The Witches of Wildwood: Cape May Horror Stories and Other Scary Tales from the Jersey Shore

The Witches of Wildwood: Cape May Horror Stories and Other Scary Tales from the Jersey Shore

by Mark Wesley Curran

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Overview

Werewolves... vampires... swamp beasts... zombies... even a Jersey Devil... all of these chilling creatures and more await you in this haunting collection of 11 contemporary horror fiction stories by Mark Wesley Curran. Uniquely set 'down the shore' in South Jersey's Cape May County, these scary tales are sure to terrify and entertain both adult readers as well as young adults.

The spooky offerings include:

- An abrasive radio talk show host is stalked by an angry werewolf in 'Werewolves of Dennis'

- A Fun Pier boardwalk worker falls under the spell of a strange attic dwelling girl in 'The Girl In The Attic'

- An ancient sailing ship filled with bloodthirsty zombies crashes into the Jersey Shore in 'Night of the Wildwood Dead'

The cornerstone of the collection is 'The Witches of Wildwood,' the harrowing and suspenseful tale of a witch-hunting preacher hell-bent on killing four teenage sisters determined to destroy the world from their Wildwood boarding house.

This collection contains:

The Girl In The Attic - Dante's Inferno At Castle Dracula - Neptune's Revenge - Night of the Wildwood Dead - Captain Harvey's Wildwood Seafood Palace - Showdown In Anglesea - The Fortune Teller Machine - Jersey Devil - Werewolves of Dennis - Swamp Beast of Grassy Sound - The Witches of Wildwood [novella].

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About the Author

Mark Wesley Curran is a writer of contemporary fiction, specializing in the horror and suspense genre. Born and raised in Suburban Philadelphia, he spent many summers living and working in Wildwood, New Jersey during its heyday. He now resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys creative pursuits as a writer, filmmaker and musician.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936828494
Publisher: West Coast Performing Arts Presenters
Publication date: 03/04/2017
Pages: 318
Sales rank: 276,634
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Girl In The Attic

"I don't ask no questions," Gracie hissed through what believed was emphysema, "I got two rules. Pay the rent on time and no drugs," she'd say in her thick Jersey accent. "Other than that, I don't give a shit."

Gracie always talks like that, but deep down, she's really a den mother. She's my landlady at the Ocean View, a boarding house where I stay when I work summers in Wildwood, New Jersey.

The Ocean View is a crumbling Victorian just off Surf Avenue, two blocks from the beach. It's a three story job with an exterior stairwell on the right side of it that leads up to each floor. A rusty sign hangs out front in peeling faded letters that says Ocean View Apartments, but there's no ocean view and the apartments are old and decrepit, kinda like Old Gracie.

All that stuff is just incidental, though compared to the thing that freaks me out the most, and that concerns the girl living in the attic and why I killed her. I'll get to that in a minute, once I set the scene for you, because it's important.

Now, Gracie feels like all her renters are her kids. I imagine She was probably a hell-raiser and a pretty hot piece of tail when she was younger. Now she's on the backside of sixty and looking pretty beat. Too much time in the sun, too many cigarettes and too much hard living can put the mileage on you. When you are in your late teens, like me, you don't give much thought about age until it creeps up on you and hits you square in the face.

Old Grade owns the place and runs it during the season. She's by herself because her two daughters have lives of their own and don't bother with her anymore. Sometimes I go down to the kitchen on the first floor where Gracie's apartment is and pay my rent. She never stops talking.

That's how I first learned about the girl in the attic.

*
"When my Earl died, he left me this dump to run," Old Gracie rasped, "and it's been killing me ever since." A lot of times when she'd finish a sentence she'd go into a coughing fit before lighting up another Virginia Slim. "I'm gonna sell it next year," she'd say, and start coughing up phlegm.

She always says that kinda stuff about selling the boarding house but I don't think she'll sell it, even though the building's seen better days. It's a firetrap long past code. It was built back in the thirties but looks like something out of the last century. It's got thirty units, ten per floor. Each room has a sink, a bed, a dresser, a small stove and a tiny refrigerator from the fifties that always needs defrosting.

Teens come down the shore for the summer and get jobs on the boardwalk or in one of the many restaurants and bars around town. Vacationing families also rent rooms and stay for a week, since it's only a few blocks from the beach. The shower stalls are out back, though, which is kind of a drag, but you get used to it.

