, the Finders’ tech producer, appeared from the corner of the van waving. Claire pulled up next to him and parked her truck. A bitter wind cut at her neck as she exited the vehicle. She pulled the collar of her coat up against the barrage. “You found it. We were getting worried.” “No thanks to the GPS,” Claire replied, opening the passenger door and letting Pip out. He immediately ran to Craig, greeting him warmly before running off into the woods, she assumed to relieve himself. Speaking of which, she could use a bathroom break. 36


Finders consisted of a team of eight to ten paranormal investigators. The supporting technical team was four boom operators and four cameramen. Depending on the size of the other locations, they could have more or fewer. For the investigation of Crestwater Church, Craig and Claire had doubled the number of cameras to enable multiple teams to be filming concurrently. In addition to the film equipment, the paranormal team employed a slew of scientific equipment to collect evidence of paranormal activity during the investigation. With the entire team at work, it would take a full day to set up and calibrate all of the necessary equipment. The flurry of activity continued around her. Team members waved and said hello. Claire nodded, smiling in response. “How are we looking?” she asked Craig. “Four hours until sundown, six until lights out. We’re right on schedule. I was just about to go around to the back of the church for some B-Roll shots. The foliage is amazing, and the shots I’m getting are phenomenal.” “Is the church open?” “Yeah, we haven’t locked it down for dinner yet.” “Cool, the three Venti Starbucks on the trip here are calling for an exit.” “Gotcha,” Craig replied with a smile and a nod. Claire inhaled the fresh air. Despite the cold, it was invigorating. She drank up the smell of wood, freshly fallen leaves, and dirt. Taking a closer look at the church, she realized the media photos didn’t do justice to the immense structure. Dark redwood covered the fifty-foot face. Jutting into the sky like a dagger, the roof was pointed and peaked ten feet above the face. The aged wood’s hues shifted with the sunlight, and the sway of trees gave the appearance of the inanimate object breathing. Against the backdrop of the autumn leaves, the sight was staggering and breathtaking. Claire 37


ventured to the wide-mouth doorway opening of the church. Piles of orange and yellow cords looked like snakes spilling out the open windows. The crunching of leaves beneath her feet and the whipping of the wind made her stride a little quicker. Hurrying up the plethora of steps, she lifted the red hot set tape barrier out of the way and pushed open the door. As she stepped into the vestibule, the stale air stifled her lungs. The solid wooden door closed behind her, but sunlight continued to stream into the enclosed area via the large windows on either side. Thick darkness beyond the sun’s reach constricted the expanse. Even the doors were massive, at twice her height, at least. She guessed they were made from solid walnut, from the ancient trees surrounding the church. A chilling wisp crept within her hair to the back of her neck, like fingers playing with her hair. Claire instinctively turned. Seeing nothing but feeling a shiver up her spine, she took in the surroundings and searched for the bathroom. Eying a promising door, she made a beeline and found salvation. Thankfully the facilities were in working order. After washing her hands in cold water, Claire dried them on her jeans. Taking a quick look in the cracked mirror, she adjusted her long brown hair tied up in a ponytail, smoothing any unruly strands and bumps before walking back into the vestibule. The intricately carved stone lining the archway into the nave caught her eye, and she stopped, inspecting it closer. A carved frame of tree limbs with gnarled and knotted extensions bent and twisted around the mouth of the doorway, amazingly delicate and detailed. She could feel the bark beneath her fingertips despite knowing it was carved in stone. Hearing Pip barking at the door, Claire moved away from the nave archway to the main entrance. Opening it, she saw no sign of her dog. 38


