I’m back on track with both reading and writing. My current read above, The One That Got Away, is another winner published by Kandisha Press! It’s the third installment of horror anthologies written by women. I’m loving it and will write a full review when I’m finished.
So far it’s loaded with delectable monsters; an evil goddess, an alien monster, robotics gone terribly wrong and so much more! But sometimes, man is the worst monster of all. Be careful who you make this statement to guys, “We never said we were exclusive. I’m sorry if you thought we were.” Yikes!
I’m also hard at work on a new horror short, “The Light”. It’s a stand alone story, but will also act as the next chapter of, Darkest Timeline.
The idea for the story was inspired by this photo:
Happy reading and writing everyone! Hope everyone is staying well and safe!
Bio: Trading in a police badge and then classroom, Janine is a full-time Splatterpunk Award nominated writer, whilst also being a mum, wife and Disney addict. Influenced by the works of King from a young age, she likes to shock readers with violence and scare them with monsters – both mythical and man-made. When she’s not killing people off, she likes to chew the fat with other authors – reviewing books and conducting interviews for her podcast and YouTube channel. You’ll likely find her devouring work by Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Her biggest fan, beta reader, editor and financier is her loving husband. He just wants her to write a story about werewolves that wear shoes on their hands …
Guys! I’m doing my first author interview with Janine Pipe, my kindred spirit of horror!
Thank you for being my first interview victim, Janine! Here goes…first question:
CC: I’m sure you’ve always been drawn to writing as many of us are, but at what point did you decide to pursue writing with publication in mind?
Janine: A couple of years ago I was made redundant due to budget cuts. My daughter was school age so I suddenly had some time on my hands. I had been blogging in the travel genre for a while but my passion for fiction had always been horror. I started writing a few bits and pieces, just the kind of stuff that I would want to read and fully immersed myself in the community to learn about how to sub, who to sub to etc. which was vital and as with most people, I had rather a lot of rejections. My first ever proper acceptance was with Kandisha of course and the rest as they say is history. It is still nerve-wracking though for sure, each and every time something gets released as you are putting yourself out there. But that’s the game.
CC: Why the horror genre? What specifically drew you to it?
Janine: Horror and dark, psychological thrillers have always been my bag. Right from a young age, I was drawn to the more macabre side of things and had a fascination/deep terror of all things supernatural. To this day ghost stories both excite and scare the crap out of me. As a teen I loved the cat and mouse type fun of Point Horror and the character driven small town narrative of King. I also read a lot of crime books as I always wanted to be a police officer. Lore in particular has always really interested me too, I love the origins of certain legends and growing up near Glastonbury and Stonehenge was just the icing on the cake.
CC: Who are your greatest influences in the horror genre?
Janine: It would be remiss of me not to say King as the genesis of my love of this genre and his work like Carrie, Salem’s Lot and IT have had a great impact on me. But more recently, I am for sure inspired/influenced by my own 3 favourite authors – Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Also, women like Caroline Kepnes and Kenzie Jennings and although not best known for her fictional writing, Sadie Hartmann for her passion and spark.
CC: Okay, here’s the really cliché question, where do your ideas come from?
Janine: Sometimes I’ll just be hit with a spontaneous idea and that it almost always somewhere inconvenient like in the shower, lol. Then it’s like some sort of fever dream as I desperately try to write it all down. Other times, I get ideas from things I have read or seen. Not copying obviously, but taking the initial idea and growing it, changing it, making it my own. An example being The Special by James Newman and Mark Steensland – that is a story ultimately about sex addition and a dude that fucks a box. I turned my version into teen boys and a hole in a tree but it definitely originated from that. I actually sent James my story and he liked it. Thank god 😉
CC: Once you have an idea, how do you flesh out a story?
Janine: So, I’m a total pantster, I’ll have like an egg of an idea and then I’ll just write and let the rest come organically. Sometimes even I have no idea where we are headed until said egg hatches and I’m like woah I did not see that coming haha. One of the things that I enjoy writing and developing is banter between my characters and I have had some lovely feedback about how realistic it is, especially between male characters. I’m not sure how I can delve into the teen boy mind quite so well but it seems to work!
CC: You have your first book coming out, could you tell us a little about it?
