Free Fiction : Man Down by Katy Lohman

I’d been hearing weird noises again. Not just Saunders’ medical equipment, which hissed and fizzled and beeped like crazy. No matter how many times the nurses told me I was hearing things, I knew better. Just like I knew Saunders’ twitching movements were signs of a struggle to wake up. He’d been in a quiet coma for over a year. Now, this. Something bad was happening. If only my medications didn’t mess with my mind, keep me swimming under a thick layer of haze, I could help. I was not delusional, or senile, or any of the other things they called me cause I was 93. I suppose I was a bad patient, in that I dared to quest…

Wait. What was that?

Gro-o-onk.

I shuddered, pulling my blankets up to my face like I was ten again and the Boogeyman was in my closet. Damnit, MacLeary, grow a pair.

I peered carefully up at the ceiling. And about had a heart attack.

There was something on that ceiling. No lie. Something like a giant stick-bug with a shield-shaped face was looking down at Saunders, one leg reaching down to stroke his face tenderly. Ah, god! God! Was…was it smiling? Things like that should never smile.

It made another sound: Gr-a-a-a-akk, and began glowing red at several areas. Its chest opened up, revealing spiked ribs and emptiness. Now I was three, and wet the bed. I got up, bones creaking, glad I was off the IV (who knew I’d be so grateful for a blown vein?), and snuck to the door. Way it was focused on Saunders, I figured I had the time to flee.

But, like any curious chump, I had to look back and see.

A blue figure, rising from Saunders’ body. A skeleton? He was still-bodied, but that blue skeleton was weeping, screaming what looked like, “No, no! Please help, MacLeary, I don’t want to die. Not and go there!”

Oh, god, it was his soul the monstrosity was stealing.

I flashed back to the portal in the Black Forest. We’d seen terrible beings, beings too hideous for words, straining to get through, fighting as the war ripped through ancient wards. We’d seen a world where pain was everywhere, dealt by more of those terrible beings. Rory was pulled in before the The Man in Purple came, and what happened to him… Even the trees had screamed on that day. We’d all been forced to make the vow; to say the binding words; to make the sacrifice.

And now, this. Two old men, the only ones left, and something had finally broken through when we were too feeble to fight.

No. No. No one leaves a man behind, especially a man down, in war.  That’s what I learned in that dark, bloodied forest. Saunders was my responsibility, as I had been his so long ago. Looking where my pinky finger should have been, I wheeled around, shouted the Words, and darted forward, hoping to yank his spirit back into his body.

That’s when the monster whipped its head to peer at me. Impossibly, a hand formed at the end of one of its limbs, and it lifted a scolding finger. A long, hose-shaped tongue began emerging from its mouth.

I don’t know the feeling that shot through me; sick, shivery, cold. I just know it made me go closer to the thing, reach out to touch its hand. Had I spoken the Words wrong?

No. Not time to ask questions. Diverting my hand, I grabbed its tongue and pulled. My back spasmed, my arms cramped, but I wasn’t going to let go before it did. Even if it took eternity.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Katy Lohman is a quirky, rather queer fantasy/horror writer. She writes about fae, dangerous angels, amused gods, misunderstood demons and Things That Must Not Be Named. When not writing, she can be found researching various topics, reading, asking what if, taking online classes about literature, history and philosophy, rolling dice, building decks and exploring rural Ohio (her new homeland). Right now, she’s obsessed with archangels and Sumerian gods. She has short stories published in Ugly Babies 3, 47-16: Short Fiction and Poetry Inspired by David Bowie (Volume II), and Scary Snippets: Christmas Edition.

Frightening Flix meets Kbatz Krafts: Decorating Like Dark Shadows!

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz details the inspirations, budget, logistics, and compromises in outfitting a basement studio with a Dark Shadows theme. From carpet and painting to walls and storage, come along for the pros and cons of taking on a redecoration during a pandemic lockdown.

 

 

 

Next Kbatz defines the vintage seating and multipurpose work zones in the re-envisioned Dark Shadows inspired basement studio – complete with maximizing spaces, aesthetic heating options, and craft organization tips. There’s also a not so intrusive cat and one pesky basement pole.

 

 

It’s heaps of orange for the Dark Shadows inspired basement with unique furniture, thrift finds, pumpkin crafts, retro refreshed lamps, and textile accessories as the studio starts coming together into a cohesive room despite bugs, ugly fluorescent lighting, and the struggle to stay motivated in difficult times.

 

Stay tuned for the finished results!

 

For More Kbatz Krafts as well as Frightening Flix, revisit:

DIY Cardboard Tombstones

Dark Shadows Video Review

Dracula (2020)

For more Project Photos, Follow Kbatz Krafts on Facebook  and  thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: 8 A South African Horror Story

Plotline: An old man, fated to collect souls for eternity, seeks atonement after trading his daughter’s soul.

Who would like it: Fans of magic, the occult international films with an unpredictable ending

High Points: The way this movie unfolds itself from multiple layers 

Complaints: Overused trope but it doesn’t take away from the movie

Overall: I really like this movie

Stars: 4 1/2 stars

Where I watched it: Review link

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

HorrorAddicts.net 183, Jonathan Fortin

Horror Addicts Episode# 183
SEASON 15 “Cursed, Cubed”
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe


jonathan fortin | dogtablet | the car, 1977 

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123 days till Halloween

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Chilling Chat: Episode #183 – Jonathan Fortin

chillingchat

Jonathan Fortin is the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus (Crystal Lake Publishing), “Requiem in Frost” (Horroraddicts.net), and “Nightmarescape” (Mocha Jonathan Fortin AUTHORPHOTO-2020Memoirs Press). An unashamed lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the Next Great Horror Writer in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. When not writing, Jonathan enjoys voice acting, dressing like a Victorian gentleman, and indulging in all things odd and macabre in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jonathan is a true gentleman with a terrific sense of humor. We spoke of writing, The Victorian Age, and Lilitu: Memoirs of a Succubus.

NTK: Welcome, to Chilling Chat, Jonathan! Tell us, how did you become interested in the Victorian Age?

 JF: I think it was in middle school when I first became fascinated with the Victorian Gothic aesthetic, thanks to a healthy obsession with Tim Burton movies, American McGee’s Alice, and a number of other dark influences. The Victorian Era had many facets, but it was horror that pulled me to the period. I adored the dark elegance of their wardrobes and architecture, and was intrigued by their stuffy way of behaving. It seemed as though they were navigating a world full of macabre terrors that were best left unspoken–basing their etiquette around their profound fear of the world they themselves had created.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian novel?

 JF: Novels by Victorian authors: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Dracula by Bram Stoker both come to mind. Basic, I know, but critically influential nonetheless.

Modern novels set in Victorian England: The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, Drood by Dan Simmons, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and (if I may be permitted to include a very wordy graphic novel) From Hell by Alan Moore.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Victorian movie?

 JF: Crimson Peak, The Prestige, and Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If we’re including 19th-century America, then also Sleepy Hollow and Gangs of New York. And if we’re including TV, I adore Penny Dreadful.

NTK: What inspired you to write Lilitu?

JF: I’ve long been fascinated by succubi and incubi. When I was in college, I went looking for novels focused on them, but there were only a few, and they didn’t quite give me what I wanted. So, naturally, I decided to write one myself. However, I initially wasn’t sure how to manage it. I was toying with an alternate world setting that just never really gelled, and ended up changing the plot and rewriting it over and over again–never certain where to take the story. I knew that I wanted a reluctant succubus lead struggling with her demonic nature, but the details were a constant state of flux.

Then one day, when I was in a bookstore, a certain cover caught my eye, showing a man in a top hat staring into the London fog. The image was laden with foreboding, and compelled me to pull the book off the shelf and read the opening sentence: “After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.” This novel was The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, a tale of revenge set in Victorian England. I was hooked. I devoured the novel, enjoying every word, and realized rather abruptly that Victorian England was the perfect setting for my own novel. Suddenly, everything came together: this was a tale of demons in the Victorian era, focused on a succubus brought up in that rigid world and struggling to reconcile her upbringing with the needs of her new form–and in the process questioning all the toxic ideas she was forced to internalize growing up. And so Maraina Blackwood was born.

NTK: What is your creative process like? How do you go from inspiration to final draft?

 JF: It’s all over the place. I’ll usually plot out the entire novel, then change everything as I actually write it. When I eventually get a working draft that I’m passably happy with, I’ll ask writer friends to read and critique it. Then I’ll edit, and edit, and edit some more, until I think it’s finally ready enough for publication. If it gets picked up, that means more edits because the publisher’s editor will need to give it a good look. If it doesn’t get picked up, it means the book isn’t good enough yet, so it needs more edits anyway. Lilitu took more years than I care to admit.

NTK: What do you like most about the Victorian age?

 JF: The psychological complexity. The aesthetics. Their elegant manner of speaking. I also like how deeply hypocritical they were, because it’s ever so much fun to satirize.

NTK: What do you dislike most?

 JF: When you get down to it, the Victorian Era was quite horrible to actually live in. Severely rigid gender roles, miserable science/medicine, incredible poverty, child labor…I’ll often meet other Victorian enthusiasts, and many say that they wish they lived in the Victorian era instead of today. While that’s valid, I always like to remind them that they almost certainly would have been impoverished, and never able to afford those pretty, fancy dresses that they are so keen on wearing. People honestly romanticize the Victorians and are quick to forget that the elegant ladies and wealthy gentlemen they’re so enamored with made up a tiny, tiny slice of the population. That’s beside the fact that things were abysmal for women, even wealthy and noblewomen, as they were not allowed agency over their own lives. It was just a nasty, cruel period, and many are far too quick to forget that.

NTK: Have you written other stories in the Lilitu universe? If so, what?

JF: We have a FREE short story in the Lilitu universe out now, called Lilith in Repose.

It’s a twisted, erotic Dark Fantasy tale about a nun whose church has been taken over by demons…and now they are asking her to join their ranks.

I am also in the early stages of the second Lilitu novel. I’m planning it as a trilogy right now, but that may change as I actually write it. We’ll just have to see.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

JF: Bollocks!

NTK: What’s your favorite curse?

 JF: I can’t think of one, so I’ll improvise. “MAY YOU BE REBORN A DINGLEBERRY HANGING FROM THE CRACK OF SATAN’S ARSEHOLE!” Hmm…when you consider the smell, that would actually be a truly dreadful fate.

NTK: (Laughs.) What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

 JF: I’m currently in the editing stages of an epic Lovecraftian biopunk novel. I’m also almost done with the first draft of a new horror novel centered around an autistic protagonist (I am on the spectrum, so it comes from a real place). Then there’s of course the second Lilitu book, wherein readers will learn of some surprising–and horrible–consequences of Maraina’s actions in book 1.

NTK: Jonathan, thank you so much for chatting with us. 

JF: You’re welcome.

Addicts, you can find Jonathan on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logbook of Terror: Dean Can’t Drive Sixty-Five

Russell Holbrook

Startled by the roar of an engine and the screeching of tires, Dean looked up and nearly spilled coffee down the front of his partially wrinkled button-up shirt. He sputtered and coughed as the hot liquid went down the wrong way. The car charged toward him until its driver slammed on the brakes and swerved to a stop mere feet in front of him. The car door flew open. The driver leaped out. Stomping toward Dean, she yelled, “You have to do something with this goddamn car!”

Bewildered, Dean said, “Excuse me, miss, I-”

“It’s the car!” The woman screamed, cutting Dean off in mid-sentence. “You have to get rid of the car!”

Dean examined the woman, observing the fear in her eyes, hearing the sincerity in her voice. He glanced at the car which sat idling before him. He knew it instantly. Holy shit, a Delgorian 130, just like in the movie! Dean held out a hand to the woman. “I’d love to help, if you could just-”

The woman cut him off again. “Just get rid of it! Put it somewhere no one can find it!” She pulled an envelope from her bra and slammed it into Dean’s chest. It was the first time he’d been touched by a woman since his divorce six months earlier. He flinched and spilled his coffee. His eyes watched the envelope fall to the pavement below.

Several potential customers and employees who were milling around the used car lot stopped to observe the commotion.

“You deal with cars,” the woman shouted, “You deal with this one!”

She took long, deliberate strides back to the car, reached inside, and snatched up her purse. Throwing the strap over her shoulder, she glared at Dean, let out a heavy sigh, and then said, “And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t drive it. Don’t let anyone drive it. Please.” She stepped closer to Dean. “Do you understand me?”

Dean fixed her with a blank expression and squinted.

“Do you fucking understand me?!” She shouted.

Dean gasped and stepped back. He nodded. “Y-yes. I understand you.”

The woman stepped within inches of Dean. She lowered her voice. “No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. Got it?”

A soft wind blew the woman’s scent of perfume and fresh shampoo up to Dean, stirring bleak memories and sorrow within. He nodded again and said flatly, “Yeah, I got it.”

The woman turned and hurried away, the short heels of her shoes clacking harshly against the pavement. Dean’s thoughts caught up with themselves and he realized how attractive he found her. He wondered if she was an actress or a model. He picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside were several folded papers. Dean glanced up, intending to call after the woman, just in time to see her ’round the corner out of the lot and head down the sidewalk. He looked at the car. It idled calmly. Dean suddenly felt like it was staring at him.

“Fuck me, man, a Delgorian 130!” An excited voice declared. “Where the hell did this come from? Don’t tell me someone was dumb enough to fuckin’ trade this in?”

“A woman just dropped it off,” Dean said to his co-worker.

“What?! You gotta be shittin’ me!” The co-worker boomed. Alec was loud, almost all the time.

Dean raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Yep, she just left it, just like that.”

Alec looked around. “Well, where’d she go?”

“Fucking took off,” Dean said.

“What?!” Alec yelled.

Dean winced at Alec’s volume. He explained, “Yeah man, she roared in here –literally- scared Beelzebub outta me, told me to take the car and get rid of it, slammed this envelope on my chest, made me spill my coffee, and took off.”

“Dude,” Alec said, “She made you spill your coffee?”

Dean nodded. “Yes, that she did.”

The car’s engine revved and sputtered. The two used car salesmen started at the sound.

“A Delgorian 130,” Alec said, his tone nearing reverent awe. “On the shittiest car lot in the shittiest part of town. What the actual fuck, man.”

“I know, right,” Dean said.

The late afternoon sun sparkled off the spotless silver hood of the car. Dean saw his and Alec’s images reflected in the dark, tinted driver side window. Their reflections bent and warped. Their bodies curved in the middle. Their faces melted. Their mouths opened and stretched as if in a silent wail.

Dean jumped back. “Did you see that, man?”

“See what, dude?” Alec gave Dean a look of concern. “I didn’t see anything other than a badass car, man. What’d you see?”

“I…” Dean began. He stopped. “Nothing, man, I think it was the light or something.”

“Alright, man,” Alec said.

Dean cleared his throat and straightened his tie. “Um, let’s get this car moved off the lot before Hinland comes out here and starts giving us shit. We can explain it to him later.”

“Good deal,” Alec agreed.

With a foreboding feeling in his gut, Dean walked toward the car. The engine cooed in a low idle. Dean approached the door, which the woman had left wide open. Get in, a voice said in the back of his mind. Dean’s brow wrinkled. He stopped. The woman’s admonition rang loud in his memory: No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. He quickly reached in, killed the engine, and tore the keys from the ignition. They dangled loud as he stuffed them in his pocket.

“Um, hey man,” Alec said.

“Yeah?”

“I thought you were gonna move the car.”

“The lady said not to drive it.”

Alec scoffed. “What?”

“Yeah, she said no one should drive it, especially not me.”

“Dude,” Alec said. “Why would she say some shit like that?”

Dean shrugged. “I dunno. She just did. And it gave me this weird feeling too, you know. Let’s just get Tony to move it with the wrecker.”

Alec shook his head and held out his hand. Dean sighed and turned over the keys. “Don’t be superstitious, dude,” Alec said.

Dean eyeballed Alec as he slipped into the car and brought it back to life. He revved the engine and lowered the window. “Hear that?” He shouted over the revving engine. “That’s power, dude!”

Alec stuck out his tongue and hooted. Dean chuckled and felt a bit of his apprehension slip away. Maybe that lady was just some whack job, he thought. Dean watched the car purr its way up the hill to the garage and he walked back to the showroom to get a new cup of coffee.

***

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the car. When Dean found himself in the garage standing in front of it that evening, he wasn’t so surprised. Alec had hung the keys with all the other sets after he parked the car in the farthest stall of the garage, after which he’d seemed to forget about the car altogether. Inexplicably, none of the other employees seemed to notice that it was there. None but Dean, who now held the keys tight in his right hand.

The woman’s stern words from that morning rang loud in his memory. A feeling in his gut and a fear in his heart told him to heed her warning. There seemed to be something wrong about the car. But what could be wrong about such a beautiful, perfect creation? Was this even a machine? It just seemed so… alive.

Dean’s pulse quickened. His mouth watered. His thoughts raced. It’s just a car. It’s just a car. It’s just a –

A sudden rush of pain registered in Dean’s mind. He opened his hand. He’d squeezed so hard that the car keys had cut into his palm. Blood glistened on the silver metal of the keys. “Ow, fuck!” He said.

Broken from his trance. Dean hurried out of the garage.

***

Dean was late to work the next morning. He slouched into the break room and grabbed a mug from the pantry. Alec stood near the coffee maker finishing the last bite of a doughnut.

“Dude, you look like roasted shit,” Alec said as Dean poured his first cup of coffee.

“Wow, thanks, fucker,” Dean returned.

The two chuckled and sipped on their coffee.

Dean said, “Hey, did Hinland mention anything about the car?”

“Um, which one? We work on a car lot.”

“You know, the Delgorian 130,” Dean said.

Alec laughed. “Yeah right, as if one of those would ever be here!”

“What the fuck do you mean? You drove it into the garage yesterday. Remember, that wacko lady left it here?”

Alec looked puzzled. “Uh, what lady? You alright there, buddy?”

“Of course I’m alright, I’m fucking fine!”

“Hey, dude, no need to raise your voice.”

“I’m not!” Dean screamed.

Alec stepped back and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly, he said, “Dude, I don’t know what the fuck this is all about, but I think you need to walk outside and cool off, and I think you need to do that right the fuck now.”

“I. Uh. Gree.” Dean said through clenched teeth. He took his coffee, left the breakroom and stomped out onto the lot. Two minutes later he was standing in front of the Delgorian 130, eyes wide in terror, wondering why the front of the car was covered in blood.

***

“Hey Dean, what’r ya lookin’ at?” Tony said.

Dean stuttered. “Th-th-the c-c-car. Th-the b-bl-blood.”

“The what?” Tony said, “There ain’t nothin’ there, bru. That stall’s been empty all week.”

Dean stopped breathing. His coffee mug fell from his hand. The mug exploded on the concrete floor. Tony stepped back.

“Hey, watch it, bru!” Tony exclaimed. “You just got frickin’ coffee all over my new work shoes!”

Dean faced Tony. The salesman’s mouth hung open. His skin was pale and clammy. Sweat was breaking on his brow.

