Guest Blog: Bishop’s Curse Part I By: J. C. Eickelberg

Bishop’s Curse Part I 

By: J. C. Eickelberg

Emerald Valley was a fertile valley valued by many groups. Three roadways lead into the mountains to major cities. Skirmishes had been fought over the fertile land for decades. No single power was ever able to lay claim to any portion of the valley.

As the Great Pestilence swept through cities and towns, armies stopped fighting in the vicinity of the valley. People fled cities to settle away from diseased and decaying neighborhoods. Farmers took advantage of the lush landscape and settled there, ignoring rumors from soldiers about winged creatures. These creatures were ready to bother any and all travelers moving through the valley. As groups settled, small towns grew. Populations sang praises of their good fortunes in finding fertile farmlands and plentiful wildlife.

Rumors of flying creatures became widespread as these communities merged and supplies from cities arrived. Travelers new to the area reported most of the sightings of the winged creatures following them. Residents had grown accustomed to the flying creatures. Groups not from the area were stopped by cloaked figures and searched. Wagons of goods were stopped and any vermin found were dispatched and wagons sent back empty. Drivers reported these imposing men wearing dark cloaks as harsh and persistent in keeping pests out. Fear of them drove the wagon drivers away from their scattered loads.

Shopkeepers sent hunters and scouts to search the roads for overdue shipments. When supplies were found, figures emerged from the landscape to confront the scouts. Questions were raised when they found the abandoned supplies. These ‘cloaked’ people became known and trusted to the scouts after persistent questioning. With trust came knowledge of the ‘Cloaked Ones’ true identity. Scouts found their identity at first disturbing, but were quickly soothed by their purpose; protecting all living things in the valley from plague and invasion. They were a local clan of gargoyles. Appearances varied greatly with the gargoyles, each chosen for a specific job. More animal appearing gargoyles scared away unwanted groups. The more human appearing gargoyles interacted with residents of the valley. The humans showed appreciation for what the gargoyles did by singing.

Songs related their thanks for keeping sickness and war away. All armies and bandits avoided entering the valley fearing for their wellbeing. Gargoyles were the saving angels of the valley, keeping danger out. The human population held their faith and pursued their lives in peace. Songs to keep the human spirit in check and uplifted were appreciated by the gargoyles. They, in turn, helped hunting parties and shepherding duties. Outsiders and invaders never learned about the cohabitation and coordination of the gargoyles and humans. News from outside the valley came readily, but news of the gargoyles true identity never left the valley. Residents and their trusted allies made sure of this.

When the population grew large enough a vast cathedral was built. Artisans worked on the interior with images equal in grandeur to the exterior architecture. Appreciation of music was shown by countless aerial sorties and acrobatics by the gargoyles. People enjoyed their protection and awed at their aerial feats. Musicians joined in with the wandering singers. In quick succession, the cathedral soon added its own voice. The largest pipe organ ever built was installed. With doors and windows open, the cathedral exuded the sound of organ music across the landscape.

As the organ played, it drew more gargoyles from farther out. The more organ music, the more they flew around town like bees around flowers. Their displayed love of music was highest when the churches and cathedral were full and everyone sang. In markets, wandering minstrels performed for market-goers, keeping minds off the wrath of the Great Pestilence in distant cities and wars. Watching from rooftops and balconies, gargoyles were equally entertained. Organ music regularly brought more clans in enjoy the organ’s voice. Visitors were rare any time in the best of weather. Royalty and church elders almost never ventured so far from home.

Bishop Cornelius was the rare church cleric to make the trip. He had heard about the prosperity of the Emerald Valley population and wanted to experience the music first hand. His arrival was announced first by the gargoyles, then by two squads of lightly armored soldiers traveling with him. Most of the mounted soldiers were kept at the edge of the valley. Their leaders did not want to endanger any more soldiers than necessary.

As the Bishop’s entourage entered town musicians stopped performing. Gargoyles disappeared from view as the music faded. The most curious gargoyles remained statue still to watch the procession. Moving through town, Bishop Cornelius witnessed more peace than seen anywhere else. At the cathedral, he was amazed by its size and grandeur. Elaborate stained-glass windows and ornate statues decorated the facade. Hearing the Bishop was making his way through town, the local clergy gathered at the doors of the church. Bishop Cornelius dismounted and approached Monsignor Marcus.

Bishop Cornelius. What a surprise! Welcome to Castile Rosa.”

Thank you, Monsignor Marcus. I’ve heard so much about your church and town I couldn’t resist seeing it for myself,” Bishop Cornelius replied.

You’re most welcome. You’ve had a long journey. Please join me for a meal.”

Your hospitality is most welcome.”

There are stables nearby for your escort,” Monsignor said, pointing toward the armed contingent. “These soldiers aren’t needed here. You won’t find a safer town anywhere.”

The soldiers will follow me wherever I go. They will protect us and find the stable later,” Bishop Cornelius said. A few groans came from the escort.

Cornelius followed him to the doors of the cathedral. They stopped at the top to look around the vicinity. Birds circled around the buildings, singing along with the organ inside. Larger birds could be seen farther out, circling fields, looking for food. These went unnoticed by the Bishop. He watched a dog meander down the street looking for scraps. Another dog walked near his entourage, not caring how close it was to horses, or surly soldiers. Some soldiers shooed it away with a hand. A lancer swung his weapon at it. A growl drifted toward the Bishop and Monsignor as the dog gave the group a wide berth.

You have a very well-kept town. Much cleaner than everywhere else I’ve been to.”

When our forefathers built this town, cleanliness, and order were paramount. Evils of the body and lifestyles aren’t allowed here. We protect ourselves against the Pestilence as best we as can.”

They went inside. Coolness welcomed them as the two clerics walked through the sanctuary. Organ music played as people cleaned and moved throughout the building. Cornelius admired the decor inside as much as he had the exterior adornments. Light filtered through the windows in a kaleidoscope of color; the craftsmanship of the church rivaled that of any found in a larger city. A small contingent of his entourage followed the Bishop. Wherever they went, music from the organ could be heard. Every person they passed hummed or sang, happy to hear the organ. Every opening let the music escape to all parts of Castile Rosa. Grumbling from the weary soldiers faded as they moved deeper into the building. Smells of cooking food intensified.

Monsignor, how many are we expecting for lunch?”

Audrey, we’ll be needing places for six more,” Monsignor announced.

Very well, Monsignor. I’ll see his men outside will get something, as well.” She walked to an assistant and rattled off a list of goods for man and horse.

You’re too kind, Monsignor,” Bishop Cornelius stated. “My men will find accommodations later.”

You’re our guests. We take care of all of our visitors.”

They walked out to a well-maintained courtyard. In the center was a stable, holding an assortment of animals. Horse, mules, goats, and chickens moved in penned areas. At the far side of the courtyard, a sturdy staircase went up to the mezzanine level. At the top, a door opened to a large room with a table laid out for a meal. Windows stood ajar to allow a refreshing breeze to pass through. Music echoed everywhere mixing with birdsong.

Bishop Cornelius stopped to look over the courtyard. Animals were tended to as affectionately as the garden. Cleanliness and health glowed everywhere he looked. Frescoes and murals on the walls were minimal but no less impressive. A hawk rested on the railing twenty feet from the Bishop. A young man approached him holding the end of a taut cord. A medium sized mountain lion led the young man. It favored a leg, obviously recovering from an injury. Monsignor Marcus signaled the start of lunch. Bishop Cornelius turned to find food laid out on the table. He glanced over his shoulder at the predatory animal on its leash, uneasily reflecting on the relationship of the animal and the man tending to it. Sitting at the head of the table he calmed himself with the meal. Hunger overrode his desire to ask about the assortment of animals. Platters of wonderful smelling food were set out. The travelers dug in with ravenous focus. Marcus took the opportunity to check on attendants as they passed. His guests remained quiet as they ate.

With his appetite satiated, Bishop Cornelius focused on the room. At the hearth was a wicker basket tended to by a youth of about ten years. Soft noises emitted from it sounded feline like to him. The intensity of her ministrations touched his heart. He rose from the table and approached the hearth. Inside the basket was a litter of lynx cubs. A mother cat investigated the girl and her charges as it passed through the room. The cat sniffed at the furry charges, checking for herself on the welfare of the cubs before embarking on a distant mission. He followed the cat to the balcony. Outside he looked over the railing to watch the activity of the courtyard. Cornelius noticed a variety of noises in the courtyard. Dogs barking inside the main building, other animal sounds drifted to his position at the railing. The stable loft door opened to reveal an assortment of animals. Inside he focused on another mountain lion with a bandaged leg and wrapped midsection attempting to move around.

Monsignor, I’ve seen many unusual things in my travels, but your church is unique,” Cornelius said. “All around me is beauty and peace. It seems those who’ve taken refuge here are animals.” He pointed to the lynx cubs on the hearth and a young man waiting at the door with an injured bird.

Bishop, we are all God’s creatures. Man, and beast alike,” Monsignor said. “Our town founders have obliged future generations to share with the animals we’ve run off to build our town,” Monsignor replied firmly. “I will not turn away the injured animals brought here.”

In the silence, he heard only the sounds of the courtyard. The organ was no longer being played. Members of his staff stopped to listen. Murmurs arose at the lack of sound. There were times no music played. This was not a time of rest for man or instrument.

In seeing all the animals you care for here, I’d like to know where the human flock is tended to,” Cornelius said. “I’ve seen doors to many rooms, but very few townsfolk.”

Our town takes care of anyone in need. Neighbors help neighbors. When man can’t get help, they come here.” He saw an elderly man approach, an urgent expression on his face. Marcus watched him approach. He signaled the man to come closer. “Yes, Walter.”

Monsignor, there’s an incident in the sanctuary.” He looked to the Bishop. “One of the soldiers is involved.” Walter led the way.

Everyone made room for Marcus and Cornelius as they went back to the church proper. Birdsong and women whispering were the only sounds along the way back to the sanctuary. All present watched a soldier hover over a prone figure. Marcus went to the organist laying across the aisle.

This man is dead. Why?” Monsignor stared at the soldier. In the choir loft, and on every available ledge, Marcus saw a mass of fidgeting figures watching the scene. Shadows fluttered across the windows.

I asked him to stop playing. The music hurt my ears.” The soldier’s expression was grave. “He wouldn’t stop.”

It’s not your place to ask him to stop playing,” Bishop Cornelius stated. “Your actions are inexcusable.”




J.C. works and lives in Wisconsin.  He has a beautiful wife and two active boys.  He enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, time permitting, writing.  Haunted and spooky places have always intrigued him.


Kidnapped! Decor by Selah Janel

I love the sights and sounds of fall in general, and they all seem to come together in October. The skies are a more vivid blue, the air is crisper, and I love the changing leaves. As a kid, I loved walking through them to hear them crunch, loved looking at them fluttering from the trees, and absolutely hated raking them. In my teens, we had a big yard, and that was always one of the things that I absolutely dreaded. Though I think the kid in this story dreads it more, heh.


Very little got Dennis Johnson to move quickly – his son screaming was one of those things. He was out the door and in the large front yard in under a minute. It was hard to miss his son’s tall, lanky frame, especially since he was hopping around, kicking up dead leaves in a vivid autumnal spray. For just the slightest moment he thought maybe the kid was having him on, but up close Kevin was pale and babbling. “Kevin, what is it?”

The leaves crunched under his son’s sneakers with every frantic step. “Call the cops! Holy shit, Oh my God, Dad, it…holy-”

He barely dodged the flailing rake and quickly yanked it from his son’s shaking hand. “Calm down! What’s going on?”

He pointed and turned away, muttered curses turning to whimpers. Kevin was fourteen and already a smartass who usually didn’t care about anything. The lifeless arm sticking out of a leaf pile definitely was more incentive than any advice he’d ever tried to give. It would be a shock to anyone’s system, something so grotesque sitting in the middle of something so pleasant, though he supposed, in reality, it was death on death.

Dennis stared at the limb, the gnarled fingers, the flecks of blood under the nails. Some of the skin on the wrist looked to be wasting away, and the cloth of the sleeve was torn and moldy. His stomach clenched in shock – not like you saw an arm on your lawn every day – but sanity took over. “Really, Kev? I can’t believe you fell for that.”

What?” His son’s disbelief was almost comical.

You think it’s gonna jump out at ya? Come on, dude. It’s October!” He rolled his eyes and poked the arm with the end of the rake for emphasis. “What, you think your old man’s too old to have some fun? I just haven’t gotten the other stuff out of the basement yet.”

The poor kid shook his head as he tried to come back to himself. “What?”

I thought I’d get started on the decorating early this year.” He shrugged as if it explained everything in the universe. “I didn’t think you’d freak out about it.”

His son stared at him in disbelief. “This was a joke? You think this is funny? Dad, holy shit, what the actual hell?The teen shook his arms out, ran his hands through his dark hair, and started cursing for a whole other reason. For a minute he looked like he was ready to grab the rake and bludgeon him with it.

Dennis moved the object to his far hand and stepped back, gauging his son’s reaction carefully. “Don’t let your mom hear you talking like that. Geez, Kev, you about gave me a heart attack screaming like that! What’re you doing out here so early, anyway?”

The kid had gone from scared to defensive in a heartbeat. “I thought if I got it over with I could-”

Play video games all weekend. Uh-huh. You’ve gotta study, too, kid.” As it was, bags were scattered across the lawn and it looked like he’d spread the leaves out more than he’d added to the piles he’d started a few afternoons ago. “Go on, you’re making a mess out here. I’ll finish up. Go do your homework.”

Kevin’s face scrunched and he shook with unreleased adrenaline. “I…fine, whatever. You’re a sick man, Dad,” he grumbled and stomped up toward the house.

You have no idea,” he shot back automatically. Kevin grumbled something and slammed the front door, the typical end note to most of their conversations these days.

Dennis took a few deep breaths of his own, giving himself a few moments to gather his calm and get over his disappointment. When he was sure the teen had gone inside he walked to where a leaf bag was already partly filled and dragged it over to the offending object. Grumbling, he grabbed the lifeless arm and dragged the attached body out from among the golds and oranges that hid it. “How the hell did you get out of the basement…I thought I finished you.” With a quick glance to make sure the neighbors weren’t out on a Saturday morning, he bent and felt the neck. “Well, you didn’t make it far and you’re gone now, so no harm was done.” It took some doing to shove the body into the bag on his own, but he wasn’t going to call Caroline out here for something so trivial and upset Kevin even more. His reactions alone made it obvious he wasn’t ready to help with Halloween decorating yet. “Dumb kid. Everyone knows skeletons are scarier than bodies.” He grunted at the effort it took to drag the bag back to the basement’s outside door. He had to pause three times across the large, sprawling yard before he made it to the concrete steps. “Must be gettin’ old,” he sighed. Back in the day acquiring, storing, and maintaining their decorations had been so much easier. It made it all the more disappointing that Kevin just wasn’t ready to have that talk yet. Dennis braced himself as he dragged the bag back down the steps and inside, making a mental note to tell Caroline their boy wasn’t ready for extra responsibility just yet. While he was at it, he also made a mental note to check the lock on both the outside door and the door to the upstairs. First, though, he’d make sure to poke around all the other piles Kevin hadn’t gotten to yet.



Selah Janel loves Halloween, but writes horror and dark fantasy all year round. She has stories in several anthologies and magazines and co-wrote the collection Lost in the Shadows. Her fantasy/cross-genre novel Olde School combines a lot of fantasy and horror elements together (along with fairy tales and the just plain strange), and her shorter e-book only titles explore a range of genres and ideas. Catch up with her and see a full list of her titles at or follow her on Twitter @SelahJanel

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Clockwork Wonderland

A Horror Anthology

This is an Alice in Wonderland, clockwork, Horror anthology.


