Happy Fall, Y’all!
I love the autumn season. The colors are brilliant. The harvest is coming in full of bounty and goodness, and hallelujah, pumpkin spice is everywhere you turn! I love pulling out my warm sweaters only to change them out by noon for a tank top (I live in the South!). I love picking apples and making apple butter, apple cake, apple bread, apple pie, apple crisp… you get the idea. I love fall festivals and the restfulness that settles over the land. It’s the absolute perfect season, in my opinion!
As a kid, fall only registered on my radar because it heralded the coming of one of the best days of the year—Halloween. I loved dressing up and trick or treating. I loved the parties and silly haunted houses. And like all kids, I especially loved the candy! My rural midwestern town always gave generously to all the little ghosts, witches, princesses, cowboys, and other creatures that knocked on their doors on Halloween. The only thing I didn’t like about Halloween was the ghost stories.
Thanks to my overactive imagination—which serves me well as an author, but not so much as a kid who struggled with remembering the difference between fiction and reality—I always shied away from scary stories. However, it was hard to avoid them altogether. Every year in school, we would listen to a record (yes… a record—I’m that old!) of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems and stories. The Raven and the Tell-Tale Heart particularly stuck with me. They would lodge in my brain for weeks after listening to them. I would think about them over and over, hearing the thump of a heart beneath the floor or tapping at the window. I saw the Raven and the sad man sitting in his dreary home pining for his lost love. I felt the terror of the old man waking with his killer in his room and, at the same time, felt the tinge of insanity of the killer. Did I mention my overactive imagination?
I was probably around ten when it really got the best of me. After being primed by scary stories, I was ready to see ghosts and goblins around every corner. It turned out I didn’t have to look further than my bedroom in our old farmhouse. I shared it with my younger sister, and there was a large closet in the room with an old wooden door. The closet door had a several-inch gap at the bottom that let light spill into the room when the door was shut, a feature which my parents used as a nightlight for my little sister. The bed was tucked into a corner, facing the closet, and I shared it with my sister. After we got tucked in for the night, my mom closed the door, and my imagination started to churn.
I heard every sigh and moan of the old farmhouse. Every creak was a footfall of a monster coming to get us. I told myself over and over that there was nothing to be afraid of. Mom was downstairs, and certainly, no monster could get past her. I had almost gotten my fears under control when I saw them—a pair of witch’s shoes clearly outlined in the gap of light at the base of the closet door. They had heels and my imagination quickly filled in pointed toes and a pair of legs with striped stockings. The green face of the Wicked Witch of the East came to mind, and I knew it had to be the worst sort of witch behind that door. I swallowed hard and struggled to stay in bed. It was a rule in my house that once you got put to bed, you didn’t get up unless you had to use the bathroom or the house was on fire. My sister had slipped blissfully into dreamland, completely unaware of the terror on the other side of the closet door.
Then, the tapping began. From the window on the far side of the room came a scratch-tap, scratch-tap. Well, this could be nothing other than more witches trying to join their sister in my closet. I looked back at the shoes in the closet. They had disappeared. The witch had gone to let in more witches. I pulled the covers over my head and told myself that I was imagining things. There were no such things as witches, but when I poked my head out, the shoes had reappeared. I imagined the closet was stuffed with witches, all ready to do who-knew-what to me. My heart hammered, and I listened to the noises of the house and the continued scratch-tap at the window. What other creatures had come to torment us?
I sat up, resolved that I would stay awake all night. Somewhere in my sleepy, terrified mind, I convinced myself that if I just stayed awake, the witches wouldn’t be able to come out of the closet. Of course, I couldn’t stay awake all night and finally fell asleep. When my mom woke us the next morning, I catapulted out of bed. Startled, Mom asked why I had slept sitting up, and if the storm had woken me. She gave me a very strange look when I flung open the closet door. No witches or shoes or broomsticks greeted me—just my sister’s stuffed animal that had fallen on the floor. I looked at the leafless tree outside the window, its twiggy fingers almost touching the glass. In the light of day, it all made perfect sense, but that didn’t stop me from insisting that the closet door stay open at night from then on.
I can vividly still recall that night and the feeling of unease that hung over me for days. I started writing about that time, trying to let the things my imagination conjured play out on the page. Here I am, decades later, with a slightly better hold on reality, still putting words on the page and hoping that they inspire and entertain. It’s funny now that I look back on it. I would still say that I hate scary stories, but the experience they gave me taught me a lot about the power of a story.
What do you think of scary stories? Have you ever encountered a story—scary or otherwise—that lingered in your mind?
As always, thank you, Delilah, for letting me share my thoughts! It’s always an honor and pleasure to drop in here 😊
Set to be released on Halloween from Carpathia Publishing, check out a fabulous collection of Samhain inspired tales. Beware—they cover the spectrum of spookiness! Samhain Secrets 2 is due out on Amazon this weekend, including my story—“The Knife’s Edge”!
Samhain Secrets 2, including “The Knife’s Edge”
It’s been a century since the Queen of the Damned has walked the earth. As she rises on All Hallow’s Eve, Jason, the ancient Vampire King, is ready to meet her and send her back to Hell where she belongs. He only needs to know one thing—where is she rising?
Adelaide Buckley is supposed to have the answer. The black sheep of the family, she comes from a long line of witches and seers, but her third eye has always remained resolutely closed. With the future balancing on a knife’s edge, can she overcome her magical blindness and see beyond the veil to reveal the location of the bloodthirsty queen before she unleashes Hell on Earth?
The link is coming!
About the Author
A.C. Dawn is an active and enthusiastic author and reader of short stories, novellas, and novels. She enjoys bringing her characters to life and strives to stir the imagination of her readers. She believes the best writing touches the reader in ways they hadn’t expected and will never forget!
So, that’s the official bio…
Really, I’m a lover of chocolate, a strong jawline with a 5 o’clock shadow, and romances that make your heart pound and your middle get all squishy. I love quiet country living on my north Georgia farm with my family and fur babies of all shapes and sizes. I think the scariest thing in life is how fast my daughter is growing and an empty coffee pot. I can’t stand slow drivers in the fast lane and wimpy handshakes.
I have endless stories rumbling around among the rocks in my head. I can’t wait to share them with you!