By Constance Burris
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Publisher: BE Publications
Date of Publication: September 2015
At Vista Apartment Complex, life drastically changes for four of its residents when they decide to do business with Crazy Jade—the supposed voodoo witch that can grant your wish for a price.
Shemeya wants the confidence to stand up against the girls bullying her at school, but she soon has to choose between keeping her dreadlocs or living a normal life. After catching her boyfriend cheating, Latreece just wants to have the same curves as all the other girls. Ashley will do whatever she can to have “White Girl Flow”, but takes her pursuit too far when she steals from Crazy Jade.
Everyone who comes into contact with Crazy Jade soon learns the true price of her magic—and how horribly wrong it can go.
Shemeya knocked on Jason’s door. For the past two years, they’d ended up in the same chemistry course as lab partners. He’d asked her out a few times, but she’d politely said no. He bored her. Turning him down made her feel like an idiot who only went out with thugs, but she wasn’t stupid. She only wanted a little thug, not a full serving.
When Jason opened the door, she pulled off her backpack and stepped into his house. “Is your mom home?”
“No, she’s with her new guy.” He led her into his kitchen. “Want something to drink?”
“You got some juice?” She desperately wanted to get rid of the dry, earthy taste that the herbs had left in her mouth. Water hadn’t worked.
“I got something better.” He reached under one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out a bottle of Hennessy.
He smiled innocently.
She rolled her eyes. “Sure. I need a drink after the day I’ve had.” And liquor should kill the taste in my mouth.
He poured the cognac into two yellow plastic cups before they walked into the living room and sat on his couch. The alcohol warmed her insides and seared away the taste of the herbs.
“We should be talking about absorption, not sitting here getting drunk,” Shemeya pointed out.
“We always finish our projects tipsy. Why should this time be any different?”
Shemeya laughed. “Anyways, let’s get started: absorption vs. adsorption.” She pulled her chemistry book from her backpack.
“Stupid names. Why do they have to be so similar?” He sat back on the couch with a glazed look in his eyes.
“Are you going to get your books?”
He licked his lips and leaned forward. “I’ve heard stories about you and Latreece’s boyfriend.”
“So?” The buzz she had from the liquor quickly dissipated while her heart rate increased. She dreaded where the conversation was headed.
“I don’t understand. I’ve been asking you out for months, but you go out with him instead. He has a girlfriend.”
“I didn’t go out with him,” she said through clenched teeth. She’d expected to be harassed at school; she hadn’t expected it here. She had hoped her anger would shut him up, but no such luck.
“I saw you go in the room with Corey last weekend at Serena’s party.”
She threw her books on the table and stood. “Oh damn, Jason. Really?”
“I’ve treated you with nothing but respect since I’ve known you.”
“I’ve had a horrible day with everyone teasing me at school. Now I get here and have to deal with it from you, too. I’m leaving.” She turned from him and bent over to pick up her books.
“Are you crying?”
She brought her hand up to her face, and it came back wet. Why was she crying in front of him? Wasn’t the fake weed supposed to give her courage?
“Don’t go. I’m sorry.”
She was so busy wiping away her tears that she didn’t fight it when he grabbed her hand and pulled her back onto the couch. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
She let him hold her as she cried. Maybe it was the liquor, maybe it was the fake weed, or maybe it was her loneliness, but whatever the reason, she didn’t stop him when he brought his lips down onto hers.
His sweaty hands on her breast brought her back to reality. He wasn’t who she wanted. “No, Jason.” She pulled back. “I have to go.”
“Don’t go,” he pleaded, with his hand still under her shirt. Somehow they’d ended up on the couch with him on top cradled between her legs.
“No.” She tried to move from under him.
He loomed above her, flushed despite his dark skin. “Do you like it rough? Is that what it is?”
“No. This isn’t what I came here for.” Shemeya tore at his chest, but Jason refused to budge.
He kissed her neck. “I’m tired of being the nice guy,” he murmured, pinning her further beneath his body.
“Get off me!” she screamed. His erection rubbed against the crotch of her jeans. She punched and kicked, but it made him more excited. Her scalp itched as she fought. She wanted to scratch, but she needed both hands to fight Jason off. I’m getting raped, but I can’t fight the urge to scratch. The inconvenience of it almost made her laugh.
