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anthology

Holiday Wrappings (Anthology)

*****5 STARS!! Read the entire review here: Holiday Wrappings (Anthology).

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HOLIDAY WRAPPINGS: A Selection of Witches, Ghosts, and Vampires

Sekhmet Press presents

HOLIDAY WRAPPINGS

A LIMITED EDITION (Kindle) Collection featuring thirteen stories from Wrapped in Red, Wrapped in White, and Wrapped in Black

by Allison M. Dickson, Patrick C. Greene, Gordon White, Rose Blackthorn, Bryan W. Alaspa, Shenoa Carroll-Bradd, Michael G. Williams, Cecilia Dockins, Solomon Archer, Nick Kimbro and Michael D. Matula.

PRE-ORDER TODAY

Available Black Friday through New Year’s Eve.

HolidayWrappings FINAL

PRAISE FOR THE WRAPPED SERIES

“More than horror, an array of emotions that leak off the pages into your mind and at times into your very soul.”

“Every single story was a page turner…Don’t miss out on this terrific book!”

“The Curse of Kirby” by Patrick Greene is darkly twisted in a way that left me vacillating between gales of laughter and horrified disgust.”

“Allison M. Dickson presents the reader with the complete picture… beautifully described settings of anguish, populated with characters that have a strange and unique story to tell.”

“Brilliant and artistically woven anthology.”


NEW RELEASE! WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

Sekhmet Press LLC

presents

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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LIMITED TIME Amazon Matchbook Program

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That least understood and most variable of supernatural personae, The Witch, remains a source of fascination and fear the world over. They walk among us, plying their skills, stealing our hearts -and perhaps other pieces of us- for purposes known only to them. In this boiling brew, you’ll taste not only eye of newt and wing of bat, but wrathful scorn, summoned spirits, and pierced veils that bleed wonders dark and delicious. Straddle the whisk and travel the worlds of Witchcraft, Voodoo and eleven worlds ‘twixt. But be careful not to fall…in love or into the abyss.


HAIR SHIRT DRAG by Gordon White
Despite their power, the women of the Overhold family have gone to great lengths to be accepted by the rest of the town. As the coming out party for a new generation draws closer, however, it seems that some people might never fit in.

COMES THE RAIN by Gregory L. Norris
In 1961, a family is trapped at a rural farm. As their powerful matriarch lingers close to death, storm clouds gather over the house, and a powerful evil force descends, seeking vengeance.

NUMBER ONE ANGEL by Allison M. Dickson
Louise would do anything for Phelan, the mysterious new man in her life, but one woman stands in the way: her insufferable mama. But with just one dark act, one nasty little favor for Phelan, Mama won’t be anyone’s problem anymore, and Louise will win her place as Phelan’s most special girl.

UNTO THE EARTH by Patrick C. Greene
Landon loves his beautiful Haitian wife, Agnes, even finding her devotion to voodoo charming, with its positive-minded rituals that seem more like play-acting than actual ceremony.

HÄXENHAUS by Nick Kimbro
In 17th century Germany a man and his wife have lost a son. The culprit: witchcraft. When a strange black dog follows them home from where the witches are being interrogated, however, it might be just the fresh start needed to help them cope with their grief.

STORIES I TELL TO GIRLS by Michael G. Williams
Auntie Ann is the revered elder of The Book People, a coven of witches drawing power from the written word. Begging for their help, a dashing and sorrowful figure from the distant past reminds them the wise and unshakable crone was once a maiden.

THE RISING SON by James Glass
Cal had been an easy-going man until the night the woman he loved showed up to his secret society’s party with Crowley. Fueled by jealous rage, Cal did the unthinkable, summoning much more than the demon he had intended.

BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN THINGS by Rose Blackthorn
Trey has made plenty of mistakes in his life, and now he’s paying for them. A random meeting with a strange woman who seems to know more about him than is possible will change everything, and give him the possibility of getting back the most precious thing he has lost—the one person who really meant anything to him.

