Find out how Stephen Osborne’s Raven’s Rest characters connect Harry Potter to a ghost #giveaway #CMCon17 #FlashFiction
Please help me Stephen Osborne, author of the chilling gay romance Raven’s Rest!
When I saw the sort of stories Stephen writes, I knew I wanted to feature him on GT. Not only do I LOVE male/male romances, that extra spooky ghost element can really push the story’s intensity over the top! In the tradition of my Coastal Magic 2017 Featured Authors, my challenge to Stephen was to write a piece of flash fiction that satisfied as many of the following requirements as possible…
- Length: 500-800 words
- Setting: At the beach in hurricane (or pre-storm) weather
- Tone: Chilling, uneasy, spooky, and/or suspenseful
- Characters: Include at least one character from Raven’s Rest
- Direction: The character(s) are frantically searching for something
- Item to include: a Montblanc pen–model Diva Princesse Grace de Monaco Rollerball (see image below)–inscribed with the following message: To SO: Expelliarmus!
- Photo for additional inspiration:
Into the Maelstrom
A short story by Stephen Osborne
“They’ve got to be here somewhere!” Trey was searching the couch, yanking off the cushions and tossing them aside. “Sunglasses don’t just disappear!”
I was at the dining table, going through our beach bag for the umpteenth time, a feeling of despair filling my heart. When Trey and I had agreed to spend a week down in Florida, where our friend Jessenia had a timeshare in a condo, I had ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses. Money was tight, and we really couldn’t afford the trip in the first place, so the glasses had been a needless—but, I’d felt, a justifiable—expense. Now I wanted to crawl into a hole and kick myself, because I knew where they were.
I’d left them out on the beach.
I looked at the window, which was rattling from the wind. The storm had hit earlier than expected, and it didn’t look pretty outside. It was early evening, but the sky was black, and the rain was pelting down with a vengeance. Normally you could see the ocean from our perch on the twelfth floor, but visibility was down to a mere few feet now.
I had a vision of my glasses, washing out to sea, never to be seen again.
Oh, well. Bologna sandwiches for the next month or so.
“It’s no good, Trey,” I said, setting the beach bag down. “Face facts. I left them outside.”
Trey dropped the sofa cushion he was holding to come over and put his arm around me. He kissed my earlobe. “Don’t beat yourself up over it.”
“I just can’t believe I was stupid enough to—what’s this?” I picked up a pen that was sitting on the table.
“Looks like a pen.”
“It’s not just any pen. This is expensive. And it wasn’t here a moment ago.”
I grabbed my tablet. For the moment, we still had Internet. I did a quick search. “This is a $800 pen. The Diva Princesse Grace de Monaco Rollerball.”
“That’s a mouthful.” Trey was leaning against me now.
“And it’s inscribed. To SO—Expelliarmus!”
“Someone must have left it here, Michael.”
“No. We’d have seen it. It just…appeared.”
Trey didn’t seem to be listening to me. Instead, he was cocking he head toward the bedroom. “Did you hear that?”
“I don’t hear anyth—” But then I did. It sounded like a woman crying.
We looked at each other and then padded softly to the bedroom door. Trey, being braver, peeked inside. The crying stopped immediately.
Pale, Trey turned to me. “There’s no one in there.”
Outside, the wind was howling. I couldn’t believe I still had a phone signal, but somehow I got through to Jesenia. I told her about the pen.
“Let me see,” Jesenia said. “SO. Of course! The Oswalts. They’re in on the timeshare as well. But SO? Hmmm. Give me a moment.”
I was pacing, and wasn’t sure we’d have a minute. The storm was gathering strength, and already the lights had flickered several times. Any moment, I was sure, we’d lose phone service, electricity, and pretty much everything else.
“Stephanie!” Jesenia nearly screamed the name in my ear. “That’s who the pen must have belonged to. But, my goodness, you died a few years ago. Young girl, must have been around seventeen or so. Wanted to be a writer. Big Harry Potter fan, thus the inscription. Let me consult the cards. They help me focus my energies.”
“I’m not sure we have time,” I said, glancing out at the storm.
Jesenia, though, began to hum, and I knew she was dealing out her tarot cards as I spoke. Every now and then she’d mutter, more to herself than to me. “Oh, yes. Oh, I see. Yes.”
“Are you getting—”
“She died, poor thing, I remember now, in a boating accident. A sudden storm came up and she capsized. Right out in front of the condo. Fell out, hit her head, and drowned. She loved that pen. She misses it.”
“Well, what are we supposed to do about it?”
The phone went dead. Less than a minute later, the electric power went out. Trey and I lit candles and huddled on the couch, listening to the wind.
And the sound of a young woman crying.
The next day, the sky was still gray, but the only storm clouds were off in the distance. The damage had been moderate, mostly due to flooded areas. Luckily there were no deaths.
Trey and I made our way downstairs late in the afternoon. The beach was deserted, as we figured it would be. I had the pen with me.
“You’re sure this is what she wants?” Trey asked me.
I smiled. “We’ll find out tonight if we’re kept awake by the crying.”
I looked out at the waves, still churning from the effects of the storm. “You’re not forgotten, Stephanie.”
And then I threw the pen as far as I could. It hit the water, although, to be honest, with all the mist it was hard to say where. I just hoped she appreciated the effort.
Trey sighed. “Want to go in now?” he asked. He started to turn, but stopped suddenly. “Hey,” he said.
He leaned down and picked up something by his feet. “I think these are yours.”
They were sand-encrusted, but definitely my shades. “Holy shit,” I said as I took them from him.
“What are the odds, huh?”
Looking out at the ocean, I said softly, “I’m not sure it was just a coincidence.”
More about Raven’s Rest
Michael Cook has left his abusive lover and settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Having nowhere else to go, he checks into the Raven’s Rest Inn and soon learns that the haunted reputation of the hotel is well deserved. Michael gets a job at a local café, where he meets Trey Ramsey. Though Michael has misgivings about starting up a new relationship, Trey seems to be the complete opposite of Michael’s controlling ex, so he decides to give Trey a chance.
Life at the Raven’s Rest becomes increasingly frightening when the ghost of Coleman Hollis appears in Michael’s room. Coleman seems to want something from Michael, and the mystery deepens when Michael discovers he’s the spitting image of Coleman’s lover from years ago. Together, Michael and Trey must discover why Coleman’s spirit is drawn to the Raven’s Rest—and to Michael.
About the author
Stephen Osborne lives in Northern Illinois with Christine, the diva border terrier mix, where he works at a food packaging plant, testing food. So basically he makes brownies for a living. His loves include Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, and Broadway musicals. A mystery fanatic, his favorite authors are Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, and the wonderful Agatha Christie. His goal: to be the Phantom of the Opera. Not play the part…he wants to find an opera house to haunt!
Stephen is giving away an autographed copy of any one of his backlist titles (reader’s choice) to one lucky reader on today’s post (no shipping restrictions)! To enter to win, just fill out the prize widget below. And stop on in to leave a comment and chat with the charming Mr. Osborne below!
Still not registered for Coastal Magic?
Join Stephen and a TON of other truly fantastic authors and readers at Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona Beach next February! This is my very favorite reader-focused convention because we have so many opportunities to meet and hang out with our favorite authors and to meet new ones who are sure to become new favorites. If you can only make one convention next year, go to this one! Clicky below for registration and travel info!
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