Tag Archives: ghost story

Ghostly Interference

Today, welcome Jan Sikes to the blog. She’s a dear friend and is here to tell us about her newest publication. Make sure you make her feel welcome, and use those sharing buttons. The place is yours, Jan.

Character interviews are fun and give a more in-depth insight into the character and what makes him or her tick.

Today, we have a renowned guest who will interview Jag Peters, the main male character in Ghostly Interference!

The floor is all yours, Erin. And, we’re rolling.

Erin: Hi, Jag. Thank you for taking time away from your busy life to join us today! I want to start by asking you to name your favorite things in life.

Jag: Hi, Erin. Thanks for having me today. I’m honored. Wow, my favorite things. That list might be lengthy. For starters, I love playing music. I always have, from the time I was a little boy. I love Rocky Road ice cream, fine red wine, making love to Rena Jett, and hanging out with friends. I’ll stop there.

Erin: Tell our listeners about your deal with karma and why it is so important to you.

Jag: Well, it’s no secret I was raised by a mother who believed strongly in the law of karma and the result of not taking responsibility for your actions. So, she always drilled it in my head to keep my karma slate clean. In other words, to make wrongs right and be accountable. It became a part of who I am.

Erin: Moving forward, I’d like to know a little more about how you met Rena Jett.

Jag: Oh, my favorite subject! (He chuckles) It was indeed a meeting of happenstance. I was driving home from work one day, and my mind was a million miles away, thinking about a project I was responsible for and about problems I was having with my boss. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and almost collided with a motorcycle at an intersection. Because keeping my karma straight is so important to me, I was compelled to find the rider and apologize. Little did I know it was Rena. But that’s how we met.

Erin: It’s my understanding that she wasn’t very receptive to your apology.

Jag: That’s an understatement. She was the most beautiful and pissed-off woman I’d ever run across. She made me feel about an inch high. But I can be persistent when I want to, and eventually, my charms won her over.

Erin: I don’t want to get too deep into your story as I wouldn’t want to ruin it for our readers, but I’d like to hear more about your passion for playing music.

Jag: From the time I was a little boy, I wanted to play piano. My father was a highly successful attorney, and he discouraged it. But my amazing mom got me piano lessons and made sure I always had one to play. However, it was a strange twist of fate that I got the opportunity to live out my dream. As you say, I don’t want to ruin the story for your readers, so I’ll stop there. But my happy place is behind the keyboard. I love playing, writing, performing, and every aspect that goes along with music.

Erin: I only have a couple more questions, as we are almost out of time, but I do want to ask you about a white rune that appears in your story. How did that come about, and what the heck is a rune?

Jag: I’ll give you the short version. Runes are used much like Tarot cards today in the metaphysical world for divination. In our story, the rune came to Rena via a letter from her brother, Sam Jett, who was killed in Afghanistan. It carried the Wunjo symbol, and that represented a ‘happily ever after.’ That’s what her brother wanted for her, and he was instrumental in bringing Rena and me together.

Erin: That brings me to my last question. What’s it like to see and communicate with a ghost?

Jag: That’s a loaded question. The first time I saw Sam Jett was outside an upscale night club. He was dressed in full combat gear with a rifle slung over his shoulder, standing next to my car. When I looked away and back, he was gone. I was pretty freaked out. I drove through the parking lot a couple of times looking for him but didn’t see him again until Rena took me on a Harley ride in the country. I thought I was losing my mind. When I tried to tell her what I saw, she just got angry and thought I was trying to pull a fast one. It took a while to settle into the idea that Sam wanted me to play a part in his sister’s happily ever after.

Erin: I can certainly understand that you may have thought you’d lost your mind. What an experience. Well, we are out of time, but I want to thank you again for taking a moment to come and visit with us. I want to invite everyone to pick up a copy of Ghostly Interference so you can get the full story. And remember, if you read it, please leave the author a review. Any last words, Jag?

Jag: No, I think you’ve covered it. Again, thank you for inviting me down to talk about Ghostly Interference.

Erin: This is Erin Andrews signing off.

