Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Eternal Desire by Roxanne Rhoads

 

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Halloween in New Orleans, anything can happen…including love and magick.

Paranormal researcher Liz Beth’s dreams are haunted by a sensual vampire.

She arrives in New Orleans the week of Halloween in search of her elusive dream lover, but instead finds a handsome stranger.

They begin a passionate affair. Soon she is torn between dreams and reality, lost somewhere in the middle trying to regain reason.

She aches to find the vampire of her dreams but can’t seem to break free of the spell her sexy stranger has her tangled in.

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Eternal Desire Excerpt:

 There is no place on earth like New Orleans. The sights, the sounds, and the smells all assaulted my senses. The fragrance was like a drug. A mixture of seafood, gumbo, exotic spices, and rich chicory coffee floated in the moist air, which mingled with the sweet sounds of jazz coming my way. Add to that the feeling of fun and excitement that the city was exuding, and it was truly a unique experience. New Orleans hummed and crackled with energy all its own.

It was the week before Halloween, and the New Orleans Halloween festivities were already in full swing. New Orleans is a city that loves Halloween, and treats the holiday almost like a second Mardi Gras.

The residents love to party, and even a week before Halloween people were already running around in costume. The haunted city, full of magic and ghosts, kicked everything into high gear for the tourists. I saw signs and posters for Boo at the Zoo (for the kids), the Moonlight Witches Run, the Krewe of Boo Parade, Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Ball, The Endless Night Vampire Ball and the Voodoo Music Experience in City Park. Nearly everywhere I went, there were haunted history tours taking place: the Ghost Tour of the French Quarter, the Haunted Garden District Tour, the Spellbound Tour, the Voodoo and Cemetery Tour and the one I was most interested in—the Vampire Tour.

Oh, I know, it all seems so cliché: vampires in New

Orleans at Halloween! But I think that was the point. He seemed to have a sense of humor, and irony was something he used to his advantage.

Walking through some of the dark streets of the French Quarter was like taking a step back in time. The lacy wrought iron work that defined New Orleans architecture and style, the horse drawn carriages full of tourists, and the old fashioned flickering gas lamps made me feel nostalgic. I wondered whether it looked the same when he strolled along these streets over 200 ago.

Haunting Desire Desire Series,Book Two

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Welcome to the Inn of Amorous Apparitions where your every libidinous longing can be fulfilled by sensual spirits.

 LizBeth has been hired to use her ghost whispering skills on the specters at the Castle Inn, but instead of banishing the seductive spooks Barbara, the Inn Keeper, wants them to “come out and play” with her special guests.

The Castle Inn is set to become the destination for the ghost sex fetish crowd. But first LizBeth has to convince the voluptuous visions that it is alright to participate in spectrophilia fun with the guests.

LizBeth has a special talent for seeing and communicating with ghosts but these enchanting ethereals are not cooperating with her, or her vampire boyfriend. Something odd is fueling the raunchy wraiths and they have to discover the power source or risk leaving a customer unsatisfied.

There’s more to this haunting than the average ghost. Will LizBeth be able uncover the mystery of this sexy haunted mansion?

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Hooray for Halloween Guest Blog By Roxanne Rhoads

Halloween…the one day when spirits can walk this world in the flesh when those who are no longer ‘real’ once again become corporeal. A day full of ghosts, witches, fairies, magick…

I don’t know where the love of the paranormal came from, it is something that has always been part of my life. Maybe it was the books my mother read to me or maybe that just helped it along. I grew up reading fairy tales with my mom, not the Disney versions either but the real Grimm style fairy tales that did not always have a happy ending. (In the real Little Mermaid story, she turns to sea foam at the end and drifts away, there is no happily ever after).

By the time I was 10 I was already reading Steven King, Dean Koontz, and other adult paranormal novels. At the age of 11 I found Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire at a garage sale and was forever after seduced by vampires.

As I grew older the paranormal stories became more than just a little creepy and scary but also a little…sexy. And later… outright erotic.

Over time I have watched books transform and change from the veiled eroticism in Dracula and Anne Rice’s books to the flat out hot sex scenes in today’s romance and erotica novels. And something about creatures with supernatural powers just adds a whole new level of sexiness to the books.

Alpha male shapeshifters give us that power, control, and animal magnetism coupled with primal urges that can’t be denied, vampires have centuries of sexual experience and awesome powers that make us swoon, demons are the ultimate hotties with badditude written all over them, and then there are the other magickal men; beautiful, wicked fey: wily wizards, seductive sorcerers…

And Halloween they all come out to play.

It’s no wonder the Halloween season is my favorite time of year.

During the Halloween season I can walk around vamped out in Goth attire looking dark and spooky. I get to play dress up for all the parties and costume balls (and yes I attend a couple every year)

The rest of the year I tend to hide the darkness inside only letting it out in my fiction.

But on Halloween I can let my freak flag fly high and be as sexy, spooky, Gothic and vampy as I want- and I can make my house match. Got to love that.

Halloween- the one time of year I can truly be as dark as I want and no one thinks twice about it.

Hooray for Halloween.

Many of my fiction pieces take place during Halloween including the novella Eternal Desire, the short stories- A Halloween to Remember and Halloween Surprise, and my full length novel, Hex and the Single Witch.

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About the Author:

Story strumpet, tome loving tart, eccentric night owl…these words describe book publicist and erotic romance author Roxanne Rhoads.

When not fulfilling one the many roles being a wife and mother of three require, Roxanne’s world revolves around words…reading them, writing them, and talking about them.

In addition to writing her own stories she loves to read, promote and review what others write. She owns Bewitching Book Tours and operates a book review blog, Fang-tastic Books.

When not doing book things Roxanne loves to hang out with her family, craft, garden and search for unique vintage finds.

Author Website http://www.roxannerhoads.com

Bewitching Book Tours www.bewitchingbooktours.com

www.facebook.com/RoxanneRhoads

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http://www.facebook.com/RoxanneRhoadsAuthor

Twitter @RoxanneRhoads

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: The Infernal Detective by Kirsten Weiss

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Murder. The undead. Irritating relatives.

When Riga Hayworth finds a dead body in the bedroom, it’s par for the course. When the corpse drives off with her fiancée… That’s a problem.

Riga knows dead. More intimately than she’d like. So when a murdered photographer walks away from her pre-wedding party, she believes there’s necromancy afoot. And when she discovers that several of her wedding guests are under the influence of dark magic, she’s certain. But how can she catch a killer and stop a necromancer when even her nearest and dearest are lying to her?

Marrying romance, mystery, and the metaphysical, The Infernal Detective is a fast-paced urban fantasy, where nothing is quite as it seems, and magic lies just beyond the veil.

 Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/7kohhn5z3bM

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“A high-voltage, cleverly-spun mystery that I couldn’t put down. Riga Hayworth is addictive.”-  Diana Orgain, Best-selling author of The Maternal Instincts Mysteries

Excerpt: Chapter 1

Riga checked her watch.

It was thirteen o’clock, and her feet hurt.

She’d never liked high heels, shouldn’t have worn the over-priced, strappy black pumps. Riga had been almost relieved when one of the heels snapped, relieved for the excuse to slip upstairs, relieved to escape.

A roar of laughter, punctuated by shattering glass. On the stairway, Riga winced, the relief evaporating. A week to the wedding and she’d already begun to feel proprietary about his things, their new lake house. But the crash was likely only a wine glass, and Donovan – they – could afford it…

Frowning, she looked again at her watch.

Nine forty-seven.

Riga rubbed her eyes. She had imagined the thirteen o’clock. It wasn’t an omen, a portent.

She limped up the steps, dangling the broken pump from one hand, the other hand grasping the hem of her gown, a sweep of formfitting black lace. She looked damn good in it, but the dress was a fraction too long for her five-foot-six form, and she’d been stumbling over the hem all night.

At the top of the steps, she walked down the wood-plank hallway to a tall door swagged with holly. She pressed her forehead against the wood, and released her hold on the dress. Riga shut her eyes. Inhaled the scent of Christmas garlands and wood polish.

Thirteen o’clock.

It had been a trick of the light, a trick of her brain.

It wasn’t magic. Not here. Not so close to her wedding.

She’d told Donovan that the wedding was the least important part of a marriage, and Riga was old enough to believe it. Donovan needed good press after a recent unfair pummeling to his reputation. So she’d pretended enthusiasm when his PR team planned their “celebrity” wedding, invited names she recognized but didn’t know, sent out press releases.

Soon they’d be married, and free. Riga smiled broadly. She could do this for him and in a week, the tumult would end. Her thumb found the band of platinum that circled her third finger, explored its edges.

A draft of cool air pebbled the flesh on her arms.

Idly, she wondered if the place was haunted, if someone had opened a door, or if they needed new insulation. Donovan had closed on the gabled manor a month ago, and any and all options were possible. Riga was coming to learn that just because something cost a fortune, it didn’t mean it was well constructed.

“Escaping?” Donovan asked from behind her.

She turned, leaned against the door, her auburn hair pillowing about her head.

Donovan prowled up the stairs, his green eyes gleaming, a great cat in black Armani. God, he was gorgeous. Wavy, raven-black hair, broad shoulders, chiseled features. But he had other, more important, attributes that attracted her. And he was easy, oh so easy, to love.

She held up her shoes, dangling from a slender finger. “Regrouping.”

“Hm…” His broad hands traced the curve of her hips and he bent, kissing her, slow and intoxicating. He smelled of wild things, deep forests. When he pulled away, her lips burned.

“Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?”

“Once or twice.” She laughed. “Tell me again.”

His lips quirked, tugging at the small, cross-shaped scar on his chin. “I saw your expression when that heel broke.” His fingers traced a line from her jaw to her collarbone, and her skin tingled beneath his touch.

“Annoyance?” She tugged lightly on his crimson tie, pulling him toward her.

“Relief.” His voice was a low rumble.

“I just came up here for my Jordan McCall CD. Do you think he’d sign it for me?”

Donovan chuckled. “Star struck?”

“A little. So far, the only thing that’s stopped me from asking him is embarrassment. I don’t have any of his wife’s CDs.”

“Liar. Deep in that dark little heart I’ll bet you’re an Annabelle Lee fan.”

“A sucker for country love songs? Guilty.” She arched toward him, her soft curves molding to the hard contours of his body. “It’s a lovely party.”

“I know.” He pressed against her, one hand exploring the small of her back. His mouth grazed her earlobe, his breath uneven upon her neck. “Let’s ditch.”

“I thought you’d never ask.” She reached behind her, fumbling for the doorknob. The metal chilled beneath her fingers, iced, cold enough to burn. She gasped, jerking away.

Donovan took a step back, releasing her. “What’s…” He trailed off, brow furrowing.

Ice crystals spread from the knob across the surface of the door and the wall beside it, expanding outward in a circular pattern. The temperature in the hallway dropped. Riga shivered in her thin gown. Another ghost. And she had a good idea whose. After years of exposure, she’d gotten used to them. But Donovan had only recently gained the ability to see ghosts, and if Riga was right about this particular ghost… There were issues.

Donovan groaned, his lips twisting into a snarl. “Dad. He’s more irritating as a ghost than he was as a live father. Dad?”

But no specter appeared.

“Show yourself,” Donovan said in a low voice. “I’ve got some things to say to you.”

A breeze gusted mournfully down the hallway.

“Maybe I should leave you two alone,” Riga said. Both Donovan’s parents had died when he was a child. He never spoke much about what had happened after, but Riga was a detective and had pieced together a rough sketch – court dates and foster homes until Donovan came of age, and could manage a casino the state-appointed custodian had run into near-bankruptcy.

“No. I need to talk to him. But this is our time, and I’m fed up with him knocking things over, chilling rooms, slamming doors, and not telling me what he wants.”

Riga’s teeth chattered. “They may not be games. This may be the only way his spirit can communicate. If we understood what he wanted—”

“Right now, I don’t care what he wants. He’s the master of bad timing.” Donovan glanced at her, and whipped off his jacket, draped it over her shoulders. Grateful, she slipped her arms inside, and pulled it tight around her.

He rattled the knob, gripped it with both hands, muscles straining. He stepped away, wiping his hands on his slacks. “He’s been dead for decades.” He tackled the door again, grunting. “And instead of acting his age, the man plays poltergeist.” His hand slipped off the knob, and his knuckles banged the door frame. Wincing, he sucked on the broken skin. “Can’t you…?” He jerked his head toward the door.

“Use magic?” She shook her head. “The last time I tried that I melted the doorknob. I could burn the whole place down. Or worse.”

“Worse than burning down our new home?”

Riga didn’t respond. She wasn’t sure what was more depressing – being haunted by her future father-in-law or the fact that her magic was still a disaster. That missing piece of her was like a wobbly tooth she couldn’t stop probing with her tongue. She told herself she could live without magic, but the loss nagged.

“Right.” He nodded curtly, took a step back from the door.

Riga backed away, alarmed. She recognized that look. “Dono—”

He raised one knee and stomp-kicked the door. The wood splintered, and the door crashed inward, ricocheting off the far wall. Donovan stopped the door’s return flight with one hand. He looked at Riga. “Were you saying something?”

“No. Nicely done.” There was a trick to kicking in a door. She felt irrationally pleased that he knew it.

He strode inside, and Riga trailed behind, wary. The ghost had frozen the door for a reason – a symbol, a sign, a warning. But as she followed Donovan down the short hallway into the master bedroom, she didn’t sense anything wrong. A king size bed faced the darkened window, a faded kilim arranged artfully upon the hardwood floor. Glass doors looked out upon Lake Tahoe, a black pool at night. The waning moon was a mercury trail on the water and reflected lights glittered along the far shore. Above it, snowcapped mountains rose darkly.

“Enough games,” Donovan said. When there was no response, “Dad? Do you hear—” His voice dropped. “Oh, hell.”

Riga stumbled to a halt beside him.

On the far side of the bed was a reading area with a stone fireplace, wide, cozy chairs, and bookshelves. Before them lay a man’s body, a plastic bag wrapped tightly about its head, clouding his face.

“Oh my God,” Riga whispered, swaying. It had to be murder.

Donovan knelt beside the dead man, and grasped his wrist. He shook his head, pressed his fingers to the man’s neck. Donovan looked up at her, his expression grim. “He’s gone.”

Even with his features distorted behind the plastic bag, Riga knew the man was dead, could sense his spirit had fled. The body was just an inanimate object now, an empty vessel. Of late, death seemed less an old acquaintance and more an annoying relative who visited too often, stayed too long, drank her best wine and hit her up for money. She stepped closer, swallowed. “That looks like Cam Mitchell.”

“The photographer?” A pulse beat in Donovan’s jaw.

“His wife is downstairs.” Riga leaned one hip against the bed and grasped the post, feeling sick, out of balance. “We have to tell her.”

“She’s pregnant, you know.” Donovan stood, not looking at her, and she knew he was thinking about his childhood loss, the years in foster homes.

“I didn’t know. How did you?”

“He was crowing about it to anyone who’d listen.” He slipped his cell phone from his jacket pocket, thumbed the keypad. “Let’s call the Sheriff before we notify anyone else.”

Riga nodded, ashamed at her relief at the delay in giving the widow the bad news.

“King. Donovan here,” he said into the phone. “I’m at my lake house. Riga and I found a body.”

Riga shot him a questioning look. He knew Sheriff King’s direct number?

“No,” Donovan said into the phone. “Someone helped him along… Right. Fifteen minutes.” He hung up. His eyes were hard, cold. “I should stay with the body until the police arrive. Why don’t you go downstairs, meet the Sheriff when he gets here.”

She approached the body, knelt on the soft white throw rug, placed one hand on the arm of a nearby cream-colored chair for balance. “Donovan… The killer had to be one of the guests.”

“I know.” His words were clipped. “What I don’t understand is what the photographer was doing up here.”

“I don’t see any drag marks on the rug, no sign of a struggle. And to do this…” She motioned towards the photographer’s head and the plastic bag wrapped tight around it. “He wouldn’t have let someone do this without a fight. Unless he was drugged, somehow incapacitated first.”

“We’re getting married in a week,” he said.

She flushed. “And the police will take care of this. Sorry. Habit.”

Riga backed out of the room, closing the fractured door quietly behind her. She turned and faced two elderly women, dressed in black.

“Gagh!” Riga clutched her chest, breathing heavily. “Aunt Peregrine, Aunt Dot. What are you doing here?”

Dot peered up at her through coke-bottle lenses. They inflated her blue eyes to the size of silver dollars. Her black dress sagged and bagged around her, two sizes too big for her rotund frame. “Looking for you, dear.”

Peregrine, a good foot taller than her niece, peered over Riga’s head at the broken bedroom door, drifting open. Her shoulders hunched, vulture-like, and she clutched a massive black purse in her hands.

Riga hastily grabbed the knob and yanked it shut. She smiled. “Well, now that you’ve found me, let’s head back to the party.”

“You look jumpy.” Peregrine lowered her head, studying Riga. “Is something wrong?”

“No. No. No, nothing’s wrong.” She felt sweat bead upon her lower back. Why did her aunts terrify her? She was an adult, dammit, and this was her house.

Dot tapped Riga on the arm, and Riga’s skin twitched from the contact. “Well, of course she’s nervous, Peregrine. She’s getting married in a week!”

“Yes,” Peregrine regarded Riga narrowly. “Awfully short engagement, if you ask me.”

Dot swatted her sister. “You’re so bad! Of course she’s not pregnant? At her age? Really!”

“At my… I’m only forty four!”

“Not exactly a spring chicken,” Peregrine said. “I hope you’re not rushing into things because of the tick-tick-tick of your biological clock? Sometimes, it really is better to be alone.”

“No, Aunt Peregrine,” Riga said through clenched teeth. “That’s not why we’re getting married.”

“Don’t feel bad, dear,” Dot said. “What bride doesn’t feel occasional jitters? Poor cousin Lettie? What a mess she was. And then her bridesmaid fainted dead away. Knocked the ring bearer flat. What was his name? Wasn’t that Harold’s son?”

“That wasn’t Lettie’s wedding,” Peregrine said. “That was Al’s daughter, Suzy. And the groom fainted, not the bridesmaid.”

Dot covered her mouth with her black gloved hand. “Was it? I was certain it was Lettie and the bridesmaid. Don’t you remember? The bridesmaid ended up marrying the best man.”

“No, no.” Peregrine shook her head. “She married the father of the bride. Such a scandal.”

“Oh.” Dot patted her hair, tied neatly in a silvery bun. “I don’t like thinking about those things.”

“Neither do I,” said Riga, her desperation growing. “So let’s go downstairs.” She hooked their elbows and steered them toward the steps.

Dot neatly twisted away, moving toward the bedroom. “But isn’t there a ladies room in here?”

“Not there!” Riga dodged between Dot and the bedroom door, pointed down the hallway. “There’s a guest bathroom, second door on the left.”

Dot clapped her hands together. “You have so many rooms! I do love this house.” She winked. “I suppose the casino business must be very lucrative? Your Mr. Mosse must love you very much to buy such an extravagant home.”

“Isn’t there another bathroom in the bedroom there?” Peregrine motioned with her purse and Riga ducked to avoid its arc. “I’d rather not wait for Dot. She takes forever.”

“Donovan’s in that room now,” Riga said. “There’s another bathroom in the guest room across the hall.”

Peregrine nodded briskly and clumped away. Riga watched Dot dart into the guest bathroom, then glanced at the bedroom door, still hanging ajar. All she needed to cap the evening was for one of the old dears to find the body and have a heart attack. Awkwardly, she shifted her weight, and realized she was still one-shoed. She wrenched off the second pump, placed it on the banister, and slipped downstairs. How much time had she wasted? The Sheriff’s station wasn’t far – nothing was really far at Lake Tahoe – and he would be here soon.

She darted past the wide, arched doorway to the living room, not daring to look left for fear of catching someone’s eye. The room inside was filled with celebrities and relatives and friends – mostly Donovan’s. Their laughter and the tinkling of glasses flowed toward her, a contented warmth, scented with cinnamon and wood smoke and sweat. She shied from it, through the stone-floored foyer with its massive Christmas tree decked in red and gold, and ducked through a nondescript doorway, into a claustrophobic, windowless room.

The uniformed man seated at a bank of video monitors swiveled in his chair to face her. He was middle aged, with a comb-over and a paunch, but she’d seen him in the boxing gym. The man, Thomas, was lightning with his fists. He lumbered to his feet. “Evening, Miss Hayworth. Can I help you?”

“Yes. The police will be arriving shortly. Could you let the man at the gate know?”

He grabbed a handheld radio off the narrow table. “Something I should know about?”

The floor here was stone too, and cold, and she curled her toes. “We discovered a body upstairs.”

“But you’ve called the police, not an ambulance. Foul play?”

“Possibly.” Definitely.

He glanced over his shoulder at the video monitors behind him – views of the exterior, doorways, windows dripping icicle lights. No shots of the inside. “I haven’t seen anyone come or go for the last two hours, but I’ll check again.”

“Thanks.” She shoved the door shut with her foot. “Mind if we check now?”

He rolled his padded chair toward her. “Have a seat.”

She sat, watched him queue up the videos with one hand while he radioed the gate with the other.

Thomas grunted, eased himself into a swivel chair, and they watched the videos from the last hour on high speed, the sounds of revelry drifting through the closed door. Nothing caught her eye. Aside from the guard patrolling the exterior, nothing moved. No one entered or left the house.

Riga released a slow exhale. So that was it then. The killer was one of the guests. She didn’t realize she’d clung to the hope it had been an outsider until it was snatched away, leaving behind a weight of lead.

Frowning, she checked the slim gold watch – a gift from Donovan – that circled her wrist. Fifteen minutes had long gone. What was keeping the Sheriff? “When the police arrive, will you show them upstairs? The body’s in the master bedroom.”

His expression flickered, but he nodded.

She exited, pausing in the doorway to make sure the coast was clear, then hurried past the partiers and up the stairs, stumbling near the top.

Cold. Sickening.

An invisible miasma flowed out the bedroom door, coiled sluggishly on the stairs. Her stomach twisted, and she clutched the railing.

Corpses. Rancid things. Decaying flesh.

Her skin crawled.

“Donovan?” She called softly, forcing herself forward.

She was used to ghosts. This was something different.

The hallway chandelier flickered above her, brightened. Fingers trembling, she touched the slim silver cross that hung from her neck, gathered the forces from above and below. Fueled by her fear, the energies rushed through her and outward, creating a bubble of safety around her, cutting a path through the rot and horror.

She pressed her fingers against the bedroom door. It swung open at her touch and she sidled through, barefoot and silent. Her fingers curled, palms ready to strike as she prowled down the truncated hallway, turned the corner into the bedroom.

It was empty.

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Do You Dare Visit these Haunted Places?

Guest post by Kirsten Weiss, author of The Infernal Detective.

We’ve all been there – those dark woods, the fog-shrouded cemeteries, the lonely, creaking houses. And we’ve all wondered – if even for a moment – if maybe there’s something… else.  Something beyond. Something haunted. Some of us even seek out those spectral places.

For me, a deep, dark Sierra night, one of the settings for my urban fantasy The Infernal Detective, conjures all sorts of threats – natural and supernatural. My sister’s old apartment in Davis, California, is one of the most haunted places I know. But it’s also not a tourist attraction. So if you’re looking for a haunted spot to holiday, here’s a round-up of the top five around the world.

(Note: My selection was completely unscientific. I searched the Internet for haunted places and included on my list the five most frequently mentioned.)

5) The Screaming Tunnel, Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada. This old tunnel runs beneath a railroad. Stand in it at midnight, light a wooden match, and you’ll hear a woman’s scream. The match will blow out too, which may not be such a mysterious occurrence in a tunnel.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcyzlQLotkA

4) Beechwood Lunatic Asylum, Victoria, Australia. Nearly 9,000 inmates died during the asylum’s operations from 1867-1995. Add to that the super-spooky architecture, and it’s little wonder the place is hosting night tours.

3) Highgate Cemetery, London, UK. All that history plus creepy gothic architecture? No wonder London is jam-packed with haunted graveyards. But Highgate Cemetery is probably the most famous, with its crooked tombstones, headless angels, and rumors of vampire and occult activity.

2) Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. The sight of the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War, the spirits of dead soldiers are frequently sighted in the fields and roads around the town. A friend of mine claims when he and his girlfriend once drove through Gettysburg at night, a man dressed in Confederate battle gear suddenly appeared in front of their car. He slammed on the brakes, but couldn’t stop in time. The car went through the apparition. I’m still not sure if he was pulling my leg or not.

1) Bhangarh Fort, India. This fort came up the most frequently in my research, winning the number one spot. It’s said to be cursed by a black magician who was unable to win the love of a fair maiden by traditional means. She managed to reverse his dark love spell. In retaliation, he cursed the entire town’s inhabitants, so their souls cannot be reborn.

Have you visited any of these spots? Are there any haunted spots on your bucket list? Tell us in the comments!

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 About the Author:

Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work at:

Website: http://kirstenweiss.com

Twitter: @KirstenWeiss

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Black Beauty by Constance Burris

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At Vista Apartment Complex, life drastically changes for four of its residents when they decide to do business with Crazy Jade—the supposed voodoo witch that can grant your wish for a price.

Shemeya wants the confidence to stand up against the girls bullying her at school, but she soon has to choose between keeping her dreadlocs or living a normal life. After catching her boyfriend cheating, Latreece just wants to have the same curves as all the other girls. Ashley will do whatever she can to have “White Girl Flow”, but takes her pursuit too far when she steals from Crazy Jade.

Everyone who comes into contact with Crazy Jade soon learns the true price of her magic—and how horribly wrong it can go.

