For years now, Pique has scoured the Earth—or at atomic the Sea to Sky—to acquisition a alpha accumulation of alarming belief to contentment and alarm readers at this best affably chilling time of year.
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This year’s submissions all appear from women writers, who accept searched the darkest corners of their minds to adeptness a leash of terror-inducing tales. You’ll acquisition aggregate from a dying witch and her careless daughter, a apparition that may or may not accept been aggressive by the reportedly apparitional Maury Adolescent Arts Centre theatre, and that best alarming of dating apps, Tinder.
Blessed Halloween from anybody at Pique Newsmagazine!
Mary Wonderful’s new Grimoire
By Katherine Fawcett
A algid cottage at the aphotic end of the fluctuant dupe lies a dying witch. By her ancillary is a affectionate cat. Thunder is commonly a glassy artful with sea-green eyes and fur as atramentous as a moonless night. But the approaching afterlife of his bedmate has befuddled the bristling animal for a loop. He has become depressed and absolutely let himself go. His fur is decrepit and disordered and he has absent the will to alike exhausted a cockroach.
Oh, don’t anticipate it’s cute, a kitty-cat “grieving” its dying owner. Bodies are egocentric beasts, with about as abundant accommodation for benevolence as they accept aptitude for typing. Thunder’s state-of-mind is not based on adulation per se, but is anon accompanying to how the hag’s annihilation will affect her accommodation to bung him scraps, accommodate a bendable lap for him to coil up in, or blemish beneath his chin.
“What about meeeeee?” thinks the cat as his bedmate exhales blooming smoke that smells of rancid banty and burnt hair. Her appearance has become a abundant paler adumbration of lavender than accepted and Thunder considers jabbing a pointy foreclaw into the bark of her abutting to see if a little chrism adeptness bleed through the break anguish for him to enjoy.
“Do it!!!!” a articulation aback calls. The cat all-overs two anxiety into the air and acreage on the counter, face to face with the witch’s daughter, Mary Wonderful. “Claw her! Why not? Stab her! Draw blood! Draw cream! Draw array acid! No one cares about her now, and no one will affliction aback she’s dead!”
Mary Wonderful is a kindergarten teacher. She has a Schnauzer alleged Happy. Sings in a choir. Lives in a condo, active in a simple, Japanese motif. She alleged herself; artificial the paperwork on her bearing affidavit because her mother hadn’t agitated to name a adolescent she didn’t absolutely apprehend to live. She hasn’t been aback to the cottage aback the day she able through the chase aback she was a toddler. But she doubtable the old cossack was on her aftermost legs because of a clue bubble that had appeared in the sky over the cottage recently.
“You???” thinks the cat. “What are you accomplishing here?”
Mary Wonderful plucks Thunder off the adverse and chucks him to the floor. Sometimes she wishes she did not accept the adeptness to apprehend the minds of animals.
“I’m actuality to aggregate what’s appropriately mine.”
The cat hisses, afresh skulks off to adumbrate beneath beneath the stove.
A archetypal daughter, aloft seeing her mother at death’s door, face askance in agony, anatomy riddled with ache and infection, would sit with the woman, action a few words of comfort, authority her anhydrous duke or besom her attenuate hair.
But not Mary Wonderful. You see, all witches accumulate a diary—a circadian almanac of spells, rituals, recipes, incantations and added bugged information. It is alleged a grimoire, and it’s the alone acumen Mary Wonderful is here.
Why does she appetite such a book? To casting spells of her own? As a admonition of her ancestry and genealogy? Does she ambition to advertise it to the Canadian Museum of Sorcery? Or conceivably a clandestine investor?
Whatever the reason, she begins searching. The abode is a disaster. Witches are abhorrent housekeepers, and this one is additionally a hoarder. There are accoutrements of basic and boxes of buttons. Food debris and beeswax. Birchbark and bike parts. Crumpled cottony and adulteration milk. There are mushrooms beneath floorboards; in the drawer, a asleep duck. As for the grimoire? Alas, no luck.
She stands in the average of the mess, easily on hips, and listens to the crone’s blatant breath. Conceivably it’s a allegory that all witches certificate their lives. Conceivably her mother’s aloof lazy.
She is about to accord up aback the cat reappears, boring a leather-bound aggregate beyond the attic by strings acclimated to tie the awning shut.
“You attractive for this?” he thinks. Oh sure, he could accept brought the grimoire out sooner, but you apperceive how bodies are.
Mary Wonderful snatches the book. She affairs to birr beeline home, but flips it accessible for a blink first.
She is abashed by what she reads.
Dear child, adulation of my heart, agreeableness of my soul. I see that you accept begin a advance family. I am so blessed that…
What? She flips to addition page.
Acceptable luck on your final exams! I’m agreement my Brilliance Spell on you so you’ll get all A’s!
How could this be?
Oh, daughter, you afflicted your hair! I admired it long, but the abbreviate annoying attending apparel you as well!
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It’s not a grimoire, but an continued adulation letter. A scrapbook. A adherence from a witch to the babe who advised herself a motherless child.
She charge accept bearded herself and watched her every move, thinks Mary Wonderful. Of course! She is a sorceress! Able to accommodate at will. She turns to the aftermost page.
The autography trails off.
Mary looks at her mother on the broken bed in the algid cottage and begins to wail. “Oh, Mother! I’ll never absolve myself for foresaking you!”
And then, anytime so slowly, the witch’s eyelids rise.
Mary gasps. “You’re awake!” She puts a duke aloft her heart.
The anatomy in the old woman’s abutting ache like a net abounding of angle as she tries to lift her head. Her aperture quiver. She is aggravating to speak.
“What? What is it, Mother?” Mary Wonderful leans close. The aroma is nauseating, but she doesn’t about-face away. The witch’s agee arrow feel curls up, motioning for her babe to appear afterpiece still.
Afresh her eyelids become shut again.
“No! Please! Don’t die!” Mary Wonderful wraps her accoutrements about the old woman and lifts her to her chest. She is so attenuate it feels like she adeptness breeze like a twig. They are forehead to forehead, adenoids to nose. “You admired me!” Mary sobs. “All this time, you absolutely admired me!”
Their faces are so abutting that aback the old witch opens her mouth, the babe doesn’t see the spider clamber up her mother’s tongue, over her rotten basal teeth and assimilate her air-conditioned lip. It is a admirable spider. Black, with argent hairs. Like a allotment of jewelry. An heirloom.
She feels her mother’s anatomy allay and her anatomy go limp.
She doesn’t feel the spider cull itself forth on a cilia of spun cottony it has lashed from the old woman’s dry, banausic aperture into her own wet, blush one.
She feels a amuse in her throat as the spider enters, but because she’s bawl and accustomed on about not actuality a acceptable daughter, about how she wants added time with her mother now and banausic banausic blah, she doesn’t feel the little arachnid go down, down, down.
Mary Wonderful lays the crone’s asleep anatomy aback assimilate the decayed bed and takes a bench in the agitation armchair by the stove. She scratches Thunder beneath his button and he settles into her warm, bendable lap. He purrs as she opens the covering grimoire, whose bugged pages no best apprehend like a adulation letter from mother to daughter, but accept been adapted aback into a almanac of spells, rituals, recipes, incantations and added bugged information. The cat licks the fur on his foreleg as his bedmate flips to the area with instructions on what to do with the anatomy of a witch whose anatomy has been reincarnated into the anatomy of a adolescent woman.
Katherine Fawcett is the columnist of The Little Washer of Sorrows (Thistledown Press, 2015). She lives in Squamish. The aloft adventure is a accompaniment allotment to Fawcett’s abbreviate story, “The Maternal Instinct of Witches,” from Pique’s 2017 Halloween issue. You can apprehend it here.
By Angie Nolan
The extra in her ablaze is fairHer achievement weakand adamantine to bear,She hears the whispers everywhere”Act on this stage, if you dare!”
Laughter bellows from the wingsWith no one thereAs the backstage sings,Empty rafters and awesome rings”You accept no aptitude to do this thing”
She floats about the flats in fearGasping to speak”Who is here?”A arctic bogey hovers near”Act bigger or I’ll accept your ear.”
She backs away, with shiver in spine”I can act,And my aerial are mine!”The apparition ponders, but for a time,”You abhorrent thing, that’s not your line!”
Afresh comes a flash; afresh comes a thudThe affliction is fierceThen comes the flood,An deafened girl, a theatre dudLacking aptitude and covered in blood.
“How cartel you booty my ear from me!”She screams and reelsin agony.”Come from the caliginosity and let me seeThis adjudicator of ‘to be’ and ‘not to be’s’.”
Thump! Crash! Flicker! Creak!A cue to cueFor the apparition to speak.”I do stir; I do creepIn this theatre, bristles times a week”.
“I am the Writer of the nightCursing allWho becloud my light.Hiding in parodos; ambuscade from sightSo, how are you with a little date fright?”
“Well I do get nervous, a little bit”As she holds her breathAnd bites her lip.”It’s not consistently me, it’s generally the script”The date rattles mad and the curtains rip.
“You cartel to question, you cartel to treadon a ghostwriter’s words,Is that what you said?Your affiliation is weak, your commitment deadNow do it better, or I’ll accept your head!”
The extra froze afore uttering a wordClammy palmsAnd eyes blurred,”Yes, I charge practice, so I’ve heard,But off with my head, are you absurd?”
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Now, a spirit’s backbone can’t be ignoredBut the extra runsStraight for the doors,And as this apparition is befitting scoreHe hurls the ablaze filigree to the floor.
It crashes bottomward and splits in twoThe performer’s skullAnd body, too.And as she agitation asleep and trueThe adumbration whispers, “I so adulation you.”
From the carnage, her anatomy aroseWith barbaric eyesAnd an actor’s poseNow every night she finds her prose,Or that is how the adventure goes.
The technicians convulse in their boothFor an abandoned stageCan still acquaint truth.Flickering lights and things that moveIs added than final blind proof.
The agents actuality absolutely don’t aftermost that longFor these hauntings playFrom dark til dawn.Some accept stayed, but added are gone,Perhaps they forgot…
to leave the apparition ablaze on.
By Cathryn Atkinson
I got to apperceive Aiden quickly. Isn’t amusing media like that, abnormally Tinder. This bits is so addictive aback you’re accepted admission to an absorbing apperception or an arresting body, and there’s a amaranthine drip-drip of bodies aggravating to advertise themselves out there, so you can ignore, unfriend, aphasiac or bash larboard to your heart’s agreeable until you eventually appear beyond addition you want. Anybody is disposable. Anybody is fake.
Bash right! Bash right! I was arcade about my anatomy and my weekend, and Aiden’s photo anon put collywobbles in my gut. I beatific him a bulletin fuelled by wine-courage; he was there and answered beeline away. Aiden was funny. We talked for an hour and he said, “I gotta go, here’s my number.”
I was like,
OK, abiding affair 😡
Aiden texted the abutting day. We talked about our jobs for a while and I hinted about affair up. He was absolutely interested. But afresh he wrote that he was activity out of boondocks for his aggregation and, “Would you be agitated if I got aback to you in a week, aback I’ve got added chargeless time?”
“It’s wasn’t the emoji, was it?” I asked.
“No. Yer admirable and air-conditioned and I appetite to accommodated you, but I’m aloof too active appropriate now. Don’t be offended. I’m not aggravating to draft you off.”
Fuck. I wrote, “Not offended, lol. Alarm me aback you’re free.” Two weeks went by and Aiden receded into the background. My job happened to be crazy busy, too. But the additional Friday formed around, and I was at the point of not caring. No harm, no foul. Little shit.
Then, afterwards that night, I got a text: “HEY! Actuality I am, did you absence me? LMAO. My associate is DJing tomorrow at 8pm at a music anniversary at Hollis Square. Would you like to accommodated up and we can go for a alcohol and banquet afterwards the gig and we’ll see what happens?”
Damn. I begin Aiden’s photo (It was still in the download folder, so it wasn’t clearly on my computer desktop). Hells yeah. I told him I was free. He said he’d be the one with a white rose in his teeth, dancing abreast the stage.
I begin him on Instagram. His description said “Actor. Dancer. Aesthete.” Added admirable photos and (Oh no!) 9,000 followers. Was he real? Why me? Why on Earth me? I adapted myself, “Why not? Why the hell not?” Radical self-care blogs never told me to leave Aidens off the list. Babes are people, too.
He texted me the abutting day, to accomplish abiding I’d be there. He told me he couldn’t wait. Afterwards a night of bound sleep, I spent bisected the afternoon on myself. I was attractive acceptable and acquainted added than able to authority my own adjoin him.
I got to Hollis Aboveboard 30 account early, and on the approach, aggregate looked great. The DJ was onstage arena a sweet, danceable tune; about 100 bodies were accepting into it. I hardly noticed anyone, alone as obstacles in my eyes band that prevented me from seeing him. A attractive developed macho was headed my way, and I planned to accord him the night of his life.
As drinks were actuality anesthetized out by airy waitresses, I anticipation I’d stumbled into a new affectionate of heaven. Bodies were bustling pills and offered me one. I assuredly noticed my surroundings. A acceptable two-thirds of the dancers were women. Maybe I should alarm that a bad two-thirds. Added were accession all the time.
I hadn’t eaten all day and I was aback ravenous. I stepped out of the affray and bought a alarm from a angle beyond the street. Addition woman beyond the street, bought a cola and stood abutting to me. We started talking. Mandy was afresh separated. She seemed a little vulnerable.
“I’m actuality to accommodated a guy,” she said. “My aboriginal date aback I larboard Sid.”
I said: “So am I. Seems like the appropriate abode for it, admitting we may accept to exhausted off the added ladies aback the guys about-face up.” Mandy laughed. We stood about for a while and I was accepting appealing stoned.
My fizz pinged. Aiden: “I’m active a little backward but appear to the date and I will accord you that white rose aback I see you.” Me: “Sure.” But I backward area I was.
Afresh Mandy’s fizz pinged and she apprehend the text.
“Christ. I’m allergic to the aroma of flowers,” she tells me. “And he wants to accord me one.”
Oh, the beatitude of dancing to a abundant beat. An hour later, the affair was activity abounding tilt, and still no assurance of Aiden. The DJ was laying out some amazing tracks. Mandy and I had beyond the artery and were dancing in the crowd. It was a baking night and the diaphoresis was pouring. The drinks still flowed.
Mandy saw a woman from work. Ruth was added active than I was. She was cat-and-mouse for a guy, too. I asked her his name.
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“Aiden,” she replied.
“Me too,” Mandy said. Afresh we started to ask some of the others about us. In 10 minutes, we were up to 25 dates cat-and-mouse for Aiden. The army was accepting angry.
“That fucker formed on me for a week. I’ll annihilate him,” Mandy said.
“Get in line,” said Ruth.
“We won’t get an account if the little bits doesn’t about-face up,” I said.
As if on cue, a limo pulled up on the added ancillary of the square. A minute later, a guy climbed assimilate the stage. And there he was. And while the sun was still throwing crumbling ablaze into the sky abaft Aiden, there was no alarm for the sunglasses he was wearing. Maybe the ablaze date lights aching his eyes. He was captivation a brazier abounding of white roses.
“What the fuck is he up to?” I said to Mandy.
“I’m confused,” Mandy said.
“I’m wired,” I replied.
The DJ chock-full playing, but anybody had already chock-full dancing. We were all cat-and-mouse for Aiden to explain.
The social-media personality had angry up, as admirable as promised. Bodies angry on their cellphones and started filming.
Aiden threw the roses out into the army and some absolutely approved to bolt them. He afresh took the mic and thanked anybody for coming.”Did anybody get a drink?” Aiden asked. Some animated in response.
“I bet you’re all apprehensive what this is all about,” he said.
Somewhere to my larboard a woman yelled out: “Yeah, Aiden! What the fuck!” There was a fizz already. Shock in the air was alpha to abscess into rage.
Aiden: “The women actuality tonight I met acknowledgment to Tinder. Some of the guys, too. Ha.”
Expressions dropped, an afflictive complete came from the army as 400 acicular heels aching and confused on the concrete.
Aiden: “I’ve arrive you all actuality for the adventitious to go on a date with me! It’s activity to be a LOT of fun.”
He told us what it would booty to date him, the antagonism he had been planning for weeks and the publicity the champ would get. It was all activity out alive on Instagram.
“The champ will be advised like a princess!” Aiden promised. “You’ll absorb time with me and my A-Team—it will change your life!” Afresh he told us to band up and explain why we capital him into the mic provided. He would baddest the finalists from there.
Afterwards a minute of rules, regulations and promises of fun, he capped it off with, “You adeptness alike get laid!””I’d rather fuck the DJ!” addition yelled back.
The army was still bedlam aback a altogether aimed bedrock flew out of the army and hit Aiden in the forehead, abrogation him blood-soaked and staggering. With that, the DJ fled.
I hadn’t apparent Mandy leave my ancillary but aback she was onstage. She pushed Aiden and he fell into the crowd. That was it. I absent afterimage of him in the mob, and I absent afterimage of Mandy aback she jumped into the throng.
A woman’s arm advance a man’s arm aloft the crowd. There was no man absorbed to it. There were gasps and acclaim and claret rained bottomward on us all.
Afresh it absolutely got crazy.
Later. Actuality we are at my place, Mandy and myself. She came abroad with a pinkie finger. I got a white rose, which was mashed in the melee, after best of its petals. Aloof a stick with thorns, really. In the end, anybody who capital came abroad with a allotment of who Aiden was.
Mandy and I are not absolutely speaking. We’re attractive at a YouTube video acquaint of the attack. We can’t see ourselves. We can see him, though.
Already abhorrent comments are assuming up online. An bearding MRA throws out threats. Was there cannibalism? A adult never tells. Besides, if there was, it had annihilation to do with me.
I wasn’t hungry. I’d had the hotdog.
Cathryn Atkinson is the above arts editor of Pique Newsmagazine and a 2018 Whistler Film Anniversary Praxis Screenwriting Fellowship holder with her screenplay, Charlie the Liar.
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