Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Halloween-o-philes & spooky story aficionados — HARLAN COUNTY HORRORS IS AVAILABLE FOR ONLY $9.57 TODAY ONLY.
That’s what, the price of two Starbucks Frappuccinos? If you already have your copy, now’s the time to get one for that destitute book-loving friend you have that’s been hit hard by this economy. (Nowadays, we all have at least one of those…)
You might remember Harlan as the location of the TV series Justified. Who knew this little-known burg would get airtime on the small screen? Every time I see the show, it’s like a commercial for this book.
My contribution to this cool little anthology is a ghost story with fey undertones called “The Witch of Black Mountain.” I had a really great time doing research for this one — my thanks to Wikipedia and the surrounding national forest websites for providing the backdrop for this story. I wanted to stand in Ennica Jamison’s footsteps. I wanted to walk up that mountain with her and see what she saw. I researched exactly how long that walk would be, what the terrain looked like, the elevation, and what exactly she would find at the top. When I discovered what marked the pinnacle was an abandoned metal lookout tower, the story just told itself to me in my head.
The best review I received for this story was not in print, but came from a friend of mine whose father-in-law lived in Harlan. He said that when he read the story, he felt like he was there on the mountain with Ennica, too. Mission accomplished!!
Excerpt from “The Witch of Black Mountain”:
Letting Anthony Gentry get her pregnant was the stupidest thing Ennica Jamison had ever done. Hiking to the summit of Black Mountain to see a witch was the second. It had been a warm November afternoon when she’d left her stolen horse on the path at the base of the mountain; now it was cold and dusk. She placed a foot on the first step of the abandoned lookout tower. She’d been walking for hours, slow but determined, sprinkling what sanity she had left behind her like breadcrumbs in the dirt. She grasped the rusted orange railing firmly with a gloved hand. One last thing left to climb. One last moment before she discovered just how stupid she really was.
She stomped her boots hard on the metal to make sure there was no ice; each step brought one more inescapable thought along with it. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw herself stabbing Anthony in the heart—the heart he didn’t have—so she tried not to close her eyes, but her mind still raced against her will. How he and that bitch Tanya must have laughed at her; how they must be laughing at her still. Her father would be mad that she’d taken the horse out overnight, but he’d be furious when he found out he was going to be a grandfather.