Highwayman Gavin discovers the bloody remains of the victims of a raid in the frozen forest. This work is not his own; the technique is too subtle and masterful for even his own admiring touch. While stalking more victims for his own purposes, Gavin teases a greater monster than himself from the shadows: a woman who appears to him as the very incarnation of sunlight in the winter woods. She will show him what it means to be a predator…
The West Indiana Synod of the Illuminati (Local 451) has chosen Mike to find a human sacrifice to feed the demon in its charge. A human sacrifice will keep the Gate to Hell closed, preventing demons from running roughshod over humanity and stealing their laundry. This is Mike's third year in a row placating the video game-addicted demon Bert, and he's running out of victims. Already busted trying to pick up a hooker, Mike will have to brave a world in which men are not welcome to find a suitable demon snack: his hot neighbor's Chi-Chi Chef party. He will leave the party with a victim and a garlic roaster, or die trying. The safety of the world's laundry from a plague of demon sockmonsters depends upon him.
How do you know that your wedding dress is 'The One'? Do you choose it...or does it choose you? A parasitic wedding dress is used by a sinister Dressmaker to drain the life from countless brides.
People often wonder why crows collect shiny things. Crows wonder why people leave parts of themselves behind...
As the familiar of a not-quite-human Collector, a crow locates ordinary-seeming shiny objects at the scenes of deaths: coins, bits of glass, keys. Such things often contain the souls of those who died in their proximity, which the Collector must release.
"Shiny Things" was published in Ballista Issue #4 (Spring, 2008).
At work, no one can hear you scream.
For the True Office Confessions Blog-O-Novella project, Laura played the roles of the IT Guy, Annoying E-Mail Nazi, and Just Graduated, all denizens in the most dysfunctional office this side of hell.
The True Office Confessions Blog-O-Novella was published in True Office Confessions in 2007.
Max always said that the spirits got Uncle Roger in the end. That explanation covered the hazards of alcoholism, as well as the creatures Roger provoked at his illegal distillery. It was safer to explain it that way, and no less than the absolute truth...
Prince Charming is not nearly the milquetoast doll accessory he seems. Beneath that mild-mannered facade roils a monster far more sinister than any that entered Cinderella's dreams. That glass slipper has been the death of more girls than he can count...
"Stalking Glass" appeared in Aoife's Kiss, Vol. 7, #2, (September 2008).
Pepper's Old World grandmother always left two dishes of milk out: one for the cat, and one for the "brownies." Was this a charming superstition, intended to amuse a child? Or could it have been a peace offering to something sinister?
Pepper's grandmother has passed away. Pepper and her grandmother's cat, Oscar, have inherited her grandmother's farmhouse. When Pepper accidentally runs over a fairy with the lawnmower, she attempts to nurse it back to health. As the fairy regains its strength, it grows violent, stalking Oscar's mice and attacking Pepper. Pepper must rely upon her memory of her grandmother's secretive practices and Oscar's predatory instincts to protect her from this feral creature haunting the farmhouse...
Terrible magickal creatures roaming the world, powerful, immortal, and dangerous. Those that are captured fall under the jurisdiction of The Warden. The Black Quarters, the prison she oversees, houses magickal creatures too hazardous to be allowed to run free in the world.
The Black Quarters faces a threat. A phoenix, kept in ice, is in danger of freeing itself from its containment. The Warden has beseeched Merlin for aid, but he has ignored her, sending her another prisoner: a vampire with unusual tastes. The Warden will need to strike a bargain with this strange vampire to prevent her world from becoming consumed by the fires that haunt her sleep.
"The Bone Tree"
The Bone Tree has guarded the mouth of the little graveyard for as long as Ginny can remember. Overgrown with poison ivy and rustling with black snakes, the family plot doesn't even have the iron teeth of a fence to protect it.
Yet, there is an ancient protector here, one that will be charged with protecting Ginny and her unborn child from intruders upon her family land.
"April Devours May Flowers"
The seed had been planted in late winter, cast away in a carpet of rotting leaves and dirty snow. The gardener had left no marker and did not intend for it to be found. It was not the ideal season for planting, as the seed remained frozen in that shallow thicket for many weeks. Gradually, though, April took hold of it. Through rain and rot, life bloomed inside it, once again...
"April Devours May Flowers" tied for third place in the "April Devours May Flowers" contest in New Voices in Horror's April, 2008 issue.
All houses are alive in their own way. They rely upon the humans who live within for blood, breath and bone. An abandoned house will deteriorate to broken shingles and rotted timbers within the space of a few short years; a house with steps tracking through arterial halls and rooms will last for hundreds more.
Make no mistake, houses take things from the people who live within them. Often they’re something small: Socks disappear in the dryer. A cat wanders from room to room, mewing for a lost toy. A finger that catches the wrong edge of a paring knife, rinsing blood down the smooth, dark pipes where the house swallows it. These things are rarely dwelt upon.
Yet, sometimes, the house takes far more than these small sips of nourishment. After a long period of quietude, hunger wells up deep within its wooden bones and copper arteries, demanding far more than a just taste of life from its inhabitants.
For some households, whenever a family member swears, the offender has to deposit a quarter in a “swear jar.” In Callista’s family of witches, anytime she utters a curse on someone, she has to put a drop of blood in the Curse Jar. The trick never deterred her from cursing until she saw what her mother did with a full Curse Jar…"The Curse Jar" was featured in New Voices in Fiction's Halloween, 2008 Issue.
The old man is always leaving things in Danae’s safekeeping. Swords, keys, a grail – over time, he’s placed many precious things in her hands to hide in the dark waters over which she holds dominion. But she will always remember when the old man brought her something truly unusual to hide during the second World War…"Goldfish" was published in New Myths in December, 2008.
In the tradition of centuries of belly dancers before her, Zara dances with eagles, snakes, and dragons. To her audience, these appear to be elaborate shapes made with her veil, transient sculptures of shadow and air. But they are much more than shadow and air..."Zara's Veil" appeared in MicroHorror in October, 2008.
Mrs. Bircham hates her neighbor’s gardening. Mrs. Bircham is determined to declare warfare on her neighbor’s grotesque topiaries…until she crosses over the property line and discovers a horrible secret that puts a deadly kink in her curlers."Scarecrow" appeared in MicroHorror in October, 2008.
The Wanderer had always worn the flesh of others. It had luxuriated in the shiver and roll of new skin around the architecture of bones in contraction of foreign muscles becoming warm and familiar with use. It marveled at the smells; the varying centers of gravity; ribs caging alien hearts.
Of all the bodies it had worn, it loved this one, the body of the wolf, the best.
When the Wanderer is struck by a car and ejected from its body, it is forced to inhabit the flesh of a human researcher, Valerie. Before the Wanderer seizes her consciousness in its entirety, she must find a way to return it to the wild."Skin" appeared in SNM Horror Magazine in November, 2008.
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