A Conjuring for All Seasons

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Order the eBook or paperback here!

A Conjuring for All Seasons contains five dark novelettes from five practicing witches. Four seasonally themed tales based around important Wiccan celebrations join a Hoodoo story concerning the dead around All Hallows’.

Magic Loves the Hungry by Hailey Piper

A presence haunts Melody Langston. It grows bolder each night, as if preying on her anxiety-ridden complications with coven initiation, friends who are her ex-lovers, and the touch of overattentive authority. Starved for belonging, she needs to prove herself, cleanse herself, prove she isn’t weak.

But a terrifying enigma has its heart set on her, and magic loves the hungry.

Drawing Down the Sun by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Protection is vital.

Faye Erikson has been dead for centuries, but her grip on the Clement family remains as strong now as it did the day she spat out her curse. Fearful of her wrath, the family heads out to the woods around Midsummer each year to stand watch over her grave. Anne Clement, the first girl to be born into their bloodline in over 200 years, has some reservations about Faye and her ties to her family. Her curiosity leads her to dig deeper into her ancestral history, and what she uncovers might be scarier than the witch she’s been taught to fear.

Milk Kin by K.P. Kulski

She knows because she remembers the night her mother disappeared. It doesn’t matter she had been a newborn, that Grandmother Bada and auntie say it is impossible to remember so early. Ruby did and she could replay the memory like a video— of how the long-fingered woman took her mother away. How the same woman returns every autumn decorated with teeth and oak leaves, with a long silver needle that pierces Ruby’s heel.

The House of the Heart by Donyae Coles

“The House of the Heart is about family and the ways that we carry that and how it carries us. It’s a story about boundaries and reparations. It’s also about knowing when it’s time to just grab a candle and let the ancestors handle it. Though it is never mentioned by name in the story, the practice is hoodoo and I wanted to write something where even though the outcomes were sensational, it was still a living practice that was part of their lives, as natural as breathing.” – Donyae Coles

Longest Night by Gaby Triana

Two modern-day witches, recently out of the broom closet, throw a Yuletide party to welcome the winter solstice with friends, unprepared for the uninvited guests who arrive. When Christmas-themed pranks appearing after the party unexpectedly ends turn deadly, Indigo must figure out where they’re coming from, who’s causing them, and whether or not she’s witch enough to end them during the longest night of her life.

On Editing and Publishing with The Dread Machine

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The Dread Machine is a dark fiction story subscription service, book club, bookseller, and burgeoning community space for authors.

Joe Sullivan: It really feels like you guys came out of the gate with a complete idea and a polished project. The website looks great, you have stories in your first couple issues from some great names(including an absolute favorite of mine, Michael Wehunt.) How did The Dread Machine come to be?

ALIN: The Dread Machine spawned from a mid-pandemic, mid-30’s crisis. I wasn’t happy in my career and I hadn’t been for a long time, but like a lot of people do, I made excuses. During quarantine, I ran out of them, and it felt very much like a “now or never” situation, so I started building the site, putting in 12–15 hours each day just to keep myself from doomscrolling the news. I had a ton of super ambitious ideas but couldn’t handle everything myself. Thankfully, right before launch, I met Monica and forced her to be my friend.

MONICA: ^ What she said. (Just kidding—I submitted a story to The Dread Machine before the project officially launched and provided some feedback on the website. Alin and I then engaged in a ferocious duel of the wits to determine who was the imposter. We outsmarted one another into a stalemate of trust, and now here we are!)

ALIN: Can confirm.

Anyone who takes on a publishing project–whether self-publishing a book, putting out an electronic journal, or wrangling writers for an anthology–inevitably hits unexpected difficulties. Would you mind discussing some of the issues you faced along the way to launching The Dread Machine?

ALIN: The biggest issue, for us, was earning the credibility necessary to be taken seriously. From the beginning, we’ve worked to let writers know we can be trusted. This isn’t a hobby business, and we won’t disappear as soon as things get difficult. That’s a pretty universal struggle though.

Personally, I’ve spent the last year figuring out who The Dread Machine is and who it needs me to be as an editor-publisher. The magazine sort of took on a life of its own after I designed the site and set it loose on the world (thanks in large part to our Discord community).

Did I have an excruciatingly detailed business plan? Absolutely. Did the magazine care? No. The Dread Machine does what The Dread Machine wants. I built it, but I don’t drive it.

We are very community-centric. I don’t think Monica or I ever make any major decisions without input from the Cultists and Mechanists.


Authors don’t have to belong to your community or take part in your discussion or critique groups to submit their work to you. What are some of the benefits for an author who is subscribed to your service on the community side of things?

ALIN: Cultists (paying subscribers) are able to access the Inner Sanctum of our Discord server, where they can receive critiques and assistance. Once a writer’s submission is accepted, they become a Mechanist and are granted free access to all subscriber content—including the Inner Sanctum—and their permissions are elevated in our Discord server, which allows them to view staff channels and speak with other Mechanists.

MONICA: When we’re considering planning Big Things—like, say, a new anthology—for The Dread Machine, we go to the Inner Sanctum to consult subscribers to gauge appetite and make sure we’re meeting subscriber expectations. We also provide early access to our new projects in special channels, kind of like the Alpha stage of a videogame, so subscribers get special insights into our progress and processes.

ALIN: Our community really is the engine fueling everything we do. Paying subscribers and Mechanists both have a substantial amount of control over what we’re doing and where we’re going.


I think I saw you guys were looking for more dark sci-fi stories, so far it looks like the horror writers have been bombarding your inbox. Do you guys hope to steer the publication in one direction or the other–being recognized as a horror publisher that dabbles in sci-fi, or as a sci-fi publisher that resides in the dark?

ALIN: Originally, we were excited to showcase a range of dark fiction stories from across the genre spectrum, but as we’ve come to know our audience better, we’re definitely focusing more on sci-fi and dark speculative fiction. We don’t want to limit ourselves, but we can’t deny that we’re settling into a more futuristic niche.

MONICA: We haven’t strayed far from that original goal of publishing dark fiction, we’ve just gotten a lot pickier over the past year about what we like. That’s normal for any publisher–as writers discover a new publication, editors have more submissions to choose from.

We still want to publish a wide range of dark fiction stories that keep us (and our readers) on the edge of our seats. If a story is dreadful, polished (doesn’t need many edits), and doesn’t violate our submission guidelines, odds are extremely high that it will be elevated to a final round of review. We prize good writing over sticking to genre definitions; our primary requirement is that the story be dreadful. There are some AMAZING stories we’ve had to pass on because they simply aren’t dreadful, and we’re always happy when we see other publications pick them up.

