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HALLOWEEN HEARTH STORIES: Part Two


Happy Halloween and a hearty welcome to all you ghoulish readers and ghostly Parliament pals! It is time for PART TWO of the Halloween Hearth Stories Event! Don't forget to grab your favorite Halloween treats and make yourself comfortable as we descend into these tales of mayhem, mischief, and devilish delight!


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!


For Part One of Halloween Hearth Stories, click here!

And now it is time for the main event, the pièce de résistance, the grand finale—THE STORIES!



 

BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON by A. J. Vrana - The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology, #1)

(prompt: The ghosts in the house don’t want you to leave.)


Worm stared down the dark, dusty corridor. It’d been some time since the sun tucked itself below the splintering frame of the westward-facing window, and the house now creaked like a sunken ship. But that didn’t matter because Worm was a raccoon, and raccoons loved the night. When the humans rolled out their treasure in large, blue bins and retired to their towers, Worm knew it was time to feast. There was never any need to follow them inside when they left the only redeemable thing about them at the end of the driveway, waiting to be picked up by the giant treasure-muncher on wheels.

This time, however, curiosity had gotten the better of her. She’d always wondered what the inside of a human den looked like, and this one had all its windows broken. The little flappy doors humans used for their servant animals—the poor, collared beasts—had grown out of fashion, leaving fewer methods of entry. So, when Worm spotted a broken window with no jagged pieces, she couldn’t resist getting a glimpse of the other side.


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A. J. Vrana - By the Light of the Moon
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SOUND AND SILENCE by Kristin Jacques - Marrow Charm (The Gate Cycle, #1)

(prompt: Repetitive, scary sound with no apparent source.)


The first night, the Lord of Seven Smiles disappeared into the bowels of his estate, secluded by wood, stone, and standing. Azzy was escorted to her room—a small spare space so much like the room she once occupied Below, and yet, so different.


“Would you care to rest before the evening meal?” The head servant was obscured through a smoky haze that hid her features, another surprise to find magic so exposed when she’d spent a lifetime hiding it. Azzy stared.


“Yes, thank you,” she said, bowing her head. The servant left without a word. Azzy observed her new home with no small amount of chagrin. It was a pleasant change from the dirt and danger of the road but did little to ease the ache in her chest at what she left behind to get here.


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Kristin Jacques - Sound and Silence
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LILLY AND QUINCY MEET THE PUMPKING by Nick Vossen - The Swansong Conspiracy (The Eldritch Twins, #1)

(prompt: Strange things are afoot at the cemetery.)


“Show me the text again. What exactly did Sean send you?” Lilly plucked the phone out of her brother’s hand and started hammering on the touchscreen. “Strange things are afoot in the cemetery? Lilly’s eyes shot over to Quincy. “Sounds a bit vanilla, doesn’t it? Two days ago a changeling made me an Arcadian lunch and it was… well, amazing! How’s that for strange?”

“And yet here we are…” Quincy smirked

“And we’re in Savannah, you know? Saying some strange stuff is happening in the cemetery here is like saying a lake is full of water.”

“Lilly...” Quincy tried again.

“Hm?”


Quincy nodded towards the unusual orange glow coming from behind a small hill in the middle of the cemetery. The iron gates in front of them creaked eerily from a gust of rising wind. There was a full moon tonight, but it was obscured through patches of thick rainclouds. “Look at that,” Quincy told his sister. The orange glow brightly pulsated once or twice and with it, the electric lights around the cemetery flickered. Something was indeed afoot.


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Nick Vossen - Lilly and Quincy meet the
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WAKE HIM GENTLY by Nikky Lee - The Rarkyn’s Familiar (The Rarkyn’s Familiar, #1)

(prompt: Walking alone in a graveyard.)


Terry’s shovel sank into the earth. With a practised pressure on the handle, he levered out the dirt and pitched it over his shoulder. A waft of damp and mildew followed in its wake.


“You’re doing it wrong.” Mrs. McCaulen watched him from over the lip of the grave. “See there? The side’s not straight.” Her translucent finger caught the moonlight as she pointed at the wall of earth, at the patch where tree roots deformed the edge. “And it needs to be bigger.”


Terry sighed. “With respect, Mrs. McCaulen, people aren’t going notice how manicured the hole is.”

The middle-aged ghost sniffed, and her hands clasped and reclasped until Mr. McCaulen drifted in, his aged arms wrapping around her shoulders with a squeeze.


“It’s fine, love.”


“It needs to be perfect.”


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Nikky Lee - Wake Him Gently
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EYE OF NEWT: THE HALF-HANGED LADY by A. M. Wright - The Shrike & the Shadows

(prompt: Ghost hunters/paranormal investigators...)


At twelve, Newt wasn’t a fan of people - living or dead. Desperate people seeking the other side and the spirits waiting in limbo were drawn to him in the worst of ways.

His ‘other’ conceded on behalf of the dead, seeing as it was an anomaly of itself; the result of an accident that befell Newt one year ago. A constant companion, it lived inside of him, still connected to him by the fragile pieces of a split soul frayed at the edges. His ‘other’ was the twin brother he’d never wanted, and this made Newt different. Unlike his classmates, he was strange in a way they would never understand.

Because of that, he kept to himself. They would leave him alone - his peers and the undead that clung to them.


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A. M. Wright - Eye of Newt
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BANAL MISCHIEF by Erica Farner

(prompt: Something wicked this way comes.)


All Hallow’s Eve. All Saints’ Eve. Samhain. Or, worst of all, Halloween


Whatever the hell you call it, I hate it. Children prance around in DIY costumes to beg for sweets; teens throw frat parties where they wear lingerie with animal ears and get sloppy, plastered drunk; and adults perform séances, hoping to channel a spirit in need of help when in reality, they’ve gotten ahold of a poltergeist with a penchant for wearing human skin like his own little costume.


As one of those poltergeists, that’s the scenario I run into the most. Everyone’s suddenly qualified to contact the Other Side, simply because they bought a Ouija board, and it’s October 31st.


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Erica Farner - Banal Mischief
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THE THIEF by Kassandra Flamouri - In the Dark of the Moon

(prompt: Steal from witches...)


World Coven Headquarters October 31, 2050


The portal spat me out like a hairball: with a lurch, a few horking heaves, and, finally, a wet splat. I staggered to my feet and bent over, hacking up a few things of my own onto the center of the pentagram.


"Acantha Morningstar to the Director's office. I repeat, Acantha Morningstar to the Director's office."

I groaned.


"Better hurry." A circle attendant handed me a towel soaked in lavender water. "The Director is in an absolute fury."


"Hecate's tits," I grumbled as I wiped my face and neck. "Why?"


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