Legend of Horror : George A. Romero: Hail To The Zombie King by CM Lucas

 Hail To The Zombie King

Growing up in New York in the early 40s was no small feat. The realities of organized crime and World War Two were enough to shape the mindset of an aspiring filmmaker from the Bronx to that of a doomed future for humanity. George A. Romero’s bleak worldview became glaringly apparent on October 1, 1968, when he let loose upon the world, Night of the Living Dead, a terrifying story of the reanimated dead attacking and consuming a group of survivors hiding within a small farmhouse. 

On the surface, Romero’s vision of a world plagued by the flesh-eating living dead is simply a visceral creature feature (nothing wrong with that). But, the subtextual coverage of social issues and identity politics is where it truly terrifies. Using a zombie apocalypse allegorically to showcase the true plague that continues to ravage humanity. Intolerance, tribalism, and humanity’s inhumanity toward man are all subjects broached within the horror masterpiece. 

Within Romero’s storied career, he has often attempted to infuse his films with social awareness. Not satisfied with simply scaring an audience with supernatural spectacle, Romero forces his audience to peer into the societal underbelly and reflect on humanity’s current, past, and future atrocities with only the slightest shimmer of hope. Much more terrifying than zombie-infested streets is when human beings are subjected to the realization that the true enemy is glaring back at them every time we look into a mirror.

However, there’s more to this dread-filled visionary than doom and gloom nihilism. Romero’s cheeky, whimsical side is often on display within his films. Whether it’s a zombie experiencing an unfortunate “haircut” from the blades of a helicopter in Dawn of the Dead, or the lovable “Bub” giving a final salute to the deplorable Captain Rhodes before his gruesome death. 

With the recent release of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, the living dead are more prominent than ever. And while George Romero may have passed, but his legacy continues to live on in the form of the modern zombie. Paving the way for such properties as The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and even Shaun of the Dead, Romero fought the battle of the indie filmmaker and won the hearts of millions of devoted fans who watched in awe as his decaying, putrid creations ravaged the world of cinema.

Free Fiction: Bliss by Webster Grubbs

A man walks silently down an abandoned dusty road. Along the path are vast oceans of waving grass. He paces slowly in silence, focusing on the road in the distance, watching it curve over the horizon. The sun above him crossed over and soon set, drenching the man in blinding shadows. He continues, wading through the drowning darkness. A shimmer of light dances across the field, cast by the full rising moon. 

Over the horizon comes a pair of bright lights, undoubtedly headlights of an approaching vehicle. The man walks on, taking note of the lights as they approached. Soon it was within sight and he stepped to the side of the road, stopping and watching. Upon seeing him, the dusty truck pulls to the side of the road. A lone man exits the vehicle, approaching the stranger slowly.

“Hey, you alright? It’s awful late to be wandering around the back roads.” He says, receiving no response. 

“You deaf or somethin’? It’s dangerous out here. You wouldn’t be the first to get lost out here.” Again, he receives no answer. He approaches the stranger, looking at his face.

“Or maybe you know that. Have I seen you before?”

The stranger turns back to the road and resumes walking. He speaks finally as he leaves. “Maybe so. Been around here for a while; Lotta people seen me here or there.” 

A sheet of rain settles over a small town, filling the air with sounds of water on rusting sheet metal roofs. A hooded man follows the road into the street. He finds his way into the local pub, taking refuge from the rain at a small back table. The locals take note of his presence but ignore him. The few visitors look over their shoulders, curious of the man. No one in the room speaks to him, and they only speak of him in hushed whispers between fleeting glances. 

The man sits, silent and unblinking, staring at the wooden corner wall. He remains deathly still as he waits. An elderly lady gathers her meal and slowly makes her way to the man’s table. She sits across from him and smiles warmly.

“Hope you don’t mind me takin’ a spot here with ya. You seemed kind of lonely. I know people don’t typically prefer to be alone. Tell me, how are ya doin’ ?” She asked, looking up to the man’s young, bearded face. 

He remained silent but did glance at her as she sat.

“Not much of a talker? That’s fine. Some people go on blabbering for too long anyways. Get themselves into all sorts of trouble. Sometimes you just gotta know when to hush up.”

The man nodded slowly, looking back up to the corner of the room. 

“I guess you’re waiting on the rain to stop, yeah? I’ll let you be then.” The lady said, turning to stand.

The man shook his head, looking back to her. “Before you go…would you like to hear an old song? It’s from my childhood, and I quite like it.” He spoke in a half-whisper.

The woman turned back to him and listened as he began softly humming an ancient tune. The old woman found herself enchanted by the song, getting enveloped by the notes of the man’s humming. Moments later the siren’s call was over, and the lady snapped from her trance. 

“Oh, that was pretty.” She exclaimed, looking across to the man. Across from her, however, was an empty seat. Shocked, she looked across the bar, finding it desolate. She looked out the door and saw but a muddy road leading to the building surrounded by carpets of shining broken glass. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

I’m a small-time horror author, writing when I have free time from a busy life.

Story Review: The Crate by Stephen King

Review by B. Nguyen-Calkins

In the depths of horror literature, Stephen King rises near the level of a modern legend. His works such as Carrie (1974), The Shining (1977), and It (1986) are some of his many works of intense horror and suspense. Yet King shines even in the shortest of stories that may fail to popularize beyond his novels. 

Ever been out in the woods and find something that’s obviously old? Maybe a doll or a magazine, or maybe a box with a locked lid. Immediately, curiosity drove you to open it… surely, whatever inside is worth a look. 

   The curious horror fanatics might be immediately overcome with a sense of dread. The Crate (1982) displays macabre scenes of straight unknown brutality which may justify that sense of dread. What starts with dramatic irony, readers are told of a professor’s experience with an old, unknown crate tucked beneath a staircase. The professor is afraid. He can hardly think, and only a couple glasses of whiskey can help cool his nerves. He explains to his friend of his run-in with the crate, tucked away beneath the basement staircase of the zoology department’s laboratory. “It’s a real crate,” said the janitor who found it. One built with traditional carpentry technique, far dating any living person.  

After reading this story, you may think twice about opening any cob-web-covered boxes. 

The Crate displays merciless scenes of straight unknown brutality. It creates terror for innocent students just trying to grind through their master’s programs, their “long sounds of terror and pain” cut off by something awful. Unsuspecting students and staff (and perhaps more) encounter the crate, only for their fates to be tucked away neatly in a box covered by foreshadowed death. The story is filled with scenes of blood and pain, with descriptions of body horror so vivid you may even hear a broken jaw snap closed behind you. 

And it all comes from one old, nailed-up crate, just waiting to be opened. 

Don’t be discouraged if you think this story has little substance. While describing his experience with the crate, the professor is motivated through chess-like strategies. Read the story again and try to decipher just who his pieces are.  

Who’s to say you won’t be the next person to stumble upon the crate, nailed shut and abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Maybe when you’ve purchased a new home and searched its attic, you’ll find a crate just like it. Will you open it? 

Historian of Horror : Everything’s Just Ducky

I mentioned in my last column that my wife and I traveled down to Key West during our October vacation, where we dropped around to see Ernest Hemingway’s residence. Amongst his remaining effects are the descendants of his famous six-toed cats, currently over fifty of them. They are calm and nonchalant creatures, utterly unimpressed by the hordes of tourists who daily descend upon their abode. They allow themselves to be petted, briefly, after which they do what all cats do. Ignore humans, bask in the warm sunlight, sleep in their preferred spaces, cough up hairballs, whatever. We witnessed all of these activities. If you, like myself, enjoy the company of felis catus, it’s a pleasant experience, apart from the hairballs. If you’re not an ailurophile, maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald has an old house somewhere you could visit instead.

All of which reminded me of a specific case of polydactyly that had a profound effect on my own life and my development as a fan of the fantastic and the frightening. Plus a slightly later instance that was utterly silly but wholly in keeping with a completely different popular genre of the time.

More on that one later. First, we must needs take a look into… The Outer Limits.

I’ve written before in this space that the late 1950s and early to mid-1960s was a golden age of nostalgia for the horrors of times gone by, with new manifestations of frightfulness appearing constantly in all of the then-available media. Television, being by 1958 the dominant common disseminator of culture in the developed world, was filled during the next few years with a variety of spooky and scary, and sometimes amusing, supernatural fare. The Twilight Zone was and remains the best known and most revered, but there was also One Step Beyond, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 13 Demon Street, Way Out, and The Kraft Suspense Theatre, and that was all just on my side of the Big Pond. Even legendary spukmeister Boris Karloff had his own outlet for televised frights, Thriller, and a second that had to wait for home video to finally be shown, The Veil. By 1963, American audiences were only a season or two away from The Munsters and The Addams Family and The Smothers Brother Show (AKA My Brother, the Angel) and Dark Shadows and Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie and My Living Doll starring the stupefyingly lovely pre-Catwoman Julie Newmar, and all manner of delightfully outré goodies oozing into our homes via the cathode tube. And My Mother, the Car, which was outré, but not particularly delightful. Still.

Have I mentioned what a terrific time that was to be a kid? Well, it was. 

And among all that creepy and kooky and altogether ooky wonderfulness, for a single full season and one half of a second, a mere forty-nine episodes, the Control Voice coming over the airwaves from the ABC Television Network brought us “the awe and mystery that reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.”

Maybe it was more science fiction reliant than most of the other shows, but there was in each episode what the series’ creator, Leslie Stevens, called a ‘bear’ – some creature from outer or inner space, however one wants to define either of those ideas, that posed a challenge to the human beings with whom it interacted. That was grotesque, that was frightening. That was, in essence, a monster.

Sometimes, though, it was the humans who were the monsters.

On the night of October 14, 1963, for reasons that I to this day cannot fathom, my parents allowed five-year-old me to watch the fifth episode of The Outer Limits, one I still find gives me that same frisson I enjoyed the first time I saw it. Of course, my five-year-old self didn’t quite grasp all the nuances, resulting in a barrage of questions to my long-suffering father. Which is probably why I was not allowed to watch any additional episodes until years later when the show was in syndication. 

That broadcast, by the way, is the earliest specific episode of any television program I recall seeing in its first run. In case anyone was wondering.

The story concerns a young Welsh coal miner recruited by a mad scientist to be the subject in an experiment in accelerated evolution. In the process, he grows a big bald head and a sixth finger on each hand.

There’s that polydactyly I promised above.

The title of this particular episode was, in fact, “The Sixth Finger”, and it starred Edward Mulhare as the mad scientist. Mulhare would, in a few years, be cast as one of the title characters in a sitcom based on the 1947 feature film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. He did not play Mrs. Muir.

The recipient of that extra digit was played by a young Sottish actor and jazz pianist named David McCallum. Of whom you might have heard, if you are a fan of the military police procedural program, NCIS. He has been Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard for over eighteen years on that show. Hence, the title of this offering.

Anyhow. Our hyper-evolved collier proves to be a dangerously arrogant douchebag in his polydactylic state, so the mad scientist contrives to sucker him back into the booth for another treatment, but instead reverses the polarities and briefly winds up with a Neanderthal before restoring our hero to his normal evolutionary state. 

On May 4, 1964, McCallum returned for the thirty-second episode of that first season, “The Form of Things Unknown”, which was also shown as a television movie under the title, The Unknown. It was intended to be the pilot for a spin-off series that didn’t sell. Probably just as well, given that its failure enabled McCallum to spend the next several years as the taciturn but amiable Russian secret agent Ilya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968), in addition to a cameo in one episode of the sitcom Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and a one-shot revival TV movie in 1983 most notable for the brief second appearance of George Lazenby as everyone’s favorite MI6 agent. Plus a mention in the thirteenth episode of the second season of NCIS. When the lead character, Gibbs, is asked what Ducky looked like as a young man, he responds, “Ilya Kuryakin”.

Ya think?

McCallum spent the next decade-plus appearing in a myriad of television shows and movies, few of them of much note apart from a single episode of Night Gallery, a mad scientist not named Frankenstein in the mini-series Frankenstein: The True Story, one season as an invisible man, and four as the co-star of the British television series, Sapphire and Steel, alongside Joanna Lumley in between her turns as The New Avengers’ Purdey and Absolutely Fabolous’s Patsy. She was Sapphire, McCallum was Steel. Apparently, no one at the BBC could think of a last name for her characters. He and she guarded our world against extra-dimensional and supernatural threats. Quite a lot of fun. 

McCallum’s genre-related appearances slowed to a crawl in the 1980s and 1990s, ending in a role in one episode of the revival of The Outer Limits in 1997. Since then, he’s spent his thespian skills dissecting corpses and reassembling meat puzzles on behalf of the United States Navy. Still kinda creepy, n’est pas

Anyhow, I’ve provided a list below of McCallum’s horrific and macabre appearances, as well as the other performances mentioned herein. I hope the links all work, and that the populace is able to take a gander at some of his work on behalf of our genre. 

Oh, and that other instance of polydactyly? In 1965, in the wake of the spy craze initiated by the James Bond movies and perpetuated by not only the aforementioned Man (and later, Girl) from U.N.C.L.E, but also the often hilarious spoof sitcom, Get Smart, along with a myriad of others, the Topper toy company came out with a plastic super-secret spy gadget in the shape of a manual digit that you set into the crook of your hand between your thumb and forefinger. It shot darts from the tip, and was called The Sixfinger. “The Most Amazing Toy Ever”, according to the advertising. Everyone I knew had one, or wanted one. It’s amazing what’s important when you’re seven or eight, isn’t it? 

Anyhow.

No, I never had one.

Oh, well.

Until next time, then, thou treasure-seekers of terrors, and of tantalizing tacky trinkets…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

The Outer Limits, (“The Sixth Finger” Season 1, Episode 5 October 14, 1963)

The Unknown (1964)

The Outer Limits, (“The Form of Things Unknown” Season 1, Episode 32 May 4, 1964)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968)

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (“Say UNCLE” Season 1, Episode 18 January 11, 1966)

Hauser’s Memory (1970)

Night Gallery (“The Phantom Farmhouse” Season 2, Episode 5 October 20, 1971)

She Waits (1972)

Screaming Skull (1973)

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)

The Invisible Man (1975-1976)

Dogs (1976)

Sapphire and Steel (1979-1982)

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen-Years-Later Affair (1983)

Fox Mystery Theater (“The Corvini Inheritance” Season 1, Episode 10 June 8, 1985)

Terminal Choice (1985)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Murder Party”, Season 3, Episode 11 May 7, 1988)

Monsters (“The Feverman” Season 1, Episode e1 October 22, 1988) 

The Haunting of Morella (1990)

The Outer Limits, (“Feasibility Study” Season 3, Episode 17 July 11, 1997)

NCIS (2003-2021)

 

Free Fiction: Manny and the Machines by Marc Dickerson 

The father rapped his knuckles lightly on the door. 

     “Manny?” 

Waited a moment before turning the knob and stepping inside. 

Manny lay in bed, blanket pulled up to his chin, staring at the ceiling. The father could  see that he was shivering beneath the covers. 

     “It’s okay, son. It’s just me.” 

     “Dad. I can’t sleep.” 

The father nodded, moved to sit gently on the end of the bed. 

     “Why is that, son? Is something wrong?” 

     “Of course.”

     “Of course?” 

     “Yeah.” 

     “Son, I—” 

     “It’s the machines.” 

The father sat for a moment, looking first at the shadows on the curtains, then at the child. As softly as he could, he said,       “We’re not supposed to talk about them, son.” 

The son stirred a bit, looking uncomfortable. Quietly he uttered, “I know…” Then he lay still again. 

     “They keep us safe. You know that.”  

Manny sat up, loosening his grip on the blanket a bit. “But they’re so loud, dad. Why are  they so loud?” 

They had always been there. For most of his life, for all of his son’s life, their presence was a constant. Always felt. But always tolerated, never questioned. Though now he could hardly remember how it’d gotten this way, how life had become like this. 

This is the way it is, his own father had once told him when he was a boy. 

Since then, it had become second nature to block them out, to ignore them. He didn’t  even notice the sound anymore. 

But now, in the stillness of the bedroom, the father leaned forward, listened, tried to do this with his son’s ears, tried to remember being young and confused, afraid. Staring at the long creeping shadows on the curtains, listening. 

There it was. Faint at first, then fading up like some mysterious hand slowly turning a  dial. A continuous squeal, low and distant. Metallic, cold. Screeching and grinding. Horrible noises, he knew. He remembered. The spectral shriek of steel along the rails, slow and threatening, around the perimeter of the town. Motorized guards patrolling. Watching. Then the dial was adjusted again, the sound fading back into the stillness of the room. 

The father turned to his son. “Now, Manny…it’s only at night. We have the entire rest of the day. Remember what I told you last time?” 

     “I know. Pretend they’re trains.” 

     “That’s right. Trains help people. Just like them. They help us. Keep us safe.” “You always say that. Safe from what.”  

The father pressed the palms of his hands into his knees, gazing down at the floor.  Finally, he rose from the bed to look down at his son. Manny seemed so much older than even this morning. Yet he knew the boy still had much to understand, much to learn about the way things worked. 

     “I’ve forgotten, son. And that’s good. That’s a good thing. See. They make it so we never have to find that out. Which is       why we should be grateful. Why we don’t mind the noise. Talk  about the noise.”   

He looked over toward the window again. Stared at the curtains. The sound came back, echoing in his head. The grating of gears, the harsh mechanical wail echoing around the town.  Steel ghosts. Watching, circling. He pictured them, tried to picture them (it’d been so long since he acknowledged their existence, let alone dare gaze upon them). What he could remember was only a gray blur of machinery. The frightening deliberate speed of efficiency. And above it, a coughing cloud of steam rising into the night sky, obscuring everything, every star. Dark.  Endless, suffocating. He couldn’t even remember what the moon looked like. Had forgotten the moon. 

The father looked back at his son. Felt his composure, his sanity return. The rational  constitution of adulthood. He felt himself ease back into it. He was a parent. And Manny was a  good boy. Curious, like all boys.  

     “Have I answered all your questions?” 

      “I guess…” 

      “Good.” The father rustled the son’s hair. “That’s what I’m here for.” 

Manny stared up at him like he wanted to say something. Then it was gone, the look, the thought. Vanished, like most irrational young childhood thoughts. The father smiled. 

     “Goodnight.” 

He moved across the room, quietly closing the door behind him.  

The father got into bed. Heard his wife’s voice, raspy with sleep. 

     “Is Manny okay?”

The father smoothed out his pillow, settling under the covers. 

     “He’s okay. He’s going to do just fine.” 

In the dark, he could make out the faint image of the mother’s face smiling. “I don’t want him to be afraid,” she said. “He’s such a good boy. Just scared.” 

     “Like all kids.” 

     “Yes. But I worry sometimes. They don’t tolerate it well. Fear.” 

     “No,” the father said, reaching for the lamp on the nightstand. “No they don’t.” The father turned off the light. “But he is      a good boy. Manny is a good boy.” 

     “Yes. He’ll be okay.” The mother lay still for a moment before leaning in, kissing him on the cheek. Then she turned on her side, away from him. He turned away from her, facing the window. The curtains were drawn. Only shadows. 

Shadows and something else. 

The noise. He could hear it. Far off in the night. 

He shifted to lie on his back. Stared up at the ceiling and listened and did not close his eyes. 

Dark, covering everything. 

The father stayed up all night listening to the sound.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Marc Dickerson is a writer and filmmaker from Philadelphia, PA. He has written short stories, graphic novels, screenplays, and now his first novel, ART FARM. Marc also hosts a podcast about cult/b/underground films called Cult Movie Cult. His work has appeared online and in publications such as Culture Cult Magazine and Burial Day. He currently lives in Bucks County, PA with his wife and daughter.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21183349.Marc_Dickerson

Free Fiction : Queen of the Flies by Timothy Purvis

TINY LITTLE LEGS flitted across her flesh. She brought her hand down hard. Her teeth gritted as she sat up and turned on the lamp beside her bed. Looking down, the corpse of a tiny gnat lay flattened against the fine blonde hairs covering her forearm. She grimaced.

Addy looked up at the ceiling.

“Son of a—!”

The veins in her head pulsed as she came to her feet and kept her eyes fixated on the swirly patterned white ceiling. A color that allowed her to clearly see the dozens of black dots merely sitting there, staring at her as if they owned the entire apartment.

“You little black bastards,” she growled. “Why won’t you die already?”

Addy looked at her phone. The time said 06:50. Saturday morning. And the job she’d thought she’d finished the night before, all of her efforts, had obviously gone unheeded by the pests. A grimace crossed her face as she entered her walk-in closet and grabbed a shirt. The grimace grew deeper as she shook all of the little gnats loose and threw it on over her shoulders. She put on a pair of jeans, shaking her legs, and buttoning them around her waist. Then headed towards her dresser to grab some socks.

All the while, tiny flies continued to fly around. Taunting her with their audacity to even exist.

You have no idea how much I despise you, little bastards, do you? I do all the dishes, clean all the counters, clean out all the sinks, take out the trash, douse the toilet, do all the laundry, check every, single place that is dank and moist, treat them with spray, and what do I get for it? An apartment full of you cocks! I’m done with it! Time for desperate measures!

She finished dressing, stood up off the side of her bed, and made her way down the hall of her apartment. Little tiny bodies surrounded her as she reached the end of the hall and flipped on the kitchen light. They were everywhere. Covering the walls, the ceiling, even the floor.

Her body shuddered. However, the flushing of her face and the heated hate building in her skull caused her grimace to turn into a snarl.

“Don’t go away, you little turds! I’ll be right back to finish the job!”

Addy turned away from the pulsating layer of insects and cut through her living room. They were there too, of course. Why wouldn’t they be? she figured. She grabbed her keys by the door and exited her apartment.

IT WAS AMAZING how many different varieties of insect repellents and poisons there were. Addy chose some general foggers that included every sort of insect that was likely to be hiding in her apartment. True, there were probably spiders there. And she liked spiders well enough. However, they were obviously not doing their jobs in eliminating the rest of her fly problem.

Let’s see how you manage after a little chemical warfare… She smiled at the thought and went up front to the checkout counters.

“Whoa, that’s a lot of foggers,” the clerk said.

“I have a lot of pests.”

He nodded with a smile, checked her out, and off she went back home. To deal with the menaces who’d taken over her residence. They were pests that needed to be expunged.

Permanently.

