Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Makes You Shiver in the Middle of the Night?

by Louise Bohmer
Subtle Scares and Primal Fears

For me, the subtle scare—mixed with an element of primal fear—often works best. That and a sense of weird—of all not being right with a seemingly right world—make me shiver in the middle of the night..

Horror scares me most when it shows less, and works on universal human fears. Less is often more. Not that I don’t enjoy gore, and I believe gore can be beautiful, but it’s often what the author doesn’t show me that frightens me the most. A good spooky story plants an image in my mind, a seed of dread, and refuses to leave me long after the book is finished.

If you’ve read Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker, you’ve encountered the narrative where Jakabok Botch threatens you (as the book is speaking to you) with a blade. He begs you to burn the book, and tells you to watch out behind you, because you never know when this sly demon will
sneak up with a knife, maybe a pair of scissors, and slice your throat open.


This image was effective enough that, when I was reading Mister B. Gone, I’m not ashamed to admit I brushed my neck, and even sheepishly looked behind me a few times, all because of the dread planted in my fertile imagination. It scared me more than the massacres Jakabok detailed from his travels across Medieval Europe. It scared me more than the warring demons and angels. All because the image planted worked on a primal fear: something sneaking up behind me, intent on doing harm.

It’s the whisper behind the character, a wind brushing their cheek that feels more like a hand, or branch
es clattering in a breeze that sounds like a chorus of human sighs that gets to me. Creeps me out and stays with me long after my night table lamp is shut off. Why? Because these scenes manipulate my senses, expose a vulnerability using sound, sight, touch to hit a raw chord of primal fear: being prey, the hunted, or the plaything of something unseen, or more powerful than I.

Rio Youers Mama Fish includes a scene that had a similar affect on me. What I think of as ‘the under the stairs’ scene. When the narrator goes to investigate the mysterious Kelvin Fish, he decides to crawl under the patio for a peek in the basement.

I won’t tell you what he sees within—that’d give too much of the story away—but it was what pursued him that made me breathe just a bit harder, feel my heart thud just a bit quicker. As he’s peering in, a spindly man discovers him spying. All because of a simple wrong move, a noise made, on the narrator’s part. Suddenly, the basement window creaks open, hands come out, and as the narrator flees, he swears he feels fingers brush his ankle.

Both sequences work on a primal human fear level. The fear of becoming prey. The fear of being purs
ued for malevolent purposes. Loosing control over your life for that split second and becoming the hunted instead of the hunter. Because it’s what we don’t see in real life that often unnerves us the most, restoring us to a basic human instinct sometimes: fight or flight.

Trust your eyes, we’re told in this modern world. But what if your eyes (and often ears) play tricks? What about that coat tree by your bedroom door? Ever woken up and glimpse your housecoat in a half-asleep daze, only to have your heart jump in your throat as you wonder: Who is standing in my room? Once you become fully conscious and realize it’s just a lump of terry cloth all is well, but for that split second your body seizes up with fear, prepared to coil and spring in attack or dash for freedom and safety.

Scenes and images that work on our primal fears expose our vulnerability. And, ultimately, isn’t that what humans fear? Being vulnerable reduces our bravery. It makes us second guess ourselves. In a world where we’ve made major technological advances, extended human life expectancy, a gentle reminder we were once closer to the bottom of the food chain unse
ttles us.

Human against human. Human against animal, or perhaps something supernatural. The fight for survival in an ever-increasingly complex world with a burgeoning population. Things like this remind us that, for as far as we’ve come, we’re still very much an animal. For as civilized as we like to believe we are, how civilized are we, really?

Modern human fears still hold primal foundations, and to invoke fear in me, a writer must work with one of these primal fears, building it with careful pacing, use of the senses, to make the fear hit home in a realistic manner.

Both examples I gave use the senses effectively to take you into the scene and make you feel, smell
, hear, see what the narrator is experiencing. The smell of wet, autumn leaves, or the sound of dry ones crunching under foot. The creak of that basement window as it opens, and the sight of a white hand slipping up over the windowsill, reaching for the young boy in Mama Fish. Or the snicksnicksnick of the blade at my ear, or perhaps, Jakkabok’s hot breath on my neck. Every one of these sensations makes the dread presented much more tangible, relatable, and therefore real to the reader.

Tonight, as you tuck yourself in bed, I hope you’ll look around the room, make sure nothing is hiding under the bed, make sure that housecoat is placed where it can’t give you a scare in the middle of the night. Maybe the child in you, after reading this article, will need that bit of extra reassurance no monsters are lurking about, waiting to eat you up. But if you see an odd creature standing in your doorway, smiling a toothy smile and whispering arcane words you can’t understand, don’t blame me! Blame your primal fear, the seed of dread I just planted in your imagination. If all else fails, pull the covers up over your head and wait. I’ve heard that makes the monsters go away.

Now, for a taste of the lovely Louise Bohmer's latest work read on:

The Black Act
by Louise Bohmer

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Library of Horror Press;
2nd edition (September 22, 2009)

ISBN-10: 1449511198
ISBN-13: 978-1449511197

She led the girls up wide, rounded stairs that ascended to a rectangular porch. The porch was supported by massive stone pillars carved with symbols Glenna recognized as an old, higher fae language she’d learned from Rothrien. The doors were two looming panels of oak, also intricately engraved with the symbols of this old fae dialect. Below each of the silver door loops, engraved into a square, silver plate, she recognized the words:

If you can read this, you already have the key.

Glenna spoke the spell aloud in its mother tongue. She wrapped her fingers around one of the silver door loops. She squeezed the cold metal and pushed against the door with all her strength. With a long, low creak of protest the wood yielded and she slipped inside with Rebecca.

The foyer was designed to be a meeting room. Glenna discerned this from its size and design. A perfect place for all the Elders to gather at once. Off the back of the foyer, two staircases led left and right. From the map, she knew these two stairwells led to eleven rooms on the main level, twelve on the second story. All were used for teaching, or storing the Guild’s most sacred of possessions and documents. Perhaps this was where the secret histories, the truth of the curse she had inherited, lay buried?

At the front of this grand foyer there were two hallways situated opposite one another. These led to an east and west wing that housed some Elders’ private quarters. According to the map, the cryptic great room that was Glenna’s destination waited at the end of the west wing. So down this narrow corridor they went, following dim blue light that burned in stone sconces.

Through the murk, Glenna noticed bookshelves were carved into the walls of the corridor, and behind wire mesh set in sturdy wooden frames leather tomes were kept safe. She realized, as she scanned the spines of the books and caught snippets of esoteric titles, the hallway must encompass a part of the Elders’ voluminous library. Within these walls, vast catalogs of magical knowledge were tucked away.

She ran her hand over the wire mesh stretched across a lower shelf. A rush of powerful energy tingled up through her arm. The sensation made her gasp.

“What if we were to open it?” Rebecca said.

Glenna turned and stared at her companion. Rebecca was such a quiet child. It was obvious she followed Jessica in much her Guild sister did. These impulsive words surprised Glenna very much.

