As Mother Nature’s perennials wither and change their brilliant green colors to represent the Autumnal spirit of the season, I can’t help but to reminisce about my younger years celebrating Halloween. In childhood, I’d spend my pre-Halloween days imagining what I’d dress up as, the type of candy that I’d be rewarded with during my door-to-door trick-or-treating travels, and the parties that I’d attend.
As much fun as Halloween was back then, that time of innocence has long passed.
Originally a Celtic festival known as Samhain, Halloween, shrouded in all its dark and enigmatic beauty, is a reminder of the unknown and the mysteries of this world that still remain locked.
It was widely believed that Samhain was the day when the living and the dead’s existence would overlap, causing the dead to wreak havoc by haunting the living. This celebration of the end of the Harvest Season, October 31—a day when Gaelic’s would wear costumes to ward off ghosts—did not come without its controversy. There was a time in history when Samhain was nearly eradicated due to its association with Paganism.
During the 1600s and 1700s, associating yourself with witchcraft or even being suspected of practicing magic could render a death sentence or, worse, being burned alive.
But times have drastically changed. With each Halloween year comes another step towards tolerance and acceptance.
Today, you can see Pagan/Wiccan influences in mainstream culture—whether as inspiration for the latest folk-inspired fashion on this season’s runway or the plot of popular television shows. Vampires and fairies are an obsession in both literature and film, and there are TV channels and websites that exist for the sole purpose of exploring all things supernatural and unexplained.
Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
Consider this issue our penned love letter to all things supernatural, otherworldly and, as an effect, beautiful.
Mystery is our greatest adventure in this lifetime, and I hope you’ll join us on this magical journey of storytelling.
Words by Sarah Marloff
Witch, Wiccan, witchcraft: three words that resonate strongly with anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock for the last 50 years. From “Bewitched” to “American Horror Story: Coven,” most of us can generate a pretty clear picture of what a “witch” looks like. Thanks to Hollywood’s longstanding love affair with the supernatural, today’s culture is quite possibly more enchanted by, well, enchantment.
However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Modern culture’s obsession with the supernatural has simultaneously left us a bit more skeptical of the otherworldly. Maybe it’s because so much of what we see is exaggerated, but, to many, the idea of a real life “witch” is something to scoff at.
Yet witchcraft is alive and well in America. Now, before you get all Salem Witch Trial, trust that those who practice look less like the ‘90s goth witch a la Fairuza Balk, or Alyssa Milano’s “Charmed” premonitions. In reality, modern day wizardry looks a bit more like spirituality.
“It’s about trusting in the universe, and trusting that everything happens for a reason,” says Alexandra Warren. At 19 and a sophomore in college, Warren has considered herself a Spiritualist since she was a senior in high school. “We believe that the energies we have are deeper than our surfaces, and that we don’t just go away after we die. Instead, that energy just shifts.”
A daughter of a Jamaican father and a French mother, Warren credits her parents for establishing the root system of her beliefs. Before becoming a lawyer, her mother spent years practicing to become a medium—someone who can tune into people’s energy in order to offer insight into their state of being.
Though she never felt Spiritualism was forced upon her, Warren acknowledges that she’s been involved with it her entire life. “As my sister and I got older, we got more and more curious and more and more into it. It’s almost like a hippy’s take on Christianity.”
Conveniently, very near to Warren’s hometown is Lily Dale. Located in upstate New York, this seemingly magical township houses a spattering of registered mediums, and a general safe space for Spiritualists to practice, take solace, and further their knowledge with daily lectures and demonstrations.
However, meeting with mediums—like a modern day confessional—is just part of how Warren practices. “I believe in the Boomerang Affect,” she says. “Meaning, what you put out, you get back. In my practice, I try to give what I want to receive.” As a physical reminder, Warren keeps a personal altar. On it, she places only things with personal significance and meaning, including candles and her favorite flowers, orchids, which have a calming effect on the college student.
Despite her belief in both mediums and pantheism, Warren points out that she does not self-identify as a Wiccan. More to do with spells and magic, the practice of Wiccanism goes one step further than Spirituality. Or, as Warren explains, “A Wiccan is to an Orthodox Catholic what Spirituality is to a modern Methodist.”
Like most things having to do with the soul, witchcraft offers no clear and precise definition. Unlike Christianity, there is no single catchall term to define those who practice. However, the belief and extent of magic used does seem to generate a clear divide amongst believers.
Unlike Warren, Lee (who asked to only be referred to by first name) unquestionably, considers himself a witch. With family origins stemming back to Haiti, his father in New Orleans, and growing up in Paris with his mother, sorcery seems to run in his blood. And though he knows his ancestors were devoted to the practice of voodoo, Lee has taken on a self-taught approach to witchcraft.
“Our family’s magic doesn’t come from a light place,” Lee’s father explained to him, after Lee came out as a witch. With that knowledge, and subsequent fear of releasing negative energy into the world, Lee has focused his craft on white magic. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be selfless, but it is a give and take. Whatever you ask for, you have to give something in return. Being able to harness these energies for good or evil is what makes you a witch.”
But Lee’s magic isn’t about super powers—“that’s Hollywood,” he says. Instead, he describes his practice as “simplistic.” Like Warren, he too has an altar, adorned with candles and crystals, which he believes houses his energy. Rather than casting spells, he offers “prayers” by lighting candles and releasing good energy—“things I want for me and others”—into the world.
Lee’s foray into the world of the supernatural began with a deck of Tarot cards, gifted to him by his aunt. A self-described “forgetful” person, Lee mastered the deck in record time—memorizing the cards’ multitude of meanings in less than a month’s time. Several years later, friends often say his readings are eerily precise.
“I can’t predict the future—I’m not that gifted—but I have this connection to the universe that lets me see the path the people are on, and let them know. Once people are aware of their path, they can move appropriately.” Aside from Tarot, Lee is more likely to read about witchcraft from a historical perspective rather than casting spells. But the possibility of danger only enters when those spells are centered on selfish desires. “Dark magic is used for your direct benefit. It’s not helping anyone else, and you’re not willing to give anything in return,” explains Lee. “But something is drawing from that energy, and it’s really detrimental to your soul.”
Whether it’s witchcraft or karma, it’s hard to argue with the idea that putting out negative energy only produces more negative energy. Isn’t that why even something as small as sitting in traffic can have an adverse effect on an entire day? “You can call it witchcraft, a knack for predicting humans, or a mechanism, but it’s something that I believe is very real,” Lee sums up, referencing the “subtle” changes he’s been privy to witnessing.
“Recently, I asked this Higher Power for professional success,” says Lee, offering an example. “I did a ritual where I sacrificed my vanity. I stopped myself from letting my vanity control me, and two weeks later I got an amazing job opportunity.”
While both Lee and Warren are somewhat private about their beliefs and their practice, they acknowledge the existence of real life covens. Similar to a church congregation, in neo-pagan culture, a coven is simply a community of witches. Such groups intrigue Lee, who says he’d love to be part of a coven. “It’s a bunch of people who share the same mindset. I feel like—if I had a group of likeminded people—I’d be able to do more and explore more of witchcraft.”
Even if a coven would allow Lee, and all solo practicing witches, a chance to dig deeper into their gifts, it wouldn’t look like the movies. “Shows like “American Horror Story” and “Charmed” have given [paganism] a Hollywood approach. No one wants to make a movie about how I practice witchcraft,” jokes Lee.
With a skeptical lens on Hollywood, Warren blames horror movies for making people afraid of non-traditional belief structures. “Spirituality doesn’t believe in negative energy, at least not the way it’s represented in movies like “The Conjuring”. It can’t be transferred like that,” she explains, noting that some of her friends are scared to get readings from her mother. “The media has turned Wiccanism into something to be feared.”
Like any other religion—organized or not—witchcraft, paganism, and spiritualty look different on everyone. And how far one goes is up to the individual. “I don’t draw stars or make sacrifices,” says Lee. “It’s like how some people go to church and pray; I’m getting in touch with something that’s intangible and it’s a really spiritual experience for me. Life can be so harsh sometimes, that—even if it is total bullshit—it helps make sense of it all.”
“I don’t want to live in a world where we cope through our iPhones and don’t search ourselves for how we’re feeling,” Lee continues. For him, witchcraft is not only a way of healing and hoping for good things; it’s also a means for self-exploration. The practice pushes him to look deeper into himself to discover new personal depths.
Spirituality provides Warren that same comfort. Like therapists or pastors, mediums offer reassurance about life’s hardships. “There’s lots of similarities [between Spirituality] and any and all religions,” says Warren. “Everyone finds themselves in different ways. Mainstream culture needs to start accepting that.”
While witchcraft may be a bit more mundane than pop culture would have us believe, it’s anything but boring. Traces of magic and unexplainably meaningful connections can be found all around us. Just remember, “Magic is only as powerful as you let it be.”
Words by Tricia Callahan
Howling and stepping out of the shadow of her father, Lenny Kravitz, is daughter Zoë Kravitz, who is not only gaining recognition as an accomplished actress (“Divergent,” “X-Men”) but also for her independent music project, LOLAWOLF, the 3-piece electronic pop band that’s among this year’s list of bands to watch.
New York-based LOLAWOLF consists of Zoë, Jimmy Giannopoulos, and James Levy, who only started playing music a few months ago and already they are making major headway.
Their latest self-released album, “Stay Calm” houses syrup-toned vocals that flare with island sriracha tapering with loose-ended lyrics. Jimmy and James (both also members of Reputante) bring the electronic musical sharpness that hits like a wall of tribal bones while bouncing with delicious 80’s synth.
We caught up with Zoë, Jimmy and James to talk about their new album, “Stay Calm,” their experiences touring with A$AP Rocky and who they think is a bad ass motherfucker.
Your latest track release, “AYO,” bumps with vivacious intensity. Was there anything in particular that inspired the musicality of the track or is it something listeners should be expecting throughout the album?
Recording in the Bahamas influenced the sound of that song and a lot of the other songs on the album. The setting brought out some tribal and playful elements for us.
The video for “AYO” was directed and shot by Trouble Andrew, what was it like to work with him?
Really fun. His work is raw and honest and he is a bad ass motherfucker.
With your latest album, “Calm Down,” dropping October 21, what are you most excited about?
The fact that our debut album is coming out! We’ve been playing these songs live for most of the year, so we’re excited to have a record out that’s representative of our sound.
Is there a particular track that you can’t wait for fans to hear or are you just ready to get on the road and start touring?
We’re excited to tour. We just finished 12 dates with Lily Allen, who is just amazing. Then we are going to Australia for some dates with Miley Cyrus and come back and play some shows with Warpaint.
How will the LP differ from the previous 5 track EP release? Or does the vibe remain pretty consistent?
The new LP has a different vibe from the EP in that it’s got more of a hip-hop production style and R&B vibe.
With all the amazing musical connections you’ve made, such as touring with Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen, and having A$AP featured in one of your tracks, what were some hilarious or standout moments?
The whole experience is just awesome–working with people you respect, developing friendships with them.
Some of your newer tracks seem to have heavy hip-hop and Jamaican influences. What particular artists have had an influence on your sound and direction you wanted to go in?
TLC, Aaliyah, Salt-N-Pepa, Ginuwine, Dr. Dre, A$AP Rocky.
What are the reasons you make music? Is it a personal form of expression or is there a bigger message you hope to get across?
It’s about personal expression both lyrically and musically.
How did you guys meet originally and decide to start playing music together?
We’re all friends from Brooklyn. We initially got together for fun to make some music and things just developed, so we’ve kept going.
Words by Susan Linney
Halloween is almost here—is your costume ready? Sometimes, getting dressed up can seem like a chore, especially when we’re busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
But all it takes is a few key products to rock a killer Halloween beauty look. Check out these four easy ideas for a costume that will have you ready to wow in minutes.
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No matter what look you’re sporting for this spooky holiday, it’s important to start off with a fresh, flawless face (even if you’re going to make it look frightening afterward). This foundation from Philosophy will give you long-lasting coverage (so real-life wrinkles and blemishes don’t scare people away), as well as protect your skin from irritation due to the heavier makeup you may add on top.
Set the mood with these cool—but creepy—votive candles. They’re great for burning while you get ready to go out, or as a gift for the host of your evening’s Halloween bash.
Give yourself an out-of-this-world look by applying a pair of faux lashes — with a twist! These high-drama, feather-embellished strips by Make Up For Ever are serious show-stoppers.
Since the lashes are the focus of this look, you want to keep the rest of your makeup simple. Use a subdued pinkish lip shade with shine, like this one from Mally Beauty. And wear a neutral nail polish—Sephora’s Formula X in Supernatural is a shiny, ashen-pearl shade.
This easy idea is all about color. Sultra’s Color Hair Mascara will add instant pink streaks to light-colored locks, and Fluo Night in Fuschia is a pigmented pink powder that glows under black light.
Instead of rocking a bold red lip, try going with a teal one. Create some seriously spooky smackers by applying a coat of Illamasqua’s Apocalips Lipstick, then patting OCC’s turquoise-colored powder over your lips with your finger. Boo!
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There’s nothing scarier than a f**ked-up looking doll that’s come to life. Get this look easily and inexpensively by applying a temporary face tattoo. Add a blood-red lip color and you’re good to go!
After your big night filled with thrills and chills is done, make sure you remove all of your makeup thoroughly and treat your skin to a potent pore-cleansing mask, like GlamGlow’s Supermud Clearing Treatment.
Words by Kat Hernandez-Linares
For some, Halloween is the one chance to pull out all the stops, dress up and celebrate all things dark and spooky. For others, Halloween is a state mind – each day is meant to celebrate all things otherworldly. Inspired by one of our favorite goth songs, Ministry’s “Everyday is Halloween,” we’ve rounded up some of our favorite looks inspired by supernatural figures and things that go bump in the night.
Due to the popularity of television shows like “American Horror Story,” witches—one of the most classic supernatural figures—have become less ghoulish and more stylish. We love that you can easily channel Stevie Nicks and the Wicked Witch of the West at the same time. For an everyday look, Maje’s Gabriela dress is a romantic and slightly gothic option. Ditch the pointy hat and opt for a wide brim style by Yohji Yamamoto. Add a dash of macabre to your everyday look with Tom Binns’ gold spider necklace.
120mm Velvet Open Toe Boots Alexander McQueen • Wendy Nichol Embroidered Eye of Horus Bullet Bag • Yohji Yamamoto wide brim hat • Tom Binns Gold Spider Necklace in Crystal • Maje Gabriela lace maxi dress
Mary Shelley’s novel about a scientist and the spine-chilling monster he creates, “Frankenstein,” became an instant classic in horror literature. This creature provides such frightening imagery and yet translates easily into everyday wear. Menswear-inspired separates are key here. Tibi’s blazer and Acne’s Habit trousers are the perfect boxy, slouchy choices for a masculine effect. You can’t be eight feet tall but you can at least try in Stella McCartney’s Britt platforms.
Originally, Halloween began as a celebration for departed souls, which is why ghosts have always been solemn symbols of this day. We’ve translated this look to everyday wear by pairing a floaty Sea skirt with an Alexander Wang raw fringe top. Simple and clean accessories pay homage to this minimalist figure. Helmut Lang’s Schist ankle boots top off this look that will let you float easily from day to day.
Sea Raw Edge White Long Zip Skirt White • Phillips Frankel “Drip” Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet • T by Alexander Wang White Cotton Burlap Cropped Top • 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Mini Leather Satchel Bag, Silver • Helmut Lang Schist Ankle Boot
Words by Tiffany Frasier
It’s no secret that nearly every fashion house has a devoted celebrity following. It can be said that neither celebrity nor designer could exist without one another.
This reciprocal relationship most certainly benefits both parties, with designers getting their clothes seen by dressing famous names and celebrities receiving accolades for their trend-setting style.
But does having impeccable personal style or being dubbed the “red carpet star to watch,” translate into a clothing line? A celebrity may know how a fabric will look on camera or how a dress should fit at every angle to glide down a red carpet, but does that give him or her enough credibility to explore design opportunities? Does it provide the necessary knowledge about design techniques and quality?
The complicated relationship between designers and celebrities, and the evolution of the celebrity designer, has become a circus that many fashion devotees would pay big bucks for a front row seat.
The showdown has recently been chronicled in great detail by a fashion insider in a new book that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of the celebrity designer.
The veteran Wall Street Journal fashion reporter, Teri Agins, investigates in the page-turner, “Hijacking the Runway,” how famous names have stolen the spotlight from fashion’s trained elite.
Agins pulls back the curtain on who gets paid to sit front row at a fashion show, celebrity designed fashion brands, and the lure of celebrity fragrances. The line between celebrity and fashion becomes even more blurred when discussing the amount that a famous name is involved in the line and why some celebrity clothing lines are a success and others fail.
The level of involvement that celebrities have in their fashion brands varies, with some designing the pieces themselves, and others simply inspiring the lines and lending their names. Over the years, we have witnessed that when the name of a celebrity is at the forefront of a collection, the design aesthetic can become the secondary factor for the brand.
Case in point, the epic failure of a celebrity-turned-designer can be identified as Lindsay Lohan. In 2009, Lohan served as an artistic advisor for the French fashion house Emanuel Ungaro at Paris Fashion Week. The collection featured ill-fitted blazers and fur stoles, overworked patterns, and offensive glittery heart-shaped pasties. The couture house’s founder, Emanuel Ungaro, bluntly referred to the collaboration as a “disaster.”
Kanye West then jumped on the bandwagon and accused Lohan of ruining the credibility of celebrity designers and called her “9/11 for celebrities doing fashion.” This is an ironic statement given that Mr. West’s foray into the fashion arena was met with criticism a few years later. In 2011, West’s fashion line’s debut at Paris Fashion Week created expectations that would be impossible to live up to, even for established and trained designers. Ultimately, the show was a disappointment.
West has vented his frustrations by the idea that a design degree and a hands-on approach is necessary to be taken seriously. But on the other hand, designers that have worked from the bottom up, having gone to design school and studied the craft for years are equally insulted by the notion that a celebrity can walk in and put their name on a collection and call themselves a fashion designer. For a struggling designer who doesn’t have the financial gain or following, it is a step backward for the industry to accept a famous name who doesn’t put in the same amount of time and effort. What is an up-and-coming designer to do when the competition is a hip-hop superstar who shares the same dream of conquering the fashion world?
The other question to ask is, despite all of the high fashion connections and opportunities handed to Kanye West, what made his collection fail while other famous names succeeded? According to Agins, the people who have succeeded have done so because designing is their one and only job.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen can be identified as being successful for trading their claim to fame for a lucrative fashion empire. The duo are heavily involved in the design process for their ready-to-wear collection, Elizabeth and James, and high-end line, The Row. By not fixing their names to the label, the Olsens have become more than celebrity designers, they have allowed their lines to prosper and be acknowledged for the quality of work.
Victoria Beckham shed her pop star image as member of the Spice Girls, and has brought her posh sensibility to the fashion industry with her self-titled ready-to-wear clothing line. Her collection won the Designer Brand of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards. With a flagship store that has just opened in London, Beckham has developed a brand that emphasizes a high-end tailored impeccable style.
Both of these fashion lines have reached critical acclaim and financial success because the clothes have transcended the famous name making them. Victoria Beckham and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have created fashion brands that are not just based on fans.
While there are famous names that have penetrated that elitist wall of fashion and have been accepted and received credibility from the couture fashion gods, there are celebrities whose fashion lines don’t have the same cache but have been deemed a commercial success.
Singer-reality star-actress-turned-fashion designer Jessica Simpson has earned the name “Fashion’s Billion Dollar Baby,” thanks to her fashion brand. The collection includes handbags, shoes, and clothing that generates an estimated $1 billion in annual retail sales.
The Jessica Simpson Collection is no longer just a celebrity brand, it’s a brand. However great her business model has become, Ms. Simpson fills a commercial space that isn’t equivalent to the high fashion world.
The fashion industry has always been an unpredictable arena. With the popularity of street style, the democratization of social media, and consumers looking for style in places other than inside fashion’s tents and the red carpet, designers have much more to compete with than the celebrity designer.
Fashion has become crowded, and since it doesn’t seem that the celebrity designer will disappear anytime soon, fashion designers have had to enter the stage to steal back their spotlight. Fashion designers once fought each other for big names to wear their clothes. Now, designers have become celebrities in their own right, creating personas that consumers connect with.
Fashion has come full circle from high fashion brands like Chanel and Dior telling women how to dress, to celebrities using their fame to endorse brands and establish their own lines, and now in-demand designers like Tory Burch, Vera Wang, and Michael Kors using their celebrity to cement themselves as big brands.
Fashion has such a personal and emotional connection with consumers, that whether it is a trained fashion professional or a red carpet regular trying to get their foot in the door, brands need to focus on the bottom line: designing quality clothes.
Words by Sinta Jimenez
She thrilled us this spring with rich greens and mixed jungle prints. And we’ve been following her since she popped up on Opening Ceremony’s blog. Native New Yorker and fashion girl genius (she interned with Peter Som at the ripe age of 15), Sarah Richards is a designer everyone’s been looking out for since she busted on the scene and made us wonder what the hell we were doing our junior year in high school.
So we jumped at the chance to sit down with her and talk about her eponymous line RICHARDS (which she founded in 2012) to talk history, Opening Ceremony and Proenza Schouler, 2015 collections and current obsessions.
When did you know that being a fashion designer was something that you wanted to do?
The obsession started when I was about 6. I studied design with junior classes at Parsons and FIT, and starting interning at 15 in NYC, where I grew up. It was not until after graduating from RISD that I considered starting my own line.
Having worked for both Proenza Schouler and Opening Ceremony, what were some of the takeaways for you from those experiences? How did you apply what you learned while interning to what you’re creating now?
I have found that the most valuable takeaway from a fashion internship in New York is a closer look and deeper understanding of production. This includes the process of sourcing bulk fabric, pattern grading, sample development, trim packs, etc. The experience of communicating with factories and vendors is not something taught in school, but it is a huge part of running a fashion line.
When was the moment that you decided to go off on your own? What was that like? What were some of the obstacles that you faced?
I decided to start my own line after having freelanced for other designers for about a year after graduation. I felt a strong urge to create for myself and get back to the themes I touched on in my thesis. I started very small, so each season I have tried to expand in some way. The greatest obstacle has always been financing the line.
What is your process like? How do you start the process of designing your next collection?
I research source imagery, take a lot of notes, and sketch. I do almost everything on the computer. When the collection and prints are designed, I move on to the hands-on stage of pattern and sample development.
Has your design process and point of view changed since your first collection in 2013? How so? What was your biggest learning lesson?
I believe my point of view has stayed the same. I started with basic shirting styles on silk and have since worked to develop a wider range of silhouettes and fabrications. I am always looking to work with new fabrics and expand the wardrobe. It is only a matter of putting the time into developing these things until they are just right.
Tell us the inspiration behind your FW 2014 collection.
I don’t work from a starting point or inspiration exactly. For FW 2014, I was experimenting a bit with digital distortion, which created both the prismatic prints and optical mesh prints.
Graphic prints of nature are such a strong identifying feature in your work. Tell us the process. How do you decide which print to use?
Natural imagery has always been striking to me in the context of digital printed fabric. I think I am attracted to the contrast between natural and manmade. In terms of choosing prints and images, I really try to go with my gut.
A few pop artists come to mind when looking at your prints. Are there any artists, collage or otherwise, that your prints are inspired by?
Not any specific artist, but I am inspired by the new aesthetics of contemporary artists. I see myself as part of a greater dialogue that is informed by current moods and interests.
What is your spring 2015 collection trying to say? What was your inspiration?
The mood is something like a surreal seascape. I try to create a visual story that creates a mood as opposed to a statement. I like when the prints evoke something that feels perhaps familiar, but on closer inspection are completely new. Particularly with the stripes that are prevalent in this collection, I feel they have a strange distorted preppy vibe.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
Study textiles and construction. They go hand-in-hand with design.
And last, but not least, what are you currently obsessing over?
Today, I am obsessed with 3D renderings of ocean trenches!
Words by Troy Veenstra
On a lame Saturday night, Ashley waits patiently for a photo to upload to her new cell. As the image loads, her mouth drops open out of shock. Ashley’s eyes fixate on an image of herself lounging in the sexy pajamas she wore the night before.
“Damn hackers,” she hisses, halfheartedly amused that some deranged geek had hacked into her webcam. She studied the photo, only to notice a note at the bottom. The words were written in an unusual red font that read, “If you dare, click here.”
