The Official Portal to the Madness of Dark Fiction Author Patrick C. Greene

Posts tagged “halloween

SON OF HALLOWEEN, HA HA HA

“You don’t know what death is!”

Death is the blackest eyes.

It’s The Devil’s Eyes.

It’s one good scare, and we all deserve it.

In 1979, John Carpenter’s modestly – budgeted horror thriller HALLOWEEN undeniably changed both our favorite genre and our favorite holiday. There isn’t much I can say about the horror classic that hasn’t already been said. For me, it’s more than another horror movie. It’s as much a zeitgeist, a section of my life, as it is an isolated piece of escapism.

There was a book store in the mall where I attended church. After services, while Mom was getting her social on, I would hop down to the book store and have a gander.

I can’t remember the name of the place. It was one of only a handful of businesses that dared to open on the Lord’s Day in the near-hidden shopping center that to this day sits mostly empty. My guess is, the adjoining Office Depot is the only reason it hasn’t been dozed. It was during excursions to this purveyor of fine literature that I discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger via his biography Education of A Bodybuilder, which is a good read, BTW, whether you even lift or not. …Bro.

Fifty Worst Films Of All Time was there as well. Finding GODZILLA VERSUS THE SMOG MONSTER listed within sent me into a tailspin of indignant rage. It was one of my favorite movies. I bought the book of course, and wrote a three page rebuttal defending the kaiju classic. Don’t think I ever actually mailed it.

One fine September Sunday, I glanced at the paperback rack and beheld this:

That third option is gonna be a hard sell.

The official movie novelization, released in advance to generate interest.

The figure on the cover is not an accurate representation of Michael Myers by any means, but it damn sure conveyed the horrific threat of an escaped psychopath who could blend into throngs of Halloween celebrants. There was a section of pics inside that included a harried Loomis, a terrified Laurie — and The Shape, as Mister Myers was then called, emerging from shadow.

Gee, something sure smells stabby.

I read a passage and returned the evil little tome to its display. Not for me, this level of mind-scarring scaritude. Not yet.

Cut to: two years Iater. I was in that confusing, exhilarating part of my teens that can make or break one’s entire adolescence experience. Either somebody told me or I saw it in the TV Guide (which seems like such a quaint and redundant publication now) that the most talked-about horror film since THE EXORCIST was coming to network television.

NBC scheduled their version of HALLOWEEN to coincide with, and promote, the release of the sequel, which was one of the first, I believe to forego the use of RETURN, REVENGE or SON OF to indicate continuation. Ironically, the first two would grace later sequels, while the third — well, read on.

I understand some additional scenes were filmed for the TV version of HALLOWEEN to make up running time for heavy cuts, but I couldn’t tell you which were which. (More info on that can be found on a special edition DVD somewhere, or just read here: http://www.angelfire.com/film/jc-halloween/halloweenontv.html)

I’d heard the legends. Kids used to talk about movies like they were real events, you see, before video blog set diaries and behind – the – scenes documentaries came along and ruined everything. The Shape, it was whispered, absolutely can not be stopped by any force — not even The Almighty Gun.

By the time of this historic television event, I’d experienced a growth spurt, a healthy interest in the opposite sex, and a growing interest in more mature horror. Suffering from often-crippling introversion and social awkwardness, I reasoned that watching harder horror films would somehow make me braver.

It’s hard to articulate this well, but I remember a need also to “be there” for the beautiful and vulnerable girl I’d seen cowering in that paperback; to protect Jamie Lee/Laurie/The Final Girl with what I was sure was my Shaw Brothers-movie-level of kung fu prowess.

Like a big boy, I watched it alone with the lights off. Much as I had heard about it, I was not prepared for the abrupt nut-punch that was the final shot; a feeling of incompleteness that also ironically felt final.

Fortunately, that much-needed closure, the “rest” of the story, was as close as my local cinema.

I was too young to drive; a mere freshman in high school. I asked my mom to drop me off at the theater, and amazingly, she did. It was the Plaza in downtown Asheville, which at that time was considered “rough.” I’d already been dropped off on my own or with my little brother Egan at least a handful of times to see the kinds of kung fu and low budget action flicks that people refer to as “grindhouse” these days, and come away unscathed. No way my old man, and certainly not my mom, would sit through that crap if they didn’t have to. So I suppose it seemed reasonable that I could survive a late showing of R rated horror. Maybe my folks were more progressive than I give them credit for. Maybe they secretly hated me. Whichever the case, I caught a break that a lot of kids my age did not, and I wasn’t going to waste it.

Better still, as I sat off to myself awaiting commencement of the darkening and the flickering and the killing, I was surprised to hear familiar voices. I turned to see two junior girls I knew from my school bus, chattering excitedly. I gave a wave and next thing I knew, the ladies were seated on either side of me, squeezing themselves against me for protection against the unfolding atrocities, and sending my young heart into a tailspin of weirdly pleasant associations. I guess my lifelong horror fixation was a sealed deal at that point.

All too soon, the melodious strains of The Chordettes singing “Mister Sandman” swelled, as end credits rolled. At this point, some clever chap impressed his date by calling out “What’s next? Son of Halloween?” It’s weird the things that stick with you. I like to think that couple is still together, that they watch H2 every year, and he cracks that same joke afterward.

The next year, Halloween got another TV showing, and I had acquired a “girlfriend.” You see, I place “girlfriend” in quotations, because the night I went to her house to watch it with her and her folks, she spent the entire time on the phone talking to her “boyfriend.”

So I sat there with her parents, in what was surely an uncomfortable silence for them, and watched my new perennial classic. And you know what? I did not miss ol’ whatsername in the least.

Since that time, I’ve revisited HALLOWEEN maybe five times, which is paltry for someone who considers themselves such a fanboy for it. That’s really the case with most films for me. I believe that, given time between viewings, a movie can continue to surprise you throughout the years, while eliciting memories along the way.

Autumn and Halloween times seem powerfully provocative in producing this effect. The movie HALLOWEEN, just as much. Who knows when I’ll watch it again?

This year, in a sense, I feel I’ll have the opportunity to re-visit that wistful and wonderful time in my life, via David Gordon Green’s updated HALLOWEEN. Like The Shape himself, the film series refuses to die. But now we’ve come full circle, with John Carpenter back to produce, bringing along Jamie Lee Curtis and even the actor who first portrayed Myers, Nick Castle; both reprising their roles.

Advance word is strong, and the release date of October 19 seems just about right (some previous series entries have dropped in August! Sacrilege!)

I will be there.

And don’t worry, Laurie! I’ve kept my kung fu skills sharp.

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Red Harvest Blog Tour

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The Haunted Hollow Chronicles

It’s here! Get your copy of RED HARVEST today! Click on the image below.

In the epic tradition of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Jonathan Maberry, a chilling new masterwork of small-town evil, centuries-old traditions, and newly-risen terror…

Red Harvest

Every year at harvest time, something strange and wonderful happens in the sleepy farm community of Ember Hollow. It comes alive. Truckloads of pumpkins are sent off to be carved into lanterns. Children scramble to create the creepiest, scariest costumes. Parents stock up on candy and prepare for the town’s celebrated Pumpkin Parade. And then there is Devil’s Night . . .

But this year, something is different. Some of the citizens are experiencing dark, disturbing visions. Others are beginning to wonder if they’re losing their minds, or maybe their souls. One newly sober singer with the voice of a fallen angel is tempted to make a deal that will seal his fate. And one very odd boy is kept locked in a shed by his family—for reasons too horrible to imagine . . .

Whatever is happening to this town, they’re going to make it through this Halloween. Even if it kills them . . .

Also available in paperback at Amazon 📖 CLICK HERE

and in the UK 🇬🇧 CLICK HERE


Welcome to Ember Hollow

RED-HARVEST.pngFrom the first review on Goodreads!

“Set in the Appalachian hills of Western North Carolina, this novel of extreme horror is the first in a continuing series, invoking both Supernatural elements and the horrifying evils in the human hearts. There are some stomach-churning moments and revelations in this compelling story, but what most impressed me was the characters, their delineation, and the emotional impacts they cause on each other. I’m quite looking forward to the next entry in The Haunted Hollow Chronicles, as once again, good and evil battle for supremacy in tiny, tucked-away, Ember Hollow.

cover143772-medium.png

CLICK HERE to Pre-Order Today! Available September 3, 2018   

In the epic tradition of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Jonathan Maberry, a chilling new masterwork of small-town evil, centuries-old traditions, and newly-risen terror…Red Harvest

Every year at harvest time, something strange and wonderful happens in the sleepy farm community of Ember Hollow. It comes alive. Truckloads of pumpkins are sent off to be carved into lanterns. Children scramble to create the creepiest, scariest costumes. Parents stock up on candy and prepare for the town’s celebrated Pumpkin Parade. And then there is Devil’s Night . . .

But this year, something is different. Some of the citizens are experiencing dark, disturbing visions. Others are beginning to wonder if they’re losing their minds, or maybe their souls. One newly sober singer with the voice of a fallen angel is tempted to make a deal that will seal his fate. And one very odd boy is kept locked in a shed by his family—for reasons too horrible to imagine . . .

Whatever is happening to this town, they’re going to make it through this Halloween. Even if it kills them . . .


RED HARVEST Giveaway and Pre-Orders

Kensington Publishing is giving away 100 free kindle copies of my new book RED HARVEST. Ends June 20,2018 Click here for more information on the goodreads giveaway.

RED HARVEST is currently available for pre-order at the following retailers and will go on sale September 4, 2018.

9781516108305

In the epic tradition of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Jonathan Maberry, a chilling new masterwork of small-town evil, centuries-old traditions, and newly-risen terror…

RED HARVEST

Every year at harvest time, something strange and wonderful happens in the sleepy farm community of Ember Hollow. It comes alive. Truckloads of pumpkins are sent off to be carved into lanterns. Children scramble to create the creepiest, scariest costumes. Parents stock up on candy and prepare for the town’s celebrated Pumpkin Parade. And then there is Devil’s Night . . .

But this year, something is different. Some of the citizens are experiencing dark, disturbing visions. Others are beginning to wonder if they’re losing their minds, or maybe their souls. One newly sober singer with the voice of a fallen angel is tempted to make a deal that will seal his fate. And one very odd boy is kept locked in a shed by his family—for reasons too horrible to imagine . . .

Whatever is happening to this town, they’re going to make it through this Halloween. Even if it kills them . . .

CLICK TO PRE-ORDER


STINGY JACK Available Now!

AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play,  Kobo, Smashwords, and Overdrive.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-27 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.


Amazon Freebies to Celebrate!

STINGY JACK is coming October 27th and we want to celebrate with you! Mark your calendars! October 27-29 you can get two free kindle short stories.

A Gift for You

About TRICK

“This is a great Halloween short, it has all the elements of a great, seasonal read… the spooky local Urban Legend, trick-or-treaters, ghosts, possible severed body parts, and TRICKS!!”  full review at Becki’s Book Blog

“Another great story by Mr. Greene. I honestly don’t think this guy could write a bad story, even if he tried. This story was a friendly and slightly warped reminder to not trick. Just give out the dang candy!” Lisa C. on Amazon

Teen punks Kell and Toby have big plans for Halloween. They’re going to out-trick the neighborhood kids with the kind of pranks that will leave their victims scarred for life. But a trio of otherworldly trick-or-treaters refuses to walk away empty-handed. Kell and Toby will soon know the true meaning of Halloween.

About FINDERS KEEPERS

“Patrick Greene is a masterful story-teller. This short story is suspenseful, fast-paced, and ends with a bang. I’d highly suggest it to anyone wanting a quick, exciting read. Five stars.” -Vincent Hobbes

“Patrick C. Greene is from the twilight zone, and I am just lucky to be along for the ride! Mr. Greene seems to be one of those authors that you seldom come across. His stories are different and well written. He kind of reminds me of a younger Clive Barker, and that’s a good thing. Yes, I recommend this story and every other bit of fiction he writes!” –Lisa

Within just a few hours of meeting her, Vic convinced sweet young Allison to go along on a robbery–and now they’re on the run, stopping to rest in an out of the way fleabag motel. The initial rush is gone, and Allison is terrified, as Vic’s behavior becomes increasingly psychotic. A battered old suitcase sitting in a dark corner of the closet holds what may be Allison’s last chance–or a fate far worse.


Would you like to receive a free advance copy of STINGY JACK too?! Just subscribe to our free newsletter! CLICK HERE!


STINGY JACK is coming soon…

COMING SOON to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-3 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.


A GIFT FOR YOU!

Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter before midnight on Halloween and we’ll send you a free download of STINGY JACK and Other Tales!

a gift for you(1)

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

Keep Reading STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, and a  HEAD FULL OF FIRE…


Amazon Freebies!

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