A MUST READ FOR FANS OF THE MYSTERIOUS WORLDS OF GHOSTS, SEA DWELLERS & SHAPESHIFTERS!
Have you ever wondered about different myths of the world? These include the stories that so many cultures live by and the ones that of the best movies are based upon? You do know that these interesting concepts haven’t just appeared out thin air, right?
Introducing Mysticism & Myths, a sampler by six authors of varying genres. Each author has chosen a legend or culture from various regions, and embellished the details. Webs have been spun, and fantasies have been built in an effort to deliver to a collection that is sure to be entertaining.
The worlds captured in these stories are many! From ghosts and vampires to sea dwellers and shapeshifters, and even ancestral rebirths! There’s something for everyone.
For detailed synopsis, click here
Bound By Blood (A Night Shift Novella)
By Margo Bond Collins
Sometimes the monsters in the night are real.
Sometimes they live right next door.
Isa: Gift of the Baloma
By Perri Forrest
Isa: Gift of the Baloma is a fantasy tale created from a myth that derives from the Trobriand islands (today officially known as the Kiriwina Islands).
Micco, Anguta’s Reign
By Dormaine G.
Revelation can be a disheartening truth.
Cursed: A Yorkshire Ghost Story
By Karen Perkins
She’s back. This time no one is safe.
By Jaxx Summers
We are born, live and eventually leave the mortal world.
The Life Keeper
By Abby L. Vandiver
The bloodline of Romania, older than the legend of the vampire, the strigoi are vile, evil creatures who suck the life from the people of the villages that line the impenetrable forests of the country.
Publisher: Cultural Cocktails
Project Coordinator: Janice G. Ross
Buy at Amazon
Margo Bond Collins
Abby L. Vandiver
Bound by Blood by Margo Bond Collins
Oatmeal always makes me think apocalypse.
Not the kind of apocalypse I’m actually likely to witness, spread through droplets so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye, by germs so tiny that they might as well be science fiction to most people.
And not the kind we thought we were getting when the vampires showed up a few years ago—though something weird happened in Dallas recently, so the vampires have been hiding out for the last several months. No one knows why, for sure, but I know that the guys in the ER are thankful for the drop in neck traumas and exsanguination victims. And I was glad the hospital had a small isolation ward specially created to watch ex-sang victims overnight, just to be sure they didn’t turn. It made my job as a consultant for the CDC easier.
No, when I’m confronted with the prospect of oatmeal, I begin to think how useful it would be in a world where scavenging became the norm—like one of those zombie movies where people slide through grocery stores throwing food items into baskets, racing to gather as much as they can before the shambling horde attacks.
“I’m just saying.” I tucked a few strands of dark hair that had escaped my bun up under my scrub hat. “When the inevitable zombie apocalypse hits? Go for the oatmeal. It’s lightweight and nutritious, can be eaten alone or used to make easy-to-carry cakes, can even be eaten uncooked. It’s pretty much the perfect post-apocalyptic food.”
“That assumes,” Dr. Will Manning said as we scrubbed in at the sinks in the small anteroom that led into the isolation unit, “that either there is someone out there doing all the hard work of growing and then milling it—or whatever it is you do to oats that turns them into oatmeal—or that there are few enough people around that the stores are still chock-full of oatmeal packets, just ripe for the picking.” He wrapped the paper gown ties around behind him, criss-crossing them around his waist and tying them in the front.
“You’re missing the point,” I said, pulling a pair of sterile, blue, non-latex gloves out of the dispenser on the wall and snapping them on one at a time, checking to make sure they covered the wrists on the sleeves of my own white, paper gown.
“So what is the point?” He reached around me for his gloves.
“That it’s important to pay attention to how we can use the things around us.” My voice grew muffled as I tied on a surgical mask.
“So let me get this straight.” With his hip, he bumped the button that opened the door into the unit. “You’re in a hospital full of medical equipment”—he gestured in a circle over his head, taking in all of Houston General—”and you’re obsessing over the post-apocalyptic value of oatmeal?”
