Adorably Horror Series – Bob McNeil
Adorably Horror Series – Bob McNeil
is the dawn
Night paints my room black
while I listen to raindrops.
So many dark secrets
written in its black ink.
Night is my highway to
lost dreams. Cats in the alley
screech their wonton quest.
Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work. She has four Best of the Net nominations. Her latest title is The Muse in Miniature available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net
Adorably Horror Series – Mark Blickley & Amy Bassin
-Mark Blickley & Amy Bassin
by Mark Blickley
It was time for Ralph’s first real haircut. Ralph’s mother said it was time, as did the next-door parents of his best friend, Emmitt. The only person who did not think it was time for a real haircut was Ralph. He did not want to go to the barbershop.
Ralph liked having his mother cut his hair. Last month she was so tired after working a double shift at the hospital she accidently sliced his ear with the scissors. There was a lot of blood. On Sunday Mother announced that Bright’s Barber Shop had finally opened after being closed for nearly four months because of the virus. She scheduled an appointment for Ralph on Friday.
Thursday night Ralph could not fall asleep. Every time he shut his eyes all he could see was the huge window in front of Mr. Bright’s barbershop. Ralph hated that window. He had to pass it every week when his mother took him to the babysitter before she went to work at St. Ann’s Medical Center.
Even though Ralph hated the window, he would always look inside as he passed by. He couldn’t help himself. And what he saw truly frightened him. A large bald-headed man with a bushy moustache named Mr. Bright was always chopping off somebody’s hair. Ralph remembered seeing men, boys, and even a lady tied to a chair, looking like prisoners as Mr. Bright danced around them waving sharp tools.
Friday morning Ralph was very very nervous and refused to leave the house. He felt as trapped as the frogs he stalked, caught and tossed into his pail. For the first time in his life Ralph wished he were a frog. Frogs don’t have hair.
Mark Blickley & Amy Bassin & Beatrice Georgalidis
Adorably Horror Series – Steve Wheeler
I was not surprised at the shuffling of feet beyond the high wooden fence. It was Halloween night and I was working my first shift as night watchman in the old lumber company where my grandfather had worked for thirty years. They say, at the end, the owner would send a car for old Tom to take him, in comfort, the two miles each way he had walked for so long.
There were children and parents walking the streets outside the yard, sometimes explosions of firecrackers in the distance.
It was an old lumber yard, a throwback to the glory days of Bytown when timber was king. I walked around the perimeter wooden fence, checked that the big doors to the yard and garage were locked, wandered into the little kitchen for a cup of tea. I knew that drinking too much caffeine on graveyard shifts could have disastrous consequences when the lack of sleep eventually caught up to you, but this was my first shift, Halloween night and tea didn’t seem as dangerous as coffee.
I wasn’t one to be superstitious and all the leprechauns and little people and faeries of Irish folklore weren’t foremost in my thoughts except when I remembered my mother who was born in Galway and believed in it all. I had bad dreams about the freezecat but that’s another story.
There were three mugs set out in the kitchen at the back of the office. I dropped a teabag into one, plugged in the kettle and checked that day’s Sun girl.
The knocking at the office door sounded normal. Maybe some of the trick or treaters outside had seen the kitchen light. I walked through the dark office.
As I reached for the doorknob I heard the words
“No need for that”
I couldn’t believe my eyes when a man walked right through the door and shook my outstretched hand.
“Tom, Tom Wheeler, your grandfather, and you’ll know Murphy”
To my astonishment another figure stepped through the closed door and shook the hand which my grandfather had just squeezed. I felt it. I know they both squeezed my hand.
I recognized my grandfather by pictures I’d seen. He had a large head, a bald pate and a perpetual smile. My irreverent friends would have called him “wingnut” because of his large ears, but not to his face.
Murphy’s theory was the reason I was here in the first place. His theory of gambling on sporting events hit a few rough spots when I tried it after his death. Or maybe I didn’t get the full gist of it. Whatever happened, I lost my shirt over those bets and was forced to take this job. The last time I’d seen Murphy he was sitting up in his casket with my coffee cup in his hands and a brawl going on all around him.
