Monday, February 29, 2016

Supernatural Friday-Sorry Three Days Late!-Cigarettes

Sorry this is late by three days for Supernatural Friday, but Mysticon was busy for me. This may hapen to me for Ravencon last Friday in April, so fair warning! Enjoy this original horror short story of mine. Please do not share the story, instead just share the link to your friends a nd relative to come read it here. It is my own story and copyrighted. Thanks again, and enjoy. 

Pamela K. Kinney

The breathing in his lungs grew harsher as he ran and ran. Damn it, it hurt to suck in air. He didn’t dare look over his should to see if it still pursued him. After all, he might stumble over something and fall and the thing would be able to get him. The night being so dark he wouldn’t see it, not until it was in clawing distance anyway.
They warned his wife, Tillie and him, that some beast prowled the area at night, mainly when the crescent moon hung low in the sky. For months whatever it was, bayed long into the night as it prowled. Hearing it for so long, he hated it. Hated that it kept him indoors at night. Hated that fear of it ruled his and the town’s nights.  Tillie went to bed early those nights, but he stayed up until late, after the sound had died away. When he came to bed, Tillie seem to have a sexual appetite that rivaled none she had any other time during their marriage of one year. She appeared to pay no heed that he obviously spent the night smoking. The only time he applauded the creature stalking the woods nearby. It made his wife even more . . . sensual.
The past month, there had been nothing. And he needed some cigarettes. Bad enough that the shakes came over him and the craving dug deep into him. He grew sharp at Tillie, who started to give him angry looks. Looks she never had before. She bit back at him, like PMs had gotten control of her. She told him not to go. After all, he could get the damned pack in the morning. But he didn’t listen to her. After their worse argument ever, he stomped out the door and to their car.
It hadn’t taken him long—just a half hour to drive to town to the only gas station that stayed open until six at least. By the clock in the dashboard, it was six.
The owner of the place was locking up when he screeched the car to a stop. Would have locked the door and gotten into his own vehicle to drive away if Jim hadn’t paid him an extra twenty just to remain open for five more minutes to get his pack of cigarettes and pay for them. The man then closed the place and zoomed out into the street and down it. Normally, a cop would catch and ticket him, but since the killings, the police had more things to worry about then some speeder. Which was why Jim himself could stamp on the pedal for home. The only good thing; lack of cops and oh yeah, his horny wife. Though the way they been duking it out the past few weeks, he doubted he would get any tonight.
He had made about halfway home when the car broke down. He cranked the engine. Nothing. Tried again. It didn’t even give a cough.
The ‘bitch’ finally gave up the ghost on him. He couldn’t understand what the problem could be and it was too dark, with only a crescent moon and a few straggling stars as his light, as he couldn’t find the flashlight he swore he had put in the glove compartment anywhere in the vehicle. He climbed out, kicked the door shut, and not even bothering to lock it, trudged home.
There had been nothing for the first fifteen minutes of him tramping on the road. Whatever had haunted the woods must have left after the last death. A crescent moon mocked him from the sky and there’d always been that kind of moon during the killings. He heard not one peep from the woods on either side of him. The silence reassured him.
Jim remembered the terror that had filled the tiny town. That some beast had caught and ravished, even partially eating, some pets, a horse in a pasture, and fifteen people. . .  What was that? He paused, and stared at all the trees. Minutes before the night appeared harmless. Now the hulking shadows that lined the road on both sides of the road had his heart hammering. Though nothing moved.
Suddenly, the stillness bothered him. Sweat beaded on his forehead and under his armpits, despite the chill in the air. Heart pounding, he began to walk faster. Fear pushed him to break his stride into a jog.  Not much for exercising, his legs protested it.
A low growl came from the left of him.
Jim didn’t stop moving, but he turned to peer at the forest that way. Nothing.  A shadow detached from the trees and stepped onto the road.
