#SummerofScreams

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The Boathouse

by Brian Letendre

July 15, 1978

“I’m pretty sure Director Spencer wouldn’t be on board with this,” Harry nervously offered from the shadows of the lower bunk.

“Shut up, dickweed,” Chad snapped. “You’re just lucky we didn’t think of this when you were a counselor-in-training. You got off light. All you had to do was swim to the other side of the lake and back.”

“Yeah—naked,” Harry moaned. “And then you guys hid my clothes and I had to walk back to my cabin while you all slapped my ass a hundred times.”

“And it’s still the most action you’ve ever gotten,” Chad smirked. “So you’re welcome.”

Haley rolled her eyes. “Knock it off, idiots. It’s gonna be lights out soon and we need to give these three their marching orders.”

Jessie, for one, was hoping the rest of them would keep arguing, at least until Director Spencer showed up. She’d heard that all CITs had to go through initiation by the other counselors. She’d also heard the rumors about counselors partying after lights out, the secret bonfires, the hook-ups, and more. But counselors never told campers about what actually happened after hours. They were like a secret society, one that Jessie had dreamed about becoming a part of since she began attending Camp Crabtree at eight years old. That was seven years ago, and now that she was old enough to be a counselor-in-training, she was almost a part of that secret cabal of almost-adults that ran the whole camp. She just had to pay her dues for one summer as a CIT. And that meant doing whatever the senior counselors told her to do. In order to graduate to counselor for next year, she had to pass peer review. If the senior counselors liked you, you passed. If not, you failed and were sent back to the ranks of the regular campers. And there was no way Jessie was going to let that happen. If that meant spending the night in the creepy-ass boathouse, that’s exactly what she’d do.

All eyes turned to Mallory, the senior counselor, who was leaning against the dresser. She dropped the strand of long, black hair she’d been twirling and pushed stop on the 8-Track player. Silence filled the room as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-Johns’ voices cut out in the middle of “You’re the One That I Want.” Mallory paused for effect and then strolled forward to face Jessie and the other two CITs.

“Okay newbies, here’s the deal. In order to graduate from CITs to counselors, you need us. It’s our last summer here, and we need to know that whoever’s coming up behind us isn’t going to tarnish our good names by being a fuck up. So for the next six weeks, you do what we say when we say it. Got it?”

Jessie nodded solemnly. Mallory was a bitch, but she was the Head Bitch. There were four senior counselors, fourteen regular counselors, and CITs, Jesse included.

The other three SCs—even Chad—were pretty cool. Jessie knew she just needed to get through the hazing period, and she wasn’t going to give Mallory a reason to focus on her.

She stole a glance over at her two fellow CITs, Andrea and Paulo. They didn’t look half as nervous as Jessie felt. Then she noticed they sat awfully close to one another on the bed, and their pinkies were hooked together behind their backs.

“I asked you a question,” Mallory growled, leaning in toward Paulo.

The smile faded from his face as he swallowed. “Yes, ma’am. We’ve—I’ve got it.”

Mallory’s gaze drifted over to Andrea before she stood up straight again.

“Like Chad said, the three of you will be spending the night in the boathouse. We’ll be locking you in just before midnight, and I’ll let you out when I come down for sunrise swim.”

The word “boathouse” was a bit of an exaggeration, as the building Mallory referred to was a glorified shed. The long wooden shack near the edge of the lake was about the length of a tractor-trailer and was filled mostly with racks that held canoes and lifejackets. It was damp, musty and a haven for spiders, which Jessie had an unnatural fear of. The idea of spending the night in there was not pleasant, but it didn’t sound half as bad as swimming across the lake naked and getting your ass slapped a bunch of times.

Andrea must have thought the same, because he foolishly spoke up. “So, what’s the big deal about the boathouse? Are you guys gonna mess with us while we’re in there or something?”

“What’s the big deal about the boathouse?” Mallory repeated, followed by a cartoonishly evil laugh. “Tell ‘em, Chad.”

“Do any of you losers know the history of this place?” Chad smirked.

“I know the camp’s been around for over twenty years,” Paulo replied.

“Not the camp, dumbass,” Chad replied with a disgusted look. “The lake.”

“The lake was formed in 1928,” Jessie blurted out before thinking. It was a habit from school. If she heard a question and she had the answer, she felt compelled to give it. That quality got her no small amount of teasing throughout elementary school, and it brought the spotlight she had been trying to avoid right onto her.

“Very good,” Mallory said, mildly impressed. “Anything else?”

“Um, I know it’s not really a lake, it’s a reservoir,” Jessie replied. “They actually flooded three small towns in the area to form it in order to supply the area with drinking water. People had to relocate. That’s all I really know.”

“Then you don’t know the most important part,” Mallory smirked. “The part about all the people who died.”

“What do you mean?” Andrea asked, and Jessie noticed she was holding Paulo’s hand firmly now.

“There was a church in the middle of Barnsley,” Mallory said in her most dramatic voice. “And many of its patrons had no intention of leaving their lives—and the church—behind. Barnsley was the first of the three towns to be flooded, and when they released the dam, the water came quickly. A bunch of parishioners had hidden in the basement of the church, as they would rather die than leave. They all drowned before anyone figured out they were still there. That was fifty years ago tomorrow.”

Jessie didn’t believe Mallory for a second. There was no way a church full of people went unaccounted for before the town was flooded. There had to be people whose only responsibility was making sure everyone was out. It did make for a good story, though.

“And then there were the cemeteries,” Mallory continued. “A company was hired to move all the bodies that were buried in the area to a new location. But legend has it they took the money and mostly just moved the headstones.”

“Bullshit,” Paulo chuckled. “No way that happened.”

“How the hell would you know?” Chad replied. “You’re not even from around here, New York boy. Mallory and I grew up in Cunningham—we know all the stories, right Mal?”

“That’s right,” Mallory agreed with a wicked smile. And that’s why I saved the best for last. The legend of Lucy Masters.”

“Who the hell is that?” Andrea asked, and Jessie could tell the stories were starting to get to her.

“She was a girl about our age, whose parents lived on the other side of the lake,” Mallory explained. “She’d grown up around here too, so she knew the history of the lake and the secrets buried beneath it. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Barnsley drownings, Lucy’s friends dared her to take a canoe out to the spot where the old church still sat at bottom of the lake. It’s only about a half-mile from here.”

“She was a smartass like you,” Chad chimed in, looking at Paulo. “She didn’t believe the stories, and she damn sure didn’t believe in ghosts. So just after midnight, she rowed out there all by herself, while her friends watched from the distant shore. The dare was to stay out there until four a.m., when the Devil’s hour had come and gone.”

Even Jessie found herself leaning forward on the bed as Chad’s words sucked her in. “What happened?”

“Nothing…for the first couple hours,” Mallory replied, taking the story back over. “But just after three, a large, thick cloud passed in front of the almost-full moon, and the water went dark. Lucy’s friends could no longer see her. But they heard a blood-curdling scream echo across the lake, and the sounds of splashing around in the water. When the cloud finally passed, the moonlight shone on the water once again, just in time to see the tip of Lucy’s red canoe disappear below the surface.”

Jessie, Andrea, and Paulo just sat there speechless. The hairs on Jessie’s arms stood straight up.

“No one ever found any sign of her or the canoe again,” Chad said. “But there have been plenty of reported sightings over the years of a girl in a red canoe, floating out on the middle of the lake, just before the Devil’s hour.”

“And since midnight marks the sixteenth,” Mallory said spookily, “the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lucy Masters’ disappearance will be just before three a.m. Maybe tonight, she’ll finally come back to shore.”

“If she does,” Chad added, “she’ll need a place to store her canoe, right?”

Silence settled over the room as Chad and Mallory let the story sink in and take old of the three CITs. It was broken five seconds later when a loud knock on the cabin door startled them all and unleashed a scream from Andrea.

“Geez Louise,” came a voice from beyond the door, which swung open to reveal a middle-aged man in cargo shorts and a “Camp Crabtree” t-shirt. “Am I really getting that scary in my old age?”

“Sorry Director Spencer,” Mallory apologized. “We were just finishing up our first counselor’s meeting with the new CITs. I guess we lost track of time. She turned and gave all three of them a fake smile that had plenty of menace behind it. “These three are going to be great.”

“I sure hope so,” Director Spencer smiled. “They’ve all been coming to Camp Crabtree for years, and only our best campers go on to be counselors.” He looked at his watch. “But they can’t do it without a good night’s sleep. Lights out is in twenty minutes.”

“We were just heading out,” Chad replied, motioning for Haley and Harry.

“Good idea,” Director Spencer nodded. “I just made the rounds, and your cabins are all a bit rowdy. Sixteen is too many for just one counselor.”

Each cabin consisted of two main rooms with eight beds in each. A small room in the middle was where the two counselors assigned to the cabin slept. Harry, Chad, and Harley had left their counterparts to watch over a full cabin at bed-prep.

The counselors-in-training however, stayed with one of the senior counselors. And that meant Jessie, Andrea, and Paulo weren’t going anywhere. Mallory had them all to herself.

“We’ll be in bed by eleven,” she promised Director Spencer. I have a sunrise swim tomorrow, and I’ll be taking these three with me. I just want to go over the activity schedules with them again before bed.”

“I’ll see you kids in the morning, then,” Director Spencer replied, letting the other three SCs out before pulling the door closed.

No sooner had the latch clicked than Mallory wheeled around to face them. “You three might as well rest now,” she advised. “Because the only thing you’re bringing to the boathouse is your bathing suit, a towel, and pair of flip-flops.”

Jessie crawled up to her bunk and stared at the ceiling, telling herself there was nothing to be afraid of. But thinking the words and believing them were two very different things.

 

tree-divider

Mallory opened the cabin door and peeked around.

“Let’s go,” she whispered over her shoulder before stepping out. “And be quiet about it.”

Clad in their bathing suits, t-shirts, and flip-flops, the three CITs followed Mallory around the back of the cabin toward the long dirt path that led down to the lake.

Mallory wasn’t worried about Director Spencer catching them–his cabin was near the entrance to camp, a good quarter-mile away. But if any of the campers saw them sneaking down to the lake, someone would say something, and Mallory would be screwed.

The path down to the lake was a long one, leading away from the cabins and through the woods. It wasn’t long until the lights of the camp were almost gone completely, and they would be walking in total darkness, as the canopy of trees overhead blocked out most of the moonlight.

“Ow! Son of a—” Paulo grunted as he stumbled.

“What part of ‘be quiet about it’ didn’t you understand?” Mallory hissed.

“It’s not my fault we can’t freaking see,” he whispered back as he limped along. “I just rolled my ankle.”

“Here, let me help,” Andrea offered, pulling his arm around her shoulder. Jessie could hear the concern in her voice, as if she needed any further confirmation of their little summer romance.

“Fine,” Mallory sighed, clicking on a flashlight and illuminating the path ahead.

 Jessie gave Mallory an annoyed look. “You had that the whole time?”

“Yeah dipshit,” she fired back, “and I needed to be out of view of the cabins to use it. Now shut up and let’s get moving. It’s almost midnight.”

The paths started to slope downward, and it wasn’t long until Jessie saw the shimmer of moonlight on the water. The path opened up, leading down to the sandy shore, where a lifeguard chair sat twenty yards away from the boathouse. The two barn-style doors were open, and a small ramp led into the yawning darkness.

“There’s your room for the night, kiddies,” Mallory sneered as she clicked off the flashlight. “Make yourselves at home.”

Jessie closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath. This is a test, she thought to herself. And I’m going to pass it.

With that, she opened her eyes and strode toward the oversized shed, with Andrea and Paulo following behind.

“I can walk,” he said to Andrea, and she let him go ahead, biting her lip as she watched him limp over to the boathouse.

“You’ve really got it bad for him, huh?” Mallory asked, and the shade of crimson Andrea’s face turned could be seen clear as day in the moonlight.

“What?” she sputtered, trying to fake a laugh. “I was just helping—”

“Please,” Mallory rolled her eyes. “I’ve had enough summer flings to know one when I see one. Two pieces of advice. One, be the boss. And two, don’t fall in love. Summer crushes never last.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Andrea replied flatly, quickening her step to follow behind Paulo in case he stumbled.

Mallory shook her head. She remembered when she was fifteen and had no freaking clue about anything. In a way, she was doing these three a favor by scaring the shit out of them. It would build character, help them shed some of that wide-eyed innocence. And then in a few years, they would be the ones telling ghost stories and putting CITs through hell.

“The circle of life,” she said aloud, quite pleased with herself. Then she put her bitch face on again and tromped down toward the boathouse.

At least there’s a few windows, Jessie thought as she walked into the boathouse. On either side of her were two sets or racks with three canoes each on them. They ran the length of the walls in the boathouse, except for roughly a five-foot space in between the racks on the front wall, where a window overlooked the lake. There was another window at the far end of that shed, which was opened outward about halfway. This allowed the breeze to flow through and dry things out. Luckily, it was a fairly warm evening.

“Damn it,” Paulo grumbled as the strap of a lifejacket hit him in the face. There must have been a hundred of them hanging from long hooks in the ceiling. Several of them were still dripping from when the counselors had run the canoe-flipping drill earlier in the day. The occasional sound of water hitting the wood floor made it feel like they were stepping into a cave.

“It’s dry in the middle by the window,” Jessie called to them, and Paulo and Andrea wove their way through the lifejackets to find her.

“Any last words, newbies?”

They turned to see Mallory standing in the doorway of the boathouse. She was shining the flashlight under her chin so that shadows made her look as sinister as possible.

“We’ll be fine,” Andrea called back, trying to sound confident. “See you in the morning.”

Mallory smiled wickedly. “If you make it that long. Say ‘hi’ to Lucy for me.”

With that, Mallory swung the doors closed. That was followed by the sound of the metal latch clanking, and the distinct click of a padlock.

“You bitch,” Paulo spat, and he quickly limped to the door, pushing against it to no avail. “You never said you were locking us in here!”

“To be fair, I never said I wasn’t,” purred Mallory from the other side. “You’re not chickening out in the first thirty seconds, are you Paulo? I mean, what would Andrea think?”

That one hit home. Paulo wanted to fire back something that would shatter that prissy veneer of Mallory’s but he reminded himself that this was literally the second day of camp. He wasn’t going to ruin his whole summer in one night.

“See you at sunrise,” he said, turning away from the door and heading back to the girls.

Jessie and Andrea had found some dry lifejackets and made a circle on the floor in front of the window. Paolo gingerly sat down next to Andrea.

The moon was bright that night, save for the occasional cloud that passed in front of it, and as long as they stayed within five feet of the window, it was more than enough to see by. The window at the far end brought in considerable less light, and there was a whole lot of shadows between them and that window.

“So…” Jessie started, hating the silence. “You two are a thing now?”

“Well, uh,” Paulo stammered, flushing.

“It’s fine,” Andrea said, planting a kiss on his cheek. “Seems like everyone has already figured it out. Even Mallory.”

“But counselors aren’t supposed to have relationships with other counselors,” Paulo replied. “I didn’t want to get Andrea in trouble.”

“Good thing you two aren’t counselors yet then,” Jessie smiled. She could see the relief on Paulo’s face, and Andrea gave her a thank you nod. “Besides,” Jessie added, “you guys know Mallory and Chad have been hooking up for the past three summers, right?”

“I knew it,” Andrea smirked. “She’s such a bitch.”

“Thanks for being cool,” Paulo told her.

“”I’m just sorry you guys have to have me as your third wheel on this romantic moonlit evening,” Jessie replied, straight faced.

Andrea burst out laughing, which made Paulo start laughing, and soon all three of them had tears rolling down their faces. Though none of them would admit it, the laughter dispersed the nervous tension all three of them had struggled to put words to.

Once the laughter died down, Andrea unfurled her beach towel to reveal a deck of cards, and a pack of cigarettes.

“Babe, you told me you were quitting,” Paulo said, ignoring the cards.

“I’m down to like two a day,” Andrea justified. “I only brought them in case I get too bored or stressed. Don’t be mad. Let’s just play some Pitch, okay?”

All it took was a few bats of her eyelashes for Paulo’s annoyed look to melt away. Jessie rolled her eyes at the lovebirds and grabbed the deck of cards.

“I’ll deal first,” she told them, shuffling the deck and giving them each six cards. “Paulo, your bid.”

“Pass,” he replied nonchalantly.

Me too, Andrea smirked.

“Damn it,” Jessie sighed, looking at her garbage hand. “Two, I guess.”

They spent the next few hours playing cards, as it proved a good distraction from both their quarters for the evening and the thought of what Mallory and her goons might have planned for them. They hadn’t heard a peep from outside, save for the constant low sound of crickets, the drip, drip, drip of waterlogged lifejackets inside the boathouse.

“It’s gotta be after three now, right?” Andrea said after she’d taken another game from them.

“Feels like it,” Jessie replied, stretching into a yawn.

Andrea gave Paulo a quick smooch on the cheek and stood up. “Sorry babe, but I need a cigarette. I’ll go lean out the window down there, so you guys won’t smell it.”

“Doesn’t bother me,” Jesse shrugged. “My mom and dad both smoke.”

“Well, it bothers me,” Paulo grumbled.

Andrea hesitated for a moment, but Jessie gave her a “he’ll get over it” glance, and she continued to the far and of the boathouse. She pushed the window open and leaned out, lighting a cigarette.

“You know,” she called back after making sure to blow the smoke outside, “It’s only like five feet up. We could totally squeeze out of this and sneak out.”

“I’m sure Mallory has one of her minions watching us,” Jessie replied. “And they haven’t even started screwing with us yet, so they’re definitely still out there.”

“Well, I don’t see—holy mother shit!”

“What?” Jessie blurted, Scrambling to her feet.

“Look out the window!”

Jessie pulled Paulo to his feet and they scampered over to the window.

“I don’t see—” Paolo started.

“There!” Jessie pointed.

Floating along lazily, out toward the middle of the lake, was a canoe, the moonlight glinting off of its shiny red side. And seated in the middle of the canoe was what looked like a girl. It was hard to tell, but whoever it was had long, wavy hair that hung down over their face.

“No,” was all Paulo could mutter, and Jessie felt his body stiffen in fear as he leaned against her.

“Settle down,” Jessie gently scolded, having regained her composure after the initial shock. “It’s obviously Mallory.”

Andrea must have figured the same, as she leaned out the window and yelled “Nice try, Mallory! Or should we say Lucy? Ha ha ha!”

Whoever was in the canoe didn’t answer, but slowly turned her head in the direction of the boathouse.

“Man, she’s really playing it up,” Jessie muttered, almost admiring Mallory’s dedication. She’d obviously bought a wig, and must have rowed hard enough to let the momentum carry the canoe into their field of view. If Jessie were a little more gullible, she’d have been totally creeped out.

“Is that all you’ve got?” Andrea shouted, flicking her cigarette toward the water. “You made us stay out here—”

Bam! Bam! Bam!

The sound of someone slamming on the barn doors of the boathouse instantly muted Jessie, Paulo, and Andrea.

“Hey jackasses!” came the pissed off voice of Mallory through the doors. “Are you trying to wake up the entire camp?”

Not even a startled whimper escaped any of them, as the same question popped into each of the minds simultaneously.

If Mallory was outside the door, then who was out on the water?

As the thought crystallized, Jessie’s gaze swung back to the water. The figure in the red canoe began to shimmer. Suddenly, it and the boat liquefied and dropped into the lake like a water balloon that had been pricked with a pin.

“What..the…hell…” Jessie breathed, not believing her eyes.

“Did you effing see that?” Andrea yelled, pulling herself in from the window, eyes wide.

“What was that?” Paulo moaned. “It’s like it…melted or something.”

“Hello?” came Mallory’s voice again from outside. “Are you idiots gonna answer me?”

Paulo opened his mouth, but Jessie shushed him. “Listen,” she whispered.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

“You guys hear that?” Andrea said as she started walking back toward them, flip-flops smacking as she went.

Drip. Drip. Drip. It was faster now. And growing louder.

The Jessie saw it, in the shadows between Andrea and them. The water from the lifejackets had formed a rather large puddle.

But the sigh of relief caught in her throat. Because in that moment, Jessie realized the water wasn’t dripping down from the lifejackets. It was dripping up from the floor.

“Andrea—”

The wide-eyed look on Andrea’s face was quickly blotted out by the shadowy form that began to rise out of the puddle on the floor.

Andrea’s trembling hand rose up almost involuntarily and she flicked her lighter. The small flame illuminated the rotting face of the creature before her, and one word escaped her lips before the end.

“Lucy.”

The word still hung in the air as an arc of water shot from floor to ceiling, extinguishing the flame.

“Andrea!” Jessie screamed as two perfectly symmetrical halves of Andrea’s body peeled away from one another and fell in piles on either side of the thing that had killed her.

“No!” Paulo cried in anguish, hobbling toward the thing.

Jessie reached out a second too late to grab him but whiffed. In that second, she made the decision not to case him, because it meant chasing death. Instead, she bolted for the barn doors and threw her body against them.

“Jesus Christ!” Mallory snapped from the other side. “What the hell are you guys doing?”

“Open the fucking door!” Jessie screamed as she clawed the door.

“I told you you’re not getting out—”

“It’s killing us! Open the door now!” Jessie pleaded.

Mercifully, Jessie could hear Mallory fiddling with padlock, and she took that moment to steal a glance back at Paulo.

She shouldn’t have.

His feet dangled off the ground as the cracked and bloated hand of Lucy Masters squeezed his face.

“Please, no,” he whimpered as she brought him close and pressed her broken lips against his before dropping him on the ground.

Paulo landed on his hands and knees, violently retching. Gallons of dirty lake water spewed from his body, until at last he gasped for air, coughing, and sputtering. He started to pick himself up, but his stomach lurched again, only this time, it was a steady stream of blood that spilled from his mouth. The last thing he saw before the darkness took him was his own intestines coiling like a snake as he vomited them up.

Jessie had lost the ability to form words as she stared at Paulo’s innards piled on the ground. But when the decayed foot of Lucy Masters stepped on them a second later, Jessie snapped out of it, because she realized it was her turn.

With each spongy, sloshing step, Lucy got closer. Jessie pressed herself against the door, closing her eyes and bracing for the final blow.

Instead, the doors behind her gave way, and she tumbled backwards into Mallory, both of them rolling down the ramp onto the sand below.

“Son of a bitch,” Mallory said, pushing Jessie off of her. “You clumsy—”

“We have to run!” Jessie growled, and the feral look in her eyes immediately dispersed Mallory’s rage. One glance at the doorway of the boathouse replaced that rage with sheer terror, as the dripping corpse of Lucy Masters shambled into the moonlight.

“How?”

Jessie’s answer was to grab Mallory by the collar and yank her to her feet. They sprinted up the path away from the lake, into the darkness of the woods. And they kept running, until the light of their cabin started to come into view.

Jessie’s sense of relief was short-lived. She tripped over a protruding rock and went down in a heap, all the adrenaline leaving with the wind that was knocked out of her.

Mallory ran over to her, gasping for air herself. She couldn’t remember the last time she ran that hard.

“Do you think she’s—she’s…” Mallory heaved, “still…”

Jessie’s eyes filled with tears as she pointed down the path.

Splutch.

Each step sounded like a wet facecloth being dropped on a shower floor.

Splutch.

“Come on,” Mallory prodded, trying to pull her up.

“Just leave me,” Jessie said, her voice cracking. “I can’t run anymore. She wants me and she’s going to get me.”

Splutch.

“Then I guess we fight it,” Mallory said, digging the rock Jessie had tripped over out of the dirt and cocking her arm back.

Splutch.

The stench of rotten meat wafted over them as Lucy was within ten feet now.

“Starting left fielder for Cunningham High, bitch,” Mallory said as she hurled the rock at the shambling creature. As it sailed over Lucy’s head, Mallory saw the undead girl’s jagged lips curl into a smile.

Splutch.

Jessie grabbed onto Mallory and turned her head away, waiting for the killing blow to fall.

“I’m sorry,” Mallory whispered as the realization washed over her that this was it. She wasn’t sure if she was apologizing to Jessie, or to Lucy.

As Lucy’s outstretched fingers reached for them, Mallory could see the bones of her knuckles poking through the skin. She wondered if Lucy would take her and Jessie back to the bottom of the lake with her.

Mallory closed her eyes.

Splash.

The sound made Jessie turn back to look. Instead of Lucy’s corpse looming over them, there was only a puddle of water on the ground.

Mallory opened one eye, and then the other. “What…just happened?”

Clinging to Mallory, Jessie pulled herself up. “I don’t know. She just…disappeared.”

“Well let’s not wait for her to come back,” Mallory said. “Come on.”

A few minutes later, they were in the cabin, sitting across from one another, both staring at the clock that read four-thirteen.

“We made it through the Devil’s hour,” Mallory said. “That must be it. That’s why she disappeared. Or maybe we got far enough away from the lake.”

“But Andrea and Paulo…” Jessie moaned. “We have to call the cops, and tell Director Spencer, and—”

Everything that had happened finally caught up with her, and Jessie broke down. Mallory came to sit next to her and held her as the tears flowed uncontrollably, streaming down her face and falling to the floor.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

 

 

About the Author

Brian LeTendre

Brian LeTendre is the writer of the Parted Veil horror series, which includes Intrusive Thoughts, Courting the King in Yellow, Lovecraft’s Curse, and Lovecraft’s Pupil.

A gaming, comics and horror lover, Brian has co-hosted and produced a podcast about geek culture called Secret Identity since 2006, producing well over 1700 hours of programming. He also hosts and produces podcasts about writing (See Brian Write), music (Thrash It Out) and gaming (Co-Op Critics).

Brian lives and works in Massachusetts.

Brian on Twitter

Brian’s Blog

Brian on Amazon

Brian’s Podcasts

 

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#SummerofScreams

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Blink Fly

by Victoria Nations

 

Blink Fly, and it started like this.  The camp was fine when I left it.  The girls were fine, and who cared if I hiked off because screw them, that’s why.  They were happy with an afternoon siesta after kitchen duty, and I was happy to have an hour without listening to them swoon over Counselor Jimmy.  Fainting out in the Texas heat was preferable, believe me.  The sun made the orange rocks and pale plants glaze together, and everything looked like stained glass by the time I got to the canyon top.  And…

Blink Fly, and they never got why I loved the robber flies so much.  Lisa flat out screamed when one landed outside the cabin.  Todd tried to stomp on it, and everyone laughed when I got in front of him to protect it.  Nice outdoorsy kids here at camp, stomping on a fuzzy wild creature just because it was different.  I tried to convince them: bristles, shiny dark eyes, and big you-know-whats on the males.  You’d think those kids would think it was hilarious, a hipster, bearded, bad boy fly.  But they didn’t, and they were fine when I left, and so was I.  And…

Blink Fly, that first robber fly I saw on the trail was eating a housefly.  It just appeared there, dinner in mandibles, a second after I looked up.  I would’ve told the counselors my head was down because it was stupid hot in that Texas canyon, but who cared if I was lonely.  Whatever, there was my favorite fly from home, waiting for me.  And that was exactly why they’re so awesome: eating houseflies, hanging out.  It cocked its fuzzy head as it ate, watching me pass, like it wanted to say something.  And…

Blink Fly, and the camp was fine when I left.  The campers were fine.  They didn’t see the robber fly go by, carrying a big wasp, both of them as large as my thumb.  It flew up the trail, then dropped over the canyon edge.  I got woozy looking down, trying to follow it.  It must’ve been so fast to catch that wasp, fast enough to fly all the way to camp and back to meet me on the trail.  I could hear it buzzing down there, until I couldn’t.  That robber fly was so fast, it was gone right in front of my eyes.  And…

Blink Fly, the next one was way too big.  I almost wished those girls had come with me to see it.  It was just way too big, as a big as a banana, sitting there on a rock, a hummingbird in its mouth.  We had hummingbirds down at camp.  They flew right up to the feeders by our cabin.  The girls left the windows open to watch them.  The robber fly had to be really quiet and really quick to catch it.  I was just as quick when I threw my bandana over it and snatched it up.  It was strong, stronger than me.  Its wings beat so hard, I could hardly hold it.  Its spines stabbed my hands, and then it was gone.  Afterwards, I couldn’t tell if it was hummingbird blood or mine smeared on the cloth.  And…

Blink Fly, the girls were fine when I left them, laying on their bunks with the breeze coming in the windows.  They didn’t say anything when I left.  The camp was fine, and the counselors were fine, because they didn’t see that next robber fly crouching on a boulder above the path.  I thought it was cat.  It was hairy, with long legs, and eating something that might’ve been a prairie dog.  I thought it was a cat until it looked at me with bug eyes that glinted in the sun, and it didn’t seem real.  Counselor Jimmy had warned us about that, and the girls had all nodded so seriously and filled their water bottles.  It was something you’d see when you’d walked too long in the heat, an unnatural thing your head made up to scare you.  I was hot for sure, and that robber fly was there for sure, and I was just happy it had something to eat so I could slip past.  I had a hard time walking straight on the trail after that, for all the looking back I did.  And…

Blink Fly, the next fly was the worst.  I didn’t see all of it, not that anyone in camp would’ve believed me if I went back there and said I did.  Big wings, robber fly wings, buzzed  behind an outcrop next to the trail.  They were stiff and clear like windowpanes, and they were large, as long as a truck.  They buzzed in quick bursts, and the buzzing echoed terribly down into the canyon, and I’ll bet the camp heard it and someone came out to look.  When the wings were still, I heard crunching and sobs broken by wet, sloshy cries.  The girls were fine when I left.  But maybe someone had followed me, come to spy on me, because screw me, that’s why.  They had seen all of the robber fly.  I scurried past on the trail because I didn’t want to see what was on the other side.  And…

Blink Fly, I wish it would just stay still.  And…

Blink Fly, I can’t handle it popping in and out like that.  And…

Blink Fly, it’s on the path in front of me now, between the boulders and the ledge.  Thick, jointed legs jut out to either side with black spines like ladder rungs.  It’s tawny brown, the prettiest robber fly yet, and its bristles blend in with the spiky plants that grow between the rocks.  Enormous, faceted eyes look directly at me.  I think it might have followed me here, landed to let me climb on and buzz down to the camp, to show the girls, and Todd, and Counselor Jimmy.  Me and my gorgeous flying steed.  And…

Blink Fly, I look at its mouth to see what its got, but it’s empty.  And…

Blink Fly, it’s reaching for me.

 

Pictured below: Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

 

About the Author

 

Victoria-Nations-author-pic

Victoria Nations is a horror writer and biologist, and lover of spooky, spooky stories.  She spends her time hiking in swamps and writing from what her family calls her dark, little heart.  She emerges from the woods in late summer, damp and covered in burrs, to search out early Halloween decorations.

Victoria lives in Florida with her wife and son, who indulge her love of monsters.

Twitter: @Leaves_Cobwebs

Victoria’s Blog

Previous FREE writing showcase story:

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Deja Vu

by Kat Daemon

 

Betty placed her swim goggles securely in the side pocket of her suitcase, closed it, and zipped it shut. Clicking the lock, her belongings were now secure. It was a lock that needed a code. Betty learned her lesson last year. A regular lock can be picked. A bobby pin is all you need, and where she was going there was an abundance of bobby pins. She wasn’t in the mood for fishing her training bras out of the lake or climbing a tree to get her sneakers.

The lock held the illusion of protection. But Betty knew the truth— it didn’t matter. Sooner or later the other girls would find a way to torture her. Replace her shampoo with honey, or perhaps swap out the sugar with salt to ruin her tea. Betty did love a cup of tea. It caused snickers as all the other girls sipped hot cocoa around the fire. Tea wasn’t even offered. Betty had to beg one of the counselors, but eventually they caved. Pity can have it’s privileges.

Dragging her suitcase out of her room, Betty brought it to the top of the stairs. With a heavy sigh she began her descent, one step at a time, the suitcase making a loud thunk sound behind her.

“Elizabeth Maelstrom! You pick that luggage up!” Her mother called from the kitchen. Betty sighed again but did not pick up her suitcase. Instead she opted for the band-aid route. One rip. She ran down the rest of the stairs the suitcase boldly announcing her resistance.

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!

Her mother emerged, round and short. Her cheeks rosy and her chin-length ginger hair frizzy. She had been baking. She did that when she was nervous. “I told you to pick it up. You’re defiance is uncalled for.”

“It was heavy,” Betty said with a breath of exasperation. She had her mother’s build. Right down to the frizzy hair. Mrs. Maelstrom looked at her daughter with sympathy, took the suitcase out of her hand and placed it carefully by the vestibule.

“Come to the kitchen and have a blueberry muffin while they’re still warm,” she said as she walked briskly back into the part of the house that was her personal palace. Betty followed obediently, knowing comfort food was her mother’s way of trying to quell her fears. She placed the muffin sliced in half before her. The berries were bleeding purple juices into the yellow cake. The butter melting quickly from the warmth. Betty breathed in the lovely scent of the fresh muffins and wished she could just stay in the kitchen for the rest of the summer.

“There she is! All ready for camp I see,” Mr. Maelstrom said as he walked in with the paper. Betty eyed the paper with caution. Her father refused to read anything online, insisting it was fake news. Mrs. Maelstrom placed another muffin in front of him, but he barely noticed it. Where Betty and her mother were short and round, her father was tall and lean. He liked to joke that together him and his wife were a perfect 10. Betty never found that joke to be funny.

“Do I have to go?” Betty asked for the hundredth time that week.

“I’ve already paid the deposit, and I can’t get it back,” Mr. Maelstrom said as he licked his thumb and turned the page of his paper. “

I could give up my allowance to pay you back,” Betty pleaded.

“Oh, Betty… I have a good feeling about this year. You’ll see. This summer will be splendid. I bet you’ll finally make that special friend.”

Betty rested her chin in her palms, her mouth turned into a frown. “I never make a friend.”

“That’s because you give up.” Her father scanned the paper, his voice monotone. “You need to really try this year.”

“I always try.”

“No,” her father corrected, this time lowering his paper long enough to catch her eye. “You give up. We’ll have none of the nonsense this year. Besides, we’re running out of camps!” He forced a laugh, but Mrs. Maelstrom simply bit her bottom lip and got them each a second muffin. Betty hadn’t even touched her first.

 

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Camp Daisy Days was everything the brochure said it would be, which is why Betty felt the knots form in her stomach when her parents dropped her off. “Be sure to write, have fun, and please try to make new friends,” her mother said as she hugged her so tight Betty thought she might trigger an asthma attack.

“And this time, no coming home early.” Her father warned as he kissed her cheek.

The anxiety began to brew inside Betty. The worries of how the girls had made her feel in the past all crashing down like waves over her head. “But what if—”

“I said, no.” With a stern look he took her mother by the elbow and led her back to their pea green station wagon. She watched them drive away until all that was left was the dust the wheels had produced.

“Do you need any help?” Betty turned to find a counselor in green shorts and a yellow shirt holding a clipboard standing beside her. The woman was in her early twenties and the smile she had plastered to her face almost seemed genuine. “Elizabeth Maelstrom… Betty,” she said and watched as the counselor checked the little box next to her name, therefore sealing her fate.

 

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The first day was just as bad as Betty predicted. Her room mate, Mackenzie, looked like a doll with pin straight blonde hair that Betty suspected was immune to frizz. She already had three girls who she became instant best friends with. They called her “Kenzie”, and when they showed up at the room to help Kenzie unpack, not one girl acknowledged Betty, aside from asking if they could sit on her bed. The four girls left to get lunch together and explore the camp, leaving Betty alone on her first day.

The second day was just as dreadful. Arts and crafts was a required activity, and the campers each were given popsicle sticks to create something with. Betty used four, creating a frame for her mother. When she was done she looked at the table next to her to discover Kenzie and her clones had pooled their popsicle sticks together to make a big doll house. “We can have 4 it travel between us, and we can each add something to make it special,” Mallory squealed as Kenzie nodded in agreement. Clearly she thought it was a fine idea. Betty felt nauseous.

The third day ended with a sing-a-long around the campfire. Betty actually liked to sing, but when it was her turn to lead the group, the counselor looked at her watch and said it was too late and time for bed. Not about to argue, Betty got up and headed for the cocoa line where each girl was given their drink before bed. Having made a stink the first night, the counselors already knew Betty needed her tea. She took her cup and poured in the sugar then headed off alone to her cabin, stopping along the way to take a hearty sip. A salty ocean flavor saturated her tongue. Betty spit it out and wiped her mouth. She could hear the giggles behind her, but refused to let them see her cry.

On the fourth day the boys from the camp across the lake, Camp Sandy Snakes, came to join the girls for a day of games. Betty knew the drill, it was to get better acquainted, for the end of Summer Camp always meant a dance.Betty never made it to the dance.

The girls were giggly at breakfast all talking about the possibility of finding summer romance that afternoon. They braided each others hair, and shared lip gloss. No one offered any to Betty. She ate her cereal wondering how much more of this she could take.

The boys arrived at noon, wearing red shorts and white shirts. The day began with a game of softball which the boys won. Archery was next and the girls managed to tie, not having to face two defeats in a row. Kenzie was swooning over a boy named Brandon who had brown curly hair and green eyes. At fifteen he was three years older than her. Betty couldn’t dream of talking to a boy in high school while she was still in middle school, but Kenzie flipped her perfect hair over 5 her shoulder and somehow laughed at all the right moments. Brandon was instantly under her spell, and Betty knew there was no use trying to find a cure.

The last game of the day was tug-o-war. The rope was stretched taught between the two camps, a mud pit between them. Tired from the heat, Betty decided to sit that one out, hoping she’d have a good view when the boys pulled Kenzie and her crew into the brown puddle. There was an equal amount of boys and girls, but make no mistake of it, the boys were stronger. Surprisingly, the Daisies managed to hold their ground, and only at the end did they start to lose their grip. That’s when Kenzie turned to where Betty was sitting beneath a tree.

“Betty! Please! Help us!”

At first Betty was so confused over the fact that Kenzie knew her name, she was unable to respond. Instead she stared, wondering if she had imagined it. She hadn’t.

“Betty! We’re slipping!” Betty’s gaze moved from the look of desperation on Kenzie’s face to Kenzie’s feet which were losing their grip as they began to slide against the dirt. “Betty!” Kenzie cried one last time, and this time— Betty got up.

She ran to the back, behind Mallory, dug her heels into the dirt and wrapped her arms around Mallory’s waist. With all her might, Betty pulled. An enormous grunt of frustration bellowed out of her throat as she leaned back as far as she could. And then, it happened. The girls all fell to the ground as the boys fell forward and into the mud. Covered in the filth, Snakes in the mud, they wiped their eyes and mouths, then flashed white teeth at the Daisy campers to show they were not upset. A cheer of victory was released from the girls with a chorus of, “Betty! Betty!”

Betty beamed as she realized she had saved the day. She looked over at the eyes of adoration, the girls who all knew her name and looked at her—really looked— for the first time. It was the happiest moment of her life. A whistle cut through the air tearing her joy away.

“All campers in the lake!” The counselor from Sandy Snakes said as he gestured to the water. The boys were already peeling off their shirts. The girls, wearing their bathing suits underneath their camp clothes stripped and joined them. Cannon balls commenced, followed by happy giggles as water splashed washing away the mud and linking the campers by the lake that was meant to separate them.

Eager to be with her new friends, Betty swam closer to Kenzie who was bobbing up and down in a tight circle with her girls.

“I told you she would be able to pull the boys down,” Mallory said with triumph.

“Yup. Gotta love the girls who eat the carbs. Her fat ass saved us,” Kenzie said with a sneer. Betty stopped treading water, allowing what was left of her happiness to drown.

She had tried to make friends, but she knew from past experience that was impossible. She looked at Kenzie and her crew, and knew those girls would always exist. She looked at Brandon and his boys, and knew all they would want was someone like Kenzie. She looked at the counselors and knew she would always be invisible to them. She looked at it all and knew she was experiencing deja vu.

 

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The pea green station wagon pulled up to Camp Daisy Days the following afternoon. Betty was waiting, suitcase in hand, ready to return. Her parents got out of the car, the sadness present in their eyes. She knew her father would have read about it in the paper. That’s the only way he would have believed it was real. Such a tragedy. She tried to tell them. She never wanted to go. They made her. And now, all those deaths were on their hands… just like the others.

After all, how often do whirlpools occur in lakes? Strange if you think about it.

It was powerful though.

One might even call it a Maelstrom.

 

About the Author

 

kat-daemon

Kat Daemon grew up in New York where her imagination always seemed to get the best of her. When she’s not hanging with demons, she’s usually armed with a strong cup of coffee and dreaming up her next tormented character.

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NO CAMPING BEYOND THIS POINT

by S.P. McConnell

unnamed

 

Media:

Digital Drawing

 
 

About the Author

 

Headshot-SP-McConnell-270x300

S.P. McConnell is an internationally recognized artist/illustrator and muralist. His mural work has been featured in Custom Builder and Luxury Homes magazine and he has illustrated  for clients including Wizards of the Coast and White Wolf. Currently, S.P. enjoys freelance work and a growing list of custom book cover commissions. To learn more about his work, please visit spmcconnell.com
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the secret of moths

by rebecca waddell

 

Jeff Campbell turns in a slow circle, taking in the sturdy cabins of Camp Narquata. Built forty miles from the nearest town, the camp occupies the relatively level space where the towering redwoods watch over the butterfly-filled meadow on one side and the crystal blue lake on the other. Four years of memories – from his first kiss under the shaded forest to the time he split his lip when he slipped on the dock – filled every corner of the camp’s grounds. None of them compared to the night he’d forgotten something in the dining hall after dark and braved crossing from his cabin with only the bright pinpoints of the stars to light his way. Jeff wonders what new memories will fill this space now that he’s returned as a counselor.

Yee Goldberg with his shaggy gray hair and bronze skin reminded Jeff of a human cross-bred with a lion. He was as much a fixture of the camp as the whispered legends of mischief-making creatures lurking in the dark forest. The stories Jeff never believed, but Yee lived and breathed Camp Narquata. That’s why Jeff told his father he’d need to keep the facilities manager on staff if he wants the place to stay profitable. And so, Yee stayed and Jeff became the only counselor fresh out of high school for the summer.

“We’re going to make this place even better than it already is,” Jeff says with a grin on his face. He hasn’t stopped smiling since he arrived a month ago. It was worth the long drive to his last few weeks of high school to help get things ready for summer. Amazement filled him. Hard to believe he gets to help run the place that was like a second home. In just three days, the rest of the staff would join them for the summer season. He and Yee still had a lot of work to finish getting everything ready. If only they could keep painting at night, but Yee insists they keep the lights off.

Jeff pulls in a deep breath of the clean air and relaxes his shoulders. “All of the new lights are in place, right, Yee?” he asks. The only thing he’d hated about camp as a kid was the complete lack of outdoor lighting after dark and the sundown curfew that kept them indoors. Though he’d asked every year, no one ever gave him a real answer why no one would ever turn on the lights outside the cabins. Good thing dad owns the camp and Jeff has some say. Wiring up those lights was the first thing he changed.

“About those lights.” Yee clears his throat. “They’re installed, but we can’t use them.” His slight Scottish accent comes through thicker as sweat gathers around his temples. This happens every time Jeff mentions the lights, but Yee still hasn’t explained why they make him so nervous.

“Oh?” Jeff asks, casting a side-long glance at the older man. He squares his shoulders and smoothes back his wavy blond hair.

“You see, it’s the stars. You can’t see them right with lights on. It ruins the camp experience,” Yee says, sweat dripping down his face.

Jeff pulls a notebook out of his pocket, flips to the page he’s looking for, and meets Yee’s eyes. “You used that excuse two weeks ago. Care to try another? I have them all written down.” He pats the notebook and smirks.

The color drains from Yee’s golden skin. With a resigned sigh, he moves closer, glancing left and right before meeting Jeff’s amber eyes. “It’s because of the moths,” he whispers before clamping a trembling hand over his mouth and scanning the forest.

“Yeah right,” Jeff says. “I’m not buying that one either. In all my years here, I never once saw a single moth.” He stops, realizing how strange it is that butterflies fill the meadow fluttering everywhere, but not one single moth. Shaking off the oddness of the insect imbalance, he draws up to his full five-foot-eleven-and-a-half inches and squares his shoulders. “I say we turn the lights on tonight and that is that. I’m the boss here.”

“That you are,” Yee says shaking his head. “Well, I’ll be sleeping in town until you come to your senses.” He doesn’t say more, but checks the time and the angle of the sun. “I’ll be off for the day then.”

“Wait, why are you leaving?” Jeff asks.

“I’m not sleeping here if you’re turning on those lights.” Yee pales even more until his usually bronze skin is the same color as the crumpled waxed paper from their camp lunches.

“You’re leaving me alone?” Jeff swallows hard knowing it’s stupid to be afraid of being alone at the camp when there are all kinds of lights on. He stands taller reminding himself that he’s an adult now, has been for nearly seven weeks. Still, whatever Yee is scared of, he’s no longer smiling and joking about. The lack of Yee’s sparkling white teeth and ever-present grin is enough to unnerve Jeff.

“Oh, you won’t be alone.” Yee claps Jeff on the shoulder. “Good luck, Boss. See you in the morning if you’re still around.” With that, Yee strides over to his car that doesn’t move often based on the depth of the pine needles he brushes off of the exterior. He starts the Toyota right up after the third try and pulls away from the camp. Jeff catches him glancing in the rearview mirror and shaking his head.

“What was that all about?” Jeff asks with a shrug. Too late, he realizes there’s no one to talk to now that Yee is gone. With a shrug, he crosses to the light switch, flips on the outside lights and goes into the cabin he’ll soon share with other staff members. Flopping down on the bunk he’s claimed as his own. He pulls out a book and a bag of jerky and takes a break with every intention of painting the dining hall one more time before bed so he doesn’t have to do it in the morning.

“Yee’s just superstitious,” Jeff mutters, getting comfortable. Despite all he said, some part of Jeff worries about anything that could shake the solid Yee. He starts in on his book, reading by the beam cast by the new lights streaming in through the windows. Less than a chapter in, fatigue from the hard work of getting the camp ready for the summer sends Jeff into a deep sleep.

 

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A creaking door startles Jeff awake. In the pitch blackness of the cabin, he falls out of bed. Confused, heart thundering, the dinner bell peals loudly, echoing across the entire camp and out across the lake. Jeff sighs. “Must be the wind. I must’ve left a door open somewhere,” he says out loud. “But where are the lights?” Cursing Yee under his breath he gets to his feet. “Very funny, nice joke. Do you play this one on all the new guys?” Jeff asks.

Pissed that Yee snuck back to turn off the outside lights after his show of running to town, Jeff stalks to the door. He pulls it open expecting to find a laughing Yee on the other side. Instead, a wall of moths covers the door like a curtain. Though he slams the door while screaming at the fluttering cloud, several of the insects make it inside. They cling to him, crawling across his bare arms, on his hair, his face. He screams and yells, but nothing works to dislodge them.

There are too many moths.

He can hardly breathe.

Their wings suffocate him.

With a great deal of difficulty, he covers his mouth and nose and draws in a deep breath. Pulling his shirt up over his face, Jeff stumbles over to the switch that controls the outside lights and flips it off. He huddles against a wall in as small of a ball as he can curl trying to keep the moths away as much as possible. Gasping and coughing, the fluttering slowly stops and he can once again breathe. Through the windows that were pitch black when he first awoke, the soft glow of distant stars fills the screened glass with a welcoming nighttime light that doesn’t attract moths.

Jeff doesn’t move until the sun rises. Thick rays shine through the windows bouncing off the closed wings of at least a thousand moths. Next to him, the brass knob wiggles and Jeff lets out a shout as Yee comes through the door. Jumping up, he throws his arms around the caretaker.

Yee glances at the moths. “You must’ve opened the door. At least you turned off the lights before things got too bad.”

“What do you mean got too bad?” Jeff demands. “I nearly choked on those winged pricks. They wanted to kill me. I’m taking them all out as soon as I can find some moth spray.”

“No, you can’t do that. The moths are the only thing that keeps them away,” Yee exclaims.

“Keeps what away?” Jeff asks in a small voice.

“The Gufflups,” Yee whispers.

“The what?” Jeff asks.

Yee gestures with his head for Jeff to follow him. Jeff casts one look at the moths, shivering at the memory of their legs and wings covering his body, and sticks close to Yee. With ninja steps, they cross to the cafeteria where Yee slowly opens the door. “They’ll scatter as soon as the sun hits them,” he says. “Stay away from their mouths.”

Jeff swallows hard unsure he wants to see what’s inside the door. Nothing can prepare him for the piles of what look like pompoms in greens and grays mounded inside the dining hall. One of the larger green ones sits on the head table where Yee and Jeff ate lunch yesterday. The sun hits its form and the thing comes to life. Hard black eyes shine out of a head as the thing unhinges and reveals rows of razor like teeth that remind Jeff of a crocodile’s snapping jaws.

“Their poisonous,” Yee says.

“Of course they are,” Jeff mutters. One of the things turns toward their voices and Jeff screams. A tidal wave of pompoms surges toward them.

“Into the lake,” Yee says. “Fast.”

Jeff runs flat out, right on the tail of the caretaker. Side by side, they plunge into the icy water. Yee lets out a complicated whistle that would rival any bird. The moths that clung to the cabin ceiling with Jeff all night move out in a cloud chasing the rolling gufflups back into the dark forest. When the sun reaches the middle of the sky, Yee hauls Jeff back to shore. Lips blue, they face each other.

“There you go lad,” Yee says, his accent thicker than Jeff has ever heard it before. “Now you know the real secret.”

“Those rolling things are awful,” Jeff agrees.

“Oh aye,” Yee agrees. “They’re why we keep the lights off.”

“The Gufflups?” Jeff asks through chattering teeth.

Yee rolls his eyes. “No, the light. It draws the moths away, calling them off of guard duty. That leaves the Gufflups room to gather in their rolling packs. Room to kill.”

Jeff swallows hard and nods. “I’d rather see the stars than ever see another moth around here again.”

“Aye,” Yee says with a nod.

After they dry off and change, Jeff drags the ladder from the dining hall outside and climbs up. He moves it around and doesn’t stop until every single light bulb on the exterior is safely smashed in the dumpster. Now nothing can disrupt the nighttime patrol and reveal the real secret of the moths.

 

About the Author

rebecca-waddell-author-pic

Rebecca Waddell writes Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels set in the real world or places born in her brain. When not petting wolfacorns, eating chocolate with her husband and tweens, she blogs poetry. She is proudly represented by the completely awesome Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary.
Twitter: @GloWolf143
Author Site: http://rebeccaw23.wixsite.com/glowolf143/
Poetry Blog: www.reflectionoffaith.wordpress.com

 

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aLICE

by mICHELLE cEASAR dAVIS

 

“Brayden, do you need anything before Daddy and I leave?” Stephanie Hogan asked.

“I’m ten,” he said, tossing his duffel bag under the bunk bed. “Would you please stop calling yourselves mommy and daddy?”

“Be nice to your mom…” Ryan Hogan stopped himself before saying the second syllable. “This is your first time at camp.”

“But I’ve spent a week at Nana’s before.” He rolled his eyes and then turned to look at his mother. “Why is this so hard for you?”

“That’s enough, young man. Some mothers can’t let go of their children easily.”

“Damon’s parents let him ride the bus up here.” He crossed his arms over his chest.

“They also have three older sons. You’re our only child. Let us enjoy these last years of your childhood before you become a teenager.”

Brayden scowled. “I thought this would be easier on her since this is where you two met.”

“Camp Wa-Kaw-Gee will always have a special place in my heart,” Stephanie said. “We hoped you would enjoy your time here as much as we did.” She reached out to clasped Ryan’s hand.

“If I promise to make lots of memories and life-long friendships,” Brayden rolled his eyes again, “will you leave?”

“We’re going,” Ryan said. He turned to Stephanie. “I’ll meet you outside in a few minutes.”

“I have a few words I wanted to say to him.” She raised and lowered her foot in a silent stomp.

He didn’t flinch. “There are some things a dad needs to tell his son.” He sighed deeply. “I got this.”

“Fine. I’ll wait outside then.” She turned back to Brayden. “Is it too much to hope for a hug goodbye?”

He stood there, motionless, until Ryan gave him a small push toward Stephanie. His initial squirming increased the longer she held him. Ryan finally put his hand on Stephanie’s shoulder and she let go. She sniffled a few times, pulled a tissue out of her purse, and left the cabin.

“Thanks, Dad. I didn’t think she would let go.”

“You’re getting older, and she’s having a difficult time accepting it.”

“I thought going to camp was a rite of passage for kids.”

“Not for your mom. She thinks you aren’t going to need her anymore.”

“Of course I need her,” Brayden said. “She needs to make my food, do my laundry, drive me places.”

“That’s not the same.” He shook his head. “Do me a favor. Write her a few letters this week. Call her on Wednesday. Tell her that you love her, that you miss her.”

“Fine. Anything else?”

“Remember to have fun. And don’t bully any of the younger kids.” He scratched his moustache. “We’ll be back up next Saturday to get you. Try to be excited to see us, to see your mother, when we get here.”

“Gotcha, Dad.”

“Okay. Be safe. Be smart.” Ryan patted his son on the back and left to join his wife outside.

He wrapped an arm around her waist.

“How did it go?” she asked.

He pressed his lips against her ear. “He bought the whole thing.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“We’ll walk away slowly, turn back to the cabin after about twelve feet, wave, and then keep walking until we’re out of sight.”

“I’ll follow your lead.”

They followed Ryan’s plan exactly, including turning back to wave, until they could no longer see the cabin. Stephanie pulled Ryan behind the infirmary cabin, hiding then in the trees immediately behind the structure.

“Why are we back here?” Ryan asked. “I thought we were going to stop for a completely adult dinner on the way home.”

“And enjoy the quiet of a house without a video game enthusiast present.” She pressed her index finger against Ryan’s lips. “We will. It’s just that well, being here,” she bit her lower lip, “I’ve been thinking of other things as well.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What kinds of things?”

“Like when we were last here at camp.” She grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him closer.

He lowered his mouth to hers. “Like when we snuck out of our cabins to go skinny-dipping under the full moon.”

“Yes.” The word came out nearly as a breath.

“Any other memories you’d like to share?” He shifted and moved one of his legs between hers.

“The last time. At the shed. Abandoned. In the woods.” She clawed at Ryan’s shirt, her short nails dragging against the fabric.

“Then let’s go.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her closer to the edge of the building.

“Can’t … remember … where …”

He kissed her deeply. “I remember where it’s at.”

They nearly ran the fifteen minutes through the woods to the abandoned shack. Ryan turned the door knob but the door didn’t budge. He turned the knob again and leaned heavily against the door. Still it wouldn’t move.

“Let me.” Stephanie turned over several pots of decaying plants under the lone window until she located a key. She slid the key into the lock and door opened with a rusty groan.

She turned to Ryan and grinned. “You never had to wait?”

“Never waited in the building.” He gestured with his thumb over his shoulder. “Always waited in the woods.”

She grabbed him by the belt and pulled him inside. “There’s no waiting outside today.”

 

tree-divider

 

Alice Jordan took a deep breath, taking in the smells of pine, oak, and fish mixed with freshwater and algae.

They were smells she hadn’t experienced for nearly twenty-five years.

Not since she got locked into the house after the…

Incident.

Twenty-five years.

No guests.

No windows.

No freedom.

Only the room.

Only the silence.

The big man made a mistake today.

A big mistake.

He got distracted.

By the noise.

Where did the noise come from?

Went to find the noise.

He left the door unlocked.

Open.

Freedom.

Finally.

Need protection.

Must find something.

Something large.

Something heavy.

Something sharp.

 

tree-divider

 

Alice ran straight for the door, straight outside. She passed a baseball bat in the hall without stopping. She ran until she reached the garden shed and found her favorite form of protection.

The wood handle felt smooth, familiar in her hands. She ran her thumb along the blade. Yes, it was as sharp as it the last time she wielded it.

Used it.

On them.

On him.

She tossed the axe in her hands several times before she ran into the woods towards that place.

 

tree-divider

 

Stephanie pulled Ryan’s shirt over his head and threw it against the dirty window. A cloud of dirt moved through the small building, settling on the canvas covered cot and Ryan.

He turned away from her and coughed for nearly a solid minute.

“What did you do that for?”

“Sorry, babe. It’s just so, I don’t know. I don’t want anyone to find us in here, you know, in the middle.”

“With your pretty lil ass in full view?” She half-heartedly tried to turn away from him. “Don’t worry. No one is going to find us out here, not even the new camp counselors who want to use this shack.” He put his hand on her waist and undid the button and zipper on her jeans. He eased the pants below her hips and lingered on her buttocks. He traced a line up one of her cheeks and she shivered. “Why, Mrs. Hogan, are you wearing a thong?”

She purred against his throat. “The nude lacy one.”

“A sheer bra and lacy thong. It’s almost like Christmas.”

 

tree-divider

 

 

Alice wandered in the woods for nearly an hour before she found the old wooden shed. Her father posted No Trespassing signs on the building every year but the young people at Camp Wa-Kaw-Gee thought the property belonged to the camp.

That’s what he thought.

Him.

Tried to tell him.

Tried to say no.

He didn’t care.

He said he cared about…

Maybe he did.

Said it was a special place.

For special people.

No one else.

But there were others.

Before…

Knew about them.

Didn’t care.

Didn’t care until…

Her.

After.

Tried to tell him about everything.

Didn’t care.

Only cared about her.

 

tree-divider

 

Stephanie moved her head slightly to the side and screamed. Ryan bit his lip.

“There is someone out there!” She pushed him away and grabbed for her clothes.

“You’re just edgy.” He started to rub her back. “C’mon, we both know there is no one out there.”

“I saw a face in the window, Ryan. Do you hear me? A face!”

He rubbed his ear. “Seriously, it’s just you and me and a few hundred mosquitos out here, that’s all.”

She pointed at the window. “A face!”

He sighed loudly. “You imagined it. Your eyes saw the leaves and then your brain arranged them to look like a face.” He cracked his back. “It’s probably from all those Alice and her axe stories they were telling at camp.”

“They don’t tell those stories during move-in and you know that. Hell, if the campers knew about Alice right away, no one would stay there.”

“Still, you’re being ridiculous.”

“I saw a face in that window.” Stephanie pulled her jeans on. “And if you don’t believe me, then we don’t have anything else to talk about.”

“I’ll prove to you that no one is out there.”

 

tree-divider

 

The door is opening.

Key is in hand.

Don’t need the key.

It’s him.

It’s always him.

Behind head.

Thud.

Blood.

Screaming woman.

It’s her.

Another thud.

More blood.

Rivers of blood.

 

tree-divider

 

The local police went to Camp Wa-Kaw-Gee the next morning to alert the campers and staff that Alice Jordan, a known axe murderer, had escaped from the family home. All she took from the house was her axe. The police and her family thought Alice might be hiding somewhere in the woods and wanted to organize several search parties to find her.

The campers and counselors stayed in the dining room while deputies and townspeople walked through the woods. Every person in the search parties carried at least one weapon.

Thirty minutes later, a deputy-led group of townspeople found the shed. The deputy tried to count the number of dead, as body parts were scattered throughout the building and the heads were missing. The local wild game processor viewed the scene and vomited until he had the dry heaves.

The woods were searched for two days in the hopes of finding Alice.

She’s still out there.

 

About the Author

Michelle-Ceasar-Davis

 

Michelle Ceasar Davis has contributed to several Jolene/Pen & Muse showcases, including the e-book anthology Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror. When she’s not writing, Michelle likes to read, watch scary movies, and bake. She, her husband, and several fur-babies currently live in north central North Dakota (though they visit Canada a lot).

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Book: Dark Carnival Anthology

Previous showcase FREE scary stories:

12 Days of Christmas: The Spirit of Christmas

Night Harvest: Like Father, Like Son

Pen & Muse Haunt: Ma

Spring Fling: Relative Proximity

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Shadow lake

by cait greer

 

“It’s just a story, Cam. It’s not like there’s actually a monster in the lake.” Everly hops on one foot, adorably trying to pull her other sneaker on without untying it. “Everyone knows that’s just something the counselors made up years ago to scare the kids so they wouldn’t try to go swimming at night.”

Camryn snickers behind her. “You mean exactly like we’re doing?”

“Exactly.” Everly’s shoe finally slides on just as she tilts too far to the side, but I’m there waiting, reaching out to catch her before she falls. She turns her thousand-watt smile on me. “Thanks, Darcy.”

I kiss her nose and smile back. “You know I’ve always got you, Babe.”

“Ugh, will you two quit being so cute already?” Rachel bumps me with her shoulder as she passes behind. “Save the cuddling for the lake.”

Everly and I both laugh, stealing a kiss before we’re pulled along by the rest of the girls towards Shadow Lake. I hold on tight to my girlfriend’s hand and sneak along with the others. Cam, Becca, Rachel, Everly, me, and Tyler, whose idea this was, as always. The girls of Lost Corner Cabin Six.

We’ve been coming to Camp Ashwood together since we were kids, but tonight is our last night. Summer’s almost over, college is calling, but this… We’d planned this night for years. One last hurrah, breaking the biggest rule Ashwood had—a midnight dip in Shadow Lake. Because every story at Ashwood revolves around the lake, so it makes perfect sense. And just maybe tomorrow, we’d be part of the legend.

Ahead of us, several of the girls in our cabin already strip down to their bikinis. Everly and I hurry to catch up as Tyler, our ringleader, eggs us on from the shallows.

“Come on, girls! Stop wasting time!”

We all hush her, Becca charging into the water to physically slap a hand over her mouth. “Dammit, Ty. You know if the counselors hear you yelling, your big plan is all over.”

Tyler’s response was lost in the lake and the darkness, and possibly also Becca’s mouth, but the rest of us quickly follow them out to the lifeguard platform. There, we’re far enough out to talk above a whisper and not fear being overheard.

“Alright, girls.” Tyler looks at Cam and grins. “Story time.”

Cam is the girl who knows everything there is to know about Camp Ashwood. All of us love our summers here, but Camryn lives for them. Tyler may have been our ringleader, but Cam is the one who started email chains while there’s still snow on the ground. She knows everything, about which of our favorite counselors was returning, what programs were planned, all the latest gossip about Ashwood, and especially all the obscure history. If it’s related in any way to the camp, Cam knows it. It’s not even a question that she’ll be back here next year as a counselor, whether it’s official yet or not.

And she knows all the stories.

“Okay, well, the first thing is that nobody really knows what it is that lives in Shadow Lake. Ghost, spirit, monster, demon, there are a million different guesses, and just as many local legends. Could even be a mutant dinosaur. Nobody knows. But everyone agrees there’s something.”

Nobody knows doesn’t make a great fairytale, Cam.”

We all laugh at Becca’s snark, splashing at her until it turns into a water fight. Eventually we stop, coming back to the floating dock so Cam can continue her story. We all gather in closer than before, subconsciously, I think. As if we somehow know that whatever Cam is about to tell us will change everything. Or maybe just because we want to pretend that it isn’t all over tomorrow. I wrap my arms around Everly, treading water with her as Cam begins again.

“Nobody knows what lives in the lake, but the one thing everyone agrees on is that the number of drownings and disappearances is way too high to explain any other way. Something has to be responsible.”

“Wait, did people really die here?”

We all turn to look at Rachel, who looks both confused and a little scared, but it’s Becca again that speaks up. “You didn’t know? I mean, they haven’t had a drowning in a while, but there was one the year before we all started coming. A few years before that, three girls vanished in the woods on an overnight to Echo Island.”

Tyler interrupts her. “But stuff like that happens. Kids drown, they get lost. Doesn’t matter how safety conscious the camp is, it happens.”

“Sure it does.” Five sets of eyes turn back to Cam, whose voice has taken on a tone that sets us all on edge. “But do you realize just how many have drowned or disappeared in and around Shadow Lake? Hundreds, going as far back as there are records here.”

Silence casts itself over all of us, until the only sound is the breeze in the trees and the slap of the water against the dock. Everly shivers against me.

“There’s a pattern,” Cam continues. “At least until recently. One every four years until about the start of the nineteen hundreds. It gets a little sporadic after the forty’s, some as close as every two years, sometimes as far apart as eight. The numbers get shifty there, too, like the three girls that vanished on Echo.”

“That’s really freaking creepy.” Everyone looks at me. “You’d think the scouts wouldn’t want anything to do with a place with that kind of history.”

Cam shrugs in the water, then hops up onto the floating dock. “I don’t know. But really, can you imagine camp being anywhere else?”

The rest of us keep treading water, looking back and forth. Eventually, Tyler speaks up, breaking the silence.

“So that’s it? Just a pattern of drownings and missing kids?”

Cam bounces her head. “Well… There’s one other thing. They were all girls.”

“That’s just messed up.” We all turn to Becca, who grabs the dock and throws her other hand up. “What? It is. It’s also really creepy. You’re saying that over hundreds of years and hundreds of disappearances, every single one of them was a girl?”

Cam shrugs. “According to all the records, yeah.”

“Guys? Where’s Rachel?”

We all spin around at Everly’s words, searching. We don’t find her. Soon, we’re all splashing around in panic as we all call her name.”

“Rachel this isn’t funny!”

Cam stands up on the lifeguard dock, searching around all sides of it, her face pale in the moonlight. “I don’t see her.”

“Shit. No way. Just no way.” Tyler’s normally brown face looks ashen with fear. “This is just a joke. It has to be. Rachel, dammit! Stop screwing around!”

I look at Everly, whose hand I’ve refused to let go of, and I can see the fear in her eyes. Tonight was supposed to be exciting and fun, but this isn’t.

“We need to head back in, now.”

All of us agree with Tyler, but it’s me who notices this time. “Where’s Becca?”

Tyler shrieks Becca’s name, but as she flails in the water, I pull Everly to me, swimming us both to the dock. By the time we get there, Tyler has stopped screaming. I turn back to her, ready to convince her to come to the dock with us. But the water is still and calm, as far as I can see.

Tyler is gone, too.

“Darcy, what’s going on?”

I pull Everly to me, holding her tight as we sit as far from the edge of the dock as we can. Both of us are shaking, and it’s not because we’re cold. I’m terrified she’ll vanish next. I’m terrified I’ll vanish next. “Cam, what the hell is this? It’s just a joke, right?”

Cam looks away from us, staring out over the water away from camp. Unlike the two of us, she’s on the very edge, toes sticking out over the lake.

“Cam?”

Everly shivers in my arms as the night stretches out into eerie half silence, full of nothing but lapping water and wind, and no animal sounds to be heard. And Cam, standing, as if she’s waiting.

“Three… Three could be enough. Might be enough.”

Everly and I look at each other. I’m sure my eyes are as wide as hers as we both slowly turn to look back at Cam. She’s pulled her hair out of the perpetual bun she always keeps it in, damp strands shining black in the moonlight. “What… What are you saying, Cam? Because I swear—”

I don’t actually know what I swear, and Cam cuts me off before can find out. She turns with a measured precision, her eyes glowing a soft blue that makes me inhale whatever I was about say. She looks like a wild thing, standing there, and nothing like the girl we grew up with.

“It has to mean something, Darcy. I couldn’t just give them anyone.”

Everly whimpers in my arms, but I just stare, my head shaking slowly. “What… Cam, I don’t…”

Cam sits, dipping one leg into the lake, her fingers playing in the water. “Do you remember our end of summer trip last year?”

I swallow. “Echo Island.”

She grins, her teeth too white. “That night you all thought I was pranking you. I heard them, you see.”

“Heard what, Cam?”

She doesn’t answer, just draws her fingers through the water. “Life for life, that’s what they said. They protect the land, but there’s a cost. The Director, she’s getting old. Her time is running out. They chose me, Darcy. I have to protect them. I have to…feed them.” She turns to us completely now, standing with a grace that seems otherworldly. “I’m sorry, Darcy. Everly. I truly am. I hoped three would be enough. But it’s not. They’re too hungry.”

We scramble back as she starts walking towards us, forgetting about the water until my hand meets not solid wood, but water.

“Darcy!”

There are moments in life that happen too quickly to track them. The details all crash together in to a flash of everything, impossible to separate. Then there are moments where everything slows, and every detail stands out. The shock of my hand dropping past the edge of the dock and into the water, the loss of balance I’m too rattled to maintain. Everly, who I’ve loved all my life, who has been with me as long as I can remember, and who I hoped I’d grow old with, calling my name in a voice laced with fear.

My body slides into the water effortlessly, as though it was always there, waiting. I watch Everly reach for me, panic marring her beautiful face, until she’s reached too far. The water draws her in as well, and I have no ability to stop it.

Above us, Cam watches. Her long, dark hair dances in the breeze, moonlight shining down behind her. She looks regal, like a queen.

Her glowing blue eyes are the last thing I see before the darkness swallows me whole, and I have one brief moment to think that by tomorrow, we will have become part of the story after all.

 

About the Author

cait-greer

 

Cait has been reading stories and making up her own as long as she can remember. Her best friends growing up were books and their authors, and you could usually find her reading (during class, at work, at camp…). She has done everything from martial arts (taekwondo & a few others) to kayaking and sailing, to horseback riding, and teaching high school math (among other things). She’s currently a graphic designer.

Cait is a renegade paladin, a slytherclaw spoonie gamer geek enby girl, and also a lifetime Girl Scout who spent many years as both a camp counselor and later a camp director. This story may or may not have been inspired by many of those summers.

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the shortest night

by ken mooney

 

 

“Mark, can’t you just put your phone away for one night? We’re on holidays.”

Alan didn’t even look at his brother while asking that question; Alan was too busy looking at the women gathered at the beach, all of them dressed for the night. Alan was getting treated to the views of a bunch of local girls on a similarly boring summer holiday, desperate to make the best of their night.

They had taken tonight as an opportunity to wear their favourite clothes, to do their hair, to do make-up: the things they didn’t do during their days at the beach.

It was only a short time into the summer holidays, and the visitors to this town like Alan and Mark had already learnt to spend as much time as possible at the beach. On a night like this, there was an impromptu agreement between many members of the town to meet at the beach, to play music and have a party. The longest day of the year also meant it was the shortest night of the year, and that seemed like a moment to celebrate.

“Shut up, Alan. You only want some attention to I can distract some other friends and let you get into that girl’s pants.” Mark didn’t look up at Alan or whatever girl he was thinking of; he was used to Alan’s type, in the sense that he didn’t have one. Alan liked himself a bit too much to like anyone else, so once he had some attention from some attractive girl, he was happy.

And there were a lot of attractive girls gathering at the beach on this night. It seemed to be the thing that all the younger people of this town were just as bored as Alan and Mark were.

Everfalls had been a shipping town throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but things had changed in the twentieth century: the closing of three different fishing companies brought an end to the industry, suggesting that families moved somewhere else to continue their careers and their lifestyles. At least, that’s what happened to the families who managed to survive the wars.

But Everfalls had somehow been saved: each house that got abandoned ended up sold to a family from somewhere else, a family desperate to get out of cities and have somewhere to stay during the summers, to prove to their friends and their colleagues that they were rich.

Alan and Mark weren’t rich; you’re not rich when you’re still teenagers, and their father Hank had spent most of his life and his money trying to make sure they were safe first, then happy. Rich was never high on the list. But his new wife Maya had given the family new opportunities.

Alan and Mark were happy to support their father’s happiness, and they did not need a relationship with Maya to support that. But she had been anxious for all four of them to spend time at her family home and get to know each other. The best time to do so was during the summer holidays, and she said there was no better time than during the summer solstice, when the families of the town met up at the beach and, if the weather was well, stayed up into the early hours of the morning to spend a time that started and ended two different seasons.

“Our dad’s after marrying a woman who’s probably closer to our age than his, you have a girl you won’t stop texting even though you’ve never met her. I’m starting to think I’m the only sane one in the family.”

Alan wasn’t even looking at a specific girl: even with the ever-flickering lighting of the night’s bonfire, everyone who had come to the beach tonight looked different. They hadn’t just dressed up for a night out with their neighbours: it was like the entire town were ready, willing and able to celebrate.

Mark pressed the button to hide his phone and put it back in his pocket: even if Alan wasn’t looking at it, Mark was worried he could put two and two together and that would then lead to some awkward conversation with their father. Neither of them needed to know that it wasn’t a girl that Mark was speaking to; neither of them needed to know anything that Mark felt or thought, not until he knew himself.

It was obvious that Maya had put two and two together, though: every time a conversation turned, she would refer to Alan’s dates and girlfriends, but she knew to pause for just a moment before she asked about any of Mark’s ‘friends.’

Her relationship with their father had happened quickly, but it was not unexpected: their mother was long dead, and they knew their father had had relationships since then. They had met some of those women, reacted well with some and hated others. Maya, however, was the first one that their father had established his wills before they had even been introduced.

“I want to marry her, guys.”

So his sons had nodded and smiled, and then been introduced to her, found that she knew of them already, nodded and smiled at their tastes in music and the little things that were so like their father. Two months later, they were engaged; three months after that, a wedding with just the four of them and the woman to make it official. And three weeks later, they were here at Maya’s ancient family home for their first holiday and an opportunity to act like an actual family.

“Shouldn’t we be spending the time as a family then, Alan?” Mark kept his eye on his brother.

He’d asked such a question that Alan stopped looking at the girls of this town and actually payed attention to his brother. At this midnight air, Alan probably couldn’t fully make sense of Mark’s face, its mix of frustration and entertainment. After all, Mark’s tongue was nearly fully in cheek.

“It’s more like our dad’s having a date here, not you.” Mark leaned in a bit closer to his brother, hoping that none of their neighbours heard them. “Besides, who’s to say that each girl in this town isn’t related to Maya. Every girl you want to be with might be your cousin. You ever thought of that?”

“I’ve got protection. I’ll let you borrow the lot if you’ll try it out.” Alan slapped his pocket but he kept his eyes on Mark. “You really like this friend you’re texting, don’t you? You haven’t even looked at any of the rest of them around this town.”

“Eh…yeah.” Mark felt his heart thumping in his chest. Had it really been that obvious to Alan that he was distracted by someone else?

Alan stepped a bit closer, and for just a moment, Mark wished he hadn’t said something. If Alan was busier looking at the girls of this town, then the awkward look on Mark’s face wouldn’t be so obvious.

“We’ve figured it out, Mark. It’s not a girl, anyway. Dad and me. Well, Maya sort of told him. That and you’re not good enough at hiding your internet history. You’re still my brother, and you’re definitely still his son.”

Mark’s eyes couldn’t move from Alan’s face, lost in the welcome and the comfort that his own brother was offering. It was nearly enough for him to start talking, to be honest.

They couldn’t continue their closeness, not with the silence around them, a group of people who had chosen not to speak so they could all look at Maya as she stood beside the flames. Every attendant of the night was focussed on her: Mark and Alan had looked around them for their father, and neither could see him, assuming he was somewhere else making quick friends surrounded with the rest of town.

“Residents of Everfalls, we’re close to the time now. I want to thank you all for coming this evening.” Maya’s voice sounded more confident than Mark and Alan had heard before. But she was a woman who had grown up in this town, who probably knew them a lot better than anyone else.

And then her eyes fell on them directly: even in this darkness, the light was so close to her that she found them easily.

“And of course, we have three very special guests this evening.”

The town turned to look at them both, somehow all of them knowing exactly where they were. A phrase passed around the town, words that neither Mark nor Alan recognised.

“Mark, Alan, Hank, you’re all very welcome here this evening. Your presence here is the perfect start of our new year.” Maya pointed her hand towards them, and the crowd around them pushed gently towards her; even with this mention, they still couldn’t see their father. “And of course, the end of the last year as well.”

Only then did Mark and Alan notice the specific smell and crackles that were coming from the fire, the shapes that were on top of it. It was the shape of a body, a body they recognised too well.

“Dad…”

Mark screamed across in the direction of the fire; Alan had already moved in that direction. But the people around them refused to move away: they moved closer to the boys, closing the space around them, reaching towards them and taking hold of them.

“DAD!” Mark screamed once more, and the town reacted appropriately by dragging him closer to his father.

Maya ignored the shouts.

“The old year and the new year, the father and the son. They will die together, and this town will continue.”

The town responded with their words, the same words they had been using. Words that were definitely not any local language, but came from somewhere else, sometimes else.

“And the future year, the year that is yet to come. One will survive with us, and with him, the town will survive until next year.”

The town stated their words once more, louder now that they had taken control of Mark, holding him tight so that he couldn’t move. They pushed him towards Maya, his mother-in-law and the woman who had killed his father.

He was pulled close to her now, so close that the shadows had caught her face, aged her and made her far more suitable for his father.

“This is your town now, Mark. This is where you will live until the next sun is born. Just as this town has done for hundreds of years, and it will do for hundreds more.”

This time, the town responded to Maya’s words, and this time, they spoke in English so he could understand.

“Sacrifice.”

 

About the Author

Ken-Mooney

 

Ken Mooney was born in Dublin in the middle of the 1980s; he still lives there. He holds a degree in English Studies from TCD, which he totally uses every day during his day-job in TV advertising…totally.

He’s always been obsessed with stories, reading, writing and playing them; that explains the massive collection of books, comics, video games and discarded Word documents. His writing is a combination of all the things that he’s passionate about, all the way through high-and-low-brow.

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Beware the Icepick Killer

by Jamie Rusovick-Smith

 

“This is gonna be a summer you’ll never forget,” Brook sings—loud and crazy— over the wind rushing in through our car windows.

I tug at my blood-red Camp Moore-Saine shirt and curl my lip in disgust. “You might love this place, but there’s a reason I’ve never been camping before, dear cousin.”

The main reason being I hate the great outdoors. Bugs, sleeping in a dirty bag on the floor, and food burnt over the fire just doesn’t do it for me like it does for Brooklyn.

We screech into the dirt lot, kicking up a thick cloud of dust, and hop out onto the crunchy dirt.

Brook takes a deep breath and pushes her sunglasses up and into her dark curls. “Can you smell it, Paige?”

I slam my door, and try not to choke on our dust cloud. “Smell what? Dead fish? Sweat? Bad cooking?”

“Geeze. Could you be any more of a drag?”

“Give me a few hours.”

Brook rolls her eyes and shoulders her duffle. “Come on. Let’s sign in.”

I follow Brook past endless trees and fellow campers towards the registration table. It’s just a glorified card table, resting next to the camp’s welcome sign— a weather-beaten monstrosity with the words ‘Camp Moore-Saine. The Summers of your life.’ Only it’s been vandalized to read, ‘Camp Moore-Saine Screams. The ^ Last Summers of your life.’

I scoff and give my name to scowling woman with a clipboard. She flips through the papers and says, “Paige Peña? You’re in cabin 13, The Boondocks. Bunk 5. Happy camping.”

“Or something,” I mutter.

The tallest, blondest girl I have ever seen in my life grabs me by the shoulders and pushes her perfect face into mine. “Did I just hear that you’re in cabin 13?”

“You did indeed.” I wiggle out of Barbie’s grip, but she just beams at me. I nod towards Brooklyn, and say, “My cousin’s in The Boondocks, too.”

“Hi.” Brooklyn accepts a hug from the Barbie and makes an oh-yeah face. People excited about camping are her kind of people.

“We’re bunkmates! Jess, by the way,” Barbie/Jess says. She whips around and hollers to some girls behind her. “McKayla! Cody! Come meet our new roomies.”

A stocky girl the color of a copper penny runs over and punches me in the arm. “I’m Cody. Nice to meet ya.”

“McKayla,” says a freckle-faced girl behind her. She tosses her red fishtail over her shoulder and offers me a handshake. “First time camping?”

“My first time, yes.” And I hope it’ll be my last.

“Not mine.” Brook holds up her wrist full of twisted bracelets— one from each of the camps she’s attended over the years. “I’m an avid.”

“Nice,” the other girls say, giving Brook appraising once-overs.

“Well.” Jess claps and nods her head towards the lake. “Let’s drop off our stuff and go for a dip, yeah?”

“I’m so in. Already got my suit on.” McKayla lifts up her shirt and flashes a leopard print bikini that barely covers her ample curves.

I swallow my blush, mumble something about yeah, sure, I’ll swim, and that gets me another enthusiastic punch from Cody. As we tromp towards cabin 13, Brooklyn loops her arm around my shoulder and kisses my cheek. “Come on, Paige. Camping is great once you give it a try. And this is the perfect opportunity to forget all about what’s his name. You can do better.”

What’s his name. I dated Greg for 18 months, until he dumped me right before summer break, and Brooklyn pretends not to remember his name. Nice. But as my gaze falls on McKayla’s swaying hips ahead of us, my heart picks up speed, and well, maybe Brooklyn is right. Maybe this camping thing won’t be so bad after all.

“Okay,” I sigh. “I’ll try to have fun. But this better be a camping trip I’ll never forget, or else.”

 

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After a day in the sun, my bronzed skinned gleams darker, my eyes are bloodshot, and I’m so hungry I could eat one of everything from the mess hall, no matter how gross it smells. When I drop my steaming plate onto the splintered table in between Brook and Cody, their conversation halts—so does Jess and McKayla’s—and everyone tucks into their food.

It’s deafening with all the people here. My heart pounds, and oddly that sounds louder than all the raucous. “Did I miss something?”

“Nah,” Brook says around a mouth full of creamed corn. “Just want to finish up so we can hit the fireside tonight.”

“Fireside?” I take a bite from my hotdog, dripping mustard onto my bare thigh, and flinch when Cody doesn’t miss a beat to lick it off.

“Sorry.” Cody laughs. “I’ll use a napkin next time.”

“Yeah, they’re doing S’mores and ghost stories by Lake Vista in a few.” McKayla’s baby hairs curl around her face and her burned cheeks glow apple red. “We can snuggle if you scare easy.”

My tongue swells but I nod.

“Gah.” Jess scratches at her neck and then her arm. “Why can’t I stop itching? I swear, I’ve got these red bumps everywhere.”

“Uh oh.” Cody grabs Jess and examines her forearm. “Babe, I think you’ve got poison ivy.”

“What? No!” Jess pulls away and scratches some more. “It’s only the first day…”

“Told you not to lie too close to those bushes.” Cody shakes her head. “Go see the nurse. Maybe she’s got a cream for that.”

“Thought you’d want to lick my wounds, but fine. I’ll go to the nurse.” Jess pouts and slumps out of the mess hall.

“Poor thing.” McKayla glances at her cell and squeals. “We’re gonna miss the fireside. Come on!”

“What do you have your phone for?” Cody gestures with her chin. “Not like you get any service.”

“But it still tells time,” McKayla says, waving it in her face. “And the fireside starts like, now.”

 

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My stomach knots up as McKayla drops next to me on the log by the fire—she smells like lake water and chocolate. I lick my lips. On my other side, Brook waves to someone sitting across from us, and Cody hands over the S’mores makings. I spear my marshmallow, then let it hang over the white-hot coals.

“Is this when it gets memorable?” I ask.

Brooklyn laughs. “Careful what you ask for. You might end up like Jess. Or worse.”

“Could be lots worse.” Cody points to a dead squirrel a few feet away, and McKayla says, “Ewe.”

When everyone’s settled and eating, a camp counselor with glasses and black hair, stands and clears her throat. “Good evening campers. Welcome to Camp Moore-Screams. You know why they call it that, don’t you?”

Cody raises her hand. “Because it’s the playground of the Icepick Killer.”

“That’s right.” The counselor steeples her hands under her chin and grins. “Since the camp opened in 1988, we’ve been haunted by the Icepick Killer. We find trees with hooks imbedded in them. Animal blood—or at least we hope it’s animal blood—splattered on the cabin walls. And sometimes, our campers go missing.”

I roll my eyes. “Isn’t that a legal nightmare?”

Brook elbows me and the counselor shoots me a look.

“Sorry.” I stuff another S’more in my mouth and try to vanish into the log.

“I thought it was funny,” McKayla whispers against my ear.

I suppress a smile. The fire crackles and a gust of wind ruffles through the bodies. Smoke distorts the air around us, making everything hazy and grey in the already dark night.

The counselor straightens her shoulders and continues. “Rumor has it the Icepick Killer was actually the owner of the camp. Mr. Moore-Saine himself. But, during the first week of the first camp, he was burned trying to put out a fire a camper had caused. He sustained severe injuries, but help never came, being so far out in the wilderness, and he lost his mind in his pain. Since then, he’s wreaked havoc on those foolish enough to stay out after curfew.”

“Well,” Cody whispers. “If that isn’t a plug to stay in your cabins after 10pm, I don’t know what is.”

The counselor shoots another disapproving look at us. “Every year he strikes. And he always comes for those in the cabin he was burned inside of—cabin 13.”

Cody chokes on her S’more. “Did you say cabin 13?”

The counselor nods. “Best watch your back this week, Boondock girls.”

 

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The Boondock girls, sans Jess, are the only ones still sitting around the campfire, when the curfew bells toll over the loud speaker systems, followed by an obnoxious recording. “Curfew Campers. It’s Curfew Campers. Back in your cabins until the cock crows. Cock-a-doodle-doo!” Brooklyn makes a gag-me motion and sips from her water bottle. Still leaning together, McKayla’s fingers dance dangerously close to mine, and I don’t want to stand up yet, just in case…

Cody eats a fifth S’more and sighs. “We probably ought to get back. We need to check on Jess anyway.”

“Yeah fine.” Brook stands and yawns. “I want to go canoeing in the morning anyway. Ooh, we can even wake up early and watch the sunrise over the lake.”

“Sounds romantic.” McKayla winks at me.

My cheeks flush again, but I stand too, and wipe the woodchips from my legs. “Can you believe that stupid story the counselor told? I mean, how cliché can you get?”

“It’s not stupid.” Cody’s face is dead serious. “The Icepick Killer is real.”

I start to say, sure he is, but then McKayla looks over my shoulder and screams. The sound catches me off guard. Sets my teeth on edge and sends my heart into overdrive. When I turn, I come face to face with a masked figure—tall, dressed in a black trench coat, holding an icepick.

 

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This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. I ate too much garbage at dinner and now I’m hallucinating. I back into Brooklyn and McKayla but Cody stands firm in front of us. A barrier between her friends and a possible killer.

“You—you can’t hurt us.” All she’s got for a weapon is the spear she used to roast her marshmallow, but she wields it like she’s going to impale this guy.

The masked figure’s shoulders shake, like he’s laughing. Then he lunges, and bright red blood sprays from Cody’s body as he tears out her throat. She falls to the ground in a gurgling heap, and a scream rips from my lips.

This is real. I’m not imaging this, and we’re going to die.

“Run!” Brooklyn grabs my hand and we sprint into the night, McKayla close on our heels. The humidity sticks to my skin and a line of sweat rolls down my back. I choke on the heavy scent of fish and mulch, and branches cut into my face as we sprint through the woods. I risk a glance over my shoulder. The Icepick Killer limps ever forward, but he grows smaller as we put space between us.

“Should we—get help?” I gasp.

“Working on it.” Brooklyn veers left and I follow.

McKayla skids up beside me, tears streaming down her face. “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die.”

If we weren’t running for our lives, I would stop and kiss her. I would tell her it’s going to be okay, and when this is over, I want to take her out. I want to tell her these things, but I can’t. I don’t know if it’ll be okay. I don’t know how this story ends.

“This way.” Brooklyn pulls me through the tree line and we tumble out in front of the counselors’ cabin. Brook pounds on the door, and screams, “Help! Let us in!”

The whispering wind is the only reply.

McKayla tries to rip open the door but—“It’s locked. Where the hell are they?”

“Out,” Brooklyn groans. “I heard them at dinner, talking about drinking themselves stupid. I thought they were kidding.”

Damn it. “We need a payphone or something. Isn’t there anywhere on this stupid campsite with cell reception?”

“The hill.” McKayla points to a smallish mountain on the far side of the lake. “If we can reach the top, we might get a bar or two.”

“We only need one to call the police.” I pull my cell from my pocket and press the home screen. “Hurry. My battery’s almost dead.”

“Of course it is.” Brooklyn shakes her head and glares at me. “I hope you’re happy.”

“What the hell?” I ask. “Why would you even say that?”

Brook shoves her finger into my chest. “You wanted a memorable time. You brought this on us.”

I open my mouth to argue, but she’s right. With all my pouting I basically asked the universe to mess us up. I wanted this to be my last camping trip, and now I might just get my wish.

 

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We half-jog-half-run, hugging the side of the lake as we make our way towards the hill. Brooklyn runs in front, me in the middle, and McKayla in the rear. As we pass a cluster of trees, something rustles in the bushes. A chill crawls up my spine. Then the Icepick Killer lunges and pulls McKayla into his arms.

She screams until he covers her mouth and drags her backwards, her eyes wide and wet.

“No!” I reach for her but Brooklyn pulls me back. “Let me go.”

“So he can kill you too? I don’t think so.”

McKayla’s scream pierces the night, and then the Icepick Killer emerges, wiping blood from his hook.

Rage boils in my gut. I want to tear his eyes out, and break his neck, but Brooklyn tugs me away, screaming, “It’s too late! Come on!”

I clench my teeth and sprint after her. She leaps over boulders, ducks under branches, but try as I might, I struggle to keep up.  I trip over my feet and great, heaving sobs rack my lungs. McKayla is gone. She’s dead, and it’s all my fault. I force myself to run.

We pass a trail marked ‘Sunshine Springs’, and Brooklyn pulls up short. She grabs me by the shoulders, and says, “The storage closet.”

“What?”

“I just remembered, there’s a landline in the storage closet. I snuck in there with a hot counselor last year and—ugh, we don’t have time for this. Just follow me.” Brook darts down the path.

The moon climbs higher in the sky and despite the quiet, screams still ring in my ears. Cody, gone. McKayla, gone. I glance over my shoulder—the Icepick Killer is nowhere in sight. But I doubt we’ve lost him. He’s probably limping in the woods even now. Smelling out our trail. Planning his next move.

At the end of the trail sits a crumbling wooden building. Brook shoves the door open with her shoulder and we’re met with utter darkness. I hold up my cell for light, but it’s weak—already on low battery mode. The dusty room hosts a million different camp things. Brooms, mops, and buckets. A torn up volleyball net. Rows of deflating basketballs, and piles of canned goods. Brook feels her way towards a desk draped with a tarp, cluttered with old paint cans, and—“A phone!” Relief blooms in my chest. One step closer to safety.

Brook picks up the receiver and spins the rotary dial. Nine. The thing squeaks and sputters as it pulls back to zero. “Come on. Come on.” One. An eternity passes before it returns to zero. Before Brook can pull it to one again, something scratches outside. The sound of a hook grating against wood.

“He’s here,” I whimper.

Brook shoves me under the desk and follows me in. We crouch, hidden behind the tarp, our breaths labored, and my body convulses with shock. He’s here. There’s only one door and— it creaks open. “Shit.” Brook covers her mouth and her eyes well with tears.

Maybe he doesn’t know we’re in here. Maybe he’ll look around and leave. If we just sit quiet enough… The Icepick Killer lurches through the room, his shoes scraping the floor with an uneven gait. Thump. Draaaag. Thump. Draaag. Closer, then farther. Then closer again. The door creaks. Then closes.

I hold my breath. Ten seconds. Twenty.

Brook wipes her eyes, then says, “I think he’s—”

A hand shoots under the table and drags her out.

“No!” I scream and launch myself at her. I grab her arms, and she holds to my elbows, but the Icepick Killer grasps her waist in a vicelike grip. He backs up towards the rear of the storage room, away from the door. If I can get her loose, we can make a run for it. Sweat beads on my forehead, and I bite my lip. “I’ve got you.”

Tears stream from Brook’s dirt-stained face. “Let me go, Paige.”

“Never.” I shake my head. Behind Brook, the Icepick Killer’s shoulders bounce. He’s laughing at us. “You son of a bit—”

“Let go, now!” Brook wails, and she kicks me away.

I thud to the floor with a jolt of pain, splinters embedding themselves in my palms and cheek. I rear up and yell, “Why?”

“Save yourself.” Brook claws at her attacker, but he raises the icepick and—I can’t watch.

Brook’s strangled cries choke my ears as I stumble from the storage room, and into the humid night. I jog around the building, one hand on the wooden walls for support, but then I pass a window, and it splatters with bright red liquid. I vomit on my shoes, and scream, because it doesn’t matter anymore. The Icepick Killer knows where I am.

He already killed Cody,

and McKayla,

and now Brooke.

Even if I somehow survive this night, I will never be safe again. Never feel safe again. Not outside, not among friends. Not even in my own mind. No matter how tonight ends, the Icepick Killer has already won. Of the five Boondock girls, I’m the only one—wait.

“Jess.” I wipe my mouth and frantically look around. There has to be sign. A path.

There. A wooden sign stamped, “This way to the cabins, Campers!” I sprint down the dirt trail, my ribs yelling in protest as my lungs swell against them. The counselor said the Icepick killer would take out all of the girls in cabin 13. And while he’s been chasing four of us, Jess has been stuck in bed with poison ivy all night. She didn’t watch the others die. She might still be alive, and if I can keep her alive, then one of us can make it out of this nightmare in one piece. Unscathed. Unscarred.

My heart pounds, and the air whooshes past me as I plead with my feet to take me to Jess—faster, faster, faster. My face is already cut and I don’t even wince when I’m scratched by a handful of low-hanging branches. Blood drips down my cheeks, dribbles into my open mouth. I run faster still.

The moon-dappled path breaks before me and I tumble in front of cabin 8. Across the way is cabin 9. Next to that cabin 11, and then—“Cabin 13.”

I practically sob with relief when my fingers catch on the handle and I wrench open the door. The bug-zappers light up the beds in nearly perfect squares through the windows. Aside from my wheezing and the occasional zap of an insect’s life ending, it’s quiet.

“Jess?” I step forward and the floorboards creak under my weight. “Jess, where are you?”

My eyes adjust to the remaining dark, and I gasp. Her bed is empty. Like she was never even here. But where has she been all night?

“Jess?”

The door creaks open and my shoulders deflate. Somehow, some way, he’s here again. And now there’s nowhere for me to run, and nothing to run for. He probably got Jess before she reached the nurse. I whirl around and come face to face with my killer.

“You want me?” I hold out my arms, reveal my chest, and tip my head back. “Come and get me.”

He raises his icepick. I close my eyes. Any second now, steal will meet flesh. My blood with cover the floorboards, and the life will drain out of me. Will it hurt for long? Will my mother forgive me? Whose face will be the last to flash behind my eyes before the darkness overcomes me? I lick my lips and think of McKayla’s. It’s as good a face as any.

The pick rests against my chest, directly over my sternum. Cold. Hard. No pressure though. No fight behind it.

“What are you waiting for?” I ask.

“Open your eyes, brat.”

My eyes whip open. Jess grins above me, dressed all in black, holding the icepick like a lollipop to her lips.

Behind her stands Cody.

And McKayla.

And Brooklyn.

“What the hell?” I cradle my head in my hands, as they all burst into laughter. “I saw you die! I saw—”

“What we wanted you to see.” Brooklyn puts her arms around me and squeezes. “Did you really think we were getting chased by a serial killer?”

I shove out of her arms and fold my own. “I’m losing my mind. I swear. How did you do this?”

Cody holds up an empty bottle of corn syrup. “Stole this from the mess hall. Mixed with ketchup and it looks a lot like—”

“Spraying blood,” I say. Which is why she wasn’t facing me when ‘the killer’ got her.

“And you never technically saw me die.” McKayla kisses my cheek, and I’d shove her away too if I weren’t so damned relieved to see her alive.

I turn to Brooklyn, all filthy but beaming, and shake my head. “The window of the storage room was covered in blood. Your blood.”

“Red paint, actually.” Brook picks at her hair and grimaces. “Maybe we should have thought of something else. This isn’t going to come out easily.”

“Red looks good on you,” Cody says and blows her a kiss.

“Thank you, darling.” Brook opens her arms to me again, asking for a hug this time, and I let myself fall into her embrace. “We just wanted your first time at camp to be memorable.”

“You scared the hell out of me.”

“I know.”

“I might be traumatized for life.”

“Nah. You’re resilient.” Brook exhales and starts laughing again. “You smell atrocious. Like sweat and pure fear.”

I laugh too. “Could you blame me if I wet myself?”

Brook cringes. “No, but we seriously need to get cleaned up.”

“Any one up for a midnight swim?” McKayla peels off her tank top and waggles her eyebrows. She’s still wearing that leopard print bikini.

“I’m game,” Jess says, and she shrugs out of her coat, revealing rash-free arms. The faker.

“Must be sweltering in that getup,” I say.

“It was.”

Cody opens the door to the cabin, bows, and gestures with her hands to the outdoors. “Ladies.”

McKayla and Brook link arms with me and we traipse into the moist night, with Jess and Cody following behind. The moon lights up the path towards the lake, empty, save for a lone figure swaying in the breeze. Upon seeing us, it raises a hand. In it is clenched an icepick.

I scoff. “Come on, guys. I’m not falling for this again.”

But around me the girls have fallen statue still.

“Guys?” I look at Brook as her mouth falls open in fear.

“Not us,” she whimpers. “Not a joke this time.”

The figure with the icepick looms near. We should run, but my feet won’t budge. It tilts its face towards the moon—no mask this time—and I glimpse the face of a flame-scarred madman.

He smiles. “Goodbye, Boondock girls.”

 

About the Author

Jamie-Smith-Author-Pic

Jymie was born in southern California, which instilled in her a love of sun, surf, and all things beautiful and outdoorsy.

In college, she had a full scholarship to study Theater Arts, but changed her major to Library Information Technology after she got sick of the drama in drama.

She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband (when he’s not on rig), four children, and pet rabbit: Bugsy. (Although they’re debating getting a pet fox and a pug, to be named Sherlock and Watson.)

When she’s not homeschooling, working, reading or writing, you might find her shaking her groove thing in a Zumba class, baking cupcakes, or taking her brood to enjoy anything and everything fun within a fifty mile radius of their home.

(This paragraph is reserved. One day, it will *hopefully* talk about my books, and my fabulous agent, that I haven’t met yet.)

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August is here! And so are the screams!

Below you will find a list of the stories and artwork scheduled for the summer of screams. I’m still working on some of the scheduling, so please check back often. I will also include a link to this list on each individual story posting.

Feel free to like, share, and comment on each! We’re so happy you’re here.

We can’t wait to make you scream!

 

#SummerofScreams

 
 Click on the art or story name and it will take you to the work. The links wont work until their respective posting date listed.

 

08/03/17

Beware the Icepick Killer

by Jamie Smith

 

08/04/17

The Shortest Night

by Ken Mooney

 

08/07/17

Shadow Lake

by Cait Greer

 

08/08/17

Alice

by Michelle Ceasar Davis

 

08/09/17

The Secret of Moths

by Rebecca Waddell

 

08/10/17

No Camping Beyond This Point 

by S.P. McConnell

 

08/15/17

Deja Vu

by Kat Daemon

 

08/16/17

Blink Fly

by Victoria Nations

 

08/17/17

The Boathouse

by Brian LeTendre

 

08/18/19

Camp Crystal

by Vanessa Rodriguez

 

 

Still scheduling:

Erica Secor

Ryan Bartlett

Jolene Haley

Jamie Adams
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Debbie Oliveira
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Mary Rajotte
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Danielle McKinney
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Kelly deVos
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Amy Giuffrida
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Kathleen Palm
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Rena Olsen
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Kristin Rivers
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Jasmine Brown
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Ken Curtis
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Kira Butler
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Talynn Lynn
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Midnight romances, sunscreen, and ancient curses,

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