Before I get any further into my story, I guess introductions are in order. My name's Cody Myers, and I live in room 301. My unit is the first door on the left on the third floor. Most days I work a game booth on the boardwalk, two blocks up.

Some nights I lie awake and can hear the clatter of the roller coaster on Fun Pier off in the distance through the heavy window that opens out on Roberts Avenue, through the rusted screens facing the Atlantic.

When I'm not working I lie in bed a lot and think about stuff. My mother tells me my imagination is way too active and I think up things are happening that aren't true. She tells me I should write fiction stories because if I keep the stories in my head I'll go nuts.

Anyway, let me tell you about the creepy girl in the attic.

Her name's Victoria. She's blonde and very young, maybe sixteen, tops, and sexy in a tom-boy sort of way. She dresses weird and wears her hair spiked out, a real Gothic kinda look. You know, one of those heavy metal chicks into AC/DC and Sabbath. She wears a lot of heavy purple eye shadow, loads of mascara and has a pierced nose with pea-sized stud in it. She probably has tattoos and piercings in places only her lovers know about.

I'd been thinking a lot lately about where those tattoos and piercings might be and what they might look like.

According to Old Gracie, Victoria only came out at night and slept during the day. A nocturnal creature, yes, which added greatly to her mystique. Gracie says she's an artist or photographer of some kind. Other than that, Victoria is pretty much a mystery.

The first time I spotted her was a weeknight, maybe two in the morning. I'd left my room gone down the hall to take a whizz. In the boarding houses, everyone on the floor shares a communal john, which is a toilet installed in a space the size of a closet. While I was in the john I heard her footsteps coming down the creaky stairs that led to the aide. By the time I'd flushed and stepped out into the hallway I could see the back of her.

She was short in stature, with long straight blond hair down to her ample waist, sexy ass, studded spike wristbands and an intoxicating perfume that reminded me of dead roses and whiskey.

It was a heady fragrance both forbidden yet incredibly sexy, like maybe there was pheromones or something in it.

She wore tight jeans that hugged her body like a latex glove, and a black midriff tee that had a MEGADEATH logo in white with a lightning bolt over it. She always carried a camera, a small metal job that clung tightly to her body at the end of a thin black leather strap. It was one of those German jobs that cost a fortune, the kind the street photographers use. She walked fast and was out the screen door at the end of the hallway so quickly I'd barely gotten a glimpse. I was intrigued.

*
"She's a whack job," Vince said between bong hits, his face lit up in the dim room as he torched the bowl with his Bic.

"She don't work no job, I seen her out on the boardwalk at night, taking pictures. She develops them up there in the attic, I saw her carrying trays and chemicals up the stairs. I've never been up there," he said, looking at the ceiling almost as an afterthought, inhaling, holding it, his face going red. "I'm gonna try to get into her panties," he said, and burst out coughing and laughing, the smoke shooting out of his mouth and nostrils.

That's my buddy Vince and he lives next door, in the room next to mine. He's a stoner and an okay guitarist. He I get high together a lot. I go over to his place and we shoot the shit, smoke some bowls, and sometimes we do shrooms. Vince is no movie star in the looks department, with that horsey face and all, but somehow he does pretty good with the girls. I think it's because he's a good talker.

He's always talking about philosophers I never heard of but one he always talks about is a guy named Spinoza. Vinnie's whole philosophy on girls is to divide and conquer at all costs, and he's pretty ruthless. He'll tell a girl anything to have sex with her, and by the sounds of things over there at night, the method seems to be working pretty well for him.

I'm always hearing him over there yakking away with different girls, and when the yakking stops, it's usually followed by a short length of silence and then I'm hearing all kinds of moans and screams from whatever girl he's got over there.

He picks them up off the boardwalk and on the beach, but he does pretty well in the clubs, too.

"I don't know, man," I told him, "you really want to get involved with a girl who has a wingnut loose?" Much to my own surprise, I found myself trying to discourage him.

"Who's talking about involved, Tonto?" he grinned slyly, "I'm talking and krumpets not marriage."

I must admit, I'd been watching her come and go and had been fantasizing about her a lot, and I wanted her to myself. At least I have my fantasy, and the thought of Vince banging her made me jealous.

He seemed to sense it and was amused. Guys like Vince see chicks as a game, and he figured he could compete with any guy for the poon.

