Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Two Free Halloween Stories, For You

AND a little bit more.

Happy Halloween to you!

Below is a free story, but I'm over at the IWSG Parallels blog today with 
Be sure to stop in.

AND you can enter below to win some AWESOME cash in the Rafflecopter giveaway (for a newsletter subscription to yours truly. You think the giveaways are abundant on the blog. You should see what awesome freebies newsletter subscribers receive). 


Emily’s Ghost

I know what a bomb sounds like right before it explodes. So does Emily. It was only a question of time before mine went off.

I was nine when I saw my first bodiless. It flitted down the hall of the old estate Mother and Pap moved me to. A “family” house. We sat at the dining table, and my parents didn’t flinch when the essence curled through them, the specter’s eyes flaring with each touch.

“Alice, look away,” a whisper filled my ear.

I turned and came face to face with a girl—a year or two older than me—whom I’d never seen before. She had bouncing brown hair and eyes no color I could define. Gray, but green, but also blue, then nothing. Her presence faded and I was left looking at the wood-slated wall.

Mother called me back to the meal, unaware of my visitor, and I ate, bewildered by the experience.

That night, I woke to an awareness of being watched. The girl sat on top of my chest, weighing nothing, scowling down at me.

I pushed away and tumbled from bed. She floated down, crouching next to me.

“I am Emily.” The words whispered like a summer breeze through drapes.

“You’re a…a ghost?”

She shrugged a shoulder. “I am, and so too will you be if you do not heed me. We have so little time, Alice. Less than I had.”

I rose, rubbing my bruised elbow. Emily lifted a few inches off the floor and waved me forward. I followed her into the hall, up creaky stairs, and into an attic. Draped furniture filled my periphery, but straight ahead stood a wardrobe with a gleaming lock.

Emily offered a key, a solid, chrome thing. It was cold in my palm. Heavy.

“You are the keeper now.” A wistfulness crinkled her eyes as she halted next to the cabinet. “Whatever you require to fight them will be inside.”

“Them?”

She shivered. “The bodiless. They are spirits of the departed who have power in the mortal realm. Already they are drawn to you, but they will come in droves once you open the door, and they will keep coming.”

“To me? Why?”

“Because you can stop them.”

“Stop them from what?”

She blinked and floated to the corner. Then back. “I never found out. They got the upper hand before I could discover.” Her jaw clenched. “But I will stay with you, Alice. I will guide you until you no longer need me. You will be better than I ever was.”

“At what?”

“Killing the wraiths.”

***

Four days elapsed. I didn’t catch another glimpse of Emily, but the bodiless had become a permanent guest. At first it was harmless. Then it started bumping into picture frames and knocking them down. It overturned vases and jars. I watched, knowing I could stop it, but broken things could be replaced. I could never unopen that door. Emily’s warning filled me with dread.

The entity began throwing things at my family—first weakly, a cup flicked off the counter, a pen skittering across the floor. Then stronger. A ball hurled down the stairs. A frying pan flung directly at my head, breaking a window.

My parents saw nothing. I was blamed.

The angry inner clock beat a rhythm: protect, defend, defeat. The wraith was winning and only I could stop it by unlocking my destiny.

I climbed to the attic and held out the key, aimed for the strange wardrobe. Emily materialized at my elbow.

“What will I find in there?”

“One can never know.” Her voice trembled.

I glanced at her, startled.


She motioned me forward, and I pressed the key into the lock. Light shot out around the metal. I shielded my eyes and twisted the key, a click thudding in my ears.

It was done. The thing that could never be taken back. The decision that would forever tie me to this ghost girl and the coming horrors.

The light dimmed to an otherworldly glow—like dawn, but thinner. A light that had substance.

I pulled back the door, ready to jump. A wooden, toy bear sat on the shelf. It was missing one painted eye and chipped in several places.

Emily perked up from behind my shoulder. “That was not nearly so terrifying as I had anticipated.”

“What things did you find in the cabinet?”

A crash sounded below. Mother screamed.

We both whirled. Emily threw herself in front of me, blocking my path, pointing to the pathetic bear. I grabbed it and hurtled down the stairs, into the living room. Mother lay on her side. A coffee table overturned near her head. The wraith hovered over her, energy swirling between its claw-like fingers.

“Get away from my mother!” I jumped at the specter. My body passed right through it. We both shivered.

The thing fixed on the bear in my hands, its mouth falling open in horror. It threw energy at me. I dodged. The wall behind me splintered. The wraith launched another wave. I dove. Stuffing blew out of the sofa like blizzard snows.

The bodiless flew straight at me, dragging power with it. My heart ticked like a bomb, one that would explode on impact. This was survival or death. Like Emily.

I lifted the bear and the thing slammed into it. The entity spun away, shook itself, and glared.

Its fists unballed. It fixed on Mother. The wraith shot me a smirk.

My heart stopped.

Not mother.

And then, like a dark curtain had been dropped from my mind, I knew what I was, and what I had to do.

I was a poltergeist hunter.

Holding the bear at arm’s length, I marched toward the entity. Its eyes shot wide. It turned and jerked, like a grappling hook had been thrust through it and yanked taut.

“Enter and stay. Enter and hold forever. Enter and never escape your cage.” The words were in my blood. They were my blood. Not English or any kind of civilized tongue, but they pulsed with power.

The thing’s mouth gaped in a silent shriek. I lifted the bear higher.

The wraith melted toward me, seeping into the bear, its final essence lapping outward in a desperate attempt to flee.

“Enter forever,” I repeated.

The bodiless slammed into the bear. I rocked back and fell, the toy toppling from my hands. It landed across the floor, its painted eye gleaming briefly, and then all was quiet.

I hurried to Mother’s side.

My mother was fine. She insisted she’d tripped and knocked her head. I didn’t even receive blame for the rest of the damage, which made me think she’d seen something. At least she wouldn’t be attacked again by that bodiless.

That was the last I saw of Emily for a long time. I returned to the attic, but the wardrobe was gone. The only evidence of the encounter was the key weighing my pocket, and the weird bear I kept on my nightstand as a reminder. It would be the first of many trophies.

I am not Emily. Some days I wish I could be, for she was truly great. Hers was a great burden. Now it’s mine.



PARTICIPANTS:
Viola Fury 911
Juneta Key All Hallows Eve
C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
Erica Damon Penance'
J. Q. Rose Sorry
Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
Barbara Lund Spooky Space
Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours
Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
Sherri Conway Ants
Elizabeth McCleary Over James Henry Wilcox Dead Body
Canis Lupus The Picture
Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
Bill Bush Trapped
Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade

AND



Last week, Bish Denham shared THE BOWL AND THE STONE along with two truths and one lie. Anyone who guessed the lie correctly was entered to an eBook.

The game:


1. In the early 1970s, Bish lived in Hollywood and went to a transvestite ball.
2. Bish was at Woodstock and is surprised by how much she remembers!
3. A warlock once tried to recruit her to become a witch.

The lie: #2. Bish wanted to go to Woodstock. She knew people who were going, but didn’t have the money. And the logistics of getting from the Virgin Islands to Woodstock, New York by herself was just a *wee* bit overwhelming. She didn’t have the personality to just go and let things happen. She needed a little planning, she needed to know where she was going to stay and how she was going to get there. Flying to New York City wasn’t a problem, but getting up to the farm would have been a nightmare. Coming from a tiny island and plopping herself down in the middle of millions of people--and trying to find her way--was unrealistic. That, and she was a scaredy cat.

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...

Shannon Lawrence!

Congrats, Shannon!

And now, it's time for some HALLOWEEN FUN!


Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse … 

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Beretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her. 

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Get Your Copy HERE.

Ready to meet the gun-slinging author?

David was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. His debut novel WOVEN is now an international bestseller.  An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Every now and then you might run across David munching on a few crackers and slices of Colby Jack.

David gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out either lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to win an eBook (open internationally):

You have until Tuesday, November 1 at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answer (and some FUN trivia) on November 2, 8 a.m. EDT.
TRUTH OR LIE

1. I target practiced with every weapon mentioned in The Undead Road.
2. I have witnessed paranormal activity.
3. I have eaten insects.

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you met David? (If not, you must. He's kind and amazing.) Do you like ghost stories? Zombies? Candy corn?

104 comments:

  1. That was creepy! Not sure I'd want that bear on my nightstand though.
    I'm guessing the first one is the lie. I can see David eating insects.

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    1. Yeah... I guess it's a testament to her character. If I ever get to writing the book, it's going to be epic.

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  2. Congratulations Shannon! To all who thought I was too young to go to Woodstock, I thank you for the compliment!'

    Hmmm, David's lie... We all eat insects whether we realize it or not. And I think most of us have experienced something we might consider paranormal. So, I'm going with #1 as the lie.

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    1. I was shocked by how many people guessed it right because they thought you were too young. I probably would have made the same mistake though.

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  3. I'm glad I read this in the morning. If I had read it at night, I might have had nightmares :-)

    I'm going to go with #1 as David's lie.

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    1. Yikes! Apologies. I didn't think it was that terrifying. Perhaps I'm just desensitized, eh?

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  4. Happy Halloween to you, Crystal!

    I've got zombies on the brain - I'm still haunted by the most recent episode of The Walking Dead.... :o

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    1. I heard about that. I actually was told NOT to watch that episode. So I won't.

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  5. Please let the insect eating be the lie. LOL! Excellent book, btw. I really enjoyed it.

    I always knew my stuffed animal had magic powers!

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    1. It's on my list. Has been for a long time. Time... It just needs to slow down, eh?

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  6. Awesome story! Loved it! Happy Halloween. :) Hmm, #1 might be the lie.

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  7. You're so good at world building!!! I was not expecting an old bear. Very good. Much better than I posted today. Lol!

    I'm going with #1 for the lie. I've even cricket protein. Not so weird. :P

    Happy Halloween!! ^_^

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    1. LOL. Okay, I'm headed over to check it out.

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  8. Oooh! Creepy story! I'm guessing the paranormal activity is the lie.

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  9. That was a great story. I hope you continue. She could be capturing lots of evil spirits.

    I'm going to say #2 is the lie.

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    1. Yup. This is one of my "story dreams" that's been waiting in the file to be written for ages. Here's hoping I can get to it because the plot and complications are beyond epic.

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  10. Great creepy story! A agree with L. Diane above, there's lots of evil she could capture.

    I'm going to guess #3 is the lie.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely lots of story to be had. Now I just need some time. =)

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  11. I do love me zombie series. I'm considering quitting TWD but I'm still gonna watch Z NATION

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    1. Yeah, the end of the last season nailed the coffin on TWD for me. It just got too dark.

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  12. Awesome Halloween story. Hope you have a fantastic Halloween filled with candy and cheese for you!

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    1. Yay! Same to you, Natalie. Candy and cheese. :D

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  13. That was awesome. I was hooked from the beginning. I can see this extending into a series of little stories or a full-length novel. ;)

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    1. Full length novel. Already plotted in my head. In fact, there's a sequel already mapped out.

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  14. The truth finally comes out...teehee. Wonderful!

    My guess for the lie this time around is #1

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  15. Nice! And I loved David's story. I'll be glad when he's done with school, and we can get more of this zombie series.

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  16. You did a great job with that story, but no way that bear would have stayed in MY room... it'd be locked up in the attic. In a chest. Filled with concrete. :)

    Okay, this time, I'll guess #1 is the fib.

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    1. LOL. I guess it's a testament of her character that she wanted it there, or she wanted to keep an eye on it and make sure the thing didn't escape.

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  17. Oooh, awesome story! Perfect for this rainy afternoon in Montana :)

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    1. Because it's all gloomy? I'd say. Now that's ambiance for you.

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  18. Loved the story even more the second time, Crystal! :) Great job!! So glad you'll be continuing Emily and her adventures. She's awesome!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ava. You definitely helped make this one great!

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  19. Thanks for having me on your place today, Crystal! :)

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    1. Glad to have you, David. Here's to Halloween and ZOMBIES! =)

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  20. Great story! I could see a lot of adventures coming out of that world. And I'd love to read Undead Road. I'm going to go with #1 as the lie, though you never know with David. It's the longest answer, so I'm sticking with it. Happy Halloween.

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    1. LOL. Get into the psychology of it, eh? Sounds good to me. =)

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  21. Oh, I love candy corn. I think I'm the exception. Seems like everyone I know hates it.

    Lie... This week I'll guess #2.

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  22. Wonderful ghost story. It had me wondering how it would end.
    I think the like is #3.

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  23. Good story. Sounds like a perfect lead-in for a series.

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    1. Yup. Two books, if I can ever find the time to write them.

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  24. Hi Crystal and David ... loved the story ... an old bear - well I'll look at them differently now! I hope you do write up those stories ... Congratulations to Shannon ... ah Bish as too young - or shy .. I wouldn't have gone to Woodstock either ...

    David and his lie .. I'd go for #1 ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary. Thank you! Have I ever told you how much I appreciate your truly thoughtful comments?

      I wouldn't have gone to Woodstock either, and nice guess.

      Delete
  25. What a fabulous and creepy story to get into Halloween!

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  26. I love the theme of Halloween and scary stories, especially after the season premiere of TWD just a few days ago. I think the lie is #1.

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    1. Really? I heard awful things about the first episode of TWD. Actually, I was told NOT to watch it. I'm listening to people.

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  27. Great story! Wonderfully intense. Beautiful wording. :)

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  28. I liked the story. It would be a good MG read.

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    1. Yeah...except when the story actually takes place, the MC is a few years older. *shrugs* I guess it would work for either age group.

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  29. Fun blog hop. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

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  30. Great ghost story. I can tell you had fun writing it, too!

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    1. Thanks! It was nice to finally get this one out of my head and in a digital format.

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  31. Loved "Emily's Ghost" and I can tell you had "much fun" as Trotsky would say, writing it. Thanks for the writing lesson and for sharing! You're the best!

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    1. No you're the best! Keep playing along awesome woman!

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  32. Loved your story, Crystal!
    And the lie is #2 - I think. Although #3 has the gross factor.

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    1. Thank you.

      Never discount the gross factor, eh?

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  33. Nice scary story and intriguing. Thanks for playing in the blog hop.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  34. Loved the bodiless story. Perfect for the season. Had to find out how she conquered that beastly thing.

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    1. Can you imagine facing off against something like that at such a young age? It was a fun story to write.

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  35. So much happening, thanks for sharing. Congrats to David! Hopping over to IWSG now.

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    1. You're telling me! My head has been exploding for weeks. Guess my blog reflects that too.

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  36. I'll never look at teddy bears in the same way again

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  37. Congrats David and thanks for coming. I have an old bear as well Crystal but I don't think he's a powerful totem of any sort. That story was amazing and terrifying.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! It definitely puts a different spin on a toy bear, eh?

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  38. I bet Bish wished she'd gone to Woodstock.
    Congrats to David. #1 is the lie.

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  39. That sweet little bear has a lot of power! Great story well-told. Best wishes on developing it into a book.

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    1. Thank you! The plot is pretty solid, but time... *sigh*

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  40. What a fun giveaway! Great stories and I love the picture that goes with the ghost story. :)

    I think the lie for David is #1. Great to see him here!

    Happy Halloween!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks! It was tough finding a picture that reflected the mood.

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  41. The bear really was an unexpected weapon. Complete surprise when Alice opened the wardrobe door. Very nice story.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I wish I had time to show the significance of the bear, but this story was already longer than it should be.

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  42. Great story! Thanks for sharing that. Love the images you picked to go with it as well.
    I think 3 is the lie. Not many Californians have eaten bugs.

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    1. Glad to share. :) And Thank you for stopping by!

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  43. Scary stories...hopping over now! YAY for SL!!!

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  44. I love your story, super creepy! I think that bear would freak me out, knowing that it had a bodiless in it, though.

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    1. Yeah, me too--but for all she knows, the bear is just a gateway to some prison. I mean, she should be freaked out by her destiny PERIOD, right?

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  45. Awesome and creepy stories - makes me feel Halloween-ish (though the 80 degree unseasonably warm weather does not!!)

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    1. What?! 80? Are you sure you're not in Florida? ;) Here's to Halloween!

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  46. Great story. Scared me! I think #3 is the lie, at least I hope it is. Eating insects??? Ooouuu.

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    1. I'm sorry? Didn't mean to be too scary.

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  47. I liked the story, though I admit I'm not really the right audience for this sort of thing - it's really hard to scare me or creep me out. But I hope you do get to write the book it comes from, as you mentioned above.

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    1. I wasn't trying to scare people, honest. I thought the story was just a fun "good against evil" kind of battle, only the evil is in the form of a poltergeist.

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  48. I loved the story. Mildly creepy, great lore, and Alice is a badass. Plus, the part about Emily failing and suffering because of it/trying to help Alice avoid that same fate was a cool touch. Well done!

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  49. Great story! Just the right tone, and super intriguing. I'd enjoy reading more. :)

    Happy Halloween!

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  50. Nice origin story. Not sure that's a burden I would want to bear. LOL

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Hit me with your cheese!