Tag Archives: Halloween

The Spot Writers – “Pumpkin Head” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. October’s theme is . . . guess what! Halloween. Write a short, scary story using these words: dress, ghost, pumpkin, light, dark.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s one-woman publishing company, MacKenzie Publishing, has published its second anthology, TWO EYES OPEN, a collection of sixteen stories by sixteen authors, to read during the day . . . or at night, as long as two eyes are open. Not “horrific horror” . . . more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Simply a “good read.” BUY IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1927529301/

***

Pumpkin Head

Dark clouds hovered though it was only seven o’clock, but darkness was apropos on Halloween night. Tom clutched his treat bag, an old pillowcase decorated with paper ghosts, witches, and pumpkins, and suddenly realized how corny it looked. He had enjoyed the colouring, cutting, and gluing to the fabric, but the dampness was loosening the paper and rolling the edges. His bag would soon be a mess and the other kids would tease him. Bully him, even. Who wanted that?

He had only been outdoors for twenty-four minutes. He had timed how long it would take to go up and down the four streets his mother had given him permission to canvass and knew he’d have plenty of time to go to each house. Thankfully, the streets were long ones, with lots of houses, because four streets wouldn’t normally be enough on Halloween. He had to be home by nine, but as soon as his bag was full, he would head back. No sense staying outside for no reason.

He wandered up the walkway of 39 Cresthaven Avenue, where a pumpkin on the porch beckoned, light flickering between gaps in the squared teeth. The chunky grin mesmerized him. His mother had warned him not to read anything into sights he saw while trick or treating. “Nothing is real,” she said. “Just enjoy being a kid and eat your candy. Forget about cavities one day of the year.”

He had been stunned at her words. Forget about cavities? From a mother who yelled at him every night to brush so invisible creatures didn’t create caters in his teeth? Sometimes she even went as far as brushing his teeth, as if he were a baby. He was twelve, for Pete’s sake. Almost a teen. Soon he would be able to have sex, like people he saw on television when his mother wasn’t looking. He had already snuck into the stash of his father’s Playboy magazines. Did she even know they were there? There would be more nagging for sure if she found them.

Every Halloween, after returning home from his allotted, unsupervised time, his mother insisted on rooting through his pillowcase. The previous year, she said, “There are crazies out there. I have to make sure there’s no needles or disturbed wrappers.”

Needles? Disturbed? He always wondered why she snooped through his bag. Usually, by the time he returned home, he had demolished half the candy. Until the past year, she had never said “Don’t eat anything until I check everything.”

Nagging constantly. That’s all his mother did: nag, nag, nag. It wouldn’t be so bad if she’d give him a bit of praise. Her yelling and nagging scared him as much as the dark, but every October thirty-first he donned a brave face and dressed in the costume-of-the-year—whatever that was: a clown, a Ninja, a pregnant Khloe—a different flavour every year. So much hype about clowns. What was scary about clowns? Sure, scarlet lipstick resembling blood enlarged their mouths and their sad, soulful eyes were ginormous. But silly clowns were frightful? He looked forward to clowns once a year when the circus came to town. And at Halloween, of course.

But what about now, this moment? He shivered. This pumpkin—the weird orange globe with the light shimmering inside.

“Nothing is real, Tommy,” his mother had said. “Just pretend everything is okay.” Pretend, pretend, pretend . . .

He shivered again and glanced around. No one but him—except for that weird pumpkin head.

What! Had it moved? It had been on the porch floor, hadn’t it? Now it was on the top step.

“What the heck.” His hand flew to his mouth. His mother would kill him if she knew he said “heck.” But wasn’t “heck” better than “hell”?

“Hey, you there, kid?”

Tom jumped. “Wha—”

“You there? I’m a good pumpkin, not the bad, scary kind. Not the kind you eat, either. Gah, if you ate me, where would I be?” Giggles and laughter echoed. “I’d be in your belly then, and what good would that be except to fatten you up?”

Tom looked around. Who had spoken? No one’s here but me.

“Me! I’m here,” a voice echoed.

What? Pumpkin Head possessed powers?

Tom scratched at goosebumps sprouting on his arms.

“Yes, me!”

Tom stared at the orange head. The flame inside was stronger, straighter. Unflickering. “You?”

“Yes, me.”

“My mother warned me about you. About things that looked real that weren’t really real.”

“I’m real. I’m here, aren’t I?”

“I—I guess so.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

“You aren’t?”

“Heck, no. I’m enjoying life. The dark. The kids who come and stare.”

Tom scanned the yard. And the street. Empty. “No one’s here but us.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s pretty deserted tonight. For being Halloween and all. But it only takes one, right?”

“One?”

“Well, you,” Pumpkin Head said. “An audience of one. I’m happy you’re here even if there’s no one else.”

“Hmm, I suppose.” Tom looked around again. Where was everyone?

Neither spoke for several moments.

Tom waivered: should he stay, should he go home? He wasn’t absolutely petrified, but he was a tad scared. And it was getting dark.

His mother’s voice echoed: “Be home by nine.”

“Gotta go, I think.”

“Why?”

“My mom’s waiting. She’ll be mad if I don’t get home on time.” He couldn’t admit the dark scared him. “Ya, I better run.” Run? I better dash for it.

“Why don’t you take me home with you? I’m lonely. And cold.”

“Really? You want to go home with me?” Why would that pumpkin want to go to his house? This house was much grander, and surely the owners much nicer than his mother.

“Yeah, take me with you.”

Many scenarios flashed before him. But why the heck not? “Okay, then. Let’s go.”

“Blow out my flame first. I don’t want to burn you.”

That made sense. “Sure. Okay.” Tom stooped and blew.

The smile disappeared.

Tom picked up the plump pumpkin. He made sure he had his pillow case of loot, too, though it wasn’t nearly as full as it should have been, and headed home.

He stopped in front of his house. A small bungalow, so unlike the grand mansion where he had found Pumpkin Head.

He set the pumpkin on the cement landing. There were no steps, just a worn path on the grass to the slab of cement.

