A Shadow of Autumn is almost here!

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“A Shadow of Autumn is a forthcoming anthology featuring macabre fall tales by a variety of modern speculative fiction authors. From yarns about strange trick or treat festivities to monstrous tales of harvest gone awry, these stories will keep you entertained long after the season’s last jack-o’-lantern has dimmed.”

I’m so excited to be a part of this project! A Shadow of Autumn is edited by the fabulous Gwendolyn Kiste. The model in the photo is Payden King.

To find out more about the book:

Click to view the website

Click to view the TOC

Click to view the authors

xo

KZ ❤

The Price of Youth – A 100-word story

The Price of Youth
by K.Z. Morano

I was a rotting fruit… fattening flies… waiting to be harvested by death.

I stared at the mirror as the maggots of old age consumed me. Skin, sinew, skeleton, soul…

Then the peddler came, with his potion and persuasive tongue.

It seemed like a fair price at the time.

After all, what need have I for toes…

Or posterior teeth…

Or ovaries…

They’re easily concealed.

Three wealthy husbands later, he returned.

“Fear not, Madame,” he chitchatted as he severed my leg. “Long skirts are fashionable these days.”

I opened my mouth to scream… and silence exploded within the tongueless cavity.

boo! happy almost Halloween, everyone! xox ;)

boo! happy almost Halloween, everyone! xox 😉

Throwback Tales: The Other Child

The Other Child
By K.Z. Morano

My name is Lila. Not that I expect anyone to recognize my name. I am after all, just the “other child”. But I do have a story to tell. And though it may not seem as magical as the candy-colored versions they tell about my brother and sister, it is nonetheless the truth.

I was ten when Hans and Greta came into our lives. They were no more than suckling infants, children of Mr. Higgs whose wife had died of childbirth. I pitied the woman; the babies’— if you could call them that— enormous heads must’ve ripped her apart. Her single reprieve was that she did not live long enough to see what they looked like.

Ugly creatures they were, with limbs gnarled like the branches of an ancient tree and pink eyes that poked out from their massive skulls. Shameful scandals of nature. To have brought them into this world was a sin in itself.

Still, there could be no greater love than that of a mother’s. And it was for my recently widowed mother’s love for me and my baby brother that she had agreed to nurse them. Money was money, after all. And I’d like to think that it was for Mama’s love for us that she had agreed to share Mr. Higgs’ bed as well.

Since they were always suckled first, the creatures grew stout and strong while my little brother grew thin and sickly on whatever that was left. I shall never forget that one afternoon when I came home from the forest with my palms full of berries. I saw Mama staring out the window, a twin’s mouth latched on each of her nipples. They wriggled in horrific delight as they greedily sucked the life from her. Their plump cheeks and snub-noses were smeared with crimson that dripped towards the floor in a rhythmic tap, tap, tap…

“Mama!” She started and looked down at her bloody breasts.

“Goodness,” she murmured absently. “They must’ve been very hungry.”

It baffled me how they were already able to grow a complete set of teeth— they were yellow and needle-like— while my brother still hadn’t any. But then they were always different. The boy’s reddish gaze followed me everywhere while the girl’s stare seemed frighteningly intelligent, as though she had an understanding of the hatred and fear that her presence stirred from within me and enjoyed it immensely.

Great was my relief when Mama declared that she’ll stop feeding them. But the news soon eclipsed my happiness. Mr. Higgs, now impoverished, was to live with us in our tiny cottage. It was hardly surprising. Famine was upon us and Mama was a woman with conscience. What did surprise us all was the sudden death of Mr. Higgs. He was found in the thickets— dismembered, disemboweled and drained of blood.

Mama was inconsolable. It didn’t help that we grew hungrier and poorer with each passing day. Left with nothing but a few crumbs of stale bread, I finally convinced Mama to get rid of the twins. Fewer mouths to feed, I said. And they were always insatiable. And so one night, we took them deep into the woods. The wind stabbed at flesh like icy knives and the barren trees reared like frozen giants. They didn’t cry. The twins simply sagged against the tree like a pair of hideous puppets, holding hands, framed against the background of silver mist.

Whatever Mama did, she did out of love for me and my brother. Not that it helped him much. My brother died anyway, consumed by a sickness. It was too late to save him; the monstrous twins had already stolen what they could from him. It wasn’t long before Mama’s guilt caught up her with her and slowly, she began to lose her grasp on reality…

For me, it was years of struggling with famine, years of caring for my ailing Mama… People were afraid to venture into the woods for fear of the strange beast that lurked there. Though it had never been caught or seen, it always left a trail of blood, bones and bowels.

So grave were my troubles that I was close to forgetting that the twins ever existed. But then they came back, as Mama said they would. We pay for the sins we commit, she said. One day, the tangle of bushes parted and out they came, five years older but no less repulsive. Mama begged me to let them stay. She said we could afford to feed them now and she wanted their forgiveness.

The twins never spoke a word. I suppose there had been no one in the woods to teach them. The fact that they had managed to survive on their own was disturbingly peculiar. Then I looked at them and thought: How utterly silly; they’re so tiny.

Then one afternoon when I came home from the market, a delicious aroma wafted from the kitchen, insinuating its way into my nostrils.

“Surprise…” said a voice, soft and spidery. It was the first time that I heard Greta speak.

Something hissed and crackled in the oven.

“Where’s Mama?” I asked.

When Hans spoke, his voice was deep and hoarse. “Yummy . Yummy.” He rubbed his bloated belly and pointed into the rustling inferno. “Tummy. Tummy.”

It was then that I saw the blood-stained pieces of Mama’s clothing on the floor.

I think I went mad then.

I ran out of the cottage screaming and went as far away as I could, never to return again. News from the old village would still reach me as troubadours sang their versions of the tale, adding candy and gingerbread— distorting the story, syllable by syllable, until the truth lies buried beneath the fantastical lies.

Mama said we pay for the sins we commit. But I think we pay more dearly for the sins we fail to commit. I look at my infant step-daughter, her unfamiliar eyes dark and beady, and I place the pillow on her face.

Copyright: © 2013 K.Z. Morano

Note: First appeared in UGLY BABIES: the Anthology, JWK Fiction, October 2013
Reprinted in BLOOD REIGN LIT MAGAZINE, December 2013
and Republished The Sirens Call – Issue #13 – Women in Horror (Second Annual Edition), February 2014

🙂 Thanks for reading. The Other Child may not be my best but it’s certainly special to me. It was my first ever horror story! Well, flash fiction, since it’s exactly 1,000 words… ^^ It was published in Ugly Babies exactly one year ago. My, my… how time flies. So I guess this is Happy Horror Anniversary to me. 🙂
Five days until Halloween… xox

Throwback Tales: Wooden Lips

Wooden Lips
By K.Z. Morano

The cellar door is a wound, a break on the earth’s skin. It is a gash in the ground where malignant thoughts trickle like blood into the cesspit of my filthy brain. The cellar door is a mouth… the wooden lips of a whore whispering obscenities into my ear, sticking her spectral tongue into my acoustic tunnels and to the roof of my skull to caress murderous designs into being.

She tells me what she wants me to do.

She tells me what I want to do.

She speaks to me even with her lips tightly shut, bolted with heavy metal.

The cellar door is hungry. And her cries follow me even to my sleep, soft fragmented sobs that swell into angry screams as midnight approaches and the moon’s fat face pales from the anticipated terror.

I try to fight her, I swear, every single time.

But then there’s the scratch… the sound of sharp fingernails raking against the door, creating deep cuts into the sensitive sheath of my sanity.

Feed me, she says.

I can hear the seismic growling of her empty belly, persistently reminding me of my duty. I walk towards the door… that other door. I turn the knob cautiously as if the monster were on the other side. The rusty joints creak to reveal the sacrificial lambs, their eyes floating towards me, terror blanching their faces.

I have learned to ignore their fright. It is merely a job that must be done. I pick one, a little boy, this time. As I free him from his shackles, a tiny whimper of protest issues forth from dry cracked lips. But he comes with me, nevertheless, the beautiful bleatless baby sheep, with his skin smooth and tight over his fragile skeleton.

I take him to the kitchen where I carve off that skin. I do it with a blank face, with studied precision. Then I stare into my work—that amorphous figure of glistening pink flesh. Peeled of all pretensions, he is nothing but meat—a sexless, lifeless substance, her evening meal. I take his flayed body outside where stars always over-sprinkle the sky… falsely festive, my co-conspirators, for they have witnessed me doing this for years and years.

I unlock the cellar door, cautiously, reverently. Now that her lips are parted, I can hear her voice more clearly, murmurous sounds of pleasure sliding back and forth in her muddy throat. Her malodorous breath reaches my nose—the smell of the earth’s intestines, the stench of digested matter, of pulped flesh, of decaying bodies.

The meat sticks to my flesh, clings to me as if seeking protection. I drop it into the cellar door, into that gaping mouth and into that throat… that tunnel stretching into eternity. It may take a while to satisfy her. Yes, it may take a very long time. And I have devoted my entire life simply for that purpose. I replace the locks on her lips… those wooden cellar lips, knowing that she’ll be quiet, pacified for now.

Often, I wonder what would come of this, sure that someday, they—all the children that I have fed her—will return, resplendent in their new skin. Will they come for me then? Will they be grateful? Or will they exact their vengeance? Only time will tell.

How long, I wonder, will the locks be able to hold the door?

How long before they come crawling out of her pestilential hole?

My sleep becomes plagued with all these thoughts, my pillows always bloody like butchered sheep. I wash my hands often, over and over, until they are raw. Right now, there is only one thing I know. I serve that voice in my head… the voice of whatever unutterable monstrosity that dwells beneath the cellar door.

Copyright: © 2013 K.Z. Morano

Note: First appeared in Cellar Door Volume II: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror, JWK Fiction, December 2013 and
Reprinted in Best of Horror 2013, JWK Fiction, August 2014

Sooo… 10 days until Halloween and it just occurred to me that I don’t have any scary stories coming out this month! 😦 However, some of my stories will be appearing in various anthologies in November, December, and of course, early 2015. I’ve been receiving some invitations to write for various anthos and the themes are just so sooo awesome that I find it hard to resist! 🙂 In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of my previously published pieces. The rights have reverted back to me so I can now post them here on my blog for everyone to read. Thanks for reading the story! 😉 xoxo

The Din from the Garbage Bin

Copyright-Kent Bonham

Copyright-Kent Bonham

While walking home, Anne heard the disturbing din from the garbage bin.

At the back of her apartment building were oversize rats gnawing at something.

Tampons lay there like small gutted animals. Week-old blood and cottony innards spilled across the pavement, filling greedy snouts and thick hairy tongues.

Disgusted, Anne tried to shoo the freak rodents away.

The vampiric vermin hissed at her, their eyes crimson coals of hatred burning through the darkness.

She ran up to her apartment and bolted the door.

Her fingers failed to reach the switch as the glowing red eyes came rushing towards her thighs.

The Immigrants

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

The ships burned cigarette holes into the blanket of blue satin sky.

The people gazed skyward, displaying digits tattooed into their hyper-extended necks.

The numbers meant that they’ve been chosen, that they’ve killed to earn their limited tickets to salvation.

They’ve trimmed the population down to half for the chance to dwell in the new world created by superior species.

The chosen’s bodies lifted into the air. The earth spun like a giant baggage carousel.

In every corner, screams pierced the air in innumerable shades of intensity, as each extraterrestrial immigrant scanned the digits and claimed their designated flesh suits.

New story — Demonic Deluge in Hellnotes Horror in a Hundred

Hi! Check out my recent 100-word story, “Demonic Deluge” in Hellnotes Horror in a Hundred 🙂

Horror in a Hundred – Demonic Deluge by K.Z. Morano

Please share/like on FB or tweet the story! Thanks! ❤

I have quite a few stories in Hellnotes. Check out some of the links to my other stories there as well:

Horror in a Hundred – Homecoming by K.Z. Morano

Horror in a Hundred – If Wishes Came True by K.Z. Morano

xo

Hitchhiker

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Roger Bultot

Hitchhiker

“Ran away?” the driver asked.

I wanted to tell him to fuck off but he was kind enough to give me a ride.

I nodded.

“Have you found salvation?” he asked. The speedometer quivered to ninety-five.

“What the fuck…” I reached for the door but his heavy fist collided with my jaw.

“It’s alright, son.” His eyes were vulturine, burning with zeal as he blabbered something about the Lord and lost sheep. “I’ve come to take you home…”

Then I noticed the rosary made of fine hair and deciduous teeth and a shiny plastic crucifix dangling from the rearview mirror.

 

Words and Whispers

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

He rarely left that desk.

For years, he ensorcelled the public with haunting stories spawned from his imagination yet refused to bask in the brilliance of his fame.

Some dismissed it as cheap tactic, speculating that there was no single mysterious author but a group of ghost writers.

Fans camped outside his fortress. The media met only with agents of glib tongues and swollen pockets.

They said he answered to disembodied whispers.

His last words were jumbled letters carved into the ancient desk, engraved into emaciated flesh…

Indecipherable, except for the words: “Free us” penned shakily in sick, diluted blood.

Visitors

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright-Björn Rudberg

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright-Björn Rudberg

Beneath the aching moon, she sighs
as I read the poetry of her thighs…
Fingernail tracing syllables,
I tap on her fragile spot
and the veins beneath her skin become visible
like cracks on glass.
Once severed, they’re like moist lips, gaping, sputtering…
as if dying to say something.

I peel her body from the floor.
Her head adorns the door
like a grotesque knocker,
mouth agape in a perpetual roar,
as if to ward off visitors.

Still, they come pouring in,
intrigued by my chalk-white skin
and the euphoric sting…
Lonely, desperate souls
gutting the night with their screams.