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Letter from the Editors
Welcome to the Autumn edition of OWS Inked. It’s
been a busy season for us and we imagine it’s been the
same for you, too. Our company, OWS Ink, LLC, is now
fully licensed and accepting submissions in multiple
genres (see the OWS News page for more information).
We’re also on the verge of releasing a new anthology
with selections from among our tribe for your enjoyment.
Speaking of your enjoyment, that’s what this issue is all
about. Stephanie and A.L. came up with an idea and we
ran with it. We hope you’ll enjoy the multiple stories that
emerged from the time capsule. Several of our writers
selected one of the characters and the tainted treasure
that character claimed to write about. Sometimes, the
worst curse one could receive is not a grisly death.
We have a new call for submissions opening with this
journal, too. We will be choosing just six stories to go into
our January edition of the journal, which will be themed
around the concept of Resolutions gone wrong. Visit the
OWS News page for more information or, if this challenge
doesn’t strike you, be sure to join the conversation over
at Our friendly community is always
talking craft or sharing stories in some form or fashion.
We’d love to hear your voice as well. We’ve also recently
become afliated with Brains to Books and have a special
announcement within these pages about that.
Of course, if you know us at all, you know it isn’t always
just about play. We have some helpful articles for you
from A.M. Rycroft and Joshua Robertson. We also have
some chilling poetry offered by Stacy Overby, Stephanie
Ayers, and A.L. Mabry.
In addition to providing writers and readers with a safe
community in which to explore art in many forms, our
goal remains to foster creativity, encouraging aspiring
artists to achieve greater recognition (and payment!) for
their work, and promoting the arts through a variety of
If you like what you nd here, consider subscribing
to the journal to avoid missing our next edition due out
in January. You might also consider advertising in our
journal to help us support our talented contributors,
writers, and staff.
Welcome and enjoy OWS Inked!
Stephanie, A.L., & Wendy
Volume 1, Issue 3
Creative Executive Ofcer (CEO)
Stephanie Ayers -
Executive Editor
A.L. Mabry -
Managing Editor
Wendy Strain -
Poetry Editor
Eric Keizer -
Submissions, Subscriptions, Donations
Send to
Contributing Writers
A.M. Rycroft, Stacy Overby, B.W. Martin, Eliz-
abeth Abel, Joshua Robertson, Lorah Jaiyn, Eric
Keizer, Katheryn J. Avila, Dusty Grein
Internal design and formatting: Wendy Strain
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Autumn 2016
Tales from the Time Capsule
Introduction - Stephanie Ayers
Choking to Life
B.W. Martin
The Ring is the Key
Elizabeth Abel
Map of the Tomb
Elizabeth Abel
Twisted Tie
Lorah Jaiyn
Eddie’s Revenge
Eric Keizer
Katheryn J. Avila
A Dorian Revenge
Stacy Overby
The Final Huddle
Dusty Grein
Stephanie Ayers
What is the Lure of Dark Fiction?
A.M. Rycroft
The Darkling Throng
Stacy Overby
Craft a Terrifying Monster
Joshua Robertson
Soul Survivor
Stephanie Ayers
OWS News
We Are Not Lost
A.L. Mabry
t’s easy enough to say that horror is
dark fiction. That’s obvious, but also
dismissive. It misses the nuances that make
dark fiction so special. Dark fiction occurs in
most genres, in one form or another, the same
way shadows pool behind every house and
If not just horror, what is dark fiction?
In a lot of ways, dark fiction is one of those
things that you only know when you read it.
But there’s a general way I can describe it: the
dark twist of fate on an otherwise sunny day.
Or a longer way to describe it: what happens
when the main character purposely takes the
path that all signs indicate they should avoid.
What does it look like outside
of horror?
The scenarios that make up dark fiction are as
diverse as the genres it touches. Here are some
examples I like:
Fantasy: my sword and sorcery novella
The Taming, Neil Gaiman’s urban fantasy
Science fiction: Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A
Space Odyssey, Dean Koontz’s Watchers
(although some put this novel in suspense,
I call it sci-fi)
Suspense: Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game
and Stand By Me
Lure of Dark Fiction (cont.)
What is the lure of dark fiction
for me?
Have you ever had a nightmare in the last few
minutes of sleep before the alarm wakes you
up? That alarm can be a bastard sometimes. I
hate when it cuts off the end. Even if I dreamt
I fell off the top of a skyscraper, I want to
know how the fall ends.
Writing dark fiction gets me back to that
place, in the moments before the alarm goes
off. I get to fill in the blanks.
I started reading and writing dark fiction long
before I knew what it was. For reasons I can’t
fully explain, writing a happy tale doesn’t get
my blood flowing like writing a good dark
tale. Every creative writing assignment I had
in high school and college ended in a dark tale.
I want to explore that place where the
sunlight meets dark shadows. Sometimes
there’s a twisted monster in the shadows,
like in Into the Darkness, but just as often the
monster has a human face.
I tell people that I watch horror movies,
because they make me realize my day is
going much better than the main character’s.
Writing dark fiction is similar, but it gets me
deeper than what I experience in a theater.
I get to see the scene from both sides, the
protagonist and antagonist, much like
the omniscient perspective of a dream or
It allows me to step into the main character’s
bad day and walk them through it, exploring
it from all angles. Sometimes the ending is a
happy one, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m fine
with it, either way. Just show me to the end.
A.M. Rycroft is a dark fantasy and horror writer, and blogger. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, and holds a B.A. in English
from the University of Pittsburgh.
She has been writing since a young age, and though she attended art school for a time, she found her way back to writing again
after art school. Her first dark fantasy/horror novel Into the Darkness was written while she attended the University of
Pittsburgh. Her writing has been compared to the works of David Eddings and Stephen King.
When she is not writing, Rycroft is a writing coach and a periodic cartoonist. She enjoys keeping fit with weight training
and walks through her local parks. During the summer, A.M. is frequently seen riding the roller coasters at the Kennywood
amusement park.
We will dance in Moon’s dim glow;
In shadows we are nely dressed.
Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.
The call is out; our crowds will grow.
This is the night when none will rest.
We will dance in Moon’s dim glow.
On blackened wings a battle crow
Alights atop his heaving chest;
Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.
Among the cheers his heartbeats slow.
Jeering laughs at his behest;
We will dance in Moons dim glow.
A crimson stain in pure white snow;
We will send him with the rest.
Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.
Across the land the hunt will ow.
In wholesale death we are refreshed.
We will dance in Moon’s dim glow;
Blood runs free when Dark winds blow.
In celebration of the season, we decided to play a little game with our writers. Stephanie and A.L. provided an
introduction and invited anyone who wanted to play to choose a character and an object to write a dark story
about. The stories to follow will take you on a strange journey through the dark side, revealing just how different
and fascinating storytellers can be.
ethany smiled at the elderly lady who only
scowled in response. The bright lights from
the field made it hard to see the rest of the class as
they watched.
“Here we go!” She dipped the ceremonial spade into
the ground. Pose and smile. With her front page
photo out of the way, she stepped back and let the
custodian nish the digging.
“Do ya want me to pull it out?” The janitor pushed his mop
of blonde curls out of his eyes and reached for the wood box.
“No! Etta and I will get it. It will make a great photo.”
She smiled at the elderly lady again and gestured her
to come closer.
They reached into the hole together and pulled the
heavy box up, resting it on the edge of the hole.
“Smile,” Bethany whispered as Etta went limp
beside her.
“Miss Etta? Are you okay?” Bethany released her grip
on the box to support her, and it toppled over, its
contents spilling in the grass.
“I’m ne, child. Let’s nish this so I can go home and rest.”
Snare drums boomed from the opposite end of the
eld. The cheerleaders raised their pom poms and
cartwheeled out of the tunnel with the marching band
right behind them. Most of the class turned to the
distraction and edged away to watch the show.
“It all looks kinda creepy,” Sara, Bethany’s drill team
co-captain, whispered as she picked up an old yellowed
dress, a relic of another homecoming long ago.
The quarterback lifted the jersey. “Dude, this was my
dad’s jersey!”
Bethany grabbed the wired rhinestone choker.
“My mom wore one just like this in her
homecoming picture.”
Devin followed a ash of light and scooped up a class
ring. He slid it on his nger, amazed it t.
Grace found an envelope lled with pictures. “Look!
It’s my uncle and a young Mrs. Hamilton! We should
put these up in the gym for tomorrow.”
Asher retrieved the necktie. It’s blue and black stripes
made an uncanny match to his tuxedo.
Booker picked up a piece of paper and studied it.
“Why would anyone put a oorplan of our school in
a time capsule?” He started to wad it up, but stopped.
“Oh. I wonder what’s behind this X?” He passed the
paper to Amber, who set it on top of the Harry Potter
book she’d chosen from the pile.
“Only one way to nd out. You’ll have to follow the
map. This doesn’t look like our school though. You
might have to ask Mr. Wilkins about it. He’s been
here forever.” She offered the oor plan back to
Booker and waved her book in front of him. “Look, I
nally have the only book I’m missing from the series!”
“What’s this?” Emily held up a small, thin box
with buttons that said “Play,” “Volume,” and had
directional buttons on it. She pressed the small power
button and weak music ltered out. She held it up
to her ear. “Eww. This is the stuff my parents listen
to.” She started to drop it back in the pile, but Eddie
stopped her.
“It’s an mp3 player. It’s the original iPod. You can
change the tunes to anything you want. Your parents
might get a kick out of it anyway. I’m pretty sure my
dad will enjoy this old Car & Driver magazine.” He
ipped carefully through it before tucking it under his
arm. “I’m taking it home.”
Just as soon as all the items had been claimed, Etta
crumpled to the ground. Bethany rushed to her side.
“Miss Etta!” She patted the woman’s face tenderly,
then cradled her head in her lap. “Miss Etta?
What’s wrong?”
“Someone call 911!” Emily knelt down with Bethany
and Miss Etta.
“Hey, what about all this stuff?” Eddie looked the
magazine over again.
“Seriously, Eddie? Just hold on to the stupid stuff,
we’ll gure it out later.”
Sirens sounded in the distance and the
students backed up, tainted treasures gripped
in nervous hands.
s Bethany looked towards the sound of the
approaching help, the older woman’s once limp
body began to sluggishly move as if she was waking
from sleep.
“Stay still, Miss Etta, help is almost here.” Bethany
lowered her view upon the cradled face in her lap.
The woman’s lips slowly began to move, as if she was
simply breathing, but soon the soft sounds coming
from her mouth turned into words.
“D-Don’t… tell me… what to do.” Etta’s voice grew
stronger as she spoke. Opening her eyes, only a
silhouette of the two girls appeared due to the
stadium’s bright lights being cast upon the group.
Using her elbows to steady herself, Etta waited a
brief moment before attempting to sit up on her own.
Bethany moved to help Etta sit upright.
“You sound just like an old person.” Bethany muttered
in a near inaudible tone, looking to Emily for some
support in her argument.
“And you, my dear, sound just like that whore you call
a mother!” Etta laughed a bit, lifting her hand to hold
off any objections.
Emily caught Bethany’s moving arm before she could
slap the woman’s face. Narrowed eyes and pinched
lips expressed the pure hatred Bethany felt at having
to hear yet again the town’s rumors of her mother
stealing Etta’s boyfriend the day they placed the
capsule in the ground.
An Emergency Medical Technician dropped his
heavy duffle bag at Etta’s feet, interrupting the heated
moment. “How are you feeling today ma’am?” He
firmly but gently grabbed Etta’s wrist to check for a
pulse, but his eyebrows rose in confusion before Etta
yanked her hand away and got to her feet with an
unexpected ease.
“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Etta put some distance between
herself and the medic. “I feel more alive than I have
in years.”
The crowd cheered loudly as if a once unconscious
football player had stood to his feet during a game;
their voices and foot stomps in the stands covered the
foul language that spewed from Bethany’s mouth. The
band played the school’s fight song in celebration.
As the girls and the medic stood up, Emily gave
Bethany an evil glare. “You should learn to control
yourself better, Bethany.”
“If you knew how tired I am of hearing about how my
mother stole my father from that wretched woman all
of those years ago you would understand!” Bethany
growled as her eyes followed Etta’s form.
Etta halted as she stood on the image of a fully
armored knight, the school’s mascot, in the center of
the football field. Lowering her head slightly, standing
only a few feet away from the unearthed capsule, Etta
spoke in a low tone.
“What is she doing?” Bethany and Emily walked
towards Etta curiously, noticing Etta held something
between her hands.
Etta extended an arm. “I believe you dropped this,
child.” The blue rhinestone choker gleamed and
shimmered in her wrinkled hand.
“Tell your mother I said hello.” Etta said, a soft smile
appearing on her face before she turned and walked
away from the group.
“Thank… you?” Bethany said, her forehead wrinkled
in thought as she watched Etta move away. Tucking
the necklace in her jacket pocket, Bethany and Emily
shrugged at each other in mutual understanding that
neither could guess what was behind the old woman’s
sudden mood swings. Meanwhile, Etta disappeared
into the stadium shadows.
As the event finished, the small group of friends
that had gathered up items from the time capsule
decided to meet up at the local diner as the evening
wound down.