WWW Challenge Story #5: Merry Go When

Merry Go When by Tonia Brown
Beast: Horse… (Any equine incarnation)
Location: Kentucky
Blessing: Time Displacement Device
Curse: Chrononaut’s Ague

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*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Merry Go When

By Tonia Brown

 

Father had the carousel brought in special, all the way from Germany. The purchase was the result of a successful auction, in which he claimed to have outbid at least one hundred other buyers from all over the world. Why he wanted the thing was quite beyond me. My father wasn’t normally given to such childish proclivity, which made the purchase seem all the more out of place. Thankfully, he hid the thing in the garden behind our Kentucky home, where one had to travel down the field and past a small copse of trees in order to find it.

A few days after he had it in place, I inquired about the carousel’s state of being, to which my father sharply assured me it was none of my concern and commanded me not to revisit the matter. He surprised me with his gruff tone and unexpected anger. I hadn’t heard him use such a voice since mother left him for a much younger man.

Father never quite recovered from her abandonment.

The night after his outburst, I awoke to sudden movements just outside our quiet home. I stepped to the window, pulling aside the curtain and peering into the moonlit yard beyond, where a strange sight greeted me. The shadowy form of my father making his way to the garden in the middle of the night.

At first I thought he had taken to somnambulism, and I decided to go after him. I caught up with him just before he reached the carousel and I called out his name. My father turned to me with his mouth agape, as if shocked by my intrusion. This softened into a look of uneasy embarrassment. I demanded to know what was going on. With an unusual candor, he took my hand in his own and explained that the carousel was special. It was said to possess certain rejuvenating powers. That according to legend, the machine acted as a kind of time displacement device, removing years off of one’s life, and restoring the rider to an unbelievable degree of youth. He called it a blessing. A gift from God.

I couldn’t believe what my father was driving at. He was so desperate to be young again, he had fallen for a childish fairy tale. Some outlandish occult legend. To make matters worse, I knew it was all in an attempt to win back my mother’s heart. I begged my father to leave off this odd behavior and return with me to the house at once. He grew angry at me, pushed me aside and stormed off toward the carousel, hell bent on proving his words.

Even by moonlight, the machine was a breathtaking work of art. A large affair, at least thirty feet across, the carousel consisted of an intricately woven pattern of wrought iron, wood and brass. To the left of the entry ramp there extended an arm from the base of the thing, reaching away from the platform then doubling back once more toward the carousel proper; a delivery system equipped with brass rings, ready for the grasping. There were thirteen horses in all, each as large as a real stallion, and each bound by a post that ran the length from the roof to the floor, spearing each animal through their back.

I spied my father inside of the inner ring, manning the console. At his attention, the carousel sprang to life and light. The horses set into an up and down motion as the platform began a slow and steady rotation. This movement was accompanied by a cheery calliope played by an organ hidden somewhere about the mechanism.

My father stepped onto the moving stage, mounted one of the rising and falling steeds, and settled into place. Though he did so with the same aloof severity he reserved for business matters and other affairs of import. He didn’t smile, didn’t speak, didn’t seem to enjoy himself at all. He just held onto the steed and remained silent, as if concentrating on something other than the experience of the ride.

As the carousel turned, the platform spun faster and faster, and I began to grow concerned about my father’s safety. The music rose in pitch, to match the quicker rotations, driving into a wild orgy of wheezes and strained notes. And the horses … I know how this sounds, but the horses came alive! Their nostrils flared and steamed, heavy with breath. They kicked out, bucking against their poles, chomping at their bits and tossing their feral heads. Without warning, my father reached out and in a blur of motion, snatched one of the brass rings from the holder near the ramp.

At this the music lifted into a single, high pitched note, screaming into the wild night. The horses changed with this shriek, melting into nightmarish black steeds, each with matching crimson eyes, gnashing fangs and whipping forked tongues. They roared out, as one, in a single identical note as loud and chilling as the screaming music. I was filled with an utter dread for my father’s life, one that said should those beasts break free from this carousel, the town below our home would suffer in the most horrid of ways.

As the unnatural horses howled and bucked, the carousel’s lights grew to a blinding degree, and I had to shield my eyes.

When I was able to look again, the light dimmed and faded, and the carousel slowed to an eventual halt. The horses were normal once more, both stationary and plain. There was no sign of my father. I called out his name and searched about, worried that he had been flung from his demonic mount in the frenzy of the ride. Instead of my father’s voice, I heard the low croaking growl of something inhuman. I froze in place, worried some wild animal had been attracted by father’s carousel, and was now poised to attack.

In the thin moonlight, a creature emerged from behind the very horse my father had chosen as his mount. It crouched, at almost half my height, and was covered in a dark, leathery skin. Its mouth was stuffed with twisted, yellowing fangs, and nearly bisected its face with an abnormal width. The unholy thing clambered up to squat on the horse, looking out over the garden with wide glassy eyes that rested upon the top of its head. It grabbed at the air with wretched webbed paws and let out another soft, weird croak.

I screamed. I couldn’t help it.

Of course once I did, the thing whipped about to face me, that large, fang filled mouth snapping closed with a resounding click. It then lunged for me, leaping down from the carousel horse and almost atop me. It reached out for me, clawing the emptiness between us. I backed up a few nervous steps then took off in a run, heading for the safety of the house. Thankfully, the beast was slow, hopping in stunted bursts as if it had forgotten how to move its own webbed feet. Once I reached the house, I locked and barred the door, and headed immediately for father’s study, seeking father’s elephant gun—the single weapon he held onto from his younger, more adventurous days.

