Tag Archives: fiction

Sarah Anne Steckel: A Vintage Affair

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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A Vintage Affair

By Sarah Anne Steckel

Newo had fallen asleep in Vortex’s arms as he walked the long city blocks to the motel they were staying at. Clutching her body tightly to his chest with one arm, he used his free hand to search for the keys in his pocket and unlocked the door. Gracefully he carried her over the threshold and placed her gently on the bed, but when he turned around to close the door, he found an unwanted bystander in the door frame.

Vortex sighed loudly, and unknowingly to the other person, rolled his solid black eyes. “Oh, of course. You always show up when it’s the most inconvenient, don’t you?”

“It’s only inconvenient for you,” Calamity snorted as he laughed, and walked into the center of the ratty motel room. He glanced over at the sleeping Newo, pulled his flask out of his pocket and shook hits contents gently, then shot Vortex a conniving grin. “She’s always safe and secure with big brother Vortex around, hm?”

“Definitely not her brother,” Vortex quipped as he closed the door. He watched Calamity carefully, as a frown formed on his face. “But I’m yours.”

Calamity smiled, and silently opened his flask and took a large gulp. As he put it back in whatever pocket it had come from, his smile managed to grow even larger. “Sure are, brother.”

An uncomfortable silence filled the room. Calamity’s gaze was glued to Newo, and Vortex couldn’t help but stare at him as he stared at Newo. He watched as Calamity idly began to drum his fingers against his thigh, and as soon as he began to bounce one of his legs, Vortex sighed loudly and groaned. “Why do you still do this?”

“It’s my mission,” Calamity promptly replied, as if he knew Vortex was going to ask it. “I have to complete it to please the Elders.”

“Do you really think they’re still up there, Cal?”

“Why wouldn’t they be? They created us, sent us down here to do a job, why wouldn’t they want us back?”

Vortex raised his left hand up and pinched the space between his browline with his thumb and index finger. He withheld a sigh that he wanted to express, and wound up shaking his head from side to side instead. “I don’t think you’ve realized how long it’s been since you last made contact, why would they wait around for you this long? They didn’t wait this long to send me, or you! I think once you went AWOL, they would have sent a fourth! They’ve given up… You need to take the hint and give your mission up. You won’t get to her — it’ll never happen as long as I’m around.”

Calamity raised his gaze to the sleeping Newo and clenched his jaw tightly as he said through gritted teeth, “Of course, always safe with big brother Vortex…”


The stone that struck Newo’s windowpane was barely audible, even in the still of night, and failed to rouse her from her light slumber. The second and third strikes were much louder and caused her to stir from her bed and stumble over to her window and open it. Down on the ground below stood a tall man wearing a dark cloak and a wide-brimmed hat. With swiftness, he lifted up a jug that was hidden at his side and shook the contents inside and whispered loudly, “Newo, I stole this jug of bourbon! Sneak outta the house and come drink it with me!”

“It’s best that I don’t, my husband—”

“It’s Vortex!” Calamity hissed loudly. “Don’t give me that bullocks, Newo! Come on!”

She glanced over her shoulder to catch a glance of the sleeping Vortex; his feet were sticking partially off the bed due to his long frame. Closing the window she spun around and placed a soft kiss on his forehead before exiting the room. Grabbing a cloak, she quietly opened the front door and silently slipped from the house. She turned to face Calamity and excitedly giggled at him before she wrapped her arm around his elbow and took off alongside of him in a brisk walk.

“Where are we going?”

“This abandoned house I found,” Calamity replied. He drew the arm that Newo was clutching tighter to his body, in turn pulling Newo closer to him. As the trail they were walking on eroded away, he pulled his arm from her grasp and wrapped it around her shoulders nonchalantly. The treeline began to grow denser, and soon enough Newo only saw the moon’s light through the scattered gaps between the jack pines as they continued to walk. Up on the hill in front of them, there was a bright yellow light that seemed to be floating in the sky, a beacon of light that was guiding their way, but as she marched closer she realized that it was only a lantern in the second-story window of a small farmhouse.

“It’s up here.”

“I thought you said that it was abandoned…” Newo motioned to the light.

“I put it there before I came to get you. Don’t wanna be wandering around the woods all night, when we could be up there drinkin’.”

The empty first floor was completely dark, but the light from the lantern on the second floor illuminated the stairway, and with ease, she walked over to them. Following Calamity’s lead, she tip-toed up the stairwell to an open second floor. In the corner of the room, by the window the lantern was perched in, lay a large straw mattress that he flopped onto. As he opened the jug of alcohol, he patted the spot beside him. “Come, sit.”

She glanced around the walls of the empty room, perhaps a bit nervously, before she walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. “I apologize again that I didn’t recognize you at first. It’s strange because I always recognize Vortex…”

Calamity shrugged, took a swig from the jug, then handed it to her. “We hadn’t seen one another in a long time… Since the temple fell, right? You see Vort a lot more, don’t you?”

“Almost every lifetime.” Newo smiled warmly and took a small sip.

“Damn,” Calamity snorted. “And you’re not sick of him yet?” He took the jug back and took a second drink, gulping the bourbon down this time.

“No, I—”

“Tell me,” Calamity interrupted her, ignoring the vague look of annoyance on her face. “Do you remember everything from the last time we saw one another?”

“I…” Newo closed her eyes and tried to dredge the memories up from the bottom of her memory. “You two were in the same army platoon… You were staying at the temple I was at for sanctuary. I saw you both talking to the monks, then Vortex approached me like he always did. And you…”

“I sat and observed, I listened to you two as you caught up, watched as you embraced. I ate alongside you in silence; it was hours before you inquired as to who I was.”

The open bourbon jug was pushed into her side, and this time she was more carefree with the gulps she drank down. Sputtering liquor as she fought back a laugh she ashed, “Calamity… were you jealous?”

“I… I, uh…” His gaze dropped to his lap and he sighed.

His mind wandered to his own memories, the feelings of captive enchantment he felt when he looked upon Newo for the very first time; she was the walking embodiment of the sun, her tawny skin and bright pink hair caused him to feel butterflies flapping around in his stomach. The first time she turned to him and smiled, he recalled a feeling of overwhelming exuberance. Then the oppressive feeling of dread overcame him as he realized that it was his mission to eliminate her. In that very moment, Calamity was dreadfully torn between a growing lust, a gleaming hope that there was someone else on this planet who was like him, someone who had similar experiences as him… or to his sworn duty, the only obligation he was required to complete so he could return to his creators and make his name as the only successful experiment.

“Hey Newo…” He broke the silence with a change of subject. “Tell me a story.”

“A story?” She watched as he nodded his head, and she couldn’t help but see him as an excited child right in that moment. “Oh, well I suppose. Let’s make ourselves comfortable, and I will.”

She leaned up against the wall, and as soon as she was situated, Calamity crawled over next to her and placed his head in her lap. She began to protest, but he rolled on to his back and closed his eyes, as if not seeing her face was his way of ignoring her. Newo only sighed, shook her head, and tried her best to think up something creative.

“At the beginning of time there was a lonely planet; it brimmed with the essentials of life but it had no creatures inhabiting it. The planet cried to God, ‘give me life!’ And so God gave it hairy bipedal creatures. The creatures fared not well, dying of famine and sickness quite quickly. Again, the planet cried out to God, ‘you gave me life, but it knows not what to do with my gifts of food or water, please, help them, teach them!’ And again, God complied. Black rain fell upon the planet and coated the dimwitted bipedal creatures; although they became sick, those that survived grew stronger and began to advance. The planet grew quiet, quite content with its slowly thriving life.”

Newo found herself running her fingers idly through Calamity’s dark hair; she could hear him softly breathing and softly smiled.

“What next?” he asked in a whisper.

“God grew curious about how the planet and its creatures were doing, so it sent a newly created experiment down with the sole directive to observe. At first, the experiment was more than happy to be useful, and do its duty. But as she observed the bipeds and their growth, their love of community and communication, she began to grow lonely. Her mission complete, she attempted to return home to no avail. God forbid her back, in fear that she would contaminate heaven. Lonely beyond belief, God’s experiment began to learn a new directive, to want. A want to feel included with the growing people, to live amongst them and perhaps try to even be one of them.”

She looked down at Calamity’s relaxed face and pulled her fingers gently from his hair. In a low voice, she mumbled, “And there was a newly formed guilt that resided there, as well…”


Calamity broke his transfixed stare of the sleeping Newo and walked over to the small folding table set by the window and sat down. The light from the streetlamps in the parking lot flooded in between the small blind slats, drenching him in a zebra-striped light pattern across his face and torso. Instead of a flask, Calamity pulled a pack of cigarettes out from his pocket and lit one. As he exhaled a plume of smoke he asked, “Why’d you do it?”

“Do what?” Vortex furrowed his brows and wrinkled his nose.

“Let me rephrase, why didn’t you do it? Your job? What made you turn against your programming?”

“When I met Newo she was completely deranged, the people she had longed to be with had shunned her; she was unable to return home. Through a few lifetimes, I watched her regain her sanity and want to go on living once more. I was unable to tear that away. And…” Vortex’s gaze wavered between Calamity and Newo, before settling on Calamity and saying with an obvious tone, “Well, I fell in love.”

“Huh.” Calamity took another drag from his cigarette, snickered, then exhaled. He stood up from the chair and walked over to the front door, turning the knob all the way before turning back to look at Vortex. “Something that sounds so trivial, strong enough to make you go against your only prerogative… A crazy thing, love.”

With the door now partially opened, Calamity stared through the crack between the door and the frame. He lingered there for several long seconds as if he were thinking of something witty or melodramatic to say, but instead all he was able to muster was a “Well… good night, then, brother,” before he slipped out of the door. Vortex stood in the silent room for several long quiet seconds before he sat down in the chair that Calamity was formerly sitting in, and sighed deeply.

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*Feeling lost? Go back to the start!*

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Paula Shablo: Wherever it leads you

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Wherever It Leads You

By Paula Shablo

Daddy was never blessed with a son, but that didn’t mean he would have nothing to teach his six daughters. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing we couldn’t do that a boy could do — except pee standing up.

Growing up, we spent a great deal of our time out in the wilderness, camping, and fishing. Mom was always up for an adventure and had no objections to having us learn how to bait a hook, clean a fish and start a campfire.

My parents believed that everyone should know how to survive in case survival became necessary. I learned to shoot a rifle when I was eight, but only on the shooting range. I had no interest in hunting. Like Mom, I would stay at camp while Dad and my sisters went after deer or elk. Dad never forced the issue; you like to hunt or you don’t, he always said.

The point was if I had to hunt, I had the skills to do it. I could hit a target with a gun or an arrow, and I actually won a few ribbons in archery when I was younger. My older sister and I took police firearms classes so we could improve our skills with moving targets, various light conditions and more.

She’s a cop now, a good one. Her shooting skills far surpass most of her peers.

I’m still shooting too, but these days I mostly use cameras.

Dad gave us compasses and made sure we knew how to use them. We could read maps. We could find our way back to our camp no matter where Dad left us — and he used to really go out of his way to get us lost because he wanted us to know how to find our way if we ever really had to.

Sometimes it was a little scary, trying to get back to camp alone. The truth was, we were never really alone. Dad was always nearby, watching and ready to rescue us if we went off track. We didn’t know that until later, of course; he’d tell Mom the whole story of one or the other of us being lost in the woods, once we’d rejoined the family in camp.

By the time it was my turn to be “lost,” I had heard enough stories to know Dad was taking care of me. Even so, it was scary. What if he took a wrong turn and lost sight of me? Then we’d both be lost!

Well, that never happened, of course.

We all grew up; got jobs; found loves and lost loves; found new loves or gave it up as a lost cause.

That last would be me. Get it wrong enough times, you decide all you really need is a dog.

Now, all that is history in my life, but it’s important, because of where I am now.

I never believed I would actually have to use the lessons I learned growing up, but now I’m tramping through this dense growth of woods. I’m using the compass I always carry with me as a reminder of the beloved father who has gone on to the next world. I have a handgun tucked into the waistband of my jeans, wishing it had been there earlier instead of in my backpack. If it had been, I could have killed that stupid black bear before he snapped my poor dog in half.

God, I loved that dog! She was my best friend. The young girl who refused to hunt instantly turned into a woman who had not one qualm about shooting a bear dead as a cold stone. Didn’t think twice about spitting on the damned thing, either.

Killed my friend, you stupid bear, take that!

Thanks, Dad, for making sure I could shoot.

The private plane went down hours ago. Everyone else is dead. I don’t know how Jo-Jo and I made it out alive. She was lying on top of me when I came to. We were in open air, because half the plane was gone. We found the other half about an hour after we started walking east.

I don’t want to talk about what we found in either half of the plane, except for the food and drinks I was able to salvage from the galley. I stuffed my backpack with as much as I could carry without dumping too many extra clothes. I figured I might have to layer them for warmth later.

I’d left the gun in a side pocket of the pack — damn my hide. Too many wasted seconds dropping the pack and digging out the gun. Poor Jo-Jo.

At least I have my gun and some ammunition. Flying private has some advantages, including having my dog in a seat instead of a crate. We were headed for a photo shoot. Some government thing that wasn’t clearly explained to me, which makes me wonder what really happened with the plane.

I have no idea where I am. Damn my secretive agent for sending me on this job! The pay sounded great at the time…

My phone is useless. No signal. I record a bit of what I’m doing now, but mostly, I keep it turned off to save the battery.

Well.

Dad always told us to find a path, or a road, or a stream or river, and follow it wherever it leads you.

Good advice if you can find one of those things.

He also said to use the compass, choose a direction and keep to it. No going in circles. Walk a straight line.

I chose east, God knows why. I’ve walked a long way alone. I miss my best friend. I keep talking to her and then remembering she’s not here. I want to cry, really cry, but I can’t.

So I leak, and I walk. I count my steps and every 100 paces, I check my compass. Weaving through trees can put a person off track if they’re not careful — another of Dad’s lessons.

I can’t see the sun through all this foliage, but the quality of light is fading fast when I finally find this track.

Find a path, and follow wherever it leads you.

Okay, Dad.

But it’s a strange track. I thought at first it was a railroad line, but when I got close enough, I could see that it was lined with wood, not iron. It’s some sort of path. Maybe a hiking trail. That would be good.

The bridge just ahead doesn’t look so good, though. The light shining through should look welcoming, but it’s making me nervous instead.

Is it a bridge? Does this path lead through it — or past it?

Why would there be a window, if it is a bridge?

Is somebody in there?

I make up my mind: Not tonight. Nope! Not me.

I back off the trail and into the trees. I settle behind some bushes. There are berries, but I can’t see well enough to guess if they’re safe to eat. Maybe in the morning.

I can still see the path; I hope no one can see me.

I eat airplane pretzels and drink a coke and finally have a good cry over my little Jo-Jo.

I’m not going any farther right now. I can wait until daylight. Wherever it leads you, be damned — at least for tonight.

I layer on extra clothes and using my backpack for a pillow, I cry myself to sleep.

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Please visit Paula on her blog: https://paulashablo.wordpress.com

Lynn Miclea: Swirls of Mist

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Swirls of Mist

by Lynn Miclea

Cassie frantically looked around at the trees, her heart pounding. How could she have gotten lost? She had followed the path into the woods and explored a little to spend some time in nature. And somehow she had gotten turned around.

Now she looked at all the trees surrounding her. A layer of mist covered much of the ground, swirling in places, making it hard to see. Everything looked the same. Which way did she come in? Which direction was the way out?

She walked a little farther and hesitated. Was she going in the right direction? A sound reached her, and she wasn’t quite sure what she heard. Looking around, she noticed a cabin a short distance away. Her body shivered as she gazed at it, trying to decide what to do.

A scream pierced the air. It was a man’s scream and it came from the cabin. Her throat knotted up. Not sure what to do, she hid behind a tree, eyes glued to the cabin.

A young man suddenly raced out of the cabin and into the woods to her right. He looked terrified and desperate.

A minute later two older men rushed out of the cabin. “James, where are you?” one of the men shouted in an angry, gruff voice. “You know we’re gonna find you.”

“And you’ll be sorry when we do,” the other man yelled. “We’re not finished with you.”

“Come on, James, don’t make this harder on yourself. Where are you?”

They waited, listening.

Silence.

“Well, he couldn’t have gotten too far,” the first man said.

“I’ll go this way,” the second man said, turning to the left, “and you go that way.” He pointed to the back, behind the cabin. “We’ll find him.”

The two men split up and headed in different directions. Cassie didn’t move, careful to not make a sound.

She knew she needed to help James. Trying to be as quiet as possible, she crept after him. Where was he? She heard a soft rustle and saw him move near a tree a short distance away. She could hear his ragged breathing as he limped.

Keeping her steps as quiet as she could, she followed James. When she got closer to him, she whispered, “Don’t be scared.”

James gasped and turned to face her, his eyes wide with fright.

“I won’t hurt you. Please don’t be scared. My name is Cassie. I can help you.” She kept her voice low. “Are you hurt?”

He nodded. “A little. But we need to get out of here. Now.”

“Lean on me if you need to,” she whispered, moving closer and offering her arm. “Do you know which way is out? I am lost myself.”

“I’m not sure. But they went the other way, so let’s go this way.”

They slowly made their way through the woods, stepping over roots and walking between the trees, trying to stay quiet. The mist spun in circles around the area, making it difficult to know where to step.

They paused for a moment and listened. The men’s voices sounded far away. They turned and kept walking. The mist curled around them as they tramped over the ground, trying to make as little noise as possible. Mist settled on the ground and whispers filled the air.

Cassie shivered. “Do you hear that?”

James nodded. “Yes. Let’s just keep moving.”

The mist swirled in front of them and thickened. “This way,” the mist seemed to whisper.

Goosebumps rose on Cassie’s arms. “Did you hear that?”

“Yes.” James looked around, searching the woods.

“This way.” A dense swirl of mist rose up before them. “I can help you.”

Cassie gasped and grabbed James’ arm, and they took a step back.

The mist swirled and thickened. “Trust me. I will help you.”

Cassie leaned toward James. “Should we trust it?”

James hesitated. “I don’t know which way to go on my own. Maybe it can help us.”

The mist swirled and led the way through the trees, and Cassie and James followed as they continued deeper into the woods. The mist led them over the rough ground and then veered to the right toward a small clearing.

Shouts from the two men sounded closer now, and Cassie shivered.

“Why are you helping us?” Cassie asked the mist.

The mist swirled in front of them. “This is my woods. I choose who lives and who dies here. Those are bad men. I will take care of them. But first I will save you. Leave those men to me.” The mist then moved forward again, scooting around the clearing and bringing them to a path. “This path will take you out. It is not much farther.”

“Thank you,” James said, as he grabbed Cassie’s hand. They scurried down the path, Cassie trying to support James as he limped and they made their way forward.

After a short distance they reached a small, familiar parking lot. Cassie’s car and a dark van were parked in the lot. As they entered the parking lot, the screams of two men split the air. Cassie and James looked at each other.

Cassie quickly unlocked the doors and they got in her car. She turned to James. “I know it’s none of my business, but why were they trying to kill you?”

He let out a long breath. “I had witnessed a crime.” He paused for a few moments. “I saw them kill someone. They knew I saw them and they did not want any witnesses who could identify them.” He rubbed his face. “I’m sorry you were part of this. But thank you for helping me.”

Cassie nodded. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”

James hesitated. “Later. First I need to go to the cops. Please.” He laid his head back on the headrest and closed his eyes.

Cassie started the car and slowly drove over the gravel through the gate and approached the two-lane road. The mist swirled around the car and the parking lot and the hair stood up on her neck. She heard the gate creak shut behind them as she turned onto the road.

—————————

Copyright © 2019 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

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Please also visit Lynn’s blog, like the story there, and follow her at – https://wp.me/p4htbd-pZ

Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/

Lisa Criss Griffin: The Granny Witch

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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The author asks….

Do we still have Appalachian Granny Witches???

Hmmmm. 🤔

The Granny Witch

By Lisa Criss Griffin

The trek across the Appalachian Trail had been a fun and pleasant experience for the three friends until the night of the attack. It was almost dark, and the campfire was mostly embers that glowed like dozens of tiny red eyes peeking out from the charred remains of the fallen branches the boys had gathered. A cool, damp fog had settled over the rural mountain, mixing the fresh smell of mist with the heaviness of the wood smoke. A barn owl hooted somewhere over in the next holler, waiting for an answer before hooting once again.

The boys were almost asleep when one of them heard the sound of branches breaking under foot close to camp. It was the stealth of the predator that captured Jason’s attention. He sat upright, reaching over to shake Brandon. “Hey man…do you hear that?” 

“What?” 

“Listen dude, something is out there!” 

Brandon stood up slowly, listening intently to the night sounds of the forest. There was another crunching sound, closer this time.

Brandon nudged Jeff, who was already asleep. “Wake up man, wake up!” Brandon hissed. 

Jeff rolled over and propped himself up on one arm. “What’s goin’ on?” he groaned sleepily. 

“Listen!” 

Another branch cracked close by and all three boys were on their feet. They heard heavy breathing just beyond the glow of the dying fire. “Aaaaiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeh!!!” With the screech of a banshee, a filthy man with wild, tangled hair and a matted beard ran into the camp, slashing indiscriminately at the boys with a wicked looking knife. His burning, red-rimmed eyes practically spun in their sockets as he tracked all three boys with a feral gleam.

The three friends almost fell over each other as they dodged the slashing blade and ran out of the camp, the lunatic following closely on their heels. They careened down the trail, barely able to see where they were headed. In their panic, they chose to veer off the main trail onto a narrow trail leading them into the cover of the deep woods. Low-lying branches loaded with pine needles battered their faces as they desperately tried to avoid tripping on the stones and exposed tree roots that littered the pathway. 

“This way!” Jason whispered as he disappeared behind a group of large, lichen-covered boulders. There was a hint of a path that led back through the boulders that shielded them from the main trail. They had just rounded the back side of the far boulder when they heard their nemesis crashing down the trail, cursing loudly as he passed by their hiding place. They waited behind the boulder until they could no longer hear him, pressed tightly against the cold stone.

Brandon exhaled slowly, realizing he had been holding his breath while the crazy dude had blustered by the group of boulders concealing them. He noticed his hands were shaking as he ran them through his hair, removing bits of twigs and pine needles. He looked at Jason, whose face was noticeably pale, even in the twilight. “You okay?” Brandon whispered quietly. 

Jason nodded, but pointed toward Jeff and shook his head negatively.

Jeff had slid down the side of the boulder and was slumped on the ground. The side of his face was bloody from the buffeting by the pine branches, but he was holding his left ankle with both his hands. Jeff let out a low groan and suddenly leaned away, retching into a large fern. Jeff wiped his face with his sleeve and looked up at his friends, his sweaty face pale green. 

“What’s wrong Jeff?” 

“I think I’m snake bit, fellas.” Jeff turned away and dry heaved into the unfortunate fern.

Jason looked closer at Jeff’s ankle. “Why, you don’t even have your boots on!” 

Jeff smiled weakly. “Well, there really wasn’t time to put them on, man.” He leaned back against the cool rock. “I don’t feel so good….” Jeff shuddered as another wave of nausea coursed through his body. 

Brandon looked at Jason. “We have to get him some help.” 

“We are out in the middle of nowhere with a looney tune chasing us around! Just what do you suggest?” 

Brandon sighed, stood up straight and gazed off into the forest, running possibilities through his mind. He noticed a hint of a small golden glow in the woods across a ravine. “Hey, Jason. Look at that. Does that look like a light to you?” 

“Where?” 

“Over there, to your left, up on top of the other side of the ravine.” 

“Yeah. Yeah, it does. We could get Jeff up there, I think.” 

“You don’t think that is where that whacko lives, do you?” 

“I doubt that dude has seen the inside of a house for quite awhile.” 

Brandon snorted and looked at Jason. “No kidding!”

The two of them hauled Jeff to his feet between them and placed his arms across their shoulders. “Come on Jeff. We are going to get you some help.” 

Jeff nodded in agreement, doing his best to stay upright. The boys made a beeline for the light through the woods. The going was slow as it was hard to see, and the ground was uneven and began to slope down into the ravine. The boys half slid and half fell down the side of the ravine, doing their best to keep Jeff from falling. Once they reached the bottom of the ravine, they stopped to rest by a trickle of a creek. Jason took out his handkerchief, wet it and washed off his friend’s pallid face, noting the dark circles that had suddenly appeared under Jeff’s eyes.

Jeff smiled his appreciation and closed his eyes. 

“Jeff, Jeff, don’t go to sleep now. We are almost there!” 

Jeff opened his bleary eyes as his friends stood him back up. “Hey Brandon, is that a rock staircase over there, or am I seeing things?” 

Brandon squinted through the darkness at the incline across the tiny creek. “Well, what do ya know! It sure enough is. Let’s go now!” The two boys helped their friend across the creek and made their way slowly up the stone staircase, pausing at the top.

There was a stone pathway leading to a small house in the woods. A buttery yellow light shone brightly out of a small window in the attic, illuminating the pathway to the house. The boys shored up their friend and dragged him to the front door. Jason reached out and knocked firmly on the wooden door, praying the lunatic wasn’t on the other side of the door. Jeff moaned and started to slide to the ground. “No man. Stand up for one more minute. Stand up, Jeff.” Jeff locked his legs and swayed, doing his best to help his buddies.

Jason and Brandon heard a bolt slide across the inside of the door and it opened slightly. The wrinkled face of an elderly woman and the business end of a shotgun peered out at them from the crack between the door and the casing. “What do you want?” she croaked.

“Please ma’am. Our friend here is snake bit and needs help! Do you have a phone, or a car or something?” 

The old lady shook her head sadly. “No, I don’t. But I may be able to help him if you care to bring him inside.” She lowered the shotgun and opened the light blue door.

Jason and Brandon lifted Jeff and carried him into the little house. It was a small, one room house with a kitchen in one corner, a round wooden table surrounded by four ladder-back chairs with woven seats in front of a fireplace, and a bed under the staircase leading to the attic. A handmade multicolored braided rug covered much of the wood floor. The walls were decorated with all different kinds of dried flowers and plants, suspended upside down from wires running the circumference of the room. Built-in shelves held small mason jars filled with different colored powders, dried berries, leaves and roots. Cheerful blue gingham curtains covered the downstairs windows, and the smell of freshly baked cornbread filled the room.

The elderly lady pointed to the bed under the staircase. “Put your friend over there.” She turned away to put a pot of water on top of the wood stove, and retrieved a cup and several of the jars off her shelves. Jeff sank down into the comfortable mattress gratefully and closed his eyes. “Have a seat over by the fire, boys,” she suggested as she measured some ingredients into a mortar.

The two friends sat down, suddenly realizing how cold and tired they were. The small fire popped cheerily, radiating light and comfort into the humble abode. Jason leaned across the small table and whispered to Brandon. “Hey, have you ever heard of a Granny Witch?” 

Brandon’s eyes widened and he nodded. “Yes, but I never met one. Until now.” Brandon stretched his arms behind his head and searched his memory to recall what he knew about the Appalachian Granny Witches.

The Appalachian people lived in an area that was not easily accessible, so it was necessary to be as self-sufficient as possible. That included treating illnesses and injuries, whether it be with herbalism, faith healing, energy work, prayers, chants or all of those things combined. The Scotch Irish who settled in the mountains as early as the 1600s blended their own ancient folk medicine with the healing traditions of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) people. This knowledge was only passed down through generations of individual families and was never shared with outsiders. Each Appalachian community usually had a Granny Witch to meet their needs. Granny Witches were generally regarded as helpful and were highly esteemed within their communities. The practice was slowly dying out as accessibility to the outside world had improved.