BOOK BLURB

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

BOOK PURCHASE LINKS:

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Interference-White-Rune-Sikes-ebook/dp/B08KW1KFMW/

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghostly-interference-jan-sikes/1137871003?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

http://www.jansikes.com

https://jansikesblog.com/

https://www.twitter.com/jansikes3

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8DK (Author Page)

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095856.Jan_Sikes

GIVEAWAY:  Everyone who stopped by, shared, and commented today,  will be entered into a random drawing for One Ebook of “Ghostly Interference” and One $5.00 Amazon Gift card! So, two lucky winners! Good Luck!!! 

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The Idea Mill #29

We haven't visited the old Idea Mill for some time. To be honest, I've been busy, and the articles haven't really caught the attention of my Muse. I finally have three, so it's time to truck them out again.

For my new readers, I use push feeds to get the kind of news I want to read. This pushes archeology, cutting edge science, and even a few creepy feeds directly to me. I bookmark those that have some merit and share them here. There is an Idea Mill category in my sidebar if you want to skim the old ones.

Our first article is about a ship called the SS Baychimo. In 1931 she got stuck in the ice. This was the last time she had a crew. That didn't stop her from sailing the arctic without a crew. She was spotted for years, and there were several attempts to salvage her, but she was having none of it. She was last seen in 1969. I'll let the article do the math, and it says 38 years. You can read more here.

I like this, because it happened. It isn't some fantasy idea concocted by an author, and it lends real credibility to any ghost ship fiction you might want to write. You could give her a personality and write a kids book about her finishing her mission without a crew. You could also haunt the crap out of her and it's a perfect setting for a horror story. Isolation is a must for a good horror story, and hundreds of miles at sea is pretty isolated.

This one almost didn't make the list, but I decided to add it at the last minute. It's about gene splicing and designer babies. For you deep researchers out there, there are some great scientific terms that would be a great place to start your research. Read all about it here.

Let's face it, superheroes and their supervillains are all the rage right now. This seems like a great backstory for those characters. Maybe you prefer a different spin and develop a world where everyone is tall and attractive. Messing with nature could lead to unintended consequences. I have a bulldog for crying out loud. They are famous for the health issues associated with overbreeding. Take this to a human level, and perfect specimens might be more susceptible to health issues from pollution, or the common cold, or can't process sunlight into vitamins.

Finally, this one is more of a story element than something that would drive a whole plot. (In my mind. Your mind might be better.) There is a liquid that people can breathe in. It sounds pretty high tech, but it's called perfluorocarbon. I did a bit of digging, and found out it's also used in makeup and as a potential artificial blood. Read all about it here. Apparently it carries oxygen really well.

The first thing that comes to my mind is Mr. Freeze's wife in her liquid filled tube to preserve her life. Luke Skywalker went through some of this too. I have a need in a future story for a situation like this, and may have to use the word to explain how it's done. Thank God, I have it saved forever in The Idea Mill. Maybe it would make a great preservative for those deep space journeys to another planet. You know, the ones that take twenty years.

So part of these posts involves me outlining a corny story using all three. Let's see where this goes.

In a planet filled with designer perfect people, someone discovers the SS Baychimo. By now it is an archeological treasure to be explored and preserved. Unfortunately the researchers catch some ancient disease like Measles from the wreck. Their immune systems are compromised and any of the ancient vaccines aren't going to work. Make sure to make a political statement one way or the other about vaccinations. Doesn't matter to me which way, but this kind of story should make a hot-button point.

With a looming shortage of perfluorocarbon to preserve the dying, someone needs to act fast. This is where the second class citizens, produced the old fashioned way, will come into play. They are heartier and can work around the sick and dying with less risk. They are on the verge of a vaccine that will save the day. They've been treated like second class citizens for centuries, and there is some doubt about whether they will act, or simply let nature take it's course and rid them of the designer population.

How about it, you guys. Do any of these kick your Muse in the rear? Maybe you prefer a vat of designer babies, preserved in perfluorocarbon, being shipped to a distant planet. Their spaceship is called the SS Baychimo. Someone discovers them a thousand years later, and they're all still alive. What would you write based upon one of these?