The beast was not far behind me, and began to scratch and beat on the front door. I loaded father’s gun, returned to the foyer, took aim for the front door, and fired. The door splintered into fragments as the shot tore the wood apart. With the blast of the weapon, the clawing and banging ceased. I switched on the electric porch light and stepped up, peering beyond the ruined wood to find my prey in a slump at bottom step. I reloaded the gun and, holding it before me, I stepped through the ruined door and made my way down the stairs, intending to finish the beast once and for all.

As I approached the creature, it gave a pained croak and flopped onto its back. With the added illumination of the porch light burning behind us, I was able to see the creature’s eyes more clearly. I gazed into those oversized orbs when a strange sensation befell me. I clearly recognized the beast’s eyes as my own kin. But how? Answer my silent question, the beast relaxed a webbed hand, and from it rolled a brass ring, spinning across the pavement between us until it came to rest at my feet.

It was then I understood what had happened.

Father was wrong. The carousel wasn’t a blessing. The machine, this time displacement device, did exactly as the legends proposed it would. It had displaced time from my father, only, it took too much. An unbelievable degree of youth, indeed! He thought he would step off the carousel a young man, but instead, in some kind of weird time traveling side effect, a type of crononaut’s ague, he came back a de-evolved monster.

A monster I had just slain.

With tear filled eyes, I lowered myself to his side, cradled my dying father’s head in my lap, and held him to me as he shuddered and exhaled his last breath.

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To vote for this story in the 2014 Wicked Women’s Writing Challenge, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: July 28th, 2014

WWW Challenge Story #4: What Happens In Vegas

What Happens In Vegas by Lindsey Goddard
Beast: Rabbit
Location: Magic Act in Vegas
Blessing: Mirrors
Curse: Jealous Magician gone MAD!!!

 

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*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

What Happens In Vegas

Lindsey Beth Goddard

Vivica tapped her six inch stilettos on the floor and waited for her cue to enter stage left. Her chest heaved in her sequin push-up top, and she fanned herself with both hands. Calm down, she thought, before your eyeliner runs and you turn into the world’s sexiest raccoon.

 

Stage fright was something Vivica had never experienced. She always said her nerves were stronger than steel; they were titanium. But you shouldn’t have done it. It’s a dirty trick, and it’s going to blow up in your face.

 

She watched Harvey on stage as a Burmese python slithered up the sleeve of his tux. It reappeared, center stage, in a cloud of confetti and smoke, and the crowd cheered. Vivica frowned as Harvey’s words from last night replayed in her mind. She remembered the way he had scowled at her, had moved so close to her face that she could feel his drunken body heat. “If I catch you flirting with another man again,” he had hissed through fetid whiskey breath, “I’ll feed that goddamn rabbit of yours to the snake.”

 

He smiled on stage. He turned to the crowd with a dramatic sweep of his arms. “For the next bit of madness, I’ll need some assistance,” he bellowed. “She’s hypnotic. She’s erotic. She’s not afraid of the blade! Please welcome… Ms. Vivica.”

 

Vivica entered the spotlight with a seductive swagger. She stepped over to a large wooden structure. It was circular, painted red and white like a huge target. She pressed her back against the wood. Harvey tightened her restraints.

 

He stepped back, took aim, and within seconds knives whizzed through the air, stabbing an outline of her body in the wood. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. A blade struck the board mere inches from her face. She gritted her teeth. I’m getting too old for this.

 

The show dragged on and on, until finally the moment arrived. The hat trick. Harvey loved his tired old hat trick. “An homage to the ancestors of magic”, he called it.

 

There was a secret compartment in the table below his hat. That’s where Abra Cadabra was supposed to be waiting. Sweet, fluffy little Abra Cadabra, the bunny Harvey had threatened to kill just one night before. Vivica smirked.

 

He plunged his hand into the hat and felt around for the rabbit. He froze. A look somewhere between pain and horror crossed his features. His eyes grew wide, and he let out a scream so loud that it made Vivica cringe. He writhed and tried to pull away, but something yanked his arm deeper.

 

Vivica knew the rabbit would bite. That was the whole point of the prank—to startle Harvey, to deliver a blow to his pride in front of a huge audience. But this? Something wasn’t right. Harvey was in too much pain.

 

He freed his hand from the hole, and the fat, hideous rabbit dangled there, its yellow teeth buried deep between his knuckles. Blood and foamy saliva moistened its face. The hat was stuck between Harvey’s elbow and the frothing little beast. It made it difficult for him to get a good view of his predator.

 

But Vivica could see it. She gulped. What exactly was she seeing?

 

Triple the size of Abra, this rabbit’s beady red eyes were slanted, its hackles raised. Its sharp claws sliced the air. Harvey gripped its plump body with his free hand and attempted to squeeze the life out of the critter as it mangled his knuckles, whipping its mangy head back and forth.

 

It opened its bloody maw and chomped down, severing fingers. Blood squirted from the amputated digits. The theater filled with screams. It spat the fingers out and lunged forward, ripping into Harvey’s arm. Tears of pain welled in his eyes. Blood coated his shirt.

 

He reared back and flung the rabbit to the floor. It growled, exposing a mouth full of fangs. It hopped over to him and used its claws to scurry up the fabric of his pants. He tried desperately to kick it off, doing a one-legged dance with his mutilated hand tucked under his armpit. It scrambled across his chest. Its face hovered just over the pulse at his jugular.

 

Vivica ran to him. A scream of agony echoed through the sound system from a nearby microphone as the creature tore into his neck. He fell to his knees, ripping the little monster from his throat with both hands as crimson gore soaked its fur. Harvey’s fingers went limp and he dropped it.

 

Vivica’s shadow fell over the rabbit. It glared at her, yellow teeth bared. She lifted a slender leg and stomped down with all her might, driving the thin metal of her stiletto heel through the top of the rabbit’s skull with a wet crunch. The rabbit’s paws twitched as she removed the metallic heel from its brain. With one last feeble kick, it stopped moving.

 

She dropped to the floor beside Harvey. Blood spilled from his neck. It soaked her knees and pooled around them as memories of last night washed over her. The strange man’s words… “I have the perfect rabbit for you,” he had said. His eyes shined like obsidian in the dim track lighting of the hotel bar. “An extremely rare breed. One that will teach old Harvey a lesson.”

 

“I’m sorry. I’m not following. W-what do you mean?”

 

His teeth seemed too large when he smiled. “He deserves a little payback, don’t you think?”

 

“For… for what?”

 

“For what? Why, for threatening to feed your pet rabbit to his snake. And in public. I imagine he’s even worse when you two are alone.”

 

She had nodded. He’d certainly hit the nail on the head there. She felt odd opening up to a stranger this way, but she nodded all the same.

 

Harvey had embarrassed her, that was true. This was a business meeting, nothing more. The man she sat with at the lobby bar was a dealer of rare animals. Vivica had been hoping to retire Abra Cadabra and introduce a more exotic rabbit to the act.

 

But Harvey had come through the hotel and spotted them at the bar together. He’d made a scene, made accusations. As if she were the unfaithful one! Ha! She knew about Harvey’s indiscretions in the matters of monogamy. Still, he always found a way to point the finger at her.

 

“I’ve got a rabbit that is very different from the rest.” He flashed that peculiar smile again, all tooth and no lip. “She’s a biter. Positively vicious.You won’t need to handle her, of course. I’ll take care of everything.” He winked. “Just imagine, if you will, the great and powerful Harvey, humiliated by a rabbit!”

 

Why had she agreed to such a reckless prank? The memory pained her now.

 

The spotlights dimmed as crew members trickled out from backstage. The audience fell silent.  Harvey’s body convulsed against the floor. His eyes rolled back in his head.

 

The color drained from Harvey’s face, and his movements slowed to a stop. One last, shaky breath left his lungs. And then, Harvey started to change…

 

Thick fur sprouted from his skin. It covered his neck, his cheeks, his nose—every part of him. His missing fingers grew back. Then all ten digits fused together into a disturbing human-like paw. Curved claws grew from the tips. His ears grew, too, rising up from his head, and he rolled to the side, coughing, sprinkling the floor with human teeth. Saliva glistened on his freshly grown fangs.

 

She scrambled back and rose to her feet just as Harvey sprang to his. Well, it was really more of a hop than anything. He tracked her with his beady red eyes. His still-human lips curled into a sneer beneath thick fur, and she could see the sharp points of his teeth.

 

She removed her high heels and prepared to run. He lunged at her, but she managed to sidestep him and bolt in the other direction.

 

Her bare feet slid in a river of blood. Blood from when Harvey had died. Time seemed to slow down as she fell, and all she could think was: He did die. I saw it with my own eyes. He did. The Harvey I know is long gone.

 

She hit the ground, flipped over, saw him closing in.

 

Beside her was a table with a mirror affixed to the front. On any other night, the mirror was just another prop used for an optical illusion. But tonight, it was a godsend.

 

She tightened her grip on the stiletto shoe in her hand and smashed the metal heel into the glass—once, twice, three times. It shattered. She selected a long, jagged piece, squeezing it so hard that it sliced into her palm. Blood trickled down her wrist as he fell onto her, straddled her, opened his mouth wide, ready to rip her throat out.

 

She stabbed the piece of glass into the side of his head directly below his giant ears. It sliced into his temple. Blood rained down on her face. The glass maimed her hand, but she kept on pushing, driving the shard deeper and deeper into his head, until his clawed paws loosened their grip and Harvey’s mutated body slumped to the side.

 

She crawled away from the monster that had once been Harvey. Trembling and hysterical, she cried on stage before an audience of horrified faces. And in that sea of faces, for the briefest of moments, she could swear she glimpsed a familiar one. His eyes so dark they glimmered black. A toothy grin, too big for his head. She was certain he’d been there… smiling.

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To vote for this story in the 2014 Wicked Women’s Writing Challenge, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: July 28th, 2014

WWW Challenge Story #3: The Gray Girl

The Gray Girl by Stephanie Lenz
Beast: Goat
Location: Mardi Gras
Blessing: Gris-gris
Curse: Your cocktail has been spiked with a voodoo potion!

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*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

“The Gray Girl”

Stephanie Lenz

 Mardi Gras, 1981

Since her mother’s disappearance, Maia had been drawn to the old St Louis cemetery. Mardi Gras made people careless so she had hope. Locked again but at its base, just inside the gate, she found a palm-sized rag doll. It smelled of lavender and she hugged it to her face. Attached to its dress was a note with words Maia couldn’t read.

Inside, a yellowish curtain of light seemed to cut the cemetery in half. A woman walking through the graveyard caught Maia’s eye. Not a ghost. Maia couldn’t see ghosts. Just people and their colors. She was as real as Maia herself and she glowed faint violet. The woman smiled, took three steps, and disappeared into the light.