“Part of me would like to,” Glenna said. “But, this isn’t what I’ve come for.”

“Don’t you want to see what’s inside?” As if mesmerized, Rebecca continued to stare at the shelf while she spoke.
Glenna touched her shoulder and shook her. “We should keep on course with the plan. We have to leave before the others return, or we’ll not make a safe escape.”

“No,” Rebecca said. “I want to see.”

She yanked Glenna’s hand off her shoulder and growled. The voice the child spoke in sounded too much like one of those haunting Glenna’s mind. Why would they possess Rebecca? Glenna closed her eyes and quickly went within, searching her mind and third eye for traces of Goddard and Corrigan. She could feel them, but their energies were faint. What kind of game were they playing, deserting her at a time like this, when she’d brought them this far? She wouldn’t bow to their whims now. This quest had become as much a part of her as the ghosts were, and she’d finish it with or without them. There were no other alternatives left.

She grabbed Rebecca and pushed her forward. The girl rammed into her and scratched at Glenna’s face before she knocked her to the hard floor. Rebecca yanked at the wire mesh covering the lower shelf. She clawed at the wood surrounding it. Before Glenna could get to her feet, the girl managed to break the hinges from the frame. She tore one panel free from the books.

The stones beneath Glenna shuddered as a violent vibration rippled through the rock. From somewhere down the corridor behind them, a thunderous crack echoed when the floor heaved up and shattered. She held onto Rebecca, while struggling to keep her balance atop the quaking granite. Shrapnel flew by her head as the fissure grew longer and moved closer. A sharp shard sliced a deep gouge into Rebecca’s cheek. The wound didn’t stop her from reaching for the book Glenna had touched, despite the blood that flowed down her face and soaked into the grey collar of her dress.

“Rebecca.” Glenna crawled to the girl and pulled her away. “We’ve got to go, now. You must stop.”

Larger stones flew past her now, and she held Rebecca as they both ran, crouched over, forward down the hall.

“I think you woke something up,” Glenna whispered. “Perhaps the house’s protector.”

The sound of more great stones smashing, like an angry giant coming for them, seemed to break the initiate’s trance. A boulder the size of a head struck a bookshelf opposite them and wood splintered while books scattered. Rebecca looked back the way they’d come then bolted in that direction. Glenna could barely keep up with her. She had to let go of the child.

As Rebecca fled, she heard her scream:

“The ground opened up and ate the witch women whole.”

Glenna wrapped her hand around her dagger and grabbed for the young initiate. Catching the girl by the wrist, she forced her to change direction. She hoped they reached the great room before whatever pursued reached them.

They rounded a corner in the corridor. She noticed a wedge-shaped cutout in the wall opposite her, a dark resting place she might’ve missed were she not searching for some form of refuge. The alcove was hard to see, and the darkness within held no torches to give away an occupant. She willed herself to run faster with Rebecca.

As she pulled a resistant Rebecca behind her toward the nook, a great groan emitted from the quavering stones beneath their feet. Glenna heard Rebecca scream as the floor below them split. She was thrown headfirst into the crevice, and Rebecca’s hand was yanked violently from hers.

There was a small, cushioned bench in the enclosure which Glenna used to prop herself up. She leaned on it and tried to summon strength. Her breathing came hard and fast as she held her bulging belly. Twinges in her lower abdomen spiked strong and insistent as the babes beat the inner walls of her womb. She winced, squeezing her eyes shut tight just as she heard Rebecca’s shriek once more.

Crawling to the entrance of the crevice, she peered out and searched for the girl. In the dim light cast by torches located farther down the corridor, she spied Rebecca.

The ground opened up and ate the witch women whole.

The girl pummeled her fists into the earth. Teeth fashioned from shale worked in conjunction with massive arms made of bleached roots to pull her into a muddy mouth. Long earthworms became a part of the monster, blending into its patchwork body as they wrapped their plump pink flesh around Rebecca’s fingers and wrists. Dirt rose up in waves around the girl and poured soil over her feet, her waist, her face.

“Rebecca,” Glenna shouted and reached out to the girl through the niche in the wall.

The earth slug turned its filthy head and growled at her. It was a warning, but it didn’t stop from enjoying its meal to give it. The hulking, squirming creature of stone and dirt continued to suck Rebecca inside the earth. White root held the girl’s mouth open while soil poured down her throat. Her screams were efficiently smothered.

* * * *

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh the horror!

"Come on, you bastard. Move!"

Jarresh gripped one of the worn steps of the ruins, panting and cursing in the late afternoon heat. Dust coated his hands and face, and blood oozed from the tips of his fingers. The stone wasn't very large, less than a square foot across its surface, but he had already torn off two nails trying to pry it loose from its place. Still, the dancer wasn't about to give up. He needed what was under that stone. Grunting, he heaved at the stubborn slab with all his strength. Slowly, inch by agonizing inch, it slid free from the steps. He gave one final tug and the ancient stone went tumbling down the stairs, rolling over his toes as it went.

"Shit!" Jarresh collapsed on the steps, clutching at his mashed appendages. Bad enough he had a six-inch gash in the other leg. Now he would limp on both sides.

Thankfully though, he wasn't going anywhere for a while. It had taken the dancer five hours to travel the last few miles to the deserted temple, faltering through the searing hot sand, but he had arrived while the sun was still in the sky. By his estimate, there were still two hours of daylight left. All he had to do now was wait for Orziel to show.

Of course, it would be nice if he could eat something and tend to his injuries until then. Wiping tears of pain from his eyes, Jarresh peered down into the hole left by the stone block. "Thank the gods," he sighed. He reached into the cache and pulled out a leather bag. The leather was desiccated, almost brittle, but inside he knew he would find dried meat, flint and steel, and clean clothing just as Orziel had promised. The dancer slung the bag over his shoulder and struggled to his feet, using a blasted column for support. He hobbled back inside the ruins and made his way to an open courtyard where a deep pool of crystal water shimmered beneath a blighted tree. Jarresh staggered toward the twisted scrub and slumped beneath it, taking refuge in its scant shade.

After stripping off his boots to examine his swelling toes, he took a moment to survey his surroundings. Jarresh knew little about the temple, only that Orziel claimed to use the place as a sanctuary, though from what the demon never said. The ruins were ancient, perhaps as old as the desert itself. Most of the main building had long ago turned to dust. Only the steps leading up to the crumbling altar still survived. But the outer gate and enclosed courtyard remained intact, with the sparkling pool a testament to some mysterious god long forgotten by the world of men. As the angry sun glared down at him through the shriveled leaves of the sickly tree, Jarresh dipped his hands into the water for a drink. The courtyard felt like an oven with its cracked flagstones baking in the suffocating heat. The only real shade to be found was underneath the portico of sculpted columns that surrounded the open yard. By some miracle, part of its roof remained and Jarresh briefly considered taking refuge there. Then he decided against it. As tempting as the cool, dark shadows looked, he was simply too weary to move.