Smirking slightly, she scoffs, “Oh please, if I dare? Well, I dare. I so, so dare.”
She touches the screen with her finger, clicking on the odd red font. Ashley can feel the rage, the anger, growing deep within her as she imagines the four-eyed, pimple-faced perverts that had seen her most private of areas. Ashley wonders if she has unknowingly exposed her young, 24-year-old body to millions of horny geeks and four-eyed freaks across the web.
“Finally,” she hisses as the video begins to play.
An image of Ashley sitting at her desk in her bedroom pops up. In the video, she is typing away in front of her computer, the sound of her headphones blaring loudly through her ears. The angle of the camera moving slowly across her, Ashley’s eyes focus on the computer screen as she responded to whomever it was she was flirting with in an online chatroom.
Not long after the video begins, Ashley saw it in the dim lit shadows behind her. She could barely see the shadow; the faint outline of a man standing in the far corner of her room, near the head of her bed. Fear overtakes her as the shadowed image moves a few feet closer to her. Her back remains facing the unknown figure as the dark image sits down on the side of her bed.
Ashley continues to watch the image intensely. She focuses on the outline of the shadow sitting on her bed, massaging her bedspread and silk sheets between his fingers. Ashley feels a sickening sensation growing in the pit of her stomach. Her chest quickly begins to tighten. Her heart is pounding in trepidation. She freezes, eyes widening as a cold chill bursts through her entire body. Coming to the realization that this person, this pervert, may still be there with her. He may be watching her even now from somewhere inside her apartment.
Her breathing becomes heavy. Beads of sweat glisten from her upper lip. She can feel the sudden explosion of fear spreading all over her body. Slowly, she places the palms of her hands against the edge of her computer desk. Taking a deep breath, she searches for the courage to make a move. Holding the breath in her lungs, she pressed the heels of her feet firmly against her plush, shag carpeting.
Pushing on the edge of the table with her palms, the chair quickly swiveled around toward the foot of her bed. She springs up from her chair like a bullet shot from a revolver. She stretches out her arms, hands turning to fists as she cautiously walked around the room, looking at everything around her. She feels as if all that she owns has betrayed her by allowing this unknown person into the safety of her home.
Ashley begins to search her entire apartment, stopping first in the kitchen to grab the largest knife that she owns. She walks heal-to-toe, moving as stealthily as possible. Scanning the hallway that leads from the kitchen to her living room, she listened carefully for any unusual sounds.
As she steps into the living room, she can feel the cool fibers of the carpet in between her toes as she continues to walk slowly. Jumping quickly from side-to-side, Ashley is prepared for any attacker. She holds the blade of the knife out, away from her, and high above her head. She is ready to strike down the intruder, the pervert, at first sight. Looking behind her couch, her side tables and white wicker chairs, she realizes that her living room is, at least for the moment, free from harm.
Slowly, she walks back into her hallway, this time headed for the bathroom. Upon approaching, she sees that the shower curtain appears halfway open. Her mind began to race, wondering if she had shut the shower curtain earlier that morning. Reluctantly, she walks on the tips of her toes into the bathroom with the knife held high above her head.
Feeling the handle of the knife slipping from her grasp, she tightens her grip. She prepares herself for the worst as she takes another deep breath, holding it in her lungs before moving like a ninja with lightning reflexes, slashing through the shower curtain with all her might.
Finding nothing but empty space, she suddenly loses her footing on the slick tile floor. She falls headfirst into the bathtub, almost impaling one of her breasts on the blade. She quickly concludes that her bathroom is also secure from any harm. The pervert is not here either.
Running back to her bedroom, she locks the door behind her. She falls back into her office chair, taking a slight sigh of relief. Ashley reached for her phone to call the police, only to hear the buzz of a received text message. Looking at the screen, her heart pounds rapidly, as she lets out a blood-curdling scream.
The text message reads, “You forgot the closet.”
Words by Troy Veenstra
Cold steel wire cuts through his wrist, his arms pulled across the corner of the wooded altar.
He can feel the small drops of blood gently cascading down his forearm, he winces at the continued onslaught of pain.
“Where am I? What is going on?” He jerks his head, trying to remove the blindfold, only to feel the wire tearing deeper through his flesh. Again, his arms pull back across the corner of the hard slab.
