Ciarán stumbled along beneath the twisted canopy of blackthorn shrubs, their prickly branches entwining with those of the hawthorn to form a mystical passageway. Though only a dim grey light pierced its knotwork, intermittent flashes of lightning broke through the tangled vines to sketch eerie patterns across the moss-covered path. His robe caught on the spiny bramble, and he stopped for a moment to free his sleeve, but a sharp shove from behind thrust him forward once more, the sudden movement ripping a jagged hole in his fine linen robe.
His temper flared, and he turned to object, though it did no good. Another quick jab to his shoulder spun him back around and thrust him out into the lakeside clearing. Slender stone columns stood in a semi-circle around its perimeter, each one facing the sacrificial altar. He rested his hand against the one to his side, steadying himself as the reality of the situation washed over him in a wave of nausea. There would be no escape.
As if in agreement, a bolt of lightning ripped across the horizon, followed by a crash of thunder so loud it caused the breath to catch in his throat. The goddess was angry.
Out of nowhere, thick grey clouds had formed to conceal the morning sun and cast ominous shadows over the secluded enclosure. The urge to fall prostrate before his goddess mother gripped his innards, tearing at his stomach with a fiery knife, but he could not find it within his heart to do so. A black-robed cleric propelled him further into the temple confines, forcing him to his knees beside another of the slender gray columns. The decision to kneel had been made for him, though it was an empty gesture on his part.Trying to retain his composure, he gazed around the quiet glade. Towering thorn bushes encircled the clearing, concealing the sanctuary from the outside world and providing a perfect setting for worshipping the goddess of their tuath. The bile rose in his throat, for he knew the requirements for admission all too well. Entry to its sacred confines was only granted to those within the priesthood and those about to die.
Monday, January 24, 2022
The Care and Feeding of Fairies - The Cross of Ciaran by Andrea Matthews #timetravelromance #celticromance #paranormalromance
Friday, January 21, 2022
After walking for three or four miles, the trio hadn’t found a way out of the forest.
Their hearts were beating in fear and their legs were tired from walking.
“When will we find the way out of this creepy forest, man?” asked Mia, her arm linked with Oliver’s.
“I wish we hadn’t come here,” said Oliver. “But we have no choice except to keep trying to find the path.”
“I just hope we get to the right path before . . . he finds us,” said Jany.
“That’s what I’ve been praying to God for this whole time,” said Oliver. “I don’t want to encounter him.”
“Right. I just want to escape,” said Mia. “However, if we do meet him, and if he tries to block our path, I will kill him with my axe.”
“You must be kidding!” said Jany. “Please don’t say that again. I’ve seen enough horror.”
“What did I say wrong?” said Mia. “If he finds us, we must fight him and kill him. Otherwise, he will kill us.”
Walking, walking, and walking. Eventually, the trio reached a divide in the path. Following Mia, they took the left.
The trio walked for one more mile, until they saw something that stopped them in their tracks.
Skeletons. Hanging on almost all the trees ahead, as far as their eyes could see. Not one, not five, not ten, but at least a hundred skeletons, swinging on the trees in the breeze.
Jany gaped at them, her eyes filling with tears.
Oliver felt a chill furling through his body.
And Mia stood completely petrified; somewhere inside her, a voice said: My heart may stop beating if I let the horror possess my senses.
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Excerpt Chapter Eleven -Mixed and Mashed
As one would imagine, a mysterious forest might offer deep, eerie chills, especially at night.
Instead, the forest cast a rich glow, and the environment was beautiful and serene.
Walking slowly with their eyes absolutely feasting on the horticultural delights, the boys were approached by something they weren’t sure was real. It floated effortlessly, lighting up in a sporadic pattern, but had neither sound nor discernible shape, other than being somewhat clear and round.
Its fluttering wings suspended it in the center of their disbelieving huddle. All eyes were on it, but what it was provoked more mystery than the forest itself. It bounced in a cheery, beckoning fashion, flashing its stunning wings, drawing the boys into a never-ending waltz. They were transfixed, unable to glance at each other, prevented by the daze each silently battled.
The little glowing being carried about, moving closer to their faces. It moved in and out of trees, spewing sparkle and splendor, then floated away from the boys, yet stayed close enough to continue the enticement.
Contributing to the amazing glow ricocheting from sprawling fronds to soaring trees and fallen leaves, the being’s creativity advanced in a display of twirls and spins, astonishing the boys. And they followed their little friend further and further into the forest.
Deeper ahead, the visual spectacle beautifully intertwined with the clicking noise, which grew louder and more defined, moving up the scale into high notes. The repetition of the noise mesmerized the boys, equating to an invisible lasso.
The friends grouped together, looking ahead and behind. Their stomachs tightened as the tension grew.
What they saw next would pale in comparison to their little, wondrous friend, who steadily bounced around several curvy pathways.
The small creature led them into an area deep within the preserve housing two large, floating, clicking balls of light. The boys instinctively covered their eyes, yet still tried to peep through their fingers.
The light balls began spinning wildly and grew louder, with their tops spitting out free-falling shavings of light like fireworks.
The sputtering light bounced off the dirt only to end up against a tree or one of the boys, then back down and up again.
Slowing down, the beings moved in between the boys. Too scared to move and struggling with reality, the boys’ eyes locked onto the radiant balls.
And with a striking force, the five friends were encased by a bright, piercing light as the balls exploded, emitting their energy onto the boys.
Mixing and mashing north, south, east, and west, bright waves covered the soil, spreading across trees, rock, and all plant life. The forest fell silent, frozen like an inhale without an exhale. It was dark and quiet, except for the liquid energy dripping from the huge, wavy leaves.
Being subjected to drifts both in and out of reality, the boys succumbed to the lure of a vacant black space within the deepest parts of their minds. They fell to the ground unconscious, laying in this forbidden domain in the center of a place they had been warned not to approach.
And from some distance toward the other side of the preserve, a draped shadow had been looking inward and saw this mysterious incident.
The curve of his black hood was loose enough for him to witness the unthinkable. But it also shrouded his expression, which was impassive.
This figure, a dark stranger, had been watching the boys for a period of time and saw the explosion of light. He knew it had exposed them to a grave risk in this place of both awe and fear. He realized time would now take the reins as a master guide for these stricken young men, all of whom would need hope as a rod and stamina as a spear on the long journey ahead.
Knowing the veil of normalcy would need to be maintained in order for this inconceivable episode to be minimized, the Dark Stranger drew upon his strength to physically move each of the boys to Rhee’s house.
He knew familiar surroundings would ease them as they roused, barely able to comprehend their predicament.
For he knew much, and every step, every footprint left an indelible impression on the path leading to the studio in Rhee’s backyard. Indeed, footprints providing a window to the past meshed with hope for the future.
And like a laser, the Dark Stranger steadied his gait, hurling each one up and over his powerful shoulders.
As he absorbed the totality of the scene, he breathed deeply. His head hung in a manner to which only trauma could relate. But in a sign of resilience, it swiftly sprung back.
Under the circumstances, he knew time would not be patient nor friendly.
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate had arrived.
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Monday, January 17, 2022
I awake hungry and thirsty. Is this what the afterlife is like? I never expected Dr. Cromwell to follow through on his promise to put my conscience and memory in a qualified body. Hunger pains me again and I rise to find myself in a tropical forest. I’m surrounded by lush green, but the color is unlike any I’ve seen before. It’s as if the leaves are neon shining off of their surroundings. My body knows what to look for, even though I don’t. Where am I? What planet have I been transported to? Where’s Mom? I look down at it, this hourglass figure. I’d never been blessed with such curves in my sixteen-year-old body. I wonder if my dad will recognize me in this new one. I wonder if Al will still love me after everything? I also try to map out how to get home, but it’s all too much for this newfound body and I quickly find myself napping under a sea of green.
I’m roused by a series of clicks and identify the circular metal in front of me immediately out of place as it may be.
“Vex, how’d you get here?”
“I told ‘past’ you your mission was full of danger, Sierra.”
“How long has it been since I lost consciousness?”
“I calculate two weeks and five days since the ‘new’ you left Planet Vortex.”
“What? How have I been out for that long? Where’s Al? Did the shuttle make it to Earth?”
There’s a stream of beeps. “My universe data scan shows that the Al you’re asking about still has a pulse. It’s the Al ‘old’ you met on Planet Vortex, right?”
My heart warms, it beams. “Yes. Wait, your universe data scan, what’s that?”
“The World Government equipped all clopils with new scanners and applied all Counter Friction strings when the Planet Vortex revolution hit the news. The scan also shows that everyone who had been on your scheduled shuttle made it to Earth. The processes at the medical facility ended, too, but more on that later. We need to get to your mother.”
Mom, are you okay? I try to reach her telepathically, the way I had back on Vortex.
I’m fine. Just need to figure out where I am exactly.
“Sierra, there’s much at stake. We must embark on our journey at once,” Vex says.
Sunrays stream through openings in the canopy of leaves above us as we hike. I keep having to reassure myself it’s me when I look down and see someone else’s smaller feet. At least Cromwell dressed this body in proper attire. I don’t know what I’d do without these boots. Vex, on the other hand, is not well equipped for this terrain at all. He was made for modern city living.
He’s used some of the tools he brought to lengthen his arms in order to help, but I keep assisting him, wishing he’d move faster. I think being locked up in the Vortex facility for so long gave me a sort of cabin fever. Now, being out in the open, I want to stretch my (these, no my, oh whatever) legs and cover the ground between us and Mom as quickly as possible.
Also, the weight’s gone. My legs had felt like they were filled with lead because of the guilt. But now, now that Viscerous and Albina are alive and safe on Earth; now that Pixie’s where no more harm can be done (well, no more harm than a painful exam in the graduate mathematics program at Stanford); now that Dad is free and no longer having to save Cromwell’s subjects, my legs feel light as air.
Mom, we’re headed to you. How are you doing?I wait for what seems like an eternity, but she doesn’t respond.
Friday, January 14, 2022
Author Interview - Witches of Wildwood: Cape May Horror Stories and Other Scary Tales from the Jersey Shore by Mark W. Curran #Horror
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/-fHOAUbK0xc
Dante snapped out of his flashback in a startled daze.
He tried shutting the images out of his brain as he swam through the smoke and flame – peering forward as the shaft of white lantern sliced through the smoky darkness. As he walked the creaky floorboards, he heard the groaning and falling of smoky timbers in the unseen floors above him; he knew the ceiling could give way at any moment. His radio crackled with warnings to exit the building immediately. He reached down to his radio, switching it to off, then fought his way through the haze and flame.
He fought hard against the images; the memories as ghosts floated around him; he saw visions of his father, a fifth-generation firefighter, his tough, angry face floating disembodied on a thin veneer of white smoke. Then the image of his father: lying in a casket in a Northeast Philly funeral home, looking like some strange wax figure from a horror movie. The embalmers and makeup people had done the best they could but there was only so much that could be done with burn victims. It had been a fire in Manyunk, a section of Philly, that had taken his life.
Dante fought against the exhaustion and inertia he’d been feeling for months now; tried putting it all out of his mind; the divorce from Kathy; losing the custody battle; losing their home to the mortgage crisis. Guilt and depression had dogged him for the better part of his life, but a man had to remain strong, to fight his way through it, that’s what his parents and friends had told him.
It’ll pass, they said, in the meantime, man up.
But they could not know the debilitating effect of depression, how it freezes you and turns your life into a living nightmare of psychic pain. He’d tried sleeping it off, twelve hours a day; he’d tried drinking it away but it only made matters worse.
Snap out of it, they all said. Tough it out, Petrillo, suck it up. Yeah, he thought, if I don’t snap first.
The roar above his head was an angry crescendo; it sounded like a thousand railroad trains thundering over his head. He pushed forward into the oily black smoke and the ominous arms of orange and yellow flames that reached out all around him like angry beckoning spirits.
There was crashing overhead as sections of the burning roof fell into the floor above him. It did not slow his resolve or lessen his courage, he simply pushed the fear down below the surface He heard voices ahead of him. He stopped dead and tried to ignore the ghosts. Ahead of him in the glow of flame and smoke was Gracie-Lynn, his mother – the strong, silent pillar of strength that had endured so much before she’d died.
For years she’d dealt with his father’s unspeakable anger, the deep bouts of depression, the unexplained rage that would erupt in a split second into violence.
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