Guest Blog: The Blind Seeker by Kay Tracy

 

The Blind Seeker
by Kay Tracy

The lousy weather was holding, with the same miasma of fog and overcast. Lack of sun will make people do and see strange things, so they say.

The usual snarl of homeward commute traffic seemed worse than usual today. There are always those people who drive like, well, I guess idiots would be the more polite word to use. Cutting people off as they weave from lane to lane, trying for that extra car length they just know will get them home faster. It had a been a long day, and I was not looking forward to the rest of the commute. I pulled my truck off the road to take a break, and have an early dinner. I enjoy finding small out of the way places to patronize, and my hunt for something other than the standard fast food or drive through took me a couple miles distance from the highway. This stretch of road should have seemed familiar, I had driven here before, but there! That place was new, a small Taqueria, with a big hand lettered sign, “Fresh Tamales!” Well! If you have never had a fresh from the steamer hand rolled Tamal, you are missing one of life’s great pleasures! The sweetly plumped corn meal holding the tasty secret of filling that the individual making them takes such pride in! Not very large, this place Only 4 tables, a counter near one wall, and a door opening into a small Botanica shop. I looked for the owner (it is always the owner who works in these places) and wandered next door, into the attached Botannica. The scents of the food from the kitchen mingled with numerous herbs, powders and scented candles from the Botanica. My stomach was growling.

The older woman in the shop must have heard my stomach, as she greeted me warmly and asked me “Comida?”- Food? I nodded and said “Yes! Tamal con Pollo por favor” I replied “Three, er Tres”. My Spanish is not that good and I forget the words sometimes!

“Give me a moment” the old woman replied, her English was impeccable, as she winked at me slyly! She was tall and on the thin side, not quite gaunt, but her face showed her bone structure, as well as her laugh lines!

She ushered me back to the restaurant side and placed a small plain black wooden box on the center of the table indicating that I should sit there. I sat looking at the décor. Painted plaster walls, scenes from Central America? Step pyramids, bright feathered birds, or were those the head-dresses of Mayan or Aztec kings or priests? The woman returned and brought me a frothy cup of chocolate. Mind you this is not the chocolate of my childhood in Pennsylvania, all milky and sweet. No! This was chocolate as the Aztecs might have prepared it, spicy, with a hint of chile, whipped to a frenzy!

I know I said I liked out of the way places, and I am always willing to try new things, but that chocolate, if you are not used to it, has some odd effects on one! I looked up, as I dabbed the chili sweat from around my eyes.

The woman came out to sit down at the table, “they will be a few more minutes” she informed me, “you cannot rush the magic of the Tamal, it happens as it should.”

She opened the box that had been placed on the table, earlier and took out a black cloth, spreading it out, carefully smoothing out the wrinkles. “While we wait,” she said, “Shall we see what there is to be known?”

“I am tired of the traffic,” I said, “ And I am hungry. Do I need to know more than that?” I said, laughing slightly.

“Perhaps she replied” as she lit two small candles and stood them in small cups just inside the box. I looked as she looked, down, and saw there was a shallow bowl, sort of, the only black. She was staring into it, a sort of glazed look coming into her eyes. I saw the candles reflected in that bowl, flickering yellow lights, and other colors too, red, blue, reflections from the wall paintings? I leaned in closer to see. A trick of the candlelight? I blinked as her hand appeared and she sprinkled some sort of fine white powder over the bowl. My awareness came back suddenly, and I leaned back, after all, it IS California, and there are many things a “powder” could be! The old woman spent a few more minutes gently waving her hands and staring into the bowl when suddenly her face became grave. She picked up both of the candles and turned them over into their little cups. The candles out, she closed the box and got up. “Your dinner is ready now”. Swiftly she went to the kitchen, leaving me to sit, blinking from the change in lighting. There, then. I saw it. The top of the box. There were faint white marks on it, letters? Writing? I leaned closer, yes, there it was. I could make it out, “6 205 Muerte”

I took a moment to think, 205, that is the road, the highway I had been on, that traffic nightmare!

Just then my Tamales arrived, and the aroma seemed to make me forget all about the box, and the commute. I carefully untied the strip of corn husk and peeled it free so I could take a bite, and burned my tongue, just a bit, on the hot steaming cornmeal. The clock from back in the little kitchen chimed 6 pm. The old woman turned on a tiny television she had on her counter as she brought me more chocolate, she smiled sadly at me then, as she filled the cup again for me. She placed a small vase filled with marigolds onto my table as she removed the little black

box.

I fanned my burning tongue and looked up, “ Thank you” I said, just as I saw the news started up on her little TV. There it was, the same flashing yellow, and colors I had seen in the little bowl. There! On the news. The reporter was pointing as the crawl along the bottom had something about a multi-car crash on 205, that just happened. The image was very jumpy- the cameraman was running after the reporter with his gear, (they had been in the counter-commute lanes) There it was, I stared, transfixed at the tiny screen’s image, and looked again. Three of the cars in that wreck, I recognized them, they had been near me in the commute, when I pulled off! One of them had been the idiot weaving in an out trying to pass everyone on the road. And then, there was that truck, mangled, familiar looking…

 

Free Fiction Friday: The Ratter by Kay Tracy

The Ratter by Kay Tracy

I remember the first time. A warm late spring day in Lake Charles. It was humid and sticky. I did not like it, it was very ” unpleasant”, but momma insisted. “Too many to feed” she told me. “You won’t be eatin’ them when they are grown so…” I was six. I had no idea how to do this. This tiny baby rabbit, one of 6. I asked momma how I should do it. “I don’t care!” she said “You just go handle it girl!”

I was known as a curious child. By that I mean I was always looking in books, and encyclopedias to learn new things. I experimented. A lot. Momma mostly left me alone then. I think she might have been just a little afraid by the time I was ten. Did you know that alligators like the taste of rabbit? Among other things.

I had a nickname, though folks never used it to my face. I knew they called me ‘the Ratter’. I really didn’t mind. They paid me to deal with their “pests”. Sometimes they paid me very well. It wasn’t so bad now. You just had to figure out what the best type of bait was. The rest was usually quick, and almost too easy. I told myself way back when I was six, that “If I ever stop caring about doing the killing part, I would stop doing it.”

Momma used to say I had a gift, that what I did was a service that folks needed. She said I should be glad she made me take that task when I was little. She might have been right.

Sometimes things take a little longer than others. That can lead to certain ‘odors’. I learned that ammonia can help with those. Not too much though, just enough to do the job. The real secret though, like I said, was the bait. All the difference in the world between working easy or hard is in the bait.

No one ever asks how, or when. I never ask why. All folks want to know is “How much?” I always ask about a ‘deadline’, and what sort of ‘pest’ they want me to take care of. It keeps me busy enough, and I like my big house and car.

Funny how some folks never had a momma to teach them that they should “Just go handle it!”
That’s okay by me though. I always take the time to do things right. I care about my work. I think it shows too!

Well. If you ever need my services, just contact me.

Horror Movie Conspiracies: The Scream Franchise By Kenzie Kordic

Horror Movie Conspiracies: The Scream Franchise  By Kenzie Kordic

Horror movies have always had conspiracy theories attached to them, explanations on what motivated characters, and much more. The conspiracy theories in the horror universe is mostly fan theories, some have concrete foundations, while others have no basis in facts. Scream is one of the most popular horror franchises. The casting, sequels and fan base have helped the Scream franchise grow to what it is today: a classic. Everyone thinks that they understand what is at play and what the movies are all about, but do they really? This article is going to highlight the hidden agenda of some characters.

The main theory is that Dewey has assisted with the murders in every movie. Now, this is hinted at in almost every movie. Dewey is Sidney’s best friends older brother. He is a cop, and is also portrayed to be stupid. So much so, in fact, that the town doesn’t trust him at all or have any faith in him as a police officer. This works in Dewey’s favor because since everyone believes him to be stupid, he can break the mold and become a respected man of the law.

Now, how does he assist with the murders? Well, in the original Scream movie, Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy, was originally arrested for the murders of the students in the high school. When they arrested him, he did have the costume on him as well as the phone that made the calls to the victims. With all that evidence against him, he was released the next day. How? Dewey let him go.

The next piece of evidence is that he is always there. With every crime scene, he is there. Now, you’re thinking that he is a cop, so he should be, but that isn’t true at all. He wasn’t a good cop at all so what would him even being at the scene of the crimes help at all? Also, in every single movie, he is never attacked alone. Every time he is attacked, it is in full view of someone else. For example, Sidney was attacked on numerous occasions when she was by herself, so was Gale, and other characters. Why was Dewey never attacked alone? Also, how come every time there is the big showdown at the end of the movies, Dewey is always hurt. He is rarely there to help, he is always incapacitated.

In conclusion, Dewey has assisted with the murders of every killer in the Scream franchise to help himself get more recognition by helping to “solve” the cases. He has always known who the killers are and has helped them escape the law on a few different occasions. Like Gale, Dewey was using the murders and the killers to further his own career and infamy. Unlike Gale, Dewey was at least knowledgeable of who the killers were and what was going on. This is the first of many different horror conspiracies that will be discussed and I hope to see you guys next time.

 

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Kenzie Kordic is a young author who strives to create truly scary stories.  Kenzie has been obsessed with the horror genre for as long as she’s been able to read. She has written numerous short stories as well as working on a novel.  She can be found watching horror movies with her pup.

kenziekordic.com

twitter.com/kenziekordic

facebook.com/kenziekordic

Disheveled Dreams : Guest Blog : Slither by Valarie Savage Kinney

 

Excerpt:

Something was wrong.

Zari knew it, even as she fought against the nightmare that had engulfed her. Thrashing about in her mind as well as in the bed, she pushed herself to awaken. She was trapped in that gauzy middle ground between hard sleep and clarity.

And she was suffocating.

The snake was everywhere: over her, inside of her, shoving itself into her eyes, her mouth, her belly. A serpent bigger than she was, it filled most of the room. Couldn’t Emmett see it? Didn’t he hear the hissing, the horrible echoing of it that was hammering her ears? The air was heavy, tangible, too thick to breathe in and she struggled for air, arching her back in a desperate attempt to suck in oxygen. The gigantic serpent slid over her, releasing a sickening slurping sound with each movement. Zari could feel the slime dripping off of her. She shuddered, squeezing her eyes shut. It was melting into her, sealing its revolting body to hers with a scalding heat that made her cry out in agony. “No!” she cried out. “No, no, no!” The snake laughed, a hideous, wheezing sound that left goose bumps on her skin.

“Zari! You are one of us! You are one with us!”

“No!”

“We are Slither! We are bound together!”

“I won’t! I won’t do this!”

Horrendous cackling filled the room, permeating the air, sticking to her skin like a layer of filth.slitherdreams

Zari’s eyes snapped open and watched in terror as the face of the serpent dissolved into the face of the little girl, Kayde, smiling prettily. The face stretched and changed again, this time to a face once dear to Zari, one she hadn’t seen in many years. Chocolate brown hair buzzed short enough to show skin peeking through it. Short enough that it felt soft as the first sweet locks of an infant. Narrow violet eyes set in deep sockets with puffy dark pockets of flesh sitting immediately below them. A wide red mouth with deep, puckered lines about the lips. Impossibly straight, white teeth. Square chin. Nan’s features were older and seemed to have softened in some ways and in others looked harsh and wrinkled.

“N—Nan?” It couldn’t be possible. Could it?

“Child. You’ve been gone so long. You’ve got to come home now. It’s time for you to accept your gift,” Nan said, warm and inviting.

“I don’t want it. I won’t be like you, like Mama. I want to be normal,” Zari said, insistent.

“Normal? What, like this poor excuse of a man you’ve chosen to bed?”

“Leave Emmett out of this. I love him. I’m happy. He doesn’t know about… this, and he isn’t going to. Isn’t there any way I can get out of it?” Her voice was desperate, pleading.

“Get out of it? Renounce your bloodline? How do you propose to do that?” A harsh, barking laugh escaped Nan’s lips.

“I don’t know! Just… get it out of me!” Zari cried.

Suddenly, Nan was human again. Sitting atop Zari’s chest, she set about her grim task—wrapping a transparent film about Zari’s head. Horrified, Zari attempted to reach up to stop her, only to find her arms were cuffed to the bed. Digging the back of her head into the pillow, Zari screamed.

Nan wrapped the film tightly around Zari’s face, pulling hard as she stretched the film to wrap around her head one more time. Nan grinned broadly as she worked.

Emmett, Emmett, Emmett! Help me!

She was suffocating. There was no air, no air…

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Valarie Savage Kinney is a writer and Ren fest junkie. She resides in Michigan with her husband, four children, and two insane little dogs. She is the author of Just Hold On, Slither, Heckled, and short stories in various anthologies.

