Our Halloween contest is now closed!

Thanks for all the WONDERFUL submissions! If you are one of the winners, we’ll be in touch personally to give you the good news, and then the winners will be announced here on our website during the week of Halloween.

S. Tierney, “Grandpa”

Every Halloween, Grandpa and me go trick-or-treating together.
This year I’m dressed as a necromancer, with black eyes and a
big pretend nose and everything. The veil I’m wearing is my mum’s,
the black one she wears for funerals and watching the horses; the
gown is all ripped and hasn’t fit my sister since her accident, so she
says I can have it; I borrowed the false nails from the cleaning lady
at school (as long as I promise to give them back); and the skull, the
one tucked under my arm, that’s Grandpa’s. (I wanted a cat, but we
couldn’t catch one.)
Grandpa always dresses as a ghost. He jokes, “When you’re
as old as I am, you don’t need a costume.” (He does really; it’s
Granny’s bed sheet with two eyeholes ripped in the middle.) “If she
isn’t lying on it, I might as well wear it.” Grandpa says the strangest
things. But he says we’ll give all the residents a good fright tonight
and get lots of treats. To help us see where we’re going, he’s brought
a candle. The other ‘trickers’ on the streets prefer flashlights: lighter,
brighter, and you don’t need to worry about tucking your sheet
under your chin to stop it catching on fire. Also, when the weather’s
gusty, a flashlight doesn’t blow out. But Grandpa is adamant:
“Candles don’t need batteries! And no, they don’t blow out,
not if you keep your teeth together.”
Strange things…
At the end of our street there is a big house, with big windows
and a big garden which goes all the way around. Mr. and Mrs. Bury
live here, alone. Just like their house, they are both very big. “Which
means they’ll have treats. Unless they’ve scoffed them all already,
big buggers.”
With Grandpa keeping watch from his eyeholes, we sneak
up to the front door. I call through the letterbox, “Trick or treat!”
Heavy footsteps, the door opens, and we’re greeted by lounge light,
the aroma of baking, and the big Mrs. Bury.
“Good gracious! A witch? At this hour?” she gasps, clasping
her hand to her heart. “Words escape me! And what could be
glowing under that sheet? A lantern?”
“It’s a ghost. A ghoooost,” I say in my best ghost voice. As
a rule, Grandpa doesn’t waste his breath on strangers. Even when
he’s a ghost. “And I’m not a witch,” I correct Mrs. Bury, “I’m a
“Are you now? Then you won’t want any treats. Necromancers
don’t like treats. It’s poison to them. Everyone knows that.”
I didn’t.
“Such a pity,” Mrs. Bury sighs, “I’ve gone and wasted the
entire afternoon baking sweet goodies for nothing. Oh well, I guess
I’ll just have to throw them all–”
“No!” I shriek, lifting my veil and pretend nose. “It’s me,
Jenny Hindley. From number thirty-three. Look!”
“Well, that changes things,” Mrs. Bury smiles, producing
from behind her back a tray of steaming, golden-brown gingerbread
men. “Go ahead, my dear, take as many as you like.”
I do. I really like gingerbread. “And so does my grandpa.”
“Then you must take some home for him. Wait there, I have
a cookie jar you can borrow. It’s around here somewhere.”
“That’s okay, Mrs. Bury,” I say, pulling back the bed sheet
and offering up Grandpa’s skull. “They’ll be safe in here.”
Mrs. Bury looks uncertain. “But there’s a candle in there, dear.”
“Oh, I’ll take it out.” I also extinguish the candle, just to be
safe. Mrs. Bury still looks uncertain, even a little surprised, but, at
my insistence, she begins filling the skull.
“When you next see your grandfather, be sure to ask him
what he thinks of my gingerbread.”
“Why wait?”
I lift up the skull, and ask:
“Do you like Mrs. Bury’s gingerbread, Grandpa?”
Seeing that I’ve pressed Grandpa to my ear, as though he
were a smelly old seashell, I explain to the very surprised Mrs. Bury,
“He’s very old, and speaks very softly. He’ll only speak to me when
no one’s– what’s that? Super delicious? Good and chewy, just the
way you like it, so much so,” I turn to Mrs. Bury, “that Grandpa
wants to take it all. Please.”
Mrs. Bury clutches her heart again; her big mouth is hanging
open. Similarly, I open Grandpa’s jaw all the way until the bone
makes a clicking sound, like the sound your finger makes when you
pull it back too far. Grandpa doesn’t mind. “I’m used to it.” This
doesn’t seem to reassure Mrs. Bury; even with my help she struggles
to put all the little men into Grandpa’s mouth without dropping
them, or knocking their little legs against Grandpa’s two remaining
teeth. One of the teeth pops out and bounces down the path like a
little rusty coin. When I comfort Grandpa with a kiss on his bullet
hole, Mrs. Bury trembles uncontrollably.
“Are you cold, big lady?”
I reach inside Grandpa’s mouth, all the way in.
“Perhaps a nice warm gingerbread man would–”
“No, that’s alright, dear,” Mrs. Bury gulps, staring at me and
Grandpa like she’s seen a ghost – like an actual ghost. “I’ll just go
back inside. You run along, now. You and your…grandpa.”
“We will,” I call over my shoulder, skipping away down the
path. “Say goodbye to Mrs. Bury, Grandpa.”
“Goodbye to Mrs. Bury, Grandpa,” he cackles, spitting
gingerbread limbs all over her lawn. “Hey, don’t forget my tooth!”
Mrs. Bury latches the door. The curtains behind her big
windows snap together. Me and Grandpa hurry along to the next
house: Mr. and Mrs. Bannister. Like Mr. and Mrs. Bury, they are
also childless. But they make tofu in the shape of eyeballs, Grandpa’s
favourite. “You’ll have to chew’em for me, though.”
I can’t help but laugh.
“Grandpa, you’re so strange.”

