Flash Fiction Friday Post: Dark Carnival

State Fair

State Fair 2011 by Randy Cockrell

Gabi Rickson rubbed her eye as she flipped the switch in the trailer turning off the carnival music. If she never heard carnival music again it would be fine by her. If she never stepped foot in another carnival trailer, that would be fine, too. Next town, Gabi promised herself as she turned out the flashing neon lights; she’d get a waitressing job in a diner or something and get away from this creepy carnival.

After a month with the carnival, she was trusted to shut up the game trailer for the night. She stepped out of the back door and locked it. Gabi shared a camper with the carnie owner’s daughter, Brianne. The bed over the cab was hers, along with the tiny storage cubby. Not that she had much—a couple of changes of clothes, her e-reader, and the electronic notebook that served as her computer when a free WiFi hotspot presented itself.

At the camper, she went inside. It shifted with her weight on the step. The light was on over the stove, meaning that Brianne was out. Gabi felt relieved. Brianne and the rest of the carnies had some sort of weird vibe. Kind of like the vibe she got from her mother’s boyfriend and the reason she’d left home. The carnie vibe, though, was something else. They seemed okay during the day, friendly enough. After dark was another thing. Gabi eyed the door. She wanted nothing better than to lock the damn thing but it wasn’t her camper and Brianne needed to get in.

She changed into the tee-shirt she slept in and splashed her face in the tiny bathroom sink. Thank goodness the camper had a toilet and shower. It would have sucked to use the port-a-pots and outside wash stations some of the carnies had to use. After she climbed up into her bed, she read a chapter on her e-reader and turned out the lights. The game trailer had to open at ten, just seven hours away.

Gabi woke, heart pounding, the camper rocking violently. She scrambled down the ladder and bolted out of the camper door, barefoot and trembling. With the dirt and small stones cutting into her feet, she saw three men rocking the camper.

Brianne grabbed her hand. “Come on! Run!”

Blinking with confusion, Gabi followed, her hand still in Brianne’s. “What’s going on? Where are we going?”

“Hurry!” The owner’s daughter dragged her past the carnie’s campers and led the nineteen-year-old at a run up the ramp of the carnival’s only tractor trailer, through a person-sized door. She dropped Gabi’s hand and slammed the door shut.

Gabi stood gasping as Brianne stood, back against the door. “What is going on?”

“It’s time.”

“Time for what?” Gabi shook her head. This wasn’t making any sense.

Brianne stood up. “Time for you to serve your purpose.” She took Gabi’s hands in hers. “Time for you to pay us back.”

Gabi tried to pull her hands from Brianna’s. “Pay you back? I do my work.”

Brianna’s grip tightened. “Of course. But we need more than that, sweet girl.”

Gabi yanked her hands, but the carnie’s grip couldn’t be broken. She didn’t like the way Brianna stared. “Let go of me!” she cried out. Panic flooded through her.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart.” Brianna smiled and licked her lips. “This won’t hurt. Not too much, anyway.”

“Let go!” Gabi shouted as her elbows were grabbed by two men, one on each side. Brianna let go of her wrists as the two men lifted Gabi from her feet. She recognized them from around the carnival but hadn’t really met them. “Let me go!” she screamed again as they carried her to the front of the trailer.

The inside was lit by purple rope lights mounted along the corners where wall met roof. The sides were lined with the carnie people, dressed in black robes, hands tucked into wide sleeves. Gabi tried to kick the legs of the men who held her, but her bare feet were weak weapons. They ignored her. At the front of the trailer was a platform that ran the width of the trailer and a table, draped in white, on it. The white material glowed purple in the light from the ropes. They lifted her higher and before she could react, two other men grabbed her feet and bound them in three turns of rope before she was placed on the white cloth. Her hands were raised over her head and tied to the corners of the table. She thrashed, her long blonde hair spilling across the table and over her face. Tears flowed with fear and frustration.

Brianne, now dressed in a black robe with silver embroidery at wrist hems and down the middle front of the robe, gently pulled Gabi’s hair back from her face and with a black cloth, wiped her eyes. “Shh, sweet girl. There’s no need to fear. You’ve been judged worthy.”