***

ADDY RETURNED HOME. She went to work setting up the foggers. Placing one in her bedroom, one in the spare bedroom, one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, one in the utility room, and one in the living room. The flies seemed to have multiplied exponentially in the time she’d been away. Some were flying. Some were just sitting on the surface of whatever thing they’d found themselves upon. She knew she should cover up her appliances and computer. Her TVs and other sensitive equipment. However, she was exhausted and just wanted them gone. She went through, set all of the bombs off. Left the apartment.

***

SIX HOURS LATER, she returned. They were all dead.

“Finally. I can replace everything else, I’m just glad you’re gone. You little bastards.”

The tang of chemical chaos clung to the air as she went about cleaning up the bodies of the insects and fixing dinner. Remarkably, the TVs still worked and the computer was fine. Nothing a little cleaner couldn’t fix.

At half-past nine, she closed the curtains to the deck doors and prepared for bed. That was when the buzzing began.

Addy looked around, eyes wide, mouth agape.

“What… what’s going on?”

From every vent, every hole in the wall, every nook, cranny, and hold came hundreds of gnats. They swarmed her, covered her body.

“Get off me! Get off me!”

She swatted at them, rubbed her hands across her skin as they covered every each of her existence. They dug into her pores. Her hands slapped down roughly, her skin welting under her own attacks. The scream she gave off was piercing, even to her own ears. She felt them digging into her flesh. Crawling under her skin, an almost ticklish sensation as they made their way up and under her flesh.

“No! No! Noooo!”

Addy fell to the floor clawing at her own skin. Before long the world went black, her mind blank.

***

HOURS LATER, ADDY emerged from her skin that had become a sort of shell. Her mind was singularly focused: Mate. Keep the brood alive. Stop those who would seek her extermination. After all, hadn’t that been the task all along? Finding the right body to bring the brood back to life?

Yes, that was the purpose. That was the need.

She wiped one hairy leg across the myriad of eyes of her bulbous head. The brood was tiny in form, at first. But they grew. They grew and they extinguished the minds meaning to harm them.

After all, they were all pests, weren’t they? And they deserved to be expunged.

Permanently.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tim Purvis is a writer of many genres. From Science-fiction to romance to fantasy and horror there is nothing he won’t write. He has struggled to get his work noticed, published only once in a Turkish magazine thanks to a pen pal. Yet, he continues to write hoping one day his works will reach a broader audience and he can make a living doing what he loves: spinning the tall tale.

http://cosmicfantasies.com

Free Fiction : In the Space of Insanity by Helen Mihajlovic (Continued)

The Countess was up at dawn as a golden hue enveloped the sky. She had picked out her best clothes, a skirt decorated with silver lace and her petticoat trimmed with silver-gilt stitches. While she was putting on her pearl necklace, there was a knock on her bedchamber door. 

Frederick stood outside her room solemnly holding a letter. 

“Lieutenant Alexandra left at dawn,” said Frederick.

He extended his arm, but the Countess insisted he read the letter to her. 

Frederick read aloud: 

        Dear Countess,

      I must leave for Vienna. I have immensely enjoyed my stay at Castle Adnarim. Our time together has been memorable. 

            Sincerely Lieutenant Christoff Alexandra.  

 

Anger pierced her heart. “He hasn’t mentioned when he will return.” 

Frederick frowned. 

She knew he wouldn’t return, just like all the others. She walked away in a huff.

***

The Countess opened the front door to two new parcels. She helped Frederick carry them inside, fumigating their contents before touching them.  

She spent the entire morning marveling at the emerald lantern clock with a brass dial, large bell and decorative fretwork. But she was most impressed with the archery set, the new bow that she had custom made with a burnished deep red Rosewood, and the arrow’s head and nock were made of gold.   

The Countess spent the remainder of the day with her wooden archery set. She gripped the arrow, extended the bow and regularly hit the target. She fell into a reverie imagining it was Christoff that stood in the place of the target and she aggressively aimed the arrow at him, penetrating his heart, piercing him to his death. Her mouth curled up with delight. 

***

As darkness descended, the Countess listened to the savage wind while she lay in bed; the shutters rattled and the chamber was filled with a chill. She fell into a fearful slumber. 

She stood on a busy road, watching people walking by her; they were gaunt, pale, and with thin sickly frames. They trembled with a burning fever as they drew nearer to her; she felt surrounded by their fits of coughing. She looked with horror onto their swollen heads as they grabbed her hair and poked her limbs. She heard their discordant tongues, their pangs of fury and anguished pleas.   

The Countess woke drenched in perspiration and her limbs trembled.

***

The Countess had instructed Frederick to prepare her bath at dawn, but Frederick had fallen ill again and therefore the Countess had to prepare her own bath. She shut all the curtains; the light would aggravate the throbbing migraine that always ensued her nightmares.  

The darkened room was filled with perfumes: bowls with grains of musk and jasmine flowers. She removed her silk bathrobe and climbed into the tub; the warmth of the water enveloped her skin. For a moment she felt peace. 

But as she glanced down at the rim of the bath, her breath grew erratic. Tiny creatures crawled on the edge of her bathtub. She reached for a brush and squashed them, but one of the creatures fell into the water, frantically moving its long legs. She poked at it, trying to pull it out with the brush. But when she reached for the candle by the tub to better see where the creature had crawled to, the water was clear and there was no sign of the squashed arachnids. It had been the shadows of her imagination. 

It was not until the late afternoon that the Countess’ migraine had gone. She’d heard someone knocking on the door in the morning with a delivery but had felt too unwell to answer. She opened the front door to a bright afternoon sunlight. Squinting, she brought the parcel inside, fumigated it thoroughly. The parcel contained a fencing foil with an intricately etched handle. It was made in Spain. 

She held the fencing foil up and stood with one foot forward and the other back on the damp grass. Frederick was feeling better and obeyed the Countess’ instruction to join her. His hand wobbled as he held the foil.  

“En garde,” said the Countess. She advanced towards Frederick, who retreated with anxiety. 

The dark night descended; the Countess’ blade shone in the moonlight. 

At dinnertime, Frederick vanished, she suspected he’d returned to the castle to prepare the meal. 

The Countess roamed amongst the barren trees, the decaying leaves at her feet, and an odor of dampness filled the garden. She stopped at a tall oak tree with its twisted branches; the cool breeze stroked her skin. 

But when she heard footsteps behind her, she quickly turned and was surrounded by three people whose shadows took unusual shapes. A man stood before her with a long-nose mask, dressed in white; he jumped around like a fool. The man on her left wore a bright-colored, tattered uniform and his face was concealed with a flesh-colored mask, he stood with his chest out, picking up his knees high as he walked around her. A short, scrawny man stood on her right with red and black attire, a flowing cape, and a black mask with a hooked beak. 

“Frederick!” she called. 

Frederick quickly appeared. “They’re the performers from the Commedia dell’arte,” he said. 

 “Get me away from people!” the Countess cried. 

The Countess began to perspire, grew dizzy and fell to the ground.  

***

The Countess woke with a feeling of melancholy and angst and did so for the many mornings that followed. And as the year passed, silver hair had encroached upon her temples and creases had appeared on her forehead. One day as she sat at her desk in the tower, hand resting on her poems, peering at the dark clouds as they shifted in the sky, she grew nervous. A cloud appeared in the shape of a demon, with two hollow eyes and its mouth full of jagged teeth. 

“Frederick!” she called. When there was no answer, she began to worry.

But as she looked down at the pile of poems that she had written, she knew that Frederick, William, the two thieves, Christoff and the performers from the Commedia dell’arte were all imagined: they were the trickery of her senses, imagined through shadows and shapes she had seen, muses for her poetry. 

She grimaced as she thought of what she had really endured. Frederick had died a year before the plague, but she never trusted anyone to replace him. Christoff had been a young man that hadn’t loved her, and she had seen many performances of the Commedia dell’arte, their sinister masks always leaving her terrified. The Countess had missed her brother William and often imagined his ghost. 

Outside the castle a horse whinnied loudly, rousing her from her thoughts. She descended the stairs, peering through the casement. The man on the horse rang a loud bell. 

“The plague has come to an end,” he said and rode into the distance. 

A sudden sense of joy emerged in her. But as she thought deeply of the people who had hurt her, all the death and the love she had longed for that was unrequited; she frowned. 

“Is the world worthy of going back to?” She mumbled to herself. 

She looked at the emptiness of the vast land and the two owls in the oak tree that fought in the harsh cold wind; one owl’s cry resounding sadness as it bled with defeat. It reminded the Countess of the cruelness everywhere.  

“No!” she shouted. “The world is vulgar!”

With trembling hands, she bolted the door shut. 

Dedicated to my beloved Brother Bill. 

© 2021 Helen Mihajlovic  

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Helen Mihajlovic is a published author. Her short story ‘A Dark Love story’ is in the book ‘100 Doors to Madness’ available at Dymocks online bookstore. Other published stories include ‘A Sinister Nature’ and ‘The Temptation of Eve’. All stories are dedicated to her mother and brother.

Free Fiction : Midwinter Terror – by Leonardo J. Espinal 


And as the crescent moon reigned over the starry night, offering a post-impressionistic painting of midwinter gloom chaperoned by the phantasmagoric wind, I direly realized that the grotesque silhouette in the corner of my bedroom, which at first sight seemed to merely be my coat hanger, indeed was that of a malignant creature. Excruciating in the eyes as it was rife with all things ill and heinous while wearing the darkness as an extension of its skin. This dweller of nightmares, bearer of a set of dimly lit, red eyes that lusted for no blood other than mine, slowly made its way towards my impotent body from the most treacherous depths of my psyche.

In the midst of it all, the wind bashed my window relentlessly, akin to a distress call from Mother Nature herself. And to make matters worse, even at the sight of such an abomination, my muscles remained unbothered, for the horror was of mental nature alone.

Thankfully, the illusory Frankenstein, the torrid sweating, my drowning chest, my obstructed breathing, the torture of being unable to move anything but my desperate eyes, and the subsequent agony that the former causes were but a devil I knew like the palm of my hand. Therefore, the following routine was deeply engraved both in my brain and muscle memory: 

  •   Keep my eyes wide open and fixated on the approaching demon, for closing my eyes or in other words, relaxation      only serves to prolong the sleep paralysis. 
  •   Try my hardest to take exhaustively quick breaths in order to elevate my heart rate.
  •   Once my heart rate is adequately elevated, some parts of my body will start to react.
  • That’s when I proceed to wake my body up by focusing all my sheer energy on moving either my toes or pinky       fingers; one of the two because my capabilities while in sleep paralysis often vary.
  •  Hope that my body wakes up from its deep slumber before that monstrosity gets too close. I had always been  f  fortunate enough to wake up before its elongated, sharp fingers reached for me.

A familiar hell indeed, but hell all the same because no joyous dream is too long and no nightmare is short enough. Thus, an extra set of claustrophobic seconds went by in a manner that felt like manually counting each falling grain in an hourglass. Nonetheless, I was able to move my pinky fingers, although moving them while in that state always felt like it required all of my tangible focus and then some.

All while my eyes were laser-focused on the bogeyman whose truculent face had now partially abandoned the darkness and was instead dimly lit by the moonlight cascading through the window. But not to worry, even though my heart may have very well been on the verge of collapsing every time that devil took another step forward, there was light at the end of the tunnel since everything was going down as usual. I could feel my body steadily recovering the most precious scantlings of consciousness, which meant that I was at the cusp of finalizing this ever distressful process. A few moments later, I exhaled the densest petrification of agony one could ever withhold, followed by a cathartic inhale while I closed my irritated eyes in an apotheosis of relief.

At long last, I managed to recover my indispensable consciousness, thus bringing the nightmare to a prosaic end, or so I thought. Just as if Poe himself had delivered the pen and ink of my terror, I reopened my eyes to a vivid Beksinski painting that maimed the latent heart of my senses in a fleeting blink of an eye. Both escaping and screaming proved to be futile, for the certainty of my Kafkaesque demise had rendered my body soulless and my screeches were turned hollow by the wolflike winds of that most wretched midwinter night. This last time around, my ocean of nightmares had spilled over into reality.

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Leonardo J. Espinal is a twenty-one-year-old Honduran, bilingual writer who is currently undergoing his bachelor studies in Argentina. As of today, he possess ten literary publications (articles, essays, and short stories) in American, Spanish, and Argentine magazines. To find more of his work please see: https://www.flowcode.com/page/leonardoespinal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=12vo_cARkcmlbeKerhGTJjRXX6d19KOI0

 

Free Fiction : Hungry by Alan Moskowitz

 

Other than a bottle of curdled milk, there was nothing left in the refrigerator.  Desperate, Reynolds grabbed the bottle with a skeletal hand and drank the brutally smelling mess down, hoping for a least some nutrition.  It only took a few moments for his stomach to give it back.   His wasted lungs screamed for air as he coughed up the remains of the milk and sucked in the fetid air.  He threw the offending bottle against the kitchen wall, taking some little pleasure in watching it smash to bits.  He staggered over to the cupboard, his stick-thin legs and exhausted muscles forcing him to maintain his balance by grabbing the edge of the rotting counter as he opened the door. 

Bugs scattered, too fast for his weakened fingers.  He swept the inside of the cabinet, hoping beyond hope that one full precious can of anything may have been missed.  All he felt were the brittle carcasses of dead insects. He moaned in disappointment.

The pain of trying to use his emaciated limbs became too much to bear.  He collapsed onto the floor, surrendering finally to the knowledge that there was no more food, the planet was barren and sterile, and he, like the rest of humanity before him, would starve to death.   He smashed his fists into the floor, raging at the horror of mankind’s stupidity. 

Reynolds woke up screaming, jerking up from the bed, heart pounding in terror.  He looked over at Maria, curled up, peacefully asleep, blonde hair cascading over the blanket.  A dream, only a dream, and a nasty one at that. He took in several breaths, lay back, calming himself.  He gently pulled the cover from her and gagged;  Marie’s rotting skull stared back at him, her once vibrant body withered and emaciated, her wasted flesh sloughed off into puddles of ichors on the blanket.  He moaned in terror, too weak to scream, his vocal cords ravaged.  He looked down at his own devastated body, felt his cold gaunt face.  He tried to cry, but he had no tears left.  

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Alan Moskowitz is a retired screen and TV writer living in Colorado enjoying creating genre fiction.

 

To find more of his work see: mosko13@aol.com

Gypsy Mob : Episode 13/ A Cocktail for Tony

Bianca was wrapped in a heavy mass, her eyes staring without seeing over a heaving shoulder. Sounds filtered into her brain, the sounds of sobbing and meaningless words. Time and time again, she heard her name, first in a womans voice, over and over. Then, a mans voice, whispering her name in a breathy, disbelieving way. The voices seemed to ring a bell, but she could not attach any importance to them. She drifted off into the darkness, neither knowing nor caring if she would ever come out of it, aware only that she had made it home. Not that it mattered.

When her eyes next opened, she was lying in a soft bed and a cool cloth was bathing her face. Remembering the last time she was laying on a bed and what happened, she snapped fully awake, her heart hammering. The cloth jerked away from her face as the shadowy figure sitting beside her gave a start. Bianca began scrabbling at the sides of the bed, forgetting she had only one hand with which to grip. She bumped the wall beside the bed and white-hot fire shot up her arm from where her hand had lived for her whole life. She gave a little scream and moaned as cruel electricity seemed to sizzle up and down her arm.

There were words coming through the pain. She heard her name again in that female voice that rang a bell, louder this time.

Bianca, Bianca, shhyoure homeyoure safe

Home. She seemed to recall having made it back there before the world went black. This bed was far too soft to be the one at the Gypsy encampment. There had been no cool cloth bathing her forehead there; the only bathing of any sort she had experienced in that tent had been between clients and she had done it to herself, not paying any particular attention to anything above the waist. The smell was different here. Her brain tried to register it and slowly it leaked through to her consciousness.

The smell was her.

Her things, her room, her house, her mother.

Home.

Mommy! Bianca screamed, throwing herself into her mothers arms. Mommy, mommy, mommy Her stump bumped into her mothers back, leaving a red stain. Her cries of pain mingled with her tears of happiness and relief.

Lucia wrapped her arms around her daughter, holding her close, tears of her own coursing down her cheeks. She stroked the bedraggled hair as the girl clutched at her, seeming to never let her go.

Hush now, Bi, she said, her voice shaking. Youre home now, youre safeshhh

Over her crooning, she could hear the approach of Gilettis vehicle as it turned down the drive and approached the house. The engine sound died and a car door slammed. From down the hallway, she heard the sound of the front door banging open. Bianca heard it too and froze against her mother, silent tears streaming down her face as she shook with the effort of containing her sobs.

Its all right, Bi, Lucia said, attempting to disentangle her daughter. Its just your father.

Biancas eyes were still wide as she looked up at her mother. I dont think its him anymore she managed to choke out.

Footsteps sounded down the hallway, steady and purposeful. Lucia told herself she was being silly, that Biancas hysteria had just infected her. Why would she be feeling this sense of dread at the sound of her husbands approach?

The footsteps stopped at Biancas door. There was a moment of silence where all that could be heard was the breathing in the bedroom, Biancas short shaky gasps and Lucias, growing more uneasy. Then the door crashed open.

The silhouette of Don Giletti framed in the doorway with a machine gun in his arms froze them both for only half a second. Lucia had been married to the Don long enough to be able to read the look in his eyes. It galvanized her to her feet, just as the barrel of the gun swung around and began to fire.

The bullets ripped into Lucias body, spinning her around as the muzzle blasts lit up the dark room in a hellish strobe. Gilettis face was illuminated, its blankness terrifying Bianca as much as the sight of her mother being torn to pieces by automatic weapon fire. There was nothing of the man who had roared with laughter as he carried her around the mansion piggyback as a child. This man had dead eyes, showing no emotion as he continued to pump rounds into the shredded piece of meat that had once been his wife. Bianca cowered in the corner of the bed farthest from the door, attempting to make herself as small as possible, her ears ringing from the gunfire, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.

Suddenly, it stopped. Her belabored eardrums could barely make out the sound of a metallic clicking coming from the gun her father held. Opening one eye the barest amount, she saw him staring blankly at what used to be her mother. Gunsmoke filled the room. His finger tightened again on the trigger, creating that clicking sound. Mercifully, the gun was empty. It clattered to the floor, coming to rest with the muzzle facing Lucias obliterated face.

Oh, mommy!

Giletti shifted his dead gaze to his daughter cowering on the bed, seeming to regard her thoughtfully. Her lips moved, producing a tiny squeak that her ears could scarcely register.

Daddy, please

He unbuttoned his sport coat and reached inside, toward his left armpit. Bianca had seen her daddy around the mansion enough times in just his shirtsleeves to know what lived under his left arm in a shoulder holster. She began to push with her legs, trying to get farther away from him as her voice mewled protestations. Daddy, no, please no daddy

Giletti unfastened the holster snap and pulled out his handgun.

No, Daddy, dont

He clicked the safety off and racked the slide.

Daddy, please

He leveled it at Biancas face.

Daddy PLEASE! she screamed.

There was a moment where she thought she had gotten through to him.

Oh, thank you, God, thank you for

Then there was one more explosion, and all that Bianca Giletti had ever been or hoped to be was splattered across the wall above her bed.

Tony the Nose drove up to the mansions driveway and parked beside the bosss car. Its door was hanging open and it was parked at an angle at odds with the neat parking job usually done. Tony regarded this as well as the keys hanging in the ignition for a moment before getting out and walking to the front door, which was ajar. His big feet made the tiniest of crunches on the gravel drive, belying his massive bulk. Reaching the doorway, he smelled the acrid stink of gunsmoke. Pulling out his own sidearm, he held it down by his thigh, pointed at the ground, his finger on the trigger. Entering the mansion, he hugged the wall as he made his way silently down the hallway toward the room Bianca occupied. There were feet protruding from the doorway, clad in shoes favored by the boss. They were still, their toes facing down. Their owner was lying face down in the doorway, his upper half inside the room. Gunsmoke drifted lazily out of the room. Tony holstered his weapon and walked up to the doorway, no longer making any effort to conceal his approach. It didnt matter anymore.

Bianca was leaning against the wall, what remained of her head cocked forward, her chin on her chest, her skull an open, empty bowl, still dripping. The wall behind her was riddled with bullet holes and chunky red and grayish-white material was oozing down the wall from a large splash mark. Tonys eyes traveled slowly from this grisly sight to the body on the ground in front of the bed which bore only a slight resemblance to the bosss wife. A large pool of blood was forming around her, and Tony was glad he wouldnt have to bother cleaning that one up. Blood soaking into a carpet was a bitch. The third figure in the room was the boss, his head blown open on one side, a spray of brain matter coating the wall to his left, his gun still clenched in his hand.

Tony looked at the sad tableau for a few moments before turning and going down the hall to the bosss study. Opening the door, he went to the safe and punched in the code on its keypad. Don Giletti would have been furious if he knew that Tony was aware of the safes combination, but Don Giletti would not be feeling any way about anything, ever again. Twisting the handle, Tony opened the safe and, pushing aside the box of fine cigars Giletti favored, began pocketing the stacks of cash. He filled all the pockets in his suit coat and pants pockets with bundles of bills, indulging in only a moments regret that he didnt have larger pockets to accommodate more of them. That was all right though; his years of unwavering loyalty to the Giletti family had made him a very rich man. This was just a bonus.

Turning from the safe, he picked up the cigar Giletti had sitting on his desk. Producing a lighter, he set the tip aflame before the tobacco began to smolder gently, its scent mixing with the gunsmoke that had begun to filter through the house in a very pleasant manner. Tony thought that if they could manufacture a cigar that smelled like that, he would actually start smoking them. As it was, he puffed just long enough to ensure the ember was well lit and would not go out before placing it carefully on the windowsill so the ember was touching the gauzy curtains Lucia Giletti had selected for all the rooms in the mansion. They began to smolder, their own smoke adding to the haze and making the smell much less pleasant. That was all right though; he wouldnt be here much longer.

Going to his own quarters, he gathered what few items of value he possessed and deposited them in a leather valise. Pulling one of the curtains down from the windows, he ripped a long shred off of it. Opening a bottle of the rum he favored, he stuffed the shred of curtain into its neck. Pulling a few inches out of the bottle, he stepped back into the hallway. The flames had caught in the curtains and he could hear the crackle and roar of a bonfire coming from the bosss study. Holding his breath, Tony stepped into the office for the last time, just long enough to touch the wick of the Molotov cocktail he had made to one of the flames licking its way eagerly around the walls of the office.