Confused, she walked outside to the steps. “Pip? Pippy, come!” The flurry of activity when she’d arrived had ceased. The Finders crew had disappeared, and Claire remembered Craig mentioning dinner. Hearing another bark, she followed the sound. “Pippy, come!” Claire said, her patience waning. She wasn’t used to Pip not obeying her commands. They were going to need to talk. Finally, the dog appeared, sprinting out of the thick brush. She breathed an unconscious sigh of relief. “Claire?” Her heart leaped as Pip barked. She spun toward the voice, seeing nothing but Pip taking off through the open door of the church. “Pippy!” Claire chased after him, into the vestibule, but saw no sign of him. He barked again. The sound was muffled. He had to be on the other side of the large arched doors leading to the nave. Claire pulled on the slightly open door. It swept back with a whoosh of air and a loud thud, the sound echoing off the brittle walls, and a shower of dust rained down. “Fuck. Pip, come here!” she yelled, attempting to not choke within the cloud of decay from the ruin. Seriously? Claire grabbed her phone, turning on the flashlight feature, utilizing it to explore. She shivered at the feel of invisible hands pulling her deeper into the darkness. Heart thudding and hands shaking, she struggled to remain calm, though her mind told her to run. High cathedral ceilings jutted up to the heavens. Faded images of angels and cherubs adorned the beams. The pews remained, dust-covered and overrun by spiders. When the light flashed over the stone altar at the head of the room, Claire’s heart skipped. 39


The sound of metal clanked on the floor, and Claire panicked, thinking she’d dropped her keys. Checking her pocket, she found her keys intact. Using her flashlight, she searched the surrounding floor for the source of the noise. Her eyes focused on a large old-fashioned key a few inches from where she stood. Reaching down, she picked it up. The cold metal felt icy in her hand. She examined it closely. Pip barked. Claire turned, putting the key in her pocket, and realized how far away from the opening she’d traveled. Pip’s fur brushed against her legs. She turned, glaring at him. “You and I are going to talk about this.” “Claire!” She heard her name and turned. A scorched skull atop a body shrouded in black dominated her vision. Claire instinctively raised her arms, stepping back. The floor beneath her cracked before disappearing from beneath her feet. Her body fell. She screamed. The light above quickly faded, and wet darkness engulfed her senses. The impact rendered her immobile while agonizing pain from icy water shocked her entire body. With her arms flailing, her senses returned. She struggled to kick her legs despite the hardening of her muscles. Up, I need to go up! Pushing her arms in front of her, willing the blackness away, she prayed for air. Amy Romine has always wanted to be one of the good guys. From playing Charlie’s Angels in the backyard of her Macungie, PA home as a child to the pages of her unending projects, Amy has always dreamed of adventure and romance. Her need to make the characters truly deserve their happiness takes us on many a twisted journey. From serial killers to demons, Amy holds nothing back in the name of true enduring love. A mother of three, Amy has spent the past seventeen years working in Operations for Ricoh America’s Corporation. She is an avid movie fan and enjoys books, television, theater, her dog, Pip, and all things romance. Find out more about Amy here: https:// amyjromine.blogspot.com/

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The Devil’s Daughter’s Doll’s Diary by Lawrence Jay Switzer

The Devil’s daughter, to be perfectly truthful, looks—more or less—like an ordinary little girl looks and the Devil’s daughter’s little doll, to be perfectly truthful about that, looks—more or less—about as ordinary as the Devil’s daughter looks. The Devil’s daughter’s doll’s diary looks very much like the book you would be holding might look right now if you were reading this story in bed instead of listening to me tell it to you. More or less. If there is a certain amount of po-faced homeliness in what I’m about to tell you, it can be traced back to the Devil Himself, for no creature or entity in existence (or nonexistence) is as ordinary as is the Devil, nothing more boring and nothing more banal than Evil, and Evil—as is well-known—is the Devil’s meat and potatoes. The truth 41


