Interview with Best in Blood Winner, Mark Taylor

1)      How do you feel about having the title Best in Blood?

It was amazing – and hearing my reaction back, I can say I was stunned. It is such an honor to hold the award!

2)      How did you start writing? What inspires you to write?

I was always interested in writing from a young age, but I had other interests that – at the time – became priority. I ended up on the slippery slope to being a rock star! *coughs* Well, I was the lead in a metal and for several years, and after that I concentrated on my career. Flash forward to me, mid-thirties. I took up writing again some years back, and found that I loved it.  I find that different writings can help me along with how I’m feeling. Bad day at the office? Someone’s getting murdered on the page. Perhaps skinned first. Who knows? Nice relaxing day? Time for a little humor.

3)      What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m finishing up book two of the Witches series, Blood of the Covenant. I’m also (still) editing Vampire Blue – the first in a series of novels that is all noir detective Bogart, with vampires. More detective, less biting.

4)      When you are not writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?

Moooooooovies! Ha. I love cinema. I run a movie site, and just adore film and television. I’m a massive supporter of Indie film, and short film. And, of course, I’m all about the horror. I’m also okay in the kitchen, and I pretty much watch all the decent cookery shows. And even some Guy Fieri.

5)      When did you start writing? How did you know you were going to be a writer?

As I said before, I started seriously writing again in my thirties. It started at first not only about the writing, but also the close community. Back in the days of forums *shows age*. But I had some short story successes, which led to me taking on longer works, and now I rarely write short stories. I love putting the tale together. It’s part of the thrill for me, and one of the reasons I can’t see me stopping.

6)      Who are your favorite authors?

Well, I have an obvious list – King, Barker, etc – but there is some really hot talent out there at the moment. I’m currently reading Craig Saunders The Dead Boy – and man, does he know how to weave. I totally dig Chuck Wendig – particularly his Miriam Black books.

7)      Have you seen the new IT movie? What was your thoughts on it?

I’ve not seen it yet, but I can’t wait for the home release – in January here, I believe. I’ve heard good things about it. I love the TV miniseries, but I’m hoping this will one up it!

8)      Have you had writer’s block? How did you unblock?

Sadly the block gets us all sometimes. I can’t offer any great advice on beating it, but I have found that writing anything helps. Writing for my movie site is particularly good – my film reviews and features are just me expounding on my feelings, so it’s pretty easy to do. I think it’s just about flow, more than anything else, so starting the flow of words helps.

9)      Do you do something special for Halloween? Did you dress up? If so, what were you?

I’m not really a get out and party guy – and the area I live in has a lot of activities for younger people (Old man shakes fist at cloud).  But I do have a kick-ass Jedi Costumes that comes out on occasion. Being 6’4 and bearded makes for difficult costuming, but I think, given the opportunity, I might put together a Michael Myers costume. I could pull that off.

10)   What is your favorite monster?

Ack! So many to choose from! But honestly I’ve always been a Freddy fan. And Kong, of course. Maybe Gremlins, too. But not forgetting Dracula. And Frankenstein’s monster. Wolfman (He’s got nards, you know).

11)   How can we find your works?

The easiest place to find me is on my website, my Amazon page, or Facebook:


Kidnapped! That Time a Movie Scared the Crap Out of Me by D.W. Gillespie

That Time a Movie Scared the Crap Out of Me

Now that my first novel, Still Dark is out in the wild, it’s fun to look back on some of the things that helped make me the writer I am, including some of my favorite movie moments.

Let me paint the picture for you.

It was October 2000, and yes, I had to look that date up. My wife and I, still together after all these years, were just dating at the time. I was 20 at the time, and though I would consider myself a solid fan of horror at the time, there were some woeful gaps in my knowledge. I was a child of the 80’s, and I’d seen more slasher films than I could count, but older, classic horror films had mostly dwelled in the background, looming and waiting for me to seek them out. None loomed larger than The Exorcist.

Up to that point, probably the scariest film I’d seen in theaters was The Blair Witch Project. Some of you will laugh, and I understand why. Those of you who were there, in the wild west days of the internet when you could actually trick an audience into thinking they were about to see the last days of three film students, well, it wasn’t really funny. I knew it wasn’t true by the time I went into the theater, but dammit if it didn’t feel true. By the time I made it home, parking among the dark trees without a streetlight in sight… let’s just say I walked very fast up to my front door.