NOT THIS TIME by Mike Lester
Blood is thicker than water, so the saying goes…and sometimes the bonds of blood even outlast the grave…

INTO THE LIGHT by Solomon Archer
Elliot, a lonely transplant in rural Kansas, finds friendship with a dangerous group enthralled by an ancient power thirsty for sacrifice. With his sanity and the lives of those he loves on the line, Elliot decides the only way out is to take on a force far greater than nature itself.

SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
Jamie’s wife is beautiful, passionate, and exotic, but sometimes her jealousy gets the better of her. And when it does, she punishes him in ways he never thought possible.

PIGEON by Eric Nash
Maddie followed the path straight to the Goddess; she knew the Goddess took care of her own.

PIG ROAST by Aaron Gudmunson
To boorish, boring Chet, food is everything–especially when it’s slathered in mustard. When he meets a beautiful woman who claims to be a master mustard-maker, he thinks all his dreams have come true… but as everyone knows dreams can swiftly become nightmares.

BUY IT TODAY!


NOT THIS TIME by Mike Lester

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


NOT THIS TIME
by Mike Lester

I decided to take a walk.
Melanie would have liked that.
The day was lovely, breezy, bright under a blue sky, bluer than I ever thought possible. Not at all the kind of day I expected it to be. The grass was dry and golden and waist high. Soon it would be taller. Tall enough to hide in. Tall enough to get lost in. Almost. I ran my fingers through the grass, blade tips tickling my palms like blinking eyelashes.
I looked back to the house, back the way I had come, my path a darker shade running through the field. I picked up the bucket and kept on. The bucket was heavy. The wire handle dug into my fingers and I had to keep switching my grip from hand to hand, careful not to spill.
They were all still inside, eating and drinking and telling stories about Melanie, no doubt. As if they knew her.
Up ahead, I could see the lane and the tall trees that lined it, tall and straight, two green, even rows falling all the way back to the highway. I remembered foggy mornings. Walking along the path. The tops of trees shrouded, swaying. Melanie and I would always run ahead of the others, trying to get lost, thinking the fog would take us away, away from the paths and the field and the world. But then Uncle Brad’s voice or footsteps or some other human noise would reach through and bring us back.
I had seen the look in her eyes and recognized it.
Not this time. Soon.
That was a long time ago.
I stepped out of the dry grass and onto the lane. Looked up to the tops of the trees, half-expecting them to be blotted out like before. But no, not today. Today they were golden and green and bright yellow, leaves flickering like shiny coins. I set the bucket down in the gravel and looked back home again. Chimney. The roof, smaller now, far off on the other side of the field. Solitary. A dollhouse.
Mother wouldn’t let me take my tie off, not even after the service. Not even up on top of the hill with the sun beating down on us all. It was hot and still and I couldn’t look when she was lowered. Not because I was sad though. I could hardly keep from smiling. At one point I thought maybe Uncle Brad had noticed, and so I started to feel bad and did my best not to smile.
Now everything is different. Now I could smile if I wanted to and I even whistled a bit. Just a bit.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


lesterMike Lester is the author of An Occasional Dream, published in 2002 by indie crime publisher UglyTown. His story “The Courtier” will appear in Aaron J. French’s upcoming expanded edition of The Shadow of the Unknown. He currently lives in South Carolina.


THE RISING SON by James Glass

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


THE RISING SON
by James Glass

Crowley was a prick. Virgil Calahan, Jr. came to the conclusion as he watched the man move through the crowd, how everyone smiled and laughed at the poorly told jokes only because no one wanted to seem stupid to a foreigner. Moreover, he seethed at the way Cherry clung to the man’s arm in spite of the insipid, resinous cloud of scented oils permeating the air around him.
He knew he had no claim to the gorgeous redhead, they adhered to the tenets of polyamory, but to see her showering another man with affection – Crowley of all the people! It was too much. He slammed his drink glass on the bar top harder than was necessary and pretended it was Crowley’s face.
The bartender’s smile was tight as he silently refilled the empty glass and disappeared into the shadows once more. Calahan clutched the drink to his chest, his eyes narrowed to slits as he continued to watch the man he now thought of as his own personal arch-nemesis.
“Chin up, old boy, she will be back.”
Calahan turned to see his father, one Virgil Calahan Senior, lounging against the bar. The old man also watched Cherry, the lustful expression not one his son had seen on his father’s usually bland but cheerful visage.
“But once a man has spent a night with the likes of her, one cannot return to any semblance of normal.” At his son’s sharp intake of breath he added, “Oh come now, old man, you can’t mean to tell me you had no idea we’ve all had a taste of Cherry?”
“When?!”
“The night after your birthday. She was very… accommodating.”
Calahan the son glared into his whiskey and said nothing, but he could feel his cheeks becoming red with fury. If it had been anyone but his father who spoke those words, the man would be nursing a black eye and possibly a broken jaw at that very moment. He cleared his throat and downed the rest of the amber liquid, then slammed the glass again on the bar top, this time hard enough to send a shard of glass flying into the space between himself and the gathering of revelers.
His father placed a hand over his. “Son, it was nothing personal, merely a good time.”
At Calahan’s continued silence, the older man studied his son’s face. Sudden realization dawned in his piercing blue eyes.
“Good heavens, boy, you can’t have fallen in love with her!”
Calahan pulled away from his father’s touch. “Well what if I had? What good does it do me now, knowing she’s been with everyone I know?”
“Cal,” his father’s voice was gentle, “She is a whore.”
Calahan rolled his eyes, his voice choked by sarcasm. “No kidding?”
“What I mean to say is she is a prostitute. We bought her for you for your birthday.” His father’s expression was filled with pity, and he patted Calahan’s arm, frowning. “I’m sorry, son. We thought you knew.”
With that, the old man wandered off into the crowd and Calahan stared after his father, disgust mingling with hate and whiskey in his churning gut. As Crowley’s accent carried over the crowd he gritted his teeth and stormed out onto the balcony of the lushly appointed hotel. He caught Cherry’s eye as he passed by her, and a small frown curled the corners of her perfectly drawn red lips.
The combination of being away from the party-goers and the chill of the night air cleared his anger only slightly, and he glared over the railing of the balcony into the glittering few electric lights mingling with gaslight below. He heard the latch of the French doors click behind him and he sighed, expecting Cherry to approach him with excuses. Instead his brother touched his shoulder.
The angry words meant for Cherry died on Calahan’s lips at the sight of his sibling. The younger man seemed upset by something, and the signs of laudanum addiction colored his pale features. This was a new addition to a chaotic repertoire of drug use.
“Billy?” Calahan said in way of greeting.
“Cal.” His brother stared over the railing with fever eyes and pulled at his clothes as if they didn’t fit quite right.
“Are you feeling,” Calahan paused, unable to say the word he had intended ‘anything’, instead substituting, “unwell?”
“You can say that, I suppose.” He spun to face Calahan and his elder brother stepped back as if physically assaulted by the mania creeping into his voice.
“I think you’ve had too much to drink,” Calahan said, voice quiet so as not to upset the delicate balance of his brother’s mood. On a typical day the young man’s behavior was erratic, partly due to his mental state and partly as a result of his self-medication.
Billy laughed and shook his head. “The problem is, Cal, I have not yet had enough to drink!” He stared at the lights below for a moment, his voice dreamy when he at last asked, “Have you spoken with Crowley yet?”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


james glassJames Glass enjoys his privacy, but frequently finds that he plays an unwilling host to Xircon. When not visiting red light districts of red light cities, he can frequently be found contemplating life in the seediest of libraries.

Find James Glass on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesRGlassII and HERE

 


PIGEON by Eric Nash

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


PIGEON
by Eric Nash

Sitting on the playground, fingering the amulet which adorned her wrist, Maddie thought that the clockwork conspiracy was genius in the way it dictated her fall.

