Excerpt: Hell Hath No Fury by Tamela Miles

In celebration of Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Tamela Miles, author of the Hell On Heels series. Today, she’s sharing her excerpt from Hell Hath No Fury, book 3 of the series, and sharing her thoughts of how femme fatales make horror awesome. Please enjoy.

Horror and Femme Fatale

by Tamela Miles

What is a good horror story without a femme fatale? It makes for dry writing for me if I don’t have a murderous villain with evil in her heart, wearing a pair of 5 inch heels. Cascadia, one of my darker villains, is just a baddie to the core and I had a blast creating her scenes as she torments my beloved Elle, the good hearted but tough demon hunter from my Hell On Heels series. Anyone expecting Cascadia to change her wicked ways is in for major disappointment. She’s bad to the bone, as are classic femme fatales, and that’s what makes her so much fun. Enjoy the read!

Excerpt from “Hell Hath No Fury” (#3 in the Hell On Heels series) :

~Dusk had come to Los Angeles, and Cascadia groaned in agitation, her overwhelming need to feed keeping her from fully concentrating on anything else. She was holed up in one of Pyro’s larger homes, high
above Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills. No one but he and the human evening nanny he had hired knew she was there, guarding the hunter’s child. She considered draining the nanny once she arrived and
leaving the body floating in the massive pool just outside the patio door to show Pyro that she had her limits.

She glanced dispassionately at the baby, sleeping in the carrier on the plush sofa next to her. She noted the child was still breathing before returning her attention to her cell phone. A dead baby would spoil Pyro’s plan, and she solely would be on the receiving end of his wrath. She tapped the screen, relieved that the call didn’t go to voicemail. He answered immediately. She put a touch of venom in her tone. “I’m hungry and tired of babysitting duty. It cried for an hour straight, and I was tempted to suck the life out of it. Where’s the night nanny?”

“That would be a costly mistake, my sweet. I need the child alive for my plan to fall into place. Once the nanny arrives, you’re free to satiate your hunger. Not a moment before.” He ended the call abruptly, and she
fought the raging urge to break of one his priceless art pieces. She would quietly bide her time in a subservient position, waiting for Pyro to make a mistake.~

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Buy Links:

Hell Hath No Fury (Hell on Heels Series)

Heart of a Hunter (Hell on Heels Series)

Dark Deliverance

Author Bio:

Tamela Miles is a California State University San Bernardino graduate student with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and a former flight attendant. She grew up in Altadena, California in that tumultuous time known as the 1980s. She now resides with her family in the Inland Empire, CA. She’s a horror/paranormal romance writer mainly because it feels so good having her characters do bad things and, later, pondering what makes them so bad and why they can never seem to change their wicked ways.

She enjoys emails from people who like her work. In fact, she loves emails. She can be contacted at tamelamiles@yahoo.com or her Facebook page, Tamela Miles Books. She also welcomes reader reviews and enjoys the feedback from people who love to read as much as she does.

 

Six Plus One Completed During Women’s Horror Month

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month really motivated me to get my butt into gear with editing Six Plus One, not only edit the darn thing, but finish. Last month, I spent 7.5 hours editing my thriller horror novella. In February, I’ve spent 14.25 hours so far.

Tonight, I can say I’m finally finished! Now, it’s in the hands of my writing buddy Meka. She’s been awesome, already looking over my story once before. We’re both in the 365 Writing Club and keep each other accountable in reaching our writing goals. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. She had reached out to me when I was in a dark place. My health was plummeting. I was depressed. It seemed like no critique partner would stick around after they got feedback on their own work. I was lost, thinking I’d never be able to publish again. I’m one of those writers who value feedback from critique partners and beta-readers to help improve my WIPs before submitting to editors.

My novella is at 32,326 words right now. When an editor gets ahold of it, hopefully by their comments, my word count will increase. If not, that’s fine too.

When I published my debut novel, One By One, it was meant to be a standalone novel. That was back in 2013. Man, time flies! But, I felt like I wasn’t done with the concept of characters getting terrorized and killed in the woods, one by one. So my sequel idea was born. Alta and her friends are from Voy, the place Kenan and Rae had horrible memories of. First, psycho hillbillies murdered their parents in front of them 10 years ago in their vacation home. Then, their friends are tortured and killed years later.

Alta and her friends are well aware of Voy’s tragic past. What happened 4th of July weekend is mentioned quite often. I’m hoping people will have read One By One first before buying Six Plus One. Otherwise, spoiler alerts!

I’m proud of myself. I’ve been through a lot, taking everything in stride. With Meka’s help, I realized I didn’t need part of the story back in Voy. A decent ending was right after the massacre finding out who the killer(s) is. So, I deleted all of that extra section. It had a different tone than the rest of the story, more quiet, more depressing. I don’t want readers getting bored over mopey situations. I want them sitting on the edge of their seats ’til the very end.

Hopefully, the editor I want will be available when I need her, and hopefully my funds will be okay. Hospital bills are no joke! I’ll find a book cover soon, then it’ll be almost time to publish Six Plus One! I can’t wait. I see all these awesome authors releasing books back to back. I want to join them. 🙂

Soon, I’ll write another post giving more insight into Six Plus One‘s plot and characters. I may even share an excerpt. I’ll also mention how my DIY MFA helped me stay on track with editing my story at a later date. If I can keep up with this schedule, then I’ll be able to release more than one book a year.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Spotlight: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

In celebration of Women’s Horror Month, I’d like to share my love of comics. If you follow my blog, then you know a couple years ago I took two free online comic courses, one through Kadenze and one through Coursera.

On my quest of making comics, I came across the talented Emily Carroll’s artwork. She was born in 1983 and graduated from Sheridan College’s Classical Animation program. I look up to her because she creates horror comics. She showed me that women can be accepted to create whatever they want instead of being forced to stick with quirky love story comics.

I own her book, Through the Woods, and let me tell ya, it’s a must read!

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‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’ Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

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Showing some vulnerability (totally blushing!), I’m sharing some of my 24 Hour Comics Challenge I created last year–October 1, 2016 to be exact. My horror comic was about me and a group of friends hanging out at a camp fire…until we weren’t. Emily’s journey as a horror comics creator had been my inspiration.

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Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

What Writing Has Scared Myself, Wondering Where My Wild Imagination Came From

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month, I’d like to share my personal writing experience. Today I was asked an awesome question: Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?

My answer–absolutely yes! I really pushed myself to the limit when I was writing Twisted Obsession. I scared myself how easily the words flowed on the page, it’s a pretty dark story. I scared myself how much fun I had writing Miki. Let me tell ya, Miki was a real piece of shit, and I held nothing back. I wanted my readers to feel disgusted by him. No leeway.

But, the most important thing that scared me while writing my suspense novella…how calmly I wrote Chapter 28. I couldn’t believe what I did to the son Jahlin. Some of my beta-readers demanded I change the ending, but I stuck to my guns. How demented and creepy Miki was, there couldn’t be a different ending.

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I remember after writing Chapter 28, I needed to compose myself. I held back tears, fearing what I had in store for Finia next. I felt like a piece of shit because I don’t condone violence. Heck, I’ve never been in a fight before. I’m a peaceful hippie. But, when you write dark fiction, you have to get out of your comfort zone and enter the mind of your villain with no apologies.

That scene was hard for me, but I’m proud of myself. I stayed true to my dark, creepy, obsessive suspense novella. I didn’t chicken out and give a happy ending to please readers.

If you don’t mind spoilers, here’s a sneak peak of Chapter 28:

Miki chuckled and looked at his son, then he scanned the area in the front, back, and sides of the boat. On the lake, they were near an open field, so he had to make sure no one else was approaching. He had gone to the least favorite fishing spot in the area for a reason. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Buddy, do you know how to swim?”

I shuddered typing that, knowing what happens next! If you want to read Twisted Obsessionclick on the title. For all of February, the book is only 99 cents.

For all the writers out there, have you ever been scared of something you wrote? For all the readers out there, have you ever read a scene and felt some way about the author, wondering where that wild imagination came from?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

The Lure by Amy Cross

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Amy Cross, author of Last Wrong Turn. That horror book was the first one I tried of her’s, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Having around 15 of Amy Cross’ s ebooks in my kindle, I’m pretty sure my TBR list will continue to grow, especially with her ghost stories. Please enjoy her 5,000 word horror short.

The Lure

By Amy Cross

Copyright 2017

“Don’t be a smart-ass,” I mutter, still holding the fishing lure up for Bobby to see. “It uses a combination of vibration, movement and color. That’s what attracts the fish, and then the hooks do the rest.”

“Seriously?” He wrinkles his nose, as if he disapproves. “Fish are that stupid?”

Figuring that I’ve tried my best to explain, and that he’s not going to take this seriously, I finish dressing the lure before turning and casting it over the side of the boat. I was going to explain the full history of lures, and the importance of the various elements, and then I was going to tell him all about how I make my own lures with my own little twist, but somehow I think he’s not too interested. We’ve been bobbing about out here on Lake Cookarummie for almost an hour now, and it’s taken this long for the actual fishing part to start. I swear, inviting Bobby was a mistake, but I guess Sheila’s glad to have him out of the house for a while. I owe it to her to make an effort. I have to try, and besides, it’s just one weekend.

“So now we wait,” I explain, leaning back and waiting for his inevitable sarcastic comment. For a moment I watch the glistening water, as mid-afternoon sunlight sparkles all around us, and then I turn to see that Bobby’s more interested in something deep in his satchel. “What’ve you got there?”

“Nothing,” he mutters.

