Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens (Hallowind Cove, Book 5) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: December 17, 2018
Subgenre: Cozy Fantasy

About The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens:


Sinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname "Harbour of the Weird".

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they've made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.




It was a Saturday night, the Hutchinsons’ first Saturday night in Hallowind Cove. Emma was sleeping peacefully in her cot, so Dave and Jennifer settled down on the sofa in the living room to watch a horror movie.
On the screen, the masked killer was just about to slash the throat of his first victim, the blonde and bitchy cheerleader who’d slept with the entire highschool football team and who was also stupid enough to venture into the attic at night all alone, when Dave and Jennifer suddenly got a hankering for popcorn.
So Jennifer got up to make some. On her way to the kitchen, she passed by the large bay window facing Gloomland Street and Twilight Gardens beyond. The curtains were not drawn and so Jennifer just happened to glance out, only to promptly freeze in horror.
For out there, among the fog-shrouded trees of Twilight Gardens, stood someone, several someones in fact. Jennifer couldn’t make out any faces, all she saw were silhouettes, outlined in stark black against the fog drifting around the streetlights in the park. But though she couldn’t see their faces, when Jennifer looked out at the silhouettes, she nonetheless knew at once that they were staring back at her.
Jennifer screamed. She screamed shriller than the bitchy cheerleader who had just gotten her throat slashed in the movie (and how could anybody scream with a slashed throat anyway?). She screamed so shrill that Dave fell from the sofa, Emma woke up in her cot upstairs, Hugo the raven fluttered from his sleeping spot atop the fountain in Twilight Gardens, old Mrs. Grimm in the house next door was torn from her nightly slumber in her favourite armchair and Paul MacQuarie in the other house next door got up from his desk and looked out of the window to see what weirdness Hallowind Cove had dished up this time around.
Once Dave had picked himself up from the hardwood floor, where he’d landed with a thud when he fell from the sofa, he came running at once.
“Jen, what’s the matter?”
“There,” Jennifer cried, pointing out of the bay windows at Gloomland Street and the park beyond, “Out there. They’re watching us.”
So Dave took a look out of the big bay window and saw the silhouettes in the park, all staring at the big old house. A shudder ran down his spine, but he suppressed it ruthlessly.
All right, so there were some extremely sinister looking people standing out there in the park, watching the house, his house. Still, maybe they were just some teenagers hanging out in Twilight Gardens to get drunk. Or maybe this was some kind of performance art?
Determinedly, Dave closed the curtains and made sure that the front door was locked and barred.
Once the curtains were closed, Jennifer and Dave settled down on the sofa again with a big bowl of popcorn and continued to watch the movie.
On the screen, the killer had just claimed his second victim, the burly jock who’d been sleeping with both the blonde bitchy cheerleader who’d been the first victim and her equally bitchy brunette best friend who was probably the next to die. But Dave and Jennifer found that they just couldn’t concentrate on the film. Not when there were shadowy silhouettes with unknown, but undoubtedly nefarious intentions outside, watching the house.
So Dave got up and went over to the big bay window. He pushed the curtains aside only a little bit and looked out. And indeed, there they were, still and silent and black, watching and waiting.
“Are… are they still out there?” Jennifer called from the living room.
“Yes, they are.” Dave peered out of the window again, where the silhouettes were still standing, unmoving. “That’s it,” he said, “I’m calling the cops.”
So Dave did just that. He called the police.
“Hallowind Cave police department,” a bored voice said on the other end of the line, “Sheriff Alastair Angus Aberdeen speaking. How can I help you?”
“There’s someone outside my house.”
“Outside your house, huh? And where would that be?”
“Gloomland Street 76.”
“The old Beauregard place, right?” the sheriff said, “So you’re the new folks then. Well, welcome to Hallowind Cove.”
“Thank you. But about those people…”
“The people who are outside your house on Gloomland Street, right?”
“Exactly. Those people, they…”
On the other end of the line, Sheriff Aberdeen sighed. “So what are they doing?”
“The people outside your house. What are they doing?”
“Wait a minute…”
Dave opened the curtains a crack again to look outside. Once again, the sinister shadows stared back at him from across the road.
“They’re… well, they’re just standing there.”
“So the people outside your house are just standing there, right?”
“You do realise that standing around on the street is not actually illegal,” the sheriff said.
“Well, they’re standing around in a very sinister way,” Dave said, privately deciding that whoever had said that small towns were safer and the police more responsive to the citizens’ concerns than in the big city had obviously never been to Hallowind Cove.
“Standing around in a sinister way on a public street is not actually illegal either,” Sheriff Aberdeen pointed out.


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About the Hallowind Cove series:


Welcome to Hallowind Cove, the quirky little seaside town which is shrouded in fog for three hundred and forty days a year. Strange things keep happening here, which is why the town is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.


About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 

Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres.

When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey.


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