“The Woodcarver’s Knife”
by C. A. Griffin
“…The knife’s edge was sharp. It cut through the burlap bag smoothly; no sawing back and forth; no struggle to make the knife get through the thick fibers; just a soft motion without any resistance. Despite the fact that the knife was an antique, well over one hundred years old, it was obvious that it had been well maintained. Underneath the burlap, Linda found dark, moist soil, with bits of bark or small pebbles mixed into it. The smell of damp earth and greenery arose and filled her nostrils, but the scent wasn’t unpleasant. She found other scents more distasteful, like the smell of copper or rotting meat. The burlap bag was heavy and it took some effort for Linda to spread out the contents around the sapling tree. Twice she almost dropped the knife but she always managed maintain just enough grip on it so that it didn’t slip from her grasp…”
(Read the full story in “Under the Bed” Magazine available for Kindle, Nook and PDF December 2014)
by C. A. Griffin
“…Since Sola’s arrival, things had changed dramatically. The THING that Selma had awakened, (may God forgive her but she awakened it by mistake) was now held captive in her home, became desperate with Sola’s appearance at the house. It sensed Sola’s power and its fear and fearlessness became apparent when it lunged at her almost breaking the …binding spell. When it realized it was still trapped, it chose instead to spit its vile venom at her sister, Selma, who it recognized as the weaker of the two. Fortunately, a vat of heavily salted blessed water was in the kitchen for such an occasion and Sola flung it on Selma, dissolving the foul stuff immediately.
While in the shower, cleaning up Selma remembered something that her grandfather said to her when she was just a little girl a long time ago. They were hunting for meat in the forest and the deer population was thin that year. The best they could hope for was to find wild rabbit, much to Selma’s dismay. She loved rabbits and would have rather eaten stew with only potatoes and carrots than to have to swallow down rabbit meat. When their old hound, Oscar, had one cornered, Selma rushed in to try and save it, pushing the dog away and reaching for the frightened creature intent on keeping it as a pet. But the frightened rabbit bit Selma and scooted away into the brush. Selma cried for hours, not so much from the pain of the bite but more so from the betrayal of the rabbit.
“Selma, you best remember that if any critter is cornered, no matter how small or harmless it may seem, it’s gonna lash out and fight to the very end in desperation to get away. Even a bunny rabbit becomes a dangerous and formidable foe when cornered.” Soothing her as best he could her grandfather told her that she learned a valuable lesson.
That lesson had stayed with her to this very day. This evil entity she had loosed and re-captured was deadly. If a harmless bunny rabbit can be vicious enough to bite her when she was trying to save it, then the thought of what the dangerous monstrosity that she was holding captive in her home would do if it could escape, made her fear for her life…”
“Speed Trap” by Ancel K Houchen
“…The night air was thick and humid, it absorbed the man’s sweat and hormones like a sponge. The creature casually plucked the man’s scent out of the air, tasting them and reading all the information it needed to know about the approaching biped. It knew that Rivera was a large male, well past puberty but he still healthy and sexually active. The creature was young, only a few months old, but it was getting smarter by the minute. It would be ready for him.
When Rivera approached the driver’s door he saw something that made him become immediately tense. He flipped open the holster guard and placed his hand firmly on the butt of his pistol. He did not draw his gun…yet, but in his mind, it had suddenly became a possibility. He did not like the color of the window, it was tinted a solid, impenetrable black. Black was the color that got cops killed…”
“The Burning Lands” by Ancel K. Houchen
“…Kwahu’s clan was the smallest recognized group within the Lenape territory. Tribal elders chose the Flatlands thinking that the widely known reputation of the nearby “Burning Lands” would protect them from the more aggressive tribes that passed through the area. It was a wise gamble that allowed Kwahu’s people to live in relative peace for several seasons. After a while, however life spent so close to a haunted forest began to take its toll. Minor disagreements between tribe members would turn into violent quarrels, sometimes ending in serious injury. Last summer a disagreement between brothers over a catch of fish ended in a gruesome murder followed by suicide. Murder was uncommon among the Lenape but suicide was something altogether unheard of. It was considered an unthinkably selfish to leave your family and personal obligations behind for any reason.
As the months passed other oddities persisted. Strange sounds were heard near the forest. Lenape brave or foolish enough to visit the Burning Lands were said to have heard laughing, sobbing or a dreadful mixture of both. Others claimed to have heard voices of the dead calling their name from deep within the forest. But when nightfall came the woods truly earned its name. The first time someone saw the eerie blue fires the clan sent out a group of men to investigate. At first, it was thought to be passing Mohawks or a party of Dutch traders but before the men could reach the spot where the fire should have been it would disappear then reappear somewhere else. Three more times the men pursued but the blue ghost fire managed to keep out of reach. It was not until they noticed they were being drawn deeper into the forest that they gave and returned home. No one among the Lenape was ever able to find the source of the phantom fires. The wiser among the clan gave the forest a wide berth. Others however, young men mostly, seeking to prove their worth to some young woman who caught their fancy, would chase the flames until they became hopelessly lost never to be seen again…”
“The Conjurer” by Ancel K Houchen
“…It was an unusually warm Friday night for the month of October. Indian summer was to blame according to Bruce Seligman “The Weatherman’s” Accutron-Weather forecast, for the unexpected heat. He predicted that the rest of the weekend was going to feel like late August rather than early October. The streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn were busy with the chatter of people on cellphones and the sound of loud music pouring out of open car windows. The only street to escape the noise and pounding feet was Newport.
Newport Street was a narrow two-way with tightly packed elm trees lining the sidewalks. The trees managed to block most of the light coming from the few working streetlights on the block. The shadows cast by the telephone poles, houses and parked cars were long and deep. Since early afternoon, the only traffic the twisted and cracked sidewalks carried was from the people who had specific business there. Everyone else avoided Newport and took Riverdale or Lott Ave instead. They did not know why. Most people convinced themselves that taking a detour and walking an extra block was good exercise but no one knew the real reason why they avoided Newport that day, they just did.
There was a general sense that something had changed on the block, although none of their five senses could detect it. Come nightfall the feeling of unrest increased greatly. Unlike all the other residents of Brownsville, no one on Newport dared to step outside their door to enjoy the warm night air. Once they were home they locked their doors, closed the shades and reached for their Bibles, some for the first time in many years. Again, they did not know why, they just did…”