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/VahU40fcbFs

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Excerpt:

Shemeya knocked on Jason’s door. For the past two years, they’d ended up in the same chemistry course as lab partners. He’d asked her out a few times, but she’d politely said no. He bored her. Turning him down made her feel like an idiot who only went out with thugs, but she wasn’t stupid. She only wanted a little thug, not a full serving.

When Jason opened the door, she pulled off her backpack and stepped into his house. “Is your mom home?”

“No, she’s with her new guy.” He led her into his kitchen. “Want something to drink?”

“You got some juice?” She desperately wanted to get rid of the dry, earthy taste that the herbs had left in her mouth. Water hadn’t worked.

“I got something better.” He reached under one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out a bottle of Hennessy.

“Jason, really?”

He smiled innocently.

She rolled her eyes. “Sure. I need a drink after the day I’ve had.” And liquor should kill the taste in my mouth.

He poured the cognac into two yellow plastic cups before they walked into the living room and sat on his couch. The alcohol warmed her insides and seared away the taste of the herbs.

“We should be talking about absorption, not sitting here getting drunk,” Shemeya pointed out.

“We always finish our projects tipsy. Why should this time be any different?”

Shemeya laughed. “Anyways, let’s get started: absorption vs. adsorption.” She pulled her chemistry book from her backpack.

“Stupid names. Why do they have to be so similar?” He sat back on the couch with a glazed look in his eyes.

“Are you going to get your books?”

He licked his lips and leaned forward. “I’ve heard stories about you and Latreece’s boyfriend.”

“So?” The buzz she had from the liquor quickly dissipated while her heart rate increased. She dreaded where the conversation was headed.

“I don’t understand. I’ve been asking you out for months, but you go out with him instead. He has a girlfriend.”

“I didn’t go out with him,” she said through clenched teeth. She’d expected to be harassed at school; she hadn’t expected it here. She had hoped her anger would shut him up, but no such luck.

“I saw you go in the room with Corey last weekend at Serena’s party.”

She threw her books on the table and stood. “Oh damn, Jason. Really?”

“I’ve treated you with nothing but respect since I’ve known you.”

“I’ve had a horrible day with everyone teasing me at school. Now I get here and have to deal with it from you, too. I’m leaving.” She turned from him and bent over to pick up her books.

“Are you crying?”

She brought her hand up to her face, and it came back wet. Why was she crying in front of him? Wasn’t the fake weed supposed to give her courage?

“Don’t go. I’m sorry.”

She was so busy wiping away her tears that she didn’t fight it when he grabbed her hand and pulled her back onto the couch. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

She let him hold her as she cried. Maybe it was the liquor, maybe it was the fake weed, or maybe it was her loneliness, but whatever the reason, she didn’t stop him when he brought his lips down onto hers.

His sweaty hands on her breast brought her back to reality. He wasn’t who she wanted. “No, Jason.” She pulled back. “I have to go.”

“Don’t go,” he pleaded, with his hand still under her shirt. Somehow they’d ended up on the couch with him on top cradled between her legs.

“No.” She tried to move from under him.

He loomed above her, flushed despite his dark skin. “Do you like it rough? Is that what it is?”

“No. This isn’t what I came here for.” Shemeya tore at his chest, but Jason refused to budge.

He kissed her neck. “I’m tired of being the nice guy,” he murmured, pinning her further beneath his body.

“Get off me!” she screamed. His erection rubbed against the crotch of her jeans. She punched and kicked, but it made him more excited. Her scalp itched as she fought. She wanted to scratch, but she needed both hands to fight Jason off. I’m getting raped, but I can’t fight the urge to scratch. The inconvenience of it almost made her laugh.

Something above moved. She looked past Jason. Five snakes were hovering above his head.

“I’m going crazy.” This time she did laugh, and the snakes, which were the same rusty brown color as her dreads, smiled.

Jason looked towards her. “Why are you laughing?” His eyes darted above her. The feel of his erection disappeared as he crept away, but she wrapped her legs around his waist.

Her itching scalp had been replaced with pleasurable tingles that ran from her head down to her toes. “Where are you going?” she asked.

“We need to leave,” he said, trembling. “There are snakes in here. There are snakes in your hair.” She pulled him closer while he fought to be released. “Let go. We need to get out of here.”

“No, stay,” she whispered in his ear. “They won’t hurt you.”

Shaking, he looked from Shemeya to the snakes. He tried to force himself from her legs. This time, when she tried to pull him closer, he punched her. Pain exploded in her jaw, but she never let go.

“Jason, that hurt.”

He looked into her eyes. “Please,” he begged. A snake sunk its fangs into his cheek. Another struck his ear. One clung to his nose, and another hung below his left eye. He writhed in pain as he tried to escape the snakes and her thighs. His pleading eyes came back to her before he stopped moving completely. The snakes retracted their fangs. She relaxed her legs. Jason fell onto the carpeted floor.

She stood and nearly fainted before she righted herself by grabbing the side of the couch. She brought her hands up to fix her hair but hesitated a few inches away. She’d never touched snakes before. But the snakes came to her, caressing her open palm. They were cold and smooth and full of life.

fiction

 THE BUCKET LIST  By Constance Burris

Josephine lifts her arthritic knees up the steps of the small Japanese tour bus and stares past the rows of empty seats before she settles her gaze on a middle-aged woman with a curly afro.

When the woman turned and smiles, that is all the invitation Josephine needs. “May I sit,” she asks after she wobbles her wide hips through the tight aisles.

“Of course,” the woman says.

“Thank you. I’m Josephine from Texas.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Keisha from North Carolina.”

“Are you traveling alone?” Josephine asks.

“Yeah, are you?”

“No. My no good husband is at the hotel in bed. He ate some bad sushi or some shit.”

The woman blushes. She must be from the suburbs, Josephine thinks. Suburbanites are always blushing over curse words.

“Are you looking forward to seeing Mt. Fuji?” Josephine asks the girl once the bus starts moving.

“No, I’m getting off at the Aokighara forest.”

“The what?” Josephine asks.

“The suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.”

“I’ve heard about that place. It’s where people go to die.” Josephine shakes her head. “I wonder why so many go there?” Josephine asks. “I suppose they’re all unhappy.”

“They can’t all go there because they’re sad,” Keisha says. “Maybe some are just finished.”

“Finished with what?” Josephine studies the woman. She’s too pretty to be so morbid.

“With life. Maybe they’ve crossed everything off their bucket list.”

“Well, then you create another list. Believe me; I’ve started over more than a few times. You can always reinvent yourself and create a whole ‘nother bucket of lists.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“You’re not thinking about going there to die are you?” Josephine asks suddenly concerned.

Keisha laughs. “Of course not. I’m just curious.

Josephine brings her hand to her chest. “Oh my goodness. You about gave me a heart attack.”

“You don’t have to worry about me. I have a husband and a little girl at home. I would never leave them.”

“Good. Good,” Josephine says as she stares at the woman, looking for any sign of depression.

“I promise. It’s just a weird curiosity of mine. I’m not going to kill myself.

“Well if you’re sure,” Josephine says, finally at ease.

“Ms. Josephine,” the Japanese tour guides says with an almost flawless American accent “We’re here.”

“Oh my. I didn’t even know I was sleep.” Josephine looks over to Keisha, but the woman’s seat is empty except for a folded sheet of paper. Josephine glances around the bus for the woman, but she is nowhere in sight. All of her belongings are gone. Satisfied she has done her due diligence and no one can call her nosy, Josephine unfolds the paper.

Keisha’s Bucket List

Graduate High School

Go Ziplining in Costa Rica

Go To College

Get a passport

Make love under the night sky

Visit Canada

Write a book

Fall in love

Get married

Have a baby

Travel to another country

Visit the suicide forest

All but the last one is marked out.

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About the Author:

Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of speculative fiction to the masses. She is a proud card carrying blerd (black nerd), mother, and wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City.

www.twitter.com/constancebu12rris

www.facebook.com/constance.burris

www.constanceburris.com

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Struck By Eros by Jenn Windrow

struckbyerosquoteOne jaded woman. Two hot men. A challenge to prove Cupid doesn’t always know best.

After a lifetime of dating losers, Noel Chase thinks she’s found love with college professor Len Holder. But Cupid’s aim sucks worse than his crap-tacular curse, sticking her with supposed soul mate, Grayson Adler. Grayson is gorgeous, Greek, and an exact replica of the man-whores of her past. No matter what the chubby cherub thinks, Noel is sure Grayson is Mr. Wrong with a capital “W.”

Forced to do Cupid’s bidding, Noel must spend her days with Grayson matchmaking the unlucky-in-loves, and trying to resist Grayson’s charm and do-me-now sex appeal. But when Cupid tries to match her fiancé, Len, with another woman, Noel must make an excruciating decision. Defy Cupid and hang on to Len? Or succumb to her fate and trust Grayson with her heart?

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Excerpt:

The morning fog ebbed, and the sun peeked between the clouds. Joggers ran through the shallow water, families searched for seashells, and ten feet away, a gaggle of girls surrounded Grayson like seagulls circling a kid with popcorn.

I trekked through the warm sand, threw myself into a chair underneath the rainbow-striped umbrella, and scared away Grayson’s entourage. “Let’s find our lonely hearts and get this over with.”

“Hello to you too, sunshine.”

Pulling a book out of my bag, I cracked it open and settled into my time-toignore-

Grayson pose. A pose that took me weeks to perfect. “Let’s not pretend we enjoy each other’s company.”

“Don’t you get sick of always being…” He waved his hand back and forth in my direction like a conductor guiding an orchestra. “You?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that if the stick in your ass got any higher we could hang a flag over your head and declare you your own state.”

I peeked over the top of my book. “Go get eaten by a shark.”

“Better than sitting on the beach with a crab.” Grayson hopped off his towel, jogged down the seaweed-covered sand, and got lost in the distance. I’d see him again when he located our wayward couple with the bobbing purple arrows over their heads.

Comforted by the sound of waves crashing on the shore, I tried to get interested in the story of a man and woman who managed to find love no matter how many obstacles life put in their way.

Choking out a laugh, I dropped the book in my lap. “What a crock of crap.” If finding the love of your life were so simple, Grayson and I would be leading ordinary lives far away from each another, instead of providing divine intervention for wayward soul mates.

Twenty minutes later, Grayson jogged back, snatched a towel, and wiped away the coat of sweat that covered his perfectly chiseled abs. I couldn’t help but notice the way his black board shorts showed off his Apollo’s belt, that lovely little “V” indent by his pelvic bone. Just because I didn’t want to spend eternity with him didn’t mean I couldn’t admire the spectacular view.

“Found our mark.” He grabbed a water bottle and took a gulp. “I’ll need your help.”

I tossed my book on the sand. “Anything to move this day along.”

With another gulp of water, Grayson grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the chair. “Scenario Sixty-Two?” A couple at odds.

“No. Not Sixty-Two. I don’t have the mental fortitude to fake a fight with you. How about Eight?” I pulled my hand out of his before the lust ignited and we ended up on a Serta sleeper with post-orgasmic guilt.

“Eight won’t work. He’s not exactly… handsome.” Grayson scrunched his nose, which only made him look more adorable.

Not what I wanted to hear. “How about Thirteen?” I wasn’t in the mood to hit on anyone today, but the lesser of two evils and all that.

“Thirteen it is.”

We approached the lavish, red and white beachfront hotel most people found beautiful. It reminded me of the ex-asshole playing hide-the-sausage in the honeymoon suite with his assistant while I stood groomless under a hydrangea covered trellis on this very same beach.

Cupid delighted in finding new ways to torture me.

We walked down the stone path to the beachfront café where a purple arrow floated over a man in his late twenties with a receding hairline, pockmarks, and a shirt that read, “I’m not a geek, I’m a level nine warlock.” No wonder Grayson wanted Scenario Sixty-Two; he had a soft spot for the desperate.

Grayson reached out and unbuttoned three buttons on my bathing suit cover up, exposing a lot more cleavage than a level nine warlock deserved. “Better than your personality.”

I shoved his hands away. “Just go find his other half.”

Grayson blew me a kiss and wandered off.

I closed one of the buttons, slid into the empty seat next to him at the bar, and held out my hand. “Hi, I’m Noel.”

He took a gander of the goods, then knocked over his drink in a hurry to shake my hand. A foamy white substance smelling of rum and coconut crept along the wood. His stare wandered between the crawling liquid and back to me, but he finally made the decision to ignore the mess and talk to the hot girl.

“Norm.” He ogled my abundant cleavage, then remembered his good manners, clasping my hand in his, shaking vigorously.

Thank God for divine intervention, or this poor shmuck would never get laid.

But today was Norm’s lucky day. Today he’d meet his other half. The ying to his yang. The milk to his cookie. The peanut butter to his jelly. And he might even have sex.

“Do you play Warcraft?” He looked hopeful.

I shook my head.

“It’s a great game. See, the elves hate the orcs…” Norm started his very detailed explanation.

At the twenty-minute mark of the ins and outs of The World of Warcraft, I developed an irritating twitch. Another moment and I was going to find a BFG, otherwise known as a Big Fucking Gun in geek speak, and shoot myself.

fiction

Flash Fiction by Jenn Windrow

Armed guards pulled me from my cell, and dragged me over the blood splattered Astro-turf. They shackled me to the goal post at the end of a football field turned-execution-chamber, stripped me of my last remaining article of clothing and left me to die.

Ten guards stood in a circle around me, machine guns pointed at my head. They thought they were safe. Five television crews hurried around the arena preparing for tonight’s broadcast. They thought they were safe. A priest knelt in front of a vat of water, blessing it. He thought he was safe. I’m a vampire.

No one was safe.

The announcer grabbed my chin with his pudgy, gloved hand. His mouth spread into an ugly smile before he turned and blocked the crowds view. He cleared his throat and spit. The warm glob landed on my cheek and slid down before dropping to the ground. He would be the first to die.

For five days my human captors tortured me, punished me, abused me. I allowed it. Their acts bought me time to plan my escape. The bitter blood of a family of rats who shared my cell kept me alive, their donation helped remove the last trace of poison that coursed through my veins.

Humans. They thought they got lucky catching one of the Seven Sovereign leaders of the vampire race. It hadn’t been luck. I’d been set up. By the six vampires I trusted the most. Betrayed, martyred, and left for dead at the entrance of a Vampire Apprehension Station. Silver injected in my blood to keep me compliant, close to death, to ensure I didn’t slaughter the humans. Sacrificed because I didn’t agree with their vision of the future and refused to cower to a lesser race.

Betrayal was an ugly thing.

But so was revenge.

The stadium lights flickered on and flooded the field in a cold white light. I lowered my head and let my greasy hair shield my eyes from the glare. Soft footfalls approached, bringing the all-too-familiar smell of body odor and peppermint with them. For five nights the same pungent odor visited me to pray for my undead soul.

My gaze followed the priest’s movements. He dipped a chalice into a vat of water, and raised the cup in the air, drops of water sloshed over the sides and fell to the ground. He walked over to me, the beads of his crucifix clicking against the gold cross.

“Delano Melazi, I’ll ask you again. Shall I pray for your undead soul?”

I ignored him tonight as I’ve done the last five times he asked me this question. It wasn’t my soul he needed to pray for, and it wasn’t my body they would be burying this evening.

A moment of silence stretched between us. He huffed and gestured for the guards. Two hurried over. “Hold his head.” Warm fingers dug into my scalp and forced me to meet the priest’s eyes. The twinkle in his baby blues was more devil than saint.

“By the authority of the church, I mark you as one of the damned.” He dipped his index finger into the chalice. The water rippled. He pulled his finger out and pressed it to the center of my forehead. It sizzled against my skin and burned along the two lines the priest traced with his finger. My fangs sank into my tongue, holding back my agonized scream. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of enjoying my pain.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” he finished. The guards dropped their hold on my head and it fell back to my chest.

The holy water cross was meant to weaken me, to stop me from fighting when the executioner came out and the real damage was inflicted. On a less powerful vampire, a younger one, it was effective, but I was almost seven hundred years old. I possessed more power than anyone knew, even the vampires who sent me here.

The Sovereign leaders called my capture a small sacrifice, a peace offering to the human race. I called it a punishment, a crime, an injustice.

Static from the Jumbo-Tron played over the speakers. The announcer’s voice boomed through the stadium. The crowd cheered, excited to witness my demise. And they called the vampires monsters.

“This week, two brave VAU agents captured one of the Vampires’ leaders. Delano Melazi.” The crowd booed and hissed their hatred. “He alone is responsible for the Nightclub Massacre.”

I had nothing to do with it, but let them believe what they wanted. I had no quarrel with them, just like a wolf has no quarrel with a sheep.

Once the crowd quieted down the announcer continued. “A tragedy no human will ever forget. You’ve seen the pictures. Over one hundred and thirty humans captured, tortured, torn to pieces.” He paused and stepped closer. I felt the warmth of his flesh and heard the beating of his heart. “This monster locked those doors. This monster slaughtered your friends and family in cold blood. This monster deserves to pay.”

His words worked the already agitated crowd into frenzy. They raised their fists high in the air and yelled for my death.

Just a few moments more, that’s all I needed. Seconds until my power was restored.

The announcer’s fat fingers grabbed my hair, pulled my head back and forced me to look into the camera. “Tonight he will pay. He will suffer. He will die.” His words echoed around the stadium.

No one heard the handcuffs fall to the ground or saw me twist his head or heard his last breath. No one knew anything was wrong until his head slipped from my fingers and his body slid to the ground.

The crowd screamed.

The guards aimed their guns at my heart, pulled the triggers and let the bullets fly in a flurry of silver and speed, but I was swifter, stronger, superior.

Before the first bullet hit the metal pole that had bound me, I was in front of the final guard in line. Ten beating hearts at my feet. Ten gaping holes in their chest. Ten dead bodies on the earth.

I turned to the closest camera, the red lights still blinking, but unmanned. “I am Delano Melazi.” I raised my voice over the commotion. “And I will seek revenge against those who wronged me.”

The first blast of holy water hit me in the shoulder. It knocked me off balance. The second hit me in the face. The cross the priest had drawn on my head merely irritated me, but the onslaught of blessed liquid burned, weakened and crippled me. It ran down my arm, melted the flesh off the bone.

I had one chance to get out alive. With the last remaining bit of strength still hidden deep in my reserves, I vanished. Teleported, a handy trick only I knew I possessed, away from the stadium and the humans, but not the pain.

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About the Author:

Jenn Windrow loves characters that have a pinch of spunk, a dash of attitude, and a large dollop of sex appeal. Top it all off with a huge heaping helping of snark, and you’ve got the ingredients for the kind of fast paced stories she loves to read and write. Home is a suburb of it’s-so-hot-my-shoes-have-melted-to-the-pavement Phoenix. Where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a slew of animals that seem to keep following her home, at least that’s what she claims.

https://twitter.com/JenMWindrow

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Oubliette–A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta Black

ou

Veronica knows the monsters aren’t “just in her head”, but no one listens to the headstrong ten-year-old as they tie her to a hospital bed every night.

Years later, after being dumped by her business-partner/boyfriend, Veronica finds herself on the verge of bankruptcy. Then a late-night call promises the perfect solution — a job opportunity decorating a castle in France.

Will Veronica risk what little she has left to chase a fairytale?

When the shadowy things that once terrorized her come back, Veronica must decide how much she’ll sacrifice for them, for her sanity, and for her life.

This epic book consists of interwoven stories with paranormal twists. A horror-filled historical fiction adventure, it spans nearly two millennia.

You’ll be transported to an ancient Pagan ritual, Roman-ruled Gaul, the bloody Inquisition of the Knights Templar, France as it’s ravaged by the Black Death, the duplicitous Reformation, the Paris Catacombs, and the gory French Revolution, while you unravel Oubliette’s cryptic layers.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/y0NMLzBnxKg

 Amazon    BN    Author Website

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Excerpt One from Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta M. Black – From the Prologue to Veronica’s Story

Veronica didn’t understand why they looked for the monsters in her head, that’s obviously not where they were. Instead of listening, the doctors stuck pads with wires to her temples and increased the dosage of an IV that dripped into her veins.
They also told the nurses to tie her down with thick, leather belts every night.
The tethers didn’t matter though, because when the monsters came, she wouldn’t be able to move anyway. The only thing Veronica could ever do was scream.
The doctors called them “night terrors”. The pudgy lady who talked funny –– she told Veronica it was her accent –– said they were “spirits”. Mommy used the term “shadow people”. Veronica just called them “monsters”, and wished they’d stop scaring her when she slept.
They wanted her. Deep inside, on a primal level, Veronica knew the monsters –– or whatever they were –– craved her, and if given the chance, they would do something very, very bad to her.
The little girl tried to explain this to the doctors, the nurses, the accent-talking lady, and her mother, but none of the adults really listened. Instead they argued and shouted at each other, and huffed in and out of the room –– but the thing that frightened Veronica the most, is when the adults would simply shrug their shoulders, and admit that they really didn’t have any idea what the monsters were at all.

Excerpt from Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta M. Black-From The Children’s Story

Louis dashed and the creature lunged after him. A thick, strong paw snatched the boy’s injured foot, wrapping around it with a vice-like grip. It pulled him down. The lad’s belly splatted on a damp bed of moss and the precious contents of his satchel sprayed out around him.
It reared up with a ferocious maw open wide. Despite the darkness, Louis saw into its eyes. Bright against its black matted fur, they had glistening whites — like a person’s. The eyes looked human, and that terrified Louis more than if they had looked like a raging, wild animal’s.
As the beast swooped down to attack, Louis twisted to one side and rolled over something round and hard. He grabbed what he thought was a rock and brought it down on the thing’s skull with a smack. It howled in pain, swung its head around to attack again, and then froze.
Louis braced for its strike with hands shielding his head. When nothing happened, he tentatively pulled his arm back to see the creature sulk back. The boy took advantage of the inexplicable reaction and kicked his foot free. It recoiled, and Louis saw that its menacing gaze was locked on the object in his hand. It wasn’t a rock after all, but one of the special relics his father had given him.
Louis scooted back. The thing hovered in front of him but did not move forward. It swayed slightly, like a dog tethered on a leash. Perhaps Isabelle was right! It couldn’t go beyond the castle grounds.
He gathered up his satchel and the rest of the contents, then slowly, cautiously, walked backward, keeping his eyes on it the whole time. Once he felt there was a safe distance between him and the devil, he spun and ran toward the river.
He was small and fast and darted easily through the dense foliage. It only took moments for him to arrive. Isabelle was there on the bank, waiting for him. She hugged him and cried, “Are you all right? Did it chase after you?”
Louis nodded and tears welled up in his big, brave eyes. “But it didn’t get me. It tried, but I scared it off!”
Isabelle chortled. “You scared it, my little poppet?”
“No, it was scared of this.” He held up the object.
Isabelle looked confused and squinted at the gleaming globe-like relic in the moonlight, “What is it?” Before the boy could answer, she interrupted him. “Shh, listen. Barking…I hear dogs.”

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About the Author:

Vanta M. Black, author of Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place, enjoys uncovering the dark mysteries of our Universe.

In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling to provocative places and studying all things esoteric.

Black has degrees in English, communication and art. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two pug-mix dogs, and spends her time in support of causes that empower women and advance science and technology.

http://www.vantamblack.com/

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https://www.facebook.com/OublietteNovel/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14697666.Vanta_M_Black

https://twitter.com/VantaMBlack @VantaMBlack

http://oublietteaforgottenlittleplace.tumblr.com/

http://www.youtube.com/c/VantamblackOubliette

https://www.iauthor.uk.com/oubliette-a-forgotten-little-place:18380

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Eve of All Hallows by Natalie Nicole Bates

 

 

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Book Description:

As Jamie travels the world in search of fulfillment, she arrives in Majorca the day before Halloween. Almost immediately, she realizes all is not what it seems. There are no tourists, and everyone is just a bit — different. She meets a local tattooist named Carlito, a native of Peru. The attraction is instantaneous and intense. He makes her an unbelievable offer. But whether it means heaven or horror, she is not sure. When the Eve of All Hallows meets All Saints Day only Fate can decide the outcome.

Amazon     Leap of Faith     Amazon UK

Excerpt:

 I think I will enjoy my time here.

Very much.

I’m taking in that magnificent view while I swirl a glass of red wine. Sometimes a girl gets lucky. It’s well past midnight now, but I can’t sleep. Beyond the beauty of my surroundings, of the warmth on my skin this late in the year, is the sound of the sea. I am truly alone in my own little nirvana. No one knows where I am, and I don’t care.

There’s a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. Maybe I’m not as alone as I thought. My heart flutters a little. Then I see him walking the beach towards the water, under the great moon above. My magnificent view just got even more spectacular. He’s fully naked.

My attention is riveted now as I sip my wine. I can’t see a lot of detail in the darkness, but I can see he is tall, with long hair. Nicely built, and if my eyes don’t deceive me, well-endowed as well. Now, this is a very interesting development.

I watch as he enters the water, and I shiver just a little as if my own skin was touched by the cool waters. He disappears momentarily beneath the dark sea, and emerges, throwing back his long hair. I know I should look away, I should respect his privacy, but I cannot. I am a voyeur in my own little world.

I’m not really sure how much time I spend watching him. Perhaps only a few minutes, maybe even an hour. He emerges from the waves, a mere silhouette now in the moonlight. He stops and looks straight to me. My first reaction is to want to drop to the floor. But my mind tells me he cannot see me in the darkness.

So, if he cannot see me, why does he stare in my direction?

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A Quick History of the Jack O Lantern

By Natalie-Nicole Bates

I was born on Halloween day. This I suppose is the reason for my love of all things Halloween. My favorite part of the holiday isn’t the trick or treating or the fancy costumes, not even the birthday cake and the Halloween themed birthday gifts.

No, for me it was, and still is the choosing of the perfect pumpkin for carving into the slightly imperfect Jack O Lantern (you must know that I am artistically challenged – so the slightly imperfect remark).

But to understand the (supposed) origins of the Jack O Lantern, we must first briefly discuss the pumpkin. Those beautiful globes of orange goodness whose remnants become pies, cookies, muffins, and seeds. Or wind up on the compost heap.

The name pumpkin dates back to Greek origin. Pepon or large melon. It was translated into Pompon by the French. The English then translated pompon to Pumpion. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare makes mention of Pumpion. Pumpkins are also a large mention in such classics as Cinderella, Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater, and of course, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Native Americans roasted pumpkins on an open fire, and dried strips of pumpkin were woven into mats. The earliest pumpkin pies were baked over hot ashes. The Colonists sliced off the top, removed the seeds, added spices, honey, and milk before baking. A handy baking vessel and treat all in one.

The Jack O Lantern has been around for centuries. The story goes that an Irish fellow by the name of Stingy Jack once invited the devil over for drinks. In true stingy style, Jack didn’t want to pay for the drinks, so he suggested the devil turn himself into a coin, and Jack could pay. The devil did so (how incredibly foolish), and Jack pocketed the coin. He kept the coin in his pocket near a silver cross, thus not allowing the devil to reanimate. Eventually the devil was free, but Jack managed to trick him at least two more times. Each time Jack extracted a promise from the devil not to claim his soul if he should die.

You know nothing good was coming of this.

So Jack died one day, and God told him to hit the road, he wasn’t allowing such a cad into heaven, so Jack paid his friend the devil a visit in hell. Well, the devil, still seething about the multiple tricks perpetrated upon him by Jack, also told him to hit the road, he certainly wasn’t welcome in hell, either. He gave Jack a burning lump of coal and sent him off into the night. Jack carved a hole in a turnip, placed the lump of burning coal inside, and has been using it to light his way ever since. Doomed to roam the earth forever and ever. The Irish referred to this ghostly figure with a lamp as Jack of the Lantern. In time this changed to Jack O’ Lantern.

Frightened by the possibility of Stingy Jack or other malevolent spirits haunting their neighborhoods, folks in Ireland and Scotland began carving scary faces into turnips and potatoes, beets were used in England, and placing them in their windows to scare the spirits away. As immigrants made their way to America, the glorious pumpkin became the go-to fruit for this task.

I hope you enjoyed this brief history of the pumpkin and the Jack O Lantern. Happy Halloween!

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About the Author:

Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.

Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian photography, Frozen Charlotte dolls, and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.

She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.

Visit Natalie online at www.natalienicolebates.com

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Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Gryphon’s Passing by Krista Carlson

 

 

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When her older half-brother unexpectedly commits suicide, Crystal is devastated.

The only thing she thinks will take away the pain is understanding why he did it. What she doesn’t know is the danger her search will create for her family when she dabbles in magick and calls something forth from the grave that wasn’t what she intended.

If she can learn how to control and subdue the supernatural, she may find the answers she seeks. If not, the thing that led her brother to commit suicide is going to continue picking off her family members one by one.

Fortunately for Crystal, her brother left behind a friend who may be willing to give her some much-needed guidance.

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Excerpt:

Crystal walked to the river in the moonlight, amazed as always by how she could see as well in the dark when it was like this as she could in broad daylight. She hadn’t checked the calendar, but it seemed to be a perfect full moon. She was always drawn to a full moon like a lover. On nights like this, she could feel how charged the air was. The energy felt electric, like she could pull it into herself and do anything with it. The night held expectation and promise and vibrated with life. She could hear the frogs croaking and the sounds of night creatures around her in the distance. She had heard reports of mountain lions in the area and her parents didn’t like her walking alone in the dark because of what might be out there, but she didn’t care. She loved to slip out of the house in the dead of night and go for a run in the oak canyons, miles from anything where no one would ever find her if she disappeared. There was a thrill in being that free, and probably some thrill in the danger of it.

She walked through the cottonwood trees and stared at the water. It had rained hard the night before and the water was deep and churned up, muddy with debris. It would be three or four days before it would be all right to swim in it again. As she stood watching, she thought she saw a body floating in the water, face down and blue. She stifled a scream and walked closer to see it, but it was gone. She rubbed her eyes and wondered if not getting enough sleep was making her hallucinate.

The wind picked up just then and caused last year’s dead leaves to swirl around her. “Crystal.” She heard her name but couldn’t hear where it was coming from. “Crystal, where are you?” She felt the goosebumps on her arms and couldn’t answer through her fear. “Crystal.” It was ahead of her, and then she heard it behind her, just the slightest whisper on the breeze.

“Crystal, I’ve been looking all over for you.” Mike said, coming up behind her. Max had come down to the river with Mike, and he nuzzled his wet nose into Crystal’s hand.

She wiped Max’s slobber off her hand and onto her shorts. “Christ, Mike, you scared the hell out of me!”

“Well, who else is going to be out looking for you in the dark?”

“I–I don’t know.” She stammered. “It’s just that I thought I saw something in the water just now.”

“What was it?”

“I don’t know. Nothing, I guess. Just for a minute, it looked like a body or something. I’m sure it wasn’t. I’ve just been a little spooked lately.”

“You’re not the only one, Sis. Come on, let’s go back.”

“Is Joe still here?”

“No, he’s gone. Mom said he’s leaving for Colorado tonight. I guess he doesn’t want to be in the house anymore. I can’t say as I blame him.”

“Me neither.” Crystal said. She was thinking that made going through Nick’s things easier.

“He’s not coming back, Crystal—at least not for a while. Mom said we could have what we wanted from the house and that he’s going to put it up for sale.”

“Damn. I wonder what it’s been like for him living there since it happened. It had to be hell. Do you think it’s haunted now?”

She shrugged, and they walked back to the house in silence, the question hanging in the air. Mike kicked at clumps of dirt along the way, and Crystal was lost in her thoughts. A bullfrog bellowed in the distance, and the horses ran and nipped at each other in the pasture. The night still seemed charged with electricity, like right before a storm.

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What Happens at Midnight Stays at Midnight

It was pushing midnight as I left the office, and the chill of the January night seemed to creep through my bones like a virus, starting first with my flesh and then eating deeper into my muscles before creeping into my internal organs. As I left through the back door of the bank building, I noticed someone had left the gate to the courtyard behind the bank open. It had always been locked, as far back as I could remember, under the pretense that the owners didn’t want people going inside to smoke and leaving their cigarette butts lying about or some such thing. But, tonight, the huge iron gate stood ajar.

From the conference room window of my law firm, eight floors above, I had sometimes peered down into the enclosed area with the ivy climbing up the brick wall on the far side, yearning to go in there and sit on one of the stone benches, with my toes absently stroking the green grass, and get lost in some fiction novel instead of meeting with whatever poor broken-hearted soul was asking me to solve their problems at the moment. I had never seen anyone actually go inside, but the grass was short and it was well kept, so someone had to enter it. I remember vaguely wondering if someone mowed that grass at midnight or when it was done. An ancient looking, gnarled tree stands in the center of the courtyard and extends its many bent arms and crooked fingers out over the whole area so that sunlight only barely manages to filter through its leaves and dapple the ground below. That is all I could ever really see of that mysterious little section of city, because a high, wrought-iron fence encircles it. It is the kind of fence that has narrow spaces between the bars and wicked sharp points on top, which forbids trespass by its presence much more effectively than any security officer could have done.

Tonight, as I paused in the dead of winter at the gap in the barrier and peered through that two or three foot opening where the gate was inclined inward, I looked up at the tree, and its gnarled fingers seemed even more skeletal than usual. I stood for a long moment considering, before I stepped inside the gate. I didn’t particularly want to mar my clean–or mostly clean–record with criminal trespass charges, but I couldn’t just walk on by without looking inside. Perhaps had it been warmer outside, I might have stood there and contemplated a bit longer, but icicles forming on one’s eyelashes do have a way of motivating one to seize the day–or the night as the case might be.

I shoved my car keys into my pocket and stepped cautiously through and around the gate, peering around it to make sure that no one was on the other side. It was deserted and quiet, and somehow warmer on the inside. I felt myself stop shivering almost as soon as I passed through the gate. It was also much, much quieter than it was outside the gate. Somehow, the noises from the city were muffled. I saw now, as I stood next to it, that the rough bark on the ancient tree spiraled upwards, and that the bark was not arranged randomly as ordinary bark might be. I looked around at the arrangement of stepping stones carefully laid out on what would otherwise have been the green lawn of my fantasies during the summertime. I had never noticed them from up above when I had looked out of the window. The stones were in an almost perfect circular pattern, or perhaps a spiral, I thought, as I came closer to them and saw more of the rough-hewn white stones appear.

I backed up, not quite trusting my eyes, because the inner swirls of the spiral had not at first appeared until I was near its edge. Sure enough, as I got back closer to the gate, only the perimeter of the stone circle showed. I looked up at the bright smattering of stars that glimmered through the twisted branches of the tree, and around the perimeter of the courtyard at the stone bench sitting nonchalantly against the brick wall and it all looked so ordinary, but as I approached the circle of stepping stones at the center, inner swirls of stones again began to appear. I then noticed that they were not flat, but rather curved inward and into a vortex of sorts.

I came and stood on the edge of the circle and it seemed to me that while the circle had a depth to it, that the depth seemed to change and shimmer somehow, one minute appearing to go on forever, and the next minute, appearing to only be slightly concave. I rubbed my eyes, and shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs from my brain, and then, because I had to, I gingerly, put one foot over the outer perimeter and onto the ground between it and the next row of stones. It felt like perfectly ordinary ground and I began to walk forward and to follow the path the lines made, not at first looking up, and only looking down at my high heels. The ground was slightly damp so that my heels sank in and I was trying not to lose a shoe or fall down. I noticed it becoming significantly warmer, and my muscles started to relax. Gone was the tension I had felt from the cold. I looked up and saw that there were dirt walls on my sides, not deep, but in layers extending outward such that the one beside me was maybe two feet tall, the next four feet tall and so on. It occurred to me that the spiral was getting progressively tighter, and it was then that I came to a doorway.

A doorway is not quite accurate because there was actually no door, only dark space like a yawning mouth. Had it actually been a mouth, I would have been standing on its tongue and it would have been about to swallow me hole. Somehow, this didn’t bother me at the time. I was only curious. I went through the door and as soon as I passed through, I found a large, brightly lit cavern. I couldn’t quite tell what the light source was. It seemed like I was in the daylight and it felt like sunshine, but there was no sun in the sky or whatever passed for sky that loomed above me. There was no real color to it. It was not the blue summer sky that I might expect, and it was not the gloomy grey of winter that I was used to. Neither was it dark, nor particularly white. It just was. Mostly the world was green. There was vegetation everywhere, but no animals or birds, or even insects as far as I could see. The landscape was varied by hills and mounds and what appeared to be more stone circles in the distance. Everywhere about me were those same gnarled trees with the spiral bark swirling around them and upward. The ground was lush with freshly mown-grass.

I didn’t know exactly what else to do, so I kicked off my high heels and I sat on the grass. I felt the ground shift under me and conform to my body like the memory foam in my favorite pillow. I was instantly comfortable and at ease and as I settled back, I felt like I was being lulled into a kind of peace that I had not felt in a very long time. It was like floating in the hot tub with the jets off. I was warm and cozy and everything felt right.

I closed my eyes and I began to feel like the trees were watching me. I became uneasily aware of their presence. I felt their consciousness. When I opened my eyes, the trees were in their same places, not having moved or advanced in on me. But now, I became aware of certain bushes nearby which looked somehow sentient.

It was not long before I heard first the thoughts of the trees, and then the thoughts of the bushes, intrude into my consciousness. I knew they were not trying to be invasive, but there they were, nonetheless, in my own mind with me. Some were soft and subtle, and I felt the slightest, tinkling vibration of their thoughts. Others felt more like coarse stones rubbing together, a deep growling grumble. The bushes were lighter presences, more airy and I sensed they were not as intelligent as the trees. Perhaps they were only younger. I could feel my consciousness merging with the trees, and I began to resist, fearing I would lose my own identity and that they would absorb it somehow. I could feel my mind expanding to encompass all of the world below, and then it begin to spread upward through those spirals on the tree trunks into the world above. I was being stretched and pulled and merging with everything green on the planet and I knew my sanity could not last more than another heartbeat or two. It was then that I felt myself connecting to the billions of individual blades of grass, all with their own identities and yet all connected, some down below with me in this world which were vibrant and green, and others up above mercifully dormant and quiet. That was when I finally felt my consciousness fracture like a mirror being dropped and a million shards of broken reflection exploded into my mind’s eye.

And then, there I was, sitting in my car in the parking garage looking out from above the courtyard. The keys were in the ignition and it was running, but I had no idea how I had gotten there. I looked down and saw that I was missing my shoes. Those particular high heels weren’t that expensive anyway, and I supposed I could live without them, but I didn’t really want to drive home barefoot. I got out of my car and looked down and into the courtyard. The iron gate was firmly and solidly closed. There would be no going back after my shoes. There was nothing to do except to drive home. With the concrete of the parking garage floor fast leeching the warmth from my body, I decided it had better be sooner rather than later. I cast one last quick look back over my shoulder at the courtyard as I left, wondering if the gate would ever open for me again.

 The Growl

The clock inside struck midnight as she watched the waning moon through the trees. It had been a long week, trying to fit in at work, trying to be proper in such a stuffy world where she didn’t belong. She had been to her breaking point these last few months, feeling her world crumbling around her until she had begun to believe it was karma. She had started to think she deserved it for betraying her family to seek a soulmate. She had known what she was doing was wrong when she did it, but she had wanted more. Now, she thought she was paying for it as she saw her career ending and contemplated moving by herself to another town to try to start over. Karma was catching up with her and it wasn’t going to give her any peace.

Sighing, she rose from her spot on the lawn and went inside to put some shoes on. She needed to clear her head, needed the cool comfort of the forest. She changed into jeans and then pulled on a pair of boots. There were thorn bushes in the forest where she was headed, among other things. She grabbed a flashlight and pulled the door shut behind her, slipping into the dark as silently as a cat.

She knew the path well enough in the daylight, but her feet were the only ones who took it, so the ground was undisturbed, the branches of the trees unbroken, and the progress slow. She made her way through the backyard, down the hill, over a mossy tree and around what almost looked like a stone pathway. The stones were natural limestone and flat, and the line of them, pale green against the darker green earth of the forest was what had drawn her to the stream and the ancient oaks the first time.

As she neared the stream, she slipped her boots off and sat them on the last of the stones. Where she wanted to go could only be reached by walking in the stream. She rolled her jeans up as far as she could and stepped into the water. It was the first of October and she gasped at the chill of the water as she stepped in. It served to clear her mind and bring her in touch with the present though. It was hard to think of anything but the icy sting of the water in the stream.

She made her way upstream, squishing her toes in the mud on the bottom and avoiding the more rocky areas where she might cut her feet on the stones. She came then to a shallow place in the water where there was a clearing in the woods. She stepped out onto the mossy bank, and looked up through the branches of the oak and ash trees at the moon winking in the night sky. One Oak tree stood in the center of the clearing, larger than the rest. Its brethren flanked it in an impressive warrior formation. Those trees thrummed with power that she could feel like a heartbeat, standing on top of their roots with her own bare feet.

She stood, head bowed, hand on the tree’s trunk, clearing her mind and soaking up the energy in the clearing. As she did, she felt herself growing stronger. She felt her heartbeat grow strong and regular. Doubts faded, and the headache she had felt for the last week relaxed as she let the tension leave her muscles for the first time in as many days. She breathed in the night air and breathed in power.

She heard a twig snap very near her before she heard the low growl only feet away and to her left. Her heart skipped a beat and her stomach clenched as she realized she was not alone. She hoped that it was not hungry. Then she heard another low growl to her right, and another behind her.

She almost panicked, almost made a run for the stream, before she heard the tree laugh. “What are you afraid of?” It asked. “You too are a creature of the night and you are twice the monster they are.” She laughed then and patted a thank you in answer against the tree’s bark.

“I am.” She said. “I am a monster,” she shouted at the shadowy figures. “And you are nothing but dogs. I am more monster than you will ever be because I was once human.” She added with a growl. They stared each other down, she daring them to come forward and take her. She wanted them to do it. She wanted to savagely rip them apart, starting with their jaws. Perhaps sensing her pent-up rage and frustration, and her desire to fight to the death, they bowed their knee to her before they slunk back into the night.

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 About the Author:

 Krista Carlson was born in South Dakota, in 1980, to a farmer and a librarian. She grew up in Ord, Nebraska with an older brother, and they were homeschooled, which meant that they spent a great deal of their time riding horses, swimming in the river and anything else they could think of to avoid studying. She did rather enjoy books though, especially literature and history, and so, after having her first son a young age, she began to pursue her education seriously. By the time she was seventeen, she was married with two sons and had a year of college behind her. She later graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and then went on to graduate from law school with distinction in 2008. Upon graduation, she became a civil defense attorney with a firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. While studying History at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, she began to explore her interest in magick and spent the traditional year and a day with a local Wiccan coven. This interest prompted her to write her debut novel, Gryphon’s Passing, which was released in March of 2015.

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