Following the rabbit down the hole is the easy part. Battling time is what will kill you. Whether you’re trying to get back home or struggling to survive in Wonderland, your stories MUST be horrifying.

“You act as if time is on your side. He isn’t. He’s always on his own side.”

At the most basic, your story must have a clock involved. Clockpunk, clock engineering, and steampunk with clock elements is encouraged as well as the thought of time as an entity. Be creative, turn Wonderland on its ear. Twist it, tweak it, punk it.

Your story may star or co-star any of the characters in the original text by Lewis Carroll, as well as characters of your own creation. Feel free to “punk” any of the characters to fit your vision, but do not use any characters from other modern day Wonderland series.

A word from the editor: I don’t care how well your story is written, if it’s not scary, or horrifying, it won’t make the cut. We are Bring the horror.

Manuscript Format:
Font: either Courier or Times New Roman.
Double spaced, font 12 point.
Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

In the body of the email:
100 words or less bio about you.
One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ids
Your website or blog

Subject of the email state:
Send to:

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2016, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/16). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date.

If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:

For any other questions, please send an email to:



Deadline: Ongoing

Guest Blog is your chance to share just a little bit of your work with the readers.

*200-1000 words flash
*Must be horror or fit in one of our **Approved Themes below.
*This is for free posting on our blog, exposure only, with link back to your work.
*At the end of the submission, please include your bio (100 word max), url, and attach a cover pic or author pic.
*Send all submissions to:, SUBJ: Guest Blog


**APPROVED THEMES: Dark Fantasy, Monster, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Clockpunk, Alternative, Goth, Metal, Industrial, Avant-garde themes. Erotica only if it tastefully falls into horror / goth / fetish culture. If your submission is in the Science Fiction / Fantasy / Thriller / Suspense or any other genre, please email before submitting with a 2-3 line query. If it seems like it fits, we might make an exception.

For full submission requirements, go to: SUBMISSIONS

Amateur Flash Fiction, A Series. Author 1 – Fauve

winter horror series

You may remember that I posted a Karl Lagerfeld film (featuring Pharrell Williams, Cara Delevingne as ghosts & Géraldine Chaplin and Coco Chanel) last year in winter, just as it released. This year, I wondered what might happen if I showed it to a few authors of varying interests, talents and skills and asked them to use it as their inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction in our theme of Winter Horror. This series is the result and my first try at editing and curating for other authors for a short fiction project. I hope you enjoy their stories during this month. ~Mimielle

Now and Forever, Love Grown Cold

He is always there, from late at night to early in the morning.  When she is sick, when she is tired, he silently watches, holding the bucket while she retches or soothes her face with a scented cloth when the sickness is not severe enough for vomiting. He is quiet but his presence is large, a looming shadow in front of the window- a soft sound as he shifts in his chair, turning the pages of the book he always has in hand.  Faint sounds of the city come and go as the light waxes and wanes, early darkness now falling with the winter chill.  The streets being narrow and the buildings high, it was sooner still than in other places. It is a dark city in general, pollution hovering like a malignant haze clinging to the rooftops and choking the throat.


Would the illness pass, or would she continue to be sick for the entire duration of her lying in? To discover you were pregnant in early winter brings the pleasant thought of a summer birth, but the chill and stillness of winter also brings with it some worries- will the fuel hold out, will I be able to continue to work at all, will my doctor be sympathetic, will my baby be healthy if I can eat only one meal a day?


She sleeps again and wakes.  She was weaving in and out of a dream, seeing hazy vignettes of a summer trip to the seaside flashing by, echoes of her laughter and glimpses of splashing in the tide pools with a smiling man who is now somber and sits silently beside her, preoccupied and expressionless.