is, the Devil just wants to have fun and feel satiated. When he tires of mischief, and he’s fully sated by his meat and potatoes, it’s his pleasure to yawn first and belch afterward, right in God’s face. It so happens that this very same yawning, belching, evil-loving Devil has a daughter (adopted), who has a doll (adopted), who keeps a diary (adapted). Are you dying to know what’s in the diary? Who isn’t? ~~~ I once had the opportunity to meet the Devil. Lucky for me, it was on his day off, so he wasn’t shopping or doing business. We became moderately friendly and had some interesting chats—nothing more. I, being a devout Catholic, have confessed my innocent dealings with Satan, so I pray my final appointment will be with Saint Peter and not Old Scratch. ~~~ Sitting in the park one afternoon, I saw the most hideous-looking dog in existence being walked by the most ordinary-looking man in existence. The dog had so much personality, and the man so little, it was possible to believe that the bulldog was doing the walking, and the man was at the wrong end of the leash. It turned out that this pair, tethered to each other by a chain, was the real, bible-certified seal-of-disapproval Devil and his grotesque mascot, taking a stroll. The dog came over and drooled on my shoes. “What’s his name?” I asked, looking up from my shoes to the stranger’s pale, unreadable eyes. I had no idea who stood before me, and I was only attempting to be polite. He smiled and petted his slobbering creature. “Dognapped,” he said. At once, having heard its name intoned, the dog raised its bulbous head. More drooling ensued. The man put his hand into a pocket of his trench coat and produced a dead mouse which he dangled by its tail. The dog lunged for it. 42


I said, “No judgments, but am I supposed to infer from his name that you’ve stolen your dog from its proper owner?” The stranger nodded affirmatively and signaled for me to make room for him next to me, which I did. Meanwhile, the dog was chewing its prize underneath our bench. It was at this point that the Devil extended his hand—his left hand to be precise—and introduced himself. “I am The Devil,” he said. “No doubt you’ve heard of me.” I said, “How would you like me to address you? Satan? Lucifer?” “You can call me ‘TD’ if you prefer it, as some of my other Wednesday afternoon acquaintances do.” “So, Devil is your family name and The is your Christian name?” “Christian name?” He found my gaffe extremely amusing. “Today is my day off—Wednesday, the Devil’s Sabbath—so you’re safe to enjoy a nice conversation with the greatest raconteur of all time. Pick a topic— any topic at all—and I’ll help you discuss it to death.” ~~~ Some weeks later, the Devil and his bulldog came by again. This time he was holding the hand of a young girl with a wan, vacuous look. She wore old-fashioned pantaloons and a gingham dress. She looked like a Victorian daguerreotype come to life. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Or, shall I guess? Is it ‘Kidnapped?’” “Kidnopted, if you will. I call her Kiddie for short.” “How old are you, Kiddie?” She stared at me with blank eyes. The Devil just laughed. “She’s shy,” he said. “But be careful. She bites worse than the dog.” “What’s that you have there, Kiddie?” I asked. She was clutching a rag doll. Its coat button eyes were equally expressionless. “Is that Little Miss Dollnapped you’re hugging?” “Like father, like daughter,” the Devil chuckled. “We call her new baby Dollie. My granddaughter—in a manner of speaking.” 43


“Does Dollie bite, too?” “Not yet that I’m aware of.” He gave Kiddie some quarters from a ragged change purse and sent her off to buy ice cream. He also fed another disgusting treat to the bulldog, who seized it and hid under our bench, noisily chomping on it with audible relish. ~~~ Some weeks later, Kiddie came strolling by. Neither the Devil nor Dognapped was along for this jaunt, but one thing was new: Kiddie pushed a small baby carriage in front of her. She sat beside me, swinging her feet back and forth because she was too short for them to reach the ground. “Where’s your Daddy today?” “In Hell.” Those were the only words I ever heard Kiddie say. Within moments, she had run off, skipping into the depths of the park, abandoning the baby carriage beside me. After an hour passed, I became anxious. What if, I wondered, there were toxic chemicals or explosives in the carriage? What if it concealed a kidnapped baby? Or a cache of stolen money and jewels? I could be held responsible for a crime... arrested... tried... convicted… I jumped up and looked. To my great relief, I discovered that the carriage was occupied by Dollie with her jet-black button eyes taped over with duct tape, indicating—I think—that she was sleeping. Clutched to her bosom was a small book, which I presumed was a diary. That guess was prompted by the pose, universally accepted as the way a child would hold their secret diary. In any case, I was absolutely certain it wasn’t a bible. Two hours passed. The sun was sinking behind buildings near the park. Shadows were lengthening. Still, there was no sign of the Devil and Dognapped, nor had creepy Kiddie come back for Dollie and Dollie’s diary. It didn’t help that passersby slowed down as they went 44


