Sunday, October 27, 2013

COFFIN HOP: Hidden Children pt2

Welcome to the 4th day of COFFIN HOP 2013, 
my twitchy little cadaver crickets!

As promised, here's another excerpt from my novella HIDDEN CHILDREN, which will appear in the Dark & Bookish Tour and Documentary anthology, AT THE NEXT EXIT.

(By the way, if you'd like to win an autographed print copy of my novel FROM THE HERALD'S WEARIED EYE or the 1st edition of my bestseller RABBITS IN THE GARDEN, spend $0.99 on a copy of my collection Virtuoso at Masturbation, and More McHughmorous Musings or my short story Food for Thought. Comment with your purchase code to enter! And don't forget to leave any ol' comment to join the giveaway for the COFFIN HOP anthology ebook DEATH BY DRIVE-IN.)

a selection from 
by Jessica McHugh

As she dozed in the passenger seat, I did all I could to concentrate on the road. I blasted abrasive music, drummed the wheel, and clung to consciousness. But my eyelids eventually drooped, and I found myself succumbing to liquor and exhaustion. If it hadn’t been for an ear-splitting scream, this drunkie would’ve plowed right into the teenage girl shrieking on the roadside.

I jerked the wheel and hit the brakes. Jenny snapped awake and squinted at the girl standing in my high beams.

I wiped fresh sweat off my face. “Shit, that was close.”

“Sure was,” Jenny said. “Now get moving.”

The girl screamed again, smacking the hood of the car.

“What the hell is her problem?”

“Doesn’t matter. Get going,” she said.

The girl ran to my window, slapping it with open palms to punctuate her pleas. “You have to help me! They’re coming! They’re going to kill me!”

“Oh, hell no,” Jenny spat. “Come on, we gotta go. The Kids are coming for her.”

Tears streamed down her cheeks in thick mascara lines. “Let me in, please!”

“Don’t do it. If she’s near us when the Kids get their hands on her, we could get pulled down, too.”

“We can’t leave her. She’ll be killed.”

“She’ll be happier in Heaven,” Jenny said. She grabbed the wheel and turned the tires to the road. “Come on, we have to go.”

When the girl stared down the road, I saw what appeared to be a burn mark on her neck. “They’re coming!” she screeched. “Please, help me. I’m out of pills.”

I looked to Jenny. She shook her head, and her mother had nothing to offer but snores. The girl pounded on our windows, her focus jumping from me to the road and back. Eventually, the girl shrieked an expletive and bolted away, down the road.

Jenny grabbed my arm. “Don’t even think about it,” she said.

But the thought had already come to stay. I twisted the keys out of the ignition and dashed from the car. Pulling Andrew’s K37 from my pocket, I chased her down. I spun her around, told her to open up, and tossed the white pill into her mouth.

She swallowed and sunk to the ground. Clinging to my leg, she wept her gratitude.

“You’re okay. You’re going to be fine.” I pulled her up, and she hugged me. For the first time in years, I felt like I’d been put on the Earth to do more than be a drunkie. I’d saved the girl’s life.

So why the hell was she still screaming?

As she backed away, her eyes opened so wide her pupils looked like pinpoints.

“What did you do?” she yelled. “You evil, goddamn bitch, why did you do this to me?”

She ran but almost immediately tripped over her feet. Sobbing, shaking, she continued on her hands and knees. I heard Jenny calling me back to the car, but I was too mesmerized by the hysterical girl to listen. A shriller scream preceded the girl’s abrupt stop. She turned around, crawling back to me, but within a few feet, a dozen soggy figures materialized, surrounding her. They slogged forward, looking like boiled meat with finger bones clawing the air. She wailed as the Kids closed in, an unnatural amount of sweat running down her face.

The girl tried to fight them off, but there were too many. When the Kids latched on, her scream broke so violet through the night I had to cover my ears. A vortex opened in the ground, and when it sucked her legs down, they broke backwards with a wet snap. The hole tugged on her lower body while the Kids held her arms, their burnt hands cooking her flesh. Her skin sizzled, and panels of her blackened face stripped away, disappearing into the oily abyss.