“Worthy?” Gabi tugged at her feet, they were secured, as were her hands. “What are you doing?”

“We need to feed. You’ve been chosen.”

Gabi shook her head so hard the hair flew again. “You can’t. You can’t!”

The people in the room began to chant. Brianne lifted Gabi’s head and placed a padded brace under her neck and smoothed all of Gabi’s hair to her left shoulder. “So beautiful, dear girl. You’ll feed us for quite some time.”

Gabi screamed as Brianne leaned over her neck and bit. Fear and pain flooded through her then warmth and a feeling of bliss.

The missing girl posters appeared a week later, but the carnival had moved on. A year later the body of a woman, apparent age 72 was found in the parking lot of an abandoned drive-in theater.

Gabi’s mother searched for her daughter the rest of her life.

 

The End

977 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Monday Blog Post: Prepping for Vacation

Mohawk Harvest Co-Op Storefront, Gloversville NY.

Mohawk Harvest Co-Op Storefront, Gloversville NY.

We’re getting ready to drive across the country to my old hometown of Northville, NY. We’re stopping along the way to visit with some friends. We should be in Northville by the 8th. I’m looking forward to this. It’s our first vacation in two years. Also, we haven’t been back to Northville since we moved to Arizona five years ago. We’re way overdue for a visit.

While we’re in upstate NY, I have scheduled a book signing in Gloversville, NY at the Mohawk Valley Cooperative on Main Street. That’s a picture of the store front at the top of this post. I’ll be there Saturday, October 10th from 9am to Noon. I hope to see you there. Bring one of my books or buy it there and I’ll be happy to sign it.

Author Friend Boost! Margaret McGaffey Fisk. Her newest book is, Gifts, The Steamship Chronicles Book Three.  Here’s a description.

Sam has never been happier than aboard this merchant ship in the middle of the ocean. Most of the crew accepts her despite knowing about Sam’s Natural abilities. They tease and scold as if she were one of their own, even letting her listen to their tales. She’d do anything to stay, but the captain has made it clear: Come the next port, her voyage is at an end.

Sam’s presence has cost Nat so much, but he’d do anything to have her stay. Still, Nat knows the captain made the only possible choice in these circumstances. The sailors view Sam as a good luck charm now, but as soon as something goes wrong, they could turn on her. Transforming Sam into a boy and giving her Nat’s share of the profits means she’ll have a decent chance on shore as long as she stays in control. Nat likes neither image of her future so struggles to come up with a better plan.

You can find more about Margaret at: http://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/

Writing progress: I’ve made some progress on my Zoe Ohale outline for NaNo. It’s still a long way from finished. I did get another chapter written on Mystery in the Woods. It’s moving, albeit slowly.

Marketing: As an indie author, I’m responsible for marketing my own work. It can be a challenge but I keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities to tell people I’m out here and have some stories they might like to read.

One great opportunity is that my author friend D’Elen McClain (wickedstorytelling.com) has started a new website to connect readers to authors. It’s called Indie Books Direct at http://indiebooksdirect.com/. The site, free to readers, has a tab that lists all of the authors on the site. The reader just clicks on the author’s name and a link takes them directly to the author’s website or sale page. If you want to find authors in a particular genre, click on one of the several genre pages to find authors that have stories in that genre. It makes things so easy for readers! The site is still under construction but we’d love to have you come browse. Let us know how you like the site. Official grand opening is November 1st!

On Saturday I found a promotion that will start right after Halloween is over. It’s called Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway. On 1 November, the party starts. I’ll give everyone the details for signing up to win free books and prizes. Mark your calendar because you won’t want to miss out on this. The below picture is my promo ad for the event. What do you think?

Christmas Giveaway Poster

Christmas Giveaway Poster

I have finished writing the Friday Flash stories for October. There are five new stories all scheduled and waiting to post. The theme I wrote to is Halloween. I just had to do it. LOL! I still must get my October Chicklets in the Kitchen post written and scheduled. Last Thursday I attended the Strawberry Author’s group meeting and gave them an overview of CreateSpace and how it works. They liked it so much they’ve asked me to come back the end of October and talk about editing. Hoo, big fun!