past me, trying to sneak a peek in the carriage. The few that managed to get a satisfactory glimpse were horrified to behold a rag doll with tape over its eyes tucked inside. I was much more concerned about Kiddie’s absence after sixthirty. Anxiety overcame the fear of devilish reprisals. I pulled the book out of Dollie’s grasp and fled, walking briskly and purposefully, like a criminal. ~~~ My nervous exhaustion had reached such a peak that I had to lie down when I got home. I fell asleep clutching the book to my chest, much as Dollie had. When I woke, it was midnight. The first thing I did was switch on the reading lamp at my bedside. Opening the book to the last entry, I read the following: “The Devil’s daughter, to be perfectly truthful, looks—more or less—like an ordinary little girl looks and the Devil’s daughter’s little doll, to be perfectly truthful about that, looks—more or less—about as ordinary as the Devil’s daughter looks. The Devil’s daughter’s doll’s diary looks like the book you happen to be holding if...” ~~~ My first stop the next morning was Heavenly Saints Church. I headed for the nearest confessional. Inside, enveloped in the shadowy silence, I roughly pulled the curtain closed, nearly ripping it in the process. My heart was pounding. From behind the grille, a soothing voice spoke to me. “How can I help, my son?” “Forgive me, Father, for I am out of breath.” “Excuse me?” “Sorry... Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” 45


“When was your last confession?” “Tuesday.” “Two days ago? How have you managed to sin again so soon, my son?” I heard a quasi-judgmental gasp issue from the other side of the grille. “Not Number Four, Heaven forbid...” “I stole something,” I interrupted. I proceeded to tell him the whole devilish story. From time to time he emitted a compassionate sigh. I had only gotten to the part about Dollie when I heard what was unmistakably the sound of an unrestrained yawn. This was followed by a lengthy silence. “Father? Father? Are you awake?” “Of course, my son. I wouldn’t miss a word of this for anything,” the voice said from the shadows that huddled behind the grille. His words were immediately superseded by an extremely prodigious belch. Lawrence Jay Switzer, author of Sayville Tales and the upcoming Beacon City Confidential is also--when wearing a different hat--the designer of The Walt Whitman Series, and several biographies of world-renowned courtesans. The future, as it appears to the author from the safety of his observation post in the here-and-now, is a Grassy Knoll where anyone can say anything has happened, and where the line separating truth and fiction is--at best--fading at the same speed with which it is being drawn. His “novel” of travelers’ tales, Sayville Tales, is part of that oncoming fact-disputed future, endeavoring to depict the irregular shapes and sizes of modern-day Americans with the same cutting perception employed by Geoffrey Chaucer when he created his fellow Englishmen for The Canterbury Tales. Find out more about Lawrence here: https://lawrencejayswitzer.blogspot.com/

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A TALE FROM THE CRIPT by George Tyrrell