In the morning, Maia found a woman sweeping beads, paper, and broken glass into Bourbon Street. She held up the doll and asked for help. The woman fingered the note, then wrapped an arm around the child and invited her inside. She made Maia a sweet cherry-almond drink that drew the damp from her bones, then made a telephone call that began, “Queen, I have a kid for you.” She smiled and draped cheap purple beads around Maia’s neck, adding, “Hold tight to that gris-gris, girl.”

“Gray girl?” Maia pulled at a goat’s hair poking through the fabric.

August 2005

The child had been curled in the corner of Queen Clémence’s shop since Giles had brought her the day before. No magic, real or imagined, could get her to speak, move, or take a sip of water.

“I can’t leave the Quarter,” Maia said, sipping a beer and leaning on the register counter, her bronzed arms glistening with sweat and work.

“Maia, it’s mandatory this time.”

“And the police,” she replied, pointing at his badge, “are trying to turn me into a babysitter. That is not what I do.”

He leaned forward. “I know what you do. That’s why I brought her here.”

Maia looked down toward the girl, barefoot with the dampness of the Ninth Ward still up to the knees of her pants. “What color was that man? The policeman who just left. Not his skin. His other color.”

The little girl allowed her eyes to meet Maia’s. “Purple.”

“I thought he was more of a pinkish-purple.”

The child unfolded and curled her legs alongside her body like a mermaid’s tail.

“He told me your name is Espie.”

“You’re purple too.”

Maia held up a finger, then opened the purse with the strap that she wore across her chest. Removing the doll, she asked, “Do you know what this is?”

The little girl’s eyes opened wide. “My dolls are all at home. Under the water. With my grandmamma.”

“Have you ever made a gris-gris?”

“Grandmamma says voodoo comes from the devil.”

Maia offered her hand as Espie stood. “Did she show you how to keep him away?”

Mardi Gras, 2014

“Goat Herder, wasn’t it?”

“You remembered.” She accepted the cocktail Hunt delivered to her, jostled by tourists spilling beer on her emerald green Tulane t-shirt.

He watched as she drank. “My, my, Maia. We never thought we’d get you.”

The potion he’d mixed into her cocktail rushed under Maia’s skin. Her protections, her memories, her training, as impossible to grasp as handfuls of water. His aura dissolved from pink to dusty orange.

She spotted this year’s kid on the other side of the club, his gris-gris bag knotted through a belt loop, as he sipped beer from a plastic gold cup. He’d gone from red to purple, the strongest aura Maia could sense. Hunt couldn’t see him. She’d done her job.

“Clémence’s hand-raised kid. Savior of the goats without horns.” Hunt ran his hands over her shivering flesh. He kissed her neck and whispered. “I’ll drain your mind before I’ll drain your blood. The meat,” he said with a squeeze, “is least of what I want. I might spare your precious Quarter for the year if you give yourself – all of yourself – to me, ma biche.”

As he spoke, Maia’s fingers searched her purse for her own red satin bag filled with herbs, cemetery dirt, and goat hair. She found it. He couldn’t see her or feel her but it was only temporary magic, a few minutes at best. She ran toward Basin Street, darting through the crowds to St. Louis #1.

As the night’s last tour group filtered past, carelessly dropping bits of stolen brick, Maia slipped through the gates, clutching the gris-gris with both hands over her pounding heart. The darkness rose like water.

“Voilà,” Hunt’s voice echoed off the marble and brick. “Maia Gray, Protector of Goats.”

Maia positioned herself carefully. The old border of the Vieux Carré ran right through St. Louis #1, soft, yellow, and pulsing. She took a step backward. The other colors of her world faded into gray.

Hunt picked plaster from a whitewashed tomb. “I have a lot to repay you for. Twenty-five years of hornless goats we didn’t get, plus that kid you kept as a souvenir from the Feast of Katrina. We’re hungry and we’re inviting you to the table, ma biche.”

Another step backward. Her dark curls lifted in a low breeze.

He recognized what she was doing. “You made a vow, Protector. You can’t leave The Quarter.”

“You’re right. I’ll never leave it.”

“You knew. You knew what I was gonna do, didn’t you? How long have you known?”

“All eight years.”

He nodded. “You drank it of your own free will. You know who I am, what I want. There’s nothing to save you from me now. Nothing to save the Quarter. Nothing to save your precious ‘kids.’ Let me feast on your fear, Maia.”

She dropped the gris-gris.

His eyes followed it, then fell on her face. His expression changed. The shadows around him swirled and rose like smoke. “No fear. How are you unafraid? For yourself. For the Quart… Another Protector? Th-that’s impossible! Tell me!”

Au revoir.”

His scream caught in his throat as Maia took her final step backward and disappeared.

Hunt de Chèvre had promised he would deliver The Protector, that they would finally devour her – body and soul. Instead, they would starve. He waved a hand in front of the cemetery gates to open them. He didn’t see the orange sparks that flew from his hand.

The young woman sitting cross-legged on a low tomb did see. She’d always seen the colors. Grandmamma had told her it was a curse. Miss Maia showed her it was a blessing. Maia had also taught that those with this blessing were called by the Quarter to protect the innocent. Otherwise they – prey and Protector alike – would become “hornless goats,” sacrificed and consumed by de Chèvre and his followers. The final lesson had been how to dissolve into the Quarter if, by time or by trickery, your powers grew too weak to protect anyone, including yourself.

She carried two gris-gris in her bag: the one she’d made with Maia and the one Maia had given her. The Gray Girl, she’d called it.

Esperanza slid along Bourbon Street like sap over bark. She hooked a finger through a set of discarded purple throw beads, looped the beads around her neck, and let the Quarter lead its Protector into its heart.

