Sinister Countdown: The Darkest Night- Fanni Suto

This is the darkest night of the year for us; the night of dead souls, screams and dancing will o’ wisps: All Hallow’s Eve. The unpronounceable fear descends on us and in the cold night we mourn our lost ones. We murmur the ancient prayer of our kind as the darkness draws closer:

“Save us from the grinning death

Keep us from the flashing knives

Let our soul not turn to light.

Hold us through this fateful night.”

And we shudder in our warm beds, cuddling together as much as we can. We can hear their footsteps, they’re coming to reap us. They don’t need our flesh – they rip us apart because an ancient tradition demands so. Also for the fun of it. We can’t escape. If you’re picked, you’re damned. The rest of us can do nothing to save you. We are taught to think of the taken as a sacrifice, they give their souls to save the rest of us. The monsters tear their souls out and throw it away. Why? Because they want to replace it with a feeble flame, a candle shining its treacherous light through the mutilated faces of our brothers. Their horrible grimaces cast a shadow over our huddling forms and we tremble, fearing the next Halloween.

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Bio: Fanni Sütő writer, poet, translator and the proud owner of a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. She writes about everything which comes in her way or goes bump in the night. She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants.
Previous publications include: The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation. Paris Lit Up 5.
Website: www.inkmapsandmacarons.com
Twitter: @Fanni_Pumpkin

Sinister Countdown: Tiptoe

Tiptoe between the weeds,

Circle round the foundation green.

Hear the chirp and paper whisper,

Of a secret-keeping sister.

Hiss of cat and creak of stair,

Close your eyes and wish Them here.

Now you’ve lifted forbidden vale,

Seeing the very depths of hell.

Lay your body upon crypt floor,

And wait your doom forever more.

Circle round the foundation green,

Tip toe, tip toe, forever unseen.

-M.E. InkOwl

Guest Submission: Esmé’s

BEETROOT & FIG SALAD WITH ROASTED RADISHES

The best ever salad, with fresh figs and yummy beetroot topped with all the healthy goodness of pumpkin and sunflower seeds!!
Ingredients:
6-8 medium sized beetroots, peeled and cut into wedges
125ml sugar
125ml balsamic vinegar
125ml boiling water
60ml olive oil
100ml pumpkin seeds
100ml sunflower seeds
1 bunch radishes, well rinsed and leaves trimmed off
8-12 ripe purple figs, broken open (we could not get fresh purple figs, so used store-bought dried figs)
2-3 handfuls rocket or baby salad leaves
100ml dried cranberries

Parmesan shavings (omit for vegan, or as we did, only add to the one side of the salad)

Method:
Boil the beetroot in the sugar, vinegar, and water until tender and syrupy.
Allow cooling completely. Season with salt & black pepper.
Heat half the olive oil and roast the seeds slowly until they start to puff up.
Remove from the heat and season with coarse salt. Allow cooling.
Mix the radishes with the remaining olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Roast for a few minutes under the hot grill, it gives them a lovely texture.
To assemble, arrange the beetroot, radishes, and figs in-between the leaves, then sprinkle the cranberries, seeds and Parmesan cheese on top.
Serve with olive oil & extra balsamic vinegar.

Sinister Countdown: The Beast

Quick step, tip toe,

Secret breath, let go.

Lie still, stay calm,

Hear this, somethings wrong.

Creaking stair, silence falls,

Don’t move, watch the walls.

Burst of sound, throaty call.

Fetted breath, raking claws.

Bitting deep, breaking bone.

Gasping shrieks, snapping jaws.

Moaning pain, rattling air.

Endings begin in a darkening lair.

-M.E. InkOwl

Sinister Countdown: Hush, Murder Sweet

Hush, murder sweet is calling.

Dost thou hear the music rankle?

Cackle gleefully to ones self?

Shush, now hear it speaking.

Pleading close, secret keeping?

From whence did you fall?

Whisper, come close and feel the blister.

Plead did you for mercy dear?

Whining now for mother near?

Silence, a shadow moves.

Flee, run, dare look back?

Never knowing what’s in the black?

Quiet now, safety found.

Surrounded by four walls, they’ll hold me strong?

Squeeze eyes shut, sing a song, I was dreaming all along?

Hush now, I never left.

Feel my chill, break a sweat.

Hush, murder sweet, I never left.

Silence . . . wails!

-M.E. InkOwl

Guest Submission: Esmé’s Eggless Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Butter Cream Frosting

Flax egg  used for those who have allergies and must follow an egg-free diet

When I first read the ingredients I was scared, I won’t lie, because the recipe asked for pumpkin puree and I have never seen it anywhere in the local supermarkets, but thanks to my all-time faithful good friend google, I discovered that I can make my own homemade puree, by steaming pumpkin cubes in a little water until soft and then use a masher, and mash it until there are no lumps and hey presto I have homemade pumpkin puree.

Ingredients for the cake batter:
2 cups cake flour.
1 cup caramel brown sugar.
½ cup castor sugar.
1 tsp baking powder.
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
½ tsp salt.

2 tsp cinnamon powder.
½ tsp nutmeg powder.
½ tsp ginger powder.
½ tsp cloves powder.
337g pumpkin puree.
1 tsp vanilla essence.
¼ cup vegetable oil.
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar.
1 flax egg.

Method:
Make the flax egg (1 x tbsp. crushed linseed mixed with 3 x tbsp. boiling water and set aside).
Sift the cake flour into a bowl.

Add the spices and both sugars and give it a good stir.
Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla essence, cooking oil, white wine vinegar and your flax egg.
Whisk till well combined.
Pour into a lightly greased 20cm cake pan.
Tap to remove any bubbles.
Pop into a preheated oven and bake at 180 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean.

Ingredients for the butter cream icing:
450g sifted icing sugar.
112g margarine.
1 tsp vanilla essence.
2 tbsp. soy milk.
1 tsp cinnamon powder.

Method:
Cream the margarine, add a little icing sugar in at a time and whisk till it starts to resemble bread crumbs.
Add the vanilla essence, soy milk and cinnamon powder.
Whisk until well combined and the mixture comes together.

To assemble to cake:
Cut the cake into two layers.
Place one layer down on your cake board and generous layers the icing.
Place the second layer of cake on top of the icing.
Generously ice the top layer of the cake and decorate with chopped walnuts.

Sinister Countdown: The Beast

Quick step, tip toe,

Secret breath, let go.

Lie still, stay calm,

Hear this, somethings wrong.

Creaking stair, silence falls,

Don’t move, watch the walls.

Burst of sound, throaty call.

Fetted breath, raking claws.

Gasping shrieks, snapping jaws.

Bitting deep, breaking bone.

Moaning pain, rattling air.

Endings begin in a darkening lair.

-M.E. InkOwl

Sinister Countdown: The Preserve by L. Stevens

The Preserve

Sarah planted both hands on the railing of the boardwalk and peered down at the murky water and ferns. The signs for the preserve had advised to look down at the water as well as out at the trees to spot wildlife. So far, she had only spotted a tangle of wilting pink balloons ensnared in a cypress tree.

She sighed, hoping to spot an alligator, or at least a wading bird before leaving. When she spotted the small, pink sneaker sticking out the mud instead, she leaned closer, fearing the worst. It wasn’t until the little girl sat up from the muck, a crimson gash contrasting with her grey, sallow skin, that Sarah began to scream in earnest.

Author Bio:

L. Stevens lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and two dogs. When she isn’t writing, she is exploring local sites for inspiration and watching morbid amounts of true crime documentaries.

You can read more from L. Stevens here.