“Dew Drop Inn”

Bienvenue Press is pleased to announce the first place winner in our annual Halloween Flash Fiction contest. This story is by Chelsi Arnold and J D Boudreaux. Bienvenue Press would like to thank everyone who entered this year’s contest. The entries were outstanding and our judges had a very hard time deciding.

“Dew Drop Inn”

Underneath the white glow of the half-moon, a cool breeze raised the small hairs on the back of Nick’s neck.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” he grumbled.

Oblivious to Nick’s sullen tone, Jacqueline gave him a wide smile. “You’re the one who suggested our weekly date nights.” Tapping his chest with two tickets, her grin morphed into a mischievous smirk. “And since it was my turn to choose… I. Chose. This.”

“The Ghastly & Ghostly Gatlinburg Tour isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”

“It’s Halloween week. It’s perfect.” Jacqueline placed a hand on one of Nick’s broad shoulders. “Don’t tell me you’re scared…”

Before Nick could respond, an elderly man hobbled forward.

“If you’ll follow me, we’ll begin the tour.”

Nick and Jacqueline glanced around the vacant area.

“Sir, did no one else sign up for the tour?” Jacqueline asked.

Ignoring her question, the man began shuffling toward an abandoned hotel at the end of the street.

Just as Jacqueline started to follow behind the man, Nick grabbed her arm.

“I don’t know about this Jacqueline. The guy’s a little too Addams Family if you ask me.”

Rolling her eyes, Jacqueline laughed. “Come on. You’re a tough Cajun Navy guy. Don’t tell me you’re scared of a little old man.” Looping her arm through Nick’s, she tugged him toward the hotel. “This will be fun.”

The man stopped just outside the arch of the hotel’s entrance. “The Dew Drop Inn. It was once one of the most sought-after hotels in the country. Presidents, actors, authors, and artists all graced these halls.” The man glanced behind him at the chipped front door. “Begun in 1933, its first guest checked in during the same week as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was established in June of 1934. In 1938, the first death happened at this inn. The promising author, Evan Jensen, who was staying here to complete his latest novel, tragically died when he stumbled down the stairs one morning. Following his death, every year hence, a fatal accident would claim at least one guest. In 1988, after a group of motorcyclists passed away in a horrific elevator malfunction, the Dew Drop Inn was finally closed down.”

Nick leaned in and spoke softly into Jacqueline’s ear. “Fifty years and fifty-plus deaths. About time, don’t you think?”

Jacqueline elbowed Nick in his ribs.

The elderly man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small leather journal with the letters EJ burned into it. His fingers traced over the letters as he whispered, “It became known as the place you can check in any time you like, but a place you can never leave.”
Nick wanted to laugh, but he put his face closer to Jacqueline’s once more.

“No, I’m pretty sure that’s the Hotel California.”

She was about to send Nick a more severe message with her elbow, but a cold blast of air whipped Jacqueline’s hair in her face at the same time the hotel’s front doors burst open. Screaming, Jacqueline grabbed Nick’s hand and ran as fast as she could down the street and away from the hotel.

Safely under a streetlamp, Jacqueline started to laugh. “Man… that guy deserves an Oscar.”

Nick chuckled. “He was pretty creepy, but yes, you have to give him credit for staying in character the whole time.”

As Nick and Jacqueline recovered, a group of people wandered over. Hearing their breathless chuckles, a young woman approached them.

“Are you two, Nick and Jacqueline?” At their nod, the woman continued. “We waited to start the tour, but after twenty minutes, we figured you weren’t coming.”
Nick and Jacqueline shared a confused look.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I thought we were on the tour?” Jacqueline questioned.

The woman shook her head. “You missed the beginning. We start the tour at the old post office on the other end of town. This is the end, but don’t worry… we save the best for last. The Dew Drop Inn.”

The woman pulled out two brochures and handed one to each of them. Jacqueline gasped.

“Who is that?” Her finger shook as she pointed at a black and white picture of the old man who had taken her and Nick to the hotel.

“That is Evan Jensen. The author. In 1938, he was the first death ever recorded at the Dew Drop Inn.”

