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Just keep trollin’ along

There once was a nasty little troll,
whose life was desperately sad.
He spent his days spitting curses
and trying to make everyone mad.

When no one would listen to him,
he was so mean.
He stamped and he shouted,
demanding to be seen.

The problem was,
nobody cared.
And this made the little troll truly scared.

“Get a life little troll,” the villagers said.
“Wipe your eyes. Here’s a tissue.”
His words would never bring them down
But that was the little troll’s issue…

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Bully Posion (Part of the Myths and Tales collection)

“What is it?” he asked eagerly. “Tell me!” Charlie urged.

“I am a witch.” said Aunt Trudy softly and slowly.

Charlie’s eyes lit with joy. He had always known there was something unusual about his lovable aunt. “Does that mean I’m a witch too?” he asked excitedly.

“Don’t be stupid boy,” said Trudy. Charlie’s hopes were dashed in an instant. When Trudy saw his sad little face she continued, “Being a witch takes years of practice. I will show you but in the meantime … What to do about those bullies…” her voice trailed off as she heaved a heavy, dusty, green leather bound book, slammed it on the table and proceeded to unbuckle the golden clip that held the book closed. Dust flew from the pages as they were turned. Aunt Trudy ran her finger slowly over the hand written words. The writing was so scribbled and hurried it was difficult to read.

“Aha!” announced Aunt Trudy in triumph disturbing their quiet contemplation. “This ought to do the trick!”

Aunt Trudy’s first spell: Removing an enemies voice

With lizard tails,

And an old woman’s nails,

Take a frog and a pot of snails.

Mush them together in one big stew,

Add a drop of blood but it must be new,

Along with rat tails, not one but two.

Give to your enemy; they must drink it fast,

Every single drop or the effects won’t last,

Now they won’t say a word until you ask.

“Lucky we have all the ingredients right here,” said Aunt Trudy cheerfully pulling bottles from the shelf. Charlie picked up a jar labelled ‘pickled raven’s claw’. He opened the lid and brought the jar to his nose. Aunt Trudy snatched it back from him. “Don’t sniff that, not unless you want a pig snout,” she warned.

“I’m not sure about this,” the nephew said hesitantly.

Aunt Trudy began pouring the ingredients into a black ceramic bowl. The contents were bubbling, mixing together to form an orange paste. “Don’t be silly, that bully will learn.” There was a crazed look in Aunt Trudy’s eyes that Charlie didn’t like one bit.

Charlie asked “Will they get hurt?”

“Not unless you want them to.” Aunt Trudy took the bowl, held it high above her head and whispered the magic words. “Munchlum Doodledum Frooglepop.”

She took some to their garden, Charlie followed. The neighbours’ dog, Benny, had managed to climb onto their grass again ruining Aunt Trudy’s vegetable patch and leaving canine deposits everywhere. Benny was yapping uncontrollably.

“What are you doing?” the little boy asked when he noticed his aunt staring at the dog.

Aunt Trudy held the bowl out in front of her. “First rule of witchcraft Charlie, take out the neighbour’s pesky pet.” Benny was wagging his tail eagerly and still yapping. Trudy lowered the bowl to him and he took several large gulps not stopping to sniff. He started yapping again. Charlie folded his arms across his chest in disappointment. “Give it a moment,” Trudy said. They both watched the dog. Suddenly Benny’s voice was lost. His horrid screeching bark became silent. His jaws were open and his lungs were pushing but no sound came out. “I do that when I want to shut that thing up,” said the aunt. “Now you know how it works, give it to your bully.”

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Diaries of a Cursed Kingdom: A Red Snow Tale

Dearest Brother,

Since boyhood I have enjoyed taking the horses and hounds into Mendelov woods. The bounty of animals to hunt there is wide and varied. It is a tradition passed to me by my father that the meat and fur we find there be shared among the people as much as possible. The nights can be long and cold so the kingdom appreciates the warmth.

Today was different though. There were scarcely any animals to be found save one rabbit which the hounds slaughtered for their own supper. There was a fire in the distance. Some celebration of sorts seemed to be happening in the nearby village. Singing and chanting filled the air. I had just about given up hope of ever finding a deer or elk. The noise had most likely scared them off. I was preparing to turn away when I stumbled across a clearance. My bow was prepared. My straining arms had all but fired a shot. I was startled. Before me was the most beautiful woman my eyes had ever beheld. She was seated upon a white horse. Her long black locks were so dark they almost shone blue in the fading light. Her skin was as white as the freshly fallen snow.

“Aren’t you frightened?” she asked me. Why, in all my heart and soul, would I be frightened by an image so fair? That was when she did the strangest thing. She threw to me a trinket, a macabre symbol. I held the skull of a cat in my hands.

“It will help aid success in your hunts,” she explained. Her voice trailed from her lips like fine silk threads.

Her name was Francesca. She was from a village far from here but I would scour the known map to find her again. I know nothing of this woman and yet I know I will have no other as my queen. I can’t erase her presence from my mind, nor her voice from my ears. I can’t explain it. We have met only once and yet I will offer her everything I have.

King Roman


My Dearest,

It has been done. I have left it all behind. The last sight I had of my kin was of them burning, begging for the pain to be ended. Even after it all those who could still pleaded for me to stay with them.

The man with the black eyes still claimed be me to as his love until I removed his heart from his chest. The blood was still warm as I devoured it. Great was my fury that they tried to stop me and greater was my horror at what the love of Roman has made me see.

The eternal child, was the last to speak. A curse she warned me of. That was laughable. Her power could never match mine for I was Queen of our people and none of them could match me. She quipped about a plague that would follow me to my new land and infect all those who crossed my path. My husband would be driven insane as images of my deeds flooded his fragile mind. Any children produced from the marriage would suffer from cradle until they begged for death. The girl doesn’t frighten me.

The village was reduced to ashes in my wake. The evil of its people banished. Annabelle followed me. My first reaction was to kill her too. She stared at me with those pitiful green eyes of hers. I’m not one to hold sympathy but she had been loyal to me. She is the only one who could rival me and yet she is too dim to realise.

On our way to kingdom, I on horseback, she on foot beside me, we came across one of the strangest creatures known in my black circles. We were met by a Hangram. It was creeping to the water, gasping for whatever pity the world could spare it. They are fierce yet wretched creatures. It’s finger tips flamed with the heat of redemption.

Annabelle and I knew the Hangram immediately but a ‘dweller’ may have been alarmed. Not many are seen by the dweller folk and fewer leave the unfortunate alive to tell the tale. It looked up at us from its contemplation over life and death. It approached. It recognised the blackness within me. It had softened since meeting Roman but still burned in my chest. Hanram are drawn to malevolence like thirsty men to a pond.

“You are evil, quite unlike any I have known and yet you roam this land without hinderance. Today is the day you answer for your evil,” said the creature.

“I am sorry for all I have committed!” I said knowing the proper way to address a Hangram.

“I’m not,” Annabelle interjected.

The flames from the Hangram raged. It’s eyes began to glow. Annabelle showed no fear. Truthfully she had little patience for such creatures and I wished to be on my way.

“Francesca!” the Hangram raged. “There is a special place in Hell reserved for you.”

“If you are waiting on my repentance I will not give it to you,” I told it.

The Hangram closed in on us. “I don’t expect contrition from the likes of you.” It’s burned face contorted into an unsettling smile. “You will have to find comfort on a bed of blades if you do not appease your conscience.”

This particular Hangram was not to be fooled. It knew me, although in its form I couldn’t quite place the haggard frame. I had seen so many Hangram over the years. “The kingdom do well for you,” it said. “The King’s love will save you but only if you accept the punishment you deserve. End your life here and now, save the kingdom and the generations to follow. There is not a sin so great that a single act of selfless sacrifice can’t save you from,”

Before I could make my response Annabelle stepped forward. She threw dust at the Hangram’s feet. The Hangram emitted a high pitched, pained shriek. The form began change in a swirl of black and red energy. The colours cleared. The body of a little boy of nine years old lay where the Hangram had been. I remembered him. His name was Dale and he had come from a village, deep in the woods. My brother Julian loved to toy with Hangram. There were countless of them wandering the land because of him. The soul purpose of these creatures was to seek out sin and evil and vanquish it. My people would absorb the energy left behind, strengthening our own macarbe magic. This was our way. When the Hangram had fulfilled its duty it would be disposed of. Formidable to the ‘dwellers’ but a mere pet – a blood hound in many ways – to us. To create a Hangram required the body of an innocent, someone who had led a pure life. This was often difficult to find in an adult so most of the time children served the purpose. Julian sought them out like an avid hunter. With his handsome face and bright, kindly eyes they flocked to him. Dale had been one such trusting soul.

Annabelle removed a dagger from her boot. She meant to cut his throat while he lay asleep on the forest floor.

“No wait,” I stopped her. I had been thinking of what the Hangram had said. I left him. When he awoke from his slumber he would have enough provisions to keep him until he found a way back to his family. When I left Vorelia Julian had burned with all the others so Dale needn’t fear him any more.

So here I am in the arms of the King, in the beautiful kingdom. The curse and all the others have been left behind. I will defy them, to be happy, to live.

Francesca

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Tiny Terror

This is the third time you have been sent to my office this week, Miss Campbell,” said the head mistress – a grey haired old crone with a chin so pointed it could cut ice.

She wasn’t wrong though. It was the third time that week I had been in her office.

“Martin Burrows stole my glasses,” I explained. “I told him to leave me alone.”

“You cut him pretty deeply,” the headmistress scorned.

When I dragged the knife across his arm I must have hit an artery because there was a fountain of blood.

“Where did you get the knife?”

“The cafeteria. I was cutting my meat and he attacked me,” said I.

The head mistress surveyed me. I don’t know how much of my story she believed, if any. It was lucky for me though that I wasn’t the only one to complain about Martin lately.

“I’ve been trying to contact your parents but there has been no answer.”

My parents weren’t speaking much to anyone lately. Not they way I had left them.

“They’ve been busy,” I told the teacher.

The head mistress sighed.

“You are a bright girl, Tracey. Perhaps a little too bright sometimes. You have ambition and if you focus on that you will achieve great things.” She paused for a moment and looked down at her desk. “After the incident with Martin his mother may wish to get the police involved.”

That was fine by me. I expected that anyway. Who are they likely to believe anyway? That cheeky no user who gave the teachers nothing but grief or the little girl in pigtails and spectacles who aced most of her classes, kept herself to herself and did charity work. The head mistress was right about another thing. I did have ambition. I had ambition by the bucket loads. One day I would be a doctor and nothing was going to stand in the way of that. Not even bullies like Martin with his nasty, sneering face. I would open his throat before I allowed that to happen. My parents could attest to that.

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For more of Tracey’s murderous adventures check out the Confessions of an Anatomist short story as part of the Myths and Tales collection!

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We Need To Talk

Of all my stories THE GRIP tends to get the biggest reaction. It draws a lot of emotions that many people would much rather not face. No one likes the idea of their loved one suffering and equally no one likes to feel like they are an emotional burden. In this fast paced modern world it is so easy to lose touch and not even realise it. There has never been so many ways to communicate and keeping in touch has never been easier but with the modern technology comes a certain disconnect. They are just words on a screen.

THE GRIP raises the issue of mental health. The depression and anxiety that eventually leads to tragedy is unfortunately not something reserved for fiction. It is something that many people face every day. There is still a lot of stigma attached to those who are fighting depression and/or anxiety. However, one thing I hope was clear throughout THE GRIP was that tragedy could have been avoided if the son was willing to speak of what was bothering him and the mother was willing to listen. It seems simple but sometimes simple solutions are the best.

I have fought the demons of depression and anxiety myself and it is tough. I hope that people reading THE GRIP will be able to see that there was help there, just like there is help available in the real world.

To my friends who are currently facing mental health issues, know that we love you, we are there for you.

The Grip is available for download!

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Rivalry

I had a happy life – to a point. A dedicated husband and two beautiful children, Noah and Violet. The little red head who hung around the house more often than was appropriate seemed a constant reminder that my husband’s dedication wasn’t to me but he was dedicated none the less.

Both of our children should have been set for life as heirs to a great fortune but since they were small they have had this inexplicable need to get rid of each other.

We live in the coastal town of Melway. Our own house – a large, crooked, stand alone structure with three floors – sits on the edge of a cliff. A forty foot drop into the rocks below awaits anyone who takes the wrong steps along the pathway. The house has been in the Regard family for generations. It was probably the most beautiful and grandest house in the area once upon a time but now it is a cold and empty vessel housing the Regard children until came of age to move to somewhere more cosmopolitan or one kills the other.

As a family we were close. We didn’t talk much but when we did we shared everything. Violet told me on more than one occasion she wanted to see her brother dead and as far as Noah was concerned the sentiment was mutual. What little scamps they were.

Violet was the most boisterous of the two. She rarely stayed indoors. She was always running, never walking. She climbed trees and even got into fights with the local boys. Noah was much quieter. He would spend hours in the library reading through volumes and volumes that he could barely understand yet. A great, unquestionable thirst for knowledge had my little Noah. He had many friends but kept them at a distance. He was his own favourite companion. The year or so he had spent as an only child had been a blissful time for him. He had my undivided attention as well as the sole attention of the staff who helped around The Grange. As is the norm with more than one child in a family the attentions were split. Noah probably grew a resentment towards baby Violet from there, growing stronger as they grew up. Violet no doubt felt this from her brother and sowed seeds of her own resentment.

