Short Story Sunday: Lucky Me

“I took the bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento. At the station I saw an old chum of my brother’s from High School. He said he’d give me a ride, but then he got fresh. I wasn’t going to, you know, I have cash to pay for gas. I’m not… so he dumped me here. I figured if I walked…”

“Get in. You’ll be safe. I promise,” he said. It had just started to rain. “I have a house by the lake. You can stay the night. Where are you going?”

“Reno,” she told him. “I have a teaching job waiting for me. It starts in two weeks.”

He found out she’d left a short abusive marriage. Out of the fire into the frying pan. She was too trusting of people, all bright eyed and perky, even after being left on the side of the road by a creepy pervert.

“I’m Val,” he said holding out his hand.

“Eve,” she said. “Your hand is colder than mine. You’re freezing.”

He smiled. She felt safe for the first time in a long time.

“Val. I like that. Is it short for Valentino?”

“Valentine.”

“I like that better,” said Eve.

They drove for another half hour to a large cabin by the edge of a lake. Cabin was an understatement, this was a 3,000 square foot luxury home.

“Go change,” Val told her. “I have something to show you.”

She went into one of the bedrooms, feeling as if she’d been there before.

When Eve returned, in drawstring pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt, she found Val sitting on the couch in the main living area with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him. A glass of red wine was in his hand.

“I feel better. Thanks for picking me up again,” said Eve, as she sat down next to Val.

“It’s what I do Eve. Did anyone else pick you up this week?”

“A couple from San Francisco picked me up on Thursday. I had them drop me off in Truckee. Oh and last Saturday a trucker picked me up. He was hauling a load of furniture to Salt Lake City. I went all the way to Reno with him. Nice guy. He told me about his wedding plans. What did you want to tell me?”

Val turned to the laptop. “Your body was found last week by some Cal Trans workers getting the road ready for winter. They found your suitcase. There were also two other young women, both killed and dumped within a couple weeks of you. Both disappeared from the Sacramento Gray Hound station in October of 1987.”

“What about Tom?”

“Tom Turner was arrested last night. He wallet was found under the body of one of the other women. He’d also kept souvenirs. Your purse and heart shaped locket were found in his house.”

“Wow. I didn’t know about the others. Oh Val. Thank God it is over. What happened to the other two women?”

“They didn’t stay,” Val said turning back to the computer. “After the bodies were found reports came in of a hitchhiker in a red leather jacket, with long blonde hair. She’d been seen on the highway for the past thirty years.”

“You know, I don’t remember when I go out at night. Not until they drop me off.”

“I know Eve. It’s ok.”

“I’m glad they arrested the sick bastard.”

“So am I. If you’d told me his name earlier I would have taken care of him myself.”

“I didn’t remember it until now. Val, do you think I’ll go out again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think I’ll move on? I guess see the light?”

“I can’t answer that, but you know you can stay here as long as you want.”

“I saw some other ghosts out tonight. They’re so lost.”

“Donner Party folks?”

“How’d you know.”

“They’re always out there.”

“What if you go away? Will I have to wonder around with them?”

“I won’t go away. I’ll always be here for you Eve.”

“Lucky me being picked up by a Vampire.”

Val smiled. “Lucky you.”

 

 

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

I’ve posted this a few times, but since it is Werewolf Week, and since this is what it is, I will post it again.

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

 Right after I’d graduated from college (the first time) from one of the rare Universities (now a well respected and famous school) that accepted women I took a trip across country on a train to meet my brother Val. He’d gone to New York City without me, leaving me, a young woman, unescorted. I would have done fine on my own but back then, in 1881 young women, even Vampires, didn’t travel alone.

I got on the train on a dark full moon night and made my way to my car. I was to share a car with several other students and some sort of chaperone. What I found was three young men dressed in rather garish suits of the latest fashion (or so they thought) and nobody else. Two had short beards, again, the style of the time. I recognized one from school. The train started to move. There was no getting off. OK I could have jumped, but I was in a long dress with a bustle no less and jumping wasn’t a practical option. Contrary to popular belief I couldn’t turn myself into a bat and fly away. So I stayed. They were horrible the entire time making crude jokes and being as vulgar as they could be. They insulted me for being a Vampire, calling me dead and cold and well, they were vulgar to say the least. I was in Hell and ready to get off of the train.

I sat took claim to a settee with a small table and tried to ignore my garishly dressed companions. A young woman climbed aboard and the three men cheered. She was dressed as garish as they were in the most stylish of gowns but it was a bright orange color with brown beaded trim. Her hair was as orange as the dress and piled high on her head. That included a lot of fake hair to go along with her real hair.

She eyed me up and down. “Who invited the Vampire?”

“I’m Juliette,” I said to the Werewolf girl. Holy crap I’d been stuck for a cross country trip with four Werewolves. Every muscle and bone on my body tightened up. I wanted to scream. Instead I just kept my place in my corner while my companions made as much noise as they could laughing out loud and of course the alcohol and drugs came out. Of course.

Just as the parting whistle blew the door opened again and in stepped my friend Pierce. Finally, another Vampire had arrived, and a strong protective one at that. His father owned the train car and I didn’t even put the two together. Pierce was a friend of my brothers Max and Andy. At age 28 he was the oldest of our group. We made quite a contrast in our highly fashionable yet subdued attire compared to the flamboyant brightly dressed Werewolves. We were also a lot quieter.

The Werewolf girl who was named Phoebe gave Pierce a long hard look then smiled and licked her lips. Pierce is attractive with a narrow face, a sensuous mouth and dark heavily lashed eyes. Of course she noticed him. She’d no doubt try to have his clothes off, have her way with him then tear his throat out. Well, maybe not, but I didn’t want him to get her claws into a friend who was almost like a brother to me.

The males were Luke, Seth and Eldon. I’ll never forget their names. They were rude and loud and young. Had they been Vampires I might have thought they were fun, but since they were Werewolves I thought they were disgusting. Phoebe was just as bad with her crude laugh and dirty jokes.

Pierce and I played cards and stood on the back of the train in the night air. We mostly talked. I asked him about people we knew who’d gone out into the world – the young Vampires we’d grown up with. Pierce was on his way to New York. I was on my way to New York as well to meet my brother Valentine. After that we’d board a ship to London.

Conversations with the Werewolves were in bits and pieces of insults and crude jokes. Pierce’s father did business with their families. To keep the peace and keep favors in check he’d offered to let the young adults of the pack to ride with us. Also, by being with Vampires the Werewolves were more likely to behave themselves. At least that is what everyone thought.

On the second night, after a half of case of Champagne, the young Werewolf men, Luke, Seth and Eldon stripped naked right in front of us and said they were going out for a run. Phoebe decided to stay in. They ran out and I could hear them up on the roof of the train car howling, then down a side ladder and they were gone. Phoebe sat by the window looking at the full moon. She’d taken off her jacket and bodice down to a short-sleeved lace covered blouse. Long dark hair sprouted on her arms and hands. Her fingers grew claw like. Fur grew down the side of her face. She ignored us as a low growl came to the back of her throat as she watched for her pack mates.

Peirce and I watched three huge wolves run along the side of the train. The moonlight reflected off of their silvery gray fur. They were beautiful.

Then we heard horrifically loud shots. Our fellow passengers a few cars down were shooting at the wolves. Pierce ran out of the car. I could hear him shouting for the men with the guns to stop. Phoebe started to scream and scream and scream.

The next day we heard news of three young men found dead by the side of the tracks. The story was they had been drinking and had a fight on the top of the train and fell off after shooting each other.

I will never forget holding Phoebe in my arms and rocking her, trying to tell her that everything would be alright. I knew it would never be alright but I said it anyway.

For the next week as we made our way across the country she’d howl mournfully at night. The passengers said the train was haunted. I knew they’d brought on their own ghosts when they killed the wolves for no reason.

Werewolves and Vampires are predators but even we don’t partake in the senseless of killing animals for no reason other than target practice.

Pierce and I related the story to others but over the years we’ve kept a lot of the details to ourselves. It seems like so long ago. It was a long time ago. A long long time ago.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Halloween With An Ancient Vampire (and Werewolves)

punkinsteethHalloween is here and that means a party at the home of the ancient Vampires Eleora and Tellias. I’d promised Tellias I’d take him shopping for craft supplies. He could have gone on his own but lately he had a tendency to get lost, especially when going out during the daylight hours.

When I arrived at the grand Victorian farmhouse the couple share Tellias was waiting with a Panama hat on and round dark sunglasses. Today he was dressed fairly normal – a black velveteen vest over a white shirt, black jeans and yellow flip flops. His pale blonde hair was fanned out like liquid gold over his shoulders.  He looked all of nineteen years old.

We had one other stop, to see my friend Adam, a photographer, who also happens to be a Werewolf. If I’d told Tellias about it he wouldn’t have agreed to go. Werewolves are always a touchy subject with him.

Adam was there with his photographs and two other Werewolves, a man and a woman. He introduced them as Troy and Bethany. Troy was large and deeply tanned with that sort of manly lumberjack look women seem to love. Brandy was delicate pretty woman with one blue eye and one brown eye. She wore her hair in long reddish curls and looked like anything but a Werewolf.

Most people don’t know that Werewolves, despite popular myths, are the researchers, geeks and scientists of the alternate world (that world of Werewolves, Vampires and other not so regular type humans.)

I noticed Brandy’s right hand, mangled and curled under with horrible scars. She held her hand up close to her side as if she was protecting it.

They knew who Tellias was. Everyone knew about the ancient Vampire, born in Rome around the time when BC merged into AD. He’d gone to Britain with the Roman army as sort of an adviser. The Roman generals knew he was brilliant and special but nobody knew he was a Vampire. And eventually, he ended up here and now, shopping for Halloween craft supplies on a beautiful fall day in Northern California.

After introductions the Werewolves asked Tellias if there were wolves in Britain back almost 2,000 years ago when he was there. He thought for a second.

“They were large wolves and they were eating the dead.  Even Vampires couldn’t compete with that kind of horror.  I couldn’t blame them for an easy meal. I’ve gone for easy too. We all have.

The wolves were magnificent creatures unlike any I’d seen anywhere.  The blood baths against any living creature bothered me from the start.”

“Did you hunt the wolves?” asked Brandy.

“No, no, not at all. We’re Vampires not ghouls.”

“Did you know King Arthur?” That was Adam asking out of the blue. I almost told him to shut up.

Tellias gave a serious slightly peeved look. “King Arthur? Friends knew him. Said he was sort of a dick. It was a harsh world back then, not the romantic ideal you see in the movies. There was no social justice or human rights or much of anything. No animal rights. That said, it was a good time for Vampires before Regular Humans figured out what we were up to. It was that damn group of self important rogue Vampires who set themselves up as wizards and all sorts of other nonsense. We annihilated most of them but the damage was done. Done, done, done, forever. Our reputations were ruined and our cover blown clear out of the sky. Clear out.

I knew a priest back then, a man of God who was good. His name was Virgil. Like the poet or like the guy in the Sanford novels, Virgil Flowers.  Have you read those books? I think my Virgil was from Southern Europe but I never knew and he never told me. He could talk with wolves and hawks. I’ve always liked Hawks. Sometimes I’ll sit for hours and watch them.

There were wild spirits and wilder men who tried to keep Virgil from his work. He was a healer, not just of broken bones but a healer of the soul.  He was like an early psychiatrist. He was a werewolf too. We became close friends. Close close friends. I miss him to this day. So does my wife.  You know, I don’t even remember when I started calling her my wife, it just seemed like we were married the first night we ever spent together, which was also the first night we met. He said we were too nice to be damned but I once caught him weeping because he didn’t believe Vampires had souls and he thought we were demons. Do you think we’re demons? Undead lifeless shadows with no souls? Parasites of human blood? We have two souls and we can’t sell them or give them away. Our souls are our burden to keep alone. Nobody looks after us. Just like Werewolves, nobody looks after you or your souls either.” Tellias looked around the room oh so quietly in his Vampire way, looking straight into the very soul of each and every Werewolf.

“So we’re all damned according to your lore?” Brandy asked again, still holding her hand close to her side.

Tellias looked her straight in the eyes. “Not damned, just alone. All alone. As alone as can be. So we must keep organized and quiet and stay together despite our differences.”

Tellias looked at me in mild confusion and annoyance. “Why are we here again?”

“They need our help,” I said

“So they call on the old Vampire.”

“Yes, they need your help. They’re doing a study about healing powers and pain. They’d like to find out how we manage it so well when others are unable to. They want to know if it is physical or mental. It is a problem with Werewolves.”

“Can we go now?” He looked clearly uncomfortable and annoyed. He whispered in my hear so only I could hear, “everything is mental with Werewolves. They’re nuts.”

“We have to go,” I said to the Werewolves.

“Someone is hunting us, do you know who it is?” That was Troy, speaking up for the first time. He sounded pretty desperate and emotional.

Tellias took a deep breath. “October is always a bad month for this kind of insanity. I’m sorry I don’t know right off hand but…” He approached Bethany and took her hand. “What happened to you dear girl?” Tellias tenderly asked her, taking her hand in his. I thought she would pull away, but she allowed him to look.

“I was caught in a trap about a year ago. I had to chew off enough to slip out.”

Covering Brandy’s injured hand with both of his hands he closed his eyes for a few seconds and then opened them up again. Then he kissed her mangled fingers gently.

“The pain is gone.” She said in amazement. Her eyes teared up.

The beautiful old Vampire kissed her cheek. “Be careful on Halloween and keep your pets inside.”

Then he smiled. “Did you know Werewolf blood tastes like Bourbon?”

Adam laughed as the others looked shocked. It was time to go.

As we walked to my car, headed off to finally get those craft and party supplies Tellias put his arm around my waist and gave me a thoughtful concerned adult look. “Juliette, my dear girl, I might be ancient but I am not a curiosity to be put on display.”

I started to speak and he tightened his grip on me. “I love you as if you were my own child. I feel for the Werewolves, but my dear, we can’t live our lives as if every single day is Halloween. That said, I am so proud of you.”

Then he started to sing quietly, as he always does. I listened for a moment. Nine in the Afternoon. It was unexpected but then again, isn’t everything?

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(Yes indeed, you might have read this one before. It was first posted in October of 2013)

 

Featured Image -- 9028

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Nine in the Afternoon

(Panic!  at the Disco)

Back to the street where we began
Feeling as good as lovers can, you know
Yeah, we’re feeling so good

Picking up things we shouldn’t read
It looks like the end of history as we know
It’s just the end of the world

Back to the street where we began
Feeling as good as love
You could, you can

Into a place, where thoughts can bloom
Into a room where it’s nine in the afternoon
And we know that it could be
And we know that it should
And you know that you feel it too
‘Cause it’s nine in the afternoon

Your eyes are the size of the moon
You could ’cause you can, so you do
We’re feeling so good
Just the way that we do
When it’s nine in the afternoon

Your eyes are the size of the moon
You could ’cause you can, so you do
We’re feeling so good

Back to the street
Down to our feet
Losing the feeling of feeling unique
Do you know what I mean?

Back to the place
Where we used to say
Man, it feels good to feel this way
Now I know what I mean

Back to the street, back to the place
Back to the room where it all began
Back to the room where it all began
‘Cause it’s nine in the afternoon

Your eyes are the size of the moon
You could ’cause you can, so you do
We’re feeling so good
Just the way that we do
When it’s nine in the afternoon (x3)

Watch the official video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCto3PCn8wo

Songwriters
Urie, Brendon Boyd / Walker, Jonathan Jacob / Smith, Spencer James / Ross, George Ryan

Our old friends

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And if you need more on those Scottish Wolves…

 

On Ederachillis’ shore

The grey wolf lies in wait

Woe to the broken door,

Woe to the loosened gate,

And the groping wretch whom sleety fogs

On the trackless moor belate.

The lean and hungry wolf,

With his fangs so sharp and white,

His starveling body pinched

By the frost of a northern night,

And his pitiless eyes that scare the dark

With their green and threatening light.

He climeth the guarding dyke,

He leapeth the hurdle bars,

He steals the sheep from the pen,

And the fish from the boathouse spars,

And the digs the dead from out of the sod,

And gnaws them under the stars.

Thus every grave we dug

The hungry wolf uptore,

And every morn the sod

Was strewn with bones and gore:

Our motherearth had denied us rest

On Ederchaillis’ shore

—The Book of Highland Minstrelsy, 1846

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For a little more on Werewolves

For more on Tellias

200px-Britishwolfhunt

Heart-Shaped Box … Be careful what you wish for!

I am so happy and honored to share a new story with you from my friend and fellow writer Mandy White.

Just in time for HALLOWEEN!

 

I’ve featured Mandy’s work before with the Jealously Game and Creepies – Twisted Tales from Beneath the Bed.

 

Here, for your reading pleasure (or horror),  is an exceptional and exceptionally wonderfully creepy and uncomfortable tale of romance…featured in her new anthology Dysfunctional – out now on Amazon.

Heart-Shaped Box

by Mandy White

Megan wept, curled on her side in the tightest ball she could manage. She had been curled up in the fetal position on her bed for hours – days, actually, doing nothing but cry. Barely moving except to use the bathroom and drink a bit of water. She couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep and the ache in her chest wouldn’t go away no matter how many painkillers she took.

So this is what a broken heart feels like.

She now understood why they called it heartbreak. What she felt was beyond sadness; it manifested as a tangible physical pain in her chest that radiated down into her belly. It was the most horrible sensation ever, and it was all HIS fault. How could he have been so cruel to her when all she had done was love him? She didn’t know where she had gone wrong. She had given him everything; waited on him hand and foot and catered to his every wish but in the end it wasn’t enough. He took her heart and tore it to shreds and then walked out the door as if the last two years had meant nothing.

She wanted to die.

If I died, you’d be sorry! You’d have to live with it for the rest of your life, knowing that YOU were the one who drove me to suicide!

Died of a broken heart.

That would show him how much she loved him.

Nobody else will ever love you the way I do! You’ll see! One day you will come crawling back to me with your heart in shreds, then you’ll know how you made me feel. And then I can kiss you better. We can heal together.

No, she would not end her life. Life was worth living as long as there was a chance of winning him back.

She would get him back.

Or die trying.

Richard had tried to leave her a few times during the last year but each time she had managed to convince him to stay. She begged and pleaded and promised to be everything he wanted in a woman but he became cold and aloof nonetheless. He didn’t want intimacy anymore. He participated in sex when she was persistent enough to make his physical urges overcome his mental reluctance but his lack of desire was clearly evident.

She was willing to accept his lack of enthusiasm in their relationship as long as he didn’t leave. They could work things out. She would make it better. She just had to make him see how much she loved him and he would know they were destined to be together.

It was the pregnancy that did it.

The one thing that should have cemented them together forever turned out to be the catalyst that ended their relationship. He was willing to stay for the sake of the baby. He even agreed to marry her after much pleading and cajoling on her part.

It would be the perfect wedding. She had already chosen her dress – a high-waisted design that would look stunning even with the bulge in her belly. She booked the church and hired the caterer and sent out invitations. It would be the beautiful fairytale wedding she had always dreamed of. Afterward, he would take her in his arms and carry her over the threshold and make love to her, tenderly and passionately the way a husband should. Their life together would be picture-perfect.

There was just one small detail.

She wasn’t pregnant.

Megan had thought she was pregnant, without a doubt. Even though the pregnancy tests (three of them, to be exact) were negative, she figured that it was just too early. She experienced all the symptoms – the missed period, tender breasts, bloated belly and irritability. She even felt sick in the mornings. When her period arrived late, it was easy to hide it from him since he showed no interest in her physically. Since their engagement Richard had become even more distant, never meeting her eyes and only speaking to her when it was absolutely necessary.

The pregnancy was a false alarm – just a bad case of PMS – but it didn’t matter. She would be pregnant by the time they got married; she would make sure of it.

She managed to convince him to have sex once during the following month but it did not result in pregnancy. Panicked, she redoubled her efforts to seduce him but it seemed like the harder she tried the less receptive he became. Eventually he couldn’t even sustain an erection long enough to finish.

Four months passed. Then five and still she wasn’t pregnant. She faked the symptoms, pretending to get sick in the mornings and eating like a horse so she would gain some girth and appear pregnant. The wedding was just six weeks away and she only needed to keep up her charade until after the minister declared them to be husband and wife. After that, she could fake a miscarriage and he would be there to comfort her and they could try again to start a family.

She began to wear padding under her clothing to keep up appearances so she would have the appropriate look under her wedding dress.

She didn’t hear him come into the house that day.

He had been moving around the house like a ghost lately with a faraway look in his eyes, never speaking unless spoken to. On that particular day, he came home from work early and she wasn’t expecting him. She was in the bedroom, in front of the mirror; trying on the next size of pillow she was going to bind to her belly to make it look thicker.

She had no idea how long he was standing there, watching her in silence.

He said nothing.

He refused to speak to her, no matter how she cried and pleaded. He started packing immediately and left that night, taking only the bare necessities and leaving everything else behind. She clung to his leg, begging him to stay but he peeled her off of him in disgust. He walked out of her life without giving a second thought to their future together, leaving her blubbering on the floor in a pool of tears.

Megan was not only heartbroken; she was humiliated. He told his family and all of their friends about her deceit and his reason for leaving. Nobody would speak to her.

She was alone.

* * *

A year later, Megan still sobbed herself to sleep but not as often. The pain in her chest had diminished to a dull ache but it never went away altogether. They said time heals all wounds but she knew that in her case it wouldn’t. She still loved Richard heart and soul and would never stop. They were meant to be together. He was hers and no amount of time or distance would ever change that.

She wasted her Saturday afternoons wandering aimlessly through the mall, gazing at the gowns in the bridal shop, the sexy lingerie in Victoria’s Secret and the endless displays of adorable children’s clothing. From infant to toddler to preschooler… there were too many cute outfits to choose from. She should have been buying clothing for her own child – for their child. Instead, she could only look, and dream.

She wandered toward the food court to feed her craving for sweets. She had been living on junk food lately and had gained a considerable amount of weight. It didn’t matter, because she had nobody to stay thin for. At that moment, Cinnabon was calling her.

A baby stroller blocked her path as she navigated through the tables to get to the food counters. She edged around it, pausing for a moment to admire the infant, a little girl about three months old, dressed in an adorable pink outfit. The parents, deeply engrossed in conversation, giggled and shared an intimate kiss.

Megan froze.

No.

It couldn’t be!

It was him. Richard.

Her Richard.

Judging from the age of the infant in the stroller, he hadn’t wasted any time after leaving her. He might have already been seeing that woman behind her back! That would explain his lack of interest in Megan. The slut had already tired him out before he got home.

Rage boiled over inside her when she saw that the bitch wore an engagement ring – a large, stunning diamond solitaire. Much more spectacular than the shitty little band he had grudgingly given her.

“YOU BASTARD!” Megan roared, sweeping the food and beverages off the table onto the couple’s laps.

“YOU DIRTY CHEATING MOTHERFUCKER!”

“Richard?” the woman said, her voice shaking as she protectively pulled the baby stroller closer to her.

“You stay out of it, slut! I’m talking to my husband. You’ve done enough already!”

Richard finally spoke up. “Get the hell away from my family, you crazy bitch.”

“YOUR family? YOUR family?” Megan sputtered. “What about OUR family? The one you couldn’t even give me because your dick was always limp!”

“I never wanted you, Megan. I never loved you. You were a mistake. The biggest mistake I ever made.” Richard’s tone was calm. He spoke the words without emotion. How could he not feel anything after sharing his life with her for two years?

Richard’s bitch had taken her child and moved away from the table. She was talking to the clerk at Cinnabon and a security guard was already making his way toward them.

“You think you’ll be happy with her?” Megan yelled. “She’s nothing! You and ME! WE were meant to be together! Nobody will love you the way I do. Nobody!

The security guard stepped between them.

“I’ll have to ask you to move away, ma’am. Leave these people alone.”

“Fuck you!” she spat, leaning around the uniformed man to make eye contact with Richard once more.

“You can’t escape fate, Richard. You’re mine! One day you’ll come crawling back. You love me. I know you do.”

Two more security guards came from behind and took her arms, leading her away from the food court. They demanded that she leave at once or the police would be called.

Megan left. She had said her piece.

Richard knew the truth.

She would make him see the truth.

* * *

Megan had newfound energy. It was as if her outburst with Richard had broken her free from the shackles of depression and given her a new purpose in life. Richard was her purpose and she fixated on him like never before. She had seen what their life would look like. She just needed to take the place of the baby-making whore in the food court and everything would be perfect again.

She would win him back. His heart had always been hers; he just didn’t realize it yet.

Having been banned from the local mall, Megan’s Saturday shopping trip took her to the streets and a new neighborhood where she had never been before. Her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder often prevented her from visiting new places because OCD made it very difficult to deviate from an established routine. Occasionally, change was forced and this time she found it refreshing instead of disturbing. Her therapist, whom she hadn’t seen in more than five years, would have called it ‘a positive step’.

The buildings were old; many of them made from weathered red bricks. It was a nice change of pace from the icy-smooth grey concrete of downtown. The new neighborhood featured a wealth of second-hand stores, a few hippie shops selling bongs and other paraphernalia and some dusty-looking used bookstores. It was in one of these bookstores that she found it.

The tattered brown binding of the book caught her eye for some reason and immediately she reached for it.

The Joy of Spellcasting.

She chuckled to herself.

Kind of cheesy, she thought. It sounded like a cookbook. Why not? It could be fun. Megan purchased the book placed it in her bag. Her step had a new spring to it on the way home.

She opened the book to the table of contents and quickly found what she was looking for.

Love Spells – page 131.

Something was handwritten at the bottom of the yellowed page. The ink had blurred over time but it was still legible. Megan held it up to the light to make out the words.

“Be warned, ye who goest here. Think ye long on what thou desirest. The spells contained within be those most powerful. What thou desirest, thou shalt receive.”

Megan smirked. It sounded like something out of a low-budget after-school Halloween special.

Good to know. Let’s see if it’s true.

She turned to page 131 and began to read.

There were several love spells and potions but most of them looked complicated. They contained ingredients she had never heard of and took too long to yield results. They ranged anywhere from six months to three years to complete a spell. Megan wanted results now.

She settled on the One Moon Love Charm. It claimed to return a lost love in one month and she had all the ingredients to make it work:

A container made from wood or metal.