I open my mouth to ask again, but I catch myself just in time. Bobby’s the kind of kid who doesn’t really respond to direct questions, and I certainly don’t fancy another round of his nonsense. Honestly, if he wasn’t my sister’s boy, I’d never even give him the time of day. Still, I can’t deny that a flicker of suspicion is rippling through my thoughts as he continues to root around in that satchel, but I guess I should be more trusting.

“So what’ve you been up to lately?” I ask, trying to sound casual, trying not to make it obvious that this is a kind of intervention. “Anything fun or -”

“Won’t you scare the fish away?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Talking all the time. Won’t your voice scare the fish away?”

I can’t help smiling. “The lure’ll take care of that. They won’t be able to resist.”

“Huh. Still, shouldn’t you be focusing on fishing?”

“Well, that’s the beauty of a day on the lake,” I explain. “There’s a lot of waiting around, and a lot of time for nattering. It’s a way for two men to get to know each other a little better.”

“Sounds boring. And gay.”

“You just have to learn to appreciate it. I guess it’s a change of pace for a guy like you, huh? You’re used to the fast lane of city life, huh? Let me guess, you’d rather be spending your weekend cruising from amusement arcade to amusement arcade, wouldn’t you? Maybe stopping off for a milkshake and chat with a few pretty girls? You might be surprised to learn that I was considered pretty cool when I was your age. I was known as Big Ben, on account of how I had big, broad shoulders.”

He chuckles, which I guess is a response of sorts. He still seems totally preoccupied by whatever’s at the bottom of that damn satchel, and after a moment I realize that he’s mumbling under his breath, as if he’s counting something.

I lean a little closer, but he suddenly turns to me, startled. At the same time, he closes the satchel tight.

“Just wondering,” I tell him, leaning back and taking a look at my rod. Frankly, I’d give my eyeteeth for a bite right about now, just so I could have something else to talk about. A catch always brings some excitement, and Bobby’d be sure to get the fishing bug. “I guess I just wanted to bring you out here and show you a little of what I do with my days now I’m retired.”

“Yay,” he deadpans.

“There might be a big old perch down there right now,” I continue, “swimming closer and closer to that lure, getting about ready to go too close. They get mesmerized when they see it in the water, you know. They can’t help themselves. And then it’ll be all over for the poor chap, and there’ll be nothing left for us to do except haul him up into the boat. You won’t think the lure’s so dumb then, will you?”

“I don’t really give a -”

He sighs.

“Sorry, Uncle Ben,” he continues, “but the whole thing just seems stupid to me. If fish are that brain-dead, I don’t know why you’d want to eat them anyway. How can there be any pride in catching something that’s so gullible?”

“The lure just appeals to their senses,” I point out. “It’s designed that way.”

“Yeah, but you’d think, like, nature or evolution or something would’ve made them smarter by now. If they’re so easy to catch, why haven’t they, like, died out already?” He looks back into his satchel for a moment, and then he glances out toward the lake. “Stupid fish,” he mutters finally. “The only fish you catch are the dumb ones, Uncle Ben. All the other fish are just watching them and thinking how stupid they are. Dumb fish.”

***

“So then you cut it like this,” I explain as I slice the knife through the fish’s gut, “and clean all this stuff out. You want to get it all, okay? If you don’t, there’ll be a real nasty taste when you finally cook the thing, and that’d be a total waste of a good perch. There’s even -”

Before I can finish, I see out the corner of my eye that Bobby has turned away. Glancing at him, I can’t help sighing as I find that he’s rooting around in his satchel, as if somehow the contents are far more important than any wilderness survival tips he might pick up from me. If I’d been that rude to anyone in my family when I was his age, I’d have received a swift clip around the ear. Then again, I guess kids these days aren’t used to proper discipline. He’d probably wail and whine that I’d assaulted him. Better to keep this verbal.

“Hey!” I call out. “Wanna pay attention? This stuff might save your life some day!”

He lets out an amused grunt.

“I mean it!” I continue. “How long do you think you’d last out here in the wild, miles from civilization, if trouble struck?”

“About as long as it took me to call for help on my cellphone.”

“And if you didn’t have access to a cellular telephone?”

“Then I’d deserve to die, for being an idiot.” He glances at me, and then at the fish. “I guess I’d be in good company, then.”

“And if you didn’t have cellular telephone service?”

He slips his telephone from his pocket and holds it up for me to see. It’s one of those fancy ones with a big screen and no buttons.

“I’ve got service,” he points out with a sanctimonious grin. “This is the twenty-first century, Uncle Ben. I checked online before you dragged me up here. My provider’s website specifically confirmed service out here. And that is called thinking ahead. You should try it next time you’re heading out into the wilderness. It might just save your life.”

“When you’re preparing a fish for roasting on the campfire,” I continue, looking back down at the perch, “there are really three things you’ve got to consider. Now, I’m going to go through each of those three things in turn and…”

Before I can finish, I realize I can hear a rustling sound nearby. Turning to Bobby again, I see that he’s once again rooting through his satchel. This time, I don’t think I can hold my tongue.