Holding the flaming bottle away from his face, he strode down the hallway towards the main door, hurtling it into Biancas room with an almost contemptuous flick of his wrist. The bottle exploded against the far wall, sending flaming liquid splattering all over the room.

Immediately the flames took hold of the fabric in the room. Wall hangings, curtains, bedding and clothing caught fire as though they had been waiting for the opportunity. With the fire in the office now roaring and advancing down the hallway, Tony retreated to the front door, locking it behind him as he slammed it. Smoke belched out of the windows as he tossed the valise into what was now his car. Turning the key and dropping the shift lever into drive, he paused for just a moment, looking at the mansion one last time. He let out what might have been a sigh.

Squealing the car around in a circle, he pointed its nose up the driveway. Toward the future.

Free Fiction : It Came To the Window by J.S. O’connor

“I’ve seen it, Jim. I swear to God, I’ve seen it. Get me a drink to settle my nerves. I would prefer whiskey, but I’ll settle for anything strong and keep them coming. What’s that? I don’t know what ‘it’ was or is, but I’ve seen it just outside my window and I don’t think this is the first time it came to the house, but this is the first time I saw it. Another please, no ice this time and I’ll tell you the story. 

“It was nearly a week back when I first saw the tracks walking my property after work. I guess you could describe them as a large chicken with talons the size of a pocketknife. They were up near the tree line in some mud. Didn’t think anything of it. See a lot of tracks living that close to the woods. I believe that was a Monday. Tuesday the tracks were by the garage, but I still didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until I heard it. That’s when I thought something strange was happening.  

“Give me another Jim. Nothing like a good whiskey to settle the nerves. I’ll tell you what I heard. 

“It must have been Wednesday night. It was a hard day of work up at the factory and when I got home, I soon found myself at the bottom of a bottle. I’m not proud to say, but the bottom of the bottle is where I find myself most nights. Well for the last two years … but I don’t need to tell you that story. I reckon the entire town knows about it. But it’s the truth. Sitting by the fire in my chair, I remember it being pretty cold and I fell asleep. Don’t know what time Kirby started barking, must have been close to eleven-thirty or midnight and the dog is just sitting there going crazy at the screen door. 

“Got to admit something Jim, had a funny feeling that night but I played it off that I had too much to drink. I got up from my chair and stumbled to the back door. That damn dog shot off into the night barking. Didn’t think nothing of the dog running off, it’s what he does, and he comes back when he’s good and ready. But that’s when I heard it. I swear, Jim, I don’t know how to describe it. But I heard it. Now I know what you’re thinking, but I have heard every animal from those woods. The sound echoed through the darkness. It’s been three days and I still haven’t seen Kirby. Didn’t sleep the rest of the night. Just sat by the fire with my rifle. 

“Next morning before work I went looking for Kirby. Nothing. No trace. It was like the damn dog just disappeared. No dog tracks. No weird chicken tracks. It was like the night before never happened. When I got home, I picked up where I left off looking for that dog. Still nothing. Didn’t sleep that night and had no bottle and no strange sounds. Everything was silent. 

“Sorry, I’m shaking. No more Jim I think that was my last tonight. Four is enough. 

“Last night was when I saw it. It was at my window, Jim. I sit here not wanting to believe it myself. I had my bottle and my rifle, and I sat myself by the fire. The night was getting late, and my eyes were getting heavy. I must admit that the whiskey kept me from sleep’s grasp and that’s when I saw it. It was looking through my window. Its eyes were a pale blue, I don’t know how else to describe them. Its face was a light grey, but it had no mouth or nose it was just blank. 

“I jumped from my chair, the bottle broke on the floor, and I fired at it. My aim was off and the glass shattered just above its head. But I scared it off, and I ran towards the window. I could see it clearly even though it was pitch black. It ran on all fours like some damn animal, but it wasn’t no animal. Its body was the same color, that light grey, but the body looked more human than the face. I watched it until it got to the tree line and there it stopped and looked back at me.  

“You must think I’m crazy for telling you this and if you don’t, then what I’ll say next will make you think I’m crazy. It spoke to me. How? I don’t know the thing had no mouth, but I heard it. Or maybe it was all in my head, but I heard the word inside enter my brain. I don’t know what it means and I don’t think I do. Then it disappeared off into the woods, and I didn’t stay long either. Got in the truck and drove away, stayed the rest of the night at the motel – most of today too, now that I think about it. Been thinking long and hard about what it told me last night and I got me a feeling that when I get home it will be waiting for me inside my home. 

“Here’s the money for the drinks, Jim. Thanks for listening to an old drunk ramble. Be seeing you soon, maybe.”  

Chilling Chat: Interview with Naching T. Kassa

Naching T. Kassa Interview  with R. L. Merrill

Greetings and Salutations, Horror Addicts. I am honored to have been given the task of interviewing the illustrious Naching T. Kassa this week. Naching wears many hats beyond wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband, and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant and staff writer for Still Water Bay at Crystal Lake Publishing.

I challenged Naching to face the World’s Most Dangerous Interview, 2021 Edition, and here were the results:

RLM : Name a childhood fear and tell us whether or not it still scares you.

NTK: As a child, I was terrified of flying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They used to swoop over my bed with their batwings. Thank goodness I am no longer afraid of them. Creeping BLTs are much scarier. (As are spiders and other creepy crawlies—Shudder!!)

RLM: Give us three bizarre habits you’ve developed during the pandemic.

NTK: I was a terrible germaphobe before the pandemic, and it seems to have intensified that feeling. I have the habit of washing my hands every time I touch something from outside the home, and until most of my family was vaccinated, I used to spray everyone with Lysol when they went out and came home. My other habit is using aloe vera hand sanitizer. Vitamin E sanitizer is too smelly.

RLM: Name the first book you read as a young person that has stayed with you.

NTK: The first book that really stayed with me was Watership Down by Richard Adams. I read it when I was eight or nine years old after I watched the cartoon. I just loved the story about the rabbits and their search for a new home. And some of the incidents in the story are really quite frightening. Also, I like the fact that Fiver, one of the youngest rabbits, has precognition. 

RLM: What is the most fascinating/creepy/disgusting thing you’ve discovered because of writing?

NTK: Vampire moths are a real thing. They really suck blood and can do it for as long as 50 minutes.

RLM: Which characters from books do you most admire/adore/abhor?

NTK: If we’re talking specifics, I really admire Sherlock Holmes. I love his intelligence and thirst for justice. As to characters I abhor, I really dislike narcissists and Dean Koontz is extremely adept at creating them.

RLM: Name a book that made you say, “yes, I want to be a writer.”

NTK: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read the chapter written from the turtle’s point of view—when the Joads were headed down the road—and that was the moment I wanted to be a writer.

RLM: If you had to choose a movie or book to live in, what would it be?

NTK: Though I wouldn’t want to live in the real Victorian Era, I have always wanted to live in the world of Sherlock Holmes. That world is just so fascinating and mysterious. I’d love to walk the foggy streets of London in 1895.

RLM: Name your author superpower and how does it come out in your writing?

NTK: My author superpower is my leaning toward prose poetry. I enjoy turning a good phrase.

RLM: Which book do you wish you’d written?

NTK: Jane Eyre. I love that book. There’s a supernatural aspect in the story that many people miss or ignore.

RLM: Which musical/horror film describes your life?

NTK: Salem’s Lot (1979) I live near a small town full of vampires. Hahhah!

RLM: Ever get caught reading/writing sexy times in an awkward place/time/situation? 

NTK: No. But I have ghostwritten erotica and that always feels awkward.

RLM: Thank you so much Naching for daring to face the World’s Most Dangerous Interview. I’m still fascinated by these moths and will have to check them out. I also don’t recall the turtle from Grapes of Wrath and now I feel the need to go back and re-read it! 

RLM: Where can we find your work?

My story “The Case of the Broken Needle,” was recently published in The Meeting of the Minds: The Cases of Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons 1. I also write and edit for the Crystal Lake Publishing series, Still Water Bay. New episodes are published around the 15th of every month on the Crystal Lake Patreon page. https://www.patreon.com/CLP/posts?filters[tag]=Still%20Water%20Bay

You can find my story “The Darker Side of Grief”, in Crystal Lake Publishing’s Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.

You can find me on Twitter @nachingkassa and on my website. https://nachingkassa.wordpress.com/

Merrill’s Musical Musings : In Chasms Deep

 

In Chasms Deep

Greetings HorrorAddicts! I hope these musings find you dim, dismal, and dissolute. Not really. I hope you and yours are doing well and that your life has returned to some sense of normalcy. But since we are going to be discussing black metal today, I thought I’d get you into the right headspace. For those of you, like me, who are new to the subgenre, black metal is characterized by screaming vocals, atmospheric sounds that don’t necessarily follow a typical song structure and pagan and/or satanic themes. The subgenre has received criticism due to the actions of some members of the community, but as with all music, it is unfair to judge all participants by the actions of the few. Metal music has healing properties and many of us turn to metal of all types to get us through the difficult times in our lives. 

In Chasms Deep is a one-man black metal project from the United States who has been making music since 2011. Their latest release, The Wind and Her Lament, draws the listener into a melodic journey from the beginning track. The pieces flow from hauntingly inviting to explosive rainbows of sonic power. The album draws on the four elements to give the listener an immersive experience. Tracks like “A Suicide in Paradise” build from melancholy piano to dream-like guitar sequence to thundering, furious shredding before sinking back into pensive strumming and those haunting piano notes once more. It’s probably my favorite track on the album. “Abyssgazer” piqued my interest with the organ parts in the beginning as well. 

If you’re new to black metal, I’d recommend giving The Wind and Her Lament a listen. The artist has created a landscape of beauty in darkness, which is a place many of us HorrorAddicts love to dwell. I’ll definitely be checking out some of their earlier work on Spotify. 

How about you? Have any black metal recommendations? As a bona fide metalhead, I’m always down to check out new music, so send me an email, rlmerrillauthor at gmail dot com or leave a comment. Thanks for joining me on this musical journey. Stay Tuned for more Musical Musings…

R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. 

Book Review : Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady

 

Review by Matt Marovich

CW: Child and Domestic Abuse 

To be perfectly honest, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.

That’s not to say that I had low or bad expectations for Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady, quite the opposite, but that I found myself very quickly pulled into this story in a way that was quite surprising.

Taking place in 1975, Of Men and Monsters is the story of two brothers, older brother Matt and Ryan, and their mother. They have recently moved to a coastal New England town named Bayport, although a potentially better way to describe it would be “fled”. We quickly learn that the trio have recently escaped the predations of their abusive father and husband, a violent drunk who started beating his wife before expanding his terrible attentions to his two sons as they grew older. Once he began abusing Ryan, their mother packed their belongings and left as quickly as they could.

In Bayport, life for the three of them begins to have a sense of normalcy and peace. Matt quickly meets a girl named Kelly that he becomes smitten with, while Ryan meets Kelly’s cousin Leah. Their mom gets a job waiting tables at the local diner, and soon enough they fall into a steady routine. A routine that is, unfortunately, shattered when they receive an unexpected phone call and learn that their father is hunting them.

One of the things I enjoyed a lot about this book is the characters. The story is told from Ryan’s perspective but we spend plenty of time with Matt and his mom, seen through Ryan’s eyes. All of the characters are believable, especially Ryan whose perspective, thoughts, and reactions are incredibly realistic. I was almost immediately drawn into the book because of this, having to provide very little suspension of disbelief to get into Ryan as a person. Matt and Ryan have a loving relationship, even if Matt occasionally treats his brother with the frustration or mild disdain that only an older, barely teenage sibling can have.

All throughout the brothers’ summer, enjoying the time they can even as they fear the approaching monster of their father, the story has another thread in the form of an actual monster. While exploring their new home, Ryan discovers a cache of old comic books in the attic, one of which has an advert for Sea Monsters (not Sea Monkeys), which he stealthily sends away for. When they arrive and he begins to grow them, Ryan and Matt quickly learn that the ad’s claim of the creatures being “monsters” wasn’t false advertising.

It’s these three threads woven together that make this story so strong in my opinion. The normalcy of the brothers’ life feels realistic like I could totally see anyone growing up in Bayport having the life they create for themselves, and it’s that normalcy that helps make the other two threads horrific. With the approaching father, it’s the growing dread that comes with each passing day, that he might be closer to finding them, that this new existence of theirs may prove to be as fragile as a soap bubble. With the actual monster, each time we see it the thing has grown, changed, and it doesn’t take much to feel like the brothers are soon in over their heads. The presence of something so unnatural is heightened and emphasized by the rest of their lives, 

I won’t go into the plot any further, you can probably guess how it’s going to go, but even if the final resolutions of the story arcs are somewhat predictable, it’s still enjoyable due to the characters we interact with. Of Men and Monsters is a short read, only eighty-one pages on my Book app with current settings, and I definitely recommend it if you’re into novellas/novelettes. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Palace of Tears


Review of Palace of Tears

Greetings HorrorAddicts. 

It’s getting close, my lovelies. How soon do you pull out your Halloween decorations? When do you start the scary movie marathons and pull out your frightening reads? We’ve got some melancholy darlings in review this time around as well as some Ro’s Recs.

This edition of Merrill’s Musical Musings is going to take you to a dark and dream-like state, with a little romance added in for flavor. The duo known as Palace of Tears has a very interesting backstory that includes a shared love of goth/dark music genres and performing arts. There was a move, followed by some Mardi Gras debauchery, and then the Great Pause, which has affected all of us in different ways. The album Of Ruination rose from these circumstances and listeners will definitely experience the wide array of emotions the artists experienced during these dark and anxious times. 

The tracks are all quite hypnotic. Some tracks are soothing, and others ride that edge of disturbing, adding a slight unease to your mood. The title track “Of Ruination” slices into you with distorted guitars then soothes the wound with ethereal vocals. Standout tracks that really show the artists’ range include “Cold Dead Skin” and “Masque L’Intrigue.” The production value was fantastic as well. Check out Palace of Tears and add them to your spooky, gloomy playlists. 

This month in Ro’s Recs, you should definitely check out Ice Nine Kills’ video for “Hip To Be Scared” and Twelve Foot Ninja’s “Long Way Home” for some horror-inspired music videos. And if you aren’t following Vision Video on Instagram, you’re missing all the Goth Dad jokes you can possibly stand! Let me know what you think.

I’d love to hear from you. What are you most looking forward to? Hit me up in the comments or at rlmerrillauthor@ gmail.com Thanks for checking in and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings.

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R.L. Merrill writes stories full of hope, love, and rock ‘n’ roll with a twist of spooky and creepy. You can find Ro on all the socials @rlmerrillauthor and for more about her books, check out www.rlmerrillauthor.com

 

Gypsy Mob : Episode 10/ Stumped

Her life had always been blessed. Charmed. Being the daughter of a mafia Don had a number of perks. No one troubled her and for the most part, she troubled no one. Her biggest problem in life had been not always getting exactly what she wanted, and even that was easily remedied. A few tears and her father would either make it right for her himself or dispatch Tony to do so, one way or the other. 

When she was taken into the Pleasure Tent, she had raged and screamed, throwing a tantrum until a dark cloud descended over her. It reminded her for a moment of how she had felt when she had tried opium. Then the cloud became complete and she forgot she even had a past. This time there was no warm fuzzy sensation she associated with drugs. All that remained was her basic physical needs; that was all the Gypsy curse allowed to remain. 

The hours had bled together until they felt like days. She was a robotic sex doll, her muffled grunts blending with the slap of flesh and the cries from the far reaches of the Pleasure Tent. These sounds from the darkness were beyond her immediate sphere of existence, the sources of which she neither knew nor cared. Her life had narrowed to the action of spreading her legs for each new client, then rising once he had finished to clean herself robotically with the pail of water beside her mattress. Upon finishing, she lay back down on the mattress to await the next arrival. As the newest member of the Pleasure Tent’s catalog of entertainment, she was not kept waiting long. 

A part of her measured the time by the number of sweaty men who climbed on top of her, eschewing hours, minutes and seconds for this new reckoning. The rest of her could not have cared less about the passage of time, or was incapable of marking it. All she knew was to cleanse her nethers when the crushing weight atop her ceased its grunting and thrusting and climbed off of her. 

Then, blasting through the darkness came the pain. The agony screamed up her arm, snapping her back to reality. The world roared into focus once again, inundating her with memories of her life since coming to the Gypsies. Horror and disgust competed with her missing hand for the place at the forefront of her brain. As blood dripped from where her hand had always been, the memory of other fluids not her own dripping from her added to the coldness she felt. The terror bloomed, consuming her. Now, the fear of what was going to happen to her vied for space with the horrified realization of what had happened to her, what had been happening to her, what she had allowed to happen to her, and what she had ahead of her. Nothing was worse than the other; they were all a nightmare. 

But the pain at the end of her arm would not be silenced, nor pushed aside. In a way, she was grateful for it, for it pulled her out of the darkness and into the present once more. This was not a much better place to be, but it led to the future, to the unknown, rather than to the past. She knew all too well what awaited her there. All she could see of what lay ahead was that her old life was over. She had died, or been murdered, as soon as she set foot into the fortune teller’s tent. There was no returning to what she had been.

After the amputation and Bianca’s awakening, the Gypsies had moved her from the Pleasure Tent, along with the other sex slaves who still had value. Talking rapidly in their own language, they would look at Bianca from time to time and laugh. The Bitch who had amputated her hand came over to her.

“I t’ink we get more use out of you,” she said in her horribly raspy voice, and grinned. Bianca kept the blank look on her face as inwardly she shrieked in fear and rage. . Bianca’s blood was still splattered across the woman’s face and arms. With an absent-minded air, she licked it from her fingers as she looked at the doorway to the smaller tent to which Bianca and her wretched brethren had been taken. 

“We put you back to work tomorrow,” the woman said, turning to leave. “Tonight, I have important business. Sleep well.” 

She vanished out the door, her words echoing in Bianca’s head. Tomorrow, it would resume. She had to get away from here. 

“Hello?” she called, her voice tentative in the silent darkness. No one replied. The other slaves were locked in their own minds, their own clouds of impenetrable darkness, helpless to respond. Hot, furious tears coursed down Bianca’s face as she lifted her body and was immediately halted by the straps holding her limbs to the table. 

Except…

The strap around the wrist where her hand had been felt loose. If not loose, definitely not tight enough to present a problem to a tapered limb without the widening of a hand at its end. Just tight enough to…

She pulled, tears leaping to her eyes as she fought to remain silent, the freshly severed nerves at the end of her stump enthusiastically voicing protests as the strap bit at them. She pulled harder, her mouth open in a silent scream. She thought she could feel her wrist slipping through the strap, but, wary of her mind’s tricks, she closed it to the sensation and kept pulling. The nails on her remaining hand scratched the bed, cracking below the quick, sending needle-like stabs of pain up her other arm, until, with a suddenness that took her off guard, her wrist pulled free of the strap, flying over her body with the residual force. Holding her stump over her eyes she blinked, unable to believe that she was actually free. Without thinking, she went to undo the strap holding her hand, before realizing she had no way to manipulate the buckle without fingers. 

A low whine came from her throat and she pushed at the end of the strap with her stump, the rough leather digging into the fresh meat where her arm now ended. Bolts of agony lanced up her arm, blood renewing its flow sluggishly from the stump at the irritation. Nevertheless, she persisted. Her eyes beheld the strap moving slowly through the loop and she redoubled her efforts, the pain increasing exponentially as her eyes watered. With a final shove, the strap slid through the loop and flapped loose, held only by the pin of the buckle. Sobbing with pain and relief, she raised her body and, gripping the end of the strap with her teeth, she pulled it back, releasing the pin and her hand. 

Falling back on the mattress, she cradled her freshly bleeding stump with her intact arm, silent tears pouring down her face. Staring at the mildewed tent roof, she counted her breaths until she was able to think about something besides the agony coursing through her. By and by, it relented, slightly. Instead of pain, she now thought of survival. 

Sitting up, she fumbled painfully with the straps holding her legs down. Though more difficult with one hand, it was easier than using her stump, which she kept protectively tucked into her armpit, away from all harm. Once her legs were free, she swung them over the mattress and carefully rose to her feet. Her legs wobbled but supported her. She wondered how much blood she had lost, then immediately put it from her mind. It didn’t matter. Looking out the entrance to the tent, she could see the shadows of several Gypsies nearby. She cowered back against the wall of the tent, wondering how she would ever escape, before her overworked mind realized a simple fact. She was not in a prison cell of steel bars. She was in a tent, surrounded on all sides by fabric. 

Crouching, she lifted the tent wall behind her, wriggling underneath it while still keeping her stump carefully shielded. Within a moment, she was outside the tent, smelling the fresh air only slightly marred by evil. Looking around, she saw no one and made her way for the outskirts of the camp as fast as her legs would carry her. 

She missed Tony, her childhood protector, spreading gasoline, by seconds, as she limped out of the camp, bound for home. 

Book Review: Howls from Hell Anthology

Book Review: Howls from Hell review by Matt Marovich

No matter what the theme of the anthology, the one constant among such books is that an anthology is not going to completely be the thing for everyone, and Howls From Hell, A Horror Anthology (which I’ll just refer to as Howls from here on out) is no different. That said, I will say that I enjoyed most of the stories in Howls and even the ones I enjoyed less were still decent. 

Other than being generally “horror”, there’s no real standard theme to the stories in this anthology, all of which come from members of an online community called the HOWL (Horror-Obsessed Writing and Literature) Society. The stories cross the gambit from ones I would describe as more Weird fiction than Horror to body horror, monster horror, and slasher horror. There are strange occult stories that might fit in the Lovecraft Mythos or something similar and one of body-hopping police officers/crisis interventionists who possess people in order to solve problems. While I generally prefer anthologies organized around a more standardized topic, the lack thereof doesn’t detract from Howls and I think instead provides it a little bit of strength; where an anthology with a unifying theme might have a few weaker pieces that don’t quite match the rest of the stories, by not having such a thread to tie the stories together it allows Howls to offer a greater variety of experiences that might provide more of a palette to appeal to a greater audience.

The one thing that I will say about Howls is that there were some stories that didn’t quite strike me as “horror”. One such story is “Manufactured Gods”, a piece that struck me as more sci-fi than horror about future explorers of an ancient tomb who make a startling discovery. Another is the story I referenced above, “Possess and Serve” which seemed more like a police procedural or thriller than a true horror story. The first story in the anthology “A Casual Encounter”, which details the first-person perspective from a sex worker who is more than she seems, having an encounter with a john, really isn’t a story with a beginning, middle, and end or a plot with a conflict that is resolved; it feels like it should be a scene in a larger piece. Despite these opinions, these three stories were creatively written with vivid descriptions that captivated me and I enjoyed them quite a lot. 

If you are a fan of horror and anthologies I would recommend giving Howls from Hell, A Horror Anthology a try; it’s a quick read and with the variety of tales to provide I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Batavia

Greetings HorrorAddicts! This month’s review is a bit of a concept project and that got me thinking about some of my favorite concept albums. I’m excited to share them with you, but first, a little about Batavia. 

This husband and wife duo shares a love for punk and industrial music and has created a project that delves into both of these sounds to build a moody piece about the evil that humans do to one another. “Quite Mean Spirited” gets off to a rocky start, but by track three it had my attention. Track four, “Finis,” and especially five, “The Absinthian,” were solid performances, and I gained an appreciation for the piece and where they were headed. Inspired by a true story of violence out of 1930s Soviet Russia, Batavia explores loneliness and fear during a time when many folks are well-versed in those emotions. I admire their creativity and passion and will check out more of their work in the future. You can find more about Batavia on Bandcamp. 

Recently my musician pal Ted Levin released a series of videos featuring his original music set to horror imagery from the film Begotten (1989). It’s eerie, disturbing, and so very, very cool. He has a sound that harkens back to Pink Floyd with sprinkles of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden mixed in for extra flavor. Check out “Bound” and “Sky and the Sun” on YouTube for a creepy good time. 

Nothing is more fascinating to me as a music fan than when artists open up about their lives and let us into their world. One of my favorite examples of this is Alice Cooper’s From The Inside. The album explores his experience in a mental institution as a result of his alcoholism. It’s witty, funny, dark, and vulnerable, and it’s one of my all-time favorite albums. “How You Gonna See Me Now” is a brilliant song that touches me on a very personal level. 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/7FFpqmbQxj3u4Q7aLGNox0

Another concept album that takes me back is Styx’s Paradise Theater. The double album cover shows the dilapidated theater on the inside and a brilliant shining version facing outward. I wanted to know all of the stories that went on there when I listened with my mom, dancing around the house and trying not to bump the record player (I always did).

 https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/6PhLTeuN0G894bdSBTCwUF

That’s it for this month’s Merrill’s Musical Musings. Be sure to hit me up on the socials or leave a comment and share with me your favorite concept albums. Stay Tuned for Ro’s Recs… R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor

New Horror Bite: Deathly Fog by Adam Breckenridge

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present our newest Horror Bite…
dfphone

Deathly Fog
by Adam Breckenridge

When Jacob and his brothers discover the ability to capture fog from the marsh behind their house, they bring it back with them. The fun game turns to danger as they realize perhaps something else accompanied them home. Is it too late to escape the Deathly Fog?

Merrill’s Musical Musings

Merrill’s Musings – Funhouse Collective

Greetings HorrorAddicts. I hope this month’s Merrill’s Musings finds you happy, healthy, and ready to rock. I am a sucker for a great cover song, and Dutch artist Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” is an excellent choice. This month we’re checking out Funhouse Collective’s creepy, sinister version of this classic hit. The Funhouse Collective is the brainchild of Johnathan Mooney who had gotten the inspiration to start this new endeavor as a “collective” of multiple musicians and artists to collaborate with on different sounds and songs. Gone is the 80s rock sound, and in its place, we’ve got an alternative take that makes for a decent homage. The spirit of the song remains in their delivery, which is a little uneven but is a fun reminder of the horror roots of the decade. All three versions of the song have a different take on the tune and a variety of beats and synthesizers are used in the artist’s arrangement. I appreciate the effort to bring a little dark nostalgia. Anything to take me back to the 80s for an audio visit is fine by me. This is the artists’ first collaboration, and I look forward to seeing them take some other old favorites for a spin.

What are some of your favorite 80s tracks? Or maybe you’ve got a great cover to share? Hit me up in the comments or on the socials @rlmerrillauthor and share your favorites! Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite covers done recently by current bands. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/404GT0TGFW2D8YBVABbR9t?si=8UrYSVO5QNWefE_4tfAT-A

Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

 

From The Vault : Best Latinx Horror Movies

from Will “the Thrill” Viharo

Naschy and Franco made hundreds of films between them so this is only a small but representative sampling. Here are some of my favorites. Salud! THE BLIND DEAD quadrilogy directed by Amando de Ossorio

  1. Tombs of the Blind Dead
  2. Night of the Seagulls
  3. Return of the Blind Dead
  4. Tombs of the Blind Dead

Also by Amando de Ossorio:

  1. The Loreley’s Grasp
  2.  Night of the Sorcerers

Rino Di Silvestro:

Werewolf Woman Paul Naschy:

  1. Werewolf VS. The Vampire Woman (aka Werewolf Shadow)
  2. Curse of the Devil
  3. Dracula’s Great Love
  4. The Mummy’s Revenge
  5. Hunchback of the Morgue
  6. Vengence of the Zombies
  7. Horror Rises From the Tomb

Jess Franco:

  1. Vampyros Lesbos
  2.  She Killed in Ecstasy
  3. The Awful Dr. Orlof
  4. The Diabolical Dr. Z
  5. Succubus
  6. Venus in Furs
  7. A VirginAmong the Living Dead

Listical courtesy of Will “the Thrill” Viharo http://www.thrillville.net/

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Provision

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Provision

Greetings and Salutations HorrorAddicts! For this month’s Merrill’s Musings we will be listening to the darkwave duo Provision out of Houston, Texas. Their latest album Hearts Turn Dark in 2020 and it’s definitely for fans of bands like Camouflage, Xymox, and Information Society. Songs like “Clarity” and “When The Damage Is Done” are loaded with emotional lyrics that will appeal to listeners looking for that 80s electronica sound and a bit soulful pondering. Production value is great on this album and the songs blend seamlessly, allowing the listener to put on track one and be carried through the album’s soundscapes unimpeded. The title track was a standout for me with a good beat and a good question: When our hearts turn dark, are we no longer human? Honestly, I think a dark heart means a deep thinker and feeler and therefore someone who is more human than human, to quote Rob Zombie. Check out Provision on Bandcamp and other streaming services like Spotify.

Who are some of your favorite electronica bands? There’s just something so soothing about a good album of electronic music that can carry you away. I’d love to hear your favorites. Hit me up in the comments and let me know. 

I hope you all are hanging in there this spring. The ground and cars are stained yellow with pollen and it’s time for creepy folk like me to stay indoors and write our little hearts out. It’s good to have some new music to listen to, so enjoy and take care of yourselves. Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings…

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. 

 

Ro’ Recs : Vision Video’s Upcoming Album

Greetings and Salutations! I’ve got a great rec for you this month and it all started with a bloody video. Like most 80s kids, I loved my MTV…so much that I got a job just so I could convince my mom we needed cable and that I’d pay for it so I could watch videos 24-7. It really “chaps my hide” when I think about how good kids have it today with YouTube and the like putting all this great music at their fingertips, rather than having to keep their fingertips on the pause and record buttons of their tape decks. But I digress. 

I received an email with a link to Vision Video’s new clip for “Comfort In The Grave” and I clicked it while preparing for a day of educating America’s youth. And whoa. It was an imaginative short film with gore and a great soundtrack. Score! I hit the sender back and replied, “send me more,” and much to my delight, I received an early promo copy of the band’s upcoming album Inked In Red. Fellow former and current goth friends, when I tell you you’re gonna love it, I mean you’re gonna love it. 

With jangly guitars, bouncy bass lines, and silky synthesizers reminiscent of Joy Division, New Order, and The Smiths, Vision Video has created an album full of delicious tracks. The Athens, Georgia quartet delivers a solid album that HorrorAddicts will love, especially after watching the killer video for “Comfort In The Grave.” Keyboardist Emily Fredock does a fantastic job with this moody track, taking the listener with her on a homicidal journey. Vocals from frontman Dusty Gannon give me a modern Killers-esque vibe and the lyrics are inventive and poetic in a refreshing way. Tracks “Static Drone,” “Run,” and “In My Side” are some of my favorites on first listen, but all of the tracks have the potential for repeat plays. While heavy topics like trauma and terror are covered in the tunes, there’s also a danceability and hopefulness that makes this album special. It’s a rare band that can bring nostalgia along with that fresh feeling of finding a new favorite. 

Discovering new music and other expressions of art during the pandemic has been so important. We need art to keep us motivated and determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other, now more than ever. I’m so glad I found Vision Video in my inbox. I am looking forward to watching this band grow and expand their reach and I hope all of my HorrorAddicts.net pals will join me in celebrating the release of Inked in Red with them. Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs…

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. 

 

Historian of Horror: In Memoriam April ~ June, 2021

In Memoriam, April through June 2021

We are met again to celebrate those who made contributions to the horror genre and who passed

away during the second quarter of the year.

April

William “Biff” McGuire (October 25, 1926 – April 1, 2021) American actor in one episode of Kraft Theatre (season 6, episode 13, “A Christmas Carol”, aired December 24, 1952), four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1956 to 1958, and The Werewolf of Washington  (1974). 

Mark Elliott (September 24, 1939 – April 3, 2021) American actor in Edge of Sanity (1989).

John Paragon (December 9, 1954 – April 3, 2021) American actor, appeared in the feature films Eating Raoul (1982), Pandemonium (1982), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), and Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001); and on television in Elvira’s Movie Macabre, Elvira’s MTV Halloween Party, The Elvira Show and 13 Nights of Elvira from 1981 to 2011.

Giuseppe Pinori (September 15, 1928 – April 3, 2021) Italian cinematographer on the 1984 giallo, Murderrock: Uccide a Passo di Danza (English title – Murder-Rock: Dancing Death), as well as the horror films Contamination (1980) and l’Apocalisse della Schimmie (2012).

Francisco Haghenbeck (1965 – April 4, 2021) Mexican comic book writer, novelist and screenwriter. His 2011 novel El Diablo me obligó was the basis for the Netflix supernatural television series Diablero

Zygmunt Malanowicz (4 February 1938 – 4 April 2021) Polish film actor, The Lure (2015).

Phil Eason (May 5, 1960 – April 5, 2012) British actor and puppeteer, Labyrinth (1986) and Little Shop of Horrors (1986).

Robert Fletcher (August 23, 1922 – April 5, 2021) American costume and set designer, The Scarecrow (TV movie, 1972) and Fright Night (1985)

Paul Ritter (5 March 1967 – 5 April 2021) English actor in Nostradamus (2006), Hannibal Rising (2007), The Limehouse Golem (2016) and all four episodes of the English television mini-series, Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories (2016). He also played Bram Stoker in one episode of the 2016 mini-series, Houdini and Doyle.

Grischa Huber (18 September 1944 – 6 April 2021) German actress, Vampira (1971).

Walter Olkewicz (November 14, 1948 – April 6, 2021) American character actor in Comedy of Horrors (1981) and the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” episode of Tall Tales & Legends (season 1, episode 1, aired September 25, 1985). He also had a recurring role as Jean-Michel Renault in the various incarnations of Twin Peaks (1990-2017).

James Hampton (July 9, 1936 – April 7, 2021) American actor who played the lycanthropic dad in Teen Wolf (1985) and Teen Wolf Too (1987), as well as the Teen Wolf television series (1986-1987).

Olga Pashkova (2 January 1966 – 7 April 2021) Russian actress, Burial of the Rats (1995).

Earl Simmons (AKA DMX, December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021) American rapper, songwriter, and actor in The Bleeding (2009).

Edwin L. Aguilar (August 16, 1974 – April 10, 2021) Salvadoran-born American animator on The Simpsons, including several of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes.

Giannetto De Rossi (8 August 1942 – 11 April 2021) Italian makeup artist on Doctor Faustus (1967), Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), Zombi 2 (1979), Cannibals in the Streets (1980), The Beyond (1981), The House by the Cemetery (1981), King Kong Lives (1988), and Killer Crocodile (1989).

Enzo Sciotti (September 24, 1944 – April 11, 2021) Italian illustrator, noted for producing more than 3000 movie posters including those for the horror films The Beyond (1981), Manhattan Baby (1982), Demons (1985), Phenomena (1985), Neon Maniacs (1986), Girlfriend from Hell (1989), A Cat in the Brain (1990), and Two Evil Eyes (1990).

Zoran Simjanović (11 May 1946 – 11 April 2021) Serbian composer on film scores for Variola Vera (1982), Već viđeno (1987 AKA Reflections and Deja Vu) and Sabirni Centar (1989, The Meeting Point).

John C. Pelan (July 19, 1957 – April 12, 2021) American horror and science fiction author, editor and small-press publisher.

Siboney Lo (31 October 1978 – 13 April 2021) Chilean actress, Fragmentos Urbanos (2002), Get Pony Boy (2007), Hidden in the Woods (2012), and Road Kill (2014).

Amedeo Tommasi (1 December 1935 – 13 April 2021) Italian film music composer on the horror films Balsamus, l’uomo di Satana (1970), Thomas and the Bewitched (1970), Hanno cambiato facia (They Have Changed Their Face 1971), Off Season (1980), and Il signor Diavolo (2019); on two gialli, The House with Laughing Windows (1976) and Sleepless (2001); and on the giallo spoof, Tutti Defunti… Tranne i Morti (1977).

Patricio Castillo (December 29, 1939 – April 15, 2021) Chilean-born Mexican actor, Violencia a Sangre Fria (1989)

Ira Keeler (July 22, 1940 – April 15, 2021) British visual effects artist on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Jurassic Park (1993), Congo (1995), Mars Attacks (1996), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Men in Black (1997), The Mummy (1999), and Jurassic Park III (2001)

Helen McCrory (17 August 1968 – 16 April 2021) English actress, appeared in the feature films Interview with the Vampire (1994), The Woman in Black: Angel of Death (2015), and as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series. On television, she appeared in the 2007 British version of Frankenstein, “The Vampires of Venice” episode of Doctor Who (Season 5, Episode 6, aired May 8, 2010), and as Evelyn Poole (AKA Madame Kali) in the first two seasons of Penny Dreadful (2014-2015). On stage, she played Lady Macbeth in 1994 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, for which she won the Richard Burton Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and starred in Medea at the Royal National Theatre, for which she won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award in 2015. Wonder how Edward Lionheart would have felt about that?

Abu Bakar Omar (1949 – April 16, 2021) Malaysian actor, Rahsia (1987).

Anthony Powell (2 June 1935 – 16 April 2021) Oscar, BAFTA and Tony Award-winning English costume designer on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and The Ninth Gate (1999).

Liam Scarlett (8 April 1986 – 16 April 2021) British choreographer who was associated with a number of ballet companies worldwide, including as artist-in-residence at The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London. He choreographed several genre-related ballets, including Frankenstein, Queen of Spades, and Die Toteninsel.

Felix Silla (January 11, 1937 – April 16, 2021) Italian-born American film and television actor and stuntman, played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family series in the 1960s and in the 1977 television movie, Halloween with the New Addams Family. Also played the Polka Dotted Horse and other roles in H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) and the related 1970 film, Pufnstuf; a goblin in a 1967 episode of Bewitched and a troll in a 1971 episode of the same show; Colonel Poom on Lidsville (1971-1972); and Baby New Year in “The Diary” segment of the November 10, 1971 episode of Night Gallery (season 2, episode 8). He acted in the feature films She Freak (1967), Sssssss (1973), Demon Seed (1977), The Manitou (1978), The Brood (1979), The Dungeonmaster (1984), and House (1985), and the 1973 television movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. He performed stunts in Poltergeist (1982), The Monster Squad (1987) and Phantasm II (1988).

Jim Steinman (November 1, 1947 – April 19, 2021) American composer, songwriter, record producer and playwright. Wrote the music and lyrics for Meat Loaf’s debut album, Bat Out of Hell, as well as Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell; also wrote the music for the 1997 stage musical Tanz der Vampires, first performed in Vienna (hence the German title) which was based on the 1967 Roman Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Monte Hellman (July 12, 1929 – April 20, 2021) American film director, producer, writer, and editor. Directed The Beast from Haunted Cave (1959); was location director on Roger Corman’s The Terror (1963), starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson; and wrote, directed, edited and had an uncredited cameo in the 1989 slasher film, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!.

Wiesława Mazurkiewicz (25 March 1926 – 20 April 2021) Polish actress, Lokis. Rekopis profesora Wittembacha (Lokis, the Manuscript of Professor Wittembach, 1970).

Tempest Storm (born Annie Blanche Banks, February 29, 1928 – April 20, 2021), “The Queen of Exotic Dancers,” American burlesque star who was one of the most famous strippers of her generation. Her handful of movie appearances included Mundo Depravados (1967), written and directed by her husband, Herb Jeffries, who had his own unique film career as the pre-eminent African-American western movie star of the 1930s.

Charles Fries (September 30, 1928 – April 22, 2021) American film producer or executive producer on She Waits (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Vault of Horror (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), The Strange and Deadly Occurrence (1974), The Spell (1977), Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977), Night Cries (1978), The Initiation of Sarah (1978), Are You in the House Alone? (1978), Cat People (1982), Terror at London Bridge (1985), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1988), Deathstone (1990), Screamers (1995), The Initiation of Sarah (2006), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Flowers in the Attic (2014), Petals on the Wind (2014), If There Be Thorns (2015), and Seeds of Yesterday (2015).

Amit Mistry (January 12, 1974 – April 23, 2021) Indian actor, Bhoot Police (2021).

Yves Rénier (29 September 1942 – 23 April 2021) French actor, director, screenwriter and voice actor. Appeared in the television mini-series Belphegor, or Phantom of the Louvre (1965). Dubbed the voice of James Woods in the French-language release of John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998).

Shunsuke Kikuchi (1 November 1931 – 24 April 2021) Japanese film and television music composer, Kaidan semushi otoko (House of Terrors, 1965), Kaitei daisensô (The Terror Beneath the Sea, 1966), Kaidan hebi-onna (Snake Woman’s Curse, 1968), Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), Gamera vs Guiron (1969), Gamera vs Jiger (1970), Gamera vs Zigra (1971), and Gamera: Super Monster (1980).

Charles Beeson (10 May, 1957 – 26 April 2021) British television producer and director on the 2015 American mini-series The Whispers, and director on one episode of The Vampire Diaries (Season 2, Episode 7, “Masquerade”, aired October 28, 2010), five episodes of Fringe (2010-2012) and fourteen episodes of Supernatural from 2007 to 2020.

Johnny Crawford (March 26, 1946 – April 29, 2021) American actor, one of the original Mousketeers in the 1950s and prolific child star on American television into the 1960s. Best known for his role as the son of Chuck Connors in the classic western TV series, The Rifleman (1958-1963). He also, along with most of his fellow television adolescents of that era, placed a few bubblegummy songs in the Top 40, with “Cindy’s Birthday” making it all the way to the #8 position in 1962. Played one of the thirty-foot-tall juvenile delinquents terrorizing a small town in the utterly bonkers dark comedy, Village of the Giants (1965).

Billie Hayes (August 5, 1924 – April 29, 2021) American stage, film, television and voice actress, played Witchipoo on the children’s television series H.R. Pufnstuf (1969), The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1969) and the second season of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour in (1969); a similar character in one episode of Bewitched (Season 8, Episode 10, “Hansel and Gretel in Samantha-Land”, aired November 17, 1971); and Weenie the Genie on Lidsville (1971-1972). She also appeared in one episode of the Bewitched spin-off series, Tabitha (Season 1, Episode 6, “Mr. Nice Guy”, aired December 10, 1977). She did voice work for the animated television series Trollkins (1981), The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984), The Real Ghostbusters (1986), Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1995), and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (2005), and the feature films The Black Cauldron (1985) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

S. G. Chelladurai (1937 – April 29, 2021) Indian actor, Airaa (2019).

Libertad Leblanc (February 24, 1938 – April 30, 2021) Argentine platinum blonde sex symbol, best known for her work in erotic films. She did make a couple of horror pictures, La Endemoniada (A Woman Possessed, 1968) in Mexico and the Spanish/Italian Cerco de Terror (Siege of Terror, 1971).

May

Tom Hickey (1944 – 1 May 2021) Irish actor, Gothic (1986) and High Spirits (1988).

Bikramjeet Kanwarpal (29 August 1968 – 01 May 2021) Indian actor, Mallika (2010), Dangerous Ishhq (Dangerous Love, 2012), Horror Story (2013), and Creature 3D (2014).

Willy Kurant (15 February 1934 – 1 May 2021) Belgian cinematographer, The Incredible Melting Man (1977) and Mama Dracula (1980).

Chuck Hicks (December 26, 1927 – May 4, 2021) American actor and stuntman, Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), Shock Corridor (1963), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972), Beyond Evil (1980), The Ring (2002), Hood of Horror (2006), and Legion (2010). On television, he appeared in one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Ten O’Clock Tiger”, season 7, Episode 26, aired April 3, 1962) and two of The Twilight Zone (“Steel”, Season 5, Episode 2, aired October 4, 1963, and “Ninety Years Without Slumbering”, Season 5, Episode 12, aired December 20, 1963).

Feđa Stojanović (31 January 1948 – 5 May 2021) Serbian actor, T.T. Syndrome (2002)

Guillermo Murray (15 June 1927 – 6 May 2021) Argentine-born Mexican actor, El Mundo de los Vampiros (1961), La Huella Macabra (1963), Los Murcialagos (1964), The Chinese Room (1968), and Six Tickets to Hell (1981).

Tawny Kitaen (August 5, 1961 – May 7, 2021) American actress, Witchboard (1986)

Jean-Claude Romer (19 January 1933 – 8 May 2021) French actor, Les week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff (Seven Women for Satan, 1976), Cinemania (short film, as the Frankenstein Monster, 1978), Baby Blood (1990), Time Demon (1996), and Marquis de Slime (1997). Romer was also co-editor of the French science fiction, fantasy and horror film magazine, Midi-Minuit Fantastique (1962-1972). The first issue is available in the Internet Archives.

