Horror Wrting | Competitions | Horror Short Stories
Horror Edition, April 2012
HORROR BOOK REVIEWS
The Monster in the Basement
A werewolf’s point of view
The importance of critique
EMILY WILES Proves kids can be creepy too!
A GOOD READ Horror stories sure to please
How about some
ooky side of literature
BLUE DINGO showcases the sp
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WHAT’S IN STORE THIS EDITION
e m o s t u bo
R O R R Ladies and Gentlemen, in this issue of the Blue Dingo Magazine you will find our wonderful regulars Ask Dudley and J.B’s Desk; is there a secret to writing a killer horror? What are the benefits of getting critique? If you are looking for inspiration J.B has also included a selection of inspiring horror writing prompts. We have a sample of John Boman’s Sovereign Creek Series Book 2 – The Monster in the Basement (9+ years). So is horror for all ages? Well yes, and I can prove it. Check out our recommended selection of frightfully fun books for kids. I do hope you enjoy reading the winning stories for our horror short story competition. It was an amazing selection of entries and I have chosen entries which all have different themes so do have a read and share them with your friends. We would love to hear your thoughts so feel free to drop us a line: Subject [Dear Ed] at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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J.B’s DESK THE IMPORTANCE OF CRITIQUE
JOHN BOMAN ASK DUDLEY
Blue Dingo the horror issue
THE MONSTER IN THE BASEMENT
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Cover by Danielle Bagshaw 2
Ask Dudley Dear reader, It pleases me greatly to know that if you are reading this you have not yet fallen victim to any of the silent terrors lurking within this deceptively benign looking “Horror” edition of Blue Dingo; don’t get too complacent though, be sure to give the screen a good shake before turning each of the pages … just in case. So … is there a secret to writing – dare I say it – a killer “Horror” story? If there is, there’s a fair chance the lion’s share of it will lie in just how devious, sick, twisted and creative your little human mind is – and how capable you are of faithfully extracting each gruesome detail and committing it to paper in such a way that will leave people gaping wide-eyed at the inky blackness of their ceiling after they have reluctantly turned off the light, feeling like the only thing that could possibly stop them from being sucked skyward into the malevolent, seamless abyss above are the putrid, slimy-green hands with twisted yellowing nails that are going to shoot out at any moment from that little shadowy gap beneath their bed and wrap sinewy vice-like fingers around their ankles … Oh, and improper use of punctuation, leading to overly long sentences, that don’t allow the reader to breath properly while they’re caught up in the suspense of the moment, also help to raise their anxiety levels ... all part of creating the mood =) The balance of what one needs to write a decent “Horror” story lies in just how well you know your character(s). Sure, they have an overarching nigh unobtainable goal, and a nemesis or three (otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a story, right?), but who’s going to be that niggling little thorn-intheir-side? Making their palms drip with sweat or their skin crawl with goosebumps? Thwarting their cunning little plans at every turn? You, the author, of course! And, as we all know, by far the best person to stab someone in the back is the one who is closest to them, right? So pull up a chair beside them at your psychological bar, shout them a drink or three, and do whatever it takes to get inside their heads. Don’t worry, they’ll start talking to you sooner or later. Then what you have to do is coax out of them their personal hopes, dreams, secret desires (which may or may not align with the overarching goal of the story – but can be deviously employed by you as motivational leverage to make them do something they, um … may juuuuuusst not want to do).
The next step in your cunning plan should be to glean from them as much information as possible about their pet hates and worst fears. Try to get a good few, it’s more fun that way. Then, when they trot off to ‘powder their nose’, imagine just how your character would respond or react when faced with each of these situations separately. All that’s left to do then is to put a couple of these situations (simultaneously for preference), between your character and something they really want, and sit back to see what happens! If character “A” (who might just have a terrible fear of both heights (or plunging from them to their death) and spiders) desperately has the hots for character “B”, you might just contrive a situation that leaves them dangling from an upstairs bathroom window while character “B” is having a steamy shower with no shower curtain and a tarantula is innocently ambling its way across the window ledge. Ok, so it wasn’t a particularly gruesome scenario, I grant you, but I hope you get the idea. A good story, and life for that matter, is all about motivation, choices and consequences. So … the moral of this story is to gauge your characters limits of physical and mental endurance, and do your utmost to verify your estimate by pushing them to the very brink of both. Like your grandfather has no doubt told you: “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s character building!” And building – or developing – your characters is one of the best things you can ever do for your story arc! So, until we meet again!
Until next time, yours with paws ~ Dudley.
n the city, where the chimneys are black with soot, where your only adventure is surviving the drive to school and the days are so busy that they rudely intrude on the peaceful night, there is a family. The Mullberry family, as they were called, lived in the heart of Port City and were a gloomy, depressing lot of people. They were a family who never, ever left the house, or had any adventures outside the front door. They were a family who never spoke to one another in their own home and retreated to the sanctity of their bedrooms every night. The Mullberry Family were a family who had lost the will to live in the real world. But someone in the house wanted that to change. It was unexpectedly decided one day by a member of the family that the Mulberry’s were to go on a camping trip. The Dad, named Trevor, a watch maker, was bored with the way his family lived and decided that his children needed to spend some time outdoors. His sons Fred and James preferred to spend their time playing video games and chatting to friends on their computers. Indeed their Mother, Florence, was the same, staying home every day to watch soap operas on the television. She often wondered why her life was never as exciting as the people she watched on television. But another piece of chocolate usually calmed such thoughts. When Trevor came home from work, he told the family in no uncertain terms that they would be going camping next weekend. All the machines and gadgets that they thought made their life bearable was to be left behind. No computers, no game consoles and definitely no television. “We can’t go camping! I’ll miss all my weekend game shows!” exclaimed Florence. “I just bought this new game Dad! I want to finish it next weekend and I can’t do that if we’re not here!” shouted James. “Don’t be lame Dad! No one goes camping anymore!” said Fred exasperated. Trevor grew red in the face and felt the temperature rise in his cheeks, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!” he said
The Monster in the Basement Sovereign Creek Series
stomping his feet on the ground, “we are going camping in the outdoors and that’s final!” The Mulberry family weren’t used to Trevor behaving this way. He was usually a passive Dad, who let his family do whatever they wanted. During the week his family were terrible to him. Florence wouldn’t speak to him and slept every night on the couch in front of her beloved television. Fred and James obnoxiously sulked in their rooms every night and refused to eat dinner in the dining room. “You’re ruining our family!” exclaimed Florence. But Trevor was determined to see his plan through. The weekend finally came and the Mullberry family left early on a Saturday morning. “Well I can’t wait to get to the camping grounds. A bit of fresh air will do us all the world of good,” said Trevor. No one replied. All the passengers instead scowled at Trevor. It was only much later that someone spoke at all. “Where are we going camping Dad? Somewhere horrible I bet,” smirked James. “Just up in the mountains. There’s a camping ground that is always quiet and not many people go there. It should be perfect for us,” replied Trevor. “Great. There won’t even be any people there. Are there any towns nearby?” asked Fred. “Why, yes there is. A town called Sovereign Creek.” The car went dead silent. Even Florence took notice of the town they were going to and its unusual reputation. “Sovereign Creek? I heard there are monsters living in that town and people go missing all the time,” said James. “No, its ghosts that eat your eyeballs out and chew on your liver for afternoon tea,” said Fred. “Do you think it’s appropriate that we take our sons there? I hear the people are just flat out strange,” said Florence with a quiver in her voice.
Trevor just laughed and was secretly thrilled that his family were now taking an interest in the camping trip. They arrived in town in the afternoon and stopped at the General Store for supplies. Trevor felt guilty that the boys were missing their games so he bought them a copy each of the popular ‘Spooky Tales’ comic book. Fred and James leered at the cover which had a picture of a bizarre assortment of menacing characters, with a caption emblazoned across the bottom saying ‘Beware! The Circus of Nightmares!’ “I don’t read books, comic or otherwise,” grumbled James. As they drove away to the camping grounds, Fred stated his distaste for that creepy little town and he wanted to go home. His Dad firmly said no.
john boman | the monster in the basement The gate at the entrance to the camping grounds had a sign on it which said ‘ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.’ It was a short drive through the forest to the camping grounds. The air was becoming much cooler and the moon was hanging high in the sky. There was a hut, with another sign that said ‘PARK RANGER: REGISTRATION REQUIRED.’ Trevor parked the car and asked his family to remain inside, just to be sure. There was no one within the hut, behind the dusty old service counter. A map of the forest was on the wall but only of the local camping area. Trevor inspected the map and he noticed that all the paths diverging into the forest were closed, which he thought highly unusual. He turned around to the desk and received the fright of his life. He didn’t hear Ranger enter the room, which was odd for a number of reasons, mostly being that the grey bearded man was eight feet tall and as wide as a school bus. He was smoking a large pipe that was filling the room quickly with smoke. “Can I help ya?” enquired Ranger. Trevor was starting to feel dizzy from the tobacco smoke. He started to wheeze lightly and cough. “Could you...could you please stop smoking that pipe?” asked Trevor timidly. The Ranger removed the pipe from his mouth and squinted with one eye at the little man. Trevor’s knees began to quiver. Ranger blew a ring of smoke in his face and guffawed at Trevor’s request. “Haw! Haw! Haw! You got some nerve to ask me to put the pipe out,” said Ranger heartily. Trevor was starting to wonder if the camping trip was over before it started. The Ranger playfully slapped him on the back and said: “Luckily, I like you, young man. Ya state your mind and that’s a good thing.” With a sigh of relief, Trevor stated that he wanted to pay for a camping spot in the park for the weekend. Ranger agreed to lease a spot but issued Trevor a warning: “Don’t be goin’ on any trails into the forest. They are closed and out of bounds for the foreseeable future...you know, for maintenance and such things. And stay together! It’s too dangerous to be alone in the wilds.” Trevor thanked the Ranger for his advice and quickly exited the hut with Ranger watching him as he went. *** They erected the tents on the camping spot, which they were to have to themselves the whole weekend. Florence was still sulking and sat in a red camping chair the whole time not helping at all. Trevor made a fire and cooked 5
them a delicious dinner of fat sausages and baked beans. After dinner, Trevor asked the two boys to go over to the laundry block and wash the dishes. The two boys bickered and fought all the way about who was to wash and who was to wipe. But soon that was forgotten as they started to talk about what games they were going to play when they got home. “I’m going to finish Blood Hammer 3 when I get back and then I’m going to play it all over again on the highest, expert level,” said Fred. “I can’t wait to go on the computer and play Battlefield/Scorpion/Ninjas. I’ve nearly captured Count Doom and his army of Octopus Dreadnaughts!” exclaimed James. The boys were so excitedly talking about their games that they didn’t hear the footsteps come up behind them until it was too late. “What’re you boys doin’ here all alone?” asked Ranger. James and Fred were startled at the sight of the giant, bearded man carrying a newly sharpened axe. “You shouldn’t be out here by yerselves. Where���s yer Ma and Pa?” asked Ranger. James couldn’t answer because he was dazzled by the glint on the blade of the axe. It was Fred who muttered a reply. “They...they’re over at the camping grounds. We’re just washing d...d...dishes.” Don’t tell him that you idiot. He’ll chop our heads off, thought James. “Hmmmph. You boys shouldn’t be alone out here after dark. The park is full of dangerous... creatures. But if you need my help, call me. Name’s Ranger.” The Ranger walked off into the wild woods, muttering to himself. “Now to find that bloody Lamppost. He knows he ain’t supposed to be around here...” He disappeared into the forest. Fred and James had never washed dished so fast in their lives. *** The boys returned never uttering a word, sitting near the fire and started to read their Spooky Tales comics. The fire was starting to get low, so Trevor took a flash light and went to get more logs from the pile near the camping ground. The night was dark as the forest seemed to surround them on all sides, quietly watching and listening. As Trevor picked out a few logs he heard a rustling sound in a bush nearby. Then he heard a noise: “Meow.” Trevor thought it very strange that a cat would be all the way out here in the forest. It was probably lonely and very hungry he
thought. He moved closer to the bush and shone the light through the branches but couldn’t see a thing. There was a meow again to his left this time, but he couldn’t find the cat. There was another meow to the right but still no cat to be seen. He could hear movement so he decided to part the branches further and peek inside the tangled web of leaves. “Come on puss, I know you’re there,” said Trevor. He caught the glare of wide, jade eyes that reflected in the light but soon disappeared. “You move very quickly, I must say,” said Trevor. He parted the branches further to reveal that he was half right about what was making the noise. The cat’s head, as big as any man’s, was covered in silky grey and white fur. Its ears stood to attention and Trevor was mesmerised by the jade coloured eyes. But what startled him the most was that it had the body of a woman and was wearing a long, flowing, black dress. It was crouched on all fours and released a large hissing noise directed at Trevor. “Oh my!” he said startled as he fell backwards dropping the torch. He quickly recovered himself and ran back to the camping ground leaving the torch behind. “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! You were all right. We shouldn’t have come camping!” screamed Trevor as he ran to the camp site. Only one thought entered his head over and over: WE SHOULDN’T HAVE COME TO SOVEREIGN CREEK! Trevor was so scared and gasping for breath, that he didn’t notice that there was something terribly wrong at the campsite. “Ahh, won’t you come and join us?” said the strange man. He wore a coat of blue with shiny, brass buttons down the front. On his head was a mouldy old bicorne hat, which hid his long, white greasy hair. His face was the thing that disturbed Trevor the most. It was long and angular, with his nose, mouth and eyes all drooping down to the left. His right eye was larger than the left and seemed to be looking around everywhere at once. “Oh please forgive me. Where are my manners? I forgot to tell you my name when you asked,” said the strange man. “I didn’t ask,” said Trevor meekly. “Didn’t ask? Didn’t ask? My, what a rude man you are sir! I don’t like it when people don’t ask my name,” said the strange man.
It was then that Trevor felt the arm slide around his neck and the sharp claws of the hand press hard into his cheek. He felt hot breath on the back of his neck, as the sandpaper tongue licked him. “Meow,” said the She-Cat. “How funny! She seems to have taken a fancy to you,” said the strange man. “Dad, what’s happening?” asked a very scared James. Both the boys were together and very, very afraid. Behind them was a hideous man, who had the head of a pig and the armour of a knight. He snorted and drooled as he brandished a sword complacently near the boy’s neck. However the most disturbing thing of all was to see Florence suspended in the air, floating, and in a trance. “What have you done to my family?” yelled Trevor. The strange man walked around the camp fire for a moment and seemed to stare at the flickering embers. “The fire seems so warm and so...what is the word I’m searching for? Real! That’s it! It seems real to me. Like your family, they seem real to me,” he said.
He walked over to the two boys, huddled close to them and whispered in their ears. “I know you like games, don’t you Fred and James. Ha! Not a care in the world as long as you play those damned machines. Let me ask you a question though. What do you have nightmares about the most? Is it losing your precious games or the parents who won’t be around to buy them for you?” “You leave my boys alone!” shouted Trevor. The strange man danced a jig around the fire, slapping his thigh to a tune no one else could hear. To Trevor he seemed a bit mad. “Selfish! Selfish! Selfish! Adults are always selfish because they have no imagination. You make your darlings into scared little things without knowing it.” The strange man ran over to Trevor and said into his ear. “Do you know what I like best Trevor? Feeding off the fresh nightmares the little brats never knew they had inside themselves.” The cat released Trevor and bellowed out a large hiss. She heard the footsteps coming long before anyone else. Out of the forest, lumbering with his giant axe, was the Ranger. The Cat-Girl screeched and bounded into
the air. Its claws were ready to strike at the imposing Ranger. Although he was big and broad, he moved his arm swiftly and backhanded the feral cat quite hard. She landed on a tent which collapsed flat on the ground. The Ranger held his axe aloft and threw it at the strange, blue coated man. His angular face smiled a wicked smile and all the creatures disappeared into thin air, taking Florence and Trevor with them. The axe struck a tree with such force, the wood split in two with a loud crack. And the demented troupe had gone. Ranger walked over to the tree and removed his axe. With a big heave, he wrenched it from the trunk and inspected the blade. As he predicted, no blood was on it. He turned his attention to the boys and shook his head whilst stroking his chin. They should have called my name. What am I going to do with them now, he thought. On the ground, near the still burning campfire, the pages of the Spooky Tales comics, flapped wildly in the breeze. BD
John Boman has too much imagination. So much so that he needs to get it all out of his head before it explodes. His first all ages fantasy novel, THE SPIRIT OF THE MOON, was published in 2011 to great success. He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, with his wife, two sons, a dog and cat who never comes home. He hopes to write many fantastical books for years to come. His secret wish, however, is to write an episode of the long running television show, Doctor Who.
THE MONSTER IN THE BASEMENT SOVEREIGN CREEK SERIES BOOK 2 Release date June 1, 2012: Something is wrong in Sovereign Creek. Something evil has come from a place unknown. Children are alone and afraid. A wicked, mysterious creature has come to life and is bringing fear to the children of Sovereign Creek. MRS WELLINGTON and MAXIMUS WALKER must discover what is happening and defeat this new threat to the weirdest town in the world. But in a basement located in the heart of Sovereign Creek, a young girl named MOLLY BROWN may have made the most frightening discovery of all! Continuing the story first started in THE SPIRIT OF THE MOON, your favourite weird town is about to become even weirder. ISBN-13:978-1466426894 6
emily Wiles Chapter 1 Mr. Phelps was droning on about fractions and decimals when Mrs. Williams, our head teacher, walked into the classroom like she’d just seen a ghost. “Mr. Phelps, please come with me immediately!” She said in a concerned voice. An instant wave of whispering hit me. “What do you think is going on?” My best friend Marie asked me “Mrs. Will looks as white as a sheet!” “Yeah, do you think there’s another baby spider in her office again?!” We both giggled at that. When Mr. Phelps waded into the classroom, we knew it wasn’t a baby spider again. “Everyone will evacuate the building right now!” Mr. Phelps never worries about anything, so this was pretty terrible because he was worrying like mad then! When Mr. Phelps told us why we had to leave, we all gasped. “The ghost of Woodbrough High has struck again; she is destroying Mrs. William’s office!” We all ran outside screaming. When Mr. Phelps came outside he took all of our names but someone was missing; it was Janie, the quiet new girl. “Meet me at the park tonight at nine pm; I know what we can do.” Marie whispered. “Okay, I’ll bring chocolate.” I said. “Everyone stay here, we are phoning your parents to come and collect you” A chorus of cheers erupted; Mr. Phelps looked at us, darkly. It was nine o’clock when I was walking towards the park; I saw Marie holding two torches. I gave her one of the chocolate bars and she stood there munching along when I asked her, “Well what are we going to do?” “We’re going to find Janie,” She said, still munching on her chocolate bar, “but she might have just gone to the toilet or something! There’s no point. Remember that thing that was written on all of the whiteboards last term?” I nodded slowly. Marie continued, “Well, it said that the ghost would take the quiet but angry one and feed on her soul!” I shuddered when Marie said that “So we’re going to go and find Janie and kill the ghost once and for all!” “Sorry to shatter your picture Marie, but, how do you kill a ghost?” I asked, curious. “Well my friend, thankfully I know how! You see, I read a book on how to kill ghosts and it said that you have to torture them by telling 7
The Body Borrower
them their worst nightmares.” “Okay, first of all, we don’t know the ghost’s worst nightmare and second of all, when are we ever going to get to talk to her? I said as a matter of fact. “Look what I found!” she held up a tattered and worn, red notebook. “The ghost’s diary” I breathed. “Exactly!” She opened it and started reading the first page. “Melissa Verona Marc- 12/3/1970 Mother just gave me this diary to write all of my feelings down, but to be honest I really don’t want to. She expects me to do so, so that I show her afterwards! Why would I want to show my mother my diary? Anyway, Bradley Phelps has been really annoying- he bullies me every day, he steals my lunch, he pours water all over my work and worst of all, he makes fun of my name. What’s so weird about the name Melissa Verona Marc?! Time for lights out now, nighty night! M.V.M. Wow! We hit the jackpot!” “Wait, did she say Bradley Phelps? That could be Mr. Phelps!” “But is his first name Bradley?” Marie asked. “I don’t know, we’ll find out on Monday now though” “Okay meet here tomorrow morning and we’ll discuss what we have to do.” “Okay, cool, good night.” We walked away in opposite directions. When I passed the school, I walked cautiously as if I thought that the ghost would come out and grab me but then I remembered that ghosts can’t leave the place they died. I stopped dead in my tracks. How did she die? I sprinted back home and wrote down a list of possible ways Melissa Verona Marc could have died: • Heart attack • Another ghost • Food poisoning • Glass smash in the heart from mirror • Slipped and cracked her head open… Chapter 2 I awoke the following morning, and it was already ten am. I got dressed, grabbed an apple and shouted to my mum that I would be back soon and to ring me if she needed anything. I got to the park and I waited for fifteen minutes until Marie showed up with a rope, Melissa Verona Marc’s diary, some chocolate, a bottle of water and a pocket knife. “What’s all this for?” I asked, curiously. “You’ll see. Come on, we have to get going;
my mum wants me home before three pm.” she said and started running off in the direction of the school. I showed Marie my list of possible ways Melissa Verona Marc could’ve died and she asked “But who killed her?” “I don’t know; we’ll just have to find out!” We walked in silence for five minutes and then we were standing at the school gates. Marie handed me everything and started to climb over the black iron gates of the school. She was safely over the other side, I handed her the stuff and climbed over myself. We had a quick look around the playground for any gardeners or school staff; we couldn’t see any. We went into the school, Marie had somehow ‘borrowed’ Mr. Phelps’ key. The lights were off and it was very dark. I turned around to turn them on but Marie grabbed my arm “Don’t!” She whispered, “It might sound the alarms. We’ll have to use the torches instead.” I nodded; I was too scared to speak. I heard something; a bang. I spun around quickly but there was nothing there. Then I heard a muffled cry for help. I nudged Marie “Did you hear that? I think it came from the science lab!” She nodded and we made our way towards the cry. We put our ears to the door and snatches of conversation drifted to us. “You are not leaving until you tell me why your father killed me!” Melissa Verona Marc’s voice rose steadily until it was raised to a shout. “Why won’t you speak?” she shouted. “M-my father n-never k-k-k-killed anyone” Janie whimpered “Bradley Phelps is a murderer and you know it!” Melissa snapped back. “My father…” Janie burst out crying. Melissa probably gave up so the next thing we knew, we had a ghost going right through us. I screamed; the sound echoing through the deserted halls. “Ah, more children, come on, follow me.” We were too scared to utter a word or disobey Melissa, so we followed without a sound. When we arrived in what we thought was the science lab, we saw a totally different setting. There were gravestones littering the ground where the tables should have been and there were too many crows to count. The trees had no leaves and were all gnarled; the shadows seemed to watch your every move and the graves were all broken and chipped.
“Katy, where are we” Marie asked me. “I don’t know.” “Zip it you two!” Melissa hissed and we did. Melissa took us into a cave where Janie was sitting, shackled and crying. “Janie! Are you ok?” I ran up to her and tried to open the shackles but they were stuck tight. “Guys, what are you doing here? The ghost will kill us no matter what!” Janie croaked. “We’ve come to save you! Is your father Mr. Phelps?” Marie said. Janie’s head droops, “Yes, and he killed Melissa, I don’t know how though, I’ve never had enough courage to ask him how he killed her. He told me he’d been to prison for murdering Melissa Verona Marc in school but he never told me how.” Jane started crying again. Melissa entered the room with someone in tow. I recognized him from one of the pictures in Mrs. William’s office; his name was Albert Van-Everth, he was the principle of the school for sixteen years in Nineteen-Sixty, but he died a gruesome death in Two Thousand and One; he was murdered by a robber who stole all of the computers when Mr. Van-Everth was packing up after the school day. Melissa exchanged a few words with Albert then everything went black. Chapter 3 When I awoke, I was in a room that was full of coffins. “Marie! Janie! Are you there?!” I shouted. I noticed that I was handcuffed behind my back. “Katy! Catch!” Marie threw a torch to me and I caught it between my feet. I turned it on and right in front of me, a skeleton was hanging by chains from the ceiling. I screamed. I closed my eyes, hoping it would go away when I opened them again. I opened my eyes and there in front of me was Melissa. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out; I felt like I was paralyzed. The torch clattered to the floor and Melissa came towards me. I wasn’t completely sure what happened next, but I felt a tingling sensation and then a shiver ran down my back. Melissa was inside of my body. I screamed but it wasn’t my voice; it was Melissa’s. “Hush now Katy, I’m only borrowing your body.” Melissa whispered to me. “Marie,” I whispered but I knew she couldn’t hear me. We left the coffin room and I could just about hear Janie shout my name, but I didn’t turn back, just because I couldn’t. Melissa was controlling my body; I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t even talk if I wanted to, and Melissa had full control over me. She
was pushing my soul straight down, soon Melissa would be me forever, I would never be able to come back, my soul would seep out of my body and I would be a fragment floating around, waiting for something to take refuge in. We stopped in front of a door way and Melissa used my hand to knock on the door four times. Two eyes appeared through a hole. “Let us in, I have strict business with Mr. VanEverth.” Melissa said, her words and her voice through my mouth. “Of course! Come in Melissa,” The door opened and I walked in - well, Melissa walked in using my body. The door slammed shut but I barely heard it; I could feel my soul seeping out of my body; I had barely any time left, maybe an hour or two until Melissa consumed me completely. Melissa walked over to a closet and took a pair of high-heeled black boots out. She put them on but she had trouble walking in them, because she was using my body, and I don’t wear high heels. She cursed loudly and tried to walk in them but she failed miserably. She ended up taking them off and putting them back into the closet. We walked into a room; the sound was horrible, like a hundred cats screeching. I could feel Melissa’s ghost slowly seeping out of my body, then nothing. I could feel my toes again; I tried walking and found I could. I started to sprint but then Marie came in. She didn’t see Melissa floating there behind me and threw a punch that got me right in the face. I shouted at her to stop, that it was me, that Melissa was behind me, but I don’t think she heard. She kicked me in the stomach and I doubled over in pain. “Marie, stop!” I gasped as she kicked me again, in the shin this time. I started to cry and suddenly Marie stopped, I looked up and saw her muttering to herself and looking behind me. I realized she had seen Melissa. She knelt down next to me and hugged me tight while she kept on muttering her apologies, but I just went with it. Janie looked a bit awkward standing there watching us so I motioned for her to join. We were all sitting there hugging, when Melissa gave a throaty cough and we all turned to look at her. “Sorry to interrupt, but I need one of your bodies to destroy Bradley Phelps.” Melissa said matter-of-factly. “No! You are not killing my father!” Janie shouted and started attacking Melissa. Surprisingly, it appeared that Melissa was solid. Suddenly, Janie was on her knees. I could see Melissa growing more and more
powerful, then Janie’s eyes rolled back into her head. I jumped up and started screaming at Melissa to let Janie go. “Now darling, don’t fuss, Janie will be fine, for the moment” She giggled then in a blink of an eye, she and Janie vanished. I burst out crying “I know that Mr Phelps wasn’t a great teacher and he was always so boring, but he’s not so bad that I want him dead!” I said between sobs. “I know; that’s why you’re coming with me and we’re going to save Janie and Mr Phelps!” Melissa said pulling me to my feet. I wiped my eyes and put on a brave face then I said “Let’s go kill Melissa! Well, get Janie back at least!” We went through a door way and suddenly we were in another room but this one was full of weapons; chains, guns and a baseball bat to name but a few. In the middle of the room there was a big, old, red book with a gold interlined binding. I walked over to it, but Marie grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
It is not very often, when working for a magazine, that the editorial staff get a pleasant surprise as we did with The Body Borrower. This story was composed by twelve year old Emily Wiles, and is one of the best submissions we had for the horror themed issue. It is lovely to see and read an abiding story from someone so young, and so full of promise. The story was run through some minor edits and corrections, but ninety nine per cent of the original story remains intact. It shows you just how vivid children really are. Enjoy! - J.B. Sullivan, Editor.
emily wiles | the body borrower “Careful” she whispered, “It might be a trap.” I rummaged in my pockets and found a piece of gum wrapped in some paper, I threw it at the book and it landed on it, but nothing happened. No alarms, no cages, no guards; just the oppressive silence that had been creeping up on us like a fox about to pounce on its prey, then a scream. It was Janie. I saw it first; blood seeping underneath the door, slowly first then it gushed out like a blood river. Marie screamed and ran to the other side of the room where an old door sat. She tried to turn the handle but it stuck. “It’s locked!” She sobbed. The blood was up to our ankles now. “How could anyone have so much blood?” I shrieked running towards Marie. I could feel it coming; I tripped and fell face down in the blood. I swallowed a bit, turned over and vomited. “Oh, my God! Katy, are you okay?” Marie waded over to me and gave me some water. “Yes, no, I don’t know!” I burst out crying “We have to save them! And we have to save ourselves!” “I know! Get up and we’ll look at that red book, see if it has a solution” Marie slowly and cautiously walked up to the book, clutching my hand tightly. She let go of my hand and grabbed the book. Suddenly, Melissa shot into the room. She grabbed my wrist, hard and then Marie disappeared. We appeared in a room with only a blazing fire and a chair. “You will rest here for the night, and in the morning you will kill Bradley Phelps for me, Janie was so persistent, I nearly died, again! Well, I gave up and killed her instead! Ha! She had so much blood!” I gasped, “So Janie’s dead!” I burst out crying. Melissa looked puzzled for a moment, then I looked behind her, Marie was standing there with a bloody knife with a surprised expression on her face. “Marie, how did you do that? You said we had to say her worst nightmare! You just stabbed her with a knife!” I screamed running up to her “She was a ghost!” “No she wasn’t! I don’t know what she was, a possessor or something, I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we just killed her and now we have to save Janie and get out of here.” She started to run towards the other door but suddenly she stopped “Where’s Janie Katy?” She started to walk towards me then grabbed my arm “Where’s Janie?!” She screamed “Marie” I whispered, “Janie’s dead, Melissa 9
killed her.” Marie burst into tears “She-she-she was my cousin!” She sobbed “Why didn’t you tell me? She was all alone in school, why didn’t you go up to her?” “Because I was embarrassed!” “What is there to be embarrassed about?” I asked “Janie had a learning disorder, but she’s been fine so far, I thought she would get one of her seizures and give me away!” “Wow, I can see why, but I would never laugh!” “There’s something else,” Marie cried “Janie wasn’t human, she was a ghost, that’s why she was so quiet, ghosts can’t talk too much otherwise they will dissolve into nothingness!” I gasped “Wow Marie, that’s a pretty big secret, but I still don’t know why you didn’t tell me.” “I know that you live next door to Penny and that you’re friends with her, I was afraid that you’d tell her and then she would spread it around the school and I’d be a laughing stock!” “Oh Marie.” I ran up and hugged her “I would never do that! I’m not that bad am I?” Marie laughed slightly and wiped her eyes “You’re right. Argh! Behind you!” I looked around too late, Melissa wasn’t dead, and she was inside my body again. “Bye Marie!” Melissa said through my mouth. “Katy, fight back!” Marie grabbed my wrists and suddenly I was back to normal, but then I felt my body go stiff, I put my hand to where my heart was and it came back all bloody. “Marie, help!” I whispered then I passed out. Chapter 4 Most of what I am going to tell you now, Marie told me because I was out cold. “You’re a monster!” screamed Marie. She ran up to Marie and threw a punch that got Melissa right in the nose; bright red blood dripped down her ghostly white face and onto her hands. She flicked her wrist and caught Marie under the chin. Marie screamed and lunged, Melissa moved out of the way just in the nick of time and Marie hit the floor and rolled. Melissa thought she had time to try and fix her broken nose but Marie’s leg snaked out and tripped Melissa up. Melissa landed on the floor on her stomach. Marie saw her chance and leaped onto Melissa’s back, she threw punch after punch, straight into Melissa’s back. Marie hesitated, Melissa jumped up, startling Marie and pinned her to the ground, grabbed a knife from her pocket and held the blade an inch away from Marie’s neck.
“You move you die. Now, do you want to help me kill Bradley Phelps?” Marie nodded. Melissa tried to go inside Marie, but something went wrong, Marie suddenly went inside Melissa. She could now control her. Marie ran over to the red book and opened it. “This book is a book of spells and death,” Marie read “Chapter 1, bringing people back to life. This is a simple method, just place your hand upon this book and say: I want to bring this person back from the dead, then touch them with your blood.” Marie knelt down and pricked her thumb with a piece of glass She then put her hand on the book and repeated the words, her thumb pressed against mine and suddenly I took a deep breath. “Katy! You’re alive!” Marie was out of Melissa’s body now and hugged me. Melissa lay on the floor panting. “You have to save me, I can’t die.” she croaked. “No, if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” I cried. Then something so scary happened, I have no word bad enough to describe it. “Bloody hell! What is happening?” Marie cried. Melissa was standing in front of us, her face was as red as fire and she was twice the size as she was before. She had a gleaming orange glow emerging from her chest and her clothes were all torn and bloody. “Now, I have become a Demon! I will haunt you for the rest of your lives!” With that, she disappeared. 20 years later. I am now 32 years old; I have a husband called Jack and 3 kids. Emma is 12, Sophie is 8 and Owen is 4. Melissa kept her promise, 18 years later and she is still haunting me. She comes in my dreams, and these days, I don’t get a wink of sleep. I work as an author and I write demon books based on the story of Melissa, Janie, Marie and me. Marie is still my friend and she is an accountant. We visit Janie’s grave every year on the 16th of March because that’s when she died. Marie also has 3 kids called Sam, Dizzy and June. Sam and Emma are dating and they have been for 2 years now. Melissa comes up to me and punches me, it hurts but I’m used to it now. Imagine being bullied at school every day of your life and times that by 10. That’s how bad Melissa’s haunting is. I think she may be weakening though because at night, I hear her wheezing and coughing. She is coming now again… Jack: No! Melissa: Ha! She’s dead! BD Marie: No!
The Importance of Critique T
he most important thing about being a successful writer is to know exactly how readable your material is. Nobody wants to read a poor story that has countless grammatical errors, rough sentence structure and/or a lifeless engagement with the plot and audience. But, to those that want people to read their work and enjoy it need to learn the importance of critique and just what it means to put their work forward to have it critiqued. It does not matter if you plan to publish or not, having one’s work constantly critiqued is a safeguard to becoming a better writer all way around. Critique is a psychological lesson that shows the writer not just where they are going wrong, but how to improve on their weaknesses when it comes to writing. Today, we live in a world of virtual reality and the internet is the best place to find a critique group. There are numerous out there, but finding the right one can be tricky and it all comes down to what you are truly looking for. The best critique groups are filled with people who are not going to ridicule your work, as some can do, but to openly go out of their way to give you the friendly and supportive feedback you need and deserve. There are two types of critique groups out there, and only one of them will serve your purpose of becoming a better writer. There is the group that has members who will support you through their own lessons in writing and show you the right way to go about things, in a friendly manner; the group you want. The other group that is filled with “yes-men” who will openly say that your story is good, regardless if it is not; the group you do not want. You, as the writer, have to decide whether the feedback given is that of honest teachings or the illicit feedback of yes-men. Only you can decide that. If you feel that your work is not getting the due feedback required, let someone else from a different critique group have a look at it and compare their response to the first. You may have to do this time and again to get the proper information that you need on your
story and how to improve it. Having your work critiqued for the first time can be painful and ego crushing, regardless of who you get critique from, because you will not be used to having your work digested and dissected, as is what happens in blunt terminology. You have spent a week writing a short story just for a complete stranger, or a friend, to pick it apart with an ice pick. That can cause some ugly emotions to arise, one of which is self-doubt. Just because you are not given a good review does not automatically make you or your story bad. Experienced writers who have been a part of critique groups for a while will tell you that the best feedback is bad feedback as they can work from that negative response and learn to write better. That brings me to my next point… A lot of people have the misconception that if someone gives you bad feedback on the story that that person doesn’t like you or is going out their way to hurt your feelings. That is not the case. A true literary critic, whether professional or not, will state for your benefit and your benefit alone what needs improving with your written style and not what is necessarily wrong with it. That is what a story comes down to; the writer’s own voice. The reader is never wrong when giving feedback on a story, unless they have rushed in and not read it properly. This happens rarely, but you do get the odd individual who is more than delighted when it comes to belittling your work in favour of their own. You need to notice individuals like these and steer very clear of them; their feedback will not be helpful, nor will it pave the way for your improvement. There are additional benefits of being a part of a critique group; it is not all about work. Steady, reliable and honest feedback often comes from those that are experienced writers themselves, but it is a bonus when you become friends with one. It is an even bigger bonus when a fellow writer in a group writes the same genre as yourself, thus paving the way for better learning and information sharing. They are two key elements to good and solid, creative writing. There is also a third side to critique groups. A critique group does not always have to be about critique, but with proper and willing members will become a ground base for
many other literary pursuits. For example: if you are researching a particular subject for your book/story and cannot find the desired information required, you could ask members of the group to help you. More often than not, members will go out of their way to help you, but it all depends on how closely knit the group is. That is another reason why writers looking for a firm group need to pay attention to what activities go on in the group and decide if it is the right one for them. Just remember, however, that you may need to repay the favour in the future. Critique is by far not a one sided coin. I will take this opportunity to state that I have been running my own professional critique group (The Writers & Poets Forum) for over two years now and it has a very friendly, positive atmosphere. The members involved range from novice writers, to published authors to publishers. There are some illustrators and songwriters in there to boot. If you should like to join my group, no matter what or for how long you have been writing, you are more than welcome. Details to follow. Blue Dingo’s very own Angela Hall is a member, and so is this month’s featured Young Adult and Gothic Lit author Julieanne Lynch. The truth and bottom line of creative writing and critique is that every writer has room for improvement. You can be an author who has twenty books published, and selling well, but you will still have room for improvement. Critique groups are a bit like the Armed Forces; if you go in with a know-it-all attitude you will get shot down where you stand and from there on in, you will have to learn some very hard lessons. The best approach to critique is to keep an open mind and remember that the feedback is there to help, but critique will only help if you want to be helped. https://www.facebook.com/groups/jbs. forum/ The Writers & Poets Forum on Facebook. If you have any questions about this article, The Writers & Poets Forum, or a question in general, do not hesitate to contact J.B. Sullivan at: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘J.B’s Desk’.
Jamie Sullivan 10
janeen brian Right then, I felt sorry for myself. It was bucketing down. How could rain still snake down your neck when you’d pulled your collar up to your ears and hunched your shoulders so tight you could’ve been mistaken for The Incredible Hulk? Worse than that, I was lost. Well, I’d temporarily misplaced the track I’d taken to see the gannet colonies on the rugged cliffs in New Zealand. The storm announced itself with no warning. It went straight into squall mode. Icy winds that flipped the cap off my head. Thick, funeral-grey clouds with no silver lining and rain as heavy as a giant sky tap turned on full. In minutes, I was sloshing in mud, head bowed, and for at least half-an-hour unaware that I’d trudged in the wrong direction. What’s more, I’d let my mobile at my aunty’s place. Told her I wouldn’t need it and I’d be back before tea. On I slogged. The rain pressed down, blurring my vision. I was wetter than if I’d fallen in the sea. A few minutes later, I paused, realising nothing at all looked familiar. When I realised I’d taken a wrong turning and had no idea how to find the track that led from aunty’s place to the gannet cliffs. Then I saw it. Set in a valley, smothered by trees. It was the ruin of a small, wooden cottage. At least I might find some shelter for a while. I made for it, grimly taking in the shadowy trees, and rotting woodwork. An old wire and post fence lay twisted on the ground, entwined by the roots of overgrown rose bushes and clumps of weeds. I glanced up. Maybe there’d be a miracle and the rain would stop before it got much darker. By the time I reached the cottage my hopes of finding a dry spot to ride out the storm, had sunk like my sneakers in the mud. From the rat-chewed verandah upwards, it was nothing but a shell of splintery wood, with crooked, aching timber and a front door that hung drunkenly on one hinge. The wind lashed tree branches against the sagging roof as if hellbent on smashing the whole thing to bits. Geeze. Did I have to stay here? The driving rain and wind sent me seeking some kind of protection beneath the verandah, close to the front door. Above me, a jagged piece of loose tin flapped and rattled. I thought about my Aunty Marian and my 11
After the Night
chances of making it home in this weather. I’d only been in New Zealand two days and I didn’t really know yet if she was the worrying kind of aunty. The kind who wrung her hands until you opened the door and called out you were home. Or whether she was a cool aunty, looking up from whatever she was doing with a surprised, pleased look that you’d even returned. Maybe if I made a dash . . . Nah. It’d be useless. I’d never find my way back to her house in that drenching pea souper. Pulling aside the swaying door, I peered inside towards the narrow, damp-smelling hallway. Puddles of water lay rimming below holes in the iron roof. There must be somewhere that was dry. Stepping carefully on the strongest looking bit of flooring, I made my way inside. Lacy cobwebs, thickened with dust, swung slightly from walls and ceiling. A room led off either side of the doorway. One door was shut but the other was ajar. From that room came a noise. A cough. I froze. A lady’s voice called, ‘Come in. Come in, near the fire. It’s terrible weather out there.’ My heart thudded. It banged so hard it almost broke free from my ribcage. But I held myself still for one long second, before stepping closer, stealthily, as it at any moment I might tread on a stick of dynamite. What I saw then made no sense. I stood speechless, numb with shock. The small, cosy room shone with joy and life. It was as if everything in it; the chairs, soft, padded couches, tiny glass ornaments, and framed photographs hanging on melon coloured walls had been polished to within an inch of their life. Even the old lady glowed. Seated in a rocking chair, with a curl of a cat on her lap, her smile was as welcoming as the fire that crackled in the hearth. ‘It’s alright,’ she said, her voice smooth like honey. ‘You’re not intruding. You look weary. Have you been walking a long time?’ The friendly, easy way she spoke momentarily disarmed me and I nodded, uncertain as to whether I could still actually speak. Then, looking down, I stared unsettled at the contrast of my mud-soaked sneakers on the thick
patterned rug. What was I doing there? Who was this woman? And why, how, could this lovely, furnished room be part of the ruined cottage? I blinked more than necessarily, like flicking the shutter lens of a camera. I guess I was trying to see if the images stayed or went. They stayed. So was it me? Was it something about me that’d changed? But that was impossible. What had I done except watch in fascination thousands of sea-going gannets chattering and clustering together on rock faces and cliff tops. ‘I’ve been bird-watching,’ I murmured, pleased and relieved that I had a voice left, although it sounded to my ears as if I was speaking through a mouthful of cobwebs. ‘Oh?’ The old woman’s eyes lit up. ‘Which ones?’ ‘Gannets.’ ‘Oh, one of my favourites,’ she said. ‘Please, sit down and tell me your name. I feel rude, but I don’t get about as easily these days, or I’d prepare you something to eat.’ Out of politeness, I edged back awkwardly and perched on a chair. ‘My name’s Max. I’m staying with my aunty.’ I stopped myself there. Something was still not right and I didn’t feel comfortable telling her any more. I glanced towards the door but as I did I noticed a large number of cane baskets along one wall. They were full of twine or string, all colours. The woman was obviously into craftwork like my aunty. ‘Pleased to meet you, Max,’ she said, breaking into my thoughts. ‘I’m Beatrice McManus.’ I nodded again, but felt a deep frown crinkling my forehead. There were thick, blue curtains either side of the single window. They hung straight down, like a waterfall but flanked a window frame that was warm brown wood, smooth like a polished walnut. Impossible, my brain muttered! Impossible, because I’d seen the same window from outside. There, it was jagged, broken, appearing only to be held together with peeling paint. I shifted uneasily on the chair. Above me, the steady rain drummed relentlessly; not that any found its way through ceiling holes or cracks in the walls. They were smooth and unbroken.
Suddenly the room felt too warm. Or my heart was pumping out more blood than my veins needed. When the next crack of thunder shook the house, the ginger-and-white cat simply cocked one ear, but Beatrice McManus cast me a worried look. ‘Max,’ she said, ‘sometimes when we have a storm like this, it lasts for days. Other times it just blows its top off and then vanishes like a naughty child sneaking biscuits from the pantry. I have a spare room,’ she went on. ‘You’d be very welcome to stay and, with any luck, the storm would’ve gone by morning. What do you think?’ What with the storm and it growing darker by the minute, it didn’t seem as if I had a choice. But perhaps it’d be alright. A warm, dry room was the best thing I could hope for right now. ‘I don’t suppose you have a . . .’ I was about to say mobile, but one look around the cluttered, old-fashioned room and I changed my mind. ‘I don’t suppose you have a phone, do you, Mrs McManus, so I could call my aunty?’ ‘Sorry, but I don’t really have a need for one. But come on and I’ll show you your room. This way.’ I followed her down a neat hallway, walking on a soft, dark-red carpet runner. The door swung open with a gentle click and when the old lady pulled a cord hanging from the ceiling, the room was suddenly bathed in a soothing, spreading light. ‘There’s your bed, Max. The toilet’s down the hall. I hope you have a nice sleep. Good night.’ ‘Good night.’ For a moment or two I stayed where I was, taking time to look around. Again, everything was in order. Fresh, white curtains hung either side of the window, and the quilt on the iron bed was made from bright bits of material stitched together in a patchwork pattern. But there was no wardrobe and no chest of drawers. Not even a table on which to put a glass of water. The rest of the room was completely taken up with parcels of all sizes and shapes. They were wrapped in brown paper and stacked from floor to ceiling, like a gigantic interlocking jigsaw puzzle. Each parcel had not only been wrapped carefully but was tied up as well. Bits of coloured twine hung like hangman’s nooses or dangled here and there like rats’ tails. What on earth would anyone keep in the parcels? And why so many?
Shaking my head at the sheer number and everything else strange about the place, I slipped off my wet tracksuit top and sneakers and crawled between the pine-smelling bedclothes. After pulling at another light cord by the bed, I lay there, flinching at the cracks and crashes of the storm and inwardly chewing over what’d happened that afternoon. Why couldn’t I make sense of it? Who was Mrs McManus? And why could my eyes see one thing one minute and something totally different the next? I took a deep sigh and hoped that morning would come silently and quickly. Some time later, something woke me. At first I thought it was the rain. But rain didn’t squeak. I wasn’t too fond of mice and liked rats even less. I hunched up in my bed, dragging the bedclothes to cover my face and leaving only a little breathing hole. After a while my eyelids grew heavy and I felt myself about to slide back into sleep. Then the rustling started. My eyes sprang open. Someone was in the room, crinkling a paper bag. I was sure of it. Anyone who’d heard a paper bag being scrunched would know that sound. I pulled myself into as small a shape as possible, heart pounding, too terrified to even reach out for the light cord. In no time, more and more rustling noises filled the room; crackling and snapping now like a rushed meeting of old, dried leaves. My skin was snap-tight, prickling under the bedclothes. I knew that even if I screamed, even if I stretched my mouth so wide that I split my lips, no sound would come out. My voice, like my nerves, had fled. The rustlings and the squeakings grew louder and louder and in a moment of escalated panic, my hand shot out and snapped on the light. In that instant, there was a swelling of squealings and I saw something that I never want to see again. The parcels were moving. They were still interlocked, but shifting, twisting as if in pain and advancing, coming closer, closer, towards me! With a shrill cry, I leapt from my bed and wrenched at the door handle. I pulled this way and that. It wouldn’t budge. It was locked. Turning around, I saw the parcels quivering, edging closer and closer, uttering fearful high-pitched noises. At that moment the door swung open. I spun round, about to flee. But standing before me
was Mrs McManus. I saw her smile in the gloom. But I also saw in her hands a sheet of brown paper, a length of yellow twine and a pair of scissors. ‘Max,’ she said. There was only one way out. I heaved myself at the window and shattered the glass. Barefoot, cut and bleeding, I scrabbled my way through the window. Then I ran. I tore across the front yard with blood pumping at my temples, not knowing who or what might be following. At the last minute, before I dashed from that place forever, I glanced over my shoulder. And in that dim dawn, I saw nothing. Nothing but an old ruin of a cottage with its chimney half toppled, windows broken and its door hanging from a rusty hinge, like a puppet from a string. The storm had blown itself out. Rain had refreshed the whole countryside. There was a fresh, green smell in the air. But for me the world had changed. Nothing was ever real again. After that night, how could it be? BD
Janeen Brian is an award-winning children’s author of over 70 books in genres ranging from picture books to poetry, short fiction, non-fiction and novels. She has just won the Carclew Fellowship in the 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. www.janeenbrian.com http://janeenjottings.blogspot.com.au/
shirley couglin Chapter one The young boy watched from the attic window as the car came up the driveway; he had been waiting a very long time. He smiled happily; there were children in the car, someone to play with… at last. Sally and James craned their necks from the back seat of the car to see their new house as they were driven up the long driveway. It was drizzling and the slight misty rain softened the chocolate box affect of the roses scrambling up the walls on either side of the dark blue front door, presenting a charming romantic affect. The house was built in the early part of the nineteenth century, of soft cream brick with tall Georgian windows, and right at the top, underneath the gable was a small attic window. This was the first time the children had seen the house as they had been busy at school when their parents decided their current house was too small and needed to buy something larger. “It’s like a house out of a storybook,” said Sally excitedly. “I can’t wait to explore,” James stared up at the house. “Oh look Mum,” he said, winding down the window and poking his head out, “there’s someone up there at the window.” “Who is it?” asked Sally. The children were the first to spot the movement of the lace curtains in the tiny window right at the top of the house. Their mother Vicky tried to see past her husband’s broad shoulders but couldn’t. “I’m sorry sweetheart, my neck hasn’t quite reached giraffe length yet, I can’t see past your father.” The children both giggled. Their father, Bruce, stopped the car next to the small portico entrance that sheltered the front door, and everyone piled out. The children ran around to the front of the car and looked up. “See,” said James pointing. “There’s someone looking out of that tiny window near the roof.” Sally whispered. “He’s watching us,” she reached out and took hold her brother’s hand; they both stared up at the window in silence. Their father looked to see what the children were staring at. “Unless my eye sight is failing, I can’t see a thing.” “Neither can I, there is no-one there,” Vicky agreed. The children looked at each other, then back at the small white face of a child 13
staring down at them. A strangled meow sounded from the large cat basket sitting on the back seat of the car. James ran back and attempted to lift it out. “Where can we put Junket so he won’t run away?” Another loud squawk sounded from within the basket which shook violently as Junket moved around. “You’re so heavy Junket,” said James as he struggled to lift the large basket containing the rather oversized cat from out of the car. “Here, let me son, we don’t want to lose him now do we,” said Bruce, taking hold of the handle and carrying the large cat basket into the house. Junket was deposited into the utility/laundry room. Sleeping basket and litter tray accompanied him, and a large dish of cat biscuits was also provided. “How long will he have to stay in the laundry Daddy?” asked Sally, stroking Junket’s big furry head “Just a few days and then he can have the run of the house, but he won’t be allowed outside for at least two weeks, we don’t want him to run away and get lost now, do we.” Junket was busy wandering around the laundry checking out every nook and cranny, he was a rich creamy colour with a white chest and matching paws, he also sported a white snip down his nose and the most startling blue eyes. Junket was aptly named. He had a slightly flat face and thick soft fur, not quite long but neither short, no doubt suspected Bruce, as a result of Persian and Siamese genes in the cat’s ancestry. What they didn’t expect was how big Junket would grow after they adopted him as a kitten from the animal shelter. Vicky would often joke how he ate more than the two children put together. Junket was an important part of the family. The kids adored him and he in turn followed them everywhere, so he wasn’t at all impressed at being shut in a strange room in a strange house away from his family. Cries of protest echoed loudly as they closed the door leaving Junket to his own devises. The children went upstairs to check out their bedrooms. The furniture had all been delivered the previous day but still had to be sorted into exactly the right place in each room. Sally busily placed her books onto the bookshelf while she waited for her mother to finish making up the beds. Later that evening after the children were asleep, high in the attic, the lid of a rather
large and very old cabin trunk lifted slightly, and then higher, until it was completely open. A young boy looked carefully around the room before climbing out. He went across to the small dormer window and looked out across the moonlit garden, and then he began to cry, heartrending sobs that echoed around the empty room. Sally sat up abruptly, moonlight shone through a slit in the heavy brocade curtains; she listened carefully, what was that? A shiver went through her body, but it was nothing to do with being cold. She climbed out of bed, placing her feet firmly into warm fluffy slippers and slipping on a thick wool dressing gown before going quietly across the room to open the bedroom door. Sally peeked out; all was quiet, the strange noise which woke her up had stopped. The door in the next room silently opened and James stuck his head out. “You heard it too?” he asked, Sally nodded. “It sounded like crying to me, but from where?” said James, straining his ears, but hearing nothing. “Me too,” said Sally nervously, looking towards the end of the passage to the door that opened onto the attic stairs. “It has to be the attic,” James whispered, also staring in the same direction, “but, it seems to have stopped now, we’ll go and look in the morning, let’s go back to bed.” Sally did as her brother suggested and went back into her own room, snuggling down under the covers, after she had opened the curtains wide enough to let the moonlight stream in. An owl hooted in the tree outside her window, nothing to be scared of, thought Sally nervously, owls live in the country, but still, she pulled the covers up over her head before finally drifting off into a restless sleep. A few days later Junket was allowed out of the laundry, the door was left open so he could access his litter tray. He rubbed happily around the children before going off to investigate his new home. Wandering around the large old house before finally settling upon Sally’s bed and making it quite clear that was where he would be sleeping from now on, purring contentedly, not to mention loudly, Junket soon wrapped himself into a ball and went to sleep.
Sally giggled happily. “You sound just like a lawn mower,” she said, plonking herself down beside him. “Now I won’t have to sleep on my own anymore.” The next morning James and Sally investigated the attic, but found nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the strange chill that seemed to penetrate the room. Whitewashed timber panels lined the walls, and the scuffed wooden floor was bare. A large, very old cabin trunk sat in the corner of the room near the window; it was fastened with a rather old and rusty padlock and looked as though it hadn’t been opened for years. The trunk was designed to hold a large quantity of items and was more than likely at some time to have been used for travelling. James wandered over to it and shook the lock, a slight feeling of unease crept over him making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end while Sally noticed a faint smell of lavender emanating from the trunk. She shivered, the cold penetrating deep into her bones. “I think we should go,” said her brother quietly, turning to walk out of the room. Chapter Two Later that morning, Vicky finished moving all the items not needed into the attic, and then quickly closing the door behind her she ran down the stairs and into the warmth of the living room, commenting to Bruce on how cold the attic was compared to the rest of the house. “Brrr,” she said with a shiver, “I don’t think I’ll be going up there again in a hurry, and it’s not even winter.” “So you noticed it too,” said Bruce from behind his newspaper. “Noticed what?” asked James curiously. “How cold the attic always seems to be,” answered Vicky, an odd look on her face as she spoke. James looked at Sally, and then back to his mother, hesitating briefly before saying quietly. “Sometimes at night we hear strange noises in the attic.” “What sort of noises?’ asked his father, briefly glancing up from his newspaper to look at his son. “Crying, as though there’s someone up there crying,” said Sally, her eyes wide as she looked at her father. He smiled indulgently at her as he turned a page. “I think your imaginations maybe running away with you both,” said Bruce, looking across to Vicky for support, while wondering where all this was leading to.
“Yes, it’s probably the wind, it does tend to whine around the outside of the house quite a bit,” she replied, somewhat unconvincingly. Later that evening when the children were in bed, Vicky suggested to her husband that they pay the attic a visit. Walking quietly past the children’s rooms, and their own room, they went to the end of the hallway and opened the door at the foot of the narrow stairs and looked up. The stairwell was dark, Bruce flicked the light switch but nothing happened. “It probably needs a new bulb,” said Vickie. Bruce put a finger to his lips and they stood listening for a few minutes but all was quiet. Climbing stealthily, they reached the attic door and quietly opened it, stepping inside. The moonlight shone brightly through the lace curtains, but there was nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the unusual coldness of the room. The large trunk stood in the corner as always and Bruce went over to it. Something compelled him to look closely. He wrinkled his nose, a faint smell of lavender lingered around the trunk, unnoticed on previous visits. There was something different about the trunk this time, then his jaw dropped, the heavy padlock hung open; he turned to Vickie. “Look,” he whispered hoarsely, turning back to stare at the trunk… only to find that the padlock once more was firmly locked. “What am I supposed to be looking at?” asked Vicky. Bruce stared at the padlock in disbelief, shaken; he took Vickie by the shoulders and propelled her out of the room closing the attic door tightly behind him. “Nothing,” he said as they went back down the stairs and into the warm kitchen. Vicky looked at her husband, his face was white. “You did see something,” she said, putting the kettle on to boil, “tell me what it was?” “It was nothing; I must have imagined it.” “It can’t be nothing, look at you, you’re trembling.” Vicky took hold of his hand, “and you’re freezing, what did you see?” Bruce hesitated, “you’ll think I’m daft, the padlock on the trunk, it was hanging there… wide open, and when I looked at it again it was locked,” he laughed shakily. Vicky looked at him in disbelief. “See what I mean, I think I’m losing it,” he stared at Vicky, shaken, his bottom lip trembled slightly. “I know what I saw, it was open” ***
Sally was the first to wake, the sobbing was relentless; she pulled the covers up over her head and covered her ears with her hands. After a few minutes she noticed her breathing was becoming uncomfortable, so she warily poked her head back out. The sobbing had stopped; she reached out a hand to stroke Junket who was curled into a tight ball near her feet giving her some comfort as he purred contentedly, oblivious of the noise that she had heard coming from the attic. Reassured Sally tried to go back to sleep, though rather unsuccessfully. There was a brief tap on her door and James walked in. “Did you hear it?” he asked, knowing full well what her answer would be. “What are we going to do? Mummy and Daddy can’t seem to hear it… only us,” Sally’s eyes were wide with fright as she stared at her brother. Her voice faded as the crying started up once more, softer this time, almost a whimper, as though the effort of crying was becoming exhausting.
I live in Central Victoria with my husband, one of my sons, four horses, several cats and a dog. I have been writing now for over two years with one book published and another soon to be released. I write mainly for children 9-12yrs. - Shirley Couglin
shirley couglin | harvey “We are going up to see who is doing this,” said James decisively. Remember the face at the window when we first arrived, someone is playing a trick on us...they must be,” he finished quietly, a knot forming in the pit of his stomach. Putting on her dressing gown and slippers, Sally took hold of her brother’s hand and together they went out into the hall, their feet barely making a sound on the carpet runner as they walked along towards the door at the end of the hall. It creaked slightly as James opened it, Sally held her breath and looked up; a dim light shone from beneath the door at the top of the stairs. The crying had stopped. Something brushed “Junket! You scared me,” relief flooding through her as she bent down to hug him. “Shhh!” whispered James, putting a finger to his lips. “Listen, can you hear it?” a low wail could be heard coming from behind the door. “It’s starting again.” “I’m scared, I don’t think I want to go up,” said Sally gripping hold of her brother’s hand, tighter this time. He grimaced. “Ow, you’re hurting me,” whispered James, trying to keep his voice low as Junket raced up to the top of the stairs to wait for them. “Look, Junket’s not frightened, come on, don’t be such a scaredy cat,” said James leading the way up the dark stairwell. Suddenly, the shadow of something moving about in the room flickered past the gap beneath the door. Both stopped and held their breath. James took another step followed reluctantly by Sally. Reaching the last step James nervously took hold of the doorhandle, opening the door inch by inch, and then, when it was wide enough he put his head around to look inside, he gasped. Sally pushed her head around behind James so she could also have a look, her eyes opened wide, at the same time Junket pushed his way between the two of them and into the room, and then without any hesitation, tail high in the air, Junket walked across the room and wrapped himself around the legs of a small boy standing in the corner leaning against the cabin trunk, the lid was wide open. His eyes were red from crying. A strong scent of lavender assailed their nostrils. “Who are you?” asked James nervously upon entering the room; he walked across to the small boy who looked to be about four or five. At the same time he peered inside the large trunk, it was full of old blankets, obviously the source of the lavender smell which had drifted out and into the attic. “Have you come to play with me?” asked 15
the boy. “I haven’t played with anyone for such a very long time.” The strange boy reached out a hand and stroked Junket who purred contentedly, the boy looked at James and Sally expectantly whilst Junket continued to rub around his ankles. James tried again. “What is your name, and what are you doing here?” The boy looked at James deciding whether to answer…. “My name is Harvey, I live here, in the big box,” he looked at the trunk. James was dumfounded. Sally laughed and said. “Don’t be silly, you can’t live in a box.” Just then Junket jumped up and into the trunk, Sally ran over to him. “Junket come out of there,” she went to shoo him out and stopped, looking slightly baffled. “Junket, where have you gone, come back?” Sally looked at James, “He’s gone, he jumped inside the trunk and now he’s gone.” Sally was becoming frantic. James went over to see for himself. “Junket can’t just have vanished,” as he looked inside Junket reappeared from beneath the blankets. “See, he was underneath the blankets all the time.” “No, he wasn’t, he just… disappeared.” Sally looked at Harvey. “You know where he went don’t you?” “He went to my place.” Harvey said. “Do you want to come? I haven’t played with anyone for a very, very long time.” Harvey’s face was glum; he looked to be on the verge of tears. James was beginning to feel uncomfortable, this wasn’t right; it was a bit too spooky for his liking. “Not tonight Harvey, maybe another time.” He took hold of his sister’s hand and pulled her quickly to the door. “Don’t forget Junket,” said Sally pulling her hand away and turning around. “Junket, come on.” She stopped dead in her tracks, the boy had vanished, and the lid of the trunk was down, and it was locked. James grabbed Sally’s hand again, yanking her out of the room. Junket sped past them and down the stairs as James hurriedly closed the door behind them, his face ashen. Sitting on Sally’s bed with Junket kneading the cover beside them the children stared in silence at the wall, and then James said, “We have to tell Mum and Dad.” “No!” said Sally, we won’t be allowed up there again if we do.” “But why do we want to go up there again, it’s too spooky for me, I’m certainly not going up there again if I can help it,” his face was pale. “I’m going back to bed.”
Chapter Three The next morning at breakfast Bruce startled the children by announcing that he was getting rid of the old trunk in the attic. “You can’t Daddy!” Sally’s eyes were wide as she looked pleadingly at her father. James kicked her under the table; she turned her head and glared at him. “Why not sweetheart? It’s just an old trunk and it’s taking up storage room.” “You just can’t.” Sally stared at her bowl of uneaten cereal. “Well I’m sorry darling but we need the space,” said her mother. “There’s not enough room for everything up there as it is. Later that morning Vicky and Bruce went up to the attic, trailed silently by James, Sally… and Junket. “You take one end and I’ll take the other,” said Bruce to Vicky. There were thick leather handles on either side of the trunk. “We should be able to move it easily between the two of us.” “Unless of course it’s full of stuff, since it’s locked,” replied Vicky. The children looked at each other. As their parents each grasped hold of a handle the temperature in the room suddenly plummeted even though there was a steady stream of sunshine entering the small window. “Brrr, did you feel that?” asked Bruce breaking out into a cold sweat. The children noticed too, Sally took hold of James’s hand. Bruce heaved, “Come on Vicky, lift your end.” “I’m trying, it’s much too heavy, it’s probably full of old china; it won’t budge.” “Blankets, Mummy,” said Sally. James kicked her in the ankle. “Ow!” she yelped. “What did you say sweetheart?” her father asked, as he struggled to lift his end, but was barely able to budge it. “N, nothing Daddy,” replied Sally “I thought you said blankets,” said Vicky. “She was just guessing,” James answered, “it could be full of anything.” They tried once more to lift the trunk, but it still wouldn’t budge. “I will have to come back later with a crowbar and break the lock, I haven’t time right now; I’ve got other things to do. Bruce couldn’t get out of the attic quickly enough. Ushering everyone out through the door, he closed it, noticing straight away the difference in the temperature. What everyone didn’t notice was that Junket had been left behind; he was still in the attic….with Harvey.
The lid of the trunk opened, and Harvey climbed out. His face beamed happily at seeing the cat. “Have you come to play with me?” Junket ran up and rubbed around Harvey’s legs before jumping inside the trunk; Harvey climbed in after him and closed the lid. It was well into the afternoon before Junket was missed, Sally looked everywhere for him; usually he would spend most of the day snoozing on her bed or in a sunny spot in front of a window, but he wasn’t any where to be seen, he still had another two or three days before he was allowed out into the garden, so he had to be somewhere in the house. James was in his room sorting things out for school when Sally ran in. The holidays were almost over and they were due to start at their new school in a few days, James was feeling nervous and wanted to be completely prepared. He looked up, annoyed at being interrupted. “Have you seen Junket?” asked Sally breathlessly, looking around the room. “Not since this morning,” he said uninterestedly as he gathered his books together. Sally hesitated before running back out into the hallway. He must still be up stairs in the attic, she thought. Sally made her way along the hall to the door that opened onto the attic stairs; she opened it, hesitating briefly before placing one foot onto the bottom step. Sally looked up through the darkness to the attic door. Her stomach flip- flopped slightly, and then gritting her teeth she walked the rest of the way up to the top and opened the door. “Junket, are you in there?” her voice seemed overly loud as she peered around the door. She stepped inside; everything was normal, apart from the chill that is. “Junket, where are you?” she whispered hoarsely. The door behind Sally closed quietly, completely unnoticed by her as she walked into the room. She walked across to the trunk and saw that the padlock was hanging open. “Junket, are you in there?” Grasping hold of the heavy lid, Sally managed to heave it open; there was no sign of anyone inside, she was about to close it when a faint meow came from beneath the blankets, and a voice asked. “Have you come to play with me?” Another faint meow answered. Without thinking Sally climbed up and into the trunk, as she sank down among the blankets Harvey said. “Hello, have you come to play with me as well?” Sally screamed and fainted as the lid closed… trapping her inside the trunk.