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Unseen Motives, by Joan Hall

Hey, gang, this is Joan’s first visit to Entertaining Stories. She’s one of the members of Story Empire and we’re all out on tour this week. Please make her feel welcome by clicking on those sharing buttons and checking out her wares. If you leave a comment, you might even win one of the prizes.

La Niña (And Another Real-Life Event)

Hello everyone! The Story Empire Roadshow is rolling on. I want to thank Craig for hosting me on this fourth stop. Today I’m going to talk a bit about the weather phenomenon, La Niña.

You may wonder how or why La Niña relates to a piece of fiction. But in my novel Unseen Motives, the La Niña episode of mid-2010 to early 2011 influenced weather worldwide. In Texas, and other surrounding states, the year 2011 was one of the hottest and driest on record.

Summer began early and stayed late. Rainfall stopped in early spring and by late July grass was like dry powder. Officials issued outdoor burning bans (people couldn’t even use charcoal grills) and numerous wildfires broke out all over the state.

Lakes, rivers, and ponds dropped to record low water levels—many dried up completely. And those once deep waters revealed clues to some long time mysteries. Eight years after the space shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas, someone found a significant part in Lake Nacogdoches.

Closer to home, people found unusual and unexpected things in their stock ponds. Upon reading one such story, the idea came to me to have a character find a long-buried secret in a small pond. (I won’t tell you what this character found, but suffice to say it contained a significant clue to a long unsolved mystery.)

Although five years passed between that severe drought and the publication of Unseen Motives, I decided to set the story during the drought of 2011.

There are other aspects in the book based on real-life events. One of which is something that happened to me when I was seventeen—the time I saw a ghost.

Well, maybe it wasn’t a ghost, but I don’t know of any other explanation. When you see a man walk out of the shadows, step onto his porch, bend down to pet his dog, and walk inside his house it has to be real. The dog even acknowledged his presence.

A couple of hours later, I learned this man was taken by ambulance from his home (I saw the ambulance leave, but couldn’t see who they placed inside. The man had died. My mother also saw him, so I know I wasn’t dreaming. So what did I see?

I decided to have a character who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder see a man whom some people believed was dead. Because this character had experienced hallucinations, she keeps silent, but does record the event in her journal. She was afraid if she told, no one would believe her. The last thing she wanted was for someone to place her back in a mental hospital.

Unseen Motives is a work of fiction. But as a writer, I took the liberty of incorporating these two real life events into the story. Intrigued yet?

Things aren’t always as they seem…

Stephanie Harris is no stranger to mystery and suspense. The author of several best-selling thrillers returns to her hometown of Driscoll Lake twenty years after her father’s suicide when her great-aunt Helen dies.

She hopes to settle Helen’s affairs as quickly as possible and leave behind the place where she suffered so much heartache. Soon after her arrival, Stephanie stumbles upon information that leads her to believe that all is not as it seems.

When she digs deeper into secrets long buried, she begins to receive warning notes and mysterious phone calls. The threats soon escalate into deliberate attempts to harm her. Stephanie soon finds herself caught in a web of deceit and danger.
Who doesn’t want her to stay? And why? What are they afraid she’ll learn?

Undaunted, Stephanie searches for clues about the scandal surrounding her father’s death. But discovering the truth places her in the path of a cold-blooded killer.

Get your copy right here.

Joan Hall

Author of Suspense, Mystery, and Mainstream Fiction

Connect with me on:
Website
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

 

On tomorrow’s tour stop, I’ll feature a deleted scene of the book. And at the end of the tour, I’m giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing. I’d love to know if you’ve seen anything that can’t be easily explained.

Joan Hall

 

 

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Stick out your plate for another helping of Macabre Macaroni

Automobile Envy

“Man, that was some spread. Tony made his campfire beans, Jerry smoked those ribs for two days, and Mrs. Herrick made that wonderful peach dessert.”

“It’s time to leave, Mr. Arbuckle.”

“What’s the rush? There’s family here I haven’t seen in years. My sister came all the way from Pensacola, and my son’s never met her before. Good food, plenty of cool drinks – ”

“True, but they are breaking up now.”

“Let’s check out the car. Why is it the oil men and ranchers could afford Cadillacs, and us farmers get by with rusted old pickups? I don’t want any cattle horns on the hood; nothing like that. I always wanted a convertible. Something with enough room to take my whole family to church.”

