B2BCyCon Walk with the Monsters Blog Hop

bloodspring

Welcome to the Blood Spring and the Walk with the Monsters Blog Hop!

Join us on the dark road as we explore the shadowy domain of horror. Come discover strange haunts and creepy corners where things really do go bump in the night.

Come, step on the path, the bloodthirsty creatures await…

darkedinburgh_darklight

Courser

Aeryi huddled against the brick wall, pressed into a black corner of a backstreet alley. Danger stalked the hours after the twelfth bell chimed. Creatures emerged from shadowed alleys to hunt, beasts both otherworldly and mortal. She shivered, the echo of her dead father’s voice ringing in her head.

“Never be a victim, child. Never.”

Aeryi smiled, a cold lifeless salute, and leapt from her hiding place. She slashed her knife with skillful ease. Her prey, a poor drunkard, fell on the cobblestones his calf half-severed and bleeding.

“Come and feed,” she whispered, and the alley swirled with a dark pulse.

She watched as the air solidified, as pale hunched over creatures cloaked in smoke and incorporeal substance shuffled from the dark night. She stared as the unnatural things gravitated to the groaning man, who wriggled on the stones, still unaware of his fate. Her father’s voice again whispered in her ear.

“Sometimes a devil’s bargain is all you have.”

Some part of her wanted to look away, but she kept her gaze straight ahead on the unfolding scene. The beings swarmed the poor unfortunate soul with gnashing teeth and slicing claws, in screams and pleas of mercy. They devoured flesh and bone, drank of bile and blood, until not a scrap of body remained, and their meal was done.

One turned to Aeryi then, a ragged toothed smile peeking from an eternal black empty and its red eyes swirling in unknown emotion. “Good hound.” A semblance rasp of a voice addressed her. “Find us good meat.”

It raised its facsimile of a limb and patted her head with blood stained claws. Only experience and practice prevented Aeryi from shuddering. “Now find more. Still hungry.”

“Yes, master. As you command.” She gave a slight bow. “Another kill tonight. I’ll find you someone.”

Another smile and the thing and its fellows melted back into the shadows. Aeryi headed into the street to find another victim for the beasts that controlled her. The ever present murmur of her father’s voice followed her as she stalked the streets, the words he spoke the day he bound her body and soul to the creatures.

“One day you’ll understand. One day you’ll thank me. Better to be predator than prey.”

Whispers caught her attention. A man and a woman framed in a doorway.

Fresh meat.

As she crept along the shadows, knife ready to strike, she thought about her father, about his words. He was right about one thing.

Always better to be predator than prey.

Her father learned that last winter at the point of her knife. And tonight so would the couple kissing in the shadows.

Her masters needed to feed. She wouldn’t end as their prey.

Her father’s screams were his best lesson.

 

 © A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved



If you like what you see, feel free to check out the rest of my website, click one of the follow buttons or signup for my newsletter (I don’t bite, I promise).

And here’s where you go for the next stop on the Walk with Monsters Blog Hop:  Angela Yuriko Smith. Many things await you there, haunted houses, vampires and more…

For the entire Blog Hop list you can check out the B2BCyCon Blog Hop Page (scroll until you find the horror listing)  or the B2BCyCon Horror Page.

 

 

The Stalk the Monsters Scavenger Hunt is Now Closed!

 

Stalk the Monsters Scavenger Hunt

As part of the B2BCyCon blog hop of horror, come join the Stalk the Monsters Scavenger hunt!

Somewhere on this site you will find a piece of the puzzle that will allow you to enter to win a grand prize pack of books and other goodies. Once you collect them all, (or as many as you can find), pop over to the contest page and enter!

What you need to find on this website:  A picture of a ship and a sea monster.

What you need to put on the entry form: The book title you find on the picture

Hint: It’s the cover of an upcoming book

 

The grand prize winner will be randomly selected from the entries.

And when you’ve found all the items listed in hunt (or as many as you can find) here’s the last stop to be entered in the contest:  Horror at the B2BCyCon

 

Christmas Lites VI

image001

Hooray!

Christmas Lites VI is out!

