Bright Lights and Icy Air

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This is the fifth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.


Damon left the tent to the accompaniment of Tabitha’s protestations at being booked. But before he went, he offered her a word of warning: if her remedy failed to return the squirrel to its pre-spell proportions, she would be seeing another yellow card. And that meant banishment from the cemetery over Samhain.

Damon didn’t like to be stern, but he knew he had to be. In his position, any sign of weakness would be exploited, and if the wrong elements gained an upper hand, the cemetery would become an even more dangerous place than it was already. It was his job to keep the living and the dead safe, though most days and nights it was a thankless task.

As he continued on his way, a blast of autumn chill billowed around headstones and trees without warning, buffeting the demon. Instinctively, Damon pulled his poncho closer about him. Yet this cold breeze had brought with it more than icy air. A shiver ran up his spine. It was as if someone had walked over his mausoleum. Perhaps they had.

Things were noticeably different in the cemetery that night. There was trouble on the cards, he could sense it.

Picking up his pace, he descended into The Hollow, an area of the grounds located at the bottom of several gently sloping hills. And that’s where he saw them: bright lights of all colours, shining from out of the darkness.

‘I wouldn’t go down there if I were you. Not sure you would be welcome.’ A figure stepped out from behind a big Celtic cross. ‘Hello, Damon. Long time, no see.’

Damon stared into the once familiar face of his brother. Time had changed him, but then it would have. He had been dead for quite some time before being resurrected. ‘Hello, Crispin. You’re not supposed to be here.’

To be continued…


Written for: 13 Days of Samhain vol ii: Day 5 – A Familiar Face

The Answer’s In The Acorn

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This is the fourth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.


Tabitha led the way to her tent. She didn’t actually live at the cemetery like the majority of the residents, but then she was neither dead nor undead, but very much a live. However, she did spend a lot of time here, and if there was over-night work for her to attempt, she usually pitched her tent in one of the clearing near the woods.

‘Tea? Coffee?’ she asked over her shoulder as she unzipped the door and then cast her bag of knitting to one side.

‘I’m not here for beverages, Tabby. You promised me an explanation.’

She huffed. ‘Fair enough. But I’m in dire need of tea.’ She set the kettle on the little gas stove. Only once her drink was made did she begin her tale.

‘Samhain approaches. As you know, at this time of year, every year, I treat myself to a new spell working to add to my spell book. This latest one I found on the internet.’

Damon groaned. ‘What? You know you can’t trust anything you find on there!’

Tabitha shushed him. ‘Everything was going well…I cast my circle and called the elements and my spirits of protection…I added all the spell ingredients into my cauldron and then said the magic words…’

‘So how did it go wrong?’

‘Who says it went wrong?’

‘There is a squirrel the size of a woolly mammoth two hundred yards from where we are standing.’

‘I know that, Damon. What I meant was, perhaps the spell was simply mislabelled. Anyhoo, the furry fellow we just met wasn’t so big before the spell-casting. He was just an average sized, run-of-the-mill squirrel.’

‘So how did he get so big?’

Tabitha coughed. ‘I…er…accidentally…stole one of his acorns and he wanted it back. You see, I needed one for the spell and when I wasn’t looking he jumped into the cauldron and whoosh.’ Her arms went flying outwards to mimic the squirrel’s expansion. ‘The pesky creature broke my cauldron. It was a family heirloom.’

‘So how are you going to fix this?’

‘Do not worry, my friend. The remedy is in hand. I’ve been baking.’

‘Pardon?’

‘Soul cakes. My own recipe. Ground acorns, I think the squirrel with love them. All I need to do is wait until midnight and get a witch’s dozen of spirits to sprinkle a little soul dust on them and we’re good to go.’

Damon pulled a face. ‘That’s not what a soul cake is, Tabitha. They’re a tasty, baked, part biscuit, part cake thing, with currants made into a cross shape.’

‘You and I must work from different recipe books. Now, if all you’re going to do is tell me how to do my job – notice, I’ve never told you how to do yours – you might as well go and see what that scream was all about.’

The scream had all but been forgotten by Damon. From the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out a little notebook, that looked awfully like the ones carried by football referees.

‘Oh, Damon, no!’ Tabitha protested. ‘You can’t book me. I’ve never been yellow carded in my life!’

‘Oh I can, and I will, and I think we can all agree, you deserve it, Tabitha,’ he said, scribbling down a few notes, before he pulled out a yellow card and showed it to her.

To be continued…


Written for: 13 Days of Samhain vol ii: Day 4 – Soul Cakes

Weekend Writing Prompt #232 – Question

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Question

Challenge

wk 232 question

The challenge is simple: each week you will be given an exact number of words you can use to write a poem or piece of prose.  You can use any format or style you like; go wherever your inspiration takes you.  The only rules are these:

  • your poem / prose must contain this week’s word (see note below).  The word does not have to count towards the exact word count total – it can be in the title, or the first letters of the lines of a poem can spell it out – you can be as creative as you want as long as it’s there somewhere.
  • the length of your poem / prose must match the number of words stated in this week’s challenge.  No more.  No less.
  • A note on the word: you can use any variation of the word (for example: call, calls, calling, called etc).  If you find you are struggling to use this week’s word you may substitute it for a synonym – just include a note to explain the swap.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun! 🙂

Can’t wait to read what you have come up with!


Whispers and Echoes – is an online journal of short writing – read it here *
Check out the journal’s full submission guidelines here

Weekend Writing Prompt Year 1 Anthology: Outcast and Other Words – Read for free here

What The Witch Couldn’t Say

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This is the third part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.


Damon the Demon took great pride in his job as the cemetery’s custodian. He could never have claimed his job was an easy one, but he could guarantee each night he worked would be different from the one before and the one that came after which was something he relished.

Usually.

And, during the course of his work, he met a great variety of beings. Some living. Some dead. Some good. Some bad. But they were all interesting in their way – a point which was becoming very clear as he had begun writing his memoirs the previous year.

And yet…

He had followed the path he was on a little way, before it split, after which he took the right hand branch, believing the scream he had heard earlier (but, rather worryingly, hadn’t heard since) had come from that direction. Here, great stone memorials to the dead loomed out of the ground, and towered overhead, which was probably how he had missed it.

It being a very wide, very tall and very furry squirrel.

With jaw falling open, he stopped dead in his tracks and stared up at the thing in surprise and horror, which only grew in magnitude as the creature spotted him and leaned down for a closer inspection.

Footsteps clattered on the path behind him, accompanied by a frantic shouting. ‘Wait! Stop! Damon, please!’

It was Tabitha.

Damon wanted to turn to face her, to give her a piece of his mind, but he was rooted to the spot, unable to move, unable to speak.

‘Ah, you found my new…friend.’

‘Friend? What did you do?’ he growled through gritted teeth.

Tabitha giggled nervously but said nothing.

‘You could have warned me.’

‘I didn’t really think you were going to walk off and leave me,’ she answered sheepishly.

‘You watched me walk away. Surely you were not that cross. You could have said something.’

‘Such as?’

‘I don’t know! How about, “Earlier today I tried out a new spell and wickedly conjured up a gigantic squirrel!” I think that covers it, don’t you?’

‘You wouldn’t have believed me. Now, if you would just like to step backwards slowly…yes…that’s it…the poor thing gets a little jumpy if you make any sudden movements. Then I’ll explain everything.’

To be continued…

To read Part 4, click here


Written for: 13 Days of Samhain vol ii: Day 3 – A Wicked Conjuring

Not While I’m Working

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To read the first part of this story, A Suitable Job For A Monster, please click here.


A scream in a cemetery could mean all sorts of things. Sometimes ghastly, gruesome things. Other times it might herald nothing more than a practical joke.

Damon, scratching his chin, mused that in the days running up to Samhain, it could be either. So there was only one way to find out which one it was that night. He was going to have to investigate.

The scream had come from Damon’s left, so he headed off in that direction at a brisk pace. The path he was on took him down a steadily sloping hill and then meandered through a small clump of trees which was lovingly referred to by the residents as “The Wee Woods” because of its size. On the other side, the landscape opened up once more to reveal a densely-packed swathe of memorials, dating to some of the earliest – and grandest – burials.

‘Are you going to walk past me without even a hello or a nod?’ a sulky voice said from out of the gloom.

Damon stopped and turned. Sitting on top of a long, flat tomb of marble was Tabitha Stephenson, all dressed up like the witch she was.

‘I thought we were friends,’ she pouted.

‘We are.’

‘I thought we were best friends.’

‘We are.’

‘I thought we were besom buddies.’

Damon rolled his eyes. Tabitha was easily offended and knew how to hold a grudge. ‘I heard a scream. Thought I better check it out.’

‘There’s always screaming round here. It’s a cemetery. What do you expect?’

‘This close to The Veil thinning…it could be serious. And it is my job.’

‘But you could spare a few minutes to exchange pleasantries with an old pal.’

‘Not while I’m working. Someone could very well be getting murdered as we speak.’

‘Suit yourself,’ she muttered, switching on a little lantern and pulling her knitting from her bag. ‘Run off and save the world. Don’t spare a thought for a lonely friend.’

‘Tabitha-‘

‘Go.’

And, believing a time-sensitive issue might be unfolding as he stood there wasting time, Damon did just that.

However, he didn’t get very far…

To be continued…

To read Part 3 click here


Written for: 13 Days of Samhain vol ii: Day 2 – Besom Buddies

A Suitable Job For A Monster

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Damon the Demon had overslept. The neon clock on his crypt wall said 10pm. He sighed. Grabbing a handknitted poncho from the coat stand (capes were so last millennium), he raced up the narrow, twisting stone staircase, until he entered the only part of his home which was above ground: the mausoleum.

He stepped outside and inhaled the cold, crisp autumn air. In the clear night sky above, the moon was waxing towards full. It was his favourite time of year.

