Hello Curious Ones...
Ready for another Creep Campfire Tale?
This blog series grew out of my love as a kid of sitting around the
fire with my friends trying to scare each other.
This installment comes from my friend and fellow horror writer
Zip up your sleeping bags for this one...
In Giving, We Receive
by Naching T. Kassa
The night is alive. Crickets chirp, the fire before us crackles, and laughter fills the black. Above the lake, the moon rises. It sheds silver light onto the glassy surface as it hovers in the sky. Like the flame, it drives back the shadows.
But, fire flickers and the moon wanes. They are inconstant.
Shadows live forever.
I am a dealer of darkness. Partake and hear my tale.
A campfire tale.
A low and steady whine woke Leah Danvers from slumber. She opened her eyes to darkness and groaned.
Mosquitos. The little pests hadn’t bothered her all evening. None of them had appeared when she’d arrived at the campground. None had buzzed around her while she set up the tent. Why’d they have to come out now and spoil everything?
Leah sat up, forsaking the warmth of her sleeping bag. She rummaged in her back pack, pulled out a smooth cylindrical can, and depressed the button at the top. Citrus-scent filled the tent as she covered her arms, tank top, shorts, and legs with repellent. She sprayed the sleeping bag and then returned the can to the pack.
The whine grew faint, then vanished.
Leah sank back into the sleeping bag and closed her eyes. Beyond the thin walls of the tent, pine branches soughed in the breeze. A nearby brook babbled and crickets chirped. The lullaby of night carried Leah toward twilight and the cusp of delicious sleep.
Then, the whine returned.
It floated through the darkness toward her, growing louder as the insect approached her ear. She covered her face with the sleeping bag. The mosquito hovered over her head.
Stupid repellent. It hadn’t been worth the five dollars she’d paid for it. When she got back to the gas station, she’d not only get her money back, she’d give the attendant a piece of her mind. On second thought, she wouldn’t do that. The gas station attendant had been—well—weird. Her mind conjured an image of him. Dirty coveralls, unshaved cheeks, missing teeth all flashed past. But, the eyes were the worst. They had remained distant and cold while he spoke, rendering each word a lie.
Perspiration beaded her forehead as the air within the sleeping bag grew stale. She focused on the mosquito once more.
Leah uncovered her face and drank in cool air. She reached for her flashlight and clicked it on.
A scream died in her throat.
Mosquitos covered the top of her sleeping bag. They blanketed the walls, ceiling, and doors of her shelter. As the light played over them, they rose off of their perches and joined one another in flight. Soon, a dark cloud filled the tent. The whine they emitted became a chorus. Leah swatted at the cloud as it descended toward her. She scrambled out of the sleeping bag and through the door.
Her Pontiac stood a few yards away. The car gleamed under the light of the full moon. She rushed to it.
The mosquito’s wail grew more urgent as she grasped the handle and threw the door open. For a moment, she thought she heard a word in that high-pitched hum. It repeated over and over, louder and louder.
Leah slammed the door and closed each of the vents. Then, she lowered the shade and pulled the key from its hiding place. She jammed it into the ignition and switched the headlights on. The dark cloud hung outside the windshield.
Leah trembled behind the wheel. She’d never feared mosquitos. But, these were different. So many small mouths begging for blood. Worse, these insects seemed…sentient. As though in agreement with her unvoiced thought, the cloud moved toward her driver’s side window. Individuals broke away and landed on the car. Their drone was so loud, it penetrated the glass.
“Screw this,” Leah cried. A twist of the key brought the Pontiac’s engine to life.
She set her hand on the shifter and the passenger side window suddenly imploded. Shards of safety glass showered the seat beside her and something struck her thigh. She glanced up and screamed.
It wasn’t a flood of mosquitos which caused the damage. An unshaved face peered through her smashed window. Moonlight frosted his ice-blue eyes as they glared into her own. He pulled the door open.
The cloud fell upon him before he could get inside. They forced him to abandon his grip on the door as they surrounded his exposed face and hands. Leah hit the gas. The car surged forward and out of the campground.
When she reached the next town and stopped in front of the police station, she found a singular object lying against her thigh. It was a large wrench. Dried blood and hair covered one end of it.
As Leah stepped out of the car, a familiar hum sounded near her ear. A mosquito dropped on to her hand. The insect took its fill, then flew off into the night.
The moon has gone and the fire has died. Laughter fades on the edge of a blade.
All things must end.
Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created 17 short stories, two novellas, and co-created two children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with
Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter.
Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to the Demonic Visions series. She is also a contestant in Horroraddicts.net’s
Next Great Horror Writer Contest.
(And she keeps winning. Go, Naching!!)
Find Naching here:
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Naching-T-Kassa/e/B005ZGHTI0
Facebook Website Page: https://www.facebook.com/Shademistress/
Check out Naching Kassa's, HERO, along with other dark short stories in the anthology, FINAL MASQUERADE available here.
For some people, summer time means
lazy days at the beach, pool parties, vacations, & BBQ's.
I love camp fires and my favorite thing as a kid was sitting
around the fire with my friends, each of us trying to scare the
other with a creepy story.
Now I'm adult (in theory) and I've gathered
a few of my awesome horror writer friends
to attempt to frighten you with a tale of their own.
Check back each month for a new
First up, please welcome A.F. Stewart.
Ms. Stewart writes hauntingly chilling stories and has recently published HORROR HAIKU AND OTHER POEMS.
Never thought of reciting a horror poem around the campfire? Think again.
After you read her creepy selections you won't think of poetry the same way...
Grab a smore and enjoy!
A Night in the Cemetery
A quiet evening and a soft wind, where the wisps of dried leaves and dust waft gently.
A full moon cracks the darkness that settled like soot on cobblestones.
The graveyard silence drapes in beauty and gloom…
Cold, pallid—lost soul
waxen moonlight flickers across
bones rising from graves
Ghosts in the Hall
Waning sunlight glints
through the cracked glass,
a dirty window pane.
Light flickers against
the lengthening shadows
in the empty corridor.
A layer of dust swirls
from an unseen waft of air,
and a faint whisper
murmurs a hello.
Finality and Twilight
In the last rays of swirling light
when the earth kisses the dusk,
will you dance among the graves
and sing a gentle song for Death?
When the earth kisses the dusk
where will your tired footsteps lead?
To a tombstone not yet etched?
Will you dance among the graves,
a ghostly apparition in your arms,
that bitter, closing waltz, macabre?
And sing a gentle song for Death,
laugh bravely as you pass his shadow.
He awaits only the sweet music’s end.
Horror Haiku and Other Poems
In the darkness of shadows, in the distant screams.
They whisper past the drip, drip of blood.
The strange beauty of words hide, waiting for you.
Embrace the horror.
Venture past safe reality, into the world of terror told in verse. Horror Haiku and Other Poems brings forth surreal dread and spins it in artistic countenance. From small chilling bites of poetry, to murky morsels of fright, come find where the words haunt you, where they live and die.
Dark, an icy chill
Where am I? It can’t be--
I’m buried alive
Grey, ghostly spectre
moonlight rising from the grave…
Revenge will be hers
Hanging man will swing
as gallows creak and wind howls
Hanging man won’t die
*** Click here to download a free copy of
HORROR HAIKU AND OTHER POEMS from Instafreebie!
Includes an optional newsletter sign-up.
For a limited time, so hurry!***
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction.
Hop over to A.F. Stewart's Birthday Bash event on Facebook. Multi-author giveaways, games, prizes, author takeovers and more! July 8-10th!!
Happy Summer Solstice!
To the calendar, it's the first day of summer. Kids are free from school, vacations
are planned and long, lazy, days at the beach are enjoyed.
Astronomers see it as an astronomical event caused by the earth's tilt on its axis
and its motion in orbit around the sun.
Long before calendars and astronomers, the Summer Solstice was a festival celebrated by those who are now referred to as pagans. They lived and survived by the seasons and became experts at reading
and understanding the sky, the stars and their movements.
I've wanted to write a post about the origin of the word pagan and how it's evolved from it's initial meaning to the way it's viewed in recent times for a long time, and today is your lucky day!
The original Latin pagus means from the country district. It changed to paganus, or rustic villager. Today we would say hillbilly or country bumpkin. At the height of Roman and Greek mythology, those who still lived isolated in the woods and worshipped their "old" gods, rejecting Zeus, Apollo, Diana, & Artemis were considered Paganus. Far from a derogatory term, the Greeks and Romans thought them a bit silly for holding on to less powerful gods than their own.
As Christianity grew, the tables turned & the Greeks and Romans became the pagans, and were ridiculed for again holding on to old, outdated gods. Diana (Artemis), a beloved and powerful goddess, became one of the Christian leaders fiercest rivals. Worshippers (especially the Ephesians) were loathe to give Diana (Artemis) up for a new god. You can read ACTS 19:28 in the Bible for a full account. But still, pagan, wasn't considered an "evil" term.
During the Roman Empire, some historians believe paganus also meant civilian, the opposite of military. Christians referred to themselves as Soldiers of Christ or miles Christi. Non-Christians became known as pagani, or non-soldiers. There was still no implication of denigration.
Sometime in the fifth century, BC, the term pagan became equated with all non-Christians, or 'heathens' and those who were self-indulgent, had loose sexual practices and worshipped satan (which translates to not worshipping the Christian god.)
My timeline is simple and I'm sure the evolution of the term "Pagan" and the practices that went along with it, were more involved and have some missing pieces to it. But I thought it interesting. I love history and especially how words, traditions and celebrations come to be.
To celebrate the first day of summer I thought I'd share some
Fun Facts About the Solstice:
1) "Solstice" is the Latin word for 'sun stands still.' For days before and after the Solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky.
2) On the summer solstice, thousands of people flock to Stonehenge, the ancient stone site in England. When the sun rises, it creates the illusion that the sun is balancing on one the main stones.
3) Pagans would celebrate the longest day with bonfires and feasts. It's also referred to as 'Midsummer.'
3) Mar's solstice occurs a few days later in June than Earth's.
4) Uranus' (giggles, yes, I'm still 12 years old sometimes) solstice lasts a whopping 42 years! They also have 42 years of winter. I suppose we should stop complaining about our winters.
5) Venus and Jupiter barely experience a solstice due to the of the their poles.
Summer Solstice Blessings and...
"Always be kinder than necessary." ~ J.M. Barry
Welcome to the BRAIN to Books
Cyber Convention & Book Expo
Brain to Books was founded in October 2014 by Angela B. Chrysler in an effort to unite and organize undiscovered authors. Today, under the Brain to Books brand, Ms. Chrysler helps other undiscovered authors learn the ins and outs of marketing and publishing, by providing the very thing undiscovered authors need: opportunity.
With this in mind, the Brain to Books Cyber Convention was born.
For more info click here:
Brains to Books includes nine genres, ranging from Fantasy & SciFi, to Romance and YA. I'm participating in the horror genre and my guest today is author Angela Yuriko Smith, discussing Penning the Darkness: The Therapeutic Benefits of Horror.
Dark poetry is a brilliant way to release negative emotions. Poetry allows us to tell the truth while retaining our privacy. I've used poetry in this way for my latest collection, “Escape Claws.” In a combination of narrative and poetry, I share my experiences growing up in haunted houses. While there were many, I specifically cover four houses, where they are and include photos. My hope is that others sharing similar experiences will know that they aren't alone. For myself, it's a personal coming out of sorts. It's my self affirmation: I have seen some terrifying things. I am not crazy.
I used a different approach for “In Favor of Pain,” my first published collection of poetry. The message of the book is that no one can avoid pain, so we may as well embrace it when it makes us stronger. If a hurtful experience helps me to grow into a better person, I am “in favor of pain.” In many of the poems, I was beginning to admit that there were real monsters in my childhood closet—and hovering over my bed. It was therapy for me as I wrote my way through the shadows and memory to find the light. The result was cathartic.
Poetry is a powerful tool for self change and growth, but there is nothing as satisfying as a fictional murder. I advise all my creative writing students to kill people they don't like in their work. Irritating and unpleasant people make perfect monster food and cannon fodder. The writing sessions where we murder someone we have a distaste for always produce the highest, most satisfying word counts. The side benefit of fictional murder is therapeutic. It's good for the soul to write 'bad' things.
I discovered this for the first time years ago when I had a terrible boss at a big box store. He regularly humiliated all of us, blamed his lack of organization on those under him and blatantly disrespected women. We all hated him.
Things had reached the point where his underlings were half-seriously discussing tossing a blanket over his head and beating him up in the parking lot one night. I came dangerously close to pushing him backwards down a stairwell myself. I realized I needed to manage my anger.
That evening I went home and wrote him into a short story called the Injustice League. Three managers die in that story, but I took particular pleasure and care to describe my real life manager. His death was violent and deeply satisfying. I wove details from his real office into my story so when his broken teeth were scattered among shattered glass and crushed peppermints, we all knew who I was talking about.
The therapeutic effect for me was instant. The manager never changed. His tirades, idiocies and insults continued until the day he was finally fired. He still tossed demeaning comments at me regularly, but I always smiled cheerfully back, picturing the bloody smear his face had made on his computer screen—fictionally of course. The only thing that had changed was my attitude, but it made all the difference.
The beautiful thing is that life is full of heartache and struggle, providing those that aren't afraid to tap into it with an endless amount of fresh material and energy. Fictional death of your enemies is a positive and empowering step towards releasing pent up negative energy. Just change the names and details enough so your story doesn't get taken as a threat and reap the therapeutic benefits of writing bad.
From “Escape Claws:”
From the beginning
I struggled to climb
with fingers bleeding
as they scrabbled on stone
numb from more than pain
groping for handholds.
I wished for escape claws.
I made do with what I had.
I look back and see your face
shining like moonlight in the night
stars sliding down your cheeks
and I reach back to help
and I see my bleeding palm
and I hope my damaged hand
doesn't scare you.
I sing to you then
with my rusty voice--
a lullaby that has slept
for too long
dying in my throat.
Together we can scale
these bitter walls.
Hand in hand ...
Hand over hand ...
Hands full of sand ...
until we collapse
beneath the open sky
and beyond the reach
of this shadowed well.
Our skin will steam
as sunlight burns away
the long, crying cold
and the lullaby
will be born again
in our warmth.
ESCAPE CLAWS - Congratulations, releasing today and available here.
IN FAVOR OF PAIN - 99 cents for Amazon Kindle here.
Angela Yuriko Smith is a multi-genre author and journalist, and is also appearing this weekend in the B2BCyCon Cover Wars, the Horror Blog Hop, Book Expo, and various B2BCyCon Panels.
Follow Angela on Twitter
Check out Angela's Facebook Page
Visit Angela's website
Thank you to my guest, Angela Yuriko Smith for sharing some of
her beautiful poetry with us.
For a complete listing of the participants for the Horror Genre, click http://b2bcycon.com/horror/
"Always be a little kinder than necessary." J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan