NUMBER ONE ANGEL by Allison M. Dickson

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Sekhmet Press is honored to have Allison M. Dickson as a special guest in this, our third anthology in the WRAPPED Horror Anthology series. Her short story NUMBER ONE ANGEL can also be found in one of her original collections, AT THE END OF THINGS.  Allison is currently represented by Stephanie Kip Rostan at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Number One Angel
Allison M. Dickson

Mama carried her plate of cake to the living room and plopped down in her ratty old recliner, its broken frame crunching under her weight. Louise always thought one day the woman would fall right through and end up with a piece of splintered wood stuck right up her old fat ass, but none of that mattered now. This was the last time Mama was ever going to sit down anywhere, if everything went like Phelan said it would. And it ought to. Louise had done just like he showed her.
“Now you listen up, Little Louise,” Mama said. “Any man who says he’ll lasso the moon for you is a no-good liar.” She crammed a huge bite of cake into her well-oiled gob, and Louise watched her swallow it nearly whole, like a snake eating a mouse. “Truth is, you ain’t never gonna get a man that’s worth a damn, cause you ain’t no better’n me. And you seen what kinda men I ended up with. Only thing Danny could lasso, God rest his soul, was six-packs of Natty Light and a hundred-fifty a week in unemployment.”
Louise didn’t utter more than a few agreeable grunts here and there. It didn’t matter what she said. Mama never listened. She just liked to do the talking part, and Louise thanked the heavens it wouldn’t have to go on much longer. The woman was vicious most times and downright boring the others, rattling on about how she knew better than anybody about everything, or about her dumb soap operas or some end of the world crap she’d watched on the Discovery Channel. Louise hated those shows. Hated most television, really. The people on it were mean or always trying to scare folks. She only watched it because she wasn’t much good at reading. These days, though, she preferred to spend time with Phelan. He was better than the best TV shows all rolled into one.
Mama took another bite of the birthday cake Louise had cooked up special. Carrot, Mama’s favorite, with a thick spackle-like coating of cream cheese frosting. It was way too much cake for two, but Mama didn’t have any other friends to share it with, and probably would’ve hogged it all up for herself even if she did. The mean old bitch loved her some cake, and probably thought she’d have this one all through the week with every meal. Too bad for her, though, she wouldn’t survive the next few bites.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


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amd outsideAllison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, later in 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot. For more information on how to reach Allison or to read her blog, visit allisonmdicksonbooks.com.

COMES THE RAIN by Gregory L. Norris

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


COMES THE RAIN
by Gregory L. Norris

As Grammy Rae slipped closer toward the shroud, the sky over Foster’s Pond grew dark and more threatening, filling with clouds the color of old bruises, jaundiced yellow-green edged in purple. No rain fell and the air thickened with the bitterness of ozone, becoming almost too heavy to breathe.
Jamison recognized that smell. Four years earlier, Grammy Rae and Momma had taken him to an amusement park for his seventh birthday and its acridity had rained down over the bumper cars, stronger than that of the grease, intensifying with every pop and flash of electricity in the network of metal honeycombs over their heads, those tiny balls of lightning that powered the cars into motion. In the past few days, lightning had crackled and thunder had boomed, but no raindrops fell.
“Don’t go outside,” Momma said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I have to water the pumpkins,” Jamison argued, his not much louder. “They’re gonna dry up and die on their vines.”
Momma’s eyes darted to the window. Jamison followed her gaze and saw a veil of mist sweep past, framed by the threadbare checked curtains. “No, stay inside.”
“But Momma…”
It wasn’t so much the pumpkins, which he had planted and labored over all summer, any more than the drooping tomatoes with their wooden stalks and plump, red fruit, or the carrots he harvested by the handfuls, loving it when they resisted being tugged out of the ground. It was the silence, the stagnancy inside the house. That, and Grammy Rae’s outbursts as the fever consumed her.
Whatever admonishment she readied to make died, cancelled out by another plaintive cry from the top of the staircase. The voice was Grammy’s, sweet to the ears as it normally was, but beneath the near-musical tones lurked another, sharper cord. At its utterance, sparrows darted out of cover from the cool green folds of the two stately willow trees that bookended the farmhouse and, for an instant, the sun broke through the sallow mists, forming prisms through the back windows that faced out across the pond. A ribbon of fresh air stirred through the house; the breeze, Jamison noted, smelled of roses and almonds, like Grammy Rae’s hand lotion.
Kitten raced out of the back room and into the kitchen, panic written across her tiny face and obvious in her wide eyes. She dropped the rag doll Grammy Rae had made her the previous Christmas in her haste to reach the safety of Momma’s arms.
“It’s okay,” Momma soothed.
But Jamison knew it wasn’t. He patted Kitten’s back and dropped the subject. For now.
“I need you to talk to me,” Momma urged.
Kitten shook her head. She possessed quite the vocabulary, far bigger words and meanings than many of the older kids in Jamison’s class. But she had stopped speaking the moment Grammy Rae fell ill. That had been a week ago, and the storm clouds had soon followed.
“Take your sister,” Momma whispered. She handed Kitten down.
Jamison recovered the rag doll and Kitten, who could recite entire poems and whole pages of stories from memory when she wanted to, clutched at it, her eyes sealed as tightly as her lips. The unexpected whistle of the kettle on the stove made Jamison jump.
Momma prepared another cup of tea for Grammy Rae. Mint, he could tell by the sweet fragrance as she passed by, balancing a tray between her shaking hands. The miserable silence that had blanketed the house resumed, its ominous weight not stopping flocks of invisible butterflies from fluttering their wings beside both of Jamison’s ears.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


gregory norris1Gregory L. Norris is a full-time professional writer, with numerous publication credits, mostly in national magazines and fiction anthologies. A former writer at Sci Fi, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel (before all those ridiculous Ys invaded), he once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s modern classic, Star Trek: Voyager and is the author of the handbook to all-things-Sunnydale, The Q Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Alyson Books, 2008).

Find Gregory HERE.

SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlackCOVER


SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL
by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
Jamie checked his watch against the computer clock, then, with a sick stomach lurch, desperately glanced up at the clock on the wall. “No. No, no.” Shit. He wasn’t going to make it home on time. Jamie grabbed his files and briefcase, then dashed for the elevator, tapping his foot as the numbers slowly lit, begging it to move faster. When the doors finally slid open, he entered and breathed a sigh of relief to find it empty. No one was going to slow him down with small talk or ask how he’d been, how things were at home…
“Wait!” a woman’s voice called from nearby. “Please! Hold the elevator.”
Jamie stuck out his hand to block the automatic doors.
Hannah, a sweet new hire from Accounting, slid into the elevator and flashed him a smile.
Cold sweat prickled over his neck. Jamie could smell her, he realized. She was wearing some flowery perfume that sent him into a panic. His hand shot out to block the doors again. “You know, I think I’ll take the stairs instead. It’s better for me, anyway,” he muttered as he rushed out of the elevator. Jamie was out of earshot before she had a chance to reply, hustling his way down the echoing concrete stairwell.
On the drive home, he sped whenever he could, trying to earn back the minutes, but at that hour, everyone else had the same plan, and he found himself snarled in a traffic jam that sucked away the time. Jamie kept flashing hateful, frightened looks at the dashboard clock, swearing at it for doing its job so goddamn precisely. Sweat broke out across his skin, even though the AC was on full blast, and no matter what radio station he switched to, nothing could take his mind off the clamoring refrain pounding in his head.
I’m gonna be late.
Elena’s gonna be furious. She’s gonna punish me.
But it’s not my fault! I can just tell her-
She’s not gonna listen. She’s gonna make me crawl.
The car behind him honked, and Jamie rolled forward a few feet, before the fear-song began again:
I’m gonna be late.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


braddShenoa Carroll-Bradd lives in Southern California and loves writing horror and fantasy stories.
Short stories were her first love, but she’s currently working on several novels, screenplays, and a graphic novel series.

Her writing idols are Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin. 

You can find Shenoa on Facebook here.

PIG ROAST by Aaron Gudmunson

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlackCOVER


 

PIG ROAST
by Aaron Gudmunson

Chet fancied himself a mustard aficionado. It was more than that though; mustard was his passion. Chet loved red meat, period. He didn’t care that he stood shy of six feet and pushed 300 pounds–food was his life and if that meant forfeiting a few years at the far end, that would suit him fine. Nothing compared to food. Not his ailing mother, who he’d placed in a cut-rate nursing home last May, not his lackluster job as a claims adjuster for a second-tier insurance company, not even his Great Dane Groucho. Food. Was. It.

In his lifetime, he’d scarfed bushels of burgers, mountains of meatloaf, bundles of bratwurst, and cables of kielbasa–all of them enhanced by the glorious spice of mustard.

Arch’s Market was a throwback to the years before big box stores combined gardening with groceries. Arch’s was old school, a squat seven-aisle shop smack in the center of town. It specialized in specialties–it was the only place within a hundred miles where you could buy thirteen varieties of honey and three hundred types of cheese. The in-house bakery pumped out pumpernickel–his all-time favorite bread–in basket after basket of steaming loaves. Arch’s butcher was an artist, fileting and dicing and chopping like a master craftsman, which he was.

And then there was the mustard aisle. Well, half an aisle anyway. The opposing shelving held standard condiments like ketchup and pickles and corn relish and the like, but Chet never even glanced their way. They were all so pedestrian.

His pulse quickened every time he stood before the golden wall of goodness. There were Dijons and deli-styles, honeys and hots, spirited and sweets, whole grain, fruit, beer, and lovely simple yellow. He’d sampled many brands and varieties and had narrowed down his favorites. But there were still so many to try!

Chet loved the 4th of July because the Park District held an annual pig roast and oyster bake. For eight bucks, you got a plate of seared pork with baked beans, cole slaw, a buttered roll and all the oysters you could shuck. Now the rest of the stuff could go to hell, to Chet’s mind, but the pork was utterly to die for. He’d stand soaking in the smoke at the edge of the stone pit while the pig spun over the open flame. He’d savor it. Foster it. Turn it into a deep crave which would start as a black hole in his belly and threaten to devour him whole. By the time the beast finished blackening, Chet’s mouth would fill with saliva so fast he’d have to subtly spit into the grass. By the time he got his plate, he’d pay extra for doubles.

And he always brought his own mustard. He’d carry the jar in a fanny pack, usually a spicy brown. Mustard made everything taste better. Everything.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


 

aaron g1Aaron Gudmunson lives and writes in the Chicagoland area. He has worked as a contributing writer and columnist for local and regional periodicals. His work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Apex, Dark Moon Digest, and Empirical Magazine. His debut novel, Snow Globe, is available now in Kindle and trade paperback formats, as is Emma Tremendous, his first novel for young adults (written as A.D. Goodman). Visit him on the web at http://www.aarongudmunson.com.

NEWS: Wrapped In Black

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We are very proud to announce the contributors for

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVERIt wasn’t easy to narrow down the fantastic submissions we received, but we think we’ve picked 13 amazing stories from 13 talented authors and we hope you will agree. 

Stay tuned for more links, interviews, excerpts, release date, cover reveal and more!

CLICK the NAMES to visit their Facebook Author pages.

Patrick C. Greene

Rose Blackthorn

James Glass

Aaron Gudmunson

Michael G. Williams

Eric Nash

Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

Mike Lester

Gregory L. Norris

Gordon White

Nick Kimbro

Solomon Archer

and Special Guest

Allison M. Dickson

Wrapped In Black – Coming this Fall!

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black witch hatThe submission window is closed and we are about to begin the reading process for

WRAPPED IN BLACK

 Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

#13WitchTales

We received the largest submission response yet to one of our anthologies and hopefully that means we are doing something right! A big THANK YOU to everyone who submitted!

Check back here to keep up with the latest. We will announce the selected authors by the end of July. We will be sharing excerpts, author bios and interviews, and GIVEAWAYS! Bookmark SekhmetPress.com, LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and stalk us on Pinterest and Tumblr.

And don’t forget to check out our previous anthologies

Wrapped In Red

 Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror

and

Wrapped in White CoverWrapped In White

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

 

Open Call * Submissions * Horror Anthology – CLOSED

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As we approach the March 25th release of

WRAPPED IN WHITE

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Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Sekhmet Press is pleased to announce

our next anthology in the successful WRAPPED series!

wrapped in blackWRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales

of

Witches and the Occult

Here is your chance to be a WRAPPED contributor!
We are very excited about this third anthology and we look forward to filling available slots through open-call submissions. You may submit your story as an attachment to sekhmetpress@gmail.com between May 18, 2014 and June 8, 2014. Contributors will be announced in July. Expected release date for Wrapped in Black is October 2014.
Original stories only please. No reprints.
Any submissions or inquiries sent anywhere other than sekhmetpress@gmail.com  will be deleted. Submissions received before or after open call dates will be deleted.
Stories should range from 2,500 to 5,000 words.
We are not looking for stories reflecting religious dogma.
In your email, make sure to include your full name, the title of the work you are submitting, and a word count.
A short Bio will be requested upon acceptance of story.
Please spend time proofing and editing your submissions before sending them. Submissions with incorrect grammar, misspellings or formatting will be automatically excluded from the review process. Those submissions that are accepted must be open to receiving minor editorial corrections.
If your story is chosen, pay rate is $0.01 per word, within 30 days of acceptance/signed contract and one paperback copy of WRAPPED IN BLACK within 90 days of publication. Publisher will retain first worldwide publication rights for one year from publication date.
Good luck

Submission Guidelines:

TITLE
Author Name
Word count
e-mail address

12pt Garamond or equivalent

Single Spaced

Do not use TAB key. New paragraphs should be formatted with a 0.3 indent.

Do not use symbols such as # or * between sections. A single blank space is sufficient.

Now go write a story!

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