Friday, January 28, 2011

Seasons on a swing

"SEASONS ON A SWING" - George Wilhite

Death claimed Esther on a dreary winter
morning. Henry sighed with deep relief when he found her. So fitting her last breath expired on the porch swing. Gazing for hours at the borders of their property and into the woods beyond, Esther observed the changes each season brought as she persevered through her final years.

* * *

Near dusk on a midsummer evening, Henry encountered Esther’s shade on that same swing, now a haunted place of memory and sorrow. The scent of lavender filled the air and the feel of cold skin brushed against his cheek. Gooseflesh covered his arms though it was nearly a hundred degrees outside. His spine jerked.

He heard his name resonate in the stillness of the porch, his secret nickname only she knew.

“How much longer?” Those were the only words he spoke barely louder than a whisper to nobody in particular, the sky, the woods.

* * *

Her phantom traversed a strong autumn wind and she found her way back once more. She whispered to her beloved from within the forest, just one word: “Enough.” Discerning the meaning of this new haunting, his spirit cast aside all grief and corporeality and before another winter fell, they were reunited.

BIO:George Wilhite is the author of the short fiction collection 'On the Verge of Madness'. His work has also appeared in numerous print publications and online at 'Yesteryear Fiction', 'MicroHorror', 'Eschatology Journal' and 'The Fringe'.


"AUTUMN" - Lily Fox
The birds swoop low. For a moment they swirl with the leaves, all buffeted and helpless, before they sail off into the emptiness. Autumn never was my favourite time of year. Things just begin to die; feeble, burned out. I hate the ember-ash colours and the unwashed sky; I hate the smell of bonfires and the nip in the wind. I hate the beginning of the end.

They’re calling, the birds, now, but I know that many will die before they reach their migratory home. I can see them drop, exhausted, into the swirling sea, knowing they will die but unable to continue, knowing another wingbeat will destroy them. I can feel their eyelids dropping, their feet curling up in submission. Autumn is death.

I walk on through the withering grass, scuffing up leaves like an overgrown child. They mulch under my feet and smell like worms and rot. I step on over them. I pretend it’s your hair crawling with maggots, a dank dark thing left in the ground to rot. It should be you, I often think, you, who abandoned me when I needed you, you, who claimed to love me – as if you knew what that was.

Your hair was harridan red, all burnished and snaking, and your eyes were dead-sky grey. I still remember the way they glittered when you thought of some wild scheme, when you laughed at my temerity, and really, shouldn’t that have warned me? I should have seen the edge of autumn in your eyes. But I gave you my heart to cradle in your spiderweb hands and how you must have laughed inside. I thought you were the beginning of the world, but you were the mysteries of death. I wrapped you flowers in ferns and sent them to your door and the spheres sang when you kissed me with those cherry-blood lips.

“I love you,” you breathed, and those grey eyes glittered. All I could see was you.

You weren’t so crazy once upon a time, I believe. When I saw you first walking with your friends, there was an innocence about you. Was it me? Was it my submission to you that drove you on and on? Darker things each time, places I never wished to see. I dove the depths of society for you. I saw your grey eyes glazed and your red hair streaked with dirt, sweat, blood and tears (mostly mine) and I still thought you were the most beautiful thing. Even when you staggered up the street barefoot (shoes long lost) and corpse-pale, other men envied me, because it was me that picked you up from under the wheels, the bridge, the toilet, the other girl’s fist, the fire. You’d fall asleep in my arms and I’d see the trace of the girl I first saw in the downturn of your lips, when your breasts rose and fell. I picked the rubbish from your hair and smoothed it down and prayed that you’d wake up and forget it all, and I could build you up anew as a summer princess. But you were ever on the edge of the grave.

I’m home now. You’re not there. You never come. I wonder if you think of me, if when you look over here – I know you pass this area of town – if you regret or weep. I think sometimes you would laugh. I suspect you never changed at all, once you had showered away the memories, like so many times before, that you swept me away in your fire-hair and that was the end.

