Category Archives: #Monsters

#OctoberFrights – The Pluff Mud Seance Part V

Welcome to the 2017 #OctoberFrights blog tour. There’s a lot of great contributions this year, and a massive multi-author Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Welcome to the fifth installment of The Pluff Mud Seance. We’re closing in on the finale tomorrow. If you missed any of them to date, here’s Part IPart II, Part III and Part IV.

The unseasonably warm air buzzed with gnats and a john boat’s trolling motor navigating its way through the channel to the river. If whoever was in the boat didn’t get out on the water soon, the tide would be out and they’d spend most of the day stuck in the muck under the sun, Amber thought to herself.
A Sprinter van plastered with Thad’s face tinted with night vision green, and the ‘Haunted or Haint It?’ logo on the side rolled in, taking up three parking spots.
“Girl, keep that smile on, no matter what.” Derek squeezed Amber’s hand, and let go, pushing her out onto the porch. “I’ve got your back.”
She stumbled, and caught herself on the nearest column. “How sweet of you. Get out here.”
Thad slung a beaten leather bag over his shoulder, and waved on his way to the house. His producer Tricia, the short brunette crossfit junkie from New York, her mouth and legs running to keep pace with her meal ticket. Two more men unloaded gear out of the back of the van.
Thad whispered something to the producer, stopping the chatter. “Miss Simpson, you’ve already met Tricia Allison, my living and breathing calendar.”
“Mister Taylor.” Amber gave a curt nod. “Hi Tricia. Good to see you again. This is Derek Greene, my business partner and fellow medium.”
“That’s our camera crew Dave and Brad.” Thad halfheartedly pointed over his shoulder at the garden. Tricia whispered in his ear. “I mean, Dan and Steve.”
Amber chided, “Which is which?”
Thad looked over his shoulder, and realized he was pointing to the wrong spot.
“Green shirt is Juan, and the red shirt is Will.” Tricia nodded to the van and crew, cutting a look at Thad. “We’ll be filming B Roll most of the day, and scouting the location for tonight. We’ve brought the tables, chairs, candles and other props for the séance shoot, unless that’s a problem for you.”
“Not at all.” Amber held out with a map of the ground with numbers, and a stack of notes. “I would like a chance to look it over in the daylight though. Unless that’s a problem.”
Tricia shrugged, “Whatever. We do the walk and talk in the house at five once you’ve shut down for the day, set up the séance scene about seven and start the live feed promptly at nine. No cameras near or on your deal inside until they leave around ten-thirty. Is that acceptable?”
“That will be fine.” Amber shook hands with the producer. “Derek or I will be available should you need anything, but it is a busy day for us.”

~

Viola guffawed, “I floated my eyeballs through the air. The little fellow kept pointing them out and calling them really big ‘spirit orbs.’ He even chased me into the poison sumac. He’s going to be itching for days.”
“That Miss Tricia is quite insistent.” Lula Rose folded her hands across her stomach. The others seemed to like the different floral scents I used on them, except for her. I suppose she is not one for the botanicals. I did go knocking on things, they seemed to get all excited over a little noise.”
“I’m glad you ladies had fun with them today.” Amber shook her head at the two old ladies. Even curmudgeonly Viola looked to be enjoying teasing the television crew. “Constance? “
“Oh my.” Constance looked almost solid, except for the sunlight shining through her. “I managed to show enough of myself today that they said something about getting a walking shadow on their device. Kept complaining about their batteries running dry.”
“Remember, we want them to get hints you’re real, and get it on tape.” Amber looked out of the window of the office. “But no harm I suppose. Any idea where they’re at right now?”
“Down at the old dock I suppose.” Lula Rose mused. “They were carrying furniture out there. I can only imagine being eaten alive out there by the no-seeums.”
“It’s about that time. All of you keep them on their toes until tonight.” Amber rifled through her desk drawer, pulling out a can. It was late in the season, but the insects were still pretty bad. “I’ll carry down a bottle of bug spray as a sign of good faith.”
“I’d have thought the little bloodsuckers would leave them alone out of professional courtesy.” Derek picked up a box full of candles. “I’m going to get the ballroom set up while you go see your boyfriend.”
Amber gave him the universal hand gesture, indicating he was number one in her book, and took off for the stairs. Walking into the parking lot, bickering sounds drew her attention to the back of the Haunted or Haint It? van.
Tricia and one of the cameramen were snapping at each other. She threw her navy crusher onto the ground in a fit.
“Everything okay?” Amber announced at a safe distance.
“Everything’s fine.” Tricia gave a dismissive wave, and picked up her discarded hat. “A small technical problem.”
“Since you mention it,” Juan held up a battery pack, “Got somewhere we could charge a couple of these? We’re about tapped out. This happens sometimes.”
Amber suppressed a little grin and motioned to the house. “Derek is inside. You can charge them in the office.”
The cameraman ambled towards the house, and Tricia kept pace with Amber en route to the dock. “How did your day go on the grounds?”
“Fine.” Tricia’s voice could shave ice into a mint julep. “Couldn’t have gone any smoother. Are you ready to do a quick shoot, out at the dock while we still have some sunlight?”
The floating dock rested just above the water with the tide just starting to roll back in. Small gusts of unseasonable wind tousled the taller clusters of cordgrass, sending birds nesting down for the night into tantrums.
Thad sat in a hardback wooden chair, the setting sun turning the bands of clouds into a mosaic of scarlet and crimson with violet accents as his backdrop. “…research into the plantation, I found my own – no, that still isn’t right.”
“Thad.” Tiffany waited for the cameraman to give the high sign to step onto the creaking boards. “Let’s do the quick five so Amber can do her thing.”
Thad rose, and held out a chair for Amber. “We’re going to just do a few quick Q and A’s for tonight’s lead in, if that’s okay with you.”
Amber shifted to half-face the camera. A shadow flitted nearby.
Thad settled into his chair, “We’re here with Miss Amber Simpson, the –“
“Wait.” The cameraman raised his hand. “That weird clicking, scratching sound is back again.”
Amber focused in on the shadow. In the sunlight, it was harder to pick out the details, but Viola came into focus, rubbing her fingers along the foam of the boom mike. She waved a quick finger at the spirit, who decided to shuffle further onto the dock, causing the boards to groan.
“It’s quit again.” The cameraman gave a thumbs up.
“We’re here-“
“Damnit.” Tiffany swiped her hand at her floating hat and missed. The merest outline of Lula Roses’ thin and nimble form had the Navy crusher in her hands, sending Tiffany into a less interpretive dance than a toddler trying to find their legs and swinging at the old aunt coming in for a mustached kiss. Ultimately, the hat swiveled into the marsh. Tiffany held onto the post, and tentatively moved to step onto the ground.
“I wouldn’t do that.” Amber nodded to her merry pranksters. “You won’t get that hat back, and you’re likely to lose a shoe, or worse.”
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” Tiffany hung from the wooden piling.
“The pluff mud giveth life, and beach winds take the odd sacrifice.” Amber lifted a pole used to pull in small boats off its hooks, and retrieved the lost clothing. Plucking the now muddy hat off the pole, she offered it back to its owner. “That’s one achievement unlocked to become a Carolina girl.”
“That’s supposed to be a good thing?” Tiffany sniffed the muddied hat, and shoved it into the camera bag.

~

“I’m going back to the van to splice to upload the video, and see what they can splice together out of this mess. The audio sucks, but it looked like your feed with Simpson was about the only clean shoot of the day.” Tiffany powered off the camera. “Can’t wait to get out of here.”
“Aw, you’re not buying into all this, are you?” Thad fired up his hand held night vision camera, doing a test sweep of the bay, still a sea of color from the warmth of the day against the chilled water.
“God no.” She scoffed. “Just some locations suck to shoot in, and this seems to be one. I’ll see you at the van in a half hour.”
“Sweet.” Thad gave the thumbs up. “I’m going to walk around a bit, and get a last lay of the land in the dark before we start the live feed.”
Thad pocketed the camera, and turned on a small red headlamp. Taking mental notes about spots to do live shoots, and figuring out the time he’d need to move between locations, something moving in the dark caught his eye.
A young woman followed him at enough of a distance, he didn’t hear her, and wouldn’t have even caught a glance if he hadn’t turned around at just the right time.
“Hi there.” She looked to be maybe twenty. Not old enough to take for a drink, but not that far out of his age range. The thin dress looked like it should be too light for the night air, but he figured she was staff. Or a lost tourist. “You here for the séance?”
“Oh no.” The girl edged closer, still half in the bushes.
“Are you staff here?” Thad palmed the camera. “You know we’re doing a TV shoot tonight.”
“I heard something about that.” She cocked her head to look around the bush. “You could say I help around here sometimes. When needed.”
“You know how I am? I’m the star of ‘Haunted or Haint It?.” Thad studied her movements. She seemed hesitant to leave, but fascinated at the same time. He wondered if she was part of how Amber pulled of her show. “Do you watch it?”
The girl twisted with a coy grin, her hands clutching the thin fabric of her dress. “Oh, I do not spend my time on such things.”
Thad paused, hoping she was start struck, or at least a fan. “Too bad. Here’s my card, and our usual show times, plus clips on the website. And here’s my cell number.” He jotted his cell down and put the card just out of the girl’s reach, then backed up a few steps.
She took the piece of paper, and tucked the memento into her dress. “How kind.”
“I’m Thad.” He reached out his hand. “Maybe I can see you later? We’ll be around all night.”
She shrugged. “I may be around. You can call me Constance.”
Gotcha, Thad grinned.

 

And we’ll see you tomorrow for the finale, Part IV!

 

The new Omnibus of Home Summonings 1-3 is out, Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s Business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

A Longbow Initiative Story

 

Kickoff for #OctoberFrights 2017

It’s that time of year again, getting ready for #October Frights.

In the sake of kicking off the season right, I’m going to post up something that has become a #HalloweenFavorite for my fans, my little short story that was called “Sultry, yet horrific.”

And some day, the rest of the story will be published.

*******

Fine Dining

James P. McDonald

Copyright 2015

They had been easy enough to find, since they were staying in the expensive hotel across from her shop in the market.

When they passed through, the woman’s snippy comments were aimed at both her companion as well as Boo herself, accentuated as she flashed fingers barely able to support the gemstones mounted in gold upon them. He followed up with a crude attempt to solicit her charms after his woman stormed away. She knew then her evening was booked.

She watched from her shop window as the couple consumed a meal that cost more than she would make in a week. The cold silence between them did little to chill the sweltering summer evening. Charleston was especially humid this time of year.

She leaned out of her apartment window, her hunger growing as the couple argued in their room, the barbs they exchanged splintering into the night air through the open French doors. The spat ended with the man downstairs in the small bar, and the woman resting against the rail of their shallow balcony.

She found him bending the inattentive bartender’s ear. His smile was predatory as he offered her the seat next to him. It took few minutes before he was sweating heavily as he fumbled for words and pawed at her sensual caramel skin.

She took his sticky hand in hers and purred, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

He stammered and panted as she led him to the small apartment above her shop. Her lips brushed his. He stripped quickly before she pushed him onto the worn couch, straddling him in the process. He grabbed at her shirt, sending two buttons hurtling into the dark.

In her smoky voice, she whispered in his ear, “Do you want the rest of Boo?”

The corners of his mouth curled as he nodded hungrily.

She locked lips with him, and inhaled.

His excited groping turned into panicked clawing and punching, but only for a moment as he felt the ambrosia of her kiss drawing away his life force. Blood trickled as his trembling hands clenched into fists. His gasps and moans turned to desperate shallow wheezing. His eyes froze wide as saucers and reddened as blood vessels burst painfully, but quietly.

She climbed off him, knowing her prey was going nowhere. He was drained to the edge of life, but still conscious. His eyes locked onto hers as she peeled away the last shreds of clothing he hadn’t destroyed.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Boo said she was going to take good care of you. And now she is.” She stood inches in front of him. Her fingernail slowly chased a rolling bead of sweat from her throat to her navel.  A thin red trail formed as traced it around her hips and down to her ankles.

He managed a single whimper as she tugged and pulled at her skin, starting at her thighs as if they were stockings. Her head came free of the meat suit last, before she draped it around his shoulders. She gloried at the sight of her true body in the full length mirror. The red muscle glistened in the dim light streaming through the windows.

Blood streaked across his skin as she slid herself back onto him. “How do you like Boo now?” She locked her lips onto his and drew his last breath into herself. It was always so much more savory with the adrenalin flavoring, and the sweetness of dread and the dismay of certain death.

He shuddered, and she leaned back to see the last ember extinguished behind his eyes.

Ever so gently, she used her talon until she was able to free the worthless meat from the shell. She wouldn’t need the outfit for long.

It took a little work to bulk up to fill his skin. A few whispers of the old language to heal the wounds. A little bleach for the errant drops of blood that reached his shirt. She buckled the loose fitting pants around her waist and dug into the pockets. His license said he was from Chicago. She would have sworn the accent was from New York.

No matter.

She sauntered lazily back to the hotel. The new skin exquisitely gliding as it stretched across her taught muscles, trying to find purchase.

Her hunger barely sated, she slowly slid the key card into the lock. The woman’s voice was shrill and accusatory as she opened the doorway. Wordlessly she embraced the woman in a kiss. Glorious silence fell from her prey who instantly became compliant.

This one wasn’t like the man. She was full of life, tasting of desire and indulgence. She was meant to be cherished. Boo would be able to wallow in the woman’s spirit for hours before taking the last drop.

The woman’s eyes danced lazily and rolled back into her head as she was stripped and lain in the bed. She didn’t notice the meat suit sliding around as the man’s clothes fell to the floor.

She nibbled on the woman’s ear and mumbled, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

She locked her lips around the woman’s. She was getting drunk on her prey’s energy.

She enjoyed the thought of being a blonde again for a while. No need to decide yet. She had plenty of time.

*******

I hope you had fun with this little fright. I’m working on turning it into a longer story.

I’ve had a lot of people suggest and ask what kind of creature Boo really is. She’s based on the Gullah legend of the “Boo Hag.” For those of you who have never been to Charleston, SC, or know about the Boo Hag, here’s a little piece you might find interesting. https://scaresandhauntsofcharleston.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-boo-hags-of-gullah-culture/

I found this story to be a lot of fun to write, and wrote, edited, and submitted it all in about an hour to beat a deadline. And it’s still one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written.

May everyone have a safe and spooky Halloween!

The new Omnibus of Home Summonings 1-3 is out,  Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s Business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

A Longbow Initiative Story

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s #OctoberFrights tour!

Guest Post: Anne Hogue-Boucher

For the last post I get to host this week for Women In Horror Month, let me introduce my friend Spellvira, Anne Hogue-Boucher – Queen of the Macabre on Fun With Torture.

One of my favorite pastimes is torture.

Oh yes, not so much in real life, please, especially not if it’s someone I like or love. No, I like to write about torture, and I adore torturing all of my characters to varying degrees.

Psychological torture is fairly easy for me. I’ve seen it happen in real life, firsthand, in my own past and when working as a supervised therapist at a psychiatric hospital. People in the hospital were tortured trying to get help for Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar I & II, and many other conditions. It did not inspire my writing, but it gave me a glimpse into a person’s world where they were convinced they were being watched, stalked, poisoned, and other horrible things were happening to them.
So giving it a supernatural element and casting it into my own world, the world of Silver Hollow, wasn’t a difficult task. But it was necessary. Writing about characters who may or may not understand they’re enduring the supernatural or otherworldly/inter-dimensional is a way to cope with the actual evils I have seen in my life. It keeps me stable, I suppose.

When I first published Now Entering Silver Hollow, some people were shocked by it because there are some brutal moments where characters are stretched to their psychological limit. One of my favorite characters, in fact, gets put on the literary rack and nearly pulled apart.

Her name is Kathryn Cross, MD. She believes in logic and none of the supernatural nonsense I put in front of her. Of course, encountering these things drives her to the edge of madness. She is ravaged by it, and somehow manages to pull herself together.

But that’s the appeal of psychological torture, isn’t it? At least for me. I’m fascinated by people who can go through the very worst and yet manage to keep going. I’m intrigued by their coping mechanisms (healthy or not), and impressed by the human spirit’s strength to carry on no matter what. The will to survive is at the core of enduring psychological torture. Some of my characters have it, and some don’t.

I think that’s what appeals to fans of psychological horror. It’s not just the thrill of what might happen next to such-and-such a character, it’s thinking about how they would survive such a thing. Perhaps there’s even an element of ‘thank goodness that’s not me’ in there, too. Some also seem to enjoy it for the same reason I do: watching characters survive some of the most maddening and horrible events.

Writing about torture is fun. I’d write about it any day over enduring it myself. I can imagine anyone would, and that’s likely one of the reasons why psychological horror has such a wide appeal.

Find me at:

 

 

Guest Post from C.A. Verstraete: Women Who Kill

Continuing Women in Horror month, I’m happy to host C. A. Verstraete talking about Women Who Kill!


History is full of all kinds of monsters – and some happen to be female
.
Human nature and society naturally have us think of women foremost as nurturers, mothers, leaders, consolers, caregivers. Then something goes terribly and horribly awry. They kill.

It’s unthinkable and unimaginable when a woman does such a thing. There’s the spinster Sunday School teacher Lizzie Borden, who supposedly hacked her father and stepmother to death with a hatchet in 1892. Unimaginable, right? The jury seemed to think so, too, (along with the lack of direct evidence linking her to the crime), so they declared her not guilty in the “trial of the century” the following year.

Even worse is the thought of a woman as a serial killer. While most are male, the idea of a woman killing again and again fills us with even more horror. And they’re not just in the past.

There’s crazed Charlie Manson’s drugged-up followers who committed atrocious acts linked with the name “Helter Skelter,” the word scrawled in a victim’s blood on a wall.

There’s the Michigan prostitute who killed seven of her “clients.” There’s the “black widow” who killed for money. Or the nursing home proprietor who killed for the insurance money.

Hormones aside, the idea of a woman turning into that kind of monster is truly frightening. Yet, that is also what makes them fascinating, like a car wreck we can’t turn away from. The truth is that no matter what horror you add to a story, be it zombies, monsters, or other creatures, nothing is as horrible as real life. Monsters can be vanquished, but the human soul has a darkness that often can’t be cleansed.

Admittedly, writing about a killer, any killer, is not for the faint of heart. I’ve seen my share of crime shows on TV, and looked at autopsy photos or read crime reports. Having grown up fascinated with old crimes and Chicago gangsters must’ve taken away my squeamishness early. Something like looking at real life crime scene photos of the Jack the Ripper or Black Dahlia killings, or reading the autopsy reports from the Borden murders never bothered me. Of course, that the crimes are distant in time and all the images are in black-and-white helps. These are crimes of the past and a part of history.

The real fascination is that the crimes remain unsolved. We are drawn to them as we can’t help but hope some clue or link can be found that’s been missed. Writing fiction, you can even solve the crime in a way. With new forensic and other technologies that keep developing, wouldn’t it be amazing to finally solve some of these crimes in real life?

* What real life crime do you find the most fascinating and why?


About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter: Every family has its secrets…  One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?

Website: http://cverstraete.com
blog: http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com
Amazon: http://getbook.at/LizzieBordenZombieHunter
Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/hp9rvyd