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The Spell by Erika Lance

For Bev Schroeder: You have always been an amazing friend. I hope you enjoy this.

Hearing his name out of the blue like that was like watching the ghosts of old times walk down new streets.

Ayla was not happy about having been made to return to her hometown. It had been over twenty-five years since she had left and even though she had never uttered the words out loud to anyone, herself included, she knew it was true.

Her aunt had called her to tell her that there had been a death. Most of the family she would have simply sent flowers. She was prepared to hear so many of the names except this one. Her aunt told her Patrick Barnes had died. PJ. She had left that evening.

Now sitting in the main diner in town looking out the window onto the frozen lake that was the main attraction for this small town, Ayla didn’t have a plan. She didn’t know the next step to take.

Lost in thought, she was startled when the waitress asked if she wanted more coffee. She looked down at her cup, coffee now cold and realized she was just as frozen as the lake. She needed to do something or leave. Doing nothing was just breaking down her carefully built walls.

Ayla shook her head and before the waitress could walk away, she asked, “Excuse me. Did you know PJ… I mean Patrick Barnes?” her voice was hoarse.

The look on the waitress’s face turned sad. “Yes. I knew him.” It almost seemed that she did not want to continue when she said, “His funeral is tomorrow,” and then she turned and walked away.

They were putting him, PJ, in the ground tomorrow. This was happening too soon.

Ayla got up and left a twenty on the table and headed out. When she got in the car, she knew there was only one place she could go. She drove for over an hour. The back roads were still there and even though she shouldn’t have remembered every detail of how to get there she did.

She got out of the car and the wind had picked up. She bundled up as best she could and headed out. It wasn’t far and she was standing in front of the tree. She could find the marks. The last bit of physical proof of what they had done.

The tree was still scorched, as if it couldn’t heal from the damage. It had been too great. The damage to them had been too great as well.

She brushed aside the snow to find the marks. There initials carved so many years ago within a crude star shape.  Rachel had found the spell, she was the first that… She had died five years to the day that PJ did. There were three more initials; hers, MR, and JP. None of them had spoken in years.

The spell that had bound them to their wish had also torn them apart. They had asked for something that was a child’s whim.

Now she didn’t know if there was a pattern or… she really didn’t know if she was next.
Again lost in thought and simply tracing and retracing the symbols, she heard a branch snap behind her… she turned. “Michael?” she asked as she saw his face.

 

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In the Crowd by Erika Lance

For Marius and feeding the birds…

“Well,” he said, seeming to mull over each word with some sense of caution, “That’s certainly a dead bird.”

Sanders paused,  then pulled out a cigarette and walked towards to gathered patrol cars.

The bird, was of course, sticking out of the chest of the dead woman in front of them.

The body was naked with the exception of a pair of pink satin gloves. Her make-up was perfect and still intact. The face was the only part of her devoid of even the slightest bit of blood spatter.

Her fingers were interlaced as her hands laid on her stomach; her legs were placed perfectly together. This body had been staged.

“Why the bird?” Jacobson asked. He was new.

Mirna looked at the scene. They couldn’t even get close enough to the body to determine cause of death, but the large amout of blood surrounding her gave at least an indication she most likely bled out from whatever that was and being impaled by a bird of course.

“Do you think it is a symbol?” Jacobson asked, looking towards her.

She glanced over at him and then back to the crowd that was now forming behind the yellow tape. It wasn’t smart to discuss points of the case in front of, well.. anyone.

“Later,” Mirna said and walked back towards her car.  They wouldn’t get a closer look until the body was in the morgue and since there were no witnesses, there was no point in remaining.

She took one last look around at the crowd. He or she was most likely out there, watching. Most killers liked to watch the discovery and clean-up of their crime scene. A small shiver went up her spine as she realized this may be only the beginning.

 

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Pom Poms by Erika Lance

For Mandi, for being inspiring since the day we met.

“That is seriously the 6th time that truck as slowly rolled past. Should we ask if they need help?”

Claire looked over at Marci who had been one looking out the window and scowled. Marci couldn’t see the scowl which was most likely a good thing. Claire often thought that she, and she alone would survive a horror movie type situation.

Claire had joined the cheer squad when she first arrived at Jeffery M. Whitmore High School because they had no other activities that related to dance or gymnastics. Claire also understood stature and how to navigate the high school experience so that she came out on top.

Unfortunately, this meant she was usually surrounded by a bunch of girls who talked about lipstick and shopping and so many other things Clair had zero interest in. She chalked it up to being the negative parts of popularity.

“Seriously, should we go out there? They are parked down the block. They may need help.” Marci was persistent. Chrissie, who happened to be the captain of the team looked out the window along with Heather and Tanya. They had all decided to have a “little” slumber party this weekend to discuss Nationals.

Claire knew it would look good on college transcripts, so she was on board for helping make sure this wasn’t embarrassing.

“I don’t know if it is safe. Claire, what do you think?” Tanya asked.

Tanya asked about everything. She couldn’t make a decision herself about anything. Claire smiled; it was the fake smile that said “I care what you are saying” but really didn’t. “I don’t think you should go out there. This town is full of weirdos.” She was sure the others wouldn’t listen to her, so she felt safe in saying what she did.

Almost on cue Chrissie looked over, “I think we should. After all, they may be some slightly lost college guys or something.” She managed to sound condescending when she even said that. “Tanya, let’s go help out the stranded stranger,” and she headed for the door.

It was in this moment Claire decided that the fate of these three meant nothing to her. She could be worried. She could warn them. Hell, she could even manipulate them into staying inside. However, in this moment she realized that the cheer team would go on, even if all three of these girls were no longer breathing.

So she smiled again, “I understand. You should help them out.”

Chrissie and Tanya checked themselves in the mirror and headed out. Claire looked at her watch: 10:35pm. She then picked back up the book she was reading and waited. Marci was switching between pacing and looking out the window. She suddenly burst out, “They are gone!”

Claire looked up from her book. “What?” she asked, sure of what the answer would be.

“They are gone.” Marci was staring to freak out. “Is the van still there?” Claire asked. She thought she should make her tone more concerned to make Marci feel better and then she shrugged. She didn’t actually care.

“Maybe you should check on them?” Claire finally said. Maybe she sounded like she cared. She didn’t.

“Will you come with me?” Marci asked.

“No,” Claire said. Maybe that was a little rough. “Umm… someone should be here if they come back.” She hoped that made her sound more caring or possibly a little scared.

“Oh,” Marci started, “That makes sense,” and she headed for the door. Claire shrugged and went back to reading.

Some time had passed before she checked her watch again; it had been an hour. She moved over and looked out the window. The van was gone. Claire pursed her lips. She knew Chrissie’s parents would at least be home by morning and wondering where their daughter was. She shook her head and pulled out her cell phone.

“911. What is your emergency?” the  concerned sounding voice answered.

“My… My… My … THEY ARE GONE!!!” The drama classes were paying off, Claire thought as she “sobbed” into the phone. The operator began to ask her questions and as she answered she wondered if being cheer captain was more work than she wanted to expend.

 

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Eye Contact by Erika Lance

To Kenny “The Jedi” Mull, this is long overdue!

After finishing off the last of the Jack, he looked down the long road…sighed… and thought “here we go.”

Staying in one place was no longer an option. The body count he was leaving eliminated the idea of social interaction.

Whatever it was that was following him didn’t care; it didn’t seem to have any feelings. It just did.

He sighed again, dropping the bottle and pulling his jacket tighter around himself. It was cold out, but traveling at night was safer. There was less chance of being seen and less chance of making contact.

There was an answer, he knew there had to be, but he needed time, something he seemed to be losing each day.

As he continued to walk, he went over the last three days in his head; he thought he had been safe.  He kept seeing the faces even though he didn’t know their names. He rubbed his hands in some sort of motion to remove the blood that was no longer there but felt stained into him.

They had been so young. He shook his head; he couldn’t think to much about it. He couldn’t change it now. He had to find a way to stop it. That was the only answer.

He saw the lights coming behind him. The road was dark and most cars didn’t even see him. Most people don’t register those who try to blend, try to become part of the landscape. He was one of those people now.

He kept walking until the lights changed from white to red and blue. He closed his eyes and stopped walking. He took a deep breath when he heard a car door open and the officer say, “Hey buddy… What are you up to out here?”

He knew he hadn’t done anything to draw attention to himself. It was possible, however, that he was being looked for. There would be a description. He would match it. “Nothing. Just heading home,” he replied without turning around.

He could hear the officer approaching. If this happened quickly enough, then nothing would go wrong.

“So, where do you live?” the officer asked.

“Close,” he replied. He knew the officer was less than five feet from him now. He could hear the officer’s breathing and heartbeat. That was bad. It was close.

“Sir, could you please turn around?” the officer asked.

He wanted to say no. He wanted to run away. This would just get him tazed or shot at best.

He slowly turned, keeping his eyes averted.

“Sir… Sir… Could you look at me?” the officer asked. He wanted to scream NO!

Then he knew it was over. It was over for this officer who was doing his job, who had friends… Family… a life and it was about to end.

He looked up slowly and saw the wings unfurl behind the officer.

 

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The Story by Erika Lance

To my Dad. Thank you for always supporting me and for the cheesy story starter.

It was a dark and stormy night.

The fact that these were the only words typed on the page and the cursor kept blinking back at him like some kind of symbol of failure was not making this idea anything but a bust.

Alex had decided that he needed to get out of town and away from all the distractions of his normal life to finally write the novel he had been dreaming of for years. Instead, he was at a remote cabin at the backside of a camping ground that one of his friends had found online.

He had agreed because he was trying to pen the next great horror novel but instead had spent the last three days creating nothing except a lack of snacks and a level of frustration he couldn’t stand.

He put his face in his hands and sighed. He was about to delete the only line he had written when he heard the bedroom door slam shut behind him.

He turned and it was closed. He got up and moved towards it. The windows in the front of the cabin were open. He had found out the hard way that the cabin did not come with central heat and air.

He got to the door and tried to turn the knob and pull it open. It wasn’t budging. He had only been given one key that opened the front door which he was pulling out of his pocket when he realized there wasn’t a lock on this door.

It opened inward so he tried to push using most of his weight against the door. After a few tries, the door flew inward with such ease that Alex ended up landing on the floor of the now darkened room into something wet.

He stood up looking around for the light switch, noticed his hands and arm were coated in blood, and just then the door slammed shut again.

Alex noticed the room was beginning to chill and being slightly wet was not helping the situation. In the total dark, he heard the sound of something moving to the left.

“Who’s there?” he said, immediately regretting it.

He heard the noise again, this time closer.

Alex moved back, reaching out with his hand until he felt the wall behind him. He began to move in the direction of the door. Before he could reach it, he heard a voice very close to him “Alex… Where are you going?”

He jumped. The voice was that of a woman, although it sounded scratchy and weak.

“Who are you?” he sputtered out.

He felt cold fingers on his face as the voice said, “I’m going to give you what you wanted.”

Alex wanted to pull back but he had nowhere to go. He felt his heart beating against his chest as the noises around him lead him to think whatever this thing was, it moved without stepping.

“Are you going to kill me?” he finally asked.

“Kill you?” It began, then started laughing. “You’re already dead.” As the final word was spoken, the lights came on and there he was laying on the bed, covered in blood. His eyes were open and staring blankly into nothing. There was a wound along his neck and chest.

“What? Wait… I don’t understand,” he said, looking around for whatever the voice was attached to. He was alone with only himself in the room.

“You wanted a story,” the voice said.

 

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Love of My Life by Erika Lance

For Amanda Dodge, thanks for inspiring me.

He found her clipping her toenails in the kitchen.

This was by far the most disgusting things he had seen her do yet. Not only was she clipping her toenails on the counter, she was clipping them into his cereal bowl. He shouldn’t have left it unattended.

Harry had often thought he could never stand to be away from the love of his life, Cindy. Now, he knew that wish was a horrible idea.

He looked over to see Cindy now dropping the bowl off the counter, the contents spilling everywhere. Harry just sighed. He had replaced all the dishes in the house with plastic ones years ago. He knew he would have to clean all of this up, but he didn’t have the mental strength.

He walked over it and poured himself another bowl and ate it over the sink, just in case she decided to knock it from his hands.

When he was finished, he realized she was no longer in the room with him. He listened. Silence. This sometimes bothered him more then the noise she created when she was breaking things. She was always breaking things. Harry supposed he would breaking things as well if he was trapped in the same house forever.

This was all his fault.

He had met Cindy when they were in high school, freshman year. She was laughing in hallway, and he followed the noise to the source and fell in love.

They had the best relationship,the perfect relationship, and when she got sick, Harry did the most desperate thing he was able to do. He wished on a star.

It turned out the star was being monitored by a demon with a wicked sense of humor. So, his wish was granted… Of course it was all about the wording. When making a wish, you should always make sure to word these things perfectly.

Saying something like “I want Cindy to be with me forever” was not perfect wording. When she passed away at the hospital, he was grief stricken. Cindy had been his whole world. So when he arrived home, he was so thrilled that she was there, sitting on the couch. He was so thrilled that he didn’t notice that Cindy wasn’t thrilled. In fact, she was angry.

It actually took him three weeks to realize how mad she was and that she wasn’t actually interested in spending her afterlife or in other terms, her forever, stuck in a two bedroom house.

He had tried everything to undo what he had done. Even offered his soul to the demon. It turned out that his soul wasn’t nearly as valuable as hers. This coupled with the fact that the demon thought this whole situation was funny. So, he, no they, were stuck.

He looked down at the mess on the floor and then said “I love you” as he grabbed the paper towels to clean up.

 

 

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Why Ghosts Suck by Erika Lance

Amanda, this starter made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

“I used to think of the day I met you as the worst day of my life. Now, thanks to you, I know it gets much, much worse.”

Saying this to Billy, the name I made up for him, didn’t seem to have the desired effect. He just smiled and let blood appear to fall from his mouth.

The first time you see a ghost it can be scary, possibly even terrifying. Or, like me, you could just ignore it.
A word of advice: NEVER just ignore it.

Especially a ghost that looks like a school bully from the Little Rascals.

I had seen him in the hallway on my way to school, but I figured I was still dreaming, or tired, or hadn’t had enough energy drink to get me through the day. Needless to say, I just walked past him. Such a bad idea.

So, during second period, in the middle of a pop quiz in English, he appeared in front of my desk with his eyes falling out of his head. This of course caused me to fly back in my chair, like any normal human, and caused the person behind me to fall, and the person behind them…well, you get the point.

Needless to say, I was the only one, of course, that saw him. I asked others, but instead of confirming the existence of Billy, I am now sitting in my third therapy appointment being asked how my meds, which I am not taking, are working out.

Billy is sitting upside down on the ceiling above the therapist’s head. This is distracting as he doesn’t just sit. He makes a grotesque visage out of everything. So, I seem like I am a crazy person when I react. Lucky for me, I am reacting less and less.

In the last two months, I have yet to figure out why Billy has decided I am his latest playmate. He has dropped different hints. If you call walking into grizzly scenes of what I can only assume is his death a hint, although when I walk close to the body it disappears.

So… My life goes on… And on… And on…

Sigh.

 

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