Neil Connery (1 January 1938 – 10 May 2021) Scottish actor and the younger brother of Sean Connery, The Body Stealers (1969).

Dennis Joseph (October 20, 1957 – May 10, 2021) Indian scriptwriter and director, Geethaanjali (2013).

Norman Lloyd (November 8, 1914 – May 11, 2021) American actor whom I was about convinced would live forever. Linked both to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, he was a significant presence in every medium of American entertainment for most of a century. He appeared in the May 24, 1945 episode of the Suspense! radio show (“My Own Murderer”). His genre-related films included the 1951 remake of M with David Wayne in the role created twenty years earlier by Peter Lorre; Audrey Rose (1977); the TV mini-series The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978); Jaws of Satan (1981), Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes (1989); and the 1995 TV remake of The Omen. On television, he directed, produced and/or acted in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, as well as being executive producer on the 1968-1969 series Journey into the Unknown and producer on Tales of the Unexpected (1982-1985). He acted in one episode each of One Step Beyond (Season 2, Episode 1, “Delusion”, aired September 15, 1959), Night Gallery (Season 2, Episode 16, “A Feast of Blood”, aired January 12, 1972) and the Twilight Zone revival series (Season 1, Episode 24, “The Last Defender of Camelot”, aired April 11, 1986).

Jaime Garza (January 28, 1954 – May 14, 2021) Mexican actor, Dinastia Sangrienta (1988) and The Bloody Monks (1989).

Roy Scammell (28 July 1932 – 15 May 2021) British stuntman and stunt arranger, Circus of Fear (1966), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Horror Hospital (1973), Alien (1979), Venom (1981), and Seize the Night (2015).

René Cardona III (1962 – May 16, 2021) Mexican actor, director and screenwriter, The Bermuda Triangle (1978), Terror en las Barrios (1983), Cementario del Terror (1985), Vacaciones de Terror (1989), Alarido del Terror (1991), El Beso de la Muerte: Historias Espeluznantes (1991), Pesadilla Fatal (1991), Colmillos, el Hombre Lobo (1993), and El Asesino del Teatro (1996)

Nitish Veera (1976 – 17 May 2021) Indian actor, Airaa (2019) and Neeya 2 (2019). 

Vladimir Fyodorov (February 19, 1939 — May 18, 2021) Russian actor, Ruslan i Lyudmila (1972), Dikaya okhota korolya Stakha (Savage Hunt of King Stakh, 1980), and Lisova Pisnya. Mavka (1981). 

Charles Grodin (April 21, 1935 – May 18, 2021) Award-winning American actor, comedian, author, and television talk show host, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), King Kong (1976), and So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993).

David Anthony Kraft (May 31, 1952 – May 19, 2021) American comic book writer, publisher, and critic. Wrote the Man-Wolf feature in several Marvel comic book titles in the middle 1970s, including Creatures on the Loose and Marvel Premiere. Man-Wolf was the astronaut son of Spider-Man’s nemesis J. Jonah Jameson who developed lycanthropy after picking up a magical rock on the moon. 

Kraft also wrote stories for the Marvel publications Giant-Size Dracula, Haunt of Horror and Tales of the Zombie. He wrote Demon Hunter #1 for Atlas/Seaboard in 1975, and a Swamp Thing issue for DC Comics in 1976. Kraft founded Fictioneer Books in 1974. Its subsidiary imprint, Comics Interview, published the Southern Knights comic book during the 1980s. Southern Knights was a super-hero group, one member of which was a dragon who could assume human form. A friend of mine at the time illustrated the final issue. 

Romy Walthall (September 16, 1963 – May 19, 2021) American actress in the feature films Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988), The House of Usher (1989), and Howling: New Moon Rising (1995); and in one episode each of The X-Files (“Millennium”, Season 7, Episode 4, aired November 28, 1999) and The Nightmare Room (“Don’t Forget me”, Season 1, Episode 1, aired August 31, 2001)).

Robert Green Hall (27 November 1973 – May 24, 2021) American special makeup effects artist on the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and the feature films Vacancy (2007), Killer Pad (2008), The Crazies (2010), Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011), and Fear Clinic (2014). Also directed Laid to Rest (2009) and ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011).

Desiree Gould (March 27, 1945 – May 25, 2021) American actress, Sleepaway Camp (1983), Under Surveillance (2006), Caesar and Otto Meet Dracula’s Lawyer (2010), and Tales of Poe (2014).

Ben Kruger (25 March 1957 – 25 May 2021) South African actor, Snake Island (2002).

Carla Fracci (20 August 1936 – 27 May 2021) Italian ballet dancer, best known for the supernatural ballet Giselle

Robert Hogan (September 28, 1933 – May 27, 2021) Prolific American film and television actor in the feature films Westworld (1973), Species II (1998), and in one episode each of The Twilight Zone (“Spur of the Moment”, Season 5, Episode 21, aired February 21, 1964), Kraft Suspense Theatre (“The Wine Dark Sea”, Season 2, Episode 11, aired December 31, 1964), Night Gallery (“Brenda”, Season 2, Episode 7, aired November 3, 1971), and Tales of the Unexpected (“No Way Out”, Season 1, Episode 8, aired August 24, 1977).

Lorina Kamburova (February 1, 1991 – May 26, 2021) Bulgarian actress, Nightworld: Door of Hell (2017), Leatherface (2017), Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2017), and Doom: Annihilation (2019).

Paul Soles (August 11, 1930 – May 26, 2021) Canadian voice actor on the 1966 Saturday morning Japanese-produced American cartoon series King Kong. Yes, THAT King Kong. Big monkey King Kong. As a commenter on the show’s IMDb page pointed out, it wasn’t a particularly memorable series, but it had one of the catchiest theme songs on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Not as great as the theme song from Underdog, but still pretty darn good. Soles also did voice work for several of the cartoon shows based on the Marvel Comics characters during the 1960s, including as the title character in Spider-Man, making him the first actor to ever play the web-slinger. It also had a great theme song. Yes, childrens, music was indeed better in the ‘60s, in every aspect of the popular culture.

Shane Briant (17 August 1946 – 27 May 2021) English actor, Demons of the Mind (1972), Straight on Till Morning (1972), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter (1974), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Cassandra (1987), Out of the Body (1989), and Sherlock Holmes vs Frankenstein (2019).

David Butler (March 1, 1960 – May 27, 2021) South African actor, The Canterville Ghost (1983).

Marcell Jankovics (21 October 1941 – 29 May 2021) Hungarian animator, A Székely asszony és az ördög (The Transylvanian Woman and the Devil, 1985), one of a series of short animated films based on Hungarian folk tales.

Maurice Capovila (16 January 1936 – 29 May 2021) Brazilian film director and screenwriter. His 1970 dramatic film, The Prophet of Hunger, while not explicitly horror, may appeal to horror fans as it starred Jose Mojica Marins, better known as Coffin Joe, and had a rather surrealistic plot.

John Gregg (12 January 1939 – 29 May 2021) Australian actor in one episode of the British television series Dead of Night (“Two in the Morning”, Season 1, Episode 6, aired December 10, 1972), and one episode of the Australian supernatural comedy series, Spirited (“Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead”, Season 1, Episode 2, aired September 1, 2010).

Joe Lara (October 2, 1962 – May 29, 2021) American actor best known for playing Tarzan on television in the 1990s. Died in a plane crash in Percy Priest Lake, a few miles from where I live in Middle Tennessee. Appeared in the horror films Night Wars (1988) and The Presence (1992).

Gavin MacLeod (February 28, 1931 – May 29, 2021) American actor best known for playing Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and Captain Stubing on The Love Boat (1977-1986). Appeared in one episode of The Munsters (Season 1, Episode 12, “The Sleeping Cutie”, aired December 10, 1964).

Arlene Golonka (January 23, 1936 – May 31, 2021) Ubiquitous American actress with an extensive career in television from the 1960s to the 1980s. Appeared in Skeletons (1997). Also did some voice work for the Saturday morning cartoon series, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, in 1973.

June

Violeta Vidaurre (12 September 1928 – 1 June 2021) Chilean actress with a long career in television and in the theater. She appeared as Ercilia Núñez in twenty-three episodes of the Chilean vampire telenovela, Conde Vrolok (2009-2010).

Michael Ray Escamilla (died June 3, 2021) American actor, The Orphan Killer (2011) and The Possession of Michael King (2014)

Damaris Hayman (16 June 1929 – 3 June 2021) English character actress who appeared in one storyline of Doctor Who during the tenure of Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor. She played Miss Hawthorne in all five episodes of “The Dæmons” in 1971.

Ernie Lively (January 29, 1947 – June 3, 2021) Prolific American character actor, Ghost Chase (AKA Hollywood-Monster, 1987), Shocker (1989), Sleepwalkers (1992), and one episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents revival series (“Four O’Clock”, based on the classic short story by Cornell Woolrich, Season 1, Episode 21, aired May 4. 1986).

N. Rangarajan (17 December 1930 – 3 June 2021) Indian film director, Kalyanaraman (1979).

Valeriy Sheptekita (December 20, 1940 – June 3, 2021) Ukrainian actor, Ivanko I Tsar Poganin (1984), 

Arlene Tolibas (1966 – June 3, 2021) Filipina actress in Regal Shocker: The Movie (1989), Tarot (2009), and one episode of the Filipino Tagalog-language TV series #ParangNormal Activity (“Yung may ghost na extra”, Season 1, Episode 5, aired August 8, 2015).

John Sacret Young (May 24, 1946 – June 3, 2021[1]) American screenwriter, The Possessed (1977).

Clarence Williams III (August 21, 1939 – June 4, 2021) American actor, appeared in the feature films Perfect Victims (1988), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), Tales from the Hood (1995), Mindstorm (2001), and American Nightmares (2018). First made his mark on television as one of the leads of The Mod Squad (1968-1973) and worked extensively in the medium, including one episode of the BBC program Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries (“The Furnished Room”, Season 1, Episode 26, aired February 24, 1974), one of Tales from the Crypt (“Maniac at Large”, Season 4, Episode 10, aired August 19, 1992), and as FBI Agent Roger Hardy in two episodes of Twin Peaks (1990). 

Camilla Amado (7 August 1938 – 6 June 2021) Brazilian actress, Quem Tem Medo de Lobisomem? (Who’s Afraid of the Werewolf?, 1975).

Surekha (10 March 1955 – 6 June 2021) Indian actress, Aathma (1993).

Douglas S. Cramer (August 22, 1931 – June 7, 2021) American producer on the television movies The Cat Creature (1973), The Dead Don’t Die (1975), Snowbeast (1977), Cruise into Terror (1978), and Don’t Go to Sleep (1982). 

Laszlo George (May 30, 1931 – June 7, 2021) Canadian cinematographer, Something is Out There (1988), and two episodes of Reaper (“Rebellion”, Season 1, Episode 14, aired April 22, 2008 and “Coming to Grips”, Season 1, Episode 15, aired April 29, 2008).

Ben Roberts (1 July 1950 – 7 June 2021) British actor, Jane Eyre (2011).

Julio Calasso (1941 – June 11, 2012) Brazilian actor, Filme Demencia (1986) and Olhos de Vampa (1996).

Kay Hawtrey (November 8, 1926 – June 11, 2021) Canadian character actress, Funeral Home (1980), The Intruder (1981), Videodrome (1983), Haunted by Her Past (1987), Urban Legend (1998) and American Psycho II: All-American Girl (2002).

Dennis Berry (August 11, 1944 – June 12, 2021) American film director and actor. Directed La mort mystérieuse de Nina Chéreau (The Mysterious Death of Nina Chereau, 1988). Played a bit part in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the Poe-based anthology film, Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead, 1968).

Ned Beatty (July 6, 1937 – June 13, 2021) Prolific American character actor, Deliverance (1972), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Haunting of Barney Palmer (1987), Purple People Eater (1988), The Unholy (1988), Repossessed (1990), one episode of Tales of the Unexpected (“The Final Chapter”, Season 1, Episode 1, aired February 2, 1977), and the pilot for the revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Incident in a Small Jail”, aired May 5, 1985). Perhaps best known to many for playing Lex Luthor’s dim-witted henchman Otis is the first two Superman films starring Christopher Reeve.

John Gabriel (May 25, 1931 – June 13, 2021) American actor, Fantasies (1982).

David Lightfoot (1959/1960 – 13 June 2021) Australian film producer, Wolf Creek (2005) and Rogue (2007)

Lisa Banes (July 9, 1955 – June 14, 2021) American actress, Dragonfly (2002) and Them (2021).

Dinah Shearing (12 February 1926 – 14 June 2021) Australian actress, appeared on stage in Medee, Macbeth and Bell, Book and Candle, and in a 1960 production of Macbeth for Australian television.

Robert Desroches (14 July 1929 – 15 June 2021) Canadian actor, Friday the 13th: The Series (“The Prophecies: Part 1”, Season 3, Episode 1, and “The Prophecies: Part 2”, Season 3, Episode 2, both aired October 7, 1989).

Sanchari Vijay (July 18, 1983 – June 15, 2021) Indian actor, Riktha (2017).

Lily Weiding (22 October 1924 – 15 June 2021) Danish actress, The Green Butchers (2003).

Frank Bonner (February 28, 1942 – June 16, 2021) American actor, best known for playing sleazy sales manager Herb Tarlek on the classic sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. He apparently also thought turkeys could fly. Appeared in the 1970 horror film, Equinox, which also featured Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine editor Forrest J. Ackerman and horror, science-fiction and fantasy writer, and sometime actor, Fritz Leiber, Jr. 

Chandrashekhar (7 July 1922 – 16 June 2021) Indian actor, Maa (1991).

Linda Touby (1942 – June 17, 2021) American artist, widow of legendary illustrator Basil Gogos, as well as custodian of his estate. Gogos painted numerous covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine.

Joanne Linville (January 15, 1928 – June 20, 2021) Prolific American television actress, appeared in one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“The Safe Place”, Season 3, Episode 36, aired June 8, 1958), two of One Step Beyond (“The Dead Part of the House”, Season 1, Episode 9, aired March 17, 1959 and “Moment of Hate”, Season 3, Episode 6, aired October 25, 1960), one of The Twilight Zone (“The Passersby”, Season 3, Episode 4, Aired October 6, 1961), and the 1989 television movie, From the Dead of Night.

Nina Divíšková (12 July 1936 – 21 June 2021) Czech actress, The Great Unknown (1970), Morgiana (1972), and Wolf’s Hole (1987).

Robert Sacchi (March 27, 1932 – June 23, 2021) American character actor best known for his uncanny resemblance to legendary Hollywood tough guy star Humphrey Bogart. He exploited that similarity to play the inspector in The French Sex Murders (1972). As he also sounded like Bogie, he was the voice of Lou Spinelli in one episode of Tales from the Crypt (“You, Murderer”, Season 6, Episode 15, aired January 25, 1995). The story was shot from Spinelli’s point of view, but whenever he was seen in mirrors or other reflective surfaces, his appearance consisted of images of Bogart recycled from old films noir.

Med Reventberg (7 June 1948 – 24 June 2021) Swedish actress, Porträttet (1999), based on the short horror story “The Portrait” by Nikolai Gogol.

John Erman (August 3, 1935 – June 25, 2021) American television and film director, directed one episode of The Outer Limits (“Nightmare”, Season 1, Episode 10, aired December 2, 1963) and eight episodes of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir from 1968 to 1970.

Hans Holtegaard (August 5, 1952 – June 26, 2021) Danish actor, The Substitute (2007).

John Langley (June 1, 1943 – June 26, 2021) American television and film director, writer, and producer best known for creating the series Cops (1989). He co-wrote the screenplay for Deadly Sins (1995) and was executive producer on Vampire Clan (2002).

Stuart Damon (February 5, 1937 – June 29, 2021) American actor best known for his thirty-six-year run on the soap opera General Hospital. I first came across him on the late-sixties BBC series, The Champions, which was sort of like the contemporary BBC show The Avengers, but with super-powered leads. He appeared in one episode of the British TV series Thriller (“Nightmare for a Nightingale”, Season 6, Episode 3, aired October 2, 1975), and the 1982 television horror movie, Fantasies.

Graham Rouse (1934 – June 29, 2021) Australian actor, appeared in one episode of the Australian horror television series Things That Go Bump in the Night (“I See a Dark Stranger”, Season 1, Episode 3, aired March 13, 1974).

 

Free Fiction Week : I Am Afraid…by RAJALAXMI BEHERA

I AM AFRAID ……. by RAJALAXMI BEHERA

I opened my door, it was dark outside,

I turned on the lights to quit my fright.

The lights glimmered directly on my face,

I rubbed my eyes, my neck did ache.

 

I was tired of the day, I sat on the couch,

Something hit me, I cried out “OUCH!!!”

 

I moved a little, I hardly turned back,

There was a book on the floor, perhaps it fell from the rack.

 

I felt uncomfortable, I went for a shower,

My heart was filled with an unknown terror.

 

And I could hear some strange sound,

But the sounds stopped when I turned around. 

 

 There was a scratch mark on my mirror,

I was shocked, those marks were everywhere.

 

I exclaimed – “  What the hell is happening to me ? “

The next very second, the marks were nowhere to see.

 

I thought I was hallucinating out of my fatigue,

But it could be that there might have been some rogue,

Who might have entered my house to rob,

But I just fearfully thought to stop.

 

My mind was whirling due to all stress,

My eyes fell on the pocket of my dress.

 

There was a note, I read it, it was written – “ GOODBYE “

I did not know who put it there and why.

 

Then came to my sight, my perfume potion,

I could see, in the clear surface, my own reflection.

 

I could see a figure coming towards me,

On the surface of the potion, I could see.

 

Then all at once, I was struck by something heavy,

I turned back, only a MAN IN BLACK I could see…….

ONLY A MAN IN BLACK I COULD SEE…….

ONLY A MAN IN BLACK I COULD SEE…….


 

 

RAJALAXMI BEHERA is a student and writer of poems and short stories

To find more of her work: www.rajalaxmi2365.blogspot.com

Free Fiction Week:The Tomb of the Red King by Hank Belbin

In the Tomb of the Red King by Hank Belbin

The sarcophagus screeched open. Wafts of ancient dust spewed from the yawning blackness within.  Something else came rushing out too. Francis Aberdeen felt its dark presence as soon as he’d pried the lid from the thing. He had felt it as clear as he felt the ripping winds battering the Cornish coastline above the cave. He felt it like he felt the salty spray of the sea as he descended the cliffs to the entrance of the tomb itself. Something evil and old. Something dark. 

So bizarre to find such a coffin in Cornwall. Such practises were seldom discovered this far north of the equator. But there it was, just like the stranger had said it would be. After hours of crawling on his hands and knees through narrow tunnels by candlelight, Francis finally came into a vast domed chamber with a single white light beaming down onto a stone tableau ahead. The tableau was a  huge scalene triangle of ebony stone that raised up in the centre of the cavernous gloomy crypt. The triangle was surmounted with graphite plumbago shards that all pointed northward like rows of serrated teeth on a great dragon. Along the rim were esoteric carvings, hieroglyphics, and other depictions of demonic entities upward reaching to the coffin’s lid—none of which Francis could understand. It was beyond being prehistoric. Judging by the stratum of rock, Francis put the crypt’s age at somehow being of the late Cretaceous period. The walls of the tomb sloped down and back,  headlong into pitch-black nothingness. Around the sarcophagus itself were dusty old black jars containing a fetid red liquid that smelt like rotten meat. Everything in the chamber pointed towards mummification. But there was no body in the sarcophagus. The room was far too old for that.  Francis paused as he considered what to do next, his heart beating hard in his chest. Thick grey mud from the climb down into the tomb clung to his clothing like a cold blanket. His hands shook, and he felt the chill in his bones.  

Although he was positive he was alone, he distinctly felt the air grow tighter the instant he had unwittingly opened the coffin. A gnawing tingling sensation rose from the base of his spine and up into his neck, and it whispered to him softly that he had made a grave error. He knew it too.  Reckless pride and the desire to discover something unknown had blinded his pragmatism. And now the casket in the dark was open. What have I done? Francis cautiously leaned over the edge and gazed down into it. As he did, he felt the lingering thought that something was alive in there. Its aura impossibly glaring back at him from the abyss somehow. He didn’t know how to describe it with mortal words, but he was steadfast that he felt this lean and hungry stare of a spectre looking back at him from down there, in the pit of the coffin that seemed to stretch inward for eternity.  Something had been waiting for this. 

As he stood over the open chest, the damp air descended languidly all around him, laden with primal particles of disease and unknown threats that had seldom felt any other air for aeons. The darkness drew nearer, clutching up from the corners of the forlorn tomb with wide-open talons of shadows. All that was old and mystical was awake once more. All that once was—would now be again. In a flash, his mistakes came tumbling down to him. How could I have been so foolish? 

Days of hiking, hours of precarious scrabbling down the cliffs, even more, indeterminate time going lower into the caves had brought him to this moment, and in one nauseating instant, he regretted all of it. Some things are better left unknown, he thought to himself. How could he have been so careless? Why had he come into this tenebrous little hole in the earth? In the pit of his stomach, he already knew why. 

A tip-off from a dark-eyed stranger in the local tavern had sent him on this quest, bringing him here;  that was what started it. His shadow had crawled across the table as he approached. The hooded stranger had sat himself down opposite Francis in the meager tavern, offered to buy him an ale,  asked him if he was an archeologist; then proceeded to tell the most vivid tale of a seldom-talked about tomb near the tavern that supposedly held one of the last old spirits of the world. A spirit of great decadence. Beside the twinkle of the candle on the table, Francis could’ve sworn deeply that the stranger’s eyes were glowing faintly red—like the blood-thirsty anticipation of some starved hyena.  

But that wasn’t what brought him down into the cave. The real reason why he’d brought himself to the tomb was he had to see for himself if the fable was indeed true. He wanted to discover it for himself, to brand his own mark upon its finding. And with all the deathly stillness of the tomb around him, he had discovered it. Some unexplainable presence was there in the tomb, next to him,  over him, in him. Something unseen. But something that reared up and climbed inside his mind. It clung to him like cold tar. Whispers of all things primordial and malevolent swam through his thoughts—ancient days of death and blood.  

It wanted to be found, the force murmured to him. Of course, it did. It was all so clear now. The expedition was far too easy, the navigation of the unknown tunnels leading down to the stygian crypt even more so. The map was precise, the weather conditions favourable. All that was needed was for him to undertake the route. All it needed was a vessel. All of it made sense to Francis why.  He felt strangely heavy at the revelation. As if cast-iron weights had been suddenly tied around his shoulders.  

The hooded stranger from the tavern whispered one name to him before he departed. Izuzu. The  King in Red. Francis only knew of the title in passing. The King in Red was an old mystic fable that had only been passed down through subdued whisperings and superstitions in various isolated  Cornish villages such as Boscastle. In the tales, it was always associated with death and disease. A  great horned figure who loped between the shadows and spaces. He who controlled life. Something that betwixt all things that are and all things that never will be. Wherever it would roam, decaying slow death would follow. Its cape soaked in the crimson from the blood of the fallen wherever it had trodden. Legend has it that he was entombed in an impenetrable block of ice by the Old One for his amoral acts upon all things living. If he were to be released once more, he would bring with him the black clouds of death to all things. 

In one sickening realisation, Francis knew why the stranger in the tavern had told him about it. He knew Francis was a greenhorn archaeologist. He knew the young clear-skinned boy could not resist the opportunity to make a name for himself. He knew Francis, the naive 20-year-old, would take the bait. He wanted Francis to open it for him. And Francis did. Without hesitation, Francis Aberdeen of Leicester University had unwittingly unleashed all the eternal gloom of Izuzu, the King in Red, unto the world. What would become of the earth next he would never see. Because in the Red King’s steed, Francis would be trapped in the crypt forever. The darkness closed in. The candle flickered nervously then went out. The crypt sealed once more. He tried to scream, but it was cut short.  

_______________________________________________________________________________

I am a semi-professional writer who has published one novel and several short horror stories. I currently write screenplays and offer script treatments also. I am based in the UK and specialise in gothic and folklore horror set in the United Kingdom.

 

http://www.hankbelbin.co.uk

Free Fiction Week: The Blood of the Guilty by Carlos Ruiz Santiago

The blood of the guilty by Carlos Ruiz Santiago

When people complete their revenge the blood just runs in circles but, when Danya Tebens did it, it rained from the sky.

The sword, twisted and rusty, was creating a trembling path in the ground. The tremulous steps of the woman made her moves slow in the land full of bumps. Sacred stones around her, mortuary monoliths of the ones that had fallen before her, empty ground for the ones that will fall after her. All dead despite the blood, the ichor of life, poured grotesquely over them.

Her sight was lost, full of gore. The red crimson blood that fell from the sky was creating puddles of misery. The red scarlet blood that covered her weapon and her ragged armor, blood thrown by something that shouldn’t be able to bleed. The dark blood from her many lethal wounds.

She fell on her knees in front of one of the many tombs. Probably, the most important tomb in the history of dead people. Only a few words carved.

Belen Tebens. Loved son. Gone too early.

Something fell from the sky. Something thick and monstrous. A gigantic feral arm, full of shattered armor. Chains falling from the sky, colored in red godly blood. The vermilion storm was getting worse, the clouds darker, the wind fiercer, the sun barely showed a pair of ruby agonizing light arms that were fading in plain sight. The world itself was howling in agony.

“What have you done?” screamed a terrified voice of some poor fool at her back.

She hesitated a bit. Her mouth was dry, pasty, the acrid taste of her own guts in her mouth. She felt heavy, dizzy. Far away, the ground was pouring black dross. Part of the sliced skull of something that shouldn’t be able to die fell to the ground.

“I found the guilty” she answered in a reedy voice. “We had a few words.”

Then, she fell to the ground, her world quickly becoming black as the world of the living was becoming red with godly blood.

______________________________________________________________________________

My name is Carlos, I’m a Spanish fantasy and horror writer with two published novels ( Salvación condenada and Peregrinos de Kataik) and a participation in the anthologies Dentro de un agujero de gusano, Mitos y Leyendas and Devoradoras. I’m editor of the website Dentro del Monolito. I had written for magazines, such as Morningside and Exocerebros. I also have content around cinema, with the podcast Pistoleros de Gilead and the blog La Horroteca de Darko. Furthermore, I also organize talks and workshops around cinema and literature in various libraries.

https://darkosaurvlogs.wixsite.com/carlosruizescritor

Free Fiction Week: Once Bitten Twice Shy by Dan A. Cardoza

Once Bitten Twice Shy by Dan A. Cardoza

If you have been diagnosed as having Zika, a strain of the Bubonic Plague, like the one they’d discovered at Kiva Beach in Lake Tahoe, or a malady analogous to Lyme disease, chances are you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, a flea, or a tic. 

Once bitten, twice shy. But at least the odds of recovery favor you. 

A bite, a nip, or an insecticide-resistant tooth is not required for a few idiosyncratic diseases. Unfortunately, Reno won’t give you any odds on your survival.

Melvin Beckham had something worse than cabin fever. He could have died had he not bailed out of his companies Zoom meeting hell. He’d scheduled a short holiday. Hiding from COVID in his house had brought him within an eyelash width of insanity. 

He’d planned the short trip months ago, booking the lakeside view through his timeshare. It wasn’t Europe or Tahiti, but it was something, the twelfth-story view facing the gorgeous Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side. There had been a lot of vacancies. He’d assumed folks were still scared of catching death from traveling. 

Beckham paid big money for his illegal injection, though he hadn’t been a Vaxhole about it. He’d refrained from bragging to his colleagues and the one or two friends he didn’t have. There had been none of his usual insecure boastings after he’d received the two Pfizer doses. He’d kept how much he’d paid a colossal secret in a small black hole in his mind. It wasn’t easy. Beckham was a narcissist. 

Beckham reasoned he was relatively young, thirty-two, and had suffered enough confinement. After all, his dating app had lapsed, and he’d dumped a shitload of Canadian blue pills down the toilet bowl. Enough Viagra, he mused about his giving each fall salmon in the American River a tiny hard-on. 

Cash talks, M.D.’s listen, R.N.’s understand. They all have families to feed. After all, money, not love, is the universal language of record he was certain. 

He’d arrived at the condo complex, with its columns of balcony patios, late Monday. 

The first few nights, Beckham felt warm, slept naked. He’d kept the patio door open. Who or what was about to complain, he’d convinced himself? 

Fish a mile deep in the lake, he giggled? Beckham determined that the Lake’s Coho Salmon were welcome to stare at his blurry, pale sexy ass all week if they had a mind to. 

Wednesday had been sailing into the stiff winds of his first week. It was early evening. Beckham had felt a little uncomfortable. His appetite had been waning. Uber Eats had delivered supper again via Robbie, the lobby clerk. Robbie was the best. He was new at the timeshare, a 49’er gold nugget that had dropped out of somewhere above. Beckham thought him a saint. 

Earlier in the day, Raleys, the local supermarket chain, had delivered Beckham’s subsistence balance for the entire week. Jesus, he’d stuffed the jowls of the fridge. 

Beckham’s judgment had been a little clouded. He’d binge purchased. Inside the fridge, he’d prepared for fall’s hibernation, tee-bones, celery, a couple of six-packs of silly water, butter lettuce, a bag of bagels, and some top roman, mainly for quick lunches, and carrots, bags of carrots, and a large beet. 

Several cans of mixed soup rounded out his impulsive hoard in the cupboard above the dishwasher. The dishwasher had been the machine that washed his dirty laundry the night before. It was a simple mistake, he’d thought.

Beckham couldn’t make himself sleep Thursday night. He’d gotten hot and sweaty again, become a little depressed watching the local news go on and on about the summer’s algae bloom and COVID. He’d retired early. Too many invasive species, viruses, and germs these days, he’d concluded. 

Beckham had woken around at 3:30 A.M. It was early Friday morning, according to his digital bedside clock on the nightstand at home. The old-school hands were running backward. He’d gotten disoriented.

Friday night’s insomnia punished him like a seasoned dominatrix, slapped his cheeks so red they burned. Beckham couldn’t keep his left eye from twitching. He’d taken a long hot shower. After, he soaked in a warm bath, passed out. After a couple of hours, he’d woken from a sound sleep. He’d pruned himself up pretty good, but all that wrinkly water had damned sure cured his crazy belly scratching. 

After, he nibbled carrots and watched a few Oprah Winfrey reruns. Beckham needed all the carrots he could ingest. His sight was dimming, and the world around him too. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to keep anything inside to save his life.

By the following Monday evening, Beckham had nearly lost his voice. He’d been out on the balcony, doing jumping jack calisthenics. All he could recall was that he’d given the neighboring balcony guests the finger as they shouted for him to put his clothes on. He’d cussed them back. Beckham didn’t have any clothing. He’d thrown all the linen, his shorts, and three Hawaiian shirts, as well as his new sandals, over the railing. 

Later, after the beautiful western sunset had darkened the sky, and long after the other guests had stopped complaining, Beckham fell into a deep sleep on the patio lounge.

As Beckham dreamed, his dreams grew wrestles, European electro tech. His delusions had begun as a backdrop of warehouse music. He would truly miss his music one day soon.

The vocals were from an old playlist, his favorite, Sad Transmission. The song was by one of his favorite Indie Bands, the Raveonettes. The Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo had been thrumming over his body’s entire electromagnetic nervous system. Slowly, the beautiful sound, effortlessly, had taken over his being. Beckham gladly let go. 

Beckham’s mind had been turned into a radioactive Chernobyl Meltdown Farris Wheel, whirling away with his ability to reason in minuscule megabits. He’d felt as if he were his timeshares antenna. Beckham had slept until around seven AM the next morning.

Ding-dong–Beckham stumbled toward the bell at the room’s door. First, he’d covered himself with a nautical motif shower curtain. 

The peep-hole said It was the new lobby clerk, Robbie. He was acting as a special delivery courier. Beckham unlocked the door and let Robbie in.

“Robbie, right, that’s what your name tag read in the lobby when I arrived? Thanks for shooting up here in the elevator so quickly, by the way.” 

“Yes sir, Robert, ah, Sherman at your service, sir.”

Beckham wasn’t thinking. He’d grabbed Robbie’s clammy right hand and shook it. It flopped around in his palm, a damp fish dying on land. Robbie had placed his left hand deep in the mucky bottom of his left pocket.

“What say we book another week, Robbie Sherman? Howza bout it?”

“Sir, kind sir, terrific, I’ll make another bundle of invoices and text you a copy.” Robbie noticed that Mr. Beckham was drooling if only a little. 

“You can do that?” Beckham asked. He sort of knew he could. 

Robbie moved his thumb slowly, deliberately. He looked down on what Beckham had assumed was a nervous thumb on an iPhone keyboard. 

Beckham’s cell phone tinged against his loin. It felt like Phantom Limb Syndrome. When he’d arrived, Robbie had agreed to lock it in the lobby’s safe.

Beckham had said, “Let’s bury the fucking thing in the safe so deep I’ll be forced to get some real rest and be able to entertain myself!”

Robbie had agreed with a grin, “Good choice, sir, we’ve done that before.”

Beckham had winked.

There appeared a flashing yellow light on the room’s landline telephone messaging button. 

“Sir?” Robbie asked permission. Beckham nodded yes. Robbie held the phone next to Beckham’s blooming cauliflower ear. Beckham hadn’t wanted to let on that everything he lifted weighed as much as a rusty, sunken ship anchor. 

It was Robbie or someone who sounded a lot like Robbie. It was a message from the lobby, “Kind sir, as requested, I have sent you and an updated invoice straight to your iPhone for good keeping.”

“Ah, Robbie, I thought you were quick, but Jesus Kee-Kee-Christ?”

“Fast?” puzzled Robbie. Robbie bobbled his head, “Not really sir, is there anything else we can do to make you comfortable, bottled water, sir?”

Beckham wagged his head yes, but lied. He’d gotten so used to taking in his life. “Wait,” he’d said. Beckham struggled to the fridge. He snatched the bottle. And then Beckham slowly returned to engage Robbie at the other end of the room. 

Robbie observed Beckham’s shuffling as slow as blackstrap molasses off the side of a yam. 

“Robbie, take this complimentary bottled water. It’s making me hydrophobic just to look at it?”

Robbie cracked up. He moved his thumb over his iPhone again, texting the lower lobby, “Hold the complimentary water; please, Mr. Beckham is no longer thirsty, LMAO!”

Beckham had thought Robbie brilliant, his thumb an electronic bow over a Silicon Valley violin. 

“Will there be anything else, kind sir?” Robbie had politely inquired.

“No, hell and no,” Beckham slurred. “Oh, just the timeshare password. I intend to do some righteous online gaming.”

Robbie removed a pen from his pressed pant’s back pocket. He imagined himself a New York City Bell-Hop in the age of the Roaring Twenties. Everything had felt similar. He was in room twelve hundred at the Algonquin Hotel. Somehow, he watched himself from above as he scribbled the note. After, he’d placed the note on the room’s desktop. The message was intended for his famous guest, Ms. Greta Garbo. 

“There, sir,” Robbie said. Beckham thanked him for the code he’d placed on the desk. 

“How about we stop slipping the complimentary U.S. Today papers under the door each early morning, sir? It looks as though the newspapers are piling up?”

“Robbie, no, no, I may be vacationing…” Beckham paused, rubbed his lower lip. It had been bleeding again. He continued, “I may be vacationing, but just having them thatched there, in that damned pile makes me feel that I’m still tethered to reality if just a little.”

“I see Mr. Beckham, sir. We shall continue then.”

“Robbie?” asked Beckham, “aren’t you going to do your movie magic over the phone again?”

For the first time, Robbie looked dead serious. “Sir, kind sir, there are some things around here we do the old school way. Like you, kind sir, we need to hook ourselves to some sort of reality, even if it’s as simplistic as attaching a monofilament trout fishing line to a rusty hook.”

Beckham guffawed so violently, he gassed himself, blew a snot-bubble. He would have maintained his usual grin, except the left side of his face had been sagging. 

Robbie watched over Beckham. Robbie’s anatomy was as still as onyx marble. He perused over Beckham as David might have watched over Michelangelo.

Beckham composed himself and dragged his right foot along as he let Robbie out. He thanked Robbie kindly. With great effort, he poked a five-dollar bill in Robbie’s shirt pocket. Beckham had thought his effort worth a million bucks. 

Beckham chained the deadbolt shut, but methodically, so Robbie could sense how much he trusted him. Robbie walked casually down the long dark corridor and disappeared into the vault of an elevator. 

Another knock, the hallway had been emptied, the lights had dimmed.

As the sun heated the living room, Beckham found himself in the Mojave Desert. He’d thought it the holy land, not a river, a creek, or a dribble for the rest of his life.

Beckham searched his way into the bathroom. He opened the stainless steel medicine cabinet. His ham sandwich and a Fuji apple were missing. He slammed the cabinet doors. He hadn’t been hungry anyway.

Later that evening, the T.V. remote had broken. The God-damned garage door wouldn’t open. “Hell, it’s only three years old. I just changed the batteries two weeks ago, maybe three,” Beckham yelled at the big screen T.V. as if it had mule ears. 

It had to be three weeks. That’s when he and his neighbor Harry couldn’t turn on Dancing with the Stars for the longest time. 

Harry had gotten under his skin that night. Beckham having enough of his neighbor’s antics, had escorted the twentieth-century charmer to the front door. It was about 10:23 P.M.

Beckham was a flexible man and a chill sort of guy, but not after all that shadow dancing shit by Harry. And after, Harry had commenced calling himself Fred Astaire and meant it. 

Harry Clingman had been sent to the hospital shortly after Beckham had left for Lake Tahoe. Beckham had lied to his friend Harry that night. He’d said he was heading south, maybe L.A. By the time they’d attempted to reach Beckham, Beckham was an afterthought. But really, it hadn’t mattered. Beckham’s phone had been placed in solitary confinement in Robbie’s lobby iron vault. 

Sometime during the second week of Beckham’s short stay, he’d morphed into a newt. You know the slimy lizard types that live in creeks, behind rocks, and under the mosey bottom of lakes and rivers?

Thankfully there wasn’t much carpeting in Beckham’s unit. It made for easier wriggling. 

Beckham had seen and heard the coolest hallucinations. He’d turned paranoid as the result of the high fever. Those damned fish had been stocking him. 

His brand new manic reality had cost him most of his 401-K on South Lake Tahoe’s virtual slots and craps tables. Beckham’s laptop gaming appl had asked him for everything “Just pick a pretty color and turn, turn, turn that damned Russian Roulette Machine, Mr. Beckham?” 

On the last day of his intended short stay, Beckham’s strength had failed him. 

A final invoice had been slipped under the room’s door, along with another copy of USA Today. The newspaper pile had become a thatch of pitchforked paper alfalfa.

His painful progress was serpentine and exhausting as he wrangled toward the door. That day he used his belly ribs to crawl. He crawled to the horizontal crack of light under the door that had shown into his darkened room. To Beckham, the light represented life itself.

Beckham’s breathing had grown deep and laborious. His crape paper lungs had withered into an accordion that wheezed a dry melody. He listed, rolled on his back as if he were a shipwreck. He struggled to wrap his upper torso in newsprint to absorb his lake of sweat. 

Beckham’s paralysis had taken over after only a few wraps of newspaper. 

It had come toward him swiftly, his complete paralysis, as if a fast-moving locomotive off the slopes of the Heavenly Valley Ski Run, now a dry strip of broken granite. He’d been tied to the tracks. Whatever he’d caught, it was intent on running over his humanity. 

Buried deep in the mesh of his newspaper was an important article. The article was dark print, over a yellowing recycled paper backdrop, a story in itself.

USA Today–Sacramento Area Man Dies from inhaling rabies virus–Mr. Harry M. Clingman, a long-time resident of Placer County, has died from the rabies virus. Rabies lyssavirus, formerly Rabies virus (RABV), is a neurotropic virus that causes certain death if untreated. 

Placer County health authorities have asked anyone who has been in contact with Mr. Clingman to call (530) 889-7274 immediately. Several friends and family members exposed to Mr.Clingman have been given the first dose of the four required injections. 

A forensic autopsy has concluded that Mr. Clingman hadn’t been bit by any animal. However, of the six bat boxes removed from the family’s two-story cedar-shingled home. Two of the bats tested positive for the rabies virus and had to be destroyed. 

Years earlier, a Wyoming resident had awoken during the night, with a fluttering feeling on her neck. She flicked off the annoyance and discovered it was a bat. In horror, she elbowed her husband, who woke, captured the bat, and set it free outdoors. Three weeks later, the woman died. A pathologist could not find any bites or scratch marks during the autopsy has concluded that it is scientifically possible to contract rabies without a skin abrasion–The Centers for Disease and Control.

Beckham lay motionless. Fear and anxiety had nearly completed their running of all the red lights in the corrosive intersections of his synapse. He’d become a hebephrenic blob stuck in a block of concrete. His mind had been tortured into a Vitamix blender, unwittingly pureeing his thoughts into some sort of cilantro salad dressing.

Beckham suffered horrifically, the balance of the day and evening. He died the following early morning, about the time bats return to caves. 

           In the Lobby, Robbie listened to Beckham’s phone as it rattled and buzzed in the safe. To him, it was the phantom limb syndrome that Beckham’s ghost had been feeling.

           Robbie spoke kindly across the lobby’s white marbled counter, “Hello Ms. Harris, I’m Robbie. I intend to make your short visit a most wonderful stay.”

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Dan’s most recent fiction has been published in the 45th Parallel, Allegory, honorable mention, Aphelion, BlazeVOX, Black Petals, Across the Margins, Bull, Cleaver, Close to the Bone, Coffin Bell, Dark City Books/Magazine, Door=Jar, Dream Noir, Entropy, Flash Bang Mystery, Gravel, Literary Heist, Mystery Tribune, O:JA&L/Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Overstock, Spelk, Variant, Visitant, Your Impossible Voice, The 5-2. Dan has also been nominated by Coffin Bell for the Best of the Net Anthology, 2021, and best micro-fiction by Tiny Molecules.

To find more about Dan’s work @cardozabig

Free Fiction Week: July 11 to 17, 2021

 

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present for your reading pleasure, an entire week of Free Fiction!

Enjoy seven different authors as they bring you tales of tomb raiders, dark assailants,  environmental carnage, strange visitors, rising from the dead, bloody war, and disease.

And be sure to encourage the writers by following links to their work and by leaving encouraging comments! And remember~ Stay Spooky!

 

 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Black Angel / Kiss of Death

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Black Angel: Kiss of Death

Greetings HorrorAddicts! I’ve got some killer music to share with you this month, but first I hope you and yours are healthy and safe, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. I’d say I hope you’re happy, too, but since we are HorrorAddicts, maybe a better description would be macabre, melancholy, morose, murderous, or mysterious. But I digress. We’re here to talk music, and this month I’ve got a fantastic band to share with you.

Black Angel is a UK-based goth/darkwave outfit, and their latest release, Kiss of Death, is a balm for the black-souled folk. From the title track’s opening notes, I was hooked. The album has great production quality, and its nostalgic numbers pay tribute to goth forerunners like The Damned, Peter Murphy, and Gene Loves Jezebel while never sounding like a weak imitation. This music would have been perfectly at home in the 80s and is just as relevant today. Jangly guitars, moody atmosphere, and vocals that hit that seductive sweet spot all make for a pleasurable listening experience. “Prisoner of Love” has a great vibe, and then you get a “punkabilly” tune like “Put Your Lips On Me” that is a total jam. You won’t be able to resist their allure. Their songs stand on their own, appealing to us goth kids from the 80s but in a new and fresh way that will make them frequent plays on my sound system.  

I hope you’ll check out Black Angel on Spotify or Bandcamp. I love discovering new-to-me music and I’m so grateful for the artists who created inspiring works during The Great Pause, and Kiss of Death is one of those creations. Thanks for joining me this month and Stay Tune for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs… 


R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her Hope, Love, and Queeromance posts over at www.queeromanceink.com

Historian of Horror : You Had To Be Then

You Had to Be Then

The one Nashville science fiction convention in the second half of the 1970s I couldn’t attend was the 1977 Kublai Khan. None other than the redoubtable and controversial Harlan Ellison was the guest of honor that year. I had just started a job at Opryland, the theme park that is now a mall and a convention hotel and a testament to the excesses of modern American life. Instead of interacting with one of the great writers of the 20th Century, I spent that weekend washing and drying and dry-cleaning and pressing and hanging up the costumes for all the shows performed in the park. 

Oh, well.

