Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Pillar of Light - Suzan Harden

"I see dead people" is a great punchline.

Except when you can.

The "gift" as DH calls it (I call it something else, and it involves a lot of four-letter words) runs in my mother's side of the family. A few of us admit it we have it. Most of us don't.

You see, we learn at an early age if the ghosts are still semi-coherent and they know you can see them, they will not leave you alone. As my cousin Marie* puts it, "It's like strangers on the subway. Don't make eye contact, and don't engage."

Marie is also the cousin who makes a point of buying brand-new, never-lived-in homes. "So I don't have to deal with someone else's baggage," she says.

I always followed Marie's advice. Then I made my big mistake.

When my paternal grandmother showed up in the townhouse I shared with Marie, my automatic response had been to say, "Hey, Grandma." The teensy little problem was that she'd died three weeks before.

She talked about making pizza the next time I came over. It broke my heart a little, but I knew I needed to be firm. "Grandma, you do realize you're dead, don't you?"

Her expression saddened. "Yes. I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget."

"Why are you still here?" Frankly, her presence didn't make sense to me because she was a very devote Christian.

"I'm waiting for Dad." 'Dad' was her nickname for Grandpa.

So we made a deal. I'd talk to her as long as she visited when no one was around. Marie would have exorcised Grandma if she saw her.

For the most part, Grandma kept her word. Occasionally, I'd catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye while in class or, years later, in court. I had to confess my secret to DH after he caught me apparently talking to myself. I'm lucky he takes the weird stuff in stride.

Grandma waited fifteen years.

I flew home for Grandpa's funeral. Since my father's sisters and their husbands were staying with my parents, I got a hotel room. The morning of the funeral, I awoke to someone stroking my hair.

"Ed, I told you not to touch her!"

It was a rare thing to hear Grandma call Grandpa by his given name. I rolled over. "Hey, Grandma."

Grandpa looked at Grandma. It was the first I ever saw a shocked expression on him. "She can see us?"

Grandma: "And feel us too! I told you not to touch her and wake her up."

Me: "It's okay. I'm glad you did."

Grandma: "We can't stay long. We need to be in Columbus in five minutes. We just came to say our good-byes."

Grandpa (his attention switching between us, a bewildered expression on his face): "She can see us?"

Me: "Have a safe trip. I love you."

Grandma: "We love you, too."

Grandpa (looking over his shoulder at me as Grandma dragged him toward the western wall of the hotel room): "I can't believe she can see us."

That's when I saw the third, well, 'entity' is the best word I can use to describe it. It appeared to be a pillar of yellowish-white light, roughly six feet in height, hovering next to the dresser. A sound came from it, not quite music, but not quite singing either. It felt sentient.

When it realized I was staring at it, not at my grandparents' ghosts passing through the wall, I felt a surge of emotion from it. Shock, distress, surprise. I got the distinct sense that I wasn't supposed to see it any more than I should have been able to see my grandparents.

It drifted about a foot toward the bed. Curiosity replaced its surprise. Again, I felt its emotion. It was torn between figuring me out and staying with my grandparents. After a moment, it drifted through the same spot on the wall of my hotel room.

I glanced at the digital clock beside the bed. 7:29 a.m. I could catch another hour of sleep before I had to be at my parents' house.

Why did Grandma and Grandpa had to rush to Columbus, Ohio, of all places? The last of the family, three of my cousins, flew in the morning of the funeral. Jaye's flight, the last one, arrived at Columbus International Airport at 7:34 a.m.

*Even though my family will recognize the people I mention, I changed the names so they don't get harassed. Or summoned.

Confession time: I used my strange encounter as the inspiration for the ending of Zombie Confidential. The short story will be free until the end of November. It's available through the following retailers:

Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Apartment Downstairs - William Simon

Today's guest is William Simon, who also writes as Will Graham. The first work of his I read was Mixed Marriages, which is delightfully creep and hysterically funny at the same time.

When I lived in Miami, I was in an older apartment building, probably built in the early 1930′s or so. I had the upstairs one bedroom 'suite': two apartments that had been re-modeled and connected.

Late night, got home around 2am. I hit the bed, was *just* dozing off, when I heard two explosions from the apartment underneath. To this day, I firmly believe the foot of the bed jumped, that's how powerful the noise was. Flew out of bed, called 911. The officers who came and I were friends, so I joined them to get the manager. She let them in, explaining the downstairs apartment was vacant at the moment. The police went through the whole place, and there was nothing. No squatters, no evidence of a break-in, no signs of anyone having been there for a while.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I *know* what I heard. I KNOW what I heard. The officers said, "Well, okay, but there's no evidence, no sign of anything. If it happens again, let us know." Manager locked up, I went back upstairs with no hope of getting back to sleep.

Flash-forward a couple of years. I had moved into another building with my girlfriend at the time. An older couple who had lived in Miami since 1935 semi-adopted us and we were frequent dinner guests, and vice-versa. One night, I mentioned casually I had lived at Such and Such on This Avenue. The husband paused, looked at his wife, and said, "Isn't that where the S------ thing happened?" She thought a moment, and nodded.

Then he told us the story.

Back in the 40′s, a young couple lived in the downstairs apartment. He went off to WWII, she stayed behind. Like something out of a bad movie, she had an affair with another man. When her husband got home one afternoon, he walked in on his wife and her lover.... and killed them both with a shotgun.

I didn't say a word about my experience..... but in the interests of full disclosure, I did hit the wine a little harder than usual at dinner that night.

William Simon also writes under the name Will Graham. His short story, "Mixed Marriages Can Be Murder" was originally published in the anthology Murder By Magic. It's now available as an e-book short story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Little Girl No One Cried For - C.C. Hunter

Last year's All Hallows Read guest posts were so popular, I decided to make it an annual event. So I asked some of my favorite people, who happen to write some of my favorite books, to tell their own personal scary stories.

As an added bonus, the always frightening Neil Gaiman is giving away a free story at Audible, but hurry! The offer only good until October 31st!

Back here at WW&W, first up is Creepy C.C. Hunter (aka my buddy Christie Craig)!

I was thirteen and I woke up that morning with sunshine spilling through my window. I stretched my hands over my head and it hit me—the memory of a dream I’d just had came rushing back. There had been no sunshine in the dream.

It was spooky, but more strange and sad. Like an old movie, I could still see it playing in my mind. But unlike a movie, my memory came with all five senses. The smell of wet earth and the scent of a storm brewing somewhere close by. I could feel the wind hit my face, blowing my blonde hair across my eyes. Tombstones, aged and cracked, littered the ground around me. All was silent—deadly silent.

A small group of people stood quietly by a gravesite. All wearing black. Even the sky held a dismal shade of sadness. There seemed to be no color in the image—no joy, all drab and gray. I stared at the faces of those grieving people. Did I know them? Yes, but . . . vaguely. And from where?

Immediately, my gaze shifted to the casket. The tiny polished box carried the only color in the scene. A bright pink ribbon rested on top. My gaze shot back to the people again. They weren’t crying. For some reason that seemed odd. They needed to cry. Cry for the child who obviously lay tucked inside that casket. The child who would never run and play and who would never know life.

I studied the faces of the people again, trying to remember where I’d seen them. How could I know them when they looked so out of place? Like people from old pictures. People from another time, another life.

And then came the realization. The woman dressed in a thick black wool coat, hugging herself against the cold and staring at the casket with empty emotion, was my grandmother, but younger. A lot younger. The woman today was old, in her late sixties. But yes, I remembered seeing her younger face in family photo albums.

Then, I recognized the other people. My mom and dad when they were young. My grandfather and one of my uncles. My gaze shifted from one person to the next.

Then it went to the casket.

Who had died? Part of the answer came with the next cold whisk of wind: A baby. A baby girl.

I wanted to tell someone how sorry I was. Emotion built in my chest. A crazy thought hit. Someone needed to cry for the child. I stood back from the crowd, not really present, but somehow still there. I felt the odd sadness. But why weren’t they crying?

Then my grandmother, my mom, dad and uncle were gone. As if they’d vanished into the air. I saw the casket being lowered into the gaping chasm. Abruptly the dream changed and I saw the gravestone. It simply read, Our baby girl: Christie.

Christie? CHRISTIE? That was my name. How could the baby have my name? That’s when I’d woken up. My heart still thumped against my breastbone at the memory, and I had tears in my eyes. Not wanting to be alone, I went and found my mom cooking breakfast.

I told her about the dream, about the casket with the pink ribbon and seeing my name on the gravestone.

I saw shock hit my mom’s face. “What is it?” I asked, but was almost scared for her to answer.

“This is weird.”


“Your grandmother got pregnant a few months after your dad and I were married. It was a girl. She only lived a few weeks. You were named after her.”

The spookiness tiptoed up my spine as chills skittered up my neck. I looked at my mom and asked, “Why didn’t anyone cry?” Suddenly, I burst into tears.

My mom’s faced paled even more. “Your grandma told everyone no tears. She said she couldn’t handle the tears. We weren’t allowed to cry.”

I dropped down into a kitchen chair and asked the question burning inside me. “How could I have dreamed this?”

“I’m sure you heard the story,” Mom said.

“When? When could I have heard the story? I swear I never knew about her before now.”

“I don’t know, but you had to have heard it. How else would you have known this?”

How else?

To this day I think about that dream. I think about the little girl, my namesake. Did I really hear someone tell that story and my mind simply played it back as a dream? Or did the spirit of Christie somehow visit me? Did she need me to know about her? Did she need someone to cry for her?

I guess you see why my Shadow Falls series involves ghosts. There’s a part of me that believes in them. What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

C.C.'s latest book, Whispers at Moonrise, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ACK! No More BAMF Girls?

"Soft like the fur of a newborn fawn, your golden tresses tickle my arm." - Lisbeth

"Wait. Where did you hear that?" - Buffy

"Spike messaged it to you on Myspace. Why do you still have a Myspace?" - Lisbeth

"I grew up in the '90's!" - Buffy

Want to see more than four episodes? It's the LAST DAY make a Kickstarter pledge. Otherwise, the is the last episode of the BAMF Girls Club you will ever see!  CLICK HERE to make a pledge.

Monday, October 22, 2012

BAMF Girls Club - Ep. 3

"For the last time, I'm not Rue and I'm not dead!" - Michonne

Want to see more than four episodes? There's less than THREE days left for Comediva to meet their Kickstarter goal. CLICK HERE to make a pledge.

Friday, October 19, 2012

BAMF Girls Club - Episode 2

"You don't do house points here? You should do house points." - Hermione

Want to see more episodes? There's only six days left for Comediva to meet their Kickstarter goal. CLICK HERE to make a pledge

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gamer Girl, Country Boy

I love Felicia Day! (No, not that way! My sister's the one that's into girls.) This video was too cute not to post.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

BAMF Girls!

I stumbled across this show on YouTube. It's so warped and hysterical. Not only did I blow tea out my nose, I nearly peed myself laughing.

What if you produced a reality show that stuck the toughest chicks of fiction in one house? Women like Buffy Summers, Lisbeth Salander, Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, Michonne, and...Bella Swan?

(I'm still waiting for one of the others to kill Bella.)

Highlight of Episode 1?  Buffy trying to fix Hermione up with Willow.

Check it out for yourself!

And if you love it as much as I do, please consider donating at Kickstater so the ladies can make more!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Sundtrack No. 6

Phillippa doesn't want to acknowledge her loneliness. So she treats Alex's feelings for her as a child's crush.