A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 7

They stared at it for a time. White Owl broke the silence. “As my father says, ‘If all else fails, use fire.’” “And water purifies,” Tom said. Black Feather laughed. It was wild and free-hearted in the dark. “So I have said.” The men still standing in the accursed scene consisted of Black Feather, White Owl, Tom, Bill (in much worse shape having discovered that his horse, along with his whiskey, had disappeared), Fox, and one settler named Jim. Missing were seven additional white men, two women, and two Cherokees. The horses of Cherokees had not fled, but all the…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 6

“What do we do?” Tom said. “We follow our tracks back to the burial site,” Black Feather said. “And give him back to the witch. That is the price we shall pay for escape.” “Like Hell we are,” Bill said. “Indeed like Hell,” Black Feather replied. “I won’t!” Elsa said. She turned her horse, which pulled the body of clay on a sled, and turned to ride away. “No!” Black Feather cried, but it was already too late. He kicked his horse into a gallop after the woman, who quickly became a black shape in the night fog. The others,…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 5

Soon, Tom pulled his horse up short as they reached a deeply flooded basin. “What’s wrong?” Elsa asked from back in the line. “I must have lost the track,” Tom said. “Either that or the water moved.” “We’re lost?” Elsa said. Tom stayed silent and held aloft his torch, lighting up a calm pond that extended beyond view. “What about the Indian?” Bill said. Tom looked to the back of the party. Almost obscured by the fog were Black Feather and his group. Without bidding, the Cherokee met Tom’s eyes and worked his horse forward, followed closely by his son.…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 4

When they were convinced that the house would burn on its own, they followed the tracks of Black Feather’s son up a hill into the woods. After a little while, they found a clearing where the Cherokees and a few other men were busy wrapping tightly the bodies and digging a hole. Beside the hole, or rather above it, was a monolithic boulder, twice as high as a man. Black Feather looked up at the westering sun and said. “Good. I will begin preparations for a funeral ceremony. What customs will you observe?” “I suppose we’ll pray, maybe sing a…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 3

“What do you propose?” Tom said. “While the spirit rests we might act to contain it.” “How are we going to do that? You have some kind of magic you know of for this?” “Magic?” Black Feather paused at that word. “No. We must lay these bodies, and the spirits trapped within them, to rest. If what your people have told me is true.” “It’s true,” Tom said. “Then show me. Do you have any clergy with you?” Black Feather said as he mounted his horse. “No, we believe every man is clergy to himself,” Tom said. “Besides, that’s the…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 2

They got back to the makeshift camp to find the wagons already circled on the hill, and a high fire burning in the dusk damp. The fire flickered heavily; a strong wind had come with the riders all the way to the camp. The two men dismounted their sweaty horses and told their story to everyone in earshot, which was soon many people as bits of their story passed among the settlers. “You two been drinking?” Clay said to them. “Swear to God, no,” Bill said. “I haven’t touched a bottle since Tuesday, but I can tell you if I…

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A Walk at Dusk, “Witch of the Woods,” part 1

What follows is the first part of a tale that is much bigger than just this story, which serves as background to the larger narrative. It is a work of what I call “Original Folklore,” that is, it is a new work but is intended to harken back to older styles of stories generated by telling and re-telling. In this case, it is a type of ghost or witchcraft story – the kind one might tell around a campfire to frighten others in jest. As always, updates will be approximately 1,000 words. This part of the story will run for seven days…

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Deep Time: Twins Across Two Times, part 2

Back to Deep Time   The waitress approached again. “Just wanted to let you know that my shift is ending, but we’re staying open during the shadow hours, and we have a few specials.” Anders looked up in the sky as she flitted away, and realized the sun had been growing dimmer. “This part of Rondella Duo has a daily eclipse. Lots of people use it to take naps. At least, they did the last time I was here,” Claribel said. “How long ago was that?” “I think our waitress’s great-great-great grandmother was probably still in diapers.” Anders chuckled. “Did…

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The Master Butcher (Halloween special aphorism)

An aphorism is different from a short story or a piece of flash fiction in that it does not seek to set up or resolve any plot. It is like a snapshot of a particular setting, character, or an expression of a feeling. The following horror aphorism is somewhat inspired by (but not derived from) a track called, “The Master Butcher’s Apron” off of Death Metal band Carcass’s last LP, Surgical Steel. Check it out if you have the time. There was a flash from the east. A burning streak split the evergrey sky, lit coldly by a blood-red sun in…

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He Should Have Taken his Gun (Halloween flash fiction special)

The point of flash fiction is to condense a story down into its barest and most essential parts. I have attempted to do this with horror, providing characters and plot points in just over 200 words. Enjoy! Julie’s hand hesitated over the buzzing phone. It was a DC area code… probably that FBI investigator again. That meant it was important, but she didn’t want to answer it. It meant hope was gone. Memories returned. It was like the beginning of a horror movie. They were in bed. Something went bump. Probably the cat again, but she had to be sure.…

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