Slither by Valarie Savage Kinney

http://t.co/VYqWGEN0wG Slither Kindle

http://tinyurl.com/j7vo7d2 Slither Amazon UK

http://t.co/zr22CDT3BU Slither Kobo

http://t.co/s8980p6O5b Slither Google Play

Crafting Horror: Theatre of the Mind by H.R. Boldwood

Crafting Horror: Theatre of the Mind

by H.R. Boldwood

How do you define theatre of the mind? In its broadest sense, theatre of the mind uses sensation to evoke a person’s perception and imagination.

Some folks might think of the old-time radio programs of the 30’s and 40’s when fascinating stories played over the airwaves and transported people to another place and time. In 1938, Orson Well’s radio broadcast of War of the Worlds managed to spawn national panic by convincing us the Earth was under attack by Martians!

And he did it using primitive sound effects that pandered to the listener’s ear.

Baby boomers might picture a more high-tech version of the theatre of the mind. Take, for example, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter attraction at Disney World (circa 1995 -2003). In an effort to entertain and heighten the anticipation of the line-weary crowd, Disney broadcast a brilliantly crafted preshow infomercial from the intergalactic company, XS Tech, which boasted, “If something can’t be done with XS, it shouldn’t be done at all.”

The crowd chuckled. Surely, disaster awaited.

Once the program began, the Chairman of XS Tech, an alien named L.C. Clench, announced that he would travel to Earth via the teleportation tube in the center of the auditorium.

But something went horribly wrong. Suddenly, lights strobed, steam hissed, and alarms sounded. The audience saw just enough to know that it wasn’t L.C. Clench who had arrived in the teleportation tube, but a hideous winged alien instead. Oh no!

The tube slowly cracked, then burst wide open. The alien escaped! And just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, the power in the auditorium went out. The audience was thrust into darkness. A technician rushed to fix the problem, but by the sound of it, he’d been savagely killed by the extraterrestrial beast. The audience was trapped, harnessed into their seats in the pitch-black auditorium with a vicious alien on the loose!

The floor shook as the alien tromped around the room. The audience heard his tortured breathing, felt his hot breath down the backs of their necks. They twitched as his tail skittered across the backs of their calves and screamed as saliva dripped down on them from above.

Miraculously, the power was restored, the lights came back on, and the monster was captured just in the nick of time.

Whew! That was a close one! And what a delight to the senses.

Both War of the Worlds and Alien Encounter are perfect examples of theatre of the mind.

But what about what we do — we horror writers? Aren’t we providing our readers with theatre of the mind?

We should be.

We ask our readers to suspend their disbelief hoping we can take them on a ride just long enough to tell them our tales. If we have any hope of achieving that goal, it’s going to be by making those readers actually live our stories.

We’ve been lectured to death to ‘show not tell.’ In essence, we are being told to engage our reader’s senses.

I read a David Farland writing tip recently wherein he quoted the words of the poet, Leslie Norris. “When it rains in your story, your readers should get wet.”

It’s that simple.

Perceptions and imagination are evoked through the senses. Ergo, if we manage our readers’ perceptions and awaken their imaginations, we can create an alternate reality for them.

We can put them in the jungles of Viet Nam, the furthest reaches of space, a haunted house, or even the bowels of Hell. And we do it by evoking their senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Here’s another outstanding nugget I’ve gleaned from David Farland’s tips: Not all people experience the world in the same way — much like we all don’t learn the same way. Some people learn by doing, others by watching, still others by listening.

It’s similar to the way people process what they’ve read. A person who learns by doing leans heavily on their sense of touch. That individual might prefer reading descriptions that are very tactile in nature. A person who prefers to watch and learn might prefer highly visual descriptions, while the person that learns by listening might prefer reading about the sounds of a setting.

That makes perfect sense – no pun intended. It also suggests that we need to incorporate all the senses into our stories, as often as possible. Including the senses artfully and in tandem helps create settings that transport our readers to the worlds we’ve created.

While we’re at it, are we letting our readers know what’s going on inside our characters’ heads? How they’re feeling? Internal dialog is a useful tool in this regard. My good friend, Killion Slade, introduced me to another dynamite tool, the Emotion Thesaurus, written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book lists common emotions and their physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, as well as cues of their acute or long term duration and cues of their being suppressed. It’s become one of my favorite resources and it makes it easier than ever to create three-dimensional characters to star in my theatre of the mind productions.

No, there isn’t anything new and groundbreaking about writing descriptors, whether they’re painting a vivid setting or our characters’ emotions. This stuff has been drilled into us for years.

But if it’s really all that rudimentary, why don’t we each look back at one of our stories to see how frequently we actually do it. According to Farland and other successful writers, we should be hitting all of the senses on just about every page. That’s a whole lot of seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, and touching going on. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start focusing on this a bit more.

I wonder how my characters will feel about that.

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  • David Farland is an award-winning, bestselling international fantasy author, widely known for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series, The Runelords. Interested people can sign up to receive David’s e-mailed writing tips at www.davidfarland.com.

 

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H.R. Boldwood is a writer of horror and speculative fiction. In another incarnation, Boldwood is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was awarded the 2009 Bilbo Award for creative writing by Thomas More College. Publication credits include, “Killing it Softly”, “Short Story America”, “Bete Noir”, “Everyday Fiction”, “Toys in the Attic”, “Floppy Shoes Apocalypse II”, “Pilcrow and Dagger”, “Quickfic”, and “Sirens Call”. Boldwood’s story, ‘In the Shadow of Fire’ will be appearing in the anthology “Saturalia,” published by Hyperion and Theia in late 2017.

Boldwood’s characters are often disreputable and not to be trusted. They are kicked to the curb at every conceivable opportunity. No responsibility is taken by this author for the dastardly and sometimes criminal acts committed by this ragtag group of miscreants.

H.R. Boldwood can sometimes be found writing as Mary Ann Back, whose collection of short stories “Dead Reckoning”, published by Grey Wolfe Publishing, is available at www.amazon.com.

Amazon Author Central address: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01LWY22MD

Press Release: Holy Terror

57cf40af81587f91801602bcea55The riveting first official teaser trailer for the new supernatural horror film HOLY TERROR was just released. This film is in post production via Cineridge Entertainment from the award-winning team who previously brought us SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE.

Written and directed by Rich Mallery (SOCIOPATHIA) and executive-produced by Gregory Hatanaka (who helmed SAMURAI COP 2 from a script co-written by Mallery), HOLY TERROR stars MEATBALLS’ Kristine DeBell, Bruce Lee’s GAME OF DEATH’s Mel Novak, Lisa London  (H.O.T.S., PRIVATE RESORT), Kelly Reiter (The Z Virus), Jesse Hlubik (MAY, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE), Nicole Olson, Scott Butler (WIENER DOG INTERNATIONALS), and Vida Ghaffari (THE MINDY PROJECT, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE).

Believing the strange disturbances in their home are their deceased son reaching out from the other side, Molly [Reiter] and Tom [Hlubik] ask a medium [London] to make contact. But instead of their child, the three accidentally invite a vengeful demon to cross over. After the demon violently possesses Molly’s younger sister [Olson], the couple enlists the help of a disgraced priest [Butler] and his mentor Sister Catherine [DeBell] to attempt a dangerous exorcism.

“There has been a resurgence of exorcism/possession-type movies, so it’s a little challenging to give audiences something they haven’t seen before. But we have a few tricks up our sleeve that are going to make HOLY TERROR stand apart from the crowd. Plus, we’re going for a real late-’70s/early-’80s feel. Films like THE CHANGELING, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and of course the original EXORCIST are huge influences on this project,” said Mallery.

“I’m really excited to be partnering with Gregory Hatanaka again; this is the fourth film we’ve worked on together,” Mallery continues. “It’s a little strange this time around, since usually he’s directing and I’m the writer/AD, and this time I’m directing and he’s the DP, but we’re totally in sync when it comes to the vision, so we’re like a well-oiled machine. We’ve brought back a lot of the cast of SAMURAI COP 2—Jesse Hlubik, Lisa London, Mel Novak, Kristine DeBell and Nicole Olson—and although this is a completely different type of film, it’s great to have a lot of familiar faces who are used to the way Gregory and I work. We’re both slightly insane, so it’s amazing to be surrounded by people who support our vision.”

“As Rich and I are both rabid fans of 70s AIP and New World horror pics,” Hatanaka adds, “it was only a matter of time before we teamed up to do a film in that tradition. HOLY TERROR works on deep psychological levels, and has an otherworldly, TWILIGHT ZONE-ish kind of feel.”

Holy Terror will be premiering this April on Amazon Prime.

More info at:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5924114/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Please join their facebook fan page for updates:

https://www.facebook.com/holyterrormovie/

Kidnapped Guest Blog: DARK DREAMERS BY MARK SLADE

DARK DREAMERS

BY MARK SLADE

DARK DREAMS LINK: http://www.lulu.com/shop/rogue-planet-press/dark-dreams/paperback/product-22931027.html

Dark dreams began a few years ago as a podcast. I wanted to give other writers a chance to be heard, as well as myself. I also wanted to gather as many of my favorite stories by writers I liked. I was able to have stories read by Richard Christian Matheson, G. Wayne Miller and Joe R. Lansdale. My narrations were not very good, but E.S. Wynn was a master of it. He had a flare for the dramatic and the right timing for comedy, and a voice to die for. That podcast bit the dust after two or three years. Funny story (not so funny at the time) but a name writer took offense when I asked if his story could be read. He didn’t like my website, claimed I was stealing writer’s stories and vowed he would get the Horror Writers Association to sue me. I thought I was going to have to shut things down when another writer told me to ignore it, and it would go away. Well, nothing happened except he drew more people to the podcast for a week or so. A few years went by and an 80 or so episodes went by before I closed the podcast.

A few months ago I was listening to the Twilight Zone podcast, http://thetwilightzonepodcast.com/, hosted by Tom Elliot. He said (I think) that he believed the Twilight Zone all characters were connected somehow, and that the reason for the Twilight Zone’s existence was because of that connection. I loved that reasoning of the show and I got to thinking of bringing the title Dark Dreams back and doing an anthology. So I asked each writer to write a story using a minor or major character from the last story entry. Or if they already had a story to modify a character’s name. I’ve asked the contributors to explain their inspirations for their story. I also asked Artist Cameron Hampton about her paintings and drawings that make up the cover. To me the cover shows, in a dreamlike state, four different images that sums up the book. Loneliness and isolation, sex, murder and a horrific consequences of an evil act (or) acts.

dark-dreams-cover

BOOK COVER AND ART BY CAMERON HAMPTON

Cameron:

The painting on the left is a self-portrait of me Skyping with my boyfriend. It’s called Long Distance. The pictures on the top right were for another writers work, ‘Nothing there’ by G. Wayne Miller. The painting on the bottom right (the green one) is for an Edgar Allan Poe story, The Cask of Amontillado.”

DREAM GURU BY MARK SLADE

I think it’s safe to say almost everyone who contributed to this book is a huge Rod Serling fan, whether it’s the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, those influence weigh heavy on all involved in this project. This story was originally published in Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers volume II. I had an idea about a man who had so many gambling debts that he was willing to do anything to rid himself of the problem. I also wanted to write a story about self-help gurus and how obsessed society is with “self”. Improving yourself is fine, but wouldn’t it be better if the improvement was how you treated people and your loved ones, not paying loads of money to satisfy the “inner self”? Maybe helping out with, or giving to charities?

I imagined this to be an episode of Tales from the darkside. I imagined the main character as a young (1980’s) John Goodman and the girlfriend Cathy Moriarty of raging Bull fame. The dream guru character was named after friend and writer T. Fox Dunham.

BEYOND THE MINDS EYE BY THOMAS M. MALAFARINA

Tom’s story was perfect follow up to mine. Definitely a shock to the system with that ending.

Tom:

My inspiration for “Beyond the Mind’s Eye” was to create a horror/sci-fi type of story that combined several different elements. I wanted to show something about the power of creativity and how an imagination is so incredibly powerful. I also wanted to touch on how technology, originally developed with the greater good in mind could become corrupted by human greed. And of course I wanted to throw in some good old fashioned gore. The original inspiration was a work of art by Nunzio Barbera of the same title. https://www.saatchiart.com/art/-Beyond-the-Mind-s-Eye/166157/94820/view. This story was part of my collection “Gallery Of Horror” no longer in print. I took 10 of Nunzio’s works and wrote stories around them with the same title. The purpose of this was to simulate in print the old Rod Serling show “Night Gallery”. If the story has a bit of a “Twilight Zone” feel, that’s why.”

PSYCHOSIS BY D.S. SCOTT

D.S.’s story kept me guessing where it was going. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I came to the end because I didn’t see it coming.

D.S.:

Well, the idea for my story came from my experiences with doctors and nurses. Although I’ve never been placed in a mental institution before, I have visited one and seen what it’s like. I also have physical health problems, so I’ve had to deal with more than my fair share of doctors. I’ve wondered what it’s like to have that job. I guess my inspiration came from thinking to myself, what if a mentally ill person was the one taking care of other mentally ill people and what kind of outcome that could produce. There are killers that blend in with everyone else in society, so why wouldn’t there be some that blend in as doctors or nurses, too?

I think I watched an episode of the show Dexter, about the serial killer who kills other killers. If I recall correctly, I think his first human kill was the nurse who tried to overdose his step father in the hospital. I’m not sure if that’s in the book series by Jeff Lindsay though. But now that I think about it, that probably helped inspire me with the story.”

Jacqui sent this story to me quickly after I asked her to join in on the anthology. I believe it only took her two weeks. But what a satisfying little gem it is and fits perfectly as an intro to the next story by Emerian. Funny how so many writers can end up on the same wave length.

BEAUTIFUL ANGEL BY JOHN C. ADAMS

Jacqui:

I love the novelty of linking the story together. It felt really fresh and innovative.

My inspiration came from the previous story, where a nurse was called a ‘beautiful angel’. As a horror writer I went ahead and took that literally. She meets a horrible end but comes back as a guardian angel, a sort of psychic detective from another realm.

Writer’s that inspired me were HP Lovecraft always and Stephen King. Read a lot of James Herbert as a kid. All of them influenced me a lot. I wouldn’t say any of them were in mind when I wrote the story – probably subconscious, as these things always are.”

This is the second time I’ve been able work with Emerian for an anthology. Happily, it was not what I was expecting from her. I couldn’t help but have that feeling of claustrophobia when I read her story, or maybe anxiety of dread is more appropriate.

VAMPIRE THERAPY BY EMERIAN RICH

Emerian:

Actually a dream- which is where a lot of my ideas come from. I woke one night in the middle of the night breathing hard and felt like someone was stealing my breath. I also had the very real impression that my husband had died in a terrorist attack. He hadn’t…thankfully he was still by my side. But in the darkness I saw a form that looked like a vampire face. I turned on the light – it was just a white shirt hanging in the closet. So yes, all imagined, but creeped me out enough to write about it.”

Jason Norton sent me a few stories for the now defunct mag I was doing for Horrified Press Nightmare Illustrated. I think we share the same philosophy when it comes to writing stories. Try to hook the reader from the get-go foreshadow the ending (or in our case surprise ending) of the story.

6 BY JASON NORTON

Jason:

The majority of my short stories (including this one) have been inspired by two sources: Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone. I always try to catch the reader off-guard with some sort of twist or unexpected plot thread. And I love a good redemption story, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to take a shot at writing one. This story had its origins in an idea I had nearly 20 years ago, but never completed. The original idea was that this hard-luck criminal who had lost nearly everything ends up at this mysterious roadside hotel where all these lost objects–and lost travelers–turn up. The watch I use in “6” came directly from that original story concept. I tweaked the updated version, adding a few horror elements and a new ending and I think it made for a more enjoyable narrative–but of course, I’m pretty biased.”

P.J. is a fellow column writer for Horror Metal Sounds as I am with my column From the Grave. I was reading one of his columns about movies and decided to ask him along for the ride. I most certainly had no regrets. He produced a fine, interesting story. I hope to see more from him.

CLUMSY IS THE CROW BY P.J. GRIFFIN

P.J.:

I wanted to create a story that had the feeling of a genuine nightmare. Nightmares are often so scary because not only do they tap into our personal fears but they are also quite disconnected from reality. It’s as if nightmares are all the terror without any safety net.

The initial concept of the story was the tangible feeling of being alone in the woods, suddenly feeling like you’ve made a mistake. The character knows that staying home was probably a better choice but he’s gone too far and he is simultaneously afraid of being exposed. However, little by little, the narrator distances himself from what the reader might see as acceptable response to his situation and surroundings. Suddenly the reader loses the narrator as their one connection to the safety of reality. It’s a frightening thing to realize that a tour guide is no longer a stable figure.

Additionally, I wanted to explore the nature of losing oneself. I feel that our emotions and how they align with the majority of others is a comfort that can be especially disturbing when lost. The horrific becomes comedic, the senseless suddenly makes sense.

Nightmares often become so upsetting because it’s as if we are in a strange world to which we feel inexplicably feel connected. Getting lost in the chaos, venturing out into uncharted territory and having your own feelings betray you. That’s what the heart of the story is.”

By far the most bizarre story I’ve had in any of my anthologies. Not for the faint of heart. By the way, Mr. Deadman runs his own online zine Deadman’s Tome, along with a podcast of the same name.

CYNTHIA’S GARDEN BY MR. DEADMAN

Mr. Deadman:

Inspiration: my goal with Cynthia’s Garden was to write something absolutely disgusting, perverted, and bizarre. The subtext, however, played with the idea of a strong female character that kills people for simply slut shaming her. The twist at the end with the talking heads was from a concept I’ve been playing with for a while: a garden of bodies.”

I might be wrong, but I think Joe has been in almost every anthology I have put together. He was one of the original writers for the podcast Blackout City and he is in my anthology Wicked Gardens a book of stories about an apartment building.

MANIK BY DAVID LUDFORD

David:

I guess my inspiration was something I’ve relied on for a number of stories- man’s interaction with strange, supernatural creatures and the endless possibilities this presents. Significantly with ‘Manik’ it wasn’t an ordinary man who caused the demon’s downfall but a supernatural power even higher than itself. I wondered what a battle- albeit a brief one- between evil forces would look like.”

PENANCE BY JOSEPH PATCHEN

Joe:

Dreams. I get everything from letting my mind go and the dream or nightmare enters. I don’t write anything. I’m the vessel for whatever enters and develops in my unconscious and subconscious state.”

Next up is a very unsettling story by Mark Tompkins, a writer who has been involved with many projects published by Horrified Press and Rogue Planet press.

PHASE BOUNDRY BY MARK TOMPKINS

MARK:

Phase Boundary was inspired by pondering shadows and different states of matter. The idea came to me one lazy weekend day when I was sitting outside watching the shadows through the trees. My wife and I had been discussing parallel universes and other theoretical stuff earlier in the day and the story just popped into my head.”

The book was just about finished, but it seemed to need something else. I noticed that E.S. Wynn wasn’t in the book. Earl is another writer that has been in every project I’ve been tied to. Initially he turned me down, having too many things on his plate. But I pleaded and finally he caved in. Without his contribution, the book would have felt unfinished.

FEAST OF FLESH BY E.S. WYNN

Earl:

My biggest inspiration for Feast of Flesh was H.P. Lovecraft. I wanted to bring forth elements of his style and of the kinds of stories he wrote and put them together into something uniquely my own. I wanted to write a rainy nightmare about cats and rats that leaves the reader wondering who the bad guy really is.”

I’ve seen Shawn’s name pop up all over the place and decided to take a chance, ask him to be in the book. A wallop of a story. Packs a lot of power.

THE OLD MAN BY SHAWN CLAY

Shawn:

I wanted a departure from the zombie genre. I got the idea from wondering what it would be like for the reaper when it was time for him to come and take someone. I wanted to personify him as both caring and cruel at the same time. Relief and struggle can be opposite spectrums of the reaper’s calling.”

Thankfully Gavin Chappell, my co-editor on this book and the others, asked Kevin to finish it up. I wanted Gavin to write the last story, but running an imprint, two magazines, editing a lot of anthologies and writing, I wonder if the man ever sleeps. He asked Kevin to step in and he did a great job. I also asked Gavin what he thought of the book after it was completed.

Gavin:

An ambitious project. The various authors’ skillful ability to bring together all those disparate strands and continuing the themes and characters through so many changes of scene was what impressed me most.”

DRIFT BY KEVIN REES

Kevin:

First, I was contacted by Gavin who asked if I could do a ‘wrap up’ story that encompassed the other stories. Also I was briefed that a minor character from the previous story would appear in the following story. That sort of didn’t happen, however the quality of the stories as standalone’s, and the fact they were supposed to be dreams gave me the idea of taking several of the characters and placing them in the nightmare world of Drift. When I write a story images tend to come to mind and then words. The word Drift wouldn’t go away and I wanted it to stand for something, an acronym. It worked because it’s linked to drifting off to sleep and the anthology dealt with dreams. I enjoyed writing the story and hope it did justice to the anthology.”

It would be fun to produce another volume. Who knows, maybe even have the same writers and none of the stories link until the last story to recap and link them together. Or maybe just have one object pop up in each story that could be the link. It could happen if everyone has time to put energy into the project.