ALIN: We have a pantheon of gods, one of which is The Dread Hamster of Rejection. Sending a hamster to a writer whose story we loved but couldn’t justify acquiring, is always the worst.

MONICA: Sending San Ardilla, the Squirrel of Acceptance, to visit a writer is always the best!

Will The Dread Machine have books in print? Anthologies, novels?

ALIN: Our first anthology, Mixtape: 1986, is nearly complete and the Kickstarter to fund it is live (ends October 21, 2021). Our second collection, Darkness Blooms, will be published in Spring 2022. At this time, we prefer to focus on anthologies and growing from a semi-pro baby pub to a pro zine, so we aren’t yet in a place to consider novels, and I’m not sure that we ever will be. We really love short fiction and have some awesome experimental ideas we’d like to pursue first.

MONICA: Short fiction is where a lot of experimentation and change happens in genre fiction. Reading new short fiction is kind of like being on the cutting edge of science, because you see authors trying new techniques or new themes that they may not necessarily have the energy to address in a longer format. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy novels and read them voraciously, but I also enjoy the variety, creativity, and strangeness that frequents the places where short stories live. Short fiction writers are brave souls, and I’m grateful to work with so many of them!

New Voices in Horror with Jonathan Duckworth

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Joe Sullivan: In Heavy Feather Review (Sept 2017) you have “Three Wendigo Poems” which reminds me of both Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and William Blake’s “A Divine Image”, and it really fits my idea of you from reading your work and following you on Twitter. Someone coming from a literary mag and poetry background, but totally willing to explore genre fiction. I’m curious about how you came to start submitting your short stories to genre fiction anthologies and publications?

Jonathan Duckworth: It happened very gradually, though I should say this is more like me coming full circle back to where I began. As a child I always wanted to write fantasy, and my earliest book projects were adventure fantasy, space opera scifi, and superhero fiction. It’s only after I started taking creative writing classes in college that I began writing literary fiction and poetry, but literary fiction never really worked out for me. I did and still do write poetry, though I’ve begun to explore speculative realms through that poetry more and more recently. Around 2017 is when I started writing horror, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2019 when I really started to produce short fiction at my current clip, and that’s also when I submitted to Pseudopod. Amazingly, my first ever submission to a pro-rate horror market was also my first ever pro-rate horror acceptance. I think the “how” is really as simple as me realizing what I wanted to write, and committing to writing that kind of fiction. After Pseudopod accepted my story, it was all the validation I needed to commit to that new path. 

As someone in a PhD program, entangled in academic pressures and pursuits, do you worry your foray into genre fiction will distract from your career path, whatever it may be?

I think there is a narrow path for someone like me to still attain an academic job while being a writer of genre fiction. Most of my work still has a literary flavor, and I still hope to land a book deal at some point with a major publishing house. That aside, regardless of what I write, I’m just as qualified as any of my literary-focused peers to teach students the arts of writing, and I just have to bet on myself and believe that I can convince a hiring committee of that fact. 

What horror media inspired you as a kid? What dark artists inspire you now?

It’s funny, but I wasn’t much of a horror fan for most of my life. I loved fantasy, as I said before, but anything darker than Scooby Doo tended to turn me away, though I do remember reading Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark, and I adored any media about cryptids, like Animal X on Animal Planet. I also loved the classic Twilight Zone, and that was a sort of gateway in my early 20s to enjoying classic Black and White horror, which in turn led me to other kinds of horror.

Today, I enjoy all sorts of horror, and what I look for more than anything else is atmosphere. For that reason, Robert Eggers’ films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, are some of my favorites, as they so perfectly capture a mood and atmosphere of foreboding, angst, and claustrophobia. I enjoy horror games too, especially the Indie ones, though I also very much enjoyed Alien Isolation. The breathtaking art of Russian artist Vergvoktre is something else I can turn to for inspiration. Of course, there’s also so many incredible writers emerging or putting out new work: Gordon B. White, John Langan, Eric Raglin, Gwendolyn Kiste, Suzan Palumbo, Laird Barron, Jon Padgett, Donyae Coles, Stephen Graham Jones, I could go on and on. 

You have a really great idea for a novella. I don’t want to spoil the few details I know of it — something akin to an Old West treasure hunt. Have you made progress on that story?

I wrote Under a Ravenous Sky last summer, and am now looking for an agent to shop it. Writing it was an interesting process because I originally intended it to be a longish short story, which quickly ballooned to novella length and then finally ended up a 57,000 word novel. It’s a much tauter and more streamlined beast than any of the novels I’ve written before, probably because it’s a failed short story and so has that simple, elegant short story structure. I think every novel I plan at this point will be that way: a bloated, oversized short story. The novel form, I think, gives too much permission to writers like me to overcomplicate, so starting with a simple structure might be what writers like me need. 

What themes most interest you in dark fiction? What books do you hope to release in the next five or ten years?

At the core of all dark fiction is some kind of betrayal. Either a betrayal of trust or of expectation. This isn’t what you thought it would be; this person isn’t who you thought they were. You could argue that’s true of almost all fiction, but it goes doubly so for dark fiction, and that betrayal is what’s so compelling to me. As for specific themes, I notice I explore certain elements a lot, probably because I have personal connections to them: miscarriages, for one thing, or dead children (I was born as the only survivor of a set of triplets, the other two having miscarried two weeks before my eventual birth), and also sympathy for monsters. In a lot of my stories, the creepy crawly who would normally be the main villain in a classic horror tale is often either the protagonist or a lesser evil to the true monster: usually some kind of authority figure. Think of Pan’s Labyrinth: yeah, the Pale Man is terrifying, but he’s only a metaphor for the ugly, ravenous evil of fascism that Major Vidal personifies.

I hope the next 5-10 years is the floodgates opening. I have so many stories, poems, and book-length projects completed in some form. Some need a lot of polishing, but some, I believe, are ready now. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I feel like I’m just in need of a big break, and then I can start drowning everyone in a steady torrent of work. Currently I have two novels (one horror, which I mentioned above, the other a YA fantasy that probably needs a rewrite), two short story collections (plus probably a third on the way once I collect all the fantasy stories I’ve written in the last few years), and two poetry collections, one of which I’m using as my dissertation project. The short story collections and the Western Horror novel are probably the most “ready.” Both the story collections are in a shared universe with plenty of connections between the two. The earlier one, Undying, is a collection of historical stories all set in various parts of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. The second, more recently compiled, is entitled Have You Seen the Moon Tonight? and is more contemporary (though there are some historical pieces as well, such as a warped cosmic horror retelling of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond) and set in the United States. I’d love to find publishers for both books, and hope I will within the next year or so. 