A year later, my girlfriend in tow, The Exorcist rereleased in theaters, this version with never before seen footage. This was it. The big boy. The grandpappy. I think we were laughing about it when we sat down in the back row. About a half hour later, that shit wasn’t funny.

I can still remember, vividly, the moment where the movie had me. The moment where I knew it wasn’t all just hype built by a simpler time, by a movie going populace that just wasn’t as tough as I was.

The mom comes home, stops in the kitchen, and for a brief moment, a face lingers in the dark. Just for a second, so quick, I wasn’t even sure it was ever there. Then, outside her daughter’s room, another quick flash, a different face filling the entire door. She checks on little Reagan, and all seems well. Then, as she leaves… is that a shadow growing on the wall. A shape of a statue from earlier in the film. Now, she’s downstairs. Talking. Just the sound of voices is enough to put you at ease after all that unbroken silence. The scene is over, the tension is gone, and then…

A scream. The mother turns. Her daughter walks, BACKWARDS, down the stairs, straight into the camera, where she vomits up blood.

Holy shit.

That was just the beginning. The atrocities continued, piled up, multiplied, and by the time I walked out of the theater, I was in a daze. I didn’t run up to my porch that night, but something much more disturbing happened. The second I laid down in my bed, I saw that face, that pale, white, toothy face. Every night for about a week, I saw that face.

My son’s a budding horror fan now, and even though he’s probably too young, we’ve torn through a ton of the 80’s slashers (the AMC, toned down versions). He knows what The Exorcist is, mainly because he’s always wanting to know what scares me. For the past year or two, he’s asked if he’s ready for it.

“No buddy,” I tell him. “You got a ways to go.”



D.W. Gillespie

When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…

Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.

Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim, and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!

Still Dark on Amazon

Kidnapped! Still Dark by D.W. Gillespie

Character Building in Still Dark

Like any genre, horror has all sorts of shades to it. There are times, especially when I was younger, where I felt like I needed to be the nastiest, goriest writer in the room. I think it’s a natural spot for young horror writers to drift toward. So much of dark fiction is about shocking and scaring the reader, that it only makes sense that you would want to be as disturbing as possible.

As I kept writing, kept editing, kept peeling back the layers of who I was as a writer, I realized it wasn’t quite that simple. Take my seven-year-old son for example. He’s a lot like me, and already, he’s leaning hard into all things spooky and creepy. Like his old man, he loves a good monster, and I’m already impressed by his imagination and inventiveness with creating creatures and basic outlines for stories. It takes a certain type of mind to be able to conjure this stuff, but the thing my son will have to learn is where the fear and shock really come from.

Making an audience afraid or appalled is maybe impossible unless you can first make them care, and how in the hell do you do that? It’s all about characters, of course. That was the last piece of my becoming a capable writer to fall into place, and I suspect it’s the same for a lot of other developing writers. I, just like my son, could come up with some pretty gnarly ideas, scenarios, and sequences that would make a reader’s skin crawl, but all of that effort was wasted because I didn’t understand characters.

It’s cliché advice to tell someone they need to create real, three-dimensional characters, but it’s the truth. It didn’t really sink in with me until I was around 30 or so after I already had a handful of practice novels under my belt. My writing style didn’t necessarily change, but my patience level did. I began to see editing as less a chore, more just a natural part of the process, and soon enough, the characters started talking to me. Those extra passes helped me see past just the “story” and into the deeper recesses of who these people really were.

In other words, I finally started to care. When I killed off a particular character, it wasn’t a triumphant moment where I thought, “Look how hardcore this is.” No, now it kind of hurts because, in some way, I really want these non-existent people to be happy. That was the biggest piece of the puzzle, at least for now. I’m sure there are others hopefully waiting to fall into place.

I feel like I really made this turn successfully in Still Dark. I don’t want to spoil anything, but some of this was hard to write. Based on feedback from early readers, they agreed with me, with one reader even getting a bit mad at me for the way it all turned out. Check out the book for yourself and let me know if you agree.


D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.


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About Still Dark

When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…

Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.

Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!

  Now available on Amazon




Guest Blog : Ungodly Undoing by Essel Pratt Review by Michele Roger

Review of Essel Pratts, UnGodly Undoing

by Michele Roger

It is rare to find a book with a fresh, creative delivery. UnGodly Undoing by Essel Pratts does not disappoint. In essence, a collection of stories but brilliantly presented via alternating chapters. The first chapter sets the stage for an ongoing conversation between a bookish, teenage boy and the local, elderly bookstore owner. The next chapter has the old man as narrator, telling a ‘real life’ story of the small town of Mishawaka. The old man in the bookstore explains that not all great stories are found in books and the stories of Mishawaka are of a town deeply cursed. The chapters continue in kind, in an anthology of a cursed town.

Love Transcends Death,” is a simple story about angst and grief of a local doctor who is mourning the death of his wife. One day, kissing her urn goodbye becomes his undoing. Pratts build up in this particular tale is well timed; revealing an unexpected plot twist.

In the chapter entitled “Damned to Life”, we hear the story of an unlikely step-father and his vampire daughter. Elizabeth is a thirteen-year-old vampire held captive in the basement of her family home. After a vampire raped her mother, Elizabeth was born violently, killing her mother in the process. She lives a life of her father feeding her tainted blood from the local blood bank. Her escape from her prison and the reconciliation between father and daughter keeps the reader guessing until the last moment.

One of my favorite stories is Canopic Servitude. This chapter tells the tale of how the town warehouse contains the preserved remains of cursed, Egyptian royal cats who come back to life. I admit I was reading that chapter with my cat in my lap. By the time I had finished, I obediently went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and made him an offering of vanilla yogurt to my familiar feline. Just in case. 

If UnGodly Undoing has one set back, it’s that the stories are told in present tense. All of them. While, as a reader, I like that the conversations between the bibliophile boy and the old bookstore owner are set in present day, it feels strange to read the town’s chilling past in the same tense. For the narration to feel more authentic, I would have liked the actual stories of the strange incidents in Mishawaka to be told in past tense.

All in all, the book is a page-turner with alternating chapters bringing both closure to the previous chapter and baiting the reader to read just one more story in the chapter to follow. Pratts final story in the book, Silence, My Love is chilling and complex. I think that his ability to write psychological horror shines in this closing story. I would hope that he would consider a whole novel in this particular sub-genre. Fighting the demons of the mind, attempting to decipher between fantasy and reality and the complete undoing of a man due to madness makes for excellent horror reading.


Kidnapped! The Revival of the Psychological Horror Film by Sumiko Saulson

The Revival of the Psychological Horror Film

Many believed 2016 was hexed. A strange rise in celebrity deaths and rampant international terrorism reinforced the impression. There were viable explanations for the trends, such as Baby Boomers entering their golden years. Nonetheless, the superstition persisted.

The media responded with excessive coverage of real-life brutality. It often included graphic video imagery, such as ISIS executions. News footage became more violent than the latest episode of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. To worsen matters, with the popularity of social media, people were getting instant updates on the world’s latest tragedies twenty-four seven. Oversaturated by non-stop coverage, our appetite for bloodthirsty gore-centered horror began to taper off. In theaters, we saw a resurgence of the psychological horror film in theaters. Torture porn like Purge: Election Year became harder to find. Creepy, suspenseful horror movies like as Lights Out and The Boy abounded.

Psychological horror relies on suspense and character development. It preys upon primitive fear of the unknown. Classic psychological horror films include Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho and Jacob’s Ladder. While not completely free of the gore and nerve-shattering jump cuts splatter films rely upon, these movies use mystery and dramatic tension to weave a sense of dread.

The VVitch, one of the most successful films of 2016, fits into this subgenre. It creates a chilling atmosphere by introducing supernatural elements gradually to build anticipation. It doesn’t rely on special effects for its punch. Using character behavior to convey danger, like The Shining and The Amityville Horror before it, the movie creates a portentous atmosphere before any real danger comes into play. Ouija: Origin of Evil is another psychological horror film which combines the suspense of psychological horror with more traditional creature makeup, special effects and sound effects. This is similar to classic supernatural thrillers such as The Exorcist, and The Omen

Not all psychological horror films are supernatural. Jordan Peele’s debut horror film Get Out combines science-fiction elements with horror, akin to The Stepford Wives and Invasion of the Body Snatchers before it. Like many films in this subgenre, it involves mystery, placing a skeptical protagonist in an unnatural setting that prompts his investigation. In this film, a black man, Chris Washington, goes to meet his white girlfriend’s parents, who live in a gated community. As the audience follows the protagonist through this seemingly ordinary town, a series of surreal, strange events ensue. He notices something is very wrong with the people of the town, and the fabric of reality begins to unwind around him.

While some psychological horror movies such as The Forest and The Conjuring 2 are not very good, award-winning non-comedy horror tends to fall into this subgenre. Only 14 horror movies have ever won Academy Awards. Oscar-winning psychological horror films include Sleepy Hollow, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Misery, and Black Swan. They use careful plotting, excellent writing, and convincing acting to engage audiences instead of cheap thrills, gimmicks, and special effects.



 About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. 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 ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.


Kidnapped! The Rise of Count Slackula by Sumiko Saulson

The Rise of Count Slackula

Come here, one and all! Read for the first time anywhere the true and mysterious origins of the spooky supernatural mouse heroes known as the Mauskavelians. Here the amazing story of the undead superhero mouse Count Slackula.

Once upon a time, there were three laboratory mice. Their names were Mauskaveli, Petricio, and Rogue. The three lived together in a cage for so long that it became quite natural for them to snuggle up at night in a cuddle puddle. They were friends, and lovers, being three mice trapped together in a single cage. The only downside to their carefree life was the presence of annoying genetic research scientists who experimented on them day and night.

They experimented on Mauskaveli to see if they could give her super intelligence. She is now one of the smartest mice in the world. They worked on making Petricio highly sexually attractive and seductive – to other mice, that is. It’s a good thing they’re polyamorous because Petricio is a regular mouse Cassanova. Rumor has it scientists intended to use his musk for human perfumes someday. He didn’t look forward to being dissected. Rogue was originally a test subject for curing male pattern baldness, but the injections they gave him to try to regrow his hair had no effect on his bald spot. However, they did give him strange regenerative powers. His wounds began to heal on their own.

One day, the scientist’s formulas spilled into the bottom of the cage, causing a transmutation process in the uncleaned poop in the tray below. That process leads to the creation of a small, feces-based life form named Dooky. Dooky calls himself a cat-batz and insists that cat poop, not mouse poop, is his true origin.In their free time, the mice and their flying pet poop Dooky played games and pretended to be superheroes. But superheroes didn’t live in cages.

Mauskaveli knew they had to escape.

The three of them busted out of their cage one night and moved into a nice, warm storage room at a print factory. That’s where Mauskaveli formulated her plans to organize a rodent rebellion against the oppressive humans. They snuck in at night to print tiny comic books to educate other mice about the dangers of eugenics scientists and other anti-mouse forces.

Their little team of three was happy, listening to the radio, throwing dance parties for other mice, and loving each other. They called their band of mice Micki Menage. Soon after the escape, they found out that Mauskaveli was pregnant. They weren’t sure which one of them was the father, but they suspected Rogue-9 because the baby was born with the power of necromancy. They named their spawn DeathAngel, because he was a MauzReaper.

Unfortunately, Rogue-9 had a tragic mousetrap accident when DeathAngel was just a pup. The baby mouse shocked the grieving Mauskaveli and Petricio by resurrecting Rogue-9 from the dead. That’s how they found out he was a mouse necromancer.

I am Count Slackula,” Rogue-9 cried as he rose from the grave, “enemy of Nazi scientists and friend to the poor and disenfranchised.” From that day forward, he was known as Count Slackula.

Perhaps you would like to know more about Count Slackula, Mauskaveli, Petricio, DeathAngel the MauzReaper, Dooky the CatzBatz and friends you haven’t met yet like Tumimaus and Joe. Come one, come all, and read the Mauskaveli comic book. Color the Mauskaveli coloring book!

                                                                     Mauskaveli Online 

                                                                 Mauskaveli Facebook 

                                                                 Mauskaveli Comic Book (Print) 

                                    Mauskaveli Coloring Book (Print)



  About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. 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 ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.


Kidnapped! The Ride of Herne and Hespeth by Sumiko Saulson

This story was originally written for the Next Great Horror Writer contest’s campfire story contest. An excerpt ran on the Horror Addicts Podcast Episode 145, but this is the first print of the entire story. The story has since been edited to improve the transitions between the teacher’s storytelling and the student interruptions.

The Ride of Herne and Hespeth

What kind of mother sends her preteen to Halloween Camp? That’s what Denise wanted to know. She could have been trick or treating with friends. Instead, she was listening to spooky stories and having cook-outs. She gazed drowsily into the campfire. The marshmallow on the end of her stick was finally melted. She smashed it onto the square of chocolate atop the graham cracker in her hand. She was about to eat the S’more when Miss Foster’s shrill voice interrupted her reverie.

Children, gather round!” Miss Foster cried. “Pull close to the fire. Watch the sun end his nightly dance with the moon. Can you feel the chill night air rising around you, fog, cloaking your neck? Gather closer to the fire, and keep warm.”

There had been four children gathered round the fire before her rousing speech. Denise winced as a dozen more rowdy kids from Camp Mather crowded around the bonfire, bringing their hot dogs and body odor with them.

The story I am about to tell you is strange but true!” Miss Foster shouted. “The slaughterhouse down the road… did you know was haunted?

Almost on cue, a spine-chilling lowing sound pierced the bushes behind them. It sounded like a wounded man moaning in the distance. Lucy, the girl sitting next to her, jumped, knocking Denise’s S’more into the fire.

Damn it, Lucy!” Denise cried.

The groaning rose to a crescendo before dissipating in the wind. Towards the end, it became distinctly bovine. Could you hear the cows from the slaughterhouse a mile away?”

Sit still, Lucy! Don’t swear, Denise!” Miss Foster barked. “Why are you children always so unruly? Anyway, on with the story… where was I?

It’s haunted by ghosts, but not the ordinary kind. These are meaty ghosts, the skeletal remains of the dead cattle prepared for sale at your local delis and grocery outlets. The tattered bits of flesh that remain on the bone after the carving process begins to stink as the cow carcasses await burial in their mass graves. Have you ever smelled five day old hamburger? Naturally, the meat attracts maggots. The fervent breeding of insects causes the dead cow’s ribcage to rise and fall, almost as if breathing.”

Gross!” Wide-eyed Daniel squealed, quickly spitting out his hamburger.

Gross indeed,” Miss Foster approved. “And an affront to the vegan witch Hespeth. She walked by and saw the cow corpses writhing. Thinking a young calf survived, she ran into the deep pit full of rotting animals. But it was no calf! It was maggots! Some evolved into flies and few into her face. She was quite put off, and immediately hexed the place. She’d been meaning to for a while. Vegan witches hate slaughterhouses, don’t you know.”

If she loves animals so much, why doesn’t she love flies?” Lucy asked.

What she said,” Denise seconded. “Circle of life and all that. Doesn’t she respect it?”

She would respect you becoming part of the circle of life, meat eater!” Miss Foster hissed, pointing an accusatory finger at Daniel’s burger and Lucy’s hot dog.

That’s why she cast the spell… to put humans into their proper place on the food chain. The accursed skeletons lurched forth from their graves. The stink of rotting meat was cloying. A cloud of green malodorous E.coli bacterial surrounded them. Soon, the maggots began to hatch, sending out waves of hungry, carnivorous flies. The angry mob of dead cattle marched towards Camp Mather, looking for filthy meat eaters upon which to enact their revenge.

What’s wrong, Lucy! Are you having trouble eating your hot dog? You keep looking away as I tell this story, almost as if you feel guilty. There are some vegan marshmallow substitutes to roast if you’d prefer vegetarian S’mores…”

Lucy rolled her eyes and kept eating her hotdog.

Fixing her with an accusatory glare, Miss Foster continued. “Frothing at the mouth, hungry jaws snapping … Herne, the head of the heard, moved at preternatural speed towards Camp Mather.

Their first victim was Charlie, a hitchhiker eating a dollar menu hamburger. The herd charged towards him, hooves pounding the dust below. Herne snapped into Charlie’s flesh… angry molars munching his fingers like fresh cud. Green slime oozed from Herne’s open maw and dripping nostrils, mixing with Charlie’s blood as the fingers snapped one by one. The cannibal cow even ate the burger in his hand!

Why are you doing this to me?” Charlie screamed. But he got no answer. Cows can’t speak, you know. They lowed and mooed in laughter. Herne’s accomplices began with the man’s other arm. Soon, they’d ground him between their teeth into a human hamburger. Leaving the blood puddle that had recently been Charlie behind, the hungry pack of roving skeletal cows continued its rapid descent upon Camp Mather.

Am I making you nervous, Denise? Why did you stop eating your beef jerky?”

I’m not afraid of imaginary cow monsters,” Denise smirked.

You should be,” Miss Foster warned. “With no digestive tract to speak of, the herd had no way to digest the well-chewed bits of Charlie. Chunks of Charles fell out of their ribcages and down to the ground, trodden below angry hooves.

The stampede rushed into the side of a Safeway delivery truck, butting against it repeatedly until it toppled over. The driver’s blood-curdling screams were so ear-piercing they were heard by our camp director, Gwen Littleton. If you don’t believe my story is true, just ask Gwen!

Herne himself leaped into the cabin of the eighteen-wheeler and tore his blood-soaked teeth into the tattooed bicep of the driver, Daryl. The driver yelled, “What are you? Friggen zombie cows?” Irritated, Herne bit into the man’s juicy tongue, and yanking his foul-smelling head back, ripped it from his jaw.”

Miss Foster cast an irritated look towards Lucy once more. “Have you ever eaten cow tongue, Lucy? I see you’re eating an all-beef corndog. Do you think Herne would approve?”

Lucy shrugged, stuck her tongue out, and slathered ketchup and mustard on her corndog. Denise rolled her eyes.

Unlike Hespeth,” Miss Foster continued, “Herne was far from vegan. His large, square teeth sunk deep into the man’s lower lip, pulling at it rending flesh from bone. Blood spewed over the steering wheel as another stampeding cow slid it’s incisors into the driver’s jugular vein. The gushing maroon fountain pitched its moist payload with every breath, every heartbeat, and the smell of iron invading the cabin as the windshield was painted in clotted crimson.

The green bile and mossy rot of the original moldering cow flesh combined with fresh human blood and carnage as they tore in. One of Daryl’s extruded eyeballs detached from his head and plastered itself to the center of Herne’s skull. The feast was done. Like a festering wounded cyclops, Herne climbed out of the cabin and headed this way.

Herne’s spectral eyes glowed like goals in the dark. The moment his formed so did like eyes appear in the cattle behind him. Herne, the sole bull in the stampede, was an oddity for a slaughterhouse. Where did he come from?

Some have associated him with Herne the Hunter, the stag antlered aspect of Cernunnos, the Horned God. Others have associated him with Baphomet, the goat antlered god the idolatrous Templars worshipped. Still, others say he descended from the Golden Calf the Jews worshipped coming out of captivity in Egypt. But who cares? I mean, really? If a molding dead cow skeleton is eating you, do you really need to know its backstory?

Like the world’s worst case of acid reflux, the beef from the local slaughterhouse kept coming back up towards Camp Firestone. I suppose it’s because we order so many hamburger patties to keep you kids happy during summer camp. I would, if I were you, consider a vegan lifestyle.”

Suddenly, Miss Foster stood and raised her arms to the sky. There was a gleam in her eye. The gleam quickly rose into a flash, and that flash turned bright red. The hidden moon rose from behind a cloud, round and full, and in its warm glow, the camp counselor began to transform. She stretched out, growing taller and leaner. Bones exploded from below her flesh, upon her skull, a headdress of bovine teeth.

It is I, children. It is Hespeth!”

Looking back over her shoulder, Denise saw two glowing eyes in the dark forest behind her. They were accompanied by a smell… rank, like the meat that went off in the refrigerator last month after the blackout. The electricity had been out for two days. The stench was heavy, cloying. Before she knew it the creature was before her… beside her… hungry.

Denise stared in shock as the zombie bull Herne chomped down on little Lucy’s skull. Jaw agape, tongue dangling, eyes bulging, arm hanging loose to one side, Lucy dropped the half-eaten beef hotdog into the dirt before crumpling to the ground.



About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. 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 ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.