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To vote for this story in the 2014 Wicked Women’s Writing Challenge, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: July 28th, 2014

WWW Challenge Story #2: An Appetite for Trouble

An Appetite For Trouble by Chantal Boudreau
Beast: Monkey
Location: A Jungle Temple
Blessing: Candy Bar
Curse: Cannibals!

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

An Appetite for Trouble

                When Doctor Toyin Katabe, professor of anthropology, had been preparing for a journey to examine a potential find in the jungles of East Africa, the association awarding her the research funding had insisted she not go alone.  It didn’t matter that she had originally come from that area and was familiar with the language and customs there.  It also didn’t matter that she had been studying ancient cannibalistic civilizations since completing her masters three decades before.  Despite the fact that she was perfectly healthy, far fitter than the average woman her age and stronger too, they had insisted she take a graduate student along with her, and preferably one who was both young and male.

While not surprised that the old-fashioned, old-money codgers who chaired the association had placed such foolish demands upon her, Doctor Katabe had still been insulted.  She had always been perfectly capable of taking care of herself while on these outings.  Extinct ancient tribes hardly posed a threat to the living.  Insects were a much bigger danger, so unless a grad student was intending to follow her around with a giant flyswatter, she didn’t need him for protection.

Besides, Toyin knew her away around a jungle and had a talent with handling wild animals.  She even owned a trained monkey, Bobo, as a pet.  More than a pet really – she considered Bobo a service animal because he could do things for her she couldn’t manage for herself.  He could scale heights or squeeze into tight spots to retrieve things for her, and he had a few other special tricks he could perform with the right incentive.  As far as she was concerned, he was better than any graduate student playing assistant.  And while she might welcome human companionship while searching for evidence of Neolithic cannibals in Europe or South America, she preferred to visit her home turf alone.

At least, this is how she had felt initially, before it had turned out that the extinct ancient tribe of cannibals hadn’t been quite so extinct after all.  Doctor Katabe and her six-foot-two twenty-something chaperone, Derek, had been searching through the aged evidence of ritualistic cannibalism – cannibalism similar to that of the Mangbetu tribe that had brought them to the Congo Basin in the first place – when they were ambushed.  The swarm of mostly-naked jungle natives that surrounded and seized them had painted faces and wore jewellery made from carved pieces of cranial bones.   It reminded Toyin of a scene out of an old adventure serial.

Derek had tried to fight but was quickly overcome.  Toyin had known better.  She would wait until the odds lay more in her favour.  That way, unlike Derek, she was conscious when they bound her arms.  She could bunch her muscles as much as possible to allow some slack when she relaxed them later.  It might provide her with the opportunity to escape when they were paying less attention.

Along with being taken by surprise and frightened by the cannibals aggressive swarming, Doctor Katabe also suffered the disappointment of watching Bobo scramble screaming into the jungle.  His loss was more grievous than watching Derek succumb to a well-placed blow to the head.  She had never counted on any real help from the grad student anyway.  He was there merely as a watchdog for the privileged old men who had funded her trip to prove to their cronies they supported education and the exploration of different cultures, like good gentleman should.  Bobo, on the other hand, was her right arm.  Without him, her chances of escape dropped to almost zero.

Now, captured and held in their secluded village, Doctor Katabe had to admit that taking Derek along had been worth it after all.  The cannibals had taken one look at his youthful form and brawn and decided to eat the grad student first.  In their place, Toyin likely would have made the same choice.  One look at her silvering hair, lean muscle and wrinkling dark skin, and she would have assumed such a person would make for a tough and stringy meal, like chewing old leather.

She had been forced to watch as Derek had begged for his life, the young man in tears as they had prepared him for decapitation with a well-balanced blade that resembled the Ngombe cult weapons.  Toyin didn’t see the point to grovelling.  If she ended up at a place past any hope of escape, she would accept her fate with dignity.  Why get upset when death was inevitable?

But she wasn’t there yet – she still had hope despite watching blood gush from the place where Derek’s severed head had once rested and his brawny form twitch in its death throes.  She had time too, the lost tribe still full after cooking and devouring her grad student.  She only prayed Bobo would make an appearance before it was her turn.  If he did, she might not end up serving as the second course.

Doctor Katabe was depending on Bobo to follow the tasty trail she had left him while on route to the secluded tribal village.  Knowing Bobo’s affinity for sweets, the anthropologist had secured a small bag of stuffed figs from a vendor outside her hotel, which she kept in her pocket as rewards for the monkey.  She also had a chocolate bar secured in her shirt flap, but that needed to be saved for emergencies only.  With her hands only loosely bound in front of her, she had managed to ease the figs one by one out of her pocket and drop them along the way.  As long as Bobo’s appetite for treats drove him forward, he would reach her eventually. Toyin was relying on that.

In the meantime, she had been worrying at the ties that bound her wrists and she was close to the point where she would be able to free her hand to use as she pleased.  She would need that free hand when Bobo arrived, in order to reach the chocolate bar in her possession.  Her fate would be decided in that one moment: would she be liberated or would she be lunch?  She certainly was aiming for the former rather than the latter.

Toyin had been pretending to sleep on the mat they had laid out for her, still struggling with her bonds, when she heard the first delightful signs of that Bobo had arrived, making curious little noises from the shelter of the trees.  His arrival happily coincided with the somewhat painful removal of one hand from the ties.  She smiled inwardly.  The cannibals had no idea she was about unleash her worst weapon upon them.

Unbeknownst to the cannibals, the anthropologist truly had trained her monkey to protect her with the right prompts and the right incentives.  Fortunately for Doctor Katabe, Bobo would do anything for chocolate, including attacking people upon her command.