I’m totally up on conniesrandomthoughts.com.  I’ve put a notice up on my WordPress blog so my readers can find me. Be sure to follow me at my new website. I stopped posting to the WordPress site (www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com) after Friday August 7th.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I published my September newsletter on Saturday. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blogs. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, too. Don’t delay. The October newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Poltergeist

Energy ball 001 by ISOStock via www.DeviantArt.com

Energy ball 001 by ISOStock via www.DeviantArt.com

“How do you do that?” my friend, Linda, asked from the front passenger seat.

“Do what?” I tapped my fingers on the wheel.

“Hit every red stop light? No wonder you’re always late.”

She didn’t know the half of it. “Just lucky, I guess.”

That morning was typical. The toaster burned the bread. The electric kettle wouldn’t boil water. The car starter just turned over until I got out, fiddled with the cable and knocked on the engine block three times. Bad cable you may say but I’ve replaced that cable five times in the last six months.

Anything electrical or electronic is a challenge. At home that night I lit a few candles and an oil lamp and sat down to read. I was half a chapter into the book when I could smell the ozone and hear the zz zz zz. “Come on out, don’t be shy,” I called as I marked my place and set the book on the coffee table.

They did, just like the night a year ago when my great-aunt, Emily, came over to see what I was talking about. We sat in the living room, the lights on, chatting about her bridge club when the lights went out with a huge crackle. Then we saw the little balls of sparks flew out of the kitchen and race around the room, dancing up and down the walls where hidden electrical lines were buried. At the end they drifted to me, circling my head, making the hair on my arms stand up. They raced up and down my body and when I raised my hands, palms up, several settled in each palm, sparkling like fireworks.

After they drifted away and disappeared Aunt Emily took a breath. “Poltergeist, that’s interesting. Can you control them?”

The thought hadn’t occurred to me but from that point on that’s how I spent my evenings, learning to control my little electrical poltergeist. I’m getting pretty good. Most nights I let them come out when they want to. Some nights though, I call them. It was tough at first. I had no idea how to start. It turns out it’s a feeling, a need or desire. Once I mastered that, I began working on sending them to different parts of the room. Their reward is that I call them to me and let them swarm. Cuddle time, I call it. It doesn’t hurt, I feel energized, actually.

Recently I’ve been working on getting them to do actual work. They’ll turn on my lamp for me now when I ask. A week ago I was home, practicing with the poltergeist, when I heard the back door open. A shot of adrenaline surged through me. The little balls of sparks flew around the room in what I could only call a panic. “Who is it?” I rose from my chair.

Something glass hit the floor of the kitchen. The poltergeist shot toward the kitchen door and hovered there. I crept to the door jam and peeked around the corner. The light from the sparking dimly lit the room. A guy was standing in the middle of the floor, glass shards sparkled at his feet. The light from his flashlight hit me in the face. “Get in here,” he growled.

He had a knit balaclava over his head but his eyes were visible. They were wide. I can just imagine what I looked like with balls of sparks flying all around my head. He waved me into the kitchen with the hand that held a bag. “The lights were off. I didn’t think anyone was home. Sit in that chair.”

I slowly moved to the chair next to the kitchen table, pulled it out and sat down. The poltergeist were still with me.

“What is that?” He pointed the flashlight at the balls of sparks. Fear tinged his voice.

“I have poltergeist.”

He took two steps toward me, glass crunched under his feet. “Don’t be smart.” He batted at one that flew close to him.

“It’s true.” I stared him down. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Shut up.” He raised his flashlight and pointed it at me. “Where’s your cash.”

“My purse is on the cupboard,” I pointed to my right.

He crunched across the floor and dumped it on the counter. He ignored everything but the wallet. After he opened it he dug out my cash. “Seriously, twelve bucks?”

“Sorry, didn’t know you were coming.”

“Don’t be wise.” He pulled my credit card out of my wallet and turned to me. “This all you got?”

“Yeah. How many do I need?”

A few of the poltergeist swarmed over the credit card the guy was still holding up. That was going to ruin the magnetic strip on the card but I wasn’t going to tell him. He jerked his hand away and batted at the sparks with the flashlight.

More of the poltergeist flew over and swarmed the flashlight which went out. The guy batted furiously at the sparks. That caused all the rest of them to swarm him, up and down, round and round. I could see him in their light, whirling around and around, swearing. He began to choke and grab at his chest. The flashlight fell to the floor with a crash and rolled under the table. The would-be robber sank to the floor, groaning and gasping for breath.

I got up and went to my landline and dialed 911. “I have a robber in my house. It looks like he’s having a heart attack.”

Ten minutes later, the cops, then the ambulance were at the front door. I’d turned the lights on and encouraged the poltergeist to disappear. The cops took a statement; the EMT’s took the body. Heart attack, they told the cops.

After they left, I swept up the broken and crushed glass. The poltergeist came back out to play. I can think of several ways my friends could be useful.

 

The End

996 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Sewing, Cooking, Planning for NaNo, Writing, and Christmas Cards?

H Ween002

Hubby and me, Bad Witch and Good Witch, photo by Randy Cockrell

Saturday my hubby and I attended a Halloween party with a lot of our hiking friends. That’s the pic, there at the top of the post. We had a lot of fun. I went as a good witch and made my own costume. That’s where the sewing part came in. I had to modify hubby’s costume as well so, more sewing there.

The planning for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) proceeds down to the wire. I still need two stories for the 14th and 28th of Thanksgiving.  My outline for my Cozy Mystery, working title, Mystery at the Fair, continues with difficulty. I have 45 scenes. I seem to toss more than I write new. I keep going through the cards, wondering where I can insert more trouble for my main protagonist, Jean Hays. I’m starting to wonder if I need another plot line. I have 4 days to figure it out.

I’ve also been thinking about the cover for Mystery at the Fair. Since I want to write these as a series, I’ve been contemplating the theme that will continue from book cover to book cover. My first thought is to have the same background color on each book. I’ll keep you posted on what the unifying element will be. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing.

I’m well into the final edits for the second book in my Brown Rain series. It’s at the editor’s now and I expect I’ll have it back from them in the next day or two. I’ll make the final corrections and start the formatting process. I finished the cover for it. It looks great. I think I’ll do the cover reveal next Monday. Stay tuned for that.

That thyme? Still on the drying rack. Sigh. I’d better hurry up and get that down and the rosemary and sage up on the rack.

Oh, and the Christmas Cards? I have made my own Christmas Cards for several years. It’s so much fun to pick a design and then the paper and colors and make all the pieces for assembly. The problem is that I send out about 60 cards, it’s a big family and we have a lot of friends. Unfortunately, it’s the end of October and I don’t have anything planned. Then there’s NaNo taking up a lot of time in November. So, I’ve decided that there won’t be homemade cards this year. I’m a little bummed but relieved that I can put that stress away to concentrate on writing. So, to my friends and family used to getting a homemade card, I apologize, but something has to give.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Flash Fiction Friday: Day Ghosts

Red Sky by Randy Cockrell

Red Sky by Randy Cockrell

The summer sun still spread its fingers of light down my street. I hesitated in the doorway of my apartment building. I needed to get to work but I wanted to wait until the sun was gone from the sky.

The building super moved past me with a barrel of trash for the dumpster. He eyed me as he passed. I nodded. He viewed me with suspicion because I wanted the basement apartment on the north side of the building. “No one wants that apartment, why do you want it?”

I shrugged. “I work nights. I like it dark while I sleep during the day.”

He eyed me then too. “OK, but don’t come back in a month looking for a place on the top floor.”

I promised. I’d never ask for a place on the top floor. I love October. The days are noticeably shorter. I have more time to move around the city without sunlight. I know, most people want to be out in the sun. Not me. And before you ask, no, I’m not a vampire. Those are a myth. My problem is ghosts.

The sun’s last rays lingered but I had to go. I stepped out into the street and looked both ways. I didn’t see anything but I never do when I take this chance. I was nineteen when it first happened. I was leaving the college library after an all afternoon session. All I could think about was getting to the student union and filling a tray with a burger and fries. I was half a block from the Union when a cold shudder swept through me. I stopped dead on the sidewalk and felt as though I was going to vomit. I pushed hair out of my face with a shaky hand. I didn’t have time to be sick. I swallowed and looked around. There were a lot of kids but no one was paying any attention to me. I started on my way and was overcome again with that feeling of ice and doom. I made it to a bush, just loosing its yellowed leaves to the recent frost before I hurled into it. A couple of passing girls giggled. I blushed.