He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. He wanted to sleep, but didn't dare. Since her initial attack in the desert, Myrrha had assailed his mind twice more. Each time he beat her back, but the efforts left him exhausted. He wondered when she would strike again, and how. If the sorceress managed to find some clothing and escape from the tavern, she would surely hunt him down. Jarresh shuddered at the thought of a face-to-face confrontation with the witch. He had very little in the way of weapons or defenses.

Still, he had one advantage. Twenty-five miles of harsh open desert stood between him and the sorceress. If Myrrha wanted him, she would have to travel very carefully. Otherwise, she would burn every step of the way. By the time Myrrha crossed the desert Orziel would be here, ready to take his body back. Reassured by that thought, Jarresh opened his eyes and grabbed the leather bag. He was digging out a piece of dried meat when he heard a hollow sound like a footfall on worn stone.

"Who's there?" The dancer dropped his food on the ground and sat up, instantly alert. He strained his ears to catch the sound again. The wind whispered through the stunted branches of the tree. His heart thudded in his chest. Shivering, Jarresh peered into the shadows of the portico but he saw nothing there.

"Just some loose stones," he told himself. "The whole damned place is falling apart."

He settled back against the tree. Keeping an eye on the growing shadows of the courtyard, he reached for the dried meat. When it hissed at him, he froze.

Not daring to move, Jarresh looked down. Where the meat had been, there was now a coiled black serpent. The creature's head rose up until it swayed scant inches from his outstretched hand. It hissed again, poison dripping from its yellow fangs.

Very slowly, Jarresh drew back his hand. The serpent weaved back and forth. Then without warning, it struck at him. With a scream, the dancer fell backwards and rolled away. He scrambled to his injured feet and staggered back as the scaly black worm slithered after him.

"Don't panic," he muttered. "Just stay out of its way..."

So intent was Jarresh on avoiding the serpent before him that he almost stepped on another behind him. He jerked as his foot touched the twisting body and spun away just in time to avoid being bitten.

"Aah!" He shrieked as a third serpent dropped out of the branches of the blighted tree and landed on his head. Flinging the ghastly thing away, he spotted two more diamond-shaped heads rising out of the depths of the pool. More serpents quickly followed, crawling out of every crack and crevice of the ruins until the entire courtyard became a writhing sea of hissing ebony coils.

"Ah, gods! No! No!"

Jarresh stumbled through the twisting turmoil, stepping on serpents as he went. They wrapped around his legs and dragged him to the ground, then coiled about his arms and neck. When one loathsome worm snaked its way inside his shirt, Jarresh went mad with terror. Wild-eyed and howling, he leapt to his feet and bolted toward the only haven in that roiling nightmare--the portico. He crossed the courtyard in three great bounds and was about to dive into the shadows beyond the pitted columns when he saw a nightmare even more horrifying than the vipers' nest behind him.


A pair of arms, burned black as any serpent, stretched out to ensnare him. Screaming, Jarresh backpedaled and fell into the undulating knot of glistening bodies. The serpents wrapped around him and he felt thousands of needle-sharp teeth sink into his flesh. As their corrosive poison flooded his veins, the dancer sank willingly into the sleep of death. Let the serpents kill him. He would rather die than fall back into the witch's hands...

From Demon By Day


I remember growing up, I used to watch a midnight movie show on Saturday nights. Dr. Madblood was the show to watch for thrills and chills, with and really bad B-movies interspliced with scenes of home-brewed comedy from the good doctor and his motley crew. I stayed up late so many Saturday nights, eyes glued to the tiny little TV set in my bedroom, the lights turned out and the sound on the tube turned down so low that even my mother with her super-sensative mom-ears couldn't hear a thing. Ya never wanted to wake my mom in the middle of the night. Trust me, if there was anything scarier than watching Dr. Madblood movies, it was seeing my mom show up in my room at 2 a.m., all ghastly and pale and sleep-deprived and screaming, "Turn that damned TV off right now and get to bed!"

I never developed a taste for the horror movies that showed in theaters while I was growing up. During my teen years it was all slasher flicks; no real kooky, creepy horror in that. I prefered older movies, the kind that starred Vincent Price and delivered the gore in glorious, livid technicolor. I still have a thing for those old shlock fests that show up on late night TV. In many ways, I think those movies formed my style of horror writing - lots of high drama with gothic settings and creepy characters all driven by out-of-this-world plot lines.


"My bleedin' time's always been as regular as the moon," Sarah whispered.

She stood on the porch, twisting her hands before the open door of the old house. Though the creaking boards beneath her feet were swept clean and the windows shone bright and clear in the moonlight, the place had an air of rot and neglect. The porch was as far as Sarah dared go. She wouldn't set foot through the front door, especially not at night.

"Regular, you say?" A voice as creaky as the wooden porch drifted back to her. "Like the moon that comes and goes each month. Only now it's stopped."

Old Hettie appeared in the doorway. Like the porch and the house, she seemed clean and neat, her homespun dress threadbare but well-kept. Yet she also carried a pungent air of decay, as though beneath her clothing and skin hid the corpse of a woman long since dead.

"Sometime last spring," Sarah replied, "I started missing months. I hoped I was pregnant, but..."

"But then you wake in the middle of the night, feeling like you're on fire and the Devil himself has carried you off to Hell." Old Hettie nodded. "Your bleedin' days are over, girl. You've grown old, like me."

Hettie gave a grin, and it was there in her black and broken teeth that Sarah saw a hint of the foulness the old woman kept hidden inside.

"I can't be old yet," Sarah pleaded. "I've only been married a few years."

"But you married late, and some women dry up sooner than others." Hettie cackled. "It happens, girl. What do you want me to do about it? Old Hettie is a midwife, a simple medicine woman. I can birth a baby, but I can't turn back the hands of time."

A tear spilled down Sarah's pallid cheek. "My Tom, he's gone astray. Ever since... ever since he found out, he's turned his attentions to another." She bowed her head, wrapped her brittle hands in her apron. "Some girl by the name of Lilly. Her family came here last year, looking for work in the mines. She must be half my age."

"Well your Tom's a young man," Hettie replied. "Younger than you and without any sons to speak of. It's only natural he seek out another woman."

"But he married me!" Sarah hissed. "And I love him. I **need** him!"

"Does he need you?"

Hettie stepped out onto the porch, and Sarah scurried back. She could smell it now, the scent of moldering leaves and rotting meat. The sickly sweet stench of death clung to the old woman and leaked out of her every pore.

"Accept it, girl," Old Hettie crooned. "There is a time of blood and a time of bone. The time of blood is the province of the young, and it runs hot and wild. But the time of bone is dead and dry as dust. You can't change the seasons. At least" she added slyly, "not without a sacrifice..."

From Appalachian Fall, published on the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast


For Halloween this year, the Hubster picked up a copy of Nightmare Before Christmas, in Blu-ray no less. My girls watched, enthralled with visions of dancing skeletons, singing vampires and clowns with tear-away faces. When I was there age, I used to take a flying leap into my bed at night to avoid being eaten by the monster underneath my bed. My girls are starting to do the same thing. I have a feeling they're going to grow up to be just like me, which means someday I'll be the hollow-eyed woman standing in the doorway, nightgown flapping and hair standing on end, screaming, "Turn of that TV and get to bed now!"

Now that's a scary thought!


Portrait of the writer as a young horror fiend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Raven & Skull

By Ashley Lister

The following is an excerpt from an unpublished novel I’ve been working on. The scene is set in the prestigious offices of a company called RAVEN & SKULL. Hopefully it answers the question: What do I find scary?

“Mr Wade,” Moira began.
She had the sort of raspy voice that suggested 40 a day - minimum. Tony could hear every syllable struggling to make its way through layers of yellowing phlegm and tar blackened lung material as Moira gasped his name in her gravel-strewn death rattle.
“I’m glad I found you here alone, Mr Wade. I’ve been wanting to talk to someone from management.”
Tony pointed to a seat and waited for Moira to sit down. His heart pounded from the surprise of discovering he wasn’t alone in the building. He didn’t particularly want to talk with Moira – ideally he would have been happier finishing his work and going home – but there was no polite way to dismiss her from the office without causing offence. Telling himself that a break from the workload might not be such a bad idea he stretched his neck until it cracked and then he settled back in his chair.
“What’s the problem, Moira?”
He could hear the sounds of the office around him as the building breathed. The heavy sigh of an expectant printer, the constant whisper of fluorescents above, and the tinny faraway crackle of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre building to its distant conclusion from his iPod speakers. He studied her eyes – the whites turned rheumy yellow and the pupils a black that was unnervingly deep – and waited for a response. Although Moira had been with the office since he began working there it was the first time he had sat in the same room with the woman and studied her at such close proximity. Her hair was a tangle of grey barbs. Her face was a relief map of porous flesh and ravine-deep wrinkles. There was a wart on her jaw line, a gnarled lump of discoloured flesh sprouting a dozen short black hairs. Tony thought the hairs looked like insect legs wriggling from beneath her skin. Previously he had thought Moira was another of the forgotten office drones; a dinosaur from accounts plodding toward extinction. But staring into her eyes, he got the impression that she might be far more than he had ever imagined. The thought trailed an icy finger down his spine.
“What’s the problem, Moira? What did you want to talk about?”
“I think I might have killed them.”
In her raspy, cancerous voice, Moira’s admission sounded gruesome. Tony’s smile faltered and he fumbled with the iPod for a moment to silence the nuisance of the whispered music.
“Killed them? Killed who?”
“Carole. Nicola. Shea. I think I killed them.”
“They weren’t murdered,” Tony reminded her. He wasn’t sure what he had expected when Moira appeared in his office but this confession was so far removed from his expectations he found himself doing mental gymnastics as he tried to understand what she was saying. “Carole had that unfortunate encounter with her boyfriend, Nicola had-”
“I know how they died, Mr Wade,” Moira rasped. She didn’t bother to hide her impatience. She sat close enough so Tony could smell the fetid scent of her breath when she spat the words. The pungent fragrance reminded him of sweat-stained sickbeds.
“I know that they died of supposedly natural causes,” Moira assured him. “But I still think I might have killed them. I think I might have killed all of them. And more besides. I think that’s what I do for Raven and Skull.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I’ve been knitting.”
This time Tony knew he was responsible for the protracted silence. He tried to work out if Moira’s comment was as absurd as it initially sounded, or if he could possibly be overlooking something obvious.
“You’ve been knitting?” The conversation had the surreal headiness of something from an art movie or a badly translated foreign language sitcom. He understood the words but the meaning behind those words was just a little bit beyond his grasp. Tony closed his eyes and rubbed the heel of one hand against his forehead. For a brief instant he expected Moira to have disappeared when he opened his eyes. To his disappointment, he found her still sitting there and facing him. Drawing a deep breath he said, “You’ve been knitting. And you think that killed Carole, Nicola and Shea?”
Moira nodded.
Forcing himself to appear patient Tony asked, “Why would you think that, Moira? You’ll have to explain it to me because I can’t quite see the connection.”
She graced him with a look of contempt that he had seen before. It was the same belligerent question he had seen in the eyes of too many lesser ranking employees who were either disgruntled or disappointed. It was a silent expression that asked, “How did you get to be in such a responsible position when you know so little?” Since moving up to management level Tony had become used to receiving the expression. It was most often shot at him during disciplinary hearings and assessment reviews.
“I knitted for each of them,” Moira began. She lowered her gaze to the file-cluttered surface of the boardroom table. Her creased and time-rumpled features looked painfully heavy. “I knitted for Carole, Nicola and Shea,” she murmured. “And now they’re all dead. It’s my fault.” She hitched a breath – the sound of an ugly animal in pain – and then raised her gaze to meet Tony’s. “Have you ever heard of the Fates?”
She was making no sense and jumping sporadically from one topic to another. Tony wondered if she was always like this or if this evening’s irrationality might be symptomatic of some condition. If he had known her a little better he would have felt qualified to judge. Because this was proving to be the longest conversation he’d ever had with Moira, he felt cruel deciding she was a fruitloop just because her way of speaking didn’t perfectly match his expectations.
“The Fates?” he repeated. He wondered if it might be a brand of knitting wool or maybe some pop group from a bygone era with which she was more familiar. Either seemed likely and promised to make as much sense as anything else in this abstract conversation. Glancing slyly at one of the open laptops on his desk, noting that the time was getting late, he fixed his smile into a rictus of forced politeness and said, “No, Moira. I don’t think I have heard of the Fates. What are they?”
“The Greeks called them the Fates. Clotho. Lachesis. Atropos.”
Tony said nothing. He was trying to think of a way to get Moira to leave the office so he could finish the remainder of his work and then puzzle about the new problem of Moira and her questionable sanity.
“The Fates controlled every destiny. Clotho span the thread of life. Lachesis measured the length of each thread. Atropos cut the thread with her abhorrèd shears.”
“One of us is fucking crazy, Moira,” Tony thought. He wondered if the crazy person in the room was the one spouting rubbish about Greek mythology or the one sat listening to her instead of getting on with a demanding workload of unpaid overtime.
“Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos,” Moira repeated.
Tony didn’t know why but those names conjured up images of three haggard crones bent over with age and the weight of their onerous tasks. It was easy to see them as the witches from Macbeth with their plotting, cursing and general doom prophecies. A rash of goosebumps tickled down his forearms.
“Greek Gods,” he said, nodding. “Is that who they were, yes?”
“No.” She regarded him with another sneer of contempt. “The Fates weren’t mere Gods.” She spat the final two words with a disgust that was palpable. “The Fates were so powerful that even the Gods feared them.”
“And what does this have to do with-”
“The Fates had the perfect system,” Moira broke in. “Clotho span the thread of life. Clotho was responsible for the quality and colour of each person’s life. Lachesis used her measuring rod to decide how long each person’s allotted time would be. And Atropos ended each of those lives with her abhorrèd shears.”
“Abhorrèd shears,” Tony thought. “That’s twice she’s said that now.” He didn’t like the phrase – it made him want to shiver and shift in his seat. “I still don’t see what these three-”
“They were like the Holy Trinity,” she exclaimed. “The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: one in essence.” Her low, raspy voice had increased in pitch and volume.
Listening to her, Tony had the lunatic idea that he was hearing something older than time. There was the mad thought at the back of his mind that, if he concentrated just a little harder, all her words would begin to make sense and he might stumble on truths he had never really wished to uncover. He rubbed his forehead again.
“It’s been a long day,” he began wearily. “And you must think I’m a real idiot for not getting this straight away. But I don’t know how your knitting and these three gods-”
“-Fates,” he amended, “all tie together with Carole, Nicola and Shea’s deaths.” He flexed a grin that was meant to inspire sympathy and maybe some understanding.
Moira stared at him with dead black eyes.
“What am I missing?”
“I think I’m the Fates,” Moira told him. Her voice returned to its previous tone. She spoke in a low, coarse whisper. “I’m the essence of Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.”
Tony nodded and tried to present a façade that was solemn with sage understanding. “Nutty as a fucking fruitcake,” he decided. First thing in the morning he was going to send a memo to human resources and have them arrange a leave of absence for Moira. If there was any way of insisting on a psychiatric evaluation before she was allowed to return to the office then he was going to make that recommendation too.
“Last week I took it on myself to knit Carole a woolly jumper,” Moira said earnestly.
Tony glanced at the open laptops and realised his overtime was now a lost cause. It would take the best part of an hour after he was rid of Moira to get his thoughts back to the zone where they had been when he was reorganising schedules and remembering the technicalities of all the clients being dealt with by Carole, Nicola and Shea. The thought was disheartening and he had to make a physical effort not to show his anger to Moira.
“I’d thought she looked cold,” Moira continued. “I know it’s fashionable for young girls to wear short skirts and next to nothing in the way of clothes, but Carole always looked chilly because of it.”
“Carole died of extensive head trauma,” Tony said softly.
Moira wasn’t listening. “I remember cutting the final thread for her jumper at ten o’clock on Sunday night. Last Sunday night. The news had just come on the telly. When I close my eyes I can still hear the theme tune to the news. That and the rusted snipping sound of those abhorrèd shears.”
Tony studied her warily.
“When I came into the office on Monday, I had the jumper wrapped up in a parcel for her. Nicola was crying and she told me that Carole had died the previous night. She told me that Carole had died at ten o’clock – just when I was cutting her thread.” Moira stayed silent for a moment, allowing Tony to digest what she had said.
He shook his head. “No. That’s just coincidence.” The acoustics in the boardroom stopped his words from carrying any real conviction.
“Nicola asked me what was in the parcel,” Moira continued. Her low and raspy voice was now a flat monotone. There was no inflection of remorse or upset in the way she spoke. She was either mechanically reiterating facts. Or she had simply stopped caring. “Nicola thought the wool I’d used on Carole’s jumper was lovely. It was a lilac cashmere. She asked if I had any left and, when I said I had a little, she asked if I could knit a beret for her.”
Tony shifted uneasily in his chair.
Moira’s level gaze remained fixed on him. “I finished knitting that beret on the Monday night. Do you know what time I finished?”
“I really think you’re making-”
“Do you know what time I finished? Do you know what time I cut her thread with my abhorrèd shears?”
Tony thought, “Stop saying those words!” Aloud he said, “Nicola died at six o’clock. She was hit by a train and died instantly.”
“That’s when I finished her beret.”
Her lips parted and the corners twisted upward. Tony saw that she was attempting a hideous parody of a smile. The result made him nauseous.
“Are you starting to believe me, Mr Wade?”
He coughed and cleared his throat. “This is foolishness, Moira.” He tried to inject an appropriate note of authority into his voice but it refused to ring with any real conviction. “This is nothing more than coincidence and, if you sat down and thought about it, you’d realise that I’m right. You’re not these Greek Gods-”
“-Fates. You’re not these Greek Fates. You’re just Moira from accounts who enjoys knitting in her spare time. You’ve obviously been upset by the death of your colleagues. We’ve all been upset and we’re all grieving. But I think you could use the help of a counsellor. I’m going to recommend to human resources that they arrange for-”
“I figured it out with Nicola,” Moira told him.
Her words killed everything Tony had been about to say.
“When Nicola died at six o’clock, the same time I was cutting her thread, I knew my knitting was responsible for her death. I found out about it on the Tuesday. I was sick to the stomach thinking that I’d done that to her and I wondered how I could prove it and how I could try to make amends. That was when I started to knit a scarf for Shea.”
Tony simply stared at her.
“You can write a reprimand for me if you like,” Moira went on. “But I didn’t bother doing any work for the office that morning. I simply picked up my needles and pulled out some black wool I’d brought with me. I thought about Shea because – well…” Her level gaze skewered Tony to his seat. “…I’m sure you can understand why I chose Shea.”
The smile had disappeared from her face. She now wore an expression of cold intensity. “I saw him smirking at the water cooler. He’d just made a crass remark about Nicola catching the train. He was talking to that nice girl Heather and she looked appalled by his insensitivity. That’s why I picked on him. I told him I was going to knit him a scarf to keep himself warm now winter was approaching. He said he wanted one as long as his cock, so he suggested I should go out and get some more wool. Then he laughed in that cruel and nasty way of his. It made me more anxious to knit the scarf for him. I’ve never done any knitting as industrious as that. If I had any sense for the fanciful I’d be telling you that sparks were flying from the tips of my needles as they clashed together. I really was working at a blistering speed but I think, if anyone had seen me, they would have just noticed an old woman with her knitting, making a rather formal scarf. I cut his thread exactly at noon. Do you remember what time Shea died, Mr Wade? I think you do remember because you were the one who spoke to the police about the incident, weren’t you?”
“The lift malfunctioned at noon,” Tony said quietly.
“Noon,” Moira repeated. “I cut his thread at noon and I killed him.”
“No.” Tony shook his head. “I refuse to accept that this is anything more than coincidence. You’re just-”
“Would you like me to knit you something, Mr Wade?”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Am Julia

I believe I exist.

Here in the dark, naked, lonely, I believe this is me. I am the voice. No matter who is speaking. I believe there is no such thing as forgetting.

I am a bundle of words, like a bag of onions from the bodega. I am made of words as a cake is made from flour and spice. I pray to God as often as I am awake and there is no answer. I don’t hate God. Does God hate me?

I'm worried this may already be Hell. Was I so bad? I would have gone to Easter mass, but Jorge wouldn’t let me. I tried to go anyway, really I did, until he had to beat me so bad for being stubborn and when he got me crying, he held me down and put his thing in me to teach me a lesson. After that it was too hard to walk, and I had no good white dress to wear to mass anymore. If I had some bleach I would have gotten the blood out before it dried. That is not my fault. I think. But maybe I was supposed to go anyway. I should have had bleach. It's maybe my fault.

I believe I am not alone. Somewhere a woman is being beaten with fists. When she falls she will be kicked, even if there is a baby inside her. Somewhere men are holding a girl down until they are finished with her. No one will hear her cry. I feel as though they are all crowded here together with me, filling my little cell. All of us. Hello!

Jorge is cruel. He is not wise. I wish I could be loved by a wise and cruel man. Wise to know me to the bottom. Cruel to punish what is wrong with me so that I can be clean and free of all sin. Then God will love me.

I believe I was made for love, if God would give me a fair chance. If I were God I would love everyone the same. Everyone would be very rich. There would be food and parties and cakes for everyone. There would be no pain anywhere in all the whole world. No one would be alone, even if they're as ugly as me. There would be only love and cakes and happiness.

A young woman stays by her child even when it dies inside her. An old woman wipes the drool from an old man's face. A woman is made for love even when love is all Hell. God speaks more clearly when you are broken.

I believe I will die very soon. I believe it will be quick. I believe after I die I will be happy, I don’t know how I know, but I just know it’s going to be all right in the end. That's what my God wants for me. My God wants me to be all right. I believe that.

"Order up. Caramel latte. Garce."

There are so many people in here today. Aw geez, that soccer mom in the little shorts. Goddamn, she's got a sweet sized pair on her or what. And she’s got her nips sticking out a mile. Oh my god, somebody shoot me. She's wearing a sports bra all right; she’s one of those ladies whose tits stick up when she's nervous. That guy sitting next to her, just think, he probably knows what she looks like naked. Looks hard to get a long with though, at least when she's standing up.

Brown sugar. Looks like this shit is all milk and no coffee. Okay.

Look at that. CNN's on top of that earthquake in Indonesia. They're still pulling dead kids out of that collapsed school building. Oh my God. Look at that. Geezus. They look like gray meat. The men have handkerchiefs pulled over their faces like bandits because the bodies stink so bad. I don't even know how to write about something like that. The Universe is a fucking run away train and nobody's at the wheel. It’s a fucking run away train where they charge three bucks for boiled milk that tastes like shit.

Back to the salt mine - where did I leave off. Shower scene. Rape scene. Almost spilled this shit in my keyboard. Feels weird writing stuff like this when there’s a huge pair of tits sitting a few feet away like that. It’s hard to keep my eyeballs on the keyboard. I wonder if she’s got a boob job. I’ll bet she’s got a beef up of some kind. Maybe the guy paid for it.

Cell scene, this is the part where they take her to the shower and try to rape her. Should they really rape her? No one will publish it if they really rape her, but I don't give a shit anymore. Maybe I'll try it both ways and see where the truth is. I've rewritten this shit so many times and can't get it right. I should research it, but how do you research something like that? Here we go. Again.

". . . . She couldn’t stand up in the little room, because the tearing pain in her rectum became unbearable when she straightened her back. She felt wetness there when she tried to raise up. She reached back and touched her rectum gently. She sniffed her fingers. They smelled like pennies. Slowly, carefully, she rolled onto her knees and resting on her elbows, felt the darkness with her hands. The room was very small, a little bigger than a clothes closet in a gringo house.

The aloneness was the worst thing. It was bad to be so broken up, but to be alone in this condition seemed like the bottom, the worst that things could get. It was terrifying to be so hurt, and to be so alone. She lay back despondently on the ground and wept. She fell asleep weeping, her ribs answering each sob with bursting pain.

“You. Out.”

She opened her eyes and the light from the hallway stunned her. . . . "

Coffee tastes like crap. Its all boiled milk. There's too many "she's" leading sentences in that first paragraph, that won't work. It's monotonous. Doesn't read right.

Aw shit, look at that. All those dead kids on the news. Who's running this world? I could do a better job playing God myself. Hell, I'd be good at it.

I am the need, waiting in the dark. I wish I could be clean. I want to take a shower. More than anything. Someone is opening my door. The light from the hall is blinding. Soon I will be free. They will be kind to me, because my God would not let me suffer like this. My God is kind and good. I have faith. I am not abandoned.

I believe I exist.

(Julia Demaso is a character in "Miss Julias Cake Club", a work in progress.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shiver with Fright...or Delight

by Jude Mason

Terror and erotica, the two can definitely go hand in hand. A perfect topic for this time of the year, don't you think?

You may remember me telling you about my Roses. Roses Have Thorns and in this book, they do. Think of a young woman. She's out on her own, unable to find a decent job and thus turns to a life of prostitution. Sure, she's heard the stories about girls being mugged, raped, or worse, but it can't happen to her, right? Or can it?

A storm drenches the city, the johns aren't out, it's too miserable for them. Yet Rose is on her stroll. The rent has to be paid, food bought, she needs the money to survive.

A car approaches and a flash of warning makes her stop, but only for a second. It's cold, she's freezing. The car promises a warm haven if only for an hour or two.

Can you feel your heart racing for my Rose?

Can you imagine the fear she must feel every time she approaches a stranger in a dark car?

Here's a snippet of what happens to my lovely, sexy Rose:

A few short hours later, Rose was no more. In her place was a mindless, mutilated wretch. Naked, almost dead, she crawled. Not feeling the torrential rain or the cold wind, she inched forward. Blood ran in tiny rivulets from the many cuts decorating her too-white flesh and was washed away by the downpour. More trickled from her lacerated sex, and poured from her torn rectum. Several teeth were loose, one in the front gone, lost during her futile attempt to break free. Tears streamed from her eyes, both blackened and swollen almost shut.

Finally, her strength failed. She collapsed. Laying unconscious next to the dumpster, her body gave up. When her spirit fled, something entered and took control of the horrendously abused shell that had been Rose.

No one saw the convulsions that tore at the broken, skeletal frame. No one saw her shudder and rise to a sitting position. And, no one heard the mewling whimpers that spewed like demon-honey from her throat as the pain blossomed and grew, then inexplicably faded. Her eyes, somehow wide and staring, shone much too brightly in the gaunt pale face. And when she smiled, it was as if her face had split. A jagged snagle-toothed grimace, while she maniacally stared at nothing. There was no joy there, just a terrible quest for vengeance.


Do you still feel sorry for her? Or perhaps the man who did this to her is the one who should fear.

Then there are the ghosts who bring nothing but pleasure. Ghost of a Chance was one such story. A little shiver at the right moment, a mouth...or what felt like one. There goes that racing heart again...

"Open your legs again. Let me suck you," a deep, masculine voice whispered from inside his mind—from between his legs. Where?

He eased his knees apart, pushing his toes against the bundled sheets, spreading his legs comfortably wide. Cool bedding against his inner thighs sent a shiver of pleasure up his spine. He pushed his hands down his thighs, around to the inside then back up, hands again going to his sac.

"Yeah," he murmured, more asleep than awake. His balls shifted, and he moaned. Felt good. Sleep reached for him, drawing him into its quiet embrace.

A mouth, that man's he was sure, engulfed the head of his cock. He didn't have to move, he knew it, trusted his knowing. Simply laid back and enjoyed the wet suckling of his glans and the tongue delving into the oozing slit. His ass cheeks clenched. Butt cheek rubbed against butt cheek. Anus itched. He wanted—something.

The face was there, the dark eyes peering up at him. Amused, teasing.

His cock pulsed, the head battering at the back of his throat, that man's throat. Swallowed, squeezed, released, deliciously squeezed again on its way into his gullet.

Firmly, his balls caressed, pulled on, milked by the expert touch of another man. Only another man could know how to pull only so far, until a bare hint of pain itched at his inner thighs.

A finger slipped back between is ass cheeks, searching, delving, for the dark, moist hole nestled between his glutes. He knew it. Knew it as surely as he knew he was about to fill that mouth with a load of cum. Touched, pressed against, the relaxed ring accepting, welcoming the digit slowly eased inside.

Groaning, he flexed his butt, his excitement growing yet still he slumbered. A dream, he knew it had to be a dream, and even thinking it made him doubt. The groan came from some distance, couldn't be from him.

"Yes, you like this. You always liked it up the ass," the smooth masculine voice crept into his sub-conscious, pushing his excitement up a notch.

He wanted to shift, to push his hips up, to bury the deliciously wicked digit deeper into his hungry ass. Sweat trickled down his ribs. He felt that, or dreamed it.

"My sweet Daniel, let me fuck you the way we both love it," the voice droned.

Robert knew it was wrong, somehow, but he didn't want it to end. It'd been so long since he'd had anyone, and the sensation was driving him insane. He gripped the sheets, then fought to relax his hands. Who was Daniel?

The intruding finger probed a little deeper, finding the nut-sized prostate gland all too eager and ready to be stimulated. His cock throbbed, wetness touched his stomach.

He pulled his legs up, his knees towards his chest. Asleep, he had to be asleep.

Filled, his ass stretched, the opening pressed against, the membrane taut as something wet and slick and beautifully hard slid inside him. Again, the head of his cock engulfed in smoothness, pulsed.

Close, he was so damn close, his blood raced. His fingers and toes clenched. He wanted to scream. He ached to thrust. He trembled with the desire to grab and hold, and touch, and he knew he was alone.

Do you think fear, terror can add to the excitement? I'd love to know!

Monday, October 26, 2009

One Night at Grandma's

By Jenna Byrnes

When I was a child, we'd travel regularly to visit my grandparents who lived two hours away in an old farmhouse. My older brother, whose main goal in life was to torment me, liked to tell me spooky stories about the farmhouse. These invariably kept me from a good night's sleep. But no story came close to what he and I witnessed firsthand, one night at grandma's.

Our family history contained a sad and scary (to parents everywhere) tale about my uncle who died as a small child. The house, built by my great-grandfather (or maybe two greats in there, can't remember) had a long flight of stairs leading to the bedrooms on the upper floor. One Christmas morning, my uncle, who must have been three years old at the time, found a shiny, red tricycle under the tree. He pestered and pestered for someone to take him outside to try out the trike, but his parents and older siblings were busy opening their holiday gifts. The way the story goes, no one noticed little Jimmy missing until he hollered and got their attention. There he was, at the top of the stairs, sitting on his tricycle. How he dragged it up there, to this day, no one knows. Just as his folks dashed to the staircase, Jimmy shoved off to take the bumpy ride of his life. He finally fell off the trike about two-thirds of the way down, snapping his neck in the process. He died instantly, and was buried three days later in a family plot on the back edge of the farm.

Fast forward thirty years or so. My grandmother made the best homemade candy by melting big Hershey bars and adding nuts and marshmallows, or sometimes a simple layer of peanut butter between two chunks of chocolate. My brother and I could never get enough of the stuff-because mom would cut us off after a couple pieces. But after the grown-ups were in bed, the candy was left unattended. We'd sneak out to the enclosed porch just off the living room, where grandma kept her table of treats, and indulge in some late night chocolaty goodness.

One night, after we were sure the elders were asleep, my brother and I slipped out of our makeshift beds on the laundry room floor, and tripped out to visit the candy. Just as we rounded the corner to the living room, we heard a noise at the top of the stairs. We froze, fearful it was mom--or worse yet, dad--catching us in the candy-thieving act. Hugging the wall, neither of us scarcely dared to take a breath. When we saw who was on the stairs, the air couldn't whoosh from my lungs fast enough. A small boy, on a shiny red tricycle, hurtling down the stairs at an amazing speed. Only this time, he didn't fall off the trike. He rode it all the way to the landing and raced past my brother and I. His face was a mask of victorious triumph. We turned our heads to follow him and see where he'd end up, but the boy and trike vanished as they reached the stone fireplace.

I'm lucky I only wet my pants that night. My brother didn't say a word, just helped me clean up the puddle with some paper towels and we both hurried back to our beds. I changed into clean pajamas and crawled into my sleeping bag, which I scooted a little closer to my sister. She might have wondered why, but she never asked.

It took my brother and I years before we could talk about that night. Both of us remembered it the same way, and we never talked about it again. We didn't sneak out for candy after that, either. And when grandma and grandpa sold the farm and moved into town, I wasn't unhappy. That place literally scared the piss outta me.


The one thing I forgot to tell you about this story is that none of it is true. Okay, my dad was Jimmy, he did live in a farmhouse when he was a kid, and he did ride his trike down the staircase (he survived, thankfully, or I wouldn't be here to tell the tale.) Oh, and my grandma did make the greatest chocolate candy, but grandma was a softie and I got all I wanted. (Weight Watchers thanks her.) The only other part of the story that's true? I would have peed my pants if anything like that ever happened to me.

'Now That's Scary' was a great topic choice for Halloween week, but I had not one freaking thing to contribute. Nothing very scary has ever happened to me, thank heavens. So I decided to make something up. I'm a writer after all. And this being my last post for Oh Get a Grip, I wanted to leave with a bang instead of a whimper. *grin*

I've enjoyed blogging here these past months, and meeting a lot of new people. Time constraints and other obligations are bogging me down, so I'm going to bow out. Devon Rhodes, another erotic romance author from Total E-Bound, will begin blogging here next week. I look forward to reading her take on the new topics, and I'll see the rest of you around the web. Thanks for the great run, and Happy Halloween!!!

~ Jenna

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things That Go Bump

By Lisabet Sarai

The costume worked its magic. I was astonished at how regal I looked, and how desirable. The bodice pinched my waist to tiny dimensions, and forced my breasts upwards. The square-cut neckline drew attention to my swelling flesh, barely hiding my nipples. In fact, they were not hidden at all. Though I'd lined the top with muslin as the pattern specified, the tight nubs were clearly visible through several layers of fabric.

I cradled my breasts and used my thumbs to trace circles around those sensitive buds. With each cycle, the spring of tension in my cunt wound tighter. A light flick of my thumbnail sent electricity down my spine and triggered spasms of pleasure. I worried briefly that the juices trickling out of my cunt would spoil the satin. But after all, what did it matter? There was no one to see me tonight, no one to please but myself.

"You certainly do look sexy. Like something right out of de Sade."

"What? Who...?" I whirled around in confusion, my heart slamming against my ribs. The voice had been close, right next to my ear. Yet the room was empty, unchanged. The same rippling walls, the same thread-bare carpet, the same rusty stains on the ceiling. The rumpled bed where I'd had my tantrum. The almost-empty glass on the dresser.

Ah, the liquor. I must be more drunk than I thought. I turned back to the mirror, searching my face for signs of intoxication, and yelped as something, someone, pinched my nipples.

"Hey! That hurts." Indignation overwhelmed fear.

"It does, at first. But afterward, it changes, doesn't it? Afterward, it feels quite delicious." I stared at my image, mouth hanging stupidly open, as invisible hands caressed my tits. Strong hands, gentle hands, hands that seemed to know exactly how to make me shiver with delight. "That's what most people don't understand about pain. It's the gateway to the most exquisite pleasure."

The voice was a melodious baritone, rich, deep, hypnotic. "You fear the pain, but that's foolish. You must surrender to the pain. Let it move through you. Let it wash away your doubts and your inhibitions. Let it open you to ecstasy."

Firm, unseen lips nibbled at my neck. A warm, wet tongue traced the curve from below my ear to my exposed shoulder, then down to the hollow at my throat. With each touch, extravagant new species of pleasure bloomed in my sex. I closed my eyes and let my head fall back, savoring the delicate caresses and the amazing sensations that they triggered in my cunt.

Then suddenly, something sharp pierced the rounded flesh of my shoulder. I screamed, surprise heightening the agony that gripped me, and tore myself away from the grasp of the unseen intruder.

My reflection made me gasp in horror and wonder. Droplets of blood oozed from several wounds on my shoulder, wounds arranged in the distinctive semi-circular shape of a bite.

I felt an arm around my waist, pulling me backwards against the unmistakable bulk of a male body. I struggled against his seemingly supernatural strength.

"Let me go!" There were fingers at my back, unlacing and loosening the bodice, working their way into my top.

"Is that really what you want?" A hand snaked into the opening I had left in the voluminous skirts -- a slight modification I had made to the pattern. After all, what was the point of wearing a sexy costume if it made you inaccessible?

Cool fingertips wandered up the inside of my thigh, smearing the damp of my secretions into my bare skin. My clit ached in anticipation. A fresh flow of lubrication made my thighs damper still. "I think that you actually want something else." He found his way into my folds and began massaging the swollen bud at my center.

I moaned and arched backward, my body taking over while my mind whirled in confusion and disbelief.

"Who -- what -- are you?" He slid two fingers deep into my sopping cunt, making me writhe.

"Does it matter?" Now his thumb beat rapidly against my clit, while his fingers stroked my depths. His other hand pumped my tit in the same rhythm. I felt the first shimmers of orgasm, far away like heat lightning on the prairie horizon.

"I am who I am, and I know what you want. What you need." He captured one swollen nipple and squeezed, waking echoes of his previous assault. I yelped and twisted, trying to get away but succeeding only in impaling myself more completely on the hand in my cunt. "Let yourself go, Rebecca," he murmured close to my ear. Lost in a fog of arousal and terror, I hardly wondered that he should know my name.

From Rendezvous

I've written my share of paranormal stories: ghosts, vampires, shape shifters. My creatures are rarely very frightening, though. You'd think that being accosted by an invisible presence in a seedy motel room in the middle of nowhere would be scary as hell, but my character Rebecca is a lot like me—she is more fascinated by the supernatural then terrified. Not to mention aroused.

Magic, even black magic, doesn't scare me. I grew up believing in powers beyond the material world and in some sense I still do (more on this next week). Discovering that the dead walk the earth or that eternal blood drinkers actually exist would give me a thrill. Okay, I'll admit that I've never actually met a ghost or a vampire. My real world reaction might be different than my hypothetical, literary response. I wouldn't bet on that, however. My sense of wonder might well overcome my natural fear.

The things that scare me are far more mundane. Domestic violence. Terrorism. Cancer. Our world is rife with horrors. There's no need to look to the next.

Even when I create a cruel, amoral monster, there's excitement mixed in with the fright. Here's a brief passage from “Fourth World”, my vampire tale that was just released as part of D.L.King's anthology The Sweetest Kiss.

Mai lays a finger on his lips. “Don’t come yet, little boy. I want you to last a long, long time.” Her finger meanders down over his chin, tracing the line of his throat, down between his erect nipples. As it travels, she increases the pressure. I can see the indentation of her sharp fingernail. By the time she reaches his solar plexus, a red trail follows the finger’s progress. Very slowly, she slices through the skin of his belly, centimeter by centimeter, watching his face. He seems to be in ecstasy.

Blood wells up from the cut. She gathers some with her fingers, licks it off, her eyes closed as if she’s savoring the taste. “Lovely,” she murmurs. “Truly delicious.”

She rocks back and forth on his cock, wringing choked groans from Jeremy’s throat. “Magnificent,” she sighs. Her dagger-like nails open a wound across his right breast. This one is deeper, and bleeds more. Mai bends to lap hungrily at the red fountain. At the same time she pumps him with her pussy, writhing on top of him.

The more blood she drinks, the more excited she becomes. Her nails flash across Jeremy’s torso, carving bloody furrows into his fair skin. Her mouth sucks the ruddy fluid that trickles from a gash near his collarbone. She licks up the gore that pools in his navel. All the while she is bouncing on his obviously still hard cock, moaning and twisting, grinding her pelvis against him.

Then she stops suddenly, breathing hard, her alabaster breasts damp with sweat. “But I should save something for poor Harry, shouldn’t I? You can come, though, little one.” She arches back, and Jeremy yells, again and again. She is milking him, pulling the come from his body. At the same time, she slashes her lethal nails across his throat.

She rises from his twitching body, bends and laps at his bleeding throat. He is still alive. The wound is not that deep. His penis jerks and shudders as she drinks, still hard. Still aroused by her irresistible allure.

“That’s enough for you, for now. I don’t want to use you up all at once.” She turns to me, her black eyes gleaming. “Now, Harry, what about you?” She kneels between my spread thighs. “Are you ready for some fun?”

I should scream. I should fight her. I should too frightened to be aroused. My cock should be limp with terror like the rest of me.

I’m hard as granite.

Scary? Just enough to turn me on. That's why I love Halloween—a celebration of the dark side where fear acts as an aphrodisiac.