“Care to share what’s so fascinating in that thing?” I ask.

“Sure. Like you’d get it.”

“Come on, I’m not some old fart. What’ve you got there?”

He shakes his head, while grinning and muttering something under his breath.

“Maybe you’d better let me see,” I continue, stepping around the campfire and heading over to him. “Hand it over.”

“No way.”

“Bobby -”

“It’s my bag!”

“And your mother put me in charge of you for this little trip,” I point out, “so let me see what’s in the bag.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

I open my mouth to reply, but the words catch in my throat.

“You don’t, do you?” he continues. “You think I’m still into all that stuff that got me into trouble.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But I can see it in your eyes. You’re like Mom. You think I’m still taking drugs and getting high and all that stuff. You don’t believe that someone can change. You don’t believe that I can change. Thanks a lot, man.”

Sighing, I put my hands on my hips.

“People are just worried about you, Bobby,” I explain. “Your mother and I, neither of us have ever tried marijuana or cocaine or any of those other things. Meth. It’s just not something people do in our family. But we’ve read up about it, on account of the trouble you’ve been in. We know that it’s really, really hard to kick the habit.”

“So that’s why you brought me on this weekend camping trip? You thought a few lungfuls of fresh lake air would clear me out and set me back on the straight and narrow?”

“There’s no need to be defensive.”

“Fine, look in the stupid bag!” He tosses the satchel at me, and I feel it bump against my feet as it lands in the dirt. “If you really don’t trust me,” he continues, with anger in his eyes, “and if you really can’t see past your own prejudices, then look in the bag. Go on, show me that you don’t trust me. That’d feel really good, Uncle Ben. Mom goes through my stuff when I’m out. She thinks I don’t know, but I do. I’m eighteen years old, I’m not an idiot. But if you think I am an idiot, and if you think I’m still using, then go ahead and look in the goddamn bag.”

I stare at him, trying to figure out whether or not he’s bluffing, before finally reaching down and picking up the satchel. I dust some dirt from the front, which is really just a cover while I feel the weight of the damn thing. For a moment, I’m sorely tempted to open the top and take a look inside, but finally I realize that I need to get Bobby on my side. Even though I’m worried I might be making a mistake, I step over to him and set the satchel next to him feet. I need him to see that I’m his friend as well as his uncle.

“You’re not gonna look inside?” he asks, staring up at me as if he’s challenging me to change my mind.

“I’m not gonna look inside.”

“Because you trust me?”

“Because I think you’re a good kid,” I reply, before turning and heading back around the campfire, “and because I’ve got a fish to gut. Now, I’m not gonna force you, but I reckon you’d be mighty wise to come over here and learn how to do the gutting. You might surprise yourself and actually like getting your hands dirty, doing things the old-fashioned way. You wanna feel like a real man, don’t you?”

I look down at the fish and try to remember where I left off, and then I take the knife again.

“Okay,” I continue, “now a little -”

I pause. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that he’s going through his satchel again. I hope I didn’t make a mistake by not looking in there.

“Now a little trick my old man taught me,” I say finally, deciding that I just have to trust the boy, “and which I’m gonna pass on to you right now, Bobby, concerns the way you cut the head off. Okay, so I know there’s a lot of blood, but the head can actually be useful, provided you remove it in the right manner. Right, so here’s the tricky part. Pay attention now.”

***

“The key to a good fire,” I explain as I toss some more sticks onto the flames, “is kindling. You got that, Bobby? You need to start it up right, and then it’ll keep you warm all night. Just like a woman.”

I glance at him, expecting him to laugh.

He doesn’t.

Touch crowd.

“Another trick,” I continue, “and I don’t know if you noticed this earlier, is to dig a little hole under where you’re gonna set the first sticks. That way, you’ve got air coming from under, which helps the fire get going, especially you’re in sub-optimal conditions.”

I wait.

No reply.

“Bobby?”

Suddenly realizing that he hasn’t replied for a while, I wait again for him to at least acknowledge that I’m speaking. It’s almost midnight, and to be honest I’ve spent the past few hours more or less talking to myself. Bobby wolfed down his share of the fish, which was good to see, but since then he’s mostly been over in the shadows at the edge of the clearing, and it seems like he wants to nap. I guess the day might have tired him out, but I can’t help worrying that maybe he’s keeping something from me. Right now, he’s just silhouetted against the night sky.

I guess I’ve gotta trust him.

I wish that wasn’t so hard.

“You okay over there?” I call out, watching his silhouette. “Enjoying the forest air?”

I wait for a reply, but he just stays quiet.

“It’s good for the mind,” I continue. “Clears your thoughts. Have you noticed that? Sometimes it’s the simple things that do you the most good.”

Again I wait, and again he doesn’t respond.

Figuring that he might finally have started to appreciate the great outdoors, I grab the plate of marshmallows and carry them over. When I was Bobby’s age and my father used to take me camping, a plate of marshmallows was just about the most exciting thing in the whole world. I know kids these days are used to more technological treats, but I reckon deep down Bobby might just appreciate something to eat. At least he’s not playing on that goddamn cellphone, which I suppose is already a small victory.

“How about you try some of the best marshmallows the world has to offer?” I ask.

No response.

“Just having a contemplative moment, are you?” I continue, forcing a smile. “Okay, then I just -”

Suddenly I see that his satchel is on the ground, tipped partway over and with several small plastic pouches having slithered out. My heart sinks as soon as I see that each of the pouches contains some kind of white powder.

“Bobby?”

Crouching down, I set the plate aside and then I pick up one of the pouches. I don’t want to believe that he brought some kind of drug out here with him, but at the same time I’m no fool. Turning the pouch around, I can already see that the white powder has small crystals that are catching the light of the campfire. I’ve never seen illegal drugs up-close before, but I let out a long, slow sigh as I realize that my worst fears have been confirmed. I should never have trusted him.

“What is this?” I ask, struggling to contain my anger.

When he doesn’t reply, I reach over and nudge his shoulder.

Letting out a faint, mumbled groan, he turns and looks at me with a big grin and huge, dilated pupils.

“What have you taken?” I continue. “Bobby, I swear to God, you -”

“Chill out, man,” he replies, placing a hand on my arm. “You can take some too if you like, Uncle Ben. It’s really good stuff. It’s the best!”

“What is it?” I shout. “Is it cocaine? Is it heroin? Is it -”

Suddenly he starts laughing, and then he slithers closer to me and grabs my shoulders, as if he wants me to hold him up.

“You don’t have a clue, man,” he continues, and now I can feel his ice-cold breath on the side of my face. “Coke and heroin are so old school. I’m not into that stuff. I scored some of this new powder that everyone’s going crazy about. I mean, I didn’t exactly score it, it just turned up, but who cares about that? The effect’s like LSD but times a thousand.”

“Oh God,” I mutter, realizing that I need to get him to a hospital. “Bobby, how much of this did you -”

“Take some!” he hisses, grabbing a packet from the floor and holding it up for me. “You’ll never regret it!”

“I’m going to call an ambulance!”

“You’ve gotta try some first, Uncle Ben! It’ll open your mind!”

“You goddamn idiot!” I mutter, getting up to go and get my phone, only for Bobby to grab my arm and hold me down. “Bobby, this is serious!” I continue, turning back to him. “You were supposed to be getting clean!”

“But this is the good stuff! This is the stuff that lets you experience the world in a whole new way! Everything’s alive, Uncle Ben! There are cracks in everything and the light’s just streaming through! And that’s where the voice is coming from!”

Sighing, I slip free and head back to my seat, where I quickly pull my phone from my pocket. At least Bobby was right when he said that we had mobile telephone coverage out here, so it doesn’t take long for me to call 911 and tell them what’s wrong. Since we’re a little far off the beaten track, I have to describe exactly how the ambulance can find us, but eventually they tell me that one should be here within two hours, and they add that I should keep my phone on in case they need to call me back. They tell me a few more things I should do, in case Bobby’s reaction to the drug gets worse, and then they tell me to just hang tight. It’s probably not that bad, they add. It’s probably going to be fine.

And then the call ends.

I immediately bring up my sister’s number, figuring I should tell her what’s happening, but then I realize I might be worrying her unnecessarily. Besides, she’d probably scream at me for putting her boy in jeopardy, and I can’t say I’d blame her. Better to wait until we’re at the hospital, maybe, so that at least I can ease her concerns when I speak to her.

“I can relax, knowing he’s with you,” I remember her telling me when we set off early this morning. “You’re a safe pair of hands for the boy. You’re steady, Ben.”

Yeah, and look how that’s worked out.

“An ambulance is on its way,” I tell Bobby as I make my way back around the fire. “Might take ’em a while, but you’ve just gotta hold on, okay? Help’s coming.”

“I don’t need help,” he whispers, leaning against a tree now and staring straight ahead into the darkness.

“I think that’s a matter of opinion,” I mutter, kneeling next to him, “and in my opinion, and the opinion of a lot of people around you, you need a great deal of help. Clearly you haven’t kicked your problem at all.”

“This stuff’s different,” he replies, his voice fading slightly as if he’s on the verge of losing consciousness. “This isn’t like coke or anything else. This stuff takes you somewhere. I can see lights, Uncle Ben. I can feel the universe opening up, and getting ready to reveal its true nature to me. Before, I never took enough, so I could never really go there, but tonight I took three packets and I’m so close. I can hear his voice, he’s…”

His voice trails off for a moment.

“It’s me he wants,” he whispers.

“Hey, stay with me!” I say firmly, nudging his arm. “The lady on the phone said you’ve gotta stay awake!”

“He’s calling to me,” he continues. “I don’t know what he wants, but I have to open my mind and go to him. I can hear all the colors around us, Uncle Ben. Even the ones I can’t see. I can smell the sounds and I can see the light that’s breaking through. There’s something calling to me, something immense, something from the other side of existence. It’s so beautiful there, Uncle Ben. I’m seeing something we can’t see unless we get a little help. He’s calling me, calling me, calling over and over again, calling me. I have to go to him. He’s in the place where it’s so beautiful.”

“Oh, Jesus,” I mutter, taking off my cap and wiping my brow. “That ambulance had better get here soon.”

“I’m almost there,” he whispers, leaning his head back against the tree. “Such pretty colors. Some of them are completely new. I can feel myself getting closer, Uncle Ben.”

“Keep your eyes open!”

“There’s a man made of pure light and he’s telling me to keep going. I can’t stop, Uncle Ben! I have to see what he wants! I have to go to him! Attaroth, I’m almost there, I’m -”

Suddenly he lurches forward, and when I grab his arms I find that he’s trembling violently.

“Bobby, just calm down!” I say firmly. “Help’s coming, but you have to stay calm!”

“I’m going to him!” he gasps, as sweat runs down his face. “I can’t help myself! I couldn’t turn back, even if I wanted! I’m almost there! I’m going to become one with the light, and then I’ll know the answer to every question there’s ever been! I’m going to get everything I ever wanted! I’m going to be with him and…”

His voice trails off.

“He smells hungry,” he adds, with a hint of fear in his voice. “Uncle Ben, I think he’s angry about something. He’s not my -”

Suddenly he lets out a gasp, and a kind of white foam starts dribbling from his lips.

“Bobby!” I yell, lowering his shaking body down onto the ground, as more foam runs down his chin, mixed this time with a trail of blood. “Bobby, hold on!” I shout. “Bobby, help’s coming! Bobby, you just have to hold on!”

And then he screams so loud, I have to put my hands over my ears.

***

“Ben Truman?”

Suddenly hearing a voice saying my name, I look up and find that a man in a dark suit is standing right in front of me. I immediately glance along the hospital corridor, worried that something happened while I was lost in my thoughts.

“It’s okay,” the man continues, reaching out a hand for me to shake. “My name is Joseph Mayfield, I’m a researcher from a government agency that deals with new and emerging psycho-active substances. Drugs, in other words. Threats in general, really. National security, that sort of thing. I need to talk to you for a few minutes about your nephew Ben.”

“Is there any news?” I ask.

“I’m afraid not. He’s being monitored around the clock. His mother’s with him. Do you mind if I join you?”

I nod, and he takes a seat next to me.

“Ben took a substance that’s known on the street as Polly 66/99,” he explains. “We don’t know where it got that name. We also don’t know exactly where it first originated. Since it was first brought to our attention about three months ago, we’ve determined that it’s synthetic in nature. That means it was created in a lab somewhere. It’s an extremely powerful substance, it causes users to experience some very strong and powerful sensations.”

“Ben said he could see different colors,” I tell him.

“That’s something other victims of Polly 66/99 have said too.”

“How many others have there been?”

“Like Ben? A few. Nine so far, including him.”

“And they recover, right?” I continue. “Please, tell me I got him here in time!”

I wait for a reply, but I can already tell that he’s worried.

“I’ll never be able to forgive myself if he’s hurt,” I add. “I should’ve looked in that satchel. I should never have trusted him!”

“Mr. Truman, the other teenagers who’ve overdosed on Polly 66/99…”

His voice trails off for a moment.

“What’s wrong with them?” I ask. “What happens?”

“Physically, they’re fine,” he continues. “Even with deep scans of their brains, we’ve detected no damage whatsoever.”

“That’s good, right? That means they’ll recover!”

“It should,” he adds, “but in this case, they don’t wake up.”

I feel a shiver pass through my chest. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

“The mechanism is not understood at this point in time,” he continues, “but it’s almost as if… I know this is going to sound crazy, but it’s as if their minds are somehow lured out of their bodies. Just drawn out, and then they vanish, leaving just the bodies behind.”

“What do you mean, lured out?” I ask, trying not to panic. “You mean they’ve got that locked-in syndrome? They can’t communicate?”

“There’s no brain activity at all. Their minds are just… gone.”

“Gone where?”

“That’s something we haven’t been able to determine yet.”

“But it doesn’t make sense,” I continue. “A person’s mind can’t just float right outta their head!”

“No, it can’t,” he replies, “but like I said, we’re struggling to figure this one out at the moment. All we can say for certain is that batches of this Polly 66/99 substance seem to appear fairly randomly in cities across the world. So far it’s shown up in Seattle, and New York, and half a dozen other places in Europe and Asia. We don’t know who makes it or why, or how they get it out into the world. It’s almost as if it just drops down out of the sky and lands in front of people.” He pauses for a moment. “Obviously we’re working on it. We’ll figure this mess out eventually.”

