A Suggestion of Ghosts, Supernatural Fiction by Women 1854 – 1900, ed. by A. J. Mains, from Black Schuck Books

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Table of Contents

  • A Veritable Ghost Story by Susanna Moodie
  • The Spectral Rout by Frances Power Cobbe
  • A Legend of All-Hallow Eve by Georgiana S. Hull
  • The Ghost of the Nineteenth Century by Phoebe Pember
  • The Ghost Room by Clara Merwin
  • Miss Massereene’s Ghost by E.A. Henty
  • Vindication of the Supernatural by Manda L. Crocker
  • The Warneford Abbey Ghost by Ada Maria Jocelyn
  • A Speakin’ Ghost by Annie Trumbull Slosson
  • The Closed Cabinet by Lady Gwendolen Gascoyne-Cecil
  • The Little Green Door by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
  • The Death Spancel by Katharine Tynan
  • The House That Wouldn’t Let by Mrs Hattie H. Howard
  • At the Witching Hour by Elizabeth Gibert Cunningham-Terry
  • The Oakleigh Ghost by Annie Armitt

About the Book

British Fantasy Award-winning editor J.A. Mains presents an all-female anthology of supernatural stories, first published between 1854 and 1900. Mains has trawled the archives to find fifteen tales which have not seen print since their original publications. Featuring cover art from multiple time British Fantasy Award-winner Les Edwards, and an introduction by Lynda Rucker, A Suggestion of Ghosts is an important volume for those interested in the Victorian era of supernatural tales.

Black Shuck is very proud to announce the first of two ghost story anthologies from Johnny (A J) Mains, an all-female anthology of ghost stories written from 1826 – 1897. Johnny has been deep in the cobwebbed archives of decaying periodicals, collections and newspapers and has found British, Irish, American and Australian stories that have never been anthologized since their original publication up to 190 years ago. Mains is thrilled that he can also attribute the correct authorship to ‘The Closed Cabinet’ to Lady Gwendolyn Gascoyne-Cecil, which has been continuously published under the by-line ‘Anon’ since its original appearance in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in January of 1895.

Mains feels that A Suggestion of Ghosts will be an invaluable book for those desperately seeking to read and research supernatural tales which have long faded away and have been forgotten about.

There will be a limited hardback edition of 100 numbered copies, with artwork by Edward Miller (Les Edwards) and Mike Mignola. The book will also be signed by Mains and Edwards. A Suggestion of Ghosts will also contain original publication dates of stories and biographies of the authors.

Two months after the publication of the hardback, there will be a simultaneous paperback and e-book release, this will contain two stories less than the hardback.

Read more: http://vaultofevil.proboards.com/thread/6591/suggestion-ghosts-mains#ixzz5TjqFSWHV

Link to Buy the Paperback

https://blackshuck.greatbritishhorror.com/a-suggestion-of-ghosts/

An Obscurity of Ghosts, ed. by J. A. Mains Hardback Coming Late 2018! (TOC + Link)

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Table of Contents

  • The Pin Ghost by E T Corbett
  • The Mysterious House by Mrs M C Despard
  • Not Exactly a Ghost Story by Mary Louisa Molesworth
  • A Bristol Ghost Story by Alice Horlor
  • The American Ghost by Lucretia P Hale
  • The Ghostly Lady by Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford
  • The Room with the Staircase by Mrs E Fitzmaurice
  • Miss Tweed’s Ghost Story by Sarah Doudney
  • A Night in a Haunted House by (Mattie) May Jordan
  • The White Priest by Hélène Gingold
  • Grannie’s Ghost Story by Lucy Hardy
  • The Ghost of My Dead Friend by Wilhelmina Fitzclarence, Countess of Munster
  • Playing the Ghost by Mrs Edith E Cuthell
  • A Chestnutting Ghost by Margaret Barringer
  • The Phantom Ride by Lyllian Huntley

About the Book

Following the success of A Suggestion of Ghosts, British Fantasy Award-winning editor J.A. Mains presents a second all-female anthology of ghost stories written between 1876 and 1902. Mains has once again been trawling the archives to find another fifteen tales, fourteen of which have not been anthologised since their original publications.

Featuring cover art from multiple time British Fantasy Award-winner Les Edwards, and an introduction by Melissa Edmundson, AN OBSCURITY OF GHOSTS will be another important volume for those interested in the Victorian era of supernatural tales.

This hardback edition of AN OBSCURITY OF GHOSTS will be limited to 50 numbered copies, each signed by editor J.A. Mains and artist Les Edwards.

Link to Preorder

https://blackshuckbooks.co.uk/obscurity/

 

Silver Bullets—An Anthology if Werewolf Stories from 1831-1920, ed. by Eleanor Dobson (The British Library 2017) Excerpt + Intro + Link…

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Excerpt from Story 1: “The Man-Wolf” by Leitch Ritchie…

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Introduction by Eleanor Dobson…

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

Buy the book here…

https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Bullets-Classic-Werewolf-Stories/dp/0712352201

This One Looks Good!—The Green and the Black, a Newfoundland Horror Novel by William Meikle

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A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black…

“Just as you think things can’t get any worse in this story, it does. The ending will send chills down your spine. It did mine.”

—Cat After Dark

“William Meikle at his best, delivering strong, deftly-written prose entwined with a highly imaginative and richly-detailed mythological plot. It digs out the most disturbing elements of local folklore and legend and then uses them as a framework for a powerful, atmospheric and slow-burning piece of horror fiction that is often almost unbearably tense.”

—The Sci-Fi and Fantasy

About the Author

William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with over twenty five novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. He have books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines. Meikle lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Time for a New Novel! Remember the Robert DeNiro Film Angel Heart? Here’s the 1978 Book That Inspired the Movie!

Where do you search for a guy who was never there to begin with?

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Cover of the original hardback edition (Pinterest).

I’ve been wanting to read this for years. You should join me! I found the very affordable Kindle edition (link below) and decided it’s time. Here’s a sample of the prose and some info on the book and the creepy 1987 film it inspired Starring Mickey Route, Lisa Bonet, and Robert DeNiro (as the Devil)…


Click thumbnails below to enlarge…


Following is a short writeup from toomuchhorrorfiction.com…

Hard-boiled crime writers like Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler were vastly influential on a whole range of 20th century literature, except, I think, horror fiction. With their post-Hemingway style of terseness and understatement they seem to be the antithesis of horror writing. While these authors got their start in the pulp magazines of the pre-WWII era just like H.P. Lovecraft, it’s only been within the last 10 or 15 years that Lovecraft has been taken seriously by more mainstream academics, literary critics, and taste-makers, while those crime novelists have been lauded for decades.

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The original hard cover edition from 1978. Finding a copy in good condition is quite rare today (Pinterest).

But I don’t think it was until Falling Angel (Fawcett Popular Library 1982 edition above) that the genres of hardboiled crime and horror met, thanks to author William Hjortsberg. He has said he came up with the idea when in high school, winning an award for a short story whose first lines were “Once upon a time, the devil hired a private detective.” Brilliant.

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The Author William Hjortsberg, 1978.

Set in a wonderfully-depicted New York City 1959, Falling Angel is the story of hard-boozing private detective Harry Angel (“I always buy myself a drink after finding a body. It’s an old family custom”), hired by the mysterious Mr. Cyphre to find the missing ’40s crooner Johnny Favorite, a big band star very much like Sinatra. Horribly injured physically and psychologically while serving as an entertainer in the war, Johnny ends up in a VA hospital, but then disappears one night…

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Inside the 1979 UK paperback edition. Artist unknown (toomuchhorrorfiction.com).

Angel tracks down Johnny’s former doctor, who then turns up dead; next Angel speaks to an old band member of Johnny’s, “Toots” Sweet (but of course) who tells him Johnny was mixed up in voodoo and the black arts, can you dig it, and crossed ethnic barriers no one dared cross in the 1940s when he became the lover of a voodoo priestess. Toots ends up dead too. Horribly dead. You get the picture. Angel ends up involved with the priestess’s daughter, Epiphany Proudfoot, a carnally-driven young woman who believes acrobatic sex is how we speak to the voodoo gods. Awesome.

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The 1986 Warner Books paperback edition was a bit more frightening and less “noir” than earlier editions (toomuchhorrorfiction.com).

There’s more; much more. Falling Angel is, in a word, spectacular. It’s inventive while playing by the “rules” of detective fiction; it’s appropriately bloody and violent; its unholy climax in an abandoned subway station is effectively unsettling and graphic.


Click on thumbnails below to enlarge…


Hjortsberg knows his hard-boiled lingo and the New York of the time and makes it all believable. This is no humorous pastiche or parody; it’s a stunning crime novel bled through with visceral horrors of the most personal and, in the end, damning kind.

[Review Source: toomuchhorrorfiction.com/Falling Angel Review


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Chapter 1

IT WAS FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH and yesterday’s snowstorm lingered in the streets like a leftover curse. The slush outside was ankle-deep. Across Seventh Avenue a treadmill parade of lightbulb headlines marched endlessly around Times Tower’s terra cotta façade: … HAWAII IS VOTED INTO UNION AS 50TH STATE: HOUSE GRANTS FINAL APPROVAL, 232 TO 89; EISENHOWER’S SIGNATURE OF BILL ASSURED … Hawaii, sweet land of pineapples and Haleloki; ukeleles strumming, sunshine and surf, grass skirts swaying in the tropical breeze.

I spun my chair around and stared out at Times Square. The Camels spectacular on the Claridge puffed fat steam smoke rings out over the snarling traffic. The dapper gentleman on the sign, mouth frozen in a round O of perpetual surprise, was Broadway’s harbinger of spring. Earlier in the week, teams of scaffold-hung painters transformed the smoker’s dark winter homburg and chesterfield overcoat into seersucker and panama straw; not as poetic as the Capistrano swallows, but it got the message across. My building was built before the turn of the century; a four-story brick pile held together with soot and pigeon dung. An Easter bonnet of billboards flourished on the roof, advertising flights to Miami and various brands of beer. There was a cigar store on the corner, a Pokerino parlor, two hot dog stands, and the Rialto Theatre, mid-block. The entrance was tucked between a peep-show bookshop and a novelty place, show windows stacked with whoopee cushions and plaster dog turds.

My office was two flights up, in a line with Olga’s Electrolysis, Teardrop Imports, Inc., and Ira Kipnis, C.P.A. Eight-inch gold letters gave me the edge over the others: CROSSROADS DETECTIVE AGENCY, a name I bought along with the business from Ernie Cavalero, who took me on as his legman back when I first hit the city during the war.

I was about to go out for coffee when the phone rang. “Mr. Harry Angel?” a distant secretary trilled. “Herman Winesap of McIntosh, Winesap, and Spy calling.”

I grunted something pleasant and she put me on hold.

Herman Winesap’s voice was as slick as the greasy kid stuff hair oil companies like to warn you about. He introduced himself as an attorney. That meant his fees were high. A guy calling himself a lawyer always costs a lot less. Winesap sounded so good I let him do most of the talking.

“The reason I called, Mr. Angel, was to ascertain whether your services were at present available for contract.”

“Would this be for your firm?”

“No. I’m speaking in behalf of one of our clients. Are you available for employment?”

“Depends on the job. You’ll have to give me some details.”

“My client would prefer to discuss them with you in person. He has suggested that you have lunch with him today. One o’clock sharp at the Top of the Six’s.”

“Maybe you’d like to give me the name of this client, or do I just look for some guy wearing a red carnation?”

“Have you a pencil handy? I’ll spell it for you.”

I wrote the name LOUIS CYPHRE on my desk pad and asked how to pronounce it.

Herman Winesap did a swell job, rolling his r’s like a Berlitz instructor. I asked if the client was a foreigner?

“Mr. Cyphre carries a French passport. I am not certain of his exact nationality. Any questions you might have no doubt he’ll be happy to answer at lunch. May I tell him to expect you?”

“I’ll be there, one o’clock sharp.”

Attorney Herman Winesap made some final unctuous remarks before signing off. I hung up and lit one of my Christmas Montecristos in celebration.

Chapter 2

666 FIFTH AVENUE WAS an unhappy marriage of the International Style and our own homegrown tailfin technology. It had gone up two years before between 52nd and 53rd streets: a million square feet of office space sheathed in embossed aluminum panels. It looked like a forty-story cheese grater. There was a waterfall in the lobby, but that didn’t seem to help.

I took an express elevator to the top floor, got a number from the hatcheck girl, and admired the view while the maître d’ gave me the once-over like a government-meat inspector grading a side of beef. His finding Cyphre’s name in the reservation book didn’t exactly make us pals. I followed him back through a polite murmuring of executives to a small table by a window.

Seated there in a custom-made blue pin-stripe suit with a blood-red rosebud in his lapel was a man who might have been anywhere between forty-five and sixty. His hair was black and full, combed straight back on a high forehead, yet his square-cut goatee and pointed moustache were white as ermine. He was tanned and elegant; his eyes a distant, ethereal blue. A tiny, inverted golden star gleamed on his maroon silk necktie. “I’m Harry Angel,” I said, as the maître d’ pulled out my chair. “A lawyer named Winesap said there was something you wanted to speak to me about.”

“I like a man who’s prompt,” he said. “Drink?”

I ordered a double Manhattan, straight up; Cyphre tapped his glass with a manicured finger and said he’d have one more of the same. It was easy to imagine those pampered hands gripping a whip. Nero must have had such hands. And Jack the Ripper. It was the hand of emperors and assassins. Languid, yet lethal, the cruel, tapered fingers perfect instruments of evil.

When the waiter left, Cyphre leaned forward and fixed me with a conspirator’s grin. “I hate to bother with trivialities, but I’d like to see some identification before we get started.”

I got out my wallet and showed him my photostat and honorary chiefs button. “There’s a gun permit and driver’s license in there, too.”

He flipped through the celluloid card holders and when he handed back the wallet his smile was ten degrees whiter. “I prefer to take a man at his word, but my legal advisors insisted upon this formality.”

“It usually pays to play it safe.”

“Why, Mr. Angel, I would have thought you were a gambling man.”

“Only when I have to be.” I listened hard for any trace of an accent, but his voice was like polished metal, smooth and clean, as if it had been buffed with banknotes from the day he was born. “Suppose we get down to business,” I said. “I’m not much good at small talk.”

“Another admirable trait.” Cyphre withdrew a gold and leather cigar case from his inside breast pocket, opened it, and selected a slender, greenish panatela. “Care for a smoke?” I declined the proffered case and watched Cyphre trim the end of his cigar with a silver penknife.

“Do you by any chance remember the name Johnny Favorite?” he asked, warming the panatela’s slim length in the flame of his butane lighter.

I thought it over. “Wasn’t he a crooner with a swing band back before the war?”

“That’s the man. An overnight sensation, as the press agents like to say. Sang with the Spider Simpson orchestra in 1940. Personally, I loathed swing music and can’t recall the titles of his hit recordings; there were several, in any case. He created a near-riot at the Paramount Theatre two years before anyone ever heard of Sinatra. You should remember that, the Paramount’s over in your part of town.”

“Johnny Favorite’s before my time. In 1940, I was just out of high school, a rookie cop in Madison, Wisconsin.”

“From the Midwest? I would have taken you for a native New Yorker.”

“No such animal, at least not above Houston Street.”

“Very true.” Cyphre’s features were shrouded in blue smoke as he puffed his cigar. It smelled like excellent tobacco, and I regretted not taking one when I had the chance. “This is a city of outsiders,” he said. “I’m one myself.”

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Let us say I’m a traveler.” Cyphre waved away a wreath of cigar smoke, flashing an emerald the Pope himself would have kissed.

“Fine with me. Why did you ask about Johnny Favorite?”

The waiter set our drinks on the table with less intrusion than a passing shadow.

“A pleasant voice, all things considered.” Cyphre raised his glass to eye level in a silent European toast. “As I said, I could never stomach swing music; too loud and jumpy for my taste. But Johnny sounded sweet as a caroler when he wanted to. I took him under my wing when he was first getting started. He was a brash, skinny kid from the Bronx. Mother and father both dead. His real name wasn’t Favorite, it was Jonathan Liebling. He changed it for professional reasons; Liebling wouldn’t have looked nearly as good in lights. Do you know what happened to him?”

I said I had no idea whatsoever.

