Category Archives: Dorlana’s Books

Short story for Halloween: Hell’s Kitchen

 This is one of my stranger short stories from some years back, and I thought it would be fun to post it for Halloween. It’s a dark, quirky, moody tale of two men who walk a fine line between good/evil, sanity/madness. 

Hell’s Kitchen

By Dorlana Vann

Part I – The Body

I watched as a guy in a dark suit dug up Beatrice Beaumont Virgil, April 5, 1965 – August 19, 1998. Funeral flowers still fresh, dirt still moist, Until we meet again her epitaph.

I stood in the shadows and dared to watch a moment longer before deciding I would just make note of his car license on my way out. If I had to say, I would guess his height as six feet and give him a generous build of medium. And I would only use this information if there were questions. Otherwise, I’d rather my secret after-hours visits stayed my secret.

As I turned to leave, the moody clouds drifted, allowing the full moon to tattle. I limped away as fast as I could, but my bad knee had started acting up again. I could only hope I was far enough to seem a ghost. Just as I began to breathe, I heard the man shout, “Hey you… stop!”

A gun fired; the bullet ricocheted off the tombstone next to me. I stopped.

“Now, get over here,” he said. “Slowly.”

As I approached the grave-site, I could see that he had dug about halfway down into the grave. He held a shovel in his right hand and a gun in his left. “You’re not going to run are you?” he asked. His appearance seemed rather ordinary— until our eyes met. I’m not easily spooked, but his keen stare alarmed the hair on the back of my neck.

“No,” I said.

He tucked the gun into his pants and then threw me the shovel. “Start digging.”

I dropped the shovel down into the thigh-deep hole and grunted as I followed it inside.

“What are you doing out here this time of night?” he said as he sat down and wiped his brow.

“I’m the groundskeeper.”

“That’s strange. I did my homework; there are no employees at night.”

“I’m not supposed to be here either.” The shovel sank into the dirt easily enough, but my muscles complained when I started shoveling it out of the hole.

“Hmm,” he said. “So, what are you doing here?”

“It’s peaceful at night.”

“So you work here… and come here to hang out? Kind of an eerie guy. But I suppose the right kind… if one has to exhume a body.”

I kept digging, and the man kept watching until the shovel caused a clunking noise.

“All right,” he said. He sat with his legs dangling over the side of the hole. “Now start digging on the sides so we can open my treasure chest.”

When I had finished my task, the man jumped in beside me. It took quite a few hard pushes before we finally had the lid all the way open.

I generally have to be content with a mental image of my residents—unless their loved ones are kind enough to leave me a picture—I couldn’t help but comb my hair with my fingers to tidy up a bit before I met her.

Her long blonde hair flowed gracefully over her petite shoulders. Rosy cheeks and ruby lips highlighted powdered fair skin. “Beautiful.”

POW! I felt the deafening discharge from my fingers to my toes. Beatrice received a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead. I had stopped breathing.

“Hmm,” the grave robber said. “Grab her arms.”

“What?”

It took him aiming his weapon at me before I comprehended the instructions.

“Grab her arms. I’ll get her feet.”

Heavier than she looked, the first attempts at getting her out of the grave were grotesque. I wanted to lay her back in her bed, fold her arms back across her body… smooth her hair.

Finally, we had her in a somewhat normal position lying in the grass next to her assumed final resting place.

My dilated eyes absorbed a sudden explosion of light. When I regained my vision, I realized the man was snapping pictures.

I couldn’t withhold my curiosity a moment longer. It had fused together with fear and sympathy for Beatrice and formed a knot in the pit of my stomach. “I do realize that this is none of my business, and I really shouldn’t be asking you anything, but…”

“I don’t off chicks,” he said. His chest heaved in and out, just like mine.

“Excuse me?”

“That’s why I’m doing this. That was your question … right?”

I nodded.

He pulled a flask out of his jacket, put it to his mouth, and took a drink. Surprisingly, he handed it to me. As the unexpected bland taste of the pure water quenched my dry tongue, he spoke, “Some asshole hired me to kill a woman. This is just what I do when I’m put in the situation.”

I swallowed hard. The liquid felt like a tank going down my throat. The man standing beside me murdered people for money. And he’d said I was the creepy one … “So you’re going to pretend that Beatrice is the woman you were supposed to kill?”