Breathing deeply, his body tenses. Hands, soft like velvet, brush the nape of his neck before gliding down his abdomen, fingertips lightly caressing the grooves of his masculine chest.
Slowly, they move between his stomach, forcing his arms upward. The metal wire cuts close to the bone. Dark red blood saturates his skin again as it runs even thicker down his arms.
The intensity of the pain consumes him. He tries to cry out, only to smell the foul stench of the tape wrapped tightly around his head. The hands continue to move farther down his body, stopping just above his waist.
It was then he felt the cool sting of the sharp metal against his abdomen. The weapon glides over his stomach, his shirt giving way as it is cut from him.
“I was, I was with her.” Images feathering chaotically through his mind, feeling the blindfold move off his face. His eye twitches in every direction, slowly adjusting to the darkness. Scouring the room for his abductor, he quickly notices black candles filling the room with a dim light. The walls are shrouded in crimson velvet.
“Where is she?” he tries to ask, eyes locking onto the shadowed outline of a female sitting in a chair across from him. Legs, long, golden tanned spread openly out towards him, yet her face remains concealed within the darkness.
Forcing himself up once again, trying as best he could to get a better view, the metal wire held him fast against the slab. His already bleeding wounds tear even further, blood pooling, gliding down the sides of his arms and onto the altar below.
His eyes fix on the large blade nestled firmly in the palm of the woman’s hands. She slowly moves closer toward him, as he trembles fiercely. The blade makes its way down the center of his stomach; within seconds he could feel the cool tip brushing against the insides of his bellybutton.
Sucking in his breath, he tries to avoid the tip of the knife as she continues gradually to move the blade closer against him. The cool tip of the blade slowly pierces through his gut, slicing into his flesh. He gasps at the onslaught of pain that quickly consumes him. The pain is so unbearable that he absent-mindedly thrashes his head against the back of the table. Each breath causes more and more pain. He shakes again, the blade sinking even further inside of him, until more than half of the weapon protruded deeply inside his gullet.
Gradually, he felt the blade cease to move down into him, as he forces his head to look down at his mutilated stomach. He can see the knife still deep inside his gut, the blade facing up toward his chin, as he tries to breathe as little as possible.
“God, kill me now please,” he thought, legs lashing upward, his arms jerking away from the table only to, once again, be held down by the wire.
The blade slithers up his body, ripping through his delicately soft flesh, like a hot knife through butter. He could feel the blade slowly moving inside him, the pain so unbearable that he began wishing that his body would go into shock and finally allow him to die. Yet he remained alive, intense pain permeating every inch of his body.
Grasping for air once more, he feels the blade cut into his breastbone. The shadowy image of the woman gliding her hand over his shoulder, forcing it downward, as she thrashes the blade harder through the lower half of his chest. His lungs tear like ribbons. He feels the blade as it jaggedly cuts through him, stopping just after his breastbone. Blood gushes from his broken body as it rapidly runs down his sides and over the top of the slab.
Upon feeling the removal of the tape from his mouth, he looks into the eyes of his murderer. He slowly makes a failed attempt at a deep breath. Blood spews up through his mouth; his body riddles with intense pain. He can feel his life slowly slipping from him, the warmth draining from his body. Widening his eyes, he stares deeply into her eyes. He sees a vain, evil smile emerge from his killer’s face.
He violently jerks his entire body upward, as he feels the knife being quickly pulled from deep inside his chest. He hears the twang of the knife as it is dropped against the hardwood floor. Feeling his body weakening, he now battles to keep his eyes open.
Slowly, his killer moves over him again, forcing his entire body to jolt upward once more. This time, he felt all of his ribs burst from his body. He is unable to move his limbs as he watches his killer move her hands deeply into his chest, forcefully spreading it open to the cool air of the room. Blood vessels rupturing, his deep red-colored blood splattered in every direction of the room. His entire body covered with his blood, as it seeped down into his eyes, nose and mouth.
“You broke my heart,” he heard her whisper. “Now, I break yours.”
Unable to move, or even blink, his last sight is of his own heart dangling above him. His wife, April, squeezes the last bit of blood from his cheating heart and forces it down the throat of his lifeless corpse.