Saturday, October 31, 2020

LYCAN VALLEY HALLOWEEN: On the Road to the Edge of the Night by Kurt Newton


October is a long month, an extended groan in the middle of a dying season. Crisp leaves. Cool air. Grey stonewalls capped by rusted barbed wire. Muddy pastures littered with rotted pumpkins. Skeletal trees reaching toward a skull-faced moon.

As the season dies, things die with it.

Frankie found himself walking alone down a long dark road. He wore a denim jacket, cigarette pack a square bulge in the top front pocket. His boot heels made the only sound in the night. He would smoke if he could, but he somehow lost his lighter. He lost other things too along the way on this quiet journey. Answers to questions. Like how the hell did he get here? For now, all he could do was keep walking, pushing forward and hope something came up.

He closed his eyes.

Hey, Frankie... 

He heard a voice, then— 


—like a thunderclap echoing in his skull, and a memory flashed.

He saw a white house, its clapboard sides warped with age. In the backyard sat a swing. A dog house. The trees stood tall and full and green; the sun overhead, bright and warm. The back door suddenly opened, a woman leaned out. "Hey, Frankie... lunch is ready." She wore an apron. She smiled. Her smile was like candy, her face like home...

Frankie opened his eyes and the cold night returned. Memories of his mother filled his head and warmed his heart. But why that particular memory? Why his mother? And why way back when he was just a little kid? 

He looked around. There was an empty field to his left, a distant row of trees stood naked in the night. He couldn't remember ever traveling this road before. But there must be a reason why he was going in one direction and not the other. He must be either heading toward something or heading away. 

He let out an exasperated breath and it left his mouth like a ghost mist. His feet were numb but he could still feel the road as it came up to greet his boots, a reverberating thud like a heartbeat. Like the—

Hey, Frankie...

Like the—


Like the tick of the grandfather clock that stood in the corner of the funeral home. Himself, sitting at the end of the receiving line, his father's coffin perched high upon a table. Grown-ups shuffling by, each dressed in black and offering their soft-spoken condolences. His mother sitting next to him, tears wetting her face, her smile now wax lips turned upside down, melting. "He was a good man," the voices kept saying. Tears painting so many faces, his own painted with guilt. Guilt because he wasn't crying and carrying on like everyone else. "So good that God decided to take him early." Guilt because all he could think about was how life wasn't fair. How could life be fair when there were several decrepit candidates shuffling by with their hunched backs and crepe paper skin that could have easily taken his father's place in heaven? But no, God had to poke his almighty finger into his young life and send his father tumbling off the construction site scaffolding onto the pile of bricks below. Guilt and then just plain anger because it felt like something had died inside of him and no one seemed to notice, no one seemed to care...

The night seeped back in and chilled his anger. Frankie glared at the moon. It glared back. It hovered in the night sky like a stained dinner plate. "When the sky grows dark, God sends the moon out to keep an eye on us." Something his mother had once said. But it was just a stupid moon, something far and unreachable, like every dream he ever had, every wish he ever wished for.

As he walked, he stared at the bright round disc until his eyes began to water. He remembered lying in bed at night, looking out his window and wondering if his dad was watching, wondering if his dad saw what he went through. How the kids in school just seemed to know, sensing it the way wolves smell sickness. How they circled and bit into his heart with hurtful words. "Frankie's daddy slipped and fell, now he's rotting down in Hell." Words that Frankie knew weren't true. His daddy was a good man. God took him because he was so good.

Once again Frankie felt the anger begin to well up inside of him, but it quickly drained as if someone had put a tube in his gut and siphoned it off. It was odd. He couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right, that this was some kind of dream that he would soon wake up from.

He looked down into the ditch. It was filled with water and leaves. The moon skimmed across its surface. Frankie realized it was covered by a thin layer of ice. He was going to freeze out here if he didn't get to some place warm. The road ahead would eventually lead to a town or a farmhouse. He would use a phone, call someone. There had to be a place out here. Someone had plowed and planted these fields. Someone had harvested the crop, leaving the rest to rot in the dirt.

Hey, Frankie...

The smell of decaying pumpkins invaded his nostrils.


Another flash. He was older, no longer a kid. The first signs of a mustache on his upper lip; his look defiant, his walk tough. He could see his mom in the kitchen cutting vegetables, cooking too much food for just the two of them. She was still setting the table with an extra plate, even though it had been five years since the accident. "Ma, I'm going out with Nick and Tony, don't wait up."

"Aren't you going to eat something, Frankie?"

"Haven't got time, Ma, gotta go. It's Halloween."

"Gotta go. Always on the go. You're too old to be trick or treating. What kind of trouble are you going to get into now, huh, Frankie? I told you those boys are no good, but do you listen? They're hoodlums. You're father would roll over in his grave."

"Dad's dead, Ma. God came and got him, remember?"

"So you're a wise guy now. I'm your mother, you should respect your mother." He turned to leave then and his mother must have reached up to try and stop him from walking out the door, because her hand hit the extra dinner plate and sent it crashing to the floor. Frankie turned to see his mother bent over the plate in tears, her hands fumbling with the broken pieces. He wanted to help her, but he couldn't bring himself to touch the plate.

"Ma, I gotta go, the guys are waiting."

His mother waved a fragile hand for him to go.

"I love you, Ma." His mother didn't answer. "Sorry about the plate..."

The night and cold once again crowded in around him. He could still see the look of ruin on his mother's face. First her husband, now her only son. Frankie knew he wasn't a good kid, but he tried. He just seemed to get swept down the wrong path, like the garbage and dirt that collected at the sewer grates after a rainstorm. It seemed like it had been raining all his life, and he just went with the flow.

But he had more important things to worry about now, like how to get home. Nick and Tony must have gotten him cocked and left him out here on a prank. Whatever it was they were drinking must have wiped out half his memory. But he seemed to be sobering up now.

He stared across the empty field. The moon painted a silver sheen over everything. There were shadows between the furrows. The rotted pumpkins were misshapen, as if teetering on the edge of an abyss. Their shriveled vines appeared too thick. He knew it was just a trick of the light but he could have sworn one of the pumpkins moved, its vine (arm?) lifting up out of the mud, appearing to wave at him.