Oh, there we are, somewhere to lie. Mulch, mulch. I settle back in the dirt and close my eyes. You had the edge of the grave, right enough, but it was me that ended up within.

BIO: Lily Fox is an MA graduate living in London.

The Demon Smiles

"THE DEMON SMILES" -  Rick McQuiston

“Why do we wanna go there?” Tommy asked while looking at the girls for support. Jesse and Kara, each a picture of self doubt and caution returned their concerned friend’s look.

Kenny spoke up. “Because we’re not supposed to.” His red hair matched the intensity in his eyes. “Haven’t you guys ever wanted to be bad…I mean really, really bad?” He caught sight of a beetle, a small brown thing crawling on his brand new Nike shoes. It left a tiny trail of dirt particles in its wake across the bright blue surface of the leather. He reached down and promptly ended its life between his fingers.

The girls looked at each other. They had been very close for nearly all of their twelve years and trusted one another completely. What one wanted to do the other wanted to do, what one thought the other thought.

“Fine, we’ll go but you boys go first,” they said in unison.

Tommy, who was still frightened from a horror movie he had watched on Sir Graves Ghastly the night before, reluctantly agreed. Peer pressure had a firm grip on him, as it did on most children, and it directed his actions despite his common sense.

“Good,” Kenny said. “Tommy, you and me will go first. Girls, you stay right behind us to watch our back. Once we get inside. There’s no telling what we’ll find.” He turned and began to stroll down the dirt path. The others hesitated for a moment and then followed behind him.

The imposing structure loomed ominously in the distance. Even from a quarter of a mile away its sheer size and history dominated the landscape.

“Is that it?” Tommy asked, not really wanting an answer.

“Of course,” Kenny retorted. “What else would it be?” He smiled to himself. “The old factory’s been empty for years, ever since they shut it down.”

“I don’t like it,” Kara said. She was nervously toying with her braids, a habit she’d been doing since she was a toddler. “It looks haunted.”

Kenny laughed. “I’ll bet there’s a whole bunch of vampires and werewolves in there too. Tommy, did you remember the silver bullets and wooden stakes?"

“Boys are so immature,” Jesse said to a nodding Kara. “Just like little babies.”

The four eventually made their way to the old abandoned building, pausing at what was left of the entrance way gates.

All the color in Tommy’s face drained out. “How we gonna get inside? The gates are locked.”

Jesse stepped in front of the boys and produced a large pin from her hair. “Leave it to a woman to get things done,” she mused. She inserted the pin into the padlock, which was mostly rust, and twisted it several times. The lock clicked open with little resistance. “Older brothers; you learn a lot from them.”

Kenny and Tommy looked at each other in disbelief. They nudged the gate open and gazed at their strange destination.

“You go first,” Kenny said nervously to Tommy. “I’ll cover your back.” His usual cool demeanor was obviously compromised by fear.

“I…I don’t think so,” Tommy replied. “Besides, you’re the one who wanted to come here so bad.” He gestured for his friend to enter.

Kenny shot him a hard stare and stomped through the gates. “Fine, follow me,” he commanded.

Thick weeds choked nearly every square inch of ground and hindered their steps. A light but steady wind was filtering in from the east as dark clouds blotted out any chance of sunshine or blue sky. Leaves from overhead flitted about every which way as the trees gently swayed back and forth in the wind as if in sorrow for their lost decorations.

The front door was heavily coated in rust and dirt but to the amazement of them all opened surprisingly easily considering the length of its neglect. It creaked open, filling the air with a terrible noise. Kenny peered inside for a moment and then entered slowly.

Inside, the darkness was as solid as a brick wall. It seemed to move with the breeze outside, almost as if it had a mind of its own. It allowed the investigators to enter but promised no sanctuary. Kenny produced a small, thin flashlight, which was so tiny it barely was able to slice into the darkness.

“Remind me again why we’re here,” Tommy asked through clenched teeth. He felt cold, too cold, considering the temperature outside. He would’ve guessed it was somewhere near sixty degrees or so and yet inside the building it couldn’t have been more than forty or forty-five. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and sure enough, he was able to see his breath. He lit the candle he’d taken from his mother’s collection, hoping that she wouldn’t miss it.

“Come on you guys, keep up!” Kenny shouted from up around a corner. The girls looked at each other. They could see the beam of light from Kenny’s flashlight dancing around in the darkness up ahead but were becoming increasingly wary of continuing onward. How he had managed to move so far ahead of them they weren’t sure.

“What are you guys waiting for? What’s taking you so long? Come on!”

Tommy, Kara and Jesse continued to make their way through the gloomy and damp corridors, trying in vain to follow Kenny’s voice and regretting their decision to explore the old factory building. The darkness was still suffocating, refusing to reveal what lay within its embrace.

“We should’ve brought more flashlights,” Kara complained. “How we supposed to see anything?”

“Hey guys,” Kenny shouted. “There’s some light in some of the upstairs rooms. Must be open windows or something. Come on, I’m right in front of the staircase now.”

The cold, dank floor slammed into Tommy’s palms as he crashed to the ground.

“You all right?” the girls asked while trying to locate exactly where he was.

“Yeah I’m fine. Just tripped over something.” He felt so embarrassed. “You girls better watch your step.” They helped him to his feet and continued on their way.

Behind them, hidden by the darkness, lay a small body wearing new Nike tennis shoes. The bright blue leather had been scuffed when someone had stumbled over them. And up ahead of them by the stairs, also hidden by the darkness, the demon smiled.

Rick has had well over 200 publications in over 120 different magazines so far, and is currently working on his second novel. He is a guest author at Memphis Junior High School each year, and has written four anthology books and one book of novellas. Rick also edited and contributed to "Michigan Madmen"( an antholgy of Michigan authors).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A success story


We were pleased to recently learn that Anthony Cowin's story,  "What Doesn't 
Kill You," that was published right here on Spook City in November 2010, has been nominated for a readers' poll award at Preditors and Editors. 

Anthony's story is listed in the category of 'Best Horror Short Story Published 2010'. Well done!!

You can cast a vote for Anthony by following this link:  Scroll down to the aforementioned category where you'll see the title and author's name listed.  If you'd love to read Anthony's story again, you can find it here on Spook City: or by following the link next to Anthony's name on the poll site, which will bring you back to his post on Spook City.  All voting needs to be verified by email that is sent after your vote has been cast. The poll will remain open until 26th January 2011 and it would be great if you could get behind him by showing your support with a vote for Anthony Cowin.

We wish you well, Anthony, and hope you will grace us with more of your stories in the near future! Congratulations and good luck.

- The Editors of Spook City


Danse Macabre

"DANSE MACABRE" - Dorothy Davies

The silent figure on the gurney twitched, moved, sat up and looked around. The tag on her toe said JANE DOE which annoyed her very much.  I’m not a Jane Doe, she thought, I’m Lydia ... Lydia ... the rest of her name had escaped her, much as her memory seemed to have done.  Why am I on a gurney with a tag on my toe? Why am I cold and my veins look blue and stark and my flesh look like marble? I am NOT dead!
But – one chilled hand at her throat said otherwise. There was no pulse, no heartbeat, no warm blood rushing around a body that was beginning to sag. That annoyed her too. My boobs never sagged! Now look...
Look. She looked around, this dead Lydia, and saw she was in a morgue. A cold lonely desolate morgue that held no comforts for anyone, least of all those who were delivered there on a gurney and left overnight because the staff had gone home and not bothered with yet another stiff.
She swung her legs over the side and stood up. Well, I can still do that. Now, can I walk?
She could. Dead Lydia staggered across the room, round the dissecting table and got to the cabinets.

I need company! She pulled and tugged and reluctantly the first drawer slid open. The man inside, elderly, lined, haggard and half starved, blinked and looked up at her.
Is it time to get up?
If you want.
I do. It’s boring lying here like that. Nothing to look at.
I need the company.
The man sat up and pushed himself off the tray which had been holding him. 
That’s a good idea. Let’s find some more people.
With two of them tugging at the handles, the drawers came open a good deal easier. The young girl, anorexic and pathetic, clawed at their arms as they lifted her up. Look at me, look at me, aren’t I elegant and slim and beautiful?
The truthful answer was no, but they did not say it. You are, you are! She beamed and spun round, her flimsy hospital gown billowing around her. I can dance!
We all can but right now we want company!
Lydia pulled at another drawer with the help of the old man and the anorexic. A dark handsome youth smiled shockingly white teeth as he sat up. Thank you! I thought I would be stuck in there forever! One easy movement and he got up too, swaying to an unheard rhythm. Is it time to dance?
Let’s get everyone out first. Lydia was in charge and didn’t know how she had become in charge, it had just – happened. She liked it though, she had never been in charge of anything.  Always the underdog, always the low paid worker following orders. Now she was issuing orders and these people were obeying her. It was a miracle and she was not about to let go of the good feelings it was generating.
I’m naked! The shock ran through her but no one had said anything, no one had ogled her, no one had touched her. Maybe, but it isn’t right! She went back to the gurney and took up the sheet lying there, wrapped it around her body and tucked the end in securely under one arm.  That felt better.
Oh, elegant, the old man observed, without a trace of sarcasm. You wear it well, dear lady. Swan-like, I would say. What’s your name?
Now if I remember my Greek mythology, there was a swan who went to Leda, which is close enough to your name, dear lady. I want to change that, you are a swan, wrapped in white as you are, as elegant as you are and as thoughtful as you are. Let us call you Leda instead of Lydia. It sounds so much more romantic.
Leda. Lydia. She turned the names over in her mind. Leda will do fine, she said eventually, with a big smile. Thank you. No one has ever said anything that nice to me in my whole life.
Well, they should have done. I mean, there you are, you had every chance to walk right out the door and leave, instead you opened drawers and let us out.
Well, it was because I wanted company, she confessed, rather than take credit for something that was not right.
He shook his head. Maybe, maybe, but you had your chance and you chose to stay. Now, let’s get everyone else out, shall we?
Combined effort, they all worked at it, opening the drawers, releasing a white cheeked old lady with sharply knowing eyes and a loving smile, a middle aged man still looking for his pens and papers, the reason for his existence, the little girl who had collided with a bus or a bus had collided with her, either way she was not pretty any more but no one said a word, they took her hands and they all danced round the dissecting table and laughed a great hollow laugh that no one else could hear but them.
The dark man told them jokes at which they all roared with laughter, the old lady told them of her children which brought tears to their eyes, the old man spoke of sunny days on a river bank fishing with grandchildren and some of them grew nostalgic. Then they danced again to refresh their senses and their spirits and their energies and told one another this was the best night they had ever had in their entire existence.
Dawn touched the sky with pink fingers. One by one, without saying a word why they were doing it, they climbed back into their drawers and one by one Leda, still in her white robe which made her look like a swan, closed the drawers with a supreme effort.
When they were all sleeping again, she gracefully danced a solitary dance around the room, remembering the feel of rhythm making the feet move, the thrill of a tune running through the head, the sway of arms and hands.  Then she grew tired, it had been a long night and an exhausting one, but oh what fun she had experienced!
She climbed back onto the gurney, laid the sheet out and stared up at the ceiling, remembering how it felt to dance.
Just before she fell asleep, she wondered what the mortuary attendant would think when he found her tag on the floor.
BIO: Dorothy Davies lives and works on the Isle of Wight.  It is reputed to be the most haunted place in the UK, which could account for the strange stories she writes and the fact she became a medium after she moved there ...

A Girl Named Radiance


One dark and sleepless night, I lay in bed with great impatience,
As I bid the elusive sleep to come grace my weary eyes.
I heard the rain fall on the roof, beating out a gentle cadence,
And still in vain, I turned in my bed, scowling in disdain.
Why can one so weary not have sleep to dull the senses?
And then finally I gave up the fight and left my bed.
I would go sit in my study.

As I drifted through the house, I smelled a sweet fragrance;
The scent lingered, sharp yet sweet, like ylang-ylang and lavender.
Curious, I stood, breathing in the hauntingly familiar incense.
I wondered why that certain perfume still wafted on by.
Was it merely the figment of a feverish mind?
I heard a sound—not loud, but as a whisper on the wind.
I saw a shadowed figure.

The shadow lengthened before my eyes, and I whispered, “Radiance.”
It was an odd name, but perfect for such a lovely lady.
Alas, my love! I miss you so! I miss the way you used to dance,
My lovely dove, as luminous as an angel above!
Against dark Death’s hungry, withered hand you had no chance,
But it couldn’t be; Shakespeare’s words came to me—
Something wicked this way comes!

The shadow cleared before my poor, burning eyes—my Radiance!
She stood, looking not quite alive, but as a slight, pale phantom.
Her midnight-blue eyes, a starless night, gave a familiar glance.
The hair—the hue I remembered—fire red, was the same, too.
Heart aquiver, I reached longingly with no patience,
To stroke the soft peaches of her cheeks, a soft beseech—
She didn’t reach back for me.

Hurt, I stood-still and halted my apparently ill-thought advance.
“Radiance,” I whispered, but she gave me no answer at all.
Mutely, she watched me, my love turned a creature of Gothic romance.
“My love?” I inquired, “Why do you tarry here and haunt my dreams?”
I do not wish to haunt your dreams,” replied Radiance.
Her voice as a winter’s wind, and clear as a drop of dew,
Unlike the soft coo I recalled.

“Then, please, explain what force brought you here, my beloved Radiance!
A purer soul there never was, that even angels can’t compare!
Why would you be bound here with me in this world of decadence?
Is it because I still desire you to be here with me?
Your countenance once enchanted me, made me entranced,
But now  leaves me frightened; please, I beg you—cease your haunting!
I can’t bear to see you dead!”

Lightning illuminated the room, filling it with radiance,
And as the light faded, and my dazzled eyes could see again,
I beheld no pale ghost—no Radiance!
A horrid, frightful dream! I thought. It must have been a dream!
It was just a dream of my once lovely Radiance.
Surely, my ghostly dream was not real as it had seemed!
Then, I heard a gentle murmur—

Thank you, as a whisper on the wind.
BIO: Marisa Mills spends her time writing poetry, short stories, and fantasy novels. When Marisa's not writing, she's reading.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

White Lady's Gold

"WHITE LADY'S GOLD" -  Rebecca Siân Pyne

It took nearly three months before Rhys struck gold. A chest of gold coins to be accurate; the owner of the hoard raved furious but impotent. She ranted, screeched and threatened but he took no notice. Even when she raked long nails down his face - he did not stop filling his pockets. Every night, he had slipped into the star-studded darkness to wait for Y Ladi Wen - Penrhiwllan’s own White Lady. She glided through the ruins of a sizeable country manor, moonlight dancing on old-fashioned clothes and jewels.

Rhys had grown up with his grandfather’s stories and the old poacher skills proved useful at last. The nameless woman doomed to wander as a restless spirit, held the key to a better future. Eventually, she would reveal where her treasure lay buried. His persistence paid off and the Lady led him unwittingly to the burial place. It was a simple thing to dig the chest up and put it into his car, driving away as a terrible scream shattered the stillness. The howl of rage and loss rang in his ears as he drove away but did not stop. In the rear mirror, he saw the spirit glide towards him, raising white arms in a gesture of appeal, a promise of vengeance. 

Already planning a new life for his wife and daughter, he carried the iron bound coffer into their cottage. Emily would not approve and so he decided not to tell her. A tendril of smoke followed him in without waiting for an invitation. It drifted at his back with the interest of a visitor on a guided tour. It hovered over the old Carmarthenshire Coffer as if admiring the polish of beeswax and antique dust. It brushed over blue and white plates on the kitchen dresser and rested for a while in a bowl of hyacinths in full flower. That smell followed him for the next week as a voice whispered threats in his ear, invisible fingers catching at his hair and face.

He ignored everything and, in the end, the ghost changed her tactics.

Friday came without further incident and Rhys disappeared into the kitchen to make a pot of tea. At six o’clock, the telephone rang once, repeating the ring an hour later. He took the dog for a walk and returned to every parent’s nightmare.

“What’s wrong, love?” he asked and Emily, almost hysterical, just managed to control herself.  
Her eyes were red from weeping and distraught, far removed from the level-headed woman he had married. “Answer me. Where is she?”

He rushed into the night without answering, or giving a sign he had heard her question.  He drove like a man possessed and prayed the police were on other business, hardly able to breathe or think clearly. His heart almost burst as he pulled into the drive of what had once been a country gentleman’s mansion, now little more than a shell. A tall woman in old-fashioned clothes glided over the rough grass, moonlight glittered off the gossamer gown of white silk and ermine and the dying flowers in her wake. She carried with her the familiar scents of hyacinth and lily of the valley, honeysuckle and climbing roses mingled with the smell of death.
Rhys felt something tear inside his chest when he saw the small form walking beside her; a golden haired child who clutched a soft toy. The Lady turned her face towards him, the beautiful otherworldly features smiled but her eyes carried an accusation. Words entered his mind but the pale still lips did not move. “You stole my gold. I take back the one thing in the world that you care more about than money.”
“Please.” Rhys said, desperation making it hard to get the words out. “I will give it back, rebury the chest and never tell a living soul.”
“How can I be sure you will keep your word?” the White Lady said, still moving forward. Bethan giggled as a ghostly hand caressed her cheek. She lifted her stuffed rabbit and waved one threadbare paw at him. “What a pretty child. It is a shame she has to pay for her father’s greed.”
“Please,” he said again. “Give me one last chance to make everything right.”
“You have until dawn.”
Rhys drove his daughter home and put her to bed, waking her mother long enough to tell her not to worry. He bundled the chest back into his car and drove like a maniac again for the sky was already growing light. The white owl that came from nowhere and almost touched his face unsettled him. His heart pounding, he dug a deep pit and laid the chest at the bottom. Ten bright pound coins and a gold sovereign that had once belonged to his grandfather increased the White Lady’s treasure as compensation
He did not look back after smoothing the earth so nobody would know it had been disturbed; fell into bed and a dreamless sleep. Woke feeling everything would be right with his family now and went downstairs to see the question in his wife’s eyes. She was desperate to know but worried that there would be consequences. “You left those in your pocket. I don’t want to know the details but they almost went in the wash.”
Rhys looked with horror at the bright traitors that lay on the kitchen table. The four coins had nothing to say to him but it was already too late for excuse or apology. He rushed upstairs, two steps at a time, ignoring everything but the knowledge of what he would find there. His daughter’s bed empty and cold, the fluffy rabbit with an old scrap of silk stuck to its paw.

BIO: R. S. Pyne is a science journalist from Ceredigion, West Wales. Publication credits include: Albedo One, Neo-opsis, Hungur, Christmas is Dead – Again, Tainted - Anthology of Terror and the Supernatural, Star Stepping Anthology, Pen Cambria, Crimson Highway, Fifth Di, Macabre Cadaver, Midnight Horror, Delivered, Orphan Leaf Review, Apollo's Lyre, Silver Blade and others. Further stories will shortly appear in Bards and Sages Quarterly and Lacuna – Journal of Historical Fiction; also Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction.


"BLACKWATER" - Anna Harris

Mama watched me walking, kicking up stones along
the rutted track.  I seed she waiting for me but I not
look her way, knowing I done a bad thing.  Mama sit.
She not raise up from she big cane chair on the porch and I knowed then for sure the state of things and what I had to say.  I waved at old man crow with me stick some ‘til he flied off into the low sunball.  Weren’t no call for Mama to see that black bird this day so I slowed me feet and telled the lie inside me own head first, to practice the sound of it before I beed forced to tell it loud.

Me ambled through the open rusted gate that hanged off its broked hinges, past butterflies playing catch across the tall green willow grass, and all the way up onto the front porch where Mama done sit rocking with she arms folded over real tight like she trying to hug sheself. 

She speaked quiet and slow. Past angry. “What hour you call this, Asafa Linstead? Why you coming home late from lessons with that stick in you hand? You been waving it at that raggedy evil bird; I seed you. You look me good in this face and you tell me true.”

The words comed out quieter than I practiced. “I not walk down near the blackwater on me way home, Mama.  I not go near that place.”
Mama clutched at me shoulders and sayed, “You swear it with good on you tongue, Asafa?” She eyes was wild, red, and she skin shake bad.

I nod but I not say the lie again. Then Mama grab me, crush me, squeeze me good and hard, wrap me into she warm skinny bones, breathing deep and long and hard into me hair. She smelled good - of lye soap, our little tin house and the stewing pot on the griddle.

“There’s evil dark voices in the blackwater that beckons good souls.  That the Juju Bokor’s bad place so you stay away.  No good man nor woman nor child got no business straying down by there, you hear me?”

I nodded.

“You hear me, Asafa Linstead? You go the long way round about and not never cut through.”

I heared no evil or dark voices. I heared no voices there at all and I seed no Juju Bokor when I walked on by.  It just be a place where the water can’t run from but I sayed nothing of it to Mama.  “I know, Mama. You always tell me.”

“And I’ll tell you still. I done already lost you brother Dalvey to the blackwater and my chest would break in pieces to lose you, too.”  Mama took a deep breath, ruffled me hair and kissed me head.  Misty tears washed fear from she eyes and she smiled. Right at me. “Come, precious child, we go inside to eat and give our graces and we’ll say no more on it.”

I beed good and never goed there again for three whole weeks but one day old man crow waited for me in the big tree when I walked by. He cawed out, “As-afa-fa-fa” and he fly close to me head.

“Shoo away, crazy old black bird,” I sayed and I shaked me stick at he but still he fly round about.

“As-afa-fa-fa,” he done caw again. So me run far, shouting, waving and shooing he away. When he stopped quick right there I seed the still, dark place near he.  Stinking black as the bird heself. Old man crow look me good in the face and suddenly I knowed he the Juju Bokor and me chest get tight and small.  I much afraid and I whimper and scream and old man crow dispeer into the blackwater; not a plip, not a ripple.

I know I done a bad thing to go there but then I heared a sweet voice singing me name out soft.  A soothing little sing song voice like a tinkle bell.  Not evil at all. I knowed right away it was Dalvey.
“Is that you call me name, Dalvey Linstead?” I sayed.

“Sure enough it is, Asafa.”  Me brother sayed the Juju Bokor trick he into the blackwater and Dalvey asked me to reach in and fetch him up, to bring him home to Mama so she don’t cry at night no more.  Dalvey sayed he lonely and lost and cold and hungry in the blackwater down there and he want to be wrapped up again in Mama’s smell and in she warm skinny bones. Home safe with us again.

Then me not hear Dalvey no more.  He sing song tinkle voice gone. Silence.  Silence.

Me come cold and hungry and me want to be wrapped up in Mama’s sweet smells, too. Want to be crushed into she warm skinny bones with she smiling.  Right at me.
“Maaa-maaa,” I call. “Come find me Mama. Bring me home.” But she won’t come.  Much years now there’s silence. I know she not never come down here to the blackwater.  She go the long way round about and not never cut through.

BIO: Anna lives in Australia and has had her writing published in her home country as well as in the USA and the United Kingdom. Among other credits, she currently has two works of fiction appearing in the 2011 edition of "365 Days of Flash Fiction."