Marlie

Marlie Cade is watching a carousel turn slowly, almost silently as the Sun burns its way to nightfall in empty corpse of a town with no name.

The Carousel sits in the center of a Carnival where a silver and gold ferris wheel, rusty blue bumper cars, a fun house where the mirrors inside have all been painted black, a wooden roller coaster, weather worn sideshow tents and rows of little stands inviting you to test your aim or your strength or in some cases both at the same time huddle around the ever turning wheel of  brightly colored horses.

There are no ghosts here,  nothing haunts this dead ground unless you count the woman with dark eyes and a dark heart and too much on her hands.

She supposes that the town and the Carnival belonged to somebody, once upon a time. But that doesn’t matter to Marlie Cade. What matters to her is right now and at this exact moment in time Marlie has decided to make this place her own.

She’s going to staff the game booths, fill the sideshow tent with oddities and wonders. In the main tent her pale circus barker will guarantee that the clowns and trapeze artists, the elephants from India and lions from Africa the bears from Russia will amaze and entertain delighted all customers from far and wide.

Marlie can smell the cotton candy and buttered popcorn, she can taste the night air on her tongue. She can see the faces of the amused, the confused and the amazed.

Something begins to warm in the darkness of Marlie Cade’s shadow filled heart.

Its excitement.

She can hardly wait for her first customers to arrive.

And for the screaming to start.

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A Family Reunion

 Grahame Taskill was sitting at his Grandmother’s kitchen table; he was rubbing his left eye to stop it from twitching. Grahame’s eye always  began to twitch a full week before  he went home to see his family for his annual weeklong visit and for the entire visit his eye never stopped twitching for longer than a few minutes.. He spent so much time rubbing his left eye that he would have nightmares about it popping out of its socket and running down his face where horror upon horror it would run into his mouth and when he woke up he would practically  break his neck ( he had already broken his big toe ) because for some strange reason when he would dream about his runny eye he would run straight for his bathroom to get a towel to put on his face to keep his other eye from popping and without fail in a desperate effort to save his eyes  he always ran into the wall right next to the bathroom door.

“So Nan, you want this ghost guy-“

“ His name is Mr Bibas and he’s a very talented psychic Grahame, he can actually reach ghosts. They understand him. They listen to him.”

“Okay. You want this psychic to come out here on Saturday to talk to Aunt Leatha “

“That’s right.”

” Because she refuses to talk to you now. “

Grahame took his finger away from his eye and it actually stopped twitching, for about an entire minute. “Uh-huh. Nan, you and Aunt Leatha never really talked when she was alive. So. I’m just wondering why you want to talk to her now. If I remember right you put a bird batch up next to her grave.”

“ So?”

“ Wasn’t she deathly afraid of birds?”

Nan was the picture of innocence itself. “ You’re acting like I danced on her grave Grahame.”

“ I’m thinking the only reason you haven’t done that is because of the poison ivy that’s growing all over it. It’s funny Nan, nobody can figure out where it came from. Nobody remembered there ever being poison ivy up here until it showed up on  Aunt Leatha’s grave.”

“ You don’t say.”

“ I just did.”

“ Well. I just want her to know that we need to let all this silliness between us go. The entire family will be up this weekend and I think it would be good for everyone to see me and Leath bury the hatchet-“

Grahame ignored the way his Grandmother forced herself to keep from grinning  when she mentioned her sister and the word ” hatchet” . “ It really is as simple as that Crackers.” She said calling Grahame by his childhood nickname.

“ Let it go Nan, let her go. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s bad enough you and Aunt Leatha hated each other, but you two enjoyed hating each other way too much. Does it bother you even just a little that most of us know how to poison, dismember and hide a body because of the way the two of you used to talk about each other? “

Nan nodded and with that slow and gentle nod sympathy and empathy showed on her face and too bad they didn’t bring a map because , as Grahame would tell you, Nan’s face was unfamiliar territory to those two particular emotions. “ It was a disgrace the way me and Leatha carried on in life. Besides, look at what that did to you kids. You’re all a bunch of twitching eyes and stutterers and  when the family gets together the pharmacy in town runs out of antacids and I have a sneaky feeling I know where it’s all going.

“  So Mr. Bibas is going to come out on Friday night and have dinner with us and after desert he’s going to hold a little séance in the library and me and Leatha are going to patch things up.”

“ She’s dead Nan. There is nothing to patch up. She has moved beyond this stuff and you should too. “

” Mr Bibas knows what he’s doing. He talks to ghosts all the time and they listen to him. ” Nan argued.

“ Forget it. “ Aunt Leatha said from the hallway as she strolled by the kitchen door and both of Grahame’s eyes began to twitch uncontrollably

 “ I’m not interested .”

Don’t Look Up, Whatever You Do

 

” Whatever you do Hendry Coin, don’t look up. I mean it. ” his Father told him when he was a boy. ” If for any reason, any reason at all you have to cut through the woods behind the house don’t look up into those trees.”

“Cause the Witch will get me right?” Hendry said.

” If you’re lucky she will only get you to cut her down and  then she will only chop you up and cook you in the big iron pot she keeps just for that reason in her kitchen. The problem Hendry is if you see her first. You will start screaming and you will keep screaming until every star in the heavens burns out.”

” That’s sounds like a long time Dad”

” It certainly is  Hendry.”

 

The problem with the trees behind the Coin House is that they used to hang people from them. And the thing of it is, the people they used to hang were accused of witchcraft and out there in the town of Stonecrop, unlike in other towns were innocent people were hung or burned at the stake for witchcraft the people out in Stonecrop were witches.

That’s right.

They weren’t wise old crones, they were the type of people who would cut deals with the Devil and in most cases they won.

And in the cases were they did not they would end up hanging from a tree behind the Coin’s house where they would swing from their ropes until one of the other witches got a hankering  for some  Witches bread and decided to save the trip to the town cemetery and head over to the woods to get the spice that gave their bread that something extra the witches enjoyed so much.

So Hendry, who was a good kid and did as he was told not because he was afraid of ending up in a cast iron pot slowly simmering over a fire  but because Hendry adored his Dad never would have never done anything to disappoint him. That was the reason he never had a bit of trouble back there in the Woods.

Over the years he saw weird things and heard strange sounds but nothing bad ever happened to Hendry or his kids ( he grew up to have seven of them ) or his Grandchildren ( 10 of those ).

One year Hendry decided to cut through the Woods to get to the new road that led into town when for the first time ever he found himself in a bad spot.

Hendry was walking along when he heard a creaking sound and then a little popping sound and somebody said ” hello there ” in a dusty sounding voice.

 Hendry turned around but he did not look up- however there was no looking away from what in front of his face.

There were feet hanging in front of his face, and the feet were encased in worn black leather boots and were tied together at the ankles with heavy white twine.

He reached out and grabbed the feet to stop them from swaying and turning which was creeping him out because there was no wind, no breeze in the woods.

There never was.

So Hendry was standing there holding the black leather covered feet in his hands when he heard a voice, a woman’s voice from above his head say:

” Cut me down Hendry Coin and I’ll make you a meal you will never forget. Well. One that I will never forgot anyway. I am so hungry Hendry. Cut me down. Cut me down and anything, your darkest wish your brightest hope I can give that to you. A pound of flesh Hendry, that’s all we’re talking about here. That is all it would cost you. I’m quite handy with a needle Hendry. I could even put together a little something for you to slip into once you’ve paid that nominal feel. The rewards Hendry- think about it.”

Hendry told the witch, ” You know, in all these years of walking- and to be perfectly honest in my younger days I would run through these woods- I never had any problems. I figured I never had any problems with the tree witches because I always did what my Dad told me. “

“Is that right Mr. Coin? And what did he tell you?”

” Don’t look up, whatever you do.”

” And why did he tell you that Hendry?”

” Dad said that if I saw the witch first something really bad, something worse than death would happen to me.”

” That is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said in these Woods Hendry. And let me tell you. Some very strange things have been said in these woods…but that is hands down the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to a hanging witch. Honestly old man, do you really believe there is anything worse than death? Because let me tell you. And I am speaking strictly from experience here, there is nothing worse than death.”

” I suppose you’re right. My Dad was a good guy, a very kind and practical man but he wasn’t what you would call overly educated.”

” Well. There you are.”

” Yes. Here I am and there you are and what the heck is that above you head?”

He felt the feet push down as the witch looked up and Hendry couldn’t help but smile a little when the screaming started.

Miss Bexley’s Books

 

Photo By: xololounge

 

You’ve found her in the basement of long closed Bexley Books after spending an hour or so of exploring the store that used to be a funeral home.

She is sitting at a time worn wooden table, arms crossed, dusty pile of  books stacked in a neat pile in front of her. There is almost no light in the dark room but there are a lot of shadows and they are creeping around the woman and the table like a dog begging it’s  human for a treat.

You could take a seat at this table and ask this woman what she is doing here.

But look at her and ask  yourself, would that be okay? Is she safe?

Her face is pleasant, the corners of her mouth are turned up just a little, just enough to make it look like she is smiling.  Her dark hair is pulled back in a pony tail. Her nails are not polished but they are neatly trimmed. She is wearing a lavender sweatshirt decorated  all over with little silver hearts.

So why not, she looks harmless enough, except for the fact that she is sitting in the dark with a pile of dusty books about  in front of her.

Oh. I guess I forgot to mention that.

Yes, the books are anatomy books and the one on the bottom of the stack is about cake decorating. That spine on that book is pink.

So let’s take a seat and ask …

” Oh. I’m waiting for a delivery. Yeah. Just sitting here passing the time and catching up on some reading.  I know from the looks of it,  this place would probably send Martha Stewart into one of those seizures that they would have thought were demonic possession back during the Middle Ages or in parts of rural America but really, I love to drop by when I can .”

” Oh go on, pull up a chair and sit down,  so you must be familiar with the neighborhood. No? Well, this place used to be a little bookstore and the books they sold here were all about death. That’s right. Death.They had books about embalming and head hunting and mummies and local unsolved murders.”

” Scoot that chair back up and don’t look at me like that.”

” The shop shut down a few years ago, but the books were left behind. They were just sitting on the shelves. Anybody could have walked in and taken them, I mean they were just defenseless books and how could they stop from being taken.”

” But some of the books were stolen and wouldn’t you know it with a day of that all of these strange murders started to pop up around town. And you look hip, so I guess I don’t need to go into how some of those murders followed the plot lines of those weird books. Yep. You know who really got miffed about that? The funeral directors. When bodies start to turn up embalmed and prepared for burial in perfect text book fashion they were not a happy bunch.”

” No. Miss Bexley isn’t around anymore, but if you go to the next room you’ll find shelves still stocked as if she were. These books know how to take care of themselves. “

“No I’m not worried about the books or being here. I placed an order- a special order and being that I was a friend,  Miss Bexley never did mind me taking those deliveries here. How did I become friends with Miss Bexley you ask?”

” Actually. One of these books was based on my life. Oh no. Not these books. It’s upstairs at the checkout counter. It was one of her personal favorites.”

“What is my book about?”

” Cannibalism. The one you have tucked away in your jacket pocket. And don’t bother. Sit down. The door is locked. All of them are. For now.”