Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, June 3, 2011

EXCERPTS FROM MY LATEST BOOKS

TWO FREE STORIES APPEAR BELOW ...

THE CURIOUS CASE OF WHITE CHAPEL ALLEY
OVER THE MEADOW AND THROUGH THE WOOD


SMASHWORDS:
Many of my manuscripts are in the process of being converted to appear on smashwords.com. Smashwords books may be downloaded as e-books to every type of reader, ranging in price from 99 cents to $2.99. The titles will be posted here as they become available:

TINY TALES OF TERROR
2013: THE ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN
SPELLBOUND: A TALE OF MAGIC, MYSTERY & MURDER


TINY TALES OF TERROR
Published as an e-book on smashwords.com 2013, 
this is a collection of extremely curious, little tales, 
mostly Flash Fiction stories, some only 1,000 words long,  
perfect to read while waiting for a bus or in a doctor's office. 
Louise Ann Barton's books offer the best in scary tales: 
horror, thrillers, mystery, fantasy, and the 
supernatural, with a touch of humor.
(excerpt from TINY TALES OF TERROR published in smashwords.com 2013) 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF WHITE CHAPEL ALLEY
“Murder or no, I’m not going down that alley in the dark,” Constable Barnes insisted. “And you shouldn’t either.”
Inspector Cranford glared up at the man. “In-sub-ordin-ation,” he said, drawing out the word, rain running off the brim of his bowler. Having just returned from her Majesty’s service he’d been newly assigned to this latest in a series of brutal murders in White Chapel Alley.
“Begging your pardon, Inspector, no one who goes into that alley after dark has come out alive. You’ll not be getting anyone to go in there tonight. Best wait for daybreak.”
“I’ll have your pension, man!” He turned to Constable McBurn, who shrank back toward the street lamp.
“Inspector, I have four children,” McBurn begged. “We can go when it’s light and no harm done.”
“No harm done,” the inspector thundered. “Why, the rats will have been at the remains by then. This downpour will wash away evidence.”
“Please, Inspector,” coaxed the taller constable. “Sunup is in less than two hours. We can wait inside that tea shop, where it’s nice and dry, with an eye on the alley.”
By now the rain-soaked inspector was beginning to long for a hot cup of tea and allowed himself to be led through the puddles and into the shop.
The proprietress greeted them with a toothless grin. Without waiting for their order, she placed three steaming cups of strong tea on one of the small tables.
“Thought for a mo, you were actually goin’ down that alley,” she chortled.
“I fail to see the humor,” Cranford snapped.
“Oh, no one ever goes in there after dark. Not if they want to come out alive.”
The inspector grabbed her skinny wrist. “Tell me about it,” he demanded. “Who’s responsible for these deaths?” She twisted frantically, but he held her fast.
“All right,” she moaned. “Something in there. After dark. Like the Ripper it is, but not human.”
“What does this murderer look like?”
“Oh, sir, the only ones who’s seen it is dead.”
He released her. “Claptrap!” He started for the door. The constables blocked his path. The old woman began keening softly.           
“What is the matter with all of you?” Cranford demanded.
“Begging your pardon, inspector,” Barnes said, “when you see the body . . . after the sun comes up. . .  you’ll understand.”
Cranford would have ordered them to stand down, but their eyes told him more than their lips ever could. Reluctantly, he took his seat and picked up his tea, wondering if the cup had been properly washed.
With the first rays of sun, the men ventured into the alley. They poked about amongst the garbage and human waste until they came to the corpse. It was a man, lying on his back. His eyes were staring, mouth wide open as if he’d seen something horrible.
The Chief Coroner’s examination revealed no wounds other than the marks on the victim’s left wrist, as if Death itself had gripped him with one bony hand. The coroner announced all those found in White Chapel Alley had met the same fate. “As if these poor blokes had been frightened to death. Not like the Ripper at all.” And although the good inspector tried valiantly to uncover the person responsible, matters did not progress.
Then a royal summons came to this former colonel, a welcome diversion, asking him to take part in an affair of state, replete in dress uniform and sword. After the affair, he departed for home. Despite the thick fog rolling in from the river, he decided not to hail a cab. He soon found himself in the White Chapel section. And he felt compelled to visit the alley.
It was one in the morning as he hurried along in splendid dress, his sword at his side. His footsteps echoed in the empty streets as he located first the dirty, little tea shop and then the alley. Cranford unbuckled his sword and strode up to its mouth. Made confident by Scotch, he shouted to whatever might be lurking inside.
“I am Inspector Cranford and a former colonel of her Majesty’s Service. Come out now! Let’s have a look at you!”
At first only silence greeted his shouts and he felt foolish. But then he heard it. A rustling. As if someone small and feeble, was shuffling towards him. He froze in fear, under the street lamp, waiting. 
To his surprise, a tiny, old woman draped in a shawl crept closer in the dark, stopping just inside the alley and held out one hand. She wore a long dress, with an apron. Her head and face was covered by a ruffled, white-cotton bonnet. She didn’t speak, but Cranford thought she needed help. He took a step closer and still she didn’t move. She motioned for him to come to her. And so he did.
He had no sooner stepped inside the alley, when the creature’s hand lashed out. Just bones it was, without flesh, and it gripped his wrist. He gasped, but couldn’t break free. She began dragging him, into the alley, into the darkness. The darkness from which no one had ever returned.
With a mighty shout, he swung the sword, cleaving the bonnet free. She had no head, no face, and the bonnet fell limply, back into the alley. But still that skeletal hand gripped him, dragging him, step by step, into the darkness. In desperation, he lashed out again, severing her hand at the wrist. As her body reeled backward, Cranford took to his heels. He didn’t stop until he reached the coroner’s office.
It took all the coroner’s skill and several trusty instruments to pry that dead hand from Cranford’s wrist. Within 24 hours, White Chapel Alley was ordered bricked solid and Cranford announced he was done forever with soldiering and criminal investigations. Inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he became an author. His first story for the Penny Dreadful was “The Curious Case of White Chapel Alley.”
                                  -Louise Ann Barton
This tale first appeared on the Web, on the EVERDAY WEIRDNESS site.
("Get a little weird everyday." SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, HORROR.)
June 16, 2010


