“Chance” by Conor Powers-Smith

Somewhere far away, someone was burning leaves. When the breeze blew, the smell reached the farm grounds, somehow crowding out the nearer aromas of frying donuts and baking pies and simmering apple cider. The noise—the babble and movement of a few dozen people, the laughter and shrieks and running footsteps of children, the crying of at least one baby at any given moment, it seemed—receded, too, when the smell was present, as if Paul’s senses were straining exclusively toward the sharp fragrance of invisible smoke. Continue reading

“Lurks a Cruel Bee” by Sam Witt

Kevin ran. He tucked his plastic sack of candy tight against his chubby belly, put his head down, and churned his stumpy little legs as fast as he could.

He almost made it. The warm glow of the porch light was reflected in Kevin’s eyes, he imagined rushing up the steps and through the big black door, heading upstairs to gorge himself on trick-or-treat loot. Then someone screamed and Kevin turned his head to look back. Continue reading

“Echoes in the Bones” by Mike Rimar

Gauls, wearing wooden masks and little else gyrated to a cacophony of fifes and drums by the light of two blazing pyres. Most engaged in blatant seduction and howled like animals into the late autumn night, their shadows stretching across the ground in demonic parody.

I turned from the spectacle and focused on Weylin, my host. “You promised me King Midas, old man. What is this?” Continue reading

“The Collectors” by Evelyn Deshane

As Maggie Sullivan walks to work, kids dressed up as pirates and superheroes pass her by. No one notices her blue and purple scrubs; no one says Happy Halloween or offers her candy. It’s just as well, she figures. As soon as she enters the large waiting room, a sign declares NO MASKS. Next to the fake cob-webby stuff up on some of the large windows, another sign declares NO CANDY. Especially anything with peanuts, though this prohibition is pretty much a given now wherever Maggie works. While the hospital is willing to open its doors on the one night where it is said their morgue could rise up and walk the earth, they aren’t taking any chances with anaphylactic shock. No patrons of the ER may wear masks and they may not have peanuts. This is a government building. What do you take us for, anyway? But Happy Halloween. We respect all nationalities, sexualities, and creeds. Just please no peanuts and we need to be able to see your face for our security cameras. Continue reading

“The Devil’s Due” by Mike Rimar

“Imp!” My master’s voice rumbled with the comforting malice of a thousand forges. “What the Heaven is this?”

I leaned forward hoping to appear sufficiently inquisitive and peered at the Soul List. Created from the flayed skin of the eternally damned, the scroll unfurled across his obsidian desk. Smoke trailed from the blackened rim of the hole he’d made with his stiletto-like finger. Around the hole the remaining letters of a name faded from view.

Blinking once, I blinked again. Even by the bastardized physics of Hell, something like that should have been impossible. But my master demanded an answer and I made a great show of pinching my features in pensive repose, heeding the first lesson upon my servitude that ignorance was an undesirable virtue. Continue reading