“Beatrice,” he said and stared down at her. “They don’t want them at their doorstep. All I need is proof. I did a lot of obituary searching to find her. Same facial features, hair color, age.”

“What about the real girl?”

“She’s on a plane as we move our lips.”

We stood there for a moment: the atmosphere thick with the smell of death and the moonlight animating tree shadows across Beatrice’s face.

“So, why did someone want her dead?” I asked.

“Don’t know … didn’t ask.”

I nodded.

“Let’s get her back down,” he said.

The chore of replacing her didn’t take as long as excavating her had, but I hated our method. We just dropped her in.

We climbed in after and put her back in the casket. Except for the bullet hole and the dirt in her hair, she looked like she did before we disturbed her. I said my goodbyes and shut the lid.

When I looked up at the assassin, his jaw was tense and his eyes and gun were focused on me. He said, “You know, I have to kill you now.”

I stopped to inhale the earthy air, to scratch my nose, and to think about my new home with Beatrice Virgil’s address. Until we meet again, my epitaph. “Yeah,” I said. “I know.”

Part II – The Revenge

John knew the old saying: Revenge is a dish best served cold. But he had to disagree. Because this time, his revenge would be cooked and served sizzling hot.

Being the cook for the Beaumont family had definitely been hell, and it seemed as if he had already worked for them an eternity. When he saw his murderer, standing there on the auction block, another saying seemed right on: What goes around comes around.

New arrivals went straight to the auction house. Both demon and H.S.L. (Human Soul Laborers) bought souls for a variety of reasons—the juicier the more they cost. John’s assassin was already up to a stellar price.

The red demon auctioneer had the whole house animated with energy. He was saying, “This soul here has no moral backbone. He killed over fifty men. He’s a thief, a cheater, and a murderer. Do I hear seventy-five….”

When John held up his auction paddle, his assassin looked him in the eyes. John remembered the last time their eyes met. The next thing he knew, he was in hell, standing exactly where this guy stood now. John had committed minor sins in comparison to murder, so buying him to eat would have been like buying a sickly, skinny cow. Not worth eating.

John had been purchased as an H.S.L. by one of the more prestigious demon families. Some souls were bought for pulling wagons, for building roads, for housewives, for…dinner. He understood how lucky he had been that he knew how to cook. His duties included buying groceries at the auction house.

He didn’t win the bid on his murderer just for pleasure; he would also make a fine meal. The Beaumonts planned to have a dinner party for twenty guests. John purchased two other plump souls as well.

When John arrived back at his kitchen, he put the three men into his tall, refrigerated cage. They needed to be fresh. Much longer out in the heat, and they would have been tough. He himself had developed skin close to the texture of leather. He hadn’t lived in Hell long enough to figure it all out, but he reckoned all the demons started out looking the way the human souls did, but in time they adapted to the atmosphere, causing their crimson, rutted skin.

Once John shut the cage, the hit man said, “Funny meeting you here.”

“So, you do remember me.”

“I never forget a face.”

“Of someone you killed or just in general?” John reached in a drawer and pulled out his knife sharpener. He wanted to give this guy the full treatment. At that moment, if he had ever wondered before, he recognized one of the major reasons for his descent. He kept deep hatred in his heart. Hmmm. He began to grind the knife across the sharpener.

His murderer said, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m about to make dinner.”

“I mean, in the hole. I never characterized you for a sinner.”

“We all have our sins. It’s the people who realize it too late that end up down here.”

At this, the hitman nodded his head. “So, what are you making?”

The two other men in the cage looked downright terrified. John looked down at his knife. No matter what kind of show he put on for his murderer, this wouldn’t be any easier than any other meal.

He inhaled and then nodded his head over to the man standing to the right of the murderer. “Leg of Sam,” he said. He glanced at the next guy, “Barbecued ribs.” He looked directly into the hit man’s eyes. “And roasted pig.”

“You don’t have to be so nasty. Just making conversation.”

“Perhaps we should save the small talk for the guests.” Meals had always just stood in the cage awaiting their fate. Once in awhile one would sing or one would cry, but never did he actually have to talk to one before he prepared it.

“For what it’s worth,” his murderer said. “I apologize. I was just doing my job.”