He had not wanted a baby at the time and now, 3 months into the pregnancy, has not warmed to the idea. Everything remains cold. Their greetings, their conversations, their kiss goodnight are as cold as the biting chill of the winter air that creeps under the door, impossible to ignore.


That summer is behind them, now and forever.


She turns and makes a small sound and he looks up from his book, folding it closed, considering his words before speaking.  “I will go out to get some air and some food for tonight,” he states quietly. “Will you be all right here alone for a time?”


“Yes. When you come back, can we…?” she replies, her voice catching because she wants to say more but the words do not come.


“Very well, I will return soon.” He does not want to hear the rest of her question once he has the answer to his own.


She sleeps and wakes again.  Wakes alone in the gloom that is daytime, sounds of the city louder now.  Horses drawing their carriages down the cobblestone streets, people walking by, and the distant barking of a dog. London is still industrious and noisy, even on such a bitter winter day. She feels a bit better, her stomach settling and her mind feeling clearer as she ponders the future again.  The worries resettle on her shoulders, and she sighs and decides to bathe before he returns.


While heating the kettle, she fills the hip bath with cold water and unbraids her hair.  The long pale tresses softly cling with static as she brushes them through.  After pouring the hot water, she bathes quickly.  She redresses in her second clean nightgown, rebraids her hair and pins it into a crossed pattern on top of her head. Looking in the mirror, she is pleased with the pink flush from her bath and her condition. She sleeps again.


He returns and lets himself in quietly, putting the paper-wrapped packages in the kitchen ice box and cupboards without a sound. His eyes settle on the knives hanging over the counter- the meat cleaver, the serrated one for bread, the slim boning blade. He turns away and returns to the door of her room, pausing to listen. He hears her even breathing and finally comes to a decision:


They will not have the conversation she wants to have and he will not say the reassuring things she wants to hear. They will not speak of the pregnancy when she wakes, or argue.  They will not eat the supper things he has purchased today. His eyes glisten as the winter sun comes out unexpectedly, the knives gleaming. She will not wake again.


fauve 500x500

Fauve Aeon
Accidental author, virtual world princess in disguise, artist in both worlds. Likes to point with a sceptre while shopping and have guerrilla graveyard tea parties that turn into fashion shoots. BLOG   

Valérie Renée Davis, a personage of particular sensibilites and impeccable taste did generously lend her editorial hand to sort out my snarled tense and generally just                                                                                   Made It Better.

Free Fiction Friday: Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie

 by Grey Harlowe

It was their last chance to get dinner; the restaurant scene in town closed in an hour. Max and Claire had been arguing Mexican versus pizza, Paige wanted seafood and Boyd was ambivalent about any option. He was thirty seconds away from just heading home when they stumbled into a Chinese diner, keeping a low profile next to an arcade.

“Let’s try here,” said Max, triumphantly.

The diner had low lights and an old fashioned bar. The four coworkers, who’d worked late at their small office, sat on its round stools eating. The staff, indulgent types, left them alone.

As the meal wound down, Paige cracked a fortune cookie. Boyd, who hated them, moved to stop her. She giggled.

“Superstitious?” she asked.

“No, that’s why I don’t read these. And who’s ever heard of anything this silly actually telling someone’s future?”

Rolling her eyes, Paige opened her tiny white scroll.

“Good health will be yours for a long time.” She smiled.

“Can’t beat that,” Max said, smiling back. Everyone knew the ex-lovers had been considering reconciliation, delayed while Paige endured a cancer scare. The final tests weren’t back, but it appeared she’d dodged mastectomy.

“Indeed,” said Claire. “I’m next.” Slowly, she recited, “A new wardrobe will accompany great change.”

“Like you need improvement,” Paige said. They all nodded. Claire was often mistaken for a model. “Do yours, Max.”

Max hesitated, then read, “You will be successful in your work. Hmm. Maybe Chuck will lay off soon.” Their boss had been giving Max a hard time. Rumor was, Chuck was unhappy with Max’s pitch to a big overseas client. Chuck was impatient for their product, eco-friendly playground material, to go international.