For those who are not aware, the wonderful Christmas Lites series are charity anthologies released every year to help raise money for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I have been privileged to be a part of these books since Christmas Lites III, and I have a story in this year’s book as well, called Fate and Faerie.

Here’s a look at the book:

Christmas Lites VI

ebook-cover

Cthulhu wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. The Fae sprinkle their fairy dust to ensure your light never fades. Assassins and adventures alike keep the spirit of life alive. Even the mob brings their family to the dinner table for glorious feasts.

Feel  the magic of the season, the spirit of giving, the love of friends and family.

Discover bright new worlds, blood-pumping adventures,  true love and heartbreak as you explore the stories inside these covers.

For the sixth year in a row, authors from all over the world combined their efforts and talents to create the anthology in your hands. Not for fame or fortune, but to help those in need. Every dime raised from this anthology goes straight to those who provide the assistance to these people. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been helping in ways we can never imagine for years, and we are happy to help support their efforts.

Please visit their website at www.ncadv.org  for more information.

LIST OF AUTHORS:

(In order of appearance)

D.T. Dyllin

Fiona Renton

JG Faherty

Angela Yuriko Smith

Monica La Porta

Ottilie Weber

Patrick Pothier

Cassie McCown

Karen Cutler Drecktrah

Anna McCown

Annabelle Kristufek

Brandon Eye

Marcus Edwards

Kiara Ehsani

Zoe Baker

Brett Talley

A. F. Stewart

Phil Cantrill

Lora Christine

Vered Ehsani

Tricia Kristufek

Frank Smith

Misty Baker

Simon Huntley

Amy Huntley

Christmas Lites VI is available at Amazon

christmas-vi

And now for a bit about my story. Fate and Faerie is a tale about Cyna, a faerie who stops a human from being attacked by wolves and finds herself granted her most desperate wish: Revenge against the Snow Queen.

winter-1828779_1920

So check out the book, and be sure to check out the other books in the series.

Layout 1

A Halloween Story: The Ghost Tree

tree-213980_640

The Ghost Tree

Shall I tell you a story?
Such an inconsequential story, in the grand scheme of universal things, but still quite important to some.
To those that died.
This story has many beginnings, the very first happened a century or two past (or perhaps three, it’s hard to keep track sometimes), the latest only a year ago on a blustery October day.
I remember that day very well (I wasn’t there at the very beginning, though the tale has been told to me).
Evening dusk had settled in, brushing the edges of sunset, and letting the shadows come out to play. I was where I always am. By the oak tree on the hill. I recall staring up, at one crimson leaf clinging to a branch high in the otherwise barren tree. The leaf swayed in the breezy northeast wind, defying the inevitable until it too drifted downward to join its fellows on the cold ground. One more decaying piece of vegetation in the colorful patchwork shroud beneath my tree.
I laughed when the breeze swirled the leaves; a crinkle and crunch sound sailing on whispered air. Around the tree trunk the gust circled, a dance of dead foliage in its wake, streaks of scarlet, lemon and carroty orange fluttering like a procession. It soared to the sky and showered mouldering colours to settle once more to the earth.
It was a beautiful moment.
A rare moment for me.
It didn’t last.
For a pair of happy lovers interrupted the quiet. I knew the pair, seen them often, here underneath the tree. A handsome young lawyer and his pretty mistress. Her face held such a radiant smile, so sweet, so beautiful.
Until the very instant he slit her throat.
Her bones are buried in the nearby woods. Her mother stills cries at night for her lost daughter.
But she’s with us now. A wandering spirit, waiting.
One of the Ghosts of the Oak Tree.
That’s what we call ourselves. Rather silly, but accurate. For this is where the murdered dead come… after. We all end here, every slain, pitiful spectre in the area. Summoned here… by something.
All the local lost souls come to the tree.
Rain says it’s because of the massacre that happened on the hill. Because of the innocent blood that soaked into the ground. It stained the tree she told me, gave it power. I’m not certain if I believe that, but she knows more of it than I do. She and her people were the first to die. The first story.
But there won’t be a story this year.
That poor smiling girl was the final soul we needed
We’re strong enough now.
We are legion.
And we know all the wicked secrets.
The dead are coming home.
For vengeance.

And as an added bonus, here’s a Halloween Reading from Horror Haiku and Other Poems.

Happy Halloween!

jack-o-lantern-1679164_640

Updates and Events

V8A98C0U96

I have some quick writing news and the lowdown about an online event I’m participating in this weekend.

First the news. I have a story appearing in the upcoming issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Issue 28 Terrifying Tales. I’m especially fond of this dark tale, called Arthur’s World, and I hope you check it out later this month when the ezine is published.  I’ll share a link when it drops.

I also have a story still in the running for the upcoming Occult Detective Quarterly magazine. Fingers-crossed for that one, but the competition is tough.

Now for the event.

This weekend, August 12th-14th the wacky fun of the Efestival of Words is taking place! And I am participating again this year.

My events happen on Saturday, August 13th.

At Noon EDT, I’ll be one of the writers in the Build a Story Twitter Challenge panel, where you can watch a crazy multi-author story unfold one tweet-length piece at a time.

And then later that day I’ll be appearing for a 30 minute Q&A session at 4:00 PM EDT.

So please pop over and join the delightful mayhem.

Here’s where you can find the full schedule: The Efestival of Words Schedule of Events

 

 

 

 

The Highwayman – #B2BCYCON Story Hop

TheStoryHopLogo

Welcome to the Brain to Books Cyber Convention Story Hop. My contribution to this literary excursion through the blogosphere is a small paranormal tale called, The Highwayman

 

Road

 

The Highwayman

by A. F. Stewart

 

Sorley hefted the fat purse he lifted off the poor fool asking for directions. The hapless man hailed him at the crossroads, and never felt Sorley’s nimble fingers deprive of his money. Nor did he suspect Sorley’s generous help steered him down the wrong road.

“Serves the Sassenach right. With any luck he’ll end in a bog.” Sorley chuckled. “His coin will do me more good at any rate.”

He tucked the money purse into his coat pocket and started back down the road towards home, whistling his mother’s favourite tune. As he strolled, he smiled at thought of spending his ill-gotten gains.

Maybe I’ll buy Caitriona those hair ribbons she admired. Or Mairi some of those sweets she enjoys. Or a new coat for myself.

Lost in his dreams of gifts and grandeur, he almost missed the sound drifting from the river. Past the bend in the road came a quiet song, a soft and somber lilt, flowing from the water’s edge. Sorley turned his head.

The sight he beheld caused him to stay his travels and stare. On the sandy riverbank, a smallish old woman—dressed in a sea green cloak—squatted, her gnarled fingers hard at work doing her washing. The air around her seemed to tremble and shimmer as if bewitched. Sorley responded in kind with an agitated shiver, though no wind blew and the day was warm. He moved off the road, closer to the river.

The old woman twisted her head and gaped at him, her face a withered reflection of age and decay. Another shiver chased up Sorley’s spine.

“Come to gawk at an old crone, have you?”

“Just curious, old woman.” Her dark, piercing eyes made him uncomfortable, so he looked away, glancing at her laundry. The mess of gray, stained cloth did not put his mind at ease, but he blustered past his disquiet. “But I’d give it up if I were you. That cloth of yours has seen better days. You’ll need more than a good scrub to clean it.”

“That it has, and you’re right. Its day is coming soon.” She smiled, a crooked grin of missing teeth.

Sorley shook his head. His mind seemed improbably mesmerized. “You’re an odd old thing, aren’t you?”

“That I am, full of strange ways.” She shifted her stance, crouching on one knee and hunching her shoulders. “But I have things to say, and you should listen to me.”

“And why is that?” Sorley smiled, now highly amused at her impudence. “What ancient wisdom to you have to offer?”

“Just one small pearl.” She chuckled. “We can’t escape our fate, young man.”

“That’s it?” Disappointment crossed Sorley’s face. “A bit of superstitious nonsense. I was hoping for better, old woman, than tired and useless banality. Fate is for fools. There’s nothing controlling my destiny. I make my own way.”

The old woman stuck out her tongue, and then giggled. “So sure of yourself, you are. Would it surprise you that I agreed? Our actions do determine our fate. Yet…” She smiled another gapped-toothed grin. “We each walk the same path.”