"Babes are like postage stamps," Vince would say. "Lick 'em and stick 'em and send them the hell out the door." He lit the bowl again for another try at what tasted like some wicked Columbian gold. I'd even seen him score with girls that had long time serious boyfriends - sometimes with the boyfriend sleeping a few rooms away. Vince had no shame when it came to game.

I could never understand how he did it, or what psychology came into play, but I have to admit I was envious. I wanted what he had that could get girls like that. My problem was I was too nice of a guy, and I think girls sensed that. They always seemed to go for the kinds of guys that were dangerous, or tough, or a challenge. I myself was no slouch in the looks department, I didn't think, and I'd occasionally get lucky, but it was much too rare for my liking.

"I know you have your eye on her, cux. If I score I'll see if she'll be open to giving you a mercy fuck" he laughed.

"Fuck you!" I laughed back at him as I lit the bowl, but deep inside I was bugged.

*
I was coming back from the Fluff and Fold, a laundromat on Pacific one night around 1 am. I'd climbed the rickety stairs up the front face of the Ocean View with my pillowcase filled with semi wet clothes and took a deep breath of the salty moist air coming in off the ocean. I had my key in my door and was just turning it when I sensed her standing there next to me.

It was creepy, because she seemed to appear out of thin air, and she scared the shit out of me.

She had cold eyes. There was something sad about her. But pretty, her skin so smooth, young and vibrant. She had a killer body for a girl so short. She lifted her camera and clicked so swiftly it caught me unaware. She shot from the hip, never even focusing. I didn't even hear the shutter click. She laughed a kind of playful, almost kitten-like chuckle, turned with a little high-toe pivot on her black Keds then bounded down the hall toward the john.

"Hey," I managed to stammer, "Aren't you the girl that lives upstairs? What's your name?"

I felt like a schoolboy. She stopped but waited a few seconds too long to turn around. It was odd. It was like she was debating even answering.

"The name's Victoria," she said, finally, then turned and continued on down the hall. She turned and looked back at me before she bounded up the stairs to the attic. "I'll see you around," she said, only the slightest smile on the corner of her lips. Those luscious ruby-red lips.

Then she was gone, disappearing up the stairs into the attic.

I went inside my room, dropped the sack of clothes next to my bed and cracked a Molson's Light. I sat in silence.

I spent the rest of the night fantasizing about what it would be like to make love to her.

*
Most days working the booth were hot and boring. Families weren't coming down the shore as much in recent years, preferring to stay home and watch cable TV in air-conditioned comfort. If they didn't stay home, I was hearing that a lot of folks were taking their vacations in more exotic locales like Hawaii, or opting for Florida.

I ran the bottle game. Let me tell you about that. There's these flat wooden paddles cut to look like bottles. They're lined up in neat rows at the back of the booth on a shelf. You get three balls for buck. Knock one of those bottles down you get a prize. Sounds easy; yes? Well, it isn't. That's the whole idea. It took me a good six solid hours of practice with Pops to learn how to knock those bottles down and make it look like a walk in the park.

It works like this. A punk comes along with his squeeze in tow. He's feeling cocky and wants to impress his girl. I draw 'em in with my bark, lay out the shtick, and pull a dirty baseball out of my apron pocket. In one toss I knock a bottle down like it's the easiest thing in the world. Here, you try it. The punk takes the ball and I take his buck and now he's on the hook.

Most guys miss all three tries. I do it again in one toss. Here, try again, buddy, you're just gettin' warmed up. Rinse and repeat the routine until he runs out of pride or money, or both. On average a guy' will spend nine bucks and maybe he gets lucky once and takes away a stuffed animal that costs maybe a buck. That's da biz, as Pops would say; like taking candy from a baby.

There wasn't much action at the boardwalk booth. I'd get a few stray couples here and there and I'd lure them over with my shtick bark

'I set em up - you knock em down - walk away with the big prize easiest game in town. '

'Three balls for a buck - step up and try jour luck,'

These I'd shout these these phrases in a hypnotic tone anytime I had potential customers within earshot. They were taught to me by Pop Turner, the owner. He'd been in the carny biz since he was a kid and he was pushing seventy now.

"Patience lad, don't jump too fast - reel 'em in - let 'em come to you. It's like fishing," he'd say, and he was an old pro at it.

