Thanksgiving Flash Fiction: Turkey is Served

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The new baby.

I’m calling the following Thanksgiving story flash fiction in that it is well under 1,000 words. A quick and hopefully entertaining tale I jotted down at my kitchen table at 5 am this morning. Such is life when you have a new baby that needs to go out to potty every hour!

 

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Turkey is Served

“What a time for Ron to get called out of town on a trip,” my brother-in-law, Rick, said.

I was putting the finishing touches on the sweet potato casserole and was feeling a little annoyed to have anyone in my kitchen while I was cooking. Lately, everything had been irritating and the holidays were exacerbating my foul mood. I loved the cooking, but having my in-laws over for dinner was always daunting.

My sister-in-law, Rick’s wife, Lisa, always drank too much wine and spent the entire time bragging about her job and her decades-old business degree. Their kids were zombies attached to their electronic devices and never even grunted so much as a greeting let alone appreciate the excellent meal I always provided. Rod, my husband’s youngest and unmarried brother, usually brought his trollop-de-jour and spent his time ogling her and making kissy faces. My widower father-in-law did not waste the opportunity to remind us all that his only daughter, Regan, who never came to Thanksgiving, would be heir to all his worldly belongings when he died since she was the only one who helped him when my mother-in-law was dying.

He forgot about the part where I had actually helped, every day. Regan just happened to be present at the time of her passing. I had been at the hospital for two days and a night and had just left to go home and shower when she passed, but thank God for Saint Regan. Maybe it was because my name didn’t start with an “R” and thus I’d never be real family.

No wonder my husband could be such a monumental jerk, it was apparently genetic.

“Oh well, it couldn’t be helped,” I said.

“Can I help you with anything?” Rick said, and he glanced at his watch. “He had to leave in the middle of the night, huh?

“I guess so. He said the scheduled pilot got food poisoning or something.”

Rick grunted, “That’s my brother, always jetting off somewhere. Want me to take a look at the bathroom upstairs?”

“The bathroom?”

“Yeah, you said it was backed up and to use the one down here instead.”

“Oh! No, it’s fine. I’ll call the plumber tomorrow,” I said.

“Okay, then,” he said, and he left to plop down on the couch.

I was glad to have him out of my way. I needed to get the meat out of the oven, feed these people, and get them out of my hair. I would have to deal with the bathroom, but I couldn’t do it until after the meal.

Rick was right, Ron was always jetting off, as a commercial pilot it was his job. It had never bothered me that he was gone for days on end sometimes, that is, until recently. I had come to realize that he was never around when I needed him, like when his mom was dying. And before that, when I had to have shoulder surgery after a fall, he left to fly an overseas trip the day of my surgery. I had to have a neighbor bring me home from the hospital.

When I pointed all of this out to him and shared my thought that he was doing it on purpose, he said I was exaggerating and being over sensitive and paranoid. He started telling me that he missed appointments and dates because I forgot to tell him about them. We began arguing about it almost every day.

During one of these arguments, he literally smashed most of our wine glasses and then had the nerve to say I did it! He went so far as to cut his own head and tell me that I did it to him when I threw a wine glass at him! These types of incidents began to happen at least twice a day. I actually started to worry that I was losing my mind.

But now I know the truth.

Obviously, it was Ron’s memory that was faulty. Thank goodness because if he hadn’t forgotten to check the pockets of his slacks, I still would have no idea. If our dry-cleaner weren’t meticulous about preserving every little item left in the laundry to return to the owner, I would be clueless. But he is, and I’m not.

Admittance paperwork. Folded over into a small square as if he were trying to conceal it, which I’m sure he was. Daniel’s Behavioral Health Hospital blazed across the top of the first page. My name was neatly written in Ron’s hand on the line labeled, Patient Seeking Services. He’d been gaslighting me this whole time, just to put me away and be rid of me. Pretty clever, actually. Insurance would cover it, and there would be no financial hassle of a divorce.

No matter. A slice, a slash, and a stick and I was having the last laugh.

