Tag Archives: haunted house

House of Sorrow #Newbook #IARTG

Hi gang, gather ’round. Joan Hall is here with her latest release. Joan is one of my Story Empire partners, and a great author. This one is smart, because it’s a prequel short story. I like the idea of something to whet appetites for the main event.

Make sure she feels welcome, check out her book, and use those sharing buttons before you leave. We all thrive on comments, so don’t be shy. I’ll let Joan take it from here.

House of Sorrow: April 1970

Thank you for hosting me today, Craig. I appreciate the opportunity to tell your readers about my newest release.

House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of my Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.

Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s/early 1970s, so I included historical events into the story along with a few personal memories. Today is the fifty-first anniversary of one such event.

In April 1970, John Wayne won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. Midnight Cowboy received the award for Best Picture.

But not all was rosy that month. Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles on April 10, leaving thousands of fans in mourning. The following day their song, “Let it Be” reached number one on the charts, where it stayed for two weeks. A rather bittersweet farewell.

The Beatles, Public Domain

On April 13, an explosion crippled the Apollo 13 spacecraft carrying astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert. The next four days were tense as NASA worked diligently to bring them home alive. With the command module virtually useless, the lunar module became a lifeboat.

A replica of an Apollo Lunar Module – Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

Many people believe the number thirteen brings bad luck, including Ruth’s neighbor, Sam. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon who doesn’t believe men should be “Messing around in the heavens.” Sam tries to convince Ruth the Apollo 13 accident was inevitable.

Excerpt:

Like many Americans, Ruth had grown accustomed to moon launches. When Apollo 13 blasted off on April 11, she didn’t give it a second thought. Even Lee had grown disinterested, which was a good thing since none of the major television networks carried the astronaut’s live broadcast on the evening of April 13.

The following morning, Ruth sat in the porch swing, enjoying the cool spring breeze.

The Marsh girls waved to her from next door as they left for school.

“I’ll have cookies when you get home from school.”

“Chocolate chip?”

“If that’s what you want. How about you, Tina?”

The older girl shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Is something wrong?”

Tina shrugged again.

“She’s in mourning,” Amanda said.

Ruth cocked an eyebrow. “Mourning? Why?

“Because the Beatles broke up.”

Ruth suppressed a smile. She’d been a teenager and knew what it was like when inconsequential things seemed like the end of the world. She watched until the sisters were out of sight.

Sam waved to her from his yard. It was Millie’s day to volunteer at the nursing home.

“Did you hear about Apollo 13?” he shouted.

“No. I haven’t turned on the television.”

He hurried across the street. Sat in his usual chair. “There was an explosion.”

“Explosion? How horrible. Are the astronauts okay?”

“Had to move them into them lunar module, hoping to keep them alive. NASA is working to bring them home.”

“Let’s pray they do.”

Sam shook a finger. “What did I tell you about messing around with the moon? Somebody’s trying to tell us something.”

Blurb:

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

Purchase Link:

https://www.Amazon.com/House-Sorrow-Legends-Joan-Hall-ebook/dp/B091HX4BHR

Connect with Joan:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub | Goodreads | Instagram

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Filed under Writing

Macabre Macaroni, second helping

Lisa Burton

Flipping

I pulled into the driveway, and my tires pushed down weeds as I pulled up to the parking circle. It was a long day at work, but I decided to start a little demolition before heading home.

Three stone steps led to the elaborate old front door, but I had to shoulder it open against years of rust and weathering. A thick layer of dust covered the stone entry.

I wound my way to the kitchen and pulled open the tattered old curtains to let some of the setting sunlight into my work area. I worked my crowbar under the stone countertop and looked into the breakfast room. With new windows, that morning view would add another twenty-thousand dollars to my resale value.

My shoulder pushed against the bar, but the stone wouldn’t budge. Then a crystal decanter and glasses appeared on the counter. Had I missed that somehow?

Slow clacking footsteps echoed down the hall to my right. A shapely woman, possibly in her fifties, walked into the room like she owned it. She wore a short, sleeveless dress and pearl colored heels that must have made the sound.

