It was a lot of fun to get back into commissioned writing again, especially something that was designed to be short and punchy like this. Entitled "Witch Fire", it's currently online for you to read here. (The illustrations on the page are mine, too.)
While writing this piece a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that composing a decent short story (at least, in the horror and ghost-story genres) is not so dissimilar from writing a joke, or a gag. If the punchline doesn't work, nobody's really going to care how well-written and beautiful the prose is up to that point, if the final lines just unravel themselves and flop off the page in a flaccid anticlimax. I thought about the classic works by M.R James, Le Fanu, Poe and Lovecraft, where often the whole dynamic of the thing is channelled in towards the last paragraph, the last few lines, or even the last half-dozen words - the needle-sharp point at the end which pokes the reader and makes them cry "Owch!". It was one reason why I decided to go with a triple-whammy ending on this one, because it is Halloween, a season of excess. I hope at least in that respect that I succeeded.
Perhaps I had some of those classic old Hammer House of Horror episodes floating through my mind too, where the final scene is built up to have the viewer chittering over the end credits, or even a Twilight Zone quickie.
I'll have more prose up on Freethunk in the future too, it appears. More on that nearer the time...