PIGEON by Eric Nash

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

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PIGEON
by Eric Nash

Sitting on the playground, fingering the amulet which adorned her wrist, Maddie thought that the clockwork conspiracy was genius in the way it dictated her fall.

If Jack, her ex-boyfriend and ex-boss, hadn’t made that girl pregnant, he would not have left Maddie. If she hadn’t been forced to quit her job because of his unreasonable behaviour then she wouldn’t be working in the Estate Agents doing weekend shifts, and would not have been taking her lunch-break in the park. She would not have been watching a magpie swagger through the grass as she listened to her sister waffle on about how fantastic her holiday was – second already that year and it still only July – while her nephew walked along a balance bar between the swing and the climbing frame. If her sister, who never liked Jack and still frequently informed Maddie of this fact, hadn’t told her about her new job, the pay increase and the flirty fit bloke that had interviewed her, she would not have walked over to her nephew, who then would not have bet her that she couldn’t walk all the way along the bar like he had done twice. Maddie stepped up. She would have reached the end if a motorcycle hadn’t backfired and the magpie hadn’t leapt into flight, but it did and so did the other, and the frantic fluttering of wings came inches from Maddie’s face making her twist and flail and fall left off the narrow beam.

Even though she hadn’t landed exactly on the left hand path – the path was some distance away on the other side of the park – she felt that the act of falling to her left counted as the same thing. Now that she had fallen she was, of course, duty-bound to explore her desires and maximise her satisfaction.

Or maybe, Maddie just needed to give herself permission to repay Jack for the three years of pills caused by his betrayal.

Whatever the reason, her liberation began with the removal of her amulet. It was a plain silver band, around which she had wrapped a lock of Jack’s hair. Back when he wore it long. Back when he was hers. To secure the hair she had bound it with red silk. It had protected her from harm every day she and Jack had been together. After, it had been very successful in keeping him near.

Abandoning her nephew to the whims of his self-obsessed mother, Maddie unravelled the silk and let it trail behind her in the dirt, discarding it at the park gates when she turned left to take the Number 9 bus. Knowing what she was about to do had her heart skipping over her hollow belly. The act of allowing herself to do it swept away the many inhibitions that contained her, and made her body tremble with excitement. At the bus stop, she couldn’t help but play hide-and-peek with her reflection, each time lingering a little longer to marvel at the upward curve of her lips and the universe revealed in her eyes.

All the while, Maddie crushed the hair in her fist.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


Photo Credit: boj32

Photo Credit: boj32

Eric Nash writes dark speculative fiction. As yet he has not won, or been nominated for, any awards for his literary works. However, he is working on this and will be sure to let you know when he does. He lives in the south-west of England, possibly with his wife and children but he can’t be sure as demons have lashed him to his writing desk and bolted the door.

He has a website, http://eanash.wordpress.com, and can also be found on social media at http://www.facebook.com/EricNashauthor.

INTO THE LIGHT by Solomon Archer

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Sekhmet Press is excited to announce that Wrapped In Black contributor

Solomon Archer

has been named the

2014 Masters of Macabre Winner

by horroraddicts.net

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Congratulations, Archer!


INTO THE LIGHT
by Solomon Archer

Elliot thought back to when it all started, before the gatherings became ceremonies. Before the rituals demanded sacrifices. Before his gift became a nightmare. Before his life became Mother’s.

Back then, he thought, as if the world before the coven had been simpler. Sundown meant heading home to set the table for dinner, pedaling his Schwinn as fast as he could. Back then, he responded “treasure hunting pirate astronaut” to any adult who inquired what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wasn’t a sullen eighteen-year-old who lived with his single mother on a dead farm, in a state where the only excitement came in the form of questionably regulated rides at the county fair or an occasional late summer hailstorm. Back then, he had a family and a life. He had a father and friends and all of suburban Newton Highlands as his playground.

But most importantly, he didn’t stay up until dawn, sweat-soaked and panicky with his heart in his throat, listening for the sounds of creatures stirring in the fields outside his window. Or hold his breath when they stopped.

Then, sixteen months ago, he met Deacon.

It had been a Saturday in mid-April, and rather than spend the day turning his dead grandparents’ former dream home into his own Midwest nightmare, unpacking the moving boxes that doubled as cardboard furniture, Elliot opted instead to explore the deserted back roads of Delphos, far from the disappointed stare of his mother. He rarely needed to use more than three or four gears on his bike in the flat expanse of Ottawa County, but that was more than enough to generate a welcome rush of spring wind through his hair. He had just passed the county line ten miles from his house, enjoying the solitude and peace, when he struck the pothole.

He hadn’t been watching the road, so he never saw it coming. The front tire dropped into the depression, pitching him over the handlebars. He stiffened reflexively as the ground rushed up to meet him, and hit the road with both hands. The road tore into his shoulder, elbow, back, and legs as he landed hard. He writhed in pain, moaning and cursing at dozens of scrapes, cuts, and tears that had suddenly erupted all over his body.

He sat up slowly, turning his left hand over in his lap and wincing at what was undoubtedly a sprained wrist. The asphalt had shredded the meat of his palms and the pebbles, dirt, and debris burrowed into his skin like powdered acid. A midline scar on his right hand, the result of a playground accident when he was ten, was lost in a map of angry red cuts.

He gingerly took the cell phone out of his back pocket. The screen was cracked, and dark. His bike lay on its side like mechanical road kill, the disengaged chain dangling from the crankshaft like a metal intestine.

Favoring his left leg, Elliot got to his feet, picked up his bike and steadied himself on it as he walked it back in the direction of town. The front tire wobbled on its warped rim and Elliot had to coax it along like a wounded pack animal. It was over half an hour before he spied a vehicle on the watery horizon. It crossed the center line and slowed to a crawl, stopping only a few feet in front of him. The muffler offered a low chuckle and shook impatiently as if it were attached to a sleek classic muscle car rather than a mid-70s Lincoln Continental. The dark brown finish was faded, its exterior coated in dust. Though the do-it-yourself window tinting was pale and bubbled, Elliot couldn’t make out the driver.

He gave the car a wide berth as he walked past, when the window rolled down and a gaunt man with a shock of fluffy white hair leaned across the passenger seat.

“Looks like you’ve had quite a scrape.” The driver’s voice was deep and raspy, belying a lifetime of cigarette addiction if not throat cancer.

“Yeah,” Elliot replied, an automatic response. “Just a little scrape, no big deal.”

“Would you like a ride?”

Elliot tensed. “No. Thanks, really. I’ll be fine.”

The man’s gaze fell on the ruined tire and dragging chain, glided over Elliot’s legs, wandered past the abrasions on his hips and elbows, and came to rest on the blood-soaked handlebar Elliot clutched in a vise-like grip. He shook his head slowly, deliberately.

“And you’re planning on walking back to town?” The driver’s voice had a pitying, amused quality. “How long do you think that will take? Two hours? Three maybe?”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


solomon archerSolomon Archer is the 2014 Masters of the Macbre winner for his short story SURFACE TENSION. A criminal psychologist by day and writer by night, Archer is currently the Chief Psychologist of the XXXXXXX State Department of Corrections. He spends much of his time working with serious and dangerously mentally ill offenders, some of whom are not so disorganized that they couldn’t figure out a way to free themselves from their restraints and stab him in the head with an altered food tray. (Incidentally, the going rate for shanking a psychologist is two pounds of coffee and three bags of Top tobacco. You know, just in case you were curious).

Archer’s short stories have appeared in Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits and the new Wrapped In Black: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult.  His book PSYKU: A Work of Forensic Prose will release later this year by Sekhmet Press. Follow the lives of criminal offenders, as distilled into 17-syllable snapshots of dark humor and morose commentary, by a forensic psychologist with a Disciple Complex and a rampant case of cynicism.

You can find Archer here: http://psykubook.wordpress.com/

and here: https://www.facebook.com/psykuofficial

BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN THINGS by Rose Blackthorn

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


BEAUTIFUL, BROKEN THINGS
by Rose Blackthorn

He noticed the store-front within the first week of moving into the neighborhood. The broad window was curtained with sheer black hangings and a coral pink neon sign flickered Open over an array of oddities. There was no business name over the mirrored glass door, just a hand painted plaque with a large black crow holding an eyeball in one clawed foot.
The street was filled with little shops, all of them grimy and worn in the ever-present overcast. There were pawnshops, tattoo parlors, adult book stores, and little food stands with two or three tables or a narrow counter with barstools. This was not the best part of town to work in, let alone live, but Trey didn’t have a lot of options. Unless a person had the money to pay for walls and security, this was the best he could get.
“Have you ever gone in?”
Trey started, glancing at the painted girl who stood near him. She had candy-pink hair and wore a white sequined dress that left little of her browned figure to the imagination. “Huh?”
The girl laughed, a tinkling sound that was decidedly out of place. “To the Morrigan’s. Have you ever gone in?”
He looked back across the street, to the wooden sign displaying the crow and eyeball. “No. What did you call it?”
The girl pulled a case out of the beaded bag dangling from her wrist, opening it to reveal tiny iridescent tablets. She put one under her tongue before returning the case to her bag. “The Morrigan’s.”
“What is it?” Street lights made pools of dingy gold on the dirty pavements up and down the street, and vehicles skimmed past on their silent airfields, sending bits of paper and plastic wrappers scooting along the cracked sidewalks. Trey kept from asking about the tablets. He was clean now. He repeated it as a silent mantra, clean now clean now clean now.
“My name is Nousha,” she said breaking through his inner monologue. “You’re new around here. What’s your name?”
“Trey,” he answered, clean now clean now ran on in the back of his mind.
“The Morrigan is a magic shop.” Her dark skin shimmered, picking up the yellow of the street lights and magnifying it.
“Like card tricks, sawing someone in half?”
She laughed, more tinkling. “No, not that fake stuff. Real magic. Spells and hexes, love potions and such.”
He stared at her, half hypnotized by the glimmering shifting colors on her skin. “No such thing.”
Nousha shrugged, her bright pink hair like the neon signs along the street. “You could see for yourself. Or not.”
Trey looked back at the dark window with the Open sign stuttering against the glass. Past the glass, behind the sheer black curtains, he thought he could see someone standing there looking back at him. But it could have just been a reflection. Or maybe he’d caught a partial high off the painted girl’s glittering skin.
A car pulled up and stopped, window opening to reveal a heavy-set man of middle age. He glanced at Trey, then to Nousha. “Feel like a party?” he asked, voice gravelly and low.
“If you’ve got the creds, I’m up for anything,” she said in a sexy purr. She winked at Trey, then got into the car. Her skin picked up the blue and violet lights from the interior, glimmering hyacinth and wisteria before the window slid shut and the car’s airfield whisked it away.
Across the street, the Open sign buzzed and flickered. If anyone had been standing behind the curtain before, they were gone now. Trey felt as though he buzzed and flickered, clean now repeating again and again in the back of his mind. He turned and went down the street to the barred security door, punched in his access code, and went up two flights of dingy stairs to what was now his home.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


roseRose Blackthorn writes speculative fiction from the high mountain desert of eastern Utah.

She has published online and in print, including “Stupefying Stories”, “Necon E-books”, “Cast of Wonders” podcast, “The Wicked Library” horror podcast, “Interstellar Fiction”, “BuzzyMag”, “Books of the Dead” and “Jamais Vu”. She is also included in the anthologies “A Quick Bite of Flesh”, “Horrific History” and “Shifters” by Hazardous Press; “New Dawn Fades”, “The Ghost IS the Machine” and “Fear the Abyss” by Post Mortem Press, “Eulogies II: Tales from the Cellar” by HorrorWorld, and “Equilibrium Overturned” by Grey Matter Press. She has stories scheduled for release from Sirens Call Publications, Sekhmet Press and Eldritch Press. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association.

Visit Rose at: http://www.facebook.com/RoseBlackthorn.Author
or at: http://roseblackthorn.wordpress.com
or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/rose_blackthorn

HAIR SHIRT DRAG by Gordon White

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


HAIR SHIRT DRAG
by Gordon White

I ain’t never read the Key of Solomon, but I read the Book of Kings. Rest of the Bible, too, back when Mama thought that’d help me fit in. It didn’t, I won’t, and, truth be told, I ain’t all that broken up about it. It’s hard being the only son in a family of powerful women, harder still when people say you aren’t even man enough for that. But I’m just about over it all, really.
It’s a humid July evening, as Mama says, accenting both syllables. We’re on the porch, listening to the crickets and the frogs settle into their nightly delirium as fireflies rise up across the tobacco fields like ghost lights. Mama’s got a mouthful of needles as she helps me pin the dress I’m wearing. She’s ain’t thrilled to be doing it, but I need help on the back and at least out here the cicadas drown out her disapproving clucks.
An engine rattling across the field and a red dust cloud barreling down the driveway interrupt our work. It ain’t even really dark yet, but the car’s headlights are beaming like two wide eyes scared that something’s going to jump out at them. As it gets closer, I recognize Emma Turner, a girl I knew from school and the kind that shakes her long, blonde hair when she gets out of her car like this was a shampoo commercial. Almost without thinking, I brush my hand across the nearly shaved side of my own head, bristling out a fine mist of sweat. I’m not petty or anything, but she and I have never gotten along.
“Evening, Ms. Overhold,” she says to Mama.
Mama nods. “It is.”
Emma’s mouth hangs opens as she hesitates, deciding how to address me.
See, Overhold is a matrilineal name, passed on through our family’s women, although I ended up with that gift, too, despite my sex. Which was fine, until I got to Bushrod Johnson High and the kids all started calling me “Sissy,” but since that’s a diminutive – sometimes even an affectionate – of names like Melissa or Jesse, I could pretend it wasn’t all that bad. You know, if you squinted hard enough. Anyway, I never let it give them power over me because if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: Words don’t mean nothing. It’s only intention that makes things happen.
That’s important.
“Jesse,” Emma settles on my boy name, smiling as if she and I were on speaking terms. “You’re looking thin.”
Her eyes laugh the way her mouth wouldn’t dare in front of Mama. I must look a mess, hair frizzed out and make-up smearing in the damp air, probably more than a little five o’clock shadow. But girls like Emma eat weakness, so I lean in and smile back.
“You, too, Goldie.” It sounds innocuous, but she and I both know the rumors behind it.
Her smile hardens and she shakes her hair again, probably not even meaning to, yet ruled by an instinctual vanity. She tugs at her curls, a tell she’s had since middle school when lying to teachers or her boyfriend Tommy Stinz. “I like your,” her free hand waves, “get-up. Trash chic.”
Half made-up though I may be, I look good in this dress. The sharp lines, cut-outs, sloping hem and everything else is my design and my construction. So if queen bee wants to start start pulling on threads, jealous that I look better than she ever will, well, that won’t end nicely. I sweep the longer part of my hair out of my eyes to stare at her.
“How’s your family, Miss Turner?” Mama is louder than the question warrants, pushing herself into the conversation. “Your mother and the Sheriff doing well?”
I’m over it. I let go of the moisture-swollen railing, peeled paint stuck beneath my nails. It’s too hot for this nonsense.
“Yes, ma’am,” Emma says. Her smile is as thin and painted on as her eyebrows, but she sounds sweet as honey.
“That’s good to hear.” Mama hands me my pincushion and waves Emma onto the porch. “What can we do for you?”
“Well, ma’am,” Emma says, “I been told to come ask about your medicine.”

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


gordon1Gordon White lives in New York, but was born and raised in North Carolina.  As a result, his tastes are equal parts urban noir and Southern Gothic; bagels and barbecue.  His fiction has appeared in venues such as Cease, Cows!, Lakeside Circus, and Dark Fuse’s Horror D’oeuvres.  When not writing, Gordon also reads submissions for Kraken Press and contributes reviews to Hellnotes.  His own much-neglected website is www.grizzlyspectacles.com.

You can find Gordon here on Facebook.

HÄXENHAUS by Nick Kimbro

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Häxenhaus
by Nick Kimbro

06 Jan
The Häxenhaus resides on the northern edge of the Black Forest. This is the fourth time I’ve been sent away.
“I’m very sorry, Kramer,” Father Schulz says. “But being here will not help your grief. You should be with your wife.”
“My grief has nothing to do with it,” I say. “I’ve come only to serve our Lord and Savior.”
He shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but even if it were so it would not be right for you to have part in this. Go, and God’s peace be with you.” He makes the sign of the cross and I bow my head. Then he closes the door and it is dark again, and cold.
I glance at the road leading back to the village, then circle around to the creek. The water is freezing. I wade waist-deep, slide my fingers through the metal grate, and peer into the bowels of the Häxenhaus. I can’t see much—just some dim light flickering against the stone—although their screams are like crystal. They begin at a high pitch and become low and guttural as their suffering deepens. The sound carries to the far bank where, somewhere, familiars lift their voices in an awful cacophony of howls and mewls and chirps and croaks. Vague outlines of stakes stud the ground like charred headstones.
I listen until the numbness in my legs turns bitter and I can no longer control my breathing, then I go, back through the forest to my home in the village, where my Helga waits for me in bed. The musky scent of old bed clothes greets me as I lift the blanket and climb in. I slip my arm around her stomach and she grunts. When I realize where my palm is, I readjust.
When I cannot sleep I like to imagine the witches’ screams. Although, eventually my thoughts must shift to the familiars and their mourning song. Only then do I grow weary. Then, I sleep like a babe.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


nick1Nick Kimbro received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Hello Horror, Surreal Grotesque, Space Squid, Heavy Feather Review, Spring Gun Journal, The Yoke, Danse Macabre, and numerous anthologies. His novella, SURFACE INTERVAL, was published by Jersey Devil Press. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his beautiful wife and writes supernatural horror because she doesn’t do gore.

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

short stories, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped In Black

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

Allison M. Dickson, anthology, horror, James Glass, NEWS, Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, short stories, Solomon Archer PhD, Suzi M, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Black

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