2020 Halloween Flash Fiction Event (& Contests) with Jeanne Adams


As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! Today is the last day of the event, and we’re starting off with a story from Feature Author Jeanne Adams. Jeanne chose this image as inspiration for her story…

Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

NEW!!!
TRICK OR TREAT AT CAYNHAM CASTLEA
Haven Harbor Halloween Novella (Haven Harbor #7)
THE PRINCESS PROBLEM
in CHRISTMAS ON OUTCAST STATION
A space adventure with Nancy Northcott

Chapter One

Shivering as a cold, late September wind cut through her jacket, Kelce compared the old photograph of Beauclaire House with the decrepit reality she faced.

The photo depicted the mansion as a showplace, circa 1900, with well-dressed people sitting on the elegant stone steps. Gleaming windows winked in the sun, and neatly painted trim and shutters set off the dark stone facade. In the photo, the landscaping was lush, and the people smiled.

Now, the house was a run-down, boarded up disaster with graffiti on the façade, rotting trellises and drooping shutters.

“Uncle Bastian was an asshole,” Kelce muttered to herself. The wind whipped her words away.

Thanks to Bastian, the battered mansion was now hers. She hoped.

Kelce and her four cousins had been summoned from their respective homes to Asheville, North Carolina, for the reading of their Great Uncle Bastian’s will. Uncle Bastian, a strange, eccentric man, had left them each a significant inheritance. Each bequest, however, came with a challenge. If you met the challenge, you got the inheritance free and clear. You’d also receive additional, as-yet-unrevealed, gifts.

Her challenge was to get Beauclaire House habitable by Halloween. She had her wits, skill, thirty-five days, and $300,000. That sounded like a lot of money until you saw the house. It was huge, and in bad shape. However, if a Buncombe County inspector gave her a Certificate of Occupancy by the October 31st, it was hers.

If she failed to get the Certificate, however, she’d be evicted and receive a mere $10,000 for her trouble. She’d never know what else might have been in the goodie box of Uncle Bastian’s estate.

It would take hard work and take some serious luck to meet the deadline. Habitable meant working plumbing, electrical, heating and air, a working kitchen, and windows and doors that opened and closed.

Beauclaire House had a lot of windows. They were all boarded up, so she didn’t know how many she’d have to replace. God only knew what the plumbing was like.

“He knew my weakness.” Kelce loved Beauclaire House because it had belonged to her beloved grandfather, Bastian’s brother.

The wind banged a loose shutter. The noise sent a murder of crows flying from a massive oak.

The only other sound was the distant hum of a leaf blower. The neighborhood was full of estate-sized homes. Beauclaire House was the only one in such deplorable shape. The rest were neatly manicured bastions of Southern charm.

Her cousin John had grinned as she’d gotten the keys to Beauclaire House.

“Better you than me,” he’d crowed. “You’d should take the $300K and burn it down.”

“Then she wouldn’t garner the rest of her significant bequest,” the lawyer had intoned.

“Whatever.” John planned to take the upfront money and screw the challenge. His parting shot to the rest of them had been, “Good luck, suckers!”

Each cousin had the same Halloween deadline. Meet your challenge by deadline, get more than the original “prize” of whatever you were bequeathed.

John wasn’t even going to try for more. Short term gain, that was John’s style.

“John’s more of an asshole than Uncle Bastian, by far.”

Determination surged within her. Her college loans were massive. Her ancient Subaru wagon needed work, and, thanks to the pandemic, she didn’t have a job. She had savings––enough to get her through January––but after that, she’d be in trouble. She should focus on that, rather than trying to race the clock to fix what was probably an unfixable house.

Refurbished, the 9,500-square-foot Beauclaire House and its attendant eight acres would be worth several million dollars. The land itself was valuable––she could subdivide the back four acres into other lots––but she couldn’t sell it without a deed, and she didn’t get the deed without fixing it up by the deadline.

Catch 22.

John’s advice to take the $300,000, flashed briefly into her mind.

“As previously stated, John is an asshole.” She grinned. “And I’d better get my ass in gear.”

Stepping onto the crumbling porch, she gingerly tested each board. She jingled the fat ring of keys as she walked. Of course, the keyring hadn’t featured a key to the massive iron gates at the bottom of the driveway. She’d come though the people-sized gate next to the main gates––she had that key––and hauled her workbag and cleaning supplies all the way up to the house.

“Mark and replace rotten porch boards ASAP.” Another item for the to-do list. It was already pages long.

The ancient doorplate lock on what were probably stunningly beautiful oak-and-glass doors took a skeleton key. There were seven of those on the keyring. The fifth one worked, and she wrapped a piece of masking tape on it and marked it Front Door. The dark, tarnished brass deadbolt key was easier to find––there were only three that might fit it––but it took forever to wiggle the key just right.

The door swung open onto dark, dusty splendor.

She pulled a camping lantern out of one of the boxes she’d hauled up the hill, turned it on, then set about dragging in the rest of the boxes. That done, she shone a flashlight around. The wide foyer held an elegant fireplace and impressive, Scarlet O’Hara-type stairs leading to the shadowy second floor.

A long parlor ran along the right side of the house. It too had a fireplace, and the flashlight beam picked out an ornate mantel with carved oak leaves and elfin faces supported by snarling dragons on the sides. To the left, a circular room on the front of the house was the base of the elegant sunroom that dominated the facade. Attached to it was another parlor-slash-library along the left side of the house.

Her official countdown had started the minute she got the keys. Today she’d measure, plan and prepare. She’d already spent all Friday night making lists, timelines, and projections. She’d ordered materials and created a plan of attack.