Social Media Links:

Chelsi Arnold

Twitter: @ChelsiArnold
Facebook: @ChelsiAnneleArnold 

JD Boudreaux

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJDBoudreaux/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JD_Boudreaux

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“One Phone Call”

Bienvenue Press is pleased to announce the second place winner in our annual Halloween Flash Fiction contest. This story is by USA Today Bestseller Molly Zenk and is titled “One Phone Call”.

“One Phone Call”

October 31st. The day I disappeared. It isn’t one of those “kid snatched while trick or treating” stories you read about and see on the news. Nope. Not me. One minute I’m there, the next I’m gone. I can’t explain it either.

I see and hear what’s happening around me but it’s dim – like watching a movie with the brightness turned down. No matter how much I scream and shout, no one hears me. No one rescues me. I watch Mom and Dad cry on the news. They clutch my picture and beg for whoever snatched me to return me to my loving family. I watch the candle light vigil held in my honor a day after my disappearance. Funny how it falls on All Saints Day. I watch search party after search party comb the area they call my “last known location.” I can’t tell them it’s useless. They’ll never find me there.

Years – and I mean years – pass. Time doesn’t matter to me, but it does to everyone else. The missing posters all fade and blow away. There’s no more candle light vigils. The town saves those for other kids. Mom and Dad put away my picture. I’m just a fading memory. It’s then that the impossible happens.

I’m allowed one phone call.

I don’t have a phone or even need one where I’m at. I just think and it happens. I think Mom and Dad’s phone into ringing and it does. Mom answers.

“Hello?”

“Mom?” I know I sound the same as the day I disappeared. That’s the beauty of where I’m at. Time means nothing and no one ages. “Mom, it’s me.”
Mom drops the phone. I watch her scramble to pick it up. Her hand shakes. “Caelyn?”

“Mom, it’s me,” I say. “Come and get me, Mom. I’m ready to come home.”

“Caelyn? How is this possible?”

“Come and get me, Mom. I’m ready to come home,” I repeat.

“No.” Mom shakes her head. “No. This isn’t Caelyn. It can’t be Caelyn.”“Come and get me, Mom. I’m ready to come home.”

“No! No! This can’t be Caelyn!”

I watch Mom pace back and forth, up and down. Each step brings more and more agitation to her face, hands, and feet – every spot where the truth leaks out through body language.

“Come and get me, Mom. I’m ready to come home.”

“You’re not Caelyn. Caelyn is dead. I killed her myself five years ago.”

Mom sounds almost triumphant, but that won’t last. It never does. You see, she didn’t count on Dad overhearing our one phone call… but I did. Finally. Finally, I’ll be able to go home.

Come and get me, Dad. I’m ready to come home.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMollyZenk    

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnsinkableMoZe

 

“Halloween Justice”

Bienvenue Press is pleased to announce the third place winner in our annual Halloween Flash Fiction contest. This story is by Sharon Marchisello and is titled “Halloween Justice”.

Halloween Masquerade Ball (1)

“Halloween Justice”

by Sharon Marchisello

No one in the neighborhood put on a better Halloween display than Diana Hunter. Every year, she added new decorations to scare young children and delight older trick-or-treaters. Last year, she hung a two-foot black velveteen spider from a wispy net between the birch trees; the net’s threads were so fine, trespassers who cut across her grass became entangled in the creature’s web. The mechanical skeleton who cackled maniacally when he popped up from the lawn’s tombstone at irregular intervals was a long-time favorite. A steam machine and haunting music pierced with an occasional scream enhanced the atmosphere.

This year, Diana had purchased a full-size brass coffin, a model being discontinued by the local funeral home. She was still trying to decide where to place it for maximum effect.

Before her husband’s death, the Hunter household never celebrated holidays. Harvey turned off the porchlight every Halloween, and if a trick-or-treater had the audacity to ring the doorbell, he’d bellow, “Go away if you know what’s good for you.” Once some pre-teen boys pelted the house with eggs and Harvey caught them in the act. They never tried that trick again.

No one liked Harvey much. Diana never appeared in public without Harvey so no one knew a lot about her. Sometimes her face appeared bruised. When the police delivered the news of Harvey’s demise in a one-car accident along a lonely, dark country road one Halloween night, she showed no emotion. “Bad things happen to bad people,” was all she had to say.

Townsfolk speculated that Diana had had something to do with Harvey’s death—some abnormalities were discovered in the braking system of his car—but no one could find any proof. Despite the rumors about Harvey’s affair with his secretary, and the fact that Diana had recently purchased a large insurance policy on his life, with herself as beneficiary, the inquiry was quickly closed and Harvey’s death ruled an unfortunate accident.

The next year, the over-the-top holiday decorations began. Diana donned a witch costume every Halloween, complete with a black, pointed hat, a wart-covered nose, and green face make-up. She offered brave trick-or-treaters cups of her “witches brew” which was really only ginger ale mixed with orange sherbet.

Also new to the décor this Halloween was Darth, Diana’s one-eyed black cat. Darth had lost his eye, large patches of his fur, and part of his tail last summer when a delinquent gang of neighborhood boys decided it would be fun to douse a stray cat with gasoline and then set it on fire.

Diana had driven by just as the boys were running away. She thought she recognized Colin Chesterfield among them, but when she reported the crime to the police, they questioned Colin and released him after his parents provided an alibi. Diana rescued the cat and rushed him to the veterinarian, who recommended euthanasia. But Diana insisted on saving Darth. After thousands of dollars for surgery and months of recuperation, Darth pulled through and became Diana’s loyal pet. His near-death experience had taught him to become an excellent judge of character. “Bad things happen to bad people,” she told Darth. “You know.”

Anna Lee, Diana’s ten-year-old granddaughter, helped her string the bat and ghost mobiles and line the front door with black crepe paper.

“Have you tried on your costume yet?” asked Diana. Anna Lee loved to dress as a princess, and Diana had spent weeks sewing her the most beautiful princess gown.

Anna Lee frowned. “I don’t want to go trick-or-treating this year. I just want Halloween to be over.”

“But I made you a new princess gown.”

“I wish you hadn’t. I can’t do it again.”

Diana winced. She knew Anna Lee had been scarred by last Halloween’s fiasco. One block from home, after Anna Lee had spent a fun night trick-or-treating with her friends, Colin Chesterfield and his buddies had ambushed them. The boys had drenched the girls with shaving cream, stolen all their candy, and left them crying in the street. During the attack, Colin had pushed Anna Lee so hard she’d tripped over her princess costume, falling onto the concrete and breaking her arm. Colin and his friends had just laughed and run away.

“What if I told you Colin won’t be a problem this year?” Diana reached for her granddaughter’s hand as Anna Lee stepped down from the ladder. “I saw his mother in the supermarket last week, and she told me they’re moving to Florida. They should be on the road by now.”

Anna Lee brightened. “Really? Colin is gone?”

With a nod, Diana said, “Go put on your princess gown. Have a wonderful time tonight.”
When Anna Lee had kissed her and gone, Diana turned to her new brass coffin. Where to put you? On display in the center of the living room, or hidden in a corner?

As she wheeled it into position, Darth rubbed against her legs. Faint scratching came from inside the coffin. Darth growled. Diana shrugged, checked the latches. From a nearby credenza, she retrieved a solid black tablecloth, which she draped over the coffin. That pitiful noise will stop soon. “Bad things happen to bad people,” she assured the cat.

sharonmarchSharon Marchisello is the author of Going Home (Sunbury Press, 2014) a murder mystery inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her second mystery, Secrets of the Galapagos, will be released later this year. An active member of Atlanta Sisters in Crime, she contributed a short story to their 1999 anthology, Mystery, Atlanta Style. Her latest short story, “The Wrong Coffee Shop”, can be found in the 2018 Darkhouse Books anthology, Shhhh… Murder! Sharon earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and has written travel articles, corporate training manuals, and book reviews, many of which have appeared in the Killer Nashville online magazine. She also writes a blog about personal finance, Countdown to Financial Fitness, and self-published a personal finance book in 2018, Live Well, Grow Wealth.

Social Media:

facebook.com/SLMarchisello/
https://twitter.com/SLMarchisello
https://smarchisello.wordpress.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4297807.Sharon_Marchisello
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonmarchisello/

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2019 Halloween Flash Fiction Contest

Halloween Masquerade Ball (1)

Bienvenue Press is hosting its 3rd Annual Halloween Flash Fiction Contest! The contest will open August 5th and remain open until September 30th.

Entry and Submission Guidelines:
*Only original, unpublished flash fiction is eligible for this contest.
*Entries must be 1,000 words or less.
*Stories must have a Halloween setting.
*Send submissions in the body of an email to submissions@bienvenuepress.com.
*Include your bio, social media links, and picture of yourself with your submission

What Winners Receive:
*2nd and 3rd place and an honorable mention will be posted on our blog with your bio and links.
*1st place will win $50 (USD). (You must have a PayPal account.)

Questions? Email alvincent@bienvenuepress.com

Brave by Chelsi Arnold is 99 Cents!

Are you looking for a great read this 4th of July? Check out the first book, Brave, in Chelsi Arnold’s Sisterhood series! It’s only 99 cents for a limited time!

Brave (1)

Four women dared to defy the rules…

Twenty-two-year-old Greer Connally believes life is about choices and consequences. When she is drafted with the first group of women in U.S. history, she is constantly challenged by those that neither want nor respect the women draftees.

Greer quickly learns teamwork is the only way to endure the mental and physical abuse of training. She and her teammates must find a way to overcome their differences and learn how to work with one another in order to survive BUD/S.

With the country divided, tensions mount as protests and terrorist attacks break-out across the world. Willing to sacrifice anything for their country, Greer and her teammates embark on a top-secret mission. But when the mission becomes compromised, Greer’s loyalties are quickly tested.

Forced to choose between the lives of her teammates or defying a direct order, Greer must decide which consequence she is willing to live with before time runs out for everyone.

Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2S8V8Ik

Learn more about the women of the Sisterhood Series and join our reader’s group! Chelsi is taking over this week!

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Friday Reads for 99 Cents!

 

 

99 cents!

Looking for a great new read (or two)? We have several books for 99 cents right now at Bienvenue Press. There’s a little something for everyone, so scroll on through and check them out!

  1. Courage, by Chelsi Arnold

 

CourageeBookNo matter the odds, and no matter the risk, they will defend their country…

To the death.

Greer and her Navy SEAL sisters are willing to do whatever it takes to save what’s left of their country. After losing one of their team members during a mission, the pain and anger they feel fuels their need to avenge their best friend’s death.

Unfortunately, an unwelcome and untimely suspension has put their plan for retribution on hold, forcing them to stand back and watch the country they love fall apart.

But not for long.

Buy today to read this story about sisterhood, bravery, and sacrifice.

Read FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/32wCTkM

2. Penny for Your Thoughts by J D Boudreaux

PennyeBook

One random act of kindness. One prayer for a miracle. Two lives changed forever.

Penny has her future all planned out. Her new job as a reporter is the first step toward building a successful life for herself. Unfortunately, her first day on the job isn’t going as she imagined it would. On the side of the highway with a flat tire and open trunk all she can do is silently pray for a miracle…and then gets one.

Alex likes to think he’s a good guy—the type of person who loves to help others. A Good Samaritan. So naturally when he sees a woman stuck at the side of the road, looking all helpless his first instinct is to stop and help.

Little did he know that this one act of kindness would steer both their lives in an entirely different direction.

FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2r1V5CD

3. Tendrils of Passion, by Carrie Dalby

TOPeBook (1)

Fall has come to the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, bringing chilling winds of change to Seacliff Cottage.

Settled into her employment as Mrs. Melling’s companion, Magdalene has accepted the proposal of the Mellings’ chauffeur Douglas Campbell, and is happily anticipating their new life together. That is until temptation reappears with Alexander Melling’s return the day after her wedding.

As if triggered by Magdalene’s tumultuous emotions, demonic activity flares once more. Those within the walls of Seacliff Cottage must battle against their own passions as nefarious possessions call forth the longings they’ve fought to keep hidden.

Can Father Claudio De Fiore cleanse the house from the storm of evil ravaging it? Or will exposed secrets crumble the very foundation the manor was built upon?

PREORDER for 99 Cents!

Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2qy96em

4. Teacher Tattletales by Lee St. John

TeacherTTeBook (1)Lee St. John tried really hard not to follow in her parents’ footsteps to become a teacher, but she was sucked into the education vortex anyway.

Except for first grade, Lee has encountered and captured the ridiculous side of education. From elementary to college, she has seen it all.

Anyone who has ever stepped foot inside a school room can confirm there are ludicrous moments. And Lee reveals some of them here. She gets an A+ in classroom comedy.

This is classroom comedy fever…and it’s contagious.

Read FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2YJRNY1

 

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Call for Submissions

 

finallyhome2

Bienvenue Press is pleased to announce a Christmas-themed anthology for charity benefiting animal rescue. What are we looking for? Romance stories featuring a rescued animal. These stories can be any genre of romance (contemporary, historical, paranormal, etc.). However, there needs to be a HEA. Some stories will have a celebration or party included. You are welcome to add this to your submission as well. The anthology will be published in December 2019.

DEADLINE: June 30, 2019
WORD COUNT: 5,000-10,000 words
PAYMENT: This is an anthology for charity. Contributors will receive a Digital copy (mobi, epub, or pdf) of the anthology. Print copies will be available to the contributors on request, but given the nature of this project, we would hope you would be willing to purchase a print copy.

The first page should include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and pseudonym (if writing under one). Send submissions as a word attachment to submissions@bienvenuepress.com. Include Finally Home and submission title in the subject line.

No royalties will be paid for story submissions. All authors retain their rights to their own stories and are welcome to reference other work, contact information, etc.

Honor Thy Mother

Alexis Bourque-Lally stops by the front porch for an installment of our Summer Blogs segment. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this poignant memoir about her mother.

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“Honor Thy Mother”

“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. “
-JK Rowling

On the morning of November 22nd in 2015, I woke up early. Earlier than I had my entire life, without someone having woken me up. I showered, got dressed, and did my make-up, even though I knew that it would smear off anyways once I began crying. I did it because I knew it is what my mom would have done. She was strong like that. I sat down with a pen and a paper and stared at it for around two hours to write down what I would share with everyone at the funeral. Nothing. How could I still have nothing to say? It was in that moment that a ping from my phone let me know that I had a message. “Oh great, more condolences and stupid words from people who have not a clue what I feel,” I said to myself as I rolled my eyes. I opened the Facebook messenger app to see a message from a cousin of mine, Sonya. As I opened the message and began to read, tears came to my eyes.

“Alexis, I have been following the family page and your page, and I now know about the difficult decision that had to be made. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for you. You may be numb now, so I hesitated to reach out to you just yet. But for now, let me just say: I know we don’t know each other well, and when I was close with your mom, you weren’t born yet. I won’t search for the “right” things to say about her. What I will say is this: I have noticed for quite some time that among our family, you are special. You have a deeper understanding of love and of the world than most, especially for your age. I don’t have to know the relationship you had with your mom to know how proud she must have been to have you as a daughter. I am the mother of a daughter, and I know the special bond that moms and daughters share. I know the love of a mother, and now that you are a mother, I know you understand it too.”

In that moment, I felt peace. Instead of feeling numb and pushing the pain back like I had been doing for the last week, I let it flood me. Thankfully Brandon and my son were still asleep. I cried, screamed, and cursed everyone, God included. But when I was done, I realized something. My mother was still with me. She is a part of who I am. I am like her in the way my eyes shine green when the sunlight hits them, in the way that I nurture and love my own children. I am like her in the way that I write when I am sad and sing at the top of my lungs when I am happy. She taught me how to make sure my smile always reaches my ears, because there is never a reason to frown so much, and how to always keep my faith in God, even if I do not understand him. In that moment, I realized that my grief was never going away. It was a part of who I am now. I realized that instead of fighting it or letting it consume me, I could let it coexist within me.

My mother was an alcoholic since she was 15 years old, if the stories told about her childhood prove to be true. She was not a bad mother, nor was she a bad person. She raised her kids and raised them well. We’ve all turned out just fine, never suffering neglect or abuse, and are all relatively successful. But, being an alcoholic from the time you are 15 until you are 44 will have some long-term health effects. My mother suffered from a disease known as cirrhosis of the liver. Her cirrhosis was amplified by Hepatitis, which was contracted from a contaminated wound-vac she had received after having a surgery on a perforated ulcer. Combine that with the lack of coordination a person has when they are intoxicated and there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. She fell down a lot, suffering two broken hips, which often left her bed-ridden. Since she stayed in bed a lot when her health was not what it should be, bed sores would break out all over her body. In the end, it wasn’t her cirrhosis, her hepatitis, or a nasty fall that caused her organs to shut down, leaving her in a coma on life support. It was MRSA, a staph infection on steroids that she contracted through one of her bed sores, that took my mother from this earth.

I still have days where I am mad at the entire world, especially people who can call their mother. I am still sad that my mom missed so many events just in the two short years she has been gone. Some days, I still do not want to leave my bed, much less my house. When I feel this way, I close my eyes and I see her face smiling at me. It serves as a reminder that my grief is not who I am. It is a part of me, but it is not me, and it never has to be me. Instead, I lift my head, smile a little bigger, and chase my dreams. I laugh when I am happy, I cry when I am sad, and I honor my mother by trying my best to be a better me every single day.

That is the mark she has left on me.

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Halloween Uncertainty

And the winner is…

“Halloween Uncertainty” by James Hancock. The story is about two young women who go to a Halloween Party during Hurricane Helga, which has arrived in the Gulf Coast after hurricane season. Not all guests are in theme, and one guest comes uninvited. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Halloween Masquerade Ball

 

HALLOWEEN UNCERTAINTY

“Hurricane Helga is expected to reach category five with gusts reaching…”

“Hey, turn that up.”

Nose buried in her phone, Alice says, “Huh?” Without looking up, she says, “Are you still on for the party? I got this great Hermione costume.”

“Shh!”
“…is projected to make landfall near New Orleans.” Standing on a white sandy beach, the man on the television waves a hand at the cloudless sky and says, “It’s hard to imagine, but this one looks a lot like Katrina. FEMA recommends…”

“Yeah right,” says Alice, taking her face from Facebook and muting the television. “It’ll go to Texas just like the last one. And anyway, who heard of a Cat Five Hurricane this late in the year? I didn’t spend thirty bucks on this costume to go running at the first sign of rain.”

“Alice, the storm is already in the gulf. It’s gotta land somewhere and you saw the cone of…”

“Oh Julie. Cone of uncertainty?” Alice rolls her eyes. “The key is un-cer-tain-ty. Now, did you order that Nimbus Two-thousand like we talked about?”

“It’s just a broom, but anyway I don’t want to go in a Harry Potter costume. I want to go as something scary. Halloween is supposed to be scary.”

***

“Nice, Julie,” says Alice. “Everyone is going to be in costume, and here you are going in that.”

“Hello,” replies Julie in a musical tone batting away Alice’s accusing finger, “I am in costume.” She flips the hockey mask down over her face and adjusts the elastic strap. “It even comes with a machete.” She lifts the plastic blade to the side of her face. It’s dripping with fake blood. “Come on. Let’s get moving before the storm really kicks into gear.”

“The forecast has the worst of it going west, just like I said.” Alice presses the buzzer and holds it for a few seconds. “It’s Hermione and Jason. Let us in.”

“Ahh,” says Julie. “So now you believe the cone of uncertainty.”

“Shut up,” Alice begins to say, but she’s cut off by the speaker.

“Door’s unlocked and the keg’s tapped,” replies the voice. “Third door on the left.”

Professor Snape answers the door with Dumbledore at his side. Red and green scarves mill around with black robes. “What is this,” asks Julie, “a Harry Potter theme?”

Alice points to the invitation before she hands it over to Snape. “Uh, yeah. Can’t you read?” Without waiting for an answer, she says, “Whatever. I’m going to go talk to Longbottom over there.”

“Which one?” Julie points to the pair of Gryffindors across the room.

“The cute one.”

***

Julie leaves her friend – is left by her friend – and ventures over to the corner to join one of her kindred spirits. “Hey, wallflower,” she says. “I’m Jason.”

“Luna Lovegood.” The blonde girl holds out a hand. “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a themed party. If I’d have had my way, I would’ve come as something scary like Pennywise.”

It’s an intriguing conversation, but lightning crackles and thunder echoes in the night. The lights flicker, surge, and go out and good-natured, high-pitched screams fill the party. Someone stumbles with an “oof” and an “ow” and someone else exclaims raucously, “Party foul!”

This is met by the tentative laughter of twenty-somethings who are drunk and not used to being away from home during storms. Through the laughter comes the shriek of a Hufflepuff pointing out the window. “Look!”

Close to the window that looks out onto the parking lot, Julie turns to do just that. The power is out everywhere, and she’s looking out into a world of blackness bleached intermittently by lightning flashes. A pale hockey mask is staring back at her.

Though they are separated by a thin pane of glass, a half-mesmerized and half-terrified Julie leans for a closer look. The ghostly mask opposite her does the same. She shifts to the right for a better angle, to the left, and the mask mirrors each movement. Staring intently, the ghastly vision lifts a bloody hatchet and raps the blade on the glass.

“What are you doing?” asks Luna. “Why are you taunting him?”

“Huh?” Julie steps away from the hot spray of whisper. “What?”

“Put that knife away. I’m going to call the cops.”

“Phones are down,” says someone else.

“Cell phone,” says Luna. “Still have signal.”

The lights come crashing on and everyone from Hogwarts is staring from the window to Julie. “It was just her reflection,” says a smirking Snape. “False alarm. Now, someone pass me another potion.”

***

The party starts up, if a little awkwardly. The chemistry has gone, as have Neville and Hermione.

“That’s it,” says Dumbledore. “Beer’s gone. You don’t have to go home, but….”

A loud, authoritative knock on the door interrupts the end of the party announcement.

“Police.”

“Sorry,” says Dumbledore after opening the door. “The lights went out and we had a bit of a scare. Turns out it was just Jason’s reflection in the window.” At this, he points at Julie standing in the corner with the other wallflower.

“Yeah,” says Luna. “I made the call but I didn’t think it went through. Sorry about that, officer.”

Staring down at her machete, Julie says quietly, “Not a hatchet.” Then louder, she screams, “Run!” At the same time, the officer flips down the hockey mask, adjusts the elastic strap, and pulls the bloody weapon from his belt.

James Hancock lives on the Gulf Coast with his family. In addition to other works, James published the short story “Reap Dance” in the bestselling horror anthology Secret Stairs, available on Amazon.

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Vampire Boss

This week is our second place winner! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy “Vampire Boss” by Michelle Presley.

Halloween Masquerade Ball

 

Vincenzo knew the sun was coming up. He had one last piece of business to deal with. He needed a human to take care of the rat in his organization before the feds got to him.

“Janice, can you get Big Al for me?” Janice got on the phone to find Big Al. Al materialized in the doorway not twenty minutes later.

“What can I do for you, boss?” Big Al was Vincenzo’s right hand. He was always there to handle what needed handling. “I need to you to get a message to Don Carlo over in Brooklyn. I need to meet with him. Tell him sundown tomorrow at Sparks.” Sparks was Don Carlo’s favorite steak house.

Vincenzo had to trust that Big Al would remember everything he told him. Nothing was ever written down unless it pertained to one of his legitimate businesses. After Al left, Vincenzo put some papers in the drawer of his desk then took off out the door at the speed of light. It was time for him to get under ground. Everyone knew Vincenzo never did business during daylight hours. Only a select few knew why.

***

The next night Big Al was waiting when Vincenzo surfaced. “So, is Don Carlo willing to meet?” He waited for Al to answer.

“Yea boss, he is willing to meet. He should be there now.” Vincenzo and Big Al left the brownstone that Vincenzo had been dwelling in for the last ten years. Every fifty to sixty years he had to move around. At this point in his eternity he was a crime boss in New York. He partnered with Don Carlo Costello to control the Burroughs. Don Carlo was one of only a handful of people who knew his true identity. When they first met, Carlo wasn’t sure he wanted to work with a vampire. Once Vincenzo agreed to the rules Carlo set down in order to work with him, Carlo wasn’t so hesitant. The biggest rule was that he couldn’t hunt in the Burroughs. Vincenzo agreed to go outside of New York. The agreement has held for the last nine years.

“Tell me what’s going on. Vince.” Carlo commanded

Carlo always used the American version of Vincenzo’s name. Every time it annoyed him.

“This Rocco guy is an associate in Gino’s crew. From what I am hearing, he’s been talking to the Fed’s. We really should handle this now. Per our agreement, I’m coming to you to get someone to take care of him. I don’t want to run the risk of a showdown with the F. B. I.”

“Honestly Vince, I think we should wait it out to see what happens. He may not know enough to do much damage. Reach out to Gino to see if he can tell you more about this guy.”

Vincenzo could feel the anger building. He knew Carlo wouldn’t do anything. It wasn’t one of his crews. Vincenzo on the other hand was convinced that this guy was going to make major trouble for him. He knew it was time to take matters in his own hands.

After leaving the sit down with Don Carlo, Vincenzo let the vampire part of him creep back in. How could he get rid of Carlo and this snitch without it coming back on him? With Halloween coming it could be easier than he thought.

Vincenzo met Big Al on the docks to discuss the issue. They agreed Halloween would be the perfect time, especially in the Burroughs. All the strange and unusual come out during this time if year. So, it wouldn’t matter about the agreement that was made. No one would know it was him.

***

Sun down Halloween. Vincenzo went to the office to handle some things before taking care of the bigger issues. Big Al was waiting on him.

“What are you doing here?”

“I have some news from a member of Gino’s crew. Apparently this Rocco character knows more than we thought. He met with a Fed earlier today” Before Big Al could say another word, Vincenzo flew out the window. Usually, he would use the door. Tonight, his anger was taking over. It was time to take care of business before things got anymore out of hand. When he reached Rocco’s apartment he decided to torment him first.

Rocco’s window was open so it was nothing to get in the apartment. Rocco didn’t see him. Vampires had a way of moving that humans couldn’t see.

Once Vincenzo was in, he slammed the window shut. Rocco jumped and grabbed his gun off the side table next to the chair he was sitting in. Vincenzo whipped around the room knocking books off the shelf, slamming cabinet doors. Rocco was spinning with fear. He kept calling out “Who’s there?” Vincenzo just smiled. When he finally had enough of playing with Rocco he landed perched on the counter that decided the living room from the kitchen.

“Oh Mr. Moretti, I’ve heard you have been a bad boy.”

Rocco was shaking and trying to stammer out a response.

“I ddon’t know what you are talking about.”

Vincenzo could feel the anger building again. “Don’t lie to me. I know you have been talking to the Feds. Now you are going to tell me exactly what you told them.”

“Don Vincenzo, I swear to you to you. I have talked to the Feds.”

Vincenzo didn’t want to give him another chance to answer but he had to find out what the Feds knew.

“One more time, What did you tell them?” Vincenzo moved from in front of him to behind him in a split second.

“I didn’t say anything. I swear it.”

That was Rocco’s last chance. Vincenzo had a hold of him before he could even blink. At that point, Vincenzo just let the anger consume him. Once his fangs were out, there was no stopping him. Rocco pissed himself from fear. Vincenzo pulled his head back and ripped out a chunk of flesh. He drained every drop of blood from Rocco. Tossed him aside, wiped the blood from his lips.

“Don Carlo, you’re next.”

About the Author:

Michelle Presley started writing in high school. Her first book, Harvest on the Mountain, will be included in the Cool Weather, Warm Hearts anthology. She is the mother to three girls and has one grandson. She’s been married to an awesome guy for 13 years. 

Find Michelle on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/michellepresley2775/