Bones of the Dead
(short story in Supernatural Horror
deluxe hardcover edition, Flame Tree Publishing, June 2017
English language, story editing by Jodi Renée Lester)
A deluxe hardcover horror anthology, mixing works by classic masters with brand new fiction by contemporary authors.
From the publisher: An array of nightmarish monsters, sinister happenings and creepy tales. Following the great success of our Gothic Fantasy, deluxe edition short story compilations, Ghosts, Horror, Science Fiction, Murder Mayhem and Crime & Mystery this latest title crawls with the dark fingers of terror, the chilling sensation of another presence sitting alongside you while you read the tales of horror laid out before you.
Bones of the Dead by Daniele Bonfanti
Crossroads by Carolyn Charron
The Mourning Woman by E.E.W. Christman
The Fifth Gable by Kay Chronister
She’s Gone by Morgan Elektra
Swim At Your Own Risk by Matthew Gorman
Merry-Go-Round, Never Broke Down by Jason L. Kawa
The Murmur of Its Name by Stephen Kotowych
An Idle Dream, Quite Gone Now by G.L. McDorman
This Time, Forever by Michelle Muenzler
Tracks in the Snow by Cody Schroeder
John Johnson by Oliver Smith
Magdala Amygdala by Lucy A. Snyder
My Brother Tom by Mariah Southworth
The Bride by Angela Sylvaine
The Floating Girls: A Documentary by Damien Angelica Walters
The Final One Percent by Desmond Warzel
Midnight Snack by Michaël Wertenberg
Manipulation by Trisha J. Wooldridge
Alongside classic and essential writers: E.F. Benson, Ambrose Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, Wilkie Collins, F. Marion Crawford, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hanns Heinz Ewers, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, Elizabeth Gaskell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Hope Hodgson, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Edith Nesbit, Fitz-James O’Brien, Edgar Allan Poe, John Polidori, Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, Edward Lucas White.
Bones of the Dead: first page
“Are they ghosts, Mummy?”
A warm laughter. “No, sweetie,” she says, chewing with a hand raised to cover her mouth. “Wow, these bones of the dead taste so good!”
The voice of another child—slightly older, female—agrees with enthusiasm while spraying crumbles all around, “They’re awesome, Mom!”
The woman swallows. “Thank you, darling.”
The younger child, a little boy maybe four years old, looks with fascination at the dishful of vertebrae-shaped cookies in his small hands; he holds it with utter care. “But, Mummy, you say they’re dead and they come back at night and eat the cookies . . .”
The woman lays a gentle hand on his wild shock of hair, “There is no such thing as ghosts, sweetie. Come on, now be a good boy and set the dish on the table there, just by the candle so they’ll find it. They get pretty hungry, you know?”
The child slowly, gingerly follows her instructions, placing the dish at the center of the walnut table, near a lit candle for the dead.
“But, I don’t understand, Mummy. If they aren’t ghosts, then . . .”
“Let’s say they’re . . . angels, okay?”
A snort from the large fireplace at the end of the long terracotta-tiled kitchen, where an older woman, her hair thick and grey, is sitting on a heavy, carved rocking chair with her eyes on a fat paperback. The flame near her feet is scorching blackened chunks of cherrywood, its sweet scent mixing in the air thick with fresh baking, the lingering aroma of pizzoccheri—the few leftovers still encrust the dishes in the sink—and old furniture. Her eyes do not shift from the pages as everybody’s attention turns to her. Her Italian is much more accented, singsongy with the quick consonants and heavy vowels of the Bergamasque Alps, “They’re not angels. They’re souls.”
The little girl crosses her arms and protests with a reproachful tone, “Souls don’t eat cookies, Granny.”
It is her mother who answers, “They do this night.”
“How can they?” the children respond in chorus.
The door slams in the small hall nearby, and a serpent of cold, damp air slithers in. They turn to the kitchen doorway, filled a second later by a large figure, dark and hooded, gleaming with droplets of water.