ISA: Gift of the Baloma by Perri Forrest
The night was a midnight black across the Kiriwina Islands; the only light, that of the moon’s glow. The illuminated waves performed a subtle dance, ripples softly crashing against the shore before escaping back out into the waiting mouth of the sea; a push-and-pull dance, with each movement as beautiful as the first.
She stood in the center of the tide with her closed eyes tipped toward the sky. Her hands were spread outward, east and west, on either side of her, as if she were deliberating with the gods. She’d been summoned to the sea by chants from her ancestors, which were in chorus with a linear succession of melodic tones.
The water rested just above her nude waistline, the breeze of the night brushing against her torso and blowing her hair in the same direction as the wind. As if instructed, she brought her hands to her own breasts then, moaning, rubbed and caressed her nipples into an erect state. As the seduction continued, a constellation of translucent tadpoles surrounded her, each swimming at the speed of time.
The beings prodded at her, some bouncing off her while others latched on, seeking refuge within the beautiful woman. Her body thrust against the crashing waves as they became more aggressive. Even amidst the chaos, her fear ceased to exist. There was a reason for that—she was oblivious to it all. Had she been awake, she might have been terrified, but as it was she would have no recollection of ever standing in the sea without a single layer of clothing.
When the waves calmed their tumultuous song, the young woman slowly made her way back to the shore. In her trance-like state, she reached down onto the sand to grab the nightgown she’d abandoned hours earlier and, as she picked it up to dress, a distinct melodic tune pierced her ear, causing her to walk in the direction from which it came.
As she neared the clearing, a figure appeared—a man’s figure—summoning her to him. Although now fully awake, she remained fearless. He stood before her, yards ahead; his shoulders broad, complexion dark, hair a mass of tight black curls, and his features chiseled. She’d never seen him before, but was intrigued, her body feeling a gravitational pull toward him. Instinctively, she allowed the gown to fall from her hand when she saw that he too was nude.
“Come to me,” he said as his hand extended to her. “Do not be afraid. I won’t hurt you.” His voice was soft and comforting.
She felt she could trust him. “I’m not afraid,” she whispered. “I know you won’t hurt me.”
Micco, Anguta’s Reign by Dormaine G.
Micco jolted awake; his lids half-closed as he attempted to rouse himself. He lay still, trying to remember last night’s events but they were lost to him. As his eyes opened, he was greeted with darkness. Tiny sparkles with hints of light floated around him.
The glow was shining through, past something. It was hard to make out exactly what. His eyes hurt when he attempted to stare at the brightness, so he closed them. Initially, they burned but this eventually subsided, allowing Micco to relax.
In an effort to sit up, heaviness weighed upon him. It vexed him. With closed lids, he tried again, this time prevailing, forcing through his restriction.
He felt his mind was floating through a haze. His body ached as he moved, so he laid back down, allowing a warm breeze to sweep across his face. He welcomed it, though was still not fully aware of his state.
Once his senses came alive, a strong, sour and putrefied odor caught his attention. It was somewhat metallic. He opened his eyes, but flinched against the burn. His head wrenched to the side, trying to find the assaulter. In doing so, something stiff brushed against his face.
His breath contracted slowly. He scanned the surroundings more vigorously only to find not only a hand but several body parts touching him, lying next to him, covering his lower extremities. In a moment of panic he became paralyzed; fear caught hold. But the desperation of escape overpowered this gruesome shock. He eased through tangled limbs, inching beyond the lifeless burden. He scampered as far away as possible, climbing over a sheet of bodies, slipping on eviscerated tissue and cold, wet blood.
Shaken, he fell against a nearby wall to examine the array of strewn bodies that lay within pools of bright red liquid, as if time had stopped. For him, time had indeed stopped. There were more than twenty bodies in his presence, their eyes locking on nothing because they were dead. All of them.
It was a massacre.
The only immediate movement was the curtain flapping in the wind from a shattered window. A lonely arm claimed what was left of the glass, letting flies in to settle upon the cold corpses. A chill ran up his spine from untainted fright as his breathing labored. Who are these people? How did I get here?
A sharp twinge shot across his shirtless chest that was adorned with only scratches. They appeared to be claw marks in the middle of his torso. Saliva struggled to travel down his throat as he swallowed hard in disbelief. Instinctively he touched the slashes, then noticed caked blood on his abdomen and hands. Reaching for his face, he felt layers of the same.
Cursed: A Yorkshire Ghost Story by Karen Perkins
‘Right, tea break over, lads, back to work. Rog, Steve, you’re up on Hanging Moor in the bulldozers. As soon as they’ve gone through, Paul and Simon, you get the chippings down. And take care – don’t go past the markers, that drop’s lethal.’
The road crew groaned, threw their dregs of tea to the ground and refastened their flasks before clambering into their machines to dig out the access road to the new dam spanning the Washburn Valley. The valley would be flooded in a month’s time, creating the new reservoir for the Leeds Corporation Waterworks to supply half of Leeds with drinking water, and the road should have been completed last month.
Rog led the way, the large bucket scraping heather and peat, then dumping it into the waiting tipper truck.
Steve followed, making a deeper cut. Together they gouged an ugly scar over the pristine Yorkshire moorland.
‘Bugger,’ Steve cried out and jolted in his seat, knocking the control levers. The big digger wobbled, teetered, then slowly toppled over towards the edge and a sheer wooded drop of a hundred and fifty feet to the valley bottom below.
‘Steve!’ Rog cried. ‘Guys, help!’
The rest of the crew downed tools and diggers and rushed to the stricken bulldozer. By the time they reached it, Rog was already clambering on to the cab, desperately trying not to look at the vista that opened up before him only a few feet away.
‘Steve?’ he called again. No answer. His mate lay unconscious, twisted in his seat. ‘Bugger!’ The digger slid a foot or two in the wrong direction.
‘Rog, get down; she’s going over!’ Andy, the foreman, shouted.
‘No – Steve’s out cold.’
‘You’re no help to him if your weight pushes it over the edge – get down! Help’s coming, we need to secure the digger somehow, keep her steady.’
Rog took a last look at his mate then nodded. He realised he couldn’t get into the cab without destabilising the digger further and he had no idea how serious Steve’s injuries were. He climbed down carefully, just as Simon drew up in the tipper truck. Half full of soil and rock, it was the heaviest vehicle there.
Andy got on the radio to inform his boss at the dam where there was a telephone to call for help, while Paul ran over with a chain. He secured it round one of the digging arms, and Simon backed up – slowly – until the rope was taut.
The digger shifted, turning around the pivot point they’d created. The back end now hung off the edge of the cliff.
‘Keep it there, Simon,’ Andy called. ‘And keep it in reverse – if the edge fails, you’ll need to pull him backwards.’
‘Can’t he just do that anyway?’ Rog asked.
‘We don’t know how badly he’s hurt. If he’s broken his back or neck, moving him could make it worse. We don’t want to move him unless we have to – not until the Fire Brigade and ambulance get here. What happened anyway?’
‘Uh.’ Rog pulled his attention away from the downed machine. ‘I don’t know – he shouted out, then rolled it.’
‘He shouted before he rolled?’
‘Andy, Rog. Come and have a look at this,’ Paul called and beckoned them over to join him where Steve had made his last cut.
‘What is it?’ Andy came hurrying over.
‘Uh, looks like a skull.’
‘What? Oh Christ, it’s a bloody skeleton! Well, that’s us buggered, guys, no more work here for at least a month while they sort this one out,’ Rog said.
‘Bugger that, we’ll just go round it,’ Andy said.
The three men looked over at Steve, then back into the grave. Only the skull and shoulder girdle were visible. As one, they shuddered as a worm pushed its way out of the compacted earth behind the jaw bones, for a moment looking as if the skull had stuck an emaciated tongue out at them.
Carnem Levare by Jaxx Summers
Stefano Bonaro awoke floating face down in a hidden canal. The alley appeared to be closing in on him. He gasped, swallowing a mouthful of fluid. His nostrils filled. He jolted and flipped over onto his back. Looking up, he could see a distant sparkle, letting him know that night was dipping away. The stars clung on, in hopes of providing a touch of added pleasure, Stefano reasoned. He couldn’t understand how he’d ended up this way and in this location.
Luckily, he’d learned to swim at an early age, so he propelled himself around the marble foundation of a palatial structure. At first he felt lost in the once lonely lagoon but, as the edges of the waterfront came into view, Stefano relaxed. Arriving at the steps of the dock, he quickly took to dry land rung by rung. Once settled on the planks, he rummaged through his mind. He remembered drifting along with Anastasia; an argument. Or rather, emotional pain and her speaking in calm phrases. He pictured the detached manner of her rejection.
And then it all came back . . .
Stefano dove back into the water, swimming far out into the Grand Canal and searching for anything that would confirm his thoughts. He sought to debunk what his mind confided. Tears clashed with his surroundings. He dove under, plunging further into the abyss. Forcing his legs to flash fiercer, tearing through the heavy fluids.
“Anastasia,” he gurgled. He was barely able to make out trash that had been thrown against the sea floor, and his frustration at this unproductive search increased.
By the time he returned to ground, he panted in exasperation. And dangled his legs from the edge of the pier, slowly manipulating the waves. He studied his limbs—the watered-down slacks that clung to muscular legs and long fingers that were pale and colorless. A dingy white shirt threatened to smother him entirely, so he loosened the top two buttons and collar. His mind raced as he considered the inward flow from the Adriatic Sea in relation to its exit. In search of true love, Stefano would brave the entire roundabout—even out to the massive entrance. He pondered its strength with slight fear. Common sense forced him to finally step onto the main road.
As his countrymen walked along the paving, they did not take even a moment to acknowledge him. Stefano was distraught. He buried his face in his palms. His weeping was loud, yet no one comforted him. They went about their lives, oblivious to Stefano’s pain. His fingers rested at his forehead before running through the full length of his copper-brushed, curly brown coils. For one so appealing to study, his strong square jaw might as well have been caved in, since heartache so tragically robbed Stefano’s joy.
He forced himself to stand tall, pacing slowly around. His feet shuffled. The sun was now blazing into his face. Of the few people around, Stefano was the only one not in a hurry. He turned in the direction of home, nearly being overrun by another man that was several inches taller. And as Stefano sidestepped, another overtook him. Preparing to withstand the effect, the second man passed right through him.
Stefano was now frozen in the middle of the path. He no longer tried to dodge his peers. Instead, he allowed them all to overtake him. He coughed and spun around. For whatever reason, Stefano was no longer a part of their realm. He had lost Anastasia and at the same time, it seemed, his humanity.
The Life Keeper by Abby L. Vandiver
Family is the most important thing.
That’s what my bunică taught me as a child.
That and how much I worried her when I didn’t eat.
But when my grandmother talked about family that’s the only time I can remember seeing her smile.
My grandmother was not so likable. She had a way and a smell about her that put people off. She always wore the same clothes – a long, black skirt handmade from burlap, huge bloomers, and beige cotton stockings that she pulled up to her knees and tied a knot in it to hold them up. Clad in two shirts, a sweater and the babushka that she wore even in her sleep, she was always cold. She warmed herself all day at the hearth, her toes and soles black from decades of being too close to the fire. And when she wasn’t sitting by the fire, she sat and stared out of the window smoking an unfiltered cigarette she rolled herself.
No one knew how old my grandmother was, not even my father, her only child. Filled with wrinkles – deep lines that carved a roadmap of the hardships she had endured – her skin was tough as leather and her fingers were often swollen, which was difficult to see as they were short, stubby and curled over. And while all in the house respected her, it was me that had an unconditional love for her.
My bunică washed her meager clothes faithfully every Thursday, and baked a cozonac – a sweet bread with dried fruit – for me, her only granddaughter, to have while she was gone. Then before dawn on Friday morning, she bathed and walked three miles to the bus station – she refused to let my father drive her – to visit her sister Eugenia in Cluj County for the weekend. She never spoke to anyone outside the house and very little to anyone inside of it. My mother often commented after she’d leave that she wondered what she and Great Aunt Eugenia did for the two days they were together.
The village people had always called her a witch, but after the summer that my cousin Dragos Vladimirescu came to live with us, people knew her to be a strigoi.