If you enjoy these free short stories
and if you like this blog,
please leave a comment and let me know.
louisebartonsbooks@gmail.com
Followers are welcome.

*

This next tale first appeared in
THE MERRY CHRISTMAS MURDERS.
Readers insist, to this very day,
 it haunts their dreams, waking and sleeping.

     OVER THE MEADOW AND THROUGH THE WOOD
© 2009
           
When the sun has left the sky and creatures prowl the woods,
what do you fear the most? I was never afraid because I
had my brother Lev, so strong and big, to protect me.

            My brother, Lev, and I were traveling to Grandmother’s estate with the greatest urgency. The wealthiest man in St. Petersburg, Sasha Kameroff had expressed an interest in me. Our first meeting was to take place in my widowed grandmother’s home during the holidays. Carefully chaperoned, we would get to know one another and, if we found each other pleasing, our marriage contract would be drawn up.
            To look most alluring, I wore a ermine hat and cloak over a green-velvet gown, so my intended would see that I, Anya, was a young lady of quality. He would see my expensive jewelry and learn of my large dowry. And as a gift to Grandmother, I’d tucked a large ham, mutton, and a wheel of cheese under the seat.      
            As our horse-drawn sleigh went gliding along the snowy roads, the driver was ever mindful to crack his whip to spur the team on. Glancing fearfully about, he shouted, “Night is coming on! We must make the next village before . . .”
            “Before what?” I demanded.
            “Wolves, my lady. They hunt in packs and will come for us when darkness falls.”
            “Wolves?” I whispered, peering anxiously about. This was supposed to have been a happy occasion, a good match ensuring my future, not a death-risking adventure. How could my parents have sent me on such a journey? Why had they not arranged for my intended to come to me instead. But Lev had offered his protection.
            The snow began falling again, a thick curtain of flakes that blotted out landmarks and the road. In a short time, this became a blizzard, darkening the skies. By now, the sleigh was flying along so quickly, it seemed we might overturn, and I cried out in fear. As if in answer, a mournful howl drifted across the night and, to my horror, a wolf appeared just ahead of the sleigh. Lev drew a pistol from his coat and took aim. One crack and the beast collapsed in the snow.
            “Pray that his fellows did not hear him,” our driver spat out and drove the team even harder.
            But God did not answer our prayer for, a minute later, another howl sounded from the woods. And then another! And another! Eerie, musical, their song filled the night. The whole pack had been alerted and they were coming for us! My scream was drowned out by the driver’s shouts. Lev was trying to reload his weapon, complaining “These pistols only hold one shot.” But reloading was a clumsy operation at best and, before he could complete the task, three wolves appeared, running behind the sleigh. Two more loped behind them and eerie howls sounded behind the trees.
            “The village is very near,” the driver said. “We need to delay them.” Turning to face me, he instructed, “You must throw them the meat.” I glanced behind and saw the first three gaining. “Now! Do it now!” he shouted. And, unhappily forced to make this sacrifice, I managed to drag the mutton from beneath the seat. By the time I was able to jettison the meat, the nearest wolf was fairly snapping at my face. The frozen mass struck the beast and he went down, his comrades piling on top of him.
             With our tormentors thus occupied, our sleigh sped along, rocking crazily, my shrieks filling the night. Then we realized one wolf had not delayed with the rest and was almost on top of Lev. My brother raised the now-loaded pistol and caught the beast between the eyes. The creature slipped from sight and Lev began to reload.
            “Just two miles more! And we will be safe!” the driver panted. But the wolves, having disposed of the mutton, were again in pursuit. Lev leaned forward in his seat, the better to dispatch the nearest wolf, but still they came. “Throw them the rest of the meat,” the driver insisted. With a heavy heart, panting with effort, I tossed out the ham. The wolves fell upon this and our sleigh raced on.
            “Just a half-mile more,” the driver assured us, when the rest of the pack appeared. Some blocked our path while others raced up behind. The horses shied in fear, but the driver’s grip on the reins was strong. “Throw them the rest of the meat,” he shouted, “or we are dead.” But there wasn’t any more meat and surely they didn’t eat cheese. Then I felt Lev grip my arm.
            To my surprise, he lifted me from my seat and threw me from the sleigh. Even though the snow was soft, I landed hard, the breath knocked from me. My beautiful, ermine hat and one boot fell off and became lost in a drift. One of my heirloom rings slipped from my finger. And the wolves turned on me. Allowing the sleigh to speed on, they formed an ever-tightening circle, their breath turning to white clouds in the icy air.
            I saw the sleigh disappearing from sight and cried out in anguish, “Lev! Help me!” But the only sound was that of the approaching wolves, panting for having chased us so far.
          
*
          Upon reaching Grandmother’s house, Lev was able to shed real tears. He recounted how frightened little Anya had become that she’d tumbled out of the speeding sleigh.
            “The driver was too busy with the horses to notice she was gone. By the time I looked back, the wolves had her.” Then he collapsed, seemingly overcome by grief. Lev’s Grandmother was so touched by his loss that she had a new will drawn up, leaving everything to him. The young heir didn’t have long to wait for, not three weeks later, his devoted grandmother died in her sleep.
            “And that,” he smiled to himself, “is how one pays one’s gambling debts.”
           
                                                                  *



Louise Ann Barton's latest paperback, is
THE MERRY CHRISTMAS MURDERS,
a collection of extremely strange, short stories. 
Each tale is different from the rest, 
weaving a web of horror, mystery, humor, 
and a touch of the supernatural. 
And all joyously take place during the Christmas holidays.
This book may be obtained through amazon.com 
in both paperback ($14.95) or kindle ($2.99), 
or from the author through

(Another excerpt from THE MERRY CHRISTMAS MURDERS) 

THE MAGICIAN’S WIFE
copyright 2009, 2010

She had disappeared. No doubt about it.
    
Disappeared right off the stage, out of a locked cabinet, before a room full of people. Her husband, the Amazing Alphonso, kept gesturing to the back of the room where she should have been standing by then, ready to return to the stage amidst thunderous applause. A full minute ticked by and the audience was getting restless. They whispered in the semi-darkness, one to the other. Surely something had gone wrong. Certainly, this was not part of the act. Not part of the cruise.
    
It was Alphonso who got past this awkward moment by finally stepping forward, and removing his turban. His great, shaggy head bowed, he announced humbly, “My wife is always threatening to leave me. And now it appears she has.” Those in the audience laughed with relief. And the show went on . . .
    
By the next day, when the magician's wife was still missing, a search was instituted. By the third day, when she still could not be found, the FBI began to wonder whether she had ever been aboard the ship. But all is illusion and nothing is as it seems . . .





louisebarton'sbooks.blogspot.com

Google for Authors:  Story, Author, Writing, Writer, 
  1. Louise Ann Barton is also a Pine Barrens author and a Pine Barrens poet..