“He was drafted in January ’43. Because of his professional talents, he was assigned to the Special Entertainment Services Branch and in March he joined a troop show in Tunisia. I’m not certain of the exact details; there was an air raid one afternoon during a performance. The Luftwaffe strafed the bandstand. Most of the troupe was killed. Johnny, through some quirk of fortune, escaped with facial and head injuries. Escaped is the wrong word. He was never the same again. I’m not a medical man, so I can’t be very precise about his condition. Some form of shell shock, I suppose.”

I said I knew something about shell shock myself.

“Really? Were you in the war, Mr. Angel?”

“For a few months right at the start. I was one of the lucky ones.”

“Well, Johnny Favorite was not. He was shipped home, a total vegetable.”

“That’s too bad,” I said, “but where do I fit in? What exactly do you want me to do?”

Cyphre stubbed out his cigar in the ashtray and toyed with the age-yellowed ivory holder. It was carved in the shape of a coiled serpent with the head of a crowing rooster. “Be patient with me, Mr. Angel. I’m getting to the point, however circuitously. I gave Johnny some help at the start of his career. I was never his agent, but I was able to use my influence in his behalf. In recognition of my assistance, which was considerable, we had a contract. Certain collateral was involved. This was to be forfeited in the event of his death. I’m sorry that I can’t be more explicit, but the terms of our agreement specified that the details remain confidential.

“In any event, Johnny’s case was hopeless. He was sent to a veteran’s hospital in New Hampshire and it seemed as if he would spend the remainder of his life in a ward, one of the unfortunate discards of war. But Johnny had friends and money, a good deal of money. Although he was by nature profligate, his earnings for the two years prior to his induction were considerable; more than any one man could squander. Some of this money was invested, with Johnny’s agent having power of attorney.”

“The plot begins to grow complicated,” I said.

“Indeed it does, Mr. Angel.” Cyphre tapped his ivory cigar holder absently against the rim of his empty glass, making the crystal chime like distant bells. “Friends of Johnny’s had him transferred to a private hospital upstate. There was some sort of radical treatment. Typical psychiatric hocus-pocus, I suppose. The end result was the same; Johnny remained a zombie. Only the expenses came out of his pockets instead of the government’s.”

“Do you know the names of these friends?”

“No. I hope you won’t consider me entirely mercenary when I tell you that my continuing interest in Jonathan Liebling concerns only our contractual arrangement. I never saw Johnny again after he went away to war. All that mattered was whether he was alive or dead. Once or twice each year, my attorneys contact the hospital and obtain from them a notarized affidavit stating he is indeed still among the living. This situation remained unchanged until last weekend.”

“What happened then?”

“Something very curious. Johnny’s hospital is outside Poughkeepsie. I was in that vicinity on business and, quite on the spur of the moment, decided to pay my old acquaintance a visit. Perhaps I wanted to see what sixteen years in bed does to a man. At the hospital, I was told visiting hours were on weekday afternoons only. I insisted, and the doctor in charge made an appearance. He informed me that Johnny was undergoing special therapy and could not be disturbed until the following Monday.”

I said: “Sounds like you were getting the runaround.”

“Indeed. There was something about the fellow’s manner I didn’t like.” Cyphre slipped his cigar holder into his vest pocket and folded his hands on the table. “I stayed over in Poughkeepsie until Monday and returned to the hospital, making certain to arrive during visiting hours. I never saw the doctor again, but when I gave Johnny’s name, the girl at the reception desk asked if I was a relative. Naturally, I said no. She said only family members were permitted to visit with the patients.”

“No mention of this the previous time around?”

“Not a word. I grew quite indignant. I’m afraid I made something of a scene. That was a mistake. The receptionist threatened to call the police unless I left immediately.”

“What did you do?”

“I left. What else could I do? It’s a private hospital. I didn’t want any trouble. That’s why I’m engaging your services.”

“You want me to go up there and check it out for you?”

“Exactly.” Cyphre gestured expansively, turning his palms upward like a man showing he has nothing to hide. “First, I need to know if Johnny Favorite is still alive—that’s essential. If he is, I’d like to know where.”

I reached inside my jacket and got out a small leather-bound notebook and a mechanical pencil. “Sounds simple enough. What’s the name and address of the hospital?”