They made their way through the office to the kitchen where my grandfather refilled the kettle and washed out an old teapot. He made tea while Murphy and I sat down at the table.
I wasn’t sure what to do about it and the manners of these two ghosts, for that is what they must be, were impeccable.
“I thought we came here to decide” said Murphy, filling his pipe.
“Yes, we can decide tonight, all right. Tonight’ll be the night we’ll decide” Tom said as he set the pot down on the table to steep and pulled up a chair. He too filled his pipe.
“You didn’t follow through on the system I told you about just before I died” Murphy said to me.
“What do you mean?” I piped up.
“A team usually loses at home the first game after a road trip. That’s part of it. There were a few more tricks of the trade which you failed to employ when you made those bets. You would have bet the opposite and cleaned up if you had” Murphy lined up the sugar and milk near his cup just behind the spoon.
“Hm” I grunted.
Tom poured tea into our cups and spoke to Murphy as he added his sugar.
“I think three”
Murphy took his time, measured his sugar carefully with his spoon, added milk and stirred the combination vigorously.
“After a lot of thought, I have to conclude that the answer is two”
A long silence broken only by the sounds of tea drinking and the unwrapping of a package of biscuits Tom had produced. Peak Freans.
“Maybe, if they were doing a proper Irish jig. But even then, with the footwork, you’d have to hope they were once Irish in order not to step on each other’s toes.”
“See, three is the superior number” Tom answered,” being half again what your number two is It could be easily done by three angels dancing a Highland fling on the head of a pin”
My grandfather’s father was a stonemason from Putney but his wife was a Ross from the Highlands and he defended the northern clan at every opportunity.
“We’re not talking about a needle here” Murphy proclaimed.
“The thick end with the eye in it. Only Irish angels could dance on the head of a pin and there’d only be room for two of them”
Tom disappeared for a moment behind a cloud of grey smoke from his pipe. Anger showed on his countenance when he reappeared.
“Three Scottish angels could do it”
Before I knew what was happening they had jumped up and were circling the table, Murphy with a large shillelagh, Tom with a battle axe.
I sat still and watched.
Murphy swung a vicious two hander which caught Tom in the neck. His head was clearly separated from his shoulders but just popped up and landed back in its spot. It was facing the wrong way, but Tom adjusted it and caught Murphy on the side at hip level thereby cutting him in two with the axe.
Murphy separated in the middle but his upper body, after popping up, returned to the bottom half at the waist.
I could hear laboured breathing as they sparred and clashed but no more than the sounds of two old men exerting themselves.
Finally, they put aside their weapons, drank tea, smoked their pipes and resumed the debate.
“Two is a balanced number, equal on both sides of its duality” Murphy declared out loud.
“Well, we could add them together to equal five or put them side by side and come up with thirty two” offered agreeable Tom. One of his brothers had been an accountant.
“Ihirty two would be a little crowded on the head of a pin” Murphy observed.
Both disappeared behind clouds of grey smoke as they contemplated the problem with newly fired pipes.
“The angels would have to step lively all right” Tom observed.
“Thirty two Scottish angels could do a Highland Reel on the head of a pin” he declared.
“Mind you, they’d need eight circles for the teams of four”
“Hm” responded Murphy.
“I could see putting them side by side and coming up with twenty three”
I was wondering if they would again arise to resume hostilities but all they did was wash and dry the cups together like an old married couple. I could hear them mumbling to each other as they stood at the sink with their backs to me.
My disbelief was in a suspended state. Except that it wasn’t a trick in my head.
They sat down at the table again and looked across the office to the front door.
The knock on the front door came after a long minute of waiting.
I made to rise but Tom put up his hand to stop me and Murphy said
The door never opened but four little men carried a log fire with a bubbling pot slung above it through the office to where we were sitting in the kitchen. Behind them a mad cackle blended with the whooshing sound of a wild wind and a dark figure flew through the wall, did two circuits of the office and landed deftly behind the pot.
My mouth was hanging open when I looked at my grandfather and Murphy.
Both nodded and smiled at the woman in front of us.
“Hello, Zelda” they said.
“Boys” the woman spoke while her appearance changed like fluid before my eyes. First she was an old hag, then a beautiful maiden, then an ancient crone with a wart on her nose and finally she settled on a plump milkmaid who peered curiously into the pot.
“This is Steve, Tom’s grandson and an old friend of mine” Murphy spoke up.
“He’s on the other side, is he?” she stirred the bubbling broth with great concentration.
“Yes, he’s still there” Murphy nodded agreeably
“But not for much longer”
This conversation troubled me.
“And how’s tricks and treats tonight then, Zelda?” Tom inquired.
Zelda turned into a smartly dressed businesswoman while she surveyed the pot and the four little men. Were they elves or goblins or gnomes? I didn’t know and no one was telling.
“It used to be better in the old days” she said
“You can’t scare anybody any more. Then there’s all the white witches. Dogooders I call them. I mean you can be spooky without being evil”
She joined Murphy and Tom in puffing on a pipe. With all four of the little men smoking their pipes as well, we disappeared for a moment until the cloud moved on. There was no smoke from the fire under the pot though, I will say that.
As if on a prearranged signal, the little men picked up the fire and pot, waited till Zelda stepped out of the way, carried it through the office and the closed front door.
Zelda watched them go, an ever changing expression on her ever changing face.
“Goodbye, boys. I sensed you were in the neighbourhood and thought I’d drop by to say hello. See you round”
She did a high speed circuit of the darkened office, one second mounting her broom, the next a black blur, the next gone through the wall.
After this display my grandfather produced a pint of single malt Highland whiskey and Murphy found a pint of Black Bush in his pocket.
The tea mugs were used to share the shots.
“Tell you what” said Murphy “We’ll meet next Halloween night here and decide for good”
“Agreed” said Tom “Next Halloween night. That long enough for you?”
“Oh yes. By that time there won’t be any doubt. I’ll know by then”
“Same here” said Tom.
They stood and proferred their hands.
Each squeezed my outstretched one.
As I followed them across the office, Tom said
“Halloween night is over here now. But it’s just starting west of here”
They waved goodbye and walked through the door.
I opened it and watched them walk to the outer fence. They turned to me.
“I’ll say hello to your Dad” Tom spoke in a loud voice.
“And don’t bet on anything more than five to one” Murphy shouted
They turned west and walked through the fence.
Up in the sky, silhouetted against the full moon, Zelda flew by on her broomstick.
I walked back to the kitchen to turn out the lights.
I felt that glorious buzz which just the right amount of good whiskey produces.
It was time to do my rounds and make sure nothing strange was happening in the yard that Halloween night.
Adorably Horror Series – Allison Fradkin
When it comes to ghosting, Tori has a habit of going to town. Which is why she ends up in Ghost Town, where she is taunted, daunted, and haunted by her ex-girlfriend Cassandra. Will the reconnection spark a resurrection of their relationship? Or will Tori insist on remaining a ghost about-town?
female-identifying or non-binary
witty and gritty, flirtatious and vivacious
female-identifying or non-binary
classy and brassy, testy and zesty
Purgatory (sort of).
At rise, CASSANDRA is present—and primed for a confrontation. TORI enters.
There you are! I’ve been waiting. Not for you. Anymore. I’ve been waiting tables. That’s short for I’ve been waiting to turn the tables—on you. What’s the matter? Do I look like I’ve seen a ghost? Well, good, I should—because I did. You look similarly spooked, which is astronomically asinine, because I’m no ghost. I’m Cass.
That isn’t short for Casper?
Well, I am friendly. However, I am not comparably colorless, bigheaded, or prone to fright or flight. You don’t recognize me, do you? Can’t put a name with efface? Specifically, with someone who’s effacing you? No surprise there. You are, after all, beyond the pale.
As in the pallor typically associated with apparitions?
No, no. Beyond the pale isn’t short for anything, although it does bring you up short, doesn’t it?
Not for long. Speaking of bad timing, am I not long for this world? Or am I just, you know, dead to the world?
The world? Please. This is a guilt trip, Tori, not an ego trip. I’m afraid you’re just dead to me. And countless others.
(flirtatiously) So…do you see dead people?
I am not, have never been, and never will be that desperate.
But I am a ghost and you are seeing me—for observational purposes. Is that accurate?
Well, this certainly isn’t where you go when you die…al [dial]. Or text. Or even email. This is where you go when you…go without saying.
Good-bye? Hello! Welcome to Ghost Town. There’s a new sheriff in it. Put ’er there, former pardner.
No, thanks. My hands are shaking enough as it is. Cass, if you’re trying to scare the crap outta me—
Not the crap, Tori. The crappiness. I too have undergone a successful disrespectomy, so I speak—and critique—from experience.
You were a ghost?
In a past life. Now that you’re finally here, it’s time for me to pass on—what I’ve learned.
We could always share the shame.
Sorry, toots, this is a one-ghost town.
And I’m the Town Ghost?
Which, by default, also makes you the Village Idiot. It takes a village to raze—that’s r-a-z-e, FYI—a childish ghost.
The other vengeful villagers are where, exactly? Waiting under tables at the Motel 666? Come on, pitchfork ’em over and let’s get whatever this is over with.
You’re not in hell, you little devil. You’re in Purge-a-Tori.
Much like the ghosted—or the ghostee, if the ghoster would prefer—“purg” is nonexistent. That’s why we’re going to purge a Tori. This is your chance to expiate your execrable treatment of your exes.
Atone it down, would you?
What’s that short for? Scared to eat crow?
I’m not scared. I just have a lot of exes and therefore a lot of…owes. Exes to whom I owe an apology. And why, out of all of them, have you come back to haunt me?
You want a comeback to haunt you? All right. You may have been the one to leave me hanging, but I’m the one that got away.
So this is all a revenge fantasy?
Bingo, bozo. And it’s all yours. I see right through you, Tori. Well, not like that. You’ve been pulling this out of sight/out of mind crap for how many years? Well, you know how long it’s been and, more importantly, you now know how wrong it’s been. You feel—what was the word you used—shame?
Yes, I regret the way I ended things—
You didn’t end anything. You deserted a ’ship that wasn’t even sinking—’ship being short for relationship, of course. One minute you were dating me, the next you were invalidating me.
I know, and I’m sorry. But it never would’ve worked.
It was working. Until you quit.
I had to. What I did was despicable, okay? But it was also preemptive, precautionary—
You would have fired me eventually.
Why? So you could collect un-enjoyment? That would have put me out of work too.
Are you saying I sabotaged everything for nothing?
Everything with everyone—but none more so than The One That Got Away. All caps, all that—
All in? I’m ready to give up the ghost…ing. It’s time to purge the Tori who never thought twice about being thoughtless but who always had second thoughts about herself and her…pardners. I’m shutting you down, Ghost Town. In fact, I’m gonna run myself outta this town. When I wake up from this dreamy nightmare in the morn, I’m gonna get on my horn—
Sounds to me like you’re already blowing it. You seem to be under the impression that this reconnection will result in an instantaneous resurrection of our relationship. That’s both spooky and kooky. Besides, I wasn’t out of your mind and I am not out of mine.
You’re really making short work of me, aren’t you?
You’ll thank me in the long run.
Long run. We could have had one of those, Cass. We still can. I didn’t end anything, remember? So technically…(realizing) technically I’m still dating—or, more accurately, invalidating— everyone I’ve ever dated.
Perhaps if you proceed with terminating those pardner-ships officially, and reaching out to me consciously…someday I’ll cease interrogating, humiliating, and Cass-tigating you and consider communicating with, associating with, and even…exonerating you.
So…I have a ghost of a chance?
Only if any and all future ghostings are performed posthumously.
If that means you’ll go from purge-a-Tori to laud-a-Tori [laudatory], you have my word.
Good. Because if I have your word and my way…you’ll never work—anyone over emotionally—in this town again. Curtain.
Allison Fradkin (she/her) delights in creating satirically scintillating stories for the stage and the page. An enthusiast of inclusivity and accessibility, she freelances for her hometown of Chicago as Literary Manager of Violet Surprise Theatre, curating new plays by queer women; and as Dramatist for Special Gifts Theatre, adapting scripts for actors of all abilities. In addition to writing, Allison has a gay old time vintage shopping, jewelry making, and tending to her thespian tendencies.
Follow: To learn more about this absurdly adorable gal, please visit allisonfradkin.blogspot.com.
Adorably Horror Series – Alan Bern
Photographs often capture and present moments. To collect these moments and for the great good health of body and mind, I take walks— yes, I walk my neighborhood streets and also beyond— and I capture moments, sometimes with the camera on my phone, sometimes with a few words, and sometimes with both. Snap snap. I regularly walk in my neighborhood where I have lived for 95% of my life. And, yes, it’s often awfully familiar, but there is always something new to see. Day of the Dead wooden sculptures, one a head-in-a-basket. Snap snap.
Poems, too, can capture and present these moments— especially short poems such as haiku and haiku-like poems. I capture and presents such moments in both my photographs and my poems, and sometimes I combines the two in what are called photo-haiga.* At other times I merge both into longer narratives that may tell a story, but more often present a flow of images and words that magnify and transmit thoughts, feelings, and dream-traces.
*”Haiga [paintings] are typically painted by haiku poets (haijin), and often accompanied by a haiku poem.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiga— with Alan’s photos standing in for the paintings.
Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern’s poetry books: No no the saddest and Waterwalking in Berkeley, Fithian Press; greater distance, Lines & Faces, his press with artist Robert Woods, linesandfaces.com. Alan has poems, stories, and photos published in a variety of online and print publications from which he has won awards. Recent photos published: unearthedesf.com/alan-bern and https://wanderlust-journal.com/2020/07/01/around-the-few-blocks-nearby/. Alan performs with dancer/choreographer Lucinda Weaver as PACES and with musicians from Composing Together, composingtogether.org.
Adorably Horror Series – Meg Smith
A comet may fall forever
in its ellipse of fire.
I will call it, running,
with no words,
but a space within darkness.
Now is a time for healing,
and a falling light of night
will burn a clear path.
A Red Cloth Across the Table
She spread her green papers,
and tattered cards, the laminate cracked,
the corners creased.
“I don’t need these,” she declares, and
sweeps them aside. There is only
the field of crimson, and she spreads it,
smooths it, and sighs.
“Your boy is here.
He cries because his feet are cold.”
Tiles raise, burn, break.
They whisper, they weep,
pennants of numbers to mark
every surfacing crown.
All now rush, open to the clouds
all now open to the winter sun.
Call it close,
the falling of water,
the wind that suddenly turns.
In the sustenance of rain,
ghosts can still foment, and rise.
There gives no remedy,
but the capture of darkness.
Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass.
Her horror and gothic poetry and fiction have appeared recently in The Horror Zine, Blood Moon Rising, Raven Cage, Dark Dossier, Sirens Call, and many more.
She served for many years on the board of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! She produces the Edgar Allan Poe Show, honoring Poe’s presence in Lowell.
She is the author of five poetry books. Her short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor, is due out in fall 2020.
She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.com.
Adorably Horror Series- Bhuwan Thapaliya
A tiny ghoul
I’ll tell you
of the scariest night of my life.
Loneliness was stifling and
the stillness in the air was palpable.
Suddenly, a tiny ghoul lurked out
from the pages of my book,
red eyes, wet hair
and one eye blind.
She looked straight
into my eyes and smiled.
She had a face like a
terra cotta soldier
buried to accompany
emperors in the ancient world.
She reached for me,
and detained my thoughts
for a while then slipped
my valor down,
slowly, one by one.
I was left to rot
upon the floor.
I saw a corsage
of wild flowers in her eyes
and few butterflies
sparkled over head.
She quivered for a while,
and slowly walked away.
all these years,
she’d lived there,
inside my poems,
hiding her identity.
I may not be able
to open my book again
and see the verses
caressing each other .
I risk being stuck mute
by my own poems.
Nepalese poet, Bhuwan Thapaliya is the author of four poetry collections and currently he is working on his fresh poetry collection, The Marching Millions. Bhuwan Thapaliya’s books are Safa Tempo: Poems New and Selected (Nirala Publications, New Delhi), Our Nepal, Our Pride (Cyberwit.net, Allahabad), Rhythm of the Heart( Lulu Publication) and Verses from the Himalayas.
His writing is imbued with the art and culture of Nepal that he grew up with but he is eminently qualified as an Oriental and as an Occidental poet, for his poetry truly represents a marriage between the traditions of East and West, and in a way that is immediately appealing and cohesive. He is not just a poet; he is a man with a mission, seeking world peace. He is a prolific poet and is writing his own Everest, but his writing is not only about statistics. It is about spreading the message of global peace, universal solidarity and love.
Thapaliya has read his poetry and attended seminars in venues around the world, including South Korea, the United States, Thailand, Cambodia, and Nepal.
His poems have been widely published in leading literary journals, newspapers and periodicals such as Kritya, Pandemic Magazine, The Foundling Review, ApekshaNews, Strong Verse, Counercurrents.org, myrepublica , The Kashmir Pulse, Taj Mahal Review, Nuveine Magazine, Poetry Life and Times, Ponder Savant, VOICES( Education Project), The Vallance Review, Longfellow Literary Project, Poets Against the War etc. His poetries have also been published in the CD’s and Books such as The New Pleiades Anthology of Poetry (ISBN 1- 878431-52- 8) , Tonight: An Anthology of World Love Poetry (The Poets Printery, East London, South Africa,2008, pp.118, Paperback, ISBN 0-620-41372-7), The Strand Book of International Poets 2010 , of Nepalese Clay, Pratik and in many more.
Adorably Horror Series – Shalom Galve Aranas
The Arrival of the Vampire of Ogrencisi
From the mountains of the Pyrenees
the Vampire of Ogrencisi
brought down the newly born daughter
of his immortal friend, Ivan
who died in battle.
Now his sister awaits from the steps
of Ivan’s manor ablaze
Bloodied from battle and
Weary from the long horse trek
from the cold monastery
where the child was born
of a mother who begged him
not to take her child.
Ogrencisi took to the forest
back to the manor,
feeding the child from
a bleating goat, away
from the knowledge
of enemies for now
Ogrencisi knew his destiny
lay in the child, at the sum
of twenty one years
his immortal bride.
Shalom Galve Aranas is a freelance writer published in Enchanted Conversations, Synaeresis, St. Andrews and elsewhere. She is a loving, single mother of two.
Adorably Horror Series – Lynn White
Does the ghost believe what he’s seeing
as the green dragon floats by
from flower filled puffs of breath.
Would you believe it?
this is not the usual sort of dragon
whose fire filled breaths register alarm.
But alarm registers, nevertheless,
as this is not the usual sort of dragon
and none of us are sure
what will happen next.
First published in Visual Verse, 2016
I was Always Afraid Of Rabbits
“I was always afraid of rabbits”
said the purple dragon.
I knew it to be true.
I’d known him for a long time,
long before I became a witch
and took to the water
to watch over him.
It’s the white ones he fears most
and they are mostly white ones
He won’t eat them.
He used to eat fish
but now he is afraid to eat them
now he’s seen them eating the rabbits.
They’ve eaten the fur off this one,
but he believes it was white
and believing is seeing
The fish have eaten everything
except for the head and eyes
the most fearsome parts
for the purple dragon.
It’s found him now,
he pushes it away in panic
but it won’t go,
it won’t go.
It’s covering his face,
taking it over
and getting ready
for the rest.
It won’t go,
not unless I can grasp it,
and hold it
peel it off
take it away,
then bewitch them both.
First published in With Painted Words, October 2018
Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal and So It Goes.
Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com