In Carousel of Nightmares, author Kerry E.B. Black corralled a collection of scary short stories. She hopes you may find the beauty in the nightmarish coats, the sparkle in their malignant eyes, and the magic in the rhythm of accelerated heartbeats. May the ride they offer lead to the adventure you seek!
Kerry E.B. Black resides in a swamp along a foggy river outside the city of steel and three rivers. This enthusiastic short story writer recently released (or will soon release) a YA paranormal adventure novel, Season of Secrets, through Rhetoric Askew Publishing, and a collections of her short stories will be storming the market place through Tree Shadow Press. Please follow this “Rough Writer” and one-time first reader for Postcard Poetry and Prose at any of the sites below.
This story was reproduced from here, with the author’s kind permission.
It started when the house along the street blew up. We were told it was safe and I suppose it was. The houses either side of the gap were fine and there was no trace of gas or anything. But that night the tapping started.
First it was on the windows, a light, tap tap tap, like a branch against the panes in a light breeze. Except there were no branches near my window. Just the tap tap tap after dark. It started to unnerve me. There was
never any trace when I pulled back the curtains to look and nothing seemed out of place when I looked at the windows from the street in daylight
Gradually I got used to it and talked about perhaps it was mice or birds in the attic. I even added it to the ghost stories that were exchanged at work – I live in York, after all, and there are always ghost stories. However, as the nights grew longer and the days got cooler, the tapping changed.
It was the day after my birthday, 22nd of September, when I sat bolt upright in bed. The tap tap tap was now coming from the living room. I remember how frozen I felt, pinned to my bed as the gentle tap tap tap seemed to patter against the wooden floor. I crept to the door of my bedroom and listened. There were no human footsteps, no rustle of clothes and no sigh or grunt of someone moving. I opened the door just a crack, peering out into the hall. No light shone from under the living room door. As I gathered my courage to confront the noise, the tap tap tap faded away and I realised it was dawn.
That was three days ago. I forgot about the tapping as I went away for work. I lost myself in the hectic pace of the conference and the after conference drinks, happy to forget about strange noises, but now I was back. There was no sign of any disturbance in the house. Nothing had moved. I had a quick shower and got into bed with Netflix playing loudly as I wriggled down into the bed.
But it didn’t drown the tapping. I can hear it now, tap tap tap in the living room. I am lying here, terrified, as the tap tap tap gets nearer and nearer. The tapping is in the hall now and getting closer to my door. I pick up my phone from the bedside cabinet and scroll through my contacts, looking for the number that had been forced on me. Now I was desperate. I found the name – Rev D King, Exorcist. My fingers trembled as I dialled the number, burrowed under the covers. Dawn is two hours away and the tapping is getting closer.
If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out “Quiet Library” over on “Always Another Chapter”
About Lysaa Medana
Lyssa Medana is a 50 year old author living in West Yorkshire, UK. Her works include The Forgotten Village, Digging up the Past, Cats in the Bible, Dinner at Dark and Tales from the White Hart.
Lyssa also regularly publishes poems and short stories on her blog, Always Another Chapter.
Lyssa is fascinated by the odd, the quirky and the unusual and enjoys dipping in to old folklore and English social history, which she shamelessly uses for her writing. Her hobbies include knitting, reading and heckling history documentaries.
“Beauty and the Beast” meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist
Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to
find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.
The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.
Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat—despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves
many genres, all of them speculative fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?
(Times are for the Alaska timezone, EST -4 hours, GMT -9 hours)
Entries can be earned by completing any of the three tasks, and one of the tasks can earn you additional entries every day.
Here’s how the prizes are going to break down.
E-Book “Wolves In The Desert” Audio/E-Book “Ghosts Of The Sea Moon” E-Book “Protecting The Dead” E-Books “The 13: Tales of the Illusory”, “The 13: Tales of Macabre”, “Till Death Do Us Part” E-Book “The Greatest of Books”
Timothy Bateson A.F. Stewart Katherine Gilbert Stephanie Ayers
Writers are often asked where their ideas come from. It can be difficult to pin down all the factors that lead to a story, but in the case of my upcoming release No Rest for the Wicked, I can tell you exactly how I became inspired to create my psychic grifter character.
