He met the old woman by the river. She knelt by the water, beating bloody clothes against the rocks. She’d wring out the fabric, dripping streams of bright blood into the water.

He’d seen her before. Many times. But he’d never had the nerve to approach her. As dusk settled, he came closer.

The old woman kept her back to him as she hunched over the water. Her long black hair kept him from seeing her face, but her dirty gown clung to her bones and her hands were withered and claw-like.

“So you finally come to talk,” she said. “I didn’t know if you ever would.”

“My mother’s dying,” he said.

The woman laughed coldly. “I know.”

“They say the old woman of the river–you–know the secrets of life and death.”

“They are not secrets you want to know, boy.”… Read the rest “Stains”

The Truth About Magic

“There is something you need to know about magic,” said Sean.

“I know,” replied Gary. “It always has a price.”

“What? No. Who told you that?”

“Everybody,” said Gary.

“Well, everybody is wrong.”

“But what about the laws of thermodynamics?”

“If magic followed the rules of thermodynamics, it wouldn’t be magic, would it?”

“But surely there must be some grounding in physics,” said Gary. “Maybe quantum physics?”

“Quantum physics only works on a tiny scale. If you were going to conjure a teacup the size of an atom, then maybe quantum physics would apply. But who the hell would want to do that?”

“All right,” said Gary. “So throw thermodynamics, physics, all that out the window. Got it. What’s it going to cost me? Do I have to sell my soul? Do I have to give up part of my life force?… Read the rest “The Truth About Magic”


Life in Rockwood


The Weeping Woman had haunted Jack since he was a boy as she had haunted all the men of the Banfield family. Sometimes, when alone, the phone would ring, and he’d answer to the sounds of gentle weeping. Or when flicking through the channels of the TV, he’d come across a static-filled outline of the gaunt, pale woman, her face hidden behind the her burial shroud. Once, he’d seen her under the flickering streetlight beside the Gas N Guzzle. Mostly shadow, though she grimaced with her pointed yellow teeth and wrung a bloodied cloth with her claw-like fingers. He’d almost confronted her then, but a car horn distracted him. When he turned back, she was gone.

Although she was never really gone.

The Woman had followed the Banfields long before they’d come to Rockwood. Jack’s ma said that one of the Banfield ancestors had killed his wife in a jealous rage, and that this was God’s punishment for the crime.… Read the rest “Curses”