The Horror Tree Recent Markets, Articles, Interviews, and Fiction!

Taking Submissions: Enchanted Conversation (Early Listing, Limited Window)

Deadline: January 3rd, 2021
Payment: $50
Theme: Healers, Midwives and Cunning Folk
Note: This magazine is only open for submissions from January 1st to 3rd of 2021 for this call so I wanted to give you more time to pen something to submit

Hi there! I’ll no doubt write more about this later in the next year, but for now, what follows below will tell you all you need to know.

And the theme? It’s “Healers, Midwives and Cunning Folk.”

(No more submissions are being accepted for publication in December of 2020–but we will be publishing stories that have already been accepted.)

The following is relevant to all submissions for 2021, and the first submission window opens Jan. 1. More below.

 

Writing opportunities for 2021 include:

 

New Fairy Tales: Fairy tales that are almost or entirely new or are just new takes on old tales are all welcome. Mashups of existing fairy tales are welcome as well. Submissions must follow the theme below to be considered.

 

Essays: Nonfiction articles about any aspect fairy tales and folklore are being sought. The term “essay” just means you’ll be writing about fairy-tale related matters in a nonfiction article.  Creative nonfiction is welcome. You do not have to stick to the theme, but you can.

 

Poetry: Poetry inspired by fairy tales and that follows the theme is also welcome.

 

Please read the following in its entirety before submitting.

 

Want to know what is likely to get published here? There are well over 10 years of stories, essays and art on this current site. It’s the best place to start if you want to be published here.

 

HERE IS HOW YOU SUBMIT AND FORMAT

 

Only the kind of submissions outlined below will be accepted at EC in 2021.

 

* Writers will have a chance to submit fairy-tale inspired stories/essays/poems 11 times this year. Since we will be choosing four works per publishing month, there are 44 slots to be filled in 2021. That’s a lot! And it does not count contests.

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Indie Bookshelf Releases 12/04/20

Click on the book covers for more information.

Got a book to launch, an event to promote or seeking extra work/support as a result of being hit economically by Covid? Get in touch and we’ll promote you here. The post is prepared each Thursday for publication on Friday. Contact us via Horror Tree’s contact address or connect via Twitter or Facebook.

Support Your Indie Authors and Reviewers

This is a space which I hope will help bring extra work to those who’ve been hit economically by Covid. If you’ve lost your day job, had hours cut, are struggling and have services to offer, a new venture, a patreon page to promote etc, let us know and we’ll plug them here.

David Southwell – author, seeks anything – writing, editing, social media content, ghostwriting. Find him on twitter https://twitter.com/cultauthor.

Todd Keisling – author of Devil’s Creek, Ugly Little Things is still experiencing employment struggles. Remember, he is not just a writer, he also designs book interiors, frontispieces and can provide other services related to marketing campaigns. For more information go here. Buy his books here. Support him on pateron here.

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi’s dark poetry collection, Breathe, Breathe is currently on sale in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Her 25% off Covid 2020 discount for novels and novellas also applies until the end of the year. You can also find out about her editorial and publishing services here.

Reviewer Max Stark has created a gallery of his amazing photography https://www.pictorem.com/gallery/Max.Stark, where you can purchase his prints. If you have a space on your wall, you might find something here to fill it!

Events

Please send us details of any online panels, conventions, festivals and workshops and we’ll list them here.

Latest Book Launches

Charity Anthologies

 

2nd Oct 30th Oct It Came From The Darkness: A Charity Horror Anthology by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, David Green, C.M. Saunders, Justin Boote, Tim Lebbon, Gemma Paul, D.J. Doyle, Roma Gray, Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Mark Anthony Smith] End Nov

 

 

Horror Tree Sponsor* Releases!

*All Horror Tree sponsors are able to claim a spot at the top of our listing during the donation of their sponsorship. Please use our contact form for more advertising pricing.
 
 

 

November 2020

3rd The Sound of Distant Engines by [Robert Dunn]8th EYES OF SLEEPING CHILDREN by [D. A. BUTCHER, KELLY CHEYANNE]11th Burning Reflection by [Tim Mendees] 13th Eight Cylinders by [Jason Parent, Crystal Lake Publishing]

14th Bleak Midwinter and Other Christmas Horror Stories by [Charlotte O'Farrell] 15th The Worm and His Kings by [Hailey Piper] 15th Realization: The Martiniere Legacy Book Three by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 16th

17th The Lupin Project: Amazon.co.uk: Allan Leverone: 9780998416144: Books 17th 18th Less by [Caroline Angel] 27th

December

1st Slashertorte: An Anthology of Cake Horror by [Ben Walker, V Castro, E Seneca, Stephanie Yu, Douglas Ford, Risa Wolf, Tiffany Michelle Brown, Sam Richard, Jackson Nash, R.J. Joseph]16th TBA

Kickstarters!

Slated for release by Crystal Lake Publishing in August 2021. This book of spiritualist horror contains many of the big names in dark fantasy and horror fiction. Find out more and/or support their Indiegogo campaign here

 

 

 

Happy reading.

Steph

 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team

 

An interview with Natalie Brown, the creator of Scary Snippets and Nocturnal Sirens Publishing

I met Natalie Brown when she picked up stories from both me and my mother for her Scary Snippets Halloween anthology in 2019. Brown is a fierce female voice in the horror genre, and an interesting publisher to work with. She is approachable, candid and treats her authors like friends. 

Not only does she publish anthologies, but Brown writes her own horror stories, and does voice work and writing for podcasts, such as Creepy Podcast. Her two most recent releases ae Scary Snippets Campfire Edition, and Calls From the Brighter Futures Suicide Hotline. She is also working on her own solo anthology of short stories called Door to Door Damages which is due out before the end of the year. 

Brown’s philosophy is to encourage first time writers and she has a high acceptance rate for her multi-author collections. 

 

AF: Hi Natalie, it was exciting for both my mother, Della Sullivan, and I to be in the same publication with Scary Snippets Halloween . In fact, it was her first attempt at writing a horror story. For this anthology how many submissions did you get and how many did you take versus reject?

 

NB: The project manager and myself accepted about 78% of all submissions received. It was our first and one of our largest collections. We wanted to showcase a little bit of everything and got a lot of really great submissions. 

 

AF: Can you explain why you accept so many stories?

 

NB: The founders of Nocturnal Sirens Publishing were at one time themselves, first time authors. It means a lot to us to show people and the world how talented they are. So many new authors doubt their ability and talent; we want them to know that that’s simply not true. We have published Mothers and Daughters (You and Miss Della) as well as a husband and wife who had never been published together before. Everyone has to start somewhere, we want you to start with us. 

 

AF: Can you introduce yourself and give us a bit of your background?

 

NB: I’m a stay at home mom from Saint Augustine, Florida with three sons. A 2-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 10-year old. 

My writing career began with a story that I wrote for a marriage counseling exercise called “You Have New Messages”. I had to take an action that I had done and write it from my husband’s perspective. Don’t worry, we are still together and doing very well; we’re going on 16 years now. 

As far as my writing background, I took a nine week creative writing class in 10th grade. Besides that I have no formal training. I’m just a horror junkie. I’ve been reading, listening to and watching horror all of my life. That along with my OCD and lack of inner monologue seems to make me decently good at what I do. 

 

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself?

 

NB: I love to write psychological and domestic horror. I write what I can sympathize with and understand. If it terrifies me, maybe it will scare someone else as well. I became a member of the online horror writing community in February 2019. During that time, I have had so many ideas for future collaborations and anthology topics. Since then, I have been offered so many amazing opportunities as an author; I really wanted to pay it forward. It means a lot to help other people’s dreams come true like others did for me. 

 

AF: You use a royalty share for many of your projects, can you explain how that works?