“You have a match?”

“What?” Tom asked.

“I need to see. I can’t see in the dark without my flame.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Tom enjoyed building fires. According to his father, he was a hellion, but his father left many years previous. To another family, another wife, another son. Tom had duct-taped a pack of matches to the bottom of the mailbox, safe from rain and prying eyes. Who knew when he might need them.

He flipped open the metal flap. Still there. He withdrew the matchbook and flicked one against the rough edge. A flame exploded. Bright. Glowing. Pointed.

He removed the lid from Pumpkin Head and lit the wick. Success! He replaced the lid.

“Hey, great job. And I love your loot sack, too. Your drawings and colouring are amazing.”

Tom’s face glowed like the face of the pumpkin. It had been longer than forever since he had received recognition and been praised.

“Happy Halloween!” Pumpkin Head screeched.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco: www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Consumed” by Dorothy Colinco

This month’s theme is “monster,” to be interpreted any way. This week’s story comes from Dorothy Colinco.

Consumed by Dorothy Colinco

He had plucked a woman from her tribe, reaching back into time and space to place her here and now, wherever that was. Wherever this sterile room with the chrome table and white walls was. The organization’s work required some unpleasantness, which was not made easier by the fact that the subjects were unsuspecting of the inevitable and irreversible damage. Of course, the damage was never physical. They were not so cruel as to inflict physical pain. But the pain was real nonetheless, and sacrifices had to be made for the advancement of the greater good.

The woman was now seated awkwardly on the chair. He felt stupid for making her sit there; of course she didn’t know how to sit in a chair. Had he expected her to lean back with her feet flat against the floor, arms crossed in front of her chest? He should’ve known she would sit – more accurately, squat – with her feet on the seat of the chair and her bottom hanging between her heels, knees up to her armpits as though she were squatting over a makeshift toilet in the ground.

She was able to communicate with her in the language and gestures she used with her tribe. She, of course, was a gatherer, her fingers stained the color of wild berries and covered with tough skin that long ago resisted the lacerations of the thorns.

“Are you scared?” He asked. She only looked at him, but in her eyes he saw that universal expression of understanding. She had understood him, and she was scared, but she was not about to admit it to this hunter, though his garments, she noticed, were not stained with the blood and fat of prey. Her son of only 50 moons had surely hunted more prey than him.

“Don’t be,” he said, and he was not unkind, which surprised her.

“I only mean to show you something. To ask questions. I won’t harm you.” Still she remained silent. He gestured, and food was brought into her room by two other women. They didn’t speak to or look at her. “Eat,” he urged. She could not resist the smells emanating from the pile before her, and she ate, gingerly at first, and eventually without restraint. She had none.

“How many are in your tribe?” He began with the questions. She saw no harm in answering him. He did not seem to want to harm her or her people. If he was planning an attack, they would be ready. Or long gone.

“We are 50 in number. Strong enough to keep other tribes away. Small enough to feed each other.”

“How many other tribes are there?”

She bit into something she was sure was venison, but it was more flavorful than any venison the hunters ever brought back. She chewed while she thought about his question.

“We know there are four other tribes. But we have heard tales of even more. Perhaps there are 10, but that is only legend. We have seen only four.”

She saw a look pass over his face. It was the look of a hunter who was about to kill a small, defenseless rabbit. There was no viciousness in that look. Only pity, and that was even more confusing.

He asked more questions, questions about their rituals. About losses they have suffered. About violence within their tribe and with others. She has endured three great losses in her life – her mother’s son when he fell off a cliff during a hunt, an elder when he grew ill and never awoke, and her own child, her second, only 12 moons, not even old enough to name.

He asked how big the other tribes were. How far they traveled. He asked her to paint the world on the wall using her fingers and paste from the brightest berries. She drew their pack, then the trails she remembered, then the locations where they met other tribes or found evidence they left behind. On the wall, her tribe was the size of her palm, and the world she could cover with her torso.

Again, that look from the hunter.

Next, he showed her a painting of an orb, the color of deep water and grass mixed with swirls of a rabbit’s fur. “Do you know what this is?”

Her silence answered for her.

He knew what the protocol asked him to do. To delay it would only be cruel. So he began.

He told her she was wrong. That there were more tribes than she thought.

“So the legends are true? There are 10?” When he was silent, she pressed, “15? 30? How many?” She wanted to know. His silence meant he thought the numbers low, but she could not begin to comprehend 10 tribes the size of hers. Where were they all? Who were they all? What were their names?

He told her. Painstakingly, he told her of the numbers. And then he told her worst parts. What they had done to each other. What happens to the equivalent of 10 of her tribes every day. That there are children without tribes. That there are children with tribes who still let them starve. That in some very large tribes, some dine on what the hunter brings and some dine not at all. That just recently, one hunter hurt a group bigger than her tribe, killed them, and still no one knows why.

They do not deal in physical pain. But that does not stop the subjects from weeping and crying out. From clutching their stomachs with revulsion.

Finally, he hands her the monster. It fits in her palm and it glows brightly. Here she finally sees the other tribes. Here, she sees the suffering over and over, in its myriad forms, and she cannot comprehend it. She was not made to. And still she clutches the monster because she cannot look away. She cannot unknow the truths and untruths she now possesses. Like so many before her, she is consumed.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco: www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Witches’ Cauldron” by Kathy Price

Welcome to Spot Writers! This month’s prompt is to write a story about a boat and this story is contributed by Kathy L. Price.

 

The Witches’ Cauldron

 

The old wooden Cris Craft cruised past the breakwater and motored into the outer harbor. It was a holiday weekend and all the slips on the inside were full. Not just full, but filled to overflowing. A storm was on the way and boats were being rafted together and even secured to the pilings at the end of the finger piers.

Several other late-comers had tied up along the concrete walls next to where the ferry docked. The water was rough, but not unduly so, and the Cris Craft’s captain opted to tie up along the concrete pier. The breakwater served to mitigate the waves, and with hefty fenders strung along the side, he thought his boat would be safe.

“It’s called the Witches’ Cauldron, you know,” one of the Old Salt bystanders commented as the captain walked away.

“I think she’ll be okay,” the captain replied. “We’ve rented a cabin in town for the weekend but I’ll come by and check on her later.”

Around 9 PM, the captain returned. The wind had been steadily increasing all evening and there had already been quite a bit of rain. For the moment, it was just cool and windy. The bulk of the storm was supposed to hit later, around midnight, according to the NOAA weather radio. The captain checked the lines and was confident his boat was riding well so he returned to the security of his rented cabin.

Sailors are mostly a close-knit community. There’s always the occasional bad apple – selfish and inconsiderate – but mostly, anyone who shares a love of the sea is in the same boat, so to speak. Each and every one knows a boat’s full value, whether it’s a sleek, expensive cruiser or a small, compact little sailboat. That would be the value to its owner, not the dollar value on the market or what it cost to buy.

As the storm moved across the lake, the wind shifted direction. The opening in the breakwater no longer offered a barrier to the wind and waves, which now came crashing into the outer harbor, full force. The Witches’ Cauldron lived up to its name.

The waves reflected off the solid, concrete walls of the harbor, bouncing back and forth on one other in confusion. There was a lot of energy with no where to go but up and the water started to violently toss the boats around. The inner harbor was still relatively placid and somehow, more space was found to accommodate a few more boats. By 10 PM, the only two left in the Cauldron were a 32 foot sailboat and the Cris Craft. Eventually the storm passed and the rain finally stopped but the wind continued to blow and the waters of the Cauldron increased their frothing, churning power.

Despite the wind, most of the boat owners were out on the docks checking lines, repositioning fenders, keeping an eye on the boats. No one could sleep and even young children were out, watching the fury of the storm-driven water. Their parents thought it would be a valuable lesson for them to witness, first-hand, the power of wind and waves.

The people in the sailboat tied up in front of the Cris Craft finally realized the futility of their battle and decided to head out to find a safer anchorage for the night. The Witches’ Cauldron was no place to be and it would be better to trust a good anchor than to be smashed against the concrete pier. If they had to, they told the on-lookers, they could always sail all night and simply go back to their home port.

Once the sailboat successfully made it into open water, only the Cris Craft remained. Valiantly, a  handful of men tried to fend her off when the waves relentlessly tossed her against the wall. More and more joined in until, at one point, there were over a dozen. The waves would lift the Cris Craft high over the pier and drop it against the unrelenting concrete. Try as they might, the men could not overpower Mother Nature. With every wave you could hear the stress and cracking of her wooden hull. Finally, a huge wave swept over the transom and crashed through the glass doors of the cabin. Now that she was open, one brave soul scampered on board to search through the drawers at the inside steering station, hoping to find a set of keys to the engines.

“Get out,” one man shouted above the wind. “Get out, before she sinks.”

Frustrated at his lack of success, the man on board gave it another agonizing 30 seconds or so of frantic, futile searching before re-emerging onto the rock ‘n’ roll of the deck. He had to time his jump perfectly or he would be smashed between the boat and the pier. Many hands reached out to his aid and he made it safely. The next wave, however, dealt the final blow to the Cris Craft. Every wave thereafter continued the relentless break up and she finally sank beneath the surface. It was a sad end to what had been a beautiful boat. The crowd dispersed and their failed attempt at saving the Cris Craft left a thick aura of disappointment hanging in the air.

In the morning, all was calm. The sky was blue and the sun was sparkling on the water. Freshly brewed coffee wafted up from many of the boats and someone was cooking bacon. The captain of the Cris Craft appeared and walked cheerfully up the pier, saying good morning to people as he went. Everyone who was out followed his progress, watching, waiting for the moment of discovery. Concern started to show on his face as he quickened his steps to where his boat had been. All that was left was the bow rail, still attached to a small piece of deck, the forward line dutifully bound to the cleat and still tied to the pier.

 

 

 

The Spot Writers:

 

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 

Kathy L. Price

http://www.kathylprice.com

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The Spot Writers – “Rub a Dub Dub” by Cathy MacKenzie

This month’s prompt is to write about a boat. The story this week comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who has written a slightly macabre story in honour of last week’s Halloween (with a tiny reference to a boat).

Her two most recently published compilations of short stories are:

Paper Patches (short fiction for women). Paper Patches is available from Smashwords for $2.99: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/461342

Broken Cornstalks, also available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459035

 

******

Rub a Dub Dub

 

“Rub a dub dub, baby in my tub. Love the feel—”

What are you doing, Timmy!”

At the sound of his mother’s voice, Timmy’s hands immediately disappeared under the bubbles—and just in time! She hadn’t asked a question; she had made a statement. A very adamant statement, with the emphasis on “what.”

“Nothing, Mommy.” Timmy looked at his mother, an angelic expression on his face, which wasn’t hard to do. Blond hair, chubby pink cheeks, and big blue eyes were the world’s image of a cherub.

“You’re doing something. I see the guilty look on your face.”

“No, Mommy. I be good.”

“And what is that you’re hiding under the water?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, something! I see it. Give it here.”

Timmy’s hands under the water added extra guilt. In fact, he was guilty. He knew it, and there was nowhere else to hide the object. Slowly, he raised his hands.

“How could you! Timmy, you are so bad. Just wait ‘til Daddy gets home. See what happens to you then.”

Unconcerned, he brandished Stephanie’s doll. Stephanie was his three-month old sister. The doll, which had been named, Sofia, was almost the same size as his sister. And oh, how the Sofia doll reminded Timmy of his sister. He wasn’t sure which of them he hated more—the expressionless, bald doll that continually glared at him or his dumb, hairless baby sister who received more attention than any one person should.

“Oh bad, bad boy, Timmy! You should be ashamed of yourself.  You’ve ruined Stephie’s doll. How could you!”

“Mommy, it’s a stupid, stupid doll like a scary clown. All it does is stare at me. I wanted to drown it so it would quit watching me. Stephie’s too little for it anyhow.” He glanced away and then stared back at his mother. As if a secret, he whispered, “And you know what, Mommy? Stephie doesn’t like that doll either.”

“Oh, Timmy, don’t be silly. Steph is three months old. She doesn’t know what she does or doesn’t like.”

“Oh, but she does, Mommy.”

Mother glared at her son. “And you know this how?”

Timmy whispered again. “Because Sofia told me.”

“Sofia told you? Sofia is a doll. She can’t talk.”

“Oh yes, she can.” With the doll still in one hand, Timmy splashed it into the water. “Look at all these bubbles.”

“Don’t change the subject, Timmy. I’m sick of your stories. You’re five now, almost six.  You know better than to fib.”

“Rub a dub, boat in my tub. Swish, swish. Blow my sails down—”

“Timmy, what in the world—”

“Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Timmy make you a rubby dub dub—“

“Timmy!” His mother shrieked louder than usual. “Listen up.”

“Hush hush hush, Mommy wants you to stop.…”

Mother covered her ears to no avail.

“Sail away, little toy boat. Sail far, far away. Swish, swish, blow my sails down.”

“Timmy!”

“Hush, Timmy, hush,” Timmy said trance-like.

Sofia the doll flew into the air before plopping back into the water with a great splash.

“Splish, splash, blow my head off.”

Suddenly, as if propelled by the force of a fountain’s gush, the doll’s head soared into the air while the body sunk to the bottom of the tub.

“Timmy, I’ve had enough!” The woman’s shrill voice echoed through the bathroom as if the room were a cave.

Unconcerned, and ignoring his mother, Timmy continued to play. When he bent his leg, his knee appeared above water. A boat, stranded on his knee as if dry docked, appeared above the bubbles. Carefully, as though the boat were candy about to disappear like the doll’s body had, Timmy inched his leg even higher. Mesmerized, his mother watched. Her eyes grew larger, wide and round, and her moist lips parted as if to speak, but not a sound escaped.

“Cat got your tongue? Cat got your tongue? Nibble the tongue. Nibble nibble nibble. Meow.” Timmy’s eyes were larger than his mother’s.

Timmy’s knee rose higher, as did the toy, until the rubber boat slid down his leg as though it were a rollercoaster train car.

“Slide, slide,” the boy yelled as the boat slipped into the water and floated away from him like an object on the great sea.

A large bubble surrounded the wee boat, encapsulating it in its clutches. The mother kneeled by the tub to examine what looked like a glow from the tiny windows, astonished to see a baby grinning at her. She couldn’t determine if the infant was Sofia or her very own Stephanie. With a sudden burst of energy, she raced toward the baby’s room, yelling, “Stephanie, I’m coming. I’m coming, sweetie.”

Unfazed, Timmy remained in the tub. He grabbed the bottle of bubbles his mother had forgotten on the floor and dumped more liquid into the water. He kicked his feet, amazed at the numerous, monstrous suds and bubbles. “Hee haw!”

He giggled and screeched when the bubble around the boat burst and forced the rubber boat to capsize into the water. He laughed even harder when Sofia’s head appeared from beneath the foam. Or was it Stephanie? His mother, despite her whining, had forgotten to take the doll from him. Too late for Halloween, he thought.

Timmy liked Halloween, which had occurred the previous week. He bravely wore his costume—a headless monster. He remembered when he and his mother had been in the store and he examined the outfit, which looked vaguely familiar. Stephanie? Or Sophia? But, really, who could tell with the head missing? He had let out the greatest wail he had ever emitted, yelling at his mother that he just had to have that costume. He hadn’t shut his mouth until she had tossed the package into the cart.

He couldn’t wait for next Halloween. Who knew who he might be then. And what about Stephie? Would she be around? Had she recovered her head? He laughed, great guffaws that caused tears to roll down his flushed cheeks.

Huge bubbles floated up and around him. Too many heads to confuse him. And he was positive he saw his sister’s head in one of them.

 

******

The Spot Writers:

 

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 

Kathy Price

http://www.kathylprice.com

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The Spot Writers – “Halloween at Ball’s Bluff” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is to write something about boats. Author Val Muller decided to incorporate her favorite holiday, Halloween, as well as some deeply-embedded memories of watching Garfield’s Halloween special with her sister. You can find out more about Val, including information about her soon-to-be-released Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, at www.ValMuller.com.

Halloween at Ball’s Bluff

By Val Muller

Laura slid down the path, dropping her flashlight against a rock. The light went out.

“Damn. Where’s your flashlight?”

Mary flicked hers on. “Are you hurt?”

Laura held her ankle. “Just bruised, I think.” She pulled herself up, groaning. “Flashlight’s busted. Now we’re down to one. Spooky enough for you?”

Mary couldn’t help but smile. “That is why we came here.” Balls Bluff closed at dusk, but it was easy to sneak in. The wind whispered through the trees, and all around animals skittered through dried leaves. It was too dark to see them, and Mary’s skin rose to gooseflesh under her fleece jacket.

She loved it.

“Next Halloween, I’d be happy to settle down with a glass of wine on your back porch.”

“Boring.” Mary giggled. “Come on. Let’s keep hiking.”

Laura groaned again. “Just don’t bust that other flashlight.”

“I won’t.”

Laura scrambled after her sister. “I’d rather be eating bite-sized chocolates.”

“This is more fun. Besides, chocolate goes on sale starting tomorrow. I promise I’ll take you to Walmart and buy you two whole bags.”

“Maybe an ice pack for my ankle, too.”

“Deal.” Mary continued down the path. “Watch your step here. It gets pretty steep.”

“No kidding.”

“During the Civil War—almost around Halloween—there was a battle here. Soldiers didn’t know how steep this drop-off was, and they fell down the cliffs.” Mary held the flashlight under her chin and turned to her sister, making her voice ghostly. “Fell to their deaths!”

“Not funny,” Laura huffed.

“Come on.” Mary laughed. “Remember how fun Halloween was when we were little? Those gaudy-but-spooky lawn decorations? All that fake spider webs? Those people at the cul-de-sac who played a repeating spooky music track with witches cackling and wolves howling all night?”

“Mom and Dad said we had to come in from trick-or-treating when they turned off the music.”

“Which wasn’t until like 10:00 those days.”

“Now that I live in the middle of nowhere, there are no trick-or-treaters anymore. No one carves jack-o-lanterns. All the kids go to malls and church parking lots. Trunk-or-treat has taken all the scare out of it. Besides, everyone goes around as Disney characters now. Not as anything spooky.”

“Oh, come on, Mar. You went as a Disney character.”

“Once. And I was like four.”

“Five.”

“Fine.”

“Anyway, I just wanted to recapture that sense of prickling fear—and fun—that we used to have during Halloween. I remember drawing skeletons and pumpkins, witches and ghosts for months, it seemed like, just waiting for Halloween. I think I drew a haunted house in art class every day for a week. Don’t you miss that?”

In the distance, something growled.

“What was that?” Laura asked.

Mary shrugged. “Nothing worse than the animals living around my house.”

“But that wasn’t scary enough for you. You had to drag me all the way out here.”

“Come on. Remember when we were little? How scared we’d get this time of year? The chill in the air. The damp smell of leaves. And remember that one year—the weird van pulled up near us and kept chanting?”

“We ran to the next house and asked them to call the cops for us.”

Mary smiled. “Those were the days. Being scared was fun. I thought tonight could recreate that. Otherwise, Halloween seems like just another day.”

“You thought you could create that by trespassing after dark. Look at us, two grown-ups acting like teenagers.”

“Who you calling a grown-up?”

Laura grabbed Mary’s shoulder. “It’s steep here, though. I think we might fall to our deaths. Like those poor soldiers you were talking about. And if we did fall, we’d freeze before morning.”

“It’s not that cold.”

“Hypothermia doesn’t take much more than this.”

Mary pointed her flashlight down the trail. “Let’s just go down to the river. Then we can turn back. Besides, I’ve heard there are others who sneak in here at night. They have fires near the river. A Halloween celebration. I see remains of campfires when I hike here during the day.”

“I thought I smelled smoke.”

“Like I said—”

“Not that kind of smoke.”

Mary shrugged. “It is Halloween.”

Laura bit her lip. “And some of us have to work tomorrow. Alright, sis. A walk down to the river. Then we turn around and drive home. And you buy me a hot chocolate on the way back to my place.”

“Deal.”

The girls continued down the trail. The ground was damp, making the wet leaves slick against the trail. They took turns sliding, their pant legs and hands getting muddier by the minute. With only one flashlight between them, the hike was slow.

“What was your favorite Halloween movie?” Laura asked as she navigated a sloping turn.

“I think The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has to be the best, hands-down. Right? I mean, who hasn’t heard of the great pumpkin?”

“I always like the Garfield Halloween special.”

“True. That pirate scene terrified us.”

“It wasn’t a pirate that scared you. It was an old man.”

“He was an old man, but he was also a pirate.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. And he escaped in that row boat, didn’t he?”

“I remember a row boat. And those pirate-ghosts…”

“I’m surprised Mom and Dad let us watch it.”

“When it cut to that old pirate-man…”

“You always screamed.”

“Shut up.”

“Squealed like a child.”

“I was a child.” Mary laughed. “But you’re right. That scene gave me nightmares for years.”

“I used to imagine we were Garfield and Odie, and we took out a little row-boat into the middle of nowhere, mistakenly looking for Halloween candy.”

“Candy, candy, candy!” Mary joked. “You always loved candy.”

Something growled in the woods. Mary froze. Laura ran into her.

“What was that?”

“Don’t know.”

“Turn out the light.”

“Turn it out?”

“Whatever’s out there, we can’t see it. We don’t want it to see us.”

Mary turned out the light. The moon was barely more than a crescent, and it allowed just enough light for Mary to see the faint outline of her sister. The thing growled again, and something squealed. The sound of flesh tearing. And then sloppy slurping. Something was eating.

“I think I’ve had enough scaring for one night,” Laura whispered. “Let’s go back.”

“The thing—whatever it is—is between us and the car. I don’t think it’s safe to go back that way. The trail is too steep. If we had to, we’d never outrun it.”

“What, then?”

“We go the long way. We’re almost at the river. The path continues along the river until it turns upward.”

“Let me guess. Steep and dangerous?”

“Yes.”

The thing growled again. Mary’s heart pounded, and Laura clutched her arm, digging her nails in. “What is it?”

“I don’t know,” Mary said.

A scurrying of leaves revealed the thing running closer.

“It’s after us!”

Mary threw on the light and hurried to the Potomac.

“Find some of those people partying with campfires,” Laura huffed. “Or the ones partying without campfires, for that matter. Just find someone.”

“Help!” Mary called.

But no one answered, and the thing sounded closer, its breathing raggedy and marked by growls.

At the bottom of the trail, the river opened up. There was not a campfire to be seen, but the moon reflected on the rippling river. “Where is everybody?”

“Maybe they were afraid the cops would be out on Halloween. I swear I thought there would be at least some teenagers looking for trouble. I’d take a cop at this point. He could arrest me—as long as he got rid of whatever that is.”

Whatever it was kept growling, and Mary turned quickly, shining her light at the growls. Laura dashed behind her. The thing looked ragged, a large dog—maybe a wolf—snarling at them, foaming at the mouth.

“It looks rabid.”

“Don’t touch it.”

“Wasn’t planning on it.”

“Scared enough yet?”

“Shut up.”

“This is your fault. I’m writing that on my tombstone.”

“Get into the river.”

“What?”

“I don’t think rabid animals like to swim.”

“What?”

“Just get in the river.”

“Hypothermia.”

“Rabid werewolf.”

“It’s not a werewolf.”

“Shut up.”

The thing snarled once more and charged, and the girls headed for the river without a second thought. Mary swiped at the darkness with her flashlight, but the night seemed to fold in over her.

“Help!” she cried. “Isn’t anyone there? Please!”

But only the creature’s frantic movement through the leaves answered her.

“Look!” Laura cried.

“What?”

“Shine your flashlight at the river!”

Mary did. There, waiting on the shore, was a small rowboat.

“Just like in the cartoon!” Mary and Laura grasped hands. “Should we?”

The light rippled against the river, and the moon smiled down overhead from behind a veil of clouds. Cold air prickled like magic in the air, and the water lapped against the boat, beckoning, calling the sisters to one more Halloween adventure.

 

The Spot Writers—our members:

RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com

 

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

 

Kathy Price:

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The Spot Writers – “Magic Brew” by Val Muller

Today’s Halloween-inspired tale comes from multi-genre author Val Muller. Her two Halloween works, Faulkner’s Apprentice (adult horror) and The Sorceress of Stoney Brook (spooky middle-grade mystery) are available at www.valmuller.com.

Look forward to next week’s tale, coming to us from Cathy MacKenzie, who you can stalk at

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/.

Magic Brew

Hilda Bingen plodded down the linoleum hallway. Persnickety High School never had a working elevator, and the stairs always made her joints ache. Today was even worse, though, because she had just gotten over a week of the gak.

She picked it up taking a short-term subbing job at Pine Hill Elementary. The kids that age always got sick before Halloween, and they insured she had the worst Halloween ever. Those damn kids made her miss her favorite tradition, sharing her special brew with the teachers at whatever school she subbed at on Halloween. It was the one day she didn’t have to dress up, the one day when sharing goodies and drinks and snacks didn’t seem out of place, the one day where everyone’s attitudes were well-groomed for magic hijinks—and she had missed it.

Now here she was, a week late and exhausted. Her coven leader had required mandatory time at the polls for Election Day, and interacting with bright-eyed people eager to do their civic duty always wore her out. Today, bringing the magic brew felt like a chore rather than a favorite hobby. She huffed as she mounted the last stair, pausing to rest her cooler on the banister. She tried to remember the location of the teacher work room, searching her brain for the last time she had subbed here.

Ah—there it was. At the other end of the hall. Her new ballet flats crimped her toes, and her head felt naked where her hat usually sat. And pants—don’t even get started on the atrocities of pants! Drat, those germ-infested kids. Next year, she promised herself, no subbing until Halloween. She couldn’t afford to miss this again.

She set the cooler on the table next to the copier and set a stack of paper cups nearby. “Free Punch,” she scrawled, leaning the note against the cooler and chuckling as she returned to her assigned classroom for the day. Now she had only to wait.

During first period, she had to keep quiet. First period was usually too soon. The kids were rowdy, though. Probably still high on Halloween sugar. She chuckled, imagining how their energy would interact with that of the teachers. That is, once they had the brew.

While the students filled out a worksheet the teacher had left, Hilda peeked down the hall. There was a teacher, clip-clopping down the hall in heels, her hurried steps typical of the neurotic, controlling teacher type. Hilda chuckled. The teacher was headed toward the teacher workroom, her hand full of originals to make photocopies. Surely she’d be tempted by the mysterious liquid in the cooler. She peeked back into the classroom. The kids were doodling and making airplanes and such—as was to be expected on a day of a substitute teacher. Hilda left them once again and watched the other end of the hallway. When would the teacher emerge? And how much would she drink?

Drat. The teacher emerged much, much too quickly, her arms unladen with copies. The copier must be broken. That was a problem.

“Kids?” Hilda asked, returning to the classroom. “What happens when the teachers’ copy machine breaks?”

A few of the students gave high-fives.

“The teachers can’t copy anything for us,” they cheered. “They only have the one copy machine, and it’s so old, it’s older than us. The school will never buy a new one. I hope Ms. McAllister hasn’t photocopied our math test yet!”

Hilda sighed. When word of the broken copier spread, teachers would surely avoid the copy machine.

Several students in the back were having a paper airplane contest, seeing whose plane could come closest to hitting the wall.

“That is unacceptable,” Hilda told them.

Their lips smirked.

“If you’re going to have an airplane contest, you’d better see who can get their airplane stuck in the ceiling!”

The kids’ eyes bulged open, and the fatigue wore out of Hilda’s body as she folded a paper airplane out of the substitute lesson plans on the teacher’s desk. She licked her lips in concentration as she creased, folded, and creased. “Now,” she said. “Watch this!” She threw the airplane, and with a twitch of her nose, it spiraled up, up, up to the ceiling, where its pointed tip caught in the holey asbestos above.

“How many months you think it’ll be before that comes down?” asked a student, wide-eyed.

“Months?” Hilda laughed. “Try years!”

The students chattered about having such a cool sub.

“See,” Hilda explained to the captivated teenagers, “being normal is boring. It’s always fun to cause a bit of mischief. Especially so close to Halloween. And I’ve got an idea. There’s a bit of punch in the teacher workroom that I was hoping to distribute to the teachers today, but it seems with the broken copier, they won’t see it. Who wants to volunteer to bring a few cups around to the teachers?”

Every hand shot up.

“You know it’s against the rules for us to be in the hallways during class, though, right?” asked one of the students.

“That’s wonderful! Breaking the rules is always fun. Now go to the teacher workroom, all of you, take two cups of punch each, and distribute them to all the teachers.”

“Why do you want us to do this?” another asked. “What’s in the punch? Is it poison?”

“Oh, nothing like that,” laughed Hilda. “Just a bit of Halloween fun. I call it—opposite punch.”

Hilda watched her classroom empty and couldn’t wait until the teachers had a sip of that punch. Even just a sip would transform their personalities for the next eight hours, making them bringers of chaos and lovers of dissent. How chaotic and wonderful the next eight hours would be there at the school. Hilda licked her lips and waited.

Her students returned almost immediately, and they sat quietly at their desks, resuming work on the worksheet their teacher had left them. A few even got up to borrow a dictionary to check their spelling.

“Kids?” she shrieked. “What’s wrong? Let’s have another airplane contest. Did you distribute the punches already? It seems you’ve returned so fast.”

The children looked up at her, their lips stained the deep red that could only come from a sip of her famous potion, the opposite punch. A student in front raised his hand.

“Yes?”

“I went to the main office to inform them that there are paper airplanes stuck in the ceiling that need to come down. It’s entirely inappropriate for an educational environment.”

Hilda squealed. “Did you—did you kids—drink the punch?”

“I put it near the vending machine,” one of the students responded. “The one the kids sneak off to when they have a bathroom pass. I thought—why should the teachers get to have all the punch? Students should get to drink it.”

“What?” Hilda’s blood boiled. “No! No, no, no! It wasn’t for you, it was for the teachers. Do you realize what a dreadfully boring day this is going to be? And I was looking forward to this day when I was home with the gak.” She shrieked and cried, her cackles turning into sobs.

A student in front cleared her throat. “Mrs. Bingen, could you please be quiet? We’re trying to finish our worksheets.”

The Spot Writers- our members:

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

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Spot Writers – Happy Halloween!!!

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt is “magic brew” in keeping with Halloween

 Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL, A LITTLE BIT OF BABY, and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART.  

 Next week’s story will be by Val Muller, author of FOR WHOM MY HEART BEATS ETERNAL, a sci-fi romance, and CORGI CAPERS: DECEIT ON DORSET DRIVE, a mystery novel for young readers.

 

The Magic Brew, Pure Columbian Coffee

“You’re late,” Hi said as she entered the jam-packed Hi-Way Diner.

“I’m sorry Hi, my truck wouldn’t start,” Kathy said breathlessly as she peeled out of her jacket. “I need a cup of java.”

Hi Morasky grinned. “Make it quick. We got a full house today.”

She glanced around the diner. She’d never seen it so crowded.

Hi shoved a cup of coffee at her. “Here you go, drink up.”

“It’s black. I take cream and sugar.”

“It’s weird. Try it.”

She sipped carefully, expecting hot bitter coffee. A frown crossed her face as she stared at Hi. “It tastes like it has cream and sugar in it.”

He nodded. “Wild ain’t it? Add milk, it stays black. Everybody gets exactly what they like, it don’t matter what you put in it.”

Kathy sipped again. “What kind of coffee is this? Where did you get it?”

“That’s wild too. It’s called “Magic Brew.” A little old lady brought it in this morning and asked me to brew it up. You know me, I don’t trust strangers. Like I’m gonna serve some cuckoo bird’s special brew? But, you know, I couldn’t say no and I dumped it in the brewer. The rest is just nuts.”

“What rest? What are you talking about?”

“Miss Hargitay? She had a cup. Not five minutes later she got a call. They found a kidney donor for her. She took off for the hospital right off.”

Kathy frowned. “That’s a coincidence if you ask me.”

“Yeah? Well, I drank a cup. Five minutes later the crowd started pouring in. You’ve been missing out on tips. Lulu’s been getting twenty and fifty dollar tips all morning.” He put up a hand to silence her. “Right after she drank a cup.”

“You really think this is a magic brew?”

Hi shrugged. “Weird stuff’s been happening.”

Kathy downed the rest of her coffee and grinned. “Then something should happen to me now.”

Hi stared out the window, a frown crossing his brow. His eyes grew wide. “I think it is.”

Kathy turned. Wisps of smoke swirled around her battered old truck in the parking lot. Its once green body, long ago faded into rust, glowed with an eerie light. The smoke thickened, the truck disappeared. For an instant Kathy thought it was on fire. A burst of brilliant light cleared away the smoke. Rusty green was gone, replaced by a shiny new F-150. “Holy crap.”

“Told ya,” Hi said. “It’s a magic brew.”

The Spot Writers- our members.

 

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

 Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

 

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The Spot Writers – “Filling” – in Honour of Halloween!!!

Today’s Halloween-inspired tale comes from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. If you like spooky tales, check out her horror novel (for grown-ups), Faulkner’s Apprentice, also available as an ebook for just $2.99. She also has a story, “Dorsal Fin,” in the debut anthology put out by Silly Tree Anthologies, called Scared Spitless. The e-book , Scared Spitless, is available on Amazon and Smashwords $1.99.

Filling

Elenora Trantridge sat on the vinyl bench in Dr. Ferrier’s waiting room. She jiggled her knee and bit her lip, trying not to remember her last trip to the dentist. She’d needed three cavities filled, and the Novocain coupled with the grinding pressure of the drill had left her pale. She’d wavered as she tried to stand from the dentist’s chair that last time.

“Don’t rush it,” Dr. Ferrier had told her. “It’s a strange experience, having a tooth drilled. Just lie back and wait until the blood returns. You’ll be feeling better in no time.”

She wasn’t feeling better in no time, but she did manage to pull herself out of the seat and hobble down to the reception area, wiping drool from her the numbed right side of her mouth. That’s when the receptionist reminded her that Dr. Ferrier needed to see again to fill the three cavities on the left side of her mouth.

“Aw-right,” she said, mumbling over numbed lips. “I’ll come by nexth week. Give me the lathest appointment you’ve goth.”

The latest appointment was today, October Thirty-First, at 6 p.m. Dr. Ferrier always stayed late on Wednesdays. Elenora glanced outside. The large picture window of the waiting room revealed the coming storm, which brought twilight earlier than usual. People were already crowding into the outdoor shopping center for the Halloween festivities. In fact, her group of friends had reserved several tables at the Italian eatery just down the block. Elenora grabbed a three-month old copy of US Weekly and pulled it up over her face, hoping that if her friends did arrive, they wouldn’t look in and see her.

“Elenora?” called the young, blonde receptionist.