“Chocolate, Bobo – chocolate,” she whispered, sliding the candy bar from her shirt flap.  It was squishy, melted from the heat, but the monkey wouldn’t care.  Toyin tore the oozy packaging in two, passing one to Bobo who had emerged from the shadows of the trees with his mistress’s tempting summons.  She returned the other half to its original location.  “You know what you need to do for the rest of it,” she told Bobo as he sucked the last of the brown, sugary sludge from his half of the wrapper.

The next few seconds that followed were pure chaos, when Bobo’s shrill shrieks attracted the cannibals.  Once they came into view, he set upon them as if rabid, leaping upon heads, scratching at faces and biting at ears, gouging at eyes and clawing at scalps.  Multiple attempts were made to grab at him, but he was more agile than those who sought to snatch him up. Soon cries of agony and blood from the rending of flesh added to the pandemonium.  Toyin took the opportunity to free her ankles from their ties, while her captors were fully distracted by Bobo’s rampage.  After a few hearty rubs to restore some feeling to her numb legs and feet, she lurched away from her mat and sprinted off into the jungle.

Her flight was hurried and haphazard, trying to put as much distance between her and the cannibal village before they noticed she was gone.  The adrenaline generated by the memory of what had happened to Derek kept her running long after she normally would have succumbed to fatigue.  When she finally did slide to a shaky stop, she had to count herself lucky for not tripping on some root or stone in her path, or impaling herself on some unfortunately-placed tree branch.  She could no longer hear Bobo’s enraged hoots or the cannibals’ shouts of distress.  Either they had managed to subdue him, drive him off, or Toyin had succeeded in running far enough that they were all now out of earshot.

She hoped Bobo had survived unscathed and had made his own escape.  If so, she would definitely see him again.  He would most certainly track her by scent, demanding the remains of his prize once he had found her.  Doctor Katabe, in the meantime, would rest as best she could until morning, when she would reorient herself using the rising sun and make her way back to base camp and then the hotel.  She had gathered more than enough data by that point to consider her venture into the Congo Basin a successful one.

Toyin realized, as she settled down into the greenery to relax under the moonlight, that her stomach was grumbling.  She hadn’t eaten in over a day, the cannibals having only provided her with water to drink.  For the briefest moment she contemplated devouring the second half of the gooey chocolate bar resting securely in her shirt flap.  She reminded herself that it would be far better not to, despite the temptation.  The melted candy would only dampen her hunger temporarily.  After the crash from the sugar high, she would feel far worse.

And then there was Bobo. If and when he returned to her, she could only imagine how he would react to the fact that she had robbed him of the other promised half of his reward.  His response to her would likely be more violent than his attack upon the cannibals.  Toyin didn’t want to risk that, not when her monkey had such an appetite for trouble.

With that in mind, she left the chocolate bar where it was. She’d rather not invite that kind of pain.

Closing her eyes, with the vague chance of sleep, Doctor Katabe prayed that no other denizens in the area would also decide she looked and smelled like lunch.  She had had enough of playing potential snack for a lifetime.

****************

To vote for this story in the 2014 Wicked Women’s Writing Challenge, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: July 28th, 2014

 

WWW Challenge Story #1: Photo Finish

Photo Finish by D.M. Slate
Beast: Dragon
Location: A Japanese Night Club
Blessing: Hairspray
Curse: Hallucinations

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

 

Photo Finish

By D.M. Slate

Liza steps out of the cab, closing the door behind her.  She shields her eyes from the sun, looking up at the sky scrapers that line both sides of the busy street.  The over-cluttering of Japan’s rich, vibrant colored signs makes her smile.

Tossing her silky blonde locks over her shoulder, Liza straightens her shirt and heads for the front doors.  Her photo shoot today is on the top floor – at the White Serpent night club.  She enters the elevator, taking a deep breath as it begins to move.  Today is Liza’s first time working with Chuu, the photographer, and her stomach jitters with nervousness.  Being a petite blonde American has made modeling work easy to find in Japan, but learning the language has been a much harder task.

The elevator comes to a stop, and as the doors open Liza’s breathe catches in her throat.  The White Serpent’s décor is stunning.  Glowing chandeliers of red, blue and purple dangle from the ceiling, accenting the sleek white chairs, booths and couches that line the hard-wood floor.  A massive sculpture of a white dragon slithers around the chandeliers from one corner of the night club to the other.  To the south, a wall of windows provides a penthouse view of the bustling city below.

A man steps out from behind the bar and the movement catches her eye.  She hadn’t seen him standing there, silently observing her.  She smiles, raising a hand in a typical American greeting, before catching herself in mid-motion.  Pulling the hand down, she gives a proper bow, instead.

Chuu approaches, speaking a mouthful of words that Liza can’t decipher.  She’s taken aback by his appearance.  Dressed in noting but black, his tall slender form seems to float across the floor toward her.  His goth-like attire is complete with a sliver-link chain that hangs around his neck, and a head full of spikey black hair.  When he comes to a stop next to her, Liza notices the eye liner that accentuates his almond shaped eyes.

Agitated with her lack of verbal response, he sneers at her.  She rattles off the only greeting she knows in Japanese, which does little to win Chuu’s approval.  He spins on the heel of his boot, walking away.  Liza timidly scurries after him.  The photographer retrieves an outfit off of the bar and hands it to her, pointing her in the direction of the women’s restroom.

Once inside the bathroom, Liza lets out a deep breath, trying to calm herself.  Scoffing at the clothes, Liza shakes her head as she changes into the skimpy pleather outfit.  A cross between animee design and sexy-school girl attire – the mid-drift top, short skirt and knee-high socks seem to be essential items in most of her Japanese shoots.  And today, a pair of six-inch spiked heels completes the outlandish outfit.

Liza gives the shoes a trial run in the bathroom, terrified to trip and fall in front of Chuu.  Satisfied that she’s stable enough on them, she stuffs her clothes down into her massive purse and slings the bag over her shoulder.  Taking one last glance in the mirror, Liza digs down into the purse retrieving a bottle of hairspray.  Giving her hair a final spritz, she drops the bottle back into her bag and exits the restroom.

The club has taken on a new life and her eyes sparkle with wonderment.  Fog machines pump thick plumes of smoke out from the ceiling, filling the room in cloud of white.  A fan blows lightly against a wall of various colored silks, and the materials dances in the breeze.

The lighting equipment for the photo shoot is set up next to the silk wall, so Liza saunters in that direction, looking around for Chuu.

She gasps in surprise when he steps out from behind a pillar wearing a red dragon mask.  Covering his entire head, the large dragon-shaped mask seems unproportionate to his thin body, and Liza wonders how he’s able to bear its weight.  Seemingly unaffected by the mask, Chuu points toward the couch by the silk wall.  Liza approaches it, leaning lightly on the arm of the couch in one of her typical model poses.  Chuu begins to snap photos, holding the camera up to the eye piece of the dragon mask.  The lamps pop with a flash of light with each photo that is taken.

Ignoring the strangeness of the situation, Liza concentrates on posing for the photos.  Feeling light-headed and dizzy, she leans her full weight onto the couch.  The camera continues to click, and the lights continue to flash brightly before her eyes.  The bulbs seem to stay illuminated longer now, and Liza finds herself staring at the lamps, drawn to them.  Her mind is wandering, and before long, she forgets why she’s even at the nightclub.  Looking down at clothing her mind spins in confusion.

With each inhale of the drugged fog, Liza slips further and further from consciousness.  Chuu places the camera on a tripod, setting it on auto-click.  He disappears into the cloud of smoke and the camera continues snap photos.  By the time he returns, Liza has slumped to a seated position on the couch, staring blankly ahead in a drugged stupor.

Her eyes follow the movement of his large butterfly blades as he swings them from side to side.  The twelve inch knives are curved – slender at the bottom, wide at the end – and he holds one in each hand.  Fog dissipates and swirls around his crimson dragon mask as he slices the daggers through the air.  Liza’s transfixed, unable to look away.  With each swing of the blades her eyes hallucinate.  Tracers following the curving arches of the knives transform into fluttering wings on the sides of this red dragon beast.

Liza’s brain never processes danger, until the first slice tears through her flesh.  The razor-thin dagger bites into her pale white skin, gouging a deep cut into her thigh.  Blood sprays through the air, and the butterfly blades continue to swing.

Scrambling away from the monster, screaming, Liza sprints toward the elevator.  The spike of her heel tilts to the side, twisting her fragile ankle.  She crumbles to the floor, crawling on her hands and knees, trying to escape.  Another swing of the knife slices her lower back, sending her flailing to the floor.  Liza’s hand snags the strap of her purse, and her fingers clamp down around it.  She pulls the bag toward her, reaching for her phone.

The fatal slash of the blade penetrates the back of Liza’s neck, severing her spinal cord.  Gasping for breath, her brain slowly begins to misfire.

Chuu reaches down grabbing Liza by her feet, pulling her body back across the floor.  Reaching the couch, her rolls her onto her back, looking down into her dying eyes.  Picking her slender body up with ease, Chuu places her on the couch, in a sitting position.  Blood pours from the back of her neck, cascading over her shoulders and trickling down the front of her body.

The red dragon yanks the purse from Liza’s death-grip, not wanting it to tarnish his perfect photo shoot.  The camera continues to snap on auto, click, click, click. Chuu marvels at the perfection of the scene he’s created.

He tosses Liza’s purse carelessly aside.  The hairspray bottle rolls slowly out of the bag into the fog, but Chuu doesn’t notice.  Brandishing a blade in each hand, he swings the butterfly knives again, triumphantly.

Side-stepping out of the camera’s frame, Chuu’s foot lands awkwardly on the hairspray bottle.  Thrown off balance, his arms flail through the air as he trips, and falls.  The razor-sharp blade pierces the soft flesh of his lower back, skewering his internal organs, before exiting his stomach.

Impaled on his own blade, Chuu struggles to breath.  The mask falls from his head and his wide, dying eyes stare up into the fog.  Blood trickles from the corner of his mouth with every laborious exhale.

All the while the camera continues to snap on auto, click, click, click to capture the glorious photo finish.

************************
To vote for this story in the 2014 Wicked Women’s Writing Challenge, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: July 28th, 2014

Wicked Women Writers Challenge 2014

www9801202014 Wicked Women Writer Challenge – 

Welcome to the 6th annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge
Hosted by HorrorAddicts.net

The audio for these stories will post by Saturday June 28th. The text versions will run June 29th-July 3rd. Subscribe to this blog so we can alert you with they post.

Beauty and

the Beast

WWW2014promo

Premise: There is something both fearsome and attractive in a wild thing, be it man or beast. From creature legends told around ancient campfires, to modern tales of King Kong and cryptozoology, critters have always captured our darkest imagination. Five finalists have created stories based on this premise and with challenges that were randomly selected. Each challenger received: 1. Location 2. Blessing – Helpful Item 3. Curse – An untimely disability 4. Beast

Your task as a listener is to listen to each story (or read it on the blog) and then vote for who you think is the Most Wicked for 2014 by sending an email to: HorrorAddicts@gmail.com

In your email please include the challenger’s name or story tile and why you liked it best. One lucky voter will win a  HorrorAddicts.net prize pack!

Challengers

DM Slate

Photo Finish by D.M. Slate
Beast: Dragon
Location: A Japanese Night Club
Blessing: Hairspray
Curse: Hallucinations

Danyelle (aka D.M. Slate) resides in Colorado. She attended college at the University of Northern Colorado and completed a business degree, and now works as a financial analyst. She’s married to her high school sweet-heart, and together they have a young daughter and son. To find out more, go to http://www.dm-slate.com

ChantalAn Appetite For Trouble by Chantal Boudreau
Beast: Monkey
Location: A Jungle Temple
Blessing: Candy Bar
Curse: Cannibals!

Chantal Boudreau is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends, who lives by the ocean in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. In addition to being a CMA-MBA, she has a BA with a major in English from Dalhousie University. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, online journals and magazines. Fervor, her debut novel, a dystopian science fantasy tale, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by its sequels, Elevation, Transcendence and Providence. Magic University, the first in her fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September 2011 followed by Casualties of War in 2012 and Prisoners of Fate, in 2013. Find out more at: http://chantellyb.wordpress.com

stephanieThe Grey Girl by Stephanie Lenz
Beast: Goat
Location: Mardi Gras
Blessing: Gris-gris
Curse: Your cocktail has been spiked with a voodoo potion!

Stephanie Lenz writes mainstream and genre fiction in western Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, daughter, son, cat, and two dogs. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida State and edits Toasted Cheese, where she created and co-judges the annual “Dead of Winter” horror contest. Some of her southern gothic fiction has appeared in Quantum Muse, The Journal of the Blue Planet, and the anthology Harlan County Horrors. Find out more at: piggyhawk.net

LindseyGoddardWhat Happens In Vegas by Lindsey Goddard
Beast: Rabbit
Location: Magic Act in Vegas
Blessing: Mirrors
Curse: Jealous Magician gone MAD!!!

Lindsey Beth Goddard’s stories have appeared in anthologies such as Mistresses Of The Macabre, Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror, Axes Of Evil, and Bleed. She lives in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. When she’s not writing, she enjoys interviewing fellow authors, playing with her children, and plotting ways to take over the world. www.lindseybethgoddard.com

ToniaBrownMerry Go When by Tonia Brown
Beast: Horse… (Any equine incarnation)
Location: Kentucky
Blessing: Time Displacement Device
Curse: Chrononaut’s Ague

Tonia Brown is a Southern author with a penchant for Victorian dead things. She writes in many genres from horror to humor to erotica to steampunk. When not writing she raises unicorns and fights crime with her husband under the code names Dr. Weird and his sexy sidekick Butternut. To find out more, go to: http://thebackseatwriter.blogspot.com/

Good Luck

Ladies!

Wicked Women Writers Challenge 2014

Beauty & the Beast Wicked Women Writers Challenge 2014

Who Will It Be?  2014 Most Wicked

2014 Theme: Beauty & the Beast

Premise: There is something both fearsome and attractive in a wild thing, be it man or beast. From creature legends told around ancient campfires, to modern tales of King Kong and crypto zoology, critters have always captured our darkest imagination. Get your Beast on.

Challenge: Create a 10 minute horror podcast that contains four story elements, plus your written story. Registration closes 4-13-14. Audio and text are due on 5-13-14.

Story Elements: Each of our Wicked Belles will be assigned a location, a blessing, a curse … and a Beast. Your story must include a lady in peril and these four elements:

Location:  Anywhere in the world is fair game. A private zoo? A Japanese Nightclub? Kindergarten Show ‘N’ Tell? You are the game. We’ll give you the board.

Blessing:  A helpful item to tame the danger in your tale. We couldn’t have you stalked by a Werewolf without at least giving you a silver locket to melt down. Use your item wisely, Wicked. Even a trivial thing can save your life.

Curse:  An untimely disability. You can’t skip through this one without feeling a bite of a fang on your ass. The Norns can be quite evil with this element.

Beast:  Beasts will be drawn from the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. The Beast may be a main character in your story, or may be represented in other creative ways… a tattoo? An advertising logo? A supernatural brute? Freak of nature? You name it, as long as you include it. Any genre of horror is welcome, but this ain’t Lassie, my Wickeds. Not unless she rips out your throat!

Dates to Remember:
Contest Opens –  March 4, 2014
Registration Closes – April 13, 2014
Audio & Text Due  – May 13, 2014
Elimination Round to 5 Wickeds – May 24, 2014
Voting Begins June 13, 2014
Voting Ends July 28, 2014
2014 Winner Announced August 23, 2014

WARNING: The Norns are majorly p.m.s.ing this year. This challenge involves shotgun-quick writing & recording skills. The squeamish need not apply!

If you would like to compete, send an e-mail to: Horroraddicts@gmail.com –We’ll send you the complete set of rules and assign your story elements. Remember, the sooner you respond, the more time you’ll have to write and produce your podcast.

GOOD LUCK, MY WICKED, AND MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!

Maggie Fiske - Most Wicked 2013

Margaret Fiske, our 2013 Wicked Women Writer Winner, will contact you for further challenge details and timeline. Deadline to enter the 2014 Wicked Woman Writer Challenge is April 13, 2014.

Please note: The earlier you enter the challenge, the longer you’ll have to prepare, write, edit, and produce your contest entry before the deadline. Contest slots fill up fast!