Until the pandemic, Kelce had been a project manager for an Atlanta-based construction firm. She understood renovation and knew what she might be facing. She also knew how to swing a hammer, thanks to her dad and grandad. And Uncle Bastian.

That knowledge meant she’d gotten right to work. Kelce already had a welder coming Monday to cut through the big gate, since she didn’t have a key. She’d squeezed in under the wire before close of business on Friday to order the temporary power hookup and a roll-off dumpster. This morning, bright and early, she’d rented a comfy RV to stay on-site. She’d pick that up on Tuesday. The RV meant she could give up her apartment in Atlanta––one less expense. The RV was both cheaper, and on-site. She could handle one month in an RV to have a little extra for the reno.

Tomorrow’s schedule featured driving back to Atlanta to pack her apartment. Thankfully, her best friend, Selma Kincaid, would handle the movers and taking everything to storage.

“Gotta buy her dinner,” Kelce mused. Selma was thrilled about Kelce’s adventure. “Make that several dinners.”

On this last, blustery Saturday in September, she’d explore, measure and assess Beauclaire House. Every day between now and Halloween had to show progress. Kelce pulled out a tape measure, a notebook, and her favorite pen.

Time to get started.

####

Despair rocked Artimus as the petite, dark-haired woman danced around the rotting boards on the wide porch. It was already a kind of hell being unable to shift out of his human form, unable to use his magic, unable to be himself––all of himself. Now he didn’t know if the curse could ever be broken.

That curse meant living without shifting to his other form or using his formidable arcane skills until a month where there was a full moon on both the first and last day of the month. And worse, until a mortal chose to free him.

The full moon to begin it, the full moon to end it and the tasks complete. Meet the tasks and earn the goodwill of a mortal. Without promise of riches or aid, the mortal must unlock your curse’s cage. If that comes to pass, free you will be.

If not, all power flies away. You will burn in a pillar of fire as the sun rises on the new day.

Two full moons in a month was unusual, but doable. Two full moons hitting on the first day and the last though? That was rare as hell. Add in having someone––a damn mortal––ready to help?

Impossible.

For decades, he’d waited. And despaired. Until Bastian.

Surprisingly, Bastian had unearthed not only his trunks but the abominable iron cage connected to his curse. They’d found the key for the trunks, but not the cage. There was no undoing the curse without that key.

The full moons had finally aligned––one on October 1, another October 31––and things were moving. Bastian had never once mentioned this crumbling old house. Then he’d died.

Artimus had received the gate keys and this address from Bastian’s lawyer.

Instructions said bring the keyring to Beauclaire House, and he had. He’d watched for days, but nothing stirred around the old house. Until today.

Now, she was here, whoever she was. Was the woman aware of him or his trouble?

With a grunt of irritation, he muttered, “Trouble. There’s a fine, simple word for it.”

It was only his entire existence at stake.

He watched her try key after key. From his vantage point high in the massive grandfather oak, he could see everything. The old oak held onto its leaves, shielding him from view. He’d had a moment of worry when the crows flew, but she’d paid attention to them and never felt his watching gaze.

Who was she? She was far too young to be a daughter, unless Bastian, the old goat, had been up to considerable friskiness in his seventies.

“Not impossible for a human, but unlikely,” he muttered as the woman finally opened the door.

Bastian du Beauclaire had died at the ripe old age of a hundred and four, while on a tour of Egypt. With Bastian gone, there was no one left to break Artimus’s curse, unless Bastian had somehow set this frail-looking human up to do it.

“And what can she do that Bastian didn’t?” Artimus grimaced. “Nothing.”

He’d watch, for now. He didn’t dare hope. Not yet.

A scrape of sound had him refocusing on the house. She dragged the boxes she’d laboriously carried up from her car into the house. He felt bad for not helping, but he hadn’t wanted to give himself away. Or scare her. A strange man coming out of the trees to heft her boxes definitely would’ve been off-putting. If this was going to work, he’d have to make a good impression.

He grimaced at the thought.

How like Bastian to perversely leave the gate key with Artimus, rather than his heir. Gods, he hoped she was Bastian’s heir and not just some random cleaning lady.

“While I’m wishing, I’ll wish that she knows his secrets and sets me free.” He shook his head, rustling the nearby leaves. “And surely pigs will fly and flames will freeze.”

He fingered the keyring in his pocket and a trickle of magic tingled through him. Being able to feel magic and not use it was an ache in his bones. The key fob––a dragon-shaped bauble––was certainly magic. It was also important.

What he didn’t know was how, or even if, the damn thing pertained to his situation. It could just be another magical artifact in Bastian’s vast collection.

Wherever Bastian had gone––heaven, hell or some other plane of existence––he was probably laughing.

Artimus looked skyward.

“Was the keyring your idea of a clue, you canny old bastard, or just another trick?”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

Jeanne’s Facebook
Jeanne’s Twitter
Follow Funk-N-Fiction (links in sidebar)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST!

After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.

**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

See full listing of authors and post links on the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Kickoff post: HERE!

2020 Halloween Flash Fiction Event (& Contests!) with Nikki Woolfolk


As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! Busy in her deadline cave, Nikki Woolfolk emerged just long enough to share this a snippet from THE CASE OF THE ROSE GRIMOIRE, chosen with this image in mind…

https://www.deviantart.com/fahad0850/art/0-02-116094226

Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

To keep free of spoilers we will give the anime of the revealed villain the nickname “El Malo”.

Snippet from THE CASE OF THE ROSE GRIMOIRE
From Riveted: A Steampunk Romance Series


Vicente awoke to searing pain from his palm. He clutched his hand to his chest and felt wetness. He looked down at the blood that spilled from his palm. Someone grabbed his hand and held it over a bowl.

