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Bits & Pieces

Excerpt from "Code Red" (Coming Soon):

Something fell to the floor and rolled around loudly before silence resumed. Tabitha leaped up

instinctively but couldn't see what it was. Then there was a scuffling, the sound of a fight. Her heart

raced. She envisioned Kristen, bloodied from one of the men in suits. 

"Kristen? Is that you?" 

The noise stopped as if the darkness were listening. 

"Who's there?" She couldn't see it but Tabitha felt the warmth of something in front of her. A

loud sound filled the air but it was unlike anything she had ever heard before. 

The scent of something dead reached her nose. 

Trembling, she backed away. As she did she heard it slide forward. She stopped and it mimicked her.

Sweat dripped from her forehead. She waited and then took another step back. 

It stepped again.




©Jessica Lynne Gardner 2013

  • Excerpt from "Natalie's Garden" in Twisted Fairy Tale Anthology:


 She had the look of a girl who’d been stunning once. Her thin, pale face was the only unmarred part of her. The spindled body parts showing under her plain garb were gleaming with jagged candy cane scar tissue. The most intriguing thing was her hair. Even with her head clean and smooth as a newborn’s, he could tell it was exquisite. Folded over the striped forearms and calves was a delicate, golden down that refracted pure unadulterated sunshine. She was heaven. There was no green or orange tinge some blondes had—it was warm—the brightest, palest gold. Her eyebrows were the same but short and fine, making it difficult to see the gleam. Many would consider her large eyes beautiful; they were sparkling ice cycles, tinged with arctic blue. 

But when he looked at her he avoided them, there was too much pain and secrets there, casting hard shadows underneath. All he cared about was her shining arms, which were folded tightly over her frail body. He could sense her awkwardness. She was new, transferred from another location after some kind of staffing issue. Her chart said   she’d been there since she was 16. Six years. Must have been rough. He skipped a few pages to her background. In the notes section of the file he saw a precaution written in red ink, “Important: Keep head shaved.” He wondered what would happen if she didn’t. Did they think she would grow it out and climb out the window with it? He chuckled quietly at himself. Her head turned, the innocent eyes twitched and narrowed, wondering what could be so funny within the manila folder that was her life. He could see the mental inventory of what was written there: prescriptions, locations, her attempted suicide… her whole, unremarkable life was recorded in the paper between his hands. The thought sent a thrill through him.



©Jessica Lynne Gardner 2009

  • Excerpt from Sugar Skull, Chapter 2:
       Andres bit down on the cigar that dangled from the left corner of his mouth. A few ashes tumbled down his shirt from the sudden movement but he was too focused to notice. He took the small brush and dipped it into the white paint. Wiping the excess from the side of the can, he attempted to fill in the angry scratch marks embedded into the wood. This morning, not long after his wife and son left for Annapolis, he’d heard the sound. He’d stopped momentarily to look over his shoulder on both sides. It had been a loud bang followed the screech of something sharp dragging against the door. Even though it was probably some large dog, he couldn’t shake the chill in his gut that something was wrong. Standing behind the door, he’d heard something not long after the scraping had stopped; it was the sound of crying.

At fifty years old, Andres wasn’t one to be easily frightened so he’d swung the door open but no one was there. But now that he thought about it, it was Día de los Muertos. Could it have been his brother’s spirit and he didn’t let him in? For a few weeks he’d been having strange dreams that made him wake too early and toss and turn for the rest of the night. He never remembered them when he woke up but he knew that it was because they were too terrible to remember.

These thoughts chewed at him while he painted but he also envisioned the angry face of his wife should he not be able to cover the marks on the door they just bought last week. After several minutes of blotting and brushing, he stood back and examined his work. It was obvious that the pattern of the wood was disrupted; the swirl pattern of the rings dissected by five slightly curved slashes that were a little whiter than the rest of the door. It wasn’t perfect but it would do for now. He stood, his knees creaking like rusted hinges. He was getting too old for this. Despite the fall weather and the dread in his belly, he left the window open a crack.

Inside he breathed in the pleasant scent of freshly baked candied pumpkin and walked over to the altar in the corner of the dining room. Set atop three handmade shelves were candles, skeletal dolls, and dishes of food offerings for the family’s dead. He looked at the picture of the boy in the baseball cap and smiled through the welling tears. He wondered if Carlos and their parents could even see the beautiful things they worked so hard to create every year. He supposed it didn’t matter, his family would honor them and pass down the tradition to their children whether they believed in it or not. Anita, his wife,was a believer. She had gone to her mother’s to put flowers and cakes on her father’s grave. He would have gone with them but this year jobs were being cut down like wheat and he couldn’t afford to take off. Still, making the grinning skulls that adorned the shelves brought a much needed peace of mind, hinting that there was someplace beyond the cold darkness of death.

His teeth clenched. There was no fear when he heard the sound again, just a foreboding sense that his years were over. Death now knocked on the door of his new house whose walls had held so much hope for his family. As the door burst open, he silently thanked the saints that his wife and child were safe.

©Jessica Lynne Gardner 2009
Horrorfind Weekend 2011 appearance-September 2-4 http://www.horrorfindweekend.com/  

Twisted- Fairy Tale Anthology- Out Now!
Book Signing at the Haunt at Sunrise Farm on October 25th from 7:30-10:30 PM!