Chapter Four Vicky was preparing dinner when James came into the kitchen helping himself to a biscuit from out of the biscuit jar. “Hey, dinner’s nearly ready,” said Vicky slapping his hand. “Just one Mum, I’m starving, by the way, did Sally find Junket? “I didn’t know he was missing, he didn’t go outside at all did he? It’s too soon.” “Who’s missing?” asked Bruce as he entered the kitchen. “Junket, Dad, Sally’s looking for him, or at least she was, I haven’t seen her for a while either. “Well, I’m about to put dinner out so if you two could round her up, I would appreciate it,” said Vicky, straining the potatoes ready for mashing. “Okay luv,” said Bruce turning around to go back out the door. “James you run and check upstairs and I’ll scout around down here, okay?” “Sally, dinners ready,” called James as he raced up the stairs two at a time. His father meanwhile searched all of the ground floor before going outside to look in the garden, ten minutes later they met back in the kitchen… without Sally. “When was the last time you saw her?” Bruce asked his son, worry etched across his brow. “A couple of hours ago, she came into my room looking for Junket.” “Are you certain you checked everywhere?” asked his father. “Yes…except.” “Except what?” “I didn’t check the attic,” fear flickered across James’ eyes. “The attic was the last time we saw Junket. I’ll bet he got locked up there this morning when we left, and that’ll be where Sally went to look for him.” “Two hours ago?” said Vicky looking concerned. James turned and ran out of the kitchen, his face white,” Come on!” he yelled, as he raced into the hall and up the stairs, running along the corridor past the bedrooms, heading towards the door at the bottom of the attic stairs, his parents followed anxiously behind. Reaching the top of the stairs, James hesitated, then took a deep breath and opened the door; pushing it wide before walking inside; Vicky and Bruce were right behind him. “She’s not here,” said James as he looked around. He shivered as the cold air hit him, feeling frightened he walked across the room
to the trunk. “Look.” James pointed to a piece of pink materiel poking out from under the lid of the trunk. His mother touched it, “It’s from the dress she was wearing this morning; it’s caught under the lid of the trunk. Bruce leapt forward and grabbed hold of the padlock trying unsuccessfully to break it open. “She can’t be in there, there’s no way she could have opened it, climbed in and then locked it again,” he said, panic making him angry as he tried once more to force the lock. “Maybe Sally had some help,” said James quietly. His parents both looked at him. “What do you mean?” asked his father. James then told his mum and dad about Harvey, his face pale as he described what happened the day before. His parents stood there in disbelief before Vicky, getting herself under control, sprang into action. “Fetch the crowbar Bruce, I’m calling the police and ambulance.” Vicky turned and raced back out of the door and down the stairs. A few minutes later Bruce came back into the room carrying a small crowbar. “The police are on their way, and so is an ambulance,” said Vicky, following her husband back up to the attic. James stood watching as his father fitted the crowbar into the U of the lock and twisted; the padlock was thick and heavy, resisting Bruce’s attempts to break it open. Bruce tried again, this time wrenching the lock, still intact, along with part of the lid, and breaking them off the trunk together in one piece. Dropping the crowbar to the floor Bruce threw open the lid, a strong smell of lavender assailed his senses. At the same time the police and ambulance sirens could be heard coming along the road before turning into the driveway. “Sally! Sally!” screamed Vicky. Sally was lying on top of the old blankets not moving. Bruce lifted her out, laying her gently on the floor and started to give CPR. James meanwhile ran down to let the police in; the ambulance had also pulled up alongside the police car. The paramedics raced up the stairs following James and took over from Bruce. “She was locked inside the trunk,” gasped Bruce, as he anxiously watched the paramedics go to work on his daughter. The police meanwhile started to look through the trunk, a loud meow of protest sounded from beneath the blankets and Junket jumped out startling them. 16
shirley couglin | harvey “Where did that bloody thing come from,” said one, as Junket shook himself and sneezed before running out of the room and down the stairs as fast as he could, away from all the strange people. Lifting the last of the thick woollen blankets from out of the trunk, the policemen stood silently staring inside, shocked looks registered on both their faces. Just then a cough came from Sally, followed by another as she came to. “A bit longer in there and she would have been a goner,” said the paramedic. Vicky sat on the floor beside her daughter, crying and hugging her. Bruce knelt down beside them wrapping his arms around both his girls, tears filling his eyes. James, feeling very relieved went over to see what the policemen were staring at inside the trunk. James gasped with horror, in the bottom of the trunk the mummified remains of a small child lay curled in a foetal position on top of a blanket. “Harvey,” said James, shocked at the discovery. “What?” asked the constable? “His name is Harvey,” James replied. The policemen both looked at James wondering if they heard correctly, the boy’s face was ashen and he had tears in his eyes. “What happened to him?” James asked. “That’s what we’ll have to investigate son, by the way, how do you know his name?” asked one, somewhat baffled. “He told us, Sally and me, he kept asking if we would play with him.” Both policemen stared at James incredulously. “Son, that kid’s been in the trunk for decades,” said the constable in disbelief. James shivered, a feeling of ice running down his spine, his legs felt weak as he turned around to watch the paramedics lift Sally onto a stretcher before taking her down to the waiting ambulance. In a daze, James followed; he noticed the temperature in the room seemed considerably warmer as he walked out of the door, trailing down the stairs behind everyone. The constable, as it turned out was right; the mummified body of the child had been inside the trunk for over ninety years. The investigation turned up a considerable amount of history about the house, the most interesting part being the young son of the original occupants all those years ago went missing in rather suspicious circumstances. The nanny who was in charge of the child at the time was suspected of foul play, but no evidence was found, and nothing could be proved as there was no body. The boy was never seen again, his name as it turned out was Harvey Brown. 17
Vicky and Bruce were astounded at the revelations, as were the children. A post mortem examination on the remains showed that the child had a broken neck, probably caused by a fall. “Maybe he was climbing a tree or something and fell,” suggested James. “That’s a thought,” replied his father, “or down the stairs perhaps,” he said, not realising how close to the truth he was. “And the nanny panicked and hid Harvey in the blanket chest, “said Vicky, warming to the theory, “and probably covered the blankets with massive amounts of lavender oil to disguise any odours coming from the trunk.” “Yes, and if anyone looked inside they would have just seen piles of blankets,” said James, “but why didn’t she just confess, tell them it was an accident.” “She was probably afraid no one would believe her, times back then were a lot tougher and she most likely would have gone to jail,” said Vicky, wrapping an arm around her son and hugging him tight. “Or worse…” said Bruce solemnly. Sally sat silently listening with Junket curled up beside her, half on and half off her lap, purring loudly. Sally found comfort in the rhythmic sound as she stroked his soft fur, knowing that Harvey was now at peace. Strangely, after that harrowing experience, James and Sally were not at all afraid of going into the attic, in fact the opposite occurred, and they felt happy to go up there; it was as though Harvey had waited all these years for someone to find his remains. The police had removed the old trunk and its gruesome contents from the house, and the attic was now warm and comfortable. Next to Sally’s bedroom, the attic was Junket’s favourite room and he could sometimes be seen rubbing himself around what seemed to be a pair of invisible legs and purring ecstatically. BD
Shades of Darkness By Cassandra Griffin Sometime ‘round the midnight hour when the night seems surely dead, that time of night when thoughts are dark and children safe in bed. The moon doeth glow and stars do shine like a beacon to a storm all alone within the darkness I pray for it to be the morn’. Shadows do seep and stir creeping towards my bed, my eyes shut tight convincing myself it’s all inside my head. The temperature drops below freezing a voice whispers in my ear, “I’ve never been far away; I feed upon all your delicious fear.” Choking on a scream my eyes wide open in fright, the Shadow presses closer leaving no room to fight. Icy fingers on my skin trailing marks of red, terror smothering rationality; clinging to the bed. All alone with the Darkness forcing itself on me, paralysed in a living nightmare unable to even flee. “Come with me my Princess, to a grave which is not marked, forever in an Eternity were we will not be torn apart.” My resolve begins to waver and my heart is thumping strong, to be able to slip way in this Shadow no longer seems so wrong. “Take me from humanity; take me far from here, my Prince of Eternal Darkness take away my fear.” As his Shadow consumes me becomes one with my rotting Core, everything else melts away falling through the hollowed floor. “Come with me my Princess together we will rule the undead, Only I will leave your heart beating a rhythm, a rhythm inside your head.” Sometime ‘round the midnight hour when the night seems surely undead, that time of night when thoughts are dark and children aren’t safe in their bed.
cameron trost ‘My grandfather died a week after his one hundred and sixtieth birthday.’ Gavin nodded absently as he watched the immense bulk of Anergos loom below. It was the biggest planet known to the human species and, for men who had never been further from home than the oxygen mines of Mars, it was an impressive sight. ‘That’s a decent age,’ Gavin suggested. ‘It is, isn’t it?’ Duncan agreed. ‘Anyway, he told me that back when he was young, before man had even set foot on Mars, everybody expected that one day the wealthiest inhabitants of the mother planet would leave Earth and its masses to their fate.’ ‘Are you talking about climate change?’ ‘Exactly, that’s what they called it. Anyway, my point is that they were way off the mark.’ Gavin frowned as the vessel began to shudder slightly, its descent had commenced – a slow, vertical drop. ‘In those days, they didn’t have the foresight to realise that the wealthy would adjust to conditions on Earth while receding coastlines and a growing global population would force the unemployed masses to either live in poverty or migrate to other planets.’ ‘Do you think we have more foresight today?’ Duncan shook his head and watched the ground below draw nearer. ‘I don’t know. Foresight can only be validated by hindsight, can’t it?’ ‘I suppose so.’ From cruising altitude, Anergos had seemed to be an exotic destination, a world of thin green strips seeping through vast expanses of grey mountains. Three distant stars, one orange, one red and one - the Sun - yellow, illuminated the land enough to give a romantic glow, but not enough to provide bright days like on Earth. But, as the vessel lowered itself towards the docking station, the air of exoticism faded away and the romantic glow transformed into a morose gloom. Endless rows of grey residential buildings enclosed by enormous transparent boxes became apparent. There were no parks like on Earth, there didn’t seem to be any trees, and the city didn’t have any obvious centre – it was divided into a multitude of boxed quarters. It wasn’t like any city either of them had ever been to on Earth. The green strips they had seen from up high had been nothing more than massive transparent greenhouses where
The Flames of Anergos
the population’s food was produced. Like Mars, oxygen was in short supply on Anergos and had to be contained using a flawless system of transparent pipes, boxes and domes. An announcement boomed throughout the vessel, informing its six hundred passengers that they should sit down and attach their seatbelts in preparation for touch-down. After four long months, their voyage was over and their new life was about to begin. Once the vessel had landed and locked itself onto the terminal platform, the passengers unfastened their seatbelts. They shuffled towards the centre of the vessel where an exit light indicated a passage that would allow them to access the inter-planetary terminal without being exposed to the planet’s noxious atmosphere. Everybody on board had been informed during the long voyage about how their daily lives on Anergos would be very different from what they had known on Earth. They had been told repeatedly that they were never to attempt to leave the oxygenated zones without permission from their residential zone’s movement co-ordinator and appropriate excursion equipment. One breath of Anergos’ atmosphere would be enough to kill any human being. There would be no gasping or suffocation, death would be horrible but rapid. Their bodies would melt into a pool like butter in a frying pan. Despite being far from its three stars that glowed above like beacons in a dark ocean, Anergos was an extremely hot planet, its temperature fuelled by whatever hellish forces lay in the ground beneath. The passengers were both men and women, mostly young, and all from families not wealthy enough to have them kept on Earth. They came from different nations. Most on board this vessel were from the Republics of Australia and New Zealand. Officers from the transportation company ushered them towards the passage that led into the terminal. This was done efficiently and without any semblance of politeness on the part of the stewards. The migrants had no baggage, just their passports and whatever personal belongings they could carry in their pockets. Most of them moved quickly and orderly. The stewards pushed and prodded stragglers along like the cattle kept back on Earth to provide the wealthiest Earthlings with beef. The company was not paid by the passengers and so felt no compulsion to treat them respectfully. It had
secured contracts in several nations and was paid by the governments of these nations to provide an essential service – that of removing unemployed citizens. These migrants would almost certainly never return to Earth and, since there was no means of communication between Anergos and the mother planet other than the three month voyage by interplanetary vessel, there was no possibility that any complaints about the poor level of customer service provided could be sent back. A steward signalled for Gavin and Duncan, who were still contemplating their new life on the distant planet, to follow the others into the passage. There was no time to be wasted, the company’s vessel was extremely expensive and had to return to Earth as quickly as possible to get another load of passengers. They were paid by head carried. But the small amount of money paid by the governments was not sufficient to satisfy the greed of the company’s shareholders. Its main source of revenue came from the flourishing trade that it had established on Anergos. While robotics and economic stagnation had obliterated employment on Earth, an Eldorado had been discovered on this distant juggernaut of a planet. Gavin and Duncan joined the flow of migrants and shuffled into the passage. ‘Hello everybody, and welcome to Anergos - I trust your voyage was pleasant?’ The group of exactly one hundred new arrivals nodded their heads and shrugged. Nobody complained. ‘Excellent. My name is Jerry Henson and I’m the coordinator for your quarter – Q3. You’ve all decided to migrate to Anergos and I’m going to explain how your new life here will be different from the one you had on Earth – and it will be very different. For a start, back on Earth you didn’t have any work, no sense of importance. Here you will all have an important role to play. You are all pioneers in a new world.’ The crowd murmured. They looked at each other questioningly. ‘Don’t worry though,’ Jerry laughed, although his amusement seemed to be for show, ‘you won’t work all the time. There will be plenty of time for rest and relaxation.’ He clicked his fingers and a three-dimensional image sprung up beside him. It showed a huge room full of migrants, with a colourful wheel standing vertically at the front. 18
‘This is the Quarter Allocation Hall. Every week, representatives from each of the settlement’s fifty quarters gather in this room and a convenor from the Anergos Administrative Corporation oversees the spinning of this wheel. The wheel, as you can see, is divided into different coloured sections. These sections correspond to different jobs or periods of extra time off. The wheel is spun fifty times, once for each quarter - unless of course it lands on the same job more than once - and that quarter is allocated that particular job for one week. Needless to say, some jobs are less pleasant than others; that’s why we use this system, to ensure that no one quarter does the same job all the time.’ Jerry smiled at them, pretending to be excited about the idea, and expecting the same of them. ‘Do you have any questions?’ Gavin looked at Duncan and saw a swarm of questions troubling his friend’s face. They looked around the room and found the same carbon-copy look on every face, but nobody asked a question. They had too many buzzing around inside their heads like Frasdonian swamp wasps to be able to catch one and put it into words. Then Gavin caught one simple question and spoke up. ‘Yes... I have one. You say that some jobs are less pleasant than others. I’d like to know which job is the most unpleasant.’ Jerry’s salesman smile faltered for a brief instant before automatically flicking back onto his face. ‘Well, let me think about that for a moment.’ The assembly waited for his reply to Gavin’s simple question. ‘It’s a difficult question to answer. Of course, everybody has his or her own preferences. Some people like hands-on work, others like to communicate with the public, and others like administrative duties. But I suppose the least popular job must be performing domestic duties for the planet’s inhabitants. You would have been told about the Anergosians during your voyage?’ They nodded in unison. ‘They are a very polite and civilised life-form with an appreciation of fine arts and a keen interest in our cultures. Since we are on their planet, and they have so graciously allowed us to trade with them, we provide them with domestic services. It has, apparently, become quite fashionable for them to have a human servant. It is a sign of social distinction.’ Jerry paused and observed the group’s reaction. The new arrivals to Anergos seemed 19
confused, which was understandable, but not disturbed. He continued. ‘The domestic duties required are not dissimilar to those of a domestic aide on Earth. The only reason that this job is unpopular is because of the appearance of the natives of Anergos. By our standards, despite their refinement and immaculate cleanliness, they are rather ugly.’ The assembly shrugged their shoulders. It didn’t seem like a big deal. ‘Does that answer your question, my friend?’ ‘Yes, I suppose so,’ Gavin said. ‘Thank you.’ ‘Are there any other questions?’ ‘Yes, when do we start work?’ Somebody else asked. ‘Good,’ Jerry smiled. ‘That’s the kind of positive attitude we want here. The next meeting in the Quarter Allocation Hall will take place in two days time. Five of you will be randomly selected to represent Q3 at the meeting. You will be informed if you have been chosen tomorrow. In the meantime, you have two days of free time. Go out and discover your quarter.’ Jerry shot a final smile at the assembly before spinning on his heels and leaving the room. Gavin and Duncan were woken up on the first day of work by the Q3 alarm system. A female voice ordered them firmly but pleasantly to get up and prepare for breakfast. The darkness that had enveloped them as they slept shrunk back as a soft light that imitated dawn grew. Because three stars shone on Anergos from different angles there was no night and day like on Earth, just slightly differing levels of gloom. Inside the buildings, artificial daylight and nocturnal darkness were regulated by an automatic system that was designed to make the inhabitants’ biological clocks function as they had on Earth. Duncan and Gavin shared a room. Duncan had always been a light sleeper and an early riser. He knew that he would have to give his friend a nudge or two. ‘Come one, Gav. It’s time to get to work.’ ‘Huh?’ ‘It’s time to get up.’ ‘Oh, I was having a very nice dream.’ The Q3 alarm voice spoke out again, telling everybody to get out of bed and prepare for breakfast. ‘That’s her...’ Gavin seemed confused. ‘It’s not a dream, mate. It’s our rather sexy sounding alarm clock.’ ‘Oh, that’s great. What about our having been allocated to do the job that our friend Jerry told us was the least pleasant? Was that a
dream?’ ‘Afraid not. That really happened too. We’re going to catch our first glimpse of aliens today.’ ‘Ugly aliens according to Jerry.’ ‘We’ll soon find out. Let’s go and get some breakfast.’ Gavin sat up and rubbed his eyes. The light was becoming increasingly bright. ‘All right, let’s go. Lead me to the grub.’ After a breakfast of cereal and tea in the mess hall, the residents of Q3 were led to a huge dressing room full of lockers. They were shown how to put their spacesuits on. The native inhabitants of Anergos lived underground, outside the city occupied by humans. They required temperatures that were far too hot for the human body to survive in and they breathed gases that would instantly reduce a human to a pool of viscous liquid upon contact. It was essential that the workers’ spacesuits be donned according to a strict procedure. Gavin looked at Duncan through the visor of his helmet and winked. If nothing else, their new life on Anergos was going to be interesting. The workforce instructor verified each spacesuit before leading the workers to the shuttle bay where a long, ten wheeled vehicle awaited them. He signalled for everybody to get into the vehicle and, once they were all seated, he jumped in behind the wheel. ‘All right ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to head out into Anergos. Your suits will protect you from the extreme temperatures of the planet and the toxic gases but you may feel a slight increase in temperature. Remember to take advantage of your suit’s internal water dispenser to avoid dehydration and the toilet mechanism to relieve yourselves when necessary. You will be working alone, one person per household. When the green light on the floor below your feet comes on that means that you need to disembark and go to the door of the nearest house. The Anergosians are intelligent and polite beings and all of them speak some English. They will instruct you as to what domestic tasks they require. I will come back to collect you at the end of your shift.’ The vehicle moved forward and passed a transparent door. It then stopped and the door closed behind them. They were in an airlock. After a few seconds the door in front of the vehicle opened and they moved out into the grey plains of Anergos.
The vast expanse of the planet stretched out before them. Its immensity was frighteningly empty for the workers after so many months of being in confined spaces, but everybody seemed to be coping well – nobody had experienced a panic attack. The vehicle stopped outside the first door. A metallic cover lying inconspicuously on the ground, its smooth surface contrasting with the rough, rocky ground. A green light came on at the feet of one of the workers. She looked at the others nervously, and then climbed out of the vehicle. The instructor pointed at the door and indicated for her to knock. She knelt down to the door, lifted a gloved hand and knocked. The door slid open almost immediately and, with a final glance at her colleagues in the vehicle, the young woman stepped into the opening and walked down a subterranean passage. The vehicle moved on. It stopped every hundred metres or so to allow another worker to disembark. Eventually, Duncan’s light came on. He looked over to the metallic door. They all looked exactly the same as each other. There were no house numbers or different colours like on Earth. The Anergosians must have had another system for distinguishing addresses. He climbed down and waved goodbye to Gavin before walking over to the door. He knelt down and knocked. Then, when it slid open to reveal a steep staircase descending into the ground, he stepped inside and made his way towards his client’s abode. The room in which he found himself was in stark contrast to the grey wilderness above. It was furnished with decorations, artwork and domestic appliances that were strange beyond his understanding but aesthetically pleasing. It was the Anergosian equivalent of a fine English manor. Everything was tasteful and refined, it almost made him wish he could live here and not in the comfortable but basic Q3 residence that was now his home. Jerry had told them that the Anergosians were ugly creatures, but he found it difficult to believe that any being that lived in such a stately home could really be all that ugly. ‘Greetings, Earthling!’ A heavily accented voice reached his helmet’s audio sensors. A door slid open on the far side of the room and Duncan’s client appeared. He felt a bitter taste in his throat and realised with shock that he was on the verge of vomiting. He forced himself to swallow. Jerry hadn’t been exaggerating after all. Duncan
wanted to look away but didn’t want to be rude, so he kept looking at his client without staring. ‘Greetings,’ Duncan replied. The creature was hideous. It looked like an overgrown human skeleton covered in some kind of reddish moss. Its arms were so long that they almost touched the ground and its legs were bent so that it looked as though it were straddling a hoverbike. Between its legs hung a short thick tube that Duncan took to mean that it was a male, but he wasn’t sure. He couldn’t see any eyes on the creature but at the top of its body, between its bony shoulders, was a small round hole that may have been its mouth. It wasn’t wearing any clothes as far as he could tell. It struck him as being very strange that beings of such refinement and good taste should walk around naked. ‘What is your name, Earthling?’ Duncan frowned. The hole between the creature’s shoulders hadn’t moved. Maybe it wasn’t its mouth after all. ‘Could you please stop looking at my... what is the word... oh, yes... at my anus, please?’ Duncan shut his eyes. The creature’s anus was at the top of its body! He would have laughed, but he was worried vomit might come out of his mouth if he did. ‘Sorry, I didn’t know. Anyway, my name is Duncan.’ ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you Duncan.’ He still couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from, but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t interested in studying the creature’s horrible anatomy. ‘You too’ ‘My name is Ken.’ ‘Ken?’ ‘Yes, it’s my Earth name, of course. My Anergosian name would be impossible for you to pronounce and you would probably split your tongue in two if you tried.’ ‘All right.’ ‘So, Duncan, could you follow me, please?’ The creature turned around and walked through the doorway behind it. Duncan followed, trying not to look too closely at the strange tube that swung backwards and forwards between its legs as it moved. The door closed behind them. ‘You must be very hot in your suit?’ ‘Yes, I am actually.’ ‘This room is specially designed for Earthlings. Here the temperature is at just 25 degrees Celsius and there is plenty of oxygen in the air. Feel free to remove your suit.’ One of Ken’s long arms pointed towards a cubicle in the corner of the room, it looked
like a shower. ‘In there?’ Duncan checked. ‘Yes, you can change in there. I know you Earthlings dislike exposing your body parts in front of others.’ Duncan laughed. ‘Yes, that’s true. We are quite silly, aren’t we?’ He stepped into the cubicle and closed the screen. It would be nice to get the suit off. It was uncomfortable and hot inside. He pressed the lock button on his helmet and then placed a hand on either side of it. Then he twisted and lifted it. That was the last thing Duncan ever did in his life. As soon as the helmet had been removed from the suit, he felt an excruciating heat overpower him. For a horrible moment, he could feel his body melt. Then he lost consciousness. Ken walked over to the cubicle and pulled the screen open. ‘Duncan, my Earthling friend, you are going to be just scrumptious.’ The tube between Ken’s legs edged forwards like the trunk of the long extinct Earth animal known as the elephant. It reached into the cubicle to where Duncan’s remains were a pink and red pool of delicious human soup. It slurped. ‘Oh, Duncan - that’s so good.’ Ken’s legs shook with excitement as the liquid delicacy that had been Duncan was sucked up through its tube.