“The Emma Dodd Harvest Memorial Clinic; it’s located east of the city on Pleasant Valley Road.”

I wrote it down and asked the name of the doctor who gave Cyphre the runaround.

“Fowler. I believe the first name was either Albert or Alfred.”

I made a note of it. “Is Favorite registered under his actual name?”

“Yes. Jonathan Liebling.

“That should do it.” I put the notebook back and got to my feet. “How can I get in touch with you?”

“Through my attorney would be best.” Cyphre smoothed his moustache with the tip of his forefinger. “But you’re not leaving? I thought we were having lunch.”

“Hate to miss a free meal, but if I get started right away I can make it up to Poughkeepsie before quitting time.”

“Hospitals don’t keep business hours.”

“The office staff does. Any cover I use depends on it. It’ll cost you money if I wait until Monday. I get fifty dollars a day, plus expenses.”

“Sounds reasonable for a job well done.”

“The job will get done. Satisfaction guaranteed. I’ll give Winesap a call as soon as anything turns up.”

“Perfect. A pleasure meeting you, Mr. Angel.”

The maître d’ was still sneering when I stopped for my overcoat and attaché case on the way out.


Links

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To Read the rest of this book, you can grab a copy at the link below! (And remember the Kindle reading app is free for PC, tablet, iOS, and Android.)

Great film review of Angel Heart (Watch the Film’s Trailer at the end of this post.)

Alan Parker’s ‘Angel Heart’ Is Astonishing as Hell

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Get the Book

Trailer

Tonight’s Read: “The Dinosaur Tourist” by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Collected in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2018, ed. by Paula Guran

My New Favorite Writer: “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” a Story by Eric J. Guignard (+ Links)

This is first-rate prose. I am enamoured of the style. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love

Eric Guignard, 2018


Yesterday I saw Jamie Goodwin burst into flame.

He was just sitting on one of those cheap aluminum-back chairs we all have, eyes closed in the shade of Hester’s old RV, trying to get some relief from the heat, same as everyone else. I was checking the stock of coolers, seeing if any held even a bit of water left to siphon out, when Jamie let out a tiny gasp like he woke from a bad dream. If it was a bad dream he had, he woke to something worse, ’cause little glints of light popped and fizzed off him like the sparklers we used to wave around on Fourth of July. Smoke or steam or something else rose up, then Jamie’s eyes went cartoon-big and he turned into a fireball.

Jamie’s the fourth person to spontaneously combust this month. Two women burned last Wednesday, and old Tom Puddingpaw blazed the week prior. Before that, we averaged only one or two fireballs a month, but now it’s getting worse. And after Jamie burned, Ms. Crankshaw didn’t even cancel lessons like she normally did, as if coming to terms that folks fireballing was the new natural order of things.

“That’s another lesson in evolution. One day we’re apes, then we’re humans, now we’re fireballs.”

She didn’t really say that, but she might as well have.

At least Loud John and Rudy were there when Jamie burned, and they contained his cinders so it didn’t spread like when Quiet John caught flame. But I still saw the whole thing, and it still scared me, even if others pretend to somehow be getting used to it.

“I watched him die,” I tell my friends. “Jamie didn’t scream. I think he tried, since his mouth opened wide, but nothing came out except flames.”

“Why is this happening for no reason?” Ogre asks, though that question is rhetorical because he doesn’t expect an answer. His voice hitches and he overcompensates for it by yelling, “When’s it going to stop?”

That’s rhetorical too.

We’re not supposed to be outdoors because of the heat, but we’re wearing protection, and sometimes out in the desert is the only place we can talk without everyone else listening in.

“I told you we weren’t safe,” Liz says. “Ms. C.’s wrong or she’s lying to us. Anybody can fireball.”

“No one ever tells us the truth,” Tommy adds. “It’s stupid going to lessons if everyone shields us from what’s really happening. I mean, what’re we learning? Facts or make-believe?”

Me and Tommy and Liz and Ogre are shooting at sand lizards with a pair of slingshots. I oughta clarify we’d shoot at anything daring our range of rocks and marbles, but it was too hot for anything but lizards to come out under the sun.

“The adults don’t want us to know…” A red bandana covers half of Liz’s face, so her voice is muffled. “I think we’re all gonna die.”

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