31 Days of Halloween Horror
Multi-author Anthology of Horror
Edited by Michael Barnette
Heat Rating: None
Length: Anthology 63,800 words / pages
Released 17th September 2010 Shadowfire Press
31 creepy, scary and even a few tongue-in-cheek tales of horror, one for each day in October.
From demons to zombies and everything in between, there’s something for everyone in this anthology of stories from Chris Allinotte, Michael Barnette, James Bassett, Keith Dugger, Robert Lee Fraizer, Lyn C. A. Gardner, Bosley Gravel, Ken Goldman, Keith Gouveia, Stephen Hill, Rick McQuiston, Carl Palmer, Gerald Rice, Phillip Roberts, J. T. Seate, Lawrence Vernon, Desmond Warzel, Devon Wolffe, GJ Woodrum and Rachel Zellers.
Here is an excerpt from The Amalgam by Bosley Gravel.
Chapter One: Wind and Watch
Often they come in hordes, ready to barter the merchant’s prices down to a few pesos, but this day, the markets and shops stand empty, curiously void of Americans. The young locals blame the absence of tourists on the volatile politics, corrupt police force, and brutal underworld, all braided so tightly they are but one rope. The old locals blame the Witch Wind, that blows from the south. A hot, suffocating breeze heavily laden with the smell of bananas and the sea.
It is said that witches use this wind to travel up from the coasts. Even a person who lacked superstition might presume the elders are right. For on these days when the shops stand so curiously empty, the old men smoke cheap cigars, and the prosperous beggars eat charred broiled pork from the little shops hidden in the walls. The air invigorates those who are touched by madness, and inside the ramshackle houses husbands and wives fight, children manifest a sadistic streak and drown kittens, pull the wings off flies, and brawl in backyards.
On these dead days in the border city, the elders close up shop just after twelve O’clock and go home, they know it’s wiser not to interact with citizens or the rare tourist that is not sensitive to the Witch Wind. It is a day like the Sabbath, yet there is no holiness to be found.
It was a day of the Witch Wind that Kyle Jackson walked down the empty street. The old shopkeepers napped in their beds after a lunch of tequila and lime. The young shopkeepers stood outside their shops, gossiped and traded wares between the bursts of the wind. They ignored Kyle, clearly he wasn’t a tourist. His money would not be spent on cheap wooden trinkets or stinking leather belts and boots. He was a tall, thin man. His yellow hair tangled in the wind. To meet his haunted eyes would mean butchery of soft flesh, and the harvest of your soul.
Here is an excerpt of Wind and Dust by Michael Barnette.
Dust billowed down the street, riding the outlaw wind through the open doors of the general store and the saloon alike. Even the old-timers who usually sat on chairs outside the general store playing their daily games of checkers were gone, having taken shelter from the grit laden air.
Cole Randall squinted out the dust coated window of the sheriff’s office, his obsidian dark eyes scanning the road into town, searching for any sign of Sheriff MacAbee, or his newest deputy. No one was evident on the streets. Nothing moved but more of the spinning dirt. He ran a hand over his unruly hair, his anxious gaze scanning the street as he fought to keep the straggling black strands out of his eyes. His black hair and equally dark eyes, along with his deeply tanned skin were the legacy of his half-red mother. He’d lived most of his life in Sagebrush, folks were used to him and left him alone. Besides, he was Sheriff MacAbee’s most reliable deputy.
“It was the wind and the dust,” the old man muttered from the cell behind him. Cole didn’t even bother to turn around. He’d been hearing the same story for hours now and was tired of listening.
“They ain’t come back, have they?” the withered old man behind the bars asked softly.
Cole sighed, “No, they haven’t.” He turned to face the old man who stood inside the cell, knob-knuckled hands gripping the bars as though his very life depended on that grip.
“I tole you they weren’t comin’ back soon as him and that pup of a deputy left.”
Cole dropped onto the hard seat of the Sheriff’s chair, his leg aching from the mostly healed bullet wound he’d gotten during a ruckus at the saloon almost two months ago. If it hadn’t been for his leg, he’d have been the one doing the looking and the Sheriff would have been here, listening to the ramblings of a madman.
When Cole didn’t respond to his words, the man frowned and shook his head. “None of ya damned fools believe me. But I’m telling ya the truth. I was on that stage, I was the driver and if ya’d just listen ta me….”
“Old man, please—my leg is aching something fierce and I’m tired of listening to your complaints and your outlandish tale.”
Here is an excerpt of GJ Woodrum’s Roses of Longing.
I stared into the darkness. Listening. Knowing she wouldn’t come. Not now. Not this late. Not at all.
She never came to see me any more.
Cricket sounds filled the shadows.
Mist rose gently into the night.
What the hell? I’d go and see her.
My feet shuffled through last year’s moldering leaves. Damp. Squishy leaves that had seen winter snow, spring rain and the mold of early summer.
Like me, the world changes but stays the same.
For a moment I can’t remember my way. I don’t recognize the path that I once trod on a daily basis.
To forget something so taken for granted.
All around me the trees rustle and sway in the cool breeze. It shakes their branches but does little to stir the mists at their feet.
Fog closing in, and the walk seems longer than ever.
I remember her laughter when we would go walking together. Hand in hand on those almost endless gone too fast summer nights.
When was the last time I saw her? Last week? Last month? Had it been a year already? No. Not possible.
I climbed the hill and stopped.
It was just as I remembered it.
A white painted house nestled in a bed of lilac and roses. Girded about on all sides by massive oaks and maples, the much shorter spruce we’d planted for our front yard Christmas tree—was it two or three years ago?
And, finally, here is an excerpt of The Best Night of the Year by Gerald Rice.
The kid had a good act, I had to admit. I don’t know what he was supposed to be, oversized tattered brown shirt and pants with a worn pair of Nikes and I could only see the giant head thing he wore canted to the side from behind until he turned for the first house.
It looked like someone had a glob-shaped piece of wood, hollowed it out and painted a face and hair on it with an unsteady hand. It kind of reminded me of a brunette Mr. Bill, but I had no idea who it was supposed to be. He (I guessed he was a he, other than the color brown there was nothing about him to indicate gender) had pretty good limp too. I’d known a few people with prosthetic legs and he walked a lot like them.
“Two Twixes, a pack of Swedish Fish and some gum.” Andy had on a bunny rabbit costume with a red cape. Some cartoon Lana let him watch after school. She thought taking him trick-or-treating would be a good opportunity for the two of us to bond. We were halfway up the walk when the kid was knocking on the door.
A tall, thin old woman with a button-up sweater draped over her shoulders answered the door.
“Trick or treat!” the kid said.
“Oh, such a lovely costume!” She kept the smile plastered on her face, but I could see the hint of revulsion snarling in the corners of her thin, red-painted lips. “May I ask what brand of monster you are?”
“I’m a freak!” he piped.