Jonathan Louis Duckworth is a Teaching Fellow and PhD Candidate in Creative Writing at University of North Texas.

Tomato Heart

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by Stephanie Parent

Katrina spent the evening of October 31st preparing for the Halloween party, just like every year.

She boiled two pots of water, one for the spaghetti, one for the grapes and lone tomato. While the spaghetti writhed like worms trying to escape the inferno, she dipped the strainer of grapes and that plump tomato, red as a newborn, into the boiling bubbles, and then straight into the bucket of ice water. A dual baptism that left the skins soft enough to slip off like children’s jackets on a sunny autumn afternoon. She sliced the corn kernels, tough and clinging to the cob—the bitter tail end of the crop once the nighttime frost had come. Gathered the yellow pearls into one bowl, the limp spaghetti in a second, the split-skinned fruit in a third and fourth.  

The spaghetti went at the head of the table, congealing like the coils of a brain; then the grapes, eyes blind to this world but capable,  Katrina imagined, of peering into other realms. The corn, the exact size of baby teeth left under a pillow—Katrina had measured a kernel between two delicate fingers. And then, finally, the heavy red heart, almost as big as her clenched fist closing around the corn kernel, crushing it to a pulp.

Thus the game was prepared, the body parts assembled like pieces of a puzzle, ready to be solved by eager little hands. As darkness fell, Katrina sat at the head of the table to await her guest’s arrival. She gripped the knobs of the chair, the wooden ridges like knucklebones, the way she had for so many years. This time, she was sure, Danny would appear.

Danny and his friends had loved this—the guess-the-body-part game. Katrina had stood in the corner smiling at their squirming fingers, their squeals and the eyes that opened though the rules said, Don’t peek. Children with warm bodies, their pulses fluttering in their necks. The dismemberment on the table was a future too far off for any of them to fear.

Danny had reached for the tomato heart first, every year.

As Katrina sat and remembered, the last rays of sun slipped away. She could barely see the glass bowls on the table, now. Danny’s friends would be at parties with different kinds of games, spin-the-bottle and truth-or-dare. All too old to creep to her doorstep and take a handful of the Kit-Kats she’d left in a bowl painted like a pumpkin, with only one porch light on.

Kit-Kats, Danny’s favorite—he liked how their name matched the crunch of the wafers between his little teeth.

Danny’s friends were gone, but Katrina didn’t want the neighbors to know she was home.

The minutes click-clacked by, slow as the night she’d let Danny go trick-or-treating by himself, at eleven years old. “No one’s parents are coming, Mom,” he’d whined in his Batman costume with the black cape, the shoulder pads that turned him into a little man. The determination in his eyes, nearly as dark as that cape; so dark that no one noticed when he slipped, another shadow, into the starless night.

No one noticed, until it was too late.

Now Katrina sat in the black, the same black that must have enveloped Danny, at the end, and watched over her offering. She waited, and wished, and waited, and wished, till her heart turned raw, another pulpy, skinless fruit, and still there was only the empty room, the clock ticking from the kitchen like it had that night years ago—

On the table, a rattle. The corn kernels, clicking together like something more solid than vegetables; like marbles, like severed teeth. Katrina’s heart gave one great, desperate beat.

Kit, Kat, the corn seemed to say.

Mark? Katrina nearly said aloud, the words trembling, trying to tumble out. It’s working, it’s finally working…

But Katrina’s husband was gone. Had been for years, now.

Yet Katrina remained, clinging to her ritual, the magic spells that had driven all the living humans in her life away, till she had only this hope of resurrection, and here, at last, she saw that the tomato heart was pulsing, beating, opening and closing like a fist.

“Danny?” This time, she said the right name. “Danny? It’s Mom.”

The corn clattered, the grapes shuddered, the spaghetti writhed; Katrina held her breath, and then, beyond the table, the curtains billowed like the folds of a little boy’s Batman cape.

Katrina stood and stepped toward those curtains, that cape. Behind her the vegetable offerings made squirming squishing sounds. “Danny?” she said. “I’m so sorry I let you go. I’m so sorry you were lost, and alone. I—”

Some writhing, clammy thing slapped the back of Katrina’s neck, and she gasped. Spaghetti tendrils, sliding forward, reaching for her clavicles. The bowl that had held them fell to the floor and split into shards. Katrina turned back toward the table, and the grapes volleyed at her like tiny cannonballs, till she had no choice but to shield her face. Then the corn kernels, BB gun pellets, the bowls all flying and crashing and shattering the way, years ago, Danny himself had done.

Only the red beating heart on the table remained.

And Katrina asked herself, as she had so many times: what would make a brave little boy, a superhero in the making, climb to the top of the tallest tree and watch his friends leave him behind? What would make him leap to the ground till his bones crumpled like glass? What had chased him that night? Had it been human, or animal, or something—

The curtain rose and wrapped around her shivering shoulders like a caress. “Please, Danny.” Katrina kept her voice to a whisper, afraid she might make the tomato heart pitch toward her too, and then all would be lost. “Please, if only I knew what happened—”

The fabric tightened, pinning her arms to her sides, looping her neck in a noose. “Danny?” she called. “Danny, I’m sorry, I—”

The word fled along with her breath; the world went black, the corn and grapes transformed into a sea of pulsing stars; only that tomato heart remained clear, tattooing in time with her spluttering heart.

“Not Danny,” she heard, as the fabric pulled like a wire across her throat. The words low and deep, like a grumble from a grown man’s throat.

What? she asked only in her mind.

“The one who came for him,” rattled through her brain, a voice scattered as corn kernels ripped from the cob.

For a moment, Katrina fell limp, into the invisible embrace of this tormentor; and then the fight kicked in.

“How dare you?” she tried to scream. “How dare you take my precious, perfect boy?”

The fabric cut Katrina’s neck like a knife, but with that desperation that comes only from having the heart of your life ripped out, she fought. She reached with fingers that had become claws, she tore the fabric with all her might.

Her throat freed, she gulped and gulped.

