A Literary Micro-Press

short stories

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In celebration of Patrick C. Greene’s new release THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, we have decided to give away several of Patrick’s short stories this week. Download your copies now and tell a friend! Today through Friday June 24 – HURRY! Click on the titles below.

TRICK
GUARDIAN OF THE ORCHARD
CINDERBLOCK


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UNTO THE EARTH by Patrick C. Greene

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


UNTO THE EARTH
By Patrick Greene

Landon Stower strolled with his dog Shucky along a clean white sidewalk, contented in the placidity of the neighborhood he’d called home since his release from the hospital two years before, sporting a battered baseball cap insigned with the logo of his favorite team, the Baton Rouge Buzzards.
Whistling as he went, Landon waved to his next door neighbor as he turned into his own fenced yard and closed the gate behind him, removing the leash from the panting black lab. He gave the dog a vigorous cheek rub. “Niiiice boy, Shuck.”
Entering his house, Landon was greeted with an exotic, redolent scent and the rhythms of a soft voice.
“Mm!” Landon sniffed the air. “Agnes!?”
When his wife did not answer, Landon set aside the leash and followed his senses to the kitchen. Dressed in hospital scrubs like the day she attended him after his accident (and stole his heart in the process) she was working over a steaming pot, humming “Row Your Boat” as she twisted and crushed dried herbs into the boiling concoction.
“Uh oh. Another voodoo spell?” he joked.
Mildly startled, Agnes laughed and turned to kiss him. “VO-dou,” she corrected in her rich French-Haitian argot. “And no, it’s dinner, my silly handsome boy.”
“Boy?” He drew her into his arms. “Mmm. You do keep me young, I think.” Agnes’ embrace was warm, comforting, enrapturing. Landon breathed of her neck and hair and the scrubs top, loving even its antiseptic hospital smell, as long as it was accented by her.
She finally pulled away and returned to the stove. “Aaaaah don’t leave me hanging!” he protested. He grabbed her ass, kissing her neck.
“Ooooh I don’t deserve you,” she teased. “You do want your special dinner don’t you?”
“…How special?”
Her smile was wide and playful, as she gestured at the pot with her wooden ladle. “You said I keep you young!”
“So it is a voodoo hex!”
“VO-DOUUUUUU!”
Landon went to the living room, laughing as he tossed his good luck charm Buzzards cap onto the couch and sat beside it, switching on the television to watch the cap’s namesake team play.
But there was only static.
“Dammit!” he got up and checked the hookup. “Hey Aggie? Did you pay the cable?”
“Oh! I thought so!” she called.
“I don’t think so,” Landon muttered, rubbing his face. “First game of the season tonight, Ag.”
His mood ruined, Landon muted the television and picked up a magazine–finding it was in French. He tried a Newsweek–also in French. “You subscribed to these fucking magazines in my name but they’re in French!”
She only continued to hum the childish song.
“You read English, but I don’t read French. Didja know that?”
“Oh, you should learn!” was her cheerful response.
Landon frowned. “Maybe YOU should just..!” He trailed off, rubbed the bridge of his nose. “…nevermind.”
Her humming shortened the song by a few notes, becoming more monotonous. Landon’s stomach growled at him. “How long till dinner?”
“Oh…an hour.” Even more cheerful–and annoying. The humming began again; only five notes this time, and off key.
“Shit…” Landon whispered under his breath.
It seemed to grow louder, to echo throughout the house and his head, filling his ears, becoming grating.
“Agnes…AGNES! STOP!”
She did not. Landon stared at the static, the magazines, the open doorway from which the discordant notes reached his burning ears, and he began to seethe. He sat still for several minutes, hoping she would stop, or at least change it up some. But she didn’t.
“Are you listening to me!?” He was suddenly standing, taking impatient strides toward the kitchen.
He entered the kitchen, his love for Agnes absent as he stared at her back, sure she knew he was there, though she just worked and hummed and hummed, offering no acknowledgement.
“STOP, GODDAMMIT!”
She turned and looked at him. There was no sense that she had been startled this time, no expression at all-and she continued to hum.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


 

Patrick Headshot 433x650As a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.

Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create.

With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.

Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.

You can keep up with Patrick at www.patrickcgreene.com or http://www.facebook.com/patrickcgreene


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


HAIR SHIRT DRAG by Gordon White

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


HAIR SHIRT DRAG
by Gordon White

I ain’t never read the Key of Solomon, but I read the Book of Kings. Rest of the Bible, too, back when Mama thought that’d help me fit in. It didn’t, I won’t, and, truth be told, I ain’t all that broken up about it. It’s hard being the only son in a family of powerful women, harder still when people say you aren’t even man enough for that. But I’m just about over it all, really.
It’s a humid July evening, as Mama says, accenting both syllables. We’re on the porch, listening to the crickets and the frogs settle into their nightly delirium as fireflies rise up across the tobacco fields like ghost lights. Mama’s got a mouthful of needles as she helps me pin the dress I’m wearing. She’s ain’t thrilled to be doing it, but I need help on the back and at least out here the cicadas drown out her disapproving clucks.
An engine rattling across the field and a red dust cloud barreling down the driveway interrupt our work. It ain’t even really dark yet, but the car’s headlights are beaming like two wide eyes scared that something’s going to jump out at them. As it gets closer, I recognize Emma Turner, a girl I knew from school and the kind that shakes her long, blonde hair when she gets out of her car like this was a shampoo commercial. Almost without thinking, I brush my hand across the nearly shaved side of my own head, bristling out a fine mist of sweat. I’m not petty or anything, but she and I have never gotten along.
“Evening, Ms. Overhold,” she says to Mama.
Mama nods. “It is.”
Emma’s mouth hangs opens as she hesitates, deciding how to address me.
See, Overhold is a matrilineal name, passed on through our family’s women, although I ended up with that gift, too, despite my sex. Which was fine, until I got to Bushrod Johnson High and the kids all started calling me “Sissy,” but since that’s a diminutive – sometimes even an affectionate – of names like Melissa or Jesse, I could pretend it wasn’t all that bad. You know, if you squinted hard enough. Anyway, I never let it give them power over me because if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: Words don’t mean nothing. It’s only intention that makes things happen.
That’s important.
“Jesse,” Emma settles on my boy name, smiling as if she and I were on speaking terms. “You’re looking thin.”
Her eyes laugh the way her mouth wouldn’t dare in front of Mama. I must look a mess, hair frizzed out and make-up smearing in the damp air, probably more than a little five o’clock shadow. But girls like Emma eat weakness, so I lean in and smile back.
“You, too, Goldie.” It sounds innocuous, but she and I both know the rumors behind it.
Her smile hardens and she shakes her hair again, probably not even meaning to, yet ruled by an instinctual vanity. She tugs at her curls, a tell she’s had since middle school when lying to teachers or her boyfriend Tommy Stinz. “I like your,” her free hand waves, “get-up. Trash chic.”
Half made-up though I may be, I look good in this dress. The sharp lines, cut-outs, sloping hem and everything else is my design and my construction. So if queen bee wants to start start pulling on threads, jealous that I look better than she ever will, well, that won’t end nicely. I sweep the longer part of my hair out of my eyes to stare at her.
“How’s your family, Miss Turner?” Mama is louder than the question warrants, pushing herself into the conversation. “Your mother and the Sheriff doing well?”
I’m over it. I let go of the moisture-swollen railing, peeled paint stuck beneath my nails. It’s too hot for this nonsense.
“Yes, ma’am,” Emma says. Her smile is as thin and painted on as her eyebrows, but she sounds sweet as honey.
“That’s good to hear.” Mama hands me my pincushion and waves Emma onto the porch. “What can we do for you?”
“Well, ma’am,” Emma says, “I been told to come ask about your medicine.”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


gordon1Gordon White lives in New York, but was born and raised in North Carolina.  As a result, his tastes are equal parts urban noir and Southern Gothic; bagels and barbecue.  His fiction has appeared in venues such as Cease, Cows!, Lakeside Circus, and Dark Fuse’s Horror D’oeuvres.  When not writing, Gordon also reads submissions for Kraken Press and contributes reviews to Hellnotes.  His own much-neglected website is www.grizzlyspectacles.com.

You can find Gordon here on Facebook.


HÄXENHAUS by Nick Kimbro

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Häxenhaus
by Nick Kimbro

06 Jan
The Häxenhaus resides on the northern edge of the Black Forest. This is the fourth time I’ve been sent away.
“I’m very sorry, Kramer,” Father Schulz says. “But being here will not help your grief. You should be with your wife.”
“My grief has nothing to do with it,” I say. “I’ve come only to serve our Lord and Savior.”
He shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but even if it were so it would not be right for you to have part in this. Go, and God’s peace be with you.” He makes the sign of the cross and I bow my head. Then he closes the door and it is dark again, and cold.
I glance at the road leading back to the village, then circle around to the creek. The water is freezing. I wade waist-deep, slide my fingers through the metal grate, and peer into the bowels of the Häxenhaus. I can’t see much—just some dim light flickering against the stone—although their screams are like crystal. They begin at a high pitch and become low and guttural as their suffering deepens. The sound carries to the far bank where, somewhere, familiars lift their voices in an awful cacophony of howls and mewls and chirps and croaks. Vague outlines of stakes stud the ground like charred headstones.
I listen until the numbness in my legs turns bitter and I can no longer control my breathing, then I go, back through the forest to my home in the village, where my Helga waits for me in bed. The musky scent of old bed clothes greets me as I lift the blanket and climb in. I slip my arm around her stomach and she grunts. When I realize where my palm is, I readjust.
When I cannot sleep I like to imagine the witches’ screams. Although, eventually my thoughts must shift to the familiars and their mourning song. Only then do I grow weary. Then, I sleep like a babe.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


nick1Nick Kimbro received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Hello Horror, Surreal Grotesque, Space Squid, Heavy Feather Review, Spring Gun Journal, The Yoke, Danse Macabre, and numerous anthologies. His novella, SURFACE INTERVAL, was published by Jersey Devil Press. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his beautiful wife and writes supernatural horror because she doesn’t do gore.