Meet Artist Bill Rude and Author Emerian Rich

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Meet author Emerian Rich and artist Bill Rude

HalloweenThis weekend, ScareLA, the first Los Angeles convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween (and from my knowledge the only one in California) will commence. On August 8th and 9th at the Pasadena Convention Center, the event will feature top attraction designers and operators, manufacturers, artists, filmmakers and more. The weekend-long Halloween season teaser will celebrate California’s hottest scary faire with attraction unveils, workshops and classes, top industry panels, haunt experiences, screenings and activities.

FinalFrontCoverBill Rude is allowing me to sit at his table for awhile to promote the HorrorAddicts.net Press book, Horror Addicts Guide to Life. Bill was interviewed in the book and I wrote several parts, so you will get signatures of two contributors if you stop by the booth between 1p-2p, August 8th.

Not only will I be meeting all of you fine folks during the con, but I am excited to check out this huge Halloween-inspired convention! I am also looking forward to seeing Bill’s Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards in person. 🙂 And he has buttons! I know I won’t be able to resist grabbing a few.

Come share the SCARE with me and my Halloween-inspired friends.

See you there!

ScareLa
August 8th
1pm-2pm @ booth 213
Meet Bill and Emerian
Mention code: Boo2015
to get a discount on the
Horror Addicts Guide to Life book.

7 Hells (booth 213) is ready to go all out to make it the best one yet!

scare la– The EXCLUSIVE vendor of official ScareLA t-shirts and prints featuring the illustration by Bill Rude!

– More featured 7 Hells artwork in Evil Twin Studios’ ‘VAULT OF DARKNESS’!

– Celebrate the The Hatbox Ghost’s return with original Haunted Mansion art and prints!

– NEW: 7 Hells buttons, including original Krampus and Haunted Mansion artwork!

– Vintage movie posters that never were!

– Terrifying Monster T-Shirts!

– Gallery of Original Artwork!

– And ALWAYS your #1 stop for original Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards!

Free Fiction Friday: Griddlebone by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Griddlebone
By Debbie Manber Kupfer
The werecat padded silently across the cobbles of the dark Vienna street. It was deserted now, but Griddlebone knew it would soon be filled with bootsteps and cries, gunshots and blood. They were slated to come at dawn, to cleanse this last Jewish neighborhood of its vermin, so that the proper folk of Vienna could finally live Judenfrei.
Inside the darkened houses, the residents huddled in fear. The news of the transport had only come hours before, and some still couldn’t believe it. They had been fooling themselves for months, believing this one insignificant street could survive in its own little bubble, that somehow God would protect them.They readied themselves with what few valuables they had left. Maybe they could still bribe the Nazi soldiers. Maybe there was still a way out.
The werecat flexed his claws, as he waited in the shadows. Griddlebone wished he could rescue them all, but his orders were clear. He could only take one. They needed to be the right age too – a teenager would be good, strong enough to fight, strong enough to survive the turning.As the first rays of light caught the cobblestones, Griddlebone felt the bootsteps echoing down the street. Soon. His tail swished back and forth in anticipation. Within minutes, the first soldier came into view. The werecat was all but invisible to the soldiers, his mottled grey coat blending perfectly with the cold grey street.At the same time as the first soldiers appeared on foot, a silver-grey truck arrived on the street and parked in front of the buildings, waiting for its human cargo.
As the Gestapo soldiers marched past the werecat’s hiding place, he longed to dig his claws into their ankles, to hear them scream with pain. Not yet, Griddlebone, not yet.
The soldiers reached the first house. They banged on the doors.

“Juden, Heraus, Heraus! Schnell, schnell! – Everybody out of there, quickly, quickly.”

At first there was silence. Griddlebone held his breath, waiting. And then, slowly, they came out, squinting in the light of the dawn. They had been inside for so long, sitting in the darkness. They looked like ancient patriarchs held in suspended animation from biblical times. The man had a long white beard and was wearing a prayer shawl. The woman had her head covered and bent. She held out something to the soldiers. The werecat stole closer to get a better look. It was a silver candlestick. The frightened woman offered it to the soldier.

The soldier laughed. He grabbed it and shoved in his bag, then roughly pulled the old woman forward. She tripped and fell onto the hard cobble street. The soldier kicked her, and she cried out in pain. Throughout this, her husband was bobbing up and down in prayer, praying that God would take them before these Nazis did. His prayers were not answered, and the soldiers forced the old couple into the waiting truck.

More soldiers had arrived now and pushed their way into the buildings. The next house held a young family, a mother and father, with two small terrified children. The mother clutched a baby girl in her arms. As they boarded the truck, the baby started crying. The nearest soldier grabbed her from her mother’s arms and flung her with full force into the solid concrete wall. The baby stopped crying. The mother screamed. A Nazi soldier silenced the mother with his gun. The father and his remaining children climbed quietly into the truck, trying not to look back.

The werecat stalked over to the baby. He nudged her gently with his nose, but it was too late, and, in any case, how would his clan have been able to care for a baby? They could barely find enough food for their own kittens these days.

Griddlebone continued watching the parade of Jews being evicted from their buildings. They had been told they were being rehoused, that their homes were needed for the war effort. As patriotic Austrians, surely they understood?

Griddlebone knew that most of these Jews would end up in the concentration camps, if they even survived the transport. A second shot filled the air; a young man this time. He had tried to run, but the soldier had used him for target practice.

Still the werecat watched and waited.

—–726——

Read the rest of the story in Sins of the Past – http://www.amazon.com/Sins-Past-Chasity-Nicole-ebook/dp/B00P2MZLUA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428337336&sr=8-3&keywords=Sins+of+the+Past

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Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, Sins of the Past, and Heroes & Villains. She also created the puzzle book, Paws 4 Logic together with her son, Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!Links:
Blog – http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Kbatz: Vampires versus…Vampires?

Vampire versus…Vampire?

by Kristin Battestella

book3 200x300So often vampires and werewolves are pitted against each other in the battle of the genre beasties.  However, more often then not, these terror titans work in tandem in fiction and media, creating a broader, richer tug and pull sharing in the horror medium.  My 2008 Eternal Press novel The Vampire Family has a family of vampires that can shape shift and transform into wolves and scary weres- and scary werecats, too.  My follow up series Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family serves up vampires who prefer their wolf shapes in Book 3 Struggle. 

While it is easy to have books and ebooks either have all the monster magic together or for readers to find literature specific to vampires and werewolves and all the mixes in the spectrum, films have also scored on the presumed animosity.  The Underworld franchise tells of ancient vampire and werewolf wars- but fans of either creature can get their fill in these features.  Likewise Twilight has made the Team Edward and Team Jacob themes top sellers.  Vampires versus werewolves ideologies are good for business, simply put.  Whether for or against, reluctantly working together or struggling to love or hate one or the other, in the end, vampires and werewolves are good for each other.

Unfortunately, the current subdivision of the vampire genre is getting too divergent for its own good.  The watered down, lovely dovey, youth and glitter love vampire movement spurred by the Twilight craze has helped the vampire literature and media culture just as much as it may have damaged the genre.  Book, television, and movie markets are now flooded with vampire material- all in the same youth, teen romance driven trends.  As knock off begat knock offs, the quality pool has dropped considerably.  People are tired of vampires.  They think horror has been played, and all the sudden the same editors, publishers, and powers that be are now turning on the massive overdrive they helped to create.  Backlash is inevitable.drac_1513745c1

Soon people even forget what came before the glitter vampire.  Readers are afraid to take on another vampire story because ‘they all suck now’.  (No pun intended) The quality vampiric horror gets lumped into the problematic downward glitter spiral.  And when you the writer submits your hard worked, scary horror, medieval furthest thing from contemporary teenage vampire vampire manuscript, what does the publisher tell you?  The worst thing a writer can possibly hear:

No.

And it isn’t just the ‘no’ that is the worst part.  It wasn’t that your story wasn’t well written or not just good enough.  It might be damn decent perfection and fit in just perfectly with what this publisher’s interests are.  But no, it is the fact that the marketing, timing, and overblown played mayhem of that other vampire type has just ruined your publication chances.  Well, doesn’t that just suck? (Pun intended)

So then, you see, the vampires versus werewolves theory is not what hurt your novel’s chances.  Rarely does a publisher say, ‘we already have a werewolf book, so we can’t take your vampire story.’ In fact it is quite the opposite, editors often look for both together to balance out  their catalogue and reader varieties.  They might even prefer books or series dealing with both monsters so they can cross reference all their categories.  How many times have you clicked on a publisher’s store links for both ‘vampire’ and ‘werewolves’ and seen the same books? Quite a bit I suspect.

Now, have you ever seen separate links for ‘vampire horror’ and ‘vampire romance’? The breakdown between the vampire medium is almost nonexistent in appearance, even if those readers and writers and vampires lovers in the know immediately know there is a difference.  How many times have you been in conversation with a fellow vampire lover and they say either ‘oh, that was too scary for me!’ or ‘This vamp was too lovey dovey for me.’  What’s sad is how many times has a reader passed on your book because they like one or the other and dismissed your book as being the wrong vampire type for them.

What then, must a vampire author do to remain relevant in a subgenre at war with itself?  Keep writing damn good copy!  Whichever side of vamps your on- either pure horror or paranormal romance- keep it good.  Keep your universe, characters, and tales true to what the manuscript needs to be its best.  Don’t give in to the mislabeling and trends.  Vampires rise and fall, go underground and subculture or rise up from the dead and reign supreme over media. Not too long ago, everyone wanted exclusively paranormal light and vampire romance, now call outs are returning to pure horror and uniqueness.  Make your creatures of the night stand out from the pack.  Keep them worthy of the hand in hand werewolf antagonism.  Good competition is healthy in fiction, writing, selling books, and reader’s choice.  Write crap copy and no creature wins!

To read more about Kbatz’ vampires, read her contribution to The Great Vampire Dispute.

Zomedy – Dark Humour of the Undead Kind by Chantal Boudreau

Zomedy – Dark Humour of the Undead Kind

by Chantal Boudreau

Zombies are funny.  They may be gross, frightening and tragic, but there is still something ridiculous about them, something that makes you hold back a laugh when you should be shocked or terrified.   You’ll find amusing events in even some of the goriest, angst-ridden zombie stories, usually for the sake of comic relief and to give viewers or readers a moment to catch their breath.  In some cases, like “Fido” and “Zombieland”, the entire premise of the tale is based upon dark comedy, with a variety of images of zombies doing crazy things, or constant references to silly but effective rules created to address the dangers of the apocalypse.  In the more dramatic movies, it may be just the odd moment, like when the people shooting zombies from the roof in “Dawn of the Dead” identify the zombies as celebrities like Burt Reynolds.

Zombies have always made me laugh and when I started writing zombie stories, I found humour leaching into my writing in one form or another.  My first story featured a woman feeding brains to her undead husband with a pool hook, a visual that always makes me smile.   Zomedy has become an accepted term to describe a zombie spoof, or comedic zombie film, but I think the humour of zombies goes beyond the obvious laughs and the campy (a la “Weekend at Bernie’s II”).  I thought it might be interesting to look at the more common tools of zomedy, both in written and cinematic comedic forms as well as in those genre pieces intended to offer a more serious approach to the undead.  I’ve come up with a dozen that are prevalent and easily identifiable:

Zombie puns

A good pun is the true essence of humour; even a bad one will at least elicit a chuckle or a groan.  Titles of zombie movies and stories are notorious for using puns. One of the classic zomedies, “Shaun of the Dead,” used a pun in its title as a humorous way of paying homage to the legendary George Romero. This tool is even more prominent in the written zombie genre, at least in the aspect of a good play on words.  One example of this is “Married with Zombies” by Jesse Petersen, with sequels “Flip This Zombie” and “Eat, Slay, Love.”  Not only does it capture the domestic element of the zombie stories, it also links the stories to items in current culture.

Zombie animals

Another tactic used to lighten the mood in genre books and movies is the inclusion of zombie animals.  I discovered after writing my novelette, “Shear Terror”, that there was a movie from New Zealand with a similar theme called “Black Sheep”, one involving crazy evil scientists, a wealthy farmer, animal rights activists, a man with an ovine phobia and a combination of zombies and lycanthropes (in this case were-sheep).  While the humour was cheesy in places, the gory zombie sheep attack scenes were so bizarre that they were down-right hilarious, perhaps because sheep are typically non-aggressive, so the attacks were totally uncharacteristic.  Then again, perhaps it was because sheep already have a herd mentality so becoming a zombie throng just seemed so fitting.

Zombie dogs are the most common animals in zombie movies, with “Resident Evil” and “I Am Legend” immediately springing to mind, but they don’t tend to tap into that humorous element, likely because people are more attached to dogs in general, and they can be very frightening without being undead.  The comedy comes from the unexpected, like the deer in “Slither”, another example of a zombie animal behaving in an uncharacteristic manner.  And then there are the animals that are just funny to begin with, like cows, who are popular humorous zombies in the gaming world as well as in movies like” Dead Meat.” There is even a very funny zombie cow scene in A. Lee Martinez’s book, “Gil’s All Fright Diner.”

Slapstick

Let’s face it, the walking dead are hardly coordinated, at least the shamblers aren’t, and they can take damage and still keep moving in ways a normal living human couldn’t. The physical malleability of zombies makes them a prime candidate for slapstick.  Throw them down the stairs so that their head ends up backwards or blow a gaping hole in their torso, and they keep on going, like in “Death Becomes Her.”  Apologize severely for breaking their ankle in the door, only to have them limp hungrily after you, like in “Zombieland.”  The possibilities for his type of humour are endless.  This is the true form of zomedy however, and you are less likely to see a version of this in a dramatic zombie flick.  It does not translate easily to the written page, either.  This is one of the cheapest forms of humour going, and while some movies like “Zombieland” apply it sparingly and appropriately, it is one of the fallback forms of comedy that the low budget zombie movies resort to for cheap laughs.