She picked up the decanter and poured herself a drink. An overstuffed chair and end table appeared across the room. Had I overlooked this stuff while I was measuring, or was she a squatter.

She sauntered to it and sat down, crossing her legs. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke straight up.

My hand tightened around the crowbar, and I nervously checked my exit routes.

“So, what are we going to do about you?” She said in a husky voice.

“You need to leave,” I answered. “This is private property. My private property.”

She picked some invisible tobacco from her tongue. “Is it now? This is my home, and I intend to keep it that way.” She took a sip from her drink, then smirked. “I’d offer you one, but I don’t think it’s possible.”

“I’m the deeded owner of this property. I’m going to gut it, revamp the whole thing, then sell it for a huge profit.”

“Oh yeah. How much did you pay?”

“Over two million.”

“They saw you coming. My husband only paid seven-fifty when he bought it. You’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful place though. And I’d appreciate it if you’d quit destroying my counters.”

“I’ll have you forcibly evicted if I have to–”

She leaned into the arm of the chair, and I could see the falling wallpaper moving behind her – through her head. “Something tells me that’s not going to work. See I own this house too, and I’m not leaving.”

“But it’s a dump. Maybe you want to check out something better.”

“It’s not a dump. This is one of the top neighborhoods in the city.”

“It was, maybe fifty years ago.”

“Well, it not a dump the way I see it. My beautiful floral wallpaper, the polished wood of the breakfast set. It’s all still here.” She stubbed out her cigarette in an ashtray that appeared right before she touched it.

“Those things will kill you.”

“Too late. Besides, if you knew all the things I put in this body, a little cigarette is the least of my worries. Oh the parties I used to host. They were all here, you know. Politicians, movie stars, musicians. We use to put out drugs on one of those three tier serving dishes like some people place out canapés.”

“W-w-we who?”

“Larry and I. He was my husband. House went to me after he died. You can ask him yourself, he usually shows up near the pool on clear nights.”

I pulled the kitchen curtains back. A flurry of moths startled me. The stone around the pool was cracked and small trees pushed up between the stones. A foot of green scum floated on the partially filled pool.

“Not there tonight? That’s where I buried him. A lieutenant detective helped me dig the hole.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I thanked that man proper, right up there.”

“I, I, I don’t need to know this.”

“Lots to know about this place. One night a rockstar banged a socialite on that countertop you’re trying to destroy. The rest of his band cheered him on.”

“Anybody I’d know?”

“Meh, flavor of the month. You know how that business goes.” She finished her drink. “Now what are we going to do about you?”

“I’ll hire an exorcist or someone to clear this place out.”

“You can try. Lot’s of cons in that business, but there are some legit ones. Of course, I could do the same thing.”

“Wh- what do you mean?”

“Things on my side of the veil aren’t so different. Maybe I’ll hire someone to get rid of you. In fact, that would be kind of fun. Tell you what. You hire someone, and I will too. We’ll get them all together one night, and see who prevails. First one to blink has to leave. What do you say? Sounds like a party to me.”

“I’m not playing your stupid game. I’m on the hook for a lot of money here, and I’m in the right.”

“Maybe you could sue me. Good luck serving papers though. No, we’re going to do this my way. We each get two weeks to find someone, then we do battle. If you win, I’ll leave.”

“What about Gary?” I cocked a thumb toward the back.

“Larry. And he’ll do whatever I tell him. He’s a lot calmer since I pulled the trigger. He doesn’t question or doubt me any more.”

“You aren’t giving me much choice here, and I’m the aggrieved party.”

“On your side of the veil, sure. On my side, I’m the aggrieved party, and I’ve owned this house since before you were born. What’s your name again?”

“Carl.”

“You seem like a nice young man, Carl. Find your witch or whatever, and I’ll do the same. And don’t get any ideas about selling this to someone and running off. What I’ll do to them is guaranteed to get you sued at minimum, maybe killed at maximum.” She faded away, along with the chair, decanter, and the rest.

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes