Archive for the ‘guest blogs’ Category
I’m a little behind on blog updates, so I’m going to combine a few quick updates into this post and then introduce my friends Giovanna Lagana and Keith Gouveia, who have stopped by with a sneak peek at their new thriller release, The Dead Speak in Riddles.
Anti-Heroes Guest Post
Stop by my pal Giovanna Lagana’s blog for a sneak peek at Anti-Heroes.
Much thanks from me and K.H. Koehler to Gio for hosting us!
The Black Act Book 1 Freebie
Okay, on with my guests!
Giovanna Lagana & Keith Gouveia’s The Dead Speak in Riddles
Keith Gouveia lives in Florida with his wife, Lisa. He is a mechanical engineer by trade and writes fiction in his spare time. His most memorable projects have been the collection Animal Behavior and Other Tales of Lycanthropy and the literary mash-up The Black Cat and the Ghoul written with Edgar Allan Poe, both titles from Coscom Entertainment but if horror is not your cup of tea, you could try one of his fantasy novels, The Goblin Princess, or Children of the Dragon.
Giovanna Lagana is a freelance author and editor. Some of her short stories and poems have been featured in magazines like Tales of the Talisman, Short-Story.Me, Static Movement, and Fear and Trembling Magazine, etc. To learn more about Giovanna and her writing, please check her website at: www.giovannalagana.com
Two thousand undead mummies – a super vampire – and a hoarding, superstitious ex-monk – all come together in an epic battle for your attention.
For a limited time you can get the horror thriller The Dead Speak in Riddles by Keith Gouveia and Giovanna Lagana for only 99 cents at Kobo and Smashwords.
Blurb: Deep in the dark, cryptic catacombs of the Capuchin monastery evil stirs. Among the two thousand mummified corpses lies a buried secret. One about to be discovered by an ex-monk named Gontier Tremblay. Gontier turned his back on the Church years ago; now he’s about to be kicked out of house and home. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, he begins to hear voices in his head. The voices of the holy dead, who are calling upon him to stop this evil from rising.
Insatiable thirst for blood is a curse Father Abramo wishes on no living soul. After killing the four priests who took his true love, Ersilia, from him, he was damned. He’s been roaming the world with this thirst for centuries, killing and feasting on the blood of evil. But when the apparition of the priest he killed begins to haunt him, he uncovers the secret to resurrection. Armed with this revelation, he heads to the catacombs to reunite with his true love and make her a powerful immortal as he.
Within the macabre crypts of the Capuchin monastery, good, evil, and the summoned undead will rise and fight. And the fate of mankind hangs in the balance when the Dead Speak in Riddles.
Excerpt: Father Abramo struggled against the three men carrying him down into the Capuchin catacombs underneath the Palermo monastery. With a man on each leg and another with his arms linked around his own, Abramo could not jerk free. Their sudden aggression had caught him by surprise, for they were all men of the cloth and at one time he had called them friends.
“You can’t do this!”
“You brought this on yourself, Abramo. You took an oath,” said Father Clemente, his grip getting tighter.
“An oath we intend you to keep,” added Father Ernesto.
They know, Father Abramo thought. He slammed the back of his head into Father Leandro, hoping to connect with the bullish man’s chin, but his blow fell short of its mark and harmlessly hit his wide chest.
“You shouldn’t fight us, Abramo,” Leandro said, his voice deep and lacking compassion. “This is God’s will.”
“It’s misguided,” he argued, but they said no more.
The catacombs were the final resting place of the friars and priests of the church, still adorned in their clerical vestments, and a select few local luminaries who provided funds to maintain the church. As they traversed through the long corridors, they passed countless carved stone niches and bodies hung on the walls like morbid art with their arms crossed in front of their chests. Clusters of matted hair clung to their chins and scalps, their once sun-kissed skin now an ashy hue. Their faces distorted from time and gravity, giving them the appearance as though they were screaming from beyond the grave.
A chill danced down Father Abramo’s spine as he knew they were taking him to the farthest chamber in the catacombs; a room used for embalming before segregating the corpses. Even if he could break free, the so-called men of God would certainly tackle him from behind as he made his way through the narrow tunnels, for they knew its intricacies far better than he. The claustrophobic fear embraced him with its icy chill every time he stared down the entrance in front of the church’s altar, and he’d done all he could to avoid the dark bowels. He had always hated the idea of one day being laid to rest in the catacombs with the other priests. It seemed unnatural. Dust to dust. But for whatever reason, the practice was maintained, some long-standing belief that transcended the diverse cultures of Sicily.
Upon entering the final room, Father Abramo’s eyes filled with tears at the sight of his love atop a terra-cotta table, surrounded by a puddle of crimson. She lay motionless, stripped of her dignity and exposed for all the world to see. Her brown hair draped over her shoulders and almost reached to her bosom to cover her nakedness. How he had longed for many years to see her supple flesh, but this was not how he envisioned it.
“Ersilia…Ersilia? What have you done?”
“We have preserved her beauty before she was corrupted by the sins of the flesh. Pray our Lord sees fit to reunite the two of you in Heaven,” said Father Ernesto.
“Don’t worry, her body will be laid to rest with the other virgins,” added Father Clemente.
His fellow priests carried him over to an adjacent table and he eyed the two, long slits running down his love’s arms, the edges of the wounds folded over. He took note of the faint trace of blackish goo inside the wound.
How could they have taken someone so cheerful, so lively, from this earth?
Even in death, Ersilia looked beautiful. Her complexion had always been fair and if not for the fatal wounds, Abramo could have believed she was merely sleeping, awaiting his gentle kiss.
“She was innocent. How could you do this?” he asked as the three priests pinned him to the table.
“Innocent, you say?” another voice came, one Father Abramo recognized immediately. The man stepped out of the shadows holding a small bowl of black, viscous fluid and adorned in a red, ceremonial robe with the hood pulled over his head, casting a menacing shadow over his sunken features. “She has bewitched a servant of God.”
“Father Nicolõ…I told you in confidence.”
“Just be grateful we’ve acted before you fell into temptation. For now you will most certainly be welcomed to sit by His side. Had we waited any longer and you tasted the fruit of her loins…well…I’d say the fires of Hell burn hotter than your passion.”
“You have betrayed our Lord far more than I would have. You have taken a life. A life so pure —”
“Silence!” Father Leandro covered Abramo’s mouth with his hand. “Father Nicolõ has been given special permission. As men of the cloth, it is our duty to purge heretics as she from this earth.”
Father Abramo tried to speak on her behalf, but he could barely suck in a breath through the sausage-like fingers pressed tightly to his lips.
From the folds of his robe, Father Nicolõ produced a ceremonial knife. “You will remain here with your brothers, the way God intended.”
Abramo moaned in protest, but his plea was ignored. The blade pierced his forearm and sliced through his flesh. The spilled blood felt cool upon his skin and with one brachial vein open, Father Nicolõ walked around the foot of the table to slice open the other. Father Clemente, who had Abramo’s arm held tight against the table, squeezed his bicep and rolled his fingers into the muscle to quicken his death.
As the blood pumped out of the gash, sparkles of rainbow colored lights danced in his vision. The walls seemed to spin around him and the moisture in his mouth dissipated.
Father Abramo forced his head to the right to gaze upon his love one last time, wanting her beauty to be the last thing he’d see before parting this world. A tear rolled down his cheek as he envisioned her suffering.
I’m sorry, my dear Ersilia, he thought. Sorry that you had to endure this all because I confessed my love to a man I believed my friend. I hope you knew I was willing to give this all up for the chance to be with you. You are, and always will be, special to me.
Father Nicolõ began to chant, his voice distant and incoherent to Abramo’s ear.
Is that the psalm of David? No. Perhaps Romans 15:13? No matter, he thought.
Whatever prayer the overzealous priest recited for Abramo’s soul would not protect Nicolõ’s soul from the fires of Hell for this transgression.
The blade pierced Abramo’s left arm, the sudden surge of pain ignited his senses. More of his blood flowed and the room seemed to expand as if he were falling away.
No, he told himself. This is not the work of God. If he can forsake me for love, than I shall forsake Him.
Father Abramo wriggled his lips under the portly fingers and was able to open his mouth enough to bite down.
Father Leandro yipped in pain as he withdrew his hand and stepped away from the table.
Capitalizing on Father Clemente and Ernesto’s shock, Father Abramo kicked outward, sending both men crashing to their backsides.
“You fool. You shall burn in Hell for this transgression.”
“You first,” Father Abramo said, then grabbed hold of his robes and pulled him close. “I shall take from you what you took from me.”
With that, Father Abramo leaned in and clamped his teeth upon the priest’s throat. He pulled back and tore a chunk of flesh away with him. Blood gushed forth and Father Abramo lapped at it like a wild dog, the taste sending shockwaves of euphoria through his body. His wounds ignited in unholy fire, then the pain subsided and the slits in his arms were no more. Something inside him awakened; something primal. An unquenchable thirst; a hunger unlike any he had experienced before.
I’m as excited as Riff Randall was in Rock N Roll High School to announce my guest for today (but it’s not the ghost of Joey Ramone). It is, in fact, the Funky Werepig himself, Mr. Gregory L. Hall, with a free read from his new short story collection, Werepig Fever. Details, story, and buy links below, good friends!
About: Writer. Comic. Werepig. For years, in one form or another, Gregory L. Hall has terrorized the masses with his stories, his wit and his radio broadcasts from the No Pants Zone. Here for the first time he’s gathered 20 of his favorite darkly funky tales. And then added 2 more at the last minute to make things difficult for his publisher. From gigantic babies who destroy Des Moines to alien spaceships that cook people like bacon to vampires who suffer from erectile dysfunction, Werepig Fever is full of surprises. With this mixture of humor and horror, the message is clear. Buy this book – or Greg Hall marries your momma.
Gregory L. Hall has a long history in comedy, improv and theatre. He’s a national Telly Award winner and produced the annual Baltimore Comedy Fest to support Autism awareness. His dark fiction can be found in numerous publications and anthologies as well as his novel At the End of Church Street.
Nowadays Gregory is perhaps best known as the host of the popular internet radio show The Funky Werepig. However, he still lists the time he was hugged by Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid, as the biggest highlight of his career.
FACE YOUR FEARS
By Gregory L Hall
A zombie ate my momma. I was only eleven years old but I remember it like it was yesterday. She wanted us to check out the old family home. A rundown farm house on a piece of property we never used anymore. The Lord took Daddy and the bank was gonna take everything else. That chunk of land was the only thing we had left to sell.
So Momma went in the basement to see if the fuse box still worked. I waited at the top of the stairs. I saw the zombie move from the shadows. I didn’t scream in time. Momma got chomped.
We don’t do therapy in this part of PA and my aunt and uncle tried their best to raise me, but the nightmares of that day have never gone away. I can still see him. Ragged clothes. Tufts of hair sticking out on his ugly head. Black fingernails. All these years later and I can still describe his freaking fingernails. How screwed is that?
About as screwed as a kid who told everyone he saw a zombie kill his momma. Oh, sure. The cops went out there. Looked all around the house and down in the basement. They didn’t find nothing. Not even Momma. And the truth is deep down, I knew they wouldn’t. It would have verified everything I said and more.
Life don’t work that way. Even at eleven I knew that.
It was my girlfriend, Cootsie, that talked me into going back out to the house now that I’m grown up. She’s real brave about life. She’s a pole dancer. There ain’t nothing she won’t take head on or stare down. Since we’ve been together she’s made me go scuba diving, bungee-jumping and party at a real live Goth bar. People dressed up as vampires biting each other and acting all dark. I didn’t like it but I did it. That’s what I love about Cootsie. She’s always pushed me to be more than what I am. She’s taught me the golden rule to life.
Face your fears.
I sat in the truck for a long time. That old house hadn’t changed a bit. It was run down and falling apart then, same as now. Weeds and dead bushes covered up the base of the house. Most of the windows were long gone, busted out and the panes decaying. The steps to the front door were rotted away. I could still get in that way but it was much easier to use the concrete steps on the side of the house. They were cracked and covered in green mold but I wouldn’t have to leap up and hang off a doorknob to enter. Plus that door led right into the kitchen, or what was left of it. And the kitchen stood at the top of the basement stairs.
I started the truck and pulled it around to the side of the house. I bounced over the ruts and bumps but didn’t care. Nothing was going to give me a flat tire here. I mainly wanted my baby as close to that damn door as possible. I would go down there like a man and confront whatever ghosts haunted me. But if they were real, I wanted to be able to get the hell out as fast as possible. I left the truck door open a crack. I was a horror movie expert. I wouldn’t be fumbling with any jammed handles.
Cootsie wanted me to go out at night to truly conquer my fears but that got vetoed. First off, she was huffing Lysol and she never makes sense when she does that. Second, Momma wasn’t killed at night. It was in the morning. Broad daylight. Wasn’t like a werewolf attacked her. I didn’t need a full moon. A hungry zombie don’t give a shit one way or the other if it’s day or night.
Still, I had my heavy duty flashlight in my hand. Despite the cloudy sky, plenty of light was coming off the sun. And with half a roof caved in, the house wouldn’t exactly be blocking it out. But in that basement, there were no windows. Just stone walls and a dirt floor. I wasn’t going to be caught blind and helpless.
I felt the flashlight’s weight. Curled it a few times like a dumbbell. I could smash a skull in with this if I had to. I thought again that I should have brought my gun with me but that would have been cheating. Easy to fight nightmares when you’re waving a loaded pistol around an empty basement. No, I was doing this the way it had to be done.
I prayed I didn’t get turned to zombie chow.
The kitchen door creaked on its rusted hinges. If I was hoping to sneak up on anyone, that strategy was blown to hell. I stepped inside holding the flashlight like a billy-club. A few pigeons flew up through the hole in the roof. I didn’t even jump. I was as ready as I ever would be.
There wasn’t much to see. An old fashioned metal sink with two faucets. Raw plumbing hanging out underneath. The cabinets were missing most of the doors and the shelves were caked in rat and bird shit. The wall that connected to the living room had a huge section punched out of the middle of it. Looked like someone shot a cannonball through there. I peeked into the other room but it was in shambles and as deserted as the rest of the interior. Nothing to see. I was wasting time.
It was the basement I had to conquer.
I moved slowly to the top of the stairs and channeled my chi. Just do this and then you can go home, I muttered to myself. My eyes strained to get a clear glimpse into shadows. The base of the steps was fairly well lit but past that? He could be anywhere. Waiting for me to come on down like a fool testing his luck one time too many.
I wondered if he had been waiting for me after all these years. That little boy who ran off screaming and crying, never looking back until he was back in town. I had run the two miles out of the woods and Mr. Treherne picked me up at the main road. He was a teacher at the high school but he knew all us kids. He threw me into his car and brought me straight to the sheriff’s office. But like all the adults, he didn’t say much to support me once I told what happened to Momma.
Well, I was either going to prove them right or wrong today. If that undead flesh-eater was waiting in the dark for me, I’d find out soon enough. I grabbed a chunk of wood that had broken away from a window sill. Old military trick. I’d seen Bruce Willis do it in a hundred movies. The hidden attacker is so ready to jump you, he springs out at the first thing that moves or makes noise. I threw the piece of wood down the stairs.
Nothing. Smart zombie.
I clicked the flashlight on and took my first step. It creaked so loud I closed my eyes in disgust. I wasn’t going to get any breaks sneaking around this house. I decided the slow decent was stupid at this point and opted for ninja. I ran down the steps, taking flight from the last third and landed onto the dirt floor below. In my crouched position I spun around in a quick circle for a perimeter check. Nothing, nothing, nothing. All around me was nothing. Basement was completely empty. My brain caught up with my data intake. Nothing, nothing, man sized figure, nothing. I was in the clear.
He came from behind me and to my right.
“Zombie!” I heard him growl.
I collapsed not out of combat-trained reflexes but because my knees gave way. The zombie’s momentum carried him over me and his stomach landed on my face. I rolled to keep his rot from falling into my screaming mouth. He reeked of pungent meat and death. I grabbed his flannel shirt and it crumbled in my hands. I pushed harder and the zombie flipped off of me.
I scrambled to get my flashlight. He clutched my ankle. His grip was like iron. Voodoo enhanced iron. I kicked back with my other leg and caught him in the jaw. I saw something fly loose from his mouth. I kicked again but this time he dodged backwards and my leg struck air. Dirt flooded inside my shirt and my belly scraped the cold loose floor as he dragged me towards him.
My eyes darted wildly across the room, straining to adjust to the darkness. My fingertips spun the back of the flashlight around and the wall closest to me illuminated. A shovel. Propped up against the stone and mortar. Within my reach.
I lunged for it and it toppled over. The zombie wailed as he tore my flesh and into my calf muscle. I snagged the very end of wooden handle. My fingers wrapped securely around it. The shovel was mine. Yes.
I flopped onto my back and let it rip. I swung that shovel like a steroid pumped jock. I expected a metal clang but instantly realized that would be stupid. I wasn’t striking another metal item. I was smacking a skull. So instead I heard a loud crack. And then a plop as the zombie swayed for a brief moment before collapsing onto the basement floor like a huge sack of wet kittens.
I moved on my hands and knees as fast as I could and retrieved the flashlight. Spinning around on my butt, I shined the light at the creature. Not a twitch. Not a wiggling pinkie. He wasn’t among the Walking Dead anymore. He was among the Dead Dead.
Take that you son a bitch. You killed my mother. This is what you get when you mess with a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
Now to finish the job. I couldn’t remember my monster rules. Do I cut off his head? No, that was vampires and serial killers. Zombies had to be lit on fire like mummies and chupacabras. Damn me for not thinking ahead. I should have brought gasoline and matches. I could have burned him to ashes right here in the basement. I guess I could have run back out to the truck and see what I had but I wasn’t about to come back inside once I left this house. I decided it was probably best to go with the chopping off the head.
Way I figure it, a headless zombie can’t do much damage. All he can do is grab at you but that’s no worse than one of the drunks at Cootsie’s club. And as long as you don’t step on his head, it’s not like he can bite you. Let this bastard try and come back. He was about to be seriously handicapped.
I took the shovel and lined up the thin edge to his neck. I rolled him over to get a better shot at the decapitation procedure. God, he was ugly. Sunken-in face. Bug eyes. Mangy beard. Blood was pumping out over those random tufts of hair I remembered.
Blood was pumping out…
Hmmm. I didn’t think zombie’s bled. At least not the reddish kind you and I have. They always have that gunk that looks like clogged motor oil. Come to think of it, you don’t see many zombies growing beards either.
I knew it broke every rule of monster movie caution but I leaned closer. I put my fingers against his cheek and neck. He was warm. And I could feel the blood pulsing under his skin. I leaned even closer and sniffed. He smelled like piss and two dollar wine. I stood straight up.
I may have made a mistake.
I quickly shined the flashlight around the basement again. Stone walls, dust swirling around, a garbage bag. It was next to what seemed to be the remains of a campfire. A recent one. There were tin cans in a small pile under the stairs. A half-empty box of cereal they don’t make anymore. A filthy blanket stretched out on the floor. And a bottle of Boones Farm Ticked Pink.
I looked back to the corpse. It couldn’t be…but there they were. The black fingernails. My childhood zombie was nothing more than some homeless idiot.
I acted on instinct. I didn’t question myself. Some people might have gotten the hell out of there and denied they were ever there. But I knew somehow that would backfire. I had to hide the body. Dirt floor. I had a shovel. It was an easy choice. In case he had some pinko liberal Samaritan who stopped by every month to bring him more cereal and booze, they wouldn’t find a murder scene. They just wouldn’t find him.
It was getting late by the time I packed down the last shovel full. I smoothed it out to get it as flat as the rest of the floor. Deep holes take a while to dig but I was playing it smart. Anybody ever ask me if I was out at the old family house, I’d finally admit there were no zombies. The world was right, I was wrong. Let’s all just have a beer.
I was actually pretty proud of myself.
As I reached the top of the stairs a weird question did enter my brain though. When he first attacked me, he yelled ‘zombie’. Why would he yell zombie? He didn’t know my phobia. He couldn’t have.
My eyes caught something move in the kitchen. She stepped forward into the pale light. Her head hung to one side. I could see her collarbone from where all the skin had rotted away. She limped towards me on a foot that dangled loosely behind her ankle. I looked into her one good eye.
She took my face into her leathery hands. And then bit deep into my forehead.
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My Night at the Plantation
I hadn’t seen him in awhile. We lived in separate cities along the east coast and made the best of our distance by texting each other daily and having phone sex at night. But of course, that wasn’t enough. I needed to see him, wanted to feel the weight of him on top of me and most of all I wanted him to dominate me. His voice and words were great ways to pass the time, but they were just a prelude for what I really wanted.
We picked a meeting point–halfway between his house and mine. It was his parents’ old plantation house that was deep into the country smack dab in the middle of the eastern seaboard. The house had been in the family from the beginning and while he wasn’t in support of it, it once was a home to his ancestors’ slaves, which meant there were slaves quarters, shackles and chains. I was excited.
I prepared for the trip by making a quick stop at Adamandeve.com. We were going to need some rope and I needed some sexy new underwear that would probably come off before he really even saw them. I then packed my bags and headed north; he headed south.
I drove along the long winding country roads, the sun had already indolently slipped away and the fall air was creeping in. I ended up reaching the house before he did. I suppose I may have been speeding. He wasn’t far behind, so I sat and waited in the car, mentally preparing myself for the activities to come.
I could see his headlights from a good mile away. I knew it was him by the way his car hugged the road. I looked in the mirror, patted the eyeliner out from under my eyes and got out of the car. He pulled into the driveway and I leaned up against the trunk of my car. As he got out of the car I suddenly felt nervous. My hands gripped to the back of my bumper and I smiled at him.
He didn’t say hi, he didn’t do anything. He just dropped his bag, picked me up and kissed me. All my nervousness went away in that moment.
We didn’t waste any time. He grabbed his bags and I grabbed mine and we went inside, and went straight to the slaves quarters, which was now merely a bedroom. He asked me where the rope was, so I got it out and handed it to him. He then told me to take off my dress and lay on the bed. He proceeded to tie me into an X and then came the blindfold, his favorite. He liked that I didn’t what was coming next and secretly, so did I. He took his time–he always did–teasing every part of me and getting me beyond excited.
Without the visual of him, it was like I was back in my bedroom, on the phone with him as he breathed dirty things in my ear, but this time it was actually happening. After awhile, the teasing became agonizing, it wasn’t enough, so begged him to take my entirely. It was exactly what he wanted. I felt him come at me slow and deep. And it was exactly what I wanted.
We fell asleep shortly there after listening to the sounds of the country all around us. We had the whole weekend ahead of us…
Today we have a wonderful visitor in the forest. S.P. Miskowski has dropped by to tell us about her new Omnium Gatherum Media release, Delphine Dodd. Please peruse the eerie excerpt below. But, first, a bit about S.P. Miskowski.
S.P.’s Bio (taken from her site): Author of the novel KNOCK KNOCK published by Omnium Gatherum Media and shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. Three related novellas are forthcoming from Omnium Gatherum beginning with DELPHINE DODD in 2012. My short stories have been published by Supernatural Tales, Horror Bound Magazine, Identity Theory, Other Voices, The Absent Willow Review, and in the anthology DETRITUS. I am a member of the speculative fiction group Wily Writers. One of my scripts, “my new friends (are so much better than you)” was nominated for a Steinberg/ American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and will be adapted as a Web video project in 2012. As an undergraduate I won two Swarthout prizes for short fiction and edited a quarterly small press magazine. I earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Washington and received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, for short fiction and drama.
Delphine Dodd book trailer
Delphine Dodd – an excerpt from the novella
by S.P. Miskowski
Our summer weather varied. We might have two weeks of sunny days and suddenly the rain would return, cold as early spring. On one of these unseasonable days it just so happened that I had to walk to the sanitarium by myself.
Olive lay in bed with a slightly elevated temperature, probably nothing but the change in barometric pressure, but you could never be sure. Eve Alice decided to stay home and keep an eye on her.
The mist had risen from the forest floor. A thin fog drifted across the stream and gently distorted its natural shape, making it tricky to follow by sight. My view of the ridge opposite was intermittent. Then the ridge faded altogether. I was careful to stick close to the path I knew, my shoes clicking on the pebbled shore.
About two thirds of the way, as I passed a cluster of exposed roots jutting from the bluff on my side of the stream, I had a feeling that someone was watching me. I glanced around but didn’t see any crows.
The woods and the ravine could be eerie at certain times of day. Once, early in the morning, Olive and I had seen a wolf drinking from the stream. It raised its head, gazed left and right with shocking gray-blue eyes, lowered its snout, and went on drinking. None of the animals we encountered ever showed an interest, and I never went anywhere without my leather pouch with the tiny jawbone inside. Olive had to be reminded.
“I’m not afraid of bears,” she would say. Or, “That wolf didn’t scare me.”
“It’s because of the witch finger,” I told her.
“How do you know?”
“Livvy, animals aren’t afraid of girls.”
“Maybe they’re afraid of me. I can roar.”
“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “Keep this pouch around your neck, even when you sleep. If you don’t, I’ll tell on you.”
“I’m not scared of wolves, or you,” she whined.
“If you don’t do as Eve Alice said, the lampreys will eat you,” I told her. That did the trick.
The morning I went alone to the sanitarium, there were no wolves or bears. I caught a glint of light from the water and turned, but no one was there.
I walked on. The sensation of being stalked grew with every step. I wanted to turn again, to assure myself that I was wrong, but I couldn’t make myself look.
People often told me I was a sensible girl. Olive was pretty, they said, and I was sensible. I drew on all of my good sense to shut out the uneasiness, but the further along I walked, the stronger it grew. Where I was felt too far from home and too far from my destination, to run. Without meaning to, I found myself staring down at the good luck charm around my neck and wishing I knew a prayer or a chant I could repeat.
I couldn’t run for fear of spilling the broth Eve Alice had prepared. I didn’t see how I could tell her I just got scared and ran away. That would cost us the day’s wages. So I said to myself, again and again, the words I recalled from an old book Mama had given us when we were little:
“Over the river and through the woods… Over the river and through the woods… Over the river and through the woods…”
I must have said this a hundred times, faster and faster as the fear rose up and I felt the cold mist sweep against my back. I huffed and puffed all the way up the crisscrossing terraces, stomping with every step to make sure of my footing, feeling against my chest the pouch with the charm inside, and clutching the jug with both hands. Up the final steps, out of breath, still chanting the words, I climbed until the garden was almost at eye level. With a final hop I was standing at the edge of the garden, and there I stopped dead.
Amid the drifting fog and the ruins of untended rose bushes a gray-white figure emerged. Its shroud clung to jutting bones, and tangled in a mass at the ankles. Stark feet stuck out below the shroud. The figure hung there for a second then started to rotate, so slowly I had time to feel the hairs rising on my arms. Once it faced me I could see its mouth hung open, silent, with long strands of spit on either side.
I dropped the clay jug, spilling all of its contents. The warm liquid hit the ground and steam rose from the spot.
I stood frozen, staring. The figure gave a little jerk of its head and seemed to notice me. It headed in my direction with one shoulder thrust forward and the shroud catching at its ankles with every step. Without a thought in my head I screamed.
Published by Omnium Gatherum Media, Delphine Dodd is available in paperback and ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Delphine-Dodd-ebook/dp/B009GT0ILW
From S.P.: “Delphine Dodd is the first in a three-novella series set in the same world as Knock Knock. The books share characters and themes and may be read in any order. Together they connect in ways I hope the reader will find interesting.”
Click the book cover or link above to order a copy!
It’s that time again. Fae Awareness Month is here! And the staff at Fae Awareness–Somhairle Kelly, KV Taylor, Mark Deniz, Alexandra Seidel–have worked hard to bring in great people and great posts. Please be sure to wander through all the blog entries over there. You’ll have a good time basking in all things fae. My review of Troll Hunter has been added to the mix. Please check it out at the link below:
And be sure to check out the great giveaway they have going on too.