Comic Review: Mary Moon Volume 1

Mary Moon Comic
Reviewed by Sebastian Grimm

I’m reviewing an old comic Circa 2012 that I picked up at a used bookstore. Mary Moon is a story about a gal who gets bitten by a werewolf and a vampire at the same time, making her some sort of hybrid were-vamp.

This Volume 1 by Black Mirror Comics seemed somewhat like an indie publication and does have a few typos. However, they seem very passionate about their story and there’s even information in the back about how to subscribe to them. Now, I haven’t looked up the website to see if it’s still in service, but here’s my review of this issue.

First off, the art is rather well done. Much better than I would expect from an indie comic company. I enjoyed most of the images. There are a few that are a little out of whack, but overall it’s done well.

This story is an interesting idea. What if you were bitten by a vampire and a werewolf at the same time? Would you be a cross between both of them, or would one be a more dominant feature in your blood?

In Mary Moon’s case, she experiences these beings separately. She’ll be a vampire, she’ll feed on blood, and be stated. Then her werewolf being emerges, feeds on flesh, and is sated. They don’t seem to mix the bloodthirst and the flesh thirst, but hopefully, the victim will stick around long enough to feed bother her beings.

All this being said, about halfway through the book we find her in the emergency room being cared for by doctors. This is where the story falls apart for me. She is supposedly in Transylvania, being cared for by medical professionals there. However, the people in the hospital look like Americans. They use a lot of technical American speech almost as if it’s an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The primary doctor in the story is so angry, he yells every single thing he says as if that is how his demeanor is. But it’s really strange because he’s overly dramatic at some points. Also, the way he’s painted is like he’s the devil or something when he’s just trying to save this woman’s life–we think. Not only that, the medical procedure is pretty flawed. When she’s bleeding internally, she goes into cardiac arrest and flatlines. They don’t try to revive her in any way shape or form. The doctor just says, “Wrap it up. Time of death is…” For a doctor who was so angry about getting the patient fixed as soon as possible and yelling orders to every nurse, attending, and orderly around, he just drops her when she flatlines?

Besides this 7-10 page scene in the book, the rest of the story is rather well done and interesting. The vampire and wolf art is pretty good and the storyline is enjoyable. I’d give this comic 3 ☆☆☆ out of five, and remember, I am a tough critic.

Sebastian Grimm signing off.

Guest Blog: From Beast to Man and Back Again

From Beast To Man And Back Again by John C. Adams

Evolutionary impulses drag us back to when we came. Whether we like it or not, they’re always there. There’s only so much we can do to fight against them. We both hope and fear that the natural human impulse to regress will take over. Even worse, in horror fiction, modern science seems to be getting in on the act.

In the 1984 film The Company of Wolves (dir: Neil Jordan), the childhood tale of Little Red Riding Hood is given a modern makeover. Red drifts into the forest and meets a handsome stranger, whereupon Granny’s advice goes right out the window. Well, sexual appetite does that to you. It’s a shame that Red can’t remember the cautionary element of Granny’s werewolf tale, as Angela Lansbury is quick to point out: not to trust a man who’s too proud to piss into a chamber pot. Let’s just say that in Granny’s tale the young bride’s new husband answers the Call of Nature in more sense than one.

The prime mover of sexual appetite is as good a reason to junk steady adult advice as any.

Fairy stories and folk tales abound with examples of spontaneous changes in shape from man to beast and back again. Those old tales are so central to our cultural identity, developed over hundreds of years in writing and for much longer before that via the oral tradition, that it’s no surprise that they are still cropping up in films and TV today.

If it’s natural for us to long to return to our genetic origins, it’s no surprise that modern science isn’t slow in embracing the opportunities to engineer this for us. And big business being what it is, the profit motive lies right at the heart of it.

In Graham Masterton’s novel Flesh and Blood, the Spellman Institute of Genetics is conducting experiments to implant human genetic material into pigs. Animal rights activists have plenty to say on that subject and are lobbying for a US-wide law banning testing on animals. The pig research (Masterton says his wife always called this book ‘the pig novel’) becomes a cause celebre for them. The pig, Captain Black, is as terrifying as you’d expect:

“His body was awesome enough, but his face made Nathan swallow in discomfort. It was more like the face of a giant werewolf than a hog: it was covered all over in thick glossy black hair, with a hideously flattened snout. Two curved incisors rose from his lower jaw, and strings of drool swung with every step he took.”

Mankind just can’t seem to help themselves from meddling in the mix of human and animal DNA when there’s a commercial excuse for it. But in the 2009 film Splice (dir: Vincenzo Natali) the insanity of experimentation mixing human with animal DNA reaches new heights when two leading scientists splice the DNA of a bird with that of a human. Yikes!

As a species, we are so prone to egotism that we want to be the ones to push the boundaries of creation. Like modern-day Dr. Frankensteins, it’s all about power over the hideous monstrosities we generate.

Like any form of meddling, the best lesson of all is just to leave well enough alone. If only it were that simple…

John C Adams is a horror and fantasy writer. ‘Souls For The Master‘ is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Short Bio

John C Adams is a Contributing Editor for the Aeon Award and Albedo One Magazine, and a Reviewer with Schlock! Webzine.

You can read John’s short fiction in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, and many others. 

A non-binary gendered writer, John has also had fiction published in The Horror Zine, Devolution Z magazine and many other smaller magazines.

John’s fantasy novel ‘Aspatria’ and futuristic horror novel Souls for the Master are both available on Kindle and via Smashwords.

John lives in rural Northumberland, UK, and is a non-practising solicitor.

Press Release: Play or Die

Samuel Goldwyn Films has announced that the company has acquired North American rights to the horror movie PLAY OR DIE, directed by Jacques Kluger. The film stars Charley Palmer (DUNKIRK), Roxane Mesquida (“Now Apocalypse”), Marie Zabukovec (INTERRAIL), Thomas Mustin (RAW), and Igor Van Dessel (RACER AND THE JAILBIRD). PLAY OR DIEwill be available through On-Demand and on Digital platforms July 2.

In the story, Lucas and Chloe are two passionate gamers. They decide to participate in Paranoia, a very exclusive escape game. After solving the first riddle, they make it to the location of the finale in an abandoned mental hospital, hidden deep in a frightening forest. There, four other participants are waiting for them. Together, they soon realize that only one of them will get out alive.

PLAY OR DIE was directed by Jacques Kluger and co-written with Amiel Bartana. The film is based on the best-selling novel “Puzzle” by Franck Thilliez and published by Fleuve Editions. The film was produced by Jacques Kluger (Kluger Partners), Nexus, and Nadia Khamlichi & Gilles Waterkeyn (Umedia).

The deal was negotiated by Meg Longo on behalf of Samuel Goldwyn Films and Gregory Chambet at WTFilms – on behalf of the filmmakers.

Press Release: American Horrors Channel

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – The multi-award winning and former Guinness World Record holders Groovey TV are in talks with the American Horrors Channel to develop exclusive content in the form of a 13 episode season that will air later this year.  This series is intended to stream exclusively on the American Horrors channel, available on Roku & online at www.americanhorrors.comGroovey TV is known for its guerilla style and hilariously sarcastic approach to its content. 

“I believe Groovey is a talent that will thrive at American Horrors. His interviews are fun, involving and always interesting to watch.” Said Hart D. Fisher, co-founder of the American Horrors 24/7 linear streaming horror channel. “Groovey’s tongue is a sharpened instrument capable of impaling an elder vampire, let alone a raised in the shadows horror creator, he always draws the best out of his subjects, from all areas of pop culture, for American Horrors, we’re going to narrow Groovey’s focus to the pulpy horror exploitation culture we all know & love.”

Groovey the founder of Groovey TV had this to say, “To be in the development stages of creating an exclusive content television series with Hart Fisher and American horrors is beyond exciting and really a dream come true. My childhood self is high fiving the crap out of me right now!

More details about Groovey TV on American Horrors will be released as the situation develops.

About American Horrors:
American Horrors brings the viewer the scariest world premier feature films and shorts, in house produced original programming (Gorecast, American Horrors, True Crimes, The Horror Show) as well as in depth interviews with their favorite horror creators, cutting edge filmmakers, darkest musicians and exclusive never before seen on broadcast TV music videos by the bloodiest acts in heavy metal, rock n roll & rap! American Horrors is the world’s greatest uncut 24/7 linear streaming horror channel and is available on Roku & online at http://americanhorrors.com/!

About Groovey TV:
Groovey TV is a closely affiliated group of artistic ass kickers that bring the rain without spilling their beer all the while covering the music, movies, games and events that are undeniably rad. Multi-award winning and former Guinness World Record holders “Most TV Interviews in 24 Hours” which was 70 and was held from 2014 to 2016.  The Groovey TV YouTube channel currently has 2 million views and 800 videos.

Press Release: POV Horror

TERROR FILMS is hellbent on ensuring that you can find their films literally everywhere! On the heels of their recent partnership announcement with VOD streaming site Popcornflix, the digital indie genre distributor is at it again as they prepare to launch seven of their found footage films on the popular subscription streaming service – POV HORROR.

The release will include a mixture of titles. To begin the partnership the wildly successful Hell House LLC and politically charged Savageland, will debut on this platform. Next, the stalkeresque thriller The Documentary will be available. The slate will also highlight films from international filmmakers such as The Blair Witch Project spoof The Claire Wizard Thesis (from Australian filmmaker Ishak Issa), the critically acclaimed Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (from Romanian filmmaker Adrian Țofei), the paranormal thriller The Follower (from French filmmaker Kévin Mendiboure), and the never-before-seen Documenting the Witch Path (from Swedish filmmaker Carl Sundström). The official poster has been included here, for Documenting the Witch Path, with the official trailer set to release soon. This documentary follows three young filmmakers in search of a haunted lake where innocent women, accused of witchcraft, were drowned in the 17th Century.

TERROR FILMS’ President Joe Dain had something to say of this partnership. Dain said of the film slate and working with POV HORROR: “we are thrilled to be working with POV Horror. In this very competitive market, we rely on platforms such as POV Horror to help us continue to grow our digital footprint and introduce our ever-growing and diverse library of horror films to new audiences.” A larger audience can see the best TERROR FILMS has to offer on POV HORROR, this April!

POV HORROR will release Savageland on April 28th, followed by more TERROR FILMS horror all summer long!

Terror Trax: CADAVERIA

CADAVERIA

Cadaveria, vocals
Marçelo Santos, drums
Peter Dayton, bass
Live guitarist: Enrico Toselli
CONTACT:
http://www.cadaveria.com
https://www.facebook.com/cadaveria
Twitter: @cadaveriaofficial
Album/Song/Tour
We are excited about right now Far Away From Conformity, remixed and remastered:
http://www.cadaveria.com/web/shop/far-away-from-conformity-cd-digipack-2017/

What singers or bands inspired you growing up?

Venom, Mercyful Fate, Sepultura.

Who are your favorite artists today?

Tool

What non-musical things inspire your music?

Cinema, poetry, life.

Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

My soul.

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band?

To release five studio albums, a double DVD and many music videos, to play lots of gigs all around the world and to be 100% independent.

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

Mexico always welcomes CADAVERIA with a great enthusiasm and we love Mexico back.

What are your favorite horror movies?

Profondo Rosso, Nosferatu, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

What was the scariest night of your life?

When I discovered I have a cancer.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

I would like to tour the US.

What are you working on now for future release?

I’m writing some lyrics for CADAVERIA sixth album.

Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the listeners?

Enjoy every single moment of your life.

 

 

Logbook of Terror: Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest by Russell Holbrook

A fictional representation of a real Cursed Location – Aokigahara Forest

I’m in a forest, all alone. I came here to die, because it was time. I’d heard it on the wind, the soft whisper of my destiny. I saw my path carved out in rivulets of blood that flowed in meandering streams over the bark of the towering trees; The trees that blocked out the cursed sun with their looming, wooden arms.

This is my new, eternal home. I spread out my favorite blanket in a tiny clearing. I swallow twenty-three morphine pills. I wait. I quickly consume seven shots of whiskey. I smoke a cigarette. I wait. The pills and the alcohol stir within. My body weighs me down. When I turn toward a sudden sound of snapping twigs, the motion makes me feel like I am underwater. I nearly tip over. I light another cigarette and drop it in my lap on the third drag. I watch the cherry burn a hole in my favorite green cargo pants. When I feel the lit tobacco burning the flesh of my thigh, I stop staring at the cigarette, pick it back up, and take another drag. The sharp burning sensation in my thigh congeals into a dull throb. I hear a bird above me. I smile.

Life seems so perfect and serene right now. I ask myself why I would want to leave something so nice. I don’t get an answer. I ask again. Still, no answer, no reason, just a knowing that I need to take my own life. I yawn. Now is the time, before I lose all consciousness and control of my motor functions. I pull the small, black pocket knife from my satchel. It is the same knife my father used to slit his wrists, and the same tool used by his father before him. The blade is caked with rust and dried blood.

“No matter what, it can never, ever be washed,” my father had said when he passed the knife down to me. The crust made the knife difficult to open but, after a momentary struggle, the blade was extended. I am staring into the blade’s filthy surface, seeing no reflection, no light, only dark and hopeless, bleak serenity. The wooden handle is black. It is worn smooth from being jostled around in the pockets of three generations of Tessier men, three generations of killers. I think about the knife, about all that it has seen, and about all that it has done: all the flesh it has carved, all the screams and agony it has evoked, all the wonderful horror it has created. I think of the anguish of my victims’ families, and that of my father’s victims, and those of his father before him as well. In my mind I hear their tortured cries. I giggle with nostalgic glee. I sway and nearly topple over. Then I plunge the blade into the center of my left arm. With inebriated determination, I move the knife through my skin and meat, from the crook of my elbow to my wrist. I stare at my arm, watching the blood bubble and ebb and flow from my skin. And then, unexpectedly, I no longer wish to die. I still have so much to do, so much beauty to create. I wish I could take it back, fold the knife back up, put it back in my pocket, and go home. Live a few minutes in reverse to change the course of destiny. I wish and I wish and I wish. Then:

Suddenly I stop: I know it’s too late. My father taught me that we all have expiration dates, both personally and professionally, and that we need to know when to bow out. I remember that this is my time. I lay back and listen to the soft sounds of the forest. I let go.

I’m dead in a forest, all alone. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. I watched beasts take apart my carcass. Birds pecked out my eyes. It felt magnificent to be melding back into nature, becoming one with all life, becoming food, giving comfort and nourishment to creatures in the wild. As I once used my body to take life, now I use it to give life. And I am in the forest and the forest is in me, and forever and ever and ever we shall be.

Guest Blog: Otherworldly Vampires by Brian Mckinley

Otherworldly Vampires by Brian McKinley

This is, admittedly, a catch-all category for vampiric creatures of several varieties with the common element being that they originate from a non-human source. Demons, ghosts, spirits, gods, and even fairies are found here. Yes, I said faeries, so we’ll start there. Most of the cutesy, Tolkien-esque fae of our modern folklore come to us thanks to people like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and a general romanticizing that took place throughout the Victorian age. In their earlier, pre-Christian forms, many fae creatures had distinctly vampiric characteristics. In my post on “Irish Vampires,” I discussed the Leanan-Sidhe and Baobahn-Sith as well as the White Ladies. Our final example of vampiric fae comes from Germany and it’s perhaps the most surprising.

The Alp is also considered a demon in Germanic lore, but in a lot of ways their fae and demons are closely related. A creature described in many ways due to its ability to shape-shift, its one consistent feature is the white hat, or cap of concealment, it wears because it is the source of its power. The Alp is known for creeping into beds of women at night and drinking blood from the nipples. It also enjoys breast milk if the woman is lactating. The crushing weight of the alp on the chest causes horrible nightmares to the victim. These dreams even had a name: alpdrucke or elf dream. That’s because the alp is the basis for the English word elf. The resemblance can be seen a bit more in some of the alp’s more mischievous attributes.

In addition to its’ bloodlust, they were also known to be responsible for knotting people’s hair while they slept or re-diapering babies with soiled diapers. Not even livestock were safe from the terror of the alp, as it was also known to attack horses, geese, and rabbits—crushing them to death under its weight. This fearsome creature was rather easily warded off, however, by such methods as keeping your shoes beside the bed and pointed at the door while you slept, protective wards, prayers, and pentagrams, or keeping a mirror on your chest while you slept. If you could manage to steal the hat off its head, the alp would lose all its power could be killed by putting a lemon in its mouth.
That’s right. A vampire destroyed by citrus, you heard it here. The alp has a female counterpart called the Mara, the basis for the term nightmare. It attacks men in their sleep, also crushing their chests and drinking their blood, but the Mara’s attacks tend to be more fatal. However, you probably noticed a similarity between the Alp and another famous pair of demons: the succubus and incubus. Which brings us to my next sub-category of otherworldly being vampires: demons, ghosts, and spirits.

The Greeks gave us the Lamia and the Empouse. With the upper bodies of women and lower bodies resembling snakes, the Lamia lived in deserts and cemeteries, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of infants. Later Greek storytellers gave the Lamia a tragic backstory, saying that the first Lamia was a queen of Lybia. Her beauty attracted the attention of Zeus who took her as a lover. Par for the course in these stories, Zeus’ wife Hera became terribly jealous and punished Lamia by destroying her children. In some versions, Hera tricks Lamia into eating her own children. This drove Lamia insane with grief and she went on a horrific murder spree, killing the babies of her people. Additionally, she lured men into secluded alleys for sex and drank their blood. Over time, her terrible crimes transformed her into the hideous creature that her name became synonymous with. However, by aligning herself with the Empouse—more on them in a second—she learned to shape-shift and disguise her appearance with illusion, as did her progeny.

The Empouse were the vampiric demon spawn of the witch goddess Hecate, who acted as her attendants. Red-haired, they possessed the legs of mules and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. As with many other varieties I’ve described, they possessed the ability to appear as beautiful women in order to seduce men, who they would drain of their life energy during sex before consuming them. Luckily, if a man was able to resist the allure of the Empouse’s disguise, it was easy to run away from them as their legs made them very slow. The half-woman, half-beast theme appears in several types of vampires, including the original Mermaids who dragged shipwrecked sailors below the waves and drank their blood.

Similar to the demon women in Greece and India, the Japanese have the Yuki Ona (Oo-key Own-a), or “snow woman.” Appearing as a beautiful woman in a white kimono with pale skin, the Yuki Ona only hunts in the winter where her appearance gives her the perfect camouflage. Like the Lamia or Empouse, it is known to lure men into sex so it can drain their life energy, but just as often is said to simply lead travelers astray until they succumb to the elements or freeze them with her icy breath. On occasion, they are also said to appear to parents in search of a child, appearing to hold it in her arms. When the parents come to claim it, of course, the snow woman freezes them. Unlike most of the others, however, legends do say that if a potential victim is able to plead for his life pitiably enough to melt the cold heart of the Yuki Ona, then she will spare him.

Then there’s the K’uei (GUAY) of China, which looks like a translucent, dark humanoid with black hair and dark eyes. It is created when a person’s lower soul doesn’t leave his body because he led a dishonest life or committed suicide. The K’uei feeds on the emotions of evil people and is somewhat harmless by the standards of most vampires. Agile and intelligent, it’s also a somewhat cowardly creature and, as long as it’s left alone to feed, it generally doesn’t harm anyone. Should they be interrupted while feeding, the K’uei usually resorts to using its magic to curse that person. They love battlefields and the chaos of war, but holy artifacts and holy ground will repel them. There are several types of K’ueis in Chinese lore who all feed on different things, including the Hsi-Hsue- Keui (Zi-Zu-Guay) whose name translates to “suck blood demon” so you can guess what that one feeds on.

This same idea appears in Japan as the Gaki and in India and its surrounding regions as the preta. The souls of those who were exceptionally greedy or evil in life return, condemned to consume blood or other, even more repugnant, substances. In many stories these creatures are invisible while in others they take the form of monstrous humanoid figures with sharp teeth and claws, but a narrow neck; gaunt and starved like the Native American cannibal spirit, the Wendigo.

Even stranger than demons and ghosts are the strange and unique vampires that don’t fall into any neat category. The monsters like the famous goat-sucking Chupacabra of Mexico, which has taken numerous forms over the centuries but preys almost exclusively on livestock, to the Nabeshima (Nob- BAY- she- ma) of Japan. That one is a magical cat with two tails which can shape-shift into a specific person its victim knows in order to get close. Then it strangles its victim unconscious and drinks their blood.

Back in Africa, the Sasabonsam (Sa-so-BUN-sum) snatches up passers-by from the branches of cotton trees where it hides. A bat-like creature the size of a man with huge wings and a body covered in hair, it pulls its victims up into the trees where it tears their heads off and drinks their blood. These fearsome beasts are sometimes commanded by witch vampires I mentioned earlier, making them even more dangerous. Then there are less terrifying specimens like the Spanish hellhound called The Dip, which has black hair and glowing red eyes and … a lame leg. Don’t ask me why that’s scary…

Another amusing creature from Japan is the Kappa, little green child-like turtle people who live in lakes and ponds and can be appeased with cucumbers…and blood! Normally, they attack livestock who come to the water to drink, much like alligators and crocodiles. However, these most Japanese of monsters are also sticklers for courtesy and if one comes out of the water to attack a human, the person should quickly bow to it. The kappa will pause to return the bow, at which point the water will pour out of its bowl-like head and render it powerless. As mentioned before, you can also give them cucumbers, even going so far as to write your family name on a cucumber to gain protection for all the members of your family. Far from mindless, ravenous killers, they are also reputed to be skilled in medicine and teaching and is known to honor contracts made with it.

Two of the strangest, though, have to be the Filipino Aswang and the Australian Yara-Ma-Yahoo. The Aswang is another vampire that hides in a human guise during the day and then transforms—this time into a bird—in order to hunt. It flies to the house of its intended victim, usually a child, and perches on the roof directly over the spot where its prey lies sleeping. Then it sends its long, tube-like tongue into the house. Using a barb on the end of its tongue, it pierces a small hole in the flesh and sips its meal. When the Aswang has finished, it then flies back to its home where it will breastfeed its own children. You can come up with your own joke for that one.

For me, though, the prize for oddest vampire goes to the Yara-Ma-Yahoo and not just for its name. Like the Sasanbosam, it’s an ambush predator that hides up in a tree, but that’s where the similarities end. Described as a very short, red-skinned man with an enormous head and suckers on its hands and feet, it hides from the sun and generally attacks at night. Once it grabs its prey, it sucks their blood through its hand and foot suckers. Then it swallows the body whole. But here’s the best part: Sometime later, it vomits the person back up, completely whole and alive! They say that if it happens to you enough times, though, you get a little shorter each time until you become the same size as the vampire, and then your skin turns red, and then you become one yourself.

Well, that’s enough for this time. Join me next time when I unearth the Animated Corpses of folklore!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Guest Blog: Vampire Witches by Brian McKinley

Guest Blog by Brian McKinley

To be clear, I’m not talking about Wiccans or other modern pagans who identify as witches nowadays. In the ancient world, all through medieval times, and up until very recently, the witch was a figure of black magic and malevolence. They often symbolized everything that a culture considered evil or taboo including things like blood-drinking and cannibalism. Most “living vampires” of folklore fall into this category.

In Ancient Rome, the Strix, sometimes also called Striga, were vampiric witches who primarily preyed upon children. They have their roots in Ancient Greek myth, where it was said that the original Strix was a couple condemned for cannibalism and transformed into large owls. Unlike witches of many other cultures , these were considered to be owl creatures who could take human form. After gathering together in a large coven and celebrating, they would fly into the night to spot unprotected children they could attack. In human form, they were often described as an old, haggard woman.

Later, in Romania, this idea may have morphed into the Strigoii: a living male witch with red hair, blue eyes, and two hearts who would send his soul out at night to drain animals and people of their life-energy. Strigoii were the seventh son of a seventh son and, when one died, it would return from the dead as a Strigoii Morti. In this form, it was a blood-drinker who was repulsed by the scent or presence of garlic—which may be where Bram Stoker got this piece of vampire lore.

In the Ghana and Tongo regions of Africa, there is the Adze: a strange creature whose natural form is that of a firefly or a ball of light, but who often takes possession of the body of a tribal sorcerer. Witches of this type are believed to have the power to astral project, speak to the dead, and use spirits to harm crops, livestock, and other people. These creatures are attracted to the blood of the tribe’s most beautiful children, but can be staved off with offerings of coconut milk and palm oil. There is generally no reliable way to detect an Adze, but it can be captured outside of its human form and destroyed.

Legends on the Gold Coast tell of the Obayifo, a born witch vampire whose draining of its victims is a long and painful process that can take days or even weeks. The Obayifo leaves its body to accomplish this during the night, but can also transform itself into a variety of animals with the help of a magical elixir.

Then there’s the Axeman (Ax-amen) is another African witch vampire with some unusual traits. For one, it takes the form of a bat to scout villages—one of very few folkloric vampires to actually have a bat connection—and find its victims. In this case, that victim is someone sleeping with a foot exposed so that it can cut a very small hole in the big toe and drink the blood. That’s right, even vampires can have a foot fetish.

In a similar vein, the native people of Central and South America had the Tlaciques (Tal-a-kays). Always female, these living witch-vampires came about as a spontaneous condition that occurred shortly after the onset of puberty with almost no warning. The Tlaciques drank the blood of infants, family members, or enemies four times a month while their family often protected their secret out of shame. They could detach the top half of their bodies and transform into various animals, like turkeys or vultures, or balls of light to travel and hunt. It was even said that they had the ability to hypnotize their prey into committing suicide. In contrast to the standard witches’ coven, the Tlaciques were thought to be territorial and organized exclusive hunting areas with others of their kind in order to minimize the chance of their detection.

Like many of the witches described earlier, the Bruja (Bru-ha) of Spain also lead a double life, appearing as an ordinary woman during the day while meeting with her coven every Tuesday and Friday night. This girls’ night out consists of devil worshiping and the practice of black magic techniques like the evil eye and the transformation into animals like ants, doves, geese, and rats. Like most vampiric witches, Bruja preferred to attack children and lone travelers to drain them of blood. One interesting element was that protections against attack by a Bruja included the use of garlic, which is not as common in vampire folklore as Hollywood would have us believe. Male versions were not unheard-of and were called Brujo. Unlike most folkloric vampires, there’s no known method of destroying a Bruja, only wards and ways to discourage attack.

Finally, the strangest of the bunch, the Malaysian Penangglan, also known as the Tanggal. A seemingly-normal woman by day, by night it detaches its head from its body and flies off into the night, dangling its entrails! In some versions, it achieves flight by flapping its ears and lungs like wings. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Well, obviously someone did, but it wasn’t me.

Anyway, its victims are, predictably, usually young children, from which the Penanggalan drains blood to keep itself young. Often in stories, the Penangglan takes the role of a midwife in her human guise in order to scope out potential victims. There’s no traditional way to destroy a Penangglan, but it can be deterred by garlic and by placing thorny branches on the roof of the home which will catch the creature’s dangling intestines. Since the creature requires a large vat of vinegar after it feeds—because it has to shrink its’ bloated, swollen entrails, of course—another remedy is to find the Penangglan’s house while it’s out and spill its vinegar. Because of course then it can’t squeeze back into its’ body, right? Brilliant.

At which point I guess it just, what? Lies there and glares at you? Slinks away and becomes someone else’s problem? What kind of solution is that? This is one of many reasons why I have a hard time taking the Penangglan seriously as a threat, though it didn’t stop this idea from spreading into several other Asian cultures including the Philippines, Japan, and India where you can find variations on the flying-head-with-entrails theme. In some of those versions, at least, there are ways to kill the head once you’ve disposed of the body and vinegar.

That’s it for this round. In my next post, I’ll explore vampires with otherworldly origins.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and gangster movies as much as he loves chicken fried steak. And he really loves chicken fried steak! He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

He’s the author of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel which won the Author’s Talk About It 2016 Horror Novel Contest.

Guest Blog: Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

Ireland is not particularly known for its vampire legends. Strange, in a way, because the Emerald Isle gave birth to two of the best-known and most influential vampire authors in history: Bram Stoker and Sheridan LeFanu. The authors of both Dracula and Carmilla, respectively, were both born and raised in Ireland and likely owe some of their literary creations’ characteristics to stories they heard growing up.

The most famous of Ireland’s vampires is a specific woman known as the Dearg Due (dar-ag dua) or “red blood sucker” said to be buried in Waterford, Ireland. The story is told of a beautiful young woman who, forced to marry a cruel and abusive clan chieftain, committed suicide. At the anniversary of her death, she rose from the grave with a blood lust. She began with her father and former husband, but her rage and thirst could never be sated. She sings to men in their sleep, luring them from their homes and draining the blood from their bodies.

In their earlier, pre-Christian forms, many fae creatures had distinctly vampiric characteristics. The first of these is called the LeananSidhe (Lee-awn She). They appear as beautiful women, often invisible to everyone but their intended victim, who seduce men and try to cause them to fall in love. If successful, the Leanan-Sidhe will drain him of life energy during sex, similar to a succubus, and feeds small amounts of her blood to him so that he is inspired to write love poetry to her. Slowly, he is drained to a husk. If, however, the man does not fall in love with her, the Leanan-Sidhe will strangle him and drain his body of blood. In some versions of the legends, resisting the seduction of the Sidhe causes her to fall in love with her intended victim and serve him as a slave.

Rather than simply drink the blood like most vampires, this creature has an element of the vampiric witch to her. She keeps her victims’ blood in a large red cauldron, which is the source of her ability to shape-shift into animals, become invisible, and remain youthful. The Sidhe in this creature’s name is a word traditionally associated with the fae in Irish folklore and refers to the ancient burial mounds Celtic people used for centuries. These mounds were often believed to be gateways between the land of the living and the dead. Some early beliefs about the origin of the fae mention not Arcadia, but rather the underworld.

A variation on this theme is the Baobhan Sith (Bavaan Shee). Technically a revenant, created when a woman died in childbirth and the body rose as a fae—again we see references to the underworld origin of fae—this vampire was unusual in that it would attach itself to a specific family and live among them normally. In fact, prior to the arrival of Christianity in Scotland, it was considered a sign of status to have one in the family. Most likely a precursor to the Banshee, the Baobhan Sith warned of impending death by wailing and, if a group of them came together to wail, then the death would be of a great person. After Christianity took hold, however, the Baobhan Sith took on a more evil role.

Described as a beautiful, tall, pale woman in a green dress (which hid cloven hooves), this vampire would appear to lone shepherds or travelers as a woman they knew or lusted after and lead them away to dance. Once the man was exhausted, the Baobhan Sith would attack and drink his blood. They could also transform into crows and, like most fairies, it was vulnerable to iron.

Similarly, people from Great Britain to Brazil to Eastern Europe and the United States all tell tales of White Ladies whose appearance boded death on the nights of the full moon. Originally ghosts of noblewomen who had been murdered or died an otherwise tragic death, and later associated with any local tragedy, they could be seen wandering cemeteries, crossroads, and the castles and manors where they died. Dressed in period finery and carrying chalices filled with poison, it was said that they would call out with hypnotic voices, inviting any who heard them to dance to music that didn’t exist. Those who accepted the invitation would be drained of blood, their bodies found the next morning by the side of the road. The White Ladies’ very touch was icy cold and could drain the life energy of the living. These ghostly ladies, like their fae counterparts, were vulnerable to the touch of iron but could also be warded off by crucifixes or priestly blessings. Another variation on this theme is the Lady in Red, more often a prostitute or jilted lover killed in a fit of passion and often to be found haunting theaters, hotels, and brothels.

Heard about any that I missed? Please let us know in the comments below!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and gangster movies as much as he loves chicken fried steak. And he really loves chicken fried steak! He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

He’s the author of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel which won the Author’s Talk About It 2016 Horror Novel Contest.

 

Free Fiction Friday: Bad Cold by J. C. Eickelberg

Bad Cold
by J. C. Eickelberg

“I can’t stand this cold,” Beth said, sounding as miserable as she felt.

“You’ll get over it fast,” Isabel said. “You always do.” Her roommate said this, dressed for a night out. Beth watched her finish getting ready for a fun night.

“You look amazing. I wish I could join you.” Beth sat wearing old sweats and a headband holding back messed up hair. “I’m not going to give anyone this cold.”

“I’ve seen you go before with a cold.”

“Not like this one. I can barely hear. Can’t smell anything. Szechuan chicken didn’t even touch this congestion.” She blew her nose, filling a tissue.

Isabel wished her the best and left.

“God. I want this cold to be done,” Beth grumbled. “My heads gonna burst.”

“No, it’s not,” a little voice said.

She passed it off. Five nights of less than adequate sleep was making her loopy. This was as much from lack of sleep as all the meds she’d consumed.

“Drink more water,” the voice said.

She didn’t want to drink more water. If she did she’d have to pee more often. At this point she was just too tired to get off the couch. Constant sniffling kept tissue boxes present wherever she went in her apartment. Sudden sneezing made for a strong need for her current closest friend, a box of tissues. Sneezing receded, but the tissues remained ready. She took a deep breath. She released a great load of snot. The pressure was suddenly gone. Relief washed over her.

Reaching for a trashcan, she felt something unusual. Beth was disgusted enough by the amount of snot she produced. This current load felt a lot more dense than others.

“Yuck,” she declared at the mass in the tissue.

“You think it was pleasant in there?” came a response. Beth looked at her hand. In the tissue was a greenish yellow slug looking back at her. “I’ve seen nicer places than your nose.”

She screamed and threw the gelatinous mess in the trash. She nearly gagged running to wash her hands.


J.C. works and lives in Wisconsin.  He has a beautiful wife and two active boys.  He enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, time permitting, writing.  Haunted and spooky places have always intrigued him.

BHH: Review of the movie Voodoo Black Exorcist

Voodoo Black Exorcist

A Review by James Goodridge

Voodoo Black Exorcist (VBE) made in 1974 has a pedigree of grind house no doubt. I even have a vague memory of seeing it down on the “duce” (Time Square) in NYC back in the day, which is why the DVD caught my eye in a 99cent store one spring evening a few years ago.

A Euro-Spanish production directed by Manuel Cano was originally titled Vudu Sangriento–I would bet a bag of those orange circus peanuts nobody but me is fond of the title. It was changed to capitalize mainly on the break-out success of the Exorcist (1973) mixed with the black exploitation wave that rushed into neighborhood and grindhouse theaters. Funny thing, though, most of the black actors are in the background. With the screenplay and story by Santiago Mocada, filmed in various parts of the Caribbean, VBE is a story of lost love.

Shown in sepia flashback of a hundred plus years ago, this film tells the story of Shango Voodoo Priest, Gata-nebo (Aldo Sambrell), who is having an affair with Dambhalla (Tanyeka Stadler) who is the mulatto wife of a white man. Swooning in the midst of love making on a beach, they are caught. The woman’s head is lopped off by a machete. The priest is stuffed into a coffin and buried alive. Eons later his coffin is dug up in the name of scholarship to be transported to a place of study via a cruise ship. Just so happens the wife of the facilitator is a dead ringer of Gata-nebo’s love. The movie stumbles through a series of aboard-ship murders and decapitations climaxing in a show down of good versus evil on shore.

Now, if you get a gauzy feeling watching the movie, it’s okay because VBE is a retelling of various mummy movies that came before it. The scenes of voodoo sacrifice bring to mind the writings of George Bataille. This is the type of movie you throw on your entertainment system first as a warm up if you’re having a grindhouse night at home. For 99 cents I got my entertainment’s worth.

Unintended funny parts of this movie are Ms. Stadler in brown-face (you mean to tell me they couldn’t get Pam Grier, Lola Falana, or even transgender actress Anjita Wilson, who was B-movie famous in Europe at the time do this movie?) and a police inspector asking a police officer is he okay? To which the officer replies that he just got his uniform today as a rookie, which doesn’t look like a uniform. But again, it’s a B-movie so bless Cano for his effort.


aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

Movie Review: Tales From the Hood 2

Tales from the Hood 2
by James Goodridge

Tales from the Hood 2 (TFTH2) is the long-awaited sequel to Rusty Cundieff’s original movie which was a milestone in the sub-genre of Black Horror. Films such as Son of Ingagi and Abby preceded it. Produced in association with Universal, Spike Lee’s 40 Mule Company, and Netflix, it was showcased on Netflix in 2018.

TFTH2 is an anthology broken up into five stories.

“Good Golly” directed by Cundieff is what I would call a cautionary tale aimed at millennials to not forget the past within context. Audrey (Alexandra De Berry) is in mindless rapture in a hunt for a gollywog—a jet black stereotyped image of—a doll. In England, these things even found their way onto television as a kids show. Bringing back fond memories for her of the one Grandma use to let her play with, Audrey tries to work the mysterious curator of the “Museum of Negrosity” into selling the doll. Rebuffed her, her friend Zoe (Jasmine Akakpoo) who as a young black woman is totally devoid of or has rescinded what little black consciousness she has, returns later at night to steal the doll with the help of her boyfriend Phillip (Andy Cohen). All hell breaks loose when Zoe and Phillip engage in a little slave master/slave, joking around, enraging an evil force in the museum, which in this writer’s opinion you can’t blame it. Not to give the punch line or ending away for those who haven’t seen it, all I can say is otherworldly bulk cases of Similac are to be had. A nice Easter egg is a doll from the original TFTH can be seen at times.

“The Medium” directed by Darin Scott takes aim (in a supernatural way) the struggle to rise above the negatives by doing the right thing. Redemption. Three would be thugs kidnap a reformed pimp, Cliff Bettis (Creighton Thomas), demanding he turn over his fortune, which he pleads is going to go back into the community. Killing the tenacious Bettis, the crew come up with a plan B which is to kidnap television psychic, John Lloyd (Byan Batt), a knock off of John Edwards. The end game is a séance scene that’s funny yet creepy.

“Date Night” also directed by Scott is predictable, you see the end coming half way through. Quick paced, it’s like the old horror 800 numbers from the 80’s you would (I’m showing my age) dial to listen to a flash fiction story.

“The Sacrifice” directed by Cundieff is—I confess the first time—a horror movie that brought tears to my eyes. Mainly B-horror movies are like comfort food for me but this short pulled at my heart. A combination of horror and the horror of the American experience for Black folks historically is what Cundieff had the fortitude to film. I give him a nod and a fist bump. Henry Bradley (Kendrick Cross), a black Republican of means in a red state throws his support behind a white populist mayor William Cotton (Cotton Yancey), who’s making a run for the state house and looking like KFC’s Col. Sanders which is a little over the top. Interpose this with flashbacks to the night Emmit Till (Chirstopher Paul Horne) was murdered. Creepy and visceral are how I feel towards Horne in that he reminds me of my youngest son in looks. Till’s haunting is taking a toll on Bradley’s pregnant white wife Emily (Jillian Batherson) and throwing Bradley into an alternate reality. The climax has Till, the four little girl victims of the 16th Street church bombing in ’63, Medger Evers, Chaney, Goodman & Schwerner, and Dr. King confront Bradley with a choice.

“Robo Hell” which opens and closes the movie, segwaying the stories, has Portifoy Simms (the iconic Keith David) locking horns with tycoon and MAGA 45 wannabe Dumas Beach (Bill Martin Willaims). Dumas’s company has invented a Robo Cop type robot.

All in all TFTH2 is watchable and let’s hope it’s not cursed as the urban legend tale making rounds, happened to the original Tales from the Hood.


aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

Guest Blog: A First Time For Everything by John C Adams

A First Time for Everything

by John C Adams

From the age of eleven onwards, there’s pretty much a steady stream of things you’ll be doing for the first time. In all types of society, the public role of the rite of passage is an important sociological aspect of the transition to adulthood. Yet it still remains the case that most of the more interesting rites of passage involve sneaking around behind your parents’ backs…

Sometimes, the rite of passage occurs in early puberty rather than when we stand on the cusp of adulthood. And they don’t always have to be traumatic. They can be about connecting with your true self.

In Richard Matheson’s delightful little short story Blood Son Jules has always been certain that he doesn’t belong. That’s because he has a strong personal certainty that he fits in somewhere else entirely. His difficulties are that his parents and schoolteacher just can’t understand. Sound familiar? Well to many of us it probably is but Jules is a plucky little lad and as time moves on he just becomes more determined to find a path to those he can call his own. Good for him!

“One Saturday when he was twelve, Jules went to the movies. He saw Dracula.

When the show was over he walked, a throbbing nerve mass, through the little girl- and -boy ranks. He went home and locked himself in the bathroom for two hours.

His parents pounded on the door and threatened but he wouldn’t come out.

Finally, he unlocked the door and sat down at the supper table. He had a badge on his thumb and a satisfied look on his face.”

It takes a few more years until Jules finds a bat at the zoo and begins to see a way through to making the identity he longs for, and strongly associates with, reality. In Jules’s case his rite of passage is the time-honoured first bite.

Most of us can recognise the importance of the rite of passage in forming our sense of belonging to the group. But thinks that sometimes we have to step outside the mainstream to find that sense of belonging.

The onset of puberty involves first times for girls too. In Stephen King’s novel Carrie, Carrie White doesn’t get a visit from the curse until she’s sixteen. That’s very late and theories abound as to why puberty was delayed so long. What could there be in her upbringing to explain her physical rejection of womanhood? It’s right there in the form of her appalling mother, of course. As soon as Carrie realises that she isn’t bleeding to death after all her first thought is one of anger at everything and everyone who has singled her out and made her different. In Carrie’s case her primary defence mechanism to deal with the pain of her mother’s behaviour is to embrace the darkness:

“She thought of imps and familiars and witches (am i a witch momma the devil’s whore) riding through the night, souring milk, overturning butter churns, blighting crops while They huddled inside their houses with hex signs on Their doors.”

Carrie White is a master class in how anger can spill over when an individual is rejected not just by their mother but then by society as a whole. It’s no surprise that the ensuing prom night doesn’t end well.

The real danger lurks for society whenever the emerging adult is denied a sense of belonging to the tribe and that this lies beneath the importance we attach to rites of passage ceremonies.

In some cases, the choice to belong or not (the fundamental ability to fit in) isn’t ours to make. Sometimes, an uneventful transition to college and the adulthood that lies beyond just isn’t meant to be. In Stephen King’s novel Christine, Arnie Cunningham and his best buddy Dennis are working their way through high school. All’s right in their world: Dennis is a football star set for college. Arnie is keen on mechanics and hopes to persuade his university-lecturer parents to let him skip college and do something vocational instead. Both Arnie and Dennis have part-time jobs that pay well and are saving hard for the usual things – college and a first car. It’s all going so well until they drive past a broken-down 1958 Plymouth Fury with a For Sale sign. From the outset the car seems to cast something like a lovespell on Arnie, as Dennis is well aware:

“I thought about LeBay saying, Her name is Christine. And somehow, Arnie had picked up on that. When we were little kids we had scooters and then bikes, and I named mine but Arnie never named his – he said names were for dogs and cats and guppies. But that was then and this was now. Now he was calling that Plymouth Christine, and what was somehow worse it was always ‘her’ and ‘she’ instead of ‘it’.”

Dennis’s share of the tale is shot through with the pain of watching his best friend’s life implode. Central to that is watching the subversion of many ‘first time’ rites of passage by the dark force that is Christine: buying your first car and doing it up, asking a girl out, taking things all the way. Stuff that Dennis is still able to enjoy but from which Christine is able to exclude Arnie.

It is natural, bearing in mind the importance of getting rites of passage right, that we are afraid of being unable to take charge of our own transition to adulthood. Isn’t that what growing up is all about, after all?

Rituals appear in all forms of society and feature in human lives for thousands of years. The details may differ but the purpose remains the same at every point in history. Ignore them at your peril!


John C Adams is a Contributing Editor for the Aeon Award and Albedo One Magazine, and a Reviewer with Schlock! Webzine.

You can read John’s short fiction in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press and many others. A non-binary gendered writer, John has also had fiction published in The Horror Zine, Devolution Z magazine and many other smaller magazines.

John’s fantasy novel Aspatria is available to read for free on Smashwords, and on Amazon. John’s futuristic horror novel ‘Souls for the Master’ also is available on Amazon.

John lives in rural Northumberland, UK, and is a non-practising solicitor.

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

 

 

Movie Review: Pooka! On Hulu

Review: Pooka! On Hulu

Reviewed by Sumiko Saulson

Stars: 4 of 5

Pooka is a strangely haunting Christmas horror tale about an out of work actor, Wilson Clowes portrayed by Nyasha Hatendi.  Hatendi is an African American actor born in the USA but raised in Zimbabwe, the USA and the UK who is fluent in three languages – English, French, and Shona. He gives a nuanced performance as mentally troubled and alcoholic washed-up actor Wilson Clowes.

Wilson is very much down on his luck when he gets the offer of a lifetime – a job voicing the adorable dark-furred, giant-eyed new holiday sensation Pooka! A child’s stuffed animal that speaks and movies like a Furbie or Teddy Ruxpin, the gimmicky holiday toy speaks in either a naughty or a nice voice, telling the child sweet or entirely wicked things. It seems to be a reference to Santa’s naughty or nice list, but pooka is an alternate spelling for púca, a type of Celtic woodland fey creature.

Although the film never explicitly says that Pooka is the creature from Irish lore, it looks and acts like the creature and bears its name. Púca are spirits that can be either beneficial or harmful to humans they encounter, they are like gremlins – full of mischief – but are also known to help farmers by assisting with chores. They have the power of human speech, and can take on human form, imitating them as changelings.

The toy manufacturer encourages Wilson to really get into character and put his all into Pooka. He dresses in a giant Pooka costume and acts in commercials in addition to voicing the toy, and he eventually becomes complete obsessed with the thing and the costume. It initially seems that he is having some sort of nervous breakdown, but as the toy skyrockets to fame and becomes the seasonal “it” thing, it becomes increasingly obvious that something dark and very supernatural is going on.

Then, Wilson meets a girl. Melanie Burns (Latarsha Rose) and her son Ty (Jonny Berryman) meet Wilson in a Christmas tree lot in one of those made-for-television magic moments seen in Lifetime movies and Tyler Perry films about black family love. The scene is so evocative of those types of films that one momentarily forgets this is a horror film and is drawn into the melodrama revolving around Melanie, Wilson, and Ky. Melanie, a spiffy black businesswoman, is a real estate agent and a single mother who has left Ky’s abusive father. Will she fall in love with the hard-luck case in spite of his relative poverty? Will he be the perfect stepfather for Ky? Will true love conquer all?

Then you remember, no. Of course, it won’t. This is a horror movie. And that’s about when Wilson starts to hallucinate all the time, rant and rave, and completely fall apart. The more Wilson declines, the more Pooka rises, so that the actor’s career is on an upswing as he enters his nervous breakdown.

Since the costume and Wilson act and interact separately and together, it is not clear at times whether the evil emanates from the creature or the actor.  The actor is contractually forbidden from letting anyone know that he is the one and only Pooka, and he lives with the costume, acting increasingly psychotic and dangerous.

A series of violent episodes occur between Pooka and Wilson’s roommate, a stranger in a bar, and finally involving a woman he has begun dating named Melanie and her child Ky. Ky loves Pooka and Wilson at first – but then Wilson begins acting more and more like Ky’s abusive and absent father, a man Melanie broke up with for being abusive.

Then, a malfunction makes the creature act bizarre, saying the line “look at all the pretty lights” repeatedly for no reason. Is Wilson making Pooka malfunction, or is it Pooka making Wilson malfunction? That is a question that isn’t answered until the end of the movie, when the meaning of the phrase “look at all the pretty lights” is revealed. But when the toy is taken off the market, Wilson plummets further and further into madness and becomes increasingly dangerous.

The movie deals more than passingly with the subjects of domestic violence and child abuse, but remains primarily in the horror mode despite brief excursions into the Twilight Zone and Lifetime holiday movies about broken families. In a way, the Oyxgen/After School TV Special romance between Melanie and Wilson is what is most brilliant about the film. One can’t help but cape for the man and his nascent romance with the likeable Melanie before it all goes to hell.

An episode of the holiday-themed web horror anthology Into the Dark, Pooka is currently running on Hulu as a single horror film. Although it started as a webcast, the production values of it are television quality, and it comes off as a PBS or BBC quality production in terms of pacing, acting, direction, and technical quality.

BHH: Maman Dragonne

Maman Dragonne
by James Goodridge

I’m on a journey as a writer of Speculative Fiction’s sub-genre, Occult Detectives. So, I’ve made it my business to make a study of authors to bolster my knowledge.

Venturing deeper into the occult literary traditions, led me to the work of Seabury Quinn (1889-1969), creator of his character Dr. De Grandin. A reading of Quinn’s short story “Pledged to the Dead”—which was published in the October issue of Weird Tales — gave me immense interest in Quinn’s depiction of “Maman Dragonne.”

Dragonne would be considered in fiction a “flat character” because she really doesn’t appear in the first quarter of the story (at least in human form), but becomes increasingly important to the plot even though she has little in the way of dialogue. The story begins with a frantic young lady’s urgent need to see Dr. De Grandin, barging into his just-concluded dinner party. A guest, Dr. Trowbridge, is a somewhat of a Dr. Watson type sidekick. Dr. Trowbridge’s other job is to move the narrative along. It seems the lady’s fiancé, Ned Minton, has got himself into paranormal intrigue during a visit to New Orleans. One moonlit night as Minton walked pass St. Denis Cemetery, then onto Bienville St a japonica is dropped from a balcony, in front of his feet. Julie d’ Ayen is guilty of the aerial flirt. Her searching for an eternal love takes a bizarre turn, with Minton being stalked by a three-foot cottonmouth snake “Grand ‘tante” as Quinn wrote,

“Protector of Julie d’ Ayena mulatress aged black magic ‘conjon’ woman in turban and cambric apron, Maman Dragonne is not to be trifled with. Practitioner of Obeah from the Congo. Julie should have many loves but her body should not know corruption nor her spirit rest until she could find one to keep his promise and return to her with word of love upon his lips. Those who failed her should die horribly, but he who kept his pledge would bring her rest and peace spoke Maman Dragonne.”

Julie d’ Ayen and Maman Dragonne aka Grand ‘tante roam St. Denis Cemetery. Now, I don’t want to give the rest of the story away for “Pledged to The Dead” can be found in the public domain. 1937 was not an exactly a time in any medium for positive depictions of people of color as characters (in the story you’ll find the use of the word “darkie”) and I don’t know in depth about what Quinn’s views on race were during his lifetime but in a roundabout way, Quinn transforms Dragonne from a flat to round character and gives her strength as a person of color. Evil? Yes, but strong none the less. She is splendid in her silence which elevates the horror in the story.

**Sources: The Project Gutenberg www.gutenberg.net, http://www.pgdp.net


 

aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

BHH: From Gagool to Akasha: Black Characters in Horror Fiction

From Gagool to Akasha: Black characters in Horror Fiction

by Sumiko Saulson

Black representation in horror fiction is about both characters and writers: we need more black authors, directors, screenwriters, and people behind the scenes to make sure that our communities are envisioned through our eyes. Yet, there is undeniable value to black heroes and villains envisioned by white and other non-black authors. The 2017 remake of Stephen King’s IT is a prime example of how betrayed black audiences feel when representation is diminished by erasing or minimizing the presence of an important black hero like Mike Hanlon. Outrage over whitewashing doesn’t disappear just because the character was written by someone who isn’t black. And anger about black actors portraying characters like Rue in The Hunger Games and Akasha in Queen of the Damned suggest overwhelmingly, racism among audiences. The success of Black Panther demonstrates both the need for black characters and the factual ability of black characters envisioned by white writers to be handed over to black production and writing teams.

Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s authoritative work on the subject is called writing the Other. It deals with the ins and outs of writing characters unlike oneself.  This is crucial as many of the black characters in Victorian fiction are hopelessly stereotyped characters of black witch doctors and high priestesses like Gagool, the evil old hag who advises the twisted dictator King Twala in the Alan Quartermain story King Solomon’s Mine by H. Rider Haggard. Haggard was one of the better known writers in the Lost Word genre. Modern takes on mysteriously hidden societies can be elevated, like the 2018 movie Black Panther’s take on Wakanda by black director Ryan Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole, or feature terrifying evil white overlords against spunky black heroes, like Jordan Peele’s award-winning 2018 horror film Get Out.

That doesn’t mean we can easily get away from the vast number of old noble savage and evil mammy crone stereotypes that have historically plagued black heroes and villains in horror. No conversation on the subject would be complete without mentioning Stephen King, as sometimes he gets it right like in the Dark Tower or IT, but other times the obvious Uncle Tom stereotypes take over like in The Green Mile. His willingness to forge ahead and fill literature with black characters despite of criticism, and relatively thick-skinned response to black critics, is laudable, although it cannot replace black voices. It speaks volumes when compared to choices like the erasure of an Asian male character to insert a white female character in the 2016 Dr. Strange movie. The producers and directors copped out, saying they didn’t cast an Asian female in the gender-swapped role because they were afraid of a Dragon Lady stereotype. The writer’s inability to write a person of color who isn’t a one-dimensional trope should NEVER be an excuse for deleting POCs from movies.

Speaking of white washing, the Netflix Death Note movie’s predominately white cast marred the already lackluster film’s reputation so much that stand-out performances by Willem Dafoe as Ryuk and the hotness that is Lakeith Stanfield as L could not salvage it from its overall mediocrity. However, they did prevent it from being a complete train wreck like DragonBall Z: Evolution or Gods of Egypt, and elevated it above the snooze fest that was Iron Fist.

Like a lot of black people, I had mixed feelings about the obvious pandering involved in casting Lakeith Stanfield, who some may also recognize from his performances as one of the terrifying black abductees in Get Out.  Like Tilda Swinton in the role of Ancient One, Stanfield turned in an amazing performance in a less than amazing film and was forced to kowtow on behalf of its producers, making excuses for their whitewashing, in exchange. It is cringe-worthy, and the producers and directors of these films need to do a much better job. There should be a diversity of roles for older women, and black men, and no one should be forced in this kind of position in the first place.

Stephen King isn’t the only famous modern white author who has persisted in writing black characters despite criticism, and in the case of Anne Rice, who is notoriously thin-skinned and hates critics and editors, it is a labor of love forged from her connection to New Orleans. Once she told me that if I had been born in New Orleans, I would never have to suffer the lot of San Franciscans who treat me as though I am not a beautiful woman, because a girl who looks like me in NOLA would be damned near haughty about her mulatta looks. I laughed – Californian politics frown upon embracing one’s light-skinned privilege. The Feast of All Saints was the first book I read that had terms like quadroon and I was quite shocked and horrified when I read it as a young lady and found out everything about blood quantum, words like octoroon, the quadroon balls, and how interracial relationships were treated during and just post slavery that my politically correct African American mother and white Jewish father hid from. My parents just told me that mulatto was a slave word and we don’t talk about such things.

It wouldn’t be until years later, during college, that I was re-introduced to the same subject by African American authors like Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker.

The Anne Rice villain Akasha was someone that I and my mother both related to, my mother more so than I. She tapped into the deep well of African American identification with Egyptian culture, and although some Anne Rice fans throw a fit about black identification with the character and the casting of Aaliyah, I am of the firm opinion that Aaliyah and the soundtrack are the only redeeming qualities of a train wreck that infuriated Anne Rice so much that fans are asked to please refrain from mentioning That Movie on her Facebook page.

Anyone who has read Prince Lestat knows that Anne Rice isn’t personally unhappy about black folks relating to Akasha. In the book, her son Seth is a peaceful science-loving Egyptian intellectual who goes way, way out of his way to maintain his dark skin despite the pallor that descends upon vampires. His love of his ethnic background and his pride in his dark skin are a symbolic love note to all of the black readers who nearly fainted when they read about the beautiful, wicked and cruel Queen of the Damned, Akasha.

Black folks love Akasha like we love Candyman. Sometimes black villains have more autonomy than black heroes do. We love Killmonger because he has the freedom to lash out against oppression in a way that the tight-laced T’Challa cannot. Being a good person concerned with all of mankind means turning a blind eye to injustice all too often. That’s why so many of us get a kick out of identifying with characters that have completely lost it and gone on a rampage. We are sick to death of the Allan Quartermains of the world and don’t want to play nice, turn the other cheek, and be like Martin Luther King, Jr. anymore. We want to rage and burn it all down like Killmonger in our secret heart of hearts. Because we are all so sick of that martyr Mother Abigail, John Coffey role we could scream.

It is the Noble Savage stereotype with an American twist that makes it so that so many black heroes in white literature are martyrs. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the source of the term Uncle Tom, is about a black slave so faithful to a white Christian savior that he literally lets racist slavers beat him to death without fighting back. The evil surviving white slavers converted after they killed good old Uncle Tom. None of us really want to go out like Uncle Tom, so we start daydreaming about being like Killmonger, or Akasha, or Candyman.

Black heroes who aren’t martyrs are still present in white horror fiction. Michonne in The Walking Dead, the black L in the Netflix Death Note, Bonnie Bennett in the Vampire Diaries – but they are disconnected from black community. Michonne becomes a part of Richonne and Rick’s white kids replace her dead white son. Bonnie’s black grandma dies and she’s dating white boys and fading into the generally white-dominated and not particularly multicultural casts. The black audiences flee to The Originals, where New Orleans and Marcello make for steamy, black centered episodes, even when the improbable happens such as a white character switching into a black body.

The Originals was a truly multicultural program in a way that the Vampire Diaries never was. Truly multicultural programs have enough representation for each minority that there isn’t just the one black witch standing there at the end. The Originals had a Latina teen witch, Davina, who has relationships with other Latino community members even though she is Marcel’s adopted daughter. Black and Latino witches and warlocks populate the tale throughout, and not just one family line of them.

We have come a long way since King Twala and Gagool with characters like Shuri, Queen Ramonda, and T’Challa. Yet, we still have a long way to go. The twisted witch doctor in the video game Diablo III crawling on her knuckles like a subhuman; shades of Gagool. The mixed bag of horribly triggering content that plagues talented actresses like Gabourney Sidibe and Angela Bassett, shades of Gagool. We still haven’t gotten away from the tropes that haunt the black community and we cannot without vigilance on the part of every writer who tackles characters of color.


sumiko armband

Sumiko Saulson a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer. Her novels include “Solitude,” “Warmth”, and “Happiness and Other Diseases.” She is the author of the Young Adult horror novella series “The Moon Cried Blood”, and short story anthology “Things That Go Bump in My Head.” Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian, and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She is a horror blogger and journalist

BHH: Interview with DAWN filmmaker Alex Fernandez

Interview with DAWN filmmaker Alex Fernandez
Interviewed by James Goodridge

  1. For those people out there seeing this for the first time tell us about DAWN the web series:

Alex Fernandez’s Dawn is the story of Eva Santiago who was born in a poor village in Peru in 994 A.D. At age 8 she began to learn witchcraft eventually becoming a full fledge witch. But when her family died from a deadly plague Eva vowed that it would never happen to her. It set her feet on a path in search of immortals. After 2 years of searching she found what she was looking for losing her soul and becoming a vampire. For 800 years she was a cold blood hearted killer. Until one day she was offered a chance from GOD by the Archangel Gabriel to become a warrior of GOD. She accepted and took on the moniker of “DAWN’.  That is what makes the Dawn character and series so unique is the fact that she is a vampire who works for GOD. We are currently in the second season. Eva Santiago/Dawn is played by Victoria Amber. 2019 will also see the release of a Dawn short film titled SURGE OF DAWN. A crossover film that brings Dawn into the world of another superhero Surge from the Surge of power films.WE also have comic books based on DAWN. We are currently on the fourth book of Dawn.

2.You won a few awards tell us about them ?

I have been blessed and honored to have won a few awards for not only Dawn but as well some of my other works. It is always nice when you work really hard your craft and get recognized by your peers. But more important than any award is a message from a fan or a letter that says they have been inspired by my shows or that they love it.

Hip Hop Film Festival

2017 Winner

Hip Hop Film Festival Award

Best Sci- Fi Series

Body Jumpers Resurrection (2016)

 

International Euro Film Festival

2015 Winner

Official Trophy

Best Web Series

Body Jumpers (2012)

 

LA CineFest Film Festival

2018 Nominee

Los Angeles CineFest Award

Semi – Finalist

Alex Fernandez’s Silent Stories (2017)

 

Urban Action Showcase And Expo

2018 Winner

Urban Action Showcase New Media/TV Pilot Award

Presented by HBO/CINEMAX

Best Visual FX

Body Jumpers Resurrection (2016)

2017 Winner

Angels of Action

Best Web Series

Body Jumpers Resurrection (2016)

Winner

Urban Action Showcase New Media/TV Pilot Award

Presented by HBO/CINEMAX

Best Visual FX

Body Jumpers Resurrection (2016)

2016 Winner

Angels of Action

Best Web Series

Alex Fernandez’s Dawn (2015)

Winner

Urban Action Showcase New Media/TV Pilot Award

Presented by HBO/CINEMAX

Best Visual FX

Alex Fernandez’s Dawn (2015)

2015 Winner

Urban Action Showcase New Media/TV Pilot Award

Presented by HBO/CINEMAX

Best Visual FX

Body Jumpers (2012)

  1. Is there a director past or presently in the horror movie genre you admire?

My favorite director of all time Alfred Hitchcock happens to also have directed one of the most important horror films of all times PSYCHO. For me without a doubt he was truly not only the master of suspense but also a master filmmaker. Rear Window is still my favorite film of all time. He was a director that was way ahead of his time and a director that will be studied long after we are all gone.

  1. I see a lot of passion in your work. Do you ever think you’ll lose that passion ?

I need film like most people need water. It is something that I not only have passion for but its something that i absolutely love. I don’t think it will go away till the day I leave this world. As long as I am able I will continue to tell stories. My earliest memories of me as a child at 4 years old and me sitting in the theaters watching films. Even to this day I make sure I watch a movie everyday.

  1. What else do you have out there and where to find it?

Body Jumpers Resurrection Season 1 www.youtube.com/TheBodyJumpers


 

aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

BHH: “Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 3 of 3

“Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 3 of 3

Monique sat in bed beside her window, trying to keep her eyes open. Tomorrow during the chilly dawn, her jailers would drag her out of bed to put her in the cage. Yet instead of sleeping, one of her few refuges, she sat waiting. For what?

 

Just when she’d resolve to wrap up in a blanket and surrender to sleep, a soft cooing sound echoed outside her window. She knew the sound well. It was she and Angelique’s code signal, for whenever they decided to sneak away.

 

“Grab your bag and climb out!” Angelique hissed. “Do it! And hurry up!”

 

Monique snatched up her cloth bag and climbed out of the window. “Now what?”

 

Her wild-eyed friend grinned. “Now we fly!” Grabbing Monique’s hand before she could protest, she half-dragged, half-led her to the forest beyond her hut.

 

“Have gone insane?”

 

“Shh!” Angelique cautioned her again.

 

Through the forest hidden, under the brush, was an airship. The green balloon over it added to the camouflage. It was crudely built without the intricate carvings of Haitian ships, but looked to be in working order.

 

“But how?”

 

John’s mahogany face appeared at starboard side and waved them up.

 

“We can’t do this!” Monique protested. “If they catch us they’ll kill us!”

 

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life in a cage?”  Angelique shot back. “Come on!” She clamored up the ladder with her friend at her heels.

 

“We can’t fly this thing!” Monique protested, all the while clambering the ladder onto the deck.

 

“Yes we can,” John said proudly. “I built her and Angelique can fly as well as I can!”

 

So she was telling the truth!

 

“I’m a ship captain! But I can’t marry the woman I love, because I have no money—and the color of my skin!” All the while he and Angelique were hoisting the sails.

 

Monique followed them inside to the helm, burning with excitement in spite of herself. She’d never actually walked inside an airship. In the center of the deck, was concentric hatch directly below the gathered edges of the balloon. Angelique opened the hatch to reveal a box of copper and brass, and another hole in its center, and depressions on either side.

 

She pumped the depressions and steam flowed from the box filling the balloon, while Monique and John began turning the cranks on the propellers and flaps. The ship began to rise, and Monique thought her heart would burst with joy.

 

“Here we go!” John shouted. The ships wings flapped, the propeller whirled, tearing and blowing the foliage and lifted from the ground.

 

The airship sputtered forward. “Give her more steam and turn the propellers faster!” The women grunted turning the propeller faster. “Angelique trade places with me!” Angelique took the helm, as he and Monique turned the propellers. The airship picked up speed.

 

The mulatto woman grinned. “My parents thought they could marry me off to an old man. Won’t they be surprised?”

 

“Where will we go?” Monique asked.

 

“There’s an island across the ocean, Santo Domingo,” said John. “Haiti’s armies freed the slaves there too.”

 

The glory of a parvenu life thrust upon her was slowly taking hold. She was free—free of her mother. Free of a lifetime of cages. Free to love who she chose. The Loa Erzulie had answered her prayers after all!

 

But Simone was still lost to her. A weight of sadness pressed against the walls of her new-found liberation. And there were other doubts as well. “What if they don’t want us there? How do we know it will be any better?”

 

A shadow crept from the helm, jerking Monique away from her objections—amber-colored ghosts that instantly became creatures with the head of a bat and four arms.

 

“It’s Madam Cecile’s sorcery!” John shouted. “We must have been spotted!”

 

More shades reared up at them, claws ready. They paused, clearly confused. The three friends were most certainly not French soldiers. The ghosts turned away and attacked the airship dash in earnest, ripping and tearing.

 

Another one zoomed over their heads and struck the helm and it exploded in flames. They screamed—trying to fight the creatures off and fly the ship at the same time. They began losing altitude. The ship was sinking.

 

Below them, a thick, wavering mist blocked their path. The friends eyes were drawn to it. . . they could see images dancing within the fog. . . dancing to the beat of drums that suddenly echoed in the night about them. A cooling breeze wafted toward them . . . One image came into focus. . .

 

The Loa, Erzulie.

 

Their terror vanished.

 

Without another thought they flew into the fog.

 

And out the other side.

 

The flames snuffed out and the turbulence of the airship dissipated out as they flew out of the nosedive. “Let’s land there!” Monique shouted, pointing to the beach below. As the three friends coasted into a smooth descent, their eyes widened. They recognized the Haitian shoreline.

 

“We never left home!” John exclaimed.

 

“Wait a minute,” Angelique said slowly. “When we left Haiti it was midnight. Look at the sky!” A  bright noonday sun beamed downed on them.

 

They stared at the turquoise blue waters, as if the ocean held answers. “This cannot be,” John breathed. “Have we traveled backwards in time?”

 

“Non, c’est impossible. . .” Monique breathed. “The only thing we can do is start walking. Maybe when we find town we’ll find our answers.”

 

They covered the airship with seaweed and debris as best as they could. After their strange trip they were a little afraid of it. But the friends still thought it best to protect it in case they needed to escape.

 

When they reached town they discovered they’d left Haiti only to return. But to an alien Republic.

 

They didn’t recognize the township. What was even more incredible was that in this Haiti, the revolution had taken place a month ago. No one knew them here. So, they gave a vague descriptions of a small hamlet they’d traveled from, and no one they meet seemed to care much. Monique found a job cooking for a rich, elderly woman named Michelle. John and Angelique took a job working in the sugar fields she owned.

 

Later, Monique questioned her employer about the customs of her “new home” and found out that class discrimination did not exist in Haiti—informal or otherwise. There were no restrictions upon homosexuality either. Michelle was incredulous that any Republic would have such rules. “We were once slaves, n’est-ce pas? Why would we oppress one another?” The older woman sucked her teeth, and shook her head. “That must truly be a terrible place you came from. No wonder you ran away.”

 

Monique pressed her lips together and said no more. It was my home and I loved it dearly. Now Haiti is here, yet lost to me. Perhaps forever. . .I wonder what unpleasant truths this new world holds?

 

##

 

“We’re going to stay, Monique,” said Angelique. “John and I can be together here.”

 

“What about your mama and papa?”

 

Angelique looked away. “I love them and wish them happiness. But I love John more. Perhaps one day I’ll look for them.” She shrugged. “Perhaps not.”

 

“Both my parents are dead,” the young man added. “Angelique is all the family I have now.”

 

The three were sharing a meal in the tiny house she and John had rented together. The couple had married the same week they’d landed.

 

“You should stay too,” Angelique suggested.

 

Monique had saved a little coin and was determined to search the island until she found Simone. “No, I have to find her. I have to know if she’s happy.”

 

“What will you do, cherie, if you meet her and she is happy. . . with you,” asked John. “We still know so little about this strange world, n’est-ce pas?”

 

Monique smiled. “We will become the best of friends—the three of us. I will wish her well.”

 

“And I will be back.”

 

She left the next morning to find her destiny. In the days to come, some happy, others melancholy, she thought often of the airship they’d left behind on the beach. . .

 

And whatever became of it.

THE END


Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective, and the author of eight books.Valjeanne was featured in 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her first novel, Immortal, is featured on the Invisible Universe Documentary time-line. Her stories have been published in Reflections Literary and Arts Magazine; Steamfunk!; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Genesis Science Fiction Magazine; Griots II: Sisters of the Spear; Possibilities; and The City.Book I of The Switch II: Clockwork was nominated for the best ebook novella of 2013 (eFestival of Words); and her short story Awakening was published as a podcast by Far Fetched Fables. Preview or purchase Valjeanne’s novels at: Valjeanne Jeffers official site

BHH: “Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 2 of 3

“Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 2 of 3

Monique watched the airships ready for take-off through the bars of her cage, hanging beneath the cliff. She still bore a black eye—the latest bruise from her mother. Only this time she’d fought back: punching and scratching. She’d done no more than was needed to fend Isabelle off and stop her beating. Still, two more weeks were added to her sentence.

 

Longing pierced her soul, as she gazed at the puffs of steam streaming from the ships on their way to patrol, and the wooden wings flapping. Suddenly, the first one was airborne—flying past the slender rocks that separated the triangular stacks of boulders at the edge of her village. The sound of palms on drum-skins beat in refrain to the ships’ wings, as if the drums were were the reason they could fly.

 

One. . . two. . . three … and now they soared into the distance. Monique stared at them until they were lost to her gaze. She gripped the bars of the cage. Suspending prisoners outside during the day, and letting them return home at night, was supposed to be a kinder punishment than perpetually confining captives indoors.

 

I’m still a prisoner. Being outside just makes it worse.

 

The rumbling of her belly and the shaking of her cage let her know it was time to eat. In the next moment, two women hoisted her cage up from under the rock and shifted it to the ground. Their narrowed eyes and pursed lips revealed what they thought of her. The strange one who lusts for the flesh of her sisters. The bad daughter who beats her own mother. 

 

One of the women reached into the folds of her dress and produced a skeleton key. A few moments later her dearest friend, Angelique, sauntered over.  She was a plump young woman, her skin the color of ripe bananas with a thick head of hair. She carried a basket and there was a blanket under her arm. The delectable smell of diri kole ak pwa, brown rice with red kidney beans topped off with red snapper, tomatoes and onions, drifted toward her.

 

Angelique smiled, her teeth flashing against her cafe au lait skin. “Let’s find somewhere nice to eat.”

 

Angelique was a mulatto Affranchis: a wealthy descendant of the union between slave owner and slaves. Birth determined the Affranchis social position, and intermarriage between them solidified this caste solidarity. Some of them had even owned slaves, before General Toussaint had emancipated all living in Saint-Domingue.

 

Angelique knew how the ships were put together, what made them tick and she could fly. So she said. She and Monique’s mutual interest in airships had brought them together and they’d quickly become friends—in spite of their dissimilar backgrounds. How she’d come by her knowledge of airships was a mystery. But she’d shared all she knew with Monique and swore her to secrecy.

 

She was also in love with John, the dark-skinned son of former slaves. Because of his social status Angelique’s parents, who followed the old ways of class solidarity, had forbade any courtship between their daughter and John. Tradition meant she must obey her parents’ wishes or suffer the same fate as Monique.

 

“But I’m going to marry him anyway,” she’d whispered. “See if I don’t.”

 

Monique secretly thought Angelique made half of her stories up, although she never said so. Still, she tells pretty tales, non?

 

Monique followed her past the cottages to a meadow, took the blanket from her friend and spread it on the grass. “If you don’t stop being so nice to me, they’re going to get someone else to bring me lunch.”

 

The young women sat down, unpacked the food and began to eat. “I bet you wish now you’d just taken the punch instead of fighting back, eh?” Angelique said, her sympathetic eyes belying the coldness of her words. “Next time will be probably worst you know. Isabelle has always been ill-tempered. She’s so angry with you. She had her heart set on grandchildren.”

 

Monique frowned. “I can’t help the way I am. Just like you can’t help loving John. . . Your parents will never let you marry him. They’re going to pick out a man for you.”

 

Her best friend grinned slyly. “So they believe.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

Angelique bit into a piece of fish and didn’t answer. For awhile they ate in silence.

 

“Do you miss Simone much?”

 

Monique’s eyes filled with tears. “Wi. . . It is an ache.”

 

“So you love her?”

 

“Wi.”

 

“What is it like. . . loving a woman?” Although they’d been best friends for years, they’d never discussed this.

 

Monique shrugged. “Like your love for John, I suppose. For me, it is as natural as breathing.”

 

“Well, perhaps after tonight you will met another woman and fall in love.”

 

“Loving someone, whether man or woman, is not like picking vases from the well. If one is empty, you just pick another one, n’est-ce pas? Love is not like that. . . What makes tonight so different?”

 

“Stay awake and find out.”

 

Monique shook her head. “I can’t go fishing. I need my sleep.”

 

“Who said anything about fishing? You must pack a bag and stay awake.”

 

“Poukisa wap fè sa? What are you up to?”

 

Angelique laughed like a child but would say no more.

 

Monique gazed at her friend with exasperation and affection on her brown face. “Why do I always listen to you?”

 

“Because I’m your best friend! Who else would you listen to?”

At that moment, two women plopped on the grass to their right, close enough to hear what the friends were saying. They fell silent and finished eating.

 

##

 

To be continued… Feb 8th, 2019… stay tuned!


Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective, and the author of eight books.Valjeanne was featured in 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her first novel, Immortal, is featured on the Invisible Universe Documentary time-line. Her stories have been published in Reflections Literary and Arts Magazine; Steamfunk!; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Genesis Science Fiction Magazine; Griots II: Sisters of the Spear; Possibilities; and The City.Book I of The Switch II: Clockwork was nominated for the best ebook novella of 2013 (eFestival of Words); and her short story Awakening was published as a podcast by Far Fetched Fables. Preview or purchase Valjeanne’s novels at: Valjeanne Jeffers official site

Black Horror History: Black Occultist Rollo Ahmed

Rollo Ahmed Black Occultist
by James Goodridge

Born in 1899 to an Egyptian father and Guyanese mother, Abdul Said Ahmed aka Rollo Ahmed had a considerable presence in the occult community of London during the 1930’s. He is not well known in the United States, but I came across the enigma of a man, while researching lesser known black historical figures for my book, The Father Gill Affair, which is an occult detective story set in New York during the roaring twenties featuring characters Madison Cavendish and Seneca Sue—vampire and lycanthrope investigators of the strange and mundane. In the story, I took the liberty of portraying Ahmed as less of a dark occult person and rascal than he was in reality and in a more sympathetic light.

Dennis Wheatly’s The Devil Rides Out ignited the public thirst for witchcraft and the occult, like the roaring twenties an escape from the residue of WWI’s bloodletting and the global financial and political uncertainties yet short-lived for WWII would be just down the road. Following the books success, Wheatly’s publishers wanted a follow-up but this time a non-fiction book on the subject. The author felt it wasn’t his place to write the book, so he introduced his publishers to Rollo Ahmed who Wheatly used as a consultant. Ahmed’s knowledge of the black arts from around the world and its history made him an expert with first-hand personal experience. He’d had encounters with Voodun, Obeah, werewolves in the Caribbean, and other tales. He was also a teacher of Raja Yoga which he counted Wheatly and the author’s wife as students.

Published in 1936 The Black Arts (reprinted later with the title The Complete Book of Witchcaft 1968/1970) was then and is today a definitive text on the occult world. Sectioned off into twenty one chapters, the topics covered are, early black  magic, ancient magic of the East, Egyptian magic, Jewish necromancy, magic in Greece and Rome, sorcery and magic in the dark ages, the church and the practice of black magic behind its doors, witchcraft , vampirism and werewolves in Europe, alchemist and sorcerers from the 13th to 18th centuries, symbols of magic, Sex-rites ,Primitive races and magic, sorcery in North and South America, Yogis and Fakirs of India, black magic in the British Isles, Necromancy, Black mass, Elementals, modern black magic and methods to counter act sorcery. The subject matter is still strong for this day and age.

Some people felt Ahmed was a man with strange powers as one of Wheaty’s friends swore one night that they encountered a dark “imp” standing beside Ahmed while they had a conversation with him. Others were of the opinion that he was a sly con artist. An alleged member of The Left Hand Path, Ahmed was a fixture in London’s bohemian scene during the 30’s in his fez and white burnus could count “The worlds most wicked man” Allister Crowley as a friend. It’s during this time that Ahmed had to be fitted with a set of false teeth, the result of trying to capture a demon. Ahmed also published his auto biography I Rise: The life story of a Negro. It’s a rare book that’s out of print which he dedicated to actor, singer, and activist Paul Robeson. Ahmed relays his life of negative racial encounters in 1930’s London. Situations such as, landlords refusing to rent him rooms and apartment, even just a room for shelter on a cold night, harassed by the police Ahmed was jailed several times for fraud. By the 1950’s Ahmed seems to have been reduced to in stature to hiring out his services to elderly women to tell their fortunes while living with his wife Theodora (who had her own Lycanthorpe encounter as a child in Germany) in Harpsichord house in Hastings. After that, he fades from the occult scene.

Charlatan or not, a man of his occult world knowledge should be more acknowledged. There is hope that horror writers will see Rollo Ahmed as a genre character in the same light as classical pianist and down low occultist Philippa Schuyler or Harlem magician Black Herman. Ahmed’s time has come.

 

British Voodoo: Black Art of Rollo Ahmed http:// sas.space.sas.ac.uk15976/ was used along with other sources as reference.


aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

Movie Review: Sorry to Bother You

Review: Sorry to Bother You on Hulu

Reviewed by Sumiko Saulson

Stars: 5 of 5

Sorry to Bother You is a dark comedy sci-fi horror film currently available on Hulu wherein we gradually learn that Oakland, California resident Cassius “Cash” Green, who seems to be living in the present, is actually in a future dystopia where those in debt sell themselves into slavery by signing up for a lifetime of servitude with a company called WorryFree. Cash is played by hot newcomer Lakeith Stanfield. Stanfield made his debut in on the indie film circuit 2013 and subsequently appeared in serious biopic films like Selma, Snowden, and Straight Out of Compton, but is becoming a fixture in horror films. He appeared in Purge: Anarchy, Get Out, and played the hero L in the controversial Netflix live-action take on Death Note.

Sorry to Bother You is saturated in blackness with Tessa Thompson as the love interest Detroit, Terry Crews as the financially beleaguered uncle, Jermaine Fowler and Omari Hardwick and as supporting cast members, and Danny Glover in a near-cameo appearance as Langston, the guy who teaches Cash to use his “white voice,” and Forest Whittaker as a human/horse hybrid called an equisapien. Directed and written by Boots Riley. Asian American actor Steven Yeun plays Squeeze, the overly woke union organizer who makes a play for Cash’s performance artist girlfriend Detroit after Cash begins to sell out.

The film handles issues regarding capitalism, usury, and the internal struggle many Americans face when deciding whether or not to maintain personal integrity or sell out to protect and feed one’s family with humor, grace, and a dark edginess reminiscent of the original Robocop, Johnny Mnemonic, Tank Girl and other black comedies in capitalist future dystopias.

I wouldn’t categorize it as horror if it wasn’t for the equisapiens. About halfway into the film, Cash’s descent into the dark wells of corruption takes a turn for the terrifying. It starts out with the selling out, of course. The telemarketer’s uncle is in debt and considering selling himself into a lifetime work contract that is essentially slavery to get out of it. Cash, a telemarketer, discovers he has an opportunity to save his uncle. All he has to do is join forces with WorryFree and become fine with selling other people into slavery. To complicate matters, his girlfriend has joined forces with Squeeze in protesting the poor wages at the telemarketing company they work at and boycotting WorryFree as their indentured servitude contacts are slave labor. Will he uphold the beliefs Detroit and he seemingly hold dear, or protect his family?

All of these questions are still being answered when things take a turn for the Weird Fiction neck of the woods.  While questioning his own morality, Cash attends a party hosted by the CEO of WorryFree and uncovers a terrible secret: equisapiens! They are genetically engineered horse people WorryFree intends to use to get around labor laws that restrict their complete and other disregarding human rights for contract employees. Only, there is some suggestion that these equisapiens might actually be contract employees! Now, we’re stepping into the Twilight Zone, or maybe an Outer Limits episode where Forrest Whittaker is an equisapien instead of a voice announcer.

The movie has a slower pacing like most Sundance Film Festival circuit indie art films do. It had a very short run at the major theaters before bouncing to Hulu. But it is thoroughly enjoyable and I strongly recommend checking it out.

BHH: Outcasts by Valjeanne Jeffers 1 of 3

“Outcasts” by Valjeanne Jeffers 1 of 3

On the island of Saint-Domingue, in the dead of night, thousands of slaves crept silently along the path through the trees and wiry brush to Bois Caïman. In the clearing the Houngan Dutty Boukman, a huge, self-educated slave with a fierce countenance, and Mambo Cecile Fatiman, a mulatto slave woman, waited to led them in ceremony. They petitioned the Loa for protection, for deliverance from slavery’s lash—calling upon the darkest spirits of their Ancestors to help them in their battle.

They prayed for freedom.

“Bon Dje nou an ki si bon, ki si jis, li ordone vanjans!” Dutty shouted. “Se li kap kondui branou pou nou ranpote la viktwa! Se li kap ba nou asistans. . .! Koute vwa la libète kap chante lan kè nou!”

“Our God, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs! It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory! It’s He who will assist us. . .! Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts!”

There was a clap of thunder … lightning flashed in the dark sky. A swirling rush of wind stirred the trees.

Cecile’s green eyes rolled back in her head. Enraptured she began to dance wildly. She’d been possessed by the Erzulie Seven Kout Kouto—the most deadly embodiment of the Loa, Erzulie Dantor. She sang and the slaves—beating upon the drums in rage—sang with her:

 

“Seven kout kouto, seven kout ponya

Prete mwen ganmèl lan pou mwen al vomi san

Prete mwen ganmèl lan pou mwen al vomi san

San mwen ape koule!”

“Seven stabbings of knives, seven stabbings of daggers

Lend me the ganmèl, so I can vomit blood

Lend me the ganmèl, so I can vomit blood

My blood is running!”

 

Seven days later, Dutty led his people in revolt against their slave masters … burning plantations to the ground. For this rebellion, he was captured and beheaded by the French; his head was publicly displayed with a placard reading: “Boukman, Chef des Revolutions des Escalves,” Boukman, Chief of the Slaves Revolution. The French thought killing Dutty Boukman would frighten the Black slaves— thus halting the tide of revolution.

 

But the fires of liberation Dutty and Cecile ignited were not the first, nor would they be the last.

 

##

 

Monique, a tall, young woman with chocolate-colored skin, a long face, and slender build, made her way through the tall brass structures of Saint-Domingue, past red flowering Hibiscus blooms toward the fields. She was dressed in a wrapped skirt and bustier, her braided hair coiled in twisted beads atop her head. She wore a brass-handled musket on a holster about her waist. A grip of interwoven cloth and metal encased her fingers and entire arm up to her shoulder to minimize kickback from her pistol. She carried a water flask in one hand and her breakfast of a partially-eaten boiled plantain in the other.

 

She stopped at a well on the outskirts of her township. Monique finished the last of the plantain in one bite, and dropped the peel in the cloth trash-bag beside the well: a conveyor belt made of cloth and woven wire. Half the belt lay above the soil; the rest, on her left and right, was buried underground. Monique knelt before the clunky machinery attached to two metal legs above the conveyor belt. She turned the crank, the belt jerked and scuttled forward: carrying copper vases full of water, screwed to caps on its underside.

 

Monique twisted one of the vases off, filled her flask and turned it up her full lips: drinking deeply. She poured more water into the flask, and reattached the water vase back onto the belt. Refreshed and ready, the young woman made her way to the field on the edge of town. There she found thousands of men and women, aged sixteen to sixty, preparing for tomorrow.

 

When they would go to war with France.

 

After Dusty’s rebellion, General Mountainous L’Ouverture had led a revolution from the island of Saint-Domingue—allying himself with Napoleon to end bondage in his homeland. Now, ten years later, the mad French emperor had made a clandestine deal with plantation owners to enslave them once more.

 

Napoleon had promised Toussaint and the island of Saint-Domingue that bondage was forever ended on their island. But, he secretly supported the white planters’ greed—their greed for wealth earned on the backs and from the blood of slaves. He sympathized with their loss of financial gain from the cane, coffee and cocoa plantations.

 

So the Emperor betrayed his promise. He didn’t care that slaves were treated worse than dogs, that they were not paid for their back-breaking labor, that the lash and torture was used to keep them submissive.

 

Napoleon would attack at dawn. They would be waiting for him … beside their brass cabins, in the tall grass and in the fields.

 

Monique merged with the crowd of warriors on the field, wearing embroidered grips like hers on their shoulders. “Bonjour …” she greeted them and a volley of salutations greeted her in return. She saw women, who had fought under Toussaint, moving through their ranks, offering tutelage and support. These women were among his most trusted generals and would fight alongside him, helping him lead the Saint-Domingue warriors to victory.

 

She pulled her musket from its sheath and began practicing with them: aiming the revolving muskets with brass grips. She aimed and fired at a clay target blowing the figurine to bits. The muskets had three barrels that rotated and fired. Other warriors were practicing with copper-bayoneted rifles that  fired bullets and, if the solider run out of ammunition, the bayonet as well.

 

There were also those perfecting their use of the whirling-bird machetes: a brass and copper rendition of the Black-capped Petrel bird. These men and women wore gloves made of heavy cloth, interwoven with pounded-brass to protect their fingers, as well as top hats with scopes to enhance their sight and track their birds’ flight. Directions were dialed on the Petrel bird’s belly. Once aimed and fired the whirling-bird flew to the target, and transformed into a deadly machete.

 

During the first war, President Toussaint had contacted the Black American scientist Benjamin Banneker to help him in his fight against Napoleon. All of the weapons were Banneker’s ingenious inventions.

 

The airships too were of Banneker’s wondrous design— and powered by both science and sorcery. The ships were cylinder shaped and overlaid with a metal filigreed. A propeller at the stern had a crank that would be turned by human hands. Carved flaps on the port and starboard sides enhanced their buoyancy, as did the steam-filled cigar shaped balloon above it.

 

Monique paused in her drill for a moment, gazing at the ships. She’d always found an excuse to be near them. She would scrub the port and starboard or, if she was denied this pleasure, pick vegetables in their shadow. Once Monique had crept up a ladder onto the deck to peek through one of the round windows at the ships interior. She still remembered the gleaming buttons and stern.

 

This treat had earned her a switching from her mother, Isabelle. Women were strictly forbidden from operating ships or gazing at their interiors. The village elders had reasoned, and rightly so, that if women engaged in these activities it might led to dissatisfaction with their own lives.

 

Women were expected to work the fields with men, and to fight alongside them in the battlefield. This was as it should be.

 

But the bulk of the domestic responsibilities also fell on female shoulders, such as caring for children, cooking and housekeeping. Monique had no children of her own, although she was twenty and one years. Still, she was required to help other women care for their young, in provision for the coming day when she would become a mother herself.

 

The day she whipped Monique, Isabelle told her daughter she had plans for her which didn’t include piloting an airship. “We worked hard enough when we was slaves, n’est-ce pas? We, women had it the worst!” Isabelle spat. “The white slavers took our children— took us if they had a mind too. They’d rape us right in front of our men. Just for sport. My man, your father, he was killed by slavers.”

 

“Now, we free to be women. We free to care for our own children. Our own men.” She cupped Monique’s chin in her small hand. “That’s what I want for you, cherie mwen. A husband. Children.” Her eyes hardened suddenly. “And if I ever see you look a woman the wrong way— if I ever see that—I’ll cut your eyes out myself.”

 

Monique couldn’t say for sure what had prompted her mother’s threat. But she suspected it was because she’d never shown any interest in men. Isabelle was no fool.

 

She tore her eyes away from the airships and pulled her weapon from her holster. She took aim at her target, a clay figurine. All at once, elation and longing swirling about in her bosom. She looked forward to the dawn, looked forward to hiding in wait for the French—surprising them, when they thought the island would be sleeping.

 

And what comes, what must come, afterward. I must have her.

 

The young woman’s eyes found her lover, Simone, standing only a yard away—Simone with her dark skin, wide laughing mouth, large eyes, small breasts and rounded hips; Simone who could dance better and shoot better than anyone she knew: male or female.

 

Simone felt her lover’s gaze travel down her body and looked over her shoulder. Their eyes met and Monique found it suddenly hard to breathe. Desire like molten honey flowed from her breasts to her pelvis. She tore her brown eyes away, lest the love that burned within them be revealed to her fellow warriors.

 

##

The people made their way to the Hounfour. They had spent days in preparation for the ceremony, when they would petition the Lwa once more for victory over the slave masters.

 

Monique had scrubbed her body clean and wore a head wrap and skirt. The young woman thought of her offering: rose perfume bought with her last money and the sweet potato cakes she’d baked to petition Loa Erzulie Freda.

 

But will it be enough? Will she answer my prayers?

 

She watched the Houngan trace the crossroad in the air, the crossroad where all spiritual energy met. This, she knew was in preparation for the Loa, Papa Legba’s, entrance. Everyone had already laid their offerings on the altar. . . rum, tobacco, perfumes, machetes. . . Monique’s offering of among them.

 

Songs were sung first in French; then a litany was sung in African and Creole. Behind her, young women holding candles danced. Along the walls men beat the drums with brass sticks.

 

The dance began.

 

A young man twisted into their midst. . . his face and contortions enraptured, his eyes rolling back in his head. The drums accentuated his movements as he skillfully spun with leaps and pirouette. He shuddered and dropped to his knees. . . his torso shaking back and forth in rhythm to the drums.

 

He rose slowly and they offered him his cane, straw hat and pipe. For he was now being ridden by Papa Legba: the honored one who is called before all others and is always the last to leave.

 

Papa Legba, the one who stands at the crossroads of life and death.

 

Minutes later, another older man gyrated violently in their midst: his face both enraptured and angry. He snatched the machete from the altar and began thrusting it in the air in quick, short jabs. The acolytes stepped back to give him room, rejoicing in their hearts, for they knew that  Papa Ogun—a Loa of war— was now among them.

 

The French dogs will fail! We will not return to chains, non!

 

The Lwa spoke in a growling, rumbling voice: “Gren mwe fret!” My testicles are cold! The ancient demand for rum.

 

The Houngan snatched rum from the altar, poured it on to the ground and struck a match to it. . . they watched in awe as Ogun washed his hands in the fire without his flesh being burned. More Lwa flew among them possessing their favored. . . riding their human horses.

 

Moments later, Monique felt her coming. All her anxiety and worry vanished. A cool breeze pervaded her spirit. . . For Erzulie was not only a fierce and warlike Loa, but one of love.

 

All love—not just that of a man and woman, n’est-ce pas? Monique’s eyes rolled back in her head. As Erzulie Dantor possessed her, she wept and danced. . .

 

##

 

Monique fired: hitting a French soldier in the head. Next to her, a warrior dialed and aimed his whirling-bird. The mechanical bird flew straight at a Frenchman chopping and hacking at the doomed man’s arms. . . Every able-bodied man and woman on the island was here—fighting on the field. Those that couldn’t fight were behind the battlements pouring metal into bullet molds.

 

Napoleon’s forces outnumbered them and the emperor had brought his own airships: huge, cigar shaped vessels, with sails billowing on the port and starboard, and conical balloons above them.

 

Monique risked a glance at the Mambo, Cecile Fatiman, standing before Saint-Domingue airships, chanting. Bullets whistled past the Mambo’s head but she paid them no mind.

 

Thunder rumbled, the balloons filled with air and the ships rose, their curling flaps creating wind, the airships’ propellers twisting the red and yellow Hibiscus blossoms beside them. Sailors at the airships’ helm steered them to attack—firing upon the French with triple brass muskets. Other men, wearing goggles and vests, fired with rifles from the stern, their muscles glinting in the sun.

 

Cecile watched calmly as the larger French ships laid siege to the Saint-Domingue vessels with cannons. In the air, as on the ground, the black warriors were heavily outnumbered. Now the Voudon priestess spoke her final mantra. . . Amber shadows rose from inside the hull of ships twisted free—the vengeful ghosts of slaves, mutilated and tortured to death. The spirits flew toward the French transforming into four-armed bat-like creatures. They covered their enemies biting and clawing, attached themselves to the enemies’ hull pulling the crafts apart, as the men screamed. . .

 

On the ground, scores of French soldiers lay dead or dying. Napoleon’s forces fell back retreating before black warriors, bellowing, “The ancestors are with us!”

 

The celebration that night was unlike any before. General Toussaint L’Ouverture declared their country the free Republic of Haiti!

 

##

 

Amid the screaming and shouts of victory, Monique caught Simone’s eye in the crowd. A slow smile lit her face and Monique nodded. The two women slipped away to a waterfall beneath the rocks: the sanctuary where they had first declared their love.

 

“Ou fè m fou pou ou,” You make me crazy for you, Monique whispered.

 

“Ou se lanmou kè m,” You are the love of my heart, came Simone’s breathless reply.

 

They shared a kiss, coming together in tender, hot embrace. . . their touch like butterflies, as they undressed one another and sank to the wet rocks in a symmetry of desire and surrender. An hour later they curled up together and slept.

 

##

 

Simone was screaming. The sound thrust Monique into awareness. Someone was shouting: “Demeplè! Unnatural!”

 

The women were beaten and kicked. A blow to Monique’s head knocked her unconscious.

 

The next few weeks were a nightmare. Monique and Simone were beaten again and confined to separate cages at the edge of town beneath the rocks, while the town elders debated her fate. Many said they should be killed. But finally an agreement was reached.

 

The women would be imprisoned for six weeks. Simone was shipped away to relatives living on a remote part of the Island to serve out her sentence. They would never see other again.

 

##

To be continued… Feb 5th, 2019… stay tuned!


Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective, and the author of eight books.Valjeanne was featured in 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her first novel, Immortal, is featured on the Invisible Universe Documentary time-line. Her stories have been published in Reflections Literary and Arts Magazine; Steamfunk!; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Genesis Science Fiction Magazine; Griots II: Sisters of the Spear; Possibilities; and The City.Book I of The Switch II: Clockwork was nominated for the best ebook novella of 2013 (eFestival of Words); and her short story Awakening was published as a podcast by Far Fetched Fables. Preview or purchase Valjeanne’s novels at: Valjeanne Jeffers official site

Black Horror History: Haunted Hickory Hill

Haunted Hickory Hill (The Old Slave House)
by James Goodridge

Chicago’s Hull House “Devil Baby” is high on the paranormal scale with its strangeness but Hickory Hill or The Old Slave House has a more horrific legacy. Located in the southern part of Illinois, Hickory Hill was once a tourist attraction but has been closed since 1996. Using his wealth, John Hart Crenshaw along with his wife, Franchine, constructed the pseudo-Greek house overlooking 30,000 acres of land. He was the owner of a mill and furnaces that converted water from salt springs into salt, which was in high demand to settlers headed west and the United States government. He was a man of means.

The house, built in 1834 had a carriageway unique for its time, where a wagon could be driven right into the house. But why? Crenshaw in his greed engaged in what was a reverse underground railroad in Illinois, a free state. The harshness of working in the salt works didn’t appeal to free white men and leasing slaves from Kentucky cost money, so Crenshaw—with the help of night riders—embarked on kidnapping free black families in the state and any fugitives that crossed the Ohio River. A secret tunnel from the Saline River that connected to the Ohio River helped Crenshaw in his noxious enterprise. Soon, the demand for slaves to be shipped back down south increased. How could he keep up?

Imagine yourself a free young black women arriving at night to Hickory Hill. You’re taken up narrow stairs to the attic, where there are twelve small cells with wooden bunks, iron rings to chain you to the floor, and bars across the windows. The cells were stifling hot during the summer, freezing cold during the winter, and manic to melancholy all year round. Chained to the bunk you have a sense of foreboding—then terror—as the cell door opens and a massive human frame is standing there in the doorway.

Uncle Bob was a slave Crenshaw kept for the sole purpose of forced breeding like a prized bull. It is said that he sired over 300 children. The same house a state representative named Abraham Lincoln attended a ball in 1840. Crenshaw’s evil bonanza began to recede when in 1842 he was arrested for kidnapping Maria Adams and her eight children who were sold off and taken to Texas. Crenshaw was not convicted of kidnapping, winning this and other charges over the years. However, a small bit of revenge did kiss Crenshaw in that persons unknown burned down his mill and a slave enraged at Crenshaw beating another slave, overtook to him with an axe, hacking his leg off.

In the late 1920’s famed exorcist Hickman Whittington armed with his “secret text bible” entered Hickory Hill intent on ridding the place of as he stated, “Shades of negro slaves.” Instead, it was said, he went running and screaming out of the house and dropped dead a few hours later. Further research revealed Whittington did not drop dead. In fact, in 1938 he tried to murder his wife. Whittington died in Anna State Hospital in 1940. After the Civil War, Crenshaw sold Hickory Hill to a German family. He died in 1871, followed by his wife ten years later. It was when Hickory Hill was sold to the Sisk family in 1913 (some sources date the sale as 1906) that paranormal incidents started. Voices mumbling from in the walls, shadows walking just out of view, the yelling of the name Janice, whimpering, and phantom screams in the night have unnerved visitors.

Over the years out of the 150 people that tried to spend the night in Hickory Hill only to escape the place before dawn, David Rodgers a reporter from WSIL-TV Harrisburg is one that stayed. On Halloween night, 1978, although Rodgers said he heard “noises” in the attic, the night was uneventful. Setting the Whittington episode to the side, something of a paranormal nature must been present for over 150 people to not stay the night.

Sadly, the pre-ghost horror story of those slaves can be found in many an African American family. In my family, there is a story that has been told through the years of one of my ancestors who was sold among a group of slaves to a new plantation in Georgia. While being transported, she became ill being it was a rainy southern winter day and the slaves were made to walk along behind the overseer’s wagon. After some time, she passed out along the side of a muddy road. Pressed for time and seeing her as damaged goods, the overseer got down off the wagon got a hand full of mud. He then shoved it down her throat, suffocating her to death. I only hope somehow her spirit gained some type of revenge.

Sources: Haunted Ohio Blog, Troy Taylor’s America’s Most Haunted, Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott & Michael Norman 1987 Warner Books, and Wikipedia.


aiuthor pix 3Born and raised in the Bronx, New York James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal, James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing. Currently writing a series of short Twilight Zone-inspired stories from the world of art (An occult detective short story, The E.E. Just Affair) with the goal of producing compelling stories. His work has appeared in BlackSciencefictionSociety.com, Genesis Winter 2015 Issue, AfroPhantoms.com, Horroraddicts.net, and a non-fiction essay in Apairy Magazine #8 2016 a Metro Philadelphia arts and literature magazine. You can also hear an interview with Mr. Goodridge on Genesis Science Fiction Radio air date 12/2/16 on YouTube.

Book Review: Cribbins by H. R. Dixon

Review: Cribbins by H. R. Dixon

Reviewed by Chantal Boudreau

Writing this review was a real struggle or me.  I usually don’t like to write reviews heavy on the negative, nor do I like sitting on the fence.  At the same time, I felt this book was worth talking about.  For all the negative, there is a great deal of positive to be mentioned as well.

I’ll address the cons up front since most of them are at the start of the book – I almost gave up reading in Chapter 2, but I would have missed out on the better parts that followed.

The first thing that struck me was that there was too much exposition in the opening chapter, to the point of being repetitive.  I think this was presented this way to bring focus to the protagonist’s, Sophie Harrington, medical predicament, but it didn’t work for me.  I found it actually detracted from the introduction of Sophie even though the idea was interesting.  Character development was far better in Chapter 2, exploring the Sophie’s background and her relationship with her family, but the pacing was slow and it was done at the expense of story development.  This picks up in Chapter 3.

Normally I give a few small editing issues a pass as long as the story is good, but there were enough editing issues in this book that I found it distracting and I have a fairly high tolerance.

The other thing that bothered me was contrasting language – lofty language in some places where simpler language would have worked better, followed soon after by slang which added a sense of discord, and accompanied by awkward metaphors.  It felt forced and I much preferred the parts later in the book where the writing felt more natural.

With those out of the way, here are the reasons you *should* read this book.

First of all, it has a really Interesting story concept.  A supernatural, malevolent neighbour who is the cause of the protagonist’s autoimmunity seemed refreshingly novel. It’s what intrigued me about the book, why I agreed to review it, and why I kept reading past Chapter 2.

Secondly, and one of the stronger points in its favour, this story has realistic, well-rounded characters.  Sophie, her parents, her daughter, her coworkers – they’re all perfectly believable and outside the expected stereotypes.

The author offers evocative description in places – I especially like the descriptions that were kept simple but really gave you a genuine feel for what was being described (the description of her parents, for example, or her cozy bed.).  Unlike that intended for exposition, the description intended for atmosphere was natural and relatable, and the story considerably better for it.

And the two points that would probably appeal most horror fans, the villain is effectively creepy, once he is introduced, and there is a good use of psychological horror rather than relying on gore.  Some scenes are quite claustrophobic, lending an effective sense of being followed and then trapped.  I can honestly say I was scared in places.

In conclusion, if you are willing to look past the flaws in the beginning, this is a story worth reading.  I’d rate in 2.5 stars with a strong leaning towards 3 or 4 later in the book.

From the Vault REPLAY! The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

Originally posted on HorrorAddicts.net December, 2014

The Ghost of Father Christmas

by DEAN FARNELL

Santa Claus Is just a ghost I’ve waited every year

I stay up every Christmas eve and shed a little tear

He never comes to our house I’d know if he had been

I see him in my mind sometimes it must have been a dream.

The spirits placed my presents around the Christmas tree

Or It’s my imagination playing tricks on me.

My Mother tells me Santa’s been, my Father said It’s true

They said he comes when you’re asleep just like they always do.

Every bloody year this happens I get this same old tale

I decided Santa is a ghost I’m not even sure he’s male

I’ll stay awake this Christmas eve just like I’ve done before

Please Santa show your face this year as I’m touching 54.

*************************

deanDean Farnell writes quirky songs, & poetry, mainly paranormal / horror themed as a bit of fun. The songs are recorded in one single take so are raw demos in affect but have still been played on over 600 various radio stations and podcasts all over the world. He currently has 8 tracks In the TuneVibe Top 1000 Indie Chart top 10 including a number one record which has been there for over a year. His poems have been published in Paranormal /Horror mags which include: SCREAM MAGAZINE, TREMBLES MAGAZINE, THE WHITE CROW MAGAZINE, SNM POETRY, DAILY DOSE OF HORROR, SPOOK CITY, GHOST VOICES MAGAZINE, HEARSE-SAY MAGAZINE, BLACK PETAL, and DEAD OF NIGHT TALES. One of his songs titled “Ghost On The Stairs” is mentioned in the book “Rock & Roll Ghost Stories”. One Track “Friday The 13th” has been played on BBC Radio. Angie Bowie (David Bowies Wife) , & Karl Beattie of Living TV & Most Haunted , have all commented how much they have enjoyed his songs. The songs are available on itunes, Tesco, amazon, and Songcast.

Book Review: Welcome to the Show

Welcome to the Show 
Reviewed by Voodoo Lynn

Reading this anthology reminds me that not everything that is written is your favorite, standing coffee order and that sometimes, something different can be a good thing. There are enough stories here that are written by Bay Area natives to inject just enough truth (whatever that word may mean to you) to make everything plausible. As a lifelong Bay Area native, I have haunted various San Francisco bars and venues, especially when I was an intern at a well-established and known indie label. I have seen everything from burlesque to punk, to spoken word to I don’t know what the hell to call it. I have many fond memories of those shows and wouldn’t trade them for anything. The descriptions of this place, ring true to me.

Like every venue, the Shantyman has its own vibe. From its dark inception to its dystopian future of outlawed music, this venue follows a dark, sinewy path of death and destruction that both ravages the innocent and guilty alike within its infamous walls.

You have a selection of seventeen stories to choose from in this collection, so I know there will be something for everyone. I have to say this is one of the most diverse books I’ve ever read. Now, that’s not saying that I liked every story because I didn’t. In fact, there was more than one story that I felt fell short of the mark and could’ve been fleshed out more instead of giving it the ‘…and everyone died…’ ending. Having said that, let me take you through some of the highlights in this book.

The first story from this collection is “What Sort of Rube” by Alan Clark. This story is based in the 19th century and illuminates for us the very dubious beginnings of this infamous venue. It is narrated by a sailor, so the requisite amount of jargon is utilized but not so much as to take away from the story. It begins with one curse. A curse for revenge. A curse for love. Crazy, stupid love. And its basis is in, music. It’s always about the music. It is the alpha and the omega and through the burning fires of revenge, the stage is set for the damned and unlucky alike, to bear witness to the performances in the Shantyman.

The next story liked was “In the Winter of No Love” by John SkippThis story moves us forward to the summer of love era and a sense of the free love/freedom movement of the 60’s. It also takes us to the darker reality of that line of thinking, to the shattered dreams and memories of an idea that never came to fruition. The main character, Marcie, says that she “tastes” the history and creepiness of the venue and yet, she stays to watch the show of a lifetime. To me, that speaks volumes of the dark allure of the Shantyman. Interesting detail, the author mentions that Marcie is from Milwaukee and at one point, talks about how Marcie is 2173 miles away from the Shantyman door. 2173 is exactly how many miles San Francisco is from Milwaukee. Details. I love little details like that. So, aside from details, this story wins in the category of most unusually imaginative description of the end for the main character and all those poor bastards that was there for that show. I would’ve never seen that end coming. The ending, interestingly enough, is met by a character that reminds me of a very famous 27 year old poet/musician that died way too young. His character, this angel of mercy so to speak, exemplifies the 60’s philosophy on life. Plus, I totally dig the song lyrics in this story. Very groovy…

The last story I want to touch upon is “We Sang in Darkness” by Mary San Giovanni. It is the last story in the collection and it is by far my favorite. It’s set on the future, a sad, dystopian one that is totally plausible. Perhaps it is the conspiracy theory element that currently rings so true. With more and more criticism of fake news and mainstream media and its exclusion and downplaying of important stories, it is the conspiracy theorists that are gaining more traction and followers. Maybe I like the physics aspect of it discussing experiments with electromagnetic fields in the sky (can anybody say HAARP?) and how it was these experiments that caused one of the greatest tragedies of humankind, the complete utter ban on music for the safety of the planet all because the vibrations attract creatures from another dimension which are needless to say, dangerous. It is from here that I have my favorite quote from the story:

“I’d say I saw humanity there, but who’s to say that thoughts and feelings are the exclusive domain of human beings?”

Indeed. The story is so plausible that you can imagine the apocalyptic end of life and society as we know it and the beginnings of a new one, void of such an integral part of us as human beings- music. The main character perfectly illustrates how music has the power to help and change people for the better and we are reminded of how much we really lost because of him. Throughout this story I kept hearing the theme to the X-Files going through my head and though Mulder and Scully don’t arrive just in time, some feds at the end did and we all know what happens to eye witnesses to strange things and the feds…

I can’t say this is the best collection of stories that I’ve read but it is certainly a good one and I enjoyed it. It’s good enough for me to forgive what I call “The Little Story that Could’ve Been” that had a main character that reminded me of Alice Cooper placed into “Rock and Roll Nightmare” instead of Thor. I mention this because this story, that shall remain nameless, was one of my favorites until it just died a quick, uneventful, predictable death. I hope the author of it someday decides to expand on it because it could’ve been something.

Just like many of the Shantyman’s performers and audience members. People whose lives were cut short within the venue doors. Whether it’s cults, sea creatures, time travel, or vampires (I told you there was variety) I’m sure you’ll find your own ticket to ride within the pages of this anthology.

Book Review: The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B. Smith

Review – The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B. Smith
4 out of 5 stars

By Chantal Boudreau

The Mourner’s Cradle offers up an exciting start.  After an intriguing prologue, we are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, Anne Sharpe.  The young widow confronts an unwelcome guest at her husband’s funeral and later encounters an intruder at home.  She concludes this is all related to her late spouse’s research into “The Mourner’s Cradle” and sets off to finish what he started.

Her trip to Peru, with associates, Ruben and Raul, is filled with adventure and danger, thanks to run-ins with her husband’s adversaries and hostile terrain.  The story reminded me of a dark blend of Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones, if the tale were set on (and in) a snowy mountain.

For the most part, the novel was a thrilling ride and kept me entertained.  I enjoyed it’s fast pace and plucky protagonist.  The action scenes were well written, which is important in this kind of story, but there were a couple of slow moments that seemed somewhat drawn out and repetitive, like at the airport, and the dialogue didn’t always flow well.  Those things aside, it was a positive reading experience for me, overall.  I would describe it as more of a thriller than a horror novel, but it was worth the read and I would rate it four out of five stars.

Book Review: The Splits by M.V. Clark

The Splits
(Personal Histories of Scott-Lapidot Disease from the Splits Archive)
Author: MV Clark
A psychological zombie novel

Reviewed by Ariel DaWintre

I was immediately attracted to this story with the tagline, “A psychological zombie novel.” I found this story kind of refreshing that it isn’t your typical zombie story it’s more of a cross between horror and sci-fi. I liked that the writer actually focuses on the medical side and what is causing the problem of zombieism.  A lot of the stories about zombies mention finding the cure but you never see them actually do that or even attempt. The characters are called Splits as that is what is happening to them from the inside and outside.

The story centers around two sisters and their families.  Claire and Anna have very different experiences and you follow their story from the onset to the final conclusion. Anna is a journalist and her journey gets her involved with interviewing people dealing with the outbreak. During all the trauma, she falls in love and gets married as life is going on around this outbreak like normal, but not normal. You never know who is going to come down with this disease and you’re never sure of the triggers. Anna’s story has many ups and downs. Claire’s journey with the disease is not as obvious at first, but her son Michael is not what he seems. However, he doesn’t seem to have the Splits either.

The story also follows a young woman named Lupe who starts out with her family being effected by the Splits and follows her journey of trying to explain it and solve it. I think she is great and analyses the outbreak while triying to fight the government and society. She tries to figure it out and come up with solutions.  I don’t really want to say more as it will give away the story.

The great part about this story is, I kept looking it up on Google to see if it was based on a true story. I could believe it was real because it wasn’t just a case of the whole world changing into zombies and only a few survivors. We get to see society going on like nothing is happening and that they are just dealing with an outbreak like the common cold. Great book!

CometTV.Com September Giveaway! Yo Adrian!

Cool Swag Giveaway!

What you win: 

The Comet TV and Charge! September Pack has:

1 – Limited Edition Space: 1999 COMET TV T-shirt: Exclusive to this month, we’ve created an exclusive shirt celebrating the retro goodness of this classic series!

1 – Rocky Exclusive Charge! Clamshell Box: While there may not be a VHS tape inside, this pack has some of the classic Rocky artwork. Yo Adrian!

1- Rocky Viewing Kit: When you’re working up a sweat in the gym and feeling the Eye of the Tiger, this kit will help you get into the Rocky mood. There is a Charge jump-rope, a gym towel and a die-cut Rocky sticker!

1- Godzilla Funko Pop Figure: Who doesn’t love Funko Pops?!? This Godzilla will be the fire breathing center of your collection and a perfect way to celebrate the Godzilla double features, Sundays on COMET TV!

How to win:

Post your favorite Rocky, Godzilla, or Space moment (or movie line) and then tag us on Twitter or Facebook with hashtags #horroraddicts #comettv #godzilla

Twitter: @horroraddicts13

Facebook: horroraddicts.net or emzbox

Contest ends  September 30th, 2017
**Available for US residents only.**


AIRING ON COMET in September

YOU DON’T NEED A SUBSCRIPTION TO WATCH THESE GREAT
MOVIES…
THEY’RE AIRING FOR FREE ON COMET!

9/22 starting at 1/NOON C

Godzilla VS. King Ghidorah (1991)

Godzilla VS. Destoroyah (1995)

9/29 starting at 1/NOON C

Godzilla VS. Mothra (1992)

Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (2001)

 

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Dr. Who heads to the big screen and in color! After accidentally being transported to another planet Dr. Who and his friends come across a vial of drugs and head to a nearby city to investigate and find missing components of their Tardis. Say no to drugs kids! They come across the Daleks who take the components all while the good Doctor and his group suffer from radiation sickness! What can cure them? The mystery drugs they found… But an evil Dalek plot threatens the group and everyone who opposes the evil cyborgs!

Monday, Sept 17 at 8/7 C

 

Dr. Who: Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)

Peter Cushing stars in the role of Dr. Who and he discovers, after traveling to the future, that the Daleks have taken over the Earth! A band of resistance fighters are trying to stop the attack but everyone is brainwashed!

Tuesday, Sept 18 at 8/7 C

 

————————————————————————————————————
Airing on CHARGE! in September

Rocky DOUBLE FEATURES

Yo Adrian!

Catch up on Rocky I-V all month in September on CHARGE! There’s a double dose of boxing goodness every Thursday. Watch the blood, sweat and tears as Rocky battle foe after foe and continually forges on against all odds! He clearly has the Eye of the Tiger! Get pumped and watch the first five films in the Rocky saga and relive all the action, guts and glory!

Then catch a Rocky Double Feature every Thursday after that starting at 2/1 C and 8/7 C.

CometTV.Com September Viewing Guide

Check out the new Horror/SciFi network! CometTV.com is a digi-network which people can watch via antenna and/or streaming live via the web. It’s the home for the best in classic horror and sci-fi films showing some of the most unique and rare genre content including films rarely seen from the MGM library.

AIRING ON COMET in September

YOU DON’T NEED A SUBSCRIPTION TO WATCH THESE GREAT
MOVIES…
THEY’RE AIRING FOR FREE ON COMET!

Godzilla DOUBLE FEATURES

Godzilla wanted to move to Saturdays. We said OK! Through September, catch the mega monster films that rocked the planet and featured Godzilla going head to head with his infamous foes. Destruction begins Saturday, September 8 with Rebirth of Mothra and Rebrith of Mothra II.

Saturday, Sept 15, 22 and 29th starting at 1/NOON C.

9/15 starting at 1/NOON C

Godzilla VS. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Godzilla VS. Megaguirus: The G Annihilation Strategy (2003)

 

9/22 starting at 1/NOON C

Godzilla VS. King Ghidorah (1991)

Godzilla VS. Destoroyah (1995)

 

9/29 starting at 1/NOON C

Godzilla VS. Mothra (1992)

Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (2001)

 

Q (1982)

Aztec Gods? Female Lizards? And a takeover of New York’s famed Chrysler Building? What’s a New Yorker to do? Rely on a criminal who has dreams of being a jazz pianist to find the creature’s lair and blackmail the city for directions! What, those aren’t on the subway map?

Wednesday, Sept 12 at 4/3 C

 

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Dr. Who heads to the big screen and in color! After accidentally being transported to another planet Dr. Who and his friends come across a vial of drugs and head to a nearby city to investigate and find missing components of their Tardis. Say no to drugs kids! They come across the Daleks who take the components all while the good Doctor and his group suffer from radiation sickness! What can cure them? The mystery drugs they found… But an evil Dalek plot threatens the group and everyone who opposes the evil cyborgs!

Wednesday, Sept 12 at 10/9A C

Monday, Sept 17 at 8/7 C

 

Dr. Who: Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)

Peter Cushing stars in the role of Dr. Who and he discovers, after traveling to the future, that the Daleks have taken over the Earth! A band of resistance fighters are trying to stop the attack but everyone is brainwashed!

Wednesday, Sept 12 at Noon/11 C

Tuesday, Sept 18 at 8/7 C

 

————————————————————————————————————
Airing on CHARGE! in September

Rocky DOUBLE FEATURES

Yo Adrian!

Catch up on Rocky I-V all month in September on CHARGE! There’s a double dose of boxing goodness every Thursday. Watch the blood, sweat and tears as Rocky battle foe after foe and continually forges on against all odds! He clearly has the Eye of the Tiger! Get pumped and watch the first five films in the Rocky saga and relive all the action, guts and glory!

Then catch a Rocky Double Feature every Thursday after that starting at 2/1 C and 8/7 C.

 

 

 

Free Fiction: The Banyan Tree Ghosts by Sravani Singampalli

The Banyan Tree Ghosts by Sravani Singampalli

People in the village were always scared of the banyan tree at the corner of the old palace where once a beautiful princess named Kamakshi committed a suicide along with her best friend. Princess Kamakshi used to spend time in the shade of the banyan tree with her best friend named Moya who was a farmer’s daughter. Both of them had the same mindset and fell in love at a much younger age. They both were in deep love and used to discuss their thoughts and future sitting under the banyan tree. They used to advise each other and were sure that their parents would agree for their marriage with their lovers but that didn’t happen and it led to unexpected repercussions.

Princess Kamakshi and Moya failed in convincing their parents and one fine day both of them committed a suicide by hanging themselves from the banyan tree. Their sudden demise shook the entire village. Nobody expected that these two girls would take such a brutal step. Moya’s parents were in shock and left the village while Kamakshi’s parents donated their property to an orphanage and lived in a small house with their daughter’s memories. The news of their death spread to all the nearby villages. Children started weaving their own stories and that banyan tree became very popular.

One day, a farmer named Raju was passing by the banyan tree where Moya and Kamakshi hung themselves and all of a sudden he started shouting like a lady. People who listened to his voice and observed his behaviour were very sure that he was possessed by some evil spirit. From that day all the villagers became alert and were very scared of going near that banyan tree. Raju’s health kept on deteriorating as days passed by. He was newly married and lived happily with his beautiful wife but after that strange incident, happiness left his life. He spoke all the weird languages and dirty words. Sometimes, he just used to drape a saree and walk like a woman. People were not only scared of that banyan tree but were scared of Raju’s behaviour too.

Raju’s wife was very worried and felt insulted because of his behaviour. Children used to hurl stones at him and some people also used to beat him badly that led to serious problems. Raju’s wife finally decided to approach an exorcist for help. She had to visit another village to meet the exorcist and explained everything in detail to him. After listening to the entire story, the exorcist came to a conclusion and decided to perform an exorcism. The very next day, the exorcist visited Raju and tried to know about the spirit who possessed him. To his surprise, he came to know that not one but two spirits had possessed him. He asked their names and also their wishes. Everybody was shocked to know that Raju was possessed by the spirits of princess Kamakshi and Moya. The exorcist questioned them about their intentions and wishes. They just said that they never got to enjoy life so they decided to play with this newly married innocent man as he was living a happy life. They promised the exorcist that they would leave Raju’s body if he agrees to wear a red colour saree and walk till that banyan tree with a pot full of water on his head like a woman. The exorcist told Raju to do as they demanded. Raju did whatever they wished for and after an hour he became completely normal. He was free of both the spirits.

Raju’s wife was on cloud nine and grateful to the exorcist but the exorcist warned all the villagers to stay away from that banyan tree in order to lead a happy life. The villagers decided to build a fence around that banyan tree. Nobody understood what Kamakshi and Moya wanted after this strange incident. To some people, it seemed funny but rumours about that banyan tree continued to spread to other villages and nobody dared to visit that place.

PR: Wicked Lit: The Chimes and the Corpse

Wicked Lit: The Chimes & The Corpse
Tickets on Sale now!

Eric Keitel, Ian Heath & John T. Cogan (l-r) ~ Wicked Lit 2017: The Damned Thing
Photo by Daniel Kitayama

October 4 – November 10

Mountain View Mausoleum
2300 N. Marengo Ave.
Altadena CA 91001

Teig O’Kane and the Corpse – World Premiere
by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm
Directed by Paul Millet
Adapted from the short story by Ernest Rhys, translated by Dr. Douglas HydeTeig is a brazen young Irishman who refuses to commit to adulthood. Now that he’s found himself magically bound to an animated corpse… it’s time to grow up quick.The Chimes: A Goblin Story – New Production
by Jonathan Josephson
Directed by Darin Anthony
Adapted from the novella of the same name by Charles Dickens

“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”
– Charles Dickens.
The Chimes tells the story of a conflicted father and the goblins
that bring him to the brink of death and back again.

There are several exciting new changes for this year’s show, including:
– Two curtain times: 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
– 75 minute total run time
– Lower ticket prices
– Smaller group sizes
– Entire performance and lobby will be indoors
– No pre-show performances, but there will be an interactive “museum” exhibit featuring past Wicked Lit costumes, puppets, and photo opportunities

Free Fiction: The Lost Tapes by James Goodridge

The Lost Tapes

(c) 2017 by James Goodridge

“I need more time Ross,” pleaded Sully Grunwald, phone in one hand, 32oz Burger King cup half filled with Old Taylor and slowly melting ice in the other. On the other end of the taunt conversation was Laird Ross. A Merit was burning itself out in an ashtray.

 

“Look you old Grunge rock fool. I’ve given you more than enough time to find the tapes. I can’t hold off my people any longer on this investment.

 

The studio has to be demolished so my high rises can go up, time is money in Manhattan. Stop shitting on me bro.” said Ross. The tapes mentioned well a holy grail of the jazz world. Azure Crenshaw’s lost tapes were last seen in 1979, the night Crenshaw walked out of legendary Sound Cave studios on West 52st. He and the tapes disappearing off of the face of the earth.

 

“Please Ross I’ve made progress. I’ve found a cracked wall in the vault, it looks hollow on the other side,”said Sully a silver haired, slim bodied man sitting on a recliner in a tattered New York football Giants bath robe; the lone glow in his living room ESPN on his HD. Over the decades Sully was the go to man for creating audio  music master pieces in all genres,But now in retirement he needed cash to live right. Atlantic City black jack tables had screwed up his savings .

 

“Listen I don’t have time for this MC rap boy Sully. Plus who the hell listens to jazz these days anyway?” said Ross with the constant music genre belittling of the old man.

 

“Why you son of…Listen Mr. Ross, let me explain this to you again, Crenshaw at the time of his disappearance in 1979 was a icon in the jazz world like Miles Davis. You are old enough to have heard of Miles right?” the question was forlorn but Sully asked anyway.

 

“No disco dude.” said Ross to which if Sully could see his millennial indifferent shrug trough the phone he would have punch Ross. Thank god Sully knew nothing about Skype.

 

“At the time of his disappearance Crenshaw was a jazz icon, the tracks I helped him lay down were going to change jazz which was a crossroad. Take it to another level.” Ross listened to Sully while Googling the information on Crenshaw, found it impressed him. Ross smelled money.

 

Sully continued. “The day he stepped out of Sound Cave he was to bring the master tapes to GRT records, but when he didn’t show up GRT was pissed off, and  after so many years GRT folded, the police made  Crenshaw a cold case, and his family had him declared legally dead after so many years. His official work is in public domain no estate. That’s why I need more time.” Sully sensed the hedge fund and real estate mogul must be doing research while they talked. One thing Sully did know was Google. “I got him,” he thought, flipping the bird to the phone in the semi-darkness of his New Jersey home.

 

“Okay heavy metal bro you’ve got two more days. And that’s it!” Cutting off the phone conversation Ross hoped the old fart would deliver.

***

After so many impatient knocks on green tinted glass doors taped over with New York city construction permit notices Sully unlocked the doors to let a frowning young man in a gray single breasted suit, blue open collared shirt, and blond man bun atop his head in.

 

“All right soul man where’s it at?” asked Ross, looking at his Rolex.

 

“Hey, for Christ’s sake can’t you call me Sully?” asked Sullivan H. Grunwald in a wrinkled olive suit under it a black AC/DC tee shirt.

 

“Okay SULLY. Let’s just keep this moving,” said Ross snatching the flash light offered to him out of Sully’s hand.

 

“Follow me. Keep your flash light on the floor at times, the workman have already pulled up some of the carpet,” warned Sully. Leading the business man through the lobby to a door which in turn led to a circular area almost like a second lobby, doors colored and labeled studios: green, pink, ocher, and amber, studios that helped recording artists earn gold and platinum records over the decades; now just a ghost of their musical past. Between pink and amber studios were a bland red door leading to the basement.

“How far down does this stairway go funky man sorry SULLY?” Ross wasn’t uneasy about the tightness of the stairway like Sully but had to wonder how deep down was the basement. Dim neon lights descending like them down the stairways ceiling helped their flash lights. “We’re here,” said Sully.

 

The vault wasn’t a vault but a glorified storage room, yet solid enough to hold a poor soul prisoner in it for an eternity.

 

“Bingo, bango, bongo, Ross there they are!” laughed Sully pointing the beam from his flashlight to a hole in a wall four feet by four feet at the end of the room. In front of the small abyss was an old wooden milk create with a Gold Medal Milk logo stenciled on the sides. Inside the long defunct milk company create wrapped in dusty plastic were six TDK reel to reel boxes labeled in sharpie black pen: A. Crenshaw Sound Cave sessions 1978-1979. Yes Bing, bango, bongo was right.

 

“You can go look them over if you like, then we can bring them up to the green studio, I have a reel to reel deck hooked up in there we can sample Crenshaw and I’s masterwork. Azure’s rendition of Sonny and Monk’s ‘Friday the 13th‘ is a killer diller,” beamed Sully, Old Taylor on his breath.

 

“Analog man what do you mean Crenshaw and you? You had Jack bone shit to do with those tapes except turn knobs when he told you to or fetch coffee, maybe a pint of wine,” chuckled Ross. “Plus this is on my property. MY PROPERTY. I tell you what I’ll give you a nice wavy fee for this.”

 

It was then and there both men surmised that a change in plans were in order. Sully’s change was to kill Ross and seal him up in the wall and sell the master tapes and Ross’s change was to tie Sully up in the courts over ownership, until the old bastard croaked. Sully raised his flashlight to come down on Ross’s head, but Ross quickly side stepped him. Flash lights dropped as both men dropped to the floor in a death struggle. Ross’s youth and sadistic force versus Sully’s adrenaline fueled rage. Flash lights rolled around the dusty floor, as a punch from Sully made blood squirt out from Ross’s nose, but Ross threw a fist to Sully’s left jaw, making the old studio worker howl.

 

“What bro what?! Your dentures loose?! I was going to tie you up in court until you became worm food, but now I think you’ll fit nice in that whole back there you old punk rock turd.” Ross straddling Sully on the floor wiped his crimson leaking nose with his suit sleeve while debating whether to continue pummeling Sully or strangle the life out of him. Sully ended Ross’s debate by blindsiding him on  his right temple with one of the flashlights. The sound of the blow cracked like a ball coming off a ball players bat going yard. The man bun Ross wore came loose as he pitched forward on top of Sully dead.

 

“How ya like me now?! K-pop boy!” Sully wheezed at the lifeless Ross as he pushed him off, then staggered up to stand using a blood spattered metal shelf to brace himself. Digging in his blood and dusted suit pocket he pulled out a soft pack of Merits and after flinging a few broken cigarettes out the pack, one found a Merit still intact to smoke. “Just couldn’t put a filter on your mouth Ross could you!” wheezed Sully.

 

“Yo! Still bogarting credit for shit I created Sully?” came a voice.

 

“Screw you Ross!” yelled Sully at Ross’s corpse before realizing there was a third person in the vault the limited flashlight beams showed a shadow moving about.

 

“Who’s… Aaww I know who. I’m not scared of you Azure. Been a while since we last talked.” Sully tried to be fearless but his hand shook, orange embers from his Merit, flying on to his olive suit and down on Ross’s body gave him away.

 

Dragging himself into the light was Azure Crenshaw. Afro and sideburns specter gray from cement and sheetrock dust. Skin once smooth mocha brown,now greenish brown and slowly sliding off his facial bones; mushy in texture. A dark spot on Crenshaw’s right temple showed where Sully cracked his skull open with a silver ashtray forty-two years ago during an argument over a raise and more acknowledgment credits on an album cover. A tattered white three-piece suit hung limply off the missing cold case victim.

 

“You didn’t want to list me as producer Azure.” Sully backed away and up against a wall.

 

“For what damn it! I was the one playing sax not you! Listen Grunwald right about now yo’ ass is grass. Yo’ got a dead man on the floor yo’ ass got’s to explain. And yo’ done went and opened up the wall where yo’ had my damn body buried damn it. All these years yo’ went around like shit ain’t wrong. Baby doll Ms. Grunwald had to push you out hard at birth cause yo’ balls was so big.I could do yo’ ass in right now, just like in those horror comics my bass player Chucky Briscoe read between takes back then, but nah son it will be too easy on yo’ ass. I have a plans for you Sully.” By now Sullivan H. Grunwald had slid down the side of the wall and was sitting; he was a haunted wreck. Azure sat down next to him a placing a ghoulish hand on Sully’s knee. Sully shuddered.

 

Once the legal battles ended, Laird Ross’s disappearance was turning the corner into a cold case. The “Azure Crenshaw Lost Sessions” reinvigorated the jazz world. People with no knowledge of jazz at all purchased downloads just to be trendy. Collectors scrambled for the CD and vinyl box sets. Sully parleyed his success into a move down to a nice bungalow down in Key West.

 

“So what do I do now?” Sully looked as if he was conversing with himself in the bathroom mirror of his Key West bungalow. He waited for Azure’s decayed rancid breath reply to emulate from his own mouth. Neighbors started to wonder about the new neighbor, who mumbled to himself and how one minute he has minty fresh breath and the next minute he needs a breath mint; in fact a fist full of breath mints. “I hate this polyester suit nothing for nothing, you know,” said Sully in the white three piece.

 

“You don’t know style, my man. Now we go to step two.” Azure’s image was behind Sully to the left in the mirror.

 

“Step two?” Sully stopped thinking about suicide long ago since Azure was right there in his head.

 

“Listen, Mr. Funk, Texas two-step, house music, ska, bluegrass man. You’re going to help me get my hedge fund back!” said the decomposing head of Laird Ross held forth by Crenshaw, made courtesy of Sully’s body disposal work, grinned from behind Sully’s mirrored right shoulder.


Born and raised in the Bronx, James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing.jamesgoodridge headshotCurrently, he is writing a series of short “Twilight Zone” inspired stories from the world of art, (The Artwork) and a diesel/punkfunk saga (Madison Cavendish/Seneca Sue Mystic Detectives) with the goal of producing compelling stories

Guest Blog: Not So Hasty, If You Please! By John C Adams

Not So Hasty, If You Please!

By John C Adams

Do you think babies worry about never being born? When you think about the risk of premature burial as a metaphor for our general concerns in life it becomes easier to understand why it frequently appears in horror fiction. There’s something very womblike about being prematurely buried.

The only individuals I can think of, off the top of my head, who don’t seem to worry about premature burial seem to be vampires. In fact, they can’t wait to scurry home to the crypt as dawn breaks over the sky and cuddle back into the womblike environment of a coffin.

The very first vampire story is John Polidori’s The Vampire. It did much to establish the central notion of the vampire rising from the dead after what was later discovered to have been a premature burial. Lord Ruthven, who displayed most of the features readers quickly came to associate with the vampire, is laid to rest by some locals as per his instructions. However, Aubrey his companion finds that Ruthven’s body has disappeared:

“Aubrey was astonished, and taking several of the men, determined to go and bury it upon the spot where it lay. But, when he mounted to the summit, he found no traces of either the corpse or the clothes, though the robbers swore they pointed out the identical rock on which they had laid the body.”

There’s something very infantile about a vampire. Sucking blood from a person to sustain you isn’t so very different from breastfeeding. Perhaps that’s why the baby-like vampire finds being buried alive (as a voluntary act) satisfying rather than traumatic.

For the rest of us, being buried alive is a terrifying prospect, not least of all because in many ways it represents waking up back in a womblike environment to discover the loss of control we have over our lives. The unborn baby lives comfortably in the womb until he or she is ready to be born, and then triggers the labour. It’s the baby’s first act of control as he or she prepares to meet the outside world for the first time and it’s very empowering. But what if that element of control is taken away from us and a mother-like figure reasserts a control from which we cannot escape?

In Edgar Allan Poe’s The Premature Burial the narrator is terrified by the ease with which this disaster could befall him. He provides various examples in the story of how this has happened in the past. Suffice to say, the narrator becomes obsessed with the danger of falling into a fit of unconsciousness and waking up again to discover that he’s been buried alive. He makes elaborate precautions to ensure his rescue:

“I exacted the most sacred oaths, that under no circumstances they would bury me until decomposition had so materially advanced as to render further preservation impossible. And, even then, my mortal terrors would listen to no reason.”

In some ways premature burial can also be interpreted as representing a more general loss of control and helplessness over our own lives and fates. Many of us worry about that quite genuinely on a daily basis and even when things are going well the fear of that happening can be paralysing.

The ‘elaborate precautions’ made by Poe’s narrator to forestall his premature burial as so thorough that one almost wonders if he wants to have it happen:

“The slightest pressure upon a long lever that extended far into the tomb would cause the iron portals to fly back. There were arrangements also for the free admission of air and light, and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. The coffin was warmly and softly padded.”

Could anything sound more womblike if it tried?

Our suspicions that we might want to return to the maternal embrace are amply born out by the narrator of H P Lovecraft’s early tale The Tomb. As a young boy, Jervas Dudley becomes obsessed by gaining entry into a vault in the woods near his home. The door is slightly open but he remains frustrated by a complicated padlock. Here, we can be in no doubt that a return to the womb would be welcome:

“In that instant of curiosity was born the madly unreasoning desire which has brought me to this hell of confinement. Spurred on by a voice which must have come from the hideous soul of the forest, I resolved to enter the beckoning gloom in spite of the ponderous chains which barred my passage.”

Perhaps the fear of premature burial increases with age. Younger children in fiction are portrayed as being less bothered by the prospect, that’s certainly true. Although maybe that’s just because they are less fearless in general!

Whatever the explanation, I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: dreading waking up back inside our mother’s womb or secretly longing for it to happen?


John C Adams is an emerging horror and fantasy writer. 

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

 

PR: The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns to the Infamously Haunted Ship September 27 
Tickets to the 23 terrifying nights on-sale NOW
 
Dark Harbor’s newest frights to be unveiled July 29
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Southern California’s most terrifyingly authentic haunt, will once again rise from the deep, dripping with history of the infamously haunted ship September 27 – November 2, 2018. Tickets to Dark Harbor are available for purchase now at QueenMary.com.

Gruesome and bloodcurdling spirits will descend upon the legendary Queen Mary in Long Beach for the most anticipated, terrifying twenty-three nights of the year. Dark Harbor’s resident spirits: Ringmaster, Captain, Samuel the Savage, Graceful Gale, Half-Hatch Henry, Iron Master, Scary Mary, Voodoo Priestess, and Chef, will raise hundreds of tortured souls and spirits to haunt the grounds of Dark Harbor nightly for an unforgettable, bone-chillingly immersive experience.

The creators and producers behind Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor will reveal the newest frightful features for the upcoming season at Midsummer Scream haunt con on July 29 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Celebrate Halloween in July with Dark Harbor’s panel and get a sneak-peak of some of the terrifying new tricks that are being conjured up for the 2018 season of Dark Harbor.

Named one of the top 10 most haunted places on Earth by Time Magazine, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor offers the most authentically frightening experience available. Bringing the true haunted tales of The Queen Mary to life, the annual event begins September 27 and continues to scare those who dare through November 2, 2018. Tickets to the 2018 Dark Harbor season are available now. General admission ticket prices start at just $20 online, with Fast Fright, Evil Express, VIP, Ultimate Scream, and lodging packages available. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor.

Free Words Wednesday: Infested by ReaperScoob

Free Words Wednesday

Guest Writer: ReaperScoob
INFESTED

Alexa woke up in a cold sweat. A reoccurring night terror disturbed her slumber and as usual, the events of said dream escaped her memory as she arose. The coffee started dripping into an awaiting mug in the kitchen. Alexa grabbed the mug, still in a haze, and sat at her kitchen table. With a deep breath, she took her first sip. Before it reached her gut, she spat it out in shock. 2 little cockroaches stood on her table, their antennas flailing this way and that. Her whole body tensed up. She hated roaches and had never seen one in her own abode before. One moved with a jolt toward her and she squealed in horror, rocking in her chair and falling backwards onto the floor. Coffee flew everywhere, covering Alexa and sending the mug crashing next to her.

Alexa’s head thudded off the wooden flooring, dazing her. Wet and somewhat burnt, she gave a frustrated scream and took a deep breath. She rolled to her left, away from the shattered mug, and began lifting herself to her forearms.  Glancing upward, she saw 6 or 7 more roaches on and around her table leg. She shuddered at their sight, tears welling up in frustration and fear. She got to her knees, noticing a trail of roaches leading from the kitchen out to a spare bedroom on the left down a brief hallway. These roaches were rather peculiar in their behavior. Only a few traveled back and forth, the majority acting as roadsigns for the insects traffic. They sporadically twisted and turned, going nowhere. The ones moving followed the mindless like a set of trail-markers. Reaching the door, the trail went right under, while dozens of other roaches covered the door-frame. Alexa crept up to the door. Her mind raced but some deep curiosity kept pushing her forward. Every inch of her crawled nervously as she took note of the roaches on the frame. Heart pounding, she grabbed the handle and opened the door.

Hundreds of roaches ran over her feet. The walls moved like living tar, pouring out into her home. Blood covered everything and a rotten corpse of a horse lay in the otherwise empty room now that most the roaches had ran out. The smell of death invaded her nostrils and she puked. She fell to her knees and put a hand down which was instantly covered in a swarm of roaches that came rushing from the living room. She flung herself backwards and her whole place was now ablaze. Fire engulfed everything as smoke piled into the room, Alexa began to cough. She rushed towards a window but a burst of flame blocked her path. She choked and began to black out. She ran for the front door, stumbled and fell to the floor.

Alexa woke up in a cold sweat. Her heart pounding and tears ran down her face. She remembered the whole thing. What hell had her conscience sent her to? Finally calming down, she sat up in bed. In the kitchen she heard the coffee begin to pour into her mug. As Alexa got up and headed to the kitchen, there scurried a roach, running rampantly towards the kitchen.


Griffin Mekelburg (ReaperScoob) has had a hand in a variety of jobs, giving him insight into many backgrounds that have lead to his stories. His style is graphic and unforgiving, covering all aspects of horror and thriller. 

Book Review: Jolene: A Ghost Story

Jolene: A Ghost Story by Casey Wickstrom

Review by Ariel DaWintre

Jolene: A Ghost Story is a great story! It starts with four guys, Jacob, Joshua, Billy, and Clyde, moving out together. The story is told in first person with Clyde narrating the story. The four characters are very likable and they are clearly very close. The roommates are all different and you get a true sense of their personalities in the writing. You can relate to the characters because they are young, on their own for the first time, and having fun. They all work and when they aren’t working, they are having lots of fun partying at home.

The roommates start having weird things happen at the house, but they don’t really think much about it and are not sure if they imagined it. Later, when they have people come over, they make light of it and give the ghost a name.  As the story goes on, they start to realize they are all having the same dream and of the same person. She is identifying herself by the name they gave her. The ghost’s intentions seem very innocent at first and she comes off as disarming. Although Clyde starts to have his doubts, and slowly the other roommates do too, all except one. They try to do the basic research and questions about where she came from but don’t really get answers.

As the story takes on a dark twist, the free-spirited guys start to become alarmed, but it’s too late. Jolene starts to divide and conquer. The house and the guys will never be the same.

Don’t expect a happy ending, but for horror lovers, the story keeps your interest and is engaging all the way to the end.

Although we get a little backstory on the ghost, I would have liked even more, even if it wasn’t really needed for the story. I would love to see a part two or a continuation because the author leaves you with wanting more.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: 3DX Party tonight!

CRAIGMAN, aka A. Craig Newman,
invites you to come celebrate the release of “Crescendo of Darkness”,
a music-themed horror anthology,
which includes Craig’s original story,
“Circe’s Music Shop”!

June 14 from 6 PM to 11 PM @ The Pyramids

Come on out to dance or swim or whatever else makes you happy.
Win Door prizes and a chance to get a signed copy of the book!

http://3dxforum.com/index.php?/topic/6915-“crescendo-of-darkness”-book-launch-party-june-14-the-pyramids/#entry283322

Free Words Wednesday: Infected by Liz Zemlicka

Free Words Wednesday

Guest Writer: Liz Zemlicka
INFECTED

I don’t know where it came from, but I can tell you what happened when everything went to shit.  By everything, I mean the whole world; at least it appeared to be happening everywhere before the stations went off the air for the last time.

I was one of the unfortunate ones that got stuck in the middle of the city when it all started.   By some miracle, I have not been infected, but soon we will run out of food and have to make it out, or at least try.

I was at work when the screaming started, blood-curdling screaming, the kind that sends the hairs on the back of your neck to full attention.  Everyone ran to the windows to see what was happening, all I could see was blood everywhere and people running in every direction.  “What the hell happened out there?” someone asked.  It appeared that a fight had broken out in the middle of the street, cars were stopped and honking at a man kneeling over someone who wasn’t moving, their blood pooling around him.  We thought he was performing CPR, until he raised his head and looked right at us in the window, chunks of flesh dangling from his lips, blood smeared over his whole face and his eyes…oh my god his eyes, they were blank, no life in them.  That’s when panic broke out.  I don’t remember much of what happened next but I know that person in the road was no longer there when I got out of the building.

I ran, driving would have been pointless, by this time cars were abandoned in the street and people were herding themselves in every direction.  I started seeing more people shambling aimlessly, attacking anyone in their way.  When I got away from the crowd, I stopped to catch my breath, the heavy smell of copper hung thick in the air and I watched in shock as one of them limped toward me, covered in blood, the flesh on his cheek ripped clean off.  He got closer and I couldn’t move, just stared at his blank, cloudy eyes and the gaping hole in his cheek, when someone grabbed my arm from behind me and pulled me back into a building.

“Are you stupid girl?” he screamed in my face once the building was secured behind us.  I couldn’t speak, but looking around the room, there were three more people, all looking scared.

“I get it, we’re all scared, but you almost got yourself killed.  Name’s Randy” he stuck out his hand and I slowly reached out to shake it.  “Gr…Grace” I stuttered.

He was a big man, his face chiseled, and hard looking, hair buzzed neatly close to his scalp, military style.  My eyes drifted to the 45 strapped to his side and he patted it lightly and smiled.  “Never leave home without her” he chuckled.

“This here is Max and Abigail and that is Isaac over there” he pointed to a man in his early twenties sitting on a crate by himself with his head in his hands, he didn’t look up.

I shook hands with the young couple, which looked terrified.

“What’s happening out there?” I asked finally.

Randy stared off for a minute, then answered quietly.

“The news is saying some new drug hit the streets, and it’s making people go crazy.  That don’t look like drugs to me, I saw a guy get killed in the street then get up and attack another person.  That ain’t drugs”

“I think I saw that happen too, I mean I saw a guy EATING someone and the next thing I knew that person was gone and I don’t think he was eaten” I mumbled, not believing the words were even coming out of my mouth.

Randy just nodded and ran his hand over his jawline thoughtfully.

The room was silent, while outside was chaos.   Just then, a woman, soaked in blood, slammed into the window, sending spiderweb cracks in every direction.

“C’mon! We gotta get outta here” Randy led the way deeper into the dark building.

We followed Randy through the building to an emergency exit, where he stopped.

“We need to find a safe place, then we need weapons and food,” he told us flatly, as he pulled his gun from its holster and checked the magazine.  “Stay close to me”

He pushed open the exit door slowly and peeked out into an alleyway, then waved his hand for us to follow.

We made our way across the city streets, careful to stay away from main roads.  “There’s an armory a few blocks down…” Randy said, catching his breath.  “We can make it if we stick to side streets and alleys, we will be safe there.  They should be setting up a safe zone for survivors”

“They? Who are THEY?” Abigail asked.

Randy looked annoyed “The military, now c’mon!” he snapped.

We made it to the armory, barely.  One of them grabbed Abigail by the hair, attempting to drag her into an alley, his jaws snapping next to her ear as she screamed.  Randy didn’t hesitate; he barely aimed and shot it right between the eyes.

“Who are you?” I asked, stunned.  He shook his head and stood silently as Max picked Abby off the ground.

Randy approached her, putting both hands on each side of her face, he turned her head to the side.

“What the hell are you doing man?” Max screamed.

“Shut up a second!” Randy yelled back.

He was looking in Abby’s ear; finally he dropped his hands and muttered

“You’ll be fine”

“What the hell was that?” Max continued to yell at Randy’s back as he continued on to the Armory.

“Just checking to make sure she wasn’t infected,” Randy said calmly.

“If you know something about what’s going on here you need to tell us man!” Max insisted.

Randy stopped suddenly, staring directly ahead of us.

“I will tell you what I know when we get there.  For now, shut up and follow me or you’re gonna get us all killed!” he snapped at Max without looking at him.

We continued on in silence.  Max had his arm around Abby, who was still shaking and Isaac walked next to them, head still down.

We made it to the Armory as dusk was settling in; the sirens and shots from the main roads in the city had begun to grow silent but the screams still rang out from all directions.  The Armory stood silently in front of us, dark and abandoned.

“So much for your safe zone” Max muttered bitterly.

Randy didn’t seem to hear him, he stood frozen in front of the door, his calm demeanor was starting to falter.

“Shit!” he yelled and kicked the door.  “Goddammit!”

The door swung open and the coppery smell of blood hit us all, Randy went in first and waved at us to stay back as he disappeared into the dark.

After a few minutes, he reappeared, looking defeated “It’s clear, shut the door”

Max and Randy barricaded the doors and windows with wood they got from broken furniture, while the three of us sat in a small office.

“Is he ok?” I whispered to Abby and nodded toward Isaac, sitting by himself in a corner.

“Don’t bother, he hasn’t said a word since we met him, I’m not even sure how Randy got his name out of him.  Maybe that’s not even his name,” she whispered back.

The guys came back in the room then, “That will have to do for now” Randy sounded tired now.

“Now tell us what the hell is going on, you know something about this” Max was still angry.

Randy pulled a chair out of a corner and sat down.  “I work for the military, retired actually, I was reactivated this morning to try and contain this….thing.  I guess I’m deactivated again now” he sighed.

“Thing?” I asked.

“I don’t know where it came from, if we created it or it’s some crazy supernatural…anomaly, hell from what I’ve seen today, I’d believe either.  It’s a parasite, a black nasty leech looking thing that feeds on brain matter…Those THINGS out there, they aren’t people, not anymore, they are infected”

The room was silent; we stared at him in disbelief.

“That’s what you were looking for in my ear” Abby whispered.  Randy nodded and hung his head.

“It spread so fast, there was nothing we could do.”

A heavy silence hung in the room.

Max wrapped his arm around Abby and she dropped her head onto his shoulder.

Isaac finally looked up from the floor; he stared at Randy, rage burning in his eyes as he slowly stood up.  He never broke his stare as he stood for a few moments, hands balled into fists at his sides.  Suddenly he was on top of Randy, pounding at his face and chest, screaming, “You killed her!” over and over.

A stunned Randy grabbed his arms and subdued Isaac.  “You got your shots in kid, but I didn’t kill nobody”

Isaac burst into tears and Randy dropped his arms.  Keeping his eyes on him he said, “Isaac’s girl got infected, I had to put her down.  I’m sorry, kid, but she was going to kill you”

“Put her down?” Abby sounded disgusted “she was a person!”

“Not anymore she wasn’t” Randy was still staring at Isaac.

“You should have let her kill me!” Isaac sobbed

Randy walked away from him “Jesus Christ!” he shouted and walked out of the room.

Now here we are, silently sitting in a little office, waiting.  Waiting for the silence to come outside, the silence that means everyone is gone, that means the infected have taken over the streets.  Then we can make our move to leave the city, to find safety if there is any left.  To survive.


Liz Zemlicka started writing as a teenager, over the years she had gone more in the genre of Blogging than storytelling, but has always stayed an avid reader. With inspiration from great writers of horror fiction like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe and many more, she has improved her writing style and found her niche in storytelling and entertaining. Born and raised in the Midwest, with a fascination with the unseen, because there is nothing scarier than something that can play with your mind and terrify you beyond the reach of your 5 senses.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: 3DX Party, June 14th

CRAIGMAN, aka A. Craig Newman,
invites you to come celebrate the release of “Crescendo of Darkness”,
a music-themed horror anthology,
which includes Craig’s original story,
“Circe’s Music Shop”!

June 14 from 6 PM to 11 PM @ The Pyramids

Come on out to dance or swim or whatever else makes you happy.
Win Door prizes and a chance to get a signed copy of the book!

http://3dxforum.com/index.php?/topic/6915-“crescendo-of-darkness”-book-launch-party-june-14-the-pyramids/#entry283322

Book Review: Fatal Fetish edited by Toneye Eyenot

Fatal Fetish edited by Toneye Eyenot

Review by Voodoo Lynn

Fatal Fetish is an interesting amalgamation of stories. You get everything from encounters in space to serial killers and sexual cannibalism to clowns, mechanical Jekyll and Hyde’s, yeti, goblins, djinn, redheads, and A.I. I learned new terms like ‘sissygasm’. The stories were engaging on various levels; obviously, some more than others.  Let me also add that there are stories here that you will want to have ready access to a computer because the jargon utilized was such that I was completely unprepared for it and would’ve been lost had I not have been able to look the words up. It did make for a more culturally diverse read, I will admit.

There are plenty of stories here that make the ones you don’t care for, well worth the read. In fact, you may end up losing time over the ones you like, as I did. Let it be noted, that the ones I liked or were most disturbed by, had me re-reading them a second time, with the more lurid passages having me pass over those words again and again—solely for comprehensive purposes, of course.

So please, allow me to escort you into the world that is Fatal Fetish

“Biscuits and Gravy, Those Wicked Little Things” by Essel Pratt

This is the first story in the anthology. Perhaps, I have a weak spot for science fiction, thanks to my father and my early exposure to Star Trek. Perhaps, it appeals to my deep fascination with space and all its dark mysteries and frontiers.  Perhaps, it just appeals to my deep seated fascination and ultimate dream of, not only traveling in space but, to also engage in naughty activities while in said vicinity of it. Yes, that is an active interest of mine. This story however, gives me a very grim and real look into the dangers of space. (Thanks a lot E. Pratt, as if Mary Roach didn’t do enough of that!)

I don’t say this lightly. I have thought about all the possible consequences about having such relations in space however, this story doesn’t necessarily focus on that for me—though that is definitely something you can’t miss. What it does highlight for me is how distracted we humans can become if we are otherwise engaged in other immersive activities. What this author has done is manage to engage you in what seems like an everyday, happy go lucky story of two extraordinary people who have feelings for one another, who finally engage in said feelings and pay a most terrible price for it.

Oh, did I mention that this story takes place all within five pages? The author deftly pulls you in (even though you know you’re gonna read something horrific shortly) and then, hangs you out to dry, shall we say?

If you are a fan of “Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk, you are way ahead of the game here. If you are unfamiliar with this, don’t look it up if you wanna be surprised by this story! It’s urban legend meets science fiction.

In the end, this was my favorite story. It was shorter than I liked, but it sucked me in with its straight forward and descriptive, albeit disturbing detail.

“Life-Like” by Brian Glossup

This is my next favorite story and it also happens to be one of the longest in the anthology. It is so worth reading, especially if you like to be left questioning things. At first you think of it as a story about a lonely, older man in middle management and his needs, who decides to buy a sex-bot.  You will find yourself questioning not only what is moral, and what should be expected when we purchase something, but where our rights end and where someone else’s begins. Or, do they even begin? Is there even a ‘someone ’?

Although, the lead character gives us hints that he may not be want we think.  In the story we follow Malcolm as he goes to the company headquarters and places an order for his sex-bot. We know it’s a machine but, as he starts picking out her personality and, I’ll just call them her ‘parts’, things start getting really creepy.

The president of the bot company makes it a point to inform Malcolm that she is capable of learning and feeling, due to her electronic brain and that it’s best to keep her happy for “maximum satisfaction”. As he’s chooses her personality, the president inputs “SLAVE-MAID-COOK-SLUT”.  Yup, I don’t like this guy anymore but, it’s just a machine, right? Property he’s paying for. When we decide to buy a new computer, we decide what programs we want installed, right?

I find it interesting when reading about how the sex-bot, ANNA, views her new master, she makes an immediate judgement call that I wonder how she is capable of making in the first place. (I mean, she didn’t go to Robot University. GO ANDRIODS!) When we get a general description of him, we’re told that

“His best shirt was stained and his good pants were ripped. He was overweight, overpaid and unattractive. The typical American.”

Damn. Where did that come from? Aside from the fact I find that a little insulting to a whole group of people, my question is, how did she come to this conclusion, fresh out of the box let’s say?

Poor ANNA. What comes next in her short life thus far is hours of brutalization. Her skin is so life like, that she is left with bruises all over her body. As the author tells us,

“Every inflicted pain was felt and processed through her electronic nervous system…teaching her positronic brain of his civilized barbarism.”

We see a new level of sentience beginning to form. She watches TV and learns about the ‘horrors of humanity’ until she discovers a channel where a woman is speaking about women’s rights and power. She has now reached a level of consciousness that makes her realize the true horror of her existence as a sex-bot.  It’s here that she begins to plan a way to forever escape this situation. The climax of the story takes place next and, it is electrical. And violent. And disturbing. And unlike anything I’ve read before.

It is at this point find myself starting to think about what criteria we utilize to say with certainty, that something is alive? Had Malcolm treated ANNA better, more like a sentient being shall we say, would she have really been happy in her new existence? She seems to have free will and is capable of making decisions, even if it’s via execution of various computer programs.  She’s intelligent and self –aware, don’t those things constitute a living being?  It reminds me of Star Trek TNG’s episode “Measure of a Man.” In it, Commander Data (an android) is being forced into a dangerous procedure to study his positronic brain and to hopefully, create a whole new generation of androids like him. He tries to refuse, and Star Fleet orders him to do it anyway. He resigns, and is then told he can’t because he is Star Fleet ‘property’. He then has a hearing to determine his status with Star Fleet, to determine whether he is a sentient being and has rights, or not and just property. There’s this fantastic dialogue between Captain Picard and Guinan and she mentions that there has always been disposable creatures—beings whose welfare and needs wouldn’t have to be bothered with—a whole generation of disposable people.

Isn’t that what we are dealing with this story? Is ANNA property, or is she a sentient being with a conscience? Did that company create a whole generation of slaves?  I think I can sum up the horrifying end of this story by utilizing a quote from Captain Picard with regards to whole generations of disposable people and the term ‘slave’.

“I don’t think that’s a little harsh, I think it’s the truth. But that’s a truth we have obscured behind a comfortable, easy euphemism. ‘Property’. But that’s not the issue at all, is it?”

If only Malcolm had heeded the warning he was given…

“An Excerpt of Yeti, Yearning” by Essel Pratt

I just wanted to give this one a mention because I find the idea of thinking like a sexually aroused Yeti interesting. This unusual story piqued my interest and I wish that they included a little more in the excerpt.

“Send in the Clowns” by Naomi Matthews

This one is a good one about psychopaths. In this case, a female with an obsession with sex and clowns. This is something I enjoy seeing—a strong, female, character being the antagonist. It’s interesting to read about how she slowly indoctrinates her boyfriend into becoming her sex-slave. Her reason for choosing him was pretty simple—he, and her last ex, both had a history of being jerks to women and not treating them well. Understandable yes, but that gives her no right to do what she does. The lengths she goes to, to get her boyfriend to be her permanent clown boy-toy is truly frightening and well worth reading about. I also want to mention that this is the story where I learned the new word ‘sissygasm’. A word that I never wanted to learn and now will never be able to forget.

If you are someone into reading about fetishes and horror, Fatal Fetish is for you.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Six String Bullets

Crescendo of Darkness from HorrorAddicts.net Press.

“Six String Bullets” by Cara Fox

The pull of a busker’s song becomes too much for a young woman to resist.

Cara shares her thoughts about her story with us below.

My story, ‘Six String Bullets’, was inspired by a chance encounter more than ten years ago now. I was living in Bristol, England. It’s a beautiful city with a ton of history, and one of my favourite parts of it is a winding network of cobbled streets by the name of the Corn Exchange. Sprawled across them are dozens of independent shops and traders, their individual stalls punctuated by my favourite part of the Georgian heart of the city – the street music. No matter what day of the year it is, you can’t walk along the cobbles without finding musicians ranging from a lively Caribbean calypso right through to whiskey-soaked blues.

It was one of these musicians who inspired my story. On a hectic day not long before Christmas, with commuters and shoppers alike hurtling to their destination with barely a glance to spare for each other, let alone the buskers trying to carve out a living on the rain-soaked streets, a distinctive riff caught my attention and pulled me out of the pedestrian flow. To my delighted surprise, a busker seated cross-legged with a battered guitar was flawlessly playing an acoustic version of a song from one of my favourite bands, The Wildhearts. It was so incongruous that I stopped to listen, and it struck me then that nobody else even seemed to have noticed the dreadlocked busker and the song that he played. For a few moments, as he realised I was listening, it felt like the two of us had stepped out of time together. The world carried on around us, but we were no longer a part of it.

Once the song came to an end, the spell was broken. I threw some coins in the busker’s guitar case, wished him a Merry Christmas and carried on with my life with a barely another thought for that strange moment in time until last summer, when I was kicking back with a bottle of bourbon and Springsteen’s Born In The USA blasting out of the speakers. When I reached the sixth track and heard that heartbreakingly raspy voice croon about a “six inch valley” in his skull, the image of a six string bullet immediately found itself a place in my mind. The concept of music as a weapon that could cut straight to the soul stayed with me and took me back to that encounter with the busker that only I seemed to see. From that fractured ghost of a memory, ‘Six String Bullets’ was born.

www.carajfox.com

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Keep the Beat

Crescendo of Darkness from HorrorAddicts.net Press.

“Keep the Beat” by Calvin Demmer

A young girl questions why her tribe plays the djembe drums every night and finds it may be more than just a tradition.

Calvin shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

“Keep the Beat” Inspiration

By Calvin Demmer

Being from South Africa, I wanted to remain on the continent for the main flavor of my story “Keep the Beat.” I didn’t zone in on one specific culture, but tried to see what most of the tribes in Africa had in common in their past. Some of the habits they shared were the various rituals they practiced and their unique beliefs in spirits or the afterlife. I immediately knew my story would have a strong supernatural angle.

To incorporate the music theme, I wished for the instrument to be something interesting that would work well with the ideas I had for rituals; and fortunately I quickly knew what I would use. Then it was all about creating my own world, tribe, and specific reason for the instrument. This all actually came together pretty easily and the “Beat” part was somewhat inspired by an earlier short story I’d written called “Forbidden Fruit.”

As I worked on the story more, and through various early drafts, it kept taking a darker and darker road. The stakes needed to be high for my main character and I wanted there to be a harsh penalty for ill conceived actions.

Overall, if a supernatural African world, where spirits linger and time honored rituals must be obeyed to avoid great consequences, is what intrigues a reader, then “Keep the Beat” will definitely be a fun and interesting experience.

 

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Become the Music

Crescendo of Darkness from HorrorAddicts.net Press.

“Become the Music” by H.E. Roulo

A cellist would do anything for her child, even give up music, but that might not be enough to stop a curse from consuming her baby.

Heather shares her thoughts about her story with us below.

The Brutality of Music

By H.E. Roulo

It’s easy to forget that when we sing, hum, or hear a soundtrack, we’re experiencing the power of music. If a soundtrack is good, my dog will understand something important is happening on screen and look at the television. For suspenseful parts, she’ll stand and growl, even when nothing menacing appears visually. That communication with another species happens at a level beyond a spoken command. She understands the intent of the music.

Have you been transported by music? Heard people claim they’re transformed by music? What if the apparent latent power in music were real? It’s possible music binds the world together across language barriers and species, perhaps even at a metaphysical level. This forms the premise of my short story “Become the Music.”

In a wild rural area, where more things are possible, a musician draws something new into existence with her playing. She wouldn’t be able to put her power  into words, but music doesn’t require that. Unfortunately, that new entity’s potent mix of music, power, and possibility becomes a curse. What she’s made can’t exist alongside the casual musical brutality of our everyday world.

In a world where we can record and play music anywhere, we are casual about a powerful force that can heal, create, and transform. Emotion coded into music reaches deep into the subconscious. How can such a potent force become the simple everyday buzz and background to our lives? Are we made numb by the ubiquity of music? What happens to someone who isn’t?

Something that can be primal or civilizing, evocative of the human condition, and communicate with an infinite number of people who don’t speak the same language, can also be debased into throwaway notes given no care or notice. Wacky childrens’ toys chime on shelves. The music of the current generation’s rebellious prime becomes the background of a supermarket. These highs and lows—without bias for genre so much as intent—became the focus of my story.

In my Crescendo of Darkness story, the musician’s life is upended. Music becomes a threat. Seeking escape, she drives to a remote location seeking peace, solitude, and most of all silence.

http://heatherroulo.com/

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Circe’s Music Shop

Crescendo of Darkness from HorrorAddicts.net Press.

“Circe’s Music Shop” by A. Craig Newman

A music store owner, who won’t be bullied into submission, teaches two hitmen the meaning of pain.

A. Craig Newman shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

When I wrote “Circe’s Music Shop”, I did not plan to publish it.  In all honesty, in my head, I wasn’t writing. I was practicing. 

Practice makes perfect, or so we’re always told. And I want to be a great writer so I figure the only way is to write a lot. But the results of practice are usually riddled with mistakes.  A painter practicing the challenge of rendering eyes or hands will fill sketch pads with dozens of aborted attempts to get it right. A cook perfecting a recipe will throw away countless full and aborted attempts before hitting on the exact combination of ingredients and time and technique that gives the correct results.  So, I figured, and still do, that most things a writer writes should not be published but should be considered practice. 

With this in mind, I give myself challenges to practice with.  One challenge was to go to my friends and ask them what type of character they’d want to be they could be anyone at all in a story.  My best friend, Tamisha, said she wanted to be a sorceress.  Because I have a love of classics and myths, I immediately thought of Circe from “The Odyssey“.  I don’t remember how turning men to pigs became turning men to instruments. I do remember that I wrote the story quickly because I wasn’t stressing myself over a practice piece. 

Since writing this story, several have come and gone where I would consider myself having done some “real writing”. Ideas I mulled over and cultivated into complete premises.  Pieces I wrote and rewrote trying to infuse the work with everything I’ve learned about symbolism and artistry.  Real writing took real work and countless hours of time and effort and frustration. 

There are two things I learned from writing “Circe’s Music Shop”.  First, a writer can never tell where a good idea will come from.  Second, for me, “underwriting” is not a bad thing. Those other pieces that I mulled over and reworked about a dozen times have yet to become anything.  This piece that I just had fun with and tossed onto the paper has gained me more attention, praise, and success as a writer than anything else. 

So, what does this all mean?  How do I apply this in a practical sense?  I have no idea.  I’m still trying to figure that out.  I’ll let you know when I do.  

A. Craig Newman
Author and Instructor

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: While My Guitar Gently Bleeds

Crescendo of Darkness from HorrorAddicts.net Press.

“While My Guitar Gently Bleeds” by Benjamin Langley
A rock musician is visited by an undead band member and forced to pay for his crimes against rock ‘n’ roll.

Benjamin shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

Of all the stories I have written and submitted, none have spent as much time under consideration with editors as ‘While My Guitar Gently Bleeds.’ Finally it has found its home in Crescendo of Darkness and I couldn’t be happier.

The first place it was submitted was to a university tutor. This story was one of two I handed in for a second-year short story writing module. Given the way that horror was frowned upon, it wasn’t as well received as the literary story that accompanied it. (‘I Am Roadkill,’ published by Flash Fiction Magazine in 2015.) Why did I write quirky horror story about aging (and undead) rockers for a tutor I knew wouldn’t like it? It was the story I wanted to write at the time, and was never a fan of playing it safe.

The first time I sent it out seeking publication it was shortlisted from more than 500 submissions. Eventually, it did not make the cut, but the fact that had been close brought me comfort. I took it back in gave it a polish, and sent it on its way again. A number of editors seemed to like it, but claimed it didn’t quite fit and I could see their point. Yet again I took it into the workshop, and gave it another going over. It was changed from present tense to past, which seemed to give it more of an edge. Key parts of the story where slowed down, allowing for tension to build. Extraneous parts of the text were cut away. The story of former band-mates Dallas McCann and Tyler Gunn was stronger, scarier, and dare I say, gorier.

I was sure that when I sent it out again, to a well-selected publication, they would be sure to take it.

Not so. But again, it was close. I got one of those rejections that made me feel positive, that made me feel like I was getting somewhere. The rejection note stated that they had to cut some stories that they loved. The final line was great: “We’re sorry for sitting on it for so long, but these last few cuts caused us real pain.”

I knew the story was good; the trouble was that it was rather niche. Imagine my absolute joy when I saw the submission call for Crescendo of Darkness, an anthology seeking to combine horror and music. Perfect. So I sent the story, and again had to suffer the agonising wait.

Finally it was accepted. I was elated. Every time I see the cover to the anthology I think about what a perfect fit the story is. I can’t wait to get hold of my own copy now, and I’m looking forward to hearing readers’ reactions.

https://benjaminlangleywriter.wordpress.com/

 

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press

 

Let music unlock your fear within.

Book Review: Freakshow by Lori Safranek

Freakshow by Lori Safranek is a fun group of stories about a band of freaks weaved together with such skill, you’ll wonder if the author is a contortionist.

We all feel like freaks at one time or another so it’s easy to relate to these sideshow performers the way the author shows their weaknesses and strengths in such a vulnerable way. Reading this book, it makes you understand what the life of a freak might really be like and that we aren’t as different as they are. It’s really refreshing to see freaks in the hero roles because normally they’re seeing as the bad guys.

Marie is The Fat Lady with charm in such abundance that someone tries to steal it from her. Lily Dean is a snake charmer whose skills inspire a psychotic priest to attack her. Smudge is a tattooed man who is tortured by a demoness tattoo who tries to suck the life out of him. They’ve all been collected by the sideshow owner, Steiner, who tries to protect them in his one-of-a-kind REAL freak show, but around every turn someone is trying to undermine his show or kill his entertainers.

The best thing about this book is the character development and the relationships between them. Reminiscent of the Midnight Texas TV Series, Freakshow  has a cast of characters that could easily inspire spin-offs. If you don’t fall in love with Marie–who has my undying admiration–there are plenty of others to enjoy. Blade the sword swallower, Jason the gator boy, or the lovely Gypsy, a fortune teller extraordinaire.

The villains, too, are fun to read as each tale has a mystery and you never quite know who the baddie is until the last bit. Sometimes the bad guy doesn’t even know! This is a great read and enjoyable from beginning to end. I can’t wait to read more tales of the freaks.

Book Review: Embracing the Darkness

Review by Ariel DaWintre

Embracing the Darkness by Jeremy Mac is the story of two couples who go to a cabin in the woods. The main character, an artist named Laura, over hears a great place to go and talks her friends into going for a fun week before heading home for the end of school term. I think it should be just a given–never go to a cabin in the woods unless you have notified everyone you know and they have the ability to monitor your every move.

The interaction of the characters and their bantering was entertaining. This is a book that may not be for everyone. There are a few graphic parts that some might find offensive. I didn’t really care for the sex scenes because, from a woman’s point of view, the terms and situations were evidently written by a male and seemed lacking and a little awkward. I think the book would have been stronger without those parts, or perhaps just beta-read by women who could point these errors out.

I loved the cover and the image is explained in the book. I liked the story once it got to the actual scary part, but then kind of felt cheated that there wasn’t enough horror in it. I would have loved the writer to expand this part and give more description.  The scene at the lake of the first killing was pretty cool and had me intrigued what the bad guy was going to do next and wondering who he was. Once I found out who the bad guy was (I won’t give away spoilers on who), but I really wanted to know more about him. He puts the main character through hell and she turns out to be a strong female character, which is great. The writer does give the book a twist at the end that was intriguing. Worth reading if you want to find out if Laura does, “Embrace the Darkness.”


Ariel DaWintre is a writer and voice actor. She has performed in several audio works including “JoJo” in HorrorAddicts.net’s production of GothAmazing Race, “Ember” the novel Dusk’s Warriors, and “Claudette” in the novel Artistic License. She’s currently working on a fish out of water tale about an American living in Hong Kong. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.