“He can’t die,” I reply. “Please, you have to help Bobby. He can’t die, if he dies I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”

“We’ll do all we can,” he says, before getting to his feet. “I need to go and speak to some specialists over the phone. Whenever a new victim of Polly 66/99 shows up, we roll into action pretty fast.”

“You have to do something!” I reply. “For God’s sake, you can’t let people get sick like this!”

He nods, and then he pauses for a moment, as if there’s something he can’t quite bring himself to tell me.

“You have blood on your hands,” he says finally.

“Huh?”

Looking down at my hands, I realize that he’s right. I have some patches of dried blood struck to the sides of my fingers, and dried to my nails.

“Oh, that’s from the fish I caught earlier,” I explain. “I gutted it and cooked it.”

“You fish to eat? That’s admirable.”

“I throw ’em back if I don’t eat ’em,” I tell him. “I only go fishing for food. Not for sport. Anything I’m not gonna eat, I throw back. It’s not natural any other way.”

“I happen to agree very much with that sentiment,” he replies, before patting my shoulder. “Hold on and stay strong, Mr. Truman. We’re going to do everything we can to help your nephew. Some of the best minds in the country are working on figuring this drug out, and I’m confident we’ll have an answer eventually. It’ll just take time. So far, this thing seems unlike anything else we’ve ever encountered. It’s almost like it dropped down here from another world.”

“He mentioned a man made of light,” I tell him.

“He did?”

“He said he was going toward a man made of light.”

He pauses, before nodding.

“It doesn’t make sense, does it?” I point out.

“No, it doesn’t,” he replies. “But in all the other Polly 66/99 cases, the victims said the same thing. They said they were being drawn toward a man made of light, a man who’d give them everything they wanted. Most of them even mention a name.”

He hesitates, as if he dares not say that name out loud.

“Attaroth,” we both say finally, at the same time.

“What does it mean?” I continue. “It has to be nonsense, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Truman. But I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I find out. We have good people, brilliant minds, working on this. We’ll solve it eventually.”

“And they’ll all wake up, won’t they? The kids, I mean.”

“We certainly hope so, Mr. Truman. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Once he’s gone, I sit alone for a few minutes, thinking over all the things I could have done differently, all the ways I might have kept Bobby from taking that stupid drug. Finally I reach into my pocket to take out my phone, only to let out a gasp of pain as I feel something sharp pricking my finger. Carefully, I reach in again and pull out one of the lures from earlier, and I hold it up until it glints a little in the electric light.

“Pretty,” a smiling nurse says, glancing at the lure as she walks past.

I wait until she’s gone, and now my mind is racing and I can’t help thinking about the things Bobby said while he was high on that drug. Especially the things about the voice he could hear, and that name. Attaroth.

A man made of light.

“Let him go,” I whisper finally, with tears in my eyes. “Don’t keep him. Wherever his mind went, let it come back. Whoever you are, you don’t need him or want him. Just let him come back to us! Why do you want him, anyway? What possible reason could you have for taking him?”

And yet, even as I say those words, my gaze shifts from the lure to the blood that’s caked around the edges of my fingernails.

Like Father Like Son by Meka James

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Meka James, author of Fiendish. Fiendish is a dark, twisted spin of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast. Lately, we’ve been bonding over writing. Maybe one day, I’ll have her join me on the dark side hee hee. Please enjoy her psychological suspense short story.

Like Father Like Son
By: Meka James
Copyright 2017

I sat outside the dilapidated old gate. Years of neglect covered the foreboding iron blockade. I was certain that without the weeds, the whole thing would have fallen apart.

My hands tightened on the steering wheel. Why was I here? Why had I been drawn to this place? For years I’d tried to ignore the curiosity I’d had about my biological father. Mother tried her best to avoid talking about him. Giving me only tidbits of information. Everyone around me was that way. He was some dark, dirty secret they didn’t want me to know about.

I was pacified for a while, but the older I got; the more I wanted to know. I needed to know. Who was he? My mother loved me. That was clear. My step-father loved me. That was clear. I wasn’t treated any differently, but it’s hard not to stand out when surrounded by your siblings. I didn’t match. I didn’t fit in. I had my mother’s light complexion and the bright blue eyes that only could have come from my father, along with my black hair. It was a stark contrast to my siblings more sun-tanned complexions, brown hair and light brown eyes. Even without the physical differences, I felt different.

My thoughts sometimes were what people might consider disturbing. The ways I’d imagine hurting my annoying classmates, or my Chemistry teacher when she’d failed me on my lab. Hydrochloric acid to her eyes then watching her stumble around like a buffoon was my favorite. Sewing the lips together of the bitchy cheerleader before slowly carving away at all those features she prided herself on; that thought got me through a lot of long days.They were the kind of thoughts that should have scared me, but they didn’t. Instead they really got my blood pumping, my adrenaline rushing. I never shared them with anyone. They wouldn’t understand.

Eventually I stopped asking my mother. The internet has a wealth of information. I never quite looked at my mother the same once I learned how my father really died. He was killed, by her hands. One would think I’d have been angered by that knowledge. I wasn’t. I was intrigued. I dare say I even held a new appreciation for my mother after that. She’d killed a man. My father. The article said it been in self-defense. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know it all. I needed to know why. I kept digging.

It’s how I ended up here. At his house. After his death, my mother got it all. Tax records showed she owned this place. Why? Why was she holding on to it? Why hadn’t she sold it? I stepped out of my car, approaching the gate. I pushed. It creaked. I pushed harder. It gave way just enough for me to squeeze through.

A long driveway stretched out before me, overgrown with weeds and tall grass. Standing in the distance, a large house in disrepair from the years of neglect. It was one of those houses you’d see in a horror movie, the one that would scream run the other way. It called to me. What was the significance of this house? Why was it left to rot?

I started walking toward it, answering the call. With each step I felt a connection. With each step I felt as though I’d found that missing piece. With each step I felt like I was home. This house belonged to my father. This house would hold the answers to the questions no one would answer.

I climbed the stone steps onto the front porch. My fingers traced along the elaborately carved designs on the door. My heart rate increased. On the other side could be the insight I’d been searching for about my father. I pushed. The large wooden door wouldn’t budge. I stepped back looking around. I could break a window. No that was a last resort. I didn’t want to damage his property if I didn’t have to. I walked around the back of the house. The tiny shed looked out of place. That door opened with ease. Nothing but a spiral staircase and a single bulb hanging from a line. I tested the stability of the stairs before making the descent.

My pulse quickened. At the bottom of the steps, a cell. It appeared to be a replica of Hannibal Lecter’s cell from Silence Of The Lamb. Stone walls. Plexi-glass front. Open toilet and shower along with a rusted twin bed with a stained mattress. Blood maybe? That thought excited me. This room alone was right. I felt the connection to a man I’d never met. A smile grew on my face as I looked around. This was what I needed. Something told me I was my father’s son. My thoughts. My desires to hurt people and watch them suffer, I could have learned from him, but at the same time experimenting on my own held an appeal. The musty, iron smell was strangely comforting I took a deep breath. I was home.

Middle-Grade Students Love Horror Too, Just Ask Neil Gaiman

To celebrate Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Laura Emmons, author of The Queen of the Night series. She’s recently written a horror story for middle-grade readers and is shopping it around to agents and contests. Good luck!

Writing Horror Stories for Middle-Grade Readers
by Laura Emmons

Neil Gaiman once said in an interview that, “Kids are so much braver than adults, sometimes, and so much less easily disturbed. Kids will make their nightmares up out of anything, and the important thing in fiction, if you’re giving them nightmares, is to demonstrate that nightmares are beatable.” Perhaps that is why the horror/ghost category is such a fast growing genre in middle-grade fiction.

The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean is a perfect example. The story starts with a grisly murder, but morphs into a sweet story about a boy raised by ghosts, tutored by a werewolf and mentored by a vampire who decides he wants to experience life among the living. By combining the poignancy of a coming-of-age tale with the thrill of suspense, the novel delights readers of all ages. As a winner of the Newbery Medal and the Hugo Award, this is a perfect example of a middle-grade horror story.

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Gaiman’s Coraline is another successful novel in the genre. When Coraline and her family move into a new house, Coraline finds a portal to an alternate world behind a locked door. She returns to her reality to find that her parents are missing and she must rescue them by herself.

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Serafina and the Black Cloak written by Robert Beatty is a NY Times bestseller. It won the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize in 2016. Serafina lives with her father, a maintenance man, in the basement of the Biltmore estate. When children start disappearing, she and her new friend, Braedon Vanderbilt, must solve the mystery of the man in the black cloak and save the day.

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Important factors in these books are the tenacity and courage of the main character. Although these characters are tweenagers, they are all heroes.

Middle-Grade readers are defined as aged 8-12. Books in this category are generally 30,000 to 50,000 words in length, although fantasy novels may be longer. As a rule, no profanity, graphic violence, sex or drugs should be involved in stories written for this age group. The focus of the novel should be on friends, family and the character’s changing relationship to the world around him. Some key guidelines to writing a great middle-grade horror novel are

  1. Start with a great hook. Although this is true for all novels, it is especially true for the attention span of tweenagers.
  2.  Keep the pace fast. Building suspense throughout the story is critical to keeping the young reader’s interest.
  3. Use humor to offset scary scenes. Children respond better to humor and may be more tolerant of terrifying action if they can relieve the tension with jokes.
  4. Make the protagonist a strong character. This is more important among middle-grade fiction, where the reader identifies closely with the main character.
  5. Have a happy ending. Children like to be scared, as long as everything works out in the end.

Good luck and happy writing!