Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with B A Tortuga & Julia Talbot
“Startle” is a holiday story that brings two of our #CMCon16 Featured Authors together for a collaboration! (Just one of many.) B A Tortuga and Julia Talbot chose this raven/tree image as the inspiration for this original short.
by BA Tortuga and Julia Talbot
The rush of a raven leaping out of the dying tree startled Evan, sending him stumbling toward the old barn in an instinctive search for someplace to duck. The creepy old farm reminded him of Sleepy Hollow, the Tim Burton version, not the bright, less than scary Disney version.
Evan guessed since he was there to evaluate the place for a potential haunted farm tour and hayride possibility, that was great, right? He glanced up, looking for the big bird before backing away from the barn to snap some pics on his phone. Structurally, he wasn’t sure the building was safe to use as anything but a backdrop, but they could put the sign in station there and build what they needed…
Huh. No signal. Damn. So much for sending photos to his business partner Aime. She was the designer, he was the scout and the muscle. The contractor.
Aime told him he should wear more plaid. He told her she was the lesbian. That was her job.
The raven swooped back overhead, then settled on the gable of the barn roof, claws scratching on tin.
“Jesus!” Evan shouted, his heart pounding. “Stop scaring me!”
“Did you require assistance, Sir?”
Evan spun about, his heart knocking his ribs. A man stood about four feet away, dressed in a historical costume. Black tailcoat, starched white collar, white cravat. Nice. Good one, Aime.
“The bird is messing with me,” Evan blurted, then laughed at himself. “Spooky place.”
“Is it?” The man raised a brow. “Pastoral and soothing, I would say.” The accent was vaguely, oh, Evan didn’t know. Irish? Something like that. Something super attractive when combined with the jet black hair and blue eyes the man possessed. “At any rate, the rook has no interest in human affairs. He’s just looking for food or a bright treasure.”
“Right. So, are you an actor?”
The long, patrician nose wrinkled, the man’s lips pursing. “Hardy. Such a low profession. Are you? That would explain your strange attire.”
The guy was good, but maybe overplaying it a bit. “Nope. I’m a contractor. Thinking of renting this place for a Halloween party.”
“All Hallows.” The man nodded slowly. “My family has always held this night dear.”
“You’re from around here, then?”
The man smiled, his eyes twinkling as he drifted closer, the rustle of leaves under his feet crackling. “Of recent years, yes. What is your name?”
“I am Dylan Teague.”
The name rang a bell somewhere deep in Evan’s brain, but he let it go, fascinated by the spicy scent of this stranger. “Did Aime find you on a dating site? Is that what this is about?”
“I do not know an Aime.” Dylan frowned. “What are your plans for All Hallows?”
“Haunted cornfield. Hayrides. Booze.”
“Mmm. Alcohol does loosen the limbs.” Dylan laughed. “I am not sure where you intend to find a cornfield. The fields stayed fallow for the growing season.”
“Do you always sound like this?” The accent fascinated Evan, and he drifted closer still, their bodies almost touching.
Dylan’s brows drew together. “Hmm? Like what?”
“What?” He couldn’t remember the question, caught in the blue fire of Dylan’s eyes.
The soft chuckle Dylan gave him made him lean in, his eyes trying to close. Even swayed, and Dylan kissed him, a tiny brush of lips on his. Just that miniscule contact had Evan jerking, his body on fire.
“Come back on All Hallows Eve,” Dylan whispered. “I’ll be waiting for you.”
Another kiss had his eyes falling shut, and when Evan blinked them open, Dylan was gone. Disappeared.
“Hey!” Evan called, searching the immediate area. He ducked into the barn, seeing no one. Where the hell had Dylan gone? No one could simply poof away.
Evan whirled around so fast he tripped over his own feet and went down, his butt hitting the dirt hard. “Ow!”
“Oh, man.” A middle aged guy in overalls walked over to help him up. “Mr. Peters?”
“I’m the caretaker. What did you think?”
“I think it would make a great movie set, but the set up isn’t perfect for a haunted house. The parking is iffy.”
“Oh.” Jonas looked disappointed. “Well, I understand. Did you want to see the old house anyway?”
“Sure.” Maybe that was where Dylan had run off to, ready to pop out and boo him again. “Thanks for your help.”
“No problem. This place is great, and I love it. Developers bought it, you know, but never got any interest, so it’s just a tax shelter, I guess.”
“Really? No interest in this part of Maryland?” How weird.
They made their way to the big house, which was natural stone pulled from the earth directly around them, no doubt. The raven from earlier gronked as it flew over, then settled on the door transom.
“Hey!” Jonas waved the bird away. “Damned nuisance.”
“Scared the crap out of me earlier,” Evan said. “I had the urge to spout Poe.”
“Well, this is Maryland.” Jonas chuckled and unlocked the house. “Here you go. It’s a bit like a museum.”
The old foyer and parlor looked like someone had just moved out and left everything sometime in the early 1900s. Someone took good care, but damn.
“No one’s lived here in a while, huh?”
“No, sir. The Teagues died out in 1912 when a fever went through. The county made it a museum for a bit, but couldn’t afford to keep it.”
“The Teagues?” His heart began to pound. “That was the family name?”
“Yep. Graveyard is out behind the barn.”
“Well, it might not be perfect for a haunted house, but it would make a great place for a retreat. Do you think the owners would rent it to me for a week right around Halloween?”
“I can’t see why not.” Jonas waved one hand in the air. “I’ll let you explore. Be outside having a smoke.”
“Thanks.” The raven called to him outside, and Evan grinned. “See you on Halloween, Dylan. I can’t wait.”
Yeah… that would creep me out, lol!! B A and Julia have a $25 gift card to Dreamspinner Press up for grabs this week! To enter to win… leave a comment below to tell us what your plans are for this Halloween. Are you handing out candy? Are you heading to a party? Have a date with an attractive ghost? And we’d love to hear what you thought of “Startle”, while you’re at it 🙂 And, of course, if you’d like to meet and hang out a bit with these two, they’ll be among our awesome Featured Authors at the 2016 Coastal Magic Convention!)
All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!