Damon worked the graveyard shift at the graveyard. At least living on site ensured there was no commute and no traffic to get stuck in. Oh, how he hated traffic! Damon had counted his lucky stars the day this job fell into his lap way back in 1878. And he had an attendance record to be proud of, having worked every night since…My, had he seen some strange things!

He looked about, surveying what he liked to call his domain of the dead. Gravestones of all shapes, sizes and colours, stretched away into the distance in every direction. Only the presence of trees, some alone, some growing in little copses, some towering into the sky, some small, twisted and gnarled, broke up the landscape, injecting the only bit of life this world of the dead could now experience.

That was of course, if you neglected to count the undead and other creatures of the night that periodically made an appearance and disturbed Damon’s sense of peace. Oh, and don’t forget the squirrels. There were a lot of squirrels.

Now that Damon was fully awake, he was alert and felt ready for anything the night might bring him.

Which was good because just at that moment, a scream tore through the silence of the cemetery.

To be continued…

Read Part 2 here


Written for: 13 Days of Samhain vol ii: Day 1 – Graveyard Shift

13 Days of Samhain (volume ii) – A Horror / Halloween Writing Prompt Challenge

I’m a little late sharing this year’s Samhain writing prompts but after the fun of last year I thought it was a chance I couldn’t pass up. (For those interested, you can find last year’s prompts here).

So, without further ado, here are the 13 prompts for 2021, with the first prompt beginning tomorrow, 20th October, and the last prompt, Day 13, falling on November 1st:

If you do decide to join in, I hope you have lots and lots of fun.  Write whatever you wish, as long as it is inspired by that day’s prompt.  Here’s a little graphic / badge for anyone who wants it:

For last year’s challenge, I wrote a tanka in response to each prompt. For this year…I’m still undecided as to what I will write. We shall have to wait and see what tomorrow brings 😀

Only Human

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I’m not perfect

my faults are legion

.

I endeavour to be good

to do right

.

though I stumble

now and then

.

most important of all

I love you

.

I hope it’s enough


Written for: Weekend Writing Prompt #231 – Legion | Word count: 32

Weekend Writing Prompt #231 – Legion

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Legion

Challenge

wk 231 legion

The challenge is simple: each week you will be given an exact number of words you can use to write a poem or piece of prose.  You can use any format or style you like; go wherever your inspiration takes you.  The only rules are these:

  • your poem / prose must contain this week’s word (see note below).  The word does not have to count towards the exact word count total – it can be in the title, or the first letters of the lines of a poem can spell it out – you can be as creative as you want as long as it’s there somewhere.
  • the length of your poem / prose must match the number of words stated in this week’s challenge.  No more.  No less.
  • A note on the word: you can use any variation of the word (for example: call, calls, calling, called etc).  If you find you are struggling to use this week’s word you may substitute it for a synonym – just include a note to explain the swap.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun! 🙂

Can’t wait to read what you have come up with!


Whispers and Echoes – is an online journal of short writing – read it here *
Check out the journal’s full submission guidelines here

Weekend Writing Prompt Year 1 Anthology: Outcast and Other Words – Read for free here

NaNoWriMo 2021

It’s mid-October, so naturally my mind has turned to this year’s NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words over 30 days just for the fun of it!

And, when I signed into the website to announce my project for 2021, I realised that this year will be the tenth time I’ve participated in the challenge. Woohoo!

So what am I working on this year? There is always a part of me that wants to start a new writing project for NaNo. I can’t help it. I’m a serial starter, who suffers severely from an over-abundance of inspiration. Yes, I want to write ALL the stories. But…I know I can’t start another story when I have so many WIPs. Sigh.

For the past two NaNo’s I have turned my attention to completing projects (or, at the very least, making progress on on-going projects), and this year will be no different. Here’s the project summary I uploaded to the site, along with this year’s project front cover:

I’ve a list of half-finished projects that I want to complete…some are short stories, some are collections of flash fiction, poetry and short stories, whilst others are novels and novellas…my aim is finish some of them…as many as I can over the course of November.

My one rule: not to move on to the next project until I’ve finished the one I’ve been working on.

The first step…to decide which projects I’ll be adding to my short list 🙂

No edited words will be counted towards my total word count, only new words written in November. That should give me the opportunity to finish a handful of projects – I hope!

So, over the next few days, I’m going to be working on this short list. But…I have decided that, because this will be my third NaNo in a row where I try and wrap up projects, next year I will rewards myself with being able to start something new. Yay! I’m excited already!

Are you doing NaNo this year? If yes, what are you working on? You can find my NaNo profile by searching for “Sammi Cox” under the “Find Buddies” section of the site. Then we can be buddies 😀

Another NaNo question: groups. I’ve yet to join in / participate with any groups over on the NaNo site (except for the private cabin our little wordpress-based writing group had a few years ago – Go Plot Bunnies!). What are your thoughts on these groups? Do you find them helpful and supportive – or not? Or have you yet to join a group? Maybe you don’t want to, don’t have time for one, or haven’t find the right one…I would love to hear your views.