If he worked the booth he'd reel in twice, maybe three times the people I could on any given hour, day or night. "Don't try to read the rubes," he'd say. "Don't vary your pitch," he'd rasp, "most of the time what your head tells you ain't true. Go with your gut."

I'd learned a lot from Pop Turner. Back in the day he'd been a hell-raiser, and some days he'd regale us with stories of his days on the road with one of the many carny shows that used to criss-cross the country.

He'd had his share of wine, women and song, he'd said, but now he seemed content enough just running his booth during the summers and spending his winters in Florida. He'd sure never lost his edge when it came to money. One hot afternoon when the boards were slow, he stopped by to check the till and drop off a few boxes of prizes.

"Hey Pops, I need some advice about a girl."

"Whattaya wanna know kid."

"There's this blonde, lives in the attic of my building where I stay. I'm hooked on her and want her but I'm too shy to ask her out."

He laughed that knowing chuckle of his, and his eyes narrowed in a way that suggested hard-fought wisdom. He also seemed pleased I was trusting him for advice.

"You gotta set up a mystery 'bout yourself," he barked in that Brooklyn accent. "Play hard to get. Show some interest then pull back."

"What if that doesn't work?"

"Then she's a naw-suss-sist, in that case, fuhget about it. There's a lot of fish in the sea. Don't get hooked on one fish, specially not a shellfish." That's Pop's slang for a selfish chick, he called them shellfish, which I guess sorta fits. I think he saw I was tense. He smiled as much as Pop Turner could manage a smile, which wasn't much, but it was there. He patted me on the back like a Dad.

"Don't spin, kid, your head will take you places you don't wanna go."

With that, he was gone, down the boardwalk ramp, waddling like a duck, carrying the old canvas till bag that had 'Cape May Savings and Loan' printed on it in faded letters. The bag was empty.

That night in my room I couldn't sleep. All I could think about was Victoria. She was probably up there right now, I thought, sitting alone. Was she fantasizing about me? Was she boinking some guy she'd met at a club? Or was that weasel Vince up there right now banging her brains out? Funny how girls and their behavior can drive a man crazy. They just never acted in a manner that was consistent, was how I looked at it. Had it been that way since caveman times?

I twisted and turned in that dank, rooming house bed. The dripping from the faucet in the corner sink became louder with each passing minute. I stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling, watching the shadow of the old ceiling fan spinning in the darkness. I hadn't been sleeping well for what seemed like weeks.

I had to get up, move around.

Against Pop Turner's advice, I decided to go up to her lair and see for myself.

If she was there, I'd invite her to get high, I reasoned. I'd make conversation with her. Yes. She'd be open to that, wouldn't she? My heart was thumping in my chest, blood pounding in my ears just laying there thinking about it.

I arose in a sweat, pulling on my best tattered jeans. I fished a clean tee out of my bag, the nice one with the Madonna photo just starting to fade. It looked hip but lived in. I ran a brush through my hair, pulled on my sneaks and steeled my nerves.

It was time to find out what made Victoria tick.

*
I opened my door slowly, sticking my head out into the hallway. It was quiet, like something waiting. The corridor seemed longer now, dimly lit, an old bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling near the end. There were old Victorian glass lighting fixtures every ten feet lining the gray walls, like flower vases in a crypt. They hadn't worked since electricity became the norm. Now that hallway looked like a place I didn't want to be at night. It gave me the creeps.

I checked my flashlight, a small penlight job I'd won playing skeet-ball at the Fun Pier Arcade.

Check.

I stepped quietly out into the hallway. I don't know why I was being so stealthy, maybe I didn't want to wake the dead, but it felt right. I looked at my watch. Three thirty four. I pulled the door gently shut, the click of the latch echoing down the dimly lit hallway. It reminded me of one of those New York tenement hallways you see in movies where the drug addicts live.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Witches of Wildwood"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Mark Wesley Curran.
Excerpted by permission of NMD Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Girl In The Attic

Dante's Inferno At Castle Dracula

Neptune's Revenge

Night of the Wildwood Dead

Captain Harvey's Wildwood Seafood Palace

Showdown In Anglesea

The Fortune Teller Machine

Jersey Devil

Werewolves of Dennis

Swamp Beast of Grassy Sound

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The Witches of Wildwood

a novella

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