Vicente looked around. Each man was chained to the four corners along with one long chain linking all four victims to one another. If one moved, they all moved. There was enough chain for Vicente to stand but not raise his arms.

Chalk-drawn sigils from another tradition and Hebrew text were drawn in the center of the circle as herbs burned at the right a foot away from each of them. All four men were nude.

In his past with his friends, he had enjoyed pagan rites of passage skyclad, but this was not the kind of practice his friends would ever approve of. This was a bastardization.

El Malo was creating dark arts.

This sort of thing was whispered, spoken of with threats of shunning if practiced. His blood made him an unwilling participant. Vicente looked across at Trevor, who sat on his knees on the floor. All of Trevor’s smugness was gone from his demeanor. His eyes were sunken and had lost their bravado. Vicente did not want to imagine the horrors Trevor had faced days prior to Vicente’s arrival.

“Stand,” El Malo commanded.

Trevor did not move.

“Stand!”

Trevor flinched and tried to stand, but the effort was laborious.

On opposite sides stood Trevor and Vicente chained. When they were done with Vicente’s hand, he pulled it close to his body. He felt the palm pulsing in rhythm to his heart. Pain and itching at the wound cluttered his thoughts.

Gas lamps and candles circled their perimeter. Though the lighting was low, Vicente could see the discoloration peppered on the other three men in the Circle. 

Vicente closed his eyes and began to recite the Santa Muerte prayer for protection.

He saw Gillian’s face, her features in his mind as he repeated the prayer. His chain pulled him off balance. He opened his eyes.

The man to his left struggled against El Malo’s lackey. The jarring movements brought them all to the floor. Vicente coughed as the dust flew up his nose and sprayed over his mouth. His eyes watered. He blinked the dust away and watched the struggle between the chained man and the lackey.

Despite the shackles connecting them to one another, cementing their inability to escape, Vicente hoped his fellow chain mates would get a few good licks in. The glint of a blade flashed in the firelight before being buried in Trevor’s naked side.

Vicente heard the short-guttered cry. He closed his eyes as tears slid down his cheeks. He continued his prayers and opened his eyes only when El Malo came to the center and stood on the sigil to pour sacred ingredients into the bowl. The lectern held sacred text. The cover and half of the edged pages were stained red, and the other half black.

El Malo turned the text over and upside down.

Vicente understood that the Grimoire was half light magick and the other dark.

El Malo was reading from the dark half.

Vicente tried to keep the prayers for La Muerte drumming through his mind as El Malo and the lackeys began chanting the dark words. Their tongues effortlessly spilled out a language that Vicente had never heard but guessed was ancient. It would make it all the easier to continue his prayers. He saw the glow emanate from El Malo’s hand and began to seep from the Grimoire like hot tar.

The smell of sulfur assaulted his nostrils. He tried to take a step backward but was halted. A prickling sensation ran down his back. A wall, a field of energy, made the hair on his arms stand up. He, along with Trevor and the other men, were locked in the circle.

The sulfur filled the air and burned his throat and stung his eyes. He heard cries from Trevor and the pull of the chain. The shadow snapped around Trevor’s naked form like twine.

Each shadow cloaked the men’s bodies. The panic rose, and he could feel it burning his skin and suffocating his thoughts. He closed his eyes and tried to say prayers, but all words ceased to form in his mind. Vicente closed his eyes and imagined Gillian’s sugar-skull-colored face. He clung to the image as the darkness choked him.

“Quedar,” he pleaded to his La Muerta before everything went black.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

Nikki’s Facebook
Nikki’s Twitter
Follow Funk-N-Fiction (links in sidebar)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST!

After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.

**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

See full listing of authors and post links on the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Kickoff post: HERE!

2020 Halloween Flash Fiction Event (& Contests!) with Tina Glasneck

As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! What happens when a vampire must revisit the worst day of her life? That’s the story Tina Glasneck is telling today… based on this image…

https://www.deviantart.com/ameliethe/art/be-my-autumn-143372618

Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

HAUNTED HOUSE by Tina Glasneck

A vampire riding a witch’s broom? If anyone had asked me, a new vampire, if it were possible, I’d have laughed.

That was before I knew the truth, for I did not travel alone. My companion’s reputation proceeded her.

In my quest to do shadow work, Baba Yaga was my guide. She was the stuff of nightmares. The old forest witch led the way, riding in her black mortar, steering with her pestle, while I sat on her broom. The wind carried her evil-sounding cackle. Even her name sent fear scampering down my spine as if it were a rickety ladder. Maybe if I’d not known of her nefarious ways, I might have been more at ease.

On this night, the veil was thin, allowing us to transverse time and space.

After a time of wrestling with my thoughts, we landed on a busy suburban street decorated in all of its Halloween delight.

Baba Yaga turned to me. Now I saw her, no shadows hiding her face from me. Emaciated, with deep wrinkles etched into her face, razor-sharp iron teeth in her mouth, she called my name. “Leslie, this way.” With her bony, long fingers, she motioned for me to follow her.

We walked a bit in silence, as the sound of her knife barely visible in her tattered skirt scraped against the sidewalk.

“What’s happening here?” I asked Baba Yaga. I wasn’t sure I truly wanted to know. This reminded me of the picturesque scene from the beginning of a horror movie, where the moon shone brightly,  all was perfect, but a killer waited for an opportunity to create mayhem.

And all of the people were unaware of the danger right behind them.

My heart whacked against my ribs, my mouth went dry, and glancing around, I tried to find that bit out of place.

“Nice witch costume,” a little girl said, dressed in yellow and black stripes, squeezing between us.

Baba Yaga sneered and squinted her eyes. “A better way to eat you, child.”

The little bumblebee dressed girl yelped and raced off. A good thing too.

With porch lights lit up, scary pretend monsters decorated the yards, doorbells loudly rang as the children sang out “Trick or Treat.” The neighborhood children, carrying pillowcases or trick or treat pails, all seemed to come together to head toward the Halloween Haunted House.

“I hope you are not taking me to a house to eat kids. I don’t eat kids.” My breathing shook, panic lacing every word.

“Tonight is the night you learn the truth.” She waved me onward as we entered the forming crowd.

Truth was relative. It was like a game of craps. It all depended on who was rolling the dice and how hard.

Loud laughter before me mixed with the rustling of the golden leaves on the breeze. 1980s pop music loudly played. Following the crowd on the sidewalk, I trembled, but not from the chill. Something strange stirred. Something long-forgotten.

 “The mind is a vault of memories, including things we’d rather forget,” Baba Yaga warned. Did I catch a hint of distress?

My gaze landed on a woman with a black, lace umbrella, who sashayed a few feet before me as we moved forward. Catching only her profile, as she glanced to the side, her alabaster skin appeared flawless.

Then we came to a stop before a gray house. The lights flashed in the windows as ghoulish screams accompanied scary music and that of a loud chainsaw.

Located a bit back from the street, this little gray castle-like structure was the perfect scene to be a sinister, haunted house. Outside, in the high hedges, skeletons and human body parts littered the area as if a monster or serial killer had tossed human pieces haphazardly to the side. Fake tombstones rested on the leaf-covered lawn, while mannequins with ethereal sheets and burning orange eyes unblinkingly stared.

The sound of a child’s voice made me look a bit further up the line, and that is where I saw my mother, recognizable at once. She was younger, wearing large rimmed glasses, with her brown hair teased and feathered. She’d dressed up as her usual green-faced witch.

The haunted house?” I muttered, aghast. My jaw slacked as I felt my eyes widen in terror. I looked over and saw the neon-green street sign from Tuscarawas Street. Another involuntary shiver raced up my spine.

The house of nightmares that I’d repressed.

“Welcome to your past,” Baba Yaga said.

Entering the dimly lit front room, to my left, a man dressed as a vampire rose in a coffin to scare us, shouting “Boo.” Plastic skeletons swung from the above as if attacking, and thick fake spiderwebs hung from the ceiling. A woman in a blood-spattered wedding dress sat on a settee, fake blood raced down the walls, and the planchette moved unassisted on a  spirit board. Lights and candles flickered, mirrors cracked and reassembled.

“Is this real?” I heard someone ask.

It was a question many might wondered, considering that of the spirit board and candles. Someone had combined a bit of spook theory with true spiritualism.

I kept my eyes on the little girl, who was the seven-year-old me.

In that crowd, I watched a shadowy figure move ever closer to her. Like it stalked her, just waiting for an opportunity.

“We have to help her,” I said to Baba Yaga.

Anger rolled off of her. “No one can see us. You are here to watch, to re-live.”

“What do vampires do for Halloween?” a teenager in the crowd asked to receive a bout of uneasy laughs at the punchline.“They suck, like you,”

The little girl turned around, and it was like looking at an old photo—pigtails with twists, with curiosity in her eyes. Until then, I’d been fearless. She moved back closer to her family, widening the groups’ distance.

I moved with the crowd, around and around in a circle. Darkness’s tentacles wrapped around me, tightening.

The memory pulled me in until, once again, I was seven years old. With my feet slid in plastic dress-up shoes, moving ever slowly to my family before me. This wasn’t the first time in a haunted house or around ghost or pretend ghouls.

The stench of musk mixed with the acidity of paint hit me as arms struck out to lift me and pull me into the darkness. A small scream escaped before a calloused hand clamped down tightly over my mouth, pulling me back against what felt like a human wall.

I kicked, screamed, my fingernails clawing into the grown man’s hand.

No one saw.

Pointy elbows rammed into all that I could, feet dangling.

The plastic shoes clunked to the ground as more fake ghosts and ghouls caused the house’s visitors to scream in delighted horror.

No one saw my fight.

My fear tasted like burnt candy apples.

His breath burned my cheek.

Sucked away back into my body, I watched with Baba Yaga, unable to help the earlier me, who struggled against a child predator. Anger mixed with an inability to do anything to change a thing of it.

“Pay attention, or you will miss it.”

I spotted the woman in black again. Her cat-like eyes flashed, turning from amber brown to glowing red, while her rosebud lips thinned into a grim line.  With that umbrella she’d carried, she cracked it across the man’s skull, causing him to release the seven-year-old me. The child– me scurred away, having escaped the evil, and I turned to the woman in black. She snarled, revealing fangs.

“Charles,” she tsked, lifted the athletic man, and dragged him by his throat, with one hand, back behind the curtains where he’d wanted to carry the seven-year-old me.

This scene would haunt me forever.

 The fear of what had rested on the other side of that darkness, knowing that there was no way I could have escaped on my own— that it wasn’t merely the struggling of a bean-pole kid that had dared to escape.

“I was saved by a vampire?” I asked. My throat burned with unshed tears.

“The heroes are often demonized. Those who are villainized, you must ask why. Morality is muddy, just like that back in my forest. Life is messy. Nothing is as absolute as myth, folklore, and even rumor would have you believe.”

“Why are you showing me all of this?” I asked. Unsure if I could continue to see such.

“Shadow work, my dear. You can’t move forward, carrying the bunch of branches on your back.”

“Baba Yaga, but why? Why must I relive this, and why must you show me?” This memory I’d pushed so far down never to have to re-live it, but it was always there.

 It tarnished the unexpected touch in how trust could be so easily broken.

Assault broke the social contract of acceptability, even for an impressionable child like me.

How many others had he victimized? How many hadn’t escape?

