Haunts

The knocking resonated through the house just as my eyes were closing. Pushing the sound away, I let myself drift and tried not to think about falling asleep, even though it was clearly coming. The knocking got louder, scaring the threads of sleep away and leaving me feeling more awake then before.

Sitting up, I glanced at the VCR’s clock and saw it was four AM. What where the chances that it was just an animal? Or a neighbour doing something? Throwing the heap of blankets and duvets back, I pulled on my favourite fluffy jumper and went downstairs. The front door was directly at the bottom and there was a shadow figure in the stained glass windows.

Running my fingers through my boy-ish short pink hair, I reached the door and unlocked it. Fear was already twisting in my stomach and my heartbeat was echoing in my ears. Everyone knew there was only one person who visited you at this time.

I was still surprised to see the police officer standing there though. He checked my details and added he had some bad news to tell me and wanted to come in. I hesitated. I was alone and even though he was the law, too many weird things had been happening. Still though, I realized, the news he was about to tell me could be the reason behind the problems. I let him in and we went into the living room to sit down.

Your parents have died. They were attacked and murdered by a hitchhiker they’d picked up. Or at least we believe that to be the case. We are thoroughly investigating, but I’ve got some questions I need to ask you. Did they have any enemies or anyone who might have wanted to hurt them? When was the last time you spoke to them? Did they have money or any other troubles? We believe they weren’t just on vacation, do you know what they were doing in Louisiana?

Looking for my brother.

Your brother? Oh yeah, he’s been missing three years now. The case was dropped wasn’t it? On account of no evidence and the fact he was an addict. How long have your parents been away?

On and off since he….This time it’s been about four months.

Okay. Do you have someone I could call for you? Or someone you could go and stay with? I might need to ask you more questions and unfortunately we need someone to ID the bodies.

No. I’m fine and that won’t be a problem.

Closing the door, I felt a blast of cold air coming from the house. Rubbing my face, I padded upstairs and back to bed. There was no way I could sleep now. Turning on the TV, I found a shopping channel and left it on. My head begin to recite the conversation, which already felt like a dream. To a part of me the news of my parents’ death wasn’t new. In a way, they had died alongside my brother on his official missing day. He was already dead by then and we all knew it.

My brother always claimed he could see and talk to ghosts. Our parents had put it down to him being imaginative and a loner. I believed him, at least until the end of my childhood. My parents hadn’t been able to pay for anyone to help him and it seemed they’d stopped caring when he hit his teens. When he became addicted to drugs, it was then easier to blame his weirdness and behaviour.

I glance up at the dull tapping sound above me. It could be anything; water dripping, an animal, a loose pipe. However, I’ve been hearing it too often and now it sounds like someone knocking to come in. The TV flickers and light bulb buzzes. The knocking stops, but I keep staring up at the ceiling wondering if it’ll start again. The chatter of the TV and my breathing fill the room. I scold myself for believing something might happen. Getting up again, I go to the table with my TV on it and open a side draw.

Pulling out a candle, I lit it and go to the window. Opening the curtains, I see the first stains of sunrise across the sky. I place the candle on the windowsill and get back into my nest. I turn the TV off and lay down, staring at the candle and through the window. I think I hear tapping on the glass, but sleep is whispering to me and I just want to forget anything and lose myself to its hazy embrace.

I’ve started to believe him again.

Old Magic

It was just a curiosity because she had time to kill whilst waiting for her friends. At least that’s what Imogen told herself as she left the coffee shop and walk across to The Olde Magick & Apothecary Shoppe. Pausing by the window to take a closer look at the display, she felt drawn to the place. Even though she’d never admit it to her friends, she actually believed in this kind of thing.

The window display was decked out like so many were for Halloween. There was a large broom stick lying across two stacks of old books, draped with fake cobwebs. A witch’s black hat and stuffed toy cat sat on the end. A small cauldron surrounded by plastic flames and logs was on one side with three witch dolls huddled around it. Opposite was a pile of different size pumpkins sitting in a nest of autumn leaves. Different coloured and sized candles were also dotted around on the black and purple cloth coverings.

There was a large bookcase too, which give backing to the display and stopped peeping eyes into the shop. The shelves seemed a little empty to Imogene, but there was the normal stuffed raven and human skull lined up alongside books with interesting and questioning titles. There was also a collection of glass bottles with old labels on them. The curly handwriting was hard to make out, but Imogene guessed they were for display only. Hanging above where dried flowers and herbs. Fancy lettering proclaimed some of the shop’s stock: love potions, sleep potions, herbs and natural remedies, protective charms, crystals. Tarot cards, Fortune telling.

With a quick glance around, Imogen stepped in. A small bell tinkled overhead and she pushed the door back gently. The air was heavy with a mixture of scents, which attracted the nose, but also give you a headache. She took a few deep breaths and listed off the things she could smell: lavender, cloves, aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and incense.

Staying put, she glanced around. The shop itself appeared small, but different curtained doorways seemed to lead off into other sections. There was also a staircase with a staff only sign above it. The place was crammed with bookcases and tables. To the right of her was a short glass counter with an old fashioned sliver till. A black cat with large green eyes was sat next to it, watching her closely.

‘Hi, kitty,’ she said and walked over.

She rubbed the cat’s head and let her hand drop down the silky fur. The cat meowed and began to purr loudly. Imogen laughed and carried on stroking the cat, whilst her eyes darted around. She couldn’t see anyone and there was a weird quietness. Oddly, she felt drawn to the fortune teller’s doorway. It had always been something that had fascinated her, but she’d never been brave enough to have her palm or cards read.

‘Hello. Can I help you?’

Imogen turned at the voice and saw a woman coming down the stairs. The woman was wearing a white gypsy style blouse, black waist corset and black velvet skirt. Her dark hair was pinned up on her head and her face was heavily made up.

‘Ah, I see you’ve meet Ichabod.’

‘Oh, the cat! Yeah,’ Imogen replied, snapping out of her thoughts.

She gave him a final rub and turned back to the woman, who was now sweeping across the floor. Imogen wondered if she was actually a gypsy and then if she was a real witch. She felt her cheeks go red and tried not to stereotype the owner. She looked down into the counter and saw a silver pendent in the shape of a heart with roses on it.

‘Is there anything you are looking for?’ the woman asked.

‘Not really. I was just curious. I walk pass this place all the time and I…don’t know. It just interests me, I guess,’ Imogen said quickly, half losing her words.

‘Most visitors are, but you are most welcome. I’m Gwen.’

‘Imogen. What is that necklace there…the heart and roses one?’

Gwen slide the door open and pulled out the pendent which was attached to a long sliver chain.

‘It’s a locket. You can put dried herbs inside for protection. There’s holes in the back to let the scent through,’ she explained.

Imogen picked it up and looked at in the dim light. The sliver was worn and the roses pattern was going faint. It had an antique look as well as feeling heavy in her hand. She liked it, but the price tag seemed too much. She put it back on the counter.

‘It’s really nice,’ she commented.

Gwen nodded and fondled it, ‘it’s been in here for some time. I think its waiting for the right person. Some objects seem to do that.’

Not sure how to answer, Imogen started petting Ichabod again.

‘Would you like a reading? I’m offering discounts this month,’ Gwen suggested.

Imogen shook her head, ‘I’m good, thanks.’

‘Don’t be shy,’ Gwen giggled and drew a sheet of paper out, ‘the palm reading one is the cheapest. I also do reiki and chakra healings.’

Imogen looked down the list to be polite, yet her eyes were still drawn to the pendant. There was just something about it and the idea of having it seemed to be growing on her. She felt Gwen watching her, so she stared back.

‘How about a deal?’ Gwen said, ‘Buy the locket and I’ll read your palm for free and give you some dried lavender.’

Imogen bit her lip and wanted to ask if business was that bad, but she held back her words and said instead, ‘do you take card?’

‘Yes,’ Gwen replied and took the locket out again alongside a box.

Whilst, Imogen dug up her purse, Gwen placed the locket in its box, wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it inside a paper bag. She also dropped in a small pouch of dried lavender. She tilled up the item and slid the card machine over. Imogen, still feeling unsure, placed her card in and paid.

‘Here you go. Now please follow me.’

Nodded and taking the bag, Imogen trailed behind her and through the curtained doorway of the fortune telling room. A small round, purple cloth covered table sat in the middle with two chairs opposite each other. A chest of drawers was against the back wall and on the floor next to it was a camping stove and a tea pot. It was what she had and had not been expecting at the same time.

Gwen took the chair against the wall forcing Imogen to take the other one. Gwen then held out her right hand and Imogen having read somewhere that the left palm was better, give that hand to Gwen. Then she shut her eyes and tried to stay relaxed. Gwen’s fingers tickled her palm for a few moments and then in a soft voice Gwen began to speak, ‘You’re intelligent and loyal. You could go much further in your education, yet it seems that your heart might lead you away from that…Did you recently break up with someone?’

Imogen opened her eyes and nodded.

‘That’ll turn out to be a good thing. You’re due to meet someone much better around New Year’s Eve. You’ll get far in your career, though it’ll take you awhile to find the right path. Those trials will only make you stronger and more prepared. You good friends will support you. Your fiery temper makes you a little headstrong and though that seems a bad thing, it’ll actually help you. Lastly, it seems you’ll live long.’

Gwen removed her fingers and Imogen pulled back her hand. It felt oddly hot and tingly.

‘See, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe you’ll be brave enough to come back again?’

‘Maybe…thanks,’ Imogen said and collected her things from the floor. She stood up and left the room. Gwen didn’t follow her out. She said goodbye and patted Ichabod, who was still on the counter and then with a last look around, she left the shop.

Cold, clean air embraced her like a friendly hug. She took a few moments to breathe it in and then stepped on to the street. Her head and nose with becoming less stuffy and she felt her shoulders were lighter. Voices called to her and she turned to see her friends waving.

Open

When he opened the coffin it was empty.

Valley Peaks Theme Park

The cracked tarmac stretched before Cory like a desert. Faded white lines and clumps of weeds lead the way to a sloped roof building. In the stifling summer evening, he felt glad of his loose dark clothing. Cory rearranged the straps of his small rucksack and his camera case. A few more steps and he stood at the entrance to the abandoned theme park. The damaged sign above welcomed him to Valley Peaks.

Excitedly, he took out the digital camera and turned it on. The high tech device felt heavy in his hands, but as he beheld the LCD screen, the camera became his third eye. Lining up the scene, he took a photo and captured the growing decay. Checking the screen, he took another of the collection of warning placards stating; keep out, no trespassing, danger!

He glanced around, listening, but heard nothing beside from his fast breathing and heartbeat. Cory wondered; is this how the world would look if everything was wiped out? He had this déjà vu every time he visited an abandoned place. He was drawn to these lost buildings for the solitude. They called to him and showed him the powers of nature. The photography was just an excuse.

Cory took out his phone, it was nearly seven PM and he had no signal. Shrugging, he set an alarm for an hour, hating to do so, but knowing it was needed.  Last time, he had wondered around a manor house for over four hours. His mind having created the illusion that time had stopped. Putting the phone away, he tied back his wild-looking black hair.

With the entrance to the park looming, he strolled over. The pay booths and turnstiles stood like rotting teeth in a dead mouth. He felt a small shiver go up his spine as he ducked under. Straightening, he saw a large board with the remains of a map. He took a photo and moved closer.  He could barely make out the words and images. The pathways were clear enough and he put into memory the figure eight pattern with a few dead end lines sprouting off.

Casting a look over his shoulder, his eyes caught movement. He twisted and realized there was nothing, but pure silence. How’s that possible? He wondered. Where are the birds? The wind? Cory felt uneasy. He had been in silent places before and they had never fazed him like this. He shuffled his feet just to make a noise. Nervously he licked his lips. Its fine, he told himself, not wanting to spoil the blissful stillness by speaking aloud.     

The first ride was the tea cups. He stood before an empty circler platform and took a photo. Grass and weeds had taken hold of the platform, but not the uninhabited way he had hoped they would have done. He needed to move further into the park to witness nature’s real take over. He moved off to the dodgems, which held only one car. It was parked up next to the ticket booth, waiting for a driver. He heard a rustling come from behind. Cory spun, his eyes darting around for the source. It’s just an animal. He placed his camera against his chest and whistled loudly. The sound echoed, bring a bit of noise back to the park. He smiled a little and feeling more confident went to one of the rollercoasters.

The Crazy Mouse track was badly rusted. A splattering of blue paint clutched uselessly to the metal. Cory looked around for a cart, but didn’t spot one. He took a few photos and left. At a cross roads was an empty sign post, he turned right remembering the path shown on the map. After a few moments, in which he passed some boarded up shops, a mirror maze and a helter-skelter, he stopped. Cutting across the treeline was the main reason he had come here; the wooden rollercoaster. Excitement forced the un-easy feelings away as he broke into a jog. He felt a breeze on his face. A soft rustling came from the leaves and so did something else. Cory stopped and anxiously looked around, he couldn’t be sure, but it had sounded like a voice. It could have been a security guard or another urban explorer. Still though… He stepped off the path and behind a tree. He heard nothing more and after a couple of minutes, carried on.

The rollercoaster was across a bridge, under which was a barely moving dirty river. As Cory stepped onto the wooden planks, he heard creaking. He reached out for the rail then kept to the edge. To the left the river joined a lake and he could see the outline of lined up swan boats. Above them towered a Ferris wheel, the carriages silhouetted against the dusky sky. Seeing this, he realized that time was running out. As his feet touched the tarmac again, his ears caught a soft laugh. He spun and froze, but there was no one. This place is getting to me.

Breathing deeply, he followed the path. To his right should have been a pirate ship ride, but now there was only the fence for queuing. Next to it was the rollercoaster. He stopped and looked at the massive structure. The two rollercoaster trains were parked at the station, inviting invisible people on. The wooden track still looked stable, though large vines and bushes covered the lower sections and a number of saplings had grown though broken slots. He took some photos and then weaved his way around. At the highest point, he found a maintained ladder heading to the top.

Securing his camera, Cory shook the ladder with both hands. It vibrated and flakes of paint drifted off. He tested it out on the first three rungs and the ladder held. Slowly, he climbed upwards. When his hand hit only air after the last rung, panic raced through him. He looked over and saw a small platform. He pulled himself on to it and instinctively grabbed the handrail. The view was amazing. The whole theme park, the surrounding fields and woods were spread out around him. Across was another rollercoaster, made out of metal. To the side was the Ferris wheel. Further up the remains of a log fume and a haunted house.

Gently, he let go of the rail and brought up his camera. He felt the urge to rush taking photos, but knew he couldn’t do that if he wanted them to come out perfect. The light was going against him in the next few seconds. He took as many as he could and then climbed down. Dizzily and gratefully his feet hit the floor. He felt someone staring at his back. Expecting once again to see a security guard, he turned. Empty air filled the space. There was nothing to be seen, but a boarded up kiosk. Catching his breath, Cory decided to leave. It was risky coming here and he daren’t spend any more time. Recalling the straight route he had come, he went back to the bridge.

As he started to cross, the river rippled as something disturbed the water. He looked down. Can fish survive in there? Soft laughed caught his ears and his eyes darted around. It sounded like a child playing nearby. That’s impossible, my mind is playing tricks. Shaking his head, he walked off the bridge and heard the sound of footsteps following. This time he knew someone was there. He broke into a run. He flew towards the tree and pressed himself against it. He held his breath trying to calm himself down. He peered out, expecting at any moment a hand to grab him and a voice to shout that he was trespassing. The moments ticked by. Gradually, he stirred and saw that he was alone. There was no movement or sound from anything. The feelings of un-easiness and being watched crept back. He had to get out.

He ran down the pathway, believing if he just kept going he’d soon be fine. However, passed the helter-skelter, he heard the faint tune of fairground music. A part of him wanted to rest and figure out what was happening, but the other part of him urged him to on. He did so and felt sweat break out on his forehead. A large circle shape loomed ahead and he came to a halt. Am I at the tea cups already? He grabbed his knees and caught his breath. He could still hear the fairground music, but also laughed. He considered the shape and realized that this ride was different. It was too big and there were long shapes balanced on the platform. It was too dark for him to work them out.

He dug in his pocket for a small torch. Turning it on, the beam hit the head of an opened mouth horse. He heard a loud cry and stumbled backwards. He caught himself as he almost fell. He fumbled for balance then tried to keep the torch steady. The horse, frozen in a frenzied state, rose up above him. What the hell? It’s a merry-go-round. He fought for breath and his other hand clutched at his chest. Thoughts raced in his head and he decided he must have taking a wrong turn.

Shaking, he started moving away. The music stopped. Cory hesitated and regarded the merry-go-round. He heard a creak and the ride moved forward. Fear glued him to the spot. He knew that couldn’t be possible. There was no wind to move the heavy ride and there was no else here but him. Must be another mind trick, Let’s go. He back away. Only the music started up again and the laughed joined it. Without knowing why, he knew he had to get away. He fled back to path and found himself facing The Crazy Mouse. See, wrong turn, that’s all and the music is all in your head.   

He sprinted on, keeping the torch beam on the path in front. There was a large shape fast approaching and Cory felt a sudden ache in his legs and arms, as he saw the tea cups. He took a breather and running footsteps echoed behind him. There’s nothing there. Nothing at all. It’s all in your imagination. He hugged his camera and went to the exit. A strong breeze hit his face as he ducked under the turnstile. His eyes flicked back and he saw a small shadowy figure. He gulped. Almost hit his head on the bar as he stood up. Then shot across the car park, praying he didn’t hear anything chasing after him.

The Blood That Gives

He walks down the wet street, avoiding the dim light from the old fashion street lamps as he does so. He turns the corner and is confronted with London’s East End. The terraced houses stretch out on both sides, looming out of the dark April night. He stands on the street corner; hands in the pockets of his black drainpipe trousers, rubbing the side of his brown brogue shoe against the edge of the curb. His eyes come to rest on a mass of damp paper laying in the gutter; ‘East London Advertiser, Friday April 6th 1956. TEDDY BOY GANGS CAUSE TROUBLE IN THE EAST END.’

The sound of female laughter distracts him. He listens. His unhappy lips turn into a straight thoughtful line. He flips the high collar of his white shirt up and begins to walk down the road.  He passes a light blue Ford Prefect and stops to glance at himself in the wing mirror. He runs his hand over his chin; feeling nothing but smoothness and warmth. He notices the red blush covering his pale cheeks and is glad of it.  He checks his straight white teeth, pats down the top of his damp, slicked back, black hair and then gazes into his own dark blue eyes.

A sharp laugh cuts though his thoughts and he looks up towards the sound. He walks on, till he comes to stand at the end of the street. He lets the shadows cover him as he spies on the girls. There’s four them and they can’t be much older than himself. They sit in a circle, amongst the rubble remains of a bombed out house.

At a quick glance, he’d see them as boys and not girls, because the clothes they wear are similar to his; brown drainpipe trousers, crepe-sole shoes and black drape jackets. Of the two girls who face him; one wears a light coloured polar neck, with a thin blue scarf. She has short curly blond hair, a round face and a large smile.  The other girl wears a white shirt-open at the neck. She has shoulder length, brown curly hair, tied back in a ponytail and her face is long and thin.  It is this one that he likes.

‘Ma’ll kill me, I better get going,’ one of the girl’s voices calls out.

‘I’ll walk back with you,’ another answers.

He watches as the girls that have been sitting with their backs to him, stand up, say goodbye and leave. He lets a few seconds pass and then makes his way over. The other girls eye him suspiciously as he comes to the edge of the bombed out house. The one with the scarf around her neck takes a long drag of a cigarette and then says, ‘You got another?’

He’s glancing down, turning half a brick over with his shoe, when she speaks again. He looks up, nods his head and walks over to her, pulling the packet and match box from his pocket. He hands both to her, then sits down opposite them.

They study him now, puzzlement and questioning expressions on their faces.

‘You got a name?’

‘William,’ he lies, letting it slip off his tongue as if it is the truth.

She giggles, balances one of the cigarettes between her lips and says, ‘I’m Kath and this is Susan. Will you come and light this, William?’

He likes the way she pronounces the name, with the emphases on the ‘Will’ part. He gets up, takes the match and box from her and strikes it. He brings the light to the end of the cigarette and when it catches, he shakes the match out.

‘You got a girlfriend, William?’

‘No,’ he answers, letting the used match fall from his fingers. He slips the box back in his pocket and glances across at Susan. She is stubbing out her cigarette on the corner of a brick.

‘You want one?’ Kath asks.

He doesn’t reply, his eyes remain on Susan, who raises her own to his and stares at him hard, ‘What?’ she snaps.

‘Can I walk you home?’ he asks, shyly.

The girls laugh.

‘Alright then,’ Kath answers.

He steps forward and helps her stand up. He then holds on to her hand as he helps Susan to her feet. He drops their hands quickly and throws his arms around their necks, causing them to lose their balance and fall to the floor. He pins Susan under him, covering her mouth with his hand, as he twists Kath’s head to the side and buries his head in her throat. When he is done with Kath, he pushes off her and moves on top of Susan. He looks down into her shocked face. He is breathing deeply, his mouth open revealing his blood covered fangs. Droplets of Kath’s blood drip from his face and down on to Susan’s.

He grins. The hunger is still burning deep inside of him, it needs to be fed and he has chosen well tonight.

Zombie

The hand broke free of the earth. The tightly stretched skin felt the cold breeze wrap around it, then move away as if repelled. The discolored fingers wiggled and dropped to scoop up a handful of dirt. Letting the partials go, the hand pushed down and its owner continued to rise.

Under

The monster under my bed. by JCMaziu

The Monster under Gretel’s bed was tired. Also, he was getting bored. Gretel was growing up and it was becoming harder to scare her. Twenty-first century kids were becoming desensitised to things too early and hadn’t he read in The Monstrosity News that children born between the human years of 2000-2008 were now proving that fact? He did some calculating in his head and worked out that it was 2014 and Gretel was almost eight. She fit in that group.

Sighing, Monster massaged his aching head. One of his three horns was hurting something rotten again and he was half worried he’d have to go and get it fixed. He remembered that he should never leave a problem as it could get worse. The issue was that if he left Gretel, he knew he’d never come back again.

Shutting his eyes he thought about the scenario of being resigned and how he’d miss her. Rubbing his shoulders and higher back on the floor, he flopped out an arm from under the bed. Then deciding there was nothing else for the numbness in his neck, he crawled out. Standing up, he stretched and cast a look around the bedroom. It had changed so much since he’d first moved in months after she’d been born.

He picked a dust ball of one of his spikes and let it drop to the floor. He’d always had his fur cut short, preferring it that way and finding it cooler. However, living in a snowy part of the human world, had caused him to keep his fur long again. He shook himself out and watched the dust fall in the thin light coming from under the door.

The gasping sound behind him, took a few minutes to compute in his tried brain. Turning, he found Gretel staring up at him, the duvet wrapped around her like a shield and a pink bear gasped in her hands. He took up his roaring pose and prepared to scare her, before shooting back under the bed. However, something made him stop. Dropping his stance, he gave her a little wave. Confusion crossed Gretel’s face and the duvet hood slipped from her head.

He cleared his throat, ‘Hi there,’ he said, before realizing that he sounded dumb and had just broken a handful of laws.

‘Are you here to take me away? Or just to scare me back to sleep?’ Gretel asked.

‘Neither really…well maybe the second one…’

‘I’ve seen you before,’ she spoke up, ‘do you live under my bed?’

He nodded, ‘I sometimes live in the wardrobe too and the attic.’

Gretel peered over the edge of the bed and looked into the dark space under it.

‘How do you fit in there?’ she asked.

Monster shrugged, ‘just do. It’s magic, I guess.’

‘You look different from the monsters in the movies.’

‘We are all different and there’s nothing wrong with that,’ he answered defensively.

Gretel nodded, ‘What are going to do now?’

‘I’ll have to go away. Far, far away. My time of scaring you was almost over anyway and now I’ve probably broken some rules behaving like this…so…’

Monster sat heavily on the floor and hunched his shoulders up. Waves of emotion rolled off him. He shuddered and felt like crying. Suddenly, he felt a warm hand stroking his fur. He glanced at Gretel and dropped his hands from his face.

‘I’m going to have a baby brother soon. I might not need a monster any more, but I could use a friend. And maybe you can scare him when he gets a bit older?’

‘Oh,’ Monster sniffed.

‘Do you think that would be okay? You can stay under my bed again and we could talk all the time and then neither of us would get lonely.’

‘Sounds like a good idea to me,’ Monster replied, ‘though it was rather late now, so you should get back to sleep.’

Gretel nodded and climbed back into bed, ‘you’ll still be here though,’ she asked sleepily.

‘Yes, I shall,’ Monster answered as he tugged her in.

Pegasus

black_pegasus_by_deikochan-d5i42w1

Molly gazed into the button eyes of the felt pegasus and officially decided that she didn’t like him. Sighing, she placed him on her desk and began to scrutinise him from every angle. The matching black wings were slightly lopsided- though that should be an easy fix- the muzzle looked hooked at the end and the legs seemed too thin to hold up him up. As if to prove that, he began to do the splits and almost became spread-eagle.

She was reminded of Bambi as she straightened him up. Rubbing the soft black felt under her fingertips, she decided that the there was nothing wrong with the felt or the colour. The mane and tail, which were made of some black fur she had found, looked suitable enough. It was definitely the pattern, she thought, and he really won’t do for my niece’s birthday.

Placing the pegasus on her printer beside the red dragon with the missing eyes and the blue teddy bear with a knitted scarf, Molly scrolled through her Pinterest crafts-to-try board. She had gathered a number of different patterns and images of pegasus and unicorns on there during her research. After a few minutes, she decided to have a go at making the second pattern of her choice, which was actually just a simple horse with attachable wings and horn.

Turning on the printer, she sorted the pattern out before printing it and whilst picking up the sheet of paper she muttered to the pegasus, who now seemed to be glaring at her, ‘I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to stay there for now.’

Leaving the print out on her desk, she went into the kitchen to make some dinner. Her boyfriend, who she shared her uncle’s old house with, was working away in London, so she was alone for the next few days. Not that it bothered her as she had Jet to keep her company and also plenty to keep her busy; there were articles to be written for two magazines and one online, a house to keep tidy, a Halloween party to plan, Jet to be walked, feed and brushed as his winter coat was coming through and another pegasus to now make.

After dinner and watching the news, Molly took Jet out. The black Labrador had springs for legs and was constantly jumping about everywhere. Also, he believed that games of fetch should last forever and Molly struggled to convince him it was home time after an hour. Finally, they left the woods and it had grown very dark. Checking her phone, she saw it was past nine.

‘That’s your fault that,’ she scolded the dog.

Jet stared up at her with dopy eyes full of love and excitement.

Molly laughed and patted his head, ‘don’t look at me like that. Come on, its bedtime when we get back.’

After she had turned on the lights and dried Jet’s muddy paws, Molly curled up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate. Jet-seemly tried for once- curled up in his basket and began to snore. She watched Film4’s nine o’clock movie; Knight and Day, then went to bed.

Waking up in the morning from a strange almost bordering on nightmarish dream, Molly felt like she was being watched. Turning the ringing alarm off, she turned on the bedside lamp and looked around the dim room. She couldn’t see anything. Getting up, she opened the curtains and let in the weak autumn light. Nothing seemed out of place. Running her hands through her wicked witch like black hair, she walked out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. It was probably an effect of that dream, she thought.

Jet was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. His tail was thumbing against the wooden stairs banister like a fast drum beat. Molly rubbed his head, then put on her shoes and coat. Jet yawed and started barking.

‘Give me a second,’ she told him, but he carried on. Putting on his lead and opening the door, caused Jet to yank her outside. She tried to pull him back, but he was stronger than her and had very little patient in the morning. She took him on to the playing fields, which were in the opposite direction the woods. There he would be less districted from chasing squirrels or rabbits and hopefully, she’d get home sooner.

Arriving back, Molly dumped her stuff in the hallway, dried Jet’s paws and made them both breakfast. As she sat down in the lounge, she spotted something odd sticking out from behind the armchair. Abandoning breakfast, she went over and pulled it out. The black pegasus danged in the air. One of its back legs was ripped off and stuffing was poking out.

‘What? How did you get there?’ she asked.

Carrying the toy into the study, she looked at her computer and printer. The pegasus was missing. Frowning, she sat down and wondered what had happened. Nothing else seemed out of place and through she wouldn’t have put it passed Jet to have done something like that, surely things like her keyboard and chair would have been disturbed by the large dog though?

She felt Jet press a wet nose to her leg. She turned to the dog, ‘did you do that?’ she asked, holding out the pegasus. He dropped his head, eyes on the floor and tail sinking between his legs. ‘Bad dog. Don’t do that again.’ He whined and padded away to his bed.

Turning the pegasus around her hands, she looked at the ripped off leg. She’d have to try and make another one later, but for now, she drew a needle and thread and put a few stitches in. Placing him back on the printer, Molly stood up, rested her hands on her hips and then turned back. The pegasus seemed to be watching her. Rubbing her forehead, she turned the soft toy around and switched on her computer.

After finishing off her breakfast, she worked on her first article for the rest of the morning. At lunchtime, she took a still sulking Jet out for a walk. On coming back, just having raced a sudden down pour of rain, they found the pegasus laying in the hallway.

‘How is that possible?’ Molly whispered.

Jet growled softly, baring his teeth at the toy. Molly eased him back and went to pick up the pegasus. She walked into the study, Jet following behind her on muddy paws and his lead trailing behind him. There was a gap on the printer just like before. Placing him back there, Molly turned to Jet. There was no way the dog could have done that this time. She patted his head, then went and dried his paws.

For the rest of the afternoon she kept an eye on the pegasus. Once again, she had to turn him around, so her eye was on his long flowing tail and remaining back leg. Somehow she managed to get another article written and both sent off. She had dinner early and took Jet out afterwards. She felt apprehensive on returning home, what if it had moved again? Unlocking and opening the front door, she and Jet walked into a darkening hallway. Turning on the light, she saw nothing on the floor.

Letting go of the breath she had been holding, she took off her boots and coat, dried Jet and let him loose, before walking into the study. The pegasus was sitting on an empty printer. The dragon and teddy were laying on the floor, paper was scattered across her desk and the pattern for the new pegasus was in the bin.

‘Oh my God! What is this? Why is this happening?’ Molly cried.

Jet came to her side, nuzzling her leg and trying to calm her. Molly hugged herself then stroked him. ‘Good dog. Good boy,’ she added. Scrubbing his ears, she moved and began to tidy up. Her hands were shaking and her mind couldn’t come up with any explanation for this. After, she made herself a cup of tea and decided to start the new pegasus. She wasn’t sure what would happen next, but making the toy would take her thoughts off things.

Slipping on her headphones and finding some calming indie music, she began to cut out the shapes of the new pegasus from the spare black felt she had. Once that was done, she followed the instructions and carefully began putting it together. She was halfway through when she stopped for the night. Looking at the half made horse, she decided that she needed to keep it safe, so she took up to bed with her.

Molly finished the winged unicorn the next night and she was very happy with it. Placing it beside the other one, which for whatever reason, hadn’t caused any trouble that day, she felt even more pleased with her work. She left them both her desk and went to bed, exhausted. However, in the early hours of the morning, she heard Jet growling and barking. Waking up fully, she lay still hoping he’d settle back down. Maybe he was having a bad dream? Or he’d heard a cat outside? She thought.

When he didn’t stop though, she got out of bed and went downstairs. The thick carpet quietened her bare feet and halfway, she heard the wild neighing of a horse. Pausing, she checked to see if she heard that right. Yet in her mind, she knew she couldn’t have done.

Peering over the handrail and straight into the open door of the study, she saw Jet standing slightly away from her desk and chair. His body was hunched up, his tail and ears flat and his eyes fixated on the scene before him. Molly gasped; the felt horses were fighting each other! Their wings were flipping madly, their front legs were locked together and they were dancing in a circle across her desk.

Molly wanted to fly down the stairs and get a closer look, but the other part of her wanted to retreat back to the bedroom. A voice kicked into her mind and made her began chanting that it was all just a bad dream. However, she couldn’t convince herself and had to continue to watch the fight.

The original pegasus, who was only balancing on one back leg was on the left side and seemed stronger than the second pegasus. However, as they clashed heads, the horn of the second tore off one of the other’s button eyes. The original neighed in pain and stumbled back. The second, put down its head and a white spark shot out of the horn and into the chest of the other. The pegasus fall off the desk and into the jaws of Jet.

The black lab grabbed the toy and shook it wildly. Stuffing flew across the room and then Jet began shredding the felt. Molly cried out and ran towards him. She snatched the pegasus from the dog’s mouth, but it was too late to save it and she held only tatters in her hands.

Grave Voices

gvss

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On The Shelves

Halloween Display

The shelves were full of Halloween items, Herbert noticed as he wondered onto the wrong aisle. He paused and stared at the stacked Halloween treats. Chocolates and gummies called to him in their bright packages. Next to them were savoury snacks also decorated up for the holiday. Shrugging bent shoulders, he selected a few packets of treats and put them into the cart. There was still three weeks to go, but Herbert had always liked to stay ahead of things.

Turning away, he looked at the baby and children’s costumes opposite. He had to move closer to make out the full outfits as even with glasses his eyes were fading. The selection was modest, with pumpkin baby suits, sparkly witch dresses with matching hats, devil jumpsuits, a vampire’s suit and a skeleton bone t-shirt.

It brought back the memory of a few years ago, when he had come shopping with Nancy and the kids. He had helped selected a pumpkin suit for his six month old granddaughter and it had the words Granddad’s Little Pumpkin on the front. For some reason he could clearly remember that, but he couldn’t recall the last time he had seen them. Had it been two years or three?

Shuffling on, he passed the line-up of scary masks and accessories. The adult costumes were next for inspection, though most of them were the grown up versions of the children’s. Herbert looked at an undead bride dress and one for a vampire countess. There was also a pirate captain, a cowboy and a werewolf. Once again masks and accessories followed.

He had a costume already, he recalled: a Count Dracula, with a floor sweeping cape, plastic fangs and a waist coat. He had wore it every year since he could remember and not once he had question the idea of an old man dressing up and celebrating Halloween. If his granddad kids hadn’t been living with him, maybe it would have stopped? He wondered on this and decided there must have been more to it than that.

Glancing over his shoulder he realised that he’d missed the decorations. For some reason, they had always been his favourite part. He went over and looked at the kitchen wares and party supplies. Crudely made skull goblets seemed to laugh at him, whilst a pitcher covered in one eyed pumpkins winked at his balding head. He frowned over the usual assortment of paper cups, plates and napkins, until he spotted a medium sized plastic orange bowl.

Picking it up with shaking hands, he put it into the cart and moved on. His eager eyes searched the shelves for his next item in the home decorations area. He soon found a bag of mixed plastic bugs and a bag of fake spider webs. Dropping these in, he studied the rest of the items. There was a selection of window stickers, wall hangings, fabric ghosts and skeletons. He peered into a large caldron, cheeky pressed the play button on a dancing zombie and fondled a bouncy ball with a floating eye inside.

As he placed the last item down, his hear aids alerted him to running footsteps. He half turned and watch two children- a girl and a boy-run to the costumes. Excitedly, they begin to shout what they wanted to dress up as and tug at things. An anger red faced woman snapped at them to come away and then fell into an argument with them. Herbert turned away, an odd feeling of shame creeping upon him.

He pushed the cart to the end of the aisle and then stopped. The mother had wrestled her children away and he was strangely alone again. Next to him sat a glittering fiberglass pumpkin with a fake candle inside. I’ll probably need that this year, he thought with a glance at his trembling hands. He eased the pumpkin off the shelf, checked it worked, then what batteries it would need. He placed it in his cart and stared into the carved face.

Every year he had painstakingly carved his own pumpkin and his wife had made pie and soup with the insides. Lastly year, he had been halfway through the carving when the shakes had struck. He’d had to get his neighbour to finish the design, whilst his wife had said he was too old to be trying so hard now.

This year had been so different. Herbert dropped his head and took a couple of deep breaths. From somewhere, a little voice came to him and question why he could give making pumpkin soup and pie a go? He pulled his head up and licked his cracked lips. Yes, I should do, he thought, haven’t I recently discovered a love for cooking?

Turning the cart about, he headed back to the front of the shop. There he selected a decent pumpkin, which he could also carry and put it inside the kart with satisfaction. Then smiling to himself, he started out again to complete his shopping list.