Blood Moon is the second volume in the Anthology of the Heart series. This anthology contains 12 short stories about transformation. Transformation can be a metaphysical process of awakening, or a normal life change whether expected or unexpected.
“Anthologies of the Heart” Series, Volume Two
Compiled by Mary C. Blowers
Copyright 2015 Mary C. Blowers
All Rights Reserved
A very special thanks to the contributors, R. H. Ali, Stewart Bint, Peter Bouchier, Wendy Janes, Robin E. Mason, Dash McCallen, Tiago Mota, Timothy Trimble, Erik van Mechelen, Jacklon Michelle Wright, and Vanessa Wright
Also by Mary C. Blowers:
Table of Contents
Mary C. Blowers, Behind the Wall
Robin E. Mason, Sarafina’s Light
R. H. Ali, The World of Magifidad
Tiago Mota, A Waltz Out Of A Blues
Jacklon Michelle Wright, Iglesia De Cristo
Timothy Trimble, The Wings of Leonardo
Wendy Janes, Stefania
Peter Bouchier, Staffa's Mystery
Erik van Mechelen, View from the Tower
Stewart Bint, “Hello, Dear”
Vanessa Wright, Transforming Eve
The Weekend Trip: Snowed
By Dash McCallen
e took another swallow from the old whiskey bottle. Jason Best Ph.D. pulled on the wrench as he struggled to remove the cap that protected the fill valve.
The cabin, originally constructed during the California Gold Rush over an entrance of a horizontal prospecting mine that produced small amounts of gold, until the elderly prospector died and ownership passed, eventually, to Jason.
In the construction style of the era, the first owner built the cabin's foundation out of charred cedar logs on bedrock that held up better than the modern foundations. Remodeled twice, the one floor abode grew into a split-level two and a half story mountain chalet, using steam from a nearby hot spring for electricity and heat.
Checked and rechecked, the valve seal that charged heat exchanger, he found, had failed. Appearing to have been overtightened, the seal developed a slow leak that took a toll over the years, reducing the power generation slowly to zero.
Studying the concepts of the hot spring and geothermal sources, Jason had taught himself enough to rebuild the system, updating the wiring in the cabin, that he happily called "Mountain Home".
Grudgingly the cap turned, then was loose enough for him to spin it off. The threads were in good shape, however the seal was badly eroded.
Using the special tool that he tracked down over the internet to a company that dealt with replacement parts. Along with upgrading the control panel circuitry, Jason had excavated a power room, knocking a hole in a wall, exposing, to his pleasure and allowing him to take advantage of an already-built room.
An added plus, the room was a wine-cellar of sorts. With wines he had found dated from just before the prohibition era, many stored on their sides.
Half sat upright with the corks exposed, many of them dried out and the seals failed. Those bottles laying on their sides, were all intact, but so few, Jason chose to drink only one.
And it was excellent.
The great discovery, however, someone had a treasure-trove of rye whiskey. "Robert's Rye", and each onion-shaped flask had a layer of rye-seeds on the bottom.
He felt that it was the reason for the rye whiskey was excellent, and he had many bottles with seals intact.
He sampled some of the potent nectar, but he was getting hungry and the whiskey gave him a buzz. However, he was determined to finish recharging the heat-exchanger first.
Tightening the fill line to the valve and turning the handle, he watched the gauge on the cylinder indicate the system pressure.
The smell of cooking reached his nose, Tessa, his colleague from the university, while they had seen each other outside of work a few times, Tessa worried about being caught. She did not have tenure yet and did not want to jeopardize it.
But here, with the whiskey, wine, and snow so heavy no one would come by. The storm was dropping four inches per hour on top of the six-feet of snow that fell before he had arrived Friday night and struggled to get the big cylinder dragged through the basement door to the mouth of the mine.
The system now showed green lights and the sweep needle gauge was in the green. Electric power was now available.
He put the Craftsman wrench away, the best thing that Tessa thought to buy him in a kit. He walked to the electric panel and read the displays. Lights blinked and flickered as electricity flowed through new wiring in the panel and soon to the house, everything was green.
He wondered what might be wrong. It was too smooth. Nothing ever went that smooth unless it was broken.
The Professor of Biochemistry laughed, with the power running, he had the good fortune to turn on the hot-tub on the patio. Tessa and he could sip ninety-year-old whiskey, sit in the bubbling warm water, watching the snowstorm.
Maybe they might get a clearing and watch the stars during the night. Then showers and, he hoped, sleep with his arms around her.
"Dinner's ready." She called down.
"I have a surprise for you, up there!" He said, waited a heartbeat and threw the circuit breaker.
The whole house lit up. LED rope lights he had wired in, illuminated with the effect of electronic icicles made the snow appear blue under the lights.
It was breathtaking.
Tessa walked around with just a light work shirt, breaking a sweat while she did lifting and cleaning.
Which was fine in Jason's point of view. With an oversized sleeveless shirt, sometimes he would get lucky and watch her accidentally flash him, her bare legs were smudged and dust covered while she wore shorts and sandals.
He had just sat down with Tessa and a bowl of chicken soup and warm bread that had baked all day with his grandmother's recipe that she had taught him.
The conversation about the house, he apologized for making her work when she should have been relaxing and enjoying the sights.
Smiling brightly. Tessa touched his cheek and kissed him. Helping set up the cabin for him was her pleasure.
The thumping from upstairs, Doctor Lettie MacKay and her rebound boyfriend, Kevin Acker, from the School of Pharmacy, he always kept samples of ED drugs on his person, were not coming downstairs for food.
Jason yelled up the steps to give it a break, they were supposed to be setting up the bedrooms, not testing the beds in each one.
That was when the first scream, like a siren, echoed throughout the cabin.
Leaving Tessa at the table, he ran upstairs into the arms of the half-naked Doctor MacKay who grabbed him, screaming that the wallpaper had come to life and grew appendages that grabbed at her, tearing her clothes while Kevin struggled to save her, it grabbed and pulled him into the wallpaper.
Jason sent her down the stairs and looked into the room. A lump on the wall, looking as if some crazed paper-hanger covered an unfortunate person who stood there.
Jason grabbed a putty knife out of a plastic bucket to cut the paper-covered Kevin out; the colored wallpaper began to show details of Kevin's face behind the branches and birds printed on the wallpaper.
Jason called Kevin's name and the associate professor looked at him for a moment from within the paper, then faded, leaving everything flat and perfect, giving Jason no place to cut.
He tried anyway; he scraped where Kevin was under the paper, but found nothing except wall. Kevin was no longer among the branches and trees of the wallpaper.
Screams again, downstairs. He ran down the stairs, Tessa was at the door, her eyes rolling in abject terror.
Lettie, stuck to the wall held her hands out as the texture of the wallpaper crawled the length of her arms to her fingers while she clutched at the air in failed attempts to save herself.
Jason slashed at the paper with the sharp corner of the putty knife they used to spackle the walls for new paper.
A high-pitched sound from the wallpaper, higher than the screams of the women, sounded as the wallpaper tore while Jason slashed at it with the metal blade.
The wallpaper moved on its own, trying to pull Lettie into a growing wrinkle that looked like a mouth.
Grabbing his coworker by her left arm, he pulled hard on her, using his right foot, stomping the wallpaper flat against the wall, tearing it away from Lettie's body.
The wallpaper left traces of paste on Lettie when he freed her and pulled her into his arms, not stopping to consider the slime, they ran towards the front door where Tessa screamed at them to hurry.
Suddenly the door slammed shut locking Tessa outside and the door refused to open.
Jason realized Tessa's danger, she had worn only the light clothing she wore while working hard in the cabin and it was a killing cold outside.
Jason pointed to the basement and Tessa nodded, he and Lettie ran down the stairs, her legs lacerated from the branches of the wallpaper. In the basement, stone walls seemed less threatening.
Jason showed Lettie where to sit and ran towards the basement's heavy-timber doors like a football tackle and hit them at full speed...
And bounced off.
The gold mine might be a safe haven, but the doors were part of the house.
Tessa's voice called his name, she was cold.
His mind raced, if he didn't know better, there was a malevolence that had awoke when they worked in the house.
Tessa yelled his name again, feebly pounding on the wood, pleading.
In a near panic, he looked at his work table.
The table! Built using the ore-cart, it still sat on the rails in the floor.
Releasing the brake, he took a deep swallow from the whiskey for luck and then pushed the half-ton cart as hard as he could.
He hit the doors hard and a gap opened from the impact.
Tessa's hand came through the opening and Jason grabbed Tessa and pulled.
Shivering, Tessa struggled to get inside, halfway through, the doors began to close on her leg. Tessa screamed from the crushing pain.
Jason used a shovel against the door as a wedge.
Struggling and pushing against the door with his shoulder, pushing the shovel forward, forcing the door wider, he pulled Tessa free of the crushing timber doors and she clung to him, weeping from the cold, begging to know what happened.
Jason took her to sit with Lettie and began to explain, at his voice Lettie looked around, her eyes haunted.
No, not haunted.
Her once beautiful face now an eyeless horror with a mouth that made a big "O" in a silent scream. A tendril extended down from above to Lettie's head drawing life from her.
Jason grabbed a hatchet from his workbench and jumped at the thread that was stealing the life out of Lettie. Time slowed down, as he swung the sharp hand ax.
"OH God!" He screamed as white fluid leaked out of the wound in her skull. "Oh god, I'm so sorry."
He was the only one that could make it to the car. But Tessa would be in this house alone. Even if she was safe for the moment, in the corner behind the work table, between two rolls of...
Two rolls of...
He turned to where Tessa sat and he could only see a ball of wallpaper where Tessa should be, he could see her outline fading under the wrapping that had slid around her like a web.
He leaped over the table with a box-cutter in hand, slashing at the cocoon of wallpaper around her, and found...
Nothing. Just paper, wadded up and desiccated.
He was the only one left and the doors were ajar, too small to allow escape.
Pulling on the work table, he rolled it as far in to the deepest part of the mine that he could reach.
Taking a long, deep drink of the whiskey bottle.
"Last drink in this house!" he shouted. "Fuck you!"
Bracing his hands on the table, he pushed.
He had a thirty-foot start with the thousand-pound battering ram to break through the doors.
Jason and the cart hit the doors at a full run, the left door trembled and creaked open.
Taking the momentary advantage, Jason dove through the opening as the door slammed on the table time and again, the house trying to claim another victim.
Lying in the snow, it was strangely quiet, illuminated by the inviting LED lights he spent so much time hanging.
A beautiful and deadly structure.
Lying in the snow, his hands felt like they were on fire.
It hurt, so much pain, it had to be the snow, he looked at his hands, they were pale, was his skin mottling? Or becoming wallpaper?
He stood and ran through the snow slipping, falling, and crawling. He covered the mile in nearly an hour when he fell, rolling onto Spicer road.
The ground rumbled, he could feel it. It was the house! It chased him on cedar pillar legs, the ground trembled with the evil hunger that stalked him.
Too tired and cold to run, he lay on the lonely mountain road screaming that he was sorry as lights from the porch bore down and engulfed him.
Jason awoke to the glow of a cardiac monitor, focusing on the display of his heart beating before he realized he was in a hospital.
After two weeks, the hospital discharged Jason and days of questioning by the police about the three deaths ended.
Detectives took notes, wrote down everything the professor described in vivid detail and interviewed the attending physicians.
Jason obtained a copy of the detective's report, reading it three weeks later, while sitting at his breakfast table.
"Doctor Jason Best, Ph.D. was found by snowplow driver, Honey Gareth, lying in the middle of Spicer Dam Spur Road. In the two days in question where Doctor Best spent alone in the cabin at 24821 Spicer Dam Spur Road. In the course of the weekend, Doctor Best discovered an old wine cellar stocked with wine and rye whiskey. Tests of opened whiskey bottles showed high levels of ergot alkaloids, consistent with acute ergot toxicity causing visual and auditory hallucinations, per the attending physicians. This resulted in Doctor Best becoming convinced that he was with three other people who died.
Subsequent interviews with the named people, Doctor Contessa AKA "Tessa" Pershing is alive and well, continuing to work at Ocean Bay Community College. Doctor Best is familiar to Doctor Pershing in that they have attended same meetings and office functions but denies any relationship that might exist between Doctor Best and herself.
Doctor Lauren MacKay is friends with Doctor Best, but states no knowledge of anyone named Kevin. Her spouse, Michael MacKay, works at Ocean Bay University as a Fine Arts Professor. Further, no record of Kevin Acker, student or faculty, has been discovered.
To date, no evidence of deaths at this address during the weekend in question exists.
Interior of 24821 Spicer Dam Spur Road shows the wallpaper slashed and torn in the kitchen and third floor bedroom. The barn door to the basement has been knocked off the hinge by a gold-rush era ore cart on rails and a hatchet discovered imbedded into a can of white paint. (See attached photos)
A horizontal gold mine, dug circa 1850's shows evidence of modern reinforcements and extensive work in a power room. Adjacent to the power room is the previously mentioned wine cellar. (See attached photos)
Ninety-six bottles of Rye Whiskey were found with rye grain still floating in the bottom of the bottles. Original labels, dated from 1910 to 1919 of quart-size "Robert's Rye Whiskey". Two bottles were discovered opened, one empty, the second appeared three-quarters full. (See attached photos)
It is the conclusion of the investigation that Dr. Best was suffering from accidental ergot intoxication per the attached pertinent physician's notes.
No complaints to file.
Lt. Liewess J. Jonah, investigating."
About Dash McCallen MICP:
Born and raised in Central California, proud father of two princesses, three dogs and three cats and assorted spiders that keep him busy chasing out of the house. Writer of short stories, currently (as of March 2015) fifty stories in evolution.
I have been writing stories off and on since before middle school, retired as a Paramedic in the 1980s.
Won NaNoWriMo in November the last SEVEN of eight years (as of March 2015); lost out on the one year because I forgot to submit after being done early.
Writer of romance, horror, thriller, children's, historical and science fiction.