Sure, many had said over the years how I’d misunderstood, accused me of falsely remembering the horror. No matter how old the memories become, the emotional pain always remained.

She was right. I’d been carrying this with me, an unwanted tenet, while yearly I’d pick the emotional scar as sounds of holidays long gone brought up feelings of terror, despite repressed memories.

“Do you wish to see what she did to him?” She prodded.

“That would make me no better than him. No,” I shook my head. “I don’t wish vengeance, but freedom.”

“Remember that desire, for when you let something go, you mustn’t call it back to you.” She stretched out her hand, and I took it. “Now come, there is more which we must accomplish this Halloween night.”

*

Thank you for reading Haunted House, a flash fiction piece, featuring Leslie from the Order of the Dragon series. Learn more about Tina Glasneck at her website: www.TinaGlasneck.com

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

Tina’s Facebook
Tina’s Twitter
Tina’s Newsletter
Follow Funk-N-Fiction (links in sidebar)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST!

After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.

**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

See full listing of authors and post links on the Halloween Flash Fiction Kickoff post: HERE!

2020 Halloween Flash Fiction Event (& Contests!) with Violet Howe


As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! This morning, Violet Howe brings us a short story warning about the consequences of unfortunate deal making! Inspired by this image…

https://www.deviantart.com/xbassxharmingx/art/He-s-Got-The-Ink-262406573

Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

Blood Ink by Violet Howe

“I want to create a murder so unique—so bizarre—that it almost seems artistic. Something beautiful, in a sick and twisted way.”

Alice laughed. “Scott, you do realize if anyone around you heard that, they’re calling the police right now!”

“There’s no one here,” I said, scanning the field where I sat just a few feet from the marked trail, “which is why I come here to write. Well, I would write if I had words.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come to the lakehouse with us? You could bring your laptop and write on the deck at the cabin while we’re out on the boat. Then we could all still hang out together at night. It won’t be the same without you there.”

The idea of escaping my writer’s block at the lake with friends tempted me, but I knew I’d get nothing done there.

“I can’t. My agent is breathing down my neck, and if I don’t come up with something, I don’t know what she’ll do. It’s freaking me out. It’s like I’m all out of stories. What if I can’t be successful at this, Alice? I can’t even imagine what else I’d do. This has to work. I swear I’d sell my soul right now to be able to write a bestseller.”

Alice sighed. “You’ll think of something. I suppose I should go help the others pack the cars.”

“Have a good time,” I forced out in the most cheerful voice I could muster. “I’ll just be sitting here hoping the devil takes me up on my offer.”

When our call had ended, I closed the laptop and slid it back into my bag, pulling a spiral notebook out instead. Perhaps manually putting the pen to paper would get the ideas going.

Suddenly, the wind kicked up, fluttering the notebook’s pages. I closed my eyes against the dust and grass particles pelting my face, and just as quickly as it had risen, the wind died.

Something brushed my face, and I opened my eyes to see a snowstorm of papers floating down around me.

Looking up, I assumed something was lodged in the tree, but the pages were clearly falling from much higher. I searched for a source, but the cloudless blue sky was empty.

A page landed on my face and slithered to my lap, and my skin rippled in gooseflesh when I saw my name in the header.

I began to gather the sheets and put them in numerical order, crawling around on my knees like a madman in a desperate search for page one. Once I’d found it, I started to read, and it sucked me in immediately.

The detective had just the right mix of snark, smarts, and grit. The breadcrumbs led the reader down dark, mysterious paths. And the murders were described in such a way that it made the macabre intriguing.

When I came to a missing page, I’d search the ground again, continuing in that manner until I’d read them all.

Ah, the ending! So satisfying and unexpected that a shiver ran through me, leaving my body in a state of exhilaration. The killer’s identity had unfolded in a twist more brilliant than I ever could have imagined, yet the detective’s final triumph over him proved even more clever.

This. Was. A. Masterpiece.

I slid the manuscript into my bag, looking over my shoulder to ensure I wasn’t seen.  The sun hung much lower in the sky than I had realized, and I couldn’t believe no one had come walking or biking down the trail. Perhaps there had been people, and I’d just not noticed. I’d read the whole day through, and yet not once had I felt hunger pangs, thirst, or the need for a restroom, so enthralling was the tale.

As I made my way back toward the path, I spied one stray sheet in a prickly bush. I reached in to grab it, jerking my hand back with a swear as the pointed end of a leaf pricked me. I stared at the blood swelling to a bead on the tip of my index finger, and then I watched in fascination as the scarlet drop fell onto the white page.

Trying again more carefully, I retrieved the paper. It was the title page with my own name listed as author and my own blood splattered over the black ink.

Fearing the magical text might disappear, I rushed to a shipping center to make a copy. Then I hurried home and scanned the pages into my computer, running them through every plagiarism program I could find. Nothing hit. It appeared to be an original manuscript, and it appeared to be mine.

I emailed it to my agent before I went to bed, and I awoke to a frenzy of interest.

Everyone who read it—from my agent to the subsequent publisher to the readers who couldn’t buy it fast enough—wanted more.

Almost overnight, my life became a whirlwind of book tours, appearances, and never-ending travel. I had more money coming in than even I had imagined possible, and yet, I had no time to spend it because everyone wanted a piece of me.

My advance for the sequel was generous, and I arrogantly sat in front of my computer for a week, maybe more, thinking somehow I could produce it. Eventually, I accepted the reality and headed back to the trail to beg for assistance once more.

For five days in a row, I sat in that field, pleading. I offered more than I had to give, but nothing materialized. I swore I’d do anything, whatever was asked, and still, the air held no pages.

On the fifth evening, I returned home, defeated, and began to pack for a trip the next day to meet with a studio regarding a movie adaptation of the first book. I’d hoped to tease the sequel as well.