Orlarf, the sweeper, lumbered through his chores at the mortuary oblivious to the thundering storm outside. For him this was a happy place, a place where everyone --be they billionaire or bum –were finally equal, all of them finally inferior to him at last. No not one of them, not even the women could look down their noses at his deformities anymore. He stopped sweeping a moment to stare into a mirror and reflexively cursed his humped back, his shriveled leg, his deformed face. He spat at the mirror and moved on. But then no one cares about that here, he thought. He giggled to himself and hummed tunelessly as he went about his work. Yes the women, he thought….. It was their rejection that always hurt him most even as a child. He thought of the ways they would ignore him or show their repugnance, some subtly with some quaint taunt or remark. But that was when he was young and still thought someone might accept him as a natural man. But here it’s the women who are repulsive now. Here even the beautiful ones have finally lost their haughtiness and pride as they lay mute, mindless, senseless, unable to resist the advances of even the rats and maggots… all doomed to rot into something far more disgusting than he. Why if he became amorous with them now, he would be doing them a favor. As he worked his way to the room of the crypt a tingle of gleeful anticipation crept through him. For tonight’s new entry was a beautiful raven haired girl. She was tall, statuesque in life, finely bred, the kind he always craved most… but who would be most repulsed and rejecting of him were she alive. But now…. He giggled foolishly and lumbered into the room of the crypt. Here lay the bodies to be embalmed. They lay on separate tables each covered with a white sheet. Yes, he could have 47


his way with any of the women here, and they never protested when he did. He shuffled toward a white shrouded slab in the far corner of the room. With trembling hands he grasped the sheet and slowly, fervently pulled it back off the still form beneath. He stood for a time staring agape at the delicate, white figure lying naked before him. “Why, she’s like a fragile Venus sculpted in ivory!” Guttural utterances sounded deep in his throat; a string of saliva hung motionless from his slack lips… With trembling hands he hesitantly reached out and touched her body, at first cautiously in one spot, then all over with feverish abandon. Finally he stepped back and with little, lusty squeals began removing his tattered clothing. Then naked, heedless of his deformities, he lumbered toward the corpse and with surprising agility leapt upon the slab where she lay. The lights of the mortuary blinked off, then on again as lightning flashed and thunder boomed outside. A sudden chill of fear gripped the hunchback but for only a moment. “The very gods are angry at old Orlarf tonight, my lady,” he cackled. “For they never intended someone like you for the likes of me.” He threw back his shaggy head and laughed shaking his fist and wagging 48


his finger mockingly at the storm’s rumbling and flashing outside the window. Then, shaking with a desire intensified to delicious perversion, he kissed the lifeless, unresisting lips again and again. At first he thought he was imagining it in his excitement… But then his back hairs rose in frightful awareness. Each time he’d breathed into the lifeless mouth, he’d felt the cold bosom rise. Slowly, he pushed himself up with arms trembling so badly he for a horrible moment thought he couldn’t separate himself from the corpse. Finally he forced himself to look down and saw the bosom slowly rising and falling. He stared for a long time, hypnotized, unable to move…. Then a cry of panic stifled in his throat as he saw its eyelids flutter, then slowly begin opening to finally reveal the veined whites of pupilless eyes. An eerie cry uttered from her bloodless lips, at first low, then highly pitched into an ear- piercing scream… Somehow overcoming his paralyses, Orlarf half slid, half fell to the marble floor. There he crouched on his haunches watching petrified…. Her hand jerked once. Her leg slowly, shakily slid from the slab, touching her foot to the floor. Then her body very slowly, disjointedly began to rise…. Whining sounds emitted from the hunchback’s throat as he tried to get his fearstiffened muscles to move him away. She began rising unsteadily to her feet. Her pupils, now no longer rolled back, tared crazily about the room, her face taking on a hideous expression. 49