Everything at The Grange must have seemed heavenly to those on the outside looking in. That was until my death and that is where this story begins.

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Knock, Knock (Episode 15): Down in the Dumps

It was late at night when a soft tap at my door stirred me awake. I hadn’t even realised I had fallen into the swamp of my dreams until I stirred awake. I shuffled across the bare wooden floor. I opened the door and Dennis was stood in the shadows like a great ominous bird.

“If you are going, you have to go now,” he said.

I pulled a pair of oversized boots on. My coat hung on a stand by the door. I pulled it off and the coat stand came with it. Dennis snatched it before it toppled completely.

“Quiet,” he warned in a screaming whisper.

I was silent and still a little sleepy. Dawn’s early light was beginning to show. I followed Dennis down into the main body of the club.

“Promise me you will find Milo,” he urged.

I nodded my head dumbly. At any other time I would have said something along the lines of, “the boy will come to no harm under my charge,” but I was so taken aback by finally leaving the ‘Knock, Knock’ club I couldn’t find the words. We made our way across the shaky floor. Freedom was imminent. The outside air was going to be so crisp and so sweet.

A lock shuffled. A door handle shook. Dennis pushed me back from the main door . At the farther end, by the stage a little girl came skipping. She was followed by Tabitha.

“Now take a seat,” said Tabitha. The little girl – Sarah – obeyed. She pulled out a chair and sat at a table nearest the stage.

“Would you like some ice cream?” Tabitha asked. She leaned closer with a warm but mischievous smile.

The little girl wrinkled her nose. “I’m not allowed ice cream for breakfast.”

Tabitha’s smile widened like a great python ready to strike. “You are here.”

The kid’s eyes lit up then. It was like she had been told her birthday was coming twice that year. She had no idea the danger she was in. Her life was in the hands of Tabitha and if I left the little girl would surely die. If I stayed I could do something to keep her alive.

“See,” Tabitha continued. “It’s not so bad here is it? All that crying earlier was for nothing.”

Sarah agreed.

Tabitha crossed the floor towards the bar, behind which lay the kitchens. As she passed she muttered to Dennis, “Watch her.”

She stopped and did a double take when she noticed I was wearing boots and a coat.

“Going somewhere are we?” she laughed.

I knew then I wasn’t.

When Tabitha was out of sight Dennis pushed me back towards the door.

“Go now. Hurry!” he said.

“I can’t,” I stated. “If I go now you could get hurt or that little girl.”

Dennis growled. “What about Milo?” You said you would help him.”

“I did and I will,” I said. “But before I do I have to make sure no harm comes to that kid. You told me that if I left they would be watching me. I could lead them straight to Milo. That would be two dead kids on my conscience. Right now, Tabitha doesn’t know Milo is near. He is safe.”

I couldn’t believe my own sentiments. Since arriving at the club I had been seeking a way to escape its grasp. Seeing Sarah changed everything in an instant.

Although no one had ever said the words I was a prisoner at the Knock, Knock. If Dennis were to orchestrate my leaving, they would kill him, the little girl and then hunt me down. I couldn’t risk it. At least not yet.

Dennis stormed away. I could understand his frustration. I had been pushing him to help me. I even threatened to tell the club about his son if he didn’t. I didn’t have any time to worry about that. The only reason I was still alive was because my grandfather was one of the club’s founding members. I was walking a very thin line as it was.

Tabitha returned with an over flowing bowl of strawberry ice cream.

“Changed your mind?” she laughed when she saw I was pulling my coat off

“I was just a little cold. I’m fine now,” I replied.

“That’s just as well,” said Tabitha. “You would have been dead before you reached the end of the alley. Do you think it would be so easy as to walk out the front door? Even if Dennis opened that door for you? And without so much as oodbye? A girl could be insulted.”

She dropped the plate of ice cream down to the little girl. She gripped the spoon and immediately set to digging in.

“Don’t hurt her,” I warned for as much use as it could be.

Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “What kind of monster do you think I am?”

We paused. Tension rose. Her steel grey eyes stared right through me. Then her teeth began to tear through her ruby lips as a smile spread.

“It all really depends on her father cooperating now doesn’t it.”

When I first came to the Knock, Knock I was an enthusiastic journalist in search of a new story line. I had no idea the nightmare that lay behind the closed doors. Now, I was in deep. As the bodies began to pile around me I had to do something!

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