He broke into a run. His legs screamed, but he ignored them as a howl rent the air.  An answering prissy girl screams in his own ears.
God, was that him?
Yes, it was. He belted out into a flat-out run for his life. For that was what he was doing; saving his skin. 
He caught sight of a light. His house! The light glinted from behind the curtain at one of the front room windows.
Thank God, if he got inside and locked the door behind him, he’d be safe. Of course, he would give a call to the police and let them know the thing that been killed all those people and pets wasn’t gone. Tomorrow, he would tell his wife they need to love into town. Forget it, move some—
“Hell,” he cursed, “that hurts.”
Hurt? He felt sure that he’d broken his nose, running right into his front door. He wondered why Tillie hadn’t opened the door and hissed at him to get inside. But she hadn’t. What a time for her to go to bed. She had nagged about him going out, that it was not safe to do so, but then, she doesn’t even remain up until he made it back home, safe and sound.
Fumbling in his pockets, he found the pack of cigarettes that had foolishly drawn him out tonight, a lighter, and nothing else. No wallet, no keys.
Damn it—he must have left all his keys dangling from the ignition in his dead car and the wallet on the seat. Dead car? If he didn’t get inside, he might be dead as the junk heap. With a frantic hitch in his breathing, he tried the door knob, but the door refused to open. A dumb idiot to boot, he didn’t leave a key hidden outside, just in case. He darted over to the front room windows, fumbling with them, but none would lift up so he could climb inside. He got all way to the back. Put his hand on the knob of the back door, knowing it was futile as the howling grew closer. Twisted. . .
The door creaked open.
Oh God, oh God! Jim bolted in and slammed the door shut behind him, locking it and sliding the deadbolt home.  He backed away from the door, waiting for something to ram against it. When nothing did and the howling cut off, he backpedaled through the doorway into his living room. A light glowed from a lamp by the window and he switched it off. No need to alert the thing outside of any presence in the home as it was.
God. Tillie. What about his wife? He crept down the hallway, not turning on the light, and pushed open the bedroom door.
He stood in the doorway. Strange. Even when she’d gotten mad as soaked bear, she never shut the bedroom door on him. After what his life had been like earlier, he needed a cigarette. He took one out of the pack with a shaking hand, almost dropping it, but he didn’t and lit it, drawing the taste into his mouth before he blew out a ring or two. Tillie would kill him for smoking in their bedroom. With a shrug, he stepped inside. Heard the door slammed shut behind him and he turned. He thought he saw a shadow, but he couldn’t be sure.
A low growl that grew louder. His heart thumped like a rabbit pursued by a fox as he sweated. He reached over to the lamp on the bedstead near him. The light flooded the room, washing over what stood by the closed door.
It looked like Tillie and yet, it didn’t.  A mouth full of fangs too big for it, red eyes and a flat nose, with Neanderthal brows hung over the features like a hanging cliff. Claws like knives sprouted from her fingers and toes. Nude, she felt no sexual want at her form, for raggedy fur scattered over her skin.
“I told you to stay home, but no, you had to feed your addiction for smokes.” His wife's voice more growly and deep, and he admitted it, downright frightening. “Mother said not to marry a human, but did I listen? No. She said they were filthy, with their drinking and smoking. I thought you were different. I fought my old urges. Even when I heard Mother’s howls at night. Calling to me to come join her.” She shook her head and for a minute, despite her horrible visage, she almost looked like the old Tillie he had married. But only for a second as her face hardened. “Guess you can’t change a human and not even a troll either. I am finding I can’t control my need for raw human flesh just as you can’t stop smoking those nauseous cigarettes.
“Mother was right. Humans are only good for one thing. Food. She told me to never marry what you eat.”
Jim screamed, the sound growing shriller as she leapt onto him and bit his throat. His blood flowing and his fingers numbing, the burning butt dropped from them into the rug below.
A fire lit in the fibers. It raged as she dragged him outside to where another troll waited beneath a giant tree. Jim heard the screams of a fire engine in the distance as both started gnawing on him. Or maybe it was his own waning screams?

As darkness overcame him, he thought, Tillie always said smoking would kill me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Schedule for Mysticon This Weekend

I will be in Roanoke, Virginia this upcoming weekend (February 26th-28th) at Mysticon.  With the convention sold out since September (maybe due to George RR Martin as Author GOH?), hopefully you already have your con membership. It will be a busy weekend for me. Here is my schedule:

Friday, February 26:
Alien Worlds and Race-3:00 p.m.--Boardroom 1
Are You Sure You Want to go There?—4:00 p.m.—Ballroom E
A Touch of the Macabre--11:00 p.m.--Ballroom E
Saturday, February 27:
Book Signing: 10:00 a.m.-Signing Table B
Ghost Hunt Meetup--10:00 p.m. (1 hour only)--Dogwood 2 (it is free and if you have a camera, camcorder or digital recorder, do bring them)
Renaissance Horror--11:00 p.m.--Boardroom 1
Dark Journeys: Exploring Urban Legends--12 Midnight--Boardroom 1
Sunday, February 28:
Building Your Brand—9:00 a.m.—Ballroom C
Writing, Up Close and Personal--10:00 a.m.--Boardroom 1
Writing Virginia--3:00 p.m.--Ballroom D

Bram Stoker Awards 2015 Nominees

Horror Writers Association announced the nominees for the Bram Stoker Awards.

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Clive Barker – The Scarlet Gospels (St. Martin’s Press)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Deep (self-published)
JG Faherty – The Cure (Samhain Publishing)
Patrick Freivald – Black Tide (JournalStone Publishing)
Paul Tremblay – A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow)
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Courtney Alameda – Shutter (Feiwel & Friends)
Nicole Cushing – Mr. Suicide (Word Horde)
Brian Kirk – We Are Monsters (Samhain Publishing)
John McIlveen – Hannahwhere (Crossroad Press)
John Claude Smith – Riding the Centipede (Omnium Gatherum)
Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Jennifer Brozek – Never Let Me Sleep (Permuted Press)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Ridealong (self-published)
John Dixon – Devil’s Pocket (Simon & Schuster)
Tonya Hurley – Hallowed (Simon & Schuster)
Maureen Johnson – The Shadow Cabinet (Penguin)
Ian Welke – End Times at Ridgemont High (Omnium Gatherum)
Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Cullen Bunn – Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints (Dark Horse Comics)
Victor Gischler – Hellbound (Dark Horse Books)
Robert Kirkman – Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Image Comics)
Scott Snyder – Wytches, Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
Sam Weller, Mort Castle, Chris Ryall, & Carlos Guzman (editors) – Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (IDW Publishing)
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Gary A. Braunbeck – Paper Cuts (Seize the Night) (Gallery Books)
Lisa Mannetti – The Box Jumper (Smart Rhino Publications)
Norman Partridge – Special Collections (The Library of the Dead) (Written Backwards)
Mercedes M. Yardley – Little Dead Red (Grimm Mistresses) (Ragnarok Publications)
Scott Edelman – Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen (Dark Discoveries #30)
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Kate Jonez – All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck (Black Static #47)
Gene O’Neill – The Algernon Effect (White Noise Press)
John Palisano – Happy Joe’s Rest Stop (18 Wheels of Horror) (Big Time Books)
Damien Angelica Walters – Sing Me Your Scars (Sing Me Your Scars) (Apex Publications)
Alyssa Wong – Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (Nightmare Magazine #37)
Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins – Crimson Peak (Legendary Pictures)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe (Showtime)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Nightcomers (Showtime)
David Robert Mitchell – It Follows (Northern Lights Films)
Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement – What We Do in the Shadows (Unison Films)
Superior Achievement in an Anthology
Michael Bailey – The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards)
Ellen Datlow – The Doll Collection: Seventeen Brand-New Tales of Dolls (Tor Books)
Christopher Golden – Seize the Night (Gallery Books)
Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles – nEvermore! (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
Jonathan Maberry – The X-Files: Trust No One (IDW Publishing)
Joseph Nassise and Del Howison – Midian Unmade (Tor Books)
Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Gary A. Braunbeck – Halfway Down the Stairs (JournalStone Publishing)
Nicole Cushing – The Mirrors (Cycatrix Press)
Taylor Grant – The Dark at the End of the Tunnel (Cemetery Dance Publications)
Gene O’Neill – The Hitchhiking Effect (Dark Renaissance Books)
Lucy A. Snyder – While the Black Stars Burn (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks (ed.) – The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)
Stephen Jones – The Art of Horror (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books)
Michael Knost – Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth (Seventh Star Press)
Joe Mynhardt & Emma Audsley (editors) – Horror 201: The Silver Scream (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Danel Olson – Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Centipede Press)
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Bruce Boston – Resonance Dark and Light (Eldritch Press)
Alessandro Manzetti – Eden Underground (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Ann Schwader – Dark Energies (P’rea Press)
Marge Simon – Naughty Ladies (Eldritch Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – An Exorcism of Angels (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Superstition Moon

Last June we had what is called a strawberry moon. The “strawberry” moon, gets its name from the reddish color, and according to the Farmer’s Almanac, June is strawberry season.
In folklore, there are many myths concerning full moons and Friday the 13 that have led to superstitions surrounding the full moon. An ancient Babylonian manuscript prescribes that women are more fertile during a full moon. Many women today believe that their menstrual cycles correspond to the moon. There are stories that more women go into labor during the full moon. This belief has not been confirmed by scientific studies. In ancient Greece, Diana the Goddess of the Hunt was associated with both the moon and child-birth, demonstrating that this is an ancient association held by humans for centuries.
The most common myth surrounding the full moon is that it evokes madness. The word “lunacy” stems from the root “lunar.” From werewolves to myths about a higher rate of insanity homicide, and suicide, lunacy affected by the full moon appears frequently in old folklore.  There is no significant relationship between the full moon and insane or anti-social behavior though. Because the moon is such a powerful astronomical force that affects the earth’s tides and allows humans to track their lives according to a lunar monthly cycle, these kind of superstitions about the full moon are still popular.

Like there is the one that some people believe that there is a link between the full moon and seizures. Another tells about the full moon and the appearance of black cats. Some people believe that there must be a strong link between the moon and human behavior because of how much the moon affects the earth from a physical standpoint.
When I did an investigation in July on the full moon night, my group and I had some interesting paranormal results. Whether that was due to the moon as some think, it is hard to prove.

In Ireland it was believed to be bad luck to see the full moon reflected in a mirror. The worse luck happened if a person stared at the moon through the branches of a tree. The worst luck of all was if the light of the full moon shone on your face as you slept. If this happened, it meant that you were going to die.

A blood moon (like one happened in April 3014) signals a certain foreboding. Like the portent of the apocalypse. Though the moon has turned “into blood” several times before, and nothing apocalyptic happened.

Mothers refused to hang their baby’s nappies out in the moonlight for fear of bad luck.” A 1621 guide to healthy living helpfully offers the following advice: “When thou goest to thy bed… draw close the curtaines to shut out the Moone-light, which is very offensive and hurtfull to the braine, especially to those that sleepe.”

Those careless enough to sleep under a full moon risked insanity, blindness, or even being turned into a werewolf (but only if it happened to be a Friday night).

Pointing at the moon has been considered unlucky. Some say that the “man in the moon” residing there, considers it rude. A superstition from the British Isles says that anyone who points at the moon nine times cannot enter heaven, no matter how pious he or she has been.

It was believed in ancient times, that moon’s silvery glow was made of silver. That is the reason the metal became one of its symbols.

The commonest superstitions connected with the new moon are: seeing the thin crescent over the left shoulder is lucky. Seeing it straight before you will signify good luck to the end of the season. Any wish made at the first sight of the new moon will come true, Superstitious persons believe that the time of the new moon is propitious to planting, courtship, the starting of new business ventures or trips, cutting the hair or fingernails to effect better growth, and many other things to be done.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fandom Lost a Bright Shining Star-Bud Webster

(Ravencon 2015-Bud and Mary.)

This past Valentine’s weekend, Science Fiction/Fantasy Fandom lost a great person. Bud Webster. Bud was a published writer, who wrote science fiction and fantasy tales, wrote nonfiction, and sold used books at his table at some conventions in the Mid-Atlantic region—many books you might recognize from your past and had to buy to read it again--when he passed away. A fixture in Fandom, you would never have met a more caring, smarter and sweeter human being than Bud.

I first met Bud in 1985, after we moved to Chesterfield, Virginia from San Diego, California. I had used the Fandom Directory to look for a local group for my husband and me ti join, a club for science fiction, fantasy and horror. Richmond had appeared to be not as Fandom oriented as San Diego had been. Or so I thought. But we joined Richmond Science Fiction Club and met like-minded people, many still friends.  Bud Webster was one of them. Years later, after the club disbanded, Bill and I would run into Bud at conventions. It was always great to talk to him and Mary at his table, and even buy a treasured book or two I read in my past from his table.

It was hard the first time he had to go to hospital, but he seemed to have gotten better and I was happy for him and for his lovely Mary (who went through her own cancer, surviving it). So when he was struck down again, with cancer, it was a shock. He succumbed to the evil thing. Fandom lost a bright, shining star. And Mary, the love of his life, lost her dear one

One more thing I am going to mention, out-of-pocket medical expenses that Bud and Mary incurred from medical bills are staggering. If you can, please help Bud’s widow, Mary. Thanks to the wonderful people from Marscon, donations for these medical expenses are being accepted at this fund page.

100% of every donation will go to Bud’s out-of-pocket medical and final expenses. The MarsCon Executive Committee has agreed to cover all of the fees that are levied by Square on each transaction.

Bud, we miss you, but you will never really be gone, as you have entrenched yourself in Fandom’s hearts. Whether two hearts or one, they beat for you.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Hearts Are More Than Just to Put a Stake Through

Every year on February 14th, most people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” Today is Valentine’s Day. This day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. It was also dedicated to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus—those twins that fed at the teats of a she-wolf.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection in classical mythology. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus, and is known in Latin also asAmor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros.  Eros appears in Classical Greek art as a slender and winged youth, But in the Hellenistic period he became more and more portrayed as chubby boy, with the bow and arrow to represent uncontrollable desire.

Cupid is a minor character in myths who serves mostly to set the plot in motion. The only time he is a main character is in the tale of Cupid and Psyche, when wounded by his own weapons he experiences the ordeal of love.

The history of Valentine’s Day, along with the story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. Also during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, another reason for Valentine’s day to be one of romance.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, everyone martyred. One legend claims that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered him put to death.

Other tales suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before he died, the legends goes on to say that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression still in use today. 

So when you celebrate with your loved one this Sunday, think of how closely the supernatural has to do with a day for lovers.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Supernatural Friday: “eBay Purchase” by Pamela K. Kinney

Enjoy my original short story. Share the link with friends and not the story itself, as it is copyrighted by me. Thank you. 

“eBay Purchase”


Pamela K. Kinney

         Judy Linnea watched as her husband set down the jack-o-lantern on the front porch. He stood up and stretched, then sauntered back inside the house. Peter took his dark hooded sweatshirt out of the hall closet and slipped it on. He turned to her. She saw nothing on his face but a blank page, a few wrinkles and a graying five-o’clock shadow the only thing written on it.
“Heading out again, Peter?” she asked sarcastically. “You never stay home with me anymore.”
A strange little grin flitted across his lips. For a minute a chill raced up her spine, but she shook it off. No way would the man hurt her.
“What’s the matter, Judy? Do you think I seeing another woman or something?”
She snorted. “You? Magic would be a more real possibility, then your lazy butt cheating on me!”
The strange smile grew wider, as if only he got the joke. Not even pausing to give her a kiss on the cheek, he stepped past her and went outside. The door slammed shut with a loud bang.
Judy stared at the door, shocked. Least he’s always gave me a kiss before. What’s the matter with him these days?
Actually, he’d been acting strange ever since he had brought home that pumpkin the day before Halloween a week ago, carved a face on it and set it out on the porch on Halloween, all lit up. Funny thing, he removed it the day after, and didn’t throw it in the trash as usual, but took it indoors. Until today when he put it back out. Very strange behavior, even for him.
Well, whatever’s up his butt would have to be puzzled out later.  She had cookies to bake. Just before she could head to the kitchen a woman’s giggle came to her ears. The sound came from outside, just outside the front door, if she thought about it. Frowning, Judy opened the door and stared through the screen door.
Empty. Only the porch furniture and the damned pumpkin. Judy was about to shut the door when someone giggled again. 
“What the . . .”
Puzzled, she realized the sound came from the top of the porch steps. Except no one stood there, only the pumpkin. Judy shoved the screen door open and stepped out. 
She stood next to the jack-o-lantern, staring down at its face that Peter had carved into it. Eyes like mirthful crescents, the nose, an upside down triangle, and the mouth was a slash so malignant that for a moment she shivered and took a step back.
Another giggle filled the air. In dawning horror, she realized that it came from the jack-o-lantern. Something slithered up one side, long and black-green.
“Oh God, a snake!” Where was freaking Peter when she needed him? She hated snakes.
Judy tripped over her feet and landed on her butt. Her face was close to the slithering thing that curled around the orange flesh of the jack-o-lantern. She noticed that the ‘snake’ had tiny red horns that rose from the top of its head and as its yellow eyes stared into hers, a tiny red flame issued from its opened maw.
She screamed, trying to scramble to her feet and failing. The creature hissed, more flames filling the air along with the sound—the thud-thud of something pounding from inside the pumpkin.
The jack-o-lantern split apart, and pieces fell onto the top porch step in front of it. A miniscule body, dressed in a tattered crop top, denim shorts and green sandals staggered out, a tiny sledgehammer gripped in her minute hands. I was a woman with orange eyes and blonde hair, all in a Barbie doll face. She gazed up at Judy.
“What the hell are you?” asked Judy, unable to move a muscle. Had this creature hypnotized her?
The woman gave a nasty smile.
“I’m Peter’s new wife.”
“Excuse me?”
“Peter realized that your software program that came with the package of tomato seeds he had bought last spring was defective. But the seller on eBay who sold him this pumpkin said to carve it and insert the new software program, then right-click, and I would come alive. I’m to replace you.” 
“Come on, we have to hurry, as Peter is expecting a dinner of steak and mashed potatoes with home baked pumpkin pie tonight when he gets home. I need to get to the store.” 
Judy’s vision wavered and she tried to stand, but found that her legs wobbled like rubber. Her vision dimmed but she saw another odd thing about the jack-o-lantern that she hadn’t noticed before. A long, white line attached to a two-button computer mouse snaked from behind the jack-o-lantern.
That’s when she fell into a long dark corridor of nothingness.
Judy regained consciousness and found herself lying on something red. In fact, everything looked red from top to bottom and side to side. The whole room seemed circular and empty of furniture. She stood, her legs still shaky.
To her horror, she saw a giant, feminine face with pumpkin orange eyes staring at her through a large, gaping hole in the red wall in front of her. 
“Oh God, where am I?” asked Judy.
“Why, in the jack-o-lantern, of course!” said the face in a booming voice.
The face vanished when Judy heard the thunderous footsteps of some giant. 
“Peter! It worked!” The female voice.
“It did?” Peter’s voice hit the air like a sonic boom.
The next moment his dove-gray eyes peering through the hole at her. 
“Comfy?” he said. “Good.”
She ran to the hole and poked her head out to look up at him towering over her like a skyscraper. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He didn’t answer, but he leaned over to pick up the mouse she had seen earlier, only now it was way bigger. “I have to save you into the program.”
He right-clicked the mouse and all went blank for Judy.
Peter took the CD and shoved it into a drawer full of other CDs, each with a woman’s name on it. He turned to his new wife. 
“The program better work right this time, or I’ll not be buying any more programmable wife software off eBay. Understand?”

His new wife flashed him a nervous smile and patted her hair with a shaking hand before she leaned over to give him a kiss.