Welcome to the 2017 #OctoberFrights blog tour. There’s a lot of great contributions this year, and a massive multi-author Rafflecopter Giveaway!
And check out all of the other great authors as well!
For me this year, I’ve got a new story set in Charleston, SC on a fictional plantation.
The Pluff Mud Seance
James P. McDonald
Derek pulled his light jacket tight around him against the chill of the fall evening air. He stood on the wrap-around porch and watched a well-used Subaru park in the gravel lot in front between the main house and meditation garden. He turned to the collection of rocking chairs, two of which were occupied by the Todde sisters, the descendants of the original builders of Sand Crane Hall.
Even in its heyday, it had been one of the smaller homes on one of the tributaries feeding the Edisto River, just south of Charleston. It had been the perfect place to raise indigo and rice, but now its main trade was in tourists.
He crossed his arms, and tried to paste on a look of mirthful admonition, “Amber is here for the evening shift. You ladies have a perfectly lovely night.”
Viola pouted, puffing a few creases from her ample jowls. “I am not fond of her.”
Lula Rose smoothed her faded dress with her long bony fingers. “She is an enchanting young woman. You’re just jealous. Besides, she is one of the few besides Derek here that hasn’t forgotten old women like us.” She cocked her eyebrow like their father had done with his favorite flintlock rifle he’d used for hunting.
“I will remind you ladies, she also now owns your little homestead, and the deal to keep your in your home.” Derek pursed his thin lips.
“Oh lawd,” Viola bemoaned, “You only remind us of that when you want something.”
“You know it’s that time of year, as best you’ve done to ignore the Halloween decorations.” He reached inside the front door and pulled the “Special Event sign from where he’d hidden it until the last minute, and set it in front of the main doors. “You know how important this time is, and I expect you both to do your part.”
Viola huffed, “I am a proper lady, not some puppet in a calliope show.”
“Miss Viola,” Derek admonished, “I expect you to show up, and for your cousin not to.”
“I have no control over that woman, I have no idea why you even bring Constance up.” Viola drifted off to stare towards the river. “Besides, we’ve not heard hide nor hair from her in a donkey’s year.”
“Two weeks Viola.” He tied a cluster of black and silver balloons to the sign. “It’s only been two weeks since she decided to make an appearance, and upset a number of patrons.”
“A little bit of Constance does go a long way.” Lula Rose nodded and folded her hands in her lap. She looked upwards, her milky sightless eyes focused on Derek, the edges of her lips curled in a hopeful way. “Who are our guests this evening?”
“The James Island Ladies Tea and Elderberry Devotional Society is bringing a big group tonight.” Derek clasped his hands excitedly. “I hate to miss it, they’re always so much fun, but I have to do my readings in the market tonight, and try to bring out more business.”
Lula Rose joined in the clapping. “I do hope Miss Reverend DuBose’s wife will be joining. I was such good friends with her grandmother. And she always brings out my favorite flowers.”
“I can’t be certain, Miss Lula Rose.” Derek waved to Amber, toting an arm full of bags from the parking lot. “Let’s hope so. Why don’t you ladies go on in and get ready.”
Lula Rose let out a gleeful squeak, her spectral form shooting backwards from her rocking chair, through the closed floor to ceiling window, the sheer curtains billowing in her wake. Viola grunted, bracing herself against the wood to pry herself loose, as if her considerable girth was still corporeal.
She floated in a weaving pattern to pause in front of Derek. “It’s one thing to not help a lady in with all of her parcels, but it’s entirely another to not even hold the door for one. I shall not be as undignified as my sister.”
“Where are my manners?” Derek pulled the door wide, and gave an exaggerated bow. “Please forgive me, Miss Viola.”
“Most kind.” Her nose turned to the sky far enough to drown her if it was raining, she drifted into the hall and faded out as she touched the staircase. “Most kind indeed.”
Derek closed the door, stared at the sky, and took a deep breath.
“Little help?” Amber dropped six plastic bags into Viola’s recently vacated seat. “Can you grab the rest out of the car while I start setting up?”
“Wait.” Amber grabbed his arm as one foot lingered over the step down. “I may have done something we’ll regret.”
He stopped on the first step, putting them at eye level. “I’m listening.”
“I was approached today, and signed a contract.” She stared at a chip in the wood of the porch. “I wanted to talk to you first, but the money was too good. I know we said we’d never do it….”
Derek rolled his eyes and pulled his immaculate coif back with his fingers. “Which show?”
She clenched her eyes shut, and squeaked out, “Haunted or Haint It?”
Creases formed in Derek’s face at the pace of cold molasses over fresh biscuits until his nose threatened to touch his forehead. “The worst of the worst fake ghost shows? Weren’t they busted for wrapping a Chihuahua in gauze covered in the goop from a glow-stick and turning it loose on the rooftops in New Orleans until it fell off and landed on a bridal party? Poor dog bot bathed in a fishbowl full of hurricanes. Got that green stuff on her veil.”
“I know, I know.” She opened her eyes, and put her hands on his shoulders. “I need you with me on this. We need the money.”
“Fine.” He leaned forward and pecked her forehead. “But if that Thad character gives me one ounce of lip, I’m bitch slapping him into the pluff mud.”
Come back tomorrow for Part II!