Hey, Frankie...

Frankie closed his eyes and winced.


They began with convenience stores. "Maybe that's why they call them convenience stores. When you need a few bucks, they're right there ready to give it to you. I call that pretty convenient." Nick laughed, and when Nick laughed they laughed with him—laughter that sounded hollow because they were already half dead inside. They were ready to knock over the place when the girl looked up from her cash drawer. 

"Can I help you guys?"

Grace. Blonde hair, sleek-figured Grace. She had awakened something inside of Frankie the minute he laid eyes on her. Only Nick saw her first. And even if he hadn't, she would have been his anyway. That's the way things were. If Nick wanted something, he got it. And he didn't care how or who it hurt.

"Yeah, we'd like to buy a couple Slim Jims, a pack of Juicy Fruits and ask you out on a date."

"All three of you?"

"No, just the good looking one."

Grace was different. It was in the way her eyes seemed to light up over the smallest things, the way her mouth held her smile then let it go as if remembering that she didn't have the right. She was looking for something to make her feel alive. And Frankie knew what that felt like. He was also feeling something he'd never felt before. A lightness in his gut and a warmth on his skin. He was thinking that maybe he was in love. But she was Nick's girl and there was no getting around that...

There were more movements in the field. Several of the rotted pumpkin vines were now beckoning. A low mewling sound accompanied their movements, and the memories were coming faster, one on top of the other...

It had been raining one night. Frankie was in the backroom of the abandoned warehouse—the gang's meeting place—when Grace slipped in. She was drowned wet and in tears. Her left eye was still bruised from the week before. There was a fresh cut on her lip and a puffiness that extended down to her jaw line. Frankie's heart broke when he saw her, but it was anger that reached his lips.

"Why do you let him do that to you—and then come to see me? 'You're a good friend Frankie. You don't know how much this means to me.' Well, you don't know what you mean to me, Grace. It kills me inside to see you like this."

And Grace walked toward him, her tears making her green eyes even larger, magnifying the moment, perhaps letting her see the truth for the first time. And, suddenly, her lips were on his, the taste of her blood in his mouth, and he knew it was wrong, he knew there would be hell to pay, but he was halfway there already, what did one more misstep mean in a life full of bad moves and fucked-up opportunities? Besides, Grace was the best thing to happen to him since... he didn't know when. How could it be wrong? When he looked at her face he didn't see the cuts and the bruises or the craziness in her eyes, he saw only a way out of his stinking life. But the road to get there was just too...

Frankie stopped. He tried not to look at the things in the field. The movements were getting more active. The vines whipped back and forth now, and strange guttural voices called out to him. Fucking Nick and Tony, must have slipped him something stronger than alcohol. It was like a bad dream, only worse because this was a dream he couldn't wake himself up from.

He wanted to run, reverse the night, if possible. He was getting scared now. He turned to head back the way he had come and saw a pair of headlights in the distance coming his way.

Hey, Frankie...

And he froze, anticipating the sound.


"Hey, Frankie, Tony and I was thinking about knocking over the Tolland Bank Halloween night. Get this—we walk in around closing wearing monster masks. I mean, it's Halloween for Christ's sakes, who's gonna notice. The cops will be out in the streets making sure all the kiddies are safe, while we're stuffing our pillow cases with hundreds and fifties. It will be beautiful, man. Like candy from a baby. You in?"

And when he looked at Nick, all he saw were the times Nick had saved his skull from getting cracked, at school and in the alleyways. He couldn't say no. But he and Grace were planning to leave. The bus tickets had already been bought. They were going to stay with Grace's sister in New Orleans for a time, then work to get a place of their own. It would be a fresh start, a new beginning. He felt sick for what he was about to do, but this was survival. This was his life.

So he said, "Sure, I'm in," and Nick grinned, happy as a dog sniffing a bitch in heat, and said, "That's my boy." He went with the flow, as usual, all the while knowing in his gut he wouldn't go through with it. In fact, in that instant, as fire burned a hole in his gut the size of a fist, Frankie saw an opportunity to end this thing once and for all...

Frankie stood in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, as the headlights drew closer. He waved his hands for the driver to stop. He had to get out of there. Anywhere but there. And this ride was his ticket out. But the vehicle bore down on him and he saw the red lights dancing on top, and through the glare he realized it was an ambulance.

Hey, Frankie...

And he didn't hear the sound that followed. He only heard himself scream.

It was Halloween night.

"You did the right thing." The sweet whisper of Grace's voice in his ear. 

She was in his arms again. They had rented a room at the Yankee Motor Inn—a haunt for hookers and heroin junkies on their way to their next john or their next fix. They had just finished making love when the door busted in. Nick was covered in sweat, his shirt soaked through with blood. But he still had the strength and presence of mind to hold a gun pointed at Frankie's chest.

"The cops, Frankie? You called the fucking cops?" Nick's eyes were nearly turned inside out with disbelief. "When you didn't show I almost called it off. But you knew I wouldn't, right Frankie? That was all part of the plan. You'll be happy to know I took two of them out before one got in a lucky shot. And still I managed to get away. But look at you two." 

Nick wavered and Frankie almost lunged for him. But Nick remained in control. "Somehow I knew you'd be here. Right, babe? Our own special hideaway?" His eyes swung toward Grace. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

By now there were sirens in the distance and Nick took a deep, gurgling breath and coughed. Blood sprayed in a mist across the back of his hand. "You know, I should kill both of you. But time is short, I think I'll just settle for one." Nick swung the .45 and aimed it at Grace. "Not what you planned, hey, Frankie?" 

And it was then that Frankie did lunge—he threw his body in front of Grace and heard the gunshot—pow! —felt the bullet punch him in the chest, heard Grace scream in his ear as he collapsed into her arms... and in the numbing fog that followed all he could hear were sirens, their high-octave wails descending like a heavenly choir... then everything faded like a distant memory...

Frankie didn't move as the headlights washed over him. The ambulance never braked, never even slowed as it passed right through him. A slight tingle rippled across his skin and it was if he had been reborn.

He turned and watched as the ambulance raced away, and through the brightly lit back windows Frankie saw two EMTs working furiously upon a patient. Beside them, sat a woman looking on, her hands clutched to her mouth, her blonde hair a ragged mess. Frankie could swear it was Grace.

You did the right thing.

The ambulance disappeared from sight.

Once again the strange voices in the field filled the empty dark. The rotted pumpkins raised their stick-like appendages and rolled their rotted bodies from side to side, and Frankie realized he wasn't afraid of them anymore. Like everything else, his fear just washed through him as if he had nothing left to hold on to it. 

He stepped off the pavement and down into the high grass. A single strand of rusted barbed wire capped the low stone wall that bordered the field. He stepped over it and walked through the furrows. 

Beneath the moon he could see faces etched into the skin of each pumpkin, at one with the rot and decay. Some of the pumpkins were split, and like toothless mouths the oozing gaps moved to try and form words. Gaseous voices seeped up from out of their seeded bellies. Vines tried to wrap themselves around his ankles, but he simply kept walking, stepping over the unharvested crop, as he moved across the field.

The moon was now hovering low in the trees, on its way toward slipping forever beneath the edge of the night. He now had a direction. There was a place.

Your father was a good man.

You did the right thing.

Frankie knew he had to get there before it was too late.


Kurt Newton's fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Dark Discoveries, Not One of Us and the anthologies Revisiting the Undead, Shadows Over Deathlehem, O Unholy Night in Deathlehem and A Tree Lighting in Deathlehem. His third short story collection, Bruises, will be published by Lycan Valley Press Publications. 

Production by Mjae & Desmond

Music by John Skipp

Image by Benjamin Balaz

© 2020 LVP Publications. All Rights Reserved.



Richard Trenton Chase opened his eyes. He was out. He was back. This was the real world; he could feel it. They really did give me a day pass. I’ll be damned. He laughed aloud at the phrasing.

For almost an hour, he just lay on his back in the grass and looked at the night sky. He was naked. Of course, he thought, when’s the last time I wore clothes? Had to be thirty years at least. My, how time flies.

He sat up in long grass, brownish and rough. To his right, a very straight line of trees; to his left, a silo, a barn and a house. There was a television on downstairs. In the distance, Chase could see the lights of a good-sized city bouncing off the clouds.

He stood, brushed off the grass clinging to him as best he could and walked to the house, humming, “Old MacDonald had a Farm.” When he got there, he looked through the window first. The clock on the wall said was 1:15 am. He stepped onto the porch and tried the door. Unlocked. That’s how he knew this house needed his kind of help.

Chase walked through the first floor, leaving dirty footprints on the hardwood and occasional throw rug. IN front of the TV, still on, slept a woman who had to be at least 75 years old.

“Excuse me will you,” he whispered to the old lady. He headed into the kitchen. He pulled a large knife from the block.

When he got back to TV Lady, she was still sleeping peacefully in her chair. Chase took her chin in her hand; it was cool and dry. Her eyes fluttered open and he smiled at her.

“Shhh,” he said, and pushed the knife into her heart. She lasted a while but made no sound; she didn’t struggle. She just looked at him, eyes asking why. He had no answers for her. When she was all the way dead, Chase stepped back. So far, so good. He climbed the stairs.

First he came to a bathroom done in peach, which looked pink in the night-light’s glow. In the next was a child, six or seven. He looked like an angel. Chase kept moving down the hall. There was just one more room, a large one. In it, the farmer slept with his wife; or maybe, Chase corrected himself, the farmer is sleeping with her husband. Best not to judge before you know the facts.

Carefully, he climbed onto their bed; they both stirred, but didn’t wake.

Chase pounced, leading with the knife, using his momentum to score a deep cut on the man’s face, eliciting a scream. Chase laughed and drove his knee into the man’s groin through the sheets. Then, he stabbed again, in the side of the head. The man stopped suddenly, body rigid.

“I taste pineapples,” he said.

Chase pulled the knife out of her husband’s head and stabbed the wife. It was a bad cut, but not lethal. Not yet anyway. Chase thought he might have hit her lung. She gasped.

“Why?” she said. “What did we do? Why are you doing this?”

“You left your door unlocked.” Chase smiled reassuringly at her, then stabbed her again and again until he was sure she was gone.

When he was finished with her, Chase rested the blade against the man’s throat, which made him pause. He looked up at Chase, tried to speak. Chase nodded, gave him a small smile to say, it’s okay; you don’t have to talk. Then Chase sliced deep into the man’s throat, spraying arterial blood across the room.

“Like Jackson Fuckin’ Pollack!” Chase turned at a noise and saw the boy in the door. Kid still looked like an angel, albeit a frightened one.

“What’s your name, kid?”


“This is gonna do bad things to you, Charlie. Tonight is gonna mess you up for life. But! There’s an upside, kiddo. I’m gonna let you live. What do you say?”

“Thank you?”

Chase nodded. “You’re welcome. I have to go now, Charlie. So much to do. Do not call the police. Do you understand me, Charlie?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sir! God Damn, but it’s good to know people are still raising kids to be polite.”

Chase walked out of the room, patting Charlie on the head leaving the boy’s parents’ blood on his head. He set the knife down in the kitchen and left the house, pausing only to take the car keys from the hook on the wall, and drove their Ford Escort wagon down the road, carefully observing the speed limit.


He drove only as far as the next farm. It was now almost four am, Halloween morning. Out here in the country, folks might just be getting up soon. The gravel driveway was uncomfortable on his bare feet, but Chase didn’t mind. Pain is good for the soul. His soul could use all the good it could get.

The door was locked. Okay. No problem. Back in the car. See what’s next on the road. Chase drove away, and just like that, a family of eight got to live.