Like most of my fellow fen in that deep and abyss of time that was my misspent youth, I had fairly strong opinions about Harlan Ellison. I loved his work and still do. I’d seen him on television several times, so I knew he had little inclination to couch his own opinions in tactful language. And he did have opinions, many of them. I tended to agree with most of them, so missing out on the chance to meet him and hear him speak was yet another one of those regrets I mentioned a couple of columns ago.

Oh, well.

I’d first encountered his writings in the late 1960s, back when he was one of the brash young things pushing science fiction to emerge from the genre ghetto it had existed in for so many decades and evolve into a real live literary form worthy of respect from academia and Hollywood alike as well as being one able to generate lots more money than was being paid to its practitioners in them thar days.

He was part of the New Wave that had started in England during Michael Moorcock’s tenure as editor of New Worlds magazine that was dedicated to taking speculative fiction (as Ellison called what he did rather than the stale old term ‘science fiction that the non-cognoscenti thought meant cheesy special effects and monster costumes with the zippers clearly visible in the back) in new directions.

It was real people doing real things; in space, in laboratories, even in bedrooms. Because real people, you know, have sex. And poop, so, yeah, let’s think about how a being from Alpha Centauri might arrange his bathroom. That’s part of it, although nowhere near all. But you kind of see what some of the ideas floating around were like in those days. Real people, or real BEMs (Bug-Eyed Monsters), doing what they will probably actually be doing in the future, explained in language that was more sophisticated and poetic than the simplistic pulpy sensationalism of days of yore. Or something like that.

It was the 60s. As the title of this piece points out, you had to be then.

In 1967, Ellison edited a ground-breaking anthology of New Wave stories called Dangerous Visions. He got more than thirty of his fellows in the field whom he had not managed to completely alienate to write the best stories of their lives, the ones they’d always wanted to write, but never felt would get bought by the publishers of that time. The tales that were too avant-garde, too controversial, too dirty for the fiction markets of the day. 

And so, they did, those thirty-plus legendary scriveners. And it was an era-defining success. Fritz Leiber, Jr. (whose novel Conjure Wife will receive some attention in a future column – stay tuned!) won both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for his novelette, “Gonna Roll the Bones”, beating out Philip K. Dick’s “Faith of Our Fathers” for the Hugo. Philip Jose Farmer took the Hugo’s novella category for “Riders of the Purple Wage”, and Samuel R. Delany won the same award for his short story, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” That’s pretty much a sweep for a single anthology. Ellison was also honored at the 26th World SF Convention in Berkeley, California (of course) for his efforts. 

Now, those of you denizens of darkness out there who only know of Robert Bloch as having written the book Alfred Hitchcock based his most famous movie on might be surprised to learn that the author of Psycho also wrote science fiction. In fact, he won the 1959 short story Hugo Award for “That Hell-Bound Train”, so of course, he was invited to contribute to Dangerous Visions

And boy, did he deliver. He delivered so well that Ellison was inspired to write a sequel to “A Toy for Juliette” that he called with his typical carefully considered restraint “The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World”. But it’s the Bloch tale that concerns us in this space, in this moment, as we’re thinking about time travel this week. 

Simply stated, in “A Toy for Juliette”, a man in the distant future has been fetching people from the past for his bored, jaded, spoiled rotten and thoroughly homicidal daughter to play with. One day, he decides she needs a real challenge, so the toy he brings to her is…

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!

Spoiler Alert!

Oh, go ahead and look. You know you want to.

Jack the Ripper.

Yep. That Jack. 

The Ripper. The Whitechapel Horror. 

Hoo, boy.

Dismemberments ensue.

No wonder he was never caught, huh?

Is it science fiction? Well, yes.

Is it horror? Very much so. Did I happen to mention dismemberment?

Is it time travel? You bet. So, it fits with our theme, n’est pas?

If Ellison didn’t suspect Bloch might go that route, he probably ought to have. Bloch had already written one of the most important Jack tales of the 1940s, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”, which by 1967 had been adapted to both radio and television. Bloch was more than due to revisit his old friend anyhow, and Ellison gave him the perfect showcase for it.

According to its Amazon page, Dangerous Visions does appear to still be in print, if not available from your local second-hand bookstore, if there is such a thing near you. There was a follow-up anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions, which is available as an ebook from Amazon. I found no dead tree editions for sale except in the used book markets. It had forty-six stories from forty-six different writers. 

There was to be a third volume, The Last Dangerous Visions, but Ellison was never able to get it into print before he passed away in 2018. Some of the purported 150 stories he contracted for it by 1979 were eventually placed elsewhere. Some were withdrawn. In 2020, the executor of Ellison’s estate, Michael Straczynski, announced that he intended to go ahead with publication of whatever is left of Ellison’s original compilation. 

I worry, though, that there will turn out to be a consensus that the moment might have passed, that those visions are no longer particularly dangerous. That the tales Ellison gathered together over forty years ago are nowadays pretty much in the mainstream of the genre at best, dated at worst, and that despite all the efforts of the New Wave writers the genre they strove to bring legitimacy to is still called science fiction and still thought of by the illiterati as ‘that Buck Rogers stuff.

Oh, well. 

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The more it changes, the more it stays the same. 

I haven’t provided my fellow horror addicts a lagniappe in a while. You know, that little something extra, like the thirteenth doughnut in a dozen that nobody gives out anymore, or the free lifetime tire rotations you get when you buy four new Michelins. It’s well past time you had une lagniappe, and I think I’ve got a doozy for you.

Way back in the early years of the millennium, I placed a cluster of short stories in several long-out-of-print anthologies published by Rage Machine Books. Rage Machine is an imprint run by a gentleman and a scholar by the name of G.W. Thomas. He has spent a couple of decades doing yeoman labours in the field of the history and study of the supernatural detective story, which was the focus of most my own work in those days, as well as of the Rage Machine anthologies in which the majority of my yarns appeared. G.W. also had an email thingie you could sign up for to receive daily “flashshots”, very short tales of one hundred words or less. I placed eight or nine ultra-short stories in that venue, one of which is right here:

God Bless Us, Every One

Thanks to Scrooge’s change of heart, Tiny Tim lived, and he grew strong. Forty-five years after the events of that memorable Christmas Eve, the man who had been Tiny Tim stood in a dingy, blood-spattered room in Whitechapel, hacking away at the corpse of Mary Kelly, muttering under his breath, “God bless us, every one… God bless us, every one… God bless us…”

Sixty-three words, not counting the title. Not the shortest one I did; a gruesome little piece called “Oops!” clocked in at a mere thirty-two words. I did try to expand “God Bless Us, Every One” into a longer yarn later on, but never could get it right. The concept cried out for a flash tale of sixty-three words, and no more.

Oh, well.

Anyhow, G.W.’s website and associated blog contain a wealth of information on some aspects of the history of our genre that I have not yet examined, and are well worth the time anyone interested in our shared cultural heritage might be inclined to invest in them. I commend them to you. They can be located here:

http://darkworldsquarterly.gwthomas.org/

Go thou and be enlightened, as well as entertained. It’s good stuff.

And so, until next time, fellow fiends…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Meet the Horror Artist , Ziemael

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What is your name or what do you go by professionally?

Ziemael the Horror Artist

What is your first memory of being a Horror Addict?

My first horror experience, in an addictive manner, was around age 9.

 Did you see a painting, movie, TV Series or read a book or story that called to you?

I peeked at many horror flicks I was not supposed to like any other kid.  But I snuck to the living room while the whole house was asleep at 1am to watch a film I was forbidden to see.  I forced myself to stay up even though I had school in the morning, it was terrifying, and the end of Sleepaway Camp had me disturbed for decades.  It ruined the school day, it make me sick, it also is a fond memory and I would do it again.

What is the first creative thing you remember painting/drawing/sketching?

I do not know about creative.  But I was around 5 when I had an absolute breakdown because my mother said we had to erase a bear I drew on the chalkboard so my younger brother could draw something.  It was not a cute bear, it was a nightmare of fangs and claws with one eye bigger than the other.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I was pretty young, exactly I do not know.  It was a toss-up between artist and scientist.  Science research on biology is pretty horrific, and geology has many toxins (do not lick rocks) but nothing beat hunting for reference photos of horror, and doing horror “research”.

Who is your favorite artist, and why?

Olivier Ledroit hands down.  Before that it was Frank Frazzetta.  Oliver’s handle on merging beauty with horror in a stunning contrast instantly entranced me.   My favorite work of his is in “Requiem Chevalier Vampire” for both quality and subject matter, monsters, gore, horror, & madness.

What inspires you to create?

It builds up, I know it is coming, kind of like a sneeze that needs to happen, so it takes to much effort to fight it.  (Why on earth would I?) Usually if I have been consuming instead of creating for awhile I start to get signs of depression that meds don’t kick.  Then I start manically pouring over my favorite horror flicks and books,  LoveCraft, etc… Hardest part is deciding which one to do right now.

Is there any certain music/TV/etc…you listen to while creating?

Yes, I listen to mostly BlutEngle, put on the Subspecies Trilogy, or a random playlist of goth rock, Industrial, EBM, dark electro… you know, Covenant, Wumpscut, Grendel, Das Ich, Siouxie, Danzig, et cetera.

What is your favorite piece that you have created and why?

A Nosferatu I loosely based off of Mr. Barlow from the Salem’s Lot tv film.  It shows the hunger, alien outsider perspective that reflects my feelings on my life being on the autism spectrum.  Many things are horrifying to me that others fine perfectly fine, and visa versa.

What’s coming next? 

Short term.  Right now I am looking at references of Johnny Depp, so I can do a proper Barnabas Collins from the Burton Dark Shadows movie.  Long term, I aim to get thicker in the convention scene.  I was quite active on the West Coast before moving to Michigan.  Now I have to branch out in the mid west, which is tentative due to the freezing up and awkward interactions with new people.  Again autism, it is not a gift.

Anything else you want to share?

Yes, if you are schizophrenic, ADHD, or autistic, consider practicing to be an artist.  Many of us cannot hold a job (employee/employer contract) without prematurely quitting, because explaining these things to your boss/underlings is impossible  Yes, art creation takes dedication but, you do not have to work with others outside your preferred activity/subject matter very much. Even with the disabling (nightmarish) effects.  Example I have horrible sensory processing issues, like burning or insect stinging sensations on my skin.  Spatial distortion, like the room is too small/large, my legs or arms are too long/short, or…. Heh, my body parts are not mine … best part is it happens for no reason at all and is completely random. (Now you know why horror movies are so comfortable for me)  Anyway, your very weird brain wiring gives you an advantage regarding perception compared to neurotypical beings.  You just have to want to be so obsessed with your subject that you do not notice the other… issues.  Mine just happens to be horror.

 Oh and if you can, worship Cthulu //\\~;,;~//\\

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You can purchase Ziemael prints at URL: https://www.ziemael.com/  as well as https://www.deviantart.com/ziemael

Social media wise you can follow Ziemael at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zie.mael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ziemael or Twitter: https://twitter.com/LymevpZie

Book Review: Smithy by Amanda Desiree

Reviewed by Ariel DaWintre

Genre: Horror-paranormal

The story of Smithy is centered in an old mansion called Trevor Hall with a past in a wealthy old town. It begins with a group of college students and a chimpanzee called Smithy. The story is told through the characters’ letters, journals, and diaries. The story starts out very academic. The students and scientists are conducting an experiment with a young chimpanzee which is very smart. They are teaching him to use sign language to communicate but he starts signing things that don’t make sense and acting oddly in the mansion. Strange things start happening at the mansion and the students can’t explain. 

I liked the characters Ruby, Gail, Tammy, Jeff, Eric, and their very different personalities. The main character is the chimpanzee Smithy, whose formal name is Webster. And is about his interactions with everyone and his surroundings. The main person running the experiment and head of the program is Dr. Piers Preis-Herald along with his assistant Wanda. The students are at different levels of academics and have their own ideas of how things should be run, setting up issues, friction, and confusion between the team members. 

The story took a bit to get started for the horror part but it was a good story. I was engaged and with the group wanted answers. I don’t know if I got all the answers to what was happening. I know at the end I was looking back in the story for answers. You did get an ending and it was kind of a sad ending and but the house did win after all. I did have lots of questions and wondered if there will be a part two or a new story and see if it was based on a true story.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Riot Legion

Greetings HorrorAddicts! Time continues to pass in stops and starts. The days blend together and are distinct only by the latest headlines or weather phenomenon, like what the heck even is an “atmospheric river?” It sounds to me like the next thing in darkwave music. As I write this, we’ve made it through Groundhog Day and that means we’ve passed the darkest time of the year. We have light at the end of the tunnel, and that can be interpreted in many ways. Thank goodness for music, I say, as we could all use a little pick me up. Today I’m here to bring you a new artist who might just get you through the next six weeks of winter that precocious Punxsutawney Phil predicted, the little furry bugger! We need the rain here in the West, but I’m sure folks would like a break from the cold. Hang in there and let’s meet this month’s artist, RIOTLEGION.

RIOTLEGION hail from Seattle and pack a hard-driving industrial sound. Whereas Seattle is known for its grunge musical history, RIOTLEGION breaks with tradition. The album Machine Liberation was released  23 June 2020 through Blind Mice Productions. The brainchild of Michael Coultas, RIOTLEGION is known for high-energy audio-visual performances in the area. Their lyrics delve into the chaotic political landscape we find ourselves in after the events of the past few months. 

Many of the tracks on Machine Liberation lean heavily on distorted beats and chants that might appeal to fans of previously reviewed artists JUSTIN SYMBOL or CELLMOD. “Out of My Head” hits with a hypnotic beat and a rhythmic chant and is a standout on the album and the creepy intro to “Liberation” piqued my interest. The artist relies heavily on flickering synthesized beats and static to add atmosphere to tracks like “Decimator,” and “The One You Deserve.” 

Check out RIOTLEGION if you’re looking for some angry club music to work out some of your aggressions. I’ll be back next month with more new music for you to feast your ears upon. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram @rlmerrillauthor where I post music recommendations in my stories. I can’t have my lovelies going without the best tunes to listen to, now can I? You can also find playlists on Spotify for my books and whatever mood I’m currently in. Stay tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings…


R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor.

 

The Dead Lands : Directed by Tao Fraser

The Dead Lands – Directed (2014) by Tao Fraser 

Reviewed by Kate Nox

When warriors from a rival tribe commit sacrilege in his tribe’s burial ground, Hongi (James Rolleston), son of a Maori Chieftain reports the act to his father. When questioned about the act, the rival crew of hot heads declares war on the village, killing all but Hongi who has been knocked down a ravine and forgotten.

Coming to and finding himself the only survivor he pursues the killers into a forbidden area (the Deadlands). There he meets an invincible ghost warrior who is rumored to haunt the land. 

Hongi discovers that the ghost is in fact, a fierce warrior, (Lawrence Makoare) although throughout the film there are times you wonder if the frightening warrior is truly a ghost or still human. Either way, he is tormented by a ghastly memory of loss in his own life which gives him a thorough understanding of the young boy whom he teaches to fight, and they join forces to hunt down and destroy the rival killers. 

If you are a fan of action films, you will appreciate that The Dead Lands, in fact, follows the action film formula. There is plenty of bone-cracking, slashing, and gore to keep you interested.

If you are bothered by horrific characters who battle in close and bloody conflict, taunting their opponents with insane faces, wagging tongues, stomping, screeching  and other acts designed to instill fear in the opponent, then I’d advise skipping this one. It is one of those movies where you want to reach out and smack the evil characters just for being so overwhelmingly nasty!

As for telling the story of loss, revenge, and horror lying in the psyche of both main characters, this movie is a winner.

The writers and director use a mix of tradition, mythology, and visions of dead ancestors to produce a truly spiritual “other-world” ending which will make you question what you’ve seen.

Thumbs up on horror and realism!

From The Vault: Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 10 Drinks to Pair with Horror Movies

From the Editor: Just in time for the hot days of Summer, we rerun this cool ghoul article ~

Sometimes, I like to wind down from the day with a little horror movie and a nice drink to go alongside it. And, hey, did you know there are LOADS of recipes out there for Horror Addicts to try? Sure, you may have heard of The Zombie or The Vampire’s Kiss (and who hasn’t had a Bloody Mary?), but I found ten recipes that are a little off the beaten path.

The Lady in White
1½ oz gin
¾ oz triple sec
½ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

Moonlight
2 oz apple brandy
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
Shake with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass.
Pair with The Wolfman (1941)

The Obituary
2 oz gin
¼ oz dry vermouth
¼ absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Invisible Man (2020)

Satan’s Whiskers
¾ oz gin
¾ oz dry vermouth
¾ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz orange liqueur
½ oz orange juice
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Uncanny (1977)

The Victor (Frankenstein)
1½ oz gin
½ oz brandy
½ oz sweet vermouth
Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Pair with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Black Devil
2 oz light rum
½ oz dry vermouth
Garnish: Black olive
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the olive.
Pair with Drag Me to Hell (2009)

El Chupacabra
2 oz blanco tequila
¾ oz grapefruit juice
½ oz lime juice
½ oz Campari
½ oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime.
Pair with Indigenous (2014)

Black Magic
1½ oz vodka
¾ oz coffee liqueur
¼ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into ice filled old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Pair with The Craft (1996)

The Headless Horseman
2 oz vodka
3 dashes angostura bitters
Ginger Ale
Pour vodka and bitters into a Collins glass, add ice, fill with ginger ale, and stir. Garnish with orange.
Pair with Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Little Devil
¾ oz light rum
¾ oz gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz triple sec
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Pair with The Omen (1976)

Do you have any drink recipes you want to share? Or maybe there’s a must watch movie that pairs well with one of these? Be sure to tell us in the comments!

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Vexillary

Greetings HorrorAddicts I bring you some groovy reviews and righteous recommendations this year to keep your tuneage vibing. Or something like that. Despite the insanity that was 2020, many artists were able to come up with inspired material and I’ll share some great picks with you over the coming months. 

Vexillary is an instrumental project by New York based Reza Seirafi that was influenced by the artist’s love of blending components to create something new. A chemist in his other life, he likes to take seemingly inharmonious sounds and make them fit together. Tracks like “Maritime Panic” offer additional sonic adventures with each new listen. “Annihilation” has a manic feel that leaves the listener grasping at the elements and trying to find something to hold onto. There is a feeling of doom, especially in the opening notes of “Forged Skies” but this offering of electronica is never gloomy, and by the time you reach “The Geneticist,” the mad scientist vibe of the SurViolence is complete.

Vexillary is music for those who need an intense infusion with a side of chaos to make their aural journey complete. Give it a listen and let us know what you think. 

Want to share your favorite music from 2020? Comment below or email me at rlmerrillauthor@gmail.com. The next Ro’s Recs will be less of a “best of” and more of a “here’s what you don’t want to miss.” I’ll see you soon, my HorrorAddict Darlings. In the meantime, Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings…

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her Hope, Love, and Queeromance posts over at www.queeromanceink.com

Historian of Horror: Busted in Budapest

They say it’s less the things you do that you regret than the things you don’t do when you had the chance.

This is absolutely true. 

You’ve probably seen the commercials, either on television or online, for Viking river cruises. A very long boat putt-putts slowly in front of a large, ornate, white, domed building in the opening scene. That’s the Danube River, which really is blue when seen from above. The building is the Hungarian Parliament. The city is Budapest, pronounced Buda-Pesht by the locals. The Hungarian capital was assembled when the cities Buda, Óbuda, and Pest were united in 1873. Buda is on the western side of the river and is hilly and high-rent. Pest is on the eastern side, flat and less expensive. All that’s left of Óbuda is an island in between. Parliament is on the Pest side. I suspect the film might have been shot from the spire of the 14th Century late Gothic style Matthias Church, on the Buda side, which overlooks Fisherman’s Bastion and several other popular tourist attractions.

In the middle of town is City Park, created for the Hungarian millennial celebration in 1896. There, after passing through the entrance from Heroes’ Square, you will find Gundel Restaurant, home to the most lubriciously delicious crepes you will ever put yourself on the outside of; the zoo and botanical gardens; a shallow lake full of mallard ducks; and Vajdahunyad Castle, a collection of recreations of various historical buildings from around the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

One thing you’ll notice about the older buildings all around Eastern Europe is that there are almost always little niches set into the corners and walls for statues. Most are filled with lovely little sculptures. Saints, dragons, horses, whatever strikes the fancy of the locals at the time. On the corner of one building in Vajdahunyad Castle, a niche was empty in 2003 when a German artist by the name of Hartmut Zech was looking for a spot to place a bust he had made and hoped to give surreptitiously to the city.

He had done this before, in other parts of Europe. Most of his gifts had been removed, but he and his friend were undeterred. They snuck in one night in July of that year with the bust of Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi that Zech had been lugging around. They put it in the empty niche. It was not removed, and is still there.

And I missed it. The one time I was ever likely to be in Budapest, and I did not see that bust. I didn’t even know it was there.

In 2011, my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by spending a few days in London. We spent half of our first full day at the Tower, ogling the Crown Jewels and the headsman’s axe, block and mask, and other artifacts. Then we rode a double-decker bus around Trafalgar Square, stopped in at St. Paul’s Cathedral, toured the Globe Theater, and rode the London Eye, that huge Ferris Wheel on the banks of the Thames opposite to, and taller than, Big Ben. We walked back across Southwark Bridge to Westminster, then on to our hotel.

The next day, we strolled over to Buckingham Palace, but President Obama was scheduled for a state visit the next day and access was restricted. We did watch the changing of the guards and toured the Queen’s Gallery and Mews, ate bangers and mash at a pub, and sacked out early, as we had to leave for Heathrow at 4:30 to catch our flight for Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

We joined a two-week tour of Eastern Europe there, traveling in a very posh Mercedes-Benz bus from Frankfurt to Berlin, then on into Poland. We lunched in Poznan and dined in Warsaw. Then on to Krakow, with a side trip to Auschwitz. That nearly broke me. I stayed on the bus while the others toured its sister camp, Birkenau. I’d had more than enough. Some horrors are just too real.

Then, it was on into Slovakia, a land full of lovely forests and more castles per capita than anywhere else in the world. Not far into the country, we passed by Orava Castle, maybe a mile or two to our right. I took pictures, but from a moving bus in a light rain, it’s hard to make out what they are of. F.W. Murnau filmed part of the classic silent horror film Nosferatu there in 1921. We didn’t stop for a closer look, alas.

We came into Budapest at the end of our first week on the tour. We checked into our hotel and boarded a boat for dinner and drinks on the Danube. At river level, it’s actually more brown than blue, but nobody cared much. The food was good and the champagne flowed freely. Frivolity ensued.

We got up that Monday and went to Heroes’ Square. A military unit was rehearsing for the city’s Memorial Day ceremonies later that day, so we could only look at the square from the perimeter. We went on to tour the Parliament and St. Stevens’ Cathedral, then dinner and drinks and so to bed.

We got into Vajdahunyad Castle the next day and wandered about the buildings, especially admiring the replica of Hunyad Castle, which is in Transylvania and in which Vlad Dracul II was imprisoned in the 15th Century. Transylvania was, in 1896, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s now part of Romania. We stopped in the Romanesque chapel for an organ recital, and then on to Gundel for hedonistic pleasure on a plate. 

Our tour guide was an otherwise exceptional Danish gentleman, but he apparently he didn’t know about the Bela Lugosi bust, or I’m sure he would have pointed it out. I’ve checked and rechecked the myriad photographs I took in Budapest, but Bela is not there. I would definitely have taken a picture of him, had I seen him.

Very disappointing.

We went on to Vienna, where we toured the Kaisergruft, the crypt where the Austro-Hungarian royal family was interred in sometimes grandly ornate sarcophagi, from 1633 until the last member of the Hapsburg dynasty born before the Empire’s dissolution following World War I was placed in the last remaining spot just a couple of months after we were there. I have a future column on that deliciously gruesome place in the plans. Stay tuned.

Then lunch in Brno, a couple of days in the gorgeous city of Prague, a look at the Glockenspiel in the town hall of Rothenburg and back to Frankfurt, then London, then home. A most satisfying trip, for the most part.

For the most part. For all the wonderful things we saw, Alas, I regret missing the only chance I will probably ever had to see the bust of one of the seminal figures of horror movies in its natural environs. I hope some of you, dear friends, have the opportunity to travel to Budapest and will take that opportunity to drop in on Bela. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and worth seeing for many other reasons, but please don’t omit, as I was inadvertently obliged to do, the chance to venerate so important a figure from the history of our genre. You will regret that omission, as do I.

And so, until next time, fellow denizens of the dark…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Dissonance

Greetings HorrorAddicts. This month we’re listening to the Dark Wave artist Dissonance. Cat Hall has a new maxi-single that’s perfect for fans of bands like GARBAGE, NINE INCH NAILS & INFORMATION SOCIETY. Precipice is a techno-moody piece that is very personal to Hall. Music helps us heal from the tragedies in our lives, and for Hall, it’s been a form of catharsis. After a serious health battle, she’s come out on the other side to share her emotional experience in these three pieces. With remixes by Joe Haze, Diverje, Junior Kain, and Machines with Human Skin all add layers to the composition. Reminiscent of Tubular Bells or early Depeche Mode, Precipice is music to sit with and contemplate. Each element woven together, whether it be effects or harmonies, all evoke feelings of loss and yet are ultimately hopeful. 

Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you and yours are well. I’d love to hear what kind of music is getting you through this tumultuous time. If you want to hear what I’ve been listening to, you can check out my #SpotifyWrapped. If you’re not on Spotify yet, you might want to change that in 2021. Getting a report on your listening habits can be…creepy, but also a great trip down memory lane. Stay Tuned for more Ro’s Recs and Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

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R.L. Merrill writes inclusive romance with quirky, relatable characters full of love, hope, and rock ‘n’ roll. You can find her at https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com and on the socials as @rlmerrillauthor. You can also find her at www.queeromanceink.com writing about Hope, Love and Queeromance. 

Free Fiction : The Letter by J.S. Occonor

The Letter

I sit here at my desk writing my final words for I fear that I shall not live to see the sunrise. The evil that has lurked in my home has become increasingly bold and the scratching on my bedroom door just last night tells me that it is my time.

 But before I get ahead of myself, a brief introduction should be in order as to how this all may have happened. I am Emmitt Newgate, a professor at the local university – a professor of anthropology and archeology, which fate would have it, would be my own downfall. As is one of the boons of my chosen field, I had taken a trip six months ago during the summer for academic fieldwork. Myself, a few colleges in the department, and three of our most successful students found ourselves granted an opportunity to travel to South America to study a number of ancient ruins. 

The trip itself was not unique, and I have been to places far more dangerous and more exotic. But this location was unique in that in my long history of study, there have been none that we brought more from. The number of relics and artifacts that were discovered exceeded all expectations. The last number that was reported to me was one hundred thirty-three thousand forty-two. A number that has no doubt continued to rise and bring about the undoing and death of all who were and still are involved. How unfortunate that a once-in-a-lifetime discovery would result in the death of so many.

The first death was two weeks after we had returned from our trip. The victim was another professor by the name of Edgar Washington. He was an elderly man but despite his age, he was healthy and fit. Edgar was found in his home, laying in his bedroom his face frozen in agony. And as I write, his cause of death yet remains unknown. The second death worth mentioning was Sidney Davis, the only female student who we brought along with us. She too was found in her bedroom with a similar agonizing look on her face and once again, her cause of death is unknown. Over the next six months, the remaining members of the expedition would die, all in a similar fashion, leaving just myself remaining.

The most recent death happened twenty-seven days ago. Why I know this is because it was a favorite student of mine, Michael Seymore, and his death may have revealed a clue. Or rather what he wrote. Michael Seymore was found in his bedroom in the same fashion as the others that I have mentioned, but he was clutching a journal to his chest. A journal that has come into my possession by means which are not entirely legal, I admit. And while I wish for my reputation to remain as unsullied as possible after the discovery of this letter, I needed to know what Michael had written. It concerns my own death, you see, and a man should know what fate awaits him. The first third of the journal was what you would expect of a man with a sound mind. However, as I turned the pages the words of Michael Seymore become less and less coherent until there was nothing but the ramblings of a lone mad man. The last third of the journal was nothing more than a single phrase written over and over again: “It comes from the darkness, look to the shadows.” A phrase in which the meaning remains lost to me and the limited amount of time I have remaining means that I shall never discover its true meaning. And an unknown fate still awaits me.

After the death of Michael Seymore, the evil turned its attention to me, the last member of our expedition. I had been aware of the deaths since the death of Edgar Washington. However, I did not notice the similarities until the death of Joseph Linkletter, who was the third to die. Had I discovered the link earlier, I might have been able to alter the course or to keep the deaths from happening. When I knew it was my turn, I immediately noticed it following me, but any and all research led me to dead ends.

The first time I saw it was late at night, three days after the death of Michael Seymore. From the corner of my eye, I saw a shadowy shape standing across the street from my residence. It would remain there every night for the next two weeks. Was it watching me? I believe it was. 

The first night it entered my house was a week ago, and I have not left my room since, with the exception of a daily visit to my kitchen, as the activity is minimal during the day. Maybe it does not like light. I have fired the house staff, in hopes to keep them safe, and I have formally resigned from the university to distance myself from everyone. It is my hope that I will be the last to suffer such a fate, but if I am not the last, I hope that this letter may help the next person who is being stalked by this evil being. I know nothing of this being – if it was released from our expedition, then I do not know-how. It may be tied to one of the relics that we returned with but again I cannot be certain. Along with this letter are our expedition notes, books on ancient civilizations, as well as books on evil, books that make mention of dark figures, and the last piece that I leave is the journal of Michael Seymore. I leave these things behind for the next person.

Soon the sun will perish and my candle will burn out leaving me in darkness. I have failed in this life and if I am responsible for this evil, then know that I am truly sorry for what we have unleashed. I will know my fate soon enough. 

My final words,

Emmitt Newgate    


 

J.S. O’Connor currently lives in Bettendorf Iowa where he writes in his free time.

 

 

 

Free Fiction: Undone by P J Curtis

Undone by P.J. Curtis

I lost something in the woods. It hurts my head every time I try to remember what exactly I lost, but there’s an emptiness that must be filled before it’s too late. I am not getting any younger and these trees are only growing taller. 

I would’ve driven through these woods considering how wide the path was, but at its entrance, I decided to leave my car. I wouldn’t be needing it any longer. I don’t need any protection for what I’m doing today. However, when I exited my car, I looked at the sky and noticed how dark it had gotten despite it being early in the day. The once welcoming pink sky has transformed into a coal-stained canvas, just ready to be presented by its maker. At first, it alarmed me how sudden the change was, but I didn’t think too much about it since I needed to find what I lost. 

As I walked down the dirt path filled with moss-ridden stones and rotten bark, my legs began to tremble. It felt like hours since I started my journey to find what I’ve lost but something in my chest was pulling me forward. I figured it was strong conviction but another, deeper part of me, felt as if something was truly pulling me. 

The path seemed endless and less of the already dying light from the sky was sinking through the trees. In fact, I could hardly see the sky. I couldn’t stop and fully take in what had become of my surroundings but it felt as if the trees were closing in on me. Almost as if they were forming a tunnel, the trees began to bend like fingers trying to touch the palm of a hand. There was barely any light but no matter how dark the tunnel of trees made my venture, I knew I would find what I needed.

I kept trudging along the dark path with a shortness of breath. I desired to keep going but my lungs were burning so hot, I thought they would burst from my chest. Even my legs had given up and my knees finally buckled. I figured I would collapse completely but as I fell, I realized my chest hadn’t hit the path. Almost as if I were begging, only my knees kissed the ground. My upper body was completely erect and my chest began to protrude outwards. The pulling sensation had only grown stronger as I was dragged along the path with no visible force tugging at my chest. 

I was dragged for hours. The knee part of my pants has disintegrated and had been matted with blood and mud. I felt weaker the farther I went down the tunnel. I could barely keep my eyes open but an unusual clutter of small voices prevented me from going completely adrift. The deeper I delved into the dark path, the clearer the voices sounded. I could make out what they were saying and frankly, it was nothing special. All I heard were average conversations layered on yet more average conversations. It was incessant but comforting. 

Eventually, the speed at which I was being dragged had come to a halt as I entered a different part of the woods. The tunnel had opened in a circular fashion above me as if the trees morphed into a colosseum. With this newfound exposure to the sky, the moon shone light on something I had never seen before. 

Before my eyes, I saw an old woman in worn rags sewing herself what appeared to be a red scarf. The old woman looked grotesquely thin and feeble yet she used her needle as if it were a mighty sword when she struck the yarn. It was a beautiful stitch, a work of art to say the least. I began to wonder why she wore such hideous and worn rags but I was interrupted by her gruesome gaze. 

She did not say a single word. The old woman stopped sewing for a moment as she brushed her matted wisps of hair over her shoulder. She then pointed at my chest and that’s when I saw it. A long strand of red yarn had come out of my chest and had been linked to her soon-to-be scarf. My eyes widened as she fiddled with the string with her long nail as if it were a banjo. Before I could process what was happening, her eyes rolled back into her skull and her twisted smile grew as she continued sewing. With every passing stroke of her needle, I began to unravel. Her scarf grew longer as my body began to diminish into nothingness. I couldn’t tell if I made a single noise because the conversations only grew louder as I became more scarf than human. 

The process was extremely painful, as my skin was being ripped off but I have to say…it was worth it. I feel warmed not only by the fabric I’ve become but also by the voices I am surrounded by. I can now intermingle with whomever I’m woven with. 

I finally found what I have lost. 


Author Bio: 

P.J. Curtis is a fan of fiction that disturbs readers to the core. Whether he is reading or writing it, Curtis believes we all should take a moment to appreciate what lurks in the shadows. Being primarily inspired by the works of Junji Ito and Franz Kafka, Curtis delves deep into the brink of human absurdity through the exploration of the unexplainable. Right now, Curtis is studying at Montclair State University to become a high school English teacher, but that has never stopped him from exploring what makes us scream.

 

Free Fiction : In the Winter Forest by John Drury

In the Winter Forest by John Drury

Before the man stood a large monolithic slate constructed with a dark abyss-like cosmic sludge, ever moving and crawling like one thousand termites upon the carcass of a long-deceased animal.  Each character shifted and writhed through the sludge, eternally fighting for release from the confines of the monolith but forever holding their distinct and awe-inspiring shape with both grandeur and solidity. The alien etchings presented themselves to the world like the proclamation of some unholy deity, warning those of the unspeakable sufferings that laid in wait for any who dared step foot upon this god-forsaken land.

All around D’Hiver, a cold winter wind blew, the screams of the wind creating a cacophony that was further amplified by the large monolithic structure that laid bare before him. He awoke sprawled before the structure on his hands and knees in a position of prostration with no remembrance of his past or identity. Only a brief recollection of a life previously lived presided within his now deteriorated mind. Within that memory, a single visage presided but had now been smeared away from his mind like the smudged face of an ancient painting that has long been lost to the sands of time.

Visions of preconceived understandings and depictions of Purgatory and Hell raced through his mind in a desperate effort to attribute their characteristics with those of the world that now laid claim to his soul. All around snow-covered plains laid barren before the man, and far in the distance, a ring of monstrously large tree-like structures surrounded the plains, almost like the gates into a more hellish landscape. No sign of life was evident, both on the plains and through the trees far in the distance. Outside of the harrowing screams of the bone-chilling wind, there existed only silence which echoed through his mind almost as loud as the hallow wind itself.

One last look upon the monolith filled the man with an existential dread of the future that invariably waited for him—still, all the while providing no understanding of who could have potentially created such a horrific structure.

The reverberating black energy of the monolith drove D’Hiver forward, pushing him towards the ring of trees. With no apparent motive or direction, the man went onwards for what he believed to be hours or potentially even days, as there were no stars in the sky, no sun or moon to guide his path or provide any structure to the time spent pushing forever onwards. The only light apparent on this world was an unearthly white glow that cast itself from high above onto the snow below, calling him forward and forever guiding his path.

With each step, the journey away from the monolith became increasingly more difficult, the physical and psychological pain pushing D’hiver far beyond his breaking point. The man’s hunger and need for rest had been exonerated, replaced with a pang of gnawing unfound existential torment and guilt that tore away at his heart perpetually. With each step forward, the more the jagged ice ripped the skin from his bare feet, leaving a trail of blood upon the plains. When inspected, his feet showed no sign of trauma or deterioration; only when set upon the earth, did they begin to bleed and toil away upon the endless void of snow once again. Visions of the wasted body of Prometheus chained to the rocks of Caucasus raced through D’Hivers mind as the man began to feel as if he had been sentenced to a fate similar to that of the bringer of fire.

He stood before the immense trees that seemed to move and sway in a way similar to that of the wordings etched into the monolith. Once the man mustered the strength to pass through the gates, he found that the ground below the trees was barren, inexplicably protected by the vastness of the sprawling canopy of pine-like branches miles above the surface. Once his feet left the snow, the pain immediately subsided, and instantly the air had become completely silent; the halls of the forest seemed to eliminate the horrific screams and bellows of the plains that now lay a mere foot behind D’hiver. Just as the cries of the plains had echoed through his skull like the strokes of a bell, the silence seemed to permeate through the entirety of his body, slowly filling every crevice and niche until his entire being had become a well of pressure ready to burst at the seams. Unsure of which pain he found worse, he continued onwards, blocking the new sensations that at first felt like a relief but now felt like a fire from which the frying pan had directly delivered him. 

The sensations of hunger still seemed to escape him, but the starvation of days without rest seemed to catch up with D’hiver finally. Immediately he fell to the forest floor, cushioned by a bed of ancient pine needles, which ushered him into a deep, dreamless sleep.

For years the man slept, always without movement or breathing; he laid there, becoming endlessly covered by the falling pine needles which stabbed into his body relentlessly until there was no skin left to puncture. A deep guttural calling finally awoke D’hiver from deep within the forest itself, which harked him onwards in the same ancient language that briefly graced the foggy mind of the wayward traveler from long ago when he traveled the plains of the ancient monolith.

And once more, his journey continued. 

Scorched by the fires of some unholy force, the building lay before D’hiver, small in size when compared to the vastness of the trees, which D’hiver had called his own for what had become years now. The building, constructed in the same material as the monolith, and shaped like that of a church, presented the man with a single doorway, for which he slowly approached. With each step, the calling grew more vigorous, D’hiver felt as if his journey had finally reached its conclusion.

The inside of the building was black as night. Every particle of light was absorbed and crushed under the enormous weight of the darkness. From deep within the shadows, a figure walked forward towards D’hiver. With hands outstretched and body prostrated towards the unholy figure, D’hiver presented his unwavering love and commitment the same way he had towards the monolith all those years ago when he had first awoken. 

With each step the figure took, the pressure lodged deep within D’hiver’s soul continued to grow, and the guttural voice’s call grew louder and louder. At last, before the figure was just about to present itself, D’hiver realized that the call was never a call; it was, in fact, a cry, a cry of warning, the same cry of warning that the monolith had attempted to communicate to him all those years ago. He should have never come here; his lack of purpose and direction mixed with the years of physical and psychological torment blinded him to the truth. The enticing possibility of some form of reward or fulfillment laying in wait at the end of the trail kept D’hiver moving.

However, he was wrong, and it was too late to go back now.

The creature took its last steps, and once D’hiver’s eyes bore witness to the abomination that had laid claim to his soul, the well of pressure lodged deep within D’hiver’s body finally gave way. In that very instant, all of the unholy white light absorbed by the pitch-black walls that surrounded the two figures finally collapsed upon the body of D’hiver.

Thousands of miles away, far beyond the towering trees and into the unholy snowcovered fields the man awakes, once again, before the great monolith.


John Drury is a High School student with a soft spot for horror and writing that’s just trying to get his voice out there. . “Over the past couple of years, I have been invested in listening to experimental music and watching older horror movies, which have played a vital role in the desire to focus my time on the creative process. I am only a student right now, but I hope to get my voice heard while developing my ability to create exciting stories. In the future, I would like to publish an anthology or potentially even a full-length story. Unfortunately, I only have one piece of writing under my belt, so my main focus will be on developing my craft and finding new and exciting stories to share.” If you enjoyed this story, watch for more from John and follow him at https://linktr.ee/JohnDru

Book Review : Clockwork Wonderland

Clockwork Wonderland Review by Ariel Da Wintre

I really enjoyed this Anthology. The book consisted of 14 stories and a poem. It has something
for everyone; scary, intriguing and creative. All the stories have the theme of clocks and Alice in
Wonderland characters. The writers added new characters, taking the classic story and
giving it a horror element. I think this works really well as parts of the original story could be
considered scary all on their own. I found the stories very original and some I didn’t
want to end.

The book starts with a poem by Emerian Rich, “Hatter’s Warning”, and it reminded me of the poems in the original Alice in Wonderland.

The first story is, “Jabberclocky”, by Jonathan Fortin. This story is about a boy named Henry and his unexpected visitor,  the Hatter. I really liked this and I was completely drawn into Henry’s story and the scary Jabberclocky. I loved the end but I didn’t want it to end.

I am still tripped out by the very scary, “Hands of Time” by Stephanie Ellis. It is about an apprentice named Rab who meets an executioner and the timekeeper. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like a bloody good time this is the story for you.

Next, “Clockwork Justice”, by Trinity Adler, is another thrilling story. Alice finds herself in Wonderland and accused of murder. Who did she murder? I won’t say but will she keep her head? Will she solve the crime? All my favorite characters are part of the story Mad Hatter, Cheshire cat and more.

The story, “My Clockwork Valentine”, by Sumiko Saulson is about a girl named Blanche and what happens to her. I loved the imagery in this story and the concept of time. You will get swept away by the story and hope our heroine survives.

“Blood Will Have Blood” by James Pyne, starts with the main character, Alicia, getting pulled into Wonderland and being told she is the new Alice. I think you can see where this is going. I found this story creative and different and it is about a blood clock. It is pretty scary I don’t want to be part of that Wonderland.

I loved “Midnight Dance” by Emerian Rich. This story follows the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It has a very different twist but with characters we all know and love from the book and Zombies!

The next story, “A Room for Alice” by Ezra Barany, is a scary story that follows Alice as she wakes up in a scary place and meets Tweedle D. I enjoyed this story it had lots of plots and twists and left me thinking for some time afterward. It had a lot of creepy elements and I found it very descriptive.

“Frayed Ears” by H.E. Roulo is a story I loved. It has a Rabbit going through many childhood fairy tales. I couldn’t wait to see who would show up next to help the White Rabbit and will he make it on time and who is causing this to happen.

The next story is “King of Hearts,” by Dustin Coffman. This story had a great twist, a guy goes down the rabbit hole instead of Alice. Lenny is checking the closet for his daughter who hears a strange noise and finds himself in Wonderland. He meets the White Rabbit and other characters. Watch out for the Queen of Hearts!

“Riddle”, by N. McGuire, is about a young lady named Alice. She follows the white rabbit on a train and she is drawn into a very strange situation with different Wonderland characters.  Will she solve the riddle?

The next story is, “Tick Tock”, by Jaap Boekestein. This story has all the characters you love but they are not the way you remember them. Wonderland is at war and you don’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. This story will keep you intrigued.

The story, “Gone A’ Hunting,” by Laurel Anne Hill, follows a young lady named Alease who is chasing the White Rabbit for dinner. She gets more than she’s bargaining for and needs to escape. Will the White Rabbit help her after she was just trying to kill him? Great story, scary to the end.

I really liked “The Note”, by Jeremy Megargee. It had a great concept. Wonderland is not the same and the character telling the story seems so lost and sad. The story has a lot of suspense. I enjoyed the whole vision of this scary wonderland.

The next story is “Half Past”, by K.L. Wallis. This story follows a girl named Alyssa. She is bumped into by someone who drops their pocket watch. She tries to return it and finds herself traveling on a train to Wonderland with Albert Hare. Alyssa ends up going with the hare to his sister Hatty’s home where everyone keeps calling her Alice. There are great twists and turns in this story. The Queen of Hearts in this story which keeps you wondering until the end; will Alyssa/Alice survive.

The final story is, “Ticking Heart”,  by Michele Roger. The story is about a friend of Alice’s coming to visit her in Wonderland and something is very wrong. The Queen of Spades wants to take over and it’s going to be bloody. Will the good guys save Alice and Wonderland?

I enjoyed this collection of short stories thoroughly. I also found myself looking at the cover thinking it really fits this book. I could read these stories over and over again. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.