HALLOWEEN HEARTH STORIES: Part One
The time has arrived! We are one week away from Halloween, and ready to officially kick off our holiday celebrations with Part One of Halloween Hearth Stories! Grab your favorite fall beverage, a blanket and a cozy spot on the couch, and settle in for some truly satisfying storytelling from our magnificent authors here at Parliament House.
Remember, as a part of our Halloween celebrations, we will be hosting a giveaway! One randomly selected winner will receive a physical copy of a Parliament House Press book (US only at this time). Additionally, three randomly selected entrants will receive an electronic copy of a Parliament House title, open to international entries!
For more information on the giveaway, check out the details here!
Without further ado, let’s dive into the stories! Happy reading!
Trick or Treat by Lillah Lawson (Dead Rockstar)
(prompt: Trick or treating)
“Do you have to go tonight?” I asked, my voice becoming a whine. I couldn’t help it. Halloween was my favorite holiday, and I didn’t want to spend it alone. Especially now that I had a new, hot, decidedly undead boyfriend to spend it with.
Phillip Deville brushed his jet-black hair from his piercing green eyes that were fixed on me. Despite my irritation, I felt my knees go weak as his full lips turned up at the corners. His hand grazed my face, and I melted at his touch. “I know I promised,” he said apologetically, his eyes flashing with regret. “But your truck has been making that awful noise for days. When the mechanic said he could get to it tonight…”
It was actually sweet what Phillip was doing. Somehow, he’d managed to hire an after-hours mechanic to fix my truck for cheap. Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little annoyed that he’d arranged this tonight of all nights, on my favorite holiday. READ MORE:
The Shadowman and the Door (A The Sword and the Hounds Excerpt) by Alex Finlayson
(prompt: a door that must never be opened)
Stories have power. They take lives and shape lives, and they live on long after those lives have ended. They say that no-one ever really dies while their story is still told, which is both oddly comforting and, depending on how literal you are, absolutely terrifying. At around the same moment that a man called Arthur Crazy rapped awkwardly on the door of his family home, thinking no doubt that the main part of his story was over, another door opened. It is not a door familiar to the likes of you or me. To begin with, it isn’t attached to a house or even a wall, but it does lead from inside to out, and so, in essence, it is still very much a door.
See it now, high on the Yorkshire Dales, a barren and desolate moorland stretching from horizon to horizon full of deep shadows and hidden clefts. Not even the most foolhardy of sheep venture this high on the moors, for there is nothing here except dangerous crevices, abandoned mineshafts, and sharp rocks weathered by time.
But there is a door if you know where to look. READ MORE:
The Only Way Forward by Sydney Paige Richardson (The Haves of Us)
(prompt: The only way forward is through a dark tunnel.)
Fear is not a feeling.
Fear is a being.
A ‘Miss’ to be exact.
And darkness she attracts.
Her heart was stolen once.
By the brother of Dream, Nightmare himself, for a number of months
There, in a black forest with sharp branches.
On the bones of mortal fools, Fear and Nightmare did dances.
Their love blossomed, their darkness growing.
Sending crimson rivers a flowing.
Creating a fog that covered the land.
Creating a suffocating panic among man.
Alex McKenna & the Joshua Trees by Vicki-Ann Bush (Alex McKenna & the Academy of Souls)
(prompt: You stop in a small, dark town...)
Margaret pulled over to the side of the road, a flapping thud a reminder of how unplanned their trip across the desert was. Alex got out of the car, stood in front of the shredded rubber, and grimaced
“I’ll get the jack.” Margaret popped open the trunk.
“Do you have a full-size tire or donut?”
Margaret held the bite-sized version of a spare in her hands.
Alex rolled his eyes. “That’s not gonna get us too far. There’s a town about two miles up. We passed a sign a ways back. We can get a new tire there.” He made fast work of the swap and tossed the remains of the now deceased tire into the trunk.
Back on the road, Margaret gripped the steering wheel and kept the speed at an even thirty miles an hour, waiting for the little town to reveal itself in the middle of the seemingly unending carpet of sand and dried brush. READ MORE:
Jack O' Lantern by Ciara Duggan (Awakened)
(prompt: Carving jack o’ lanterns)
The brisk autumn air stung Amelia’s pale complexion as she peered out at the ocean from atop the Bellcliff University cliffside. The waves crashed over and over, and their rhythmic hushing soothed her aching heart. It had been three years since Bryce had mysteriously died at the beginning of her freshman year, leaving an icy coating over Amelia’s once bright and boisterous heart. She had only known him for a few days beforehand, but her heart clung to the possibility of what they could have been. She tried to make the most of her college experience, but it was as though the dark cloud of his spirit followed her with every step.
