Writing

Night Harvest: The Smell of a Pumpkin’s Insides by Ryan Bartlett

Posted by on Oct 22, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 2 comments

Night Harvest: The Smell of a Pumpkin’s Insides by Ryan Bartlett

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 Smell of a Pumpkin’s Insides by Ryan Bartlett   Title: The Smell of a Pumpkin’s Insides   Media: charcoal/pastel   Ryan Bartlett is an artist based out of Orange, California who specializes in detailed works done in charcoal and mixed media. Ryan has participated in previous Pen & Muse showcases and you may find them here (The Dark Carnival), here (12 Days of Christmas), and the Pen & Muse Haunt. He’s also been a featured artist at HorrorCon International. For shows, commissions, or other inquiries, private message or email ryanbartlettart at yahoo dot com. Facebook Instagram   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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Night Harvest: You Reap What You Sow by Faith McKay

Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 3 comments

Night Harvest: You Reap What You Sow by Faith McKay

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!     You Reap What You Sow by Faith McKay   Life’s different after you die. Tougher in some ways, easier in others. The realities were tougher, but she was better able to understand the bigger picture, which made it easier. That kind of viewpoint made her lonelier, that’s for sure. She was growing used to it, she thought. As used to it as she was likely to get, anyway. There was something about October that had her feeling more right than she had since coming back from the dead. The harsh heat and summer excitement had felt so separate from herself. A cold October night felt like her world. This was the life she was made for now. Julie was an October girl. Nicki, however, was all summer. This was not her place. Goosebumps erupted over her skin, like summer boiling up under the tan surface. Her sundress had actual sunflowers on it. Her ponytail was sleek and shiny, even in the dark. She wore boots, though; her only concession to the cold. Julie shrugged her shoulders, falling deeper into the fabric she was cocooned in. A messy bun, an oversized coat, and an enormous scarf snuggling around the bottom half of her face: this was what autumn was good for. “You look like a homeless person.” Of course, there were other schools of thought. “I thought you were my best friend, not my mother.” “If you had a mother who told you these things, I wouldn’t have to.” Nicki was right: Julie’s mother never would have said that to her. Julie’s mother was nice. “And those scorpions you drew on yourself!” Julie pulled her hands from her pockets to show them off. “You’re just jealous because I could do the backs of both of my hands.” If you couldn’t make your friends jealous, what was the point of being ambidextrous? “Yes, and I’ll be very jealous when you’re poisoned from the ink in your skin.” “That’s an urban myth.” “Are you sure? Because I wouldn’t be willing to bet my life on that.” “Google it.” “Yes, and I’ll bet my life on what the internet says. Grow a brain, Julie. Seriously.” Nicki stopped and turned around. “And what are you doing now?” She was poking one of the pumpkins lining the path with the toe of her boot. “They’re uncarved,” she said. It was so sad. “Who throws a harvest festival and doesn’t even carve the pumpkins?” “We can go,” Nicki offered. “Please don’t start with that.” “I’m just saying, we don’t have to do this. We drove two hours to get to this harvest festival, and you’re already sad.” She threw her arms up in exasperation. She knew she was wrong: Julie did have to do this. Nicki was never going to say that, though. She’d believe everything else, but never that Julie didn’t have a choice. Nicki thought she could argue her way out of anything. “What’s even the point of all this if it’s going to make you sad?” Nicki was trying. She’d gotten meaner lately. Not that she was ever nice. The effort of trying so hard to...

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Night Harvest: Pumpkin Patch by Abi Pearson

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: Pumpkin Patch by Abi Pearson

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!     Pumpkin Patch by Abi Pearson     Pumpkin lanterns swing in the light Oregon breeze, and the air around the festival smells like baked bread, pies of every variety, and the crispness of apples just picked off the tree.   “Come on! I’ll race you to the pumpkin patch.” Moriah is off in a flash of autumn colored hair and white lace dress. She turns to laugh at my dumbstruck face calling, “Come on! I’ll beat you!” I bolt after her, my sneakers sinking into the mud made by last night’s rain. Sprinting I catch up to her and grab her around the waist. “Got you.” I say and she giggles, turning to tickle me.   I smile and just grab her hands, “Sorry, Moriah, I’m not ticklish.” She pouts and sits down on a golden pumpkin, “That’s really not fair, Jenna.” I stand, awkward, not knowing what to do with myself. Moriah looks like a princess, the sunset making a halo with her hair, mud now clinging to the hem of her white dress, and a spot of mud sticking to her lower lip. Still, I think she looks perfect. I clear my throat, stuffing my hands into my jeans. “I said I was sorry.” Her blue eyes twinkle with mischief and a hint of something else. “You’ll have to make it up to me.” “How?” She moves over and pats the spot next to her. “Sit.” Slowly I sit down next to her, our knees touching, and I can smell cinnamon in her hair. “How are you going to make it up to me Jenna?” She says, her face just centimeters from my face. Without thinking I reach over and rub away the dirt from her lip. She backs away, confused. “It was just some dirt,” I say, looking at the ground embarrassed. “There’s no one here,” She says, her voice slightly deeper than normal and more forceful. In a second I’m kissing her, and to my surprise she’s kissing me back, tangling her fingers in my short thick hair. She pulls away and whispers, “I like you, Jenna dear.” I smile hesitantly. “Really? I mean…Uh, I think I like you too.” Moriah sighs, “You think?” I hurry to rectify my earlier words, “No…No, I do. I like you.” Moriah smiles and tosses her hair. “Good.” The thought of Moriah liking me makes my head spin. I mean I’m nothing special. Just your average high schooler struggling to wake up in the morning and get through school. But Moriah, she’s something different, she dances where others walk, she seems to float above everything with grace and poise. Moriah’s not exactly the most popular girl at my high school, but everyone at least knows her name, and Moriah knows everyone, having a smile for us all. Moriah gets up, taking my hand. “Come on, let’s go somewhere more private.” I follow her deeper into the pumpkin patch, and it’s strangely quiet except for the mud sloshing rhythmically under our feet. The noise of our town’s Harvest Festival is fading as other people begin to leave. I check my phone for the...

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Night Harvest: The Scarecrow Murders by Tori Centanni

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 2 comments

Night Harvest: The Scarecrow Murders by Tori Centanni

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 Scarecrow Murders by Tori Centanni The town of Pinewood almost decided to cancel the Annual Harvest Festival after the second body was found. Paige was glad they hadn’t, although she was relieved to see that the familiar scarecrow that usually greeted revelers was absent from the festival entrance this year. Keeping it would have been tacky, in light of things. “This feels skeevy,” Lainey whispered, as they made their way through the parking lot. The festival was held in the same fairground as always, with haystack rides on one end and apple-bobbing and pumpkin carving on the other. In between, booths selling things like homemade pickles and hand-knit potholders filled the space. At the back would be the usual row of carnival games and food vendors selling fried dough and pumpkin spice kettle corn. The field was lit up with stadium lights even though the sun hadn’t set yet. Pinewood’s Harvest Festival was a  tradition and Paige was happy that they weren’t letting some murderer ruin it. Lainey, though, was having doubts. “It’s like we’re celebrating her death.” “It’s not like that at all,” Paige argued. She’d worked on Lainey all day at school to convince her to come and now that they were here, she didn’t want their date to fall apart. “It’s all about money,” said a familiar voice. She turned and saw Noah behind them. He wore a “Future Corporate Slave” t-shirt. He had a sweatshirt slung over his arm, no doubt to wear when his uncle, who ran the hay rides, told him the shirt was inappropriate. “You know how much Pinewood makes from this thing? People come from all of the neighboring towns. A few murders isn’t going to keep them from cashing in. Hell, the publicity is probably helping. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Mayor himself stringing people up—“ “God, Noah, stop. Emma is dead,” Lainey said, giving him a hard look. Noah shrugged. “And yet life goes on.” He gestured to the giant orange-lettered “Annual Pinewood Harvest Festival” banner that hung over the entrance. Mrs. Nelson, the former school librarian who’d retired at the end of last year, was taking cash from the people in line. A discarded knitting project sat on the table near the cashbox. The line was impressive, about twenty people deep. Noah shook his head, pushed past them, and waved to Mrs. Nelson as he went in. Since he was working the hay rides, he didn’t have to pay the ten dollar admission fee. “He’s such a cynical prick,” Paige said. “He’s not wrong,” Lainey said. She shifted uncomfortably and glanced back toward her car. She wore jeans, a green Pinewood High Lacrosse hoodie, and had pulled her strawberry blonde hair into a messy ponytail. She’d forgone makeup because of all the crying she’d been doing. Emma hadn’t been their best friend or anything but all three of them had had classes together. Paige’s grief had manifested as a brick in her gut that weighed her down. Lainey, like many others at school, cried a lot. “Let’s just take one lap around, get some funnel cake, and then if you’re...

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Night Harvest: Harvest Moon by Brian LeTendre

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 1 comment

Night Harvest: Harvest Moon by Brian LeTendre

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!     Harvest Moon by Brian LeTendre   “Dad, why do we have to go to this stupid thing?” Kevin groaned loudly from the back seat of the car. “First of all, take your earbuds out if you’re going to have a conversation,” his dad answered, giving him a glare in the rearview mirror.” Tonight is a special night, and we’re going to celebrate it as a family, along with the rest of the town.” “I’ve been going to the Mabon festival since I was a baby, dad,” Kevin rolled his eyes. “It’s just like all the other festivals this town has–boring.” “I used to say the same thing to your grandmother,” Kevin’s mom said with a smile. “But having traditions is important, and Mabon is a time for reflection and preparation. And like your father said, this one is special. This year’s harvest moon is both a blood moon and a supermoon. A full lunar eclipse while the moon is at its closest point to the earth. It’s amazing.” “Whatever,” Kevin sighed. “Just remember to be respectful,” his dad said, with just a slight hint of threat in his voice. “The people gathering tonight are from many different spiritual paths. Not to mention, Stacey and Tom have opened up their farm to us for this year’s festival, and we’re going to show them they made the right choice settling down in New Lakeford.” Kevin bit his tongue and put his earbuds back in, starting out the window and letting the crunching sounds of Black Label Society drown out his parents conversation. He didn’t care about Mabon, or equinoxes or solstices, or any of that stuff. He couldn’t wait until he graduated high school next year and got the hell out of New Lakeford. Not that the town didn’t have its charms, even for a rebellious seventeen year old. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Greylock in Western Massachusetts, New Lakeford was one of the most beautiful places on the east coast. And during this time of year, the colorful foliage that blanketed the hills and mountains brought cars full of tourists from around the country driving through the entirety of the Berkshires. But New Lakeford was a tiny little town that no one bothered stopping in, save for those who lived there. It had been settled in the late 1700s by a small group of non-Christians, looking to escape the close-mindedness and paranoia that had led to the witch trials and was still rampant almost a century later. The station wagon pulled into a large dirt parking lot that was already packed with cars, and a few families were making their way up a large path to the huge apple orchard above. Kevin slid out of the backseat. “Don’t forget,” his father said, pointing to his ears. “Those stay in the car.” Kevin wordlessly pulled his earbuds out and threw them and his phone on the back seat. No technology–that was another rule of these gatherings that he couldn’t wait to get away from. “You can plug into the real world for a couple hours, dear,” his mother said, noticing his scowl. “It won’t...

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Night Harvest: Like Father, Like Son by Michelle Ceasar Davis

Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in Night Harvest, NightHarvest, Writing | 0 comments

Night Harvest: Like Father, Like Son by Michelle Ceasar Davis

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!     Like Father, Like Son by Michelle Ceasar Davis   The world knows me as Father Dave, owner and operator of Farmer Dave’s Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze and Hayride. You though, you can call me by my real name, Ty. I’ve had my little seasonal tourist attraction for about two decades, since my dad helped me plan my first pumpkin patch. The next year I designed and planted my first corn maze. The county commissioners took notice of the number of people visiting our family farm and decided to make it a larger event. They worked with Dad, the original Farmer Dave, to have a few small carnival rides and create a party atmosphere. So began the Fuller County Harvest Festival, a day filled with family fun – if you believe all the hype found on the county’s website. That was also the year we learned about the monster in the woods. Dad used to tell me stories when I was a little boy about a monster that lived in the deep, dark woods next to our property. The monster would grab random children from around the county and no one would see them again. This would happen two or three times a year. As a child, I believed everything he told me. It was about the time I stopped believing all his stories when I lost two of my friends. Aaron, Jack, and I were 10, maybe 12 at the most, and we were playing catch with an old baseball in my backyard behind the barn. Aaron dreamed about becoming a professional ball player and finally getting cool frames for his glasses. He had a crazy curveball that no one could catch and he like to show off his pitching skills. He threw it to me, and I obviously missed it. I had to go around to the other side of the barn and spend about five minutes looking for the ball, cussing out Aaron the entire time. When I had the ball in my hand, I ran back to my friends, ready to throw to Jack. I was alone where I left them. “Aaron! Jack! Where are you?” I called for them, pleaded for them to stop joking. They never responded. I searched all our outbuildings and then searched again with Dad’s help. And still we couldn’t find them. Families and neighbors soon flooded our property. Everyone skirted the woods. No one even got close enough to walk in its shadow. And none of us found Jack or Aaron. The next week was the harvest festival, and four men from the county commission came two days after the disappearance of Aaron and Jack to meet with Dad at our house. He sent me to play in the yard but all I could think about were my missing friends. I felt too old to play so I decided to mow the area where the carnival games and food booths would set up. The tractor was an old one that made lots of noise so I put on my headphones and listened to music, hoping to drown out my own memories. The first pass...

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