I turned around and headed for my dorm room. Hungry or not, I needed to lie down. I had three more attacks before I made it inside to rest. My mom called me three days later. “Have you been feeling all right, sweetie?”

“Yeah, I must have some bug.” My voice was weak, days of chills and vomiting had taken a toll.

The line was silent for a moment. “When do you get sick?”

“Outside, every time I try to go to class or to the cafeteria, I just lose it.”

She didn’t say anything. I thought the connection had been lost. “Mom?”

“Um, I need to tell you something.”

“What?”

“You remember your grandmother Winston? Never went out in the daylight?”

“Yeah? Kinda strange. Only went to night mass, that kind of thing.”

“Well, she was cursed.”

I had to digest that information for a minute. “Cursed, like a gypsy curse? There’s no such thing.”

“There is. Look. I’ll drive up. It’ll be dinner time when I get there. You stay inside and rest. I’ll come and get you.”

I felt better by the time she came. It was dark when we left the dorm. She took me to a nice place and I tore into a medium rare steak, baked potato and green beans. Over dessert I opened the discussion. “So tell me about the curse.”

She sipped Pinot Noir. “She was about your age and told me when you were a baby. I never paid any attention to her activities, it all seemed normal to me. She did everything after sunset. I thought that’s what everyone did. As a teen she’d made fun of some old woman on Main Street. The woman glared at her and said, “Laugh now, young one. See how you like living in the dark. This is for you and your’s every other generation for three generations.” Then she spit on the sidewalk at your grandmother’s feet.”

I resisted the urge to lick the inside of the crème brulee cup. “Seriously, Mom?”

“I know. But the symptoms you’re experiencing are the same as hers. Ghosts, she told me, can’t be seen well in the light. They were attracted to her and swarmed her. At night, they left her alone.”

My fingers flipped the licked clean spoon over and over on the white tablecloth. “You expect me to believe that? I can’t go out during the day because I’m being swarmed by ghosts?”

She nodded.

It’s been six years. Mom was right. I can’t see them, but they’re there and if a ray of sun is around, they’ll swarm me. I haven’t told my fiancé yet. I’m not sure how to do that. I round a corner and step into the last of the sunshine. I’m washed in cold air and it feels as though I’ve been punched in the stomach. What’s left of my late lunch comes up as I hurl against the wall of the building next to me. The sun drops behind the horizon and the cold disappears. I dig a tissue out of my pocket and wipe my mouth. A wino on a nearby bench asks if I’m OK.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Must have been bad food.”

“Gotta watch that, Miss. Those diners, they don’t care, just keep serving the old stuff up.”

“Thanks,” I tell him and wobble away.

No, I’m not sure how my fiancé is going to take this at all.

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Racing through October

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Is the month going by as fast for you as it is for me? Wow, it’s been a crazy month. Last week my hubby and I went to Sedona with several of our hiking friends and had a good time hiking that area. The picture at the top of the post is from there. Too beautiful for words. Of course the weekend before was the craft fair, that was exciting. The 4th was my visit to the Sedona book fair.  Then there are the meetings for the book festival we’re planning for Payson, dental appointments, HOA meeting, project management phone calls and a luncheon for the neighborhood ladies.

In between all of that, I’m prepping for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). I want to have stories scheduled for every Friday in November so I don’t have to worry about that while I’m writing my newest draft. I have 2 scheduled, 1 written and ready to be scheduled and one still to be done. I still need one for the 31st of October, too. That should probably be kind of Halloweeny, don’t you think? Other NaNo planning is my outline. It’s going to be a cozy mystery, the first one I’ve tried to write. I have five plot lines and about 30 scene sentences completed. I think another 30 – 40 scenes will fill the story out nicely. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing. I need to think about a cover for my cozy mystery, too. Hmmm.

The garden is still producing tomatoes and the sweet and hot pepper plants still have a couple peppers on them ripening. Otherwise the garden is looking a little worn and tired. Soon I’ll have to pull everything out and prep the beds for the winter.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know if you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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