A roar came, around and inside Katrina, loud and throttling and freezing cold; the sound of some evil, hungry thing that had always existed and would always exist. Some thing she could not see with human eyes; some thing from another realm. She turned to the window, desperate to fling herself through the glass, to break herself and bleed—anything to escape that awful sound.

This was what Danny had felt.

“No,” Katrina screamed, “I won’t let you win.” And she knew, then, what she had to do.

She turned to the table, stepping toward that pulsing tomato heart. The cold, crying presence flung her to her knees; and so she crawled. She crawled and crawled against the crushing pressure, till she gripped the table legs, clutching the knobs like ankle bones. She tugged herself up and that force slammed her down, but she reached, she reached the way she wished she could have reached for Danny, on that Halloween long ago.

She grabbed the tomato, the throbbing thing that held all her love for Danny, and she flung it into space.

The red heart volleyed past the flying curtains, into the window, and it broke open and slid in a thousand bleeding particles down the glass. It broke Katrina open, too, every ounce of love and grief and anguish exploding inside her till she fell to her knees and sobbed. She let it fill her, that red, red loss that would color every cell of her body for the rest of her life, even when, one day, she would get up and march forward and allow herself to step into the light.

She would step into the light, because that dark, dark presence, the one who had stolen the love of her life, had fled.

It was only Katrina in the room now, and the pulpy remnants of an ordinary tomato, and a spark in her chest that felt like hope.

Bunny

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by Ali Seay

Trevor came through in his long dark gown with his articulated spooky fingers waving. His glowing LED mask currently showed the leering face of death. Shaking his head, he said, “I told you not to have your party on Halloween. The doorbell’s ringing again.”

Anette grinned at him, fluffed her bouffant wig, and winked. “No worries. They’re just kids. It takes two seconds to hand out candy, Trev.”

“Trevor. You know I hate Trev.”

“And you know I hate spoil sports. Hunt down that cauldron full of candy. I think I saw Patrick take off with it. He’s drunker than drunk which means he’s snacking on about sixty bucks worth of candy.”

The doorbell rang again and Anette hurried toward the front door. “Coming!” she yelled over the din of the guests and the spooky Halloween sounds someone had started streaming at top volume over her speakers.

She bounced off a counterfeit Elvira and her date Slender Man. Someone called Anette’s name but she held up a finger. “Hold that thought! There are children to feed.”

Trevor came just as she was sweeping the door wide, expecting a bunch of rowdy cheeky teenagers at this time of night. It was going on eleven already. Halloween was almost over.

Instead of teenagers, she found a diminutive two foot creature staring up at her with big eyes. Eyes so big they reminded her of those vintage paintings from the seventies.

“What the fuck is that?” Trevor growled.

She elbowed him none too gently.

“Hi there,” she said, bending down.

The kid was a mess. A soupy swirl of gore and scar tissue matted its face. Yellow fatty tissue and white bone color shone through the pulp. When they smiled the exposed tendons crinkled and the jaw moved. Anette swore she saw a swirling, dancing tongue within the ruined cage of the face.

“What the…fuck?” Trevor said.

“Your mask is insane!” she squealed. “Who did this?”

The kid looked at her curiously, cocked their head. Then held up a pillow case. “Trick?”

“You have to say or treat,” said a voice from the shadows just off the porch.

From somewhere behind her someone set off a noisemaker and then a jostle worked through the cluster of party goers and bumped Anette.

“Sorry, it’s so noisy. Are you their mom? Dad? They’re adorable. What’s their name?”

“Bunny,” said the small creature before her. It shook its bag and said. “Or treat?”

“Sorry about the hour,” the voice said, not answering any of her questions. “It’s one of the few times of year Bunny can go out and be Bunny.”

“Here,” Trevor said, pushing past Anette. He shoved two great handfuls of candy into the sagging sack and snapped, “There’s your treats. You can go now!”

Something in the small figure brought out her maternal protective side. “Trevor, stop being such a horse’s ass.”

“I don’t like that thing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bunny was staring down into the bag of candy with a melancholy look.

Anette just barely heard the dark chuckle from the shadows beneath the tree.

Inside the house, Monster Mash came roaring to life and everyone cheered. Something wet splashed the back of her leg and she’d no doubt smell like cheap beer until she had a shower.

The little one sagged with defeat.

“What’s the matter, Bunny? You don’t like any of that candy?” she asked.

“Hungry,” Bunny said.

“I’m sure if you eat some of that you won’t be,” Trevor snapped, trying to push the door shut.

Bunny’s small foot shot out and blocked the door’s swing.

“Hungry,” Bunny said again. But louder. And the tongue behind the empty cheek walls danced.

Anette took a step back then searched the shadows with squinted eyes. “Um, maybe you should get—”

But the voice cut her off and said, “Go on, Bunny. You’re safe here. I’ll keep watch.”

The hair on the back of her neck stood up just as the small figure burst through the doorway. It caught Trevor by the calf, yanked, and pulled him down.

Trevor hit the floor with a thud and shrieked as small sharp teeth slid through vulnerable skin and into his neck. Blood jetted and some partygoers cheered, thinking it was all good Halloween constumed fun.

Anette scrambled to the door, screaming, but it was firmly shut and immune to her tugging. As if someone were holding it shut on the other side.

A clump of people roiled through the room, the music grew louder, and somewhere someone was operating the beer funnel as oblivious people yelled “Chug, chug, chug!”

As Bunny jumped at her and took her down easily, she wondered briefly, as a mouth latched onto her neck and tore and sucked, if maybe Bunny thought they were chanting for them.

Pigman, Pigman

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by Joanna Koch

Green muddy grass holds boot-prints in the struggle; boy thrashing, screen slips and falls, flash of knife and open mouth as camera eye wrestles with impossible perspective. Your friends run, laughing. Rancid smell of old leather; you can’t believe the mask wasn’t cleaned better considering the cost, but like everyone else you’ve agreed to play your part.

Flannels and flashes of elbow, guttural sounds ejecting human loss, camera phone muffled. The eye in your pocket sees better than you behind the Pigman’s mask.

Background noise: a girl screams. Grappling men, or man-like things; hungry pig breath of mutual desire grown labyrinthine in soft boy exile. Don’t get carried away, though. Unspoken teleology, signals louder than exegetic screams. Start with the boy to keep things spicy.

You allow him the hunting knife. Sensory let-down after the overload of attack. Unshuttered eyes leap through multiple frames. Below the boy’s assaulted breast, grunt and shove, wrestle ineffable hands through the car window. Blade work inept against heavy yellow workman’s gloves, distressed boy-breath escalates. Gloves drag him out of the car. This can’t be happening. Wait a minute. Stop.

He says stop. The gloves fit his neck. Your yellow hands huge and his head a balloon atop the clenching heft; he’ll do anything you say. Them’s serious words for a boy with no pants.

The camera’s getting the performance of their lives from your friends. Are they, though? Who can tell who your real friends are the way they joke but no one’s joking now. Boy pleads, girl screams; Pigman grunts.

Outside of the shaky eye, shaking to hide amateur actors and inept effects. But if you do say so yourself, this shot is looking pretty damn legit.

Boy’s tongue like a lizard pops out. Will it grow back if you bite it off?

It’s all in fun. Blood spatter and strangled silence. You’ve seen this before in other movies and this Halloween night you’re claiming the predator’s mask. No grief for teenage meat less tender than your eternal hurt feelings. Deadened by off-screen screams, the assailant fills the frame, panoramic in your plaid, your coveralls, your fleshy rented mask.

Pig breath fogs the lens. Playing the villain like the hero you are. Boy disposed; a hilarious corpse. Cut to the source of the off-screen screaming.

No title card. No credits. No knowing gag to alleviate tension. You want them confused, upset, questioning reality, feeling what it feels like to live inside the madman’s mask. The ultimate director’s cut is a blade held by heavy yellow workman’s gloves.

Camera eye thrusts into Pigman’s gullet. Strange carapace frames the soft pink palate. He tests it with his teeth. Pig gloves swing, eye of lens on pelvis as he waggles. You hear him better in his hand.

Snuffling down the road where the girl’s stopped screaming. She could flag down a car but she’s standing there stupid, tits hanging out. Lifts an arm and aims it at you.

Pigman, Pigman, mind your listing, tilting approach. She’s watching like a witch at a square dance. Swing your partner. Swing your axe. The weight of narrative momentum slows the camera to sludge.

When Pigman’s stomach growls, you hear his hunger. Grunting and heartbeats: listen for him in your inner ear on opening night, paraded above the popcorn crunch.

Come on, girl. Let’s see you run. It’s either slasher or farce. Chase the disheveled girl until bad focus overtakes her sweaty face and promises a rape. Your breath inside the mask sends a wet scent recirculating the legend’s stench. You smell the skin who wore the skin before you, the head of a butcher inside the head of a pig.

You’re ready to rut up the back of her party dress but she doesn’t run. She stands and stares. Next to a stop sign up ahead, arm rigid, gaped-mouth like a ghoul, she points at you.

Pigman wheezes soft in your ears. Eyes of divergent camera phones watch at weird angles in settling night. Nothing moves. Girl steady, disheveled; your would-be victim still as a pillar of black salt.

Something ain’t right. Not you. You use good grammar.

The hand holding the phone shakes more than before. Or does the cannibal wrist tremble with neurological disease? Eyes through pig slits pinched into thin edges blink too small to see what’s happening at the crossroads.

Chopped up images under the blinking stoplight. Colors changing. Girl twists from left to right. Her limbs look incorrect.

You call out, your voice childish inside the mask.

“Hey, you all right?”

She twists strangely, a spider made of black smoke.

Won’t answer. Why would she? Inside Pigman apology becomes a lecherous grunt, but you try. “Sorry that scene got so wild.”

Moving closer, under the flashing stoplight, something wrong with her face. Darkness crawling, writhing. And something white. Glinting in her jaw, whiteness spreading, slashing across the midnight black.

Arm aimed at you, pointing, bobbing.

Her mouth bursts black, red, yellow, green as reflective teeth reveal her raucous laugh in the stoplight’s flash. Wide open laugh, party dress of tatters, girl of smoke points and twists and wails.

Tugging, the rented mask clings. It seems to like your skin. Missed the snug fit of a face since the last Halloween lynching. You wrestle and snort. It clings to your cheeks.

Caged breath fogs inside with damp heat. Your protest surges into squeals.

Fight, Piggy, fight. Camera jumps and slashes. You plead, confined: Stop. Help. Your plaintive voice, muffled beyond human disguise, heaving outward in frantic breath, reborn as a barnyard bray.

Pig panic rising, short tail curled to your butt, haunches shrinking, lard loading into your teenage gut. Coveralls fall from sloped animal shoulders. Camera drops under knocking hooves. Hairy pink teats fill the frame. Hooves from wrists pummel pink flesh. Pigman tears at his own face.

The sliced off nose exposes your snout. Lights, laughter, flashing: cars are coming, police are coming, everyone’s laughing. Horrific squeals of impotent misery, hooves hurling barnyard heft towards the cover of cannibal woods, phone eye trampled. The footage stops on blood-grimed teats smeared by the crunch of a murdered screen.

Twilight Zone Party

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by Mark Allan Gunnells

“You about ready, Tony?” Joseph asked, adjusting his rubber pig’s nose. Together with the white lab coat and toy stethoscope around his neck, he thought he looked pretty damn good.

His husband walked out from the bedroom, looking rather ridiculous but also strangely adorable in his full-body outfit. It had been a werewolf costume, but they’d trimmed the hair short and cut out the snout. “You sure this is right? I thought the creature on the plane wing looked more like an alien and less like a life-size Care Bear.”

“You’re thinking of the movie with Lithgow, not the show with Shatner. The invitation is very clear.”

Joseph took the invitation from the coffee table and handed it to Tony. They had received it two days ago. On the cover it said, “Submitted for Your Approval,” and inside the message read, “You are invited to a Halloween party at 1630 Ravello Drive on All Hallows Eve, 8 p.m. Come dressed as your favorite character from the classic 1950s series The Twilight Zone. There will be drinks, dancing, and delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared from everyone’s favorite cookbook, To Serve Man.”

“You don’t think this is a weird way for someone to introduce himself to the neighborhood?” Tony asked.

“Maybe, but it’ll be nice to have another gay person in the neighborhood.”

“What makes you think he’s gay?”

“A single guy restores that big old Victorian and then announces himself to his new neighbors with a Halloween costume party … how could he not be gay?”

*

The night was cool, the breeze which sent brittle leaves scratch-scratching along the pavement carrying the first hint of winter on its breath. Joseph imagined his husband must be nice and cozy inside his makeshift gremlin suit.