Then she finally fixed her insane stare upon the crouching man. She extended her arms toward him uttering a long, mournful cry and started approaching him slowly…. outstretched arms jerking spastically as she approached him. The lights went out again. After a maddening moment of pitch blackness a series of lightning flashes lighted the room revealing the naked female—now tall, stark white, raven haired, eyes black sunken holes…. She seemed to dance crazily before him in flickering, stroboscopic madness…. Her shaking, silvery hand was about to touch him…. The room was in blackness once again…. He tried to cry out, but his voice came only in a shaky rasp. “Keep away! Damn you! Don’t you touch me, you cursed vampiress from Hell!” He arose on trembling legs in the blackness and slid along the wall in the direction of the door. But then he stumbled into something that blocked his way. He reached down to feel a metal table and something cold and pulpy beneath a sheet. The lightning flashes revealed the shroud actually rising in spastic jerks before him, then it was slowly sliding down off a gnarled hag sitting upright and convulsing rhythmically, guttural moans belching from putrid lips…. He could smell her fetid breath on his face…With a shriek of terror, he lurched wildly through the blackness toward the door; but his legs tangled in his mop and pail and he flew crashing into another shrouded table, and fell whimpering to his knees…. The room lighted up once more as a woman’s blue-white arm fell out from the shroud; its jagged fingernails sliced down through the man’s twitching face leaving chalky, bloody streaks before it came to rest on his throat…. The room was black once more…. Screeching and shrieking the man—now gone mad— scrambled on all fours in the direction lf the door. Finally, his trembling hand found the door, then the doorknob. He turned the knob and pulled. The door remained shut. He turned the knob and pulled again, and kept pulling. The door wouldn’t budge. He 50


pulled even harder—and the knob came off in his hand. With a wail that echoed throughout the mortuary, he collapsed against the unmoving door and crumbled babbling to the floor. “Mother of God, please help me!” were the last coherent words he said as the strobing lightning again revealed the tall dead woman gliding slowly toward him still emitting eerie cries as she gestured frantically with outstretched arms…. And with each strobing flash, a more ghastly horror revealed itself. Now the shrouded table was coming toward him, wheels creaking, the blueveined arm hanging out, swinging stiffly, its curved, claw-like hand pointing at him… moving ever closer…. Now the lightning lit up the next table revealing the old hag again sitting up in spasmodic jerks, guttural moans belching convulsively from rotting lips; her table also began rolling toward the naked hulk of terror cringing and babbling on the floor…. All the horrors approaching him danced eerily each time the lightning flickered crazily about the room. Now he was sure all the lifeless women he was good enough to service… actually doing them favors…were coming for their revenge. God! Even the dead were repulsed by him now. No! This could not be… He threw back his head sending a howl of utter despair reverberating throughout the crypt…. Then all was silent at last, except for the distant thunder as the rain stopped falling and the first pale rays of daylight entered the morgue. Corpses on wheeled tables, one with shriveled arm pointing, seemed gaping at a lifeless hulk squatted in a corner, hair now snow white, staring in horror through eyes that no longer see. The door was now open. The white wraith of a woman now gone from the crypt…into what ghastly realm we do not know…. See the ending, and more stories and poems of horror and intrigue, in the book Ripples From the Darkness by George Tyrrell

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Running into Ghosts A short story by Bandy Naef

It started at a young age. I was fifteen years old. I lived in an old small duplex in a small town in Utah. One night as I crept up the dark stairs to go to bed, I thought a heard a voice coming from my bedroom. I stopped in my tracks a couple of steps from the top. I listened for a moment and I could hear a voice, yet the voice seemed distant but so close. I couldn’t make out the words the voice was saying but still I could hear the same sentence over and over again. I finished my climb to the top of the stairs and rounded the corner just in time to see a bright flash of light in the shape of human; it was heading right towards me and I felt it pass right through my body. I felt the cold chill as it passed through my body chilling me to the bone on a somewhat rather warm autumn evening. I was scared beyond belief. I didn’t know whether to run away or cry. I simply ran into my bedroom, jumped into bed and covered my head with my blanket too scared to even move. I must have frozen there in fear for hours before I finally fell asleep. 53


