The Vampire Washing Machine

Share

A silly Spooktober treat for fright lovers

By Scott Bury

The power went out with drawn-out squeaks from every electronic device in the house. Rodney noticed the full moon shining through the window.

“Glad I didn’t close the blinds earlier,” he muttered. Then he swore as the soapy plate slipped from his fingers and smashed on the floor. In the dark, he cut a finger on a shard and held back another oath as he heard a growl.

Spooky haunted talking dishwasher by Adrian Loveless

The only light in the kitchen was the moon reflecting off the front of the dishwasher. It growled again and rattling came from the cutlery inside it.

How could it do that when the power’s out, Rodney wondered. He wrapped a paper towel around his cut finger and bit back another oath when he saw a drop of blood, black in the dim light, hit the floor in front of the dishwasher.

The machine growled again and the door flung open. “Goddamn!” Rodney stepped back and tripped, flopping onto his butt on the vinyl floor.

His heart pounding, he looked closer at the dishwasher. Somehow, two steak knives had become tangled in the rack and were hanging down from either side like fangs. To his horror then, the door slowly rose, closing by itself.

“Come closer,” said a voice.

Rodney looked around. “Who said that?”

“You know who—or rather, what. Come closer.”

“The dishwasher?” I’ve been working too hard.

“Not just any dishwasher. Is your finger all right?”

“No, it hurts like hell. I have to put some peroxide on it.”

“Do not do that!” said the dishwasher. “Put your finger in my—that is, on the edge of the door.”

Rodney did not know why he complied, but he put his finger on the lip of the door. It snapped closed with his finger somehow wedged inside and he felt the dishwasher sucking on it. He pulled it out with a gasp. “What are you doing?”

“I want your blood,” said the dishwasher.

“A vampiric dishwasher?” Rodney put his finger in his own mouth. It tasted soapy, but the blood flowed freely. “I’m losing it.”

The door flung open again. “Give me your blood!” the dishwasher cried. A red glow came from deep in the back. Rodney could not tear his eyes from it.

The glow came closer and closer, brighter and brighter until Rodney realized, too late, that his head was completely inside the dishwasher. Obeying a silent command in his head, he twisted around to look up. The door slammed shut and drove his throat onto the steak knife.

Photo by Simon Moore on Unsplash

Rodney only struggled for a few seconds as his blood drained into the dishwasher cavity. When his heart stopped, the dishwasher sighed deeply.

The moonbeam moved off the dishwasher. The door fell forward under Rodney’s weight and his body rolled onto the floor.

The noise drew Kelly, Rodney’s widow, into the kitchen. “Rodney? Are you getting some candles?” In the moonlight that was now reflecting off the toaster, she saw Rodney’s body on the floor.

She didn’t even have time to scream before the toaster-wolf sprang on her from the counter and tore out her throat.

What’s sexier to suburbanite adults today than really great kitchen appliances?

Share

Thursday terror: Velvet Rain

Share

A spooky sample from the novel

By David C. Cassidy

Photo by Neel on Unsplash

Kain cursed himself. He should have bolted when he’d had the chance. How many times had he Turned? Small wonder his head was pounding. And what the hell was that damn static? It was coming in fits now, like a circling pack of wild, growling dogs.

Dizzied, he held dead still against the tip of the knife. The smoky air sickened, but didn’t he crave a cigarette, suddenly. Still, after all these years. He didn’t really want one, of course, but what he wouldn’t do to ease the agony in his head.

He looked to the barkeep in the slim hope of a hand. The man regarded the goings-on with but a cursory glance, clearly more concerned with that looker at the end of the bar, chatting her up the way he was. In fact, save this intimate little gathering near the pool table, most of this questionable clientele seemed entirely disinterested. Not good.

“Come on,” Cal said, pressing the nelson. “Bleed this cheatin’ bastard.”

Here we go, Kain thought. Over the edge. Over a couple of sawbucks.

The fat man seemed to panic, then slit him with a quick flick of the blade. It stung. Blood dribbled down his throat to his chest. The nelson tightened, that throb in his neck crushing like a boatload of bricks coming down on him. If the Turn had given Cal a case of the body aches, he sure wasn’t showing it. The man was a bull.

Kain shook it off. He looked up past the knife, past the looker, to the glowing GUYS AND DOLLS sign that led to the restrooms. There was a jukebox on the way, a big rounded Wurlitzer, “Big Bad John” blaring out of its speakers for what must have been the tenth time tonight. Jimmy Dean had been all over the radio these days, would likely hit the top of the charts, and while the man had undoubtedly penned a great song, by this—the twenty-seventh of October, 1961, the biting wind howling hell’s breath beyond the gloom of this place—Kain had pretty much had his fill. And more than enough of this night.

“Twenty and we’re square, sir,” the trucker said, politely as sin. His voice held a touch of that approachable Missouri, but that honest smile had long since fled. His searching eyes narrowed. “I figure it’s likely more. But we can’t know for sure now, can we. Can we?”

At this the man glanced about to garner agreement. Not a word was spoken, but some of the patrons, the rats, mostly, seemed to concur. The eyes—sickly or not—never lie.

Kain capitulated with a nod. His long chestnut hair, cradling the shoulders of his weathered denim jacket, slipped down in front of his face. He held a menacing bad-boy look, and the looker, long since bored with the barkeep, stirred on her high bar stool. She bit down teasingly on her lower lip, handing him a breathless gaze with those perfect green gems. She had no idea how lucky she was; the redhead’s eyes were creepy little pissholes now.

“You win,” Kain said, feigning exasperation.

“No more tricks,” the fat man snapped. He drew the knife back with a step. Nodded to Cal.

Cal let Kain go, giving him a mild shove. “You’re lucky, drifter.”

Kain gathered himself. He had one chance to get out of this. He just hoped he had the juice.

With a small smile to the looker, he reached for his breast pocket in an innocent gesture of settling up, figuring to give Cal an elbow to the gut before he snatched up his knapsack and bolted for the exit. He was just about to when thunder rumbled and the place went black. Mild chaos turned to utter chaos when the lights didn’t come, and amid the ruckus of shouting, shuffling, and confusion, like a finely tuned magician, the audience astir, he summoned the magic … and popped the rabbit out of the hat.

Velvet Rain

A mysterious drifter, Kain Richards is the last of his kind—and a man on the run. Once a tortured prisoner and pawn in a clandestine government experiment, his freedom hangs in the balance against the relentless pursuit from Brikker, an obsessed and ruthless madman who will stop at nothing to possess him.

Born with the Turn—the godlike power to reverse time—Kain’s ability is constrained inside a “bubble” that alters time within it. The further back he turns, the larger the bubble, the larger the effect—and the greater, stranger, and more dire and unpredictable the consequences, for those within, and beyond, the Turn’s reach.

Kain also possesses the Sense, giving him knowledge of the previous timeline and fuzzy, incomplete glimpses of the future. While the vast majority of the population don’t have the Sense, some do—and Brikker is one of them. And yet, while those who have it aren’t even aware of it, experiencing little more than déjà vu when time has turned, Brikker’s Sense far exceeds Kain’s, and is utterly dangerous. Not only can he remember every detail of a previous timeline, his glimpses into the future are far deeper, far more telling, giving him a deadly advantage. As these glimpses can only occur when time has turned, Kain is the key to Brikker’s twisted plans that tread an unalterable path to a terrifying future of death and destruction.

Knowing full well he must keep to the road, yet worn from the chase and his curse of the Turn, Kain settles into a job as a farmhand, only to fall for a beautiful and sensible Iowa farmwoman. Unable to stay but unwilling to leave, his dark secret sets their lives in peril. His health and his powers failing, only an iron will in an epic final battle will give him the chance to stand against the evil menace that threatens to consume him and the woman he loves—and to save the world from a hellish apocalypse.

David C. Cassidy, horror

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Get to know more about David at his:

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

Share

Spooky samples from bestselling writers

Share
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It’s officially spooky season. Even though physical distancing measures will change the way we celebrate Hallowe’en in 2020, we still crave the thrills and chills of the season. Your favorite bestselling authors have stepped forward to tickle your scary bone with a few samples from their spookiest books.

Avengers of Blood

By Gae-Lynn Woods

A wheelbarrow lay on its side against the fence, alongside a toppled step ladder. Closer to the middle of the courtyard, a misshapen pile of red plastic smoldered. A sycamore tree grew in one corner, its smooth-barked trunk rising gracefully from a patch of scraggly dirt.

Goober whimpered as his vision expanded to take in the scene. Only seven feet or so from the ground, the tree’s lowest limb sprung outward at a nearly ninety-degree angle, and from it dangled a zombie, blackened and blazing.

Tongues of orange flame danced in a mouth stretched wide in a silent scream and nibbled at the rope around the zombie’s neck. The concrete beneath him was scorched and heat rose in shimmering waves from its surface.

Rise of the Faire Amanti
(Ascendant Series #3)

By Raine Thomas

“Your cousin Sem is dead,” Vycor sneered.

Ty tried to move, but he couldn’t. Vycor’s Mynders had ambushed him. He was strapped to one of the seats in the palace’s Ritual Chamber…the same seat he had sat in while he mentally tortured Vycor just a couple of lunar cycles before.

They had been so close to defeating the Advisor. His demise had been within their grasp. There had been just one misstep.

One deadly misstep.

“He died screaming for mercy,” Vycor said as he laid out implements beside the altar in the center of the chamber. “He cursed your name, TaeDane. He knew it was your fault that he suffered so long before death claimed him.”

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

“You’re lying,” Ty growled. He knew Sem had gotten out of the palace.

He had to have gotten out.

“Am I?”

At a silent command, one of the Mynder guards standing in the chamber brought forth a basket. Ty’s stomach clenched when he saw the blood leaking out of the basket’s bottom and dripping onto the floor, but he controlled his reaction so Vycor couldn’t see his wariness. Without any preamble, the guard dumped the basket at Ty’s feet. Sem’s head flopped out, splashing gore onto Ty’s boots.

“He was still alive when we dismembered him,” Vycor said conversationally, his gaze on Ty’s face. “In fact, his ‘member’ was one of the first things I cut off. I’ll have to be even more inventive when I kill you.”

The Ghost Host

By DelSheree Gladden

There’s a moment where nothing appears to happen, then Echo’s hand moves quickly back to the board, words scrawling out hastily, almost too sloppy to read. Halfway through her message, I feel ice creep up my spine. It takes the others a few mores seconds before mouths drop open and eyes open wide in shock. 

The past is vengeful. Life demands balance. Death even more so. What you took must be repaid. The debt collector is coming. 

DelSheree Gladden

The chalk falls from Echo’s hand and she spins around in disbelief. “Where did she go?” Echo demands, oblivious to the message still. “Where did she go? How’d she get out of the circle?” Panic spins Echo toward Kyran, her gaze dropping to the broken line of salt. She points at him, angry he broke the circle without her explicit instruction, but Kyran points at the chalkboard wordlessly. 

Echo whips around, still angry, but it falls away as soon as her eyes see the message left for her and not some relative of Phibe’s. I barely have a second to react when her eyes roll back. There are heavy steps to my right, voices calling out, but I’m the closest and get my hand under her neck half an inch from her head smacking into the floor. Dad said Echo’s instincts were good, but he didn’t say they bordered on prescient. There’s no way two weeks is going to be enough time. 

The Children of the Seventh Son
The Dark Age, Book 2 (coming soon)

British museum https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15665648

Scott Bury

As soon as Javor’s foot touched the intersection, Preyatel trembled again and the sky became dark. The other people vanished in a thick, misty gloom, the horses and donkeys and oxen, too. Nighttime chill replaced the afternoon heat. Javor’s skin tingled.

An arch stretched over the crossroads now, which had not been there a second before. Javor turned around to try to see beyond the mist. When he faced the city again, he saw her.

He had no doubt. Hekate, as a slender young girl with long, dark hair. She held a large keyring in her left hand. At her feet, again, the immense black dog sat, its eyes fixed on Javor.

You have not heeded our warnings, she said without moving her mouth.

“I have heeded you,” he answered. “I have not raised a hand against anything that has not attacked me or my family, first.”

Your missions are harmful to both sides of the balance. They will also be futile in themselves.

“The balance again. You mean Earth and Sky.”

You continue to follow masters who lead you away from your destined path. They seek to use you for their gods’ purposes. They seek to use their gods, celestial archons, for their own material wealth. For temporal luxury and power over other humans. They are willful fools. They blind themselves with fantasies of heavenly glory. They abandon the mother who birthed them.

“Do you mean Moist Mother Earth?”

As she had in Javor’s homeland, Hekate changed from a young girl to a mature, beautiful woman, hair curled in Roman style.

One of your words for it, yes. Humanity’s mother. One source of all life.

“The Christians talk about their heavenly father. But you are on the side of the earthly mother.”

Both are needed for life.

Hekate changed again, becoming the crone. Her hair hung limp. Lines creased her face, but she was still beautiful.

Do not believe everything the sky-worshippers tell you. On this mission, you will see an opening. A clue to the direction of deeper truth.

“What does that mean?”

It means you must be awake and aware of every detail.

She changed again, features flowing, hair becoming wavy. The lines on her face faded. Her back straightened, and Hekate was the maiden again.

The dog raised its head and howled. The light grew stronger as Hekate and her hound faded.

“Wait!” Javor stepped forward to keep the vision real, and collided with a bearded man pushing a cart across the intersection.

“Watch where you are going, you twit,” the man snarled, bending to pick up vegetables that Javor had knocked from the cart.

The Children of the Seventh Son will be released on Hallowe’en Day.

The Dark

By David C. Cassidy

Time passed. Kelan’s mind began to drown within that endless sea of white, and he drifted off, to dream within the dream. His eyelids had just dropped shut when the car hit some black ice and skidded onto the shoulder. “Dad!”

The vehicle rocked as his father negotiated the car from gravel to pavement. They slowed just a little. “You okay, Soldier?”

Kelan nodded. He checked their cargo and his heart stuttered. “Dad! It’s out!”

“Calm down, Kelan, it’s not—”

“It IS! The box tipped over and the jar is out!”

“It’s okay, it’s still in the jar—”

“NO, NO! The top is off! It’s OUT!”

Then he saw it, scampering up the seat. How the things moved so quickly terrified him, and now it was free, loose in the car. Almost unconsciously, he unsnapped his belt and brought his legs up, swaying on his haunches. He shrank as small as he was able and steadied his trembling body between the dashboard and seat. Suddenly his lungs begged for air. His eyes grew, and before he could stop it, that grave cold gripped him the way it always did, the way only that thing in the car could.

David C. Cassidy, horror

“Kelan! Sit down! Put your belt back on!”

He wouldn’t . . . couldn’t. The thing was loose, it was coming for him. He could hear it scurrying about, its hairy spider legs clicking the way they did, the way only he could hear, the way the dark‑skinned man with the strange accent had sworn was only his imagination.

He wasn’t imagining this.

The spider was nowhere in sight. He was going to scream and scream and scream, and then he would feel it, that warm wetness growing between his legs.

Click‑click‑click. Faster now. Clickclickclick.

Desperate for any edge that might distance himself, he tried to get higher by extending his legs. His head hit the roof and forced him back down. The thing was under his seat now, he could feel it. He could hear it.

“Kelan Lisk! Sit down this minute!”

His father applied the brakes gently, and the car slid on some ice and fishtailed. Kelan fell sideways toward him and reached out for support. His hand found the steering wheel and gripped it hard. The weight of his body pulled the wheel right, and the vehicle slipped into a spin.

“DAAAAADEEEEE!”

Like those samples? Check out the books on the authors’ BestSelling Reads pages, their websites and at your preferred e-tailers.

We may be limited in where we find our scares these days, but we can bring them to us. Visit our Members page for all the links you need.

Share

Bestselling writers love the spooky season

Share
Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

It’s true: your favorite bestselling authors write scary scenes because they love to be scared, and they love scary things. One love they share is a love of the best holiday of the year: Hallowe’en.

Gae-Lynn Woods

Halloween conjures a fantastic memory from trick or treating when I was a kid. We lived in a little neighborhood in Irving, Texas and made the rounds on Halloween night with our plastic pumpkins and dad in tow. Most of the houses weren’t really decorated, but one house was spectacular! They had spider’s webs. Skeletons hanging in the trees. Spooky music. And a very long path from the sidewalk to the front door.

We bravely made the trip past all the creepiness and knocked. The door swung slowly open with a long creaaaak, and a ghost literally floated down the hall to the front door! Like any sane kids, we scrambled for our dad, who was bent in half, laughing. It took ages before we believed that the ghost was gone and got brave enough to follow Dad up the path to the open door and take a piece of candy from the bowl.

I’d like to say that I’m now a rational adult and understand that the sheet on a wire was a neat trick, but I can see that ghost floating down the hall and still swear it was real!

Raine Thomas

I’ve loved fall and Halloween since I was a kid!

October kicks off three months of holiday festivities…what’s not to love about that?

On top of that, both kids and adults get to dress up and play pretend, setting aside reality for a short while. I write fiction, so naturally this appeals to me. 

Aside from the candy (duh!), one last thing to love about Halloween is the “safe” thrills and chills it often invokes.

There’s something invigorating about a fun scare!

DelSheree Gladden

My family and I love Halloween! We spend most of the month watching scary movies and like to stay up late on Halloween night to watch our favorites.

I also love dressing up and making costumes, even though my kids are too old to dress up (their opinion, not mine) and my husband isn’t the biggest fan of dressing up either. Every once in a while I convince him to dress up, and if we ever finish our basement we’ll host a Halloween party down there.

I also love scary stories, in movie or book form, and enjoy learning about the mythology behind various cultural traditions surrounding the season. I’ve been collecting them for future Ghost Host books, if I ever get back to them. On my list is Dia de los Muertos and some of the Santeria traditions.

Scott Bury

Hallowe’en is my favourite yearly celebration primarily because it’s a day devoted simply to fun. No expectations, no pressure, just an opportunity for play.

Hallowe’en is also the season to indulge your favorite fantasies, to give yourself powers you cannot hope to wield at any other time of year. It’s time for love potions.

It’s also in fall, when nature puts on its most spectacular display, when you can wear your favorite sweater and leather jacket again. It’s just a sensual delight.

Putting up ghoulish decorations, hanging little ghosts and webs in the front yard, playing spooky music, handing out candy (which may or may not happen this year) — it’s all good fun. Plus, I look good in a cape.

David C. Cassidy

As a horror writer—and an all-round horror film lover—I know I’m not alone when I say that those gusty October nights around Halloween stir those deep desires for some good old-fashioned scares. Who doesn’t pop in a copy of The Shining or Halloween into the Blu-Ray player around the 31st? Just hearing the opening notes of John Carpenter’s haunting theme always gives me goosepimples and has me sleeping with the lights on.

For a lot of people, this is their favorite time of year—their favorite “holiday.” Dressing up, pulling pranks, scaring the screams out of little ones with some eerie music or some downright disturbing costumes or “blood-soaked” decorations … it’s just damn good fun.

We all fear something, and I think horror fans fear lots of things. It’s why we read horror. Why we watch it. It gives us power knowing we can face our fears with the surety we’ll come out on top—it’s just a movie, just a book. And Halloween? It’s our one day of the year where we get to turn the tables and be that thing under the bed—and have a blast doing it. It’s just damn … good … fun.

Now where the hell’s my Freddie Kruger glove?

Step into our web …

There’s more spook-tacular news coming from BestSelling Reads!

Share

Haunted day, haunted reading

Share

Spooky lines for Hallowe’en

In the spirit of the day—or night—of All Hallow’s Eve, the day when the veil between this world and the … other one … thins, your favorite BestSelling authors offer some haunted and haunting passages from their books.

From Lonely Night to Die

By Caleb Pirtle III

Sand took a deep breath and looked down at the corpse lying inside the pine box coffin.

A choir in the balcony sang Softly and Tenderly softly and tenderly.

No one was crying.

Maybe no one was there.

He recognized the deceased immediately.

Sand was staring down at his own face.

The corpse winked.

From The Devil of Light

By Gae-Lynn Woods

He’d first killed for the old man in the autumn. Fresh from prison, he was toying with but unable to fully grasp the idea of living a clean life. He honored no particular religion, but somehow knew that God had created each man for a purpose. And try as he might, he couldn’t find a purpose for which he was better suited than killing.

Hitch climbed behind the wheel and with a low growl from the engine, slowly reversed the pickup beneath the motionless form suspended between heaven and earth, catching the young body just at the shoulders. When he glanced in the rearview mirror at the dead man’s legs, bound together and pointing toward the stars, his soul sang with satisfaction. Death was his purpose, and no one was better at it than him.

From Return of the Ascendant

By Raine Thomas

Swallowing her rising fear, Kyra almost broke into a run as she reached the last twenty feet of darkness. Her eyes didn’t move from the gloomy bushes. Every instinct in her told her to run.

Just as she neared the halo of light cast by the closest lamppost, it went out. She staggered to a halt.

That was when the darkness moved.

From The Ghost Host

By DelSheree Gladden

I shut myself down to outside influences as best I can, but the ghost’s creeping, freaky cold inches its way under my skin, through my body and into my mind, and there’s nothing I can do to stop from lifting my finger to the wall of the frost-covered stall.

From Things That Are Just True (Dead Night anthology)

By Corinne O’Flynn

And that’s when I saw it.

The darkness slithered right up out of the grave. It spread across the too-green sheet of fake grass covering the dirt pile they would later dump on top of Grandpa’s coffin and tamp down flat. Eventually real grass would grow over it, leaving the world to think that Grandpa had always lived right there in his hole.

The darkness pooled like a smoky black cloud for a moment near the base of the dirt pile and then it moved in my direction. I remember holding my breath as it slinked across the top of the tidy neighboring graves, snaked unseen through the legs of the mourners, and covered a patch of dandelions as it coiled up over the tips of my newly shined shoes. One of my laces had come undone, and as my feet turned icy I worried if my untied laces had acted like an invitation, an open door to let the darkness get inside.

From Motive

The upcoming book by Alan McDermott

Scott was breathing heavily, like he’d run a marathon in record time.  He tried to push himself out of the seat, but he couldn’t move.  He looked down and saw that his hands were gripping the arms of the chair, and the more he tried to push up, the tighter he held on.  Scott attempted to stand, but his legs wouldn’t obey his command.

Still they came closer.

Scott was in a panic, thrashing as much as he could but making no progress.  It was as if his limbs were strapped to the chair by some unseen, unbreakable force.

From The Bonding Blade

By M.L. Doyle

I inhaled the fresh scent of sage coming from Quincy’s ritual altar. Rashid shook the sage bundle to blow out the flames, then blew on the embers until they glowed red. His lips moved as he silently mumbled an incantation and waved the bundle over his head, walking around the sofa where Quincy lay. He circled the sofa several times, then lay the still smoldering sage in a silver bowl on the altar.  

From Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

By Samreen Ahsan

I placed my forehead on the mirror, hoping to see her beautiful eyes.

I didn’t see her. The beast was mounting in its own abhorrent self, staring back at me.

My heart started ramming in my ears again. I couldn’t hold on anymore, so I screamed. “Who the hell are you?” I yelled, grabbing the frame viciously, hoping she was still there waiting for me.

Within a few heartbeats, the beast turned into a beautiful woman who was again sending me her warmth through her angelic eyes.

“You came back. Thank you.” I could see the desire burning in her eyes—her gaze pulling me toward her. Falling for her was inevitable.

My breath faltered. She was able to touch me deeply again…without even touching me.

From The Bones of the Earth

By Scott Bury

It was hard to make out at first what he saw in the moonlight, but when his foot struck something that rolled, understanding hit him like a cold wave. It was a severed head; the Avar helmet rolled off it and continued a short distance before it fell over in the grass.

Javor was surrounded by the dismembered bodies of the whole troop. Ten heavily armoured men had been literally torn apart—maybe more. They may have had friends. Everywhere he looked there were legs, arms, torso, heads.

From The Dark

By David C. Cassidy

Something had invaded his flesh. His skin was raw, burned away. Shredded strips dangled limply along his neck. He picked them off, and what he saw next horrified more than the wounds themselves.

Scores of small punctures marked his throat. They ran red, but for how long they’d bleed that color he couldn’t know. If he was pissing green, he might start bleeding the same.

He leaned close to the mirror.

Things—things—were moving under his skin. Crawling.

Feel a tingle down your spine? Check out the books by clicking on the titles.

Share

Horror Family Style

Share

Hallowe’en musings

By M.L. Doyle

My siblings and I have always enjoyed having the bejesus scared out of us.

Our mother sometimes worked a swing shift. Our dad worked odd hours so we never really knew when or if he’d be home. By the time my older sister was about 12, my middle sister, my brother who was the youngest, and myself – all of us about two years apart from the next one — were pretty much on our own after school, living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, casseroles warmed in the oven (there weren’t any microwaves back then), or stovetop cooked cans of tomato soup.

Growing up in Minnesota, there are many days when it’s just too dang cold to go outside. While alone in the house, our most favorite thing to do was to watch scary movies. Of course this is before VCRs, or DVRs or even cable. We had five measly channels to choose from, but somehow, we were able to find movies that scratched that horror itch. On Sundays, when the weekly listings came out, we would go on a search making note of any movies that might make us scream in terror and then plan all activities around it.

Dracula, The Werewolf, The Blob, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Monster from the Surf, Godzilla, The Creature From the Black Lagoon. We’d sit side by side on the sofa, a shared blanket clutched to our chins, looking forward to the thing that would make us jump and scream.

As we grew older, the fright somehow changed to hilarity. By the time The War of the Gargantuas,  came out, we were ready to laugh, and laugh hard. The story is about two Godzilla-sized creatures, hairy and monstrous looking, who rise from the sea, one good and one evil. At one point in the film, a woman is in a rooftop lounge singing a song that includes the line, “… the wooooords get stuck in my throat.” She repeats the line over and over. “The wooooords get stuck in my throat.”

Then one of the Gargantuas picks her up, eat her and spit out her clothes. To this day, all we have to do is sing that line and we all crack up.  

As we grew older, our tastes developed and the reruns of The Mummy, or the Three Stooges or Charlie Chan versions of those films didn’t interest us anymore. We wanted the truly scary films, like The Thing. That Artic mission, the discovery of the space ship under the ice, the isolation, the killer vegetable and the dry wit and snappy dialogue, had all the makings of a classic. The remakes have never lived up to the original black and white.

Another favorite starts with a little blond girl, obviously in shock and standing alone in the debris of her destroyed home, clutching a stuffed animal. Someone asks her what happened. All she can do is scream THEM! Those giant ants were no joke. 

Alfred Hitchcock rocked our world. The Birds, Rear Window, even his TV show became a favorite. My brother had to work hard to convince me to watch Halloween. I don’t know why I ever hesitated. Then I started reading Stephen King –Carrie, Cujo, It—I couldn’t put them down. Since we’d always had dogs and cats for pets, Pet Sematery was particularly horrifying for me.

One Saturday morning, I got up early to find my older sister sitting at the kitchen table, her eyes bloodshot, her hands clenched in front of her. She looked like she hadn’t slept all night. I asked her what was wrong. She said she’d been to a movie the night before with some friends. “The Exorcist,” she said, then refused to say more. She’d seen it the first night it was released. I think she’s still scared from it.

We’ve never really grown out of our love of fear. Several years ago, I went home to Minneapolis just so I could go with my siblings and a few friends to a place called Scream Town. The massive, outdoor park had five different themed areas, darkened and filled with things and people that jumped out at you. We were, by far, the most senior people at the theme park, all of us in our late 50s and early 60s. We didn’t care. It may be our age that made so much of it hilarious.

From Scream Town, Minnesota

In one room, you had to walk through a space with what looked like bodies wrapped in plastic, hanging from the ceiling. They were so numerous, you had to bump and bang your way through this horror, the “bodies” swinging sickeningly. We clutched each other, heads ducked, stumbling around in the dark, and laughing our asses off, screaming too.

In another place, you rounded a corner to come face to face with a man in a glass-encased electric chair. The red light in the small booth where he sat cast a horrific, shadowy glow over him. The rubbery, trembling and smoking dummy, wrapped in a straightjacket, its mouth gapping open with chilling screams piped out of the box, was so life-like he was fascinating.

We made our brother go first, hanging onto his jacket while we made our way through the corn maze, then stood fascinated at the sight of a cow suspended in air as if it was being sucked up by a UFO. Scream Town does not skimp on the props or makeup.

Now, every year when Halloween rolls around, I think about Scream Town and think about my family and consider flying home for the holiday where we have every excuse to act ridiculous, scream at the top of our lungs and laugh until our bellies hurt.

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

M.L. Doyle

calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.

Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.

Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

Share