I’m continuing sharing more flash fiction with you all! In honor of Halloween, Poised Pen Productions is hosting a flash fiction giveaway with a prize filled with books, gift cards, and swag. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway simply by signing up with your email, and you’ll be given options for earning additional entries. Good luck!
If you missed it, I already shared my short story, Haunting Beauty. If you missed the others, check out The Hunt and A Simple Mistake and Ghostly Contact and The Witch’s Wand. Two more today, and then one last one next week!
© Teresa Keefer
The black crow started tapping on her window at the butt crack of dawn, just like it had every day since Mabon drew to an end. Right before she pulled the colorful hand stitched quilt back over her head, Fiona McCann grumbled at the feathered annoyance. “Go away, Demetrius. I’m not ready to get up.”
The bird just cackled at her and continued to tap on the window with his beak. Just like every morning before this one. Fiona didn’t even know why she bothered to try to go back to sleep once his incessant noise making started. And it didn’t matter that she filled his feeder at night because it wasn’t food he was after. And most of the time his food got eaten by Bandit, the fat ass raccoon who lives in the oak tree out back.
“Fine. Fine. I’m getting up, you black feathered jerk.” She looked out the window and watched as he jumped up and down on the branch outside her window. “But I’m not going to do any magick today, either. Or any other day. My magick is broken and my spells do more harm than good.”
That was the truth. The first night of Mabon a storm had come through when she was offering the contents of her simmer pot to the oak tree in the backyard. A shard of lightning struck the ground where she had just emptied the pot of fruit and spices. Smoke spiraled up and she watched in awe as the fruit followed the smoke, turned black, and fell back to the ground. And the stench of rotten egg permeated the air around her. Since then, every spell she attempted ended up having catastrophic results.
First, there was the flat tire on her car she tried to fix. She ended up with the other three tires flat and the one fixed. So, she had to ride her bicycle to work at her mother’s bakery. There, she tried to put away stock in her usual manner of standing back and letting her fingers do the walking. A fifty pound bag of sugar fell out of its midair journey to the shelf and burst all over the floor. After she accidentally burned an entire oven full of scones, both her mother and her aunt shooed her out with their besoms and told her she should use hers to sweep out whatever shadows had infiltrated her magick field.
Well, here she was, a month later with Samhain two days away and she couldn’t even light a candle with her powers. Well, that wasn’t true either. She turned candles into blow torches and couldn’t get the fireplace to do anything but smolder. Fiona groaned and trudged toward the kitchen in the same flannel pajama pants she had been wearing for three days. Maybe four.
After she had a cup of her favorite tea and ate a stale scone, she looked around her quaint little house and shook her head. Not the first pumpkin carved or the first decoration put up. The only food in the house was what her mother or Aunt Agatha brought over in between their own tasks. And they were super busy baking up confectioneries for the various Halloween parties, not to mention preparing for their own family Samhain observance. Which Fiona was going to have to skip this year.
Her cell phone beeped at her. Her mother. Fiona hit the speaker button. “Hey Ma.”
“Fiona, my love, are you still plodding around in those old pajamas with your hair tangled up so bad mice could make a nice home in it?”
As she tried to run her fingers through her hair, Fiona had to admit Margret McCann pretty much hit the nail on the head. “I’m going to take a shower and comb my hair today. I promise.”
“Did you put your crystals out to charge last night?”
“The full moon is tonight. I’ll get them out.”
There was a long pause, then Margret sighed. “I’ve searched high and low for answers to your little difficulty. I keep coming up empty handed. Perhaps if we all joined together this evening our combined powers could bring up a vision in your sphere that could give us a clue how to fix this. We need you back in time for Samhain.”
“I’ve tried the gazing ball and all I see is a fog. And right now, it doesn’t look like I need to be around for Samhain. I think I’ll stay home and hand out candy to the children.” She rolled her eyes when she saw Demetrius prancing in front of the patio door. At least he wasn’t pecking on it. “Which means I definitely have to get around and go buy Halloween candy for the trick or treaters. I’ll talk to you later, Ma.”