1630, the last house on the left at the end of the cul-de-sac, had been empty for the five years Joseph and Tony had lived on the street. Earlier in the year when SOLD was slapped across the faded FOR SALE sign and construction crews started work on the house, the entire neighborhood began buzzing with curiosity and speculation. Then last week the moving vans showed up, but as far as Joseph knew, no one had yet met the new arrival. There had been glimpses of him, a thin middle-aged man with dark hair and severe features seen in the side yard or through the windows. Ravello Drive had become a neighborhood full of Gladys Kravitzes this past week.

Then the invitations came, delivered into every mailbox, promising satiation to the curiosity.

And as they approached the house, the noise from inside suggested Joseph and Tony were the last to arrive. They started up the walk and then Joseph spotted the new neighbor waiting on the porch, just at the top of the steps. He wore a simple black suit with a white shirt, hands clasped casually in front of him. A cigarette dangled between two fingers, the smoke drifting up to create an amorphous curtain in front of his face.

“Jesus Christ,” Joseph said with a laugh. “He’s the spitting image of Serling.”

Joseph bounded up the steps and offered his hand. “Hey, I’m Joseph and this is my husband, Tony.”

The new neighbor shook but did not offer his own name. In fact, with a half-smile that bordered on a smirk, the man stepped across the porch and opened the front door. In an impeccable imitation of Serling’s distinctive voice, he said, “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone.”

Tony took his husband’s hand. “Guy certainly stays in character, doesn’t he?”

“Must be method,” Joseph said then led Tony into the house. A small foyer with white and black checkered tiles opened onto an expansive living room. All the décor was done in shades of black and white. A monochrome dream. The furniture seemed antique from the 50s, the TV even a big boxy floor deal instead of a mounted flat screen. Light, jazzy music played from recessed speakers. The room was full of their neighbors, all dressed as various characters. Mr. Horace wore a dusty suit and broken glasses, carrying around a tattered book. Janice Thomas wore a baby doll dress and a puffy blonde wig with ribbons. There were people dressed as mannequins, as aliens, even a few familiar figures like Santa Claus and Abraham Lincoln who had appeared in episodes. A group of five had obviously coordinated their outfits, dressed as an army major, a ballerina, a clown, a bagpiper, and a hobo.

“Is this a riot or what?” Joseph said.

“I think there’s something off about our new neighbor,” Tony said, and Jacob detected genuine unease in his husband’s voice. “I mean, we don’t know his name. What if he – ”

Tony stopped talking when the man in question entered the room. He walked to the TV and stood next to it, at first not speaking but taking a few drags on his cigarette. His skin seemed so pale, quite in contrast to the deep black of his hair and suit. When he finally opened his mouth, he continued with the Serling persona.

“Picture a Halloween party where everyone is having a good time but no one knows who invited them. They all naturally assumed the stranger who greeted them at the door was their host, but they were wrong. They came seeking a little adventure, a break from their routine humdrum lives. They were about to get even more than they bargained for.”

Then the faux-Serling reached over and flipped on the TV. Immediately the distinctive opening music from the show filled the room, drowning out the jazz.

Tony clutched at Joseph’s arm. “I want to go. This is creeping me out.”

“Just all part of the act, I’m sure,” Joseph said, but he glanced back toward the foyer.

Only to find it gone. Where the archway had been was now just solid wall. A quick glance around the room revealed no windows, no other doors. Even more strangely, the monochromatic color scheme seemed to be seeping into the people until everyone resembled characters on an old black-and-white sitcom. Looking down at his own body, he saw he was not immune to this phenomenon.

Joseph turned toward the TV to demand an explanation, but the Serling was no longer there. He seemed to have simply vanished now that his narration was over.

Everyone in the room seemed to find their voices all at once, a loud nervous chatter as people noticed their decoloring, and the fact that they all were now trapped in this room. People began to rush to the walls, feeling along, pounding on them. The music from the TV got louder, while the glowing screen showed only a spinning pinwheel, a vortex that seemed to actually create its own suction, a wind that seemed to be blowing into the television.

“It’s a hallucinogen,” Janice said with a shrill laugh. “He put something in the food and drinks, and we’re all hallucinating.”

Good theory, Joseph thought, but he and Tony had yet to partake in any of the food or drinks.

The suction got stronger, and when Mr. Horace passed too close to the TV, he cried out, pinwheeled his arms, then fell over. Right into the television, right through the screen.

He felt Tony tugging at his arm, saying something about finding a way out, but Joseph was numb, frozen to the spot. Only when the ballerina and hobo got sucked into the TV together did his paralysis break.

“We need to find something to hold onto,” Joseph shouted into his husband’s ear and began pulling him toward a sofa with alternating black and white cushions. He didn’t know if the furniture was bolted down, but it seemed immune to the pull from the TV. He had just reached the sofa when the suction caught him and lifted him off his feet. He heard Tony cry out and grab hold of his leg.

Joseph clutched the back of the sofa with all his might while around him his neighbors and friends screamed and were dragged into the TV. He looked back at his husband, but at that moment Tony lost his grip. He screamed Joseph’s name, eyes wide with terror, as he too tumbled through the air and through the screen.

Realizing he was the last partygoer left, Joseph began to cry and tried to pull himself forward and over the sofa, but he hadn’t been working out much and the muscles in his arms were weak.

In the end, it wasn’t clear if he lost his grip or he gave up his grip, but the result was the same. He went to join his husband.

Immediately the wind subsided and the TV played static for a few moments before turning itself off.

Bloodlust Boulevard

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by Greg Sisco

Loraine took her hands out of her pockets just long enough to zip up her leather jacket before plunging them back in. Jesus, it was brisk. Good brisk. Been too long brisk. Finally feels like fall at the end of a long summer brisk. But still, Jesus.

She would’ve driven, but chances of adult beverages seemed high, and she didn’t have the funds to justify an Uber, especially when the bus stop was only a quarter mile from the house, but damn, she’d have brought a hat and scarf if she realized it was going to be like this. The fake blood was freezing to her skin, the stop sign she’d cut to look like it was lodged in her neck felt like ice, and wind pierced the jacket where she’d torn it to look like the stop sign went through. Here on Elm Springs Parkway—colloquially Bloodlust Boulevard—it always seemed colder than it was in the rest of the city.

Loraine smirked. Of course it was colder on Bloodlust Boulevard. It was only right.

She took a deep breath and exhaled hard, trying to let the cold out of her as she took in the decorations. What a place to walk alone. Ominous lights, cobwebs, carved pumpkins with red lights for eyes, bloody axes stuck in tree stumps, entrails hanging from gutters. She’d wanted to come to a party on this street ever since trick-or-treating here as a little girl. Even driving or walking the street each year put a smile on her face. Every town had a Candy Cane Lane, it seemed to Loraine, but she thought herself blessed to live in a town with Bloodlust Boulevard.

