Hurry Home – Heather Moore Niver

Heather

Clocks tock

past

twelve. Scant rattle

of orange

Heartbeat

through bare branches.

Footsteps

Wind wheedles,

curls cold

Heartbeat

down your collar. Breaths catch

and rasp at the back

Footsteps

of your throat. Thud and quick.

Empty road echoes.

FootstepsHeartbeatFootsteps

Hot breath.

Icy grip.

Footsteps

~~~~

When she’s not wielding wild words or swilling hot black coffee, Heather Moore Niver is trying to herd her wily sheep and chickens, persnickety cats, and beardy husband at her cabin in New York State.

Number 1609 – Shay Leigh

ShayThe families living on Wicker Road had an ongoing tradition every Halloween which included best yard decorations, best themed costumes, as well as the best tricks or treats served up to their ghosts and ghouls.

And every year Mrs. Samson at number 1609 won the best yard decorations.

Jealous neighbors whispered that she only won votes because people felt bad for her ever since her husband disappeared five years before, leaving her with two boys to raise on her own.

But in all honesty, she won votes because people were awed by the gory splendor she served up every year, which was followed by a huge bonfire the next evening in which she and her sons burned all of that years decorations.

Each year her yard was filled with a story. Be it a witch trial, Egyptian mummies discovered by an unsuspecting archaeology team, a zombie horde devouring survivors, a vampire ball with a huge human “feast”, or even a cloaked Death raising the dead in a foggy cemetery.

Everyone was curious as to not only what she and her boys would build this year, but also as to how her sons could create such realistic characters and creatures in their dad’s old workshop in the backyard. Her sons worked tirelessly in that shop, all through the year, and their efforts always paid off.

A few days before the voting would begin, huge black sheets were set up around the yard of 1609, sufficiently blocking the view of the curious neighbor’s eyes. They could hear the banging of construction in the daytime hours and catch brief glimpses of lighting checks in the darkness of the night. Having learned the process of the family living at 1609, the neighbors knew that the sheets would remain until the day of voting. But they were always curious as to what horrible delight was being brought to life behind the midnight screen.

The neighbors gathered in the chilly morning light on the day of the voting, impatiently waiting for the family living at 1609 Wicker Road to emerge from behind the sheets. Within a few minutes a diminutive blonde and two tall blond teenage boys stepped into the crowds view. Without flourish the boys pulled the cords that held the sheets aloft, and with barely a whisper, the black sheets puddled on the ground into pools of inky fabric.

A few gasps were heard in the icy air, but all eyes were enthralled with the scene before them. Mrs. Samson had a truly gruesome story taking place on her lawn! Body parts littered the ground, a chopped up arm here, a pile of glistening torsos there. In the center stood a mostly naked woman in a crimson cloak, holding a blood-soaked sword. In front of her was a glittering blood-coated table, which held a chained but writhing victim in obvious terror. The white cotton of her dress dripped over the edges of the table, showing streaks of dirt and blood at its edges. Kneeling in a semi-circle behind the sacrificial table were more cloaked members.

The victim turned and looked at the crowd that watched on from behind the pools of the black sheets. Immediately she began begging for help, beseeching the crowd to unchain her, to call the police, while screaming that they were going to kill her. The crowd stood and watched, and then a clap could be heard, which was followed by more. The victim grew still and silent as the voyeuristic crowd applauded her.

Mrs. Samson and her growing boys had truly outdone themselves this year. Not only was her yard a sacrificial story, replete with blood and gory remains, but they had even gone so far as to hire an actress to help bring the gruesome story to life!

There was no doubt, in any of their minds, that number 1609 would win yet again.

The crowd began dispersing, going home to finish their preparations for the evenings fun. Throughout the day they would hear the actress scream for help, or beg a passerby to untie her. But she would quiet down eventually. Even actresses would need a break here and there.

The sun set, the moon rose, and the street filled with princesses, animals, scary creatures looking for brains or blood, and all manner of ghouls and ghosts. Bags were filled with treats, tricks were played, and haunting music littered the air with screams, growls and any number of menacing sounds. As the revelers passed by number 1609, the victim would beg, plead, cry, or scream for help.

Everyone loved it. And were excited for what this family would cook up for the next year. Voting slips filled the box in front of 1609, leaving no doubt as to what the various viewers loved the most.

Eventually the street quieted down, and lights extinguished here and there. The family at 1609 began collecting their decorations to pile in their backyard for the bonfire they’d hold the following night.

The next evening the neighbors of Wicker Road gathered in front of the soon-to-be-lit bonfire. Snacks and drinks cluttered a banquet table, and everyone milled about, sharing stories of their favorite moments from the previous night. Mrs. Samson stood before the pile of decorations, a lit torch held aloft in her small hand. She thanked the neighbors for their votes, and promised an even better show for the next year. Leaning down, she lit the edge of a bloodied and dirty white dress, and with a smile, watched as the flames devoured the evidence of her family’s many murder victims.

Next year, they would have to “hire” more “actors”.

~~~~~

Shay Leigh is the author of Sins Within and Sinless Within, which can be found on Amazon.com. She writes Poetry, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller.

Shay’s stalker pages:
Website: www.goddesslivingoutloud.com

Twitter: @gothhicgoddess

Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477220.Shay_Leigh

The Supplement – Joey Payne

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAugust 15th 2015

I’ve started a new workout regime. It’s going ok so far, and I figured I would keep a journal about it: Just some free weights right now and jogging a little. Lots of the muscle heads at the gym who call each other “brah” make fun of me.

August 18th 2015

Today was a good workout: No real improvement yet, but the girl behind the desk flirted with me. So all in all, I had a good time; although the muscle heads still made fun of me.

August 21st 2015

I had a bad workout day today. I pulled something in my shoulder and dropped the weights. One of the muscle heads actually came over to help. His name is Rip or some such—I don’t even know if it is his real name. But he helped me up and told me I was going about it all wrong. He handed me some pills, and I shook my head and told him no thanks. Drugs were never my thing. He handed them to me and explained with a “Nah Brah” that they were all natural supplements of some kind. I looked them up and, sure enough, they’re legit (though I’ve never known an honest man to have to use the term legit). The pills are sold legally by a company. I’m not sure if I want to try them. If I do, and you find me dead here, arrest the muscle heads.

August 25th 2015

WOW, I took those supplements and they are amazing. I take one in the morning and one before I work out and I’m in the zone. My buddies at the gym are real supportive and scream at me while I work out. The sound of them calling me weak is a jolt to the system and makes me push harder. I worked out today and I’m still not tired—even ran the 5 miles home and barely skipped a beat. Might go for a short run now—still pumped up.

September 3rd 2015

Started taking more of the supplements. I’m really seeing a difference. I was able to add BLOOD 5 more pounds to the weights with little problem. My brahs at the gym are even saying I need to slow down. But they DEVOUR are just jealous of these guns. Going to up the dose a bit over the next couple of weeks. I’m not really worried FLESH about the side effects, they just have to put that on there to cover their asses.

September 11th 2015

Nothing seems to help anymore. I went rock KILL climbing, parasailing, everything FEED I can think of to get a rush and nothing seems to help. The guys EAT FLESH at the gym say they are worried about me. They are just FLESH TO BE EATEN jealous of my awesomeness.

September 14th 2015

I’ve decided to kill someone. This is not some MUST KILL premeditated plot against any one person. If I’m being honest it’s MUST CONSUME FLESH always been on my bucket list and I’m jonesin’ for a new thrill. I’m thinking the girl behind the counter WHORE she likes me and I bet I could get her on a date. I hope anyone reading this later doesn’t KILL HER think me too insane for thinking this. Really TEETH IN FLESH the supplements are doing the driving. I’m just following where they lead me.

September 15th 2015

I did it. I killed her and it felt great, amazing KILL AGAIN even. Took a big handful of supplements before I did and it was such a rush. I got her to this isolated location WHORE and it got kind of hot and heavy, brah. Then, in the middle of everything I strangled her. She was into it in the beginning and then she was all DEVOUR choke and gasp. It’s like nothing that I EAT DEATH I ever felt before. Now this may be a little twisted but after it was done I looked at her hand. It was so dainty FLESH so pretty WHORE and had this little ring on the middle finger. I stared at it and before I realized what I was doing I leaned down and took a bite. It was hard to get loose at first but then I must have separated a knuckle because it came right off with a pop. I swallowed it DELICIOUS down without chewing, ring and all. It kind of freaked me out at first because it happened so fast KILL MORE. But then I just shrugged and thought, “Lady fingers” am I right?

September 17th 2015

Guys at the gym won’t hang out with me. They say I’ve lost it. There was lots of talk about what’s her name not showing up for work. I DEATH can’t pick the next victim from there. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention there is going to be another victim. You see, I’ve REAP decided that I’m going to kill again. It’s an imperative, honestly. Nothing else can fill the void, you see. Life without KILLING WHORES the supplements and the killing just isn’t worth living.

September 19th 2015

Oops I did it again. Twice more, actually, and it felt just as amazing. I’ll spare you the details, but one of ‘em was so bloody it made the evening news. Let me DEATH TO ALL tell you, if you go the cannibal route, then knife is the way to go. I’m no doctor or nothing EAT THEM ALL but I was able to get that liver out of her pretty quick.

September something

I think I may have a problem, brah. I’ve been killing about one a week, sometimes two. I don’t think I want to but KILL THE WHORES the supplements always find a way to convince me. Every time I try to back out, the supplements push me and before I know it, I got some chicks’ kidney hanging out of my mouth. It’s the only thing that makes me feel whole, though. That last LIFE FEEDS DEATH little glimmer in their eyes as the light goes poof. It’s like a million fireworks going off as her soul clings to existence. It really is one of God’s miracles.

Sep

Not good brah, cops were here. They were askin a lot of KILL THEM questions about whets her name. I told em I didn’t know nothin brah. Hadn’t seen her WHORE in days. They left, but they might come back. Might have to EAT THEIR FLESH unleash the guns on em. Guys at the gym give me a wide berth now. I jump at ‘em and they flinch and I call em wussies. I AM DEATH They ain’t callin’ me weak now. Oh as a reminder, I ate 2 more chicks and need to work out to get rid of the extra fat. Guess the quickest way to a guy’s heart IS through his stomach, am I right?

Se

Cops at the door brah! I took out TEETH RIPPING FLESH one of em and got the others eye out and slammed the door. They are bangin’ hard brah. Must have dug up what’s her name. I knew I should have dug the hole deeper, brah. KILL THE COPS But I got a plan brah, gonna beat down the first fucker through the door and show them what I got. Ain’t takin I AM THE ANGEL OF DEATH me down town.

They. are through the door, theirs lots offgp5h

???

My kill the cops plan didn’t work so well, brah. They were wearin’ riot gear and shit. Damn militarized police. Got no idea what day or month it is. They put 9 slugs into me but couldn’t kill me. MUST FEED Takes more than that to kill the angel of death. Did take me a while to recover, though. Anywho, they are letting me finish MY BLOODY WORK this journal cause Im gonna tell em where couple of the bodies are. Damn cops are messin’ with my head though. Told ‘em it wasn’t me, it was the supplements but when I showed ‘em what I was taking one of the cops BASTARD laughed. Showed me a website VEINS IN MY TEETH that claimed they were just a basic placebo… had some Chinese plant in it that raised my blood pressure so I felt stronger. Was FINGERS IN VISCERA bogus of course. I mean, someone like me isn’t capable of murder without being on drugs. I’m a good guy, I give to charity and pay my taxes. I NEED TO KILL go to church most Sundays. Anyway not gonna be able to write anymore for a while brahs. They think Im gonna be locked DEVOUR THEIR CHILDEREN in here but I won’t be for long. And once I get out I’m gonna take a big handful of supplements and pay them a visit at their homes. Then KILL THE WORLD maybe I’ll swing by your place, brah.

~~~~~

Joey Payne enjoys writing post-apocalyptic novels and horror short stories. His first release, a book set in a grim future world, entitled Love and Radiation (Book 1 of his Radiation Tales series) was published in October of 2012 and is currently available via Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle App Store. The second in the Radiation Tales Series—Death and Radiation—is expected out sometime in 2013. His latest published work*, The Slow and The Dead, a horror short, appears in the 2012 13 Stories Till Halloween 2012 edition.

Joey is a Georgia boy and lives with his wife and children in his beloved home state. He also loves river boating, fishing and collecting antique firearms, which he shoots often to help him concentrate.

** editor’s note. Joey’s short story The Block appeared in the 2013 edition of 13 Stories ‘Til Halloween.

Gothic Revival – Jolene Mottern

Gothic Revival

Dominic sat in the coat closet amidst the bare bones of his new house, ripping up traces of threadbare carpet. It was the last closet left. He’d started upstairs, and he’d torn carpet out of twelve others. Since the house hadn’t been wired yet, he tried to do the darkest rooms while the sun still shone. If he had been honest with himself, he would’ve been forced to admit he didn’t want to be in the house after dark, regardless of the room or the project.

The first night Dominic had come to work on the house, he’d barely set up his shop light when a millipede scuttled out from the sink’s drain. Dominic stared in awe as it crawled carefully down the side of the pedestal before reducing its body to a sliver and slipping into an invisible slit in the lathe. He’d barely recovered from the sight of that when a velvety brown spider crawled across his hand. He reacted immediately by squashing it dead, but as he did, the dead spider seemed to transform itself into a multitude of miniature clones.

“Shit!” Dominic shouted, as he removed his shirt and used it to beat the tiny spiders from his arm. He shuddered and raked his hands over his bare chest, still feeling as though bugs crawled all over him, more than when it had actually happened.

Since the wolf spider incident, he merely swatted the smaller leggy creatures away, and with the large ones, he slid aside in retreat. Still, each time he encountered the millipedes, centipedes, spiders, or beetles, he was repulsed. It was the same with these closets. He’d swept the closets out with a broom, but seemingly overnight, new cobwebs were spun. The house had been abandoned more than twenty years earlier, and nature had reclaimed it. Every seam unsealed meant the opportunity for more bugs to emerge. Pulling out trim and replacing floor boards had taken Dominic more courage than strength. He was glad the floors were still viable, as when he imagined tearing up the floor, he could only envision a swath of swirling snakes covered in insects of every kind.

The house wasn’t infested with only bugs, but also with critters. He’d been plagued by strange noises of all sorts. Chattering rats seemed to play hide n’ seek with the possums and raccoons that shared the house. He didn’t know why the bats felt compelled to squeak. He’d always thought that they slept during the day, so his only conclusion was that they squeaked to drive him out of his mind. Dominic was a solo human, a minority. Once the sounds of howling coyotes and owls came after dark, Dominic felt like prey.

All this was made worse after his sister had driven out to see the property. The since-torn-down walls had still had a substantial amount of graffiti on them then, which Dominic assumed was the work of kids who’d used the house as a teenager hangout, but his sister told him the graffiti was a series of ritual symbols. She’d told Dominic to have a priest come out to bless the house before he started work. His sister always said things like that, to burn sage first, or to have a priest come out, but Dominic had never understood her flighty ways, and he’d long ago lost his faith.

A priest wasn’t necessary, but securing the house was, so replacing windows and doors was the first thing he’d done once the tear-out was complete. He’d carefully chosen larger windows to let in more light. He’d replaced all the wooden screen doors with full-length glass storm doors, again for the light, but also because they locked. Dominic often felt vulnerable with his back to doors and windows. The windows seemed to be the house’s eyes, as if the house itself hovered outside watching him. He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up when the house watched. As a result, he often regretted giving the house bigger eyes, despite the light. He took comfort in the storm door lock.

Having crews in for repairs and drywall would be a relief. Maybe with other men around, he could shrug off bugs and laugh at snakes. Perhaps instead of losing his breath every time he heard those random footsteps which belonged to no living being, he could attribute them to his crew. That relief was a long way off. He’d called three plumbers, one who declined to come out, and one who came out, but then subsequently refused to enter the crawlspace. Finally, Plumber Number Three told Dominic that he wasn’t afraid of curses or spells, but he wasn’t keen on the vermin living under the house, so he’d want an exterminator to come out first. Then he told Dominic that the last owner had an exterminator come out, but all that had done was drive the spiders out of doors, resulting in fields covered in webs for months, until the chemicals wore off and the spiders went back inside. “Best to do it in the winter. Drive ‘em out into the cold so they die,” he’d said.

Every time he got into a closet, Dominic’s mind raced with all this information. He’d replay the words of his sister and Plumber Number Three. Combined with the real estate agent’s comment, “I can’t show you an old gothic house on Friday the thirteenth, now can I?” she laughed, “Let’s do it Monday,” he realized that the pittance he paid for the property was nothing compared to the price of fear. Yes, it was old, yes, it was gothic, maybe it had once been inhabited by crazy witches who liked to write and draw on every surface, and it might even be haunted. Ghosts couldn’t hurt anyone, even if you believed in them. The house had great bones on substantial acreage and he could make it beautiful. He took pride not only in restoration, but also in taking risks. So what if the fear grew greater each day? He was battling his own mind, not any real danger. He told himself that if he spent less and less time there each night, it was only because the sun set earlier and earlier each day.

He convinced himself that all the paintings hidden under the carpets were no more than silly talisman the crazy old witches used to make themselves feel better. He wanted to believe thirteen closets was coincidence. He pretended the noise level of the animals was not related to each drawing he revealed. With every carpet he pulled up, the animals immediately began their din. He covered his ears and told himself the noises were normal, animals going about their business, not meaning to scare him.

With the last carpet pulled up, another new drawing appeared, but this time, as Dominic went to cover his ears, he realized the animals were silent. Even the outside chatter, the sounds of birds and breezes, crickets and cicadas, all had stopped. He dropped his hands and looked at the ceiling, thinking maybe the last carpet was also the last of the clamor.

Footsteps started. The footsteps were never the same. He’d heard what he thought were children running barefoot, as well as heavily-shoed women walking quickly, and several times, he’d heard what could only be described as the sound of a dog chasing its ball, its claws scratching haphazardly as it ran and slid. The feet were heavy today, but not like shoes. The footsteps were familiar though, so Dominic listened until he could identify them. Dominic shook his head in amazement when he recognized them as the footsteps of a horse. The footsteps descended the back stairs, slowly.

Dominic went to investigate. He couldn’t stop himself from walking toward the sound. He was pulled by his curiosity and determination. He was desperate to discover the footsteps weren’t footsteps at all, but part of some earthly misunderstanding he could laugh off. As he trod slowly through the kitchen, a snake turned the corner, startling him. The footsteps continued. Dominic’s desperation grew with the realization that he could only hear the sound of the horse’s footsteps and the beating of his own heart. It was then that Dominic felt every single hair on his body stand erect. Terror seized his body. He raced to the back door. He could feel it, could see it lingering behind him, from the corner of his eye. He knew what it was without looking directly at it. He was determined to escape the house and never return. He fumbled, trying to turn the storm door lock, but no matter how he turned it, it wouldn’t open. The door would not unlock. It had caught up to him. Every inch of Dominic’s skin burned with fear. As he pressed his eyes shut, a single tear cooled his cheek. He turned to face the devil, and the devil politely said, “Thank you for summoning me.”

~~~~~

Jolene Mottern lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, primarily on the south side of a loveseat, where she reads everything and writes whatever people tell her to. In her spare time, she bangs cookware around, obsesses over things that don’t matter, and waves her loud Italian hands at her family. Jolene earned a BA in English Education from Ball State University. You can stalk her all over social media, on her blog jolenemottern.com , on Twitter @ joeyfullystated and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jolene-Mottern/