When my suitcase was filled and I’d showered and prepared for bed, I turned on my laptop to print out a boarding pass, and there it was.

The screen opened to the manuscript, complete on my computer, just as though I’d written it myself.

I read all night, finishing minutes before my alarm went off. The detective was even snarkier and cleverer, and though the villain’s debauchery and vile acts were unconscionable, it made for great reading. Riveting, in fact. I couldn’t stop scrolling.

Somewhere in the maelstrom of success that followed the second release, my creativity began to flow like a faucet turned on at full pressure. The words to the third installment came so easily that the story told itself as I typed. It was, without a doubt, the best writing I’d ever done. I’d not only met the expectations set by the previous two books; I’d surpassed them.

During the tour for the third book, I was seated at a bookstore signing in front of a seemingly endless line of readers waiting for a signature and a forced smile.

I’d grown weary of these events. My luxurious penthouse sat empty as I traveled, as did my sprawling oceanfront villa. My impressive collection of high-performance automobiles waited in a dark garage, but I had no time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The signing was almost over when I first spotted two men standing off to the side in ill-fitting suits. The line had been cut off already, so the end was near. Close enough, in fact, that I’d already started to fantasize about the gorgeous redhead who’d slipped her phone number in the book before she slid it across the table for me to sign. She’d leaned over with an eager smile, her voluptuous breasts inches from my face.

As the last of the readers inched forward and the men remained, I grew irritated at the distraction. They were obviously law enforcement, and based on past experiences at these types of events, I knew they likely fell into one of two categories: fans of my detective who couldn’t be bothered to stand in line or critics who sought to inform me what I’d gotten wrong. I’d learned not to let the latter get to me. If they’d taken the writing personally enough to be offended or put off, then obviously, I’d engaged them and done my job.

They stepped forward as soon as the last reader had gone.

“Mr. Preston, can we speak with you for a moment?”

“Sorry. I have dinner plans,” I lied as I gathered my pens and put them in my bag. I’d planned to call the redhead and invite her to my suite, but dinner wasn’t on the agenda. Still, I didn’t want to be rude, knowing officers made up a good percentage of my reader base. “How about we walk out to the parking lot together?  That gives us a few minutes.”

The other man cleared his throat. “It might be best if we speak in private.”

Flashing his badge, he introduced himself as an officer from Seattle.

Seattle? But I was in … where was I? Hell, the cities all ran together on tour. Atlanta? Yes, I was certain I was in Atlanta.

The first man showed his badge as well. “And I’m Officer Thierry from Portland.”

I let the bag drop from my shoulder back onto the table. “What’s this about?”

Thierry frowned. “Like Officer Bullock said, it would be best to talk in private. The manager loaned us a conference room at the back of the store. It’s right this way.”

Despite the circumstances, I wasn’t nervous yet. I’ve never been to Seattle or Portland, so I knew I hadn’t done anything to get on their radar. Right up until the questioning started, I still thought they were fans or disgruntled readers. Or perhaps they wanted my advice on a case.

But then the world began to close in on me with the first question Officer Bullock asked.

“Did you write the material in the first book of your current series?”

So, this is how it would unravel. Somehow, they knew I was a fraud. The ruse was over, and now, I’d lose everything. Hell, I might even face jail time. How could it be that I wasn’t even certain what the penalties were for plagiarism?

“Yes, of course, I did,” I said, struggling to swallow my fears and maintain control of my voice.

“Did anyone help you write it?” Thierry asked. “A ghost writer perhaps? Or maybe a source who provided the material? The facts of the cases. The procedures. The logistics.”

The room grew too warm, and I wedged two fingers inside my collar and pulled at it to loosen it.

“No. No one helped. What is this all about? As I m-mentioned, I have a pressing engagement, a d-dinner. I’m expected.”

Bullock looked to Thierry, who nodded, and then he pulled a large manila envelope from his jacket.

He began to lay out the most gruesome photos I’d ever seen in my life. My stomach roiled with nausea, and my hand clamped over my mouth to shield against the bile that rose in my throat.

It only took me seconds to recognize the murders. The words I’d written—um, published—were all there in a gory display. Not nearly as artistic to look at as they’d been to read.

“What is the meaning of this?” I managed to squeak out between my fingers. A slick sheen of sweat covered my skin, and it took everything in me not to bolt from the room.

“These are evidence photos,” Thierry said. “Cold case files from a series of murders that took place across the Pacific Northwest several years ago. Murders whose trails went cold. Never solved. We started collaborating on these cases when we found a striking number of similarities.”

Bullock leaned forward, his eyes narrowing. “Imagine my surprise when I cracked open your book last weekend and began to read details never released to the public.”

The fear that overcame me was absolute. They weren’t questioning me about plagiarism. They were asking me what I knew about murders. Murders I’d claimed to write about.

“It, um, m-must be coincidence,” I stammered as I wiped the back of my hand across my brow to prevent sweat from dripping into my eyes. Could I look any more guilty? Damn! “I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest. I’ve never set foot in Washington or Oregon.”

“Then, how do you explain these murders showing up in your book?”

“I don’t know. I just, um, well, I…” My mouth fell open, but my mind was as blank as it had been that day in the field when I’d been searching for words.

“Tell us who your informant was,” Thierry said. “Who gave you the details? Who told you about these murders? If you give up your source, then we can pursue the right suspect. But absent of that, we have no choice but to consider that our most likely suspect at this moment … is you.”

I shook my head as the depth of the trap I’d walked into became more evident. Those pages had come to me from thin air. Even if I did admit I wasn’t the author, I couldn’t prove where I’d gotten them. I had no defense. No way to explain.

I was screwed.

“I think I need to speak with my attorney,” I whispered as I struggled to breathe.

Bullock gathered the grisly pictures back into the envelope. “Then this conversation is over. For now. We’ll be in touch, though. You should know that we’re already looking at the other books for any matches.”

The plot twist of my own life had been revealed, and somehow, I hadn’t seen it coming. I’d made the deals so eagerly that I’d never considered what would be demanded in return. And now, the books I’d bargained for would serve as the nails in my coffin. I’d reached my final chapter, and it was time to pay the devil his due.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

Violet’s Facebook
Violet’s Twitter
Follow Funk-N-Fiction (links in sidebar)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST!

After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.

**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

See full listing of authors and post links on the Halloween Flash Fiction Kickoff post: HERE!

2020 Halloween Flash Fiction Event (& Contests!) with Tawdra Kandle

As part of the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Event, we’re showcasing a few of the participating authors who are also 2021 Coastal Magic Convention Featured Authors! Check out this short story bit from Tawdra Kandle’s from the Crissy Darwin, Shifter Slayer world… inspired by this image…

https://www.deviantart.com/violet-kleinert/art/Colors-of-my-Dreams-72968028

Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

The Meeting
A Short Piece from the world of Crissy Darwin, Shifter Slayer

“What are we doing here?”

Stretching my arms over my head, I wiggled to sit up and peer out the window of the car. The sun hadn’t come up, but it was just light enough that I could see a line of trees and mist rolling off the rich, dark loam beyond the narrow road.

Nash Gibson, my partner, pulled the keys from the car’s ignition and exhaled a long, tired breath. “We’re meeting someone here who says he has information on General Kaiphas.”

I blinked, trying to shake off the lingering effects of a long, deep sleep. “Since when? And who? And where exactly are we?”

His lips twitched, and not for the first time, I could almost picture feline whiskers on his face. “We are in Georgia, just across from the Tennessee border. Who we are meeting . . . he’s a double agent. Or so he claims.” Nash unfastened his seat belt. “The information came in after you’d fallen asleep. Or gone into the deep coma that passes for sleep in your case.”

“You’re just jealous that I sleep so much better than you do.” I yawned. “It’s early, isn’t it? When are we supposed to meet—whoever it is we’re supposed to meet?”

“Shortly.”

Nash was never a man of many words, but this morning—or was it still technically night?—he was even more taciturn. I decided to chalk it up to the fact that he’d been driving for hours, since we’d left Louisville after my gig last night.

“Okay. This feels very random. The double agent dude is going to just pull up alongside us right here?” I squinted through the grayness. “I don’t even see a mile marker.”

“We’re not meeting him here. This is where we’re leaving the car.” Nash opened his door, and whoosh of chilly, damp air rushed over my mostly bare skin. I’d been so exhausted after the show, and Nash had been in such a hurry to get out of town that I hadn’t taken time to change out of my short denim skirt and thin cotton tank. My clothes hadn’t been a problem in the cozy car, but now, I was shivering.

Still, regardless of the temperature, I couldn’t let Nash go wherever we were heading on his own. So I took a deep breath, opened my door, and climbed out.

“Holy freaking Moses, it’s freezing out here.” I chaffed my arms with my hands. “I hope we don’t have to go too far.”

Nash’s gaze slid down me, and although his face remained mostly expressionless, one eyebrow rose. “We have a fair hike. You’ll need your shoes, at the very least.”

“Oh. Yeah.” I’d slipped off my Keds before going to sleep, and now I had to grope for them on the floor of the front seat.

“You should probably find a jacket or a sweatshirt or something, too.” His voice was gruff.

“Damn.” I stood up, hopping on one foot as I struggled to put on my shoes. “All of my hoodies are packed. Can you pop the trunk?”

The growl from Nash’s throat was total male frustration. It didn’t scare me or intimidate me the way he probably intended.

“Your suitcase is underneath mine. And also under your guitar. Unpacking the trunk would cost us too much time—time that we don’t have.” He paused and then opened the rear passenger door, leaning inside and withdrawing something. “But you can wear this. I won’t need it. I’ve got considerably more clothes on than you do.”

I ignored the jibe and accepted his jacket. It was like Nash himself: solid, warm, and classically stylish. And as I slid my arms into the too-large sleeves, I caught a whiff of his unique, seductive scent. Only by the strongest will did I keep from burying my nose in the collar.

“Are you ready now?” Impatience and tension steeled his voice. “We have a long walk, and—”

“I know, I know. Time is of the essence, blah, blah, blah.”

Nash only grunted in response and turned toward the tree line. I pulled the jacket more securely around me and followed.

***

“All right. We’re getting close.”

The path—and calling it that was generous, because it was more like vague and unreliable break in the trees and underbrush—came to an end on the banks of large pond. It was surrounded by tall pines, through which the first rays of sun were just now breaking. The golden beams danced through the lingering mist rising from surface of the water.

A wooden dock rested on the bank nearest us. Or maybe it wasn’t so much a dock as it was . . . bridge, I thought as we paused on the edge of the wood. It was some kind of walkway that stretched clear into the middle of the water.

“This is a big pond.” I tilted my head, considering. “Or is it a lake? What’s the different between a lake and pond? I mean, I know a pond is smaller, but where’s the line? When does a pond stop being a pond and become a lake?”

“Slayer.” Nash rolled his eyes. “Now is not the time for your quippy banter.”

I snickered. “Quippy banter. You have such a way with words, Nash.”

“We have to walk into the middle of the lake. The pond.” He shot me a withering glare. “Whatever it is. The meeting point is set for the center of the walkway. Let’s go.” He gestured with one arm. “After you.”

“Do you think this was a good idea? I mean, is this an optimal spot to meet someone we don’t trust?”

He snorted. “I don’t trust anyone. I’d think you’d know that by now.” He heaved a sigh. “But you’re correct. This is not how I would choose to make contact, but the agent was insistent, and in the end, I thought between the two of us, we’d handle it.”

“And we will.” I tried to instill more confidence than I felt in my voice. “What kind of shifter is he, this dude we’re meeting?”

“Some sort of water fowl. A crane, I think.” He huffed out a humorless laugh. “Which means the water is his natural habitat and gives him quite the advantage.”

“Greaaat.” I puffed my cheeks and blew out a long breath. “I love it when the deck is stacked against us.”

“I didn’t say it was,” Nash retorted. “I only said that the water gives him a leg up. But you’re the slayer, and I’m . . . me, so the advantage is negligible.”

“Says you,” I muttered, but either Nash didn’t hear me or he chose to ignore what I’d said. Whichever, it didn’t matter, because we’d reached the midpoint of the walkway, where the boardwalk widened. It almost looked like a gazebo, but without the roof. I figured that was why it was appealing to the crane shifter.

And as if thinking about the guy somehow called him to us, I heard a loud whoosh of air above my head. Seconds later, a huge white bird with long, spindly legs glided just above the water and came to a graceful landing a few feet from Nash.

I felt rather than saw my partner tense next to me. His eyes never left the newcomer.

“Be ready,” he murmured. “Don’t turn your back on him.”

I wanted to snark at him that this wasn’t my first rodeo, but I knew better than to distract either of us right now. Both of us remained silent as the sea bird shifted into a tall, thin man with long arms and pale blond hair . . . who was, of course, nude as he strode toward us.

I focused on keeping my eyes on his face. Next to me, Nash groaned softly.

“Tell me you have clothes to put on. I’m not conducting business with someone who doesn’t have the self-respect to dress for a meeting.”

“Oh, relax, cat.” The crane grinned. “You felines are so uptight and proper. You could take a lesson from us aviary types—we’re free and easy.”

“Thank you, no.” From the corner of my eye, I saw the twitch in Nash’s cheek. “Let’s get on with it. We don’t have all day.”

“Fine, fine.” The crane dropped to his knees and reached beneath the wooden boards, feeling around until he pulled up some sort of bag. He unzipped it and shook out a pair of shorts and a shirt. I lifted my eyes to sky until he was covered.

“Better?” He held out his arms from his body. “All covered up and decent.”

“Fine.” Nash crossed his arms over his chest. “You said you had information.”

“And I do. Totally. Real good stuff, too.” He grinned. “But aren’t you going to introduce me to your associate here?”

Nash blinked once, slowly, reminding me again how much his alternate persona influenced his human form. “Slayer, snitch. Snitch, Slayer. There. Is everyone satisfied with the formalities?”

“She’s not very big for a Slayer.” The crane scrutinized me. “But if you say that’s who she is, cool. Also, my name’s Milo. Just in case you—”

“Talk.” Nash ground out the single word. “Talk now, or this temporary truce ends, and so do you.”

“All right, all right.” The crane moved from side to side, his eyes scanning the shoreline. “I have information for you. Details on location, movement, plans . . . I can give you everything I know.”

“That’s pretty damn vague,” I commented, hoping he picked up on my skepticism. “Information on what? Whose location, movement, plans?”

His pale eyes were uneasy, and he dropped his voice. “I’m not saying names. Not here. Not where anyone could hear. I’m taking enough of a chance meeting you, but there wasn’t any other way. All I’ll tell you is . . . the people you’ve been looking for, the problems you’ve been trying to solve—I can help you. I’m close to the leaders. They talk about what they’re going to do next, and I listen. What I hear, you will know.”

“Sounds perfect.” Nash’s voice was bland. “What do you want in return?”

Milo shrugged. “Maybe I’m just a concerned citizen.”

“And maybe you’re full of shit.” Nash smiled and cocked his head. “Come now. Spill. Tell me what you expect. Don’t be coy.”

The crane was silent for a long moment. “I can see the writing on the proverbial wall. I know what’s going to happen in the end. The general’s going to divide us as a people, more than he’s already done. Those who want the old ways, those pushing for the change . . . none of them see the truth.”

“But you do.” I smiled. “You’re quite the forward thinker.”

“I don’t claim to be a genius. I’m just smart enough to know when someone’s delusional. When he’s begun believing his own rhetoric.”

“Fine. That’s all you want, then?” Nash challenged. “Nothing more? Just the satisfaction of, uh, doing the right thing?”

He hesitated. “Maybe . . . there might be one more thing. See, I have this sister—and she’s involved in the—the general’s team.” He pressed his thin lips together. “She’s very passionate about the movement. Like, she’s a total believer. And when the shit hits the fan . . . what I want is your promise that she’ll be protected.”

I bit my lip. What Milo was asking for was complicated. If his sister was a leader, then there was no way she’d get off without punishment. But we needed information, and if he could give it to us—

“Done.” Nash interrupted my ruminating. “She’ll be taken into our custody. We won’t forget what you’ve given us, when the time comes due.”

Milo’s shoulders sagged in relief. “Cool. Thanks.”

Nash’s gaze flicked up to the horizon, where the sun rested now on its way to lighting the day. “Tell us what you know. Now. We don’t have much time.”

The crane nodded. “I can give you more specifics later, but for now, the most important thing you need to know is . . .”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

Tawdra’s Facebook
Tawdra’s Twitter
Follow Funk-N-Fiction (links in sidebar)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-line-swirls.png

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST!

After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.

**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is line-swirl.png

See full listing of authors and post links on the Funk-N-Fiction Halloween Flash Fiction Kickoff post: HERE!

%d bloggers like this: