CHAPTER FOUR — House of Horrors — A Dawn & Rosie short story

Titania Tempest
7 min readDec 29, 2023


The cover for “House of Horrors, A Dawn & Rosie short story”: yellow-orange sunset scene with black silhouettes of a witch on a broomstick, an owl, and the roofs of gothic town buildings.

Dawn stalked down the passage an hour and a half later and hammered on the bathroom door. “Rose? You’d better not still be in that bloody bath!”

Splash. “I’m not, Dawn.”

Dawn pinched the bridge of her nose, trying for fortitude, and muttered, “Bloody déjà vu, this is…” She dropped her hand, fisted it on her hip, and put on her sternest voice. “Do I need to remind you what happened last time you were dicking around, and I went without you…?”

There was a flurry of activity behind the door, and then it cracked open to reveal Rosie’s entreating face. “I remember — I remember. I’m out, aren’t I?”

Dawn stepped back, exasperated, and made a grand gesture in the direction of the bedroom. “Well? Hurry up, then!”

Rosie looked her up and down and frowned. “You’re still in your bloody dressing gown!”

Dawn folded her arms in warning, and Rosie clutched her towel tighter and scooted. But she dawdled magnificently through the process of dressing, and by the time she finally had her outfit on, Dawn had been ready for an age.

“God,” came Rosie’s muffled voice from inside the dressing room, “this is the last time I let you choose a Halloween costume for me! Why the hell did you have to get me something with bloody wings?”

She emerged, struggling with the gauzy pair half-hooked over her shoulders, and Dawn watched with amusement from her perch on the side of the bed. Rosie huffed, fighting with the elastics, and finally looked up with a dark expression. But she faltered to a halt with her arms still entangled, and Dawn raised one finely contoured eyebrow at her from beneath a silver-spangled witch’s hat.

“Need some help, there?”

Rosie swallowed, disarmed by the sight of her exquisitely tasteful witch attire. Dawn swept to her feet, ruffled black gown billowing around her elegant form, and floated across the room. Taking Rosie gently by the shoulders, she turned her so that she could untangle the mess she’d made, and, delicately, rearranged the elastics. When the halcyon wings were in their proper position, she manoeuvred Rosie to face front again, and — mere inches away from her magnetic eyes — Rosie exhaled softly.

Fingers lingering on her waist, Dawn smiled. “I must say… the wings do suit you. You’re a rather fetching Fairy Godmother.” She leaned in, her bright gaze on Rosie’s lips, and Rosie found herself unable to move.

But Dawn spun away at the last second, and Rosie took a bemused step forward at the abrupt lack of resistance. It took her a heartbeat to recover, but when she did, she squared her shoulders and forced frost into her tone. “Bloody witch. No wishes for you, after that.”

Dawn laughed, straightening her pointed hat with an air of finality. “C’mon — if we don’t crack on soon, we’re definitely going to be late!”

At last, they were on their way. With the onset of nightfall, the rain had stopped, but in its wake, a thick wall of fog pressed in, and Rosie nosed the car carefully along the gloomy streets.

“I can’t see a damned thing,” she grumbled, leaning over the steering wheel.

“Should have let me drive.”

“We’re inside a cloud, Dawn. There is no way in hell I’m prepared to go through it at a hundred mile an hour.”

Dawn watched the fog rolling over the bonnet and scoffed. “I wouldn’t drive a hundred mile an hour through this, you pillock.”

“I don’t think we should be driving at all, actually,” Rosie replied, slowing the car even further. She nosed onward a little more, but then shook her head and pulled over. “I can’t even see the end of the bonnet, now.”

Dawn checked the satnav. “We’re almost there — we could foot it from here, I reckon.”

Rosie jerked to face her. “In the dark? In the fog? Are you mad?”

“We’re only about a quarter of a mile away, Rose. Ten-minute walk, tops — and I highly doubt we’ll run into trouble in — ”


They jolted to silence as something collided with the bumper, and then a large, shaggy shadow loomed in front of the car. It reared up, growling unintelligibly, and Dawn fumbled for Rosie’s hand.

“Never mind,” she squeaked. “I take that back.”

Hardly breathing, they watched as the murk-shrouded beast felt its way around the vehicle, and Dawn leaned away as it neared her window. A cloud of fog rolled past, blocking it out for an instant, and then a distorted, snarling face leered against the glass, teeth bared in great jaws. Dawn practically jumped onto Rosie’s lap, and the nightmare outside tapped menacingly on the window with pointed claws.

Dawn whimpered; Rosie took one look at her pale face, steeled herself, and snapped off her seatbelt. She’d unlocked her door, opened it, and exploded out onto the street before Dawn’s clutching hands could make her stay.

Rose!” Dawn yelped. “Have you lost your stuffing mind?!”

“Wait here,” Rosie clipped, shutting Dawn safely inside.

Horrified, Dawn watched as Rosie took two steps away and disappeared into the fog. She squinted through the gloomy dark, desperately trying to pick out Rosie’s silhouette, but a wall of grey pressed in around the car.

At her window, the wolfish face oscillated, trying to see into the dim interior, and the incessant tapping continued. Dawn closed her eyes, debating whether prayer might help in her current situation — but a muffled thump forced her attention back. She risked a peek sideways and saw the ghastly muzzle now squished sideways against the glass in a way that suggested it wasn’t by choice. A gust of wind cleared a gap in the gloom, and she picked out Rosie’s thunderous face beyond — she had the ghoul by the collar and was giving it the tongue-lashing of the century. Hauling the monstrosity clear of the door, she tore the grisly mask off to reveal the wide eyes of a gangly teenage boy beneath, and Dawn scurried out of the car.

“… think you’re bloody funny, do you?” Rosie was saying vehemently. “I’ll bloody show you scary — ”

“Rose!” Dawn exclaimed, stepping quickly between them to pry Rosie’s fist loose from his shaggy fur. “Lay off — he’s sorry, aren’t you?”

“Yeh!” the youngster whined. He was taller than both of them, but he did his best to duck behind Dawn. “Yeh, I’m sorry — but you parked in the intersection, mate. Only wanted to tell you so you didn’t get in a accident.”

Rosie bridled. “An accident, you vacuous mongrel!”

“All right!” Dawn kept herself firmly between them. “He’s just trying to help, Rose.”

“Scared the dickens out of you,” Rosie reminded her, glaring up at the youngster. “That was hardly bloody necessary!”

The teen gave an awkward shrug. “Didn’t mean to, yeh? Just tryna get your attention.”

“It’s all right,” Dawn said to him. “Thanks — we’ll move the car.”

He nodded, relieved, and Rosie scoffed and tossed his mask back. He caught it and bolted, and then all that remained of his existence was the muffled pounding of footsteps drawing away through the fog.

Dawn turned to Rosie with her hands on her hips. “Poor bugger — you scared the shit out of him, Rose.”

“He scared the shit out of you, first,” Rosie replied with a scowl. “Besides, he had it coming, bloody creeping out of the fog like that.”

Dawn stood stoic for a moment more but then giggled. “You amaze me, sometimes, you chop. You won’t take on a dinky spider in the bathroom, but a great hulking monster in the night is no problem?”

“Each to their own,” Rosie shrugged. She stalked closer to give Dawn a once-over. “Are you all right?”

Dawn waved her concern away. “I’m fine. Caught me by surprise, that’s all.”

Rosie gave an expansive sigh. “If you couldn’t handle that, how are you going to make it all the way through this haunted maze malarkey you’ve signed us up for?”

Dawn looped an arm through hers. “I’ll be all right — I’ve got you to protect me.”

Rosie allowed herself to be dragged back around the car. “Or… we could just call the whole thing off and go home. Nice big cup of tea, evening curled up on the couch — ”

“Trick-or-treaters knocking at the door half the night — which, of course, is your favourite thing about Halloween…”

Extricating herself from Dawn’s grip at the driver’s door, Rosie huffed. “Fine. Let me move this bloody car, then, and we’ll be on our way. Scout ahead, would you? I might lose it entirely if something else hops onto the bloody bonnet.”


Thank you for reading! 🥰 This short story is a just-for-fun Halloween romp featuring the main characters from the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. If you enjoy hanging out with Dawn & Rosie, please check out their book on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

The cover of the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. Purple background remniscent of crumpled paper, overlain with a large yellow daffodil, the title of the book, and the author’s name (Titania Tempest)


Is it ever too late for a love story? Dawn Clermont certainly doesn’t think so. Rosie Bishop absolutely disagrees.

The last place divorcee Rosie wants to be is on a Seniors Retreat in the Lake District. She’s determined not to have
a good time, but an unexpected reunion with an old friend thwarts her plans. Her armour of bitterness proves no
match for the spirited widow Dawn; dragged through a whirlwind of adventures and betrayed by her own sense of humour, Rosie soon realises she hasn’t got a hope of staying sullen.

As Rosie clings to the remnants of her sarcasm, something about Dawn draws her closer than ever before. Soon, their bond threatens to run deeper, but is the possibility of a budding romance worth risking their rekindled friendship?

Get it here!



Titania Tempest

Author of Paper Daffodils, a sweet and sassy late-life lesbian romcom. Also currently working on a High Fantasy trilogy featuring sapphic sorceresses.