“It’s very nice.”

“Do you see those leather seats? Look at the leg room it has. No more throwing the kids in back of the truck under a blanket. I want to ride in it. Wave to everyone in town. Old man Maughan can afford to give me a ride. Get in.”

“Alright, as long as we don’t take too long. We have things to do.”

“Don’t be such a stick in the mud. Look at that carpet. No metal floorboards here. Of course, white wouldn’t be my choice. I’d get a nice sensible brown. It might hide the farm dirt for a day until I could get to the car wash.

“Look we’re going past the feed store. Wave at them. And there’s the old folks’ home. There’s Marie and Jack. They waved back, see?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That old biddy, Nurse Davis didn’t wave though. She’s a tough one. It’s so pretty and green out today, not a cloud in the sky, you think that would take the sour look off her face. There’s the oil rigs pumping. I’ll bet all of them own a Cadillac. I should have bought one. Maughan is a lucky man. They won’t let me drive anymore, not for a few years now.”

“No, sir.”

“Look over there to the left. Those light poles are at the football field. My son ran for three touchdowns there about twenty years ago. These seats are so soft my back doesn’t hurt at all anymore.”

“It is a very nice car. But we really need to go. The hearse is pulling up to your grave now.”

“I suppose you’re right. Thank you for letting me ride in the Cadillac, even if it was the last ride I’ll ever take.”

***

If you’re enjoying Macabre Macaroni this year, you might enjoy my Experimental Notebooks. They’re full of short stories and micro-fiction across the speculative genres. Plenty of paranormal stories though, if you’re looking for some Halloween reading. At 99¢ each you really can’t go wrong.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II

 

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Enter the Macabre Sanctuary

I was invited to participate in an anthology called Macabre Sanctuary. To my astonishment, my submission was accepted.

There are some heavy hitters in this group, and you get ten short stories for the price of free.

This one is climbing up the ranks, and hit #9 recently. The timing couldn't be better with Halloween right around the corner.

For my part, I explored the thought of being forgotten. When we die, we're only a generation away from complete anonymity. Most of us won't leave behind a record of most strikeouts, a motion picture legacy, or a leadership role that changed the world somehow. We're just honest, hardworking folks who hope our children turned out well.

Here is the blurb and the download link:

Macabre Sanctuary

Thrills. Chills. Shadows and superstitions. Things that go bump in the night. Macabre Sanctuary boasts suspenseful fiction designed to elicit goosebumps and raise heartrates.

Learn the lore of a haunted island.

Grapple with the undead while robbing graves Halloween night.

Endure a hazing ritual unlike any other.

Deal with a demon at an All Souls' Day celebration.

See what happens when you court death in the wild.

Battle zombies and cannibals in a quest to stay alive.

Travel back in time to witness the birth of true evil.

Fear prophetic nightmares made manifest.

Come to terms with new ethereal realities.

Befriend a feline to extend earthly life.

This collection from ten talented authors offers ghosts and demons, spirits and zombies, cannibals and killers… even a ferocious animal. Historical and contemporary tales of violence and fright keep readers on the edges of their seats. There’s something for everyone who loves spine-tingling, bone-chilling, blood-curdling stories.

***

Honestly, how can you pass this up when it's free? The download link is Macabre Sanctuary.

 

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Curl Up With a Spooky Good Read by @Virgilante #horror #FridayReads #Halloween

I’m over at NN Light’s blog today and the topic is Halloween reading. If you’re not already following this great blogger, consider it while you’re over there.

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A Thousand Yesteryears, on Lisa Burton Radio #RRBC

 

Maggie Flynn was twelve years old the night she died. She was a victim of one of the worst engineering disasters in American History.

This is Lisa Burton Radio, and I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. “Welcome to the show, Maggie.”

Squeeeeeerrrrrooooooo

“Oh no. Don’t go away, Maggie. I need to put another quart of psychode into this ectomometer and turn the gain up to ten.

“There, are you still with us Maggie?”

“Um…I think so. Can you hear me? I’m still getting used to communicating between worlds.”