John thought about this for a moment. He wondered if he would have repented if given more time. If he had not been killed at that moment, would it have caused a different finale? He doubted it. Just doing my job. “All right,” he finally said. “I’ll accept your apology. I have an apology of my own.”

“I suppose you do,” the man said.

John said, “You know, I have to cook you now.”

“Yeah,” the hitman said, “I know.”

The End

Birthday EBook Giveaway

Hi Friends,

4 of my 5 eBooks will be free on  July 9th. This will give you a chance to grab a book you missed or become a first time reader.  (I have five eBooks, however, only four are eligible for giveaways at this time. )

Jaclyn's Ghost

Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann

Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann

Ghosts, Mystery, and Fashion.

Can this diva solve her own murder, or will she be stuck in limbo forever?

Supernatural Mystery, Romantic Comedy

Amazon U.S. (Kindle)

Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale

a collection of paranormal short stories inspired by fairy tales

Silverweed by Dorlana Vann

Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale by Dorlana Vann

Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale by Dorlana Vann

In this Little Red Riding Hood-inspired supernatural fairy tale,

the roles of prey and predator become interchangeable.

  Young Adult, Dark Fantasy

Amazon US

Amazon.co.uk

The Princes of Tangleforest by Dorlana Vann

The Princes of Tangleforest by Dorlana Vann

 

The Princes of Tangleforest by Dorlana Vann

How do you change Frogs Nerds

into Princes the popular kids ?

Young Adult, fairy tale inspired

Amazon U.S. (Kindle)

Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Superstition References in Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale

 

Silverweed by Dorlana Vann

Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale by Dorlana Vann

 

The superstition references in Silverweed are a combination of my grandfather’s stories and an informative superstitions dictionary.

I’d never really been that superstitious, except for doing things like tossing salt over both my shoulders—yes, both because I didn’t know which one was correct. However, my interest sparked in 2006 when my mom told me about my grandfather’s childhood stories. Apparently, his mother (pictured on the right – my great-grandmother – I think I kind of look like her) died when my grandpa was five-years-old; it happened the day after she’d told him to stop shooing the birds away that had landed on their front porch, because it meant death.
My grandfather had also told my mom that one day he had watched the devil walking out in his Alabama woods, pitchfork and all. (You might recognize this from the first chapter of Silverweed.)

Around the same time my mom was reminiscing, I was writing the rough draft of the the Little Red Riding Hood inspired short story, and all of these memories set the entire mood for “Silverweed Muffins” which eventually became Silverweed the novel.

As I was writing the story, I researched superstitions. It took me awhile but I finally found a reference book I really liked, Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering. Even if you don’t need the book for reference, it’s interesting to see how our lives today are influenced by these superstitions from the past. BTW – the correct shoulder to throw salt over is the left one.

Paperback and eBook  available

(Special limited time price of .99 cents for Kindle eBook) 

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble

Amazon.de

Amazon.co.uk

Free eBook: Ghosts, Mystery, & Fashion

 Jaclyn’s Ghost will be free

April 11, 2014 – April 15, 2014

Jaclyn's Ghost by Dorlana Vann

Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann

Ghosts, Mystery, and Fashion. Can this diva solve her own murder, or will she be stuck in limbo forever?

After recovering from the shock of seeing her own dead body, (still dressed to kill from last night’s party) fashion model, Jaclyn Jade, discovers she’s a ghost with a choice. She can either immediately go back to Hell, do nothing and stay in limbo, or find the reason she fell short of grace and advance to Heaven.

Because she was murdered, Jaclyn hopes that finding her killer will unravel this mystery. With the help of a timid closet-psychic who can speak to the dead, and a handsome, yet arrogant, ghost of a man from the roaring 20s, her search for answers initiates a quirky journey of self-discovery. Personalities, eras, and worlds collide as this mismatched trio race against time to solve the mystery of Jaclyn’s Ghost.

Read Reviews and/or get your free eBook at Amazon.com

Read Review and/or get your free eBook at Amazon.co.uk

Read Reviews and/or add to your TO-READ shelf at GoodReads

Ebook is free worldwide – here are more Amazon Links

Amazon.de

Amazon.fr

Amazon.in

Amazon.es

Amazon.ca

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