Tony recoiled. “Jeez, bru, what the frick is wrong with you? You need to go to the doctor or sumthin.’”

Dean’s eyes jumped back and forth between Tony and the car, the car and Tony. His lips trembled. He babbled nonsense under his breath.

Tony reached out a hand. “Bru, lemme help you, c’mon.”

Dean yelped, turned, and ran out of the garage.

***

Reaching the showroom entrance, Dean slowed to a brisk walk. Trying to be inconspicuous, he slipped into the building and headed straight for his desk, where he collapsed into his chair and buried his face in his hands. He took deep breaths to slow his heartbeat, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Above the sound of his own breathing, he heard the showroom television. Someone had turned on the news. Dean tuned in to the droning voice of the reporter.

“It was here, in this off-ramp tunnel referred to locally as ‘bum alley’, that a classic sports car roared through the tent city at approximately two o’clock this morning, killing seven and wounding three others,” the newscaster said.

Dean raised his head toward the mammoth television. The screen cut to an eyewitness. A haggard woman dressed in varying shades of camouflage said, “It was a Delgorian 130, just like from the movie. I’d know that car anywhere! It came flying into the tunnel, musta been doin’ over a hundret, and ran everybody down and just kept on goin’. I didn’t see the driva, though, cause the windas was all kinda black. I was lucky I was over here and they didn’t see me and try to get me too.”

Another cut brought back the on-location reporter. “Lucky, indeed,” he said. “Police are asking that any sightings of the car in question -a silver 1985 Delgorian 130- be reported immediately. This is Leslie Keene reporting live for Action News. Back to you, Cindy.”

Dean puked in the plastic wastebasket by his desk. Tears streamed down his face. “What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck oh god oh god what the fuck,” he whispered to himself.

With a trembling hand, Dean opened the top left desk drawer to retrieve the package of tissue he kept handy. Through blurred vision he saw the envelope the woman had left with him the day before. He opened the envelope and removed the car’s registration, bill of sale, and title. Dean frowned. His eyes watered anew. He let the registration and bill of sale fall back into the drawer. He held the title in his shaking hands.

“Oh God,” he sobbed.

On the title, on the line marked “New Registered Owner”, Dean saw his name, in his handwriting, written in what looked like dark red ink. He glanced to his right hand. A dark red spot bloomed on the white bandage that covered the gash in his palm. Dean dropped the title into the drawer and slid it closed. He remembered the keys in his pocket, and suddenly, he felt like going for a drive.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Technological and Vehicular Terrors!

Technological Terrors and Vehicular Perils

by Kristin Battestella

Fasten your seat belts for these retro road rage terrors and ominous vintage vehicles.


The Car
 – Empty desert roads, dusty wakes, mountain tunnels, dangerous bends, and perilous bridges spell doom for run over bicyclists in this 1977 ride accented by Utah scenery, vehicular point of views, and demonic orange lighting. Regular rumbling motors, honking horns, and squealing tires are devilishly amplified as this cruiser uses everything at its disposal to tease its prey while up close grills and red headlights create personality. No one is safe from this Lincoln’s wrath! Rugged, oft shirtless single dad deputy James Brolin (The Amityville Horror) takes his daughters to school on a motorcycle, insisting they wear helmets because of course he can’t or it would hide that suave seventies coif and handlebar mustache. The hitchhiker musician hippie moments are dumb, however roadside folks don’t live long and witnesses aren’t helpful on plates, make, or model when people are getting run over on Main Street. What brought on this evil? Suggestions on the small town past with alcohol, domestic violence, and religious undercurrents go undeveloped alongside brief suspects, red herrings, and personal demons. Despite Native American slurs, it’s nice to see Navajo police officers and foreboding tribe superstitions as the phantom winds, cemetery safe havens, terrified horses, and school parades reveal there’s no driver in the car. Giant headsets, operators plugging in the phone lines, retro vehicles, and yellow seventies décor add to the sirens, decoys, roadblocks, radio chatter, and sparkling reflections from distant car mirrors as the real and fantastic merge thanks to this tricked out, mystically bulletproof, unnatural, and evil classic roaming about the rocky landscape. Although the editing between the unknown killer menace and asking why public fear is well filmed tense with foreground and background camera perspectives setting off turns around the bend or approaching headlights; some of the video is over cranked, ridiculously sped up action. It’s an inadvertently humorous high speed effect amid the otherwise ominous idling, slow pushes off high cliffs, and fiery crashes – our titular swanky flips but remains unscathed and it doesn’t even have door handles! Rather than embrace its horror potential or call the army and get some tanks or tractor trailers with passenger priests on this thing that no garage can contain, our police go it alone with a lot of dynamite for a hellish finale against the preposterous road rage. If you expect something serious you’ll surely be disappointed, but this can be an entertaining shout at the television good time. Besides, no matter how stinky, today you know we’d be on The Car: Part 12 with a different hunk per sequel battling the star Lincoln.

 

Killdozer!– Embarrassingly splendid outer space effects, red fireballs, and glowing blue rocks establish this 1974 science fiction horror television movie. Lovely sunsets, oceans, and island construction are here too for seriously deep voiced and strong chinned Clint Walker (Cheyenne) and the baby faced Spenser for Higher Robert Urich – who have some terribly wooden dialogue and tough scene chewing at hand. Our metallic humming meteorite whooshes its life force into the titular machinery, making the controls work by themselves amid fun point of view shots as the blade’s teeth inch closer to its target. Deathbed confessions are too fantastic to be believed when there’s work to be done, and the nasty foreman never takes off his hard hat even after the latent BFF gets really into the sensitive subtext over his fallen friend and tells nostalgic stories of how they swam alone together at night. Big K.D., meanwhile, destroys the radio – plowing over camp regardless of the caterpillar’s cut fuel line or some dynamite and fuel cans in its wake. But you could lose an eye on those huge ass walkie talkies with those dangerous antennas! Camera focuses on its little headlights a la eyes are also more humorous than menacing, and the puff puff choo choo out its smoke stack backtalk makes the supposedly evil facade more Little Engine that Could cute. Tight filming angles and fast editing belie the slow chases through the brush as everything is really happening at about ten miles an hour yet no one is able to outrun this thing, just crawl in front of it until crushed. Stereotypical Africa coastal comments, Irishman jokes, and a treated as inferior black worker always at the helm when something goes wrong also invoke a sense of white man imperialism getting what it deserves as they argue over on the job negligence and burying the bodies. Everybody’s testy, nobody shares information, and there’s an obligatory useless self sacrifice before the hard heads finally come together to destroy the indestructible with another rig, machino versus machino. Despite an occasionally menacing moment, this idiocy is more bemusing than fearful for an entertaining midnight movie laugh.

 

Night Drive – Valerie Harper (Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show) stars as a pursued murder witness in this 1977 television thriller – though I’m not sure about the Night Terror and Night Drive title switch a roo. The supporting cast is very after school special dry, yes. Everyone is a non-believing idiot or ass, and it’s tough to accept Harper as a fearful, neurotic, absent-minded, non-funny housewife. For an under 80 minute movie, the pacing is also slow to start with a lot of seemingly nothing happening – most of the scenes are silent and solitary, too. Fortunately, things get interesting when the highway horrors hit, and who can’t feel for a mom we love in peril? Sure, the filmmaking is a little dated or unintentionally comical – I think the station wagon has a lot to do with that! However, desolate roadways and abandoned curbside locales keep things atmospheric. Today we take for granted how easy it is to get from one place to another thanks to GPS, Bluetooth, cell phones, or cars that can dial 911 or tell us where to go.  As a result, some basic suspense sequences here have the viewer holding one’s breath or shouting at the television, and it all makes for an entertaining little show.


Road Games
 – Stacy Keach (Mike Hammer) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) get right to the big rigs, radio chatter, hitchhikers, meat factories, seedy hotels, and nude strangulations in this 1981 Australian trek complete with rival green vans, dingoes in peril, and ominous coolers in the backseat. Classical music, harmonicas, idle word games, and poetry quotes pepper the boredom of the open road alongside mocking others on the highway – the packed station wagon, a nagging wife passenger, bratty kids in the backseat, and naughty newlyweds. Radio reports about a killer on the loose add to the shattered windows, jamming on the brakes, squealing tires, and suspicious shortcuts while our van man dumps unusual garbage and digs holes in the middle of the Outback. Interesting rearview mirror angles and well done rear projection make up for some of the talkativeness, for all speculation about our mystery driver has to be out loud because we have so few characters amid the cliff side hazards and chases through the brush. Does he have sex with his female victims before he kills them and chops them up? Is this just a bemusing puzzle to occupy the time or is the sleepless sleuthing and overactive imagination getting the best of our truck driver? Down Under road signs, truck stops, and country locales accent the arcade games, cigarette machines, and patchy phone calls to the clueless police as the engines rev up with dangerous high-speed chases, motorcycles, decoys, and abductions. Lightning strikes, rainbows, sunsets, headlights, and car alarms set off the tense zooms as the cops accuse our heart on his sleeve driver – and the suspicious banging in the back of his overweight haul. This isn’t full-on horror as some audiences may expect, but hanging pork and red lighting do a lot with very little. Perilous curves and speeding accidents bring the race right into the city streets with alley traps, crushing vehicles, and a tasty fun finish.


For More SF Horrors, Revisit:

Tales from the Darkside Season 3

Island of Doctor Moreau (1977)

Kong: Skull Island

My Darling Dead : Bastards – Episode Six, Summons

Dashani, wife of Orteg pushed the hair back from her face and tugged at the knot holding the bandage to her gangrenous leg. Ignoring the smell and the pain, she cinched up the knot and turned back to the stove. Stoking the fire within, she stirred the mixture of corn and water she had been boiling for over an hour, softening it for her children who had been blissfully asleep beneath the bearskin rug. For the hundredth time, she leaned back from the stove, looking out the window and up the path for Orteg.

Instead of her husband, she found six large men coming up the path on horses, clad in the black armor of the castle guards. Their spears were tall and sharp, their faces cruel beneath the helmets. Dashani felt her stomach sink into her feet. She dropped the spoon in the pan of corn and limped across the room to her children, reaching them just as the door crashed open. The children, wakened by the noise, cried beneath the blanket as the soldiers stomped into the room, three of them leveling spears at the family.

“Dashani Washburn and children?” said the leader, his face a hard blank.

“Who are you? What are you doing here? Why–?”

The butt of the leader’s spear struck Dashani in the leg on her bandage, bringing a fresh welling of blood forth to redden the dirty cloth. Dashani screamed in agony as the leader bellowed in her face

“Are you Dashani Washburn and are these your whelps or are they not?” The point of the spear swung around to poke her in the throat. She gulped back her screams as blood trickled from the wound in her throat. “By the gods, woman, answer me now or all four of you will perish for the time you have wasted me.”

“I am she!” Dashani wailed, her voice cracking as the children screamed beneath the bearskin rug. The leader swung the spear away from her throat and barked a harsh order in another language to the rest of the men. Four of them grabbed each corner of the bearskin rug, heaving mightily as they brought all four corners together with a twist, locking the three children in a bag with its edges neatly tied. The muffled cries from within pierced Dashani as the fifth soldier leveled his own spear at her.

“Move,” the leader said.

Dashani was bullied out the door, nearly falling from the stairs to the ground but catching herself on her injured leg, which nearly buckled. She turned to see the soldier carrying the sack which contained her children sling it over his horse and seat himself in the saddle behind it. The leader swung himself onto his own horse with a quick practiced movement and before she knew what was happening, she had been pulled forcefully up behind him. He wrapped her arms around his chest and turned his head to speak.

“We ride to the castle. Hold tightly. If you make us stop, you will regret it.”

He shouted a command to the other soldiers, now mounted, and heeled his horse in the ribs. The horse reared, Dashani clutching in terror to the leader’s armored chest. He nudged the horse again and it galloped down the trail. Behind them, Dashani could hear the thunder of the other horses following them. She closed her eyes, resting her head against the impassive back of the man, and waited for the pain in her leg to stop.

Over the course of that long ride, Dashani tried several times to talk to the man, shouting questions in first one ear, then the other, in case he was hard of hearing. Each time she was met with silence. The last time, the man turned his head just a little and the look he gave her was enough to motivate her to stop trying.

They went on and on, over bridges spanning muddy creeks, past withered orchards with hornets buzzing around their heads. At one point, they were followed by several rat people who scurried along the sides of the road after them, making strange shrieking sounds between them. Dashani felt a moment’s fear but the leader just urged his horse on to greater lengths and they were soon lost.

Finally, they rounded a bend and the castle loomed in the distance. The sight of it awoke the terror Dashani had been keeping barely at bay. She fixed her eyes on the castle, the dread in her rising as it got closer. Whatever had caused them to be summoned here, it could be nothing good.

The leader felt her grip on him loosen, then it vanished. Looking around, he saw the foolish woman rolling in the dust before pushing herself to her feet as well she could and diving into the bushes lining the path. With an oath, the leader wheeled his horse around, waving for the other men to continue on their way. Skidding to a halt, he slid to the ground, listening to the hoofbeats of the other soldiers fade. Slowly the silence of the countryside reasserted itself. He stood perfectly still, listening to the sound of birds and the little brook nearby. A puff of wind rattled some leaves. Time passed. Then, a twig snapped. The leader grinned and moved toward the edge of the road.

Dashani crouched in the tall brush lining the road, down several feet in a ditch which ran both sides of this section of road. She was about ten feet off the road and did not dare to make another move. She could not see the road but she couldn’t hear anything. Still, there was no way the man had not stopped to retrieve her. His threat made her blood run cold. She could not believe she had jumped. She could not remember doing it. What had she been thinking?

She was terrified to move, afraid he would hear her. Still, she couldn’t stay here forever. She turned her head. Seeing the brush thin slightly, she moved toward it. Beneath one foot, a twig snapped. She screamed curse words and admonishments inside her head as she held her breath and waited. Several moments passed and she had almost worked up the nerve to try again when she heard the whinny of a horse.

Dread fell upon her like a scalding blanket. As she turned to run, a slim silver dagger flashed through the mid-morning sun and stabbed her through the throat. She fell to her knees, clutching at the handle protruding from her neck as blood spurted from the wound in strengthening gouts. Trying to gasp, she coughed on her own blood, spraying the foliage before her, painting it a bright red. Fighting for breath, she saw the leader materialize out of the bushes right in front of her. She had time to marvel at how quiet he was for such a big man before he pulled the knife from her throat.

“I warned you, foolish woman,” he said. He knelt beside her and pulled her head back, raising the knife. Her eyes grew wide and her bloody mouth managed to form the word NO before the knife’s keen edge sliced all the way through her windpipe.

The man watched her bleed, her eyes wide as she struggled for breath and her hands covered the gash in her throat, mindlessly attempting to stem the flow of blood as her movements grew weaker. He licked his lips and his breathing grew ragged as he surveyed the rest of her. Except for that nasty leg, she was in pretty good condition. He felt himself grow hard as he watched the light fade from her eyes, color rising in his face as it drained from hers. It would be a nuisance to remove his armored leggings, he thought, loosening his belt, but it would be worth it.

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 15 Beastly Movies for Your Animal Horror Fix

I love monsters (I know, I say that every time). While there are an endless number of man-made, supernatural, and space-dwelling varieties to choose from, nature has supplied plenty of her own. Whether you’re looking for something that crawls, swims, slithers, or climbs, I’ve got the movies for you.

Apes

When it comes to the original movie mega monster, you can’t argue with the King. 1933 brought us King Kong and the start of the longest dynasty in monster movie history. King Kong has the impressive distinction of having few imitators. Unlike other massive monsters (and we’ll get to those in a minute), King Kong was given a distinctive personality that made it difficult for generic remakes to get a foothold. There have been King Kong movies made every decade since the original.

Sharks

Considering we live in a world that has given us multiple Sharknado films, it’s hard to believe that sharks weren’t always popular horror fodder. Until 1975, sharks didn’t get much play time on the screen (outside of pirate films). Now, of course, there’s no shortage of the toothy monsters.

Spiders

By far the smallest creature on this list, spiders are still a top phobia the world over. Horror snakes come in two varieties: overgrown monstrosities or a pack of a million tiny crawlies. Pick your poison, but I’d rather stay away.

Snakes

Why did it take so long for snakes to make their way into the horror lexicon? For so long, they stayed a tool of cults and villains rather than the central antagonist. Regardless, once they slithered into the genre, snakes made themselves at home as B-Movie stars.

Crocodiles

When it comes to giant lizards, nature has more than enough to offer. Mix ancient biology with massive teeth and murky water and you have a horror dream.

Is there a great animal horror film that I’ve missed? Drop your favorites in the comments.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Lurker

 

Plotline: A group of theater students, celebrating their final show, begin to slowly disappear one at a time.

Who would like it: Fans of slashers and teen screams 

High Points: The plot twist

Complaints: None

Overall: I liked it, it was a fun movie to watch

Stars: 4 1/2

Where I watched it: Screener link

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

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Book Review: Arterial Bloom edited by Mercedes M. Yardley

Book Review: Arterial Bloom edited by Mercedes M. Yardley
Reviewed by Daphne Strasert

Unthemed anthologies are always a bit of a gamble for the reader. Without a common thread tying the stories together, you can’t be sure that each story will hold your attention the same way. Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes M. Yardley and published by Crystal Lake, may be unthemed, but there is still a common core to the stories: quality. The writing in each and every story is lush and literary. The story themes vary from whimsical to harsh realism, but they are each gripping in their own way.

The Stone Door by Jimmy Bernard

This story about three sisters trying to live their lives in the place of an ever-present threat is tense and dark. Bernard uses the terror of the unknown to great effect. The story is better for being underexplained. It’s plenty terrifying as it is. A sense of hopelessness creeps in between the words as the sisters’ fight to survive keeps them from truly living.

Dog (Does Not) Eat Dog by Grant Longstaff

Longstaff uses his story to take a harsh look at interpersonal relationships during the apocalypse. What does it take to survive? Do you really want to survive if it means losing humanity? His exploration of what hardship and hopelessness may bring out in some people is frightening in its realism.

Kudzu Stories by Linda J. Marshall

Marshall turns a short story even shorter, weaving together a series of stories set in the same small town. With the backdrop of the Mississipi river, Kudzu Stories has a distinctly southern feel. Her writing conjures up hot, humid nights and crickets in the dark, with a dash of something more sinister waiting in the dense kudzu. Truly one of my favorites in this anthology.

Dead Letters by Christopher Barzak

With Dead Letters, Barzak creates a unique and heartfelt story about grief and love. I can’t give much detail without spoiler several marvelous twists, but rest assured, it’s a deeply moving and personal story that explores emotions I didn’t even know I had.

The Darker Side of Grief by Naching T Kassa

Kassa is one of my favorite authors to see in any anthology. The Darker Side of Grief is my favorite work from her so far. It’s a dark tale of a boy haunted by the death of his mother that explores the magnitude of childhood bravery. It’s traditionally scary in a way that few other stories in the anthology are.