“You’re coming through loud and clear. I’m so honored to have you on the show. The story of the Silver Bridge disaster is well documented, but maybe you can fill our listeners in on it.”

“Well, I don’t really like thinking about it, but Caden—he’s my older brother—and I went shopping that night. He had to drive across the bridge to get to Gallipolis where they have the big department stores. I wanted to buy my mom and dad something for Christmas…even though I was worried about going outside…”

“It’s okay, Maggie.”

“I saw the something really horrible just a few days before. I still get nightmares thinking about it.”

“You’re in West Virginia, right?”

“Mmm-hmm. In Point Pleasant. That’s on the other side of the river from Gallipolis, Ohio. It’s a small town, located kind of where the Ohio and the Kanawha Rivers come together.”

“It’s terrible that this was during the Christmas season. I’m glad your brother survived. Maybe you can tell our listeners why you were so afraid.”

“That thing I saw…have you ever heard of the Mothman? There were over 100 people in my town who said they saw him the year before I died. That would be in 1967. I thought maybe it was all a bunch of make-believe but then I chased Mischief into the Witch Wood… Mischief is my Nana’s cat—a very bad cat—and the Witch Wood is a place behind Nana’s house where I sometimes played with my friends. It’s got lots of trees and stuff, and a gnarled old sycamore that looks like a witch.

“I was never afraid to be there alone, but then I saw the Mothman. He was hideous! With burning red eyes and huge wings. When he stood up he was like a giant. I was terrified he’d see me, so I hid.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me. I read somewhere that he only hangs out in an area called the TNT. What does TNT stand for?”

“My dad said it’s an old munitions dump left over from World War II. The Army abandoned it a long time ago, but it’s still got these weird bunkers built into the ground. We call them igloos. They’re really creepy and some of them still have old shells and chemicals and stuff in them. There are buildings too, but they’re ghosts like me…abandoned and crumbling. The whole place is a maze of woods, marshland and ponds—almost a whole city’s worth, it’s so huge! People in Point Pleasant say it’s where the Mothman lives, but he’s been spotted around town and on some of the back roads, too. After the Silver Bridge fell, a lot of people said the monster was to blame.”

“What about the legend of Chief Cornstalk? Is it possible the Mothman has nothing to do with the disaster, and it’s all this ancient curse?”

“Maybe. We learned about Chief Cornstalk in school. He was a great Shawnee Indian chief. My teacher said he fought against the settlers in the beginning but then became a friend of the white man. He was trying to make peace between the people of Point Pleasant and the Indian tribes when he was betrayed and killed by soldiers. I heard he cursed the town of Point Pleasant with his dying breath. Some people think that’s what caused all the floods we’ve had, why the Mothman showed up, and the bridge fell. My friend’s father lost his job when the riverboat people left…it was a big company and all kinds of people ended up out of work when they left Point Pleasant. I wasn’t around for that, but I heard the whispers afterward…

“Go ahead, Maggie.”

“There’s always been whispers around here. Even George Washington saw things he couldn’t explain when he scouted the area before the Revolutionary War…at least according to Mrs. Quiggly. She sells brown eggs outside of town and knows everyone’s business. She said Point Pleasant and the TNT are located on ley lines and that’s why we’ve got so many weird things happening like UFOs and the Mothman. It’s probably why the monster came back.”

“Is that why you returned too?”

“Sort of. I’m worried about my friend, Eve. She’s all grown up now, an adult like Caden. Eve and her mother left town fifteen years ago after the bridge fell, but Eve came back. Her Aunt Rosie died and left Eve her house and the family hotel. The Parrish Hotel is kind of a landmark in town. Eve has to figure out what to do with the house and the hotel—she’s thinking of selling them—but there’s a bunch of stuff she doesn’t know that could get her into serious trouble. Aunt Rosie had all kinds of secrets and it’s all tied up with the night the bridge went down.

“Caden is looking out for Eve as best he can. I get the feeling they like each other—you know, boy-girl like?—but Caden has a bunch of secrets, too. He knows more about the Mothman than he’ll say, and there’s something really bad that happened back when he was a cop that has him messed up. Plus he blames himself for taking me out the night the bridge fell. Boys are so stupid! He won’t let go of the guilt. And Eve…”

“But if Eve is all grown up now, and she has Caden to look after her, she probably doesn’t have to worry.”

“I wish it were that simple, but there are so many bad things that happened back then, far more than I’ve said here. I can’t really talk about them the way I want to. Stupid rules about separating the dead from the living, you know? The bad stuff got buried and no one put the pieces together. I thought maybe they would go away but when Eve came back, all of it did, too. It isn’t just the Mothman. There’s something else—watching, and it all started that day when I chased Mischief into the woods.

“I…um…oh, I can’t say any more. Just please…you’ve got to let people know. Warn them. There’s something else in the woods, hidden behind Nana’s old house. Eve was my best friend, and she’s in Squeeeeeerrrrrooooooo

LB: Maggie? Are you still with us? <kick, thump> Maggie?

Folks, I think we’ve lost Maggie, and I need to stock up on psychode. You can get the whole story in a book called A Thousand Yesteryears, by Mae Clair. I’ll include all the details on the website. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.

***

Purchase Links A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS

Amazon

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Google Play

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Kensington Publishing

 

 

 

 

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website

Blog

Twitter (@MaeClair1)

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Craig here. I read this one some time ago, and gave it every bit of five stars. Absolutely wonderful book.

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My 2015 Planetary Awards Nominations

What an incredible honor. Check out this post to find some other speculative reading.

Planetary Defense Command

The 2015 Planetary Awards have three categories open for nominations: shorter story (including novelettes and novellas), traditionally published novel, and self-published / small press novel.

It wasn’t too hard for me to find a short story nominee. I’ve read a dozen 2015 science fiction magazines as part of my magazine quest, and I’ve also read multi-author anthologies, single-author collections, and a few random stories from the kindle store.

My nominee for 2015’s best short story is … [drumroll] … “Something in the Water” by CS Boyack. The story can be found in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, which is only 99 cents at Amazon.

I had to think about why this was my favorite story. It has a few references to the early days of aviation, which is a topic of interest to me, but that alone wouldn’t be enough to make it my favorite. What…

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Waiter, there’s a fly in my Macabre Macaroni

I have no idea where this one came from. I’ll just blame it on my Muse.

Selfie

Becky Clarkson left her friends three states away. Her father transferred when his company opened a new plant.

Late summer wasn’t too bad. The neighbor girl, Marcy, hung out with her a few times. They went to the county fair together, but Marcy ditched her for other friends.

Becky sat on the teacup ride alone, and stared into space. Her old friends wouldn’t have abandoned her. They’d be all over the big roller coaster together.

Becky’s sophomore year began with her as the new girl. Several girls were pleasant, but dismissive. The cliques and groups seemed to be carved in stone. Marcy hung out with the coolest girls, and Becky was forgotten.

Two weeks after school started, Marcy slid into the bus seat beside Becky.

“Pay attention,” Marcy said. “I’ve noticed that you didn’t get scooped up by the nerds, or the future farmers. You aren’t a cheerleader, or a jock’s girlfriend. You can hang with us, but you have to pass a test first.”

“What kind of test?”

“We all did it. I had to take a topless selfie in the principal’s office. I was so scared, I broke in on the weekend to do it. DeDe had to steal the gym teacher’s jock strap. Heather had to kiss a homeless guy with witnesses.”

“So what’s my dare?”

“We’re going to turn left up ahead. I’ll point out the old Cornwell house. It’s abandoned now, but there were a string of murders there in the 1950s. Old Lady Cornwell used a piece of clothesline to strangle her husband and all four of their children.”

“Yeah, and?”

“And they say the place is still haunted by Old Lady Cornwell. People hear her screaming on the anniversary of the murders.” Marcy held out her hand. “Give me your phone.”

Becky held up her phone. “Why?”

“So I can check the time on it. You need to go inside the Cornwell house and take a selfie at midnight. Send it to all of us for confirmation, and you’re in. We’re having a pool party next Friday, and you can come – if you pull this off. DeDe has a car and she’s picking us all up after school.”

“Wh, when do I have to do this?”

“Anytime before the party. This weekend, Heather’s sister is letting us hang out at the spa where she works. Do this, and all your weekends can be fun.”

Marcy pointed out the house, and clarified that anywhere inside would pass. The photo would imprint the time, and Becky could join them any time she wanted.

Sneaking out wasn’t that hard. Becky’s mother was zonked by 9:00 most nights, and her father was a shift foreman. He wouldn’t come home until 4:00 AM.

Becky couldn’t sleep, and decided to make a test run. The Cornwell house was only three blocks away. Trees obscured the door from the street. She opened the gate, and it screeched on the hinges. The walkway presented a tangled mess of briars and fallen leaves.

She took three more steps and the wind picked up. A shutter on the second floor started banging. She turned and went back to the street.

Becky left the gate open before running home. Stupid girls, stupid rules. What kind of people make you do stupid things before they even know you?

She made it home by 11:00, eased the door shut behind her and turned the lock. She leaned against the kitchen cupboards and let out an hour’s worth of breath. Her lips curled upward, and she crossed her arms in a self hug. Sneaking out, finding the spooky house, all while not getting caught – exhilarating.

It would happen tomorrow. One stupid stunt was all it took. These girls went to parties, and spas. One of them has a car. Boys might come to the pool party too. There might be some life in this city after all.

Becky never heard her father come home. Her mother roused her for breakfast. As soon as she could she retreated to her room. Haunted houses were stupid. People make stuff up and everyone buys into it. There was probably more risk from tetanus or homeless people inside.

She tried on her swimming suit and regretted the pancakes from that morning. Her laptop provided the story about the old murders. Mrs. Cornwell went to an asylum. The article said she died there, and never included the address or a photo of the house. It probably isn’t even the same place. Half the abandoned buildings in town are probably called the Cornwell house.

Dark clothing seemed like a good idea. She tried on her old black jeans. They were worn, but still fit. At least it wouldn’t matter if the briars snagged them. The best top she could find wound up being a navy blue sweatshirt. She would take her picture, then slink into the shadows.

The registered sex offender list didn’t show anyone for two blocks either side of the Cornwell house. Police activity seemed minimal in the area, beyond the occasional domestic disturbance.

By late afternoon, Becky started pacing. Spas, parties, get togethers, they might even go to dances as a group. She helped her mother clean after her father woke up. It gave her something to do while she waited for evening.

She picked at her supper. The idea of a pool party had her worrying about what she ate. When everyone went to bed, she immediately got dressed for her adventure.

She got to the house early and walked around the block. It was stupid, but the empty streets made her feel better. God, Becky, it isn’t like they asked you to steal a car or anything.

At 11:45 she went through the front gate. The place seemed quiet, and it should. It was abandoned after all. The boards on the front deck were spongy after all the years of neglect. She took extra care to test the footing with her weight before she stepped forward. Falling through the porch, and having the fire department rescue her, would make her the laughing stock.

She had to push with her shoulder to open the front door. She only needed enough room to squeeze through. Her nostrils curled at the scent of mold and neglect. At least the floors were solid inside. She decided they must be made from better wood.

Becky turned and saw the windows facing the other houses. The camera flash would give her away. She tiptoed down the hall to the old dining room. Peeling wallpaper touched her shoulder and she nearly screamed. She hit the power button to wake up her phone, and used the weak light to see where she went.

The furniture was still in the dining room. The chairs were all overturned, and the table was missing a leg. Fresh marks showed where a rodent must have chewed the table leg. She couldn’t help looking for chalk outlines on the floor, but there were none. Of course, idiot. That was over sixty years ago.

Becky turned her phone around and posed beside the broken table. She put on her best party smile. Popularity, and all the benefits were hers. She pressed the shutter when the phone showed midnight.

***

Marcy’s phone chimed, and she glanced over at it. “Oh girls, it looks like I’m getting a message from Becky.”

They all gathered round and squealed in horror. Becky smiled into the camera inside the Cornwell house. The wispy ghostly image of Old Lady Cornwell stood directly behind her. She held a knotted section of clothesline in both hands.

Becky was never seen, or heard from, again.

**oo**

If you’re enjoying Macabre Macaroni this year, you might want to check out my new book, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. This is a collection of micro-fiction and short stories. Some of them have a Halloween angle. At 99¢ there isn’t much risk.

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