I yelped when a hand covered my mouth, but the pill Jenny dropped onto my tongue calmed me. She took the keys and pulled me back to the car, pushing me toward the passenger side. I opened the door, but before I could slide in, fingers like scalding wax wrapped around my arm.

The Kid’s face was a pit of broken bone. Only three teeth remained on its splintered jaw, jutting up like yellowed monoliths into an empty night. But with the sudden drowse that struck me, the Kid’s solidity thinned. It hissed one more blast of boggy breath before vanishing with the others. Only the teenager remained—for a few seconds before the road sucked the rest of her in, silencing her. Inside K37’s fog, I didn’t feel the burns on my arm or Jenny pulling me into the passenger seat. I was just there, my head lolling as she slammed the gas and sped away. On the first frantic turn, I knocked my head against the window, but I didn’t care. The glass was cool, and the swelling body buzz coaxed me into blissful dreams.


I awoke to screaming pain in my arm, followed by a breath of cool comfort as my mom blew on my wounds. She smiled, her crow’s feet extending to her paling hairline. Jenny stood behind her, giving a small wave when we caught eyes. When Mom helped me sit up, I realized my hangover was still hanging on, thumping in time with my arm.

“That girl…” I said. Jenny shook her head, looking away to pop a red pill from a baggie.

“What are those?” I asked.

She jostled the bag. “What do you think, drunkie?”

“K37? That’s what you gave me?”

“Do you think I’d dose you with XK4? I'm not a complete asshole.”

I shut my eyes, a knot in my throat. “Then I am. I didn’t give that girl a red pill.”

“Sweetie, what are you talking about? What girl?” Mom asked.

“She tried to help some teenager on the way here. That’s how she got touched,” Jenny said. She sat beside me as my mom wrapped gauze around my burn. “The pill you gave the girl—was it white, oblong?” I nodded, tears welling.

“Why did you give her an XK4?” my dad asked.

“Andrew said it was K37. He gave it to me in case I had trouble after the reunion.”

“Or to cause you more.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Jealousy, boredom—I guess we’ll never know,” Jenny said. “At least you’re still here.”

“But that girl—”

“They were already going to get her. There was nothing you could do.”

Dad clapped his hand to his chest. “Oh my God, you saw it happen?”

“We all did,” Jenny said, squeezing my hand. “Look on the bright side. Now you know you had nothing to do with Andrew’s death.”

I growled. “Now I kinda wish I had.”

Mom pulled me close and kissed my forehead. She sounded sadder than ever when she said, “Welcome home, sweetheart.”

....stay tuned for more selections from HIDDEN CHILDREN....


I have THREE PRIZES up for grabs. One lucky hopper will win an ebook copy of DEATH BY DRIVE-IN at the end of the hop just for commenting. That's all it takes. Just stop in and say hi. Tell me you dig the post. Tell me you hate the post. Tell me your mom held you too much (or not enough) when you were a baby. It doesn't matter. Just comment. I will pick one person at random to receive the ebook.

The next few prizes are a bit trickier. But that's because the prizes are 
AUTOGRAPHED PRINT COPIES of Jessica McHugh books. 

The first is a copy of my dystopian novel 
FROM THE HERALD'S WEARIED EYE. (Click the link for info)

The second is a LIMITED EDITION 1ST PRINTING of my bestselling novel 
I have the only remaining copies of this book, so once they're gone, they're gone. 
And you can win one!

So HOW do you win one? Well, there are two ways. 
You can purchase my short story FOOD FOR THOUGHT for $0.99 and COMMENT with your order number. It should be a Dxx-xxxxxxx-xxxxxxxx number.
You can purchase my collection of ponderings, pictures, and writing prompts, VIRTUOSO AT MASTURBATION, & MORE McHUGHMOROUS MUSINGS, for $0.99 and COMMENT with your order number.

Nab the short story or collection, save those purchase codes, and DON'T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

Don't forget to check out the LINKY LIST.


  1. Thank you. I derived a bit of The Kids from the myth of Mylings. :)

  2. Very cool! Some great stuff here. Hope October is treating you well. Happy hopping!

  3. "She'll be happier in Heaven." -- Quite a catch phrase there.