Welcome to Autumn by Daniel Crow

Crow’s story of a missing artist and the forces working against him is twisty and trippy. His concept is fascinating and something I would love to learn more about. More than that, the small setting he uses allows him to tell the story through characters in a unique and layered way.

Still Life by Kelli Owen

Still Life is a painting made with words. The vivid imagery is nothing like I’ve ever read before. The story itself winds slowly into you with hints of terror that lurk on the sidelines. It’s a beautiful slow burn with a shocking ending.

Three Masks by Armand Rosamilia

Rosamilia tells several stories at once in Three Masks, showcasing the way two people may come to share their lives in infinite ways. Even with parallels running between each possible storyline, he manages to capitalize on shock value. You’re never sure of what will happen. It’s a literary piece that pushes the boundaries of traditional story telling.

Doodlebug by John Boden

Doodlebug tells the story of an arsonist. It’s a slow burn (ha) with a slithering sense of dread as you wait for what horror will happen next. Boden dives into the psyche of the main character, turning her psychology into the true star of the show. It’s a deeply creepy story not for any overt terror, but for the exploration that there could be any sort of monster hiding behind the façade of a human being.

Happy Pills by Todd Keisling

I loved Happy Pills. Keisling’s story presents a man who will try anything if it will ease the absence of feeling inside him. The description of anxiety and depression is hauntingly visceral and so accurate that it hit home for me in a powerful way. The writing is excellent, with vivid descriptions that match the Lovecraftian tone of the piece.

What Remained of Her by Jennifer Loring

What Remained of Her follows a woman’s desperate search for answers in the disappearance of her sister. The build and suspense in this story is great. The ending is nothing like you would suspect. Loring manages to create a gripping mystery worthy of a novel in a short story format.

Blue Was Her Favorite Color by Dino Parenti

Blue was Her Favorite Color honestly made me shudder as I read it. The story follows a father as he watches the grieving process of his young daughter. Parenti took his time in laying the groundwork for a truly horrifying and unexpected reveal. The creeping horror of this tale will be with me for a long time to come.

In the Loop by Ken Liu

Liu’s story is a masterpiece of technological horror. In the Loop tells the story of a woman who programs machines of war. While it could technically be considered science fiction, the truth of his story matter is much closer to the reality of today. In the Loop isn’t traditional horror, relying instead of the horror found in ethical decisions made every day.

The Making of Mary by Steven Pirie

In The Making of Mary, Pirie turns the language of science into a love letter. This story of Gaia guised in mortal flesh is more of a romance than a horror story, but it’s filled with such beautiful imagery and heartfelt characters, that it belongs alongside the rest of the writing in this anthology.

Mouths Filled with Seawater by Jonathan Cosgrove

Mouths Filled with Seawater is a complicated story woven through the mind of unreliable narrator. It’s hard to know exactly what is going on, but the confusion just adds to the concern of just what the narrator is capable of doing. Cosgrove storytelling is unique and perfectly suited to the tortured tale he presented.

Rotten by Carina Bissett

Rotten is a horror tale in a glossy fairy-tale wrapping. The story of a girl coming of age under her mother’s withering guidance is dark and painful. Bissett’s characters are sinister in the best way imaginable. They come to life under the sharp and vivid language. The series of snippets in the character’s life are each the perfect bite.

I was impressed with Arterial Bloom. Each author brought their absolute best to the table and the editor pulled together a collection of wildly different stories into a coherent piece. I recommend it whole-heartedly to fans of both horror and literature.

Looking for more anthologies? Try Tales from the Lake: Volume 5, Monsters of Any Kind, or Lost Highways.

HorrorAddicts.net 182, Dark Divinations

Horror Addicts Episode# 182
SEASON 15 “Cursed, Cubed”
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe


dark divinations special! | beauty in the suffering | wishmaster

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Dark Divination Special 20:13

Naching T. Kassa and Emerian Rich chat about Dark Divination and host readings by: Hannah Hulbert, Jon O’Bergh, Rie Sheridan Rose, R.L. Merrill, Emerian Rich, Jeremy Megargee, Daphne Strasert, HRR Gorman, Alan Fisher 

They Wound Like Worms audiodrama

And story profiles of Joe L. Murr, Ash Hartwell, Stephanie Ellis, Michael Fassbender


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Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Naching T. Kassa

DarkDivBanner

Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Nachingwriterpic2019Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

My interest began in 1985 with the Granada TV series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the BBC. I’d seen westerns and other period dramas, and I had always loved mysteries, but this was the first one which resonated with me. I became obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and all things Victorian.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

My favorite is The Hound of the Baskervilles. And even though Sherlock Holmes doesn’t appear in most of the story, it’s still a masterful tale. I love how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took a legend he’d heard from one of his friends and turned it into a great horror story. 

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola is my favorite. Not only are the visuals sumptuous and beautiful, but the script is also close to the book. No other movie or television show I’m aware of has adopted the epistolary style. You also see Dracula as an old man with hairy palms, the scarring of Mina with the sacred host, and the ship Demeter which brings Dracula to England. Some liberties are taken with the story, and some of the actors are a bit wooden, but it is a fairly faithful adaptation of the story.

Are your characters based on real people?

My character, Jacob, is based on a real person. There have been many theories as to this person’s true identity, but I don’t think anyone really knows who he is.

What are you most afraid of?

Horrible things happening to those I love.

Dark Divinations is the first anthology you’ve every edited for HorrorAddicts.net. What part of the process did you find the most difficult?

The hardest part of editing this anthology was choosing from all the wonderful submissions we had. There were so many good ones, so many I wish we could’ve included. Unfortunately, a major reason why these stories didn’t make the grade was failure to include all three elements of the theme. There had to be an element of horror, a method of divination, and it had to take place in the Victorian era. If a story contained these elements, it made it to the next phase where I checked to see if the voice was true to the period. I also checked for historical accuracy.

It was difficult letting some of these stories go and I want to thank all the authors who subbed and didn’t make it. Your stories were good. They just didn’t fit the vision of the anthology. I think this is something we authors fail to take into account. We automatically assume we’re no good when we receive a rejection. And that’s not the case at all.

What’s the best part of editing an anthology?

Showcasing wonderful talents. The people who’ve written stories for this anthology are terrific writers, and their takes on the theme were diverse and imaginative. I loved that they did their research and came up with such exciting methods of divination. We have tea leaf reading, dreaming, scrying, stichomancy, entrail reading, crystal balls, seances, throwing the bones, and even arachnomancy. (Arachnomancy is the use of a spider to tell the future, in this case, the spider’s web.) These writers are so creative! I hope the readers will enjoy their work as much as I have.

You’ve mentioned all the elements you looked for in the story. Was there anything else which served as the deciding factor in your choices?

Yes, the story had to be fun. I don’t know about how others read, but I tend to cherry-pick the anthologies I read. I don’t read them in order from first to last. I pick what looks most interesting to me and go from there. All the stories in here are fun to read, no matter what order you decide to read them in.

What is your favorite form of divination?

The Ouija board! I’ve had some weird experiences with that particular divination device. It’s predicted some things which actually came true. Several had to do with stories I would write and jobs I would hold.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I have a Sherlock Holmes story called, “The Adventure of Marylebone Manor,” coming out this year. It’s in Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives, edited by John Linwood Grant and published by Belanger Books. And on April 3, my story, “The Darker Side of Grief,” was published in Arterial Bloom. The anthology was edited by Mercedes M. Yardley and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m really excited about this story.

I’m also a staff writer for Crystal Lake Publishing’s new fiction series, Still Water Bay. The series debuted April 27th.

Addicts, you can find Naching on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Logbook of Terror: Debbie’s Box

Russell Holbrook

A chilly wind brushed Debbie’s hair back from her shoulders and caused her eyes to water as she stared down at the box in her hands. Children and their parents milled around her, exploring the items strewn across the tables at the yard sale. Low thunder rolled across the gray sky and Debbie’s mother appeared at her side.

“Whatcha got there, kiddo?” Debbie’s mom asked.

Debbie successfully repressed the urge to roll her eyes at her mom’s use of the word “kiddo” and replied, “It’s some kind of weird box.”

Without asking, Debbie’s mom took the box from her teenage daughter’s hands. Thunder cracked again and the wind picked up. Her mother squinted at the box, a rectangular chest that looked like it could’ve been built by a high school shop class dropout. It was composed of ill-fitted, matte black planks of wood held together by tarnished silver corners, hinges, and clasps. Both the sides and top were adorned with symbols that leapt and curled in bright, sparkling purple. Painted in pink cursive, the proclamation “Debbie’s Box” was plopped down into the scrawl of symbols that covered the top of the lid.

“Huh, look at that,” Debbie’s mom said, pointing at the lid. “It already has your name on it.” She added sarcastically, “It was meant to be.”

This time Debbie let her eyes roll while her mother laughed at her own joke.

“You want it?” Debbie’s mom asked.

“Yeah, I can keep my tapes in it,” Debbie said.

Debbie’s mom chuckled. “It’s 2020 and cassette tapes are making a comeback. I didn’t see that one coming.”

Debbie frowned. “It’s an underground movement, mother.”

Debbie’s mom smiled and handed the box back to her daughter. “I’m sure it is.”

Another clash of thunder reverberated overhead. Debbie’s mom looked up. “That one was closer. We better settle up and get back home before the rain hits.”

Twenty minutes later Debbie was sitting on her bed, staring at the box, wondering what -if anything- might be inside, and who the other Debbie was; what was she like, and what did she do? Where was she from and where did she go? The woman running the yard sale hadn’t had had any answers to the questions that Debbie asked her. She’d claimed she didn’t even know where the box had come from and assumed that one of the other three yard sale participants must have brought it. There wasn’t even a price tag on it so the lady had just accepted Debbie’s mother’s offer of five dollars.

Debbie reached out and flipped the dull silver clasps. She lifted the lid and leaned over to peer inside. A putrid stench wafted up out of the box. Debbie coughed and recoiled, covering her mouth and nose. With eyes watering from the odor, she slowly moved closer and looked into the box.

There were teeth. They covered the bottom of the burgundy velvet-lined box. They looked human. Debbie’s brow crinkled. She looked closer. Mixed in with the teeth were locks of hair, all blond and all held together with pink bows. Debbie counted the clumps of hair. There were thirteen. Beneath one of the locks of hair was a folded square of notebook paper. Debbie brushed the hair aside and picked the paper up. She unfolded the square and read.

Dear Debbie,

             If you are reading this note, you have found the box and been led to open it. That also means you have been chosen and you are now the new Debbie. The burden and chore which were mine are now yours, may you carry them well until the time comes for you to pass them to another.

             Sincerely,

             All my love,

             Debbie

            

“What in the…?” Debbie gazed at the box and its contents, confounded and bewildered.

Footsteps echoed in the foyer. Debbie’s mom called her name from the bottom of the stairs.

“Yeah, mom?” Debbie answered.

“Soup’s ready!” Her mother yelled.

“Okay, I’ll be right down!” Debbie replied, even though she thought it might be difficult to eat with so many questions brewing in her mind.

******

The soup was terrible, as Debbie’s mom’s homemade soup always was, but Debbie choked it down and felt grateful to have a mother who would cook her something warm to eat. An hour later she was hungry again. She found her mom in the den watching TV and told her she was heading out to the supermarket to get her favorite, frozen cheese pizza. Her mom told Debbie that she was nuts to go out in the storm but handed over the keys anyway, gave her a kiss, and sent her on her way.

The supermarket was empty. The standard pop fare flittered out of dull, hidden speakers. Debbie stood in front of the frozen pizza selection, wondering if she would try a new brand or just go with the usual. She heard a voice next to her. A man. He said, “Can’t make up your mind?”

Debbie turned and their eyes met. He’s cute, Debbie thought, looking into his blue orbs, taking note of his clean, blond hair.  She smiled.

Holy fuck I can’t wait to get this one back home and take my hacksaw to her filthy baby maker, the man thought.

Debbie gasped. Her face hardened. “Excuse me?” She said.

The man grinned and held up his hands. “Woah there, I was just saying it looks like you can’t make up your mind on which pizza to get.” You dirty goddamn slut.

The man’s thoughts and intentions invaded Debbie’s mind, heart, and soul, cutting her, bleeding her spirit. She felt tears well in her eyes. She remembered the note. The burden and chore which were mine are now yours.

Debbie cleared her throat. She chuckled nervously. “Oh, yeah, just trying to decide if I should try a new brand or stick with the old reliable.”

The man grinned again. Suddenly, Debbie saw the smile through the eyes of another woman, and another, and another, and still yet another and another. Blood dribbled from the thin lips, trailing down the chiseled, handsome chin. The smile widened and revealed sickeningly white teeth. Debbie saw what the teeth had done. She blinked. The visions faded.

“I think it’s healthy to try new things,” the man said, still smiling.

Debbie’s mind focused. A bright, new power bloomed inside her. She felt a smile of her own growing across her lips. She opened the freezer door and grabbed the first cheese pizza she saw. It was a brand she’d never heard of before.

“You know,” she said. “I think you’re right.” She dropped the pizza into her basket. “How do you feel about frozen cheese pizza?”

The man seemed to smile even wider. “I think I love it.”

“Good, because I don’t like to eat alone,” Debbie said, simultaneously marveling at the words coming out of her mouth and the confidence with which they were being spoken.

“We can go to my place, it’s just around the bend,” the man said.

“Wonderful,” Debbie replied. “I just need to swing by the hardware section and pick up one last thing.”

“Oh, what’s that?” The man scoffed.

“A hammer,” Debbie said.

“What for?”

Debbie let her own smile widen and fill with mischievous glee. “I’ve got some work to do.”

The man shrugged and followed Debbie out of the frozen foods aisle.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Witches and Demons!

Witches and Demons, Oh My!

By Kristin Battestella

It’s always the right time to beware of witches, spirit boards, divinations, and demons!

The Covington Witches – These two 2019 episodes combine for over an hour and a half of funerals, candles, rituals, witches, and tarot in an African American infused Philadelphia ripe for a horror tale. Clearly, this is a shoestring production with a forgivable low budget, uneven sound, okay lighting, and some amateur performances. However, the extremely tight camerawork not just cuts the proverbial corners but crops out half the picture – heads are cut off and viewers are left looking at a wall while people talk outside the frame. Unnecessary editing and location notations for every scene contribute to the cluttered feeling, and the barren design somehow feels crowded, interfering with the naturalistic conversations about wrangling in reluctant family members with magic warnings. Ominous music adds to the natural banter – which is nice when we can see both people in the uninterrupted frame properly as more relatives end up dead thanks to mysterious boxes, tea readings, and suspect fires. Mourners dressed in black, cemetery scenes, and wide outdoor shots create much-needed scene-setting breathers alongside intriguing homemade voodoo dolls, teaching spells, incense, and goddess prayers. Purification charms and chants escalate as nieces ask if they are dark witches or do magic for light but aren’t afraid either way. The ladies are getting nasty with the evil spells, so why can’t the elder family just tell the ones who don’t know about all the witchcraft? Real estate runarounds and binding spells end up going too far with some penis removal magic, and that’s certainly more interesting than going to this house, then visiting that house, asking for coffee, and then leaving before the beverage is made. Why certain children don’t know they are witches and why one distant niece comes into wealth and property isn’t fully explained, and the pace is slow with redundant, roundabout scenes creating confusion. Are we missing an important piece of the puzzle or just left to wonder if a cryptic scene serves any purpose? Phone calls with nothing but “What does it all mean?” and “I don’t know” waste time before men who don’t know what they’re in for meet an abrupt end and leave us wanting the rest of the story. This is based on a self-published book series, and there isn’t a lot of information about whether this show is intended as an in house web series, one supersized book trailer, or a pilot to shop for something bigger – which it had the potential to be.

Wishmaster – I Dream of Jeannie spoiled us on the nature of granting wishes, and a malevolent, puckish Djinn runs amok in this 1997 Wes Craven produced dark fantasy starring Andrew Divoff (Air Force One) and Freddy Krueger Robert England with a cameo from Candyman Tony Todd. Opening scrolls telling of unholy potential immediately set a fiery mood alongside an 1127 Persia apothecary, potions, cauldrons, mystical gems, and alchemy. Present-day rock outs, tennis yuppies, and smarmy auctioneers are dated, yet there’s a frightfully fantastic mixing with modern industrial thanks to maze-like museums, living statues, and slimy cadavers. Some hokey effects also feel too eighties, but payphones and answering machines that say Pacific Bell and Bell South, whoa! Skeletons and more effective gore accent the too good to be true, “All you have to do is ask” tricks, leaving the regretful and maimed in our djinn’s wake. He’s not lying in saying he only bargains with what people give him – reminding viewers to speak carefully when wishing someone was dead or offering to sell one’s soul for a cigarette. Such suspense is fine on its own without circling zooms and crescendos, for we want to see the antagonist’s personality, interconnected visions, and growing powers. Ironically, we like Tammy Lauren (Homefront) less, but she isn’t stupid or made a bimbo while investigating the Zoroastrian myths. Although the escalating creepy crawlies are fun, the plot descends into set chases, explosions, and ineffective shootouts with some deus ex machina in outwitting the djinn. The ancient prologue, first act release, and collecting of restoring skingraphs or eyeballs are also similar to Dracula 2000 and The Mummy – evil flirts, shops, preys, leaving boils along the way. This girl power action horror pace feels like a precursor to more recent spectacles, and while we chuckle at the un-scary B movie fun, it’s pleasing to see the non-Western horror of this demented little cautionary tale.

 

Witchboard – A Ouija board and one bad yuppie party leads to the release of a malevolent spirit in this 1987 scarefest. Granted, it doesn’t say much when Tawny Kitaen (The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik-Yak) does the best acting here as both her rival male suitors are lame and full of their own bromance, manpain, and perhaps a whiff of latent innuendo. There’s unintentional comedy, too, with heaps of eighties fun including wild hair, punk styles, one earring, and waterbeds. I mean, you don’t see rainbow colored mohawks every day! Old technology such as microfilm, payphones, and cool Cobra cars are pleasing as well despite a lingering hokey, dated Valley lingo, laughably bad special effects, and contrived leaps to advance the plot. Fortunately, eerie hospitals, cemeteries, and foggy dreams add atmosphere while askew wide lenses and overhead whooshes provide a poltergeist perspective. Creepy Ouija movements, solo reading sessions, and freaky séances build suspense alongside pregnancy twists, zany psychics, and violent ghostly attacks. Who knew just spelling out with the planchette was so intense! Lovely architecture and retro styles feel eighties does forties, and there’s a reason for this throwback tone. The spirits also remain mostly unseen – except when the evil is ax happy that is. Because ghosts can wield axes, FYI. There is brief nudity and language, but this simple story does a lot without resorting to bimbo extremes or cheap fouls. Dockside mishaps and shower perils top of a goofy but fitting finale, and though of its time, this remains fun and entertaining.

Skip It

Salem – 1685 stocks, brandings, church bells, and cries for mercy open this 2014 thirteen-episode debut before pregnancies, torches, forest rituals, hooting owls, and promises of power. By 1692 Salem is swept with witch fever as bodies hang and rhetoric warns the devil is in town. Screaming girls are tied down over claims that a hag is terrorizing them – and there is indeed an unseen succubus leaping upon the helpless. Preachers insist they must save their promised land from this insidious invisible hell as sermons and town hall meetings become one and the same. Suspect midwives, old witnesses, and secrets intensify the witch hunt debates as families recall the original English hysteria and proud witchfinder ancestry. Although arguments about a girl not being possessed just touched in the head and in need of a doctor seem recent, it’s nice to see the reverse of typical exorcism stories where confounded doctors come before prayer interventions. Chants, contortions, and taxidermy lead to full moon dancing rituals, animal head masks, fiery circles, baby skull offerings, sacrifices, effigies, and entrails. Unfortunately, nobody notices witches talking openly in the town square nor minds a woman taking charge when she has no rights but through her husband. Ladies speaking out over their exploitation is far too contemporary – along with out of place comeback quips and jarring modern sarcasm. Instead of real tribe names, talk of savages and conflated French and Indian War references pepper speeches about saving the country when we weren’t even one yet. Killing innocents goals and grand rites achievements are reduced to the coven wanting to get rid of the Puritans so Salem can be theirs even though they are already in power behind the scenes and getting on their forest sabbaths. The witches versus ministry conflict with some pretending to be the other is drama enough without Shane West’s (Dracula 2000) millennial grandstanding compromising Janet Montgomery’s (Merlin) Mary Sibley. Is this about the falsely accused, misunderstood, and lovelorn or the naked, ethereal witches taking the devil’s power for their spellbound husbands and familiar frogs? Revealing the supernatural at work creates an uneven back and forth that goes directly against the witches’ motivations. Stay in their point of view or play it straight on the devil or innocent and let the audience decide which side we’re on – attempting both evil and romance is far too busy and binds in name only historical figures and potentially juicy characters with weak, pedestrian male trappings. Hypocrite ministers terrorize the congregation when not cowering at torturing witches or having sex at the Puritan brothel like this is Game of Thrones. After bamboozling EnterpriseI was already leery of creator Brannon Braga, and an old hat, run of the mill tone hampers the writing team. In addition to rotating directors, there are only a few women behind the scenes, and weird Marilyn Manson music provides a trying to be hip that’s more CW than BBC. Wealthy lace and tavern drab visually divide our neighbors amid period woodwork, forges, and rustic chimneys while gothic arches and heavy beams add colonial mood. Churches and cemeteries contrast dark woods, glimpses of horned and hoofed figures, skeleton keys, and spooky lanterns however the blue gradient is too obviously modern. Pretty windows and latticework are too polished, and clean streets give away the Louisiana set town rather than on location imbued. Superficial costuming is noticeably inaccurate, and once I saw a Victorian filigree necklace I got at Hot Topic, well, that was pretty much it for this show.

For More Witchy, Revisit:

Witches and Bayous

Witches of East End 

Teen Witch

Odds and Dead Ends: The danger of the future in ‘A Warning to the Curious’ by M. R. James

“May I ask what you intend to do with it next?”

“I’m going to put it back.”

The 1972 Christmas adaptation of the classic M. R. James ghost story, A Warning to the Curious, perfectly captured the unique terror of the story, a terror that was at the heart of most of James’ classics. In the tale, an amateur archaeologist finds himself on the trail of an ancient Anglian crown said to protect the ancient kingdom from invasion, but is pursued by its ghostly protector intent on keeping it hidden. What drives the story is that the past should remain in the past, admired from a distance but never defiled for personal gain, lest destruction be wrought on more than just the individual.

For note, I’m going to discuss the story in detail, so, spoilers ahead. Just a little warning to the curious.

The idea of a ghostly companion isn’t something new; for one such example, Sheridan Le Fanu used a disturbing rendition of a demonic presence in Green Tea, about a man who had his third eye opened to a demon, which takes the shape of a monkey with glowing red eyes that haunts his every waking moment. As James was a great admirer of Le Fanu’s work, and helped compile several volumes of his stories, he would have obviously been aware of this story, and the ghostly companion idea.

For James, however, he uses this device for more than just scaring people. James in his personal life was most at home in the old libraries of Cambridge and Eton, as a medievalist and scholar. He was, for all intents and purposes, very much afraid of radical changes of life, especially through technology and social upheaval. The First World War is said to have affected him tremendously, to hear and know of his students, and friends, dying in the trenches abroad. All of this helps us understand where James comes from when his story puts so much emphasis on maintenance of a status quo, of letting the past lie.

It’s interesting to me that in both the original short story and the BBC adaptation, the main character, Paxton, is going through a period of personal lifestyle change. In the short story he is in the process of moving to Sweden, and spending a last few weeks in England before he follows his belongings abroad. In the BBC version, Paxton has been a clerk for twelve years before his company folded the week before, and he decided to follow up on the story of the Anglian crown as a result of nothing else to do, and nothing left to lose; a chance of making a name for himself. The curiosity in finding an ancient relic, and using it to begin a new life (economically and socially on the screen, as a metaphorical omen of good luck for a new beginning in the original), morphs into Paxton’s eventual undoing.

Even the title spells out the intended meaning of the text; don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. And that in both versions of the text, the re-burial of the crown doesn’t deter the spirit from pursuing Paxton, is further proof that the uncovering of the artifact is not simply a physical defiling of the past, but an endangerment on a larger scale. By removing the crown, there is danger of the shores being invaded, bringing about that social upheaval and radical change that James feared so much. To deter others from doing likewise, and having knock-on effects which negatively influences the wider world, the guardian of the crown must end Paxton’s life. This punishment for curiosity is famously central to H. P. Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraft would have had the protagonist end up insane, or gods breaking through into our dimension in some way. Lovecraft himself wrote of M R James in many letters and articles, praising him as a master of weird fiction, so the connection between the two writers is certainly there.

In our own days of great social change, with the world going through unprecedented times, the antiquated verse of James’ ghost stories might seem a little stilted. Yet he seemed to express that fear in all of us with the best, that the change overcoming the world might contain some ghosts to be feared. How we choose to take his warning for the world, is up to us, but it seems chilling nonetheless that James was putting into fiction exactly what many people fear will happen if one kicks the hornet’s nest of the past. For an old-fashioned Victorian like James, he wanted the comfort of his history. For any change to happen, we must be prepared to face whatever consequences we unleash.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-If you want more M. R. James, here’s a link to an article I did a few years ago, comparing the device of very literal ‘deadlines’ in James’ Casting The Runes and Koji Suzuki’s novel, Ring: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/odds-and-dead-ends-analysis-of-casting-the-runes-and-ring/

My Darling Dead : Bastards – Episode Five, Sharing the News

The sound of hoofbeats roused the castle guard from its late-night lethargy as two horses came thundering up the path. At the gate, the riders halted their steeds. One of the men hallooed the walls, a low echoing sound.

“Who goes?” came a voice from atop the wall, thick with drowsiness.

“The rightful king!” Orteg started to bleat, a kick from the wizard silencing him at the last moment.

“We have a message for the council,” called Zavier, his voice low. “Let us enter, in the name of the kingdom!”

“You have not told me yet who goes, sir,” returned the wall guard. Murmuring voices behind him told of numerous others. “And none enter here without at least that. I’ll ask you again, what your names be.”

Orteg saw Zavier sigh before throwing back his cloak and producing a long staff of polished wood, shining but very dark. Zavier slammed the butt of the staff into the ground beside his horse, sending a tremor through the ground to which only his horse seemed immune. All the men atop the wall went to their knees, fighting to stay upright. Orteg felt as though he had consumed some of the southern ditch liquor which made the drinker go blind and dumb.

“You have twice asked and twice been refused,” Zavier roared, his patience at end. “You will regret pursuing this line of questioning and you are advised to desist and withdraw after opening the gate to allow our passage. This you will do, now.”

The power Zavier had summoned retreated, allowing the guards atop the wall to clamber to their feet. One of them dropped below the wall, and in a moment the gate began to grate open. Zavier stepped forward, muttering, “Honestly!” Orteg followed, attempting to look in every direction at once.

The wizard strode through the courtyard, nearly deserted at this hour, taking one of the doorways with no hesitation. Orteg followed as they turned down a long corridor with many doors opening to each side. Again, with no hesitation, Zavier made for the large door at the far end of the corridor.

Barris started as the door slammed open. A tall figure in a black robe strode in, a small man with an ugly face scuttling in his wake. The tall figure marched up to the council table without a pause and threw back his hood. His long dark hair flew around his face.

“Council members,” the man said, his voice projecting. “I am come to inform you that the time of your rule is at an end. I have the rightful heir to the throne beside me.”

The council was silent, furtive glances darting back and forth between them all. Agathas looked at Barris, her eyes afraid. His were cool as he addressed the wizard.

“Your authority is not recognized, wizard. You come before this council with no papers, no identification and only an unsubstantiated claim that this cringing cur–” he gestured to Orteg, “is the rightful king of Dandoich. Either provide evidence or be thrown from the castle walls for your impertinence.”

“You need not believe the word of the wizard Zavier, when you can see what he speaks is true!” retorted Zavier, the shining staff sliding from its place beneath his robe. Zavier rapped it twice on the chamber floor and spun in a circle, the staff before him.

Immediately the room was drowned in darkness. Before the council members could do more than give a surprised yelp, light blazed into the room in a brilliant flash. They saw Orteg, a tiny baby but unmistakably the same, being born to the Washburn family, saw the tuppence the king provided every month, the loose lips of the father sealing the family’s fate, the child being raised with only part of the truth, resenting the crown he was to inherit, being confronted at the tavern by Zavier…

The room was plunged once more into darkness, then bathed in its natural light as Zavier ended the spell and returned everyone to the present.

“Kneel in the presence of your king,” Zavier commanded, his voice hard. “Unless you feel you have a claim to the throne, this man is your lord and master. Hail, Orteg, King of Dandoich!”

Zavier dropped to one knee before Orteg and bowed his head, the picture of subservience. One by one, the council members rose from their seats and dropped to their knees before Orteg, who had never felt so uncomfortable in his life. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Barris and Agathas sinking slowly to their knees, their faces carefully neutral.

“Er…” Orteg said, raising a hand. “Thank you, all. I’ll be wanting to keep you all on as advisers, of course, since I don’t know the first thing about running a kingdom…”

“Your Majesty!” Barris said, his voice fruity as he struggled to rise his bulk to his feet, Agathas doing likewise beside him. “Let me be the first to welcome you to the castle, and to many years of a fruitful reign of peace and prosperity. And may I just say…”

Barris droned on for a while before Zavier was able to get a word in edgewise and shepherded the new king away from his would-be advisers. The moment the door was shut behind Orteg and the wizard, the smile fell from Barris’ face like a landslide. The council members looked at him, fearful.

“Tell no one of this meeting,” Barris said, his voice low. “Back to your quarters, all of you. Someone send the captain of the guard to me.”

The captain of the guard had been in charge of the castle guards and the dungeons since before Barris had been old enough to know his own name. When Barris first saw the captain, he was a gnarled, wizened old man who somehow radiated a terrible strength. Now, decades later, the captain of the guard who appeared before him looked exactly the same as the one he remembered from his youth.

“Sir, I have need of your unique skillset,” Barris said, offering the man a goblet of fine wine. “I would have your assistance, and your silence.”

The man took the goblet, looking at Barris with no expression. Slowly, he raised the goblet to his lips and took a sip. Barris held his breath.

The man let the silence drag out a few more moments before extending a hand, palm upward. “I am waiting.”

Barris let escape a sigh of relief, then began speaking.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Buy One Get One Free: Zombies!

 

Blood Quantum

Plotline: The Dead are Coming Back to Life Except for the Native Peoples Who are Immune. The Tribal Sheriff Must Protect His People from Hordes of Walking White Corpses.

Who would like it: Zombie fans, gore hounds, enjoys movies with the social commentary and movies that make you think. 

High Points: The originality 

Complaints: None!

Overall: I loved it and I think you will too

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Shudder

Betaal 

Plotline: Hired to displace tribal villagers to make way for a new highway, officials unearth an old curse and an army of British …

Who would like it: Zombie fans, fans of military action flicks, and movies with the social commentary and movies that make you think, foreign films. 

High Points: The evolution of the zombies 

Complaints: None

Overall: This really surprised me, it was really easy to binge watch 

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Netflix 

 

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

HorrorAddicts.net 181, Rob Bliss

Horror Addicts Episode# 181
SEASON 15 “Cursed, Cubed”
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe


rob bliss | iyatoyah | a lonely place to die

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

151 days till Halloween

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iyatoyah, recharge, unplug, emma, black butler, vampire journals, my time in portia, ghost hunting, #blacklivesmatter what can we do? HONOR their loss, LISTEN to their concerns, SPEAK OUT against racism, SUPPORT POC creatives (see below). r. l. merrill, ro’s recs, patreon, voracious veronica, rockin’ rochelle, how not to be cursed, don’t stand next to roy, roy sullivan, stuck by lightning, russell, logbook of terror, ranger danger, they wound like worms, naching t. kassa, cedar george, valentine wolfe, keiran, odds and dead ends, wes craven, shocker, kbatz, frightening flix, a lonely place to die, dark roads 79, daphne’s den of darkness, 5 uncommon monsters that need a movie, crystal connor, live action reviews, the bone box, lionel, bigfoot files, night of the sasquatch by keith luethke, dead mail, lionel, rape and abuse films? yes or no? Taylor, egyptian vampires, anne rice, garth, moral endings, dark divinations, jesse orr, my darling dead, news, haunts and hellions, sub call, milky way prince, the vampire star, shudder, color out of space, the shed, good, bad, and undead, peter dinklage, van helsing, jason mamoa, vampire, vampire diaries, l.j. smith, new series, seven ghostly spins, patricia bossano, by the iron gate, chilling chat, naching, rob bliss

Awesome POC voices to look up to:

Crystal Connor

https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Connor/e/B004FDB9JY

ValJeanne Jeffers

https://www.amazon.com/Valjeanne-Jeffers/e/B00BNK230G

James Goodridge

https://www.amazon.com/James-Goodridge/e/B01NH0VN36

J Malcolm Stewart

https://www.amazon.com/J-Malcolm-Stewart/e/B0088I39XG

Sumiko Saulson 

https://www.amazon.com/Sumiko-Saulson/e/B007P7XHTM

Eden Royce

https://www.amazon.com/Eden-Royce/e/B004XVKWTG

A Craig Newman

http://www.acraignewman.com/

Nicole Kurtz

https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Givens-Kurtz/e/B0057XEF0G

Mocha Memoirs Press

https://mochamemoirspress.com/


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h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

h e a d  o f p u b l i s h i n g

Naching T. Kassa

p u b l i s h i n g  p. a.

Cedar George

b l o g  e d i t o r

Kate Nox

s t a f f

KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Daphne Strasert, Jesse Orr, Russell Holbrook, Lionel Green, Keiran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, Courtney Mroch, R.L. Merrill

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Dark Divinations Book Recap. Did you miss anything?

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Thank you for visiting us for our Dark Divinations Book Events. Did you miss any of this fab stuff? Read more about your favorite authors and get insight on the stories are each of these links.

“Power and Shadow” by Hannah Hulbert
 Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Copper and Cordite” by Ash Hartwell

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Damnation in Venice” by Joe L. Murr

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“The Pocket Watch” by Emerian Rich

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“They Wound Like Worms” by Naching T. Kassa

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Miroir de Vaugnac” by Michael Fassbender

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“The Bell” by Jon O’Bergh

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Romany Rose” by Stephanie Ellis

Interview | Excerpt

 

“Miss Mae’s Prayers” by H.R.R. Gorman

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Broken Crystal” by Rie Sheridan Rose

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“Breaking Bread” by R.L. Merrill

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“The Ghost of St. John Lane” by  Daphne Strasert

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

 

“The Moat House Cob” by Alan Fisher

Interview | Excerpt

 

“Of Blood and Bones” by Jeremy Megargee

Inspiration | Interview | Excerpt

Chilling Chat: Episode #181 – Rob Bliss

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Rob Bliss was born in Canada in 1969.  He has lived a horrific comedy of a life. 
He watched half of his family die before he reached the age of twenty, with the other half RB Photoabsent.  He is very familiar with coffins and graves, funerals and unholy weddings.  He has held dozens of mindless jobs  He has an honours degree in English and Writing from York University, Canada.  He has 100 stories published in various web-based magazines, plus three anthologies.  He has had three novels published by Necro Publications.
 

Rob is a fascinating writer with a wry sense of humor. We discussed writing, movies, and fear. 

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

RB: Maybe 8 or 10. It was a hellish nightmare that got me living in constant fear. One movie: The Amityville Horror. I saw it with my family as we enjoyed a lovely summer weekend at another family’s cottage. At a drive-in, no less. Big screen to see the walls bleed and flies swarm the window. (I had a bedroom window EXACTLY like that one, complete with many dead flies.) Since it was two families in one cottage, some of us had to sleep out on the enclosed porch. Meaning, me. It had screens for windows. The midnight wind blew the shadows of tree branches against the screens. I stared in horror at those moving shadows for most of a sleepless night, replaying the movie over and over again. When we got home, I vowed to never go into the basement (we lived in a farmhouse, and the basement was old foundation stone, always damp and cold, with tiny doors that led deeper into the basement maze. Rooms within rooms. I was sure the portal to Hell was down there!) And because of seeing that movie in that town while trying to sleep on that porch, I had nightmares for years afterwards. Literally, years. I hated horror movies but couldn’t look away. When my family and my uncle and aunt and cousins watched Friday the 13th Part 2, I stayed in the kitchen, able to hear but not see the movie. Though I did peek my head in once towards the end … to see Mrs. Voorhees’ severed head on an altar! I think I write horror novels for the same reason kids go out dressed up on Halloween: to scare away the demons that scare them. (I have to go curl up in a fetal position and shiver for a while, excuse me, I’ll get back to the rest of the interview later.) 

NTK: What’s your favorite horror movie?

RB: Phantasm.  Along with The Amityville Horror, I saw Phantasm when I was too young to see any horror movie. (When I turned 30, I was much better.) That flying steel ball that drills into people’s heads and makes a tube of blood shoot out – yeah, I liked that! Scared the heck outa me! And those little druid guys! What was up with them? Anything that was even remotely designed to scare, scared me. I was a little wimpy scaredy-cat boy, highly suggestible. Nothing has changed, except more adult things scare me along with everything else.

NTK: So, what are you most afraid of?

RB: Displeasing Mistress.

NTK: (Laughs.) What is your favorite horror TV show?

RB: I had no idea there was such a thing as horror TV. I don’t watch much TV.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel? 

RB: Necroscope by Brian Lumley.

NTK: Who is your favorite author?

RB: It changes, but right now, Marcel Proust.

NTK: What inspires you?

RB: Everything. Books, paintings, a tree wafting with a midnight breeze under a full moon … it’s how you see, not what you see, that leads to inspiration.

NTK: What inspired The Bride Stripped Bare? 

RB: Boredom. Wrote the characters and setting and blood and guts, and fear. Wrote it in 5 weeks. And the title is from Marcel Duchamp’s artwork.

NTK: Do you outline your books and stories? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

RB: A faint idea sticks in my head, then if I think about it multiple times over several months, I figure it wants to be written. After that, the story decides where it wants to go. I just transcribe as it plays in my head like a movie.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you control their every move?

RB: The characters do what they want at first, then during revisions, I try to justify why they did what they did. Characters can be such assholes to their writer.

NTK: (Laughs.) Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

RB: The Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. Little too on-the-nose right now.

NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?

RB: Bumbaclot.

NTK: I love that word! What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

RB: I just want to write and write and read and read. This December, my publisher, David G. Barnett, at Necro Publications, will be publishing a novel I’m currently revising called Fear.

Addicts, you can find Rob on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and at Necro Publications.

Rie Explores Dark Divinations

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Rie Sheridan Rose, author of “Broken Crystal” from our anthology Dark Divinations,
has done much research on each of the divination techniques used in our book.
She explores each one in this awesome series of blog posts.

“Power and Shadow” by Hannah Hulbert

“Copper and Cordite” by Ash Hartwell

“Damnation in Venice” by Joe L. Murr

“The Pocket Watch” by Emerian Rich

“They Wound Like Worms” by Naching T. Kassa

“Miroir de Vaugnac” by Michael Fassbender

“The Bell” by Jon O’Bergh

“Romany Rose” by Stephanie Ellis

“Miss Mae’s Prayers” by H.R.R. Gorman

“Broken Crystal” by Rie Sheridan Rose

“Breaking Bread” by R.L. Merrill

“The Ghost of St. John Lane” by  Daphne Strasert

“The Moat House Cob” by Alan Fisher

“Of Blood and Bones” by Jeremy Megargee

Dark Divinations 3d

 

Available now at Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087LBPBNS

Dark Divinations: The Pocket Watch

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The Inspiration Behind “The Pocket Watch”

By Emerian Rich

Have you ever woken from a dream and aren’t sure if it was a dream, a memory, or reality? Yeah, me too. A few years ago I woke from a dream so real, I could still smell the perfume, hear the scream, and feel the dread creeping over my shoulders.

In the dream, I was a Victorian lady who’d just found a pocket watch in the drawer of my vanity. I remember thinking it was strange that an object of such obvious wealth was just left in my drawer when I had never seen it before. Had my dream-husband left it there as a gift? Was it misplaced by a servant?

Upon opening the latch, I thought perhaps I’d find an inscription, but instead, I found a mirror. Not any old mirror. This mirror showed me visions and if I held it up in the room, it would show me echos of another time. And the most unsettling thing, I witnessed a man murder his wife. Was it just a vision? Was it a past occurrence, or one to come?

I woke in the same fear as I experienced inside the dream. Was I about to be killed by my husband? Was I supposed to stop a murder? Or was it a murder that had already taken place? Was I supposed to avenge her death or tell the authorities?

With a few deep breathes I came back to myself. I was not an English, Victorian lady of wealth, I was me… plain old Emz here in California in the 2000’s.

But this dream got me to thinking… What would happen if you found a pocket watch that either showed echoes of past transgressions or predicted future ones? And what would be the rules for such a gift?

I started to study the moons and found that many of the 2nd New Moons in October occurred on or about Halloween. And thus the mythos for “The Pocket Watch” came to be. I hope you enjoy this story and I wonder… what would you do if you knew your murder was imminent?

emz1smallEmerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her romance/horror cross over, Artistic License, is about a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net.

 

Logbook of Terror: Ranger Danger

Russell Holbrook

The park ranger crouched in the bushes. Moaning voices echoed from a nearby tent. Black clouds collected overhead and the thick aroma of a gathering storm filled the night air. The ranger smiled. Roy had been doing this for years but it never got old. He looked up. A flash of lightning lit up the sky. Roy felt the familiar, electric buzzing in his bones. With stealth that was practiced and perfected, he crept up beside the tent. The mercury fillings in his teeth hummed. Roy stood up straight, right next to the tent. A woman in the tent announced that she was coming. A man testified in agreement. Their voices rose in tandem. They called out to God. Thunder roared. And a furious bolt of pure, white lightning hammered the tent. 

The lightning bolt pierced the tent’s ceiling. Burning heat struck the lovers. Electric waves fried their insides while their screams echoed in Roy’s ears. Flames danced inside the tent, growing and spreading over the thin fabric to create a funeral pyre. The bodies of the man and woman bounced in the fire. Their screams echoed through the mountains. Roy drew his gun. He waited. 

The woman sprung out of the fire, her skinned blackened and her hair ablaze. Roy shot her in the forehead. She stumbled into the brush and collapsed. The man followed. His arms flailed. He shouted and ran toward Roy. The ranger shot the man in the stomach. The young lover collapsed and Roy shot him two more times in the back of the head. Roy looked down at the young man’s charred skin. It glistened in the moonlight. “Barbeque for the bears,” he sneered.  

After watching the burning tent dwindle down to a smoldering pile, Roy stomped out the embers and strolled into the woods. 

***

“Yo, this weed is the bomb,” Mickey said. He coughed out a monster cloud of smoke and passed the joint to his left. Jane handled the fat spliff in her nimble fingers. She took a long drag and broke out in a coughing fit. Mickey giggled and took back the joint. “Damn, you’re gonna be so fried.”

Jane snickered. “I’m toasty.”

The two teens laughed and swung their legs from the tailgate of Jane’s truck. Leaves rustled and twigs snapped in the darkness behind them. 

“What the eff was that?” Mickey said, looking around. 

“What the eff was what?” 

“What?”

“That’s what I just asked you.” 

“Oh,” Mickey said.

“Oooohhhh!” Jane exclaimed.

Guffaws pealed from Mickey and Jane, covering up the rustle and crunch of approaching footsteps. 

Thunder cracked and shook the forest around them. Lightning burst through the sky, lighting up the dark, revealing Ranger Roy standing in front of them, his beady black eyes peering out from behind his thick glasses. His singed ranger hat sat snug on his head. A crooked smile crossed his face. 

Mickey and Jane started with a screech. Pure reaction caused Mickey to toss the half-smoked joint onto the ground. The ranger stepped closer.  

“Hey, kids, great night for a smoke, ain’t it?” Ranger Roy bent down and picked up the smoldering doobie. Smirking, he put the smoke to his lips and inhaled deep once, twice, three times. He held in the smoke and then let out a great plume into the air. The wind blew and carried the white cloud away. Another peal of thunder rattled the pines. “Ah, that’s a fine flavor there.”

Ranger Roy handed the joint back to Mickey and retrieved a cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket. “Helluva storm brewing,” he said. “You kids might wanna find shelter or head on home.”

Jane stared at the forest ranger through the thin slits that her eyes had become. “Old dude?” She said.

“Yes, young lady.”

She pointed at the black mark that covered the top of Roy’s hat. “What happened to your hat?”

“Oh, that’s just where I got popped with a bit of lightning,” Roy answered.

“Shit, man, I’ve heard of you!” Mickey piped in. “You’re that ranger.”

Roy grinned.

“What, is he like… famous?” Jane asked as Mickey passed her the joint.

“This old dude has been struck by lightning seven times!” 

“No shit?” Jane said.

“Seven times!” Mickey repeated. “He’s like, a fucking legend. You’re a legit legend, aren’t you, old dude?” 

The ranger cleared his throat and spit. “My name’s Roy, young man.” He straightened his hat and pulled his shoulders back. 

Jane elbowed Mickey. A deep, intoxicated smile came over her face. “Seven times… Seven times!” She fell into Mickey, laughing uncontrollably. 

Mickey sputtered and his sputters became wide, echoing booms. He and Jane clutched each other, wrapped in hysterics, oblivious to the lightning crisscrossing the sky overhead. 

“Seven times!” Mickey shouted, doubling over and nearly falling off the truck’s tailgate. “How does that even happen?”

Ranger Roy felt indignant. “Just an occupational hazard, that’s all.”

“Maybe you should get a new job, idiot!” Mickey howled.  

As the teens made fun of Roy, he felt the same, reliable buzzing in his back teeth. A pulse of electricity tickled his veins. The rolling chortles from the stoned teenagers punched him in the heart. He screamed, “Shut up!” 

 A monster bolt of lightning shot down from the clouds, forking just above Mickey and Jane, striking each of them in the face. Like melons under a jackhammer, their heads exploded. Blood and flesh and gore showered ranger Roy. Spewing blood from their necks, the teens’ headless corpses swayed and fell off the tailgate. 

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Roy shouted at the sky. He cackled triumphantly and skittered off into the trees. 

***

“Really, seven times?” The man asked.

Ranger Roy nodded from across the campfire that burned in the center of the small clearing. The man on the other side appraised the ranger.

“How’d you get all that blood on you?”

“Exploded teenagers.”

“Yeah, that happens.”

The man wore a careless, disheveled appearance. Roy figured him for either a weekend camper or someone on the run from the law, or, maybe even one of those hippie vagrant types. Ugh, hippies. The man took a long swig off the whiskey bottle and passed it to Roy, who allowed himself a generous gulp. He winced as the liquor burned its way down. Thunder struck above them, close. 

Ranger Roy glanced up. “Storms almost here.” 

The camper joined Roy in gazing up into the night sky. “Yep,” he added. 

Roy handed the bottle back to its owner. The man gripped the bottle and turned it up before setting it down at his side. He coughed and cleared his throat.

“So,” the camper began, “If you don’t mind me asking, why are you still out on the job if you’ve been struck by lightning so many times? I mean, considering the probability, seven times is a high number.”

“I’m just doin’ the lord’s work,” Roy sighed. “Someone’s got to, you know.”

The camper snorted. “The lord, yeah right.” He spit into the fire. “I always wondered about you rangers. Are you protecting nature from us, or us from nature?” 

Roy grimaced. “Nature don’t need my protectin’, I’m just doin’ what’s asked of me, that’s all.” 

“What did nature… ask of you?” The camper said. His eyes glazed over as the whiskey took hold and slowed the man’s words. 

Roy looked at the man with hard, serious eyes. “Just to help maintain the balance. That’s what I do. I help.” Roy pulled out a cigarette and lit up.   

“Sure you do, old-timer, sure you do.” The camper eyeballed Roy’s cigarette. “You got another one of those?”

Roy reached into his front shirt pocket. The camper leaned forward and reached out his hand. A crack of low thunder bounced through the trees. A jagged streak of lightning shredded the darkness. The white-hot bolt stabbed the camper’s outstretched hand. A second flash lit up the pines and a ribbon of light nailed the man in the back. He cried out in agony. Electrical currents filled his body. Foam poured from his mouth.  

A third firebolt struck the camper on top of his head. Bright bolts of electricity bounced over the man’s convulsing body. He surged forward and fell face-first into the campfire. Ranger Roy stood up slowly. The camper’s body spasmed and became still. Roy threw his cigarette down on the man’s burning corpse. He removed a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. He grimaced.

“I thought I recognized you,” Roy said, looking from the paper in his hand to the man in the fire. 

In stark black and white, the leering face of the camper stared up at Roy from the flyer. Above the photo, bold letters announced that the man was wanted for the murder of a family of four. Roy tossed the flyer into the flames and watched it change form. He reached into his pants pocket and retrieved a short newspaper article. The headline read: After Killing Five Year Old Child in Hit and Run, Marijuana Using Teens are Released on Technicality. Roy thought of the teens’ exploding heads. He grinned and dropped the column of paper into the fire. For a third time, Roy reached into his pocket. Another article. A malicious husband and wife burned down a nursing home and eluded police. “They didn’t elude me,” Roy muttered. He tossed the paper into the fire. 

Roy lit another cigarette and listened to the quiet of the forest, of his home. He smiled and looked up into the dark sky. “Nice workin’ with you tonight.” 

A bright star peeked out from behind the cloud cover. It glimmered in the dark and seemed to wink at Roy. The tired old ranger laughed to himself and shuffled into the darkness, satisfied with a job well done. Once he was deep under the canopy of trees, the first drops of rain began to fall. 

Dark Divinations: Of Blood and Bones

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The Inspiration Behind “Of Blood and Bones.”

By Jeremy Megargee

I love the concept of Edward Hyde, this hulking abhorrent savage that emerges from behind an innocent veneer. I dressed as Hyde for Halloween last year and did a few little Instagram video skits to “get into character”…and it was so much fun. It’s cathartic to tap into that animal side which I think resides in all of us. I borrowed the classic monster for my story, and Camille gets to face him head-on…

I think with Camille, I got to really explore the aesthetic of the Victoria era. The style, the decorum, I focused more on the grimy back alleys of the time period, more of a Jack the Ripper vibe as opposed to elegance and frilly fashion. I feel like it’s the perfect time capsule for a horror story, there’s just this potential to introduce bloodshed, and I took full advantage of that. You can taste the muddy thoroughfares, feel the gore streaked across little boarder’s rooms, and when Hyde comes, that smothering presence just pulls you in…

I’m always aiming to inspire emotion with my stories, and I hope I was able to convey what a force Hyde was in this one, a dark and primal force, but a force nevertheless.

J MegargeeJeremy Megargee has always loved dark fiction. He cut his teeth on R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series as a child and a fascination with Stephen King’s work followed later in life. Jeremy weaves his tales of personal horror from Martinsburg, West Virginia with his cat Lazarus acting as his muse/familiar.

FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Perilous Weather!

Perilous Weather and Viewing! By Kristin Battestella

Lighting, mountains, bears, and storms – some of these horror movies are just as dangerous as the dark skies onscreen!

A Lonely Place to Die – Beautiful but perilous vistas, thunder, and misty but dangerous mountains – a risky place to whip out the camera! – open this 2011 hikers meet kidnappers parable starring Melissa George (Triangle), Alec Newman (Dune), and Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey). Eagles and aerial views quickly degrade into mistakes, hanging frights, and upside down frames. Ropes, gear, risk – people cause disaster among the otherwise still, respected beauty where they aren’t supposed to be resulting in cuts, scrapes, and falls. Weather interferes with their plans to climb the next killer facade but wishing one could paint the lovely forest and rocky scenery uncovers mysterious echoes from an ominous pipe and a trapped little girl. The hikers split up – several take the longer, safer route back to the nearby town – however there’s a more difficult path called Devil’s Drop that one couple brave climbing to reach help faster. Unfortunately, short ropes and sabotaged equipment create shocking drops and fatal cliffs. They aren’t wearing helmets so we can see the heroics, but no gloves against the sharp rocks, rough trees, and burning ropes, well that’s as dumb as not having a satellite phone. Unnecessary fake out dreams, annoying shaky cams, and distorted points of view detract from both the natural scary and the mystery of who else may be out there – fear on people’s faces is always more powerful than effects created for the audience. Guys with guns encountering more crazed men all in black with yet more kidnappers in pursuit also break the isolated situation too early. Unknowns snipers would better layer the environmental fears, raging river perils, terrain chases, and gunshots. Attacks from an unseen culprit are much more terrifying than knowing what poor shots they are even up close and with scopes. Injuries, screams, thuds, and broken limbs provide real menace, and we really shouldn’t have met the killers until they are over the victims asking them how much the price of their nobility hurts or what good compassion did for them today. Although double-crossing criminals playing the mysteries too soon compromises the good scares and surprise fatalities, fiery sunset festivals progress the mountain isolation to a ritual village suspicious. Fireworks and parades mingle with hog masks and alley chases – again suggesting people are where they shouldn’t be as the hiking dangers become congested public confrontations. While the crooks’ conspiracies get a tad ridiculous when innocent bystanders are killed in plain sight, this is a unique natural horrors cum kidnapping thriller remaining tense and entertaining despite some of those shout at the TV flaws.

You Make the Call, Addicts!

Dead of Winter – Lovely snow-tipped trees, mountains, and chilly rivers begat hiking perils, rock tumbles, ropes cut, snowy crashes, and hungry wolves in this 2014 Canadian geocaching terror. Of course, there are bus driving montages, DUI histories, annoying music, getting gas in middle of nowhere clichés, and ridiculously hammy dialogue like “Is your cock ever soft?” “Only in your mommy!” WTF. One jerk films everybody in a camcorder point of view even as they clearly all have chips on their shoulders, but the sardonic documentation is forgotten as we quickly meet the cliché, overly excited nerds, angry lesbians, and the dude bros who want to watch amid nighttime scenery, windshield wipers, and the increasingly icy road. Although people are bundled up for this snowy treasure hunt, their faces are still Hollywood exposed as the teams run to and fro in the woods following creepy clues in a kind of humorous montage before no phone signals, a bus that won’t start, garroting logger cables, and explosions. If they’re stranded two hundred miles and at least four days walk from anywhere, why doesn’t anyone stay near the fiery bus for heat and signal fires? Everyone continues following the increasingly bizarre geocache reveals such as a gun with no bullets and a stopwatch promising screams in ninety seconds despite falling snow showers, waterfalls, and damaged bridges. One dumb ass know it all thinks a creaking old wood bridge with over a foot of snow on top the buckling boards is safe so they all go for it because he says there’s a quarry shortcut and a convenient cabin nearby, too. Somebody has to take a dump in the snow, it’s obvious who’s going to die next – cough one lesbian and the black guy cough – and the hip acting hampers the finger-pointing group divisions. Thanks to the straightforward rather than herky-jerky filming, we can see the bloody hangings, torn limbs, and splatter gore, but arrows and crossfire reveal the killer far too soon when a movie about a treasure hunt shouldn’t give up its reward until the end. Head scratching cutaways, airplane rescue fake-outs, and whining about missing pizza further break audience immersion as no one complains about blisters, cold, or frostbite on their gloveless hands. No one is tired – least of all the driver who drove all night and then drank all day who says he’ll stay up on watch while the others sleep. They didn’t follow the river but are later glad to have handy flashlights and booze to drink as they joke about eating the tubby jerk first rather than addressing any real cannibalism horror. Jealously, one person that is not so mysteriously absent, a knife plus a pen and suddenly anybody can do an instant tracheotomy – it takes an hour for someone to realize this was planned revenge thanks to some prior competition because geocaching is a mad competitive and dangerous sport! The riddles and underground hideouts run out of steam with sagging contrivances and overlong, predictable explanations. This is watchable with entertaining horror moments, however the cliché points and outlandish but wait there’s more on and on will become too laughable for some. Our survivors may have beaten the horror hunt, but everyone apparently forgets they’re still stranded in the wilderness before the fade to black. Oops.

One to Skip

Backcountry – From packing in the parking garage and highway traffic jams to embarrassing sing a longs and a Cosmo quiz for relationship backstory, this 2014 Canadian survival thriller from writer and director Adam MacDonald (Pyewacket) has plenty of cliches for this city couple in the woods. Sunlit smiles, peaceful canoe pretty, and happy hiking montages can’t belie the ominous when the audience enters in with full knowledge of the impending horror. At the country rest stop, a ranger warns them of bad weather and closed, out of season trails, however our big man insists he doesn’t need medical kits or a map. He ignores minor injuries, mocks his inexperienced girlfriend’s preparations, leaves his ax behind, and lights a fire before leaving it to go skinny dipping. Not only do these actions completely contradict everything Survivorman taught us, but these people also don’t know they are in a scary movie. A sudden stranger at their campsite creates obvious jealousy and inferiority complexes but weird accents, racist questions, contrived dialogue, and stereotypical characterizations interfere with the attempted tension. Fortunately, askew angles on the trail, going off the path doubts, isolated nature sounds, and lookalike trees invoke better suspense as the camera blurs and pans with confusion or pain thanks to disgusting toenail gore. Up close views inside the cramped, not so safe tent build fear alongside snapping branches and bear footprints, but of course this guy doesn’t believe the supposedly overreacting woman who wants to go home when she hears something amiss. No dumbass, it isn’t acorns falling on the outside of the tent, and you should have never taken her phone and left it in the car! It takes a half hour for the innate wilderness horrors to get going, but the suspense is continually interrupted by the obnoxious behavior – wasting water, blaming her for their situation when it is clearly his fault, and her apologizing after confessing he is a loser just trying to impress her. Why couldn’t they have gone on an easier hike when she never wanted to go in the first place? Proposal excuses aren’t enough when you continually ignore dead carcasses nearby and claim it was just a raccoon that ate your food. Drinking the mini champagne bottles is not going to help their situation! Despite well-done heartbeats, ringing in the ears, and tumbling down the ravine camera views, there’s simply not enough character development and story here to sustain the wait for the superbly bloody, frenetic bear attacks in the finale. Gore, scares, screams, growls, and maulings fall prey to a just missed ’em helicopter rescue opportunity as our final girl inexplicably becomes an expert runner, rock climber, and field medic before pretty deer and dumb luck save the day. Is this uplifting music and girl power ending just a dream of what she wishes happens because otherwise, it is ridiculously unlikely. Where Pyewacket expressly defies the horror tropes checklist, this does nothing but adhere to it – becoming only worth watching if you want to yell at the people or fast forward to see them get what they deserve. ¯\_()_/¯ The bear isn’t the villain, human superiority is!

Camp Country

Stormswept – Grand columns, bayou scenery, candles, thunder, ghostly gusts, and possessions start this almost seventies feeling 1995 romp starring Kathleen Kinmont (Renegade) amid realtors avoiding a house of horrors disclosure and muddy accidents. The chandeliers and staircase grandeur can also be seen in North and Southbut there are spiders, covered furniture, and flashes of past boobs, blood, and some kind of skeleton dildo thingie. Saucy paintings abound, naughty books contain graphic ejaculation or cunnilingus art, and red four-poster beds await. This is obviously low budget Skinemax style – so despite the eerie atmosphere, some scary filming, ominous silhouettes in rain slickers, and frightful reflections in the window, one can’t tell if everyone is going to die or have sex, probably both. Four women and two men are Marilyn Chambers numbers! It takes too long for the crew to get stranded at the plantation, but the film within a film chases feature girls in white shirts and no bras while playing into girl on girl fantasies with let’s get off your wet clothes talk and accidental towel drops. I laughed out loud at that, I really did! Although the dated midriffs, acid wash jeans, giant old portable phone, and faxed paperwork are bemusing, most of the sexual dialogue is uncomfortable. The men say once a guy has sex with another man he’s a homosexual but it’s okay for the women to experiment for them as it doesn’t make them lesbians. Truth or dare demands the women kiss, word association games start with “pink” – it’s disturbing the way actor turned luxury rehab guru Justin Carroll’s director character has these women trapped, doing what he wants and not caring if anyone is upset by the sex chats. Whooshing storm effects live up to title and there’s a torture history binding everyone to the house, but not much sense is made of this evil spirit driving one and all to sex and kill. The overlong wet dream confessions and lez be friends scenes embrace the step above soft core rather than exceed that lower rung with the horror. I almost wish this could be redone to be more quality. Hidden people in the basement, secret diaries, murders – but our actress has never had an orgasm and it’s more important for the manipulative director to hypnotize her into touching herself in front of everyone like Showgirls thrashing in the pool. She recalls painful abuse and incest memories, but he tells her she need not be guilty over masturbating with her brother and can go ahead and have her ultimate sexual fantasy about Alex Trebek. O_o o_O I thought this was supposed to be a horror movie! While terribly laughable and base level entertaining, I just… insert Nathan Fillion confused gif here. Is there even a saucy ghost or is this what happens when you lock messy horny people in the house on a stormy night?

Revisit More Dangerous Weather Viewing:

Water Perils

Witches and Bayous

Forest Frights

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Jeremy Megargee

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Jeremy Megargee has always loved dark fiction. He cut his teeth on R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series as a child, and a fascination with Stephen King’s work followed later in life. Jeremy J Megargeeweaves his tales of personal horror from Martinsburg, West Virginia, with his cat Lazarus acting as his muse/familiar.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I think I’ve always liked the idea of the Victorian era. The fashion, the architecture, the whole aesthetic… 

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”…one of my all-time favorite stories in general. I love the duality and the descent into excess and depravity, Dorian drinking down sin and remaining flawless, but his portrait taking on all that ugliness.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

Crimson Peak is high on my list. The monster designs were great, and the time period was so well captured.

Are your characters based on real people?

Camille is 100% fictional, but Edward Hyde belongs to the public domain courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Always by the seat of my pants. Ideas click together for me, and I’m able to fit them into something resembling a coherent jigsaw puzzle.  It’s a method that has always worked out well!

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

Usually, I’m aware of their fates far in advance, but if something changes in my mind, the character can easily go in a totally different direction.

What are you most afraid of?

Public speaking. I hate it with soooo much passion, but I’m working to overcome that fear. I think I’m desensitized to most other “fears” people would have just because I eat, breathe, and sleep the horror genre.

What is your favorite form of divination? 

The one featured in my story, “throwing the bones”.

Who is your favorite horror author?

All-time favorite is Stephen King, modern fresh voice on the horror scene is Nick Cutter. 

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

Hopefully more writing and more opportunities to work with all kinds of different publishers. I’m almost always writing and submitting new short stories, and it’s pretty much a steady trickle when it comes to output for me depending on what gets accepted and what gets rejected. I have several things coming out later this year with a variety of different presses, and I’m stoked to keep it going. If you want to follow my writing updates and general dark-humored craziness, find me on Instagram.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Alan Fisher

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Alan Fisher is an attorney living in Washington, D.C.  He’s published two novellas, Servant of the Muses and A Pearl for Her Eyes, under the name Brad White.  His story, “The Alan FisherConfession of Diego Stoessel,” was included in Alban Lake Publishing’s Lovecraftian anthology, City in the Ice. Another short story, “Pangloss,” was featured on the Hugo Award-winning podcast Starship Sofa.  His favorite authors include John le Carré, William Gibson, Raymond Chandler, and Neal Stephenson.  When not writing, he enjoys playing board games with his wife and sons and running role-playing games for his friends.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I’ve always been a reader of history, with a particular focus on military history.  The Victorian era was such a critical time for the shaping of the modern world that I naturally was interested in it.  From the Great Game in Central Asia to the Scramble for Africa, you will find a lot of threads we’re still pulling at today started back in Victoria’s time.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Probably not regarded as a horror story by many, but any beast that can make Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson freeze, even for a moment, is one to be reckoned with.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie?

I can’t say I have a particular favorite.

Are your characters based on real people?

Not really.  The Constable of the Tower could be seen as an echo of the classic Colonel Blimp stereotype, the aged colonial soldier with the big mustache, I suppose.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I dislike the term ‘pantser,’ but it is what I am.  My first work started simply from the idea that “my muse had left me,” which ended up as the first line – “My muse walked out of my life on a cool October morning . . . .” – in a noir urban fantasy novella.  I really had nothing more to go from.  Similarly, for The Moat House Cob, the story started with a quick check of Wikipedia’s list of divination methods, which led to arachnomancy, and from there the story unfolded.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

How could they have free will?  I created them and determine what will happen to them.  That’s part of their horror!

What are you most afraid of?

These days all my fears seem horrifyingly mundane, but I’ve never been a fan of spiders (as my story attests).

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t believe any of them work, but I’ve always enjoyed Tarot decks for the art and the symbolism.  A particular favorite is Edward Gorey’s Fantod pack.  They’re interesting to study and, when you have no good ideas, tossing a few around might spark something.

Who is your favorite horror author?

I’m almost hesitant to say old Howard Philips Lovecraft, but I must give credit where it’s due.  I’d also add early Steven King, Lord Dunsany, Neil Gaiman, and Charlie Stross.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

Sadly, I haven’t done much writing lately.  I’m about 50,000 words into an actual novel, but not a horror piece.  I have about a dozen fragments and starts, some horrifying, and some just horrifically bad.

 

Odds and Dead Ends : Gothic influences in Wes Craven’s Shocker

When people think of Wes Craven and supernatural slasher films, they think of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Perfectly justified, of course, as Freddy is one of the biggest icons of horror cinema. However, often overlooked however is his 1989 film Shocker, for some justifiable reasons including awful 80s CGI and an incredibly messy second half with little regard for laws of its own unreality. But at its core, and especially for the first third of the film, the gothic elements of the story are undeniable, and it’s a genuinely interesting case of a modern ghost story in the urban gothic vein.

There are gothic influences all over the film, but what tipped me off was the police invasion of Pinker’s TV shop. We head past the initial lobby of televisions playing visions of war and death and enter a dimly lit series of dusty hallways, hardware packed into the shelves on either side. We’ve dispensed with the creaky castle library and entered a modern equivalent of television sets. Noises in the dark. Turn around. Nobody there. We feel a presence nearby but can’t see them. This is classic haunted house stuff going on here.

And then we get the big tip-off as to the influence. We get a POV shot, very Hitchcockian (thinking especially of Norman Bates peering through the peephole into Marion’s room in Psycho), of Pinker’s eye up to a gap in the shelf, peering into the shop. The monster’s hiding in the walls. A policeman stands guard nearby. Nothing. And then hands shoot through the shelves, catches him. He’s pulled back against the shelves, and the whole thing pivots in on a hinge. The cop is dragged inside and the shelf snaps back in line, never to be considered again.

A few minutes later Jonathan (the MC) and his father appear, none the wiser save for a smoking cigarette on the floor. And then they discover the horrible truth when they see blood pooling out from underneath the shelf, like those ghostly legends of old mansions where the walls drip red. Breaking their way in they find cats flayed and dead-on hooks, red lighting from the cinematography department reinforcing the demonic aspect. And then there’s the body in the middle of the room, throat cut, blood on the floor.

This is classic gothic stuff. The secret passageway in the walls is complete Scooby-Doo, Agatha Christie, even some Sherlock Holmes (I’m thinking here of The Musgrave Ritual in particular). The Cat and the Canary did it as well. We’re in the middle of a slasher movie, and we’ve got secret panels and hiding places? We might even claim that these secret passages go even further back, to the origins of the gothic, in Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the story we take the term ‘gothic’ from in its now traditional literary application.

And yet somehow it doesn’t feel out of place, doesn’t feel corny, because we can understand that Craven is deliberately drawing upon these influences to create a gothic atmosphere. This is important, as it subtly clues us into the paranormal parts of the film that come into play when he is electrocuted in the chair, turned into a horror version of the Phantom Virus from Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (those movies were great, Cyber Chase an underappreciated meta gem of Scooby-Doo lore for the final third act).      If the ghost aspect had come out of nowhere, we might have complained that it was too much of a shift from straight serial killer to paranormal horror, but here these elements help to ease the transition over. Not much, because it’s still a jolt switching subgenres, but it helps nonetheless. I’m not sure how the blood pooled all the way from the chair to spread under the shelf because it’s a hell of a long way. Perhaps this is faintly paranormal in origin, the cop’s spirit doing what it needs to do to alert the living to its final resting place in a bid to stop his killer? Most likely it’s a goof and I’m reading way too much into it, but it’s certainly a possible reading if you wanted to go that far.

Let’s also remember that, even after the electrocution, the film is in essence a ghost story. Whereas in centuries before a spirit might have inhabited a suit of armor, or roamed the walls of the courtyard in which they were executed, here we have a modern updating, inhabiting the electricity that we have harnessed for our own ends. This criticism of our device-ridden society which wasn’t as prevalent when the film came out, but certainly on the rise, was inherent in genre storytelling of the time. Cyberpunk arose as a subgenre a few years before to question our reliance on technology.

And a few years after Shocker, we see the influx of films from Asia that combined a malevolent spirit and technology to demonstrate new fears of a society rapidly flying into the future. Films like Ringu, One Missed Call, Shutter, Noroi, even The Eye to a certain extent (the elevator scene is my example here, with the apparition not appearing on the security camera), would be films that take this concept and run with it, infusing into their tales a very gender-based morality tale of using a stereotypically male industry (technology) and using it as a vehicle for the classic avenging female spirit of folklore.

Could one orient Shocker as a modern gothic gateway to these tales? I suspect most would argue against it, but as has been critiqued in countless essays, articles, and books, there is not one film history, but multiple readings of film histories. As it stands, the genre itself is also fluid and a very pliable concept in itself. I’m not using any of these arguments to state that Shocker is a great film, because although fun, it’s most certainly hovering just in the ‘mediocre’ range of horror films. However, that these more traditional elements find their way into divisive and forgotten films might go some way to showing that it’s not just the revered masterpieces of regarded canon that have interesting literary facets to their makeup.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Dark Divinations: Ghost of St. John Lane

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The Inspiration Behind “Ghost of St. John Lane.”

By Daphne Strasert

The inspiration for “The Ghost of St. John Lane” was threefold. Dark Divinations gave me the opportunity to blend several ideas that had long lived in my imagination, but had yet to find a narrative home.

First, the concept of a house haunted not by a spirit, but by a living person. I shudder at the thought of someone whose body persists, but their soul has moved on in grief. Blurring the lines between death and life is interesting to me. After all, can’t a living person be just as frightening as a dead one when they bring no life to the world around them?

Next, in divination, much is said about the ‘third eye’. Usually considered to be an internal ability, the phrase caught my attention from the first moment that I heard it. I was fascinated by the idea of the third eye as a physical manifestation, an outward mark of an inward ability. When imagining a psychic, I always pictured that they were mentally unstable, their mind torn between the past, present, and future, experiencing it all as a jumble.

Finally, while researching the Victorian Era and the Spiritualist movement that so influenced the times, I was struck by descriptions of mediums and, more importantly, false-mediums who used trickery to maintain their ruse. Their commitment to fooling others for financial gain struck me as singularly wicked and worth exploring.

Daphne StrasertDaphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and science fiction author located in Houston, Texas. She placed 3rd in the 2017 Next Great Horror Writer Contest. She has had many short stories published through HorrorAddicts.net and others. When not writing, she plays board games and knits.

 

My Darling Dead : Bastards – Episode Four/ Council Feasts

The Honorable Prefect Mosh Barris had been running what remained of the kingdom of Dandoich for many years now, ever since he had been slim and a deceptively wide-eyed and innocent youth. He had swindled and conned his way into a position right beneath the then-acting ruler, a duke with pretensions and enough soldiers to back them up. Barris attached himself to the duke and fed off the man’s power for many years, growing more bloated as he did so like any true parasite. When Barris had absorbed enough of the ruler’s power, the man was found dead in his bed by an apparent self-inflicted dose of poison. Only Barris and an apothecary several townships over had any idea otherwise. 

Once Barris had eliminated the apothecary, he wasted no time in claiming rulership of the kingdom, citing his years of experience as the late duke’s advisor. Learning from the example of the many dead kings to precede him, Barris was too wise to declare himself the reigning ruler de facto. Instead, he immediately appointed a council of twelve, with himself at its head, equally matched between the sexes. The decisions of the council would be reached democratically, he explained in those early days to the skeptical kingdom, and would no longer depend on the whims of one man. What Barris failed to divulge was that the council was made up of his own circle of like-minded individuals with whom he had come into contact as the parasite of the previous ruler. This council sought pleasure and had no qualms treading upon the citizens of the kingdom to obtain it. 

It was to this council that the rat woman who had overheard Zavier and Orteg in the forest was brought. The chamber door burst open and two large armored men carrying large pikes in one hand, one of the rat woman’s scrawny arms apiece in the other, her frail body elevated between them. Her biting and scratching glanced harmlessly off the armor with squealing sounds that rose hair on the back of Barris’ neck. 

“Guards!” boomed Agathas Pyle, to Barris’ right. “What is the meaning of this intrusion?” She waved a roast turkey leg in the direction of the rat woman. “Such a creature as this near puts me off my meal.” She belched and tore off another chunk of the turkey leg. Barris chuckled. Several other council members tittered. 

“We crave your pardon, Honorable Prefect,” said one of the armored figures, his voice echoing out of his helmet slits. “This creature did assault the very gates of the castle and raise such a racket that we were compelled to respond.”

“Well, what is it doing here?” Barris asked impatiently, seizing a roast turkey leg of his own and taking a huge mouthful. Bits of flesh sprayed from his mouth as he continued. “The rat creatures are to be flogged until they are driven away, or executed. Why bring it to the council?” He chewed slowly, juice dripping down his chin. 

“Honorable Prefect, it spoke your name.” One of the armored guards gave the rat woman a firm shake, rattling her head on her neck. “’ere you, stop that fussing and say what you said to us.” 

The rat woman’s vocal cords had not been properly used in many years. This one (a long-time tavern wench in her past life) had spoken far more words than many in her days serving customers. She had managed to retain just enough of her speech to be able to relate what she had heard from the treetops. As she did so, the color drained from Barris’s face, his turkey leg falling unbidden to the table. The council members muttered to each other as Agathas looked at Barris, eyebrows raised, chewing. When the rat woman had finished, Barris dipped into his money pouch. 

“Give her this,” Barris said, flicking the coin through the air to one of the guards, who caught it. “Give her meat scraps from the kitchen and then get her far away from this castle. The sight of her sickens me.”

“Barris!” Agathas blurted, shocked, around a mouthful of meat and wine. “Surely you cannot believe anything that it—”

“Do as I have ordered,” thundered Barris, rendering Agathas mute. “By the gods, remove this creature at once.”

The room was silent but for the clanking of armor as the two guards hustled the rat woman out, slamming the stout door behind them. Agathas glanced at Barris, then at the rest of her council members, all of whom were trading their own uneasy looks. 

“Honorable Prefect ,” ventured one of the councilmen. “I must inquire—”

“The matter is closed,” Barris said briskly, pulling his plate closer and reclaiming his turkey leg. “Now, back to our feast, I wish to hear no more about it.” 

The man, Daghved Chancey, pushed his chair back and stood, hands on his hips. “Seems to me, Honorable Prefect, that after such a display as that, your council members are owed an explanation of some sort.”

Barris looked up from his plate, frowning. “Explanation?”

“It is common practice to destroy the rat creatures on sight, not reward them and set them free to infect—”

“I owe you nothing,” said Barris, chewing. “You are advised to desist.”

Chancey advanced on Barris, his voice rising. “You are advised to explain yourself sir, how and why you departed from the law stating—”

Barris moved like lightning, belying his bulk. The silver drinking horn in his hand collided with the side of Chancey’s head, sending him crashing to the ground howling. Blood oozed from the wound to mix with the wine as Barris roared, advancing on the stricken man, “You will not presume to lecture me on laws I myself put into effect, Chancey! The kingdom’s subjects cannot be trusted to think for themselves as I can. Perhaps this will help you to remember everything I have said.” 

Before anybody could react, Barris pulled a mace and chain from the sleeve of his robe and brought the metal ball crashing down on Chancey’s head. The man’s head rebounded from the floor with a dull thud like a falling sandbag. Barris placed one meaty foot on Chancey’s chest, bearing down, forcing the air from Chancey’s lungs as the latter gasped for breath, hands opening and closing as they grasped at nothing. 

“What have I just said to you, Chancey?” Barris asked, grinning, bearing down still harder as Chancey fought to speak. “What did I just tell you to remember?” There was a cracking sound from deep inside Chancey’s chest and he let out a squeak that would have been a scream with more air.

At the council table, Agathas had her hand between her legs beneath her robe, eyes glazed and jaw slack as she watched the life being crushed from the man on the floor. The rest of the council watched avidly, exhibiting their own signs of estrus as the darkness surrounded Chancey and his struggles for breath grew less meaningful. He was about to drift off into a peaceful sleep when the crushing weight lifted and he felt nourishing life-giving air trickle into his lungs like a stone knife. He sucked greedily at it and the darkness cleared a little. 

“What are you supposed to remember, Chancey?” asked Barris, swinging the mace and chain in front of Chancey’s eyes. Fear flashed in them as Chancey attempted to scramble away. One leg was half-paralyzed and hindered his movement as Barris advanced grinning. “Can’t remember?”

Barris raised the mace. Chancey’s breathless scream was cut off by a thick meaty thud and the sound of a woman’s orgasm, Agathas reaching her climax just as Chancey’s brain splattered across the walls. She shuddered in her chair, convulsing, her eyes rolling back as she moaned. Barris dropped the bloody mace on Chancey’s body and wiped his hands on his robe. He stepped back to his seat at the table, drew his chair under him and sat. 

“Agathas, when you’ve recovered, summon a steward for wine and to clean up what’s left of Chancey,” said Barris, and sunk his teeth into another turkey leg. 

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Daphne Strasert

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Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and science fiction author located in Houston, Texas. She placed 3rd in the 2017 Next Great Horror Writer Contest. She has had many short Daphne Strasertstories published through HorrorAddicts.net and others. When not writing, she plays board games and knits.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

Years and years ago, I liked American Girl dolls and Samantha (from the Victorian Era) was my favorite. That started a life long love affair with the Victorian Era. At first, I admired the seeming sophistication of the times, from the fashion to the elaborate social rules. As I grew older and did more in-depth research, I discovered the lurking darkness of social inequality. The juxtaposition fueled a desire to delve even deeper.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Dracula. Far and away my favorite. I do love Edgar Allan Poe and all his works, but Dracula was my first love in the horror genre and I’ll never let go of that. It is a slow burning book with so many facets to enjoy.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

Crimson Peak.

The sets and costumes were magnificent. The actors gave masterful performances. The movie had a brooding atmosphere that drew me in immediately. The plot was not a typical haunted house story. It turned the tropes of the genre on their head. It left me guessing during every minute. It’s brilliant, and if you haven’t watched it, make sure you do!

Are your characters based on real people?

Not specifically. While doing research for my story, I was fascinated by the many famous mediums later revealed to be frauds (either through careful observation of third parties, or by their own admission), so this made its way into my writing.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I’m a strong believer in outlines. People (whether they realize it or not) expect stories to be told in a certain way. The rise and fall of action keep readers engaged without exhausting them. I love my outlines. I am always thinking about my stories, and ideas come to me much faster than I would be able to keep track with if I wrote consecutively. Outlines help me to keep track of where the story is going eventually.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

I keep a strong leash on my characters. I do a lot of character development work to make sure that I’m always true to how they would act, but if my character ever went off course, then that would mean they weren’t the right character for the story. I would need to rethink their motivations.

What are you most afraid of?

Helplessness. Being in a situation with no escape or even a way to progress. So many of my fears can be conquered, but helplessness, by definition, cannot be.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I’m partial to Tarot cards. They have a rich history and many variations. The wide variety of art styles makes each deck unique. On an aesthetic level, I like the feel of the cards in my hands, the sound they make when they’re shuffled, even the smell of a worn and well-loved deck.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Edgar Allan Poe. I suppose that’s an old-fashioned choice, but I love his short stories. They have a breadth of style that is hard to find. I also do prefer horror stories written in historical eras and those can be hard to find with modern authors.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I don’t have any pending publications right now, but I have several novels in the editing stage. Hopefully, those will be submitted to publishers by the end of the year. There are a few anthologies for which I’m producing short stories, and I’ll post more information about those on my website and social media when I can confirm.

Addicts, you can find Daphne on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Dark Divinations: Broken Crystal

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Before the Crystal Broke: The Inspiration Behind “Broken Crystal.”

By Rie Sheridan Rose

I have been a fan of Victoriana since I was old enough to know it existed, and that was far too many years ago. I fell in love with the fashion, the architecture, the society in general. So, when I saw the call for Dark Divinations, I wanted desperately to earn a spot in it.

I had written a story about the spiritualism of the period before, but it was humorous, and that wasn’t the sort of story I wanted to tell this time. When it came time to choose a focal point for the divination type I wished to feature, the crystal ball was really the only option that resonated.

Crystal balls have been associated with divination as far back as the first century CE, when Pliny the Elder wrote of “crystallum orbis” used by soothsayers. What gypsy fortuneteller worth their salt is without one? For my story, I wanted the spiritualist to be the real thing—able to see the future and communicate with the dead. She doesn’t like to monetize her gifts, but her mother insists.

Researching the story was fascinating. A brief history of Victorian spiritualism in general (Turning the Table by Bekah June) came my way several years ago by way of a convention panel. It provides an interesting, if brief, overview of the spiritualism scene in the period.

But it wasn’t until I found an article titled “How to Use a Crystal Ball” on themoonlightshop.com that several key elements of the story came together. Using the information in that article, I was able to give some “verisimilitude” to what Madame Rose saw in her crystal ball.

One final thing of interest to the reader, perhaps, is the story was originally written in third person. One of my beta readers asked me if I had considered putting it in first person, and the rest—as they say—is history. I feel what makes it most haunting is that it is told by Molly herself.

Mysterious Rie RoseRie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including On Fire, Hides the Dark Tower,  and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Rie Sheridan Rose

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Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including On Fire, Hides the Dark Tower, and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve Mysterious Rie Rosenovels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I don’t remember ever NOT being interested in it. Ever since I was a young girl…half a century ago—yikes!…I have been fascinated by all things Victorian. I’m an Anglophile in general, but the Victorian era had it all…

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

It isn’t a particularly “scary” story, but I’ve always been fond of Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” – I even adapted it for the stage as a kid. And if we broaden the scope of Victoriana to here across the pond, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my absolute favorite horror stories. It was written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, so it just squeaks in under the 1901 wire.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

Does Dracula Has Risen from the Grave count? It is set in 1905, but it does have Dracula… What attracted me to the film was that I saw it when it was fairly new, and it was the first time I knew how erotic vampires could be. Go figure—Christopher Lee gave me chills.

I am also very fond of Mary Reilly, because it was a fascinating re-invention of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Are your characters based on real people?

No.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

No, not usually. I am a pantser. I sometimes have a vague idea of where I want the story to go, and then I start writing and let it tell itself.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

Oh, I have had some CRAZY things happen which I did not expect. I wrote one story where a character had decided to give up some of his remaining years to his ill grandmother. When she refused, he was supposed to go out in the hall and pour it out. Instead, he gave the potion to a little girl he met in the hallway because she was also ill, and maybe that extra time could find her a cure.

In another case, I have written five books in my Steampunk series from the point of view of my main character. I wrote the first book in a new series set in the same world, and my main character in that one told me some major character points I had never known before…

What are you most afraid of?

I think probably dying alone. 

What is your favorite form of divination?

I would love to be able to read Tarot cards. I think they are fascinating, but I haven’t the gift for it. I’ve been to some truly frightening seances… I think when it comes down to it, the Ouija Board is the only form I feel I can participate in myself.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Stephen King. Since I read my first King, I’ve been hooked.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I am currently editing my next Horrified Press anthology. I have the previously mentioned novel Bond and Reilly Investigations: The Case of the Counterfeit Confederate almost ready to go to an editor, and I have The Beauty and the Bard out to beta readers. Hopefully at least one of them will be out by the end of the year. There are others in the wings waiting their turn.

For Horror Addicts, I recommend snagging a copy of Skellyman while it is still in print.

Addicts, you can find Rie on Amazon and on her website.

Daphne’s Den of Darkness: 5 Uncommon Monsters that Deserve a Movie

I love monsters. Demons, vampires, werewolves, giant atom-bomb lizards, scientific monstrosities, supernatural entities… you name it, I love it (except zombies, but we won’t get into that here). I’ll gleefully watch every Hammer Horror movie and sit through a thousand Universal monster marathons.

But, given the deep wealth of urban legends and cultural mythologies from around the world, is this really the best we can do? Endless remakes of Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy?

It’s time to branch out.

See below for five monsters that deserve their own block buster franchise:

1. Jorogumo

Jorogumo is a Japanese spider creature that can shapeshift into a beautiful woman. Japanese folklore is filled to the brim with fascinating monsters of all shapes and sizes and Japanese filmmakers have made films that scared the pants off us for decades (The Ring and The Grudge, anyone?). I’m imagining a tense thriller about young newlyweds, one with a dark secret… but it’s best to leave this to the professionals.

2. Cuca

The Cuca is a Brazilian mythological being taking the form of an old witch with an alligator face and hawk-like claws. She is known to steal children (especially naughty ones). Given the fantastic history of Brazilian cinema, I would love to see a tense, artsy film that brings home another Oscar for horror fans.

3. Bouda

Say it with me now: were-hyenas. That moniker really doesn’t do this African creature justice. The Bouda legend takes different forms depending on where exactly it comes from (it’s common in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Near East). Regardless, humans turning into animals is rich fodder for all kinds of horror and we could all do with a break from the clichés of yet another werewolf movie.

4. Dzoavits

Dzoavits is an ogre from Native American (specifically Shoshonean) folklore. He is known for stealing and eating children. While this legend doesn’t have a wealth of stories to draw from, the premise alone is spooky enough for me to greenlight it.

5. Drop Bear

The drop bear is a larger, carnivorous cousin to the koala. Luckily, it’s not real, but is actually an Australian hoax designed to scare tourists. Australia is a nightmare country. Scientists are always discovering new and exciting ways for the wildlife to kill you. So, who’s to say this tourist-scaring cryptid isn’t waiting in the branches above. Just waiting… to drop.

That’s my top five list for new monster movies! What would you like to see?

Dark Divinations: Breaking Bread

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The Inspiration Behind “Breaking Bread.”

By R.L. Merrill

Breaking Bread begins in the home of Fidelia Meek, the Meek Mansion, which is less than two miles from my house. The house is an historic site and I drive past it every week. The home was built in 1869 after William Meek and his family relocated to what is now San Lorenzo in order to plant orchards. He and his partner, Henderson Lewelling, got their start in the fruit business up in Oregon and brought their know-how to California to start anew. The area is now part of the Bay Area suburban sprawl, but the Hayward Historical Society has gone to great lengths to preserve the home. It’s a glorious white building with many windows and turrets. I’ve been inside a handful of times and it always feels full to the brim of stories, almost as if you could run your fingers along the wall or the banister and absorb the history through your pores.

When I discovered the submission call for Dark Divinations, I fell into a rabbit hole of research on the house, the area, and what women of the time may have been interested in. I discovered the use of Alphitomancy—the use of bread to determine one’s innocence or guilt—and away the story went! I was even able to score a couple of tickets to a paranormal investigation of the home one night and though it was a thrill to attend with my pal Karysa and to hear stories about the people who lived there, nothing much out of the ordinary occurred. Still, we got to explore parts of the house that are usually closed to the public, and I loved every moment.

When the place you live in and love is full of history, it doesn’t take much to be inspired.

Merrill_RL-HeadshotOnce upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Twenty-five published works later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill strives to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Bone Box

Plotline: In hopes of raising enough money to pay off his gambling debts Tom decides to rob the dead.

Who would like it: Fans of ghost stories and hauntings

High Points

Complaints: My complaint isn’t with the movie per se but with the decision of the main character to solve his problem  

Overall: It was good

Stars: 3

Where I watched it: Review link provided by Film 

 

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Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – R.L. Merrill

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Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Twenty-five published works later, with more tucked Merrill_RL-Headshotaway in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill strives to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

Everyone gets so excited about the Victorian era in Britain, but I’ve always been more interested in what was going on in my neighborhood. There are several historic homes in my area and I’ve often wondered about the people who lived here before us and what life was like, what the area looked like.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Edgar Allan Poe is one of my literary heroes and I love his tales of darkness and despair. “Ligeia” is one of my favorites along with “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

I absolutely loved the film version of Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. It was incredibly well done. I also think Corpse Bride is brilliant and a much better Burton film than A Nightmare Before Christmas, which is not a popular opinion, I know.

Are your characters based on real people?

In “Breaking Bread,” the main character, Fidelia Meek, was the real lady of the Meek Mansion. I use the names of the Meek family as well. They were wealthy landowners in the East Bay; their orchards were vast.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I’m a plotser. I actually do character organizers before I write. Usually. Mostly. My current WIP? I’m pantsing the heck out of it.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

Oooo pretty sure I’m a firm believer in fate. Things happen for a reason, despite whatever we may do to change our destiny.

What are you most afraid of?

Besides the obvious, something happening to my children, I’m also terrified of getting sick again. The coronavirus has reminded me how hard I’ve fought to not get pneumonia again, and I continue to fight.

What is your favorite form of divination?

Growing up, I loved the Magic 8 Ball! But for now? I’m fascinated with Tarot. I want to learn more about it. For my story, though, I wanted to dig deep and find something unusual, and that’s where the Barley Bread came from. According to several sources, Alphitomancy is an ancient method of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect person by feeding him or her a specially prepared wheat or barley loaf or cake. If the person suffers from indigestion, or finds the loaf to be distasteful, this is interpreted as a sign of guilt. If enough people believe in something, it gives it power. Apparently lots of folks—including the Greeks and Romans up through the Irish—believed in this form of divination. Who am I to disagree?

Who is your favorite horror author?

Anne Rice. Her books fed my imagination for years. I also love Stephen King, Robert Louis Stevenson, the aforementioned Poe, and contemporary horror author Rick R. Reed.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I recently dropped a new supernatural suspense/paranormal romance called Healer: Havenhart Academy Book One, and book two will be out in early 2021. In June and October, I’ll be releasing my third and fourth Magic and Mayhem Universe books which follow a congregation of Alligator Shifters and witches living in the Bayou. They’re a lot of fun to write and I love being a part of a group project. And in June I’ll also be a part of the Love is All Vol. 3 anthology to support LGBTQ charities. That story will be an m/m contemporary romance.

Addicts, you can find R.L. on Facebook, Twitter, and BookBub.

Dark Divinations: Miss Mae’s Prayers

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The Inspiration Behind “Miss Mae’s Prayers.”

By H.R.R. Gorman

Miss Mae’s Prayers” was inspired by the area where I grew up. The Southern Appalachians are steeped in a rich history of superstitions, most of which are about health or weather, and many of which are considered about as Gospel truth as, well, the Gospels themselves.

The titular character, Miss Mae, is based on my next-door neighbor growing up (though “next door” meant something more like half-mile or a mile away). Though she’d grown up in a staunchly Christian community, somehow she’d made the decision to believe in no god. As a result, she was considered to be witchy, especially since the childless woman lived to be 102 before finally succumbing to pneumonia. Despite her status, she knew many mountain folk-cures and gave sought-after advice to others in the community.

Common practices in modern mountain churches stem from Baptist and Methodist missionaries that arrived in the late 1800’s. Circuit preaching, revivals, and camp meetings still happen in the mountains with surprising regularity, and they hearken to a time when only a few preachers tramped around the woods in search of souls to save. The story focuses on a highly respected circuit preacher who is skeptical of the mountain ways.

Elements of the present remind us of the past that created “Miss Mae’s Prayers”, and I hope reading this short can transport you to a fantastical world without the need to attend an old camp meeting…

HRR GormanGrowing up, H.R.R. Gorman listened to a circuit preacher every Sunday at her local church near Boone, North Carolina, and has accepted supernatural medical advice from neighbors and relatives. She now holds a BS, MS, and Ph.D. in chemical engineering, with which she makes modern cures for those less superstitiously inclined. In her spare time, H.R.R. enjoys training her dog, Hector, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with her husband.  

Dark Divinations Watch Party & Facebook Party – Today

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Horror Addicts, in honor of the new book release, Dark Divinations, HorrorAddicts.net cordially invites you to:

THE DARK DIVINATIONS WATCH PARTY

Followed by

THE DARK DIVINATIONS FACEBOOK PARTY

Join us for an hour of charming videos celebrating the release of DARK DIVINATIONS. Then, stay with us for a Facebook Party of epic proportions. There will be virtual refreshments, games, and prizes!

The Watch Party will begin at 1 pm today. The Facebook Party follows at 2 pm.

Who: HorrorAddicts.net

When: Today

Time: Watch Party – 1:00 PM PST

Time: Facebook Party – 2:00 PM PST

How: Watch Party

Facebook Party

RSVP

Stay Spooky!

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Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – H.R.R. Gorman

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Growing up, H.R.R. Gorman listened to a circuit preacher every Sunday at her local church near Boone, North Carolina, and has accepted supernatural medical HRR Gormanadvice from neighbors and relatives. She now holds a BS, MS, and Ph.D. in chemical engineering, with which she makes modern cures for those less superstitiously inclined. In her spare time, H.R.R. enjoys training her dog, Hector, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with her husband. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I’ve descended from a distinctive stock of poor Southern Appalachian people, grew up amongst Southerners, and have decided to keep North Carolina as my forever home. Throughout my life, I’ve been steeped in the continuing legacy of the Civil War and reconstruction in the South; though the war is long over, its effects still linger in many devious and dark corners of Southern society. I have enjoyed studying the war itself, the politics surrounding it, the cruelty that fomented it, and the devastation of its results. You don’t often think of things like Gone with the Wind as being Victorian, but they are.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” has long been an inspiration when I write Southern gothic fiction (though Bierce himself was, bless his heart, not a Southerner). Written in 1890, it’s a story about a plantation owner awaiting his execution over an Alabama bridge, rope already around his neck. What happens next I’ll leave for you to find out – the story is in the public domain and can be found on Project Gutenberg for free.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

I don’t think I have a favorite Victorian horror movie. However, I must say I enjoyed the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell series on BBC, which has a spine-tingling feel and is set during the Napoleonic wars. It’s not quite Victorian because the industrial revolution wasn’t in full force, but it’s got a lot of similarities to steampunk or later 19th-century stories.