If Jack, her ex-boyfriend and ex-boss, hadn’t made that girl pregnant, he would not have left Maddie. If she hadn’t been forced to quit her job because of his unreasonable behaviour then she wouldn’t be working in the Estate Agents doing weekend shifts, and would not have been taking her lunch-break in the park. She would not have been watching a magpie swagger through the grass as she listened to her sister waffle on about how fantastic her holiday was – second already that year and it still only July – while her nephew walked along a balance bar between the swing and the climbing frame. If her sister, who never liked Jack and still frequently informed Maddie of this fact, hadn’t told her about her new job, the pay increase and the flirty fit bloke that had interviewed her, she would not have walked over to her nephew, who then would not have bet her that she couldn’t walk all the way along the bar like he had done twice. Maddie stepped up. She would have reached the end if a motorcycle hadn’t backfired and the magpie hadn’t leapt into flight, but it did and so did the other, and the frantic fluttering of wings came inches from Maddie’s face making her twist and flail and fall left off the narrow beam.

Even though she hadn’t landed exactly on the left hand path – the path was some distance away on the other side of the park – she felt that the act of falling to her left counted as the same thing. Now that she had fallen she was, of course, duty-bound to explore her desires and maximise her satisfaction.

Or maybe, Maddie just needed to give herself permission to repay Jack for the three years of pills caused by his betrayal.

Whatever the reason, her liberation began with the removal of her amulet. It was a plain silver band, around which she had wrapped a lock of Jack’s hair. Back when he wore it long. Back when he was hers. To secure the hair she had bound it with red silk. It had protected her from harm every day she and Jack had been together. After, it had been very successful in keeping him near.

Abandoning her nephew to the whims of his self-obsessed mother, Maddie unravelled the silk and let it trail behind her in the dirt, discarding it at the park gates when she turned left to take the Number 9 bus. Knowing what she was about to do had her heart skipping over her hollow belly. The act of allowing herself to do it swept away the many inhibitions that contained her, and made her body tremble with excitement. At the bus stop, she couldn’t help but play hide-and-peek with her reflection, each time lingering a little longer to marvel at the upward curve of her lips and the universe revealed in her eyes.

All the while, Maddie crushed the hair in her fist.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


Photo Credit: boj32

Photo Credit: boj32

Eric Nash writes dark speculative fiction. As yet he has not won, or been nominated for, any awards for his literary works. However, he is working on this and will be sure to let you know when he does. He lives in the south-west of England, possibly with his wife and children but he can’t be sure as demons have lashed him to his writing desk and bolted the door.

He has a website, http://eanash.wordpress.com, and can also be found on social media at http://www.facebook.com/EricNashauthor.


INTO THE LIGHT by Solomon Archer

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Sekhmet Press is excited to announce that Wrapped In Black contributor

Solomon Archer

has been named the

2014 Masters of Macabre Winner

by horroraddicts.net

macabre logo

Congratulations, Archer!


INTO THE LIGHT
by Solomon Archer

Elliot thought back to when it all started, before the gatherings became ceremonies. Before the rituals demanded sacrifices. Before his gift became a nightmare. Before his life became Mother’s.

Back then, he thought, as if the world before the coven had been simpler. Sundown meant heading home to set the table for dinner, pedaling his Schwinn as fast as he could. Back then, he responded “treasure hunting pirate astronaut” to any adult who inquired what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wasn’t a sullen eighteen-year-old who lived with his single mother on a dead farm, in a state where the only excitement came in the form of questionably regulated rides at the county fair or an occasional late summer hailstorm. Back then, he had a family and a life. He had a father and friends and all of suburban Newton Highlands as his playground.

But most importantly, he didn’t stay up until dawn, sweat-soaked and panicky with his heart in his throat, listening for the sounds of creatures stirring in the fields outside his window. Or hold his breath when they stopped.

Then, sixteen months ago, he met Deacon.

It had been a Saturday in mid-April, and rather than spend the day turning his dead grandparents’ former dream home into his own Midwest nightmare, unpacking the moving boxes that doubled as cardboard furniture, Elliot opted instead to explore the deserted back roads of Delphos, far from the disappointed stare of his mother. He rarely needed to use more than three or four gears on his bike in the flat expanse of Ottawa County, but that was more than enough to generate a welcome rush of spring wind through his hair. He had just passed the county line ten miles from his house, enjoying the solitude and peace, when he struck the pothole.

He hadn’t been watching the road, so he never saw it coming. The front tire dropped into the depression, pitching him over the handlebars. He stiffened reflexively as the ground rushed up to meet him, and hit the road with both hands. The road tore into his shoulder, elbow, back, and legs as he landed hard. He writhed in pain, moaning and cursing at dozens of scrapes, cuts, and tears that had suddenly erupted all over his body.

He sat up slowly, turning his left hand over in his lap and wincing at what was undoubtedly a sprained wrist. The asphalt had shredded the meat of his palms and the pebbles, dirt, and debris burrowed into his skin like powdered acid. A midline scar on his right hand, the result of a playground accident when he was ten, was lost in a map of angry red cuts.

He gingerly took the cell phone out of his back pocket. The screen was cracked, and dark. His bike lay on its side like mechanical road kill, the disengaged chain dangling from the crankshaft like a metal intestine.

Favoring his left leg, Elliot got to his feet, picked up his bike and steadied himself on it as he walked it back in the direction of town. The front tire wobbled on its warped rim and Elliot had to coax it along like a wounded pack animal. It was over half an hour before he spied a vehicle on the watery horizon. It crossed the center line and slowed to a crawl, stopping only a few feet in front of him. The muffler offered a low chuckle and shook impatiently as if it were attached to a sleek classic muscle car rather than a mid-70s Lincoln Continental. The dark brown finish was faded, its exterior coated in dust. Though the do-it-yourself window tinting was pale and bubbled, Elliot couldn’t make out the driver.

He gave the car a wide berth as he walked past, when the window rolled down and a gaunt man with a shock of fluffy white hair leaned across the passenger seat.

“Looks like you’ve had quite a scrape.” The driver’s voice was deep and raspy, belying a lifetime of cigarette addiction if not throat cancer.

“Yeah,” Elliot replied, an automatic response. “Just a little scrape, no big deal.”

“Would you like a ride?”

Elliot tensed. “No. Thanks, really. I’ll be fine.”

The man’s gaze fell on the ruined tire and dragging chain, glided over Elliot’s legs, wandered past the abrasions on his hips and elbows, and came to rest on the blood-soaked handlebar Elliot clutched in a vise-like grip. He shook his head slowly, deliberately.

“And you’re planning on walking back to town?” The driver’s voice had a pitying, amused quality. “How long do you think that will take? Two hours? Three maybe?”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


solomon archerSolomon Archer is the 2014 Masters of the Macbre winner for his short story SURFACE TENSION. A criminal psychologist by day and writer by night, Archer is currently the Chief Psychologist of the XXXXXXX State Department of Corrections. He spends much of his time working with serious and dangerously mentally ill offenders, some of whom are not so disorganized that they couldn’t figure out a way to free themselves from their restraints and stab him in the head with an altered food tray. (Incidentally, the going rate for shanking a psychologist is two pounds of coffee and three bags of Top tobacco. You know, just in case you were curious).

Archer’s short stories have appeared in Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits and the new Wrapped In Black: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult.  His book PSYKU: A Work of Forensic Prose will release later this year by Sekhmet Press. Follow the lives of criminal offenders, as distilled into 17-syllable snapshots of dark humor and morose commentary, by a forensic psychologist with a Disciple Complex and a rampant case of cynicism.

You can find Archer here: http://psykubook.wordpress.com/

and here: https://www.facebook.com/psykuofficial