Elenora peeked over the magazine and swallowed hard. It was a major embarrassment, for someone of her stature to have to see a dentist so frequently like this. What would her friends say? She hurried down the hallway into the exam room, glancing behind her to make sure no one she knew was looking through the window. But what could they expect? It wasn’t like her diet was calcium-rich, and she was too embarrassed to admit to them that she used the calcium paste the dentist prescribed—every night.

Still, the paste wasn’t enough to prevent these three cavities.

“Teeth just get worn out as they get old,” Dr. Ferrier reminded her, as he waited for her to lean back in the dentist chair. “Now you remember the injections from last week. It will only hurt a pinch…”

He brushed some topical anesthetic onto her gums, and she shuddered, knowing it wouldn’t be enough to hide all the pain. She waited for it to take effect and listened to the people in the next room over. A mother and her two sons—one speaking through a series of dental instruments—discussed plans for Halloween. The younger boy would go as a ghost. The older one, a vampire.

As the doctor jabbed Elenora’s gums with the Novocain needle, she wondered if the tiny, cool prick felt the same way as a vampire’s tooth piercing the neck. As the numbing medication pumped through her veins, she watched Dr. Ferrier’s neck and wondered what he would look like being pierced by a vampire’s fang.

The image made the rest of the afternoon more bearable.

For the next hour, Elenora tolerated the shrieking drill, the grinding pressure, the violent chipping away of the compound pressed into the large chunk taken out of her teeth. She tolerated the way the drill pressed just close enough to the root to create the slight cool sensation of pain, just for long enough to create a panic.

No matter how old she got, Elenora would never get used to such things.

“This last cavity is between two teeth,” Dr. Ferrier stated. “I’m going to stick this wedge in between your teeth to protect the gums.”

His assistant handed him a small implement, which he wedged into Elenora’s mouth with a force that resonated through her skull.

“Dang!” he said, pulling back his gloved hand. “I snagged it.”

He covered the bleeding finger in gauze, and the assistant left the room to secure first aid supplies, but it was already too late.

A drop of blood from his cut had dripped onto Elenora’s tooth. It fell onto her gums and mingled with her saliva before it could be whisked away by the vacuum with the rest of her spit. She tasted it almost immediately. The saltiness was distinct—much different from any other tastes of the dentist’s office.

Her eyes opened in rage, and she sat up, ripping the vacuum and gauze from her mouth. “This last cavity can wait,” she said.

The doctor, still in shock from his injury, watched her as she rose. Soon she was standing above him, pushing away the hanging light and the tray of implements. And then she was grabbing him by the shoulders with inhuman strength.

“I’m sorry, Miss—”

But she would hear no excuses. His bleeding hand was pulsing, the blood-scent permeating the room, making her salivate even through the Novocain. She lifted him from his chair, and he dropped the bloody gauze. She wanted to lick his bleeding finger with every cell of her tongue, but she forced herself to hold back. That would have been undignified, after all. What would the others say, if they heard?

And they would hear.

Instead, she lifted him from his chair and placed him supinely in the patient’s chair on which she had just been prone. “If you’ll just relax,” she said. “It’ll go much easier.”

She ripped off his face mask and tore back his white lab coat. His neck was pulsing now, the fear and adrenaline caused by her actions making the blood course quickly. Then she smiled, and popped her pointed incisor. The left side was too numb, and the tooth would not budge. No matter. She could accomplish it with just the right side.

She brought her finger to her lips, dabbing a sticky bit of saliva, which she rubbed onto the doctor’s neck.

“It’s a sort of natural topical anesthetic,” she explained. “It works much more quickly than yours. Still, you’re going to feel a little pinch.”

Her fang sparkled in the light before plunging into the dentist’s flesh. The ordeal of the afternoon had left her quite famished, and she drank greedily, ultimately having to stop herself before she was completely satiated. But she couldn’t kill the guy, after all.

She was feeling much less woozy than she felt the last time she was here, and she glanced at the clock, noting that her friends would probably be at the eatery by now. “I’ve got to go,” she said. “Maybe we can schedule a follow-up, though. I rather enjoyed this. And, Dr. Ferrier, I think my teeth are in pretty good shape, considering they’re over three hundred years old.”

She looked down at the man lying limply on the chair. He looked up at her with glazed, horrified eyes, his mouth hanging open, and his chest rising and falling as if taking breath required all his concentration.

“Don’t rush it,” she told Dr. Ferrier. His skin had drained to a pale blue, making his eyes look bleachy white. She took a paper bib from the counter and wiped a puddle of drool from his right cheek. “It’s a strange experience, being drank. Just lie back and wait until the blood returns.” She licked the last of it off her lips and her pointed incisor before retracting it back into her jaw. “You’ll be feeling better in no time,” she said. Then she flashed him a smile and smoothed her hair in preparation for joining the Halloween festivities with the rest of her coven at the restaurant down the street.

The Spot Writers- our members:

RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller
http://www.valmuller.com/blog

Catherine A. MacKenzie
https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

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Scared Spitless

Silly Tree Anthologies’ very first anthology is now for sale!! Only $1.99 for the eBook version! (Print coming very soon!)

I hope everyone gets a copy of the book. The stories are really good. A little twisted, a little creepy, but well written and fun.

And just in time for Halloween!! What more could you ask for???

Honestly, the eleven stories in this book are EXCELLENT! They were hand-picked from numerous submissions received by me and my partner. They have been professionally edited.

Not tooting Angel’s and my horn (or horns!), but HONESTLY…the eleven stories in this book are SO good! A couple of them kept me awake one night. One especially I still can’t get out of my mind. I won’t say which one it is. Just gave me the willies. I don’t think that one image will ever leave me! Buy the book…it’s ONLY $1.99…see if you can figure out the one I’m talking about. I’m still freaking!

Thanks for reading! And sorry to be self-promoting (but, not like I have a story in there!)…trying to promote others.

Here’s the links…Smashwords or Amazon:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365359

http://www.amazon.com/Scared-Spitless-ebook/dp/B00FQ0OUZA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381283745&sr=1-1&keywords=Scared+Spitless

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