Stories 1 Fall 2018

 

 

 

 

The White Dress                       

        by Carolyn Wolfe

 

Charmingly Charcoal sat on the pumpkin as if daring it to roll out from under her paws. The Jack-O-Lantern courageously handled her claws digging into the top of it’s (albeit already scalped and put back on)  head! It stayed put because it was no dumb gourd to be chased and battered around by this dark and terrible feline! The friend of said feline was perched on the bottom of the stairs looking miserably at last year's decorations that her Mother said would be  ‘just fine”. All of her friends had spooky décor- skeletons hanging from trees, and cottony low hanging webs to scare the all unknowing trick or treaters-  oh the screams would be epic!
 

But no, her mother set out a lovely looking witch - not scary at all, and a broom, and a wreath of gourds instead of ghouls! Orange lights decorated the stair railing and flickered on and off in an abysmally cheerful way! What kind of Halloween decorations were these for gosh sake?

Her Mother celebrated a very different Halloween (or in her words “Samhain”  which for some reason was pronounced “Sowen” for goodness sake) and marked it on the Calendar as the beginning of the New Year!

It was embarrassing!

Now she, Karen, was allowed to celebrate it as she wished, go trick or treating, go to a party or stay home and watch scary movies and give out candy. Her Mom was  (she had to admit) very fair about letting her do her own thing.  But to be the only house in the neighborhood without one scary ghost on her porch was just so wrong! And on Halloween night, her Mother invited all of her (let’s just say eccentric) friends in for the evening. They had cider or Mead, (a honey wine that she had tasted once and hated), and cookies and cakes made into star shapes.  Now those cookies and cakes were delish!

Then the guests all sang, danced,  read poetry and finally went into the basement for some reason that she was told she would understand when she was older. That was Halloween at her house. Yuck! She was glad she was going to a party where they would have PROPER decorations and real Halloween food like boiled egg eyeballs and spaghetti noodle worms…. That was Halloween fare! She could not wait until tonight when she would get into her costume and celebrate the right way!


But this year, something seemed different, off. Her Mother had been on the phone talking or texting a great deal.  Something was up and she was getting worried that her Mom had not mentioned it to her. Her Mom was cleaning more, and burning Sage and Mugwort- herbs that made the house smell weird and smoky. Worst of all, Mom seemed afraid. Mom was not ever afraid- worried sure, but afraid? No way, she had all kinds of tools that she used to protect the house.  Why the house needed so much protecting Karen did not know, but she trusted her Mom about these things. So why was her Mother afraid?


The only inkling that she had was the new neighbors that had moved in down the street. The kids that lived there had already gotten into trouble for being out all night, making lots of noise by rolling trash cans down the street, after midnight!  The parents did not seem to care about all this when it was brought to their attention. The response had been “kids will be kids.” Karen’s Mother asked Karen to please stay away from them, which she would have done anyway. Who wanted to be around such lunkheads?

But people had been arriving for a few days now to the new neighbors home.  These people had an air to them like there was something not quite wholesome about them. They had yellowed eyes, sallow skin, and were dressed alike in varying shades of drab colors. Her Mother had asked her to come 
in the house when she saw Karen watching them.  And that was the other thing! Her Mother had never gone to greet the new neighbors and she always greeted newcomers. Always. After they moved in though, that’s when her Mother started getting a bit nervous and taken steps to protect the house.

All day today she had seemed preoccupied and was burning herbs like crazy! Karen was surprised the smoke alarms had not gone off. But when asked, her Mother said everything was going to be okay. Not everything was okay- but that everything was GOING to be okay. That sounded oddly un-reassuring.

Charmingly Charcoal took that precise moment to put an end to Karen’s musings by jumping onto her lap, claws lovingly tucked away thank goodness. Karen realized it was getting late and she needed to get her costume on- she was going as a Zombie and had green goo to put on her face, and a raggedy t-shirt and old jeans smeared with red lipstick to wear and for her 
feet she had her old tattered sneakers to complete the ensemble.  

Karen ran inside to get dressed,  passing her Mom who was once again on the phone talking softly and quickly. Karen was surprised that her Mom hung up as soon as she saw her .

“Hi Honey! Ready to get all Zombied up?”
 Her Mother’s smile did not reach her eyes.  Karen began to get a little worried herself, but she smiled back and said;
‘Sure! I have it all picked out. I just need to get  my Zombie face on.”
“Need any help with that?” Her Mom asked.
‘Nope, I got it covered!’ Karen replied and went upstairs.

And that is when things got ugly.

They heard  Charmingly Charcoal scream as she raced into the house.  Someone was outside on the stairs, Karen heard the lights break and the hard thud and squish of the pumpkin hitting the cement! Her Mom told Karen to go to her room and stay there! The bright afternoon had suddenly turned dim, dark clouds- mountainous and threatening, had appeared in the sky and the wind was gusting enough to bend the tree branches almost to the ground. It was chaos out there!

 

Karen immediately did as she was told and went to her room. Her window faced the street and she could see a great deal of damage had been done to other peoples porches too, but the damage had obviously happened before the storm had hit. Where was the police? The street was strangely silent- surely someone would call the cops?

Suddenly, she saw her Mother, outside in a bright white gown that was being battered by the wind.
She was joined by her friends, as they started arriving in trucks, vans 
and cars. They circled the street as if they were on the frontier, circling the wagons preparing for a battle.
 
Karen was surprised at how unsurprised she 
was, when she saw that the new neighbors and their assorted strange friends had arrived and stood across the street from her house. All wearing black.  Her Mother’s friends had walked over to stand by her Mother- all wearing white in some form or another.  The two opposing groups looked like some kind of bizarre, live chess game about to commence. 

Then things got uglier.

Her Mother called to the neighbors asking why they were there.

“You know why!’ was the reply she received from a man that seemed to be the head honcho of the  group.

“Let it begin then.” Her Mother said these words, so loudly that Karen could easily hear them above the rising wind. The words chilled her and she knew her Mother was in danger.

 

The clouds boiled and rain came down drowning worms and anything else small and foolish enough to be out in this weather.

Her Mom and friends held hands in a Circle and chanted- the clouds brightened, then the rain started to ebb, Karen could see the sun was trying once again to shine. Then the group in black started chanting, forming a v-shaped arrow with their bodies, as if aiming for Karen’s Mother and her group.

Then things got worse.

Hail, the size of golf balls rained from the sky, and thunder boomed loud enough to shake windows.    Lightning bolts ranged dangerously close to her Mother as the circle of friends weathered the crazy storm.  In the storm Karen could swear she heard two distinct voices coming 
from  the sky it seemed- one was singing, the other screaming and the Earth seemed to hold its breath as the two forces collided.

Suddenly Karen seemed to know just what she had to do. She opened her door and ran down the steps. She flew out the front door and went to stand next to her Mother. Her Mother, whose eyes were closed, opened them wide and held her daughter’s hand tightly. The two storm voices rang as if they were swords fencing in the sky. Karen, drawn by some unseen force let go of her Mother’s hand and walked into the center of the circle raising both of her arms to the sky and in her mind,  she asked simply for this terrible storm to end and that her Mother and friends be safe.  White light surrounded the group. Karen could feel the wind die down. But across the street the wind gusted,  the sky hailed, the rain surged. The group in Black dispersed before the storms fury.   Then all at 
once the sunlight re-appeared.
 

Wet to the bone but victorious, her Mother’s friends hugged her to them one by one.  Afterward, her Mother hugged her so hard Karen had to fight for breath.

As they all walked into the house, Karen could finally hear the sounds of police sirens heading over to her new neighbor's house.

“Yes!” She thought.

When everyone had gotten a warm beverage or Mead, (or in her case hot chocolate) and had dried off the best they could with numerous towels, Karen finally spoke up.

“Mom, I changed my mind about being a Zombie this year, I am going to be a Bad-Ass Witch like you!”

Her Mom replied, smiling;  “Honey, you already are!”
 

Karen heard the sound of laughter as she went upstairs to put on her white dress.


 

Bio: Carolyn Wolfe is a free-lance writer, published poet, and author of eight books, four of which are illustrated children's books. Those include, "Am I YOUR Pet?", "The Drowsy House," "The Bedtime of The Sky and Other Sleepy-Bye Stories" and "The Unhappy Little Dragon, Lessons Learned." Her books for general readership include: "Miracle Paws, A Love Story" a story of rescue and light romance, and"The Moonsparrow Collection" which is a collection of her short fantasy stories. Ms. Wolfe has also published two collections of her original poetry" Notes From the Shadow Self" and "Making Waves," as well as an adult Sword and Sorcery novella, "Blade's Magic"  which is about dangerous magics and an attraction that spans two worlds.  her latest book,"Tales Told Under The Darkened Moon" is a collection of dark fantasy stories, that have a hint of humor, a hint of dread, and little bit of shiver for all fans of ghost stories and tales that go bump in the night. 
All her books are available on 
amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Books-A- Million- (online)
Ms. Wolfe lives with her photographer husband, Scott, and a houseful of her own rescued, animal companions. If you would more info about this Author, here is her website info: 
http://wolfecarolyn.wix.com/carolyn-storyteller

 

 

 

The Hefner Project

       by  Melodie Corrigall

 

Shivering and frightened, he huddled in the center of the crypt, as far from the sound of the rats as possible. Would someone discover him years from now, the only skeleton not encased in a coffin? Although terrified, he was reluctant to do what they demanded, uncertain if it would save him.

 

They had lied to him when they promised a Hugh Hefner evening with hot party girls. Their plan, from the beginning, had been to destroy him. To leave the most powerful man on earth alone in a rat-infested vault if he didn’t give in to their blackmail. One thing for sure was that the loser lady was behind the kidnapping. He should have strung her up when he could.

 

If he had his cell phone, one call, one beep, and the security people would be smashing in the door. He’d be saved and none of them would escape. But they’d tricked him into leaving his phone in the administrative building and without it he was helpless.

 

“Our challenge,” one of them had admitted when he first realized something was amiss, “Was to ensure you weren’t followed.”

 

Still feeling invincible he had snarled. “Your challenge will be to get out of jail or to escape the electric chair for kidnapping me.”

 

“But we didn’t kidnap you,” the scrawny one, who sounded like a lawyer, smirked. “You agreed to put yourself in our hands.”

 

“You promised a Hugh Hefner evening. I expected to have fun.”

 

The one, under that long black cloak, smiled, “We are.”

 

She leaned forward her perfume wafting across his face. “Why would we be in jail?” she purred, squeezing his cheek, and leaving a bleeding scratch, “We’re just having a good time.”

 

“I’m not,” he growled. “I didn’t know what was planned.”

 

“Neither did we when you leered or pinched.”

 

“Kidnapping isn’t a pinch.”

 

To think he had looked forward to this night. From the moment he’d been invited to what they called The Hefner Project, two weeks earlier, he had relished the idea. It would be a chance to escape scrutiny and enjoy an evening with some beautiful pieces of ass. Oblivious to all the flack around him, he had thought of little else.

 

As they instructed he had been careful not to “tweet his head off,” although he did send one note saying, “You’d be surprised at what I’m up to next.” Probably thought it meant pushing the red button, which now he wished he’d done.

 

The evening had started off as expected. The chauffeur and two security guards drove him to the designated spot buried in the snowy woods. (From the car, they could see shadows moving across the windows of the park building.) Anxious to join the celebration he jumped out the car, undeterred by the wind that whipped his coat and sent a cold finger up his spine.

 

When a security guard had started to follow him, he turned and hissed, “I warned you I was to be alone. Do not follow me. Do not contact me. I’ll be back when my business is complete.”

 

 “But sir, security…”

 

“I’ll security you. If any of you move from the car the next words you’ll hear will be ‘You’re fired.’ And I’ll leave you out here to find your way home.”

 

That shut them up, if he fired them and he left them out here miles from the main road, they’d freeze to death in their thin coats and fancy shoes.

 

The Hefner planners had stressed that no staff come inside and they were right. No one was loyal enough to keep their mouths shut if interesting things happened.

 

As he strode towards the building, the door opened, and a buxom blond in a hooded coat, pulled him in. Looking good, he thought, but why the coat?

 

She gave him a conspiratory wink and hurried him across the empty room towards the back door. Empty room? He stopped.

 

“Where are the people we saw from outside?” he said, drawing back.

 

“The images were projections to keep the security folks happy. They’ll see you in the window from time to time.”

 

He could see their point. He patted his cell phone for reassurance.

 

“Oops,” she said. “We’re going down the road but we need to leave your phone here.”

 

“No way, I have it with me at all times.”

 

“You’ll have it back later but if they realize we are leaving the building they’ll be after us in a flash.”  

 

Having taken his phone, she pulled him to a back door and opened it to a shadowy winter scene. She pointed to a waiting car, motor running.

 

“We don’t trust them. We’re moving down the road. If the media got wind of what’s up and followed you, you’d be caught in the act and then what?”

 

 “Good thinking,” he said. “I don’t want more fake news.”

 

The car, one of two, was warm and comfortable. When he slipped inside, he was startled to discover a nun at the wheel.

 

“Disguise,” she said. “Just in case someone sees us although that’s unlikely as the road is deserted in winter. Don’t worry we’ll end up in better or no costumes,” she laughed poking him in the side.

 

He didn’t like the idea of no costumes. He didn’t look his best out of his suit.

 

Now hours later, having banged on the crypt door and dug around in every corner for something to break it down, he scrambled to think how he could escape. Their plan was like a military operation with him as the enemy. And he had walked into it.

 

He had been blasting someone on twitter—he couldn’t even remember who had been upsetting him that night when a strange message came across his screen. Who is that he had wondered? Who could do that?

 

“Let’s do it up right Birthday Boy,” the message had said. “Your rich friends and reluctant colleagues are planning something long and tedious. We can arrange an evening that will be fun, just like Hugh Hefner used to do. Signed ‘Your bunny friends.’”

 

When he went to reply, the screen went blank and then a line of very hot girls popped up and waved and it was back to his twitter.

 

For the next forty-eight hours he savored the tantalizing message. Two nights later a second message, “If you dare have a fun night, ask your keepers to take you to Rudolph Park, the administration building at 7 pm on June 13. Under no circumstance let anyone else go with you to the building. Follow the well-lit path, and we will look after everything.”

 

“I’ll do it,” he had typed back. “I’m happy to join you. Rudolph Park, the administrative building at 7 p.m.” then the screen went blank.

 

There was no risk in going, he had thought. The security forces would be out front. He’d have his cell phone to call if he wanted to leave, and finally he could enjoy himself, get more than just money from his term.

 

As he drove along the road with the nun, the snow swirled around the front of the car. “Good thing we have four-wheel drive and winter tires,” she said. “Imagine being stuck out here on this deserted road. ”

 

“Must lead somewhere, they plowed it,” he said.

 

“No, we did. In winter it’s never used.”

 

The heater was blasting but he felt a chill. “Here drink this,” she said thrusting a ceramic bottle at him.

 

“I don’t drink alcohol.”

 

“It’s coffee, to help keep you alert,” she said patting his leg.

 

He gulped down the coffee, relaxed into the seat and dozed off as they hummed along. Suddenly, he was jerked awake in front of a stately building that looked like Hefner’s mansion.

 

“What’s that?” he said. “I never knew anything like that was out here.”

 

“It’s just for you. Money’s no object for a prince and his castle.”

 

“Or a king,” he chuckled.

 

As they neared the door, it opened and light poured out. A woman dressed scantily but with a golden masque cried, “Welcome, welcome. We’re ready for you.”

 

Once inside the door, he was blinded by flashing strobe lights. A soft hand gently took his and pulled him into a small room where several beautiful young women stood like expectant mannequins. 

 

“We will bathe first, won’t we?” his guide said.

 

“I don’t need to bathe, trust me,” he said laughing. But she pushed him into a small bathroom, with a shower and gold faucets.

 

“We must, it’s part of Hugh’s ritual.”

 

He quickly showered, toweled down and looked around for his clothes and watch.

The young women stepped from behind a partition and smiled. “We have something special  for you to wear, but we must sneak down these stairs.”

He followed her hesitantly down the dark passage; what looked like silver cobwebs hung from the cramped staircase. He pulled back. “It’s freezing I need clothes.”

 

“We have something for you,” she said opening a door to a small dark room. “Be prepared if the girls jump out and shout surprise.”

 

She handed him a thin plastic rain poncho.

 

“It’s special material Hugh wore,” she said. “It shimmers like gold.”

 

He pulled it around his shoulders. It looked like something tourists wore if caught in the rain. The door slammed shut. And immediately there was a loud racket from above.

 

“What’s that noise?” he asked. “It sounds like they’re tearing the place apart.”

 

“They are, it’s only a false front but it will soon disappear. Nothing left but our little basement hideout.”

 

She snapped her finger and silver lamps flashed on.

 

“What’s going on?” he said. “This looks like a damn crypt.”

 

“Yes. You got it.”’

 

“Okay, this is no party. What do you want?”  

 

“You’re a deal maker. We want to make a deal.”

 

“What kind of deal. No deals without my clothes and phone. Get them now.”

 

 “Sorry, your clothes are needed elsewhere.”

 

“Needed for what and what do you want?”

 

“We want you to sign a form on the computer agreeing that the charges against you by the women who are listed are accurate.”

 

“No way, I’m not stupid. She put you up to this. Why would I do that?”

 

“Because if you don’t we will leave you here in your Superman cape.”

 

“I’ll go upstairs and get help.”

 

“You forgot there is no upstairs.” He listened; all was silent overhead.

 

“But signing this is for security,” she said, “It’s not our main goal.”

 

“No, I bet it isn’t. You want money. But I don’t make deals without my clothes on.”

 

“We don’t have your clothes and we don’t want your money. Our goal is to have a list of laws enacted within a year. If you do that, we’ll not publish your confession.”

 

He shoved the list back at her. “Are you crazy? My lawyers will eat you for lunch?”

 

She ignored the threat. “Sign on the computer screen, we will receive it and then the door will open for you.”

 

“No way. You wouldn’t dare hurt me.”

 

“Try us. If you don’t sign and quickly then you will be left here. You’re not in a park now.”

 

He paced back and forth in the confined space, slapping his arms against his body.

 

“If I do sign, will someone drive me back with my clothes to the park building?” he asked, watching in case the women moved to the door. Once it was open he’d be out of there in a flash.

 

“No, a self-directing helicopter will take you back.”

 

“There’s no such thing.”

 

“You’d be surprised what technology our friends have.”

 

Startled by a crash from behind, he swung around and tumbled backwards.  He heard the door open and scrambled to his feet only to see the women rush out. Before he could stumble to it, the door slammed shut.

 

He banged against the exit and rattled the knob to no avail. What the hell, he’d sign.

 

Of course, he’d no intention of letting it stand. When you were in a fight for a deal or to the death, you said and did what made you a winner. He approached the machine, the message read, “Sign and then move away from the machine.”

 

He took up the marker and signed. On the screen there was a swirling of colors, then black. “Move away, move away,” the machine said. When it started to emit strange noises, he edged backwards.

 

The machine shook, flames erupted and an explosion threw him across the room. When the dust settled, only ashes remained where the computer had been.

 

“I signed damn you. Let me out.”

 

Were they going to leave him here to die? He should have read before he signed. Maybe it was a suicide note. With an eerie creak, the door jerked open. He ran outside into the freezing cold. Stabs of pain jutted up his bare feet. The door slammed shut. Shadows of tall ghostly tree trunks swayed above the pale, grey snow. The black night was quieter than the crypt. “You lying sons of bitches,” he roared. “I did what you asked.”

 

Jumping from foot to foot, squeezing the cape around himself, he scrambled for some way to escape when above the sound of his puffing he detected a faint hum; the sound got louder. He looked up to see a small helicopter circle twice and then slowly land.

 

A door popped open, he saw a blanket on a metal seat but no clothes. “Get in, get in, get in,” a ghostly voice called out. He ran forward, stiff with ice, and leaped inside. He grabbed the rough blanket and curled inside it. The door clicked shut, the voice stopped and the helicopter lifted. It turned and began to fly in large circles. “Land you stupid machine,” he ordered searching desperately for any means of taking control.

 

Seeing none, he pushed his face against the icy window looking for any sign of life below. Finally, amidst the swirling snow, he saw the building he had hoped to party in and some cars. On hearing the helicopter, armored men, leaped from their vehicles and swung their guns towards him.

 

“It’s me. Don’t shoot you ass holes. It’s me. Your boss.” He thumped on the window and watched in horror as more men burst out of the woods swinging huge machetes. The guards tried to push them back but the men surged forward.

 

“Take their guns,” he hollered, “They’re going to shoot me.”

 

From below a voice bellowed through a loudspeaker, “Land immediately. Your plan has been averted. The President is not here. He is safe.”

 

“I’m here, you fools. Don’t shoot. I’ll fire you all,” he shouted banging on the window.

 

As he got closer, the men’s guns rose higher, pointing towards him. He screamed, “Don’t shoot, it’s me,” but these, his last words, were drowned out by the blast of bullets peppering the helicopter and an ear-shattering explosion. Few reporters were present to witness this dramatic moment.

 

Most media had covered the earlier story, which had stunned the nation: the President’s late-night address. Surrounded by his bemused colleagues, the President had revealed that he had consulted a spiritual leader—whose name in respect he held in confidence—and had had a revelation. He would no longer be putting his business considerations above all else. Instead, he was going to bring all parties together for the greater good.

 

Later that night, a security guard, who was there when the President left the administrative building told his wife, “He looked exactly like the man who went in six hours earlier but he was somehow different.” A reporter likened his conversion to that of Saul on the road to Damascus. Even those who stood to lose money professed that they were pleased the newly revered leader had escaped the terrorist attack, which had failed because of poor timing and the CIA’s swift response to a tip-off.

 

Bio:Melodie Corrigall is an eclectic Canadian writer whose work has appeared in Litro UK, Foliate Oak, Toasted Cheese, Emerald Bolts, Earthen Lamp Journal, Halfway Down the Stairs, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Corner Bar, Persimmon Tree, Literally Stories and The Write Place at the Write Time (www.melodiecorrigall.com)