Cold though. Always cold. Some anomaly in its placement among the hills? A trick of the mind brought on by the creepy atmosphere? A little of both?

She shivered, shrugged, and walked up the driveway to Megan’s house.

#

“Did you see the one with the heads on the fenceposts?” asked a man with a pair of scissors stuck in one eye like he tripped while running with them.

“No, was that out this way?” a woman in a burnt blouse asked, pointing with a crispy, disfigured hand.

“Other way,” said Megan, a half dozen knives sticking out of her back. “We’ll go look after dark. It’s even better. There are lights on the fenceposts that shine through the eyes and mouths.”

Loraine listened, hoping a few beers would build up her tolerance to the cold enough to go out with them.

The costume theme was “Recently Deceased” and not one guest disappointed. Everybody put in thought, worked hard, and appeared authentic, some to the point that it was hard to even look at them. Megan had stressed the message that this was a party on Bloodlust Boulevard, that everybody would get into the spirit, and anyone who didn’t put in their best effort was sure to be the weak link. Loraine was glad she’d listened.

Her phone vibrated.

Shit. Mom.

Loraine told herself, after she woke up with the hangover to end all hangovers, that she’d get around to this unpleasant conversation before the party, but apparently she’d gotten carried away. She thought of ghosting Mom but decided it was cruel under the circumstances and would only serve to weigh on her mind. She pounded the rest of her beer, grabbed another, and stepped out on the back porch.

#

“Where are you? Are you okay?” Mom was asking frantically. Loraine could hear her hyperventilating.

“I’m fine. I got home late. I went to sleep.” That was technically true, though last night was a blur. Loraine remembered she’d had dinner with a Tinder date, then they’d gone for what was supposed to be a couple drinks but turned into way too many, and her memory went blank somewhere between then and morning.

“You promised me you’d call when you got home. Do not pretend I’m overreacting.”

“Mom, I’m almost thirty. You can’t have a panic attack over every little thing.”

“You are twenty-four, and even if you were almost thirty, there’s no age limit on getting killed by a stranger you met on the internet.”

“Well, I lived. I’m sorry I forgot to text you.” she thought of a lie. “I lost my phone in the couch cushions and it took all day to find it.”

“Honey… When you say you’ll text, I need you to do it. I freak out if you don’t.”

“I know.”

Mom breathed for a minute, then asked, “Are you still going to that Halloween party?”

“Yep. On my way. Already late.”

“You absolutely promise to text me when you get home safe, right?”

“Yes, Mom. I promise.”

She shuddered in the cold, drank the rest of her beer, and went in for another.

#

By her sixth beer, she’d forgotten the unpleasantness with Mom. By her eighth, she was having a good time. By her tenth, even better.

They went out and marveled at the realistic heads stuck on the neighbor’s fenceposts, the eyes and mouths lit up like jack-o-lanterns. She had the stomach to touch one just long enough to gross herself out at how realistic it felt. People trickled back into Megan’s house and so did she.

“Holy shit! Loraine? I thought that was you!” said someone from behind her on the driveway. She turned to see a tall man with a tire tread across his face.

“Um… Hi,” she said, unable to recognize him through the makeup.

“It’s Mason. From Tinder? We went out last night?”

“Oh! Oh…” she gave him a hug, but she had a strange feeling for some reason. “Weird.”

“Double weird,” he said. “We both came as road deaths.”

That was it. That was the strange feeling.

“Well, should we go in for a—?” Loraine started, but the question was cut short by screams, lots of them, from the backyard.

#

By the time anyone found the fire extinguisher and put out the flames, much of the flesh had been taken off the woman’s upper body and she was convulsing in the grass. People shouted orders over one another. “Call 911!” “Give her space!” “Roll her on her back!”

Loraine called 911 from her phone, running into the house to get away from the screams and commotion so she could hear.

“We need a wet rag,” someone in the house was saying. He was digging through materials at a sewing table.

“I’m calling the paramedics,” Loraine told him.

“Here!” said the man, picking up a pair of scissors. “We can strip some of these materials and—” he stumbled and fell forward, the scissors plunging deep into his right eye socket.

Loraine screamed.

Then someone in the kitchen screamed.

Loraine dropped her phone and turned. Megan was face down on the floor. A crazed man was sticking knives in her back and others were trying to pull him off.

Loraine couldn’t breathe. She had the peculiar realization that she couldn’t remember how she knew Megan, where they’d met, why she was at this party.

“Something’s wrong!” said Mason, grabbing her hand. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Wait…” she whispered, but he was already dragging her.

The drunk haze that hung over last night lifted. She could see it in pieces now. The date. The bar. The motorcycle.

“Get on!” said Mason in the front yard, kickstarting his Harley.

Loraine tried to protest.

“Come on!” He shoved her onto the seat behind him.

She was shaking, freezing, paralyzed. Not just from the cold. From the fear. From the deja vu.

“Hold on!” said Mason, twisting the throttle.

They’d barely been riding thirty seconds when when she saw it approaching. The stop sign. The headlights. The truck.

“Stop…” she choked out in a whimper, then louder, “Stop!!”

Mason hit the front brakes hard. They both went over the handlebars—him toward the truck, and her toward the stop sign.

#

Lucy crossed her arms hard. It was freezing, and in a few minutes the sun would go down and it would be even colder. She should’ve gotten a ride. It was never this cold on Halloween. Then again, it always seemed cold on Bloodlust Boulevard.

Her shark bite makeup was freezing to her and the bikini offered no warmth. What the hell was she thinking coming out here half-naked?

She checked the address on her phone, then looked at the houses nearby. Hay bails with body parts in them. Human heads on fence posts. Great decorations. No goddamn street numbers.

She whimpered. She had to find this place, to get in, get a drink, and warm up.

“You looking for Megan’s party?” a voice called from up the street.

Lucy turned in relief to where a woman about her age was standing in a leather jacket with a stop sign lodged between her shoulder and neck. It was gruesome, violent, very real. As she ran up the driveway to meet her, Lucy was thankful she’d worked so hard on her shark bite.

Hallows Harvest

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by Laura Keating

“How about we play a game? Does anyone remember any games?”

The group sat in uncomfortable silence staring at the woman who’d spoken as the jack-o’-lantern Minni had carved earlier flickered and grinned wickedly. She hadn’t felt much like carving it, but it was necessary.

“We could play charades,” the lady tried again. “Or murder in the dark – the one where someone winks and if you see it you … die.”

It was raining outside, had been all night. It was hard to tell how late it was, how close to sunrise. The candle in the pumpkin had begun to sputter when Minni moved the curtain to peek outside.

A hand squeezed her shoulder and drew her back from the basement window. The building above had long ago burned away. Rain dripped from the splintered, tarpaulin-patched floorboards above onto the corner of the old mattress, soaking it. Four grown-ups sat huddled together on it. Three more hunched in the corner, staring at her, their eyes wide and scornful. Minni lowered her head and muttered an apology.

“Keep away from that,” said one of the men on the mattress, anxiously pulling on fistfuls of his blonde beard. She sat down next to him. He was younger, like her, but not young enough to be of any use. It hadn’t taken long to realise that he resented this fact. He glared out at the grey predawn light.

“The children,” said another man, also bearded but whiter. “They should have been back by now.”

“Will everyone just shut up,” hissed the younger man. Brad, Minni thought his name was, or Darren. She couldn’t remember. He was as unwashed as the rest of them, but with fewer lines on his face to fill with dirt he looked almost clean. Under the oversized pink ski-jacket he had picked up somewhere he still wore what must have been, at one time, a very expensive suit. His shoes were soft and black, but the toe flapped on one like a hungry mouth. The words Upper-Middle Management floated through her mind . . . but she couldn’t quite remember what that meant. That world seemed too long ago, the time before – but she couldn’t think about that now. She spent so much time trying to forget. It was better that way.

Minni curled her knees to her chin and began rocking herself on the mouldy mattress.

But she could not forget. It had been fun once, hadn’t it? Plastic masks and cheap capes; armour bought at big stores with bright lights.

Armour? No, it had not been that. Not then.

Costume. That was the word. A different sort of harvest back then.

They waited in the dim of the basement for the children to return from the harvest.

“Pin the tail on the donkey,” the older lady tried again. “Or blind man’s bluff? We could move that mattress back, chase each other around blindfolded.”

“I’m begging you to shut the fuck up,” said maybe-Brad.

Only the young ones could venture out on the harvest night. Wearing costumes of bones, twigs and layers of mud, thin capes and oversized shoes, they could almost blend it. Their high voices could screech and hoot and chuckle with those of the Others; their clumsy gaits in their strange attire shielded their natural strides. But it was the smell (or perhaps lack of) that was their best protection. The problem was that you never knew when you’d grown up. Some would stay back, too afraid, after their tenth year; others would risk it year after year, insisting just one more year, that the greater the number the better the harvest. Many never came back.

“It’s almost daylight,” said the older man, sharing facts they all already knew. “If they’re out in the sun, then the Others will know.”

“It’ll be okay,” said Minni.

“Bobbing for apples,” the lady said, practically cackling. “Remember apples? Nature’s candy.”

“Will you shut up!”

A rock plicked down a hole at the corner of the tarpaulin. The group held their breath, eyes fixed on the hidden entrance.

A shadow wavered there.

Minni wrapped her hand around her gun. She still carried her father’s old Smith and Wesson 0.35, more out of the habit than hope. She had eleven rounds total, five currently in the chamber. She had only ever fired it once and knew it wouldn’t do any good against Them. Still, she slowly thumbed back the hammer: It would work just fine pointed the other way.

“Maybe it’s the children?” whispered the old man, so quietly. “Hello?” His voice cracked. “Kids?”

Voices, muffled yet high enough to reach them, slipped between the charred floorboards above. A woman, older than Minni, but perhaps not by much (it was hard to tell with all her teeth and right eye missing) opened her mouth in a silent shriek, before cramming her fingers into her mouth, her back heaving. Minni had not realised she had raised her gun until a hand closed gently around her wrist. She looked around. Brad/Darren stared at her. Almost imperceptibly, he shook his head. She stared back, defiantly, but at last nodded. She lowered her gun and held his hand. They watched and waited together. Her stomach growled.

Starvation didn’t wait for an opportune moment to dig in.

She needed the harvest.

No one knew where They had come from. Some said the sky; others, under the earth; some thought they had been with them all along, waiting, watching.

It didn’t matter.

Their food, which they freely dispersed to their own once a year, was more sustaining than anything Minni or anyone else had ever known. If rationed out it could last them until the next harvest.

It was all that was left, in any case.

The voices returned, a little stronger this time. Someone giggled.

Something.

A small pale hand pulled back the corner of the tarp. Half-a-dozen small, misshapen forms stared down from the early morning gloaming, underlit by the red glow of the pumpkin. Minni could not make out their faces.

Masks or faces.

“Come and join the party,” the cackling lady said. “What have you got for us, what have you got?”

She might be fast enough for one other before herself, Minni thought, and cleared her throat as more little ones, bodies swaying, limbs nimble, began to gather around the door. The young man, Brad/Darren, squeezed her hand tight. The cackling lady grinned a broken pumpkin smile.

“Trick or Treat?”

THE END

Laura Keating has been published in several anthologies and places online, including Worst Laid Plans from Grindhouse Press, various Hundred Word Horror books from Ghost Orchid Press, and Cemetery Gates. Originally from Saint Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, she now lives in Montréal, Quebec. You can follow her on Twitter @LoreKeating and discover more at www.lorekeating.com

Beulah

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Beulah by Christi Nogle

Paperback and eBook release scheduled for Jan 25, 2022!

Beulah is the story of Georgie, an eighteen-year-old with a talent (or affliction) for seeing ghosts. Georgie and her family have had a hard time since her father died, but she and her mother Gina and sisters Tommy and Stevie are making a new start in the small town of Beulah, Idaho where Gina’s wealthy friend Ellen has set them up to help renovate an old stone schoolhouse. Georgie experiences a variety of disturbances—the town is familiar from dreams and she seems to be experiencing her mother’s memory of the place, not to mention the creepy ghost in the schoolhouse basement—but she is able to maintain, in her own laconic way, until she notices that her little sister Stevie also has the gift. Stevie is in danger from a malevolent ghost, and Georgie tries to help, but soon Georgie is the one in danger.

Christi Nogle’s fiction has appeared in publications such as Pseudopod, Vastarien, Tales to Terrify, and Three-lobed Burning Eye. Christi teaches English at Boise State University and lives in Boise with her partner Jim and their gorgeous dogs. Follow her at christinogle.com or on Twitter @christinogle.