Friday, October 16, 2015



Thanks, DeAnna, for agreeing to be part of the fun.

Without further ado presenting DeAnna's

Halloween Interview & Flash Fiction Challenge

1.      You're born on Halloween and have the ghostly evil super powers of one of the following: The Ghost from Poltergeist, The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, The most Evil of Witches, The Devil himself, Freddy Kruger, Pumpkin Head, Michael from Halloween, or Jason from Friday the 13th. Alternatively, if you prefer, pick one of your own. Otherwise, tell us which one you would choose and why? No friendly ghosts allowed! You're to wreak havoc in this scenario!

I have inherited the power of...The Most Evil of All Witches! I've always been fascinated by them. On the one hand, they were slaughtered for hundreds or even thousands of years...but on the other hand, I've always wondered why. Why witches--why not, say, midwives or prostitutes? I realize that a lot of the time, the women who were killed were women who had a) property worth taking, and b) few or no male relatives to protect them. But now that we've legalized pot in Colorado, I've also been pondering:  what if one of the reasons that "witches" were targeted was that they distributed not just medicines like arbortifacients, but recreational drugs? As well as the knowledge to find, harvest, preserve, and use them? It's just supposition on my part, but it would explain why you hear about them acting weird and having orgies with the devils. You hear stuff that's almost as bad about pot, let alone other types of illegal drugs. Witch burnings as a covert Mafia war between church-sanctioned and independent drug dealers. Why not? It might be fun...

2.      The Zombie Apocalypse is going to occur this Halloween and for 48 hours, the world is thrown into chaos. Live through it and consider yourself lucky, you've been warned. What is your first step, especially as no one else knows or believes you? Do you leave family behind and seek shelter to ride it out, or do you try to save your family? How and why?

Oh, my family would believe me.  We've had an agreement for years that if one of us gets bitten by a zombie, the others will take them down as quickly and painlessly as possible.  We don't have bug-out bags and kits set up, but it's on our to-do lists.  I'm thinking about making them for Christmas presents at some point [she said, hoping her family isn't reading this].  At our old house, we were planning to go up to a certain reservoir stocked with fish; now that we're in the middle of moving, I'm not sure where we'd go.  I'll have to ask.

3.      Because of the time of your birth, (see the 1st question) the angels have decided to forgive your sins and are offering to remedy one evil that now exists in the world, but only one! Which would you choose and why?

I'd like to tweak human nature just a leeeetle bit so that humanity can process the interconnection of more than five things at a time. See Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God. In essence, humans may think we're smart, but we can't actually process the interconnections of more than five things at a time (which is 125 interconnections). The universe is far more complex than that, which leads to humanity failing to even understand how little it knows (and, I might add, how hypocritical we usually are). A planet with just a little less hypocrisy and a little more willingness to admit we're wrong? Super.

 4.      Why is Halloween a favorite holiday, or not a favorite, and if it isn't why did you participate in this query? Come on; tell us your biggest most secret Halloween fantasy!

FAVORITE. I've always liked it (I was one of those kids who always wanted to play dress up), but the reason it's a favorite is because of my daughter, who was born in October. Halloween has become a second birthday in which we set up a mini-haunted-house in the garage and pass out treats to anyone brave enough to run in and make a snatch-and-grab. We've done Frankenstein, hillbilly zombies, pirates, and other things. It's a ton of fun. This year, because we're in the middle of moving, we're going to do a normal trick-or-treat pass. Siiiiigh. Next year.

      Now the fun part: Finish the story. I've given you the first 100 words. Provide us with the rest, but please hold the number to 750 words or less. The winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. The contest will be judged by another lover of the horror genre, the person to be announced later. The winner will be posted no later than a week after Halloween!


Jerry sauntered along Desperation Holler Road that earlier echoed with the excited shouts of ghosts and ghouls as the children scrambled from house to house in colorful and frightening costumes.
Dusk dissolved into the blackest of nights as the little monsters disappeared into the shelter of the brightly lit houses with their chocolate goodies.
Jerry smiled, even suppressed laughter, because he knew there was no refuge, not in Desperation Holler on this most evil of Halloweens.
Concealed by the dark limbs of deformed trees and invasive ivy, the innocuous little cabin looked abandoned, but Jerry knew better. 
The witches abode . . .

All he had to do was get inside, find the trap door to the cellar (it was supposed to be in one of the bedrooms, although that homeless slut he’d caught had claimed not to know which room it was in), and climb down an old wooden ladder.
The chest would be the only thing left in the cellar: the glass jars full of dead babies and demons' blood had already been taken out by the group of teenagers who had found the trap door last week, and Jerry had already found their hiding spot after he had caught Mary digging through his trash three days ago. He had been so elated that he had put a quick end to the girl and her other little homeless friends. There was fun and then there was what he'd been sent here to do, and now he was all out of time for fun.
He must have gone past that place a hundred times and not even suspected.
He whistled as he swung his keyring around the tip of his finger.
He did a little jig as he jumped onto the front stoop and selected the key with the grinning skull at the end. The key slid into the door lock and opened it smoothly. He danced inside and closed the door, closing the rotting curtains with a flourish.
He laughed when he saw the cross-stitched embroidery on the wall: BLESSINGS ON THIS HOUSE and a cabin with smoke coming out of the chimney, flower pots on the stoop, and an embroidery spiderweb stretched between chimney and roof. The cabin was a little old ladies' home, all armchairs and doilies and delicate end tables simply begging for a cup and saucer. Spiderwebs covered the furniture like drop cloths, torn in places where the teenagers had stopped to playact a tea party in the witches' chairs, pinkies sticking out as they spoke in clumsy accents.
He skipped into the back hallway, jiggling door handles as he went. Broken windows, leaves, sticks, and animal nests. Footprints on bare floors, rotting quilts on beds, the old gray tinsel of fat cobs long dead. The place was so old it had no indoor bathrooms. There'd be an outhouse somewhere in the back, so long unused that it would smell almost sweet. Maybe it would still have an almanac or catalog by the door.
The last room, then. He flung open the door. The bed had been tossed to the wall and the trap door flung open. A narrow old ladder peeked out from under the floorboards.
Jerry picked another key from the ring, this one marked with a candle held by a severed hand. He knelt at the edge of the trap door and turned the key in the darkness.
A faint green glow appeared in the cellar: all clear. Yet who knew better than he to trust witches! He ignored the ladder and jumped down, landing as cleverly and quietly as a cat hunting a mouse.
The shelves were bare of all but circles in the dust. The cellar ran the length of the house; if the dust spots on the shelves were any indication, the homeless shits had another cache of jars somewhere. When he was done tonight he’d have to go looking for them.
And use them all up, before they went bad. He grinned.
An old, iron-bound chest waited coquettishly for him at the other end of the cellar. Splashes of old mud covered the bottom of the chest; it was heavy, sinking down into the floor. Around it lay scraps of old carpet and straw mats, marked with small, muddy footprints.
He sang a little ditty about something something pretty, something something pity and didn’t even mind that he’d forgotten most of the words, and couldn’t remember whether the singer had used a fish knife or a surgeon’s scalpel on the women as he’d killed them.
The skeleton key flashed in his hand as he pushed it into the lock and turned it.
The top of the chest popped open like a jack in the box. Jerry hopped backward, and the small claws missed him.
He cooed, he tickled, he scooped it up with a tattered old piece of rag rug from the floor so it wouldn’t scratch him, he closed the lid.
And then he turned around just as the eerie green thieves' light went out.
He tucked the bundle under his arm and pulled out a third key, this one marked with the handle of a knife, and held it before him.
The trap door at the other end of the cellar slammed shut. The squirming, sacred bundle fell apart in his arms, scattering into fragments of old mud onto the floor.
Jerry cursed, an old curse that was supposed to be good against witches. He’d suddenly remembered something bad, very bad.
There hadn’t been any spiderwebs in the cellar.

Behind him, the chest lid creaked.
Thanks so much DeAnna, That was thrilling!
DeAnna says she would happily give away an ebook to one lucky commenter!  Your choice of A MURDER OF CROWS (short horror stories), ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND (zombies), and TALES TOLD UNDER THE COVERS (middle-grade genre stories).  

Alice's Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts
by DeAnna Knippling

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Alice Pleasance Liddell whose father ran Christ Church College at Oxford University. One of Dean Liddell’s friends was a man named Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics and amateur photographer who would eventually become known as Lewis Carroll.

Once upon a time, an outbreak of a virulent disease known as zombieism spread across Great Britain. What made it so deadly was that it had two phases—the earlier phase infected the victim’s bloodstream, making them infectious but not necessarily mad; the latter phase occurred upon death, when the victim was prevented from joining the souls in the afterlife and condemned to remain upon the Earth—which had the understandable effect of enraging them to the point of infecting every human in sight.

At first, the undead were considered to be lost to both Heaven and Earth, and regularly burnt to cinders in large pits throughout the countryside; then, the Italian Filippo Pacini developed a serum that, if ingested early enough and regularly thereafter, allowed the undead to fight off the worst effects of the infection. The Infected and the undead were treated with serum on a regular basis, and society returned to normal—except for a few curious customs regarding the undead, including the requirement to be shackled at all times, for the safety of the living.

A curious fact of the times was that zombies, being dead, were seen to have few legal rights. They were unable to enter into legal contracts or own property—even themselves. A zombie without a de facto owner was a dead zombie—collected by the Government and humanely destroyed.

Protected zombies were often employed as servants. They were certainly not slaves.

Once upon a time, Mrs. Liddell wanted a picture taken of her three daughters by the most fashionable photographer in Oxford…even if he was a zombie.



DeAnna Knippling lives in Colorado with her family and probably spends too much time thinking about ways to hypothetically scare her friends with horror stories. 

 Everyone, no matter how jaded, has something that gets under their skin, is her theory.  Her latest book is Alice's Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, a zombie tale about the real Alice from Alice in Wonderland.  You can find out more about her at

Connect with DeAnna here:

Her new collection of short horror stories, A MURDER OF CROWS, is out now! You can get a copy here


It's only the 16th - plenty of time to enter the
Youthful Frights vs. Adult Fears
Come on, I dare you!


  1. Tweaking so that humans can process more would be a good idea.

    1. I like to think we're not inherently self-destructive, just unintentionally so :)

  2. Jerry is so sneaky! Great piece. It sounds like you have so much fun on Halloween. My husband is such a scrooge about it!

    1. There was one year that we wrapped up full size bars in gold foil.

  3. Sad that you won't be able to do the haunted garage this year, but you can do a big one next year. Love the ending of the flash. Creaaaaaak. Jerry gets it every which way this Halloween.

  4. Thanks so much for participating DeAnna! This whole month has been amazing and with such great authors - it's a real blast! I know the winners will appreciate the fun and the books!

  5. Don't know about your thoughts on pot, but I suppose anything could be possible.

    Passing on the trick-or-treating is normal? Guess I'm okay then. I've passed on it for the past couple of years.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Wrote By Rote

  6. The mini-haunted house in the garage sounds awesome! I really liked DeAnna's idea of the magical keys. Very imaginative! :)

  7. We used to have fun getting all decked out for Halloween when our kids were growing up, but there are other, supposedly safer, ways for the kids to get candies these days, so we hardly see any trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood these days. (But I still buy candy... you know, just in case...) The whole haunted house thing sounds like a lot of fun. I'm sure you'll have an even better one next year to make up for missing out on it this year.

    Super flash fiction!


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