Pressured by his friends, Boyd opened his cookie.

“You will soon be crossing the great waters.” He was greeted with cackling laughter.

“Ouch,” said Paige. “You don’t think that means—”

“What does it sound like? Is there ambiguity there?” Max teased. “No wonder you hate these cookies, bro.”

“Helpful,” said Boyd, trying to stay brave. The reason he avoided fortune cookies was to avoid tempting fate.

He drove home apprehensive.

It turned out, he’d had cause to be afraid.

The next morning at work, he arrived to a grim scene. Paige was in the breakroom, staring at her coffee mug. Max and Chuck were facing off in the doorway of Chuck’s office, clearly having had a harsh exchange. Eventually, Max stormed out. Boyd could hear someone crying in the bathroom. It sounded like Claire.

“What’s going on?” he asked Paige.

“Well,” Paige said, “Claire’s pregnant. I’m surprised we didn’t notice, but she’s been…dressing to hide it.” Paige looked at the wall. Both recalled the ominous ‘new wardrobe’ fortune.

“Gets worse,” she continued. “Claire admitted affairs with both Max and Chuck. Paternity’s up in the air. Max is dealing, but Chuck’s pissed enough he fired him.”

Boyd gulped. He wasn’t shocked; Chuck was a territorial guy.

“How’re you dealing?” This couldn’t have done Paige’s intended reunion with Max any favors.

“Fine, I guess,” she said. “Doc’s office called. My tests are normal.”

It became surreal. Claire fled the bathroom, tears streaming. Paige followed Claire downstairs. Boyd and Chuck soon heard the women arguing in the street, alongside Max’s voice. Then tires squealing. Screams. Paige would enjoy her ‘good health’ an eternity.

After the funeral, Claire disappeared. So did Max, to search for her. Chuck told Boyd that Boyd would take over their new European account, which Max had been successful at securing in the end. Boyd was to leave immediately, courtesy of a trip on the client’s cruise line.

Crossing the great waters after all, Boyd thought bitterly.

The third day out, Max surprised Boyd beside his deck chair. He looked livid. About his firing, his lost women, or both, Boyd decided.

“I’ve felt so guilty,” Boyd said “Mine was the only nice fortune. Here I am, crossing the water.”

“Don’t feel guilty,” said Max, blood in his eye. “Fortune didn’t say you’d be crossing back.”


HarloweGrey Harlowe’s fiction has been featured on Every Writers Resource and  She is the 2014 winner of the annual ghost story competition, and has also been published in the journal, The Last Line.

Flash Fiction Friday: David Watson

chippewa 286

Photo by Amber Williams


Esmeralda The Great Once Lived Here
by David Watson

This is the end. She saw it coming but no one believed her, they never did. She lived at the amusement park for seven years and was always happy there. Her name was Esmeralda The Great and she told fortunes but no one believed them. They thought it was just for fun but Esmeralda told the truth. She knew what the future held and could tell you what you should do.

No one believed in her abilities, no one except Xander the magician who owned the small amusement park on the ocean. He saw the truth in Lita and renamed her Esmeralda and gave Lita her first real job. Esmeralda loved her work, everyone who came to the amusement park was always nice and she had many friends. People listened to her tell what the future held for them, but they dismissed it as cheap fun.

A few months ago her readings changed, she saw no future for anyone. She saw hair covered creatures with fangs ripping people to shreds and feasting on their body parts. She heard the screams but there was nothing she could do. She told people what she saw but they all laughed. Even Xander said she was working too hard and needed a vacation.

She started to believe them, but one night death came to her amusement park on the ocean. Their eyes were blood-red, they smelled like rotting flesh and they were so fast no one knew what hit them. There were so many, no one at the amusement park could escape, except Esmeralda. She fled to an old underground bomb shelter in the park and stayed there for days or maybe months.

She didn’t want to leave the shelter but she was lonely and out of food, she really had no choice. The amusement park is a different place now. Its quiet and the weeds are getting long. There is dried blood on the pavement and a horrible smell still hangs in the air. This is no happy place anymore, it’s a place of death and now its time for Esmeralda to move on.

The streets are quiet but Esmeralda knows there are still people out there. She can feel them and they’re in danger. She will find a way to help and restore her happy home. Once she finds out what happened she will rebuild and her amusement park on the ocean will live again.  


David Watson is a staff writer at and plans on continuing the story of Esmeralda in a book he is working on called The Saturday Night Monster Club. You can also find him at

Cecil and Bubba Meet The Thang

cecilbubbathangcoverThere is a thin line between comedy and horror. In my opinion, horror should have a little comedy in it to lighten the mood once in a while, but sometimes it is hard for a book to be funny and scary at the same time. One book that manages to scare and make you laugh is Cecil And Bubba Meet The Thang by Terry M. West. Cecil and Bubba’s problems began when they ran over a drunken gypsy’s dog. The gypsy got her revenge by cursing the two men, saying that they would be plagued by strange and evil beings until the day they die. Their first run in with the supernatural was with a succubus named Hattie Mae, but in this story things get worse. It’s Halloween night and Cecil is working late in his father’s garage while Bubba is working as a bouncer at the strip club. Bubba gets the shock of his life when he finds out that Hattie Mae is now working as a stripper in the  strip club and she wants to help Cecil and Bubba lift their curse. Back at the garage Cecil has a couple of customers come in with a broken down truck, they leave the truck to be fixed and warn Cecil to not look in the back. Not being one to follow directions, Cecil looks in the back and an alien escapes to terrorize the town.  The only ones that can save the day now are Cecil, Bubba and Hattie Mae. For a short novella, there is a lot going on in this book. The characters are deep and the story has it all, including drama, comedy, science fiction and horror. The story draws you in from the beginning, making you feel a lot of sympathy for the main characters. Cecil has a heart to heart with his dad that doesn’t go well and we see Bubba at the strip club feeling lonely and not noticing that there is one woman who really likes him. We also get a glimpse of Hattie Mae and see her as a changed woman who is trying to start a new life and redeem herself. After Terry M. West gets us emotionally invested in the characters he manages to give us a great science fiction tale with a creature who could have easily came out of a 1950’s monster movie. The creature has long tentacles and wants to destroy earth and Terry does a great job of describing him. Some of the dialogue between the FBI agents and Cecil and Bubba was also great. There were some good funny moments such as the Plan 9 From Outer Space reference and some of the lines like “Maybe he will phone home.” This book has a lot of heart along with some laughs and good scares.

20330734Keeping with the Halloween theme, I also recently read One Hellacious Halloween from Horror Novel Reviews. This is a book of flash fiction with 30 stories in it all having to do with Halloween. This book has humor, horror and lots of quick quirky stories that would be fun to tell around a campfire. This anthology includes a story from’s own Emerian Rich called “Soul Taker 2.0”. It’s about a game programmer named Tory who is designing an add on pack to an online game called Soul Taker. To play the game you have to sign over your digital soul and all your supernatural fantasies come true, but there is a price to pay. I felt like Emerian really put some research into this story which made it seem more real and I loved the ending. Terry  M. West also has a story in this anthology called “The Hairy Ones,” which is about religion and marriage and what kind of horrors people are willing to put up with for the sake of both. This was a story that managed to be disturbing using the power of suggestion rather than being violent. I felt that this was one of the better stories in the book. This book was a fun read and will do a good job getting you in the mood for Halloween. There were a lot of good ideas and stories in this book such as “Werewolf Dentists From Hell” and “The Halloween House”. The stories were so quick that you didn’t have a chance to get bored and it will introduce you to several new writers. Which leads me to the one thing I didn’t like about the anthology. There were no author bios, so if you like an author from this collection you will have to look them up to learn more about them. I think it would be fun to read a story from One Hellacious Halloween everyday in October to get you in the mood for Halloween, but these stories are entertaining all year-long.