CAMERON TROST is an emerging writer from Brisbane, Australia, who concocts disturbing stories of mystery, suspense and horror. He is the author of the dark thriller “Letterbox” and the suburban suspense novella “Let Darkness Take Hold”. His short fiction has been published by Brimstone Press, the AHWA, Dark Prints Press, the Australian Literature Review, LegumeMan Books, Morpheus Tales, Dark Valentine, Ripples Magazine, Blue Crow Press and Australian Reader. www.trostlibrary.blogspot.com
‘That’d be the perfect engagement ring!’ She flashed her eyelashes at him. ‘That’s a Flame of Anergos,’ the jeweller explained, ‘the most exquisite jewel known to mankind.’ She nodded her head and squeezed her boyfriend’s hand. ‘I’ve heard stories about these jewels,’ the boyfriend said, looking the jeweller in the eye. ‘What stories?’ ‘Apparently, they’re made of alien excrement’ ‘Rubbish!’ The jeweller lied. ‘How could something so gorgeous come from excrement? That’s ridiculous.’ He looked at the girl and smiled. She laughed. ‘Honey, you have such a vivid imagination!’ ‘Isn’t Anergos where unemployed people are sent to work?’ The boyfriend continued his line of questioning. ‘Yes, that’s right,’ the jeweller admitted. ‘It’s where they are given a new life, a chance to do something meaningful and productive.’ The boyfriend frowned. He wasn’t convinced. The jeweller winked at the girl and whispered, ‘Try it on.’ She let him slip it onto her finger. The bright red jewel sparkled. It even seemed to flicker like a real flame. It was hard to imagine that it had once been a fully grown man called Duncan. ‘It really is exquisite! Honey, I know it costs a fortune but you love me, don’t you? I want it.’ ‘Of course, sweetheart, it’s yours.’ She lifted the ring to her rosy mouth and kissed it. Then she kissed him. ‘Thank you, honey.’ BD
ly Fun Boo l u f t h Frig Phoebe and the night creatures Jenny Hessell and Donovan Bixley Price : $15.99 Ages: 3+ ISBN : 9781869439767 Reviewed by Angela Hall Don’t you hate it when all you want to do is get out of bed and go to the toilet but things like wolves and smelly trolls, giants and spooks keep getting in the way? That’s never happened to you? Me either. But Phoebe on the other hand, who has an incredible imagination by the way, has just such a bother. Just as well she is such a good natured type. They barely faze her at all as they all one by one join her on her stroll to the bathroom for one reason or another. The smelly troll for example needs soap. This is another funky story from Scholastic NZ. Lots of fun for the imagination. Gorgeously illustrated and a great way to explore those things that might give you a fright if you let your imagination run away with you. So, now you know. If you are too scared to go to the toilet during the night because there is a wolf under your bed, just do what Phoebe does and take it with you. He probably needs a walk. http://bugreviews.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/phoebe-and-thenight-creatures/
Grim and Grimmer Series: Book 1 – The Headless Highwayman Ian Irvine Omnibus Books (imprint of Scholastic Australia) ISBN: 978-1-86291-858-0 RRP: $16.99 Target audience: Stage 2/3 Primary Category: Junior Fiction / Fantasy Have you ever felt frustrated; like you just don’t fit in? That Life just doesn’t seem fair, or that you have a basic skill set that seems poorly matched to the physical world your unenviable body is forced to inhabit between daydreams? Ike did. And, as it turns out, for fairly good reasons. You see it just so happens – and Life can be a bit of a rotter like this – that Ike is actually the last descendant of a clan of venerated Gate Guardians from a place called Wychwold, in a parallel Universe, who had been tucked away on Earth for safekeeping when – as they say – the poo hit the fan some time ago back home. Ike’s life begins to make a lot more sense, but gets considerably more complicated, when – as the result of a strange combination of events that begins with an enchanted pen stealing itself – he suddenly gets himself transported back to Wychwold. After his first act of bravery goes well and truly pear-shaped (and he ends up foiling a rescue attempt of the future Queen of Grimmery), Ike is labeled a traitor and is forced to seek council from an adult without a decent head on his shoulders who talks out of his bum (and hands up everybody who can relate to that). Long story short, Ike now has 7 days to rescue the princess, which might not have been that bad if he didn’t also have to: (a) be tied to a spiteful, vengeful imp, (b) befriend a fledgling thief, (c) steal a spirited, carnivorous horse, (d) travel 21
halfway across Wychwold in a poo powered balloon, and (e) rob a murderous witch-queen whose idea of a good time was bathing in stolen children’s nightmares. In The Headless Highwayman, Ian Irvine combines a fast moving, captivating story with more than a few decent laughs; ideally suited to the target audience. Ian has a flair for creating likeable characters, and the combination of personalities makes for a fun read. A number of valuable moral messages are conveyed along the way (eg. regarding teamwork, trust, friendship, tolerance and more), but with sufficient subtlety and tact that the reader never has the feeling of being preached at. It also confirms what we’ve all known for a very long time: that, no matter how far you’re prepared to bend your mind, sometimes the opposite sex just never seems to make any sense! Don’t let me waste any more of your time though, go out and buy the book! Ian has written more books than you could count on all your fingers and toes combined, so you just know it’s gonna be good. If it turns out that The Headless Highwayman gets you hooked on humorous fantasy and leaves you begging for more, don’t despair, this one is just the first in a series of four, so there’s plenty more adventure and laughs where this one came from! A Bug in a Book recommended review by Scott Chambers.
oks For Kids! In the Beech Forest Gary Crew and Den Scheer Ford Street Publishing 978-1-921665-57-8 Hard Cover Picture Book 10+ years Reviewed by Angela Hall In the Beech Forest is hauntingly beautiful. It reaches into the imagination of a wandering boy who as he walks is overcome by those feelings one has when surrounded by natural wonders such as an ancient beech forest. Forests are deep and still, they evoke feelings of awe. What secrets does this forest hold? With images in his mind of wild fantasies from his computer games where beasts lurk and warriors are slain he imagines; movement, noise. Is he alone? Is the forest speaking to him? This picture book is like the forest is tells of, deep and rich. Though the story is not complex and the illustrations are black and white it contains quite a lot to think about. The imaginings are carried along by the illustrations by Den Scheer, who brings life to those things you don’t quite see out the corner of your eye darting through the shadows. There are immense feelings in this story which have been so perfectly spilled from the mind of Gary Crew. He must have spent a great deal of time absorbing the power and beauty of nature’s forests, feeling it breath and watching it unfold into imagined beasts and mystical beings. Another amazing book from Ford Street Publishing
Ghost Club – The New Kid Deborah Abela Random House Australia ISBN: 9781742750804 RRP: $15.95 Published: 01/03/2012 Middle Grade Children’s Reviewed by Angela Hall If you think ghosts you may think of the scary variety with clinking chains and ill will towards all living people. Dylan does; the new kid in the ghost club. He isn’t entirely wrong either, though he does meet a few that are friendly and almost overly helpful. How on earth is he going to learn how to capture ghosts if he keeps hyperventilating? Lucky for him Angeline and Edgar - despite their age – are quite old hands at the ghost business and are there to help show him the ropes. Dylan doesn’t seem at all suited to the job when even the creepy looking alive people scare him nearly to death. Will his first job be his last? The ghost of Castle Koszmar is not at all keen on their presence in the castle.
Christopher Cheng and Sarah Davis Random House Published 1st September 2011 RRP: $19.95 Hardback ISBN: 9781864718799 Reviewed by Angela Hall Whistling wind through the trees, Squealing bats flying past, Knocking noises on my window… What’s that noise I can hear? Are you curious? Are you tempted to explore the old house? I’m not scared. This is a case of who is scaring who? So well put together with words that will encourage you and pictures that will delight you. This one went straight to my favourites list. There is much more in this story then the delightful verses. Yes, there is indeed a little ghost and she is the sweetest little thing you can imagine. By delving a little deeper you can find out about the residents of the house and what happened to them. Or you can keep it simple and explore it like a brave kid with a flash light wondering what will be around the next corner. We all love a little scare, a spooky story at a sleep over. Don’t you wish there was a spooky house down your street to explore? Well even if you answered no, you will still enjoy this one from the safety of your home…What is that noise? Christopher Cheng and Sarah Davis make a great team. A classic in the making. Gorgeously spooky. Sounds Spooky http://bugreviews.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/sounds-spooky/
John Boman www.johnbomanauthor.com ISBN: 9781463505486 9 + years Reviewed by Angela Hall Welcome to Sovereign Creek – The Weirdest Town in the World. Sometimes it takes a kid to notice oddities. Adults just brush them aside as coincidences or flights of fancy and what not. But not Maximus Walker oh no, he is a detective of the weird and keeps notes in his journal about all these “goings on”. Little does Max know that his curiosity will send him into an amazing adventure beyond his imaginings. Max finds himself propelled into a journey of magic and evil, both wondrous and spooky, to save the spirit of the moon. Can Max overcome the evil doing Greenant family with the help of the odd but delightful Mr. and Mrs. Wellington, a ghostly figure and a magic sword? Well I certainly hope so because I am eager to read the next scary sovereign creek story John Boman sets free from his imaginings. A well composed, easy to read, hard to put down novel for the 9 + age group and those of you who, like me, love a good scary and magical read with strong characters and plenty of intrigue. A recommended read. The Spirit of the Moon http://bugreviews.wordpress. com/2011/12/20/the-spirit-of-the-moon/ 22
Horror Writing Prompts J.B Sullivan
1. There is a scratching sound on your door and you get up out of bed to check it out. You open the door and don’t see anything. All of the sudden the landing floorboard creaks and something lunges at the doorway! What is it and what do you do next? 2. You are a university grad in class. You open up your bag to find a severed head! The head has a note on it that says, “Who has to die to keep YOUR secret?” What do you do? 3. The mutant apocalypse has begun! Several people you know have already become raging mutants and now it’s a game of survival. What do you do to make sure that you are one of the people left at the end of the story? 4. You are on vacation with your friends on a desert island. One night, one of your friends disappears and you have a strange suspicion that he’s been captured by something. What do you think happened and how do you get out of this situation alive? 5. You have been possessed by the devil! How do you deal with this and how do you make every effort to keep your soul possible? Feel
Create a Comic Competition
BAZINGA! ZING! BAM!
free to go in a different direction from other possession stories. 6. If you had your choice of becoming any kind of vampire, which one would it be? Pick an ancient breed of vampire and tell your story of how you were turned and what resulted from that situation. 7. Write a story in which something extremely scary is terrorizing a small town. Try to be original and avoid using things that have already been in other horror or horror comedy stories. Have fun with it! 8. You have had an ancient curse levied upon you. What do you do to help yourself and what happens to you throughout the curse? 9. Hell has been unleashed on earth and you are the key to stopping the horrible consequences. What do you do to reverse the problem and what was the reason that this hell descended upon the planet? 10. There are several evil spirits that have taken over your house and part of your neighbourhood’s block. How do you appease the spirits or get rid of them?
For our July comic themed issue we are looking for a selection of comics to share and promote in our emagazine. This includes but is not limited to; single A4 superhero or nemesis picture, double A4 comic run (short story in classic comic boxed presentation), short comics in 3 or 4 squares such as you would find in the newspaper and single amusing comic pictures. We will accept; superheros, cute and funny (Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes style), political etc. (if in doubt ask). All art styles welcomed and encouraged. Details: You may submit your entries to email@example.com from 1st of April until the 15th June. Please put ‘Comic’ in the subject. NB: If you find you have any trouble emailing due to resolution please send direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. Images must be: High resolution in either – PSD (with clearly labelled Layers), PNG, BMP,
GIF or JPEG can be in adobe illustrator format (.ai) if necessary. You will need to include: A brief biography and links (if relevant). One or two sentences are sufficient. All entries, selected or otherwise, will remain the personal copyright of the author or illustrator and will not be used without your permission after the July 2012 emagazine edition. Winners will be notified by email and online. Please share with anyone interested and don’t forget to like our facebook pages! http://www.facebook.com/bluedingopress and http://www.facebook.com/Bluedingonetwork Please note our next emagazine’s theme is Sci/fi and we will be looking for story and art submissions closer to October.
Notice to contributors: Please note the following dates and themes for up-coming emagazines. If you are interested in contributing to one of the themed emagazines please contact me at email@example.com with the details of what you wish to contribute. All contributions must be received by the dates given below. Please follow these submission guidelines for Articles: • Maximum word count: 2,500 (please note that this may be much smaller for certain article types). • Format: Times New Roman, size 12. Can be sent as – DOC, DOCX, PDF, Richtext etc. Text and images must be emailed as separate attachments. Please do not use your email as your text format. Headings in bold. Links in italic. Please use full link. Ensure your piece is properly edited and grammatically correct. • Separate each paragraph with one return (press Enter) • Indent the first line of each new paragraph by 1.5 on the ruler. • Please use no more than three asterisk’s when a story separation occurs (***). • Do not use footers and headers. • Please edit your own work to the best of your ability before submitting. • If your story is rejected, please do not resend it or ask for it to be published, and please wait a month before submitting any other work. • IMAGES - High resolution in either – PSD (with clearly labelled Layers), PNG, BMP, GIF or JPEG. Logos can be in adobe illustrator format (.ai) if necessary. All articles will need to include: • A brief biography and link (if relevant). One or two sentences are sufficient. • A logo or picture of yourself or topic of choice. If you do not have a logo or a picture to include please let us know and we will endeavour to find something suitable.
Our winning Horror Art
I am a tattooist (since 2000), an artist and a mother to two gorgeous little children. My other loves are my motorbikes and my dogs and of course, the light of my life - X Bernhardo. I have done artwork for numerous bodies, bands and private commissions. For now, I’m only tattooing once a week (@ Wild at Heart Tattoo, Australia) - while the kids are little - but with Etsy close at hand, I can still leave the creative tap on in the interim.
ADVERTISING & DESIGN If you require an advertisement, logo design or other graphic design for emagazine submission please note the following: • Proofs will be sent to your email address for you to check. • The cut off for changes is 3pm the next day. • Unconfirmed proofs will not be submitted.
1st July 1st October
20th June 20th September
You can see more of my tattoo work on wildathearttattoo.com/cathyfitzgerald