Apples is a tale of a father and daughter finding themselves; Apples is a short dive into the horrors to be found in the English Countryside
In Snail Trails, Dave and the love of his life―Walter the dog―out on a walk one day discover all the snails, slugs and worms heading towards the hills. Dave and his faithful friend investigate. So begins the apocalypse…
The end of summer saw the beginning of the change. Fresh winds raced across the fields, scattering brown leaves as it went. Mike negotiated with Lucy’s school, allowing for a temporary home-schooling period. After a day of working outside, they would sit together to do school work, television chattering away in the background.
As autumn crept closer, the evenings began darkening quicker, bringing with it a damp chill. Mike would get a fire going as Lucy closed the old-fashioned shutters, shutting out the world. As the wind sighed its lullabies, they felt warm and cosy inside the house.
Autumn marched on and the weather continued to turn. The wind gathered momentum, roaring down the chimney as it whipped the trees into a frenzy. The rusted aerial on the roof creaked and groaned as tiles clung on for dear life, reducing TV reception to grey static. Switching it off, they could make out the distant clanging of a neighbour’s wind chime over the howling wind. They spent the night reading and listening to the wind moan.
The next day Mike got up with the dawn. The morning was fresh and crisp with a ground mist rising to meet the pale-yellow sun. The smell of damp leaves mingled with bonfire smoke. A pheasant crowed out unseen. He walked around, assessing the damage the wind had delivered. The strawberries had escaped the ravages. The same could not be said for the dead birds that lay around the base of the old apple tree. He frowned. Counting about six, the carcasses were all withered and dried out. He picked up the birds and tossed them into the garbage before Lucy awoke, not wanting his daughter to see the strange corpses.
Born from an egg on a mountain top, Russell has spent the past 40 something years doing stuff and things. After spending a decade travelling around the world he has now settled down in the North of England. He lives with his lovely family and a few errant cats, who know far more than they should. Luckily they’re not telling.
Wealthy couple drunkenly ditch their car and a strange tow truck driver regales them with off-putting stories, stories relating strangely to their personal lives. With short fiction by Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels, Mapping the Interior, The Only Good Indians), Philip Fracassi (Behold the Void, Sacculina), and Renee Miller (Cats Like Cream, The One You Feed).
(review request submitted by Eddie Generous, the editor, for an honest critique)
I’ve tried to think of some witty, ingenious way to describe the stories in Midnight Exhibit. Then, I realized I could best sum them up by saying two words… fuck’d up.
Yes, every contribution to the anthology was disturbing.
Stephen Graham Jones – Too Little Too Late: Decomposing, coherent bodies… just eww. Cue the puke bucket!
Renee Miller – Another Pretty Face: This story will have men grabbing their junk for sure!
Philip Fracassi – My Love, Do Not Wake: The story started off reminding me of a scene from Harry Potter. The one where Lord Voldemort’s face is on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. Anyways, it might’ve started off like HP but then it took a weird-ass turn into the land of fuck’d the hell up.
I’m still shaking my head on this collection. So disturbing it’ll stick in my mind for a long while. 🙂
Lucy is a young girl who loves her Pa, their cow, and the little farmhouse she calls home. She also loves the red bicycle that Harvey gave her as a present. But not all is idyllic, and she struggles to steer clear of the local transient, Joe-Michael.
Gannon and Farrah move to Lucy’s family farm many years after Joe-Michael became Lucy’s father’s farmhand. Together, Gannon and Farrah hear Lucy’s voice for the first time on an audio recorder hidden in the woods near the old family homestead. Even though their lives are separated by decades, they intersect at the pond where the secrets have been submerged by Joe-Michael.
Blurring the lines between time and space, Lucy shares her tale with Gannon and Farrah in an unconventional turn of events.
“Wait, play that again,” said Farah, still wearing the headphones.
Gannon used the touchpad mouse on his laptop to slide the tracker on the editing software to play the recording again. This time he pressed the loop button and then the triangle play button. The two-second recording played repeatedly in a loop cycle. He watched the reaction on his fiancées face.
Farah cupped both hands over the headphones to block out any extraneous noise. Eyes closed, she listened to the recording repeat itself. “Taa daaa! Taa daaa! Taa daaa! Taa daaa! Taa daaa!” She pulled off the headphones and handed them back to Gannon. “She’s saying ‘Taa daaa!’ in a singy song voice. It’s a little girl. Almost like when Payton does a cartwheel and finishes with a ‘Taa daaa!’”
Gannon smiled at her. “This was recorded at 2 a.m. in the middle of the forest away from any of the walking trails.”
Farah shrugged her shoulders and moved off toward the kitchen. “She is saying ‘Taa daaa!’”
Gannon closed his laptop. He moved into the kitchen to help Farah with dinner. Shuffling the chicken around in the frying pan Farah asked, “Wasn’t the recorder near that old farmhouse?”
Gannon nodded his head. “Yeah, it was up the hill from the old Griffith house.”
Farah thought for a moment. “Maybe a little girl used to live there? Maybe she was a slave?”
Gannon pulled the plates out of the cupboard for dinner. He wouldn’t say that Farah was a psychic or medium. However, she did have a sixth sense about things. She just seemed to know things. Since moving into their house a year ago, she had several dreams – if you want to call them dreams, more like visitations from the old woman, Julie, who used to own the house. At first, they weren’t sure if it was Julie, but at the community potluck dinners a couple of the neighbors described Julie. They talked about her mannerisms, the way she dressed, her routine, and Farah and Gannon were able to deduct that who visited Farah at night was Julie. Farah never got the sense that Julie was malicious. But seeing a ghost can be unnerving in its own right.
Gannon had his own experiences; however, they were different. He usually heard movement. Or sensed a presence. Many times, while working from home, he caught himself checking the closets because he swore a physical person was secretly hiding in their house. Never finding anyone, his next logical conclusion was that he was hearing Julie move around the house. Gannon was a trained scientist. Therefore, he errored on the side of skepticism. Gannon would be the first to admit that he had to control himself from automatically jumping to a paranormal explanation. He forced himself to eliminate all other logical possibilities before believing or accepting that a ghost was living in their house.
The one exception was Farah. Gannon wasn’t sure if Farah knew or not; he suspected she knew, but she was his barometer. If Farah suspected paranormal activity, Gannon was one-hundred-percent onboard. He still tried to eliminate all logical possibilities. But in the back of his mind he was doing a happy dance when Farah believed something originated from the paranormal.
“So, you’re saying I picked up the voice of a ghost?” asked Gannon.
“A spirit,” corrected Farah.
Gannon chuckled. “I go out there trying to capture the howl of a Bigfoot and come away with the voice of a spirit.”
Short stories are a challenge to write because brevity is necessary. Mr. Solar weaves an intriguing tale of murder that will keep the reader turning the pages.
While using listening equipment in the woods, Gannon picks up voices which lead him to a dark discovery of a past hidden by time and almost lost to living memory. As he delves further into the events, he sees the source of the sounds. The pleasant vision of a laughing little girl and the scowl of the hired hand leave him chilled and confused.
This tale makes the reader wonder if the horror of some events rend the veil of time, forcing the living to relive and acknowledge the past. Some voices refuse to be silenced.
Ernest Solar has been a writer, storyteller, and explorer of some kind for his entire life. He grew up devouring comic books, novels, any other type of books along with movies, which allowed him to explore a multitude of universes packed with mystery and adventure. A professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, he lives with his family in Virginia.
I was so honored to have my short story, Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall, Pippa’s First Christmas, included in the #WolfpackAuthors anthology that was published earlier this year. The anthology is a compilation of works by authors of all genres, and all proceeds are donated to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) My contributed short story is one close to my heart—it is a prequel to a storyline in the 3rd book of my #cozymystery series, Deadly Receptions; the Debut of Castlewood Manor. It tells the tale of a tainted bridal veil from years gone by and introduces the readers of my series to Aunt Pippa, the beloved ancestral aunt who saved the Cherrywood Hall estate with her marriage to Charles Lancaster, the 4th Marquess of Kentshire.
The short story takes place in the weeks before Christmas. Pippa has been receiving demeaning messages criticizing her every move as an American married to the popular marquess. A chance snowstorm brings her nemesis to Cherrywood Hall. Pippa meets her husband’s previous fiancé, the author of the critical notes–a jilted woman who is filled with anger at the woman who holds the position and privilege that she thought would be hers. As a blizzard rages outside, her mind is set on deadly revenge…Will Pippa’s first Christmas at the hall be her last?
Read more about the #WolfPackAuthors anthology and the great cause it benefits here:
The idea was simple: form a group of authors based on the mantra, “Do good things for the right reasons.” We are a pack – #WolfPackAuthors. Together, we expand exposure for our books, help one another with all aspects of the process, pick each other up when the lonely life of writing gets us down.
As with wolves, words can be dangerous or healing. The reintroduction of the wolf, hunted to the brink of extinction, carries such far-reaching results as to make vegetation grow on what was once barren, and to change the paths of rivers. Considering these powerful facts, we chose to donate the proceeds of this anthology to Lockwood Animal Rescue Center /LARC, a facility with a unique mission. They are one of the few organizations focused heavily on wolves, integrating military veteran rehabilitation into the caretaking process.
In this collection of work, you will find a showcase of many of our members’ talents: A young girl betrothed to a werewolf, yet her father, a human, is the true monster. Two snipers who lay in wait, an otherworldly supreme being watching them, in the form of a majestic wolf. A she-wolf sets her sights on a young woman, married to the man she loved. The paradoxical story of the big bad wolf, who through no fault of his own sets out on a calamity filled adventure. A batch of witty private investigators at work solving crime. A sarcastic banshee, a shapeshifting detective, and a vampire, all friends, investigate a string of murders. There are many others, varied in style or genre.
Come on an adventure with the WolfPackAuthors. We’ve got the stories you want; together, we hope to make the world a better place for wolves, humans, and those who dare to dream.
Cozy Mystery – Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Veronica Cline Barton Fairy Tale/ Parody – Unfairy Prosecuted: J.W. Crawford Fairy Tale – Poppy: Tia Fanning
Fantasy/ Supernatural – For the Love of the Pack: Sharon Lopez Horror/ Meta horror – The Untold One: B.L. Clark Horror – Frost Harbor: Alexander Pain
Literary – Omega Road: Lee M. Tipton Magical Realism – An Early Snow: Andi Marchal P.I./ Detective – The Wolf: Joe Congel
P.I./ Detective, Cozy Mystery – Mrs Solberg’s Problem: CW Hawes Poetry – Wolf Pack United: Angie-Marie Delsante Poetry – Welcome to the Den: Lori Katherine
Romance/ Supernatural – The Soap Maker’s Mother: Christina van Deventer Science Fiction/ Military – Sacha: Jeff DeMarco Science Fiction/ Paranormal – Wolf Cry: Z Gottlieb Science Fiction/ Paranormal – Circus of the Night: Stefan Angelina McElvain Urban Fantasy – True Nature : Luna Selas
Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.
A normal day in the Deep South turns into a nightmare, as Chantal discovers that beauty and terror trace the fault lines between life and death. She fights to understand why a good woman, her friend Aida is stricken with a debilitating illness that steals her mind and reason. When Aida’s terrifying visions are revealed, what price does it have when it’s shared with Chantal?
Take a walk on the dark side, where existence is fragile and knowledge of the after-life can cross over and become frighteningly real and physically dangerous to anyone who knows the truth. Make it a summer to remember with a fantastic new story from Black Calyx Books!
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Dementia is a scary illness. It weakens the mind and body. People with the affliction are aware their time is limited, and there’s no cure. Loss of motor function, loss of memory, and hallucinations are just a few symptoms a person faces with this terrible illness. Again, it’s a sad and frightening illness.
Bibiana wrote about the fears and heartache of having Dementia from a sufferer’s point of view and a friend’s as well.
She focused a lot of time on hallucinations. Were the three people Aida saw real or the result of her disease? To avoid spoilers, I won’t say either way.
I will say this…
When you sense evil or death breathing down your neck, real or imaginary, it’s a real mind F—K. You can’t help but live in constant fear. And fear, as we discover, is like food for vile creatures.
After I finished this short story, I read the “Afterword.” In my opinion, I think Bibiana Krall should’ve put the “Author’s Note” before the actual story. Knowing this story was loosely based on real-life events increased my score. Before the “Afterword,” Troika was a solid three stars. After I read the “Author’s Note,” my score jumped a point.
Also, before the story began, Bibiana had an “Epilogue.” An epilogue goes at the end of a story.
Other than those two things, I wouldn’t have changed anything else. It was a quick, to the point, read and had just the right amount of spookiness to keep me engaged. No gore, only a story that embraced the word FEAR.
Bibiana Krall is the author of seventeen titles on Amazon, a former international travel expert and luxury insider, she has lived the adventurous life she writes about. Her novels and short stories highlight kickass, female protagonists in character driven stories that utilize social narratives.
Winner of a ‘Pay It Forward Scholarship’ from Wilkes University CW, Bibiana Krall has been called a, “Lyrical maven and literary wordsmith.” @Goodreads Learn more about Bibiana’s books, watch cinematic book trailers.