 

NB: Melody Grace and I were authors before we ever even thought of publishing. We’ve submitted to all kinds of companies around the world and based our payment system on things we liked and didn’t like from other companies, along with mistakes we have made in the past. Our company gives 70% of all profits/earnings split evenly amongst its authors quarter-annually. 

 

AF: What sort of profit have authors seen? What’s been your most successful book to date? 

 

NB: Our two most profitable books are the Scary Snippets Christmas Edition and our charity anthology No Safe Distance: Stories From Quarantine, which raised over one hundred dollars for Doctors Without Borders in its first month of release.

For Scary Snippets Christmas Edition each author was paid by how many stories they contributed to the collection. At its peak, the authors who had the most stories received about $7.00 and the authors with a single story received about $1.02. Which doesn’t seem like a lot at all, but when you take into account how many authors were involved in this collection, it really is something to be proud of.

 One thing I’ve learned is that the more authors that are involved in a project, the fewer profits are received by all. However, our company refuses to ask authors to submit for free unless it’s a drabble or charity anthology, which we have had only two in the year and a half we have been making books. 

 

AF: How has your publishing business evolved? I’ve noticed some name changes.

 

NB: Initially, I had opened a publishing company called Suicide House Publishing. Melody Grace helped me with formatting and taught me so much of what I know today. She’s an amazing publisher and author. On that note, when she had the initial idea for Mother Ghost’s Grimm, we knew we couldn’t publish a children’s book with the words Suicide House on them. So we promptly changed our name and LLC to Nocturnal Sirens Publishing. 

 

AF: What sort of stories and/or writing are you typically looking for?

 

NB: I like to read stories that stay with me mentally after I’ve read them. As cliche’ as some people say it is, I LOVE twists. Like break my freaking neck with your story. A good twist is so hard to achieve. It has to be subtle enough to make sense, you can’t have something coming out of left field that makes no sense. As Ryan Reynolds says in Deadpool 2, ‘That’s just lazy writing’. And hey I’ve done it too! But at the same time, you shouldn’t be able to see it coming as plain as the nose on your face either. It’s difficult to achieve in 3,000 words or less, but when it’s accomplished it’s beautiful. 

 

AF: What is really exciting you in the publishing field currently?

 

NB: Well, we released the second volume of our children’s horror set, Mother Ghost’s Grimm Volume 2. These two books are the creepy brainchild of my publishing partner, best friend and fellow horror author Melody Grace. A few of them were featured in the Halloween special called the NoNap Podcast, that was very exciting! 

 

AF: How is the current pandemic affecting you and your company?

 

NB: It’s been affected in many ways. I’ve found that several authors, myself included, have slowed down their writing for various reasons. As far as myself, my two eldest children have been homeschooled since the school year began, and that took a huge toll on my productivity. Having to tread these new waters along with these brave teachers who do the best they can has been challenging all around. Me giving that anything less than my full attention is not only a disservice to the teachers but my children as well. And other authors/ creators/ artists are experiencing these same situations. 

Not to mention the fact that 2020 has been a larger horror story than any of us could have thought of. There’s almost too much material to choose from to avoid more or less. Our stories are fun because they’re fictional. No one wants to make light of the nightmares people are facing everyday ya know? 

 

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

 

NB: In the year 2021, Melody Grace and I are going to focus on smaller anthologies containing longer stories/fewer authors. We also will be focusing on single author novels and novellas, as well as getting back to basics by working on our own writing

 

AF: Any final notes or things you wish to mention?

 

NB: I have been working for Jon Grilz’s Creepy Podcast for about a year and a half now. I am responsible for arranging payments, author communications, permissions and just recently have been promoted to help with our new Email submissions system. We love our authors so much and want to hear your work! We are looking for stories between 1,500 and 3,400 words. If you have something you’d like for us to read, please send it over to  [email protected] for a chance to be on the show! We pay $1.00 per 100 words and are excited to see what you’ve got.

Epeolatry Book Review: Boneset and Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste

Disclosure:

Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Boneset and Feathers
Author: Gwendolyn Kiste
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Broken Eye Books
Release Date: 3rd Nov, 2020

Synopsis: Boneset & Feathers is a novel of witchy folk horror by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste, in which a young woman must re-ignite her magic against the threat of the dreaded witchfinders.

First let’s talk about the beautiful cover. The orange, yellow, and red illustration fit the book’s autumnal release date, and the novel’s setting. It’s an artistic rendering of something brewing, and it evokes a dark, nostalgic feel. The imagery within the pages is reflective of the cover—fiery, magical, and contemplative.

Boneset & Feathers is a novel by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Gwendolyn Kiste. For disclosure, she’s my writing mentor, but this review was neither requested nor compensated. I read her books because she’s a great writer.

Written in first person, Odette (the main character) offers a somber narrative, She’s portrayed as a young woman who though wise beyond her years, is baffled, saddened, and conflicted with her persecution. Why would villagers fear a petite, pretty young woman who can heal, guide, and teach? Ah, but we all fear what we don’t know, which is the heart of Kiste’s tale.

At 161 pages, the action moved along, offering plenty of internal and external stones of conflict to throw at poor Odette. Readers expect a good struggle and unwittingly look forward to it because a story without it leads to boredom. Conflict keeps to J.N. Williamson’s (prolific horror writer and 2003 recipient of the Horror Writer Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award) first commandment of writing, “Thou shalt not bore thy reader.”

I often think about deficiency in characters, where something is amiss and it gets in the way of their quest. For example, the unfortunate looking beast in love with a beauty, or the happy little hobbit who must save the world from the big bad orcs. Consider Kiste’s opening line: When the first crows fall from the sky, the villagers know I’m to blame. We quickly learn that Odette is the last witch in the village, and subject to a literal witch hunt. Birds are falling from the sky, a haunting child visits her, and Odette makes mysterious trips to the graveyard. She’s an orphan; her family has been burned at the stake, and so with no one else to turn to, she feels alone. For me, the story was about acceptance, more to the point, about not feeling accepted in your own home, and trailing loneliness. Quite a deficiency for dear Odette who wants to fill her empty void with family and friends, leave the darkness behind, and share her helpful knowledge with the local villagers. She has a relatable quest, and I think we can all identify with it in some way. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that with this closing line– “Let us begin,” I’ll say, and the birds will sing in tune—Kiste’s ending left me quite satisfied.

 

5/5 stars

Available from amazon.

Taking Submissions: Bear Creek Gazette

Deadline: December 10th, 2020 (Sorry!)
Payment: $30
Theme: Weird, scary, and beautiful things that take place in the imaginary town of Bear Creek

Welcome to the Bear Creek Gazette

Bear Creek is a beautiful town that doesn’t exist. The B.C.G is here to document the weird, scary and beautiful things that take place in the town. If you would like to write an article about your time in Bear Creek, please email us at

[email protected]

What we are looking for;

Anything you would find in a regular news portal. So it can be a headline article about a serial killer on the loose, a Sudoku that tells you to kill yourself, a restaurant review that turns into rampant cannibalism or anything in between. While not a strictly horror themed site, I will always gravitate towards the unsettling and weird. Your creative process is entirely up to you, and you can go absolutely wild as far as I am concerned. Think Welcome to Night Vale, The Wicker Man, Twin Peaks and you are on the right track.

While writing for a newspaper might seem constricting, this is an extremely strange town and almost anything goes. I aim to be as immersive as possible, so obviously I won’t be able to run 25 of the same type of article. If two people submit cool articles detailing the same sort of thing, only one will get chosen. If this happens I am going to strip naked, staple both pieces onto my body and run through the woods until one falls off.

No word limit/image count. Send me anything. Format it however you want.

I am not going to reject something because it’s in 48pt Comic Sans.

Response time will be between 1 and 2 weeks.

This 6 month thing is nonsense and we all know it.

What we are not looking for;

Don’t be racist. Don’t be sexist. We are all adults. Stop being silly. If it ties in with the story I’ll give you a pass. But obviously, if something is massively offensive it stands less of a chance than something that doesn’t upset a large portion of the readers. That’s it. Anything else goes. Please don’t send me a picture of your junk. I will immediately post it on Twitter alongside your email.

Rejections will always be form (although I am working on a cool email so it won’t be too disappointing). A rejection is an immediate request for more work. If it doesn’t fit this issue, something else might fit the next one.

I will look at anything you have. I am as much interested in a photograph as a 5000 word story, a haiku about swans, a double page spread detailing the color and consistency of the diner’s Wednesday Special. Art is art is art.

Lets make something beautiful.

Payment;

Payment is $30 on delivery of the work, paid through PayPal. Flat rate, same for everything. This may improve later on if I manage to get Patreons etc.I will promote anyone who writes for the B.C.G mercilessly across social media. Not just the things you write for us, but the things you are proud of that appear elsewhere.

Subs are free and always will be.

We will open 20th November and stay open through until 10th December.

Thank you. I love you.

Via: Bear Creek Gazette.

Taking Submissions: Sexy Fantastic Magazine #2

Deadline: January 1st, 2021
Payment: $100 plus a one-year subscription to the magazine
Theme: Goddesses, Nymphs and Supervixens

Sexy Fantastic Magazine features the absolute highest quality of fiction, comics, book and movie reviews, articles, photos of sexy fantastic heroines, and other cultural delights by top professionals and award-winning authors and artists. We are currently accepting prose fiction submissions for issue 2.

CURRENT ISSUE GUIDELINES
The theme of Issue 2 is Goddesses, Nymphs and Supervixens. This theme should be interpreted loosely. We are currently looking for stories that loosely relate to that theme.

What We Want
The absolute best literature possible in the field of fantastic stories. The greatest emphasis of this magazine is the quality of writing. Whether an orthodox narrative tale, a dreamlike vignette, or a poetical prose scene, a story should be comprehensible on some level, stay truthful to the literary world that the author has created, and be pleasing or satisfying.

Any type of story with fantastic elements is acceptable, such as a metaphysical or surreal modern tale, magic realism, a dark fantasy thriller, science fiction satire, historical legend, an imaginary world fantasy adventure, etc. The fantastic element may be blatant or only perceived or hinted at. We hope for stories that are either fantastic with at least a hint of eroticism or erotic stories that have at least a hint of the fantastic. In terms of quality and style, some examples would be stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Fritz Leiber, Catherine Lucille Moore, Gore Vidal, Lawrence Durrell, John Fowles, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Jody Scott, Robert Heinlein, Carlos Fuentes, Anne Rice, Robert Aickman, Jack Vance, Conrad Aiken, Italo Calvino, Giovanni Boccaccio, Chaucer, Voltaire and Shirley Jackson. Comics would be work by creators such Moebius, Manara, or Esteban Maroto.  In TV or film, examples are harder to come by, as the mainstream has little true erotic content, and such non-mainstream work tends toward pornography or horror. A few examples of work that is erotic or contains erotic elements would be TV shows like Aeon Flux: The Animated Series or Lexx, and movies like Lair of the White Worm, Barbarella, The 10th Victim, Logan’s Run, or Danger Diabolik.
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Taking Submissions: Triangulation

Deadline: February 28th, 2021
Payment: 3¢ per word for fiction and 25 cents per line for poetry
Theme: Habitats. Sustainable habitats, in tune with their surroundings.

Triangulation will open for submissions on December 1, 2020. We are Parsec Ink’s speculative fiction anthology, since 2003. We’re looking for outstanding fantasy, science fiction, weird fiction, and speculative horror–from new and established writers. We are continuing to tackle environmental issues as we did with Triangulation: Dark Skies (about light pollution) and Triangulation: Extinction (about the loss of biodiversity). Tell us a story we won’t forget.

Theme: Triangulation: Habitats. Sustainable habitats, in tune with their surroundings.

Show us places we want to live that never existed or that we don’t know ever existed. Past, present, and future domiciles for humans, aliens, and fantasy creatures.

Ideally, the story plot will hinge on the habitat design. Let us hear about a new way to live, thriving, not merely surviving. What does it mean to live sustainably in outer space, underground, in the sea, floating in the atmosphere?

What does sustainability look like in a fantasy setting? Is the mana running out? Eye of newt getting scarce? Gnomes in the septic system?

Consider an Earthship, a faerie mound, a hobbit house, a generation starship where everything is recycled, a living starship where humans live in symbiosis with their environment, a forest city, a treehouse on Yggdrasil.

What will Biosphere 3 look like? A research station on Mars? The first or thirty-first lunar colony?

Flying houses. Tiny houses. Ultrasmart houses. Longhouses. Cave dwellings, cliff dwellings, teepees, igloos, tents, yurts, polystyrene dome homes, sandbag homes, straw bale homes.

Moated castles with crenelated battlements, slitted archery windows, double walls, drawbridges, spiral staircases curved to put a right-handed attacker at a disadvantage. Spires, minarets, secret passages, dungeons, wells, narrow twisty streets in a surrounding town, so armies can’t march through.

Phase change materials in the walls. Earth tubes. South-facing window walls. Large thermal masses for heating. Greenhouses. Buried root cellars (wine cellars).

Ah, but adding magic in the mix? The hut of Baba Yaga. The treasure cave of Aladdin.

Show us habitats we’ve dreamed about or never even dreamed of. Show us habitats we thought we understood and teach us something new about them.

Submission Requirements

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Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 4) by F.M. Scott

  1. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 1) by F.M. Scott
  2. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 2) by F.M. Scott
  3. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 3) by F.M. Scott
  4. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 4) by F.M. Scott
  5. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 5) by F.M. Scott Scheduled for December 9, 2020
  6. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 6) by F.M. Scott Scheduled for December 16, 2020
  7. Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 7) by F.M. Scott Scheduled for December 23, 2020

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

PART 4

The young couple, a software CEO and a fitness trainer, gave off a cheerful energy he hadn’t seen in a while.  Like the professor before them, they admired the well-flowing interior.  They also made a point of groaning at the Berber carpet in the living room.

Here were two women who knew what they wanted and didn’t want, Brian thought.  Of course, this trait could be a double-edged sword with prospects, but it often helped things along and led to fantastic sales.  He fessed up to agreeing on the carpet matter.

“Allergy city,” Kelli said.  Her wife Ginger nodded.

The three reached the spacious den by way of the kitchen, when the trainer stopped in her tracks.  “Oh.”  She sniffed the air sharply—and quickly clasped both hands to her nose.  “Oh…Jesus!  What in the—”

“You okay, Ging?” Kelli asked.  “What’s the—oh, God!”  She covered her own mouth and nose with a hand.

“What is it?” Brian asked, a familiar panic rising in his voice.

Ginger shuddered.  “I…excuse us.”  She bolted for the back door and unlocked its large deadbolt.  Kelli followed her onto the patio.

Ginger put her hands on the short, curved stone wall and retched into the grass.  Brian started to intervene but realized, as with the professor, that he could only let the scene play out.  So this place has already sent one person packing, and now it makes you puke.  Shall I prepare the paperwork?

Brian approached the couple as they sat down.  The young, robust fitness trainer slumped into her wife’s arms; she panted a bit.  After studying her a moment, Brian attempted to break the newly formed ice: “I am so, so sorry.  I wish I—”

Kelli raised a palm at Brian and shook her head.

Brian excused himself and returned with two bottles of water from the dorm-sized fridge he’d kept in the garage.

“Can you tell me what it was you smelled back there?”

The trainer broke from her wife’s arms, took a water, and sat up straight.  Her voice hitched.  “I don’t know how to explain.”  She took a gulp from her bottle.  “It started in the den.  It was like nothing I’ve ever smelled before, not in my whole life.  There was almost a-a texture to it.  A way of feeling something as it happens, like…like I was witnessing…”

Brian leaned in.  “Witnessing what?”

She looked at Kelli, then back at their host, her voice shrinking.  “The process of death itself!”

Brian gulped hard.  “I’m not sure what to say right now, other than once again I’m truly, truly sorry for your experience.  I will check into things right away.”

Something caught Ginger’s eye; she clapped a hand to her mouth again.  She pointed at the kitchen window behind Brian.

Holy shit.  What now?

Kelli shot to her feet, her eyes trained on the same spot.  “Now tell me you don’t see that!”

Brian peered at the window, moved closer to it, stared even harder.  He turned and gave an emphatic shrug.  “See what?”

“That thing!” Kelli said.  “A head, it’s big as a basketb—it’s gone!  Just now, it’s gone.  It was right there, inside that window!”  She ran a hand through her hair.  “Its eyes were all black, and the rest of the face”—she gulped hard—“was hanging by a thread, looked like it had been…ahhh, God!”  She took her silent, trembling wife by an arm, helping her to her feet.  “It’s cool, honey, we’re getting out of here right now.”  She turned to Brian and shifted gears.  “Sir, I do not know what you’re trying to pull here, but what I do know is I’ve got your business card, and your immediate supervisor’s going to hear about this right away!  You understand me?  My wife has been dealing with PTSD for a long time, and you apparently think it’s funny, for whatever reason, to trigger her by staging some stupid Amityville shit like this?  Are you even a real—are you trying to sabotage your own job?

“What!?” Brian half-shouted.  “Oh, my God, no…no!  I’ve told you I have no idea what’s going on with this place, but please, please, can you just—”

“Then you’d better get a clue, and fast.  We’re going to your boss, and we could take this to the Real Estate Commission!”  Kelli thrust an index finger toward the side of the house.  “You open that damned gate right now and let us out of here!  We are not going back through that house!”  Brian stood silent.  “Move!” Kelli ordered.  He did, and the three trudged in silence toward the big wooden gate, Kelli holding Ginger tightly.  Brian lifted the heavy black latch; the couple disappeared around the corner of the house and into the driveway.  Brian’s throat spasmed and his hands shook like leaves.

He plopped down onto the barstool at the kitchen nook.  Hannah, the division manager, was attending a real estate conference in Las Vegas.  Brian jumped ahead to text his boss about the day’s events, in the interest of her hearing about it first from a reliable steward of the company.  This would be loads of fun, since he’d already told her about the professor and she didn’t know what to make of that.  After some grilling, Hannah urged Brian to leave any legal repercussions up to her and the regional management.  She added: “I don’t begin to understand how the patterns available to the human mind get bent into such tapestries, but I will say that once that happens, those tapestries have a way of reprinting themselves on anything that happens to be within distance.  Your trick is not to get too close.”

Hannah had never talked like that before.  A beautiful burst of metaphor—well-put, and at the same time so alien.  The call ended on the note that whatever kind of shit she was smoking in Vegas, it wouldn’t be pretty to see how she’d react when it wore off.

On the drive home, something else hit him: A CEO of anything probably had enough legal connections to sue him into a cardboard box under a bridge.  It didn’t matter what his senses couldn’t pull in.  Both women smelled something deathly and described a head with a mangled face looming in the kitchen window of the house on Hyacinth Road.  With them and the professor, it was now three against one.  And the traffic was getting heavier.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His stories have appeared in The Killer Collection, Sirius Science Fiction, The Horror Tree, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.  A few of his drabbles were collected in Trembling with Fear: Year 2 Anthology.

http://writprodsm.wixsite.com/fmscott

Facebook and Twitter @fmscottauthor