Just outside of town, Chase came across a nice, cozy subdivision. Well-manicured lawns, tasteful ornaments and matching garbage cans spoke of moderate wealth and conformity. He parked the car and peeled his naked, tacky body off the seat. It made a ripping noise, which made Chase laugh; he stifled it, but it kept threatening to bubble up again. He walked to the first house on the block. Door locked. Okay. The next one was locked, too. No problem. He was almost cheerful as he got the third door and found it locked as well. Maybe my work is done for the day, he thought. Maybe no one else needs my services.

The fourth door opened just as he reached for the handle. A woman stood there, holding a garbage bag. She was startled by Chase, but then looked concerned.

“My God! What happened to you?”

“Honestly,” Chase said, “I’ve been through Hell.” He managed not to laugh at his joke.

“Are you hurt? You’re covered in blood!”

“No, no. It’s okay. It’s not mine.”

She started to look worried, took a half step back.

“It’s cow blood,” Chase said. “A Halloween prank. My fraternity brothers put me up to it. I’m supposed to knock on someone’s door right at dawn, covered in blood and scare them. Only now, I feel really bad about it.”

“You poor man. You must be freezing. Come inside. You can use our shower to clean up and I’ll find something for you to wear. My husband is bigger than you, but maybe he has some sweats you can use.”

“You’re very kind.” Chase walked into her house. He noted the clean surfaces and lack of clutter: no kids. He noted the feminine print on the wallpaper, the floral couch and matching recliner, the flowers in a vase on the table: husband no longer there; he may be imaginary. She showed him the bathroom, avoiding looking at his nakedness. She pointed out the towel she kept for guests and said she was about to put on coffee and would he like some? He would.

Chase bathed in the shower. It was his first shower in decades, and he stayed in there a good long time. When he got out, he discovered she had put a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt on the toilet for him. He hadn’t heard her come in and was bothered by that. Mustn’t let my guard down, he thought. He dried and dressed; the clothes fit well enough. Chase could smell coffee now. Coffee was another thing he hadn’t had in a long, long time.

“This is really very kind of you,” he told her over the lip of his mug. “It’s nice to know there are still some decent people in the world.”

“Fewer of us all the time, I think.” She shook her head, drank some coffee. “If you don’t mind my saying so, you seem a bit old to be pledging a fraternity.”

“I’m thirty. Yeah. I know. I dropped out of school for several years to work, but I wanted to go back and get my degree. My old man was a Delta, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Now, I’m not so sure. Hazing the old guy seems like everybody’s favorite sport.”

“I’ll just bet. People can be so cruel.”

“You have no idea.” There was silence for a moment as they sipped the hot liquid. “This is good coffee.”

“It’s fair trade.” She said it with pride.

“What’s that?”

“Why, I’m surprised you don’t know. Fair trade means the people who pick the beans are given a living wage instead of being treated like slaves. I only ever buy fair trade products; we all have a responsibility to take care of the world, don’t you think?”

“Sure, I guess. I never really thought about it.”

“Too many people don’t think about it. My goodness! How rude am I? I never even asked for your name.”

“Richard. Richard Chase. And yours?”

“Donna Logan. Pleased to meet you, Richard.” She put out her hand and he took it. She shook like a man.

“Pleased to meet you, too, Donna. I guess I couldn’t have picked a better house for this stupid prank. You’ve been so nice to me.”

“Think nothing of it. I want you to keep those clothes, too. I’ll find you some socks before you leave, though I don’t think we have any shoes that will fit you, I’m afraid. Thick, wool socks will serve for a bit. Are your frat brothers close by? Do you need a ride somewhere? I’m going to the gym in a bit anyway, so I could take you.”

“Can I ask you a question, Donna?”


“Just before I showed up at your door, and you went to take out the garbage, was your door locked?”

“Um, no. I don’t think so. I hardly ever lock it. This is a very safe neighborhood. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious. It’s one of those ‘ice-breaker’ questions I like to ask. I would be thrilled if you could give me a ride into town. I’ll jump out at the gym, so you don’t have to make a special trip.”

Donna collected their empty mugs and rinsed them in the sink. She heard Chase step into the kitchen and turned to let him know it would just be a moment. He held a stool above his head. The heavy wooden stool, held by the calmly psychotic man she had allowed into her house, came down on Donna’s head with enough force to kill her instantly. It was seven am. Halloween was off to a good start.

Chase had killed seventeen people by the time the cops caught him. An alarming number of people in the subdivision did not lock their doors. They will after this, he thought. Once again, he was naked and covered in blood.

They cuffed him and threw him into the squad car much harder than necessary. They said they would hold him overnight downtown, but that he would be taken to maximum security in the morning.

“I won’t be here in the morning,” Chase told the cops. “After midnight, I’m gone. I’ll tell you, though, it’s been a hell of a lot of fun being back.” And he laughed and laughed.

They ran his prints and got an immediate hit: Richard Trenton Chase, Born May 23, 1950; died December 26, 1980. That was impossible. That guy was dead. Long dead. Killed himself in prison.

“Who are you really,” demanded the big cop, pointing his nightstick at Chase.

“Richard Chase. I’ve been in Hell. Seen things you can’t imagine. Been through tortures Dante never thought of. But they let me out on a day pass as part of a sort-of work-release program. And, let me tell you, I have been having a really, really good time.”

“Fuck you,” the cop said. And, he sat outside the cell, watching Chase, occasionally glancing at the clock. At 11:58 pm, he stood and walked to the cage.

“Alright, Chase,” he said. Let’s see your little disappearing act.”

With inhuman speed, Chase flew at the bars, catching the big cop before he could retreat. His left hand snaked through the bars, grabbed the cop’s pistol and yanked it from the holster. The cop put his own hand down on Chase’s, keeping the gun from going anywhere. Chase bit the cop’s cheek, tearing flesh away and spat it in the cop’s eye. It was enough. Chase got the gun up, thumbed off the safety and shot the cop three times center mass. His body armor absorbed it, but it hurt like hell and he doubled over. Chase stole a glance at the clock, saw he only had seconds left, and put the barrel to the cop’s head.

“And that makes eighteen,” he said, and fired.


The shots drew cops from all over the building. Seconds after midnight, they found the big cop’s body on the floor, his pistol inside the empty cell. The prisoner was nowhere to be found.

When they reviewed the security footage, they watched Chase kill one of their own, and then they watched him disappear, gun falling to the floor. They watched it again and again. It never changed and they never quite believed it happened.

From then on, every Halloween, the cops in that department were extra paranoid, jumping at shadows; a few innocent teenagers nearly got shot. Eventually, they forgot. Just in time for the next damned soul to get a day pass.


Ken MacGregor writes and edits stuff. When not doing that, he can frequently be found reading, playing with his kids, or laughing at life's bizarre little quirks. 

Production by Mjae & Desmond

Music by John Skipp

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians

© 2020 LVP Publications. All Rights Reserved.

LYCAN VALLEY HALLOWEEN: Old Cobwebs for New by Dale W Glaser


Janine Ferber was more than angry at Sierra Meyers.  She wallowed in a righteous, seething fury towards her co-worker, yet knew it was totally irrational.  After all, it wasn’t as if Sierra had gotten sick on purpose, Janine was well aware.  But that self-awareness did nothing to diminish the anger itself.  As Janine positioned the fingers of a severed zombie hand around the cup of pens at the check-in window, she fantasized about bending back Sierra’s fingers one by one until they snapped and Sierra screamed herself hoarse.  When she hauled the old witch’s cauldron from the storage closet down the hall and to its station beside the front door, Janine imagined how it would feel to yank a handful of Sierra’s hair and drag her along, cracking Sierra’s skull against the wooden door frames of every exam room.  And while she extricated the leering devil figurine from its aging bubble wrap and carried it to the waiting room’s magazine table, Janine visualized in lurid detail jamming its tin pitchfork directly into Sierra’s eye.  She felt the lens’s resistance before it popped, saw the shiny mixture of blood and vitreous gel running down Sierra’s cheek.  At the very least, it might wipe the permanently perky smile off Sierra’s face.

Janine set the devil figurine down on the tabletop, between fanned issues of Entertainment Weekly and People.  She looked around the reception area, taking in her handiwork.  Every available surface was decorated, cardboard vampire and mummy cutouts plastering the walls and doors, tombstone tchotchkes on the tables and counters, rubber bats hanging from the window treatments and plastic vampire fangs added to the basket of rewards children could choose from, even throw pillows on the chairs embroidered with dancing skeletons and hissing black cats.  The entire office looked like a no-expenses-spared party zone for a child whose birthday fell on October 31st.  Dr. Parelli would no doubt be very pleased.

That was the good news.  Bad news, it was past 10 p.m., Janine was mentally and physically exhausted, and she wasn’t even done yet.  Every knickknack and prop was in its designated place, but one final touch was required, the one that Janine dreaded most yet which by necessity always came last: the cobwebs.  They were Janine’s least favorite part of decorating, forever shedding little white fibers that could never be brushed away, like pine needles from Christmas trees, showing up in nooks and crannies months after the holiday had passed.  And festooning the office with them in such a way that they looked appropriately spooky, and not just like misplaced medical gauze unraveling from the ceiling, was arduous, tedious work.  Yet not for an instant did Janine think that she could skip the cobwebs this year, pleading that the evening had gotten away from her and she’d needed to cut her losses to get home and sleep before returning to work the next day.  The cobwebs were Dr. Parelli’s favorite part of the Halloween ambiance.  

No one would know, just looking at Dr. Parelli, that he was a Halloween fanatic.  Eleven months out of every year, Dominic Parelli, DDS, was straight-laced as could be.  He wore the same brown loafers every day, rotated through three pairs of khakis - light beige, medium beige and dark beige - every week, and favored Oxford dress shirts in dark colors like maroon and hunter green, though he would occasionally don stripes for variety.  He let his hygienists, like Janine, and his assistants handle most of the routine aspects of the appointments, interacting with his patients rarely and with polite decorum.

But when the calendar turned to October, Dr. Parelli would turn as well.  Early in the month, he made a point of lifting his pants cuffs so people could admire his novelty socks, covered with tiny pumpkins or tiny werewolves or reproduced stills of Plan 9 From Outer Space, seemingly a different pair for every day of the month.  As the end of October approached, he wore black slacks some days, and bright orange or electric green polo shirts.  

The biggest change, though, was Dr. Parelli’s expression of humor.  The garish Halloween attire brought out a tendency to indulge in fright gags, none more frequently deployed than his spider puppet, a full glove, covered in furry black bristles like a tarantula.  Eight clustered eyes and a disturbingly accurate agglomeration of mouthparts sat atop the middle knuckles, and Dr. Parelli had mastered the art of wiggling his fingers to perfectly mimic the crawling motions of spiders’ legs.

Every September 30th the office decorations would go up, and the ritualized pranks would begin the next day.  A patient would come in for their exam or cleaning, all of which would go by with customary professionalism and efficiency, if Janine did say so herself.  At the end of the appointment, Dr. Parelli would stop by to chat, asking if the patient had any concerns, making suggestions for future treatments which could only come from the dentist himself.  The patient would remain in the examination chair, almost fully reclined, accustomed to lying perfectly still for the better part of thirty minutes.  Dr. Parelli would enter with the spider puppet on his hand behind his back, sit near the patient’s head, just barely within the corner of the patient’s peripheral vision.  Dr. Parelli would ask, “Notice anything different around the office?”  No matter what the patient said, Dr. Parelli would continue, “Yeah, seems like we have a bit of a … I guess you’d say a spider infestation problem?  Nothing to worry about, though.”  And while the patient was chuckling at his reassurance, Dr. Parelli would slowly bring up the hand puppet and walk the hairy ersatz legs up the patient’s arm.  Some combination of screaming, crying and laughing would ensue, with the vast majority of the laughter belonging to Dr. Parelli himself.  

As far as Janine knew, the spider gag had never permanently cost them a patient.  Dr. Parelli had played the same trick on her, six years earlier, the first Halloween she had worked there.  She had been reminded of it viscerally every Halloween ever since, the memory evoked by the cheek-aching smile she forced herself to put on when Dr. Parelli got up to his usual antics, the same expression she had adopted to get through the trick the first time.  

Dr. Parelli signed her paychecks, so Dr. Parelli got the smile, while Janine doubted she would ever voluntarily smile at Sierra Meyers again, unless she happened to see Sierra simultaneously electrocute and irradiate herself in a lethal x-ray mishap.  The irony was that Sierra had been on the verge of becoming Janine’s favorite co-worker.  Sierra had just joined the team as a dental assistant in the spring, and sometime in September had been warned by Mike Holt, the other assistant, about the imminent Halloween madness.

“Oh, wow, I love Halloween, too!” Sierra had gushed.  “It’s my favorite, ever since I was little!”

Janine had then casually mentioned that if Sierra wanted to be in charge of decorating the office, she was welcome to it, and Sierra had jumped at the chance.  Even after Janine had then explained it required staying late the night of September 30th, Sierra’s enthusiasm had not diminished at all.  She had in fact paid out of her own pocket to order more decorations to put out for the overnight transformation.  Janine had noticed Dr. Parelli’s subdued approval along the way, but she was far too grateful that she would not have to sacrifice the evening herself to be resentful of Sierra becoming the dentist’s new favorite.

And of course, because it had all been too good to be true, Sierra had contracted mononucleosis in the last week of September.  And of course, in Sierra’s absence, Dr. Pirelli had automatically assumed that responsibility for decorating the haunted dentist’s office would revert to Janine, deprived of her idle expectations of spending the night ordering Ethiopian delivery for dinner and eating it on the couch in front of some Netflix stand-up specials, possibly accompanied by dessert of strawberry ice cream and Fuzzy Navels.  That alone would have been reason to wish a cruel, painful death upon Sierra Meyers, for raising her hopes and then dashing them altogether.  But adding insult to injury was the fact that September 30 had become an even more endless slog because of every new decoration that Sierra had acquired and Dr. Pirelli had begun gleefully looking forward to.

Even now, with nothing left to do but put up the signature cobwebs all around the office, Janine felt a hatred towards Sierra that could reduce the junior dental assistant to a pile of ash quicker than any malfunctioning x-ray meltdown.  Because even the cobwebs were new this year, not the same old polyester fibers which were annoying but at least familiar, but some bizarre, custom high-end product from an online company that insisted it did not sell holiday decorations but rather ‘immersive seasonal experiences’, whatever that was supposed to mean.  Nevertheless, Janine knew the only way to get home and into her bed was to finish, so she pulled the shipping carton out from underneath Aneesa Broward’s reception desk and tried to pry apart its flaps.  

Of course, the box had been wrapped in bands of reinforced shipping tape, with filaments running through it, and it hurt Janine’s hands.  Cursing, she shoved the box aside and rummaged through the reception desk for a pair of scissors.  The blades made short work of the tape, although there were so many layers that Janine’s frustration mounted.  Finally the flaps opened and Janine lifted out the contents.

There was no labeling, no tag, nothing at all to indicate the intended use of the spindle wrapped in irregular white strands.  It was unpleasantly sticky beneath Janine’s fingers, but allegedly that was what made it such an appealing upgrade: there was no need to use tape to hold the cobwebs in place, or to position it strategically with a thick bunch of fiber hooked onto a convenient outcropping.  These cobwebs were self-adhesive, and once Janine climbed onto a chair in the waiting room and pressed one corner of the cobweb material up above the window, she discovered that much at least was true.

Janine nearly lost her balance getting down, and cursed under her breath for the hundredth time.  She stepped up onto another chair to add more cobwebs to the other side of the window.  The sticky cobwebs were easier to arrange and situate, but detaching them from the spindle was tough.  The tenacious strands wanted to cling together, and there wasn’t even a handle to the spindle to grip while prying the layers apart.  Janine hopped down and took a couple of steps back to admire the sight.  In the dark silence of the empty office, she grudgingly admitted that they looked amazing.  They looked organic, shivering in the recirculated air with just the right unfurling weight, as if she had entered some long-forgotten crypt overrun by creepy-crawlies.  It was just oh so typical, the end result impressive enough for Dr. Pirelli to be childishly delighted and to give all the credit to Sierra, while no one would ever know how late Janine had toiled to set it all up.

That thought in particular was intolerable.  Janine clawed away more new cobwebs from the spindle and draped them along the front of Aneesa’s desk, scowling at the injustice.  Dr. Parelli and Mike and Aneesa would be all sympathy and sunshine with Sierra when she got back from her sick leave, falling over themselves to thank her for organizing the updated decorations.  Janine ripped apart more cobwebs, strewing them along the hallway walls, up and around the framed art prints, and fumed at the vision of Sierra eating up the adulation.  And even if - especially if! - Sierra tried in any way to spare a thought for her and said something like “well let’s not forget Janine put everything out” that actually would be worse.  Because Janine had never been able to take a compliment, never been comfortable with attention, not that much ever came her way, with her brown hair cut in a sensible bob and her glasses and her average pear-shaped body.  Nothing like Sierra, who wasn’t just younger, and bubbly and outgoing, but blonde and built like a swimsuit model.  If Sierra tried to share the spotlight, Janine would reflexively shy away from it, and everyone would just be that much more enamored of Sierra, so modest and non-self-centered on top of everything else.

Janine’s blood was boiling, her fingers clenched with rage around the spindle of sticky strands, and her fingernails pierced the remaining layers of cobwebs, digging into the hollow core.  She rolled her eyes in exasperation, but consoled herself that with so little material left, she would soon be finished.  If that wasn’t enough to decorate every exam room doorway, so be it.  Maybe Sierra wouldn’t get unlimited glory after all.

Janine felt something inside the bundle of cobwebs tickle her knuckle, and she jerked her fingers out of their poked holes.  Not a loose strand of the material, it felt more like the burrs that sometimes clung to her skin when she picked Queen Anne’s lace in her backyard, if the hooks on the burrs were capable of moving on their own.  

She stormed out of the hallway, back to the reception area, where the light switches for the entire office were located.  She needed a better look at what she was dealing with to put up the remaining cobwebs without injuring herself on whatever was rattling around inside the sticky bundle.  Before she could reach the switches, however, she felt the sharp tickling again, this time on her wrist.  Reflexively, even as an ice cold tremor ran down her spine, Janine switched the spindle of cobwebs from one hand to the other and shook her hand violently to dislodge whatever had caught there.

Then she felt the same insistent prickling on her opposite wrist, and rather than fling it away she smacked her skin hard.  Her palm encountered nothing except her own flesh, but she felt a separate flare of biting pain on the back of her hand.

Janine yelped, and dropped the cobwebs to the floor.  She was only a couple steps away from being able to reach the light switches, but on pure instinct she backed away from the bundle.  In the gloom, she could just make out small, dark shapes wriggling their way out of the holes she had poked in the cobwebs.  Some part of her brain, evolved to recognize danger, shrieked with automatic terror that the shapes were spiders, dozens, maybe hundreds, streaming out of their nest.

The same part of her brain howled at her to run for the door, but as Janine tried to turn herself around her feet tangled and she sprawled facedown on the carpet.  A heartbeat later she felt a multitude of legs picking across her bare ankles, and a sharp pain next to her Achilles tendon, another on the opposite shin.  Janine scrambled to her hands and knees, rising unsteadily to her feet while swatting at her legs.  She could barely reach the tops of her feet with her fingertips, she was too soft in the middle to bend enough, which only made her flail more desperately at the area just below her knees as spiders climbed up her legs, some outside her scrub pants, some inside.  The bites on her ankle and shin were beginning to feel like steady drips of acid eating her flesh, and the first bite on her hand was throbbing as it burned, the skin around it tight and swollen.

Janine burst into tears, wailing miserably as she spun in wobbly stomping circles, trying to dislodge and smash as many spiders as she could.  Her knee struck the side of a chair and she tumbled into it, throwing her arms wide in a failed attempt to catch herself.  Her scrub top rode up and spiders swarmed across the exposed skin of her belly.  Janine lost count of how many sharp shocks of pain she felt from the jabbing fangs all over.

She attempted to push herself to her feet, but her leg muscles were curiously numb, even as the corrosive wildfire ran rampant across her nerves.  She felt herself settling into the chair, feet resting on the floor like dead weight, arms limp and useless at her sides.  Her head lolled back against the wall and her vision went dark.  Perhaps she had closed her eyes.  Perhaps sleep would take the pain away.


Aneesa Broward and Mike Holt arrived at Dr. Pirelli’s office together the morning of October 1st.  They were hooking up, spending nights together, but telling everyone that Aneesa was having car trouble and Mike was helping out a co-worker in need.  Aneesa carried their coffees as Mike unlocked the front door to let them in.  Aneesa crossed the threshold after him, looked around the reception area and said, “Oh, right, it’s October.”

“Sure is,” Mike said, slipping his keys into his hoodie pocket before accepting his coffee from Aneesa.  “Man, over the top this year.”

“Yeah, especially that,” Aneesa said, pointing to a chair in the corner of the waiting room, occupied by a vaguely human shape completely enshrouded in webs.  “Hope the patients don’t complain about having to sit next to that.”

“Well, if they do, that sounds like a you-problem,” Mike teased the receptionist.  “But you know Doc’s gonna love it.”

The prediction proved to be correct, as Dr. Pirelli arrived a few minutes later and stopped in his tracks to admire the cobwebbed effigy in the corner chair.  A tiny smile quirked his lips as his fingers danced in anticipation.


Dale W Glaser is a horror fan and creator of chilling tales but, you know, in a cool, fun way, not an obsessed, psycho, working through his personal demons, disturbing way. 

Production by Mjae & Desmond

Music by John Skipp

Image by StockSnap

© 2020 LVP Publications. All Rights Reserved.

LYCAN VALLEY HALLOWEEN: Christopher's Last Time Trick-or-Treating by Ken MacGregor


Christopher was supposed to be Godzilla, but his dad didn’t finish the costume on time. It was the latest in a long line of disappointments from Dad.

With a little help from Mom, Christopher made his own Samurai costume. Using cardboard, tinfoil and copious amounts of Scotch tape, he decorated his bike helmet. The armor was made of similar stuff and he already had a fake katana. That’s how Christopher got the idea.

Looking into the mirror before he went trick-or-treating, Christopher gave his reflection his best warrior face. Then he grinned.

Two hours of walking in cold rain turned Christopher’s Samurai into a garbage robot with a sword. Dragging his candy bag through puddles, Christopher approached the last house on the block. The light above was on, but the glass globe around it was so dirty it barely lit the porch. A cardboard cartoon skeleton hung in the open space behind the screen door. A wide, adult figure shuffled into view.

“Trick or treat,” Christopher said without enthusiasm.

“What are you supposed to be?”

Looking up at the enormous person, Christopher tried but was unable to figure out if it was a man or a woman. The grown-up popped a bubble and the smell of cherry gum filled the air.

“Samurai, but my costume got wet, and now I look like a stupid garbage robot.”

The huge belly shook with laughter and he (or she) opened the door. Held loosely in one hand, a plastic pumpkin rattled with bite-sized candies.

“Trick,” said the adult.

“Wait. What?”

Christopher blinked up the other person.

“You gave me a choice. I choose ‘trick’.”

“It’s just an expression,” Christopher said. “Everybody knows that. Can I please just have some candy?”

The grown-up shook its head. The jowls sounded like Jell-O dropping on the floor.


“Fine. Whatever.”

The orange, plastic pumpkin hit the floorboard, spilling Skittles packets at Christopher’s feet. The huge person grabbed fistfuls of belly with both hands. Tendons stood out on its neck as fingers pushed through fabric and flesh. With gritted teeth, it ripped itself open. Blood poured out, covering the Skittles and splashing up on Christopher’s shoes.

Backing away, Christopher almost fell down the steps, but caught himself in time. He opened his mouth to scream, but only choking noises came out. He ran, bag of treats forgotten, clutching his plastic katana like he was heading into battle.

Behind him, the huge, genderless hulk chuckled.

“I love that trick,” it said as it stuffed its guts back where they belonged. Picking up a packet of Skittles, it tore off one corner and dumped the candy in its mouth.


Ken MacGregor writes and edits stuff. When not doing that, he can frequently be found reading, playing with his kids, or laughing at life's bizarre little quirks. 

Production by Mjae & Desmond

Music by John Skipp

Image by AnnaliseArt

© 2020 LVP Publications. All Rights Reserved.



All Lycan Valley ebooks and audiobooks are currently 50% off from now through November 15th.

Sale includes all ebooks and audiobooks purchased directly from LVP Publications on our website or through our Payhip sales platform. Use coupon code PUMPKIN2020 at checkout.

Have a safe and scary Halloween!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

NEW RELEASE ~ Downwind, Alice by CC Adams



Meet Alice Morecambe.

After two years away, a chance encounter with her ex-boyfriend Kieran proves awkward and sours when Alice lashes out at him, before storming off. An unfortunate turn of events that would soon blow over, right?


Because, unfortunately for Alice, Kieran is ...different now.

For the last couple of years, Kieran has kept a tight rein on more than his feelings - but now he's going to do more than tell Alice how he really feels.

He's going to show her.

And Alice won't know what's downwind until it's too late.

Available from LVP Publications in paperback, ebook and audiobook October 2020. Pre-order available now!

Cover design by Greg Chapman, Audiobook narration by Desmond Manny.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

NEW RELEASE ~ The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias, Vol II

Expanding upon the Pulp Horror Book of Phobias, this second volume brings thirteen not-so-irrational fears much closer to home.

What happens when a family goes missing in their own home... an acquired piece of artwork turns out to be much more than bargained for... a child is left home along with his grandma.... the kitchen compost gets out of control... or all the doors in your house refuse to open?

Find the horrific answers to these questions and more. Stories by Mehitobel Wilson, Michael Bailey, Donna JW Munro, Steve Carr, Kealan Patrick Burke, Stephen King, JG Faherty, John Peyton Cooke, John Palisano, Colleen Anderson, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jill Hand and Sèphera Girón.

Cover design by Kealan Patrick Burke

Story illustrations by Luke Spooner

Audiobook narration by Desmond Manny

Available in special edition hardcover, limited edition paperback and audiobook October 2020

Pre-orders available now direct from LVP Publications. Pre-orders for the paperback and hardcover include a free copy of the audiobook upon publication.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

NEW RELEASE ~ HEADCASE by Ken MacGregor & Kerry Lipp


HEADCASE, a novel in four parts, by Ken MacGregor & Kerry Lipp

Johnny Headcase—big, tough as nails and surprisingly quick, especially with a gun and a roll of quarters. When he finds out vampires have invaded his town, he doesn’t hesitate to fight back. Pretty soon, though, he realizes just how many there are, and calls in reinforcements.

Katya—a healer and an inventor with a big heart. While quick and effective despite the wound or condition, her methods require her to harness and unleash the power of sex.

Lydia—a striking young (not quite human) woman who wears her favorite colors of pink and black shamelessly. She's fast and strong with a heart full of fiery determination and she's out for redemption, one bounty at a time.

Gavin—a wise ass werewolf who ditched his last name with the rest of his history. He lives to fight, loves to joke around and is fiercely loyal to his friends.

The four band together and join forces to take down King City's Master Vampire and his horde of vampires, demons, trolls and other monsters unleashed on the city in an effort to rebuild King City in his own twisted image. 

Part 1 — Bad Coffee and Worse Luck (August 2020)

Part 2 — Coldblooded Hot Demons (September 2020)

Part 3 —  Upping The Stakes (October 2020)

Part 4 — Storming The Castle (November 2020)

Audiobook (December 2020)

Pre-order the complete serial plus audiobook for a limited time direct from LVP Publications. 

"A lighthearted, bonkers romp filled with over-the-top violence and casual sex, Headcase is what you'd get if the Underworld movies had a baby with Deadpool." — Patrick Freivald, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of JADE SKY and MURMUR.

“Like the A-Team on steroids, Johnny Headcase and his misfit team of bounty hunters are on the case to bring down a gang of vampires in seedy King City. Funny and fast, and with a great retro vibe, MacGregor and Lipp’s HEADCASE is a riotous and irreverent supernatural crime noir for grown-ups. A ripper of a tale.” — Lee Murray, award-winning author of Into the Mist.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NEW RELEASE ~ The Balance by Kev Harrison

The Balance by Kev Harrison, cover by Greg Chapman, copyright LVP Publications

THE BALANCE by Kev Harrison

When myth becomes nightmare … The price of blood is always blood. 

Natalia’s in trouble. She only looked away for a second, and now her brother’s hurt. Her relationship with her mother is fractured, her brother’s condition is deteriorating, and her only hope lays deep in the unforgiving forest. A secret spoken only in whispers offers a way out. But when help comes in occult forms a sacrifice may be the only way to restore the balance.

Humanity and nature collide in The Balance by Kev Harrison, a modern reimagining of the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga, set in Cold War Poland.

Cover by Greg Chapman, Audio Narration by Desmond Manny

Available from LVP Publications in paperback, ebook and audiobook April 2020.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

NEW RELEASE ~ Stella by Josh Dygert

Stella by Josh Dygert, cover by Greg Chapman, copyright LVP Publications

STELLA by Josh Dygert

Stella knew the names of the stars before she knew her alphabet. Although Stella’s mother disappeared when she was too small to remember, she grows up happy beneath bright Indiana stars in the small town of Torrance with her father, her dog, and her best friend. When a meteor lands in her father’s cornfields, Stella and her father run after the fallen star. Stella watches as her father touches the star. The moment he does, he disappears in a flash of golden starlight. Stella never sees her father again.

From that moment on, Stella is terrified of the stars she always loved. Stella leaves Torrance, her dog, and her best friend. But Stella discovers that the truth she needs is still in Torrance. As a total eclipse approaches, Stella must find the courage to face her stars.

Cover by Greg Chapman, Audio Narration by Desmond Manny

Available from Lvp Publications in paperback, ebook and audiobook April 2020.