Over the years, I started seeing more paranormal figures in my life. Some just as scary as the first time I had seen a “ghost” and some not so scary. My first experience was an eye opener and I believe that is what led me to start seeing these ghosts on a more regular basis. I was staying with some friends in Idaho. They lived next door to a cemetery. One night at their house, we were watching television. The living room window faced towards the cemetery. It was dark outside with no lights around. I could feel something staring at us. I looked at the window and I could see the faint light of the television lighting up a man’s face in the window. I got chill bumps all over my body. I asked my friend to look at the window. He let out a yell when he seen the man’s face. I figured since he could see the face that it must be a peeping tom. He ran to grab a flashlight as I continued to watch the face, pretending like I didn’t see it. My friend ran back into the living room and shone the flashlight on the face and just like that, the face disappeared. He continued to shine the light out the window hoping to see the man running away. There was no trace of the man anywhere. He just vanished. My friend immediately called the police. They came out to investigate but could see no evidence that there was anyone even at the window. That was my friends first experience with a ghost but we never did talk about the incident again or whether he continued to see them or not. From time to time, I will see a figure out of the corner of my eye during the daylight hours, but when I turn to see what is there, the figure will be gone. I call these “shadow people”. I don’t know if they are good or evil. I believe that the good spirits will visit us now and then, such as loved ones that have passed on. I believe our loved ones visit us mostly in our dreams though. The ghosts that I see while I’m awake I believe are not as good. They are the ones that always scare me the most. I’ve never been harmed by one, but I think their intentions are to scare us and torture us psychologically. The ghosts that I see more often and the ones that scare me the most are normally seen at night or in a dark room. I was driving along a mountain road late one night. Out of nowhere, my headlights shone upon a man standing on the side of the road. I swerved away from the man as to not hit him. My heart started pounding and I 54


was relieved that I did not hit him, but what was he doing out there in the first place? Seconds later, the cab of my small pickup truck became cool. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the man was sitting there next to me. Once again, I had chill bumps covering my body. I was too scared to look directly at him. It took me a little while to work up the courage to ask nervously, “Why are you here?” I could see his head turn toward me but didn’t hear a single sound. I looked over to see him looking at me, but I couldn’t make out a face. I could see the aura around the man, just a dim glowing energy, but everywhere I tried to focus just looked like a faint, dark blur. As I finally reached the first town I came to, I was still trying to catch glimpses of the man out of the corner of my eye. Underneath every streetlight I would pass, the man would fade out and then become more visible in the dark. In and out the man would fade. I pulled into the first gas station I came to. Underneath all the light from the gas pumps, the man simply disappeared. I still had plenty of fuel in my truck, but I was too scared and didn’t know what to do. I got out of my truck and filled up the tank. I proceeded into the station to buy myself a drink. Still nervous and apprehensive, I climbed back into the truck and headed home. I was scared to see the dark coming but as I entered the darkness, the man never did appear again. I was relieved. To calm my nerves, I turned on the radio and sang myself back home. This hasn’t been my last encounter with ghosts or spirits, I’m sure I will continue to have encounters the rest of my life. When you are all alone, whether it be in the bright of day or the dark of night, in the glow of the television or in bed at night. If you see something unusual, if you hear your name being spoken by someone who is not there, ask yourself, “Am I really alone?” Bandy Naef enjoys photography, music and writing about things that could possibly make a difference in people’s lives. His book “A Life Worth Celebrating” is heart touching along with some mystery and drama, but it’s meant to send some powerful messages, whether it be helping in the community or being an advocate for something or someone that you love. Bandy believes we all can make a difference even if it’s just for one person. If you would like to join his social page for fun, to learn more about Bandy, please join at: facebook.com/bandysroom Find Life Worth Celebrating here.

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Haint it Da’ Blues? by CLABE POLK

Rusting cast iron hinges squealed in protest as the ornate iron gate opened. Praise the Lord they didn’t keep it locked. Folks didn’t keep much up around these parts anymore. A full moon’s light filtering through the tangles of Spanish moss hanging from spreading tree limbs revealed uncut grass and weeds, unholy evidence of neglect. A gentle breeze from the East rustled the leaves swaying the moss just enough to move seemingly endless rows of headstones and monuments in and out of deep undulating shadows. In my imagination, they did a slow silent rhythmic dance; sensual and exciting. Shuddering briefly, I closed the gate behind me and joined the dancing shadows. Midnight’s quieter in some places than others. No one wants to come here; there are no distractions; nothing interrupting the flow from my 56


soul through my fingers. Dead quiet. A gravestone, moonlit bordered by the shadow of a live oak beckoned. I took my guitar from my back, sat on the stone and flexing my fingers, I began with blues progressions, strumming and finger-picking until I slipped into my zone, playing mindlessly in a world as far away as I could get from Mississippi. Lyrics began popping into my head; “Don’ kno’ my mama. Don’ kno’ my dad. Got no place ta lay my head. But Ah got da’ blues…yeah, mama, Ah got da blues.” Warming to the rhythm, I sang louder, my guitar thumping like a heart. “Hey boy! Ya wanna learn blues, ya gotta live it!” An old man sat on the opposite gravestone, his feet thumping to the rhythm of my guitar. I played a riff and ignored him and went on singing. “Don’ got nobody, not even a pet. Ah don’ remember the last time I e’t. But I got the da’ blues…yeah, mama, Ah got da blues.” Another guitar joined. Without missing a beat, the old man produced a guitar and a harmonica and took the lead. A minute later, his soulful playing had tears streaming from my eyes. I strummed rhythm the best I could and watched unbelievingly as he nodded for me to take the lead again. Suddenly, fire flew from my fingers, they raked the fingerboard as the strings screamed agony into the night. Never have I played like that! “Ah told ya, ya gotta live it,” he said as the song ended. “That was amazing. You’re good, alright,” I said, “ But I’ve never seen you before. Who the hell are you? Why are you hanging out in a cemetery in the middle of the night?” “Who the hell, indeed? You think you’re the only person out here at night? Look around you, boy. There’s a lot of people here. Most of ‘em tryin’ to sleep through your music. Where do you get off disturbin’ the peace anyway?” “Us? Here? What?”

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“Boy, this ain’t your neighborhood. People here like the quiet…unless, of course, the noise is worthwhile. You have some potential, so I’m goin’ to make you a deal. I’ll teach you to play the blues and if you learn really good, you’ll always be welcome. If you don’t…well no amount of haint blue paint’s gonna keep ‘em off your porch and outside your windows. Fair is fair…you stir ‘em up, they get even. It’s the way of the world. “Them? They?” “The haints. boy, the haints…I have some control over ‘em, but only so much. You managed to raise hell among them and now I have to quiet ‘em down again. I figure you’ve got soul, so with me in control and you using the licks I teach you, why you can practice here and in no time you’ll be playing in Madison Square Garden.” “What do you get out of this, “ I asked. “Peace, boy. And you. You’ll owe me…but it’ll be worth it.” I picked up my guitar and struck a chord. “Madison Square Garden, you said.” “If you use my licks, I guarantee it!” I struck another cord. He began to play a haunting melody inside the chord I chose. Lyrics filled my head. “My soul, it don’ belong to me no mo’ No, my soul it don’ belong to me no mo’. Cause Ah don’ sold it to the da devil and Ah don’ own it any mo’”. Dawn broke before we ran out of songs and he began to fade with the shadows. “What do I call you,” I asked. “Whatever you want. Temptation, the Devil, Scratch…it’s all the same. Whenever you want to jam, come on in. I’ll be around.” Even so, I painted my porch ceiling, doors, and windows haint blue,

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even if the rest of the house hadn’t been painted in years. But that didn’t keep me from pickin’ out the blues with him in that graveyard. After all, I was still years of practicing guitar licks and writing lyrics from Madison Square Garden. End CLABE POLK is the author of The Detective Mike Eiser Series and The Adventures of Harry Morgan Series of crime/action novels, as well as The Road to Armageddon. He has also written numerous short stories and flash fiction pieces that occasionally appear in e-magazines and anthologies. He enjoys woodworking when not busy working on his new science fiction series, or adding new books to the Detective Mike Eiser Series. He brings a deep love of natural sciences and more than thirty-seven years of professional environmental protection and public safety experience to his writing. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, two daughters, and the family’s Cockapoo named Annie.

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