Are your characters based on real people?

Some of them are. In the story found here, for instance, Miss Mae was based on a real person. She was my neighbor growing up and died at 102. People respected her health advice (she pretty much saved my own mother when she had the flu sometime in the 1980’s), but many community members were scared of her because she was an atheist. “Godlessness” was unheard of for someone in our community. I changed her character a little bit for the story, such as making her a little witchy instead of an atheist, but much of her character still remains substantially the same as the person I knew.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I never outline anything, but I know in my head what kind of plot will happen. I make characters and a problem to solve, and most of the time I have an idea how to solve the problem, but I allow the story from beginning to end to take its own natural course. It’s like playing Dungeons and Dragons, but just in my head.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

A little of both – I give them free will, but oftentimes I write myself into a corner where I don’t like where it’s going. In those cases, I tend to delete everything back to where I believe the disastrous decision was made and try to force them into choosing something else.

What are you most afraid of?

It’s a tie between Ebola, rabies, Ebola rabies, tetanus, tooth decay, polio, cancer, Hell, and septic shock.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I’m not much of one to believe in divination, but I am intrigued by cold reading.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Southern Gothic has always been near and dear to my heart, so probably Faulkner. His short “A Rose for Emily,” is probably the single-most inspiring story for any of my writing. I’m more into softer, creepy horror than the stabby jump-scare horror.

Other than that, I will admit I have a soft spot for Rod Serling…

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

Dark Divinations is the first anthology I’ve appeared in, but I’m just revving my engines and hoping to participate in more anthologies.

In the meantime, I post fairly regularly on my WordPress blog and am offering a free Southern gothic sci-fi novel called American Chimera. It’s being posted serially through the end of 2020 or can be downloaded immediately as a PDF.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Stephanie Ellis

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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her latest work includes the novella, Bottled, stephanie ellispublished by Silver Shamrock, who will also be publishing her novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, in October. She has recently been published in Flame Tree Press’ A Dying Planet anthology with “Milking Time” and is included in Silver Shamrock’s upcoming Midnight in the Pentagram anthology with “Family Reunion”. She has collected a number of her published, and some unpublished, short stories in The Reckoning, her dark verse in Dark is my Playground, and flash in The Dark Bites, all available on amazon. She is co-editor of Trembling With Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine. She is an affiliate member of the HWA. 

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

This actually began when I studied for my degree some years back with the Open University. Some of the history modules I worked on dwelt on the Victorian era and I found it fascinating how it was such a time of contradiction. Public morality vs. personal morality, position of women in society, the advance of science vs. religion. So much went on beneath the surface of Victorian life which was regarded as its ‘dirty little secret’ because of this veneer of respectability which took precedence.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

“Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe – and pretty much a number of others of his: “Fall of the House of Usher,” “Pit and the Pendulum.” He was a master of the macabre.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

I’m not sure you would call this horror but it does have horrific elements and that is The Elephant Man based on the story of Joseph Merrick. The way he was treated as a freak and how he had to hide his face in public was heartbreaking, yet he retained his humanity and showed it was those who mocked and condemned him who were the monsters. I think that’s what I was trying to get at, it asks the question of what makes a monster? The emotion in this film really pulled me in. As a result of this movie, I actually did a study of neurofibromatosis as a result of seeing this film for my biology A-level!

Are your characters based on real people?

Yes. When I was studying with the OU, I loved reading primary sources, real accounts from those alive at the time. One of these was London Characters and Crooks by Henry Mayhew which talked about the penny gaffs and costermongers who attended them, as well as their owners. This led me to Tom Norman who really did operate a penny gaff opposite the London Hospital. He was the man who actually ‘exhibited’ Joseph Merrick. If you want authenticity, read Mayhew’s accounts, they are real interviews with real people. It is one of my go-to source books – and it’s a lovely Folio Society edition!

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Seat of my pants. I can’t plan. I have a character or a situation and I start to write it and I just let it take me where it will. I have tried to plan because some swear by it but I found every single time my characters would not walk the path I’d set out for them.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

They write their own stories.

What are you most afraid of?

On a ridiculous level, Daddy Longlegs – I can’t stand things fluttering around my head, moths aren’t too far behind that. Silly really, as I don’t mind butterflies. On a more serious level? The same things as most people – death, my own and that of those close to me. I’m also scared of the sheer scale of intolerance in society and the way thought police, trolling and abuse has destroyed free speech.

What is your favorite form of divination?

The Fortune Teller’s head was actually based on one I saw in operation at a local museum. I quite like the idea of the Tarot. I do have a pack of cards now which I am using to inform a new work of poetry and flash in conjunction with author friend, Alyson Faye. That is an ongoing thing with no fixed timescale but it is something I want to see through.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Aagh, it depends on my mood so I’m going to name a few: Adam Nevill, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Shirley Jackson, Amy Lukavics. I’m not going to mention Stephen King because it goes without saying.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to? 

Publications for this year have pretty much happened already (My novella, Bottled, and my short story, Milking Time, in Flame Tree Publishing’s Dying Planet anthology) so now I am working for future publication.

I have been extremely lucky to have been signed by Silver Shamrock Publishing this year. In January they published my gothic novella Bottled.  And soon, they will be publishing an anthology, Midnight in the Pentagram which features my story, ‘Family Reunion’ AND in October they will be bringing out my folk horror/dark fantasy novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel.

I have just finished a post-apocalyptic horror novel which is currently with beta-readers, I have a folk horror/psychological horror novel to finish and a post-apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi novel to find a home for.

I’ve a couple of short stories I want to turn into novellas, both post-apocalyptic/horror/sci-fi – sensing a trend here?

I’m building a collection of short stories set in the world of The Five Turns of the Wheel and which people would’ve got a taste of in my short stories, ‘The Way of the Mother’ (The Fiends in the Furrows, Nosetouch Press) and ‘The Dance’ (CalenDark from the Infernal Clock). I would also LOVE to write the story of how Betty came to be ‘Betty’ and can see that as a novella too. You’d have to read ‘The Dance’ and ‘The Way of the Mother’ to discover more about this character although I did publish a bit of flash on my website about him, here.

Having finished the novel for beta-reading, I am now giving time to another love of mine, dark poetry. I’m working on both my collection and the collaboration with Alyson Faye.

So, the future is busy. Fingers-crossed all of the above sees the light of day but whatever happens, I’ll keep on writing. I can’t not.

Addicts, you can find Stephanie on Twitter.

Dark Divinations: The Bell

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The Inspiration Behind “The Bell.”

By Jon O’Bergh

During the nineteenth century, epidemics like cholera periodically swept through the population and brought reports of premature burial. Although most of these reports were undoubtedly fake news, the resulting fear of being buried alive fueled a demand for “safety coffins.” I initially wrote a story about one such burial, told by an omniscient narrator but focused on the graveyard watchman, in which a wife deliberately buries her sick husband before he is dead.

When I saw the Dark Divinations call for submissions, I realized my story had the seeds of something ideal for the anthology. I’ve always loved the Victorian style of writing: the fancy turns of phrase, the old-fashioned word choices, the heightened emotionalism. I thought it would be fun to craft a story using that kind of voice—a Poe-esque story told from the perspective of the person trapped in the coffin. What would he experience? What thoughts would go through his mind? How would he deal with the situation?

Of course, that meant writing the story in the first person and completely re-working it. I decided it would be even more interesting to invest the character with occult abilities, another fascination of the nineteenth century. Not an outright charlatan (although there were plenty of those), but a flawed yet sympathetic character with some amount of real ability. The transformed story now had only a superficial resemblance to the original. Dark Divinations had inspired me to write an even better tale, one I hope is worthy of comparison with Edgar Allan Poe.

 Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California at Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for his horror novel “The Shatter Point” after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has published four books and released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends his time in Toronto.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Jon O’Bergh

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Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California obergh-authorat Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for his horror novel, The Shatter Point, after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has published four books and released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends his time in Toronto.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

So many of my favorite authors were active during that era, from Charles Dickens to Mark Twain. The era also provided many of the classic trappings of horror we’re familiar with: the image of the haunted house, the decor we associate with funerals, the rise of spirit mediums, etc.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story? 

Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” Something to turn to during plague-haunted times.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

The Innocents is quite well done—based on the short story by Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. The film strikes just the right balance, never getting too absurd or bogged down in explanatory mumbo-jumbo.

Are your characters based on real people?

Sometimes I incorporate aspects of behavior I’ve observed, but in “The Bell” the characters are completely fictional.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I start with a plan on where I want to go, but the characters and the plot always take me on an unexpected journey, so things evolve and change as I write.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

I can’t say they have free will, because I need them to act in a certain way to further the plot and support my premise.

What are you most afraid of?

The irrational impulse in human beings. It causes all manner of unnecessary trouble for humanity. That and wasps!

What is your favorite form of divination? 

As someone who appreciates a good laugh, I would say geloscopy, which is divination based on interpreting the sound or manner of laughter.

Who is your favorite horror author?

Among contemporary authors, it would be Paul Tremblay. I appreciate how he plays with ambiguity, so you’re not quite sure what is real and what is imagined. I believe we experience much in life that way, uncertain about things we’re told, about people’s true motivations, about what lies beneath the surface. He writes horror fiction that feels real to me.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I’ve completed a second horror novel about a drag queen and his best friend who share a passion for art, fashion, and horror. When they learn that their apartment building might be haunted, they envision an entertaining episode for their horror podcast and begin investigating with the help of their quirky neighbors. But they uncover something far more sinister that threatens them all. It’s a tale with a message for our modern times. I’m currently seeking a publisher. I’ve also created an album of horror-themed music by one of the characters, titled Box of Bones, that may precede or accompany the novel. Until then, readers can check out my horror novel The Shatter Point. And I periodically write a blog with musings on music and horror, called Song of Fire.

Addicts, you can find Jon on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

 

Dark Divinations: Miroir de Vaugnac

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The Inspiration Behind “Miroir de Vaugnac.”

By Michael Fassbender

To a certain extent, I think I fell back on my experience with my D&D game as I was brainstorming this story. I liked the idea of a seer who acquires a powerful but malign device, and once I set upon that path, I approached it like the creation of a unique magical item in my game. My players know that I enjoy throwing nonstandard magical items at them, ones that not only have unique game effects but also possess a definite history, even if only a fraction of that history ever comes out in the game. I approached my thoughts in this story in the same space, and the result was a scrying bowl with a dangerous spirit attached to it.

I connected this bowl to the Languedoc region in France because of its history of separatism and religious nonconformity. I imagined that fifteenth-century sorcerers would have an easier time operating there.

It was only then that I created my seer, Beatrice. I gave her a family background in Wales to offer access to the rich folklore of that region, even if that proved in part to be a red herring in the story. I also provided her with troublesome family connections on her late husband’s side to prod her out of any danger of complacency.

The ending developed organically as I wrote the story, but I always knew that the ne’er-do-well brother-in-law was going to provoke Beatrice into a drastic response.

M. FassbenderMichael Fassbender is a part-time writer in the Chicago area. His first literary love is supernatural horror: Poe and Lovecraft inspired him to begin writing in high school, but 2016 marked his first appearance in print media apart from a few college journals. His story “Inmate” appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, and “The Cold Girl” appeared in Hypnos Magazine. A number of non-fiction articles are now available on his website,  and there is also a short story in the tradition of Poe on the fiction page.

Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Michael Fassbender

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Michael Fassbender is a part-time writer in the Chicago area. His first literary love is supernatural horror. Poe and Lovecraft inspired him to begin writing in high school, but M. Fassbender2016 marked his first appearance in print media apart from a few college journals. His story “Inmate” appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, and “The Cold Girl” appeared in Hypnos Magazine. A number of non-fiction articles are now available on his website, and there is also a short story in the tradition of Poe on the fiction page.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

There are two separate answers to this question. As an historian, I think I found the most interest in the realm of military history. If we frame it in terms of the Crimean War to the outbreak of World War I, we are looking at a period of profound technological and organizational changes. We see the widespread adoption of rifles, the development of smokeless powder and repeating firearms, the emergence of the machine gun, and the advancement of artillery from a line-of-sight threat to a more distant danger. Armies are growing larger and employ more sophisticated logistics, and enhancements to the lethality of Victorian weapons inspires a more defensive mindset. The trench warfare that characterizes World War I has its antecedents in the Crimea.

Then we have my reactions as a horror maven. The look of the Victorian era is wonderful in horror, whether we have a haunted house tale or a vampire story. No matter how bright and cozy (or should I write, cosy) they may be by day, by night those houses look like a proper haunt. The characteristic funerary culture of the period is wonderful for horror fans, and I made substantial use of this in my story “Tisiphone.” And finally, it is in the Victorian era that the occult ceased to be a matter for locked rooms and became activity for parlors. While I am not a practitioner of the occult myself, it is a major feature of horror fiction, and this brings a unique flavor to Victorian horror stories.

Both of these elements contributed substantially to my story, “Miroir de Vaugnac.”

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

If we include Poe, then it would have to be “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842).

Should we set that master aside, I would probably pick J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla right now. For me, I think it’s the questions that this story suggested that make it stand out. Specifically, the last time I read the story, I found myself wondering about the long-term effects of the vampire’s attention after it was destroyed. Would the human victim be relieved, or would she perceive it as a kind of loss? Those questions inspired a flash fiction story of my own.

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

This proved harder than I expected. So many of the classic Victorian stories have been updated to a more contemporary timeframe when they are adapted for film. Oddly enough, the film I’d choose had the reverse effect: the filmmakers of the 2009 adaptation of The Wolfman grounded that version in the nineteenth century, and I thought it was a successful adaptation. I think it reinvigorated a story that had become a bit formulaic, and I always enjoy seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins in a horror film, whether he’s the monster or the monster-hunter.

Are your characters based on real people?

None of the main characters are real, but I did incorporate two historical figures to ground the story further in reality. I draw reference to Col. Arthur Fremantle of the Coldstream Guards, who undertook a private trip to observe the American Civil War from the vantage point of the Army of Northern Virginia. He is most famous for observing day three of the Battle of Gettysburg from the headquarters of Pickett’s command. Agnes is really his mother’s name, and I thought it reasonable that she might know Beatrice because of their shared experience of being Army wives. It is Agnes’ concern for her son that gives Beatrice her first chance to use the Miroir, and at the same time, the use of a known historical figure allows me to present an accurate reading without having to state that the reading was accurate. After all, Beatrice had no way of cross-checking what she’d learned.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I usually err on the side of spontaneity. I begin a story with a general idea of where it is meant to go, but as I write and come to know my characters better, the course they take will often shift, and once in a while I revise my plans for the story substantially by the time I reach the end.

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

I try to give my characters a sense of agency, even if the final scene was actually the first thing that I planned. The choices they make need to be consistent with who they’ve shown themselves to be all along. Sometimes this means that I need to tweak the character to fit the result better, other times I tweak the result to better reflect the character I’ve created.

What are you most afraid of?

This would probably involve catching some highly lethal disease, like rabies, or else contracting a really nasty form of cancer.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t practice any forms of divination, so I have no practical preferences. From an outsider’s perspective, I find Tarot cards to be much more picturesque than astrology or numerology. What I liked about scrying is that it offered me the opportunity to describe scenes. I thought that would be more rewarding for me as a writer, and more entertaining for the reader.

Who is your favorite horror author?

For the number one slot, I’d still need to name my aged grandsire from Providence. H.P. Lovecraft is the reason why I began writing when I was in high school. As a writer, I’ve tried to grow past his limitations, but I’m still working on learning from his strengths.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I have a couple of other stories nearing publication. In one case, the final list of authors is not yet public, but for the other, I can say that my short story “Old Growth” will appear in the volume Scary Stuff, published by Oddity Prodigies.

 

Dark Divinations Watch Party & Facebook Party

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Horror Addicts, in honor of the new book release, Dark Divinations, HorrorAddicts.net cordially invites you to:

THE DARK DIVINATIONS WATCH PARTY

Followed by

THE DARK DIVINATIONS FACEBOOK PARTY

Join us for an hour of charming videos celebrating the release of DARK DIVINATIONS. Then, stay with us for a Facebook Party of epic proportions. There will be virtual refreshments, games, and prizes!

The Watch Party will begin at 1 pm on May 23rd. The Facebook Party follows at 2 pm.

Who: HorrorAddicts.net

When: May 23rd

Time: Watch Party – 1:00 PM PST

Time: Facebook Party – 2:00 PM PST

How: Watch Party

Facebook Party

RSVP

Stay Spooky!

Dark Divinations 3d

HorrorAddicts.net 180, Paul Lubaczewski

Horror Addicts Episode# 180
SEASON 15 “Cursed, Cubed”
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe


paul lubaczewski | spank the nun | dead mans gun s1

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

172 days till Halloween

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Dark Divinations – They Wound Like Worms

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The Inspiration Behind “They Wound Like Worms.”

By Naching T. Kassa

Inspiration is the spark which ignites the fire of imagination. It comes in a myriad of forms and from many different places. The inspiration for “They Wound Like Worms,” came in two forms, one from a book and the other from a BBC documentary. The book is Dracula by Bram Stoker. The documentary is The Diary of Jack the Ripper.

Dracula is written in Epistolary Style. This means every chapter is a letter or journal entry written by one of the characters. When I first read Dracula, I’d never seen anything like it. The reader sees Dracula, the other characters, and the scenes in the story from many points of view and attitudes. This got me thinking. What if I wrote a story from my main character’s point of view? What if I wrote it through letters he had written his sister? The idea was an intriguing one and I decided to go for it.

Now that I had my main character and style, I began to wonder who the story would be about. Who could make such a story interesting? The journal entries in Dracula led me to think of diaries and a documentary I’d seen as a teen. The Diary of Jack the Ripper was narrated by Tom Baker—of Dr. Who fame—and concerned the controversial book by Shirley Harris. The show claimed the diary of the Ripper had been discovered in 1992. It also claimed the author was James Maybrick, a cotton merchant from Liverpool. True or untrue, it was a fascinating take on the Ripper legend.

A second spark lit my imagination. I decided to create my own Ripper, someone with a different motivation for killing. My Ripper doesn’t kill for pleasure. He kills women because he needs to read their entrails and see the future.

And so, two sparks became an inferno and a fun story entered the world. I hope you enjoy “They Wound Like Worms,” and all the stories in Dark Divinations.

Nachingwriterpic2019Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She’s created short stories, novellas, poems, and co-created three children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Head of Publishing and Interviewer for HorrorAddicts.net, and an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing.