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SALEM, Mass. — Members of a local coven report that their group is in an awkward position now that one of the witches has joined a multi-level marketing business. Coven leader Beatrix Graves spoke out about the tension in the group, which began when Aurora Darkmore, one of the coven’s newest members, became a representative for an organization known as “Spell Secretz.”

“When Aurora first started talking about Spell Secretz, most of us just kind of ignored it,” Graves explained. “But she really started putting pressure on us to come to her parties and buy that overpriced junk. The last straw was when she invited us over for a Mabon celebration, but she didn’t even plan any rituals. She did give us wine, but I think she was just trying to get us drunk so we’d buy something.”

Manifesting disappointment

Coven member Athena Willow also expressed her dissatisfaction with Spell Secretz. “I felt bad for her, so I ordered a smudge stick from her catalog. It was super expensive, and I really think it was just some random weeds in a rubber band. I didn’t use it,” Ms. Willow explained. “Who knows what kind of energy that would bring into my house?”

Items other members have purchased from Ms. Darkmore include presumably fake crystals that attracted bad luck and essential oils that gave more than one member a severe rash. “I feel bad for Aurora, because I know she’s got money problems. She keeps talking about manifesting prosperity and abundance, but she really needs to manifest her way out of that scam.”

Some of the items members have purchased from the Spell Secretz catalog, which were allegedly low-quality and ineffective.

Coven leader Ms. Graves went on to say that the witches are considering expelling Ms. Darkmore if she doesn’t stop harassing members. “We’re going to have to block her on Facebook if she doesn’t stop inviting us to those weird live events she does. She keeps saying people are asking for them, but we know it’s not true.”

When approached for comment on this article, Ms. Darkmore responded with the following email: “Hey Hun!! It was amazing to hear from you. By the way, have you ever wanted to be your own boss, manifest prosperity, and meet tons of other awesome spellbabes? I’ve got a super exciting business opportunity for you! Let me know if you want to join my downline!”

Upon hearing about the email, Ms. Graves rolled her eyes. “Spellbabes? Ugh,” she said. “Also, I’m already my own boss. I’m a freaking witch.” As of press time, Ms. Darkmore has followed up her original message with five more emails, three texts, and a Facebook friend request.

Kristin Cleaves writes horror and dark fiction. Her work has been published by Quill and Crow Publishing House, Ghost Orchid Press, Black Telephone Magazine, and more.

Lighter than Dark

LTD Happy New Year Baby!

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In keeping with the tradition of celebrating the first New Year Baby, the firstborn of the year, we are excited to announce the birth of Baybee Draconia Werewoof. Draconia was birthed at precisely midnight January 1, 2023 during a demonic ritual. We are still uncertain whether or not her mother survived the event. But, like any demonspawn, Draconia is already well on her way to ruling the world with an iron-clawed fist.

Baybee Draconia Feywild Werewoof in her celebratory faerie frolicking unicorns in the woods ensemble
New Year Baby Baybee Draconia Werewoof in her celebratory faerie frolicking unicorns in the woods ensemble

New Year Baby Draconia opened her eyes immediately and ripped apart the fancy 2023 sash she was christened with upon her arrival. She was already walking, teething, and mauling her nursery mates about an hour after her birth. After setting off two minor explosions and a small fire, she is starting to show a propensity for the Dark Magicks. Her experiences are limited so her mind control and delusional tendencies are still fledgling, but are sure to really take off as she takes in more of the world.

New Year Baby Baybee Draconia Feywild Werewoof beginning to show telepahtic connectivity
New Year Baby Baybee Draconia Werewoof beginning to show telepathic connectivity

New Year Baby Draconia is expected to start schooling this year within her cultist circle. As her skills and following develop, she will begin to pave the way for the Spawn of Satan, Harbinger of the Apocolypse, so Draconia is the New Year Baby to keep an eye on.

New Year Baby Baybee Draconia Feywild Werewoof readying to pounce and rip the photographer’s face off
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD: The Horrors of Jell-O

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Jell-O is horrifying, and not just because of all that has been revealed about its longtime spokesperson Bill Cosby. In its dark past, it has called forth Eldritch horrors beyond human comprehension from the depths of the furthest points of the universe.

But Jell-O itself is harmless you say, besides which it is yummy. And it’s fun to make glowing Jell-O shots and zombie brains & other body parts with my silicone Halloween molds. Just think about all of The Joys of Jell-O, you assert. As both a horror fan and culinary inclusionist, I can tell you’re not convinced…

Some seemingly safe Jell-O variants involving fruit, though the pie crust and pink fruit basket mold simply must come into question from a culinary appeal standpoint.
Some seemingly safe Jell-O variants involving fruit, though the pie crust and pink fruit basket mold simply must come into question from a culinary appeal standpoint.

Now I’m not talking about the fruit salad Jell-O concoctions that have graced every Midwest potluck for nearly a century. No, I’m referring to the 1940s Jell-O terrors involving shredded vegetables, pureed hot dogs, fish, shrimp, and other substances that many of us dare not speak of today, for fear we may slowly lose our sanity by simply mentioning them.

Some more iffy Jell-O salads involving thinly sliced and pureed vegetables and other substances.

Still don’t believe me? Well, let’s check out some of the most incriminating evidence, shall we?

Some seafood and hot dog based Jell-O concoctions, designed to draw Cthulu & other dark Eldritch horrors to our world.
Some seafood and hot dog based Jell-O concoctions, designed to draw Cthulu & other dark Eldritch horrors to our world.

What in all of Hell’s half acre are these monstrocities? They look like something straight out of Hades concessions? Why would anyone in their right mind do that to perfectly good seafood? And what’s with the hot dog cultists, or worse yet – pureed hot dogs? Remember – if the dog won’t eat it, maybe it actually isn’t food. And the cat is repelled as if she saw a ghost, then perhaps she really did…

To call forth a demigod or other deity of any sort, one does best to craft something in its image, and these culinary masterpieces did exactly that. Imagine all of the Lovecraftian horrors they sought to unleash upon the unsuspecting world. What Eldritch terrors are drawn to the smell and taste of aspic? We must do everything in our power to thwart this great evil.

My copper fish mold collection, as shown hanging on my outside covered porch.
My copper fish mold collection, as shown hanging on my outside covered porch.

In response, I have chosen to collect copper fish molds. These kitchen adornments’ sole function was to craft these horrific things, that is their nefarious purpose. No one makes fruit salad Jell-O in the shape of a dead salmon, now do they? Of course not! Give it some thought, and join me in being a part of the solution.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD: UFOs Among Us

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When your convoy of UFOs is intergalactic freewheeling from star system to star system to check out the local scene and get jiggy with the cows, you have to know how to stash your ride. Here are two solid options.

UFOs disguised as an apartment complex, with its residents driving around in human cars and acting more or less normal
UFOs disguised as an apartment complex, with its residents driving around in human cars and acting more or less normal

Option 1.) Get enough of a feel for the local architecture to blend your UFOs in. That shiny metal can you’ve been riding around is is going to stick out like a sore tentacle in the middle of any corn field. Sometimes this is a good thing for recruiting cultists, but more often than not it attracts unwanted attention from those men-in-black local government agencies. So, maybe find someplace with lots of shiny buildings to park it, or camouflage it in some way using common local materials. I’ve included some images from a local apartment complex in rural United States so you get the idea.

Another view of the more inconspicuous UFOs disguised as apartments, note the large garage door disguising the airlock
Another view of the more inconspicuous UFOs disguised as apartments, note the large garage door disguising the airlock

2.) If you can’t blend in, make your ship a total destination unto itself, like the Space Needle in the United States or the Sydney Opera House in Australia or even the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. We all know these iconic spacecraft that have been assimilated and celebrated in the local scene, and examples of this are countless when you know what you are looking for. Even Stonehenge of the United Kingdom has its history in this, though that craft departed a long time ago leaving only the framework upon which it sat. Because why not generate a little tourism revenue while you’re here? We’ve all been doing this for millennia, and it works…

More details of the UFOs apartments from the far side
More details of the UFOs apartments from the far side

The better option for you really comes down to why you’re here and whether you need to lay low. If you’re trying to hide from the Space Coppers pigs, always go with Option 1. If you have been sent by Starfleet to gather followers, it kind of depends on what sort of following you are supposed to be gathering. The more prestigious, the better off you will be with Option 2 but you may have to build up to it. Remember you can always start small and grow your influence; make it look like the locals had some impact in architectural development and the like.

And always remember to wash your hands, tentacles, probiscuses, and any other appendages after ANY interaction with the locals; no one takes kindly to space germs...
And always remember to wash your hands, tentacles, probiscuses, and any other appendages after ANY interaction with the locals; no one takes kindly to space germs…
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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