I pulled the roaster pan out of the oven and had to admit that it smelled like turkey. It even looked like turkey, but I knew it wasn’t turkey. Well, Ron had been a turkey if he thought his plan would work. I snickered to myself.

“Turkey is served,” I called to the rest of the turkeys in the other room. I couldn’t help but smile with pride in my resourcefulness.

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Disclaimer! I just want to say that this is a work of fiction and in no way reflects any true holiday that I am aware of. My husband isn’t even a pilot!

Have a nice holiday and enjoy your family (hopefully not in the way of the story)! Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

 

 

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Ghost Light Stories Featuring Author Richard Crofton

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By LouisHeon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17896781

Just in time for Halloween!

Ghost Light Stories Episode 2! Visit my YouTube channel and subscribe!

Connect with Richard Crofton:

Website: https://richardcrofton.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richardcroftonauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterCrofton
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16367519.Richard_Crofton
Amazon: Richard Crofton’s Amazon Page

 

Announcing Ghost Light Stories

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By LouisHeon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17896781

I’m a firm believer that you can never get enough scares in your life! That’s why I’m so excited to introduce a new feature to this site: Ghost Light Stories. Once a month you’ll be treated to a spooky tale either from myself, a guest horror author or from readers just like you!

A Ghost Light is a single naked bulb left burning in an empty theatre. For practical reasons, this light keeps someone from accidentally walking into to the orchestra pit or off the side of the stage, but it’s also surrounded by superstition. There is a widespread tradition that most theaters are haunted. One story goes that the Ghost Light allows the spirits to take to the stage in otherworldly performances when the living actors have left the building. In a little darker version, the Ghost Light keeps the spirits with evil intentions away from the theatre ensuring safety and success. Either way, you may wish to fire up your own Ghost Light before you hear these creepy tales!

If you have a story of your own you’d like to share with us, please email it to info@joyyehle.com  Fellow authors encouraged to play! You can also follow Ghost Light Stories on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7yz0LWLYNbdv-02mUvq0Aw

Enjoy!

Exorcists Take Over

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I always wanted to read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I wanted to know how scenes from the movie looked in written word. How did he use vocabulary to express the sights and sounds and smells? When I found an audio version, read by the author himself no less, I snatched it!

I will tell you that there is no other way to delve into a book about demon possession other than with an audio version. I got chills from the places of the text where the demon speaks. At one or two points I felt like I should pull my earbuds out and douse them in holy water! Weirdly, this book became my soundtrack as I trained for a 10K and anticipating the next installment served as wonderful motivation to get that next workout in.

As I was deep in the midst of my unique routine, I heard that FOX was making a television series based on The Exorcist. I was very curious to find out how the writers of the television series would develop their storylines. On the premier evening, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch. My men were out at an overnight campout, and I was alone with my girls. It might sound weird, but it was the first time I found myself without my spouse overnight since my home security system, a large German Shepherd named Carmen, passed away. What if I freaked myself out and in turn scared my girls? As is true most times, my need to know won out.

I tucked them into the family room with a Disney movie and crept up the stairs to my room. I wanted to turn the volume low on the TV, I didn’t want them to overhear it, but it was stormy out, and the wind was howling through the eaves of the house. I adjusted the volume so I could hear and hoped the sound wouldn’t carry over the happy sounds of Disney.

The opening scenes with the lone priest walking through a ghetto, dark things scurrying in the shadows, and screams in the night had me expecting to go through the house turning on all the lights. Just when I thought I was going to be fine, the final scenes from the attic rolled across the screen. It takes a lot to scare me, and I was not disappointed!

It would have been easy for this show to be a rip-off of the movie, but it forged its own path into terror. As the story went on it got deeper, twistier, and scarier. The way the story intertwined with Blatty’s original tale was brilliant

Towards the end of the season, Ben Daniel’s character, Father Marcus, said the most profound line to ever be uttered on television, IMHO. Satan’s allies were torturing him, and all he had to do to make it stop was join them. He refused. The head baddy expressed his disbelief that Father Marcus would rather die for the Church that had excommunicated him than be a part of the evil that would welcome him. To this Marcus replied, “I’m not dying for the bloody Church, I’m dying for Him.”

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There is something terribly appealing about a character who reveals that his principles are deeper than you thought. He walks the talk to the bitter end, a man of integrity who knows where his true devotion lies.

These tales intrigue me, and maybe many of you, because they are scary to be sure, but deeper. Not just shock and jumps. They explore the ancient human question of what faith is and how hard it can be to hang on to that faith. It challenges us to ponder what exactly is it that we have faith in? And why. It begs the question, what is the purpose of suffering? They show us the power of mercy, sacrifice, and service to others. Most importantly, they tell us that we are not powerless against evil. Contact with evil will change us, but we can fight back. There is hope that we can overcome it.

William Peter Blatty passed away on January 12, 2016. I’m glad I got to hear his classic novel read with his intended character inflections and tone. It was fantastic. I let his word usage wash over my brain, I hope something stuck!

bookcoverexorcismJust when I was about to move on from this theme of possession that organically emerged in my life, my library app told me that a new addition to the collection might interest me. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. I loved HorrStor by this same author, so of course, I borrowed it! Not as chilling as the tales above but still good. I was a teen in the early 80’s like the characters, and it brought back some delicious (can you say TCBY) and cringe-worthy memories. It’s a coming of age story with the added challenge of a terrifying chain of demon-inspired chaos. Check it out!

I’m still open to this theme of possession! I’d like to read some Indie authors on the subject. I’m taking suggestions! I just watched Hostage to the Devil, a documentary about real-life exorcist Father Malachi Martin, and so now I think I’ll have to read his book by the same title.

What have I learned from all this? Well, if you happen to see someone you love speaking with an imaginary friend, acting strangely, and speaking in strange voices…you might need a Father Marcus. Or maybe…just maybe…they are a writer!

Until next time Never Turn Off the Lights!

Scary Christmas!

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Welcome back! I know, I know, I almost missed our Christmas tradition of posting a Christmas horror tale! Trust me, this one was worth the wait! Read on, if you dare!

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The Kalli-Who

Lenny squinted his eyes at the Christmas tree. If you did it just right, it looked like tiny fireworks exploding from every branch. He could lie right under it and look up the branches now that the presents were all opened and it was amazing. He aimed his prized brand spanking new nerf gun up the trunk of the tree, pretending to zero in on a shiny blue glass ball.

His finger jerked. The ball shattered sending tiny shards down on him. Lenny rolled over, jumped to his knees and brushed off the debris.

“What was that?” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Nothing,” he called back.

“Didn’t sound like nothing,” she said, her footsteps stomping his way.

She came around the corner, wiping her wet hands on a dishtowel. He put the gun under his shirt.

“Leonard James Doukas, what have you done?”

“Nothing,” he said, his eyes wide.

She held her hand out. “Give it over.”

“No, Mama! The ornament fell on its own!”

“Uh-huh. Give it here.”

He groaned and gave her the gun. She set it up on top of the mantel.

“You can have it back tomorrow. I told you not to point it at anything but the target that came with it.”

“But Mom!”

“Don’t ‘but Mom’ me. I told Santa not to bring you that! Get the hand-vac and clean it up then off to bed.”

He started to protest again. The adults were settling in around the dining room table, and he wanted to listen in to the stories they would tell about Christmases past and ‘the old country.’ Lenny’d never been to Greece, but it sounded like a magical place to go. His mother gave him the look and he knew better.

“You never know, maybe the kallikantzaroi knocked it down. It’s the first day of the twelve days,” his father said as he walked through the room. Lenny could smell the cinnamon and cloves from the cookie he was holding.

“The kalli-who?” Lenny asked. Maybe he could still get out of this.

His mother glared at his father. “Don’t fill his head with that stuff. It’s bad enough that the baby won’t sleep through the night, I don’t need him up, too.”

