October 6

Fictober, Prompt 6 – “Yes, I’m aware. Your point?”

Warnings: horror, monster, implied violent death, midwest/north woods gothic.


A loon call echoed over the lake, a single wailing note that might be either loneliness or a warning.

I heard my companion’s stride pause briefly at the sound, then her footsteps hurried across the gravel of the lake shore as she caught up to me. She walked closer than she had before.

“You said you knew that people have been going missing up here, right?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“And that it’s been recommended people stay away from this area?”

“Yes.”

“And we didn’t tell anyone we were coming.”

I took a breath, making sure that none of my frustration showed in my voice. “Yes, I’m aware. Your point?”

“Just that for someone who claims to be woods-smart, you aren’t really taking any basic, sensible precautions!”

“You’re the one who wanted to follow me out here,” I pointed out. “You didn’t have to come.”

“I did if I want to get this article written,” she muttered, a bit sullenly, but fell quiet.

It was a gray afternoon, the otherwise vibrant leaves muted by the lack of light, the trees themselves standing dark and tall beneath their autumn foliage. A mild, steady wind blew off the lake, rippling the otherwise calm surface and pushing the already cold temperatures a little bit lower.

I was always careful to dress in what would be sensible clothes for this time of year: thick socks, sturdy shoes, warm pants, a hooded jacket with a scarf, and gloves to cover my hands, which was an additional convenience. A backpack with some supplies in it. My companion (she had given me her name back in town, but I couldn’t remember it) was wearing something similar.

The loon called again, and I sensed the fear in her shiver.

The stories didn’t worry me. There were always stories, and nothing had come of them yet.

I kept walking, keeping to the narrow strip of stony shoreline between the water and the woods. We would have to go into the trees eventually, but my companion was already nervous, and there was no reason not to stay in the open for now.

She stayed quiet for some time. At last she ventured, “Do you really know what’s causing people to disappear up here?”

“I have an idea,” I replied carefully.

“But you know of a safe place to stay while we search?”

“I do. We’ll be there before dark.”

“Oh good. It’s cold out here, and I’m getting a little hungry.” She did not say that she was going to be too scared to be outside after the sun went down, although I knew that was the case. “Could we go a little faster?”

“That might be a good idea,” I agreed, and increased my pace. She matched her steps to mine, and kept a little closer, eyeing the darkening trees with misgiving.

I tilted my head down so that my mouth was covered by the scarf I wore before allowing myself to grin. It wouldn’t do to let her catch a glimpse of my teeth at this point.

After all, I was hungry too.

October 4

Fictober, Prompt 4 – “I know you didn’t ask for this.”

Warnings: horror/body horror, parasite, parasite removal, blood.


I sat in the little stand of woods, huddled beneath the biggest tree, knees drawn up to my chin, arms wrapped around my legs, fingers digging into my arms hard. Too hard. I was almost certainly going to bruise myself.

Since the alternative was to start clawing my own skin off, I thought bruises were probably a better option.

I couldn’t feel it. You never could. That was the awful part.

If it hadn’t been for Lydia, I wouldn’t even have known one had attached itself to me, would still be walking around in hideous ignorance.

And they would probably already have come for me.

Rustling from the field next to this stand of trees, and I looked up quickly, watching with wary eyes until the corn and then undergrowth parted to reveal that it was just Lydia, back with (hopefully) everything she would need to get it off me.

If it wasn’t already too deep.

I shuddered even as she came over and quietly dropped the backpack she carried into the leaf litter and crouched down in front of me.

“How are you doing?”

I made myself relax one hand from its death grip on my arm and waggled my fingers in a so-so motion, not wanting to move enough to shrug.

“Well, best not wait any longer,” she said, accepting that with a nod. “Can you get your shirt off yourself?”

Taking a deep breath, I nodded tightly and forced myself to move. It felt uncomfortable, being so undressed out here in the open; it wasn’t something I’d ever done before, but the thing was on my back and I wanted this to be as easy as possible for Lydia.

“Are you sure?” I forced myself to whisper. “I know you didn’t ask for this.”

Lydia regarded me steadily for a long moment, then said, “No, I didn’t. But you asked for help, and I accepted, and I meant it. I’m not going to let them take anyone else…and least of all you.”

Oh. There was an intensity in her eyes that I hadn’t recognized before, and it made me flush. We had known each other for a long time, but not well, not until recently. But now…

Lydia didn’t seem inclined to make anything further of it just now, pulling on a headlamp with business-like motions and digging through the backpack for whatever else she needed.

Okay, I thought. Something else to deal with later. If we got a later.

Please, let us get a later.

Continue reading

October 2

Fictober19, Prompt 2 – “Just follow me, I know the area.”

Warnings: None really this time. Fantasy, minor spookiness.


“Whoa!”

I backpedaled quickly as the path started to crumble beneath my foot. Well. That was a problem. Eyeing the ledge ahead, it didn’t look too stable either. I chanced a quick glance down at the river roaring a long drop below me, high and white with the early autumn rains.

Definitely didn’t want to go that way.

To my left, up the slope, was a safer bet, though I didn’t really fancy the idea of climbing the steep slope, thick with dirt and damp leaves underneath the clustering trees. I had thought the path I was on was a good one to keep following the river, no signs saying it was unsafe, but obviously that was no longer the case.

“Are you lost?”

My jerk of surprise pulled me left, fortunately, plastering my back to a damp tree trunk as I turned just enough to see who had spoken. There wasn’t supposed to be anyone else out here, not this far up from the falls.

The young woman standing on the path several feet back seemed normal enough: brown skin, straight black hair cut in a neat bob, and dark eyes, she was obviously from what had originally been a Nihon family. Her lack of accent told me she had probably grown up around here, though, or at least had been here for some time. Her clothes were unremarkable as well: jeans, sensible hiking boots, and a plain, tough-looking canvas jacket in dark green.

None of which explained why goosebumps had suddenly broken out across my skin.

“Um, a little,” I replied carefully. “I thought this path continued up the river, but it doesn’t seem safe now.”

Where had she come from so suddenly? How had she managed to avoid slipping in all the mud that I had on the way up? And was it coincidence that had brought her here just as I couldn’t go any further…or something more deliberate, and sinister?

A chill down my spine reinforced the goosebumps, and I did not take my back from the tree. I hadn’t paid any heed to the stories, people were always saying they’d seen something weird up in the woods, but now…

“In that case, follow me,” she offered with a small smile, “I know the area.”

Continue reading

#1

Came home from work today to find that The Witch is currently at #1 in the Top 100 Free lists for all of its categories on Amazon!

And in Fantasy Anthologies & Short Stories, it’s even ahead of Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker. O.o

Thanks to anyone who has downloaded it, and if you haven’t yet, now’s a good time!

Top 100 for The Witch

The Witch is in the Top 100 Kindle Short Reads for Science Fiction & Fantasy! Thanks to everyone who gave it a try! For anyone who hasn’t yet, it’s just $0.99:

Luule is born with a speck of blue in her gray eyes, the vivid blue of magic. But magic is feared, and those who wield it shunned. Luule grows up fighting for acceptance in her village, her only encouragement that given by her loving mother. When her mother dies, Luule is left truly alone. Struggling to endure harsh winters, she works harder than ever…until a foreign army invades. With magic-wielding enemies bearing down on them, Luule must make hard decisions quickly not only to survive, but for the chance of winning a better life for herself. Come find out which way the Winds will blow…

New Release: The Witch

The Witch is now available on Amazon!

Luule is born with a speck of blue in her gray eyes, the vivid blue of magic. But magic is feared, and those who wield it shunned. Luule grows up fighting for acceptance in her village, her only encouragement that given by her loving mother. When her mother dies, Luule is left truly alone. Struggling to endure harsh winters, she works harder than ever…until a foreign army invades. With magic-wielding enemies bearing down on them, Luule must make hard decisions quickly not only to survive, but for the chance of winning a better life for herself. Come find out which way the Winds will blow…

(A short story in the Land of Winds series.)

Cover Reveal: The Witch

Available October 6, 2018 on Amazon!

The Witch-cover-web

Luule is born with a speck of blue in her gray eyes, the vivid blue of magic. But magic is feared, and those who wield it shunned. Luule grows up fighting for acceptance in her village, her only encouragement that given by her loving mother. When her mother dies, Luule is left truly alone. Struggling to endure harsh winters, she works harder than ever…until a foreign army invades. With magic-wielding enemies bearing down on them, Luule must make hard decisions quickly not only to survive, but for the chance of winning a better life for herself. Come find out which way the Winds will blow…
(A short story in the Land of Winds series.)