One-liners

No proper zomedy exists without at least one or two stinging one-liners, “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness” are rife with them, but you can find the occasional witty and sarcastic zinger in even the hardest and nastiest of zombie tales.  The one-liner is as much a weapon as it is a method of adding humour to the scene.  It captures the real personality of the character speaking it in a few short words, it sometimes rebuffs a snide remark made by a lesser antagonistic character, or serves as a coup de gras when the hero has just conquered the enemy.  For example, the one-liners from Columbus in “Zombieland” are self-deprecating, but amusing nonetheless, whereas Tallahassee’s zingers are cool and over-confident.  Some critics see them as cliché or gratuitous, but I see the one-liners as a staple of the genre.

Zombie fighters with funny obsessions

Speaking of characters, it is usually the unruly and often unsophisticated survivors in the zombie apocalypse who are at the root of most of the humour.  Some of us can sympathize with their quirky yet familiar traits, and we are laughing as much as ourselves as we are at the characters.  Perhaps there is something about being particularly driven that has allowed these characters to survive in the first place, and it contributes to their appeal.  I added that obsessive element to my veteran ranch-hand, Rudy, in my tale “What a Man’s Gotta Do.”  The thing he craves would likely surprise you, but it is no stranger than Tallahassee’s yearning for Twinkies in “Zombieland.”  The heroes’ obsessions with things like video games or zombie movies often give them the kind of knowledge they need to hunt and fight zombies in the first place – a suggestion that it will be those on the fringes of society who could end up rising to the top when all goes to pot.

Over-the-top zombie hunters

Every zombie story seems to have a character who is at least a little crazy, or who has a personality so loud you have to laugh in response to their antics.  The true zomedies take that one step further and either all of the characters match that description (e,g, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland”), or there is a character so outrageous that the humour is built entirely around them, like Ash, in the “Evil Dead” series.  Then there are those in possession of some unbelievable trait, perhaps something like a gun serving as a prosthetic leg like in “Planet Terror.”  You don’t get much more over-the-top than that.

Characters in zombie books are no different.   Jenni, one of the female protagonists, earns the nickname “Loca” from one of the other characters in Rhiannon Frater’s “The First Days” because she is crazy, albeit in a likable way.  Witnessing the death of her children at the hands of her once abusive, zombie spouse is enough to drive the victimized woman over the edge.  Although she recovers from a near catatonic state, she is never quite normal after that.   She takes a perverse pleasure in picking off zombies with her gun, and the image of her swinging wildly over a group of zombies to play bait for the kill is one that makes you shake your head and grin.

Laughing in the face of sure doom

There is a scene in “Dead Snow” where the characters are facing down swarms of Nazi zombies and they resign themselves to defeat but with an edge of humour, intending to take as many with them as they can.  These scenes are commonplace in zombie films and sometimes in books, where characters realize that they are about to be overwhelmed, but instead of panicking or becoming morose, they grin and lash out, prepared to die fighting.  This resolve is admirable, but at the same time, funny.  It’s a heroic gesture, but a crazy one too.  You laugh with them as they fall, drawing satisfaction that they weren’t truly defeated, at least on a spiritual level.  The humour in this act sometimes comes from a sense of irony in written works, as those falling to the zombies contemplate their fate and find something oddly amusing about their situation.

Zombie love/camaraderie

Another comedic plot device in the zombie genre is where people are unwilling to let go of friends and loved ones after they have turned, and find ridiculous ways to cling to them after the fact.  They tie or chain them somewhere, and perhaps even allow them to play video games, as in “Shaun of the Dead.” This is one of the darkest forms of zomedy, since many people can relate to the idea of not being willing to let go of a loved one or close friend who has died and risen again.  Woman writers in particular seem to be drawn to this type of black humour, the comedy present because the viewer or reader can recognize that the zombie is nothing like the living person, but blinded by love and a sense of dedication, the character cannot see this.

Random zombie pieces in odd places

Dismembered zombie bits are plentiful in genre movies and books, but the humour comes when they end up in odd places, or take on an undead life of their own.  Some might suggest that the movie Idle Hands is an example of this, although others might argue that they are more like hands possessed as opposed to undead hands.  Nevertheless, there’s something just plain goofy about a lone finger or toe wriggling along all by itself, or a single eye peering at you from some unexpected place.  Viral zombies generally don’t exhibit this type of behaviour since they are subject to the “head shot” rule, but the supernatural ones often persist beyond amputation, as do ones reanimated by scientific means.  The Re-Animator has various body parts scuttling around independently, in one of those instances where the head shot does not necessarily signal the end for a zombie.  It’s creepy but funny, reminding us that zombies are definitely no longer human.

Zombies doing non-zombie things

Witnessing zombies doing things that should be reserved to living breathing humans is equally funny, also because they lack something essentially human and we are reminded of that by their shallow and obviously forced charades.  In “Fido,” and a select number of short stories, the power of the zombie has been enslaved to benefit mankind, and they are recruited to do the mindless drudge work that most people don’t want to do.  The zombies of “Fido” are controlled by a special technology, a collar that keeps them in check, and owning a zombie servant becomes a status symbol because of the expense involved – an amusing notion. Some people even use their zombie servants to service their romantic or sexual needs – gross, but hilarious.  The same type of humour is evident in the spoof “Zombie Strippers!”, another case of zombies doing people work with a “ha ha” factor along with the “ew” factor.

Tales from the zombie’s point of view

You would expect this kind of story to be sad, or just disgusting, but sometimes it is the lack of understanding on the part of the protagonist, or their state of denial, that brings in that component of dark humour.  In some instances, a story like this is so well-woven that it even draws on the sympathies of the readers, like the funny tale of a handicapped zombie in the story “The Hungriest Zombie”.  His state is pitiful, but laughable, and by the end of the tale you are rooting for his success.  “Ahh, Zombies!” presents this concept from a cinematic approach, a quirky but amusing zomedy. There are entire zombie memoirs out there, and even *ugh* paranormal romances centred on zombies.  I don’t think I could keep a straight face while reading one of those.

Braiiiins!!!

And finally, truly the zomedy piece de resistance, there is the familiar catchphrase or trademark cry of the zombie – brains!  This hungry plea can be found in practically every proper zomedy out there, such as “Return of the Living Dead,” and can also be heard uttered by a zombie Homer Simpson in one of the classic Simpsons Halloween episodes.  This groaned demand is not reserved for strictly humorous fare.   It sometimes serves as a moment of comedy relief in the more dramatic genre works, a chance for the viewer or reader to have that breather before returning to more serious and frightening things.

These are probably the most common comedic tales used in the zombie genre, but there are a plethora of others, many of them original and darkly delightful.  They all tend to serve similar purposes – defining the protagonists and making them seem human and likable despite the fact that they are blowing away one zombie after another, allowing for a break in the action and tension so the viewer/reader can recover from the violence and gore before charging in for more, or even allowing the viewer/reader to distance themselves from the story altogether so they can grasp the “bigger picture” often a particular social or cultural message.  The best way to get a proper sample of exactly what’s out there is to explore a variety of zomedies that the genre offers and to observe the assortment of black humour first hand.

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zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

 

My End Was Not My End by Chantal Boudreau

My End Was Not My End

 by Chantal Boudreau

 

One briny blip

Ocean of gore

Lurching shuffles

Breathing no more

Here’s not the place

I’m meant to be

Undead flotsam

Zombie sea

 

Craving Endless

Ear-rushing roar

Starving for flesh

Longing for more

This not the way

I’m meant to be

Urgent hunger

Takes hold of me

 

Torment constant

Can’t ignore

Forced still forward

No change in store

If I could pray

I’d beg for peace

One headshot brings

My sweet release.

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zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

A Zombie Resolution by Chantal Boudreau

A Zombie Resolution

by Chantal Boudreau

Mzombie2aking New Year resolutions has long been a tradition with the living, but shouldn’t the undead have the opportunity to better themselves as well?  We would expect their resolutions to differ somewhat from the norm, however.  While the average person might resolve to join a gym or spend more quality time with their family, such things might prove less than practical for a zombie.  Considering their nature and properties, here’s what a top ten list of zombie resolutions might look like:

  1. BRAAAAIINS!!!

Everything begins and ends with this in the realm of zombie, so would this be that big of a surprise?

  1. A regular routine of shambling

No one would envision the walking dead taking to the treadmill, but they could at least get out there and shuffle and moan more often.  They don’t have to master the Thriller routine, but practicing it could improve their coordination.

  1. Lose weight

Zombies don’t do diets – they aren’t exactly known for their impulse control – but they could shed a few extra pounds through rot and ruin.  Drop a few fingers and toes, maybe your liver or spleen,  and it’ll show the next time you step on the scale. Just don’t lose your head.

  1. Make time for the mob

Zombies don’t tend to have a family once the apocalypse strikes (although there has been the occasional exception,) not in the ordinary sense anyway.  Their new family is the zombie mob, with whom they can spend more quality time.  Avoid being the straggler left behind or you could miss out on all the fun.

  1. Become more spiritual

Zombies don’t pray or meditate, but they could hang out by the nearest church and chow down on a priest, minister or Bible study group.  That way, in addition to finding religion, they can also eat it.

  1. MORE BRAIIIINNNS!!!

Considering that this is a focal point in a zombie’s existence, it had to show up on this list more than once.  Am I right?

  1. Quit smoking

In zombie terms, this means staying clear of any open fires, flame-throwing survivalists or the odd villager’s torches. Burning is baaaad.

  1. Volunteer

zombie1While you won’t find zombies ringing a bell by the charity kettle or scooping casserole in a soup kitchen, there are ways they can make a difference.  They can be one of the select few at the forefront of the mob trying to push down a chain link fence, getting crushed up against the wire, or the unlucky shambler first in line to set off the survivor booby trap.  Come on all you zombies – step up.

  1. Be a better person

The only way this can be achieved is by zombies working harder to hide their undead state.  Hang out in shadowy areas so food in transit might not notice you’re undead until it’s too late.  Hover by water fountains, crowded parking lots and in grocery aisles with your most gory bits sheltered from view.  Or better yet, hang out behind curtains or under the blankets until prey comes to you.  Think less “zombie” and more “zombie in disguise as people.”

  1. And, of course, EVEN MORE BRAAAIINNS!!!!

To repeat, everything begins and ends with this in the zombie realm.  ‘Nuff said.

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zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

 

Last Chance! Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline:
December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 10 in 2015.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, can be any part of the novel, but a short (100 word) synopsis should accompany it.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Reminder: Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline:
December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 10 in 2015.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, can be any part of the novel, but a short (100 word) synopsis should accompany it.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

All I Want for Christmas by Chantal Boudreau

All I Want for Christmas

by Chantal Boudreau

“Chris – did you eat any of these Christmas cookies?  I told you they were for a work function and that you absolutely were not to touch them.”

“I didn’t touch them.”  Christena tried not to sound indignant, but she hated being accused of something she hadn’t done and Ben did that to her all the time.

“Well then explain why there are three missing.  I brought home two full dozen from the bakery, but I’m short three.”

“Are you sure the bakery didn’t short you?”  The moment the words escaped Christena’s lips she regretted them.  Ben never would have left the bakery without counting and double counting them, obsessive compulsive as he was.  Even suggesting otherwise was new cause for strife.  He gave her a harsh glare.

“Do I even have to answer that? How could you do this to me?  I had one for every person at the office party.  I could have forgiven one – I would have foregone my own, but three?  Now what am I supposed to do?”

“Buy a box of doughnuts on the way in to make up the difference?”

That response was met by a disgruntled huff and the slamming of their front door as Ben stormed out.

Christena slumped into the couch.  It was her day off, even though her husband had to work.  Unlike Ben she was never guaranteed that her free time would fall on a weekend.  As a personal caregiver, she couldn’t keep regular Monday to Friday office hours because people needed care seven days a week.  Ben had often belittled her for it, suggesting a real job would pay more and offer set hours – as if somehow crunching numbers the way he did was more valuable than caring for the sick and elderly.

As soon as she was sure Ben was long gone. Christena spoke out.

“Peeve? Peeve – come on out.  I know you stole those cookies.”

Two beady eyes peered at her overtop one of the branches of the Christmas tree.  Peeve, or that was what Christena had taken to calling the gremlin-like creature, had started appearing shortly after Ben had completed his internship and had gotten his current job.  Since then, every time Ben treated Christena with any disdain or talked down to her as if he were more important than her, Peeve would exact some sort of revenge.  It was getting worse, as was Ben’s treatment of her.

“You have to stop doing these things.  I end up getting the blame for them and he leaves here irate.  When he gets home later, he’ll be a grouch for the entire evening.”

Peeve blinked at her and grinned, as if he enjoyed being the instigator of Ben’s foul moods.

Christena heaved a gargantuan sigh.  Things were bad enough between her and Ben without Peeve complicating them – not a welcome intrusion at all.

Life had been different while Ben and Christena were in college. He had been more relaxed then.  After setting his sights on her, he had broken out the charm that he now saved only for networking.  He had romanced her very diligently, with promises of a family and a pleasant future and he had kept it up until she had agreed to marry him.  She realized now that his courting had all been a calculated ploy to get himself the pretty, docile wife he saw as a requirement for a successful businessman.  She was just another notch in the post where he marked his achievements in life.

Since then, Ben had been constantly pressuring her to give up her job and find one that would better support his work hours – office work perhaps.  She had actually suggested the night before that she would do that if they finally started trying to conceive the first of their planned children, offering him a trade-off, something he wanted in exchange for something she felt she needed.  That was when Ben had dropped the startling bomb on her.  He had changed his mind.  He no longer wanted children because he expected they would interfere with his career.  He had already scheduled a vasectomy that was to take place first week in January.  Christena had been heartbroken.  She wanted children more than anything else and she didn’t believe in divorce.  It was another reason he had chosen her.  Ben considered divorce scandalous, another form of failure.

“Just stop it – alright?” she told Peeve.  “Unless you can fix what he’s about to do to me, you may as well just go away.  I’m the one who has to live with him.”

For the first time since he had begun causing trouble, Peeve emerged from the shadows.  His impish form dropped down from the tree, where it began to grow and change.  By the time he was done, the only recognizable difference between Peeve and Ben were those beady little eyes.  The monster in the shape of Christena’s husband walked over to their bedroom and paused in the doorway, gesturing for her to follow before proceeding into the room.

Christena hesitated for a moment before following, but only long enough to consider the potential consequences.  Ben would never request an abortion – that was beneath him – and as long as the child was conceived prior to his operation, he would never try to suggest it wasn’t his, especially if it looked like him.  Condoms weren’t 100% effective, and he knew it.  She told herself she would be doing this as a gift for herself… much better than the practical, emotionless, although expensive, gift she no doubt would be receiving from Ben.

“Merry Christmas,” she said, visions of a rounded belly followed by baby smells, sights and sounds filling her head.

Peeve was about to provide Christena with the best act of revenge in the face of Ben’s heartlessness yet.  And she would enjoy every minute of it.

*********

Snapshot_20140802_2Chantal Boudreau is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends, who lives by the ocean in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. She writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and along with her Fervor Series and her Masters and Renegades series, she has had many of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, online journals and magazines.  Find out more at: http://chantellyb.wordpress.com

The Elf by Christine Morgan

THE ELF

by Christine Morgan

It started last Christmas, that must have been it. Weirdest thing that ever happened to me in my life – or so I thought at the time.

Now, this Christmas, I know a little better.

My name’s Belle, Clayton Belle, and I always hated this time of year.

I blame it on my folks. Sure, everybody blames their problems on their folks, but you should have seen mine.

My dad’s name was Jim Belle, but from after Halloween until round about New Year’s, he told everyone to call him Jingle. Dressed in red and green every chance he got. Decorated the house like you wouldn’t believe. My mom was just as bad, and she had no excuse … her given name was Carol.

They wanted me to swap “Clay” for, can you guess? Sleigh. No joke. I tell you, it was enough to drive a kid crazy. Here I was trying to be normal …

That was why, as soon as I was old enough to get out on my own, I gave up on Christmas. No, that’s putting it too lightly … I went out of my way to avoid the whole thing.

Maybe that’s why it happened. Maybe it was some strange message, some sort of off-the-wall Christmas revenge. Like in the story about Scrooge, except I didn’t get three ghosts. Didn’t even get one.

What’d I get? Some little freak with rabies …

I’d done pretty good at getting away from it all. I’d finally saved up enough to move out of the apartment into a house, tiny but my own. I had a telecommuting job, which spared me the yearly hassle of office parties, Secret Santas, holiday music over the intercom, and all that.

So, for the first time in years, I was expecting a nice, stress-free December.

Then it happened. Christmas Eve.

That was when I heard the bells.

Jingle-jingle-jingle, clanging and grating on my nerves, bringing back all my tension like it had never been away.

I shot to my feet, fists curled. If this was the preface to a spontaneous outbreak of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from trespassing carolers, I was going to blast them with the hose and 20-degree temperatures be damned!

Stalking to the door, I yanked it open. But already, the sound was receding, dwindling into the distance … and even then I remember thinking that it almost seemed to be receding upward … but of course I didn’t give that idea a moment’s serious consideration.

Not then.

The people across the street were the Jaimesons. I’d seen them come home a week or so ago with a tree

lashed to the roof of their car, but they were good about it, and kept their stuff private. If they wanted to be as looney as my parents in the privacy of their own home, that was their business, and they didn’t try to inflict it on the rest of us.

But now, something was hanging on their door. Even at midnight, every house on the street dark and sleeping, I couldn’t miss it. The full moon and the snow conspired to make it almost as bright as day, and the wreath that now hung on the Jaimeson’s door was twinkling with tiny red and white bulbs, like holly berries amid the shiny green leaves.

And there was something on the porch … from here, it was a bump of scarlet and white in an uncertain shape.

I couldn’t help it … anger set in. Some nerve the Jaimesons had, sneaking out in the night to put up that wreath, thinking no one would notice. Before I fully knew I meant to, I was striding down my walk, slippers crunching through the crust of the snow. I crossed the icy street and marched up their lawn, driving deep tracks. They’d see, they’d know, but I didn’t care.

The crumpled shape was recognizable now, a stocking. A plush cranberry-red velvet stocking with a ruff of white fur. It was lumpy … it was moving.

A nasty spear of fright jumped through me before I realized that the movement was due to nothing more than a toy, a child’s wind-up toy that had been jogged by the fall to the porch.

I could see it easily in my mind – Hank Jaimeson in full Santa regalia, smuggling in the sacks of goodies he’d had hidden in the garage, but dropping a stocking as he paused to put the wreath on the door.

My intent was to pull it down and pitch it, maybe onto the roof, maybe into the bushes, I don’t know. But as I reached for it, I heard a high mewling sound from inside the stocking.

My first thought was that it was a kitten, that old Hank had gotten his daughters a kitty but didn’t notice when it fell from his bag.

My second thought was that it would serve them right, a nice gruesome Christmas surprise to find frozen solid on the stoop.

But I may have been a Scrooge, I may have been a Grinch, I may have been a sour old jerk, but I wasn’t a total bastard. Couldn’t leave an innocent kitten to freeze to death in the night.

I bent down and scooped up the stocking. It squirmed in my grasp, and yes, there was something warm, something alive, in there.

“Hey, kitty-kitty,” I said.

I reached in, meaning to pet the soft bundle of fur.

Instead, my fingers found skin.

And an unbelievable explosion of pain.

It was like a spring-loaded beartrap of needles, sinking into the tender web between my thumb and index finger.

I screamed or cursed, or both mingled, and flung the stocking away from me. It flew off into the snow, but the biter held on, dangling at the end of my arm. My flailing motions made it clamp down tighter, and now rockets of pain were shooting up my arm to my head, where they burst like the Fourth of July – a holiday I’ve never had a problem with.

But I did have a problem with what I was seeing. A major one.

An elf was battened onto my hand.

An elf, yes, that’s what I said.

He was about eighteen inches high, maybe two feet, it was hard to tell. Built like one of those pudgy little gnome you sometimes see on the lawns of people who should know better, but light as a feather. He was wearing short pants (winter-white), a red vest, and those dorky curled-up shoes with bells on the toes. If he’d had a hat, it had fallen off, because his pine-green hair was blowing free around a set of ears that would have made Mr. Spock blush.

His eyes were the huge winsome adorable eyes of a cartoon character, but no cartoon character’s eyes had ever glittered with such a hard and flat hatred. A snarl, muffled by his mouthful of my hand, issued from the back of his throat.

I screamed again, this time more in horror than pain, though there was still pain, plenty of it. With my other hand, I grabbed him around his potbellied middle and tried to tear him loose.

It didn’t work. Those fangs were embedded like a snake’s. But abruptly, the elf let go of his own accord. He scrambled up my arm, headed for my face.

My third scream broke decibel records. I reeled and staggered, trying to knock this deranged thing off of me. The backs of my legs hit the Jaimesons’ planter and I toppled over backward, feet flying. My breath was jarred out of me in a huge frosty cloud.

The crazed elf skittered onto my chest, his impish face twisted in pure madness. I didn’t know what he was going to do, and suddenly had a bizarre vision, one that might have been funny if it hadn’t been so hideous – my disembodied head impaled on the top of a Christmas tree in place of a star.

The Jaimesons’ door banged open, throwing a fan of light onto the snow. The elf hissed and was gone, springing from my chest in a bound that carried him into the concealing bushes.

The next thing I knew, Hank Jaimeson was there, in a robe, his eyes puffed from sleep and wide with shock. His wife and kids crowded into the doorway, all babbling at once.

Calls were made, to the police and to an ambulance. I was taken to the hospital because they thought I was having some sort of a breakdown. They had to think that, because I wasn’t wounded. The bite-mark on my hand was gone, except for a semi-circle of tiny white scars that almost looked like snowflakes.

I did some time under observation, and more time in court-ordered therapy. The consensus was that I must have snapped under the holiday strain. When I finally got home, the neighbors treated me with caution and even more distance than before.

The Jaimesons moved out that spring, the whole turn of events having been so traumatizing for their kids – waking to my panicked screams on Christmas gave little Amber Jaimeson nightmares for weeks.

But eventually, things got back to normal. Or so I thought.

I was fine until around October.

That was when I started to feel restless. Itchy, almost. Impatient, dissatisfied. I didn’t know what I wanted, but something was missing. Something I needed.

A few days after Halloween, as I was lugging the shells of my jack-o-lanterns out to the trash, I caught myself humming.

Humming a Christmas carol.

Appalled, I stopped then and there with my feet buried in a drift of leaves and a slightly mushy pumpkin sagging in my grip. I silently asked myself if I’d really been doing that, but I’d heard me. I could even Name That Tune – it had been “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

About a week later, I saw that they’d stocked the shelves in the dairy section of the local market with the first eggnog of the season, and my heart took an unprecedented and distinctly unwelcome leap of joy.

When I got home from my errands and started unloading my groceries, I found a carton of eggnog.

I wasted no time but raced right back to the market. The cashier who’d checked out my purchases was still there, and I stormed up to her, not sure if I meant to apologize for taking the eggnog by mistake or to berate her for mixing it in with my order.

But she told me that I had bought it, and had even remarked on how glad I was that they finally had some in the store. And that when she had replied with something to the effect of how it seemed the holiday season started earlier and earlier every year, I’d said ‘good!’

Good!

I had no recollection of that at all, and would have never said such a thing! Not me! Not Clayton Belle!

I decided she must have been having fun at my expense, and put it out of my mind. I planned to dump the eggnog down the sink and forget the whole matter.

I drank it instead.

I didn’t mean to … I just took the carton out of the fridge – and only then did it occur to me to wonder why I hadn’t returned it to the store and gotten my money back – and opened it.

And the scent hit me in a great rolling wave of creamy, nutmeggy temptation … and before I knew what was happening, I was guzzling it straight from the carton with such gulping greed that overflows were running in rills down my chin.

I leaned over the sink, nauseated and afraid, wondering if I was going to bring it back up. But it stayed, a thick liquid weight in my stomach, and I imagined I could feel it spreading out in there, sending out tendrils of itself, into my veins, coating my organs, being carried to every cell of my body.

Another week passed, and I was cranky all the time, missing something, needing something, not knowing what it was. Little things kept happening, distressing little things. Nothing big, nothing like the Great Eggnog Experience, but upsetting ones all the same.

Being at the drugstore, having to walk down the seasonal aisle to reach the pharmacy, and lingering over the cards and garlands that had begun to creep in among the turkeys and harvest decorations.

Shopping a catalog for some new clothes and only realizing when my order arrived that some of the things I’d bought were eerily familiar – winter-white pants, a red cardigan vest. And a green knitted cap, where had that come from?

Waking in the middle of the night with the most terrible craving for cookies, not just any cookies but specific kinds. I had to have the butter-shortbread ones crusted with colored sugar … I had to have gingerbread.

Then things started getting worse.

I bought a box of candy canes and ate them all in the car, the entire sticky red-and-white dozen of them, until my tongue and lips were bright pink and the taste of sweet mint seemed to permeate my entire being.

I found myself taking long aimless drives around town to look at the holiday lights and decorations … I even went to the mall and stood amid a smiling crowd as little kids waited for their turns on Santa’s lap.

I was humming again, and then singing low, and finally singing aloud, whenever I heard the carols … and I knew every single word.

I had been flipping channels and happened across a Christmas movie, the one about the boy who wanted a BB-gun. And, telling myself that nothing else good was on, wound up watching it. And then, worst of all, realizing it was a marathon, 24 hours of that same movie, and I stayed up all night watching it and fell asleep in my chair and woke up and kept watching it, until noon the next day.

The day it all came crashing down on me, I was at the park. It was December 22nd and I’d gone for a long brisk walk, hoping that the cold air and exercise would snap me out of this constant state of alternating trance and terror.

A woman said ‘Merry Christmas!’ to me, and I said it right back at her.

She passed without looking back, which was good, because my expression would have horrified her. It horrified me and I didn’t even have to see it; I could feel it. That was the first time those words had passed my lips in almost twenty years, but I hadn’t just been saying them.

I’d meant them!

I uttered a rusty screech and ran for home. Something was happening to me … I had to get help … there had to be something they could do …

I reached my yard and the strength ran right out of me like water through a sieve.

Lights sparkled along the eaves and around the windows of my house. More lights, string after string of them, wrapped the fence and the tree in the front yard. A red ribbon had been wound around the post that supported the mailbox, giving it an effect that could be construed as barber-pole but I knew better! A plastic reindeer with a red lightbulb for a nose stood beside the walk, and a wreath hung on the door.

It was the wreath that pushed me over, because it was practically identical to the one that had been on the Jaimesons’ door last year. Their house had sold but the current owners were spending the winter in Arizona with their grandkids, and thus hadn’t seen the terrible thing that had taken place across the street.

Someone had decorated my house!