The Granny Witch finished blending the herbs she had chosen, and proceeded to make a poultice that she placed over Jeff’s snake bite. She wrapped it on with some clean white cloth, and returned to her wood stove. The boys watched in fascination as she made a tea from the herbs she had harvested and dried. She returned to Jeff’s side and had him drink the concoction. She wiped his scratched face clean with a damp cloth and covered him with a colorful handmade quilt.

She returned to her kitchen and sliced several pieces of fresh cornbread. The Granny Witch broke off a piece of the cornbread, opened a window and tossed the cornbread outside before closing the window. Brandon recognized this as one of the traditions Granny Witches used to engage the fairy folk in their work. She served the boys plates of fresh cornbread with creamy butter and spring water while she busied herself in the kitchen, humming a little song to herself as she worked.

Brandon and Jason grew sleepy from their full bellies and the warm fire. The Granny Witch noticed and took pity on them. “Why don’t you two go upstairs and rest. I’ll look after your friend,” she stated kindly. 

The boys stood up, noticing the light blue color of the ceiling for the first time. “Why is the door and the ceiling painted this light blue color, Granny?” Jason mused. 

The Granny Witch giggled softly. “Well son, I thought everyone knew that. It is to keep the Haints away.” She looked at their puzzled faces. “Haints…the evil spirits…ghosts and such. Now go get some rest. You are safe here with me.”

The two friends climbed the stairs to the attic lit by candlelight, kicked off their shoes and fell exhausted onto a large bed on the far end of the room. Jason looked over at Brandon sleepily. “Do you think that lunatic in the woods could have been a haint?” 

“I don’t know what to think anymore, man. I really don’t.” 

The boys both fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Morning broke in the forest with the sounds of songbirds and the chatter of scolding squirrels. Sunlight streamed through the colorful autumn trees, caressing Brandon’s face with the fresh warmth of a new day. He stretched out his muscles on his bed of spongy moss, blinking the sleep from his eyes. He looked over at Jason, who grinned at him groggily from his spongy moss mattress. Brandon sat straight up, scanning his surroundings for Jeff.

Brandon rose quickly as he spotted Jeff a few feet away, covered with a blanket of colorful leaves. He reached down, half afraid Jeff was dead. He shook his friend’s arm gently, highly relieved to find that the arm was warm. “Jeff. Jeff, wake up. Jeff!” 

Jeff’s eyes fluttered open and he focused on his friend’s face. “What?” 

“Are you alright?”

“Well, yeah. I feel okay.” Jeff sat up and pulled up the left leg of his jeans to look at his injured ankle. The white wrap was still there. Jeff looked at Brandon. “What is going on here, dude?”

Brandon looked around, noticing there was nothing but forest around them and a light blue sky overhead. His hand brushed something lying on the ground next to Jeff. It was a bundle of blue gingham cloth. Brandon untied the top of the bundled cloth to find three pieces of fresh cornbread. Just then, he heard a bird warble the same simple tune the Granny Witch had been humming the night before.

Had they imagined the whole thing? Had they been chased through the woods by an evil haint? Was there still such a thing as a Granny Witch? Brandon looked over at Jason and saw the same questions in his eyes. Maybe it was time to end their adventure on the Appalachian Trail. 

Brandon heard something giggle softly as he bit into the delicious cornbread. The three friends stopped chewing at the same time and looked at each other. Yep. It was definitely time to get out of the forest! Right after they finished their cornbread, of course.

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Enzo Stephens: Afterlife

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Afterlife Collusion

By Enzo Stephens

Sammy Haggerty thundered his big ole self through the deep, dank forest in the middle of the night; breath swooshing in and out of his laboring lungs that were covered by countless pounds of excess flesh.

Sammy was not cut out for running, in any manner, shape or form.

Sammy was cut out for one thing; beating on stuff. ‘Stuff’ in this context applies solely to people, which is what landed him in this predicament in the first place.

He surged on, even though the urge to just stop and drop on his butt in the middle of the burgeoning forest in the middle of the night with some creepy-assed fog blowing out of who-the-hell knows where, hoisting his lumbering feet and legs over tree roots and through scrub brush.

A dim and distant part of him seriously hoped there were no venomous snakes hanging out, just waiting for some big, fat and overripe piece of USDA Prime Eyetalian Meat to sink its fangs into.

That thought punctured the encroaching mental fog that came with sustained over-exertion and lent speed to his headlong flight through the thick forest during the darkest hour of a moonless night, which in and of itself was sheer insanity. As in, why in the hell would anyone want to do something this crazy?

Because it’s better than doing time.

And that is a sobering enough reason to grow wings on his feet like Hermes.

His toe felt the protruding root before it snagged his foot to send him flying, only to come to an abrupt stop shoulder-first into an unyielding bole. His clavicle snapped and he cried out, not sure which was louder, the snap of the bone or his big-babyish cry.

In either case, paranoia had Sammy firmly in its grasp and he struggled to his feet, left arm dangling uselessly; each shambling step an episode in blinding, blistering pain, and yet he pressed on.

To where? Who the hell knew. Just… away. Away from the cops who were surely by now swarming over the wreckage of the prisoner transport vehicle. Away from those suits who were studying the corpses of the two guards in said prison transport vehicle. Sammy’s last two ‘vics’ (although he felt justified in removing them in order to ensure his freedom).

Sammy was being transported from Camp Hill State Corrections facility, which is a medium-security prison, to Frackville Maximum Security. It would be hard time for a very long time for Sammy, though it would be a much longer and harder time for the family of the 16-year old girl he raped, enslaved and then eventually killed in a ritual that was reminiscent of a Satanic ceremony.

Sammy pleaded temporary insanity due to ‘evil voices’. His attorney managed to scrounge up professional witnesses that testified to Sammy’s suffering from multiple-personality disorder and a whole host of other letters that sounded really, really bad. 

And while Sammy greatly enjoyed the fruits the young lady had to offer, finishing her off was the ultimate. 

Still, he was awarded with 18-24 years in a medium-security facility with prescribed psychiatric care, and things were going swimmingly for a while, until Sammy grabbed a guard one night, knocked him senseless, stabbed him between 60 and 80 times and then pleasured himself at the expense of said guard’s lower anatomy.

That stunt landed him on a high-speed transfer to Frackville, and pretty much Sammy’s death sentence. He’d heard stories…

So, as he bounced and jostled about in the back of the transport truck, complaining of how painful the tight handcuffs were, the transport vehicle came full-on to several huge deer that were strolling down the state route as if they owned it, sending the transport careening into a guardrail and over the side of an embankment and into a tree that seemed to be as wide as a barn.

The impact blew Sammy into the front of the van a split-second after both guards slammed forward with concussive force. The driver looked as though he was flattened against the seat, pinned there by an exploding airbag, while the other guard smashed his head off the windshield and was now lying sprawled in a wash of blood that flooded from his ruptured head.

Sammy dug keys out of the passenger guard’s belt and fumbled around for like forever until he opened the cuffs. And then he stopped to think about the downed guards, eventually coming to a conclusion, especially when the radio squawked.

Sammy would show the guards mercy by not letting them suffer. He removed a nightstick from the belt of the passenger, then pried his mouth open and rammed the end of the nightstick into his open mouth, pushing until he heard a loud crack. The guard’s eyes opened suddenly in an unseeing panic, and then they slowly glazed over and his head fell limp.

Sammy smiled. That was fun. He turned to the driver who groaned at that precise moment. Their eyes locked; the guard seemed to know what was coming and he began to struggle, albeit weakly. Sammy didn’t bother prying the guard’s mouth open; he just rammed the end of the nightstick into the guard’s mouth, shattering teeth along the way, and then levered his prodigious strength behind the nightstick until he heard another loud crack and that guard slumped dead.

Sammy was breezy good; his guards were deaders, his cuffs were el-gonno, and a whole wilderness lay open before him.

It was a gift. A gift of freedom!

And then the radio squawked again. “Prisoner Transport 203, we have your location. Please report status of vehicle and the prisoner. I repeat; we have your location and we have vehicles on the way now. What is your status please?”

Hurriedly Sammy located a key to his ankle-cuffs and freed his feet. He then punched his way out of a crumpled van door to stagger to his feet along the side of the elevated and empty road.

It was time to hightail it. Beat feet. Sammy turned this way and that, trying to decide the best way to go. He reasoned that left was west, which was farther away from Frackville, and so that’s where he set off, veering away from the road and into the deep forest at a trot that he hoped didn’t exhaust him.

It did. But he pushed on, afraid of getting caught, terrified of that ominous place called Frackville.

To now. There were no noises from the road; Sammy hoped it was far distant. He had no idea how long he’d been barreling through the forest, but he reasoned that he had to be pretty far off. Sammy hoped like hell he didn’t leave a huge trail too.

His entire left side was in a throbbing agony he’d never experienced in his thirty-odd years of life and he heard himself talking out loud to himself and he wondered what the hell he was saying. 

The darkness was thick, the air was wet with fog that felt like vegetable oil coating his skin; his thirst was a ravening animal in his head, in second-by-second combat with the pain of his shattered clavicle. 

But he pushed on nonetheless. What else could Sammy do?

And then he spied it. A light, glimmering far ahead through the forest. Sammy stopped, blinking, wondering if he was imagining it, if it was a delusion. 

It wasn’t, the light was still there. Sammy bowed his head, took a deep breath, then another, then pushed himself to move toward the light. Branches slapped his face and arms, but Sammy didn’t care. 

Time crawled, his world was nothing but one step after another, then unyielding darkness, the stinking fog, and that glimmering light in the distance. Often the steps were uneven, jolting his abused shoulder, the sudden pain snapping his attention back into laser focus.

Finally Sammy made it to a small clearing and the light that called to him from so far away now washed over his broken, ruptured person, and it felt glorious. It felt warm and cleansing and Sammy dropped to his knees, muttering something that he supposed was a form of prayer.

It emanated from a second-floor window of what looked to be a house. In the middle of the forest?

But Sammy was well past asking questions. He needed to slake his thirst and tend to his injury and then he needed to sleep. He stumbled around the perimeter of the house, searching for a door, and then finding it, he then located a doorbell and pushed it… and received no response.

He jabbed it again and again and… nothing. He tried the knob. Locked!

Sammy opted to pass on the courteous approach and use the gift that God gave him — his brute strength. He took that doorknob in his right-hand fist and squeezed. Hard. He poured every ounce of power he had into it and he felt the metal of the knob begin to crumple. He wrenched hard and the knob came off in his hand. Sammy dropped it and pushed the door, stepping into a dark room. 

He pushed the door closed and crept his right hand along a wall and was rewarded to find a wall-switch. He flipped a toggle and a soft yellow glow grew out of the far corner of the room.

It was a larger room and had the feel of a basement. Sammy spied an end table and snared it, using it to block the door closed. He listened closely and heard nothing. All was silent in the house; as silent as the deep forest outside.

Who was the light on for? Where were the occupants?

Deep questions that Sammy abruptly pushed out of his mind as he made for a flight of steps and tried to climb those steps as quietly as possible, though there was an occasional squeak.

Another door at the top of the steps that Sammy pushed through boldly. Still no one in sight, and the place didn’t look as if it were occupied. Sammy forged ahead; up into a kitchen that looked to be well-equipped. The light that beckoned Sammy from oh-so-far away beamed in an adjoining room, which Sammy strode into.

Not a soul was evident. He spied a timer plugged into a wall outlet and surmised that the light was programmed to come on and go off at certain times.

Gee, ya thought of that all by yourself, didja?

Sammy moved from room to room; all dark, all unoccupied, and the dust on the hardwood floors indicated there hadn’t been a body there in quite some time.

Sammy went to a bathroom and turned the water on, sticking his face under the tap, drinking greedily.

Thirst slaked, Sammy was momentarily staggered by both weariness and pain; he stumbled into a bedroom, located a bed and fell onto it and was asleep in seconds.

^^

Sammy stared at himself in the mirror as he dragged someone else’s razor over his grizzled cheeks. His eyes were surrounded by shadows and he looked as if he were haunted, and in a way he was.

Always wondering when the cops would arrive at the house, pounding on the door, pointing their guns at him, then slapping cuffs on him and taking him to Frackville. 

But weeks and weeks had gone by — though Sammy didn’t exactly go out of his way to measure how much time had elapsed — and still the owners of this house were non-existent.

It was like it’s a gift from God!

He pulled the makeshift sling off and tried to rotate his shoulder. The sudden pain dropped him to his knees and he gingerly replaced the sling with tears in his eyes.

Sammy made his way to the kitchen. The larder was very well stocked with canned goods, and Sammy took advantage of that. He popped open a can of Dinty Moore, threw it on the fire, finished it off, opened an Iron City and made his way into the TV room. He snapped on the 75-inch Samsung and thumbed his way over to Netflix. He pulled up a crazy show called ‘Happy’ and set himself to laugh uproariously.

Sammy had no thoughts of dead guards, nor of a dead 16-year old girl. He was all about the food, the beer and the nutty show.

The doorbell rang.

Huh?

Panic assailed him instantly — COPS! 

Sammy crouched his way to the windows looking over the gravel drive and saw…

Nothing!

What?

Slowly he made his way downstairs to the door he damaged long ago. He peered through the glass of the door and saw…

Two girls?

Oh it had been soooooo long since he’d been with a woman and he wanted IT. Bad.

He opened the door. “Yeah?”

There were two girls there, maybe 16 or 17. “Hi!” they said in unison, and with a whole lot of cheer and bright, shiny teeth.

“Hi. What can I do you for?”

One of the girls curtsied — unbelievable! “Well, we’re selling Girl Scout cookies.”

“Huh?” And yes indeed both girls were wearing Girl Scout uniforms, or at least that’s what they looked like. But the skirts…

The other girl piped up, “Sure mister, want some cookies?”

My goodness, he thought. Those short skirts…

“Come in, come in,” he invited, stepping aside to allow the girls to come into the house.

“Thank you,” one of them giggled as they brushed past him and into the basement room.

“C’mon up,” Sammy invited them as he moved to the stairs. “What are your names?”

More giggles. Then, “I’m Sasha, and this is Sonya. We’re twins!”

“Really? Twins? You don’t look alike.”

“We’re not identical, you doofus, but yeah we’re twins. Twins don’t have to be identical, you know.”

“Well come on upstairs so I can see what you have to sell.”

“What’s your name mister?”

“Call me Sammy.”

“I like that, Sammy. It’s easy to remember when… you know…”

Images of carnal delight flooded Sammy’s head. “Are you two girls too young for a glass of wine?”

Sasha looked at Sonya. They nodded to each other. “No, I don’t think so. We’d love a good glass of wine.”

“So would I,” laughed Sammy.

^^

The two girls laid out a large, colorful catalog of a variety of delicious-looking cookies, but Sammy was having a ‘hard’ time keeping his mind focused on the catalog. The girls were on either side of him, and Begorrah-be-damned if he wasn’t actually licking his chops at the prospect of diving into the little lassies.

“So lemme ask you girls a question; do you have this psychic thing where you can feel what each other is feeling?”

One of the girls nudged Sammy’s thigh as he perched on a stool at the kitchen island. “Now why would you ask such a silly question?”

Sammy had his reasons. “Well…” he drawled.

“He wants to know if one of us would feel pleasure if the other was getting pleasure!”

“You mean, like cumming, sis?”

“Yep. That’s zactlee what I mean.”

Both girls looked at Sammy who took on a sheepish expression. “Well, c’mon girls, you both are gorgeous and I’m just a simple single guy here—”

And as he finished that sentence he looked from one girl leaning on the kitchen island on his left, to the girl on his right who was swinging a huge cast-iron skillet toward his head.

The resounding clang echoed in Sammy’s head long after the lights went out.

^^

Light gradually crept into Sammy’s clouded vision. He groaned, his head pounding like a fat man on a treadmill. Even his frikken eyes hurt!

“Well now there you are big boy!”

And the vision of a beautiful teenaged girl swam into view; her luscious blond hair cascading down from her silky soft shoulders to tickle Sammy’s cheeks and neck, and then his chest, and Sammy was in heaven, even if he couldn’t put two and two together to make four. 

Another girl laughed; a tinkling sound like an angel. “Look at his little willie, sis!” And the vision turned away, then turned back, a look of scorn on her angelic face.

“There’s not much going on there Sammy.”

Sammy begged to disagree. He felt the onset of some serious wood going on down south of the border.

The other girl laughed. “Is that all you got? But damn dude, you’re not a small guy!”

“Just small in the package department!” And both girls laughed and fire raced up Sammy’s neck to flush his face in shame. He opened his mouth to speak—

But he couldn’t because there was something stuffed in his mouth. 

The girls took turns slapping his gear around. It was uncomfortable — hell, it was painful, but somehow Sammy was enjoying it, and he felt himself growing excited. He pulled at his arms, but they did not move. He turned his wobbly vision to the left and then the right to see that his wrists were cuffed to a bed. He raised his head to look at his feet — which also refused to move, and found his ankles cuffed to the bed.

And a gag in his mouth; Sammy was in the shit now! The girls were on either side of him, taking turns smacking his erection around and laughing at him, and of course, he was completely naked.

“Hey Sammy.”

What girl was it that called him?

“We know whatcha did.”

Sammy stammered, “What do you mean?”

The other girl piped in, and she wasn’t looking so hot anymore; her skin taking on a pale, pasty white pallor. “You tore that poor girl up. Her name was Mary.”

Sammy cried out. “Yeah it was Mary, but I’ve begged for forgiveness…”

“This is your forgiveness, and you lose, assclown.”

And right before his eyes, the two stunningly gorgeous girl scouts with the array of super tasty cookies…

Disappeared.

Leaving Sammy cuffed to a bed, stark naked and alone.

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Cheryl Ann Guido: A Cottage in the Woods

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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A Cottage in the Woods

By Cheryl Ann Guido 

When I was thirteen, I lived in a little community that bordered on a dense forest. On many afternoons, my golden retriever Sam and I would plow through high grass and weeds navigating the rocky terrain in the thicket of ancient pine and oak. I liked to pretend that we were adventurers on a dangerous mission. Sometimes, a friend or two would join us but mostly it was just Sam and me. My friends were frightened to go into those woods. Many urban legends had been told about this dark area, too many for them I suppose.

True or not, those woods were treacherous. We never knew what we would encounter. Too often I had come home with a case of poison ivy and my mother scolded me, warning me not to go back. On several of our trips, we had come face to face with snakes and spiders, and once we even caught a glimpse of a coyote. But for some reason, the lure of the wind whistling through the trees and the sounds of animals going about their daily business lured me back, time after time. Our encounters with the creatures of the forest were taken in stride. I knew they were all part of the adventure.

One day as we pushed farther into the dense thicket than we ever had before, we caught sight of a tiny cottage. It seemed out of place. There were no roads that led to it and, over the course of time, weeds and vines had snaked up its walls and coiled around the windows, making the little house their own. The chimney was crumbling, all of the windows were cracked or missing glass, and the roof had caved in on one side. The cottage was obviously abandoned and to thirteen-year-old me, it looked haunted.

Part of me wanted to run, to get as far away from that place as possible. But part of me felt compelled to see what was inside. I approached the gravel pathway that led to the partially open front door. Walking on that pathway was tricky. The stones were sharp and pointy. Some were missing and other areas were so slippery that my feet slid sending me off balance. My dog, who ran ahead had already disappeared through the door. I looked up at the sky and realized that the afternoon was waning. It would be evening soon and with evening came darkness. I certainly did not want to be caught in the woods after nightfall. I thought that exploring the cottage might be best left for another day so I called out to Sam, but he did not come back. That was strange. Sam always obeyed me and stayed close by my side. Worried about my dog, I had no choice but to proceed to the cottage and find him.

I hastened my pace and my foot slipped on something round and hard. It rolled slightly and I tumbled to the ground. As I hit the surface, my hand instinctively reached out to steady myself, but instead, wrapped around something smooth and oddly shaped. Without a thought, I picked it up and brushed away the dirt that had probably been on it for ages. When I realized what I held, I dropped it and my hands flew to my mouth, stifling the scream that was trying its best to escape. The human skull rolled away and crashed into a rock as I watched in horror. Jumping to my feet, I saw that the object I had tripped on was a leg bone, a human leg bone. What was this place?

Every fiber of my being told me to run, but I was determined not to leave without my beloved dog so I took a deep breath and continued to the house. Finally, I was just a few feet away. I crouched low and slithered up to one of the windows in an attempt to peek inside. A spider web of cracks made it impossible to see anything. Summoning up courage, I walked around to the front of the cottage, planning to enter through the front door. What could possibly happen? The house was abandoned after all, wasn’t it? When I reached the threshold, I stood there for a moment. It was difficult to see. The room was pitch black despite the little bit of light shining through the windows.

Hesitation took hold and my mind began to conjure up images of the next day’s news headline: Local Teen Disappears. Perhaps I would never be found. Perhaps the story would break at some future time with the headline: Bones of Missing Teen Found in Abandoned Cottage.

“Stop it! This place is spooky enough. You don’t have to make up stuff that isn’t going to happen.” I had spoken the words aloud which surprised me. Well, I thought, if anyone is in there, they know I’m here now.

By this time my vision had somewhat adjusted to the darkness. Proceeding through the entry, I found myself in a small room that I guessed was once a parlor. In the shadows, I thought I saw movement and I plastered myself against the wall in hopes that they hadn’t seen me. A feathery golden tail wagged in front of me and I almost shouted in glee. It was Sam. My joy, however, was short-lived.

“Come in, my child.”

The fireplace suddenly lit up and, in the light provided by the flames, I could see an elderly woman sitting in a wooden rocking chair. She wore a yellowed, tattered wedding dress trimmed in lace and pearls. Her veil swirled around the front of the chair and an ornate, pearl-studded headpiece partially covered her face.

“Come in, warm yourself in front of the fire. Sam and I were just having a nice chat.”

I thought my eyes would pop out of their sockets. She had been having a conversation with Sam?

As if he understood, Sam barked once. My hands shook as I petted his head. This was creepy, really creepy. I gulped then decided to try to find out more.

“I thought this house was abandoned. Do you live here?”

“My child, I have lived here for sixty years now. Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the day I was wed.”

Well, I thought, that certainly explains the wedding dress … sort of.

I moved closer and stood in front of the fire. Sam sat next to the mysterious woman. He rested his head on her lap as she gently scratched his ears. This was getting weirder and weirder. I decided that I really did not need any more information. All I wanted to do was to take my dog and leave.

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to be rude. But it’s getting late and I have to get home.”

“I know, child. You need not stay. Sam has told me what I needed to hear.”

I arched my brows. This was not happening. My heart began to pound.

“Um, I gotta go. C’mon Sam.”

I turned toward the door but my dog remained by the woman’s side. I sensed that he was reluctant to leave her. She smiled, nodded her head and pointed to me. Sam rose to his feet and padded toward my direction. Halfway there he turned and with what I could have sworn was a look of great sadness gazed at the elderly woman. She stood up.

“It’s all right Sam. You can go now. Thank you.”

The woman disappeared into the darkness farther back into the house as my dog trotted over and we left.

I never got the chance to go back to that house. The next day, the entire neighborhood was atwitter with the news of a fire that had engulfed an old house in the woods. The remains of a woman named Abigail Jones had been found in the rubble along with some bones, a skull, leg and other skeletal remains outside of the house. The local paper published an article about Mrs. Jones in the evening edition. Abigail had apparently been living in that cottage for years. Her husband, Samuel Jones had built it for the two of them, but on their wedding day, he went out to gather some wood for a fire and never came back. Nothing more was known about Abigail Jones. It was unknown how she had survived for so many years, how her husband had died or why his body had rotted away only feet from her front door.

I put the paper down and looked at Sam wondering what the connection was between Abigail and my dog? Could he be the reincarnation of her husband? Was he some kind of messenger? Or was Abigail just some crazy woman living in the woods? I had to admit, it was a strange coincidence that I had given my dog the same name as her husband.

“Sam, what did you tell that old woman?”

Sam lifted his head. He looked directly into my eyes. The corners of his mouth turned up in a doggie smile as his tongue wagged. I scrunched up my nose.

“Not telling, huh? Well, perhaps it’s a secret best left unspoken.”

~FIN~

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Please visit Cheryl on her website: https://cherg1.wixsite.com/cherylannguido/

Kenneth Lawson: Sins of the Youth

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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Sins of the Youth

By Kenneth Lawson

It had been decades since he’d been back to the old town. Catching up with old friends and seeing the folks he knew as a kid had been fun. But he was really here for another reason. 

He had to go back to the cabin. Part of him hoped it was still standing. And a bigger part of him hoped it had long ago collapsed on itself, burying their secrets with it. A bunch of kids, they were what they were, at the time had found the old cabin and used it as a clubhouse of sorts for years. Keeping their secrets from the world. And their parents. 

It was the third night in town when he had a chance to sneak away unnoticed. Leaving his car by the road he took his flashlight and found the old stone path that had led to the cabin. At one time he was sure it had been a really nice place, but even back then it had been a wreck. The years had been as kind as they could be to a dilapidated house. It was still standing. In the moonlight, he made out the shape of the old building. Closing his eyes he could hear his friends calling him, and in his mind, he replayed the last summer. The games they played and towards the late summer, before they went to high school, they had discovered girls. They had all taken turns bringing girls up here. But things got out of hand. And stuff happened. And Becky, Becky Lane her name was, disappeared the next day.

Of course, he knew what had happened, and had sworn to secrecy under penalty of death. The look on her face as she fell and hit her head, and rolled to the floor still haunted him every night when he went to sleep.

They had panicked and hid her in the floor of the cabin and never returned.

That fall into winter all everyone talked about was the disappearance of Becky. 

But they never said a word. No one searched the cabin, in fact, they never even searched the woods where the cabin was. Which surprised him. It was a well-known spot for the local kids to play. But for some reason it was assumed that she’d never go there, it just wasn’t “like her” to go into the woods, she was too much of a homebody and “Goody Two Shoes” to actually go outside and play in the woods. While no one said it specifically, that was what they all thought. He, of course, knew better.

Pushing his way through the brush that had overgrown the path, he found the door. The moon was shining just like it had that night. Breathing hard, he closed his eyes as he touched the old door. He felt his heart racing and the lump in his stomach was almost enough to make him throw up. Swallowing hard, he took a few deep breaths. 

He pushed the door open. It almost fell off the hinges as it opened inward. The stale musty air hit him but he blocked out the smell and stood in the doorway. Shining his flashlight around the room, he thought how much smaller it was than he remembered it being. The posters once on the wall were either lying on the floor or hanging by a thread. In the far corner was “The Stash” as they called it. The stack of dirty magazines that was almost two feet tall. Now a pile of wet and soggy glossy pictures whose colors and pictures had long ago run into each other and become unreadable. He spotted the table leaning against the wall, its legs broken. Broken that night when Becky fell against it. She hit the wall so hard it knocked the old rifle that had hung on the wall since long before they had started using it as a clubhouse. The barrel had landed squarely on her head, and that coupled with the fall had been enough to render her unconscious. They felt for her pulse as best they knew how, and there was none. She was dead. 

They panicked. No one wanted to admit to bringing her up there. Then the whole thing would come out, all the girls they’d brought up, and the books and pictures and other stuff they had up there.

So they buried her under the floorboards of the shed. And they left. 

And never came back.

Until now. He had to know if she was still there. For his own peace of mind, to know she was still buried in the shed. 

It took a few minutes in the dark to remember exactly where they had buried her.

But he found it. Pawing through the dirt with an old loose board, he found nothing. No bones, no clothes. Nothing. 

“Looking for me?”

He literally peed his pants at the sound of the voice behind him. Standing up, he turned back to the door.

The voice had been quiet and steady. But he recognized it.

Becky stood in the doorway holding a shotgun. The shotgun. 

“I thought…”

She interrupted. “Thought I was dead?” 

“Yeah, we all did.”

“I know. You didn’t notice that you didn’t see Frank around town when you got here?”

“Yeah, I wondered about that but just thought since he was older and on his own, he left town so no one would ask. I wasn’t sure he was still around.”

“He is, he is under the floor over there. He came back that night looking for me after you ran. I think he realized that I wasn’t dead or wanted to make certain I was. By then I had decided what I wanted to do and he could ruin it for me.” She moved the barrel of the shotgun ever so slightly to indicate the far corner of the room. He glanced at it, and then back to her.

“You killed him?”

“Yes. He egged you into trying it on with me that night. You could have said no, it wasn’t right, but you let him push you. And when I fell, I hit hard and the old gun fell down. It damned near did kill me, but I woke up after you left. Dug my way out of the floor just before he showed up. I killed him, buried him, and disappeared. Yeah, let the whole damned city think I was dead. While I hid out and watched everyone chasing in circles trying to find me. I saw my parents. I spied on them. Even snuck into the house, and heard them when no one was around. They were glad I was gone. Oh, they put on the front and made out how they missed me and wanted me back. But I knew better. So I stayed gone.

I changed my name and went to a new town, invented some kind of bullshit story, and they believed it. And the next thing I knew I was adopted and living on the good side of town. It has been great all these years. So I guess I should thank you for almost killing me while trying to get into my pants.” 

“How did you know I was here?”

“I’ve been watching you since you got into town. I hoped you would come out here to make sure my body’s still here. Saves me having to move you afterward.”

“Look, I’m really sorry, we didn’t mean nothing by anything we did, we were just kids.”

“That might have worked then, but not now. It’s too late, far too late for me. I’ve already gone down this road, and I’m going to finish it.”

With that, the shotgun flashed. He never heard it go off.

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Please visit Kenneth on his website: http://kennethlawson.weebly.com

Sarah Anne Steckel: Temple Resurgence

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

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( Please note: the images used as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)  

Admin Note: Sarah continues the amazing tales of Vortex and Newo. Sarah has continued her story acorss several monthly prompts which is quite a feat. Look back through the archives for more of the adventures of Vortex and Newo!

Temple Resurgence

By Sarah Anne Steckel

“All vitals are normal, he is waking up now.”

Vortex slowly opened his eyes, his vision blurred momentarily while his eyes attempted to focus in on his surroundings. He lay strapped down to a gurney, in a solid white room with the whirring and beeping of machines all around him. Slowly he lifted his head and craned his neck around to see where the voice came from, but he was unable to see anything other than walls, machines, and a long floor-to-ceiling mirror to his right. He did a double-take at the mirror, distracted by what he saw in its reflection: a bald man strapped onto a gurney that was much too small to contain his large frame, his complexion was a shade darker than that of the sterile white walls behind him, and his eyes were solid black voids inside his skull.

Was he looking at himself? Vortex continued to stare at his reflection in disbelief. Was this really what he looked like? What was his appearance like before? What was before? Now Vortex stared at his reflection with a lost sense of judgment.

“Where am I?” he cried out to the empty room, and attempted to fight back a whimper. “…What am I?”

“You are experiment VORT-10. Created from a mix of a Flixan host and Sapien DNA… but we have begun calling you Vortex,” an androgynous voice from somewhere behind him answered.

“Experiment?” Vortex asked, finding it more alarming that the answer he received didn’t worry him in the least bit. With his voice just above a whisper, he continued to question, “how do I know this already?”

“We have been inputting these answers inside your brain from the beginning, in hopes to help subside some confusion. Can you recall your mission?”

Vortex answered even before he knew the words he needed to say. “To search out experiment NEW-00.”

“Yes, exactly. NEW-00, or simply, Newo, has become misaligned with her protocol — the same mission you have been entrusted with — to observe the primal sapien races and report back to us whether or not we should continue with our experiments on them.”

“But why experiment on them at all?”

The incorporeal voice spoke again, devoid of any emotion. “We are curious how fast we can push humanity into the modern world. The first step, which we’ve completed, is to incorporate our more advanced DNA into a select group and see how their offspring differ from the non-control group. It was Newo’s job to observe and report those findings. For the first dozen generations she was complying with protocol, but her reports have long since stopped.”

“So what, you want me to find her and realign her with the mission?”

“Somewhat. Do you know what your name stands for, Vortex?” The voice paused. “Vigilant Operator, Recovery and Termination — we want you to find her, assimilate with her for her knowledge, and then annihilate her.”

Vortex gazed at his reflection once more, but this time instead of his own image he saw that of a young woman with bright pink hair and eyes, and an olive-brown complexion. Where he was created by using a donor body from his creators, she was made from a Sapien donor. NEW-00’s image was burned into his brain, and he somehow seemed to recall it being there even before he became conscious as if it was another bit of information that his creators managed to input into his brain.

The gurney he was strapped onto began to lift him into an upright position, and his bindings began to loosen. As his bare feet touched the sterile white tile floor, he heard the impartial voice speak again behind him. “Her last report was sent from a thriving tribe in the north, over ten decades ago. We are unaware of her location now, or how the Sapiens have evolved since. Good luck, Vortex.”

A door in front of him slid open, revealing a smaller room with only a table and single chair. On the seat of the chair was a leather-bound bag filled with various forms of dried meats. On the top of the table was a neatly folded outfit made from some sort of animal hide, and a pair of sandals. Vortex looked both over before slipping the thonged sandals on his feet and then clothing his massive body with the simple attire. Once he was fully dressed and had the leather satchel in hand, a second door opened to a long hallway. A warm gust of wind traveled down the corridor, carrying the scent of warm earth and sweet flowers.

As he walked down the hallway, he could see glimpses of dust as he grew closer to the exit, and the sun momentarily blinded him as he stepped over the threshold. He turned around to look at the building that had previously housed him and frowned, finding no building at all but a tall and rocky mountain front. Curiously, he reached out and pressed the palm of his hand against a boulder, watching as it easily went through the rocky center. “A hologram, of course…”

He turned back to the barren field and shielded his eyes so he was able to look off in the distance. Along the horizon in what appeared to be the edge of a town, he saw shingled roofs with chimneys that were emitting plumes of smoke. As he trekked ever closer to the hub, the well-worn cobblestone roads became visible, as did several field hands busily working their plows. With a chuckle in his throat, Vortex said softly to himself, “They’re far off from primal, now… they appear quite civilized to me.”

Breaching the main road that led into the center of town, Vortex noticed that people all resembled the image of Newo that he ingrained in his memory; they were all short and dark in complexion. He stood an entire head and a half taller than any man that he came across in the streets, and his porcelain white skin caused him to stick out like a sore thumb amongst the tawny civilians.

As he traveled deeper along the road, he noticed several people stopping in their tracks and leering at him, some in curiosity while others were in fear. Every horrified face he looked upon caused him to become distracted from the roadway, and he failed to see the merchant and his cart in the center of town square until it was too late. Vortex bumped into the smaller man and knocked him down, startling himself.

“Oh, sorry!” he mumbled under his breath, unsure if the man could even understand him. He watched as the merchant grumbled, muttering words Vortex failed to understand under his breath before he stood and looked upon him angrily. The merchant shouted at him in a foreign language, before he noticed how much taller Vortex was, and quickly ducked behind his cart. In a non-threatening manner, Vortex raised both palms up and slowly backed away from the man, and started to walk faster down the road. He could feel the angry pairs of eyes that followed him as he continued his trek through town, and he now knew that his alien presence was unwelcome here.

As he attempted to walk back out of the gates in retreat, he was approached by two of the largest men in the village. The tops of their heads barely reached Vortex’s chin, but still, they confidently marched up to Vortex and shoved their crudely made spears at him. Raising his hands in defense, Vortex tried to talk in a soothing voice, but every time he spoke the two men grew even angrier.

“Please, I’ll leave, I’m sorry!”

“Argle snapuh! Argle snapuh! Nehow, nehow tainux!” The guards continued to shout. One of them turned their blade upon Vortex, and quickly jabbed him in the side of his abdomen. “Tainux! Tainux!”

Vortex looked down at the spearhead that was lodged in his side and groaned. He tried to take a step back in an attempt to remove the blade, but this only angered the second man who then rammed his spear through the center of Vortex’s chest. The blow knocked the wind out of him, and he found that he was unable to take another breath. His head grew heavy and his chin slumped to his chest. The last image he recalled seeing was his own blood as it poured from the hole the spear made, splattering the guard as he ripped the blade out of his chest.

Finding Newo was going to be much harder than he originally thought it was.

***

“Newo!” Vortex shouted, waking himself from his troubled sleep. Sweat poured from his brow and soaked the thin cloth of his straw pillow. He pushed back the wool blanket that covered his body and stared at the unfamiliar rafters that were above him. “Where am I…?”

Just as the confusion began to set in, he heard a gentle female voice call out from the other side of his bedroom door. “Yui? M’Yui? Pa’ua mi gueano?”

A thin, dark-haired woman entered through the doorway and gave him a concerned look. At first glance, she looked to be a young woman, but as she approached him and sat down beside him on the bed, he could see the wrinkles forming on her forehead and in the corners of her eyes. Her skin was lighter than that of the tawny men who stabbed him before, and unlike those men, she was unafraid of him, and gently placed her hand on his forehead. When she spoke in her strange language this time, Vortex realized that he fully understood her,

“Well, thankfully your fever broke, Yui.” She smiled and bent down to kiss his forehead. “You frightened me, son, I was fearing that Ma’ha was going to take you.”

“Ma’ha?” Vortex asked, confused. Slowly he sat up and lifted his shirt to examine his abdomen and chest, alarmed when he saw no signs of trauma.

The woman reached out and slapped him softly, her voice scolding. “Did that fever take your mind? How could you forget Ma’ha, our creator?”

The answers he was searching for slowly began to come to him. Ma’ha was responsible for creating all life, and gave the people a great gift. Ma’ha sent their only daughter down to help people learn, and teach them the ways of survival. She lived amongst the first tribes, they accepted her as their own, and revered her as a goddess.

Was the legend talking of his people, and how they sent Newo down to observe them? Did this mean that she went against her protocol and instead assimilated with the people? Vortex narrowed his eyes and glowered at his grey wool blanket, and he contemplated on how long it had been since he was stabbed. He lifted his shirt a second time to observe that there wasn’t a single sign that a scar even existed.

“Yui what is wrong, why do you keep looking at your chest?”

“I wasn’t stabbed in the town square, was I?”

The woman laughed softly. “What horrible fever dreams you have!”

“Mother?”

“Yes, Yui?”

“What happened to Newo?”

“You really lost your mind,” the woman chuckled softly and stood from the bed. “When she felt she was needed no longer, she climbed the great mountain and returned home.”

“Great mountain? Where is that?” Vortex threw his covers back and slowly got to his feet. As he stood, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, shocked to see that his appearance was unchanged from when he walked out of the laboratory hidden inside of the hologramed rock face. As his mother approached, he noticed how alien he appeared next to her, and yet she still looked upon him with adoration. “I need to find Newo.”

“Son, are you still ill? Newo is no longer here. She is long gone.”

“No, she’s not!” Vortex took a step back and frowned. “She’s alive somewhere — I know it, I feel it inside — and I need to find her.”

“Yui, you need to calm yourself,” his mother soothed, and attempted to put her hands on his face. “You’re not well, son. The fever has robbed you of your mind.”

“No mother, I’m fully aware of what I must do. I am in my right mind, more than ever.” He spun on his heel and began to collect his clothing, and began to get dressed. Hanging on his bedpost was a leather bag, which he began filling with any items that might be useful on the road before he exited the room and began raiding the ceramic storage pots in the earthen pantry. “I must find Newo, it is my life’s mission. I will leave this instant, on a pilgrimage to find her. I must!”

“Yui! Yui please—”

“Call me that no more!” He stopped in the doorway to look upon his mother one last time and offered her a soft grin. “My name is Vortex, not Yui.”

***

Traveling through the thriving towns and villages this time around was much easier. Although Vortex still received a lot of strange looks or offensive gestures for his uncanny appearance, being able to communicate with the vast population slightly eased tensions. Through anxious conversations, he narrowed his search to one particular legendary mountain, the land there was sacred to the natives and was rarely visited. The mountain terrain was too steep for the locals to climb regularly, so they erected a temple halfway up to place their offerings to Newo.

Under the cover of night, Vortex began his trek up the steep and rocky path and decided to camp at the rickety temple until dawn. It was hidden by a barrage of slender jack pine trees and was no larger than a small shack. The heavy mountain fog that rolled in caused its slender cement walls to completely disappear amongst the darkness of night, and the only sign that the temple stood there at all was the brilliant illumination of a lantern that had been perched in the window just below the worn thatched roof. The ground inside was littered with clay jars that were filled with putrid food and the remains of animal corpses. Vortex debated on sleeping outside, but the sky opened up and began to pour rain just as he was about to make a bed on a patch of grass.

He sighed loudly and cleared a spot on the ground to sit. His feet were blistered and sore, and he was verging on mild starvation. As he rolled onto his knees, he began searching through the jars that smelled the least rank, surprised to find one filled with dried fish. With a grin he pulled out four dried flanks and bit into the salty preserved meat, chewing happily. As he leaned back, he wondered out loud to himself, “If she was climbing the mountain in an attempt to get back to our elders, I wonder if she would even come back here… Is Newo eternal? Would she come back again, as I obviously did?”

He stuck the second piece of fish into his mouth and continued, “…But why?”

“…Who are you…?”

The wary female voice caught Vortex off guard and caused him to jump. He didn’t even hear her approach, and uneasily got to his feet. With the fish still clutched in hand, he turned and faced her; her bright pink hair was tangled and hung in a mix of knots and badly woven braids. Her face was coated in mud that mostly hid her olive complexion. With one hand she clutched a torch and in the other a rusty and broken blade of a dagger.

They glared at one another, but Vortex was the first to speak, his words barely a whisper. “Newo…”

“Newo…” she repeated, her voice a hoarse whisper. Her eyes grew red, and tears began to stream down her cheeks, causing the mud over her face to streak and fall away. She took a step back, her tone growing louder as she began to rave, “Newo, Newo… Not Suri, or Kaina, Aba or Noe… I’kla, Muri, or Ahui. Newo… Newo… NEWO!”

“Newo…” Vortex repeated louder, but still soft in tone. He took a step toward her, smiled, and slowly reached out both of his hands towards her.

“Who are you?” she shouted at him, her pink eyes wild with fright. As he approached her, her grip on the broken dagger tightened and she lunged at him, plunging the rusty blade deeply into the center of his chest. She screamed savagely at him, her bright eyes boring into his own obsidian ones angrily.

“Not again…” Vortex muttered under his breath, his head slumping to his right. Newo kept constant pressure on her weapon, causing the blood to pour from his chest and puddle around him on the ground. The last thing he recalled seeing was her bright and angry gaze before his sight went black.

When his eyes opened, he lay in another unknown bed, a pale-haired woman lay naked and asleep at his side. The posts of his bed were decorated with colorful flowers, two matching crowns lay strewn on a table to the right of the bed, and an elaborate dress hung over the back of a chair. As he sat up in bed he examined his bare chest, and with little surprise this time, once again found no sign of any wound. With a heavy sigh, he got out of bed and began to dress, as the woman beside him stirred.

“Konu? Where are you going, my husband?”

“My name is Vortex,” he said firmly, his back to the woman. “And I am leaving to find Newo.”

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WRITERS UNITE! ANTHOLOGIES: DIMENSIONS OF Paranormal

Welcome to Writers Unite!’s fifth anthology volume. We invite all writers of paranormal or any writers interested in the paranormal genre to submit a story to our Dimensions of Paranormal anthology.

If you are interested in submission, you must be a member of Writers Unite! on Facebook.  If you have questions, please email writersunite16@gmail.com. 

Thank you for your interest!  

Submission information: 

  • Submissions open on October 1, 2019, at 12:01 am Eastern Time
  • Submissions close on December 31, 2019, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time
  • All stories must be emailed to the Publisher at writersunite16@gmail.com
  • Please type “Paranormal Submission” plus your name and the story title in the subject line. Each story submission must be in a separate email.

Writers Unite! Paranormal Anthology Guidelines:

Genre:  Paranormal (all subgenres)     

Rating: G, GP, R (no excessive gore or erotica)

Please click on the link below for the complete guidelines.

Paranormal Anthology Guidelines

WRITE THE STORY October 2019 PROMPT

Write the Story October 2019 Prompt

Ah… October… the spooky month! Time to let your wicked muse loose! Or…. the good muse can play too!

The October 2019 Prompt:

Here’s the plan:

Based on the image provided,  write a story of 3000 words or less (doesn’t matter, can be 50 words or a poem) and post it on the author site that you want to promote. Please edit these stories. We will do minor editing but if the story is not written well WU! reserves the right to reject publishing it.

Send the story and link to the site via Messenger to Deborah Ratliff. Put “Write the Story” in the first line of the message.

WU! will post your story on our blog and share across our platforms, FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. WU! will also add the story to the Write the Story page on our blog…where it be for all to read along with the other stories.

We do ask that you share the link to the WU! so that your followers can also read the works of your fellow Write the Story writers.

The idea is to generate increased traffic for all. It may take some time but it will happen if you participate. The other perk of this exercise is that you will also have a blog publishing credit for your work.

Periodically throughout the month, we will post the current prompt as a reminder.

DO NOT post your story to this prompt. The idea is to have your STORY or poem published on your site, the WU! blog and shared to gain followers for your writing. We will not accept a one- or two-line caption. For the most part, we are fiction writers and poets…. please write a story or poem, not a caption.

If you have any questions regarding this, you may ask the question in the comments.

Thank you from the WU! Admins! Now… write the story!

(Please note: the images we will use as prompts are free-use images and do not require attribution.)