Amelia snapped out of her trance and looked down the cliffside. Her old roommate, Hannah, and her boyfriend, Callan, were on a morning run along the dirt path. Amelia had been suspicious of Callan ever since freshman year. She wasn’t quite sure why, but there was something different about him—something she couldn’t put her finger on. READ MORE:
Of Woods and Wind by Kelsey Kicklighter (Of Beast and Burden)
(prompt: investigate an unexplained event)
"This is not a good idea," I huff, though not in complaint. Leaves scatter and crunch under my boots despite how carefully I place my feet.
Delia laughs her wildfire laugh. "When has anything we've ever done been a good idea?" She calls my name to get my attention. “Here, Faye.” She pulls a flask from somewhere and offers it to me.
I shake my head. We're looking for The Folk, and I want to be focused, just in case. We’ve lived on this side of the veil our whole lives, trying to push our way through. Tonight's different. I know it. I can smell it.
The biting wind smells like jasmine, floral and cloying and somehow wrong on the autumn night air.
It smells like magic. I breathe in deep. READ MORE:
Reflection by Jase Puddicombe (The Life Giver)
(prompt: Someone is living in a mirror...)
Emer first noticed Mairead when she was doing the dishes.
Just a flicker, at first – a shadow darting in the corner of her eye. Emer turned, dark hair escaping her loose bun, but there was nothing – just the mirror propped up against the kitchen wall.
She shook her head and carried on with the dishes.
That night, in bed, she thought about where she was going to put the mirror. An heirloom, grossly ornate, very out of place in her cottage, but it needed a home.
She turned over and tried to sleep.
Waking the next morning was like surfacing through treacle. The colours of the cottage seemed… washed-out. Duller than they should be. The sunny yellow of her dress was almost greyed-out, sticky remnants of colour leaking against her skin.
Emer met her own eyes in the mirror. Even their blue seemed lifeless. READ MORE:
Better Days by Nicole Willson (Tidepool)
(prompt: You find a diary that tells the future.)
Addie and Cate huddled together in their cold, dark kitchen. A scream sounded in the distance, and a shudder wracked Cate’s body.
“How long ago did Megan leave, Mama?” Cate whispered.
“Don’t know,” Addie lied. Her older daughter had been on neighborhood patrol for exactly three hours and twelve minutes the last time Addie checked the clock. How many minutes had passed since? Addie didn’t dare get up to look at the clock again. Move around before the sun had fully risen, and the Night Roamers might spot you, crash through your windows, and do unspeakable things to you and anyone else inside. READ MORE:
BFFs by S. C. Alban (Playing Cupid)
(prompt: The black cat is actually lucky.)
“I cannot believe you got us lost.” I pull the car over, throwing it into park. Cutting the ignition, I shoot a glare at my best friend, Camille, before leaning back in my seat. “You’re supposed to be the navigator.”
Yeah, right. She gets lost in her head.
Biting her lip, Camille studies her phone, a worry passing over her heart-shaped face. “I know, but service cut out a while ago, and apparently, I’m not great at reading a map.” She holds up a rumpled trifold. “But we can’t be that far from the freeway? Can we?”
I look around. The sun is setting. Soon it’ll be night. The small two-lane road is flanked by massive spruce trees for miles in both directions, making any chance of seeing what’s up ahead impossible. READ MORE:
A Strange Hallowe’en by Wren Handman (Wire Wings)
Shadows flicker playfully on peeling wallpaper. No wind blows, but the flames of five candles occasionally gutter, making the already spooky room that much darker.
“Ready?” Hiran’s voice is deep, with a smoker’s burr and the softened vowels of too much whiskey.
“No,” Anna giggles, the hippie sunglasses she bought for her costume sliding down her delicate nose. Sung-ho hushes her with a sharp squeeze of her hand.
“Close your eyes,” Hiran orders, and Anna presses her lips tight to stop another laugh. Around the circle, all five teenagers close their eyes. “Spirits,” he intones in an overly dramatic voice, “we invoke you. Come into our circle and be welcome.”
Somewhere in the house above them a door slams, and everyone jumps. READ MORE:
Old Friends by Marlena Frank (The Seeking)
(prompt: A meeting with Death.)
Charlie sat in a booth at the far corner of the diner on Tenth Street and Hemphill Road, letting his cup of coffee go cold. It was a Tuesday morning, and the place was mostly empty. A clear blue sky spread out over the endless lines of exhaust spewing traffic outside, and streams of sunlight shone in through the streaked plexiglass windows.
Staring at the table, he clasped his hands as sweat dripped off his shaved head. To the rest of the world Charlie looked like a professional business person preparing for an interview, but who he waited for was far more intense than a recruiter.
A tall, pale woman clad all in black pushed through the front door, but the bell didn’t ring for her. The college student who was both host and server this morning didn’t even look up from her phone screen. It didn’t matter. READ MORE: