Excerpt From “Too Close to the Edge,” A Spooky Short Story by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Artist Penelope had been looking forward to going with her husband, sister and brother-in-law to see the Grand Canyon…even though she was terrified of heights and, when she got there, couldn’t bear to get too close to the edge. She watched people balancing on one foot, acting foolish, taking photos, oblivious of the death waiting below them at their feet. Their careless antics made her dizzy, took her breath away. Scared her.

Especially when the woman beside her relates the story of a small child that fell into the Canyon to her death the day before. Many people died that way. Over the edge. Many also died down inside the Canyon. Hikers. Lost people. People on the river going through the rapids.

Then she sees a young girl go over the edge and no one will believe her.

For there was no child that had died–that day anyway.

Was she seeing things that weren’t there…or was there another explanation?

EXCERPT:

“No, Jeff, I can’t. I can’t come any closer. Please, don’t make me.” I was cringing back, trembling, about ten feet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, clinging to a scrawny tree as if it were my best friend. There was a June sun blazing down on me from a pure blue sky. Not a cloud in sight. No shade. About ninety degrees but it felt like a hundred.

“Ah, Penelope, you gotta see this! It’s breathtaking. Like one of those 3D images, but so much better.” My husband was snapping picture after picture poised at the edge in front of the rock ledge that snaked along the rim. A ledge no more than three feet high. It’d never stop anyone from falling a mile to their death into the Canyon.

“Nah, you go ahead and look all you want, honey. I’ll just stay here,” I let my voice fall to a whisper, “where it’s safe.”

My eyes glanced here and there at the people–there must have been hundreds–milling around us, taking pictures like crazed paparazzi, oohing and aahing…sidling way too close to the brink. There was a young man to my right who’d climbed over the small rock ledge and was posing not two feet from the drop off for a photograph some girl was taking. He laughed and jumped straight up. “Get me now! Look at me! Woohoo!”

I shut my eyes for a moment. I couldn’t bear to look. He was going to fall. I didn’t want that burnt into my retinas, his last death screams branded into my psyche, for the rest of my life, as he plummeted over the edge.

There was a family passing in front of me. A smiling mother, father, two kids. The smallest, a dark haired girl of around six or so, was dawdling behind. Now she was leaning over the rock rim, stomach balanced on it, legs straight up behind her, giggling and playing. No one was watching over her.

Oh, my God.

Shuddering, I couldn’t bear to look. I had to fight not to scream at her, Get away from the edge, child! What the heck was wrong with her parents anyway? They should be keeping an eye on her. She could fall so easily.

There were so many of the visitors doing much the same thing. Dangerously prancing around the rock ledges beyond the stone divider or sitting nonchalantly, legs crossed, on the ledge as if, Oh, no, I won’t fall. Never lose my balance. Not me. Were they all nuts?

Turning, I stomped across the asphalt walking path away from the offending sights into the stunted trees and dried up scrubs, wanting to be as far away from the rim as I could get. Between the heat and the tension of seeing people behave so recklessly, I was a nervous wreck.

“Hey, honey, don’t leave the path,” my husband yelled at me, his voice tinged with mild annoyance. “There are scorpions and snakes out there!”

Yikes. This whole place was a death trap.

I reluctantly crossed over to the outside of the path. I wasn’t as frightened of scorpions and snakes as I was of falling into the Canyon but I did as he asked anyway. He was worried about me. So sweet of him. “Hurry up, Jeff. The train leaves in about seventy minutes and if we miss it we’ll be stranded here for the night. Haven’t you taken enough pictures?” I’d lost count at about two hundred.

“Give me a few more minutes. There’s a view over there I got to get a photo of.”

Someone cried out in the distance and my stomach clenched. A cold sweat had broken out over my body. My shirt was soaked.

I waited by the tree trying to calm my nerves. What was wrong with me?

Truth was, I never knew I was afraid–terrified really–of heights until that trip to Yellowstone about twelve years ago. But I am. Terrified, that is. Driving up through the narrow winding roads to Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces all those years ago I got what could only be described as a full-fledged panic attack. I couldn’t even look over to where the road dropped off (as far as I was concerned) into eternity. My husband had been driving and we were slowly going up and up and up. I felt as if I were going to dwindle to nothing and blow away. Since then I’ve discovered I can’t go anywhere near the edge of a steep hill, an arroyo or a canyon. No matter how high a barrier it had around it. Anything higher than a ten foot drop off and I freak.

My husband makes fun of me. Good naturedly, of course. He loves me. Always has, always will. Just doesn’t understand my fear.

“What’s the matter,” he asked over his shoulder as he lined up another spectacular image in his camera’s viewfinder, “you afraid of falling or what? You won’t, you know. Just walk up to the rail and hold on, look down. I won’t push you over, I promise. You’re safe. I swear it.”

If he only knew.

It isn’t that I think I’m going to fall, it’s that something, primal and hungry, gnaws at the pit of my stomach, the minute I get near a cliff. I can’t move forward. Can’t move at all. I can’t even force myself to step up to the rail or fence or whatever is there between me and the chasm and glance down. And, oh, I’ve tried. I’ve never been a fraidy-cat and am usually fearless in most other aspects of my life. I hate it that I’m afraid of something. Anything. Especially when it makes no sense. I’m not going to fall if I don’t step over the edge.

For a second I wondered why I’d agreed to this trip.

***

Since childhood Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quitting to write full time. She began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

Kathryn has been married to Russell for thirty-four years; has a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and lives in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo.

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00998TJ9M#_

Excerpt from “Witches-Revised Author’s Edition” by Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

Amanda Givens is careful how she uses her powers. She doesn’t want the people of Canaan, Connecticut to know they have a witch among them . . . even a good white witch. For years, she’s lived quietly in a remote cabin with Amadeus, her quirky feline familiar. At first with her husband, Jake, the love of her life, until a car accident; but now alone after his death. But when she’s wrongly blamed for a rash of ritualistic murders committed by a satanic cult, she knows she can no longer hide. She’s the one the cult’s after and she is the only one who can stop them and prove her innocence.

As punishment for fighting and destroying the cult, she’s drawn back in time by the ghost of the dark witch, Rachel Coxe, who was drowned for practicing black magic in the 17th century.

Now, as Amanda tries to rehabilitate Rachel’s reputation in an effort to save lives, as well as her own, and falls in love all over again with Joshua, her reincarnated dead husband from the future, she has to rely on a sister’s love and magical knowledge, and a powerful sect of witches named the Guardians to help her get home safely.

EXCERPT:

Now, with her heart breaking, her eyes shut, her hands waving languidly over the fire, she chanted the nefarious words that would bring her husband back from the dead.

Mandy…no, Mandy…

Something crashed against the door, as if something or someone were throwing themselves against it. Wood splintered, but the door held. Amadeus, who had powers of his own, was fighting mad now. It was his responsibility to protect her, protect her from herself, if need be. She heard him growling at her through the door.

Open up, Mandy. Open the damn door!

“No. I told you, Amadeus, either help me or go away.”

The cat grumbled beyond the door, hissed and spat as loud as any big cat, and the battering resumed.

Amanda’s eyes flew open, widened as the apparition began to take form inside the pentagram—the outline of a man, tall, his arms thrown over his face as if in defense.

“Jake?” She moaned, staring at the thing.

It lowered its hands and a ghoulish, misty face peered out at her, a face so full of torment and fear, Amanda fell back in shock.

“Don’t do this, Mandy, I beg you! Remember me as I was. I don’t belong there anymore.” She heard the plaintive whisper, an echo on the still air. Its hands reached out to her. “Let me go. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

She couldn’t stop. The enchantment wasn’t complete. It would be better when it was. He was between two worlds now and he would be frightened. Half-formed. Between two worlds.

If she wasn’t careful, those unearthly denizens—shade demons, she called them—that haunted that dead world could escape into hers. So dangerous. What the hell was she doing opening the forbidden portals like this?

What happened if she was a moment off, a word wrong and the demons came through? If she unleashed them? A disaster.

Amanda steeled herself, wiped the fresh tears from her face with the back of her hand. “Damn it, I want you back, Jake. I’ll have you back,” she swore.

She took up where she’d left off, knowing if she stopped at this point of the spell, it could ruin everything. Everything.

The door groaned behind her under its assault (damn but that cat was strong), the wind screamed outside the windows. The candles placed around the pentagram fluttered in a strange breeze in the shadowy room.

Amanda’s heart froze. She stopped in the middle of the spell, her eyes going wide with fear, her hands half-raised before her, and her head thrown back as the flames from the fire glowed more brightly across her tense face.

What was that word? Suureerustus? Summertus? Or…

She stared at the blurry figure trying to form in the circle. It was yelling at her now…something…something…she couldn’t make out the words.

It was no longer alone.

Things writhed around its melting feet, flew about its head. Terrible things. Things from the dead world. Unholy things. Gaping mouths with sharp bloodied teeth, glittering fiendish eyes in deformed, hideous bodies. Some almost human, some insect like. Others indescribable. Some growing before her eyes to be taller than she was.

Monsters. Coming through the barrier, crossing the lines of the pentagram, into her world.

Amanda grabbed the nearest thing with which to fight them off, a broom, and started swinging at them.

She was so busy hitting and spewing out new spells to keep the shade demons from coming through that she never heard the door burst open; never felt the cool storm wind enter the cabin until something determined and furry flew by her face toward the pentagram, hissing all the way.

Then Amadeus was helping her herd the malignant spirits back from where they’d come. All claws, teeth, and unearthly glowing eyes. He snarled the word Sutterus at her in passing and Amanda quickly supplied it in the spell where it belonged.

The demons began to slowly dissolve in shrieks of rage.

Don’t send us away! Don’t send us back there! Let us out. Out!

Jake’s figure returned. A shadow with hanging head. Just one or two sentences and the incantation would be complete. Jake would be there, solid, before her.

Amanda hesitated. The thing in the circle looked so pitiful. So unnatural.

Before she could finish, soft, but strong paws clamped tightly around her neck and wouldn’t let go. Something howled like a banshee in her ear, as sharp teeth angrily nipped it. She couldn’t breathe.

“Amadeus! Get off!” She screamed, tumbling to the floor with the huge cat on top of her, still holding on like a leech, its yowling and screeching enough to wake the dead—instead, it woke her.

By the time she’d yanked the cat off, throwing him roughly against the opposite wall so that he yelped in pain, and she’d crawled back to the pentagram, Jake was gone. The enchantment broken.

Amanda gazed at the empty pentagram for a long time, suddenly horrified, disgusted at what she had almost done.

She’d almost crossed the line. Almost. Thank God for Amadeus.

She curled up on the floor next to the fire and sobbed, the last of her anguish finally releasing itself. The cat limped over to her and licked the tears from her face. He didn’t seem to be angry with her any longer. Just worried.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you, Amadeus, so sorry.” She pulled him into her arms, and hugged him like a baby until he began to purr. “Forgive me?”

Of course.

“Thank you for that, Amadeus. You saved me from making the biggest mistake of my life.”

He was smart enough not to answer that one. She snuggled him, rocking on the floor.

***

Since childhood Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quitting to write full time. She began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

Kathryn has been married to Russell for thirty-four years; has a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and lives in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo.

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

WITCHES-Revised Author’s Edition:

Amazon Buy Page: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Witches%2BKathryn+Meyer+Griffith&x=12&y=18

12.00

Amanda Givens is careful how she uses her powers. She doesn’t want the people of Canaan, Connecticut to know they have a witch among them . . . even a good white witch. For years, she’s lived quietly in a remote cabin with Amadeus, her quirky feline familiar. At first with her husband, Jake, the love of her life, until a car accident; but now alone after his death. But when she’s wrongly blamed for a rash of ritualistic murders committed by a satanic cult, she knows she can no longer hide. She’s the one the cult’s after and she is the only one who can stop them and prove her innocence.

As punishment for fighting and destroying the cult, she’s drawn back in time by the ghost of the dark witch, Rachel Coxe, who was drowned for practicing black magic in the 17th century.

Now, as Amanda tries to rehabilitate Rachel’s reputation in an effort to save lives, as well as her own, and falls in love all over again with Joshua, her reincarnated dead husband from the future, she has to rely on a sister’s love and magical knowledge, and a powerful sect of witches named the Guardians to help her get home safely.

EXCERPT:

Now, with her heart breaking, her eyes shut, her hands waving languidly over the fire, she chanted the nefarious words that would bring her husband back from the dead.

Mandy…no, Mandy…

Something crashed against the door, as if something or someone were throwing themselves against it. Wood splintered, but the door held. Amadeus, who had powers of his own, was fighting mad now. It was his responsibility to protect her, protect her from herself, if need be. She heard him growling at her through the door.

Open up, Mandy. Open the damn door!

“No. I told you, Amadeus, either help me or go away.”

The cat grumbled beyond the door, hissed and spat as loud as any big cat, and the battering resumed.

Amanda’s eyes flew open, widened as the apparition began to take form inside the pentagram—the outline of a man, tall, his arms thrown over his face as if in defense.

“Jake?” She moaned, staring at the thing.

It lowered its hands and a ghoulish, misty face peered out at her, a face so full of torment and fear, Amanda fell back in shock.

“Don’t do this, Mandy, I beg you! Remember me as I was. I don’t belong there anymore.” She heard the plaintive whisper, an echo on the still air. Its hands reached out to her. “Let me go. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

She couldn’t stop. The enchantment wasn’t complete. It would be better when it was. He was between two worlds now and he would be frightened. Half-formed. Between two worlds.

If she wasn’t careful, those unearthly denizens—shade demons, she called them—that haunted that dead world could escape into hers. So dangerous. What the hell was she doing opening the forbidden portals like this?

What happened if she was a moment off, a word wrong and the demons came through? If she unleashed them? A disaster.

Amanda steeled herself, wiped the fresh tears from her face with the back of her hand. “Damn it, I want you back, Jake. I’ll have you back,” she swore.

She took up where she’d left off, knowing if she stopped at this point of the spell, it could ruin everything. Everything.

The door groaned behind her under its assault (damn but that cat was strong), the wind screamed outside the windows. The candles placed around the pentagram fluttered in a strange breeze in the shadowy room.

Amanda’s heart froze. She stopped in the middle of the spell, her eyes going wide with fear, her hands half-raised before her, and her head thrown back as the flames from the fire glowed more brightly across her tense face.

What was that word? Suureerustus? Summertus? Or…

She stared at the blurry figure trying to form in the circle. It was yelling at her now…something…something…she couldn’t make out the words.

It was no longer alone.

Things writhed around its melting feet, flew about its head. Terrible things. Things from the dead world. Unholy things. Gaping mouths with sharp bloodied teeth, glittering fiendish eyes in deformed, hideous bodies. Some almost human, some insect like. Others indescribable. Some growing before her eyes to be taller than she was.

Monsters. Coming through the barrier, crossing the lines of the pentagram, into her world.

Amanda grabbed the nearest thing with which to fight them off, a broom, and started swinging at them.

She was so busy hitting and spewing out new spells to keep the shade demons from coming through that she never heard the door burst open; never felt the cool storm wind enter the cabin until something determined and furry flew by her face toward the pentagram, hissing all the way.

Then Amadeus was helping her herd the malignant spirits back from where they’d come. All claws, teeth, and unearthly glowing eyes. He snarled the word Sutterus at her in passing and Amanda quickly supplied it in the spell where it belonged.

The demons began to slowly dissolve in shrieks of rage.

Don’t send us away! Don’t send us back there! Let us out. Out!

Jake’s figure returned. A shadow with hanging head. Just one or two sentences and the incantation would be complete. Jake would be there, solid, before her.

Amanda hesitated. The thing in the circle looked so pitiful. So unnatural.

Before she could finish, soft, but strong paws clamped tightly around her neck and wouldn’t let go. Something howled like a banshee in her ear, as sharp teeth angrily nipped it. She couldn’t breathe.

“Amadeus! Get off!” She screamed, tumbling to the floor with the huge cat on top of her, still holding on like a leech, its yowling and screeching enough to wake the dead—instead, it woke her.

By the time she’d yanked the cat off, throwing him roughly against the opposite wall so that he yelped in pain, and she’d crawled back to the pentagram, Jake was gone. The enchantment broken.

Amanda gazed at the empty pentagram for a long time, suddenly horrified, disgusted at what she had almost done.

She’d almost crossed the line. Almost. Thank God for Amadeus.

She curled up on the floor next to the fire and sobbed, the last of her anguish finally releasing itself. The cat limped over to her and licked the tears from her face. He didn’t seem to be angry with her any longer. Just worried.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you, Amadeus, so sorry.” She pulled him into her arms, and hugged him like a baby until he began to purr. “Forgive me?”

Of course.

“Thank you for that, Amadeus. You saved me from making the biggest mistake of my life.”

He was smart enough not to answer that one. She snuggled him, rocking on the floor.

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Excerpt From “The Banshee and the Witch,” A Spooky Short Story by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

“What would you do to live forever, stay young forever? To find true love again?

And if you were a white witch with the magical powers to make it happen…and the secret of how to do it, would you?

So when the banshee comes calling for you one rainy dark night you’ll do what you have to do to get what you desire the most. More time.

EXCERPT:

It was a misty spring morning with a chilly breeze whose affects the rising sun would partially warm away. The birdsong beckoned Cleona O’Grady from sleep and, after struggling into her robe, she found her way to the kitchen. Her old bones ached and the years sat heavy on her shoulders and the new day, the spring and rebirth, only served to remind her that her time on earth was short.

Her lips frowned. It’d been the third night in a row she’d had the dreams. Vague, plotless vignettes of frightening emotions and premonitions. The worse thing was she didn’t know what they meant and she usually did, yet these melted into her subconscious as soon as she awoke. They scared her and she opened her eyes each morning with a sense of impending doom. Her heart racing, her body quivering with the echoes of her forgotten terror.

All she remembered was there was a woman in them, one she’d never seen or met, who was young, hauntingly beautiful and who stalked her as she ran through her dream world. Fleeting glimpses of the lady, what she’d wanted and what she’d done, behind or around her, faded as the minutes and the dream did. By breakfast the memories would be practically gone, leaving but a faint impression of a white faced woman, with long tresses, blood red lips and eyes so full of sorrow they made Cleona want to weep–and the awareness that the woman would return. That she wanted something from her she couldn’t give.

But what?

She made a tray with her tea and toast smeared with homemade strawberry jam, and hobbled out to the back porch. She had a round table and two chairs under the shade of the overhang. Plunking down with a weary sigh, her eyes gazed over the still waters of the pond. It wasn’t much of one, no bigger than a baseball diamond, but it was deep and populated by forest birds, frogs, flying insects and all manner of wildlife that came in from the woods and the sky. There were water fowl floating in the center, calling softly to each other. The birds and the tranquil scene calmed her. They always did.

She took another bite and peered up into the dawn.

The sun was ascending over the trees, the rays sparkling on the leaves as they danced in the air above her; light gleamed on the water nearby, turning it golden, and the aroma of the lush foliage was a gift.

She sat there admiring the beauty of the morning and ate her meal. The tea was hot, honeyed, and revived her. Her teeth crunched into the toast and the sweetness of strawberries filled her mouth. She made sure she caught every crumb and sipped every drop of tea. She wasted nothing.

The older she got the more these mundane rituals reassured and comforted her.

Even in the winter when it snowed she’d bundle up in two of her sweaters topped off by a coat, linger on that porch and try to see the individual snowflakes. Never two alike, they said, though she wasn’t sure of that. A lot of them looked the same to her. Well, perhaps because her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be.

Truth was, many things weren’t what they used to be and her youth spells no longer seemed to be working.

Ah, yes, she was a witch, a white witch, which meant she rarely, if ever, knocked people off without a good reason or cast throw-up-pins-and-slug curses on them unless they’d really pissed her off. Though why people had to stereotype witches like that, good or bad, she’d never understood. A witch is a witch is a witch. Well, some did use their powers for good and some for not so good. But beneath it they were only people as she was only a woman. Hey, no matter what, she was as entitled to a good life as any other human on the planet whether she was a witch or not, right? Right.

According to her calculations, which couldn’t be absolutely counted on because her memory wasn’t what it had been either, October thirty-first she’d be over four hundred years old. So many springs, summers, falls and winters. A long, long life in anyone’s book.

Yesterday morning in town she’d overheard someone say the oldest man in the world had passed away at one hundred and fourteen. Ha, a baby. What would the mortals say if they knew how old she was? It made her smile.

Oh, the events and people she’d seen and known. The adventures, sorrowful and joyful, she’d had. She didn’t want to go. To die. Not yet. There were years of life left in her heart and mind. And, oh how, she wanted to live them.

She wasn’t ready to go. Nothing could make her, either. Death was a formidable adversary but she’d beaten her so far and was sure she’d continue to. All she had to do was be more cunning than the reaper and she’d prevail.

Oh, she could do that.

***

Amazon Kindle Direct: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0099781WE

***

Since childhood Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quitting to write full time. She began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

Kathryn has been married to Russell for thirty-four years; has a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and lives in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo.

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

Buy Link at Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79

Buy Link at Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79