Collaborative Writing 
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Story Excerpts

Eater - Kevin Grover

Carla joined the first group she came across, slipping silently in at the back. The memory of the previous night was still raw and she didn’t feel ready to talk. People glanced at her, saw no threat and continued on through the woods. If they had a plan, somewhere to go, they didn’t share it with her. They were in danger out here in a group. No one knew why, but Easter was when the dead grouped together in hordes, when they were more dangerous. The rest of the year they were scattered, aimless stumbling corpses you could easily avoid if you were smart. Maybe it was something to do with the Pagan gods that had been worshipped long before the Christians had taken it over. Whatever the religion, it was always about resurrection, the cycle of life and death.

Always Hungry - Virginia Carraway Stark

“Kim, go inside, it's alright,” He said. I looked at the woman. She was nothing and I knew that she felt an ownership of my son. He had married her. He rose to his feet.


“Her?” I asked.


“She was convenient,” He replied after Kim had obediently left, closing the door behind her. “Things are different now, what you did in New York- Mother, that sort of thing really mustn't be done anymore. We have ways of getting what we need now.”


He poured me a glass of wine and offered me grapes. He smiled and rubbed the back of his neck as I gratefully ate them, “At least you give plenty of warning when you show up, it gave me plenty of time to have some things on hand that I knew you would like.”


“What I want is you,” I said.


“I'm here,” He soothed.


“You're old.”


“You were sleeping,” He retorted. “What's a boy to do?”

Feastertide - A J Millen

“What was that in the bowl?” asked Sandra, whose urban English upbringing had only brought her face-to-face with meat in hermetically sealed, neatly packaged squares of fillet in the supermarket chill counter.


Yiannis laughed. “Probably exactly what you think – goat’s intestines.”


Sandra’s eyes widened. She stuck her tongue and made mock gagging noises. “Do you think anyone would mind if I went veggy for Easter?”


“Come on now, you’re the one who said they wanted to experience the REAL Greek Easter. Anyway, if you go veggy, you’ll end up looking like the Easter bunny with nothing but lettuce to eat. The food’s good. Quite intense, but really fresh, completely organic – and prepared with love. You should try it.”


Sandra put on her brave face. “OK, I will. Just don’t tell me what exactly I’m eating, unless you want to see how I’d look fifty shades of green.”


From the other side of the village, the mournful toll of the church bell sounded to the faithful the moment of Christ’s death on the cross. A mantle of stillness lay over the morning, but beneath the surface, every kitchen was alive with frantic preparations and the voices of family returned for the holiday. Sandra closed her eyes, and let the warmth of the sun tickle her lids. It was all so very different from the frenzy of chocolate eggs, Hot Cross buns, fluffy bunnies, holiday weekend drizzle and frantic shopping at the DIY store that marked Easter back home. 


Hunted - Jason Pere

The lust stirred in my blood and I all but sprinted to the cemetery entrance. I paused for a surreal moment as the violet ribbon floated and swayed on the breeze in spring night air. I made my hands move and untied the ribbon around the pink envelope. It was signed “From Vicky” in delicate black cursive across the front. I tore into the paper and pulled out a card from inside. 

Before I read the card I was taken by the overpowering scent of roses and ash. Vicky had scented the letter with perfume. It was a fragrance that matched my fantasy of the woman to perfection. 


I read the letter to myself. It was more erotic and torrid than anything that we had exchanged over our internet correspondence. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible. The letter drummed up feelings within me that I had forgotten I was capable of. Longing and a carnal hunger took hold of me. Not just for the sake of feeling another body close to mine. I needed Vicky specifically and nothing else in this world would satisfy my hunger. The tone of the letter was playful and seductive and riddled with energy that served to heighten my anticipation. It was exactly the sort of allure that I had come to expect from my mystery woman. I hung on every line that she had finely written on the page, rereading most of them two and three times over. The final words of the letter before she had so exquisitely signed her name made my head spin, “Come and find me. I’m waiting,” it read. Vicky had arranged a little Easter-egg hunt for me tonight. She promised that it would be a once in a lifetime experience.

The Egging - Terra Beilman

“Welcome to the egg. I know you probably have many questions; which will all be answered, but we should move to the garden, so you can meet the rest of us.” 


He smiles, and I don’t trust it. Not only because he has animal ears, but he has the same smile the many men I’ve known in my past that would smile like that asking to be trusted, and then later showing that I never should have. I call it the devil’s smile, and this rabbit-eared man had it down to a science. 

Rabbits Revenge - Sharon Flood

The tree had been fenced off with thick pointed posts like palisades to discourage thieves from stealing expensive lumber and power tools that were kept in a lean-to under the tree. That enclosure was built because a box of pricey steel spikes went missing the first night the tree was being worked on. The kids were told not to go near the tree house until it was completely built. There was only a platform between the forks of the tree and some board railing around it so far. The project had only begun when the weather had become dependable, a week earlier.


Cory took the elevator up to the platform, but Mark wasn't there. He was supposed to be, he said he was going up there an hour ago. She turned to take the elevator back down when she heard loud buzzing above her head. Leaves and small branches rained down on her head. A flash of metal and whirring blades came right at her through the opening that had been made in the branches for the tree house! 


She ran for the elevator, but the thing flew around and blocked her progress. Her mind had just enough time to register that the thing chasing her was a drone, before it backed her right up against the railing. She feinted sideways toward the elevator, but the drone came right at her face! She put her arm up defensively, but a blade nicked her forearm just enough to draw blood.

The Easter Hunt - Laura Callender

The ground offered no sympathy for my fractured carcass. The cold concrete slabs were broken enough to delicately cup my body as my last breath escaped me.


Watching the blood trickle onto the unforgiving ground was mesmerizing. It took on a life of its own, following a path along the slab joints—running away from my cold dead body that no longer had any use for this life giving liquid. 


A distant scream broke me reverie. I could see a woman grasping her head in her hands whilst looking in my direction. It was disappointing really, at least someone screamed for me. Perhaps we could have chosen a more prominent place to jump. But  she insisted we needed the quiet and calm this old abandoned loft had offered us.

*** 

My last day alive started nearly as badly as it ended. I returned home having wasted forty minutes of my life stuck in a queue at the grocery store, to find a scavenger hunt on my land. 


Oh how ironic that it was Easter Day, the day Christ was resurrected. A dozen gloved hands unearthed the scattered remains of a decade worth of victims. I could see one intruder putting tiny objects into evidence bags, looking delighted with her find as though it was an easter egg hunt. Her reward would not be nearly as tasty, if only she could have joined me for the original meal ten years ago—when I sucked those bones clean.

Bad Egg - Kathrin Hutson

Finally, I turned my gaze to the Picker table, where Jeremy and Granger sat, gazing expectantly up at me. I’d told them the day before not to begin eating their own eggs during the Choosing until I specifically told them to begin. I wanted the opportunity to watch them with exclusive focus, to read each little facial expression and flick of their eyes. After all, I would find my next apprentice here, the person who would take over as Picker and follow in my footsteps. I needed to be completely sure.


Gazing back and forth from one boy to the other, I nodded slowly with a thin smile, and they reached into the bucket before them together. It almost seemed like they’d planned it in secret together; each boy brought the chocolate egg to his mouth at exactly the same time, taking almost exactly the same sized bite and pausing for almost exactly the same amount of time. That’s what really put me on edge—that pause.


Admittedly, I watched Jeremy more closely than I cared to watch Granger. I knew it would be him—I wanted it to be him. After a few seconds, a huge grin spread across Jeremy’s kind face, and he raised the chocolate egg to his lips again for a much larger bite. As he munched away happily on the Maker’s gift for potential Pickers, my stomach curdled in horror. I turned my gaze to Granger, whose face had blanched a most unsettlingly pale shade, especially against his dark hair, and who stared at me with something that looked both like omniscient knowledge and complete hatred.


The Sexiest Man Alive - Tony Stark

Still, he hesitated. He moved forward a step. His hands were shaking.


A cloud moved over the sun, just for a moment. Or perhaps it was the dark, clamoring chaos that humans so easily accomodate, allowing it to possess them utterly with such eager ease. Whatever it was, a shadow descended like a slow mist on the crowd, and the man turned dark with rage. His skin seemed like shadow; it looked almost as though the contrast had been turned down on the lot of them.


He launched himself at me, fists flying. I was legitimately afraid. He was cursing at me, not in English, but in an ancient language I nevertheless found myself completely able to understand. He was furious. I had stolen the attentions of his goddess. She was his, she was all theirs. She belonged to Them, not me. I was the interloper, didn't I understand that? They had had her long before she made me. She made their crops full, she made their coffers rich. Then I had come along, and her mind had turned against them.


The crowd was shouting these things too, casting their sharp stones at me. I was bewildered, my living mind agog at the physical pain and the incomprehensible shouting. My true mind was scared, but content. I finally understood. What my love had tried to warn me about, sobbing and curled up in her favorite chair.


“They never stop,” she had told me in her perfect, quavering voice. “They always want more, and just when you think they've taken all they can get... they take more. They'll never stop.”

Mea Culpa - Cristal Benitez

“Hello, who is it?”


I stood beside her, waiting for whoever it was to identify themselves so she would pass me the phone, but instead, her expression changed to a fearful puzzlement I was getting to know too well.


So, the Easter Bunny, after all.


This was going to end today, I decided.


I motioned for her to give me the phone before she got into a dialog with this freak again. I knew where that ended. She opened her mouth to say something into the receiver, but I quickly pressed my finger to her lips, letting her know that I only wanted her to pass me the phone, nothing else, not even “my mother wants to talk to you.” I knew where that would end, too.


I put the receiver to my ear and heard for the first time myself the voice that had been haunting Sophie. It was shrill and irritatingly cartoonish, which made sense, considering who she pretended to be. However, beyond the falsetto, it sounded like it might be a girl's voice. Not a girl like Sophie—more like a teenage girl.

McCreary's Easter Treats - Alex Benitez

"Nurse Ratchet?" I heard an agonized voice utter.


"No, I'm not nurse Ratchet." I answered.


"I never met anyone besides nurse Ratchet." My mysterious companion said from within the comfort of the darkness.


"Really? I don't think that's right."


"Can you tell me something?" My mysterious friend asked. "I think nurse Ratchet is lying to me."


"What is it?"


"Why does it hurt all the time?"


From the blackness of that cell, it came. Crawling on a sorry excuse for a single arm and leg was a candy person. It was the equivalent of a small boy missing an arm and a leg made entirely of candy. Hard clear blue candy made his skull, gum bonded his joints together and I could see the tormented and pained look on his taffy face. He reached out a dripping sticky candy hand at me moaning from the constant pain he told me about.

Morte - Liz Butcher

A large crack sounded from outside, startling her out of her trance. Peering out the window, she tried to locate the source of the sound not unlike a large branch snapping. A movement to the left caught her eye, but as she stared hard at the trees, she began to doubt she had seen anything. As she was about to turn away, the creature stepped out from behind a tree. 


Nora opened her mouth to scream, but no sound emerged. She wanted to run, to hide, yet her body refused to cooperate. He stood there, staring at her. Nora took in the large rabbit head perched atop his human, dirt-smeared body. Even at this distance, she could see the red glow of its eyes. It tilted its head to one side, inspecting her, before lifting his hand and giving her a purposeful wave. A sob rose up within her chest as she forced her feet to move. Without a second glance at the creature, she turned and fled the cottage.

Death by Chocolate - Crystal M M Burton

She added her plate to the dishes in the sink when the black box caught her eye. She walked to the far end of the kitchen counter and picked it up, turning it over in her hands.


“I thought I set you down on the table last night,” she said aloud to the box. Her memory was still fuzzy as to when she had fallen asleep and what had been real. She lifted the lid and ran her eyes over the flawless rabbit inside. The ears were still intact.


Curious whether the exotic chocolate tasted as amazing as the bits of her dream had made it seem, she lifted the entire thing to her mouth and bit off a small chunk from the tail. Her teeth sank into the candy, and smooth caramel funneled out through the tear in the chocolate. As the sugary syrup ran down her chin, Trista dropped the lid on the counter and raised her now-free hand to her face, wiping her chin with her fingers.


This is even better than I imagined! The savory caramel blended with the rich chocolate, and she closed her eyes as she indulged in the delicious flavors and silky texture.


A quick pinch to the inside of her cheek made her wince in pain. She wondered if she had bitten her cheek somehow, but with her mouth partly open she felt another pinch on her tongue.


Ouch! What the hell? Something didn’t feel right. Her tongue felt…tingly.


Something flowed over her hand, and Trista looked down expecting to see caramel spilling out of the rabbit. Dark brown dribbled across her wrist, but it wasn’t caramel. A cluster of small, hairy spiders scrambled down her arm, pouring out of the center of the chocolate. Many of them fell to the floor, scurrying across the linoleum, crawling across her bare feet.

Sleight of Hand - Eleftheria Chrysochoou

The children got up and ran upstairs to their rooms. Like every Maundy Thursday, or skärtorsdag, Elvin felt too old to be listening to children’s stories and couldn’t wait to meet his friends. He almost did not pay attention to the chocolate eggs, blonde wooden dolls with disproportionate limbs, and black roosters his mother decorated the house with every Easter. Well, almost, because he found chocolate eggs impossible to resist.


“I know this is an old phone, Elvin, but it’s good enough for calls.”


Elvin was left looking at the orange, bulky device in his gloved hand. With his black cape on, the coned white hat, and his colorful striped basked, he looked like anything but a Swedish Easter påskkäring witch, but he didn’t care. Ida, on the other hand, in her checkered apron, blue scarf, toy broomstick, and a large red circle painted on each cheek, at least resembled a cute mini version of one.


“I can’t take pictures with it.” Elvin strained his eyes at his mother. He thought it was a facial expression that made others do as he said, but his parents thought it was probably time for him to wear glasses like his father.

Blood and Water - M.W. King

“Oh, dear,” Yaya said, dropping the broom and dustpan and turning to head back into the kitchen.


Taylor helped Natasha up and noticed a gash on her cheek. Blood was trailing down and dripping from her jaw. Her hands were covered in white pieces of ceramic and growing dots of blood. Yaya returned with a large bowl of water and set it on the table. Taylor pulled out a chair for her. 


“This day can’t get any worse,” Natasha sobbed.  


“There, there.” Yaya placed the large bowl on Natasha’s lap. The water swirled with red as she immersed her now blood-covered hands in the water. Blood dripped from her jaw into the bowl, creating tiny splashes. Each droplet cut into the red, wispy swirls, eventually dispersing and creating more dancing swirls.


Taylor watched the crimson blood turn the water a translucent red color. She was reminded of the day she and her parents came to live with Yaya. She stepped on a piece of glass and Yaya did the same thing; she soaked her foot in warm water to get it out.


“Do you see?” Yaya drew seven-year-old Taylor’s attention to the bowl of red-tinted water. “Blood is thicker than water. Look at the power; even just a few drops of blood changes a whole bowl of water.”