Samhain blew in on a west wind that knocked over trash cans and sent a kaleidoscope of color through the air. By the time the sun fell and the moon rose, Fiona was perched on her front steps in a colorful set of skirts, long sleeved black blouse, and a conical hat adorned with flowers and feathers. Her handmade besom was leaned against the porch post and an arrangement of carved jack-o-lanterns were arranged on her steps with battery operated candles in each.
It was a different sort of night not spending it with her mother and aunt making offerings to the goddess and dancing in the shadows of the sky high pines in her aunt’s woods. They invited her but with the way everything she touched went to shit, Fiona felt it best to not spoil their evening with certain mishap.
She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take not having her magick. For as long as she could remember, it had been part of her and she was lost without it. Of course, over the years she wondered what it would be to not have the responsibility which accompanied her powers. To be normal. Normal wasn’t much fun at all.
As the groups of children grew smaller and farther between and her bowl of candy got lighter. The wind died down a little bit and the moon gave an otherworld glow to her front lawn. She couldn’t help but laugh at the children as they played in the leaves. Goblins, spacemen, cowboys and witches throwing the leaves at each other and falling down into the piles like they were jumping into a sea of water. Not a care in the world. And watching them frolic took her mind off her own predicament.
It was getting late and Fiona watched as porch lights started going off. The signal that another year of trick-or-treating was coming to an end. She sat there for a few minutes, looking up at the glorious moon and felt the emptiness of not being with her mother and aunt celebrating Samhain the way they normally did. The street had grown quiet when Demetrius flew down from a tree and started prancing and squawking in front of her.
“There’s nothing stopping you from flying out to enjoy the Samhain festivities in the woods. Go right ahead.”
He strutted for a few more minutes and flew away. Apparently, her company was not what her familiar wanted tonight. All the more power to him. She stood and picked up the almost empty basket of candy and turned toward the door when the crow returned. Only this time, he had a companion. Another crow, but it was wearing a purple bow around its neck.
“Good grief, where did you find this one?” Fiona sighed. “Have you gone and stolen someone’s pet away for your own entertainment?”
A dark shadow fell across the moonlight and closed in on her. A deep chuckle followed. Then the man appeared. Tall, dark, and with the brightest purple eyes she had ever seen. He smiled and held out his arm. “Come along, Drucilla. You’ve done well tonight.”
“Who are you?” Fiona knew only those like herself would have a crow they referred to by name.
“Let me introduce myself.” He made an exaggerated bow and the crow with the purple bow flew up to settle on his shoulder. “I am Derick Sobeinne. I believe you have something of mine.”
“And what would that be?”
“The tip of my wand. A piece of amethyst given to me by my grandfather when I was but a child learning how to turn my cousins into frogs.” He glanced over at Demetrius who had tucked his beak under his wing and was pretending to sleep. “I believe your rascal here swiped it.”
Fiona had to admit, there were times Demetrius came home with various baubles and pranced around to show them to her. But she hadn’t seen an amethyst just laying around the house or yard. “Why do you think that?”
“Let me ask you this…around the time of Mabon, did anything unusual happen around here?”
Fiona snorted. “Other than my powers going haywire?”
Derick lifted a dark eyebrow sardonically. “Around Mabon? Because that’s when this rascal was poking around my window trying to get the attention of Drucilla. Tell me what happened on Mabon.”
“I was out in the yard offering the contents of my simmer pot to the oak tree out back when a storm came up out of nowhere. Then a flash of lightning hit the ground and sent sparks flying. And there was this ghastly odor. The following day, when I tried to use my magick, it didn’t work right. I’ve done nothing but create havoc.”
Derick reached for her hand. “Come. Show me where this happened.”
Fiona led him around the house to the back gate and opened it. The oak tree was the center point of the yard. He tugged at her hand. “See that black charred area right there to the right of the tree?”
“Yes, that’s where the lightning hit.”
Releasing her hand, he knelt down in the damp grass and dug his fingers around in the charred soil. “Ah, here it is.” He held up a glowing piece of amethyst and smiled. Then he snapped his fingers and a shiny black wand with a silver crow on the handle appeared. “Come on over here. I’ll fix your magick.”
“I’m not going to…” Before the sentence was completely out of her mouth, she was standing near the warlock with the purple eyes. He touched the wand to the top of her head and she felt a rush of power go through her entire body. Then he stepped away from her. “Give it a try. You should be good as new. Maybe even better with a little of my own magick in you now.”
Not convinced, she did as he requested anyway and turned toward the fire pit in the patio area. Pointing her hands at the fresh logs, she closed her eyes and imagined the fire roaring to life. When she opened them, the wood was crackling as a normal fire would do.
Derick smiled and touched her shoulder. “No sense in letting a good fire go to waste. I just happen to have a nice bottle of French wine right here.” He held out the bottle.
Fiona grinned and clapped her hands. Two wine glasses appeared on the patio by the fire. “And I just happen to have a pair of crystal glasses to put the said wine in.”
Together, they walked toward the fire and the two crows flew up to the lowest branch on the oak tree. Out of the sight of the two witches, they gave each other the crow version of a high five, Their work was done.
Tall, Dark, and Handsome
© Tina Susedik
“Your future looks bright.” Fortune teller, Madam Silver, ran her hand over Kate Sullivan’s palm then eyed the Oracle deck Kate had shuffled and drawn three cards from. “You’ll meet and fall in love with a tall, dark, and handsome man.”
Yeah, right. How many times had the old woman uttered those words? Kate held back a sigh. Why had she listened to her best friend, Bernie? Why had she wasted her time and money?
“How exciting. When and where will I meet this man?”
Dressed in typical gypsy garb with dozens of jangling bracelets, a colorful bandana covering her hair, wide loop earrings, and long, flowing dress, the old crone turned over the third card. “At a hall.”
Well, that was stupid. “Could you be a bit more specific?”
“That’s not how readings work.”
Of course not. Kate bit her bottom lip to keep from calling the woman a charlatan. Instead, she gathered her purse and rose.
“Wait!” Madam Silver called out. “Beware of ladders and black paint.”
Ladders? Black paint? “Yeah. Sure thing. Whatever you say.”
Kate left the quiet interior of the tent to the raucous noise of carnival rides, game hawkers, screaming kids, yelling parents, and the ghoulish screams of costume wearers. Apple Springs’ annual Halloween festival was in full swing. Last night had been the children’s costume party. Tonight, the community center had to be transformed for tomorrow night’s adult Halloween, masked ball. She checked her watch. Only a few minutes before she and Bernie needed to show up for their assigned duties—whatever they would be.
Bernie grabbed Kate’s arm. “So. What did she say? Anything exciting?”
“The usual.” Kate gave her friend the rundown. “Blah, blah, blah.”
“What if she’s right?”
“Huh.” With Bernie at her side, Kate wove her way through the throng of people. “I bet she said the same thing to you. Didn’t she?”
“Well . . .” Bernie blushed. “Not exactly. My man is tall, blond, and handsome.”
Kate laughed. “See? Totally bogus. C’mon. We need to hurry, or we’ll be late.”
As much as she didn’t care for the hoopla of Halloween, she had to admit the mural of witches, ghosts, goblins, pumpkins, headstones, and zombies was rather well done. Whoever had drawn it on the community hall’s wall was quite talented. Although it seemed a waste of time and money to paint something for just one holiday. Would it be redone for Christmas?
At the top rung of the ladder, she dipped her paintbrush into the gallon of black paint and reached to the tip of the witch’s hat. The ladder wobbled. Kate grabbed the sides, smearing black paint on a pumpkin and letting out a relieved breath when the ladder stilled.
“Remember, tall, dark, and handsome,” a voice whispered in her ear. “Your future awaits you.”
“What the hell?” She glanced around. Of course, at twenty feet above the ground, there was no one here but her.
“Tall, dark, and handsome,” the crackling voice, sounding a bit like Madam Silver, hissed again as the ladder trembled.
Okay. Maybe the paint fumes were getting to her. Plus, it was getting late, and she was hungry.
“How’s it going up there?”
A man stood below her, shading his eyes with his hand as if the sun were glaring in his eyes. From her height, she couldn’t tell how tall he was, and he wore a baseball hat hiding the color of his eyes and hair. Was he handsome? She shook her head. The old crone’s words were getting to her.
“He’s the one.”
“What did you say?”
The man removed his hat revealing a shock of red hair and frowned. Tall, dark, and handsome indeed.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Look, lady, I didn’t utter one word except to ask how it was going up there.”
Kate dipped her brush in the paint. “Whatever.”
The ladder jiggled.
“You’d better stay still.” The man’s deep voice sent shivers down her spine.
“I’m not moving.”
“Well, your ladder is.”
The ladder wiggled harder. “No kidding. Are we having an earthquake or something?” The ladder shook. “Hey, stop it. It’s going to tip over.”
“Lady, I’m not touching it.”
The right legs lifted, tipping the ladder to the left. Kate dropped the paintbrush and grabbed the bucket of paint to keep it from sliding off with one hand and the side of the ladder with the other.
“You need to get down from there. I can’t hold this thing in place.”
Was this a joke Bernie was playing on her? Were there hidden wires making the ladder move like a puppet on a string? “I’m coming down.” Before she put one foot on the next rung, the ladder lifted to the right. Who was doing this?”
“I am,” the voice laughed in her ear. “Enjoy the ride.”
The swaying grew stronger. Side to side, each time tipping a little further.
“Let go!” the stranger yelled. “I’ll catch you.”
Was he kidding? No way was she letting go. The ladder tipped backward. Her hands, now covered in black paint, slipped from the ladder. She closed her eyes, screamed, and fell backward.
“I’ve got you.”
What seemed like an eternity was only a matter of seconds before she landed in the redhead’s strong arms.
“Umph. I said I’d catch you.”
“Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here.” Not anxious to leave the safety of his hold, she wrapped her arms around his neck and glanced up at the ladder. “It was as if the darn thing was possessed.”
“I know. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I swear, I wasn’t touching the ladder.”
“I believe you.” She stared at his freckled face. While not conventionally handsome, he was certainly good looking. His eyes were green. Her heart skipped a beat. The voice had to be wrong. This man was certainly not dark.
A shuffling sound above them drew their attention upward. The bucket slid first to one side of the ladder, then the other, each time coming closer to the edge. Before they realized what was happening, the bucket tipped over, raining black paint over them.
The man set her on the floor and wiped his face with his T-shirt. “What the hell?”
Kate swiped her blonde/now black hair from her eyes. At least he was tall. Well over six feet. And dark. She giggled. Well, covered in black paint, he certainly now was dark. Very funny, Madam Silver. Very funny.
“I told you so. Tall, dark, and handsome. I just didn’t say how he’d be dark.” The voice laughed. “Enjoy.”
That’s your two for this week, Samhain Surprise, and Tall, Dark, and Handsome. The final story comes next week, on Halloween itself!
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Her love puts a song in his heart…
Paulette O’Connell is determined to provide for her unborn child. She has few skills and nowhere to call home except Twin Oaks plantation. Paulette accidentally summons her grandfather’s annoying ghost but he won’t leave until she figures out why she needs him.
Zak Markel is desperate to create an alchemical elixir to save his brother’s eyesight. Only, captivating Paulette distracts him at the worst possible time. While Zak longs for Paulette to give him a chance, she is determined to stand on her own, even before her child’s father returns. Can Zak convince Paulette to follow her heart before it’s too late?