Janine: Sure. Whilst I am super proud of all of my anthology contributions, I really wanted to work on something of my own and something longer. Cue two WIPs that will hopefully see the light of day some time, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I realised that what I enjoy writing most is flash and shorts. I had quite a few already that I had stored waiting for the right anthology to come along and I just thought to myself, why don’t you put them altogether and see what you got? Alongside two of my favourites which we already published – Footsteps which is my Splatterpunk Award nominated work and They from Glenn Rolfe’s Alien Agenda Sampler, I had another twelve stories that were ready. I wrote three more, two which would be considered extreme/splatterpunk. There are seventeen stories in total, varying in sub-genre from creature features to gothic, to haunted houses to urban legends. They are mainly set in the 80s/90s and are tied together with an overseeing narrator who has happened upon the collection along with a mixtape which contains the songs which are the titles of the stories and three more relating to the others. I created a Spotify playlist to go along with it and honestly because I love the 80s, it was just so much fun to litter it with pop culture references.
CC: You’re also an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press, could you tell us a little about that as well?
Janine: Jill was the very first person who accepted one of my shorts for the Kandisha Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2 Graveyard Smash. After working with her for that, we became friends and as well as contributing to Volume 3, she asked if I would help out with some publicity too. The next logical step was to become an editor and we have some amazing plans already for 2022/23 and beyond. Jill is one of my very best friends and working with her is like a dream come true. We have the same hopes and aspirations for Kandisha and between us, we hope to amplify women in horror and become a place for more of us to have a voice.
CC: As you know, I loved your story, “The Invitation” which was featured in the second anthology, Graveyard Smash, put forth by Kandisha Press. It seems that you and I both have a love for the TV show, Supernatural, because I felt a real vibe from that show in your story. Am I right?
Janine: 100% lol. I didn’t actively channel Sam and Dean when I wrote that but I guess it’s always in my subconscious as it is for sure my favourite TV show. One of the things I love most about SPN, asides from the great characters, is the humour and a lot of my work shows that. Even if I’m trying to write a genuinely creepy piece, I usually end up breaking the tension calling someone an ass-hat or the like. I can’t help it. I love my horror to be funny too. I have another story in TTT which is a definite nod to Dean. Now if someone can just ask Jensen if he wants a copy …
CC: What advice would you have for writers like myself that are just starting out?
Janine: The best advice I can give is keep at it and just write as much as you can. Once you have words on a page, you can edit, change, play with it. You can’t do that with a blank space. Read as much as possible too. Support other indies but also read some of the classics. There is a reason people like King, Ketchum, Keene and Laymon are considered the Masters. Learn from them. Books like King’s On Writing and Tim Waggoner’s Writing in the Dark are essential too to hone your craft. Also you need a super thick skin. Everyone gets one star reviews, everyone gets negative comments because not every reader will like your voice, your style. I roll that dice often with my more extreme stories. Some people dig that, others really, really don’t like it and will tell you. And it hurts because that’s your baby but you have to just accept it, learn from it and move on. As has been seen over and over, never ever retaliate as it is their right to have an opinion. Be kind, civil and respect reviewers. They matter. Which shouldn’t need to be said, we should all just always be civil all the time.
CC: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Janine: Characters. I love creating these people. Sometimes they are a mixture of real-life friends or an homage someone fictional e.g. I love Richie from IT. I love the camaraderie of Sam and Dean. I love the shit the kids give each other in again IT and more recently, Malignant Summer from Tim Meyer. Building relationships with my creations is one of the best things about writing 100%.
CC: Thank you for being my first ever author interview! Any parting words of wisdom for me and my readers?
Janine: Thank YOU for taking the time to talk with me and letting me be your first victim, I mean guest. Ha. Words of wisdom from me? That’ll be hard. The best advice I was ever given and I live by it, is write what you would read. That way it feels authentic in my opinion. If I tried to write in one of the sub-genres I don’t like, my heart wouldn’t be in it so it wouldn’t feel so real. That’s not always the case of course and as you become more prolific you are likely able to put yourself into any character, setting, plot with ease. But when you’re starting out, writing something you know and enjoy makes it far easier. This is why a lot of my stories involve creatures, cryptids and cops. It’s what I know.
This is the second horror anthology I’ve read from Kandisha Press and I’m about to start the third. This publisher with Jill Girardi at the helm are experts in finding the best horror stories I’ve ever laid eyes on and they are all written by women! Jill Girardi noticed that most stories in horror anthologies are written by men, so she found her niche in publishing, supporting and promoting women horror writers. I just love a good horror story and I don’t care who writes it, so I have been thrilled with the talent that is compiled in these anthologies put forth by Kandisha Press!
The reader is immediately sucked in by the first story, Holes, by R.A. Busby. It’s a page turner and draws you helplessly into the entire anthology. The stories that follow provide tales of ghosts, djinn (one of my favorite mythical creatures), zombies, a mummy, ancient gods, etc… supplying something for all horror tastes! There’s even one with monster hunters, and I can’t list the title because it gives away the big twist in the story. I was particularly drawn to that one because, yes, that’s right, (say it together, my small bevy of blog followers) I love Supernatural! (Or I guess you guys would say, she loves Supernatural!)
I give 5 stars to this anthology and to every author! As with the first Kandisha Press anthology, Under Her Black Wings, I almost lost my day job because it was so difficult to stop reading the exciting, suspenseful and entertaining stories between its covers and get a little shut eye! Not to mention the lingering, haunted feeling one feels when reading great horror!
Here’s the link for Graveyard Smash:
And for Under Her Black Wings:
And for the new anthology, The One That Got Away, that came out just in time for Women in Horror Month:
So Stephen King was right when he said, writers have to read; or is right I guess, because he probably still says it. I would like to add, that writers need to watch TV too. There is so much great writing on television now and I get so many ideas there. My latest short story idea came to me from both reading, and binge watching on Netflix.
So I just finished reading this little ditty and it’s awesome by the way! I’ll be writing a review very soon. Kandisha Press has outdone itself with the horror anthologies that they publish. Here’s the review I did for the first one, Under Her Black Wings. Their third anthology, The One That Got Away, is coming out on February 1, 2021:
These collections of horror tales, all written by women, are some of the best I’ve ever read. Jill Girardi is chief honcho at Kandisha Press and she and her crew are sweeping the internet and the world with thrilling tales of terror!
So my newest idea for a tale of the macabre comes from a combination of reading and TV watching as I said. For those who follow my blog (all 12 of you!), you know about my fascination with the television show, Supernatural:
No, I’m not an obsessed fan girl, although, I like watching pretty people doing cool stuff as much as the next guy. I really love the writing and creativity on this show and the humor inserted amongst all the serious, scary stuff is what I love the most about it. Anyway, so I was watching Season 7, Episode 3, “The Girl Next Door”, and it’s one of the episodes where they leave something dangling. Dean kills a kitsune who happens to be a mom, and her ten year old son sees him do it. For some unknown reason, Dean lets him live and of course the boy vows vengeance. Well of course that character never shows up again in the series. (SPOILER ALERT-if you haven’t finished the Supernatural series yet.) They must have forgotten about him because he should have been the one to kill Dean. Anyhoo, I filed this kid away in the back of my brain.
The next day, I’m reading, Graveyard Smash again, and I’ve gotten to the story, “The Invitation” by Janine Pipe, and all of a sudden as I’m reading it the kid pops to the front of my mind. So long story short, between that short story and the TV episode, it totally clicked in my mind. I grabbed my handy dandy spiral notebook (I like to write by hand first) and I began the story. I love it when a plan comes together!
So coming soon, my review of, Graveyard Smash and my newest horror tale, “Monster”! And read, everybody, read!! Oh yeah, and watch TV!
Tears streamed down Bella’s face as she gulped down more cheap wine and watched an episode of Supernatural on Netflix that she had seen a thousand times before. It was the one where dead loved ones “phoned home” to their grieving relatives. One of them even used AOL Instant Messenger because the episode originally aired in the mid 2,000s.
Bella hadn’t showered in two days and she wore the same pjs for said two days. Needless to say, she reeked, and her TV watching domain reeked too. She had been drinking for almost the entire time too. There were two empty wine bottles on the TV tray next to her recliner and a third one already half empty. Empty chip bags were strewn about the floor around her and the current bag of Ruffles that she was working on was in her lap; a lap that was covered in chip crumbs and spilled wine.
This season of Supernatural was the one that featured the beautiful, but troubled character also named Bela, except with one l. But the name was more fitting for that character because she was truly beautiful. The real-life Bella who lounged in her own filth was not so beautiful. She was middle-aged, fifty pounds overweight and alone. She regularly had her gray hair touched up with blonde highlights, but she put no effort into anything else on her aging, sagging body. She had given up on wearing makeup long ago.
Bella, the real one, shoved more chips in her mouth as crumbs showered over her lap and then washed that down with more crappy, red wine. As she watched the dead contact the characters on the episode, she entertained a crazy thought. She found herself in this current state of despair because her grandmother had just died the day before. Even though their meetups often ended in arguments, she had truly loved the old woman.
Bella’s iPhone was on the TV tray amongst the army of dead soldiers that had done their duty and given their lives in contributing to her current state of sloppy drunkenness. She set down her wine glass and carefully removed her cell from amongst the sentinels. The back of it was sticky with wine residue, but Bella was too drunk to care. She typed in her passcode and after two failed attempts managed to type it in correctly the third time. She looked at her recent calls and the third one down said, Granny, because she had just talked to her grandmother a few days prior.
She looked at it for a moment and then pressed it and placed the phone to her ear. It rang a couple of times and Bella was about to put the phone back down because even in her current mental state, she knew she was being stupid and crazy…
“Hello, honey,” the familiar crackling, Texas accent of her Granny said through the phone.
Bella jumped from her chair, chip bag flying from her lap and phone launched from her hand as if it were on fire.
Bella stood, trembling all over as Netflix continued to the next episode of Supernatural as if nothing had happened. As Bella watched, her phone lit up and vibrated as apparently her Granny called her back. She watched the phone move about the carpet, while she remained frozen in place. Her heart raced as she stared at it. The phone went dark and just as Bella had convinced herself that she had imagined the whole thing, the phone resumed its antics.
Bella said out loud, “Fuck it!” and swooped up the phone and answered it.
“Hello,” said Bella.
“Why did you hang up on me honey?”
Bella was sobbing now as she listened to the familiar voice.
“Bella? Why are you crying?”
Bella got herself under control and asked, “Is it really you, Granny?”
“Of course it’s me, honey,”
“But, but, you died…”
“Well yes, but there is an afterlife, honey. You know that” said Granny.
“There are phones in the afterlife?” asked Bella.
“Not exactly, you’re actually imagining all this, honey.”
“Imagining this? I’m not really talking to you?”
“Oh, you are talking to me honey, but not on a cell phone.”
“The caoineag has you,” said Granny, “She’s bringing you to me.”
“Bringing me to you? What’s a caoineag, Granny?”
“Have you heard of a banshee, honey?”
“Yes, but banshees just announce upcoming deaths in a family. They don’t take the living anywhere.”
“Well, think of this caoineag, as a souped-up banshee. She’s been with our family for centuries. She came over to America with our Scottish ancestors. She harkens all the way back to our Norse origins. She was once the human granddaughter of Godred Croven, King of the Isles. Her name is Ragnailt ingen Amlaíb. She was a great queen who was relegated to the history books as simply the wife of the ruler of southern Hebrides when he had her murdered and took control of their kingdom. Being a descendent of Odin, death could not stop her. She has stayed with the women in our family, growing stronger with each passing century…”
“Why have I never heard of her before?” asked Bella.
“It just never came up,” said Granny.
“Never came up?! A creature haunts our family, and it never came up?!”
“Well, the conversation never took that direction.”
“What?! Oh god, I am so drunk! I’m joining AA tomorrow, I swear!”
Bella opened her eyes. She had passed out in her recliner. She smiled because for a glorious second, it seemed to have all been a dream. But then she saw the creature, a hag wearing a shredded, sooty gown. Her thick white hair hung in voluminous waves around her ghoulish face. She hovered in the room between the TV and the recliner. She looked down at Bella, opened her gaping, toothless mouth and wailed.
Bella screamed, then with a waive of her hand, the caoineag snapped Bella’s neck. The hag opened her mouth further and sucked Bella’s troubled soul from her body.
The last thing Bella heard was the theme music as the Supernatural episode ended and the creature whisked away carrying her soul to join that of her Granny’s in eternity.
Bella’s last thought was, ‘why can’t Sam and Dean be real’, as she was carried to her impending doom. Well, she was pretty sure she was doomed anyway. She and her Granny hadn’t been the nicest people in the world…
Rebecca Williams struggled to pull her foot free from the railroad track. The train was barreling toward her, so she was running out of time. She cursed herself for not paying attention as she jogged across the railroad crossing that she had traversed so many times before.
Her ears throbbed with the sound of the train hurtling down the track as it drew nearer. The train made no attempt to slow down. Maybe it wasn’t possible to slow down by the time the conductor saw a young black woman stuck on the track, Rebecca thought to herself, or worse, he didn’t care. But then the train whistle began to sound repeatedly as if in a panic. Okay, the conductor cares, thought Rebecca as she yanked her foot from the brand-new Nike and jumped from the tracks just in time.
She watched as the Nike was obliterated while holding onto her knees and catching her breath. Rebecca had been so proud of the new brand of running shoes her husband; Thomas had brought her back from California on one of his business trips. She was the first of her friends to have a pair and though she knew it wasn’t very mature to gloat, she couldn’t help but be proud of the success of her young husband. The train was a short one, so it sped into the distant track quickly as Rebecca watched.
She looked again toward her decimated shoe to see a woman on the other side of the tracks also looking down at it. The woman was not dressed appropriately for the Texas heat. She wore a long, old fashioned, black dress. Her thick long black hair was braided in cornrows. The woman lifted her head, and a gaping hole was all there was where a face should have been. She screamed at Rebecca, “Come back!”
Rebecca turned and sprinted toward her house; missing shoe be damned. As she ran, a black and white Ford, Crown Victoria came toward her, lights, and siren blaring. She entertained the thought that a black woman sprinting in a mostly white neighborhood might have resulted in a quick call to the police, but she didn’t slow down, and the patrol car passed her, as it headed in the opposite direction.
She reached her house and sprinted up the white steps of the Victorian era dwelling she had purchased with Thomas a few years ago. Well, he had actually bought the house without her present because they were afraid the realtor would put the kibosh on a “mixed” couple moving into the neighborhood.
Rebecca slammed the door behind her and held onto her knees again, gasping for breath. Once her heart stopped racing, she decided that she had imagined the faceless woman in her adrenaline-fueled state. She suddenly felt exhausted. Thomas was out of town and the summer sun was starting to set, so she just skipped dinner and collapsed on the couch, losing consciousness immediately.
Rebecca awakened to the sound of helicopters and gunfire. She bolted straight up on the couch, but then realized the sound was coming from the television. Thomas made good money, so it was a large console TV that dominated the room. The morning news was depicting images of the war. Rebecca was happy once again that Thomas had lost the hearing in one ear as a child and didn’t have to go to Vietnam. A pointless war in her opinion that had already required the sacrifice of many in her extended family. She rose from the couch, walked the short distance to the TV and turned it off. Funny though, she didn’t remember turning it on.
Rebecca headed into the kitchen, her favorite room. The kitchen was bright and cheerful, wallpapered in bright green and rose-colored stripes. She had chosen the wallpaper herself because she knew she would spend a great deal of time in this room. She loved cooking and baking and every Sunday they had family over for traditional Sunday dinner just like in a Norman Rockwell painting.
She put fresh water in the kettle and set it on the stove. She always felt better after her morning cup of tea. Thomas hadn’t called, but he was probably in meetings. Rebecca didn’t want to disturb him, especially since now in her bright, cheerful kitchen, she was sure she had imagined the whole thing.
She made her cup of tea and sat at the small round table looking out at her perfectly landscaped back yard through the bay window. Rebecca had spent hours in that yard, pruning rose bushes, pulling weeds, and tenderly caring for every bush, tree, and flower. She felt at peace now as she gazed upon her creation. But as she watched, she noticed someone moving under her favorite pear tree. It was probably her neighbor, Genevieve, she thought to herself. Rebecca picked up her cup of tea and headed out the back door to visit with her neighbor. Rebecca was very fond of the older woman because she had welcomed her and Thomas with open arms. Genevieve had been all over the world in her youth and was very progressive despite her advanced age.
Rebecca headed toward the woman, who was leaning over with her back to Rebecca. Genevieve was wearing black. Had someone died, Rebecca wondered. She was halfway across the large yard when the woman stood up and looked back toward her home. Rebecca hadn’t seen her face yet, but was sure it was Genevieve, so she called out to her neighbor, “Genevieve, hello!”
The woman was still looking away from Rebecca. “Genevieve,” Rebecca called out again. Genevieve turned and looked right at her, but said nothing.
Rebecca picked up her pace, sloshing a bit of the tea out of her cup and called out, “Genevieve! I’m so happy to see you!”
Genevieve didn’t respond, but turned and stepped back into her own garden.
“Genevieve!” Rebecca shouted. She noticed the elder woman didn’t have her glasses on, so maybe she didn’t see her, and Rebecca decided she must not have been wearing her hearing aid either. She decided she could talk to Genevieve later, so she turned back toward her own home.
Rebecca’s cup crashed to the ground as she gazed upon the faceless woman standing on her back porch. The woman screamed, “Come back!” and then vanished.
Rebecca stood there, her entire body trembling. The apparition was gone, so Rebecca being the rational person that she was, talked herself back to her senses. She reasoned that the woman was a figment of her imagination caused by the adrenaline rush which probably lingered from yesterday’s experience. She gathered up all her courage and walked back into her house.
She walked through the kitchen and into the den. She walked past the monolithic TV and stepped in front of Thomas’s rolltop desk. She picked up the phone to call him. She knew his voice would soothe her nerves. There was no dial tone. The phones were out again. Just her luck…
Rebecca spent the rest of the day bustling about from one task to another. She tried to finish the current novel she had been reading, A Wrinkle in Time, but despite it being considered a novel for teens, she couldn’t seem to focus on it. She busied herself throughout the day with menial tasks until the sun finally set on the never-ending day.
She was exhausted, even though by all accounts she hadn’t done much. She trudged up the staircase that led to the upstairs bedrooms. She peeled off her clothes and left them where they landed on the floor. She shimmied into a thin nightgown and then slid under the blankets.
The dream came quickly. She was five years old and her mother was setting the table for dinner while she watched.
“Can I help, Mommy?” little Becky asked.
“May I help, baby,” her mother smiled reaching down and caressing her face.
The dream felt so real, Rebecca felt safe watching her mother move about the kitchen as the beads on her cornrows clinked against each other. Rebecca remembered how her father had begged her mother to wear her hair in a more traditional way. He would say that it was hard enough blending in in a small Texas town when your skin is dark, much less when you’re foreign. Her mother would laugh and say she was quite sure her accent gave away her Jamaican roots, and she would add more seriously, that she refused to be ashamed of her heritage.
Rebecca’s father had grieved terribly when her mother died giving birth to her younger brother. He insisted that she leave our world sporting her beloved cornrows.
“Becky look at me,” said Rebecca’s mother.
“I am looking at you, Mommy,” the child answered.
“Rebecca look at me,” said the faceless ghost.
Rebecca woke up screaming. She opened her eyes, and the faceless specter was leaning over her. Rebecca continued screaming as she gazed up at her.
Rebecca was standing now, but before she could run, the ghost grabbed her by the shoulders and wailed, “Rebecca look at me! Do you see me?!”
The walls of the house dissipated around Rebecca. She was standing near the railroad tracks. She gazed upon the face of the ghost and then she did see. “Oh Mommy,” she said as she embraced her mother.
Sooo….I’m currently quarantined because I was in close contact with someone who is now struck down by Covid-19. I’m on the fourth day of said quarantine, and the first three days were not handled well by me at all. The first day was the worst, because I allowed my anxiety to take control of me the whole day, and that night I couldn’t sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I’ve wasted three days of prime writing time just waiting to get sick. I kind of snapped out of it a little yesterday; did a few household chores and worked out, but no writing…
Well I am writing this now and getting caught up on Supernatural. 🙂 I only have four more episodes, so no spoilers, please! Anyway, I’m trying to get the writing juices flowing again, so that’s the reason for this post. Tomorrow I get back to real writing; there will be more horror stories coming your way and the next chapter of Darkest Timeline!
“Has what?” asked Jack as he helped his brother sit up. “And who’s she?”
Reed was still gasping for air, so he didn’t answer.
“Who is she?! And what does she have?!” Jack asked again.
Reed’s breathing had returned to normal and he answered, “I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know what she has.”
“Have you lost your mind?!” shouted Jack.
“I know it doesn’t make any sense, Jack, but I have to trust my gut. Something very strange is happening here in Dale City. Something really bad. That woman holds the key. And I don’t think she’s a woman exactly,” said Reed as he stood up and attempted to brush off some of the grime that had attached itself to him from the filthy floor of the decrepit house.
“She’s not a woman…exactly? What does that even mean?” asked Jack as he took his brother’s arm and pulled him toward the front door of the house.
After they reached the sidewalk and started walking away side by side, Reed said, “We have to get back in there.”
Jack turned, grabbed his brother by the shoulders and spun him toward himself. Jack was taller than Reed and very fit. Reed was fit too, but taken by surprise. “Are you crazy?” asked Jack between clenched teeth as he faced his older brother and stared down into his face.
Before Reed could answer, Jack’s cell rang. Jack took his hands of Reed and pulled out his phone.
“It’s mom,” said Jack.
Jack tapped the phone before placing it to his ear. “Hi, Mom,” he said. “What do you mean? Are you sure? …where was she last seen?”
Reed’s heart reached out to Jack as he watched the expressions of fear, disbelief and loss contort his brother’s face.
“Okay Mom, we’ll head over there right now,” said Jack, before placing the phone back in his pocket. He ran his hand down his face, sighed and then facing Reed again said, “Adita’s missing.”
“I’m so sorry, Jack,” said Reed.
“She’s probably just getting her nails done somewhere and her cell battery is dead,” answered Jack with false bravado. Adita was as meticulous and dependable as her fiancé.
Reed fell in step with his brother as they trotted back to the Pharm-Mart where they had left Reed’s BMW X7 in the parking lot. He had already remotely started the engine of the luxury vehicle. They jumped in and Reed pulled out of the parking lot a little too fast, just missing a pickup that was passing on the main road. He continued to exceed the speed limit as they headed toward the old downtown.
“Jack, you know this whole area is monitored by the highway patrol,” said Reed.
“For once, I’m taking advantage of Dad’s position in this po-dunk town,” Jack snapped back at him.
Reed sighed, leaned back, and looked out the window. His view consisted of a mix old wood-frame houses, many of which were in desperate need of a new coat of paint. Some of them so dilapidated they were just the gray color of old wood.
Most people in Dale City and the surrounding area lived off the land or paycheck to paycheck, except for the lucky ones who worked at James Corp.
As they drew closer to the refurbished downtown, some of the prosperity could be seen. Several of the James Corp execs had remodeled the sprawling early 1900 era houses. Some opted for the traditional white, others were more creative, with sky-blue or some other pastel for the main color and trimmed in white. The houses had porches that ran across the entire front and sometimes the side of the house as well. Reed envisioned a past history of white ladies, in billowing dresses sitting in rocking chairs on those porches as a black maid served them a glass of lemonade or some such. Jack pulled into the driveway of one of the solid white houses. Their father didn’t like bold colors.
Their mother, Jaclyn James, appeared as if from nowhere beside the opulent vehicle. She was as elegant as ever attired in skinny jeans, sleeveless, Under Armour t-shirt and flat heeled leather boots. She had her long black hair pulled into a ponytail and her normally alabaster skin, was lightly tanned.
“C’mon boys, we’re going to Amir’s shop. He was the last to see Adita,” she said as she slid into the back seat on the driver’s side.
The brothers exchanged a look, but knowing it was a waste of time questioning their mother, said nothing. They got back in the vehicle and backed out of the driveway.
Amir Singh was standing on the sidewalk in front of his antique shop, waiting for them it seemed. Jack pulled his car into one of the slanted parking spots that lined the main street of downtown Dale City.
Amir locked the front door of the shop and switched off the neon open sign after they were all inside and then headed to the back without a word. The trio followed in silence as he led them through the shop, which was full of the standard antiques found in any small, Texas town. There were old wooden dressers with chips and scratches, ancient looking garden gnomes, decorative plates on little metal stands depicting women with big, old fashioned dresses, and ceramic figurines in the shapes of cats and roosters and the like. When they reached the back of the shop, he opened the door to the living quarters and waved them through. After he locked that door behind them, he turned and faced them.
“We need to tell them the truth, Jehenne,” he said to Jaclyn.
Jaclyn nodded, “I agree, but Sam won’t like it.”
“Samyaza is not in charge here, I am,” said Amir
Jaclyn, no, Jehenne laughed, “No Amir, this is not the time for warriors to charge into battle. There is much at stake here. The one responsible for all this is too powerful for even an immortal Rajput warrior and an angel.”
“An angel who led the Grigori to freedom from oppression,” interjected Amir.
“Even one who led a revolt against Heaven. This is the time for witches and shamans. We have been preparing for this for centuries. We must find the dreamwalker.”
Reed and Jack were dumbfounded. They exchanged a look and then turned their attention back toward the parental figures that they had known all their lives, who now seemed like strangers.
She watched as the taller human helped the shorter one sit up and then stand up from the filthy floor of the old house. But this house did not belong here. Where she was from, this house glistened with pure white columns throughout and long corridors that led toward towering, ornate, solid marble doorways that opened to various, parallel worlds. She made a sound of disgust that she had ended up back in the universe that contained the sniveling humans.
The two young men hadn’t noticed her because there was no sound in this void. The one who had discovered her, hadn’t even seen her as she was flung from the other realm along with him. She almost had the object, when he interrupted her trance. She now sensed the two were brothers, and not quite human…they were something more.
She stood up as she watched them exit the house. She looked down at the skimpy outfit the human had imagined for her and with just a thought, her attire became black leather pants, black top, and black boots to match. Her hair changed from black and piled on top of her head, to wavy, blonde, and flowing past her shoulders. Her face no longer full of sharp teeth, but the face of an angel, she thought to herself. She laughed softly as the thought came to her that the humans would liken her to an angel.
She stepped out of the house into the bright sunlight, and laughed again as she watched the two brothers running in the distance.
I’ve purchased many indie titles over the years and this one is one of my best recent purchases. Every story is entertaining and suspenseful and there are many jump scares along the way too! Kandisha Press has done an awesome job in putting these stories together.
So, some of you would say, “But, C.C. it’s not possible for a book to have jump scares.”
Well, technically I suppose that is correct, however, a story can stick with you in such a way that those unexplained noises you hear during the night will make you jump out of your skin! Especially when walking down a long dark hallway through your apartment building and as you remember these stories, you glance about nervously while fumbling with the keys you just pulled out of your pocket. And just as you are about to insert the correct key, you see a shadow down the hallway out of the corner of your eye and of course you drop said keys. When you finally manage to insert your key with your shaking hand, you slip in through the opened door faster than you ever have before in your life. You slam it shut behind you, flip on the light switch and stand there listening and watching as your entire body trembles with fear.
I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology and I won’t pick favorites! Anyone who loves horror will be thrilled with this book! I’m giving it 5 stars! Here’s the link on Amazon:
I am a proud owner of the two horror anthologies above, published by Kandisha Press! I’m about halfway through the first volume, Under Her Black Wings, and I am loving it! I am so thrilled to have found such talented horror writers! The fact that they are women is a bonus for me because I love the progress women are making in traditionally male dominated genres. Surprise, surprise…women love horror and sci-fi too! The world already knew women loved fantasy, because well, Legolas, Aragorn and of course, Arwen! 😉
I have always dreamed of being a writer and life had gotten in the way. I’m in midlife now, actually not even midlife (I’m 55), because I plan to make it to at least 120! 😀 Anyway, I could be bitter about years wasted, but I’m not because I feel the time is right for me now! It’s empowering to watch women excel in science, genre writing and so many other things that I was told were impossible for women in my youth. I dream of a world, where gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., aren’t the first things mentioned when someone strives for and achieves their dreams. We are all humans after all, well except for the secret aliens and monsters that are lurking among us!
Happy dream following everyone! Stay well and safe!