“More nonsense wrapped in daft riddles.” Irritation crept into his tone, with the thought she mocked him. His attention flickered back to the road. “As delightful as this chat has been, I haven’t the time. Good luck with your washing and your drivel, old woman. I’m off.”

“Farewell, Sorley. We’ll meet again soon.”

Sorley sniffed and gave a shrug, dismissing the old woman as he walked on. Only a mile or so down the road did her use of his given name sink into his head. He stopped, and stared back over his shoulder.

“I didn’t tell her my name. I know I didn’t. How did she know?”

His skin prickled, and unease crept into his thoughts, but he pushed the whole encounter into the back recesses of his memory. He continued towards home.

~*~

Nevertheless, the encounter still bothered him. Two nights later, in a seedy tavern, he spoke of it to three friends, Alan, Rab and Graham, as they sat around the card table

“The other day I saw something odd on the way home.” Sorley casually threw the remark, and his move, into the game.

Alan smirked and played his turn. “Do tell.”

“There was a daft old woman down by the river, washing clothes. Isn’t that peculiar?”

“Oh.” Rab glanced up from his hesitation over the cards. “Oh my. I hope it wasn’t the Washer at the Ford.”

“The what?” Sorley frowned.

“It’s some legend, isn’t it?” Alan’s voice interrupted. “See the old woman, and someone you know will die.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of that.” Graham chimed in, “But I thought the person who saw her was the one to die.”

“It’s both actually,” Rab corrected, “She’s a harbinger of death, but who will die only time will tell.”

“Nonsense. She a figment of foolishness. Silly superstition.” Sorley dismissed his friends, but his earlier unease prickled under his skin. “Things like that don’t exist. It’s all just the prattle of fools.”

“You’re probably right, all this talk is a bit silly.” Alan chuckled. “Perhaps someone was playing a prank.” He threw down a card, a grin plastered on his face. “Still, it might be best to avoid cuckolding any husbands for a bit. To be on the safe side.” His trio of friends roared in laughter and Sorley scowled at them.

“If you’re done amusing yourselves at my expense, can we get back to the game?”

And with that, the group spun their attention back to the cards, the conversation fading into ale and the wee hours.

~*~

On the precipice of dusk, Sorley crouched in the woods at the edge of the road, awaiting the carriage of a well-heeled landowner. He heard the rumble of the wheels, and saw the dust in the distance. With one last adjustment to his mask, he raised his pistols and stepped out into the road.

“Halt!” Sorley shouted the command with the roar of a beast, grinning wickedly. He aimed both pistols at the approaching carriage.

The driver, faced with the choice of stopping or running Sorley down, chose to stop. Then he snatched a gun from the adjacent seat. Sorley didn’t hesitate, firing a shot into the man’s chest. The driver slumped, his weapon clattering usually onto the floorboards.

Sorley dashed forward, his heart pumping, and hopped onto the carriage to check on his victim. Satisfied he was dead, Sorley jumped to the ground, still facing the coach. Then came the click of the carriage door opening.

“Damnable highwaymen!”

Sorley whirled at the shout, his remaining weapon raised. He saw the flash of the other man’s pistol, and felt an agony pierce his abdomen. He stumbled, staring at the spreading stain on his shirt, the crimson colour darkly illuminated by the last rays of the sun. Pain screamed through his body as he collapsed onto the ground, his head slumped at an angle, his fingers dropping his useless guns.

Gasping raw and laboured, his blood pooling in the dirt, he saw the old woman standing by the side of the road.

“I told you young man. You can’t escape your fate. Death comes for us all.”

Sorley breathed his last to the soft echoes of a tender, wailing lament.

 

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

All the stories in the Hop can be found here: The Story Hop

 

For more fun check out the Convention

And my booth, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Fantasy and Horror Author A.F. Stewart

Facebook-B2B-Cy-Con-1

 

February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine

DarkPic

Story News!

The February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Things That go Bump in the Night has been published! And guess which author has been included in the magazine. Yes, that would be be me, with many, many other fantastic female horror writers.

I have three drabbles (a story that’s exactly 100 words for those not in the know) included in the issue, plus I’m part of a collaborative interview with these fabulous ladies. You can check out all the great stories and features here:

February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Things That go Bump in the Night

 

Blood drop