Halloween-ish Flash Fiction and a Give@away for You!
The calendar has flipped over to a new month and with it comes the best time of year… spooky season is upon us. It is the month that is personified by goblins, ghouls, bright orange pumpkins and my favorite perk of the season… copious amounts of candy everywhere you turn. Starting this week, we are introducing stories from our Halloween Flash Fiction Authors and we will feature two stories for the next four weeks. These bite-size reads are perfect for this time of year and features all the thrills and chills you could ever want to experience. And the giveaway listed below will be open until the end of the month for all your trick or treaters to get those entries in. So, without further ado, it’s time to dive into these haunting reads and just remember two things, there’s no shame in sleeping with the lights on, and second, don’t go investigating that thing that goes bump in the night otherwise your cat will probably want fed once you reach the kitchen. Or at least that is my experience!
Until next week…stay spooky my friends!
Samhain Surprise by Teresa Keefer
The black crow started tapping on her window at the butt crack of dawn, just like it had every day since Mabon drew to an end. Right before she pulled the colorful hand stitched quilt back over her head, Fiona McCann grumbled at the feathered annoyance. “Go away, Demetrius. I’m not ready to get up.”
The bird just cackled at her and continued to tap on the window with his beak. Just like every morning before this one. Fiona didn’t even know why she bothered to try to go back to sleep once his incessant noise making started. And it didn’t matter that she filled his feeder at night because it wasn’t food he was after. And most of the time his food got eaten by Bandit, the fat ass raccoon who lives in the oak tree out back.
“Fine. Fine. I’m getting up, you black feathered jerk.” She looked out the window and watched as he jumped up and down on the branch outside her window. “But I’m not going to do any magick today, either. Or any other day. My magick is broken and my spells do more harm than good.”
That was the truth. The first night of Mabon a storm had come through when she was offering the contents of her simmer pot to the oak tree in the backyard. A shard of lightning struck the ground where she had just emptied the pot of fruit and spices. Smoke spiraled up and she watched in awe as the fruit followed the smoke, turned black, and fell back to the ground. And the stench of rotten egg permeated the air around her. Since then, every spell she attempted ended up having catastrophic results.
First, there was the flat tire on her car she tried to fix. She ended up with the other three tires flat and the one fixed. So, she had to ride her bicycle to work at her mother’s bakery. There, she tried to put away stock in her usual manner of standing back and letting her fingers do the walking. A fifty pound bag of sugar fell out of its midair journey to the shelf and burst all over the floor. After she accidentally burned an entire oven full of scones, both her mother and her aunt shooed her out with their besoms and told her she should use hers to sweep out whatever shadows had infiltrated her magick field.
Well, here she was, a month later with Samhain two days away and she couldn’t even light a candle with her powers. Well, that wasn’t true either. She turned candles into blow torches and couldn’t get the fireplace to do anything but smolder. Fiona groaned and trudged toward the kitchen in the same flannel pajama pants she had been wearing for three days. Maybe four.
After she had a cup of her favorite tea and ate a stale scone, she looked around her quaint little house and shook her head. Not the first pumpkin carved or the first decoration put up. The only food in the house was what her mother or Aunt Agatha brought over in between their own tasks. And they were super busy baking up confectioneries for the various Halloween parties, not to mention preparing for their own family Samhain observance. Which Fiona was going to have to skip this year.
Her cell phone beeped at her. Her mother. Fiona hit the speaker button. “Hey Ma.”
“Fiona, my love, are you still plodding around in those old pajamas with your hair tangled up so bad mice could make a nice home in it?”
As she tried to run her fingers through her hair, Fiona had to admit Margret McCann pretty much hit the nail on the head. “I’m going to take a shower and comb my hair today. I promise.”
“Did you put your crystals out to charge last night?”
“The full moon is tonight. I’ll get them out.”
There was a long pause, then Margret sighed. “I’ve searched high and low for answers to your little difficulty. I keep coming up empty handed. Perhaps if we all joined together this evening our combined powers could bring up a vision in your sphere that could give us a clue how to fix this. We need you back in time for Samhain.”
“I’ve tried the gazing ball and all I see is a fog. And right now, it doesn’t look like I need to be around for Samhain. I think I’ll stay home and hand out candy to the children.” She rolled her eyes when she saw Demetrius prancing in front of the patio door. At least he wasn’t pecking on it. “Which means I definitely have to get around and go buy Halloween candy for the trick or treaters. I’ll talk to you later, Ma.”
