A MONTHLY FEATURE THAT SPOTLIGHTS
Happy Halloween, everyone!
A few of my favorite things: Halloween, October and a good 'n creepy but true story. A perfect time to have my friend and horror author, Mark Cassell visit with a chilling tale and how it may have inspired his debut horror novel, The Shadow Fabric and anthology, Sinister Stitches,
which releases tomorrow, on All Hallow's Eve!
Mark and I met in one of Rayne Hall's writing classes and he and I both have a story in
FIENDS: Ten Tales of Demons
edited by Rayne Hall.
Beware - he knows how to use his words to scare you...
We are all familiar with the concept of possessed dolls and haunted music boxes, but what of clothing? Could a spirit or entity, perhaps even a demon, exist within the stitches of a garment?
Before I begin this true account from when I was a child, I must tell you something discovered many years later when researching my debut novel: the hours around 3 a.m. are known as the Witching Hour or the Devil’s Hour. Sometimes, even the Dead Hour…
One morning all those years ago, my parents’ alarm yanked us from sleep at around 3.30 a.m.
Knowing it was set for their usual 6 a.m. wake up call, Mum and Dad put it down to a freak occurrence. Of course they would, anyone would. However, the following few mornings, varying between 3 and 4 a.m., that relentless chime tore through the house.
On the final time it went off, Dad mumbled into his pillow and fell back asleep while Mum clutched tight the covers, staring into the shadows above their bed. Dozens of thoughts tumbled through her sleep-deprived brain. After considering the need to buy a replacement clock, she wondered if something in the house had changed, whether anything new had been introduced into the home. Perhaps a recent purchase? Had something significant been bought?
A purple cardigan. Nothing fancy. She'd bought it in a charity shop the week before and having since washed it, it now hung from the wardrobe door. With these thoughts it was as though that cardigan took on a whole new meaning. Unworn, hanging silently on the other side of the room, it symbolised a foreign entity in our home; unknown, unwanted.
Mum prayed. Strong in faith, she asked for a sign to confirm this item of clothing was in fact the problem.
And the bell clanged. On the instant her prayer ended, the alarm burst with renewed energy.
She leapt from the bed, grabbed the cardigan and took the stairs two at a time. Once outside in the garden, she threw the thing in the dustbin.
Every morning after that, the alarm only ever went off at the set time.
Remember as a child when we were afraid of a T-shirt or jumper hanging on the opposite side of the bedroom? That innocent garment appears like a person’s silhouette, a silent spectre lurking in the shadows of a corner familiar during the day, yet morphing come the night. Such is a child’s natural innocence with an imagination sparked by all things new in this world. By comparison, through the eyes of an adult things can become unnatural, and here it appears that my mother’s faith kept us safe from the supernatural.
Perhaps I was destined to write The Shadow Fabric. When my family encountered that sinister garment all those years ago, maybe the concept stuck with me and I went on to tell its story. Okay, so the Shadow Fabric itself is a (fictional?) sentient darkness, but essentially a haunted fabric regardless. Was mum’s recently acquired possession indeed possessed by an entity similar to that which 30 years later I’d write into my novel?
If so, I’m glad my family never encountered it. Truly, truly glad. Yet we will never know. Nor will my family ever learn of the origins of that cardigan. Haunted or possessed, whatever the hell it was, we escaped something.
Sleep well, and I hope you never wake during the Dead Hour.
From the story collection, Sinister Stitches, here’s an excerpt from “Midnight Clay”:
As though the moonlight pushed him along, Owen freewheeled down the hill. The wind bit into his face, froze his knuckles. Often summer nights were like this, especially with a cloudless sky. If only he hadn’t left his coat back at Jimmy’s house.
A rumble in the distance, almost a howl, snatched his attention to the bend up ahead. He steered closer to the edge of the lane. He and Jimmy had an awesome evening; the new Dungeons and Dragons role-play game had stolen the day away. Before they’d realised it, night had fallen and Owen was late. Jimmy had beaten him with some lucky dice rolls.
The next game, Owen thought, would be war.
The rumble intensified; a vehicle approached at speed, still unseen. Perhaps a truck or lorry. Having cycled this route many times, he knew the lane was wide enough even if he did meet something that large. Still, he kept close to the grass verge.
Once more, his thoughts wandered to the game. Luck or not, next time he’d outsmart Jimmy.
Further ahead, along the winding road and through the trees, headlights forced back the darkness. Air-brakes hissed. A lorry, definitely, and it approached the bend without slowing.
Owen jammed on the brakes, the back wheel whirring on the tarmac.
He jerked to a halt.
The vehicle tore into the bend. Tyres screeched and juddered and groaned in protest. The trailer tilted, jack-knifed, and tipped. Something sleek, a silhouette against the night sky, leapt from the roof with what looked like enormous wings and too many limbs. Whatever it was, Owen had the fleetest glimpse as he threw himself sideways, dragging his bike. He rolled into the bushes, twigs and branches raked his hands and face. The lorry cleaved the tarmac, roaring like a metal dragon and uprooting trees and foliage, mud and earth.
His heart pounded in his throat.
After that there was silence, save for the creak of a buckled trailer wheel. And voices. Faint echoes on the wind from somewhere in the darkness. Not near the lorry but further away in the fields. Imagination surely; adrenaline from witnessing the crash. Imagination, too, had made him see that great…creature?
Entirely in his head.
He pushed himself up and staggered onto the road. The underside of the metal hulk loomed over him. A clump of mud and tangled brambles fell from the buckled wheel. Tiny glass beads covered the road, each one glinting moonlight.
If only he hadn’t left his phone in his coat pocket, back at Jimmy’s.
“Hello?” he called, heading for the cab.
No one answered.…
Sinister Stitches is out this Halloween, available on pre-order from Amazon.
Sinister Stitches blurb:
Twelve horror stories weave truths you do not want to hear. The collection includes:
Intensive Scare – Three teenagers dabble in the occult and learn there's a good reason to be afraid of the dark.
Red, White and Black – When a clinical trial goes horribly wrong, a lone survivor finds herself fleeing from a sentient infection.
Meeting Mum – Introducing a new girlfriend to your parents has never been so problematic.
Midnight Clay – An otherwise pleasant homeward journey is interrupted by a demon with a particularly grotesque skill.
Each story binds the Shadow Fabric mythos tighter, revealing that everything around us is entwined with a deep-rooted darkness. And sometimes that darkness the fabric tears.
GRAB YOUR COPY HERE:
The Shadow Fabric: www.TheShadowFabric.co.uk
Sinister Stitches (pre-order): http://amzn.to/1SuHihP
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and Sci-Fi stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. Rayne Hall has included his work in three of her Ten Tales anthologies: Fiery Beasts, Cogwheels, and Fiends, and also a Shadow Fabric mythos story can be found in April Grey’s Hell’s Garden anthology. His flash fiction often features in the popular ezine, Sirens Call, and he writes a series for the Sci-Fi ezine, Future Chronicles, in which we follow the adventures of Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. His upcoming short story collection, Sinister Stitches, is only a fraction of an expanding mythos that began with his debut novel, The Shadow Fabric.
HAUNT MARK HERE:
HAVE A HAUNTINGLY HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!
Welcome to the
of Weirdly, Wonderful Wine.
A monthly blog post where my husband and I review a
bottle of wine solely on how cool, creepy or creative
the label is.
This being October (my favorite month of the year) there were many season themed bottles of wine. We found quite a few fun, unique and mysterious bottles that I'll share each month. But I decided to spotlight two bottles this celebratory month!!
The first bottle was a gift from my friend and fellow author Terri-Lynne DeFino
and it has an awesome label.
Our french maid, Babette, has seen many a bottle of wine and even she was
licking her lips.
CRYPTIC is a California Red Blend with a label that claims it's dark...mysterious...velvety...alluring...
They had me at dark and mysterious. My husband and I had this wine sitting outside on one of the last summer nights in September, with grilled hamburgers, vegetables and red potatoes. It's a drier wine, which my husband prefers, and I was nervous I may not like it, but I loved it. It had a slight fruit after taste which mellowed the dryness of the wine for me. After dinner we sat outside by a fire and finished the bottle.
CRYPTIC's website is very cool (www.crypticwine.com). They compare their wine making to alchemy - "changing some ordinary into the extraordinary." Wine make Antonio Trevino keeps his recipe secret, which inspired the label and the 16th French reproduction of the encryption wheel and machine. There is decoding puzzle on the back of the label, which is fairly easy if you're a wine lover, but fun. We enjoyed this bottle - inside and out!
The second bottle, isn't new to us. It's an October staple in this house and we look forward to it each year.
How VAMPIRE wine came to be is an interesting story. But briefly, in 1985 NY lawyer, Michael Machet saw lights swimming across the Nevada desert one night and the idea of Vampire red wine came to him. Making and marketing it in Transylvania sounded perfect, but at the time, the country was ruled by a dictator. Three years later, the first bottle came to be in London and eventually found favor with Anne Rice's fans. When the Berlin Wall fell, Mr. Machet was able to travel to Transylvania, but that country took 'vampires' seriously and didn't understand why someone would pay tribute to them in a wine. Especially one marketed, 'blood of the vine.' You can read the full story here.
What was especially fun about this year? They changed the label, adding the flames to the bottom - but best of all - it came in it's own coffin. How adorable and perfect is that? I just love it, and I'm keeping the coffin. You never know when it may come in handy.
VAMPIRE is a smooth, not too dry, deep red wine that goes with just about anyone, err, anything you're having for dinner. Sip the Blood of the Vine!
HAVE A FABULOUSLY SCARY AND SPOOKY HALLOWEEN!
WELCOME TO OCTOBER FRIGHTS BLOG HOP - PART II
THAT GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT.
I'M GIVING AWAY ANOTHER $5 AMAZON GIFT CARD TO
ONE LUCKY COMMENTER
AND EVERYONE FROM MY PREVIOUS POST AND THIS POST
WILL BE ENTERED FOR THE GRAND PRIZE
ON THE LAST DAY.
I love to write short stories and flash fiction -especially of the horror variety!
Here's a flash fiction from my new release,
CURIOUSLY DARK TALES.
THE CAB RIDE
“Where to, Miss?”
“Broadway & Bayview. The old--
“Grimaldi Mansion? Sorry, Miss, I don’t go there.”
Abigale groaned and rummaged through her purse. “You’re the third to refuse me.” She tossed him a few dollars. “For your trouble.”
The driver grunted a thank you as she climbed out. He pulled away, tires spinning.
“There must be one cabbie in New York with the balls to take me where I want to go.”
She’d sell her soul to get there today. The day no one else dared.
Abigale ran two blocks up then raised her arm in the air. An old green and cream-colored checkered cab turned the corner and barreled toward her. Cars veered out of its way. Undaunted, it squealed to a stop in front of her. The window cranked down, the driver asked, “Where to young lady? I’ll take you wherever you’d like to go.”
“Inwood Park. The Grimaldi Mansion.”
“I know it well. Hop in.”
She could read the headlines now. Ghost Hunter, Abigale Turner, spends night at haunted Grimaldi Mansion during 50th anniversary of grisly murders.
Yanking the cab’s heavy, high door open, she jumped in the roomy back seat. The door banged closed. “How much?”
The driver’s neck twisted at an odd angle atop his lanky body. Bright red lips lifted into a leer. A cutout grin of a demented Jack-O-Lantern spread high and wide until the corners reached his ears. Through lips stretched taut over pointed, dripping teeth he said, “No more than you’re willing to pay, I assure you.”
Fear engulfed her. She flung herself at the door but found a smooth flat surface in place of the handle. Like a large fish in a small tank, she suffocated on her own breath. “Let me out. I’ve changed my mind.” Her fists pounded at the windows. Her fingernails scratched at the glass. “Help me,” she screamed, “Please!”
Busy New Yorkers scurried past without a glance.
“Relax, my dear. It's a one way trip and payment isn’t due until you arrive.”
THE CAB RIDE
is the only flash fiction in the anthology.
The others are short, grim stories with a twist.
Some adult content. No gore.
Just in time for Halloween
and only 99 cents
here on Amazon..http://amzn.to/1KX73RR
A $5 Amazon Gift Card and a chance to enter the Grand Prize Drawing:
It seems Abigail has met a demon ghost.
Have you met a ghost?
I haven't but it's on my bucket list, LOL
The GRAND PRIZE is a choice of a signed copy of one of my books
and a batty martini glass!
Don't forget to check out the other spine tingling horror and paranormal authors on the hop!
A frightful Blog Hop
celebrating All Things that go Bump in the Night!
Enter to win two $5 Amazon gift cards
and a surprise giveaway on the last day!
A horror flash fiction I wrote for Halloween.
THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET...
Enid hooked her arthritic finger around the edge of the curtain and pulled it an inch to her right. She shouldn’t worry about being seen in plain daylight, but God knew she lived on a street full of busy bodies. She peered through the small slit at the house across the street. What a disgrace. Those horrid scarecrows still stood, scattered all over the Wallace’s lawn. The calendar said November fifteenth for goodness sake. Two doors down, Christmas lights flickered and Santa waved merrily to everyone who passed by.
She stepped back and the curtain drifted shut. “Sid,” she called to her husband. “Come here. The Wallace’s must be out of town. The house has been dark for days. Have you seen them? I haven’t.” She raised the volume of her voice. “Sid, did you hear me? At least they could have asked me to get their mail and watch the house. And taken down those damn scarecrows before they left.”
This time when she pushed the curtain further open for a better view, a gasp lodged in her throat. It couldn’t be.
One. Two. Three.
There were six effigies, she was sure of it. She squeezed her eyes closed and calmed her frantic breathing.
Feeling better, she inspected the neighbors yard. “Oh, God, no.”
One scarecrow lingered, twisting on its stick toward her house. Its arm reached out in her direction as blood dripped from the crudely slashed mouth in its paper head. Enid’s knees collapsed and she tumbled into her husband’s favorite chair.
“Sid!” A frantic yell escaped her. “Please, where are you?”
A loud thump echoed from the porch. Silence. Thump. Silence. The noise doubled and the pace quickened. The one-legged monsters danced outside her door.
Get up! Lock the door. Run!
Terror paralyzed her.
Enid wanted to scream but the sound was stuck in an empty crypt in her head.
The door scraped open.
Were you still screaming if no one heard you?
Now for the best part...THE GIVEAWAY!
For the first $5 Amazon Gift card:
Scarecrows seem to frighten poor Enid. What frightens you?
Clowns, Jack-o-lanterns, Demons?
Leave a comment and on OCT 5th, I'll enter everyone's name into Random.org
Then come back on OCT 6th for a new flash fiction and giveaway.
Everyone will be entered in the Grand Prize on Oct 10th!
And...don't forget to check out all the awesome horror/paranormal authors
participating in the hop.
If you're a fan of short dark fiction or horror flash fiction, you may be interested in my new release for Halloween, CURIOUSLY DARK TALES.
Supernatural beings and the evils of humanity come alive in these six, short grim tales with a twist. Some adult content, no gore.
Only 99 cents here at Amazon.