NightHarvest

Night Harvest: One True Desire by Kathleen Palm

Posted by on Nov 5, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest | 0 comments

Night Harvest: One True Desire by Kathleen Palm

Welcome to the Night Harvest. This October and November, we’re be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     One True Desire by Kathleen Palm   Cornstalks slash across my cheeks as I race through the field. My celebratory calls echo in the night. I’m free. Finally. Energy pulses through me, but each flicker of power dimmer than the last. My bare feet sink into the rich black dirt. The glow from the moon spills orange-tinted light over my arms as I push through the rustling leaves. The harvest moon. The reason my chains have been cut. A simple spell, magic to ask for a clean slate. I’m never going back. Never again being who they want me to be, a me hidden behind a mask of false perfection, of forced happiness.   A rush of wings thunders through the air. Hundreds of birds take flight, and I stop. The roar of caws swallows the chaotic rhythm of my breathing. Their cries weave into words. Gone… Gone… All gone… Shadows creep into my joy and dispel the haze of manic glee. My triumphant laugh quivers and dies. The chill September night air burns my lungs and touches the sweat on my face with frozen fingers. The flock disappears into the night, their din fading into the past. Panic brushes my mind and my heart stutters. I drop my gaze and take in the rough stalks, the black soil, and the endless field. My hair creeps over my shoulders, the blood-red ends ominous in the moonlight.   The wind falls quiet. The buzz of insects and creak of stalks cease. The still of the night descends on me in a rush of silence. Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? The scent of damp dirt crawls up my nose. I squint into the field, my frantic breathing a sound of unease. Row after row of corn continues until the night devours them, the eerie light unable to penetrate the dark. A lone bird caws. My stomach clenches, for it calls my name. Rae… …Rae… …Rae… I snap my gaze up in time to spot the dark shape drift across the moon. The harvest moon. Huge and magnificent, it hangs low in the sky, ripe with magic. I had been in my room. Sitting on the floor. Staring at that same moon. Had the spell worked? It must have been only hours since I settled the tattered book in a puddle of moonlight, surrounded by flickering candles. The creepy tome covered with strange symbols, the almost-letters of lines and circles. The book I stole. My deepest need clear in my mind, I chanted the odd phrases, stumbling over words with no meaning. Then closed my eyes. But how did I get from my room to here?   The lilting melody of freedom hums in the back of my mind. But how can I believe it if I can’t remember confronting Mom and Dad, telling them how my life will be? I have to go home. See if it worked. But which way? A breeze weaves through the field, sending the dried leaves into whispered conversations. Darkness clings to the stalks and the ground. I shiver at the cold embrace of the...

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Night Harvest: The Girl In The Tree by Colleen Britton

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in NightHarvest, Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: The Girl In The Tree by Colleen Britton

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     The Girl in the Tree by Colleen Britton   The trees cast no shadows with the setting of the sun, a wan, white disc that was neither bright nor warm. Mist wove through the trunks and beaded on the fingertips of the branches and along the apple skins. It was the eve of November, and the harvest was about to begin. A girl sat in the crook of a tree, kicking her feet and blowing on cold hands. Her breath whistled through her fingers like the cry of a mourning dove. She wore her hair in two braids over her shoulders, and her clothes were a rumple of patchwork. A coarse cloth bag hung at her waist. A lantern hung from the branch above her. It glowed brighter and more brilliant as darkness descended, casting a golden pool on the beaten grass beneath the tree. Shadows appeared, crawling out from unseen places. But the girl was not afraid. She was waiting. She had been waiting an entire year for this night, just as she had waited every year, for many years. The people in the village beyond the trees used to wait, too. Once, they would have lit fires and sang songs in a language they no longer remembered. But not now. Those days had long since passed, and the memory of the girl was passing, too. Swinging her feet, she could almost taste the crackling smoke of the ancient bone fires. The first to come arrived after vespers. A hulking shape that appeared in the darkness and settled just beyond the lantern light. It was a hut, if you could even call it that, on chicken feet. The feet scratched at the earth, then settled down like a hen over her nest. After a moment, the ragged cloth over the doorway twitched, and a withered crone stepped nose-first into the night. “Good evening,” said the girl. The crone narrowed her birdlike black eyes. Skirts dragging on the wet grass, she approached the tree with the help of a knotty walking stick. The girl knew better—this woman needed no help. She stood, chewing her gums, scrutinizing the apples on the tree. “It’s a fine harvest this year,” said the girl. She thrust out her hand. “What have you brought me for one of my apples?” The crone screwed up her face, working her jaw as if she would speak. She did not. Instead, she opened her palm, and from thin air, produced an egg, its shell black and cracked. The girl took it, and shook it next to her ear. Something rattled inside and uttered dark oaths in a gravelly voice. “I accept,” said the girl, slipping the egg into her bag. The crone pushed her open hand toward the girl, clutching her fingers expectantly. “Of course, of course,” said the girl. She reached up into the branches of the tree and picked an apple. Its golden skin seemed to glow in the lantern light. “Take this,” she said. “Use it as you will.” The crone snatched it from her with lightning quickness. She snuffled it with her long nose. Apparently satisfied,...

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Night Harvest: Shine On, Harvest Moon by Emily McKeon

Posted by on Oct 29, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: Shine On, Harvest Moon by Emily McKeon

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     Shine On, Harvest Moon by Emily McKeon   The moon rose orange behind the farmhouse. A Harvest Moon, bathing the cornfields in an amber glow. Far off in the distance, laughter and music filled the silence as the town gathered for the annual Harvest Festival. In the cooling night, a breeze kicked up. The sudden wind rustled the cornstalks, making them whisper to the darkness and the great pumpkin moon overhead. “Jerry.” The voice was soft. Brittle. The first words spoken by someone who long ago had forgotten how to. “Jerry.” Inside the farmhouse, Jeremiah Dunne sat at his kitchen table. Across his lap lay the shotgun he knew would do no good. On the table, clutched in his fist, was half a tumbler of whiskey. His own brew from last year’s harvest. “Jerry.” He swigged the last of his whiskey and slammed the glass down on the table. He dared not refill it. He foolishly left the bottle on the counter and would have to stand to reach it. Standing led to walking. Walking led to answering the call. Answering the call led to…something he’d rather not think about. God, he could use another drink. “Jerry.” The voice grew stronger. A child’s teasing sing-song. How had he allowed himself to be trapped, alone, on this of all nights? Because he hadn’t counted. He hadn’t checked the calendar. Because he thought he still had a few more days. Because he and Helen had a fight earlier and she stormed off to join their neighbors at the festival, leaving him to brood alone until the voices started. “Jer-ry.” Married near thirty years with less than a dozen cross words between them. Two hours ago, she got bent out of shape over something he had said. He couldn’t even remember the comment now. That’s how important it was. The fight escalated. Thirty years of imagined slights on both sides. Screaming and yelling until the hound dog over at the Turner place joined in, baying at the top of his lungs. “Jerry. Jerry.” Now the fight made sense. Those words weren’t his or Helen’s. Those hateful words belonged to the Moon. But why hadn’t she answered her phone when he called to apologize? He came to his senses shortly after she stormed off, pie in hand, to join the rest of the town. When he called, her phone went right to voice mail. Not even a ring. “Jerry.” The voice matured, deepened. A young girl calling to him, just past childhood. Helen was gone. Deep down, Jeremiah knew he would never see her again. Divide and conquer, that’s what the Moon did. Split them up so he wouldn’t have her to lean on. Nothing stopped It from claiming him now. The Moon was never strong enough to take him and Helen on together, so It tricked them. He should have anticipated the situation progressing to this stage. Should have seen it coming. Only so long a man can deter the Old Ones before they grapple him into submission with something new. But Helen didn’t need to go. She was never part of the deal. “Jerry.”...

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Night Harvest: White Trash by Lucas Hargis

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: White Trash by Lucas Hargis

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     White Trash by Lucas Hargis   It makes sense that I’d die in a thrift store. My breath’s hot and steamy inside my trash bag. It’s clinging to me with all its wetness. Its neon-whiteness glowing in the dark. A black one would sink into the shadows, but even the kind rich people stuff dead leaves into are turning into body bags tonight. Most of me wishes I hadn’t torn these eyeholes. Two of my classmates’ bodies slump against the storefront window. Over by the musty dressing room, the freckle-faced guy who once loaned me his gluestick in Art begged for mercy. They didn’t care. Another limp body’s leaking all over the checkout counter, blood dripping onto a stack of old, cut up magazines. The quiet girl who eats lunch in the library is spilling out from a shelf of dirty shoes. They’re actually killing us. I have to be the last of the Crops, as they’re calling us, to keep breathing. But as silently as I can. And I must fight the urge to rip off this sweaty bag smothering me like some suffocating ghost. If I can do those things, maybe I’ll be the one to survive. As long as the Reapers, as they’re calling themselves, follow their own rules. I’m at the back of the store, camouflaged in the pile of black and white donation bags Mama sifts through to save the best clothes for me. I scrambled, laughing at first, when the Reapers started counting to twenty. At eighteen, I ditched the furniture section because this hiding place popped in my head. Being a trash bag hiding with other trash bags might save my life. There are five Reapers. All wearing masks. I recognized their muffled voices when they locked us clueless Crops in the pitch-black store and explained the full rules. It’s the same group that’s always putting us worthless kids in our place. But they had to be joking about the killing part. Just messing with us. They weren’t. Two of them are silhouetted against the front window. One’s guarding the door, swinging a machete and daring us to try to escape. The other’s poking a pitchfork into the clothes racks. An ax, a familiar pair of scissors, and a sickle are slicing somewhere in the darkness. Behind the two Reapers I can see, the bonfire’s raging in the town square. People are crunching expensive candied apples and squealing on all the rides they want. A few blocks farther, the tip-top of the Ferris wheel. I was heading towards it, gripping the only three tickets Mama could afford, when a gloved hand tapped my shoulder. I pissed myself, just a little, with excitement. I didn’t think, there was no way, I’d be chosen. Not being who I am, on the social scale between a slug and whatever animal has the smallest bladder, living in the Roach Apartments, wearing clothes from the exact thrift store I’m cowering in. The snippets I overheard the popular kids whispering in school sounded fun and mysterious. I pretended not to know the details. But Gavin, whose family stuffs leaves into gold-plated...

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Night Harvest: Wasting Away by Kat Daemon

Posted by on Oct 27, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: Wasting Away by Kat Daemon

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     Wasting Away by Kat Daemon     “Dad, are you sure this place exists? We’ve been driving for over an hour.” My daughter, Maggie, was always so impatient. “Yes.” I leaned forward and patted her shoulder. “Just a bit further.” “The supermarket has pumpkins,” Joe groaned, eyes still set on his smart phone. Texting. I think that’s what they called it. I called it sending broken sentences to his girlfriend. Why would you have to type LOL? My daughter had to explain that one to me. I often found when he tapped those three letters down and hit send, he wasn’t even smiling. Back in my day, you courted a girl properly, and any letters you sent you agonized over, searching for the right words. That’s how I had done it with my Bethany. Different times I suppose. “Amuse an old man, Joey. Picking a pumpkin off of the vine is fun.” Joe raised his eyes up from his screen long enough to glare at me. At seventeen he no longer wanted to be called Joey. Old habits are hard to break, especially at my age. “You and I really disagree on fun, Gramps.” Sadie leaned over and changed the radio station. Loud thumping beats and inappropriate language roared out of the speakers. I sighed. We were listening to Billie Holiday, before she had changed the station. That was real music. What she had put on sounded more like an argument. “Make a left here, Maggie.”“The GPS is telling me to go straight, dad.” “And I’m telling you to make a right. C’mon, amuse your old man.” Maggie sighed and turned right. From her willingness to agree, I assumed she was probably telling herself that this was the last time she would have to “amuse” me. The nursing home attendants would be picking me up in the morning. It was bad enough when Bethany passed, and I had to move in with Maggie, but now… well she had two teenagers to take care of, and without a husband, I suppose I was too much work for her. One less mouth to feed and all. “There!” I pointed to the farm that was growing in size as our vehicle approached. “Blue Moon Farms!” I clapped my hands, pleased that I still remembered how to get here. Not bad for an old guy. “Joey, unplug yourself for a minute so you can take in this place.” “Hold on… texting Adrienne.” “Bah!” I shook my head, there was no reaching him. “Sadie, what do you think?” She pulled out her lip gloss and coated her already pink mouth. Looking around, her eyes didn’t even so much as sparkle with the faintest hint of interest. “Uhh. It’s very… hick.” Maggie pulled the car beside a parked tractor. “Dad, are you sure this place is even open? There’s no one here.” “Good, we’ll have the pick of the patch.” I opened the door, eager to stretch my legs. At seventy-seven, they were stiff, but still working. I needed a cane, but enjoyed walking, and was grateful to be out of the car. With my family beside me, cane...

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Night Harvest: Witch by S.P. McConnell

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest | 2 comments

Night Harvest: Witch by S.P. McConnell

Welcome to the Night Harvest. For the entire month of October, we’ll be featuring scary stories and illustrations from talented authors and artists around the globe. I hope you stay awhile. After all, the Night Harvest is quite a scream. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #NightHarvest. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!     Witch by S.P.McConnell     We’ve been so lucky to have Sean participate in many of our showcases. He’s a true example of class, talent, and imagination! In case you want to check out some of his other submissions from previous showcases, check them out here and here.       About the Author S.P. (Sean) McConnell is an author, illustrator, interior designer and custom mural artist. His work has been featured in numerous publications including Dragon Magazine, The Austin American Statesman and Unique Homes. Some of his clients include TSR, Wizards of the Coast, M.A.D.D., The Recording Arts Foundation and The Sacred Works Project. He has been displayed in numerous galleries including Scottsdale, Sedona, Austin and Santa Fe. Sean is also fortunate to be featured in many personal art collections. Sean is the author of S.P.O.O.K. a YA cross-over horror/action series. He also writes and illustrates picture books including a monstrous celebration of Halloween. S.P. is currently working on a secret new horror project depriving him of sleep. He is repped by the fabulous Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC. Sean currently haunts the suburbs of Austin where he lives with his lovely wife, son, two cats, and a leopard gecko. To learn more about S.P., please visit his website or follow him on Twitter @SP_McConnell.                  Giveaway Anyone may enter the giveaway. This includes the artist and writers contributing to the Night Harvest, as well as the readers of the stories. Enjoy! a Rafflecopter...

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