Samhain blew in on a west wind that knocked over trash cans and sent a kaleidoscope of color through the air. By the time the sun fell and the moon rose, Fiona was perched on her front steps in a colorful set of skirts, long sleeved black blouse, and a conical hat adorned with flowers and feathers. Her handmade besom was leaned against the porch post and an arrangement of carved jack-o-lanterns were arranged on her steps with battery operated candles in each.
It was a different sort of night not spending it with her mother and aunt making offerings to the goddess and dancing in the shadows of the sky high pines in her aunt’s woods. They invited her but with the way everything she touched went to shit, Fiona felt it best to not spoil their evening with certain mishap.
She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take not having her magick. For as long as she could remember, it had been part of her and she was lost without it. Of course, over the years she wondered what it would be to not have the responsibility which accompanied her powers. To be normal. Normal wasn’t much fun at all.
As the groups of children grew smaller and farther between and her bowl of candy got lighter. The wind died down a little bit and the moon gave an otherworld glow to her front lawn. She couldn’t help but laugh at the children as they played in the leaves. Goblins, spacemen, cowboys and witches throwing the leaves at each other and falling down into the piles like they were jumping into a sea of water. Not a care in the world. And watching them frolic took her mind off her own predicament.
It was getting late and Fiona watched as porch lights started going off. The signal that another year of trick-or-treating was coming to an end. She sat there for a few minutes, looking up at the glorious moon and felt the emptiness of not being with her mother and aunt celebrating Samhain the way they normally did. The street had grown quiet when Demetrius flew down from a tree and started prancing and squawking in front of her.
“There’s nothing stopping you from flying out to enjoy the Samhain festivities in the woods. Go right ahead.”
He strutted for a few more minutes and flew away. Apparently, her company was not what her familiar wanted tonight. All the more power to him. She stood and picked up the almost empty basket of candy and turned toward the door when the crow returned. Only this time, he had a companion. Another crow, but it was wearing a purple bow around its neck.
“Good grief, where did you find this one?” Fiona sighed. “Have you gone and stolen someone’s pet away for your own entertainment?”
A dark shadow fell across the moonlight and closed in on her. A deep chuckle followed. Then the man appeared. Tall, dark, and with the brightest purple eyes she had ever seen. He smiled and held out his arm. “Come along, Drucilla. You’ve done well tonight.”
“Who are you?” Fiona knew only those like herself would have a crow they referred to by name.
“Let me introduce myself.” He made an exaggerated bow and the crow with the purple bow flew up to settle on his shoulder. “I am Derick Sobeinne. I believe you have something of mine.”
“And what would that be?”
The tip of my wand. A piece of amethyst given to me by my grandfather when I was but a child learning how to turn my cousins into frogs.” He glanced over at Demetrius who had tucked his beak under his wing and was pretending to sleep. “I believe your rascal here swiped it.”
Fiona had to admit, there were times Demetrius came home with various baubles and pranced around to show them to her. But she hadn’t seen an amethyst just laying around the house or yard. “Why do you think that?”
“Let me ask you this…around the time of Mabon, did anything unusual happen around here?”
Fiona snorted. “Other than my powers going haywire?”
Derick lifted a dark eyebrow sardonically. “Around Mabon? Because that’s when this rascal was poking around my window trying to get the attention of Drucilla. Tell me what happened on Mabon.”
“I was out in the yard offering the contents of my simmer pot to the oak tree out back when a storm came up out of nowhere. Then a flash of lightning hit the ground and sent sparks flying. And there was this ghastly odor. The following day, when I tried to use my magick, it didn’t work right. I’ve done nothing but create havoc.”
Derick reached for her hand. “Come. Show me where this happened.”
Fiona led him around the house to the back gate and opened it. The oak tree was the center point of the yard. He tugged at her hand. “See that black charred area right there to the right of the tree?”
“Yes, that’s where the lightning hit.”
Releasing her hand, he knelt down in the damp grass and dug his fingers around in the charred soil. “Ah, here it is.” He held up a glowing piece of amethyst and smiled. Then he snapped his fingers and a shiny black wand with a silver crow on the handle appeared. “Come on over here. I’ll fix your magick.”
“I’m not going to…” Before the sentence was completely out of her mouth, she was standing near the warlock with the purple eyes. He touched the wand to the top of her head and she felt a rush of power go through her entire body. Then he stepped away from her. “Give it a try. You should be good as new. Maybe even better with a little of my own magick in you now.”
Not convinced, she did as he requested anyway and turned toward the fire pit in the patio area. Pointing her hands at the fresh logs, she closed her eyes and imagined the fire roaring to life. When she opened them, the wood was crackling as a normal fire would do.
Derick smiled and touched her shoulder. “No sense in letting a good fire go to waste. I just happen to have a nice bottle of French wine right here.” He held out the bottle.
Fiona grinned and clapped her hands. Two wine glasses appeared on the patio by the fire. “And I just happen to have a pair of crystal glasses to put the said wine in.”
Together, they walked toward the fire and the two crows flew up to the lowest branch on the oak tree. Out of the sight of the two witches, they gave each other the crow version of a high five, their work was done.
The Witch’s Wand by Tessa Russ
While Jess was shopping at her favorite thrift store, she noticed the old witch statue in the corner. It sat by itself, surrounded by dust and cobwebs. The witch's eyes were closed, and her mouth hinged open in an anguished expression. Jess thought maybe it could be just a prop for a Halloween display, but there was something about it that felt off. It looked real—like it had been made from flesh-like material and exquisitely painted. But despite the creepiness of it, she was somehow drawn to the thing. She bought it and brought it home to add to her Halloween decorations.
A few days later, as she decorated for her favorite season, words broke the silence. “He’s coming for you.”
Startled, she jumped back and screamed. “What? Who said that? Who is he?” Jess had no man in her life.
The statue she had named Helga answered: “Beware, my darling, you rescued me, now I’m going to save you.”
Surely Jess must be hallucinating. Maybe she needed to quit watching all those creepy movies before bedtime. A statue couldn’t speak, could it? But then again, some pretty strange things had happened to her lately…
Jess woke up in a cold sweat. He had invaded her dreams.
Was it really a dream?
“My darling, I am coming for you soon.” Who was this man? She shuddered; she had been seeing him almost nightly in her dreams since she brought Helga home. He seemed so real to her. In her far too realistic dreams, he stood outside her door in a raging thunderstorm with the rain pelting down and illuminated by the lightning piercing the turbulent sky. Even though he appeared as a shadow in the fog, she could see his handsome chiseled features clearly. She had no clue how that was possible. Could this be the man Helga tried to warn her about.
With a shake of her head, Jess laughed at herself. What a crazy thought. She shook the remaining sleep-induced fog from her head and stumbled out of bed to get her morning coffee started. Hopefully, a shot of caffeine would help erase the tumultuous nightmare from her mind.
After finishing up her freelance marketing projects for the day, Jess took a quick trip to the store and ran a few other errands. When she arrived back home later that evening, all was still silent from Helga. Thank goodness. Time to cozy up with a cup of tea and the new mystery novel she had been wanting to read before calling it a night. After all, tomorrow was her favorite day of the year and she wanted to be ready.
Jess woke with an uneasiness that she couldn’t explain. She should feel great. After all, this was her favorite time of the year. Her decorations were up and ready to enchant the little trick or treaters that always lined up outside her door. She loved seeing their costumes and remarked on every one of them which put a smile on their faces before they trotted off down the street to the next house.
Somehow, she had a feeling this night would be different. Was it Helga’s warnings that caused her feelings of anxiety? No, it couldn’t be. She didn’t really believe any of it could possibly be true. And who would believe in a talking witch statue. Maybe she was just losing her mind. Maybe that had been a dream too.
Jess sat down at her desk to begin her workday. She took a glance over at Helga, who had been quiet for a few days. Almost like she could read Jess’s thoughts, Helga spoke; “Tonight’s the night, my dear. Please don’t be afraid. I will protect you from his evil magic.”
“Please tell me what’s going to happen,” Jess pleaded, feeling a little desperate.
“You will know what to do when the time is at hand,” Helga responded, then fell silent just as abruptly.
Okay, now that was no dream.
At this point, Jess began doubting her sanity. She tried to put her thoughts back into her work, but it was no use. She couldn’t concentrate. Instead, she paced for a while. Studied Helga. Walked around her, hoping the witch might speak again but she didn’t. Probably because you are losing your mind.
Enough. She had to focus on something else. She decided to check out her Halloween decorations one last time. Before long it would be dark and the little ghosts and ghouls would be out and about. She had a display in her office as well as one outside on the front porch. Her office display held Helga, pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, and other things she had picked up over the years.
Her gaze snapped back to Helga. There was something different at her feet. It looked like a wand of some sort, kinda Harry Potter-ish. Where the heck did that come from? She didn’t recall purchasing it. As she stepped closer to pick it up, she felt an electricity in the air. Sparks started radiating from it. Jess jumped away.
Helga’s red eyes opened again. “Not now, my dear. You will know when the time is right.” Then her eyes closed, and she appeared lifeless once more.
Jess decided maybe work was safer for the moment. She really, really had to figure out if she was losing it or…what? She just didn’t know.
As the day wound down, Jess looked forward to the activities ahead. She dressed in her Halloween costume to await the arrival of the trick or treaters. She studied her reflection in the mirror. What a coincidence that she chose to be a good witch this year.
But it was not to be. As the sun waned on the western horizon and night approached, the sky opened up. It was a storm she had never seen the likes of before.
She had been avoiding Helga in fear of more spooky predictions. But now it was time for answers. Bummed that her well planned Halloween wouldn’t happen, she made her way down the stairs to her office.
“Helga, talk to me. No more of your vague, dire predictions. I want to know what’s happening.”
Helga sprang to life and answered, “Tonight is the night I’ve been warning you about. Listen to me closely.”
Helga spoke with Jess for quite a while, telling her all about how she had been cursed by an evil sorcerer because he was afraid of her powers. The witch had been stuck inside this statue ever since, unable to move or talk until someone found her who had the power to help break the curse. She also told Jess about how her lover, HE remained stuck just on the other side of the veil until the curse lifted. Jess was at a loss. Why would Helga think she could help break the ancient curse? What part did she play in all of this? She had no magical powers.
The witch and the sorcerer stood face to face; their eyes locked. Thunder rolled in the distance as lightning lashed down from the sky. The witch took a deep breath, her body shaking with anticipation. She could feel her magic coursing through her veins like a raging river. She was ready for this fight—and knew she would be victorious! She had to be.
Jess watched in silent horror as the fight raged on for what seemed like hours, the old witch became weak. She must continue the fight, mustn’t allow him to win this time. With the vestiges of her strength, she attempted one final time to banish the sorcerer back to dust. If she could just hold out for a minute longer, but no, she couldn’t muster the strength needed…. “It is time, my dear.” With that, the wand flew from Helga’s hand into Jess’s. She didn’t know why or how, but she was ready for battle. She took the wand and wielded it high. One push, two… she felt the sorcerer grow weaker. An otherworldly power coursed through her veins, and with a final push of the wand, the sorcerer disappeared into a cloud of dust.
Lying on the rain-soaked ground, a weakened Helga looked to Jess and pointed into the mist. “We must get him; we must get HE while the veil is still thin enough to reach him.”
Looking in that direction, Jess could see him standing in front of her. It was like looking through a fog. Helga reached and stretched, but she didn’t have the strength to pull him through. Without a thought as to what she was doing, Jess grabbed Helga’s hand in one of hers and with the other, using the last of the power remaining in the wand, she tapped the veil, cracking it. Still grasping Helga’s hand, Jess dropped the wand and reached through the broken veil. Grabbing HE's hand, she somehow pulled him through to their side.
Terrified and exhausted, Jess kept trying to wake up from this hellish nightmare she was caught in. But no, there was no waking up. It was real. As she tried to put everything together in her mind, she glanced at Helga. Right before Jess’s eyes, Helga transformed. Instead of the old broken witch standing there a moment ago, a beautiful goddess stood strong and tall. Her long red hair streamed down her shoulders and the tired red eyes had turned a vibrant shade of green. As HE walked toward Helga, he took her hands and kissed her softly on the lips.
Then HE slowly turned toward Jess. “We know you have questions and some of them we can answer. The rest will come to you in time.”
Helga smiled and said, “You won’t remember this now, but you are one of us. When the time is right, all that you need to know will be revealed. Until then, keep living your life. The time will soon come that you must make a decision that will change your life forever.”
With a final goodbye Helga and HE faded away into the mist. In the night's stillness, Jess could hear them faintly whisper; “We will see you again soon, my dear.”
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