Back when I worked in the library of the California Academy of Sciences, I discovered a wonderful and witty nonfiction author, Mary Roach. She’s written plenty of books on a wide range of subjects, but my
favorite has to be Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her approach in all of her books is to take one “big idea” and come at it from every possible angle. In this book, she spent a lot of time examining the foundation of the Spiritualist movement and the rise in the belief in ghosts during the 19th century. I was fascinated how this “enlightened” time in human history also saw people turning to supernatural explanations, which could make them fall victim to hoaxes. I fell in love with the “mad science” of the steam era and it is still one of my favorite areas of research.
One of the most famous of these hoaxes involving ghosts happened in 1848. Two sisters in New York City claimed to be visited by a spirit, and the newspapers – hungry for stories that would sell – at it up. By the late days of Queen Victoria’s reign, a huge percentage of the population in the English speaking world claimed to have communicated with the dead, or at
least believed it was possible. The Spiritualist movement was born, and
it’s avid believers included Mary Todd Lincoln, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
and Queen Vic herself.
Nowadays, we keep death neat, tidy, and far away. In the old days, not only did most people die in their own homes with family members at hand, this was considered the definition of a “good death.” During conflicts like the American Civil War, soldiers carried photos of their loved ones with them. Not just to remember them by, but so if they died on the battlefield, the living could arrange the photos around them as if they were near their family. Because if you didn’t have a “good death,” there was a good chance you would never get to rest.
It didn’t take long for con artists, primarily female ones, to start offering their services as mediums. Another type of lucrative hoax was to offer “spirit photography” services. This was also early days for photographic technology, and people were eager to believe that the be-sheeted figure in the background of a double exposure was actual a phantasm.
So, back to my character. During the fall of 2015, I spent a few weeks in training to be a tour guide at the Sacramento History Museum. Ultimately, the drive proved to be too long and the working hours too few for me to continue, but I gained something so much more valuable than money. While we crafted our tours, we were asked to create a character and choose a theme. As I went through the training, I was struck by how many of the stories centered on gamblers, grifters, and thieves. This became the focus of my tour, and when it came time to choose a persona, I decided on a fake medium. Though I never did give a tour, Viola Thorne was born.
The premise was too good to let go of, and it continued to percolate in the back of my brain. As I daydreamed, I saw a woman and her assistant testing out the pulleys and various levers to create her special effects. Then a ghost walked in to answer her advertisement, and everything changed. Though this exact scene does not appear in No Rest for the Wicked, which takes place after the recalcitrant Vi has become fed up with running errands for the dead, it served as the basis for my Mistress of None series.
If you’d like to find out more about No Rest for the Wicked, stop by my blog to read some excerpts and sign up for my newsletter (the bar floating at the bottom of the screen). This Gaslamp Fantasy novel is set to come out from Black Rose Writing on March 28, but in the meantime I am also going to send my subscribers a free ebook called The Steampunk Handbook this fall. In its pages, I go into much more detail about the spooky and the supernatural side to the steam era.
Here’s to a Haunting Halloween!
About Phoebe Darqueling
Phoebe Darqueling has hung her hat in many places as she and her archaeologist husband have chased their dreams around the world. When she isn’t sharing tips for writers on OurWriteSide.com or editing SteampunkJournal.org, she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in Minnesota. You can find more of her writing in the novels Riftmaker (Feb 14), No Rest for the Wicked (March 28) and Army of Brass, and her short stories in Chasing Magicand Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales.
The Liminal Hymns sing the story of moments between, leaving certainties to embrace doubt. Liminal spaces are explored through examinations of mythology, philosophy, and religion. With sardonic shots of whiskey and wit, this collection delves into the sensory and psychological kaleidoscope of the human condition.
Anaïs Chartschenko hails from the Canadian wilderness. She has come to enjoy such modern things as electric tea kettles. Her published works include: Bright Needles The Whisper Collector The Weightless One Perfect Break The Liminal Hymns