A likeness of your lost love. OR

An object belonging to your lost love, OR

A sample of your loved one’s blood or flesh.

Write on a piece of parchment exactly what you desire.

Seal with your own blood or flesh to bond with your lover’s flesh for all eternity.

Bury the container three feet deep in dark soil under the light of the full moon.

Stand over the burial site and turn around three times and then say the incantation every night for one month. When the moon reaches its next fullness, the object of your desire will come to you.

Megan selected a heart-shaped wooden jewelry box Richard had given her when they first started dating – back when he still knew he loved her. The box held no jewelry except for the engagement ring she no longer wore. She had been using it to store her favorite photos of Richard, all carefully cropped with a pair of scissors to a heart shape.

A likeness of your lost love.

What better likeness than an actual photo? She left all of the photos in the box.

OR an object belonging to your lost love.

That was easy, since Richard had left most of his belongings behind when he left, so why not add that as well? She selected a watch she had bought him for Christmas that he always seemed to forget to wear and his razor, which he had left in the bathroom.

OR a sample of your loved one’s blood or flesh.

Technically, the razor already had that covered, since it contained beard stubble and no doubt skin cells as well. She wanted to add as much punch to the spell as possible. More would be better, right? She cleaned the bathtub drain, finding a slimy hairball made up of both his hair and hers. That covered both samples of their flesh.

On a plain white piece of paper, she wrote the words she had chosen:

Richard Cole, I desire your heart and no other.

She folded it carefully and placed it in the box.

She sliced her index finger with a razor blade and let the blood flow freely over the contents of the jewelry box.

Under the full moon she stood, on the fresh mound of dirt beneath which the box was buried. She turned around three times and then recited the incantation, which she had memorized:

“By the Earth below and the moon above,

You will be my one true love.

Bound in blood and sealed in Earth,

Waiting for our love’s new birth.

Empowered by the Law of Three,

Richard’s heart will come to me.

Three times Three.

So mote it be.”

She repeated the incantation two more times just for good measure. If the Law of Three was a real thing, then it made sense to do everything three times to amplify the power threefold.

The following night she repeated the ritual, chanting the incantation three times. After a pause, she recited it three times more.

She couldn’t stop the pattern once it had begun. Richard had hated her OCD but it was one of the things that made her organized and precise in everything she did. Every night she added three more repetitions to the incantation. When she reached the 29th night she recited it a total of 87 times. When she went to bed at night, the rhyme played over and over inside her head until she fell asleep.

The moon had reached the first day of its three days of fullness. It would be at its fullest the following night. Megan snuggled happily into her bed, confident that Richard would be with her soon.

* * *

“Jenkins! Get in here! You gotta see this!” Ralph Anderson shouted to his assistant.

Jenkins wandered through the double doors of the morgue, stuffing the remains of a tuna sandwich into his mouth.

“I’m still on break. Couldn’t you have waited another ten minutes?”

“No, I need you to see this. You gotta tell me I’m not crazy.”

Jenkins approached the table where his superior was conducting a routine autopsy. The ribcage was splayed open, revealing the inside of the stiff’s chest.

“So what’s the deal? You find an alien in there? Looks pretty normal to me.”

“Look again. Tell me what you see. More specifically, what’s missing?”

Jenkins leaned over the corpse to take a closer look, licking mayonnaise off of his fingertips.

“Yeah, so it looks like you’ve already removed the heart, and—”

“But I haven’t,” Anderson said, almost in a whisper.

“Sure you have. It’s not in there.” Jenkins looked around at the empty stainless steel trays that surrounded the autopsy table. “So, where’d ya put it?’

“I’m telling you, it wasn’t in there when we got him.”

“So, what is this then, a serial killer case?”

“No. Probable heart attack. Sudden death, cause unknown.”

“So, where’s the heart?”

“That is the question, isn’t it? There was no incision in the body, no sign of hemorrhage inside. It’s just… missing.”

“We gonna record this?”

“Who’s gonna believe us? I’m closing him back up and labelling him a coronary.”

* * *

Megan woke the morning of the thirtieth day, feeling well rested and energized. Today, Richard would return. She would take a nice long bath and put on something pretty and fix him a nice dinner. It would be the perfect day – one for which she had worked very diligently.

She stretched and yawned, rolling over to caress the pillow where Richard would lay his head that night.

Her hand touched something wet.

Something rounded, about the size of her fist.

It was warm, and pulsed with a steady, rhythmic beat.

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Links to Dysfunctional and Other Books by Mandy White

Horror and Thrillers:

Dysfunctional

 

A Feast Not So Fancy

 

Avenging Annabelle

 

Creepies – Twisted Tales from Beneath the Bed (Horror Anthology from the WPAD Group)

 

 

Nocturnal Desires  (Erotica Anthology from the WPAD Group)

 

Non-Fiction

Jealously Game

 

 

 

Happy reading and keep checking back to Vampire Maman for more GREAT reading suggestions!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The Black Cat by E. A. Poe

The kids asked their dad if he was around when Eddie Poe was writing stories. Their dad (my husband Teddy) had to remind them that he was born in January 7, 1849, 10 months before Poe’s death. My parents are still convinced Poe was murdered. Teddy’s parents were concerned with other things like making it to California before the birth of their child (who was born in Panama). But that is neither here nor there.

The point is that Halloween is coming. And Poe was brilliant. Simply Brilliant!!!! He could scare the jeebers out of anyone and put a chill down your back with no werewolves, vampires, aliens, ghosts, witches or other such creatures. It was all humans and one black cat.

Of course Teddy said that he would have called it “The Gray Cat” if he’d met our horrible rotten cat (but that’s another story, another blog post).

So here you go, get cultured, get scared and get ready for a wild ride…

 

The Black Cat

By Edgar Allen Poe

January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849

 

For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not –and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified –have tortured –have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror –to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place –some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiar of character grew with my growth, and in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat. This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point–and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.

Pluto–this was the cat’s name–was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character–through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance –had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me–for what disease is like Alcohol!–and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish–even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fiber of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.

When reason returned with the morning –when I had slept off the fumes of the night’s debauch–I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart–one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself–to offer violence to its own nature–to do wrong for the wrong’s sake only–that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; –hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart;–hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offense; –hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin–a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it–if such a thing were possible–even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair. I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts –and wish not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great measure, resisted the action of the fire –a fact which I attributed to its having been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with every minute and eager attention. The words “strange!” “singular!” and other similar expressions, excited my curiosity. I approached and saw, as if graven in bas relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat. The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvelous. There was a rope about the animal’s neck.

When I first beheld this apparition –for I could scarcely regard it as less –my wonder and my terror were extreme. But at length reflection came to my aid. The cat, I remembered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd –by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, had then with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, accomplished the portraiture as I saw it.

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact ‘just detailed, it did not the less fall to make a deep impression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat; and, during this period, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse. I went so far as to regret the loss of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile haunts which I now habitually frequented, for another pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appearance, with which to supply its place.

One night as I sat, half stupefied, in a den of more than infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense hogsheads of Gin, or of Rum, which constituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner perceived the object thereupon. I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat –a very large one –fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast.

Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it –knew nothing of it –had never seen it before. I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife.

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but I know not how or why it was –its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually –very gradually –I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures.

With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly it at by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly –let me confess it at once –by absolute dread of the beast.

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil-and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own –yes, even in this felon’s cell, I am almost ashamed to own –that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimeras it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had destroyed. The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees–degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful–it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline. It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name –and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared –it was now, I say, the image of a hideous–of a ghastly thing –of the GALLOWS!–oh, mournful and terrible engine of Horror and of Crime–of Agony and of Death!

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast –whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed –a brute beast to work out for me –for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God –so much of insufferable woe! Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of Rest any more! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight –an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off –incumbent eternally upon my heart!

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates–the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and the most patient of sufferers.

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demonical, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.

This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard–about packing it in a box, as if merchandise, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar –as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims.

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the rest of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect anything suspicious.

And in this calculation I was not deceived. By means of a crow-bar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster could not every poss be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brick-work. When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself –“Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain.”

My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forbore to present itself in my present mood. It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night –and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul!

The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not. Once again I breathed as a free-man. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted –but of course nothing was to be discovered. I looked upon my future felicity as secured.

Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence. I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness.

“Gentlemen,” I said at last, as the party ascended the steps, “I delight to have allayed your suspicions. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this –this is a very well constructed house.” (In the rabid desire to say something easily, I scarcely knew what I uttered at all.) –“I may say an excellently well constructed house. These walls –are you going, gentlemen? –these walls are solidly put together”; and here, through the mere frenzy of bravado, I rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand, upon that very portion of the brick-work behind which stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom.

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! –by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman –a howl –a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the damned in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation. Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen stout arms were tolling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!

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For more scary stories – and I mean really scary and fun get a copy of Creepies the new Horror Anthology from the WPAD group. Proceeds go to MS Research. Click here and check it out!