Something above moved. She looked past Jason. Five snakes were hovering above his head.
“I’m going crazy.” This time she did laugh, and the snakes, which were the same rusty brown color as her dreads, smiled.
Jason looked towards her. “Why are you laughing?” His eyes darted above her. The feel of his erection disappeared as he crept away, but she wrapped her legs around his waist.
Her itching scalp had been replaced with pleasurable tingles that ran from her head down to her toes. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“We need to leave,” he said, trembling. “There are snakes in here. There are snakes in your hair.” She pulled him closer while he fought to be released. “Let go. We need to get out of here.”
“No, stay,” she whispered in his ear. “They won’t hurt you.”
Shaking, he looked from Shemeya to the snakes. He tried to force himself from her legs. This time, when she tried to pull him closer, he punched her. Pain exploded in her jaw, but she never let go.
“Jason, that hurt.”
He looked into her eyes. “Please,” he begged. A snake sunk its fangs into his cheek. Another struck his ear. One clung to his nose, and another hung below his left eye. He writhed in pain as he tried to escape the snakes and her thighs. His pleading eyes came back to her before he stopped moving completely. The snakes retracted their fangs. She relaxed her legs. Jason fell onto the carpeted floor.
She stood and nearly fainted before she righted herself by grabbing the side of the couch. She brought her hands up to fix her hair but hesitated a few inches away. She’d never touched snakes before. But the snakes came to her, caressing her open palm. They were cold and smooth and full of life.
The Bucket List
By Constance Burris
Josephine lifts her arthritic knees up the steps of the small Japanese tour bus and stares past the rows of empty seats before she settles her gaze on a middle-aged woman with a curly afro.
When the woman turned and smiles, that is all the invitation Josephine needs. “May I sit,” she asks after she wobbles her wide hips through the tight aisles.
“Of course,” the woman says.
“Thank you. I’m Josephine from Texas.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Keisha from North Carolina.”
“Are you traveling alone?” Josephine asks.
“Yeah, are you?”
“No. My no good husband is at the hotel in bed. He ate some bad sushi or some shit.”
The woman blushes. She must be from the suburbs, Josephine thinks. Suburbanites are always blushing over curse words.
“Are you looking forward to seeing Mt. Fuji?” Josephine asks the girl once the bus starts moving.
“No, I’m getting off at the Aokighara forest.”
“The what?” Josephine asks.
“The suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.”
“I’ve heard about that place. It’s where people go to die.” Josephine shakes her head. “I wonder why so many go there?” Josephine asks. “I suppose they’re all unhappy.”
“They can’t all go there because they’re sad,” Keisha says. “Maybe some are just finished.”
“Finished with what?” Josephine studies the woman. She’s too pretty to be so morbid.
“With life. Maybe they’ve crossed everything off their bucket list.”
“Well, then you create another list. Believe me; I’ve started over more than a few times. You can always reinvent yourself and create a whole ‘nother bucket of lists.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“You’re not thinking about going there to die are you?” Josephine asks suddenly concerned.
Keisha laughs. “Of course not. I’m just curious.
Josephine brings her hand to her chest. “Oh my goodness. You about gave me a heart attack.”
“You don’t have to worry about me. I have a husband and a little girl at home. I would never leave them.”
“Good. Good,” Josephine says as she stares at the woman, looking for any sign of depression.
“I promise. It’s just a weird curiosity of mine. I’m not going to kill myself.
“Well if you’re sure,” Josephine says, finally at ease.
“Ms. Josephine,” the Japanese tour guides says with an almost flawless American accent “We’re here.”
“Oh my. I didn’t even know I was sleep.” Josephine looks over to Keisha, but the woman’s seat is empty except for a folded sheet of paper. Josephine glances around the bus for the woman, but she is nowhere in sight. All of her belongings are gone. Satisfied she has done her due diligence and no one can call her nosy, Josephine unfolds the paper.
Keisha’s Bucket List
Visit the suicide forest
All but the last one is marked out.
Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of speculative fiction to the masses. She is a proud card carrying blerd (black nerd), mother, and wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City.
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