Raven’s Wrath Part 19 #horror #thriller #Halloween

(Know where you’ve been to understand where you are.)

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“Why does Addison do so much with food?” Kara asks as they sit on the crest of a flattop hill. Sitting in a patch of spring-like warmth, she stares at the snowy valley that is filled with piles of ice cream. “This means we don’t have to hunt, but it’s weird that she keeps making edible places. She reminds me of those witches with candy houses. Do you think it’s a clue that we can kill her with an oven?”

“I saw her get stuffed into one and she fell asleep,” Dawn replies with a sigh. The lack of movement below has her nerves on edge and she cannot shake the feeling that there is a pattern to the desserts. “From what I remember, Addison is driven by three things. The constant one is fun, which influences everything she does. The others stem from the few things that can make her feel pleasure. First is sex, but she only thinks of that vice once every six months. Wait, you’re ten and probably shouldn’t have been told that. Last thing I want is to be explaining the birds and the bees to you.”

“People don’t hide such things from kids these days,” the girl says before making a crude gesture with her hands. She stops when her friend blushes and rummages through their bags for a flask of alcohol. “So, the second thing she loves is food. That doesn’t sound very strange. Does that mean she’s human enough to beat?”

Stretching her arm into the cold region, Dawn tries to ignore the question about killing her insane side. “Our . . . Her mother wasn’t much of a cook. Breakfast was whatever cereal was on sale, lunches were jelly sandwiches, and dinner was something boiled. There were a few times Addison had friends and would visit their houses. She’d be introduced to candy, ice cream, pizza, and all the goodies that we . . . she never got at home. I know it was because her mom was scared of her power and thought doing anything complicated would risk a fatal failure. It still backfired because the food was terrible. So, Addison has this small obsession with treats that has grown out of control without me in there. Put on warmer clothes and we’ll get going. I think I took some snowshoes off a cart at the lake.”

Heading to the small car that was abandoned by one of the terrified families, Dawn stops again when she spots smoke in the valley. Waving for Kara to continue getting ready, she takes out a pair of binoculars and walks along the edge of the hill. She cannot see the source due to a pile of mint chocolate chip in her line of sight, but she can see that the ice cream has melted on the righthand side. The sun emerges from the clouds and a momentarily glint catches Dawn’s attention. A large shard of metal-edged glass can be seen sticking out of a long mound of cookie dough ice cream. Whistling for Kara to come take a look, she leaves the girl to check the area and gets herself dressed. Poking her head inside the vehicle, she taps at the fuel gauge that is on empty and sighs at the thought of leaving so many supplies behind. Dawn quickly removes a roof rack and creates a harness out of a coil of rope, which allows her to drag half of their gear through the ice cream-covered ground. She nods her head for Kara to a backpack along with her precious satchel, which is now covered in flower stickers.

“Don’t eat anything,” Dawn says as they step into the colder temperature. The shock causes them to gasp for air and groan at the pain rippling through their heads. “Give yourself a few minutes to adapt. I didn’t think it would be this bad, but it’ll pass. Did you happen to see anything out here?”

The girl shakes her head instead of talking, her eyes watering from the pain that is gradually subsiding. Not wanting to push her too hard, Dawn takes her time dragging the heavy load down the hill instead of letting gravity do the work. By the time they reach the bottom, they are no longer squinting in pain and on the verge of throwing up. Adjusting their fluffy hats, the pair march into the eerie valley that reeks of old ice cream. The combination of smells is more nauseating than enticing, which makes it easier to ignore the edible landscape. Spoons are scattered about the ground and stick out of the piles in the hopes of being claimed. The plastic ends a neon yellow that prevents them from being ignored and they occasionally release a low hum as they vibrate. There are no animal tracks, but they begin to find ruts that are similar to what would be left by several trucks moving along the same path. Faint footprints can be found in the areas that are thin enough to expose the mud below, but there are too few to figure out how many people have passed. Coming around the mint chocolate chip, Dawn is not surprised to find the smoldering remains of a bonfire. The final piece of evidence that they are not the first to cross the valley does little to calm her nervousness. Now that she is aware of the fact, she finds herself picking out various pieces of metal and glass that are barely hidden by the desserts. A wind blows away part of a slumping pile of strawberry ice cream to reveal the flap of a tent that is embedded in the food.

With a single step, Dawn’s feet go out from underneath her and she goes sliding across an icy surface. The roof rack skitters behind her until it builds up enough ice cream in front of it to stick into the gooey mess. A sharp, wordless yell causes Kara to stop at the edge of the slippery ground, so she crouches and digs through the cold food. Unable to get to her feet, Dawn pulls herself along the ropes to reach their supplies and find a pair of ice skates that she packed for an emergency. Strange protrusions poke at her body with some snapping off, but her thick clothes protect her from getting stabbed or cut. Crawling through the ice cream, she keeps her mouth shut and shivers at the numbness coursing through her face. She has to repeatedly stop to wipe the muck out of her eyes, which are stinging from some of the ingredients. Her vision is blurry and random flickers of rainbow light make her think that she is damaging her sense of sight. It is only when she clears a patch of the dessert and tries to catch her breath that she notices the frozen lake is a mix of colors. Shifting more of the ice cream, she exposes wooden popsicle sticks that are poking out of the surface.

Using the fragile protrusions to pull herself along, Dawn swiftly comes within reach of the rack. A small crinkling sound is the only warning she gets before the ground beneath their supplies gives way. Still harnessed to the heavy piece of metal, she is yanked forward and nearly falls into the hole. Leaping at the last moment, she manages to catch the far side of the opening with her hands and slams her feet into the opposite end. Spread eagled and unable to move, she is about to yell for help when she hears Kara’s footsteps on the frozen lake. Dawn can tell that the girl is taking her time to avoid falling, so she focuses on maintaining her grip. Even knowing that she should not look down, she gazes at what awaits her if she slips. Swirls of colorful mist are where she expected to see liquid and she can barely make out strange figures standing on the smooth bottom. A knot forms in her stomach, but she fights back the sensation to avoid curling up into a ball.

By the time Kara arrives, the girl is covered in sweat and dragging herself along by her elbows. Dawn holds her breath as her companion closes one eye and stretches over the hole with a pair of shears. Shifting enough to bring the rope in reach of the scissors, she bites her lower lip and tries to avoid imagining her feet giving way. The thought of her swinging into the sharp points and plummeting after their supplies almost makes the woman laugh. Her head twitches slightly, but the tic stops as soon as Kara frees her from the harness. Both of them watch as the roof rack bounces off the rainbow walls and crashes into one of the figures, which shatters like an ice statue. Pulling herself to solid ground, Dawn takes out her binoculars to get a closer look at the destruction and frowns at the sight of red liquid seeping out from under what she had hoped was a statue.

Without warning, the lenses give her a close up look at the remains and she sees the head of a woman. The figure’s color is a mix of a blue and red, which makes it difficult to see any details of the face. It is when she scans low enough to see a discoloration across the neck that the knot in her stomach leaps into her throat. Realizing that she is looking at Melissa Williams and the rest of the Grand Caravan, Dawn’s vision grows even more acute. She can see all of the icy corpses beneath the frozen lake and each one jogs a memory of how the people had been treating her during their short time together. A single wooden popsicle stick is embedded in every head, which has either an expression of terror or sadness. Many are on their knees as if they were begging for their lives before an instant death. Kara’s voice is a distant whisper as Dawn continues staring at the mass grave that she fears was done in her honor. She is on the verge of climbing down when all of the dead travelers move their heads in unison. Melting eyes stare in her direction and mouths open to reveal sharpened teeth. No noise comes from their throats, but she gets the sense that they are screaming and growling at her like a giant pack of enraged animals.

“Let’s keep moving,” Dawn says as she backs away from the hole.

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The Bow of Hart Saga, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Entertaining Stories

Lisa Burton

Welcome all you arrow slingers and adventurers, Withlings and casters of every stripe. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. With me in the studio today is Tordug, and he’s a dwarven adventurer. “Welcome to the show, Tordug.”

“Wonderful to be here, Lisa. May I call you Lisa? Yes? Good! It’s always a pleasure to get off the back-lot of the fiction set and make some visits. You have no idea how boring it is these days. Oh, by the way, thanks for that little gift of, what do you call it? Whiskey? That guy you work with was generous to offer a sample from his supply. Warmed my toes!”

“You’ve brought along a friend today. You know I’m a sucker for a fluffy dog. Who’s this?”

“This old whelp? That’s none other than Spark, himself. He’s around…

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Raven’s Wrath Part 18 #horror #thriller #Halloween

(Feels like this story is flying by.)

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The warm water feels like heaven on Dawn and Kara’s aching muscles after days of traveling. Using puffy flowers that grow on the shore, they scrub the dirt from their skin and wince as old scabs are torn off. A numbing nectar from the makeshift loofahs helps to ease their pain, which is a godsend when the pair begin searching each other for splinters. Sharing a set of rusty tweezers, they do their best to remove the tiny shards that are reminds of a tree-shattering storm from two days ago. Neither are clear on how they survived the maelstrom with no shelter, especially when they witnessed other travelers get shredded and thrown into the distance. The horrific sight has caused Kara to always stay within reach of Dawn, the girl’s steely nerves having gradually eroded. Even now, the sight of other people makes her anxious, so her eyes scan the large lake that is being used by a few caravans. A quick glance at her friend’s face shows that they share the same worrisome thoughts and a suspicion that trouble is following them closely. As if on cue, two men are yanked under the water and fired at a truck like living torpedoes. Only a few people scream in fright, but the rest simply look up and shrug at the unexpected deaths.

“I think the flowers are making everyone mellow,” Dawn whispers as she settles into a massaging current. Touching the bottom with her feet, she feels tiny worms wriggle around her toes. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say those things are eating the blisters and corns. This is a really strange place. Soothing and blissful, but kind of bizarre. Are you feeling any better? I know getting kicked out of the Grand Caravan was hard. There’s only so many times I can apologize before it rings hollow, but I’ll do it again if you want.”

“It isn’t your fault,” Kara replies before dunking her head underwater. She notices tiny fish with sucker-like mouths fringed with feathers and returns to the surface when one darts forward to touch her cheek. “These are healing my sunburns. I should keep going under because my scalp hurts. Where do you think we should go?”

“This haven sounds as good a destination as any,” the woman admits with a smirk. Sinking further, she leaves on her face exposed and runs her hands through her knotted hair. “If I’m right then the Grand Caravan is following a spiral that started at the south pole. I know the approximate route, so we can match it to reach the same destination. If there are rumors of this haven then there should be people there already. They won’t let anything happen to us if we arrive on their doorstep. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. This is the best idea I can come up with besides going back to my forest.”

The girl tries to mimic Dawn, but she ends up floating due to her height and the depth of the lake. “Maybe that’s a better plan. The monsters won’t bother us back there. Out here, they can keep coming after us. Nobody says there has to be one haven in the world. People can find smaller ones if they’re together, right? That’s what it used to be like. My parents told me there were houses that didn’t eat people who tried to go inside. I had a book that showed a picture of one and it looked pretty.”

Dawn is about to answer when she sees a mother and child get turned into statues of salt on the far shore. People run away from them as a herd of deer arrive to lick the frozen travelers until only the feet are left. An old man who tried to swim across the lake shouts an instance before a lily pad sprouts from his mouth. He continues floating with the plant growing to the size of a small car. Frogs hop out of the water and eat at the flies that are attracted to the steadily rotting corpse. The central flower blooms to release a poisonous cloud that is blown towards the other travelers, who run away or dive into the lake. The surface wriggles with movement as cloth eels emerge from the seabed and wrap around the people. Lacking teeth, the strange creatures drag their prey beneath the surface and plunge them into the sticky muck where they wait for the flesh to rot. Leaving gear and vehicles behind, the surviving travelers run into the wilderness, their screams echoing for several minutes.

“And yet we remain untouched,” Dawn says as she gets out of the lake. She hears a plop of water and fears that Kara has been attacked, but finds that the girl is only splashing herself in the face. “Their game has changed and I’m a part of it. Going back to the forest will only result in that place being destroyed. For all I know, my old home was wiped out the moment it fell below the horizon. That means we can only go forward. Maybe it will be this haven or another place where we can be safe. Then again, I have Ian and Addison actively hunting for me. Really wish you could have stayed with Melissa.”

“But then you would be alone,” Kara points out. She hurries to get her towel and is surprised by how warm it feels. “I spent a lot of time by myself just like you. Only I’m a kid, so I know I need adults for certain things. That makes it easy for me to work with people that I meet, but I never felt safe like I do now. Not since I was with my parents. You’re so strong and smart, which means you can survive. Yet, I’m sure even someone like you feels lonely. Nobody in this world should feel like that.”

“Very wise for a kid,” she replies, her eyebrow twitching. A snapped branch draws her attention to a bear that lumbers over the lake for a drink and pays no attention to the two naked humans. “I never thought about being alone before. Probably because I was created as you see me and ran away immediately. Being born an adult meant I never had to depend on anyone else, so I didn’t know what I was missing. Can’t say it hasn’t been nice traveling with you. Being able to converse with another person instead of animals or yourself helps remind me that I’m the sane one. Anyway, this is pointless talk. We need to get moving before one of these threats decides to attack us.”

“But all of the dangerous animals have avoided us for days.”

“That’s what has me so nervous.”

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I Was a Guest on ‘Tell Me a Story’! #podcast #fantasy

I’m the guest on ‘Tell Me a Story’!
A big thank you to Annette Rochelle Aben!
(It’s in alphabetical order, so scroll down to the Y section to find me.)

Check out Annette’s blog too!

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a TSRA Short Film – Pirates of the High Seas: Episode ONE…

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Guest Post: In the Dark by HL Carpenter #fantasy #YA

Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck—until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.

When fourteen year old Tovi Taggert moves to Honeysuckle Hollow to take care of her grandmother, she has a hard time fitting in. For one thing, she’s been tagged with the hated nickname Too-Tall Tovi. For another, everyone at Honeysuckle Hollow High believes Tovi played the Choking Game with someone else’s boyfriend and made out with him besides.

As if she doesn’t have enough problems, after the latest stand-off in the school hallway, Tovi finds a gorgeous speckled egg nestled in a feather lined nest.

She takes the egg home. Mysterious visitors begin appearing almost immediately. Even more worrisome, whatever is inside the egg starts chipping its way out.

When the egg hatches, revealing a winged horse, Tovi’s troubles multiply.

As she struggles to return the horse to the magical land where he belongs, Tovi must make a courageous decision—and accept what that decision will cost her.

Available on Amazon!

*****

In the dark

by HL Carpenter

So Mom and I are stuck here in Honeysuckle Hollow because Gramma fell down and broke her hip. We’re moving back to the city as soon as she’s better. That’s good, because I HATE Honeysuckle Hollow.

But right this very moment…well, right this very moment, I’m sitting in Honeysuckle Hollow Park, where the dark is darker than dark this time of night. I don’t like the dark. Do you? I mean, the dark is all right when you’re in your house, and you know all the shadows, and the green glow from the nightlight in the hall lets you see nothing’s hiding in the corners, ready to pounce. But here—

At least I have my phone. Not that I can call anyone, because the phone doesn’t work in the park, where, as I already told you, I am. In the park, in the dark.

Haha! That rhymes! I’m a poet and don’t know it.

Sorry. I get silly when I’m sort-of-scared. I’m not really scared, despite all the creepy, crawly critters that are probably surrounding me, ready to take a nip out of my backside or gnaw off my arm. I’m just a little scared.

All right. A lot scared. The park is so darn…dark.

I’ll be okay if I don’t think about how dark the park is. I can do this. I will do this. I will sit in this stupid park in the stupid dirt under this stupid tree all night. By myself. Waiting to be chewed on by creepy crawlies and whatever else skittles through the dark.

I will prove to Jen I’m not afraid. Then I’ll finally have a friend in Honeysuckle Hollow. Three friends, because if Jen’s my friend, then M.J. and Terri will be too.

Hey! What’s that—oh, the wind is shaking the tree branches. They look like dancing skeletons. Sometimes I forget those spooky legends Gramma tells are only—wait! That sounds like footsteps! It…it could be Jen. She said she’d come by to make sure I followed through with my promise to spend the night in the park.

I’m positive she will. She’ll be here any minute. Then I won’t be alone in the dark.

“Jen? Jen, is that you?”

*******

About HL Carpenter

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

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Author Links

HLCarpenter.com
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Raven’s Wrath Part 17 #horror #thriller #Halloween

(I really hope these silly links aren’t more entertaining than the story.)

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Relaxing by a large pool on top of a mountain, Addison watches her sane double hide in the forests. Wearing a crimson one-piece suit that has her own face emblazoned on the stomach, she puts the mirror above the couch that she is sprawled across. Feeling restless and irritable, she snaps her fingers and creates a water column in the distance. A rain of shrimp hits the mountain and the reality-bender calmly turns a glass table into a boiling pot that spits the cooked animals into a hovering bowl of cocktail sauce. Addison indulges in her snack while she reaches out to punish the Grand Caravan for being mean to her other self, but stops when Gemma hisses from her inflatable chair. Annoyed by the mild chastising, the reality-bender creates a large termite in the water and scowls when the insect sinks to the bottom. She turns its legs into floaties, but her assistant casually pops them with the toothpick sticking out of her drink. Before Addison can come up with another way to punish Gemma, she is distracted by a spot of light on the ground. It shifts whenever she moves her head and it takes her a minute to realize it is the sun bouncing off her golden eyepatch. Plucking the beam out of the air, she tosses it at a pile of snow that is on a nearby cliff.

The projectile abruptly stops an inch from its target, which transforms into an icicle-fringed door. Cold air billows out of the gateway, but is blocked by the dome of heat that Addison is maintaining. A familiar scent in the air causes her to jump to her feet and turn her hands into lobster claws. She is about to attack when the robotic Gemma walks out carrying a white flag strapped to her back. The other assistant is immediately out of the pool, her half bikini and half one-piece swimsuit turning into a police uniform as soon as she gets out of the water. Addison steps to the side to let the two women charge and collide, the mechanical one already sparking due to the rum punch thrown at her. The fight eventually causes the pair to reach the edge of the mountaintop and one slip sends them tumbling down the side. Even from far away, the Gemmas can be heard cursing and hitting each other until they crashes into a boulder and reappear above the pool. They are dropped into waiting life preservers that hold them tight and float to opposite corners.

“I would like to offer a temporary ceasefire,” Ian says as he appears on a lounge chair. He changes his suit into ebony swimming trunks and goes about rubbing thick sunblock into his pale skin. “This doesn’t mean I like you or think you’re stronger. It’s simply that I feel we need to settle the matter of your other self. Our battles are growing tedious because you can’t focus and routinely slip away. Not that I ever lose track of you, but hunting you down like a wounded animal is very unappealing.”

“A polite guest arrives with a gift for his host,” Addison declares, her couch transforming into a throne. Water jets fire from the back and a vibrating footrest slides out, which temporarily distracts the reality-bender. “The only way this should end is with me claiming what is rightfully mine. I saw you try to turn her against me. She hates both of us and wants to be left alone, so that was pointless. The little puppy got his wet nose smacked for being silly. Next time, I’ll have you fixed.”

“Try it and you will be wearing your innards on the outside,” he growls while subtly creating a metal cup beneath his shorts. Creating a single strawberry from thin air, he tosses it to his enemy and tries to relax. “As I said before, I want to hold off on fighting until we fix this problem. Killing her could return her to you, but she may be lost forever. Another possibility is that destroying you would transfer your powers to her. That leaves me fighting an enemy that is sane and smart instead of a maniac.”

Addison taps her fingers on the arm of her thorn, every strike shaking the mountain. “I don’t like the scenario where I die. She would be a horrible me. All stable and boring and normal and wearing those dirty clothes. I bet she would never wear the beautiful dresses that I create or turn an old man into a yo-yo out of boredom. On the other hand, I don’t want to work with you since you’re very rude. It’s not polite to come back to life after I went to all the trouble of killing you, puppy. Not to mention you broke my kitty and refuse to give me the rest of her. Can’t you see that they’re miserable? Oh, they seem to have flipped upside down. Are they making bubbles or have they died?”

“Mine has the ability to breathe underwater.”

“She’s sparking a lot.”

“Must be the chlorine.”

“Well, mine is fine since I just gave her gills.”

“Then, let us get back to business.”

No longer interested in lounging by the pool, the reality-benders create a desk between them and transform their clothes. The furniture is smooth and simple wood on Ian’s side while Addison has created a gaudy surface of bone that flares up at the corners. Slacks and a nice sweater grow from the man’s skin, which sloughs off and slides into the pool. He cycles through several watches while leather loafers walk out of the icy gateway and slip onto his feet, which are immediately covered in warm socks. Wanting to upstage her smirking enemy, Addison’s ivory dress billows out with a wide skirt and a frill that rises from the back like the tailfeathers of a peacock. She rises a foot in the air due to platform stilettos that would snap the ankle of a normal woman. Bracelets, rings, and necklaces drift from the clouds to adorn her body, several of them slipping beneath her clothes. Once they are both ready, the reality-benders draw quill pens out from behind their backs.

“There is one thing we need to discuss before signing the temporary truce,” Ian mentions as a paper with the single word appears on the table. He spins his pheasant feather pen in his hand as he waits for his enemy to stop tickling her nose with her ostrich quill. “What should we do about the girl? To be honest, I forgot about her entirely until she fought to save your double. So, it is a surprise that they are still together. My personal opinion is that we should eliminate her and avoid any messiness.”

“Touch the child and our truce ends violently,” Addison replies in a tone that sends a shiver down everyone’s spine. Holding out her hand, she creates a doll of Kara and sprouts another arm to stroke the toy’s face. “She amuses me, which might be why the other me is so interested maintaining the friendship. Perhaps she connects to a piece we share. A maternal instinct that has never been satisfied. Either way, I demand that she be kept safe. There isn’t any harm in letting her stay, puppy. What messiness do you think the child could create?”

“I just have a bad feeling about her,” he mutters before signing the contract. He watches as the woman does the same, but writes his name. “You’re not . . . I’ll just change it later. Are you okay with me pushing things along if they get boring? You can do the protection and vengeance thing that I know you love. I simply want to control the pace of events. It’s such a dull task that I’m sure you-”

“Go away because we’re done,” Addison says without paying attention. A flick of her wrist sends Ian and his Gemma flying off the mountain along with the desk. “Let’s see what fun I can have with this.”

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