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!

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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.

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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!

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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 . . .”

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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!

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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 Gail Z Martin

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’s next short story comes from Gail Z Martin (a seasonal glimpse into her [Morgan Brice’s] Witchbane world), and was inspired by this image…

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!

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Sweet on You by Morgan Brice

Seth Tanner leaned on his shovel after they filled in the last of the grave dirt. His hunting partner and serious boyfriend, Evan Malone, gave the mound a couple smacks with the flat of his shovel before standing back from the night’s work.

“Can’t believe we’re salting and burning a body the night before Halloween,” Seth said, shaking his head. “Just a little too seasonal—you know?”

Evan shrugged and wiped a lock of hair out of his eyes, leaving a streak of dirt behind. “Couldn’t really let the poltergeist ruin another Trick-or-Treat night by throwing rocks at people. It kinda worked out.”

“I know we’ve got bigger fish to fry—finding the rest of the witch disciples—but it felt good to do something so open-and-shut,” Seth said, gathering up their equipment and stuffing smaller items back in their gear bag, then hefting it onto his shoulder and grabbing his shovel. Evan took the lantern and led the way back to their truck.

“Yeah,” Evan agreed. “Find the monster, stop the monster, save the day. Uncomplicated. Simple. Satisfying.”

The old graveyard looked like something out of a horror movie, Seth thought. Lit only by moonlight, shadows stretched long and dark from the obelisks and mausoleums, pooling beneath old trees. The town of Landon wasn’t large, but its cemetery dated back to the 1700s, with rows of weathered stones and more than a couple creepy angel statues. Dry leaves rustled, caught by the wind, and the sound sent a chill down Seth’s back

“So, what was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?” Seth asked, in an attempt to shift the mood.

“Uh, I never got to go trick-or-treating,” Evan replied. “My dad went a little crazy religious when he figured out something had been killing off the men in our family, and the church he picked didn’t hold with Halloween.” He didn’t need to say the rest, that they didn’t hold with being gay, either, which was why Evan had ended up kicked out of his home and community at seventeen.

“I’m sorry,” Seth said. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

Evan shook his head. “Don’t be. That was a long time ago. They put on a ‘fall festival’ with games and contests and candy…it was okay, but I always thought the costumes and walking around from house to house looked like more fun.”

“Jesse and I used to plan our costumes all year,” Seth recalled, his voice going softer when he mentioned his late brother, whose death started him on the quest for vengeance against the coven of dark witches responsible. “We’d change our minds a million times. Superheroes. Monsters. TV characters. Then we’d drag mom to the store as soon as the Halloween displays were up and buy the outfits. We weren’t allowed to wear them before Trick-or-Treat night, but after that, we’d run around the house like maniacs acting out these wild stories we’d come up with.”

He sighed, warm with the memories that were now bittersweet. Avenging Jesse’s death wouldn’t bring his brother back, but it stopped the murders of more men targeted by the witches—like Evan had been.

They climbed into the truck and drove back to the campground where they had parked their RV. Orange and purple strings of lights adorned the front entrance, and the community building was decorated with pumpkins, hay bales, corn shocks, scarecrows, and ghosts.

“If I’d have known, I would have gotten us tickets to a masquerade party,” Seth said. “Just so you had the experience of dressing up at least once.”

Evan chuckled. “We hunt dark witches and ghosts and monsters in real life, Seth. That’s enough Halloween for me.”

“But we don’t get candy,” Seth pointed out.

“Dude, we’re grown-ass adults. We can buy our own candy—kinds we actually like—instead of hoping total strangers don’t give us black licorice and those crappy star mints,” Evan countered.

They showered and fell into bed, exhausted, but Seth’s thoughts rambled as he waited to fall asleep. He lay listening to the steady rise and fall of his lover’s breathing and remembered something he’d seen when they first got to town. Seth smiled as a plan came together.

The next morning, Seth slipped out early, leaving Evan still asleep. He eased the truck out of its parking space, hoping Evan wouldn’t hear the rumble of the engine, and headed into town.

Landon was the kind of town that belonged in a Hallmark movie, with a pretty park in the center and streets lined with well-kept buildings ranging from beautiful Victorian houses to turn-of-the-last-century storefronts. When he’d chosen the campground for their long weekend, he’d focused more on the nearby restaurants and hiking trails. Then a poster on the bulletin board at the grocery store caught his eye when he stopped for supplies.

Seth retraced his steps, and found what he was looking for. Spooktacular Landon—fun for all ages, the poster read. He scanned the events and times, decided it was exactly what he had in mind, and purchased the tickets. Then he headed out with a checklist of things to do and a plan to make this Evan’s best Halloween ever.

“Where’d you go?” Evan asked when Seth walked into the RV, juggling a tray with two pumpkin spice lattes and a bag of pumpkin and cream cheese muffins from the coffee shop downtown.

“I went to pick up some treats,” he said with a grin, unloading onto the table. “Including this.” He tossed a large bag of bite-sized chocolate bars at Evan, who caught it before he realized what it was.

“Candy?” Evan said, puzzled.

“I found a bag that has all your favorites in one place,” Seth replied, still pleased with himself for that unexpected win. “And a bag of gummy worms for me, so I won’t be tempted to steal your stash.”

“Thanks,” Evan said, still looking a little perplexed. He took a sip of his latte while Seth unwrapped the muffins.

“Wow. Everything smells fantastic. Thanks for making the trek into town.”

Seth pulled him close and kissed him. “For one thing, it’s sort of our anniversary. And I figured we should do Halloween up right.”

One year ago, Evan had nearly been sacrificed by a dark witch seeking immortality. Seth had almost died rescuing Evan, and despite having only known each other for a few days, their connection was so strong they went on the road together to finish Seth’s quest. These past months had been full of travel, danger, and more than a few terrifying moments, but they had also strengthened Seth and Evan’s bond, affirmed their love, and deepened their commitment. Seth couldn’t imagine not having Evan in his life, and he wanted to make this anniversary one to remember.

Evan kissed him back, tasting of toothpaste and coffee, hair still damp from the shower. “Umm. I like the sound of that. I can think of a lot of sweet things I’d like to do with you.”

Seth gave his ass a squeeze. “Hold that thought. We’ve got a busy day ahead of us.” He kissed Evan again lightly, then drew back, settling in at the table with his latte and muffin.

“We do?” Evan looked adorably confused.

Seth nodded over his mouthful of muffin and washed it down with the coffee. “Yep. There’s a corn maze just outside of town with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, and hot cider. It’s got an on-site pig roast, so that means good barbecue for lunch. They even make their own caramel apples,” he said, grinning.

“Then this afternoon, the whole town has an all-ages ‘Spooktacular’—the tickets raise money for the high school band—and all those cool little shops you saw on the way in have special sales and window displays, and they give out candy,” Seth added like he was imparting a secret.

“I figured we should skip the haunted house, in case reflexes kick in—I’d hate to lay out some poor drama major in a monster costume for jumping out at me,” Seth continued. Evan nodded with a dazed expression. “The zombie parade should be okay though.

“Then we have dinner at this little Italian restaurant that has a Halloween masquerade theme and waiters wearing those cool Venetian masks,” Seth went on. “Tonight there’s a ‘monster mash’ concert in the park, a marching band parade, and then the community theater is doing its annual performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show—they even hand out all the stuff you’re supposed to throw, since it’s held outdoors.”

Seth’s smile turned seductive. “And then we come home, and I plan to work my wicked wiles on you.” He licked his lips, knowing that always got to Evan.

“Wow. That’s sorta like making up for a lifetime of Halloweens in one day,” Evan said, reaching out for Seth’s hand. “Did you plan this when you picked the campground?”

Seth grinned, glad Evan seemed on board with his plan. “Not really. I just wanted a town with some nice scenery and good places to eat. But I saw a poster, and you said that about not getting to go when you were a kid, and it all just sort of fell into place.” He hesitated, suddenly nervous. “Is that okay?”

Evan leaned across the table, and this time when they kissed, he tasted of pumpkin and spice. “It’s more than okay. I love it. But I love you even more.” He sat back down and took Seth’s hand, tangling their fingers together.

“I know this last year has been crazy. We’ve nearly gotten killed more times than I can count, and I’ve been scared out of my wits plenty, too. But we’ve made new friends, seen some great towns, gotten my graphic design company going, and saved a bunch of people. More than that, we’re alive and together. I never thought I’d find someone like you,” Evan confided.

“So…yes to everything. It sounds like a great day.” He dropped his voice and leaned closer. “But save some energy for afterward, because I’ve got some sinfully sweet things in mind for going bump in the night.” If you like Seth and Evan, read more of their adventures in my Witchbane series!

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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!

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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 Tigris Eden

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! First up, today, is a poem from Tigris Eden.

https://www.deviantart.com/laura-makabresku/art/Cria-Cuervos-566316593

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!

The Stalker….

Death followed me home today.
To be honest, Death may have been with me all along.
It wasn’t a whisper.
It wasn’t that someone cast a spell.
There were no signs or warning bells.
I don’t sense danger.
I have plenty of light.
My life isn’t special.
It’s quiet and polite.
I wake.
I watch.
I eat.
Repeat.
My thoughts are vacant but my motivation is deep.
The bus ride home I sit in the back at a window seat.
I people watch while Death, this entire time is watching me.
The sly mischievous thing, and the nerve to sit right next to me.
“Why at the back? Why not at the front?”
I shrug.
“I guess to not be seen.”
“But I see you. I see everything.”
“Must be nice.”
“At times it’s bothersome, but there’s always a price.”
My stop approaches. I hit the bell.
Screech.
Screech.
Ding.
The sound of tires, the door opening.
The crisp night air.
The moon isn’t out.
Darkness covers every space in it’s beautiful embrace.
“Is this your stop?” I ask.
“Afraid so my dear.”
The crickets stop chirping the moment my feet touch the ground.
“Thank you,” I say as I turn and bow.
One step.
Two steps.
Three steps.
“Dibs.”
It’s the only warning I ever give.
My body sways.
My eyes close.
The moment of truth slowly unfolds.
Time stands still.
I take a deep breath.
In.
Out.
In.
Out.
“Are you not scared?” Death asks.
“Should I be?”
“I’ve come for you.”
“Ah, I see.”
Death tiles its head.
“You know who I am?”
I nod once and offer a smile.
“I’ve been watching you for a while.”
My actions are swift, and my aim is true.
“I always said I would come for you.”
It’s the very last words that Death will ever hear.
I wake.
I watch.
I eat.
Repeat.

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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!

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

Virtual Coastal Magic Convention 2021: We have Stuff!!

Convention goers of all types will tell you there are two universal reasons for attending (there are tons more, but two that we can all agree on)… ONE: Getting to meet people we admire, whether it be guests of the event, or fellow fans… and TWO: SWAG (Stuff We All Get)!!

#CMCon21 is going to try to get you all as close as possible to that first goal (without you being as close as possible), and NOW, we have the beginning of that second goal to share!

On the Virtual #CMCon21 Info page of this site, you will find individual links to purchase our 2021 Welcome Bag (yes, it will still be filled with promo goodies, bookish novelty SWAG, and books from our Featured Authors and their publishers), and four different design styles for Coastal Magic apparel! You can also search “Coastal Magic” on the TeeSpring.com website, and all four design options will pop up.

I’m so excited to be able to offer these items to help bring attendees closer to our traditional, in-person event experience. I hope you love the designs!!! Included are the official #CMCon21 design (in black print and white print), a Reading Challenge design, and a non-year-specific logo design. I can’t wait to see everyone posting pics of themselves in their new CMCon fashion!!

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