R.J. Miller, “Lighthouse 43”

The jingle of keys in the distance brought me back to the
present. Lately, I’ve had more and more moments where I’m pulled
back to my past. Who could blame me? Being stuck in this cold,
dark, wet hell hole would make anyone reminisce.
“Where did you go there, boy?” Mickey said.
Mickey was the tough old bastard in charge of Lighthouse 43

my current place of residence. He was a stout man, broad
shouldered and strong. His hair and beard had gone grey a long
time ago. He wore all black from his boots up to his peacoat and
watch cap. His stormy grey eyes were fixed on me as he fingered a
ring with old iron keys that hinted at untold secrets.
I hiked up my shoulders and turned up the collar on my
coat. The bite of the wind-swept sea stung my face and ears.
“Back home. In Arizona,” I said.
Mickey let out a laugh, deep and full. I looked at him, the
humor escaping me completely. I tucked my hands in my coat
pockets so he wouldn’t see my clenched fists.
“You’re gonna have to put that aside, son. If you’re to make
it here, forget your life back home. You’re an apprentice of the
lighthouse now. Did you finish reading the manual yet?”
Truth be told, I hadn’t finished it. I spent the better part of
the day going through the tome, but it was difficult and technical
reading. I wasn’t exactly top of my class back home, but I wasn’t
going to be sent back. As much as I wanted to be anywhere but here.
“No. But I’ve read a fair amount,” I said.
Mickey gave me a curt nod and turned back to the gate. He
put in one of the iron keys and turned, the lock made a loud clang
as the bolt slid closed. He removed his key and gave the gate a sharp
tug. Satisfied, he headed back towards me.
“That’s more than I can say for my first day. I fell asleep
trying to get through the damn thing.” He smiled back at me and
gave me a quick pat on the shoulder. “This way,” he called back over
his shoulder as he walked past me on our way to the main building.
I shook my head and followed. Apparently, it was time for the tour.
Lighthouse 43 was a bit of a complex. The main tower was
three floors high and rhythmic white light shone from the top. The
lighthouse was built on the edge of the sea; nothing was around for
miles and miles.
I followed Mickey up the stairs, and we entered the first
floor. When the door slammed closed behind me, I was swallowed
up by silence. The absence of sound was jarring. The crashing waves
were almost deafening just moments ago. Mickey was already up
the stairs and to the second floor and I had to run to catch up. The
third story was made of floor to ceiling windows, with a massive
bulb overhead.
“Wow. This view must be amazing in the daytime,” I said.
Mickey nodded. “But it is the night that counts, son.”
“To the ships that count on us,” I said back.
Mickey gave me a look that made me swallow hard.
“This lighthouse does not stop ships from crashing into the
shores. We defend the world from what is beyond… in the Darkness.”
My blood turned cold and the flesh on my arms and neck
crawled. “From what?” I stammered.
Just then, a large flash of white light erupted in the distance.
Both of us turned towards the pinprick of light in the darkness.
Then there was another. Followed by another.
“Are those ships?” I asked.
Mickey didn’t take his eyes off the horizon. He unbuttoned
his coat and withdrew a large pistol from its depths. With his other
hand, he pressed a large red button that I hadn’t noticed before. The
lights inside the room suddenly turned red and the beacon of light
we were standing in hummed.
“Not hardly,” Mickey said.
Suddenly, a pulse of blue light and heat shot out from the
lamp overhead. The light turned dark blue and burned brightly in
the distance before flickering out. The beacon shot out again and
again, rotating slightly each time. The lighthouse was tracking
whatever was out there.
“What is out…”
A loud crashing sound came from below and cut me off.
Mickey gave me a stern look and we headed to the door and
looked down.
“Cabinet over to the right.” Mickey said, tossing me his
keys. “Quickly.”
I raced over to the cabinet, fingers fumbling with keys
until I found the right one. I reached inside and pulled out the
strangest shotgun I had ever seen. I racked the slide once and took
up a position on the other side of Mickey. The pulsing canon had
stopped and all that I could hear was my short, ragged breathing
and the slow clicking of something coming up the stairwell. A black
tentacle suddenly shot through the doorway and went through
Mickey’s chest. He pointed his gun straight ahead and fired, over
and over. The creature forced itself through the doorway, pushing
Mickey back as it came through.
I raised my gun point plank and fired a single burst into the
creature. The echo rang through the small room and both figures
fell to the floor. I rushed over to Mickey who spat up blood on the
floor. He gripped my hand once and then he was gone.
I am now the keeper of the keys. If I survive the night, I
will brave the darkness and hold fast. Let this journal entry stand
witness if I fall. I can hear more knocking on the steel door below,
and slow clicks coming from the stairwell.

Christine Boyer, “The Ghost Pushes You Down”

Owen Baker was never a good sleeper.
When placed in his bassinet, he squalled until his little
wrinkled face was crimson, and his mother picked him up and
soothed him. When he got older (when his head finally rounded
out and his spindly limbs plumped and when he graduated to a
crib in his own room), he still fought sleep. His screams pierced his
mother’s heart, and though she was new to parenting, something
about Owen’s night-cries always sounded worse than babies she had
heard before.
His mother read every parenting book. She tried every
method: the chair method, Ferber, feed-and-read. She let Owen
cry it out, as his staunchly no-nonsense pediatrician suggested.
She tried everything. Nothing worked.
The cry-it-out nights were the worst. She would sit in her
bedroom, tears coursing down her face, watching the clock on
her nightstand tick each painful minute away. One minute. Two
minutes. Three minutes. Ten. His cries were like little barbed hooks
in her heart that dug a little deeper as time crawled by.
She always caved before the clock showed fifteen minutes
had passed.
She would run down the hallway to Owen’s room as fast as
her legs could carry her. She threw open the door and turned on
the light to the same awful sight – her chubby-cheeked son lying in
his crib, red-faced and shrieking. Pointing one plump finger at the
shadowy corner of his room. The rest of his body was rigid, taut to
the point that lifting him into her arms was difficult.
Eventually, the Baker household reached a sort of détente.
Owen (by then a sturdy toddler) and his mother (by then a woman
with deep circles under her eyes and a recurring fantasy of driving
away and starting a new life under a new name) came to agreeable
terms. She would leave a lamp on in his bedroom when she turned
in for the night. Owen, in turn, could play quietly in his room.
His mother trusted that he would sleep at some point in the night,
though she never witnessed it herself. All animals sleep, after all.
But Owen was always awake when she turned in at night, and he
was always awake when she rose in the morning.
He missed out on some of the experiences of childhood,
like summer camp and sleepovers, but it didn’t seem to bother
him. He made friends easily as a child. Those boyhood friendships
never seemed to suffer from the issues around his sleep. He found
other bonds of boyish intimacy – through Little League, through
elaborate world-building board games – to replace those formed
around scary movies in basement rec rooms, tucked into acrylic
sleeping bags lined up side by side.
Otherwise, he was a healthy child. He grew into a healthy
teenager, and then a young man. He was tall, gawkishly thin, but his
mother could see how he might yet put on some weight and fill out
his frame with a few more years.
The puzzle of his poor sleep didn’t start to vex Owen until
he went to college. Now he had to share a room. Until then, his
entire life had been cossetted around his aversion to sleep: the lamp
that burned all night on his dresser, the cross woven from Palm
Sunday palm leaves that his superstitious grandmother hung over
his window. Now, Owen had to rethink the constant light source at
night. His roommate, a pre-law student jittery with nerves, refused
to leave the light on.
“What are you, two years old?” his roommate asked one
night early in their first semester. “Grow the hell up.”
For the first time since he was a baby, Owen Baker was
plunged into darkness. It wasn’t complete darkness, of course –
there were little bleedings of light from the digital clock on his
nightstand, from the crack under the door to the hallway. But there
was not enough light to push back the shadows that crowded at the
corners of the room.
One minute passed. Owen wriggled his toes under the layers
of sheets and blankets, and he squinted to see if he could make out
the movement. He could not.
Two minutes passed. He sighed and raised his head a bit,
shifted against the pillow.
Ten minutes passed. He felt the weight of the day make
his eyelids heavy. He closed his eyes and felt a lax warmth course
through his arms and legs. He sighed again, almost a little pleased.
Sleep wasn’t some elusive creature after all.
There’s no saying how long it took, whether it was fifteen
minutes or fifty or more. When Owen jolted awake, he could not
turn his head to study the clock on the nightstand beside him. He
was frozen stiff, with only his eyes open wide and staring. Unable
to move.
Unable to stop the shadowy figure in the corner of the ceiling
from peeling away from the rest of the shadows and descending onto
him. She had been a new thing when he was new too, splintered off
from something much older.
In his infancy, she had never been fast enough – the mother
had always returned to turn on the light just as she started her
creeping approach. When the light started burning all night, she
had to make herself small, tuck herself into some dark space where
the light didn’t reach. Under the dresser. In the narrow black space
under the closet door. Behind the stack of books on the shelf.
But as Owen had grown, so did she. She watched, waited.
Learned. Her lineage was ancient, and the nearly two decades she
waited had passed in a blink.
The patience had paid off. Now, in the nearly-dark room, the
roommate snoring in the bed across the room, she descended from
the ceiling. Her reflection was visible in Owen’s wide eyes, but he
could not scream. He could only lie there, rigid, as she sat on his
chest and took what was hers.

Terry Adcock, “Tea, Ghosts, and a Bit of Gossip”

“I’ve always wondered whether ghosts were real.” Granny
sipped a steaming cup of sweet tea as she gazed at the apparition
hovering ever so slightly above the sofa cushions. “My grandmother
was a believer. The stories she told us children would curl your hair!”
The apparition nodded and glanced at the Tambour clock
sitting on the mantle. It was nearly midnight. Granny noticed the
apparition checking the time and smiled.
Before the apparition disappeared, Granny said, “For years,
I refused to accept that our house was haunted, but obviously, I was
wrong.” Granny shrugged her thin shoulders. “You’re the reason our
family could never sell this old house. Grandmother always said she
felt like a prisoner. My parents took over, but they couldn’t unload
the place either. I suppose I’m destined to live out my days here as
well. All because you died and refused to leave.”
The apparition said, “I’ll never leave, besides where would I
go? They say a spirit can’t rest after a violent death. No, I’ll always
haunt this place. And if it gets torn down, I’ll haunt whatever they
put up next.”
“Grandmother said you fell down the stairs and broke your
neck. So, actually, you don’t have to keep haunting the place because
it was an accident.”
“Do you really believe that old story? It was no accident. I
was murdered by my cheating husband, the rotten scoundrel! In
those days, we didn’t have furr . . . for . . .”
“Forensics,” Granny said, supplying the word.
“Yes, that’s it. Back then, I suppose a good wallop upside the
head looked much like a broken neck from a fall.”
“Grandmother said you drank too much. Probably missed a
step and fell.”
The apparition appeared agitated. “Your old grandmother
couldn’t tell a straight story if her life depended on it. Your mother
was just like her.”
“Why pick on Mother? What did she ever do to you?”
Granny said indignantly.
“And you’re as bad as they were,” the apparition continued.
“You scared your children half to death with those old stories, and
now you make your poor grandchildren listen to that same claptrap
like it’s gospel, but there’s no truth in it.”
The minute hand advanced another couple of notches as
midnight drew nearer. They caught each other looking at the clock.
Granny set her cup down firmly and sat up all prim and proper;
clearly miffed at hearing her family disparaged.
“I merely passed on the stories as they were told to me.
Besides, scaring the bejeezus out of children makes them want to
behave or else bad things might happen. It kept me and my sisters
in line.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know the real story?”
“Of course, but first tell me, is the “legend” really true? They
say your spirit must return to the turret next to the widow’s walk
each night before the clock strikes midnight else the demons will
drag you straight to hell. Is it true?”
“You finally got something right, old girl! I’ve never been
late, not in a hundred years, and not for all eternity. I’ll always be
here,” said the apparition.
Two minutes to midnight.
“Before you go, what really happened that night? Did your
husband truly kill you, as you claim?”
“I suspected he was seeing the parson’s wife and that night I
caught them together!”
Granny absently poured more tea. “Oh my! What happened
next?” Granny couldn’t let the apparition leave now; she just had to
“They were up in the tower doing the “naughty deed” as we
used to say. They played me for a fool, but I fixed them good!” said
the apparition with feeling.
The second hand on the clock swept along ticking off the
final seconds. Granny heard the gears click into place as the old
clock prepared to chime the critical hour.
“Lord a’mighty! What did you do? Tell me quickly!”
“I stabbed them with a carving knife. They wanted to be
together so badly, now they’re stuck with each other for forever.”
The apparition cackled with glee.
“But how did your husband manage to kill you?”
“Just before he died, he gave me one last mighty whack that
broke my neck and I fell down the stairs. Old Sheriff Coots couldn’t
tell the difference between a broken neck and a stubbed toe. He
assumed I tripped and fell to my death.”
“Bless your heart! But you said a violent death won’t let a
spirit rest. What happened to your husband and his mistress? All
these years, why haven’t I heard them haunting this old place like
“I keep them locked up in the turret tower with me. They
treated me badly, and I’m going to enjoy tormenting those two until
the end of time!” The apparition laughed, but it sounded more like
a screech owl.
Just then the clock struck twelve; the familiar low melodic
sound filled the room.
“Oh no! What have you done? You kept me talking for too
long! I’ve got to get back to the tower. . .”
Suddenly, the apparition disappeared in a puff of smoke.
As the last chime marked the midnight hour, all was quiet, even
Granny heard soft footsteps coming down the stairs. Her
husband shuffled into the parlor rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“I thought I heard you talking to someone down here. Who’s
calling at this hour?”
“I was talking to myself. Go back to bed,” Granny said.
“We’re meeting the realtors tomorrow, and I just wanted to ensure
there were no ghosts lurking about and cluttering up the place. I
don’t want anything to prevent us from selling this old dump. Not
this time.”
Her husband scratched the stubble on his jaw. “I keep telling
you there are no such things as haunted houses, so quit worrying.
Tell me, you don’t really believe in ghosts, do you?”
“Ghosts?” Granny smiled. “What ghosts?”

Vicki Liston, “Molly’s Grave”

“…and the pieces of her body slowly move towards each
other, worming and squirming underneath the surface of the dirt
until they can reconnect again.”
“Her ‘pieces’? Ewwww….” squirmed Shyloh.
“Well, that’s what they are”, I reasoned. “Pass another
marshmallow and I’ll finish.”
“There’s Bailey,” said Shyloh. “Hey, come over! Preston’s
telling a true Halloween story! Start it over. The real ones are the
I began again. “Here in St. Charles, Missouri there’s a story
most kids hear in high school – Molly’s Grave. Back in the 1800s,
a woman named Molly Crenshaw lived by herself outside of town,
so people thought she was a witch. One winter, the ground froze,
and the farmers couldn’t get anything to grow the following spring.
They began to whisper among themselves, ‘It’s that witch’s fault!’.
They blamed Molly and grew angrier the more they complained.”
The breeze made us shiver and Bailey inched closer to
the firepit.
“One Halloween night, the farmers exploded into rage.
They banded together with pitchforks and stormed her home.
Molly refused to take the blame and argued with the mob. ‘This is
NOT my doing, I SWEAR!!’ But despite her cries, they dragged
Molly to the town’s square for a horrifying execution. A public
death would serve as adequate punishment! She pleaded for help
from the townsfolk who’d come out to watch. Wouldn’t anyone
stand up for her? But there was no stopping the farmers. As she
lay there, she realized that nothing would convince them of her
innocence. She was going to die! Mustering her courage, she spun
a bone-chilling curse. “Anyone who harms me! Or watching my
death!” Molly screeched. “YOU’RE CURSED! I’ll come back to
life and bring my vengeance! To YOU, your family, your children,
and grandchildren!”
The fire flickered wildly, and we all jumped.
“While they didn’t stop, the mob hesitated. How do you
keep a witch from resurrecting? Someone yelled, ‘Cut her in half!
She can’t come back if she’s not a full body!’ Molly screamed her
last words, ‘I’LL STILL COME BACK!!’ Undeterred, they agreed
on this solution and Molly was sawed in half.
Molly’s body was buried in separate graves. One at a private
cemetery near where the high school is now. The other, miles away
in an unmarked grave near the river. The town went back to its
everyday life and the farmers returned to their fields. But no crops
grew that year. And despite the miles between them, Molly’s
body started moving towards each other from the moment of her
burial. As if magnetically attracted back together, aching for new
life and a taste for revenge. Wiggling like worms underneath the
unsuspecting town. Once the pieces meet, Molly will live again and
wipe out all of the farmers’ descendants and of those present at her
death! How soon will it happen? How close are the pieces now?
How much time is left? Are YOU a descendent?! No one knows…”
“Let’s go!” blurted Bailey, already standing.
“Where???”, asked Shyloh, not wanting to know the answer.
“Umm, bad things happen to anyone who disrespects Molly,”
I warned. “Some kids went looking for her grave once…and the
police found them impaled on a cemetery fence. Like DEAD.”
He scoffed. “Scaaaaaaared?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s just a story.”
“Well, if there’s nothing to worry about…”, Bailey taunted.
We piled into Bailey’s car, wishing for the first time that he
wasn’t old enough to drive. I wasn’t listening as he mapped to our
destination – a private cemetery near the high school.
As we pulled up, my stomach knots relaxed. ‘That’s it?!’, I
thought, seeing a chain link fence surrounding a dozen markers.
Bailey grabbed a flashlight as we stepped out into the darkness. The
crickets serenaded us, unphased by our intrusion. We hopped the
fence and Bailey lit each grave, mumbling their names. I held back;
the fence felt safer than stepping over graves.
Shyloh’s voice unexpectedly cut into the crickets’ song,
“Molly, we aren’t afraid of you!” The cacophony of crickets suddenly
died to a deafening silence. My neck hair prickled as I realized the
wind had abruptly stopped, too. We stood motionless.
My stomach knotted as Bailey shifted his weight and a
stick cracked like an old bone. “Look at the ground!”, he sputtered.
“Something’s moving underneath!!” Bailey dropped the flashlight
and bolted. Shyloh followed but I couldn’t – my legs had hardened
into cement. She ran, leaping to clear the fence but caught a barb
and she crumpled with a cry into the rail before crashing to the
ground. Was she impaled?! I couldn’t see past the stinging tears.
Bailey made it to the car first, keys jangling as he shook.
The car simply clicked, refusing to start. I stood frozen solid,
watching Shyloh groan on her bloody leg. Bailey cursed at the car
as if that would convince it to work. Numb and blurry, all I could
do was watch the flickering flashlight cast eerie shadows on the
gravestones. Terror took ahold of my body, and I saw my breath in
the chilly air. Molly was here. We’d been disrespectful and there
were dire consequences in store. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, “I didn’t
even want to come.” I choked as panic engulfed my throat. “Please,
Miss Crenshaw! We’re sorry,” I pleaded with reverence. The words
hung like corpses over my head. Throbbing silence beat on my ear
drums as I held my breath, not wanting to see it billow out again.
Then, one lone cricket ruptured the nothingness. Then
another. The key clicked and the car struggled to life. “PRESTON,
MOOOOOVE!!”, Bailey screamed wildly, his voice octaves above
his normal tone. I exhaled; my breath no longer visible. “Thank you,
Molly”, I sputtered, shaking as the words tumbled off my tongue.
My legs, now complying, flew with newfound speed towards the
car, grabbing Shyloh and dragging her in as I jumped inside. Bailey
stomped the gas pedal to the floor. As I took one more look out
across the graveyard, the flashlight’s flicker caught what looked like
a woman’s shadow. I squeezed my eyes tight, whispering apologies
as we sped away.

Neil Garvie, “Wizard’s Pantry”

Shades of colour, shades of black
shades of lightning flashing back
echoes distant in the night
fire’s burning — feel its bite


Whispered voices in the ear
magic tones remain unclear
one part pine sap running down
thistle, hemlock that’s been ground


Two parts mandrake, spider’s lace
belladonna, mustard paste
lick of hemlock, myrrh, bloodroot
smell the burdock, burning jute


Toadstool, guano, song of crow
footprint from the beetle toe
forest echoes, termite’s sneeze
rumours from a passing breeze


Image of a demon bug
mucus from the leopard slug
wicked is a wild brew
steeped in venom, feral stew


Jimson, henbane, faerie rings
owl hoots and larvae strings
lurid nightmares, ghoulish dance
curb the shrieks but heed the chants


Spell’s been conjured, spell’s been said
bitter grudges to be fed
smell the sulfur, smoky stone
cauldron boils the whittled bone


Shades of colour, shades of white
rising sun sends home the night
chanted echoes in the dawn
breaking darkness — night is gone …