No … I had done it. And couldn’t remember doing it.

Haltingly, scared to death of what I might find inside, I went up to the door. The wreath seemed to stare at me like a big round eye, laugh at me like a big round mouth.

I wanted to rip it down, rip all of it down. What would people think if they saw this? What would they say?

I steeled myself and plunged inside.

If I could have drawn breath, it would have been last year’s business all over again, for I would have screamed and screamed until the neighbors called 911. But my breath was stolen from me by the sight of the interior of my house.

It was a nightmare made real. That’s all I’ll say. I can’t bear to describe how tall the tree was, how many garlands festooned the stairway banister, what horrors awaited me on the mantle. I can’t stand to think of the candles, the presents, the three-tiered tray of cookies and fudge and divinity.

Even the bathroom wasn’t safe, because the shower curtain, the towels, even the toilet-lid cover, had been replaced by new ones in a poinsettia pattern. But despite that, the bathroom was still the least objectionable place in the house, and it was there that I collapsed in a dead faint.

I woke over twenty-four hours later to unbelievable pain in my hand and arm. Dimly sure that I must have been laying on them, I pushed myself up and looked.

The scars … the tiny semicircle of snowflake-shaped scars … they had faded nearly to invisibility over the year but now they were back. Standing out in vivid relief, almost seeming to wax and wane in time with the throbbing I felt in every nerve.

And yet, even with the throbbing, even with an ache that seemed to burrow into my bones, I felt full of a hectic, wild energy. Mania, almost. No, not almost … it was mania. I wanted to do something, had to get up and get moving, but I didn’t know what.

I tried to rise, shakily got as far as the sink, and caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.

But at first, I didn’t know it was me … I had never in my life worn a silly little pointy cap with a bell on the end.

I cried out, thinking it was a stranger, an intruder, that I’d surprised in my home. My reflection reacted along with me and then I knew, but that knowing was untempered with relief.

I looked … different. It wasn’t just because of the cap.

My hair looked wrong. Longer.

My eyes were huge, but I attributed that to shock and fear.

My ears …

I didn’t want to see any more, and fell back onto the bathmat.

The ache intensified. I could hear the radio playing in the other room, tuned to the nonstop holiday music station.

I felt as if I was being crushed, slowly crushed under an impossible weight. I imagined I could hear my bones crunching, feel myself being squashed, compressed. An appalling, stretchy sensation tugged at my ears.

A dark corner of my mind knew then what was happening to me, but the rest of my mind rejected it. Ignoring the pain and the horrendous things that were going on in my body, I got up to splash cold water on my face …

And couldn’t reach the sink.

I was standing, but I was on eye-level with the cabinet where I kept the cleanser and spare rolls of tissue.

Very, very slowly and very much against my will, I looked down at myself.

Yes, I was standing … assuming those were my feet in the curly-toed shoes about eighteen inches below my head. Assuming that was my torso I was seeing, pooching out into a potbelly.

A wavery, uncertain noise came from my throat. I started to bring up my hands, to explore my head, but paused and let them drop. I had to see.

With strenuous effort, I clambered onto the toilet, and from there onto the counter. I edged out around the basin, keeping my eyes on my shoes – my horrible curly-toed shoes – until I was there.

Then I looked.

An elf looked back at me.

It had my blond hair, only grown long and silky. My brown eyes, cartoon-character cute. My features … changed and made sharper, fairer, more … elfin.

I opened my mouth to finally voice the scream that would rouse the neighborhood, maybe even the town. But before I could finish drawing my breath, my gaze fell on what was also shown in the mirror, the reflection of my dining room beyond the half-open bathroom door.

The table was covered with things. With tools, and paint-pots, and lengths of wood, and stuffing, and wheels. Half-finished toys were scattered all over the table, and a box of finished ones rested underneath. The mania that had been surging in me now came roaring up full-force.

Because time was short! Time was so very short! Tomorrow was Christmas Eve!

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and I was behind in my work!

I yipped in alarm, sprang down from the sink in a sprightly hop, and rushed to my workbench.

And I knew, as I picked up my paintbrush to apply rouge-spots to the cheeks of a dolly, what I was. I knew what would happen to me this time every year, not ruled by the phases of the moon but by the seasons, when the change would set in.

Helpless to resist, caught in the grips of the dreadful transformation, compelled by my hungers and driven to do unspeakable things … with no folklore, no gypsy woman, no one to help me or tell me how to break the curse …

The terrible curse of the were-elf!

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

christChristine Morgan works the overnight shift in a psychiatric facility, which plays havoc with her sleep schedule but allows her a lot of writing time. A lifelong reader, she also reviews, beta-reads, occasionally edits and dabbles in self-publishing. Her other interests include gaming, history, superheroes, crafts, cheesy disaster movies and training to be a crazy cat lady. She can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/christinemorganauthor

Reminder: Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline:
December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 10 in 2015.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, can be any part of the novel, but a short (100 word) synopsis should accompany it.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Guest Blog: An Encounter In the Dark by A.D. Vick

An Encounter In the Dark

by A.D. Vick

For a little over twenty years, I have been the caretaker of, and lived by two historic cemeteries that exist on the side of a mountain in the Arkansas Ozarks. East Mountain, as it was once called, is the local at which some of the first pioneers arriving at what is now the City of Fayetteville decided to settle. It is also a place where the local history and tales of the supernatural co-mingle to create a rustic atmosphere in which both are equally believable—and sometimes felt.

The larger of the two cemeteries contains the remains of hundreds of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the War Between the States. Most of those buried here struggled against Union forces at nearby battlefields that are today commemerated  at Prairie Grove State Park, a bit to the west of here, and Pea Ridge National Military Park, twenty or thirty miles to the north. The Battle of Fayetteville took place in April, 1862, when Confederate forces under the command of Brigadier General W.L. Cabell launched a surprise attack upon the occupying Union army. That struggle took place only a few blocks from where I live and the Confederate attackers set up their artilary literally a stone’s throw from where I am typing this story.

Those who died upon the nearby fields of war were at first buried on the battlefields; it was not until the year 1873 that their bodies were exumed and delivered here to East Mountain for a final resting place. I often wonder, given those circumstances, if any of their traumatized spirits still linger in the vicinity of their remains.

A distance back into the woods that border the east side of my driveway lies a deep ravine known as Ghost Hallow. Although the hallow is situated close to the center of town, it remains a remote and very isolated piece of land. In the year 1852 a newlywed couple from Fort Smith moved into a log cabin owned by the son of a distinguished Revolutionary War veteran. At the time, the log cabin stood  approximately a quarter-mile up the road from where I currently live. It was situated very close to the above-mentioned ravine.

One winter night the young lady got too close to the fireplace, catching her dress on fire. In a panic, she ran outside toward the ravine screaming. She didn’t survive her ordeal; and due to that winter’s bitter cold, it was necessary to store her body above ground until the arrival of spring’s warmer temperatures. It is said that those venturing close to Ghost Hallow at night can hear her screaming through the darkness. Although I live very close to where she burned to death, I cannot honestly say that I’ve ever heard her screams. Still, I have spoken to those who swear that they have.

Friends who used to live at the base of this mountain and considerably closer to where the Battle of Fayetteville occurred, once told me of a young girl they would occasionally see roaming around their back yard upon their approach home. Yet, she would always vanish by the time they pulled into the driveway. One day, information imparted at an historical event forced me to seriously consider the possibility that the disappearing young lady might have been killed during the Battle of Fayetteville, but that’s a story best left for another time. I would however, like to relate a story about my own personal encounter with the unusual—and the event took place only steps away from my front door!

My encounter with the paranormal (or so I believe) took place on an August night during the 90s. That evening, I sat with my guitar, as I often did, on the stone wall that encloses the Confederate Cemetery. Opposite me, a security light, which thankfully no longer functions, cast its light into the cemetery and upon a nearby monument once erected in memory of a soldier named James Davis, who had also been a Mason. The monument cast a long shadow, dividing some of the nearer, more illuminated grave markers apart by its veil of darkness.

For a while, I remained almost oblivious to my surroundings as I concentrated upon my musical instrument. Eventually, I took a breather; and gazing into the cemetery, noticed a shadowy figure sitting atop one of the illuminated grave markers. It appeared as a heavyset male figure sitting with an elbow on his knee and hand under his chin. At first I considered the possibility that I was looking at my then neighbor Brad, who used to live directly across from the cemetery entrance. On second thought however, I realized that it likely wasn’t him. Brad would generally drink when he got home in the evening; and at those times,  he’d become quite loud, almost obnoxious. There’s no way he could have resisted interrupting me. Further, the figure sat upon a grave marker that only measured an inch or two in thickness and stood only about 1.5 feet above the ground.

It was my job to ask visitors to leave the cemeteries after dark. On that night however, I decided to leave this particular intruder alone. There was simply something mysterious about him and I considered the possibility that he was enjoying my music.

The mystifying figure maintained his position for the next ten or fifteen minutes while I continued with my musical endeavors. Eventually though, I’d had enough and decided to go inside. I took a look at the visitor as I climbed off the wall and headed toward the cabin. I took only three or four steps before once again gazing back at the strange man. He was nowhere to be seen and had simply vanished within a matter of seconds.

Looking back on that long-ago incident, I can come up with no definitive answers as to what or whom I saw sitting upon that grave marker. I know this much though: No human being could have vanished from my line of vision as quickly as that shadowy figure did on that night.

There are a number of ghost stories associated with the hill that was once called East Mountain. I  take a certain satisfaction in knowing that I’ve related my personal tale to some folks that have come to visit here. Perhaps in the distant future a day will come during which those wishing to hear stories of the past will learn about the dark man who once sat upon a grave marker at the Confederate soldier’s final resting place.

**********

DSCF1060A.D. Vick is short story writer living in Northwest Arkansas and is the author of a blog entitled The Gothic Embrace, which features a variety of entries of interest to the Goth subculture. He is also involved with the maintenance and preservation of some historic cemeteries and spends his quiet time with one rather large cat named Mr. Gray. He enjoys listening to a variety of music, which ranges from heavy metal and dark wave to classical, and takes great pleasure walking through the woods and burial grounds that surround his home.

Review: Dead People by J.G. Mesa

Dead People by J.G. Mesa reads more like the Handbook for the Recently Deceased than a novel. If you ever wanted to read a book from a ghost’s perspective, this is it.deadpeople

In 1912, Andrea Landa is murdered by her husband in a jealous rage. Andrea’s death is so violent and traumatic that she is caught up in the Veil, a plane of existence on the edge between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

About to disappear forever, wrapped up in The Mist that carries away spirits, Andrea hears a severe, paternal voice that tells her, “Use your hate.” So she clings to all the feelings of injustice and revenge brought about by her brutal assassination. She evades the Mist and death, remaining in the Veil, continuing on as a vengeful spirit…avenging herself and others. Because revenge is now the only thing keeping her awake.

Andrea is a vengeful ghost who spends much of her time regretting her murder and reliving her life and death. Less of a horror novel than a journal about several different Dead People in the same family, you’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a tale that skips back and forth in history, giving you bits and pieces of the story until you begin to see the whole picture. She starts with how her ghost life is, then about her murder, then her childhood, and being haunted by her father who died in a boiler fire. Because it skips back and forth, I often didn’t know what time period I was in or what state she was in the telling (dead or living).

During her ghost trek, Andrea encounters many different kinds of ghosts and demons. One ghost is a man who tells her she can travel the world and teaches her how to free herself from The Mist, which is an entity that tries to keep dead close to the place of their death. He was the most interesting character in the book to me.

I didn’t find the lead character likeable in anyway and since it’s in her voice, you kinda have to like her to continue reading. If you can tolerate her voice, you will enjoy this book. This is also a very long book, so if you enjoy it, you have a lot to love. This is a translated book from Spanish and although it’s translated well, I had a bit of a hard time getting through it because of jilted or un-natural English speech. I wish I understood Spanish so I could read it in its original form.

Dead People is available in English for Kindle on Amazon.

You can also find out more about the author at: http://juangmesa.blogspot.com.es/

Guest Blog: Touched by a Ghost by Loren Rhoads

Touched by a Ghost

by Loren Rhoads

            After I paid for the first Haunted Mansion retreat, I worried what I’d do if the mansion really was haunted.  I wouldn’t be able to drive to Mount Tamalpais for the long weekend, since I couldn’t leave my family without a car.  If I caught a ride with a stranger, I would be trapped at the mansion.  What if things got really bad and I was afraid to sleep?  I wouldn’t be able to slink out to my car and sleep in it.

            HMP2coveritunesI also couldn’t call my husband — assuming the isolated mansion got cell reception — to come and get me in the middle of the night.  No way could I ask him to get our seven-year-old up, put her in the car seat, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rescue me from the ghosts.  If I went, I had to stick it out.

Probably, I told myself, if it got that bad, someone else would have the sense to want to leave.  I could ride back to the ferry or a bus stop with them.

Of course, I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t face an all-out Poltergeist-style freak out.  As I packed for the weekend, my new worry became that I’d spent a couple hundred dollars to write for a weekend in a haunted mansion — and nothing would happen.  The ghosts would ignore us, or they’d prowl around downstairs while we were all upstairs asleep.  How disappointing would that be?

See, I have a healthy respect for ghosts.  I’ve seen their shadows since I was a kid.  Generally, they don’t do anything more than make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I feel cold and slightly jittery.  Most of the ghosts I’ve seen were people I knew, or at least people I recognized.  They weren’t trying to scare me.  My body’s reaction to them was scarier than anything they ever did.

Rain hadn’t told us much about the ghosts that she’d encountered in the mansion.  She wanted us to have our own experiences, to form our own opinions.  So I went into it blind, knowing no one other than her.

I met Scott and Eunice for the ride over to Mount Tam.  Eunice had come up from Southern California; Scott would drive the two of us from San Francisco’s Marina District across the Golden Gate.  I was relieved to find them your typical very nice horror writers.  They made me feel comfortable, like I wasn’t making a terrible mistake going away with strangers to a haunted house for the weekend.

We arrived at the Haunted Mansion in the middle of Thursday afternoon. As we carried our bags into the mansion, Rain was standing in the grand staircase.  She offered to give us a tour, so we could pick our rooms for the weekend.  We hurried to move our luggage into the first-floor parlor and followed her up the stairs.

The second floor was a maze of interconnecting rooms that encircled the stairway.  Almost everyone else had come with a friend with whom they planned to share a room.  Since I was solo, I wavered between asking to share someone else’s room or taking a room of my own.  Would the ghosts be more or less likely to mess with me if I slept alone?

There were only eight of us there that first night, rattling around in a house that seemed able to sleep a hundred.  Rain said we would all stay on the second floor, even though that was where she’d had the most intense of her ghostly encounters.  Most of the second-floor rooms were pass-throughs:  each dormitory-style room connecting to the next.  I don’t sleep well at the best of times, so I wasn’t eager to choose a room where people might walk through in the night to use the bathroom.  Since I wander a fair amount when I can’t sleep, I also didn’t want to wake anyone else.

Rain’s tour paused outside a little blue room tucked between a suite — reserved for the one married couple among us — and dead space.  I’m not sure what lay on the other side of the wall: maybe a linen closet?  It wasn’t another guest room, anyway.

The blue room felt very restful to me, very welcoming.  It helped that it only had one door, which faced the bed, and a window that looked out on Mount Tam.  The energy felt inviting.  When I stepped inside and saw the artwork hanging above the vanity — a piece of white silk featuring a bright Chinese phoenix — I had to have that room.  I wear a phoenix tattoo on my left arm.  The room and I shared a kinship.

*

            My little room proved to be a great haven, especially after I set my suitcase in front of the closet.  Not that I thought anything was going to come through there — or that I felt the suitcase provided much of a barricade — but I’ve seen Poltergeist too many times.  You never know with big empty spaces.

I settled into the double bed, feeling safe in a way I wouldn’t have in a room with more doors.  I closed my eyes, exhausted and slightly drunk from Rain’s good Argentinean wine.

Sleep wouldn’t come.

I thought I heard whispering voices, then a man speaking, but Yvonne and Weston had the suite that shared the minuscule balcony outside my spider-guarded window.  I gladly put on my headphones to block the voices out.

As I lay there in the dark, trying to sleep, the light in my room kept changing.  Smudges and smears of light flashed through the well of shadow that lay between the bed and the vanity.  The sliver of light coming in around the door grew wider toward morning, as if the door was inching open, but it wasn’t.  Even so, I didn’t turn my back toward the center of the room.

Finally, about 4:30, I told myself that I really needed to get some sleep.  I rolled onto my stomach, clutched the pillow, felt myself relax.  Sleep was washing over me when someone touched my hair.

Someone touched my hair.  Electricity thrilled through me.  I knew I was still alone in the room, but opened my eyes anyway.  The room remained silent and empty, holding its breath to see what I would do.

It occurred to me that a spider might have fallen from the ceiling on to me. However, the sensation of being touched hadn’t felt like something practically weightless dancing across my head. My hair is just not that sensitive.  Something the size of a hand compressed the hair on the right side of my head.  Without a doubt, someone touched me.

“Hello,” I whispered softly.  “It will be dawn soon.  I’d really like to get some sleep before then.  Can we talk in the morning?”

I waited, but nothing more happened.  Sleep was remarkably easy to find.

 ***

 CIMG0977-headshotThis is an excerpt from an essay I wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One, published by Damnation Books in 2013.  I served as editor for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, published by Damnation Books in 2014.  Both books in the series collect fiction and poetry inspired by our retreats at the mansion.  They also include reports of the hauntings we experienced and evidence reports by the GhostGirls.

The third Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat is in the planning stages for September 2015.  You can see the details and register for it here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/

Mimi A. Williams on Horror Writing

by Mimi A. Williams

Beautiful Monster, the story of a serial killer and his stalking of one of his victims, came about as a way to take a break from other writing projects. I had been mentoring a student of mine, Jared Anderson (Alistair Cross) who’d become a good friend, and we’d spent the better part of six months crafting his first novel. During the same time, I’d been working on two different novels of my own. The idea of working on a book together seemed like a nice way to take a break and share the load.

My initial idea was the story of a medieval priest possessed by a demon and the young girl who falls in love with him. Jared liked the idea of the girl falling in love with the demon, but he wasn’t too keen on writing the historical aspect. We let the idea float around for a bit, brainstorming on other alternatives that kept the same storyline at the core. He had been doing a lot of research on serial killers, a subject that I had a great deal of interest in as well, and we started looking at possible storylines using a young girl who somehow falls for a very evil guy.

We both liked the idea, but we wanted to make absolutely sure the characters were believable. We asked a lot of questions, bouncing back and forth in almost a Socratic method. How does this guy hide openly in society? What does he do that makes him a successful killer? Why would a normal, healthy young woman fall for this guy? What makes her appealing to him as a victim? How will she survive – IF she survives? We would work together to identify character traits, to talk through interactions, and to develop the storyline that looks at each character individually  before bringing them inevitably closer to their fates.

Our process became a comfortable pattern: Jared wrote the first chapter, sent it to me for comments, and then I sent it back and started on chapter two. I’d finish my chapter, send it off for Jared’s comments, and then he would start on chapter three. It took us less than six months to write the book this way. At times, I’d have to stop midway through a chapter to run lines of dialog past Jared that involved his character, and he would do the same with mine.  The day I finished writing the last chapter, I was also helping Jared pack his house to move three states away! As we drove, I read the chapters out loud, and we made corrections as we went along. All the revisions were done living three states away from each other.  We sent copies off to a few trusted beta readers, and with their feedback, we would coordinate on Skype to make the necessary changes. I was in charge of sending out the queries, but it was Jared who came across Damnation Books, the publisher who ultimately accepted our manuscript.

I’ve coauthored one other book, an adult nonfiction that is now out of print, and Jared has coauthored a few others with Tamara Thorne (under the name Alistair Cross). There are some very important considerations when choosing whether or not to collaborate with another writer. First, you’d better have a strong foundation to your friendship and a really good sense of humor, because it’s guaranteed to get stressful as you go along. Another consideration is being able to compromise. If you want your book to be your way, then do it by yourself. Jared brought some exceptionally good ideas to the table. He wrote an amazing character who is two parts evil, one part charm, one part utter psychopath. He put some aspects of the book in place that I would never have considered, and it is stronger as a result. If I hadn’t been willing to listen to his suggestions and apply them, the book wouldn’t have been as powerful as it is. I become a stronger, more diverse writer as a result of this process, and I’m proud to this day of the result.

Will I ever collaborate again? I don’t know. It would take the right person, the right situation, and the right story for me to consider it. It was the perfect storm for Beautiful Monster, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get that lucky again. But, stranger things have been known to happen!

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

YumMimi A. Williams is the coauthor of Beautiful Monster, a novel about a charming serial killer and his innocent victim. She has also had a variety of short stories published, including “Rita” in the Axes of Evil 1 anthology, “The Groupie” in the Axes of Evil 2 anthology, and “The Lamb on the Tombstone” in the Old Scratch and Owl Hoots anthology (coming in 2015). Mimi holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and she has taught college English and Creative Writing for 18 years. When it comes to horror, Mimi loves old school: Edgar Allen Poe, the original “Halloween” movie, and the classics with Bella Lugosi, Lon Cheney, and Boris Karloff. Despite her love of horror and all things dark and scary, she is actually a very sweet person who loves her pets (three kitties and a dog) and her adorable grandson. https://www.facebook.com/m.a.williams.1214

Submission Call: DECEMBER HAUNTED MONTH

Subject: DECEMBER HAUNTED MONTH

Deadline is November 28th, 2014.
December at HorrorAddicts.net is HAUNTED month. Looking for true stories of hauntings, reviews of haunted places, book reviews of haunted tales, or ghost investigator reports. Also need a few pieces of flash fiction and poetry in this subject matter.
*For articles, reviews, real ghost tales… word count 500-3000
*For Flash Fiction or poetry… word count 300-1000
*At the end of the post, please include your bio, url, and attach a cover pic and author pic.
*Payment: exposure / linkability

About us: HorrorAddicts.net is a podcast, blog, and publisher run by horror addicts, for horror addicts. Our main goal is to promote horror authors, musicians, artists, and entertainers for our listeners entertainment.
Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the appropriate BOLDED subject line.
All submissions are unpaid unless otherwise noted.

For other submission calls, go to: Current Submission Calls

Meet Author Sumiko Saulson, #109

Sumiko SaulsonThis week we have author Sumiko Saulson. Sumiko’s one talented chick! She has a new book, Happiness and Other Diseases, coming out this month, she is a brilliant journalist, artist, and also plays in a band. Talk about an urban Renaissance woman!

For #109, she brings us “I, Stammer (in Disbelief)”, a first person story about a misogynistic bus driver named Harold Stammer who just can’t believe how superstitious his family and friends are about the Craigslist Killer.

Let’s find out some more about Sumiko’s horror tastes.

HA: What was the spookiest night of your life?

I hate to admit it but, having post traumatic sleep disorder and bipolar disorder I’ve had a lot of spooky nights. It’s hard to pick out just one. But some of the scariest ones were around the time my grandmother died in 1980. We had just moved to Hawaii and there were a lot of creepy noises I wasn’t used to, some of which were natural, animal sounds such as the ones that the cows on a nearby farm made. Being from Los Angeles, I wasn’t used to them. I was also having nightmares because I’d recently, ill advisedly, read Dune at the age of 12. I was starting to have hallucinations, so I am not sure if the experiences I had were real, but cabinets in our house were banging open and closed all night. Later, my neighbors said there were ghosts in the town we lived in, Pahoa. They alleged it used to be a leper colony, but I don’t believe that is true.

HA: What is your favorite horror flick?

Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors. I had a hard time explaining to my 28 year old fiancé why, but it was the first horror flick I saw as a teenager that I thought was about my generation. That terrified and amused me.

HA: If you were to battle a hoard of zombies, who would be your dream team fighting next to you?

Michonne from The Walking Dead. She’s awesome! But not beside, in front. I’d be behind hiding in a metal locker or something hyperventilating.

HA: What is the most horrifying costume experience you’ve ever had?

I had this perfect Lucy wedding dress costume I’d made myself, Lucy from the Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie, a couple years after it came out. One time I was at Halloween on the Castro in San Francisco and some a*hole purposely burned my train with a cigarette. Now THAT was horrifying.

HA: What is your most recent work for sale and what is it about?10687036_10152720329052246_3965942528566808353_n

Happiness and Other Diseases is a dark fantasy about Flynn Keahi, a conflicted young man whose nightmares are starting to have real-life consequences.

Flynn Keahi has had a rough year. His nightmares are starting to manifest in reality, but no one believes him. Terrifying creatures are trying to cross out of dreams into the physical realm. Only Flynn can stop them – but doing so might cost him his life. Complicating matters further, one of these creatures cannot help wanting him — in every forbidden way. Will she be able to save him from his fate? Can she even protect him from herself?

Find this book on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Other-Diseases-Somnalia-Book-ebook/dp/B00MQC0BHW#

HA: How do you create stories? What is in your writers tool kit?

I use a computer to write, I use a notebook to write character sketches and take notes about plot direction. I also draw in a drawing pad sometimes. I posted some of the cartoons I drew related to Happiness and Other Diseases on the website http://www.HappinessAndOtherDiseases.com

HA: What era do you feel most at home in?

Definitely this one. Why would a woman of color want to live in the past? I have more freedom now, I believe, than I would have had in another era. Besides, I love video games. If I couldn’t stay here, I would have to choose some destination in the future.

HA: Who is one person you’d like to meet, living or dead, and why?

Edgar Allen Poe. He was my first writing rock star. I still love him.

 HA: Where can readers find you on the web?

http://www.facebook.com/authorsumikosaulson
www.sumikosaulson.com

SUBMISSION CALL: NOVEMBER NOVEL MONTH

Subject: NOVEMBER NOVEL MONTH
Deadline is October 18th.

AUTHORS – Free advertising.

HorrorAddicts.net is offering a special opportunity for authors of horror/dark fantasy/steampunk/fetish/thriller etc… Feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested. As we all know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Everyone participating will be busily trying to make their goals and seeking fun, inspiring, writing-themed posts to distract them when they fall into a lull. We would like blog posts talking about your work and what inspires you. We are looking for tips, suggestions, info on how you did research for your book, or simply a deconstruction of your novel and what you were trying to accomplish by writing it. This is not simply a description of your novel, but how you wrote it, when, what inspired it, what your message is, etc… At the end of the post, please include your bio, url, and attach a cover pic and author pic. 

Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com with the appropriate BOLDED subject line.

Kbatz: Horror Documentaries

 A Macabre Documentary or Two

By Kristin Battestella

Looking for some non-fiction programming to spice up this festive, macabre season? Here’s a round up of informative and spooky documentaries, biographies, and shows for demented minds young and old!

anneAnne Rice: Biography – This 2000 television hour focusing on the Interview with a Vampire author is nothing new. Ironically, it is actually dated and somewhat inaccurate thanks to Rice’s more recent life and literary changes and thus this feels somewhat incomplete. A one-minute add-on to encompass the new millennium doesn’t cut it. That aside, it’s still great to see photos from Rice’s early life, hear friends and family recount her childhood and road to publication greatness, and listen to Rice herself talk of religion and the personal tragedies that inspired her writing. In fact, Anne’s familial losses and literary struggles may even be more poignant thanks to the conversations with her late husband, the poet Stan Rice. I’d like to see A&E revisit Rice with an updated two-hour special, but until then, scholarly studies and Rice aficionados can always enjoy this quick profile.

A Cemetery Special – PBS’s 2005 hour-long spotlight doesn’t have enough time to explore this exhaustive subject matter- and it bemusing admits that along with a respectful dedication to those buried in the featured cemeteries. From Pittsburgh to Vermont and Key West to Alaska, lovely footage of graveyards and gardens accents the bent but thought provoking discussion on death, remembrance, art, and the monuments we leave behind. Perhaps lesser-known graveyards are featured, but interesting tales from the Civil War and sleeping place origins are recounted in an almost heartwarming manner. This is the perfect little video for classrooms studying the specific locations and history or macabre scholars researching burial customs. I wish there had been a whole series like this!

hammerFlesh and Blood: Hammer Heritage of Horror – It took forever for this elusive 1994 documentary to arrive from Netflix! Nonetheless, this hour and forty minutes narrated by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing is chock full of great photos, retro posters, archive footage, and film trailers illustrating the behind the scenes stories and production highs and lows of the famed Hammer Film Studios. Lovely reflections by Michael Carreras and Anthony Hinds help recount the earliest Hammer films- from struggles in the thirties and World War II to The Quatermass Xperiment and budding science fiction success. Interviewees such as Hazel Court, Freddie Francis, Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munroe, Joe Dante, Rachel Welch, and our dear narrators seemingly touch upon nearly every Hammer picture- the Frankenstein series, assorted gothic monsters, the Dracula disagreements, blood, bosoms, and the studio’s eventual seventies downfall. Understandably, some of the footage is lower in quality, the sound remixing is tough, and there’s an obviously dry, British style to the presentation. This documentary also shouldn’t be confused with The Horror of Hammer trailer compilation companion or several other similarly themed documentaries. However, this treat is essential for die-hard Hammer fans, horror enthusiasts, and film historians.

His Name Was Jason – Everything you’d ever want to know about the Friday the 13th series, with clips from all the films and extensive behind the scenes interviews with every one who was ever involved with Jason-plus his or her grandma!

In Search of Dracula –  Christopher Lee hosts this old school look at the history of Dracula and vampire lore. Young folks might not like the old styles and footage, but vintage vampire fans will delight. You don’t catch classics like this on television anymore!

karlKarloff: The Gentle Monster – This 2006 38 minute documentary is not the hour long Biography episode of the same name but rather a lovely little retrospective found on the Frankenstein blu-ray releases. Although the beginning briefly mentions Karloff’s pre-Universal film appearances, the focus here is with the subtle, silent sympathy of Karloff’s monstrous characters and his long lasting horror appeal. From Frankenstein to later stage work beyond horror such as Arsenic and Old Lace, film scholars and historians discuss early comparisons to Lon Chaney, difficulties with horror make up’s infancy, and more scary film glory with classics such as The Mummy and The Black Cat. Attention is given to Karloff’s quiet success as a character actor thanks to his physicality and ability to be both frightening and sensual at the same time along with his spooky television series and his tireless work across mediums and generations. This is the voice of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, people! It’s also interesting to see movie buffs theorizing on the over reaching and decreasing quality of the studio’s Frankenstein series, beating it into the ground as the franchises, sequels, and remakes do today. Boris fans and horror lovers can eat up the clips and nostalgia here, for sure.

Lon Chaney: Behind the Mask – Rare, unseen silent film footage, vintage photos and clips, charming family home movies, and archive interviews with co-stars and crew anchor this 76 minute 1995 documentary illuminating the Man of a Thousand Faces. From early bit parts to his iconic horror heights, the pain, emotion, and melodramatic catharsis of his tragic portrayals is examined against Chaney’s stanch need for privacy amid the fame orchestrated Hollywood system. Collaborations with director Tod Browning are highlighted, and quotes on the craft from the man himself are smartly reiterated – wisdoms on how to utilize makeup or character flaws to accentuate the performance and create redemption in villainous roles. Of course, the presentation focuses on The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera but ends somewhat suddenly with Chaney’s death rather than any retrospective summation or legacy. Fortunately, there are lots of behind the scenes snippets, photographs, and factoids, for it’s really quite sad to realize how much of Chaney’s work is gone – over 30% of his films have vanished. 56 lost pictures – that’s more movies than some people today make in their entire lifetimes! The dated nineties design, uneven editing, jumping back and forth timeline, and a very dry narration don’t quite hit home here. However, this informative presentation remains classroom ready and will delight new film enthusiasts, longtime Chaney fans, and horror historians.

vlcsnap-5876655Lugosi: The Dark Prince – Like Karloff, Bela Lugosi’s early life and acting career before Dracula go unnoticed in this 36 minute documentary accompanying the 1931 Dracula blu-ray video. Interviews with genre directors Joe Dante, Jimmy Sangster, and other film scholars and authors instead spend the majority of time here on Lugosi’s quintessential appearance in the budding horror cinema and discuss how his phonetic learning of lines accentuated his hypnotic, handsome, somewhat scandalous and always sensual acting style. This masterful paranormal charisma of course unfortunately typecast him, but clips and analysis on Murders in the Rue Morgue, White Zombie, Son of Frankenstein, and The Raven will be a treat for those interested in the irony of Lugosi’s long lasting iconography but relatively short-lived success and underatedness as an actor. Even if the talk isn’t about the man’s personal life per se, there are great insights into the craft here, making for a lovely little bittersweet study on the quick rise and fall of a horror icon.

Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film – In covering a hundred years of scary cinema, this 2009 documentary was bound to miss a few things. However, this hour and half also provides extensive clips from early silent films, Universal monsters, the Roger Corman era, seventies zombies, eighties slashers, and more. Interviewees like George Romero, John Carpenter, and more experts on the genre examine how the social and political statements onscreen, both overt and veiled, influenced film making and audiences thru the decades. Horror has gone from early B-movie child’s play to red scare allusions and now a blockbuster industry- who knew? Some of the more recent conversation and post 9/11 thoughts are perhaps nothing new or could have been dealt with more deeply, for today’s viewer is familiar with these sociopolitical cinema influences, after all. But seeing the paces of vintage horror film thru the years is a real treat for both new and veteran fans. This one’s a great starter for younger folks just getting into horror films or a good accompaniment to a sociology discussion.

Tales from the Crypt: Comics to Television – Very insightful special about the ups and downs of the naughty in naughty comic books and how the guts and glory survived in serial television. Maybe not for mainstream fans, but horror and comic enthusiasts will love this.

Meet Author Alexander Beresford, #108

BeresfordPICThis week’s author is Alexander Beresford, author of Charla, which David reviewed last November. Alexander has a new book, Doll Face coming out soon and brings us a piece of flash fiction this week called “Needs”. “Needs” is about a man who has lost his mind. He receives an unexpected call from a special love interest from his past while he’s in the middle of living a moment of indulgence while experimenting with things he had only fantasized about, respecting little of anything, engaging in selfish, psychotic curiosities.

Alexander has a twisted way of bringing us disturbing characters that you can’t stop reading or listening to, even though you are horrified at what’s going on. Let’s find out more about Alexander.

HA: What is your most recent work?

Alexander: I have a new novel coming out soon called DOLL FACE, but my most recent published work is CHARLA, the story of a sexy mother who hates her daughter and manages to secretly bring her pain and discomfort. So creative is Charla in satisfying her unsettling needs, that even Amelie grew up unaware of her mother’s deranged feelings towards her. With Amelie all grown up now, it has become harder and harder for Charla to quench her morbid impulses without getting her hands dirty. So, one lonely dawn, Charla experiences a very weird event that sparks the idea of summoning a demon to disrupt her twenty-five year old daughter’s perfect, pretty little life. She puts the sick plan into action … and the demon moves in!

HA: What was the spookiest night of your life?

Alexander: I’m not sure how much of this I can reveal, but a friend got permission to visit a famous political figure’s unused house currently being restored and known to be haunted. This friend, my girlfriend, and I entered the house at night, out in the woods, with no electricity, with our ghost hunting equipment and began to investigate for fun. We heard all kinds of noises, saw strange shadows and things, our equipment went nuts, we heard a voice in the EVP recording later, it was crazy. We didn’t last long in there, it was incredibly creepy. Whatever was there didn’t like us visiting for “fun”.

HA: How do you create stories? What is in your writers tool kit?

Alexander: I use a laptop and a program called StoryMill which helps me stay organized. I will usually write in one spot, on the couch next to the baby grand piano in my living room. I prefer to write early in the moring and late at night. I’m simply too distracted to get much done in the middle of the day, though I try.

Charla cover front finalHA: What era do you feel most at home in?

Alexander: I like technology and other advances, I like this era just fine.

HA: Who is one person you’d like to meet, living or dead, and why?

Alexander: I would like to meet Clive Barker. He is a brilliant writer and a person I am certain I would enjoy hanging out with. I’d like to speak to him about writing, art and creativity in general.

HA: What is your favorite horror flick?

Alexander: I’m fond of the classics, Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen, Friday The 13th, Halloween.

HA: If you were to battle a hoard of zombies, who would be your dream team fighting next to you?

Alexander: Probably no one you would’ve heard of. People I trust, strong characters, fighters, intelligent people, my friends Rey Armenteros, Alex Armenteros, and writer and long time friend Wesley Gurion for starters.

HA: Where can fans catch up with your newest work?

Alexander: www.AlexanderBeresford.net

Flash Fiction Friday: Kadirah Wade

They Buried Her Deep

by Kadirah Wade

 

They buried her deep late one day

She died at sea by the Inlet Kay

She watched them as they walked away slow

Their heads hung down in pain, sad and low.

When they turned to reach the avenue bridge

She sprang from her grave and ran to the ridge

“I will head them off and scare them bad

I do not believe them to be sad.”

As they reached the top of Old Drummer’s Hill

She appeared with a scream, so loud and shrill

They all felt fright, near to a dead faint

Some called out loud to an unknown saint

The steam rose above, her body still warm

They scattered and ran from her ghastly form

She chased them down and snapped at their heels

She heeded not their mercy appeals

“You’ve all brought about my dreadful demise

You taunted and teased and spread vicious lies.”

And one by one they each met their fate

She did them in by the evening, late

Never again would their mocking be heard

She ended their sniggering cruel words

Then she returned to the peaceful sea

And fell asleep in her sodden lee.

Master of Macabre #5, Solomon Archer

Surface Tension by Solomon Archer
Location: New York City
Item: A teddy bear
Creature Origin: An oceanic trench

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Surface Tension

by Solomon Archer, Ph.D.

 

JOSEPH SNAPPED VIOLENTLY AWAKE from a restless sleep by a series of hard bumps as the tiny Cessna hit pocket after pocket of turbulence. As the jet shook and rattled, he could barely hear the pilot over the deafening roar inside the cabin.

“What’d you say?” he yelled. The pilot pointed toward the window.

“Ten miles to the starboard!” he shouted over his shoulder. Joseph looked out the small oval window at the vast ocean below them. The glare from the surface of the sea made it difficult to tell what he was looking at but when the sun momentarily ducked behind a bank of clouds, the mass came into full view. Even so, it took him a few moments to register what he was seeing.

“Oh my God,” Joseph muttered. The pilot nodded his head in agreement at the pile of floating debris covering an area approximately the size of Manhattan.

“You people are out of your minds,” the pilot muttered.

 


Joseph had been hired by Brooklyn Salvage in the past. He liked working with them, though he was not looking forward to being away from his daughter Abby for almost a month. His mother volunteered to look after her while he was away and for that Joseph was eternally grateful.

The crew of the ship, a 75-meter tug named the Cloudburst, was typical for a salvage operation with the exception of a marine biochemist, a cartographer, and two divers.

Joseph was somewhat disappointed that his skills as an underwater welder weren’t needed on this job, but he couldn’t argue with the money. Thirty thousand dollars for a three-week expedition was hard to turn down.

During the initial mission briefing the experts gave an overview of the expedition. The cartographer, whose name Joseph didn’t catch, used colorful maps and bathymetric charts to highlight the currents the garbage island had followed for nearly a decade before stalling over an area known as the Java Trench, a submarine depression in the Indian Ocean four and a half miles deep.

Kim Chen, the biochemist, explained that recent tectonic plate movements had created a vast array of volcanic cones along the lip of the trench. The cones, which were essentially like underwater chimneys, had been churning out a stew of toxic chemicals and debris from as far down as the earth’s mantle.

“What kind of chemicals?” asked one of the salvage crew.

“Well, sodium and calcium, of course. You find that everywhere in the ocean. But these things are also spitting out hydrogen sulfide, silica, chloride, and manganese, just to name a few. It’s a really poisonous mess and it’s coming out hot.”

“How hot?” Joseph asked.

“320 degrees Celsius,” Chen answered.

Joseph frowned, trying to convert that number to Fahrenheit. “And how hot exactly is that?” he asked.

“Hot enough to melt lead,” Chen answered. She must have detected the unease in his voice and quickly added, “Oh don’t worry. All that heat is lost before it gets anywhere near the surface. No, what worries me is the fact that toxic stew seems to be feeding your island.”

“You know, I’m gonna be knee deep in that crap starting tomorrow morning. You got any words of advice?” Joseph asked.

“Yeah,” she said after a moment. “Wear boots.”


It was early afternoon on the second day when their ship approached the floating island. He heard one of the other crew members refer to the island as “continental afterbirth,” and Joseph thought that description was quite fitting. The pile stretched out as far as he could see and appeared to be made up of several countries-worth of garbage. Its surface consisted of a frothy mix of plastic bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes, aluminum siding, and acres of discarded paper products. Dotted throughout were thousands of trash bags – some bloated from decomposition under the relentless sun, others ravaged by the sea and scattered about like ghostly mourners. Rivers of torn clothing and shredded linens meandered through the mass like serpents and the entire tableau was kissed by a layer of white foam.

Occasionally Joseph caught a glimpse of something more exotic: a stuffed white snow leopard that looked covered in mange, its fur faded and frayed by the elements; a ten-by-fourteen foot replica of Van Gogh’s Starry Night peeling from a weathered frame freckled with tar; a congealed mass of melted pink flip-flops that scarred the surface like some ocean-borne strain of Rosacea.

Perhaps strangest of all was what looked like a human torso, hirsute and pale, bobbing up and down in the current, one perfectly severed stump blindly scanning the surrounding sea like a bloodshot eye. The captain had radioed the Coast Guard about that last find, but the exchange consisted of little more than a relay of coordinates. It was unlikely that anyone would be declaring the area a crime scene.


Over the course of the next several days, he and another deckhand named Michael, got into a rhythm of sorting the debris into piles based on whatever language they could find on the items.

At one point he came across a teddy bear fr that was surprisingly intact, other than being waterlogged and a little faded.

“Whatcha got there, Joe?” Dr. Chen asked as she waved a Geiger counter over a nearby pile. He handed it to her, shrugging.

“Some kid’s stuffed toy, looks like,” he replied.

Kim turned the teddy over in her hands. “Huh,” she mumbled. “Mind if I run some tests? I’ve got a decontaminant I’ve been dying to try out if you don’t mind?”

“Knock yourself out, doc,” he said and returned to the pile.

When she was gone, Michael sidled up to him and, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one else was around, showed Joseph a watch he had found. The hands were frozen at 2:25 and it was missing a diamond at the 12:00 o’clock position, but otherwise looked to be in good shape.

Joseph whistled. “Is that a Rolex?”

“Score, right?” Michael beamed.

“You gonna tell the captain about it?” Joseph asked, already knowing the answer.

Michael snorted. “Hell no! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got bills to pay. I mean, 30 grand is great and all, don’t get me wrong. But this piece could be worth a couple thousand easy.” His smile faltered for a moment. “You’re not gonna say anything, are you?”

“’Course not,” Joseph reassured him. “Finders keepers. Congratulations. But if I were you I’d think about having Dr. Chen decontaminate it first.”

Michael smiled as he pocketed the watch. “Yeah, I’ll sure give that some thought.” Joseph nodded knowing Michael would do no such thing and the two returned to sifting through the trash.

By the time the Cloudburst finally docked at the Southeast Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Hudson Bay and Joseph had made it back to his apartment, it was nearly midnight and all he wanted to do was kiss his daughter, take a shower, and sleep for two weeks. As he unpacked his overstuffed duffel, he was surprised to find a clear plastic bag containing the teddy bear he had found at the site several weeks earlier and a note from Kim.

“Success!” the note began. “The decontamination worked better than I expected. Not even a trace of toxic chemicals or radiation. For providing me with my first test subject, you win a teddy bear! Signed K.”

Joseph examined the bear and had to admit Kim had done a damn fine job. It looked brand new with a shiny fur coat and it smelled like it had just come out of the wash. Abby would love it.

He popped his head into his daughter’s room found her asleep in her crib. He placed the teddy bear next to her head and was delighted to see her roll over, wrap a tiny arm around its neck, and start chewing on the animal’s ear.

 


Joseph went to the bathroom and stripped off his clothes and stood under the scalding stream for over ten minutes watching the water gradually get lighter as it circled the drain. He might have fallen asleep had not the high pitch of overworked metal pipes started screaming in protest. Joseph jumped at the racket coming from the wall and quickly shut off the water. But the squealing did not stop and it struck him that the sound was not coming from the pipes. He stood naked for a moment trying to figure out what it was when an inhuman shriek threatened to tear the bathroom door off its hinges.

He raced from the bathroom toward his daughter’s room, which seemed to be the source of the commotion. He was not at all prepared for what he saw when he opened the door.

In the dim pink glow of the nightlight, Abby was flailing in her crib and at first he thought she had somehow bitten into an electrical cord. He flipped on the light and raced to the crib, stopping short when he peered over the edge.

The skin from her face was entirely melted away, leaving a pulsing white and red mass of bone and tissue underneath. Her lips slid off her chin and dropped in a pile of blood, spit, and teeth on her chest, which was vibrating erratically. He thought crazily that she was having a seizure until the wet hole that used to be her mouth produced a bubbling cry followed by a fit of ragged wheezing as Abby desperately tried to fill her lungs with air.

Something in Joseph’s mind broke when he saw the skin of her neck tear open and he recoiled instinctively as several hundred worms, some more than four feet in length, bored through her throat. Red, orange, and black dots glistened on their shiny albino bodies and they moved impossibly fast as they engulfed her entire head. The sickening sound of his daughter’s skull cracking was enough to jolt Joseph to action.

He shot his arms forward grabbing Abby beneath her armpits, intending to pull her from the crib. It was last time he would ever touch her.

The moment his hands locked behind her back, her arms were torn from her body by a second wave of worms that had emerged from a gaping hole in her chest. He slipped in the growing pool of gore oozing out of the crib.

As he scrambled to get to his feet, he felt the first of them enter him through his ankle. He nearly blacked out from the pain as worm after worm burrowed into his legs and snaked into his body. They tore through flesh, bone, and muscle as they spread throughout. A few that had been devouring the contents of his last meal penetrated his bladder and exited his body through his urethra like a stream of lava. Some of the creatures had discovered his trachea and in their frenzied feast produced screams Joseph did not even recognize as his own. The last two things he ever saw in this world were the teddy bear, its stuffing teeming with what looked like albino maggots and the inside of his skull as his eyes were pulled into his head.

After that, he knew nothing more.


Madeline had been searching online for an anniversary gift for over an hour and had nearly settled on a tactical barbeque vest when she struck eBay gold: a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust. She considered herself to be something of a connoisseur of men’s fashion and other than missing a diamond at the 12 o’clock spot, the watch was in near pristine condition and at $1500 this one was a steal. She hesitated over the “buy” button for only a second before confirming her purchase. She couldn’t wait to see the look on her husband’s face when he tried it on. It would be memorable – of that much she could be sure.

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #4, D. J. Pitsiladis

The Samaritan by D.J. Pitsiladis
Location: Angkor Wat
Item: Running Shoes
Origin: Meteor Site

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

The Samaritan

By D.J. Pitsiladis

Gary jerked himself upright and muttered an apology to his sour faced neighbor.  The man muttered something in Cambodian before he turned his attention back to the window.  The American received similar reactions since his arrival in Bangkok, Thailand, the day before, and he thought about how it differed from the pro-tourism ads he saw while planning the pilgrimage.  As he popped open the third energy drink of the long bus trip, Gary promised himself, “Next time I take the window seat with all the fresh air.”

 

A bright flash lit up the sky seconds before the bus shuddered and began to roll on its side.  Gary bounced off his neighbor’s body before he hit the floor and smacked his head against one of the benches.  Pain blossomed behind his eyes from the impact before everything went black.  He didn’t know how long he was unconscious for, but when a hand pushed on his shoulder and a girl’s voice said, “Wake up,” he tried to open his eyes.  They remained shut until he felt another nudge, “Please wake up.”  The American’s eyes fluttered open to find a young Thai girl’s tear streaked face as it broke into a relieved smile.  Nausea washed over him like a wave and he laid his head back down until the girl whimpered and pushed his shoulder again.  “Please, mister, you need to wake up.”

 

Gary sat up and winced when he touched the top of his head.  “Probably have a concussion,” he thought as another wave of nausea hit.  The girl, meanwhile, placed her hands on his shoulders to help steady him while he checked their surroundings.  “Are there any others alive?” he asked.  She lowered her gaze and shook her head with a sniffle.  He swore under his breath, but then grabbed the side of the bench above him and pulled himself to his feet.

 

While he waited for his balance to steady, Gary checked out the girl for injuries.  She wore a stained yellow t-shirt and tan slacks with dark patches of blood, but no obvious signs of injury.  What really caught his attention were her clean running shoes.  He looked around at the other passengers and saw a considerable amount of blood and debris mixed in with pale bodies.  With all of that, he didn’t know how she managed to keep them so clean.  He meant to ask her about it when a noise from the outside grabbed his attention.

 

With careful steps, they made their way to the shattered front window and peeked outside.  Two of the temple complex’s five towers stood tall over a large pile of rubble while toppled trees burned around it.  They stepped from the vehicle and stared in amazement.  “How are we not dead?” Gary asked in disbelief.  Men yelled for help off in the distance, and he took a look at the girl and made a decision.  “Stay here,” he said.  “Help will be here soon.”  She opened her mouth to protest, maybe even beg him to stay until it did, but he worried that people might die if he did.

 

Military helicopters appeared within seconds and began to circle the fiery crater.  Gary wondered about what crashed there, but thought, “There’ll be plenty of time to find out after the injured are safe.”  Three armored personnel vehicles sped past the temple entrance and he jumped back to get out of their way.  He didn’t see the girl behind him until she bounced off his back and fell to the ground hard.  When she finally got her feet back under her, the girl headed for the temple with her left arm clutched tight against her chest.  Gary watched in disbelief as the military vehicles swerved to drive around her.

 

Once inside the outer walls, two monks saw them and yelled for help from a nearby pile of rubble.  Gary managed to free one of the men from the rocky trap, and let girl drag him out of the way while he turned his attention to the second monk.  It took a little longer to free the second holy man, but when he did, neither the girl nor the other monk were anywhere to be found.  When he didn’t find them, he checked the man’s leg and knew at first sight it was shattered and needed more care than he was able to offer.  When the girl finally walked around the corner, he asked, “What happened to the other guy?”

 

The girl looked around at the piles of debris and said, “He went to help more of his people.”  She met Gary’s gaze and pointed at the monk on the ground, “What about him?”  The expression on her face looked weird, but he let it go given the stressful situation.

 

“He’s not going anywhere,” Gary replied.  “His leg is badly shattered and we don’t have any way to move him.”  She turned her full attention on the man and went to his side.  The way she stared at the man looked more like hunger than concern, but, as much as his instincts told him to stay, he needed to go find more survivors.  “Can you stay here with him?” She nodded and he jogged around the opposite corner.  He didn’t get far before his gut told him to go back.  When he rounded the corner again, the scene he found terrified him.

 

The girl sat astride the monk’s chest with her knees on each arm, her left hand clamped tight over his mouth, and some kind of flat red disk against his forehead.  He realized when she pulled it away that the device was actually her hand.

 

“I can explain,” she said in a raspy voice.  Gary stared in horror as her once young and beautiful face shriveled into an opaque nightmare.  She took a tentative step toward him and added, “Then again, I don’t think you’ll understand the explanation any more than you can understand my hunger.”  The girl took another step toward him, “My kind needs blood for sustenance, but I spared you to help me find safety.”  His gaze lowered to the shriveled dead man behind her and realized not everyone on the bus died from the crash.  It proved enough to break his paralysis and he darted behind the pile of stones and headed for the soldiers.

 

Gary saw the bridge that led to the army, but didn’t see the girl until she slammed into his back and sent him to the ground hard.  Before he regained his breath, she rolled him over and sat on his chest with her knees firmly on his arms.  “All of that running made me hungry, and you look kind of tasty.”  He opened his mouth to shout for help, but her hand clamped over it as she laughed like a snake.  “Don’t worry.  I’m sure those soldiers will be happy to help.  After all…”  The girl’s image shifted back to the teenage girl and she said, “How can anyone resist a young girl in distress?”  He closed his eyes as her other hand rested on his forehead and she began to feed.

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #3, Rish Outfield

Lighthouse View by Rish Outfield
Location: A lighthouse
Item: A camera
Creature Origin: Volcano

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Lighthouse View

Rish Outfield

 

Carly arrived at the lighthouse just before ten in the morning, and the old man was already waiting for her.

“News lady?” he asked, putting down his large print Louis L’amour collection.

She had the camera and tripod on one shoulder, her sound bag in the other, but still said,  “That’s me.”

He slowly rose to his feet.  “You know you prolly made this trip for nothin’?”

“It’s not for nothing.  I get to see your beautiful lighthouse.”

“Ain’t been beautiful in years,” he grumbled.  He was an ancient-looking man with a white beard, a sailor hat over a bald head, and about a million wrinkles.  “View’s nice, though.”

She followed him into the old building.  It surprised Carly Page to find so few lighthouses on this part of the coast.  Her internet search had classified the one at Puente Dormido as being “Closed.”  Turned out the old man who ran it years before had bought the disused relic, and lived there now.

When she’d tracked him down on the telephone, he’d guessed what she was after.  “There’s prolly a one in a thousand chance the monster comes here.”

“Good enough for me,” she’d said, sitting in front of her computer, satellite photos on the screen showing a tail, a bulbous head, and a long body, though not in the same shot.

The monster, or Quetzalcoatl, as CNN had dubbed it, had emerged from a volcano in the Pacific two days before.  It seemed to be a giant snake or worm that either swam or flew–depending on if you thought the smudge in one photo was wings or not.  Scientists argued about whether it would head for the mainland, go to an island, or never be seen again, perhaps burrowing back into the sea.  Carly didn’t know why, but she had immediately thought of a lighthouse, and found the closest one.  If the monster came here, she might get some great footage, if not, she would interview a fascinating old man.

The lighthouse was damp and foul-smelling, and had fallen into disrepair inside and out.  “You okay?” The way he was breathing, she worried he might topple backward onto her.

“Just old,” he wheezed.  Well, that was an understatement.  Her grandfather had looked better the last time she’d seen him, and that had been in a funeral parlor.

On the upper level was a living area, with a sofa, several shelves lined with books, and a little radio.

“You say you’re from Channel 8?” he asked her, pausing to catch his breath.  Above them, the stairs continued another ten feet or so to a thick door leading to the roof.

“I was.”

He squinted at her.  “You got a face for the TV.  What’s the problem?”

She figured the interview would go better if she earned his trust, so she told him.  “The regular anchor had a baby, so I got the job to fill in for her.  On my second day, I read a story with the word knickerbocker in it.  Only I didn’t say it like that, exactly.”

“So, nobody caught the error?”

“Oh, about a thousand viewers did,” she said, though the calls and emails had actually numbered about twenty.  “TV news is live.  Goes out as you say it.  They wanted me to apologize on the next show.  I wouldn’t.  On Wednesday, there was a new guest anchor sitting in for me.”

“So, gettin’ a picture of the killer snake monster will put you back on top.”

They emerged onto the upper terrace.  The view was spectacular.  Blue, grey, and white ocean water as far as the eye could see, a cool and refreshing breeze.

“The radio said the coast guard spotted it,” she said.  “How far from us was that?”

“About eighteen mile from here.”

Carly’s odds of seeing the creature had just gotten better.

As if reading her thoughts, Walter said, “Eighteen is a lot of miles, Miss Knickerbocker.  Don’t think we’ll be hostin’ a monster party today.”

They stood in silence, Carly and the old man searching the horizon for anything more interesting than a boat.

Finally, she turned the camera on him.  “How old a man are you, Mr. Walter?”

“Ninety-one,” he said.  He definitely looked his age.

“Does this discovery make you question your understanding of the world?”

“Stuff with the snake, you mean?”  Walter gave her a wink.  “Nahh, I fought Hitler and Benito, I always believed in monsters.”

She smiled at that.  He was a charming man, even if he wasn’t very photogenic.

They left the terrace and went slowly down the creaking stairs.  Carly wondered if this building would still be standing ten years from now.

She set up the camera in front of the man’s couch.  The question she had asked him had been on a lot of minds since Quetzalcoatl emerged from the eruption.  Many took the monster as a sign that the Biblical end times were finally upon us, many took it as evidence that God did not exist.  Some were now worshiping the flying serpent like the Maya of old.

She sat Walter down with a microphone and adjusted the camera angle to best capture his craggy face.  “State your name and spell it for me.”

“Alec Walter Junior.  Eye-tee,” said Walter, and grinned for the lens.  It made him look like a bearded skeleton from a Disney pirate movie.

“Mister Walter, could–”

“Call me Alec.”

“Alec, could you tell me when you first saw this lighthouse?”

“Oh, surely.  I was six years old.  My pappy had decided–”

And then Carly heard the sound of a helicopter through the microphone.  It sounded close, getting closer.

Carly wrestled the camera off its tripod, and carried it up the stairwell with as much speed as she could muster. The old man followed, almost disappointed about the interview.

On the terrace, he saw the helicopter hovering over the water only half a mile away–a big ugly military vehicle.   Carly was filming something beyond the helicopter.  White water sprayed where an enormous shape moved fast through the ocean to the northwest.

“I can’t believe it!” she laughed, and it was infectious, the delighted laughter of the young.  “This is it!  I’m back in for sure now!”

“Hope you got enough film in that thing.”

A moment later, the helicopter rose higher.  The monster exploded out of the water and into the air.  The damned thing did have wings.

“Did you get that?” he asked, but the way she was beaming, he knew that she had.

The monster angled toward the shore.  Its wings were tiny, flapping so fast they were a blur, like a bug’s wings.  And as its body became more visible, a pale flying caterpillar, he realized that it looked a bit like his home.

“Here it comes!” Carly called in awe.

Alec Walter grabbed the girl’s thin arm and gave it a pull.  “We need to go.”

She looked away from the creature, just for a moment.

“Move!” he shouted, clutching her arm as tightly as he could manage, and pulling her in the direction of the stairs.

She thought of recording the creature’s truck tire-sized grey eyes.  Maybe, while she’d been looking at it, it had been looking at her.

She moved.  The old man focused on descending the stairs, and halfway down, he stumbled.  She steadied him with her free arm.  He was gasping, his whole back wet with sweat.

There came a sound above them–a skittering noise that insects made in the woods–but it was much, much too loud.  “Go!” Walter coughed.  But she kept supporting him until they finally made it to the bottom of the lighthouse.

He burst out the front door, but Carly didn’t want to leave the protection of the building.

“Come . . . on!” he managed, putting out his hand to her.

“We’re safer inside th–”

“It doesn’t . . . want us,” he coughed, and she ran to his side, helping him again as they moved away from the foot of the lighthouse.

The chittering stopped, and Carly saw Quetzalcoatl as it hovered next to the lighthouse.  It darted in the air, seeming to dance.

Beside Carly, the old man collapsed onto his knees, then rolled to a sitting position, where he could see the monster.  “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he got out.  He was barely getting any breath in, but she heard him whisper, “Shoot your camera.”

Quetzalcoatl kept bending its lower body toward the building, like a wasp about to sting.  “It thinks the lighthouse is an enemy,” she marveled, raising the camera–which had never stopped recording–to catch the full body of the flying worm.

“Ain’t mad,” Walter laughed, surprising Carly.  “It’s horny.”

She looked at its body language anew, and realized he was right.  The monster, though smaller than the lighthouse, was shaped very similarly to it, and was shaking its tail like a . . . well, like anybody who shook their ass for a suitor.

The helicopter slowly circled the top of the lighthouse, the only other witnesses to the giant worm’s dance.  Then the creature rotated itself 180 degrees, and landed on the side of the lighthouse.  She heard the building groan with the added weight, and saw brick drop off where the monster’s body connected.  Its tail was now right at the top of the edifice, where the terrace was.

Carly saw through the camera lens something wet and yellow emerge onto the top of the tower.  “It’s . . . laying eggs!”

“Now I’ve seen everything,” Walter mumbled beside her, and Carly felt an almost overwhelming affection for the old man.  If she hadn’t been holding the camera, trying to catch each sticky sphere as it came out and stuck in a pile, she would surely have hugged him.

Carly slowly panned onto the monster’s big flat face.  Later, she would remember it looking right at her, as though aware it had an audience.

Finally, the worm’s opaque wings began to vibrate again, and it disengaged itself from the lighthouse.  There was a cluster of twenty or so eggs up there, and Carly’s heart now thumped from exhilaration.  She had a big grin on her face, and the smile never faded as Quetzalcoatl’s wings blurred into motion again and it—she–turned and plunged into the ocean once again.  The military helicopter followed, trying to keep up.

She held the shot a moment more, arm aching from keeping the camera steady, and finally stopped recording.  “Yep,” she said, lowering her right arm.  “That will probably make me a–”

She turned and stared at the old man.  Alec Walter Junior was laying back, his mouth and his eyes both open a slit.  He no longer stirred, no longer breathed.

“Now you’ve seen everything,” she sighed.

 

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #2, Ricky Cooper

A Contrast of Worlds by Ricky Cooper
Location: An Italian restaurant
Item: A human skull
Creature Origin: Deep Space

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

A Contrast in Worlds

 

Clattering filled the air, wry smiles etched their lips as they lifted  the cups and sipped, a hum of gratification filing the space between them.

‘It’s certainly good here; best we have found so far I’d venture to say.’

A soft chuckle tickled the air as they set their cups back on the small saucers.

‘It certainly is, but I must say the heat is dreadfully oppressive.’

‘Agreed, but dear we must remember, this place is as new to us, as we are to it. We will eventually adapt, we always do.’

A slight nod greeted the softly worded admonishment. As the heat rolled over them, handkerchiefs patted at perspiration soaked brows. The quiet whisper of silk filled the air as, with delicate motions and supple fingers, the handkerchiefs were folded and once more tucked into the cuffs of their sleeves.

‘So darling how old did you say this colony was?’

‘Well, it’s taken us one hundred and fifty years to get this far.

‘When one thinks that we didn’t even know this world existed until those signals started coming through.

‘Even as faint as they were, they gave planning a reason to brush the dust off our old search probes.

‘The probes were launched and all the while we waited and listened. The signals were getting stronger and more frequent. The inevitable conclusion was that for the first time we had found another sentient race in the universe. The prize was within our grasp.

‘So with the information collated and analysed the first ships were sent out. I know that travelling halfway across the galaxy in stasis is a crazy thing to do but we were absolutely desperate for extra space, a civilisation can only survive on one planet for so long without exhausting the ecosystem to the point of collapse.

‘ Then when we arrive the place is empty. No signals. Nothing.’

‘And with that in mind my dear, I’d say it’s a good idea for us all to pay careful attention to the signs we were left by those that came before. You know as well as I that waiting a few hundred years more will not damage things. Besides the rest of the settlers will be needing a head counsel to oversee the ownership rights in this territory.’

A warm gust of air made their heads tilt. Eyes slid closed and nostrils flared, a short guttering gasp left them both as they stood, chairs clattering against the cobbled floor.

‘Come with me, I want to show you something, it was unearthed a few weeks ago.’

Their tapping feet filled the quiet street as they listened to the bustle of shoppers and families only a few yards away, the soft tremor that shivered through their feet made one pause, a soft gasp of fright flirting with his companion’s ears.

‘Darling, fear not, it’s just that beastly mountain again, damned thing has been gurgling and smoking ever since I was transferred here.’

Glancing back over the top of the buildings around them, the monolith of fire and heat smoked and rumbled sending a shiver down his spine as he hastened his pace and caught up to his slowly disappearing comrade.

‘So where exactly are we going dear?’

A small smile broke his partners lips as they drew level. Hands clasped behind their backs they moved out into a vast courtyard. The central fountain burbled echoing the gentle call of small birds that flitted above their heads.

‘We’re heading to the one place in this heat blasted world where we can see what became of this planet’s indigenous species and I for one would wish that my partner saw them just once before he is whisked away again.’

A gentle hand tugged at his elbow as the fluttering of wings filled the air and the sky was assaulted by a swarm of feathered bodies.

‘Now that was a pleasant and rather beautiful surprise.’

A soft hum echoed from his partner as they both watched trees empty of their twittering cargo.

‘Yes my sweet, it certainly was.’

They paused studying the glittering water as it bubbled and splashed over the cut glass pebbles and turquoise tiles.

‘Apparently my sweet this fountain here, although it has been restored numerous times, pre-dates nearly everything around us; from the tiles on the roofs to the relics we are unearthing on a daily basis. Now if you look at its size, this sculpted expanse, despite its complexity, has been constructed using the simplest of hand tools. Those that made it were twice if not three times our size, tall, broad and extremely muscular.

‘Those large plots of land not far from here with their quaint little temples honouring their fallen have a very handy system of rows and markers that, I must say, has made excavation quite an easy process. It shouldn’t be long before we have sufficient information on this planet’s aborigines. ‘

With a small nod of his head, he guided his partner to the furthest side of the courtyard and through a high archway, the weather worn stone casting a fine dust upon their heads as they passed through the frescoed alleyway.

‘Ah blessed cold, that heat was making me boil in my suit.’

A liquid filled chuckle echoed down the corridor, the chill air making them both shiver as they stopped. They paused a moment to bask in the shaded avenue before heading out in the blistering, heated air once more.

‘We only have a short way to go my dear, then we can sit in the blessed cool of the air conditioned viewing halls. I think you will truly appreciate what we have found. It is the only intact example we have been able to unearth from site six.’
****
The small dark eyes stared fixedly at the centre of the small table, the hollow gaze sending a chill through the already frigid air.

A skull sat in pride of place, the brightly lit pedestal rotating as its menacing stare slowly moved through all corners of the compass.

‘And here we have it my dear, such a lovely specimen, the ridges and brow lines are astounding. Many of the others we found collapsed into dust the moment we pulled them from the earth.

‘I have seen the way they endeavoured to preserve their dead and it is clever if a little archaic. Nothing like we have, but it shows a clear love of preserving beauty.

‘And as you have seen they applied that to the entire world around us, cities and park lands all pristine. This world has but two main land masses and is more than ninety percent covered in water but it was in a lovely condition when we found it, the last owners were wonderfully careful with things.

‘Although I have to admit my curiosity has been peaked at what drove them to extinction, these Homo sapiens were certainly a clever lot, it’s a shame really, they would have made such wonderful neighbours.’

His partner came up beside him, scaled skin cool against his lover’s neck.

‘They certainly would have been my love, certainly would have been.’

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #1, Stephen Kozeniewski

The Thing Under the Bed by Stephen Kozeniewski
Location: London
Item: Gasoline
Creature Origin: A Child’s bedroom

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

THE THING UNDER THE BED

by Stephen Kozeniewski

 

“I’m going to eat you and your whole family.”

The girl didn’t say a word.

“I know you hear me up there,” The Thing Under the Bed said, “You can pretend to ignore me but I’m still going to devour you.”

An involuntary gasp escaped from the girl’s throat.  She clapped both of her hands over her big fat mouth, but it was already too late.  The monster chuckled.

“I knew you were awake.  I’ll tell you what: I’ll make you a deal.  If you come down here by choice, I’ll kill you before I eat you.  Then you don’t have to