A broad mischievous smile cracked his father’s face. “Clean up your mess, get ready for bed, and I’ll come tuck you in. I’ll tell you all about the Kallikantzaroi.”

“Nick, you jerk! You can stay up with the kids tonight then,” his mother said.

Nick strolled over to her and covered her in a bear hug, picking her up off her feet. He nuzzled his face into her neck, and she shrieked with laughter. Lenny wrinkled his nose at their giggles and smooching sounds. He got started on the clean up.

As he knelt down under the tree, he looked up at the mantle and could see the tip of his gun hanging over the edge. His heart swelled. He’d gotten a lot of gifts, but that one was the best. Maybe heading to bed wasn’t so bad. That meant tomorrow would come sooner and he could have his treasure back.

Face washed, and teeth brushed, he slid his bare feet down the cool smoothness of his sheets. His father pulled the blankets up and smoothed them around his thin body. Lenny pulled the soft comforter up under his chin.

“Tell me the story, Papa.”

“What story?” Nick said, and the mischievous smile returned.

“You know! The Kalli-kontz-aroo!”

A deep rolling laughter came from Nick. “Your mother won’t be too happy.”

“Please! You promised!”

“Okay, okay. But you have to promise to be a big boy and not get scared.”

“I promise! I promise!”

“You know that big oak tree in the front yard?”

“Yes,” Lenny said.

“Well, there’s one just like it only much bigger that grows underground, and it holds up the whole world, it’s the world tree.”

Lenny scowled. “Papa, that sounds like make-believe.”

“Do you want to hear the story or not?”

“Yes!”

“Okay, then. Shush,”

Lenny giggled.

“The Kallikantzaros are hairy little monsters who spend all year trying to cut the tree down.”

“Why?”

“Um, because they are bad. They spend all their time sawing away at the trunk. But on Christmas day, they can come up from the ground and run around for twelve days. On the day of Epiphany-“

“Oh, I know what that is. That’s a special church day,” Lenny said.

“Right. On that day the kallikantzaroi have to go back under the earth. They get real mad because the tree has healed its trunk and they have to start all over with the sawing.”

“That’s the whole story?”

“Well, yeah,” Nick said feeling disappointed at his son’s reaction. “But while they run around on the surface they do naughty things, like break furniture and pee in the potted plants,” he said, hoping to win his son’s approval.

Lenny laughed. “That would make Mom real mad!”

“I suppose it would! Now get to sleep.” He leaned in and kissed Lenny’s forehead.

“Dad, could the kallikantzaroi come here?”

“Oh no! They only go to Greece. Now go to sleep,” he said.

Lenny drifted off to a sound and satisfying sleep.

Lenny blinked his eyes open and stared at the darkened ceiling. Something had woken him. He stayed as still as he could and strained his ears. Nothing. Just the night noises. His door was partially open, and the light from the bathroom nightlight almost lit the space.

Lenny sat up on his elbows. A shuffling sound on the carpet in the hallway. Maybe his parents were still up. He sat up a little further.

A longer-than-it-should-be arm reached in to grab the door handle. Stringy, black, rough hair hung down from the arm. Sticklike fingers curled around the knob and pulled the door shut slowly. It clicked, and Lenny threw his blankets over his head. His heart hammered in his chest, and his breath came in short gasps.

When he tried to holler for his parents, no sound would come out of his mouth. He clutched the blankets around his body and curled into the tightest ball he could like a roly-poly bug.

Lenny couldn’t be sure how long he stayed like that, but somehow he had fallen back asleep. He woke up in the same tight ball. His little legs and arms were sore, and it was hard to get out of bed.

He heard his mother.

“Lenny! What did you do?”

He came around the corner and saw what she was talking about. Several of the glass balls from the tree were smashed in front of the television. The screen to his father’s most prized possession was cracked.

Nick came stomping down the hallway. “What’s the matter, Laura?” His breath was sucked from him in a gasp when he saw the damage.

Lenny stood shaking his head. “No! I didn’t do that!”

Nick spun on him. “Go. To. Your. Room.” His voice shook with something Lenny had never heard before.

“He’s gotta have breakfast first! Then you go clean up this mess!” Laura shouted at Lenny.

“I didn’t-“ he started, but tears took over.

“I’ll give you something to cry about! Go eat!” Nick shouted at Lenny.

His dad had never yelled at him like that before. Lenny’s little body shivered against his thin pajamas.

Nick’s face softened. “I didn’t mean to yell, but son this is terrible. I can’t believe you would behave like this. Like an animal,” his voice rose slightly.

A light clicked on for Lenny, and he remembered the long hairy arm that closed his door the night before.

“I saw them! They did this!” he exclaimed.

“Who?” his mother said.

“The killy-can monsters!”

Laura gave Nick a stare so cold that winter was jealous.

“I told you not to fill his head with that stuff!”

Nick scoffed and stalked to the breakfast table. He dropped hard into his chair, and it splintered to tiny shards under him. He hit the floor with a loud bang that made Lenny jump.

“What the hell?” Nick said, shock on his face. “Damn, cheap furniture!”

“Ugh, seriously Nick? Clean it up!” Laura said.

The baby began to wail in the other room.

“Great. Thanks a lot, guys,” she spat and headed down the hallway.

Lenny crept over and began to help his dad put the pieces of the chair into a large black garbage bag. Tears dripped onto the floor and his hands. They worked in silence.

“Nick!” Laura shrieked from the bedroom.

Fearing something was wrong with the baby, he sprinted down the little hall. Laura stood among a pile of diapers and blankets that appeared soaking wet. She held the baby out from herself with straight arms as if she couldn’t stand for the little one to be close to her. When Nick approached, he could see that his little baby girl was dripping wet from head to toe.

“What the hell?” he said.

“I don’t know. I found her like this! Smell it! I think it’s pee!” she squealed.

“Pee? She couldn’t pee that much!”

Lenny watched from the doorway. He wrinkled his nose against the stench. Hadn’t his dad said the kallikantzaroi liked to pee in the potted plants? Maybe they had mistaken the baby for a plant.

A thunderous racket came from the kitchen, and his parents pushed past him to see what was going on. Lenny followed closely behind, but not too closely. Liquid dripped and splashed from the wailing baby.

The entire refrigerator was tipped on its face. The contents dripping and leaking out like a wound.

“Oh my gosh! What is happening?” Laura shouted.

Nick tried to right the refrigerator, but it tipped over and caught his leg underneath. He wailed in pain. Laura tried to lift it one handed with the screaming soiled baby in her other arm.

Lenny caught movement on the counter out of the corner of his eye. He jerked his head just in time to see two small black hairy shapes dart behind the curtains. Then he heard a crash next to the stove and looked up to see two more figures pushing the butcher block of knives to the edge of the counter, right over his trapped father. Red eyes burned in their bat-like faces.

“Hey!” Lenny shouted. The creatures looked at him.  One of them pulled his lips back in a growl and exposed razor-sharp teeth.“Leave my dad alone!”

Lenny picked up an egg that had rolled out of the fridge and threw it at them. They howled and scattered off the counter.

Laura must have seen them too because she started screaming.

Lenny knew he had to do something. His dad was trapped. It was all up to him.

He sprinted to the living room and shoved the big footstool under the mantle. Standing on his tippy-toes, he could just reach his nerf gun. Before he could grasp it, he felt his pajama bottoms slip down to his ankles. He looked down, and four terrible black faces snarled up at him, one of them had his bottoms in its teeth!

He stretched his little body and got his hand around the gun. Pointing down, he fired a dart at the one with his pants. It squawked and let go. Lenny fell off the footstool and right out of his pants. Clad only in his pajama top and underwear he scrambled to the Christmas tree. The box of extra darts was right where he left it the night before. Lenny grabbed handfuls of ammo and stuffed them into his underwear. The little creatures dove for him.

High ground. He needed to find high ground.

He jumped and ran, springing on top of the kitchen table. In one move he spun and began firing nerf darts at the monsters. It only slowed them down. They were still coming! The next thing he knew, his mother was next to him. She held a small vial high above her head.

“Get out of my house!” she yelled.

She flicked the vial at the monsters. Where the water touched them, their flesh sizzled and smoked.

“Holy water, Lenny!” she said excitedly and dumped some on the darts in his hand.

He loaded up and began shooting again. Over and over. His mother continued to squirt her vial at the creatures. They began to back up.

“Keep going, Lenny!” his mother said.

They got off the table and pursued the kallikantzaros, forcing them to the fireplace.

“Get out!” Laura shouted.

“Leave my family alone you poop heads!” Lenny shouted.

Then the monsters began to climb up the chimney. Hissing and spitting at Laura and Lenny.

“Lenny, grab the lighter from the drawer!”

He dropped his gun and ran as fast as he could back to the kitchen. His dad was still on the floor with the refrigerator on his leg, but he cradled the baby in his arms.

“Go, Lenny! Go get ‘em!” he said.

Lenny’s little heart burst with pride, and he clutched the long-nosed fire starter to his chest. He practically flew to his mother’s side. She was still squirting holy water, and the demons were hanging down from inside the chimney showing their teeth and trying to bite her.

Lenny flicked the lighter and held it to the dry wood in the hearth. Where the holy water had dripped onto the logs it flared like lighter fluid. The monsters went up with a shrill screech, the flames licking after them.

His mother turned her exhausted gaze on him. “Leonard James Doukas, thank God you are a good shot!”

“Thank God Santa didn’t listen to you!”

Laura began to cry. “Thank God.”

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I have a gift for you almost as awesome as Lenny’s dart gun! The eBook of DREAD is on sale for FREE through Christmas Eve! Have a wonderful holiday! Until next time, keep your fires lit and Never Turn Off the Lights!

A Thanksgiving Ghost Story

Dear readers, tonight we find ourselves on the eve of Thanksgiving. I have many things to be thankful for this year. Among those reasons are two writing-related ones. I released my first book, Dread, and I won a writing contest (read the entry here). I’m also very thankful for you! To show my appreciation, I’ve concocted a little tale for you. Enjoy!

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Bernadette was beginning to think that the universe was trying to tell her something. When Mike said they were going to his Grandmother’s for Thanksgiving dinner, she’d envisioned a warm, colorful meal in a cozy little farmhouse nestled in the woods. He had said he wanted to introduce her to the whole family. Maybe a ring was on the menu for dessert!

She had wanted Mike to stay home and drive with her, but he had the whole week off from his teaching job and had gone ahead. He wanted to help his grandmother get ready for the big dinner. Bernadette wasn’t surprised, just like pretty much every holiday they had ever spent with his family, he felt compelled to help out, set up, or spend an extra day visiting.

Her job as a nurse kept her busy right up until about 4 am this morning. She’d gone home for a quick nap and then headed out with the map Mike had drawn for her since he said there was spotty cell service.

Now, she picked up her cell phone from the center console, and sure enough, No Service stood in place of the desired bars. The back-country road was rough and rutted, and it must have knocked something loose because the car sputtered and lurched to a full hissing stop after several jarring miles.

The early dark of winter pushed against the car window, making her feel like the only person left on the planet. Nothing but deep woods on one side and sprawling farmland on the other. She’d have to walk. Maybe somewhere along the way she’d get enough cell service to call someone.

Bernadette got out of the car and locked her door. An owl hooted a hungry cry, and his hunting partner answered, sounding almost on top of her. She looked overhead. A pair of large orange eyes perched in the nearest tree zeroed in on her. She pulled her jacket tighter.

This was the perfect ending to a terrible day. Or was it morning, or night? Her schedule at the hospital had her pretty messed up on time. It didn’t matter; it was always that last patient of any shift that was trouble.

Today, or was that yesterday, she had just looked at her watch and was relieved to see she had about ten minutes left in her shift. Bernadette was making a mental list of the things she needed to do at home before taking the two-hour drive to Mike’s grandmother’s when the ER doors banged open and in rolled trouble.

The woman was fighting against all the safety straps on the gurney, and two paramedics were trying to keep her from escaping.

“What ya got?” Bernadette asked.

“Some kind of accident. She was found wandering down a road. I don’t know anything more than that!” a paramedic answered.

“Ok, room seven,” Bernadette said.

She quickly prepared a sedative and entered the room. The paramedics were trying to wrestle the woman to the bed, but she was winning. Bernadette slipped in and injected the syringe into the woman’s buttocks.

The woman struggled a little more and then went limp. They got her on the bed and put her wrists in restraints, just in case.

“Can you tell me what happened to you? Are you in pain?” Bernadette began.

The woman’s eyes swam in to focus on Bernadette’s.

“He’s waiting for you!” she said, her eyes wide.

“Who’s waiting? Were you with someone?” Bernadette asked.

“He’s waiting for you,” the woman said again and then began sobbing.

“Ok, you’re all right now. We’ll get you taken care of, ok?” Bernadette said.

“He’s waiting for you,” she said through sobs.

“Ok, dear,” Bernadette said, and she gently squeezed the woman’s shoulder.

Somehow the woman’s hand got loose from the straps, and she grabbed Bernadette’s wrist and squeezed.

“You have to listen to me! He’s waiting for you! Only God can help you now!”

Bernadette’s chest filled with dread. She tried to twist free, but the woman had her in a vice-grip, crushing and grinding the bones in her wrist.

“A little help in here!” Bernadette yelled.

It took two more nurses and a security guard to get Bernadette free. Her wrist was swollen and bruised and still throbbed where the woman had dug her fingers into her flesh. She should be home resting and icing it, but no. Here she was. Broken down in the middle of nowhere. In the dark.

Gravel crunched under her feet as she began walking along the road. Her breath puffed out in weak misty clouds. As she crested a small hill, she could see the lights of a lone house in the distance. Relief flooded her; she’d ask to use their phone and be saved. She picked up her pace.

Headlights approached her. Her first thought was salvation, but then dark thoughts of who might be driving on a backwoods road slithered into her brain. Panic threatened to rise in her throat. Unsure of what to do, she stepped to the side of the road trying to give the car as wide a birth as possible. The car stopped a few yards ahead of her, and moonlight glinted off the point of the car’s V-shaped grill. An elderly woman stepped out of the big car; all Bernadette could see was the top of her head from her nose up over the door.

“Are you all right, Dear?” the woman asked.

“My car broke down. I was going to head to that house and ask to use the phone,” Bernadette said, pointing to the pinprick of light.

“Oh, no, Dear. You don’t want to use that phone. Get in, and I’ll drive you to a phone,” the lady said.

Bernadette considered her for a second. The moonlight lit up her silver hair like a halo, and her stylish clothing hung loosely on her tiny frame. Bernadette got in the car.

The big car glided over the rough road as if it were floating. Hot air billowed out of the vent and Bernadette realized how cold she was. The white interior of the car appeared to be in the same condition it must have been when it rolled off the assembly line.

“Great car,” Bernadette said.

“My William bought it brand new in 1969,” the woman’s voice trailed off.

“You just don’t see them like this anymore. My dad was big Caddie buff,” Bernadette said.

The woman did not respond.

“Do you live nearby?” Bernadette tried again.

When the woman did not respond or look her way. Bernadette decided that maybe she was hard of hearing. It was probably best to speak when spoken to.

They left the dirt road and turned onto a two-lane asphalt road. The big motor growled up a small hill and then like magic, a brightly lit 24-hour roadside cafe appeared.  Two police cruisers with lights and sirens passed them going the way they had come.

“Must be an accident or something,” Bernadette said.

The woman remained silent and guided the car into the parking lot of the diner. She braked and stared straight ahead, still not speaking.

“Ok then. Thank you, ma’am,” Bernadette said as she heaved her door open and got out of the car.

The door closed with a clank and the woman drove off. Bernadette watched the tail lights disappear over the next little hill. She wondered if she should tell somebody, maybe the old gal was senile. Who would she tell? Bernadette shrugged and went into the diner.

“Can I help you?” an attractive girl with dark hair and a white half apron around her slim hips asked.

“I hope so. My car broke down some ways down the road. I need a tow,” Bernadette said.

The girl smiled. “My Jim, he drives the tow. I’ll call him for you.”

Bernadette breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, so much.”

“Can I get you some coffee or something while you wait?”

“That’d be great.”

“Looks like you may have missed turkey dinner. I can fire up the grill if you want,” the girl said.

Bernadette nodded.

An ambulance sped past the window.

“Looks like that tow may be a little long,” the girl said.

Maybe it was the relief she felt at finding the diner, but it was the best grilled cheese sandwich Bernadette had ever had. She was finishing her second cup of coffee when a police cruiser pulled into the parking lot.

“Hey, Mark. Is Jimmy gonna be much longer?” the girl asked the police officer when he came inside.

“How would I know?” he said.

“We saw the ambulance and stuff, isn’t there a wreck?” she said.

Mark shook his head and removed his hat. He held in front of him as if he was going to ask the girl to forgive him for something.

“No, honey, no wreck.”

Two state trooper cars sped by with lights and sirens.

“What’s going on?” the girl asked, panic edging her voice.

“Mrs. Henderson is dead,” Mark said.

“What?” the girl half whispered.

“We got a 911 call from the Henderson place, a hangup. When they got there, they found her stabbed to death,” Mark said.

The girl sucked in a harsh breath and fingered the small cross around her neck. “Did you find who did it?”

“That’s the strange part. We found an empty car not far from the house, but the guy was still in the house. Just sitting there. Said he was waiting for someone,” Mark said.

“I was out that way tonight. My car broke down, and I was walking to a farmhouse to use the phone, but an elderly lady picked me up,” Bernadette said.

“You drive a dark Ford Focus?” Mark asked her.

“Yes,” Bernadette said.

“That must be your car. Good thing you didn’t make it the house; the killer was still there.” He pulled a pad of paper from his pocket and licked the tip of his pen. “What’s the name of the lady that gave you ride?”

“I don’t know. She never said. She was very small and drove a big ’69 Caddie that she said her husband, I think his name was William, bought,” Bernadette said.

The waitress dropped the coffee cup she had in her hand.

“A big Caddie with a white interior?” Mark asked, his eyebrows lifted so high they disappeared into his hairline.

Bernadette nodded and she absently rubbed her sore wrist.

“Well, I don’t know who gave you a ride, Miss. But you just described Mrs. Henderson to a T,” Mark said.

***

All righty then! Be careful driving over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house or where ever you might be spending the holiday. Eat well and often. Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

 

 

Spooky Break on Election Day

Hello there! I hope you all had a terrifying and delicious Halloween. I sat in my driveway with my friend, keeping warm over a  portable fire pit, and harassed over one hundred trick-or-treaters! A hauntingly good time was had by all!

Now here we are into November. Election Day to be exact. I voted weeks ago by early mail ballot. I’m staying off social media today because I seriously can’t take any more. I will check up on results, but I’m done with the campaigning. So, I’m looking for distractions.

I’ll be working on my NaNoWriMo project (Shiver), the kids need haircuts, and I’m listening to this guy, Dark Waters. I first heard him on the Darkness Radio Podcast. I made the mistake of listening while driving. I was so into it, I ran a red light! Luckily I was on a deserted rural road.

Check it out.

I could listen to this guy for hours! Go to his YouTube channel for more! Did his Black Eyed Kids story freak you out? Then my book Dread will scare you silly. Check it out on Amazon, free with Kindle Unlimited for a limited time! I have a skinwalker story of my own I might share here sometime!

I hope you enjoyed our spooky time together today. Until next time, exercise your right to vote, and Never Turn Off the Lights!