WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
UNTO THE EARTH
By Patrick Greene
Landon Stower strolled with his dog Shucky along a clean white sidewalk, contented in the placidity of the neighborhood he’d called home since his release from the hospital two years before, sporting a battered baseball cap insigned with the logo of his favorite team, the Baton Rouge Buzzards.
Whistling as he went, Landon waved to his next door neighbor as he turned into his own fenced yard and closed the gate behind him, removing the leash from the panting black lab. He gave the dog a vigorous cheek rub. “Niiiice boy, Shuck.”
Entering his house, Landon was greeted with an exotic, redolent scent and the rhythms of a soft voice.
“Mm!” Landon sniffed the air. “Agnes!?”
When his wife did not answer, Landon set aside the leash and followed his senses to the kitchen. Dressed in hospital scrubs like the day she attended him after his accident (and stole his heart in the process) she was working over a steaming pot, humming “Row Your Boat” as she twisted and crushed dried herbs into the boiling concoction.
“Uh oh. Another voodoo spell?” he joked.
Mildly startled, Agnes laughed and turned to kiss him. “VO-dou,” she corrected in her rich French-Haitian argot. “And no, it’s dinner, my silly handsome boy.”
“Boy?” He drew her into his arms. “Mmm. You do keep me young, I think.” Agnes’ embrace was warm, comforting, enrapturing. Landon breathed of her neck and hair and the scrubs top, loving even its antiseptic hospital smell, as long as it was accented by her.
She finally pulled away and returned to the stove. “Aaaaah don’t leave me hanging!” he protested. He grabbed her ass, kissing her neck.
“Ooooh I don’t deserve you,” she teased. “You do want your special dinner don’t you?”
Her smile was wide and playful, as she gestured at the pot with her wooden ladle. “You said I keep you young!”
“So it is a voodoo hex!”
Landon went to the living room, laughing as he tossed his good luck charm Buzzards cap onto the couch and sat beside it, switching on the television to watch the cap’s namesake team play.
But there was only static.
“Dammit!” he got up and checked the hookup. “Hey Aggie? Did you pay the cable?”
“Oh! I thought so!” she called.
“I don’t think so,” Landon muttered, rubbing his face. “First game of the season tonight, Ag.”
His mood ruined, Landon muted the television and picked up a magazine–finding it was in French. He tried a Newsweek–also in French. “You subscribed to these fucking magazines in my name but they’re in French!”
She only continued to hum the childish song.
“You read English, but I don’t read French. Didja know that?”
“Oh, you should learn!” was her cheerful response.
Landon frowned. “Maybe YOU should just..!” He trailed off, rubbed the bridge of his nose. “…nevermind.”
Her humming shortened the song by a few notes, becoming more monotonous. Landon’s stomach growled at him. “How long till dinner?”
“Oh…an hour.” Even more cheerful–and annoying. The humming began again; only five notes this time, and off key.
“Shit…” Landon whispered under his breath.
It seemed to grow louder, to echo throughout the house and his head, filling his ears, becoming grating.
She did not. Landon stared at the static, the magazines, the open doorway from which the discordant notes reached his burning ears, and he began to seethe. He sat still for several minutes, hoping she would stop, or at least change it up some. But she didn’t.
“Are you listening to me!?” He was suddenly standing, taking impatient strides toward the kitchen.
He entered the kitchen, his love for Agnes absent as he stared at her back, sure she knew he was there, though she just worked and hummed and hummed, offering no acknowledgement.
She turned and looked at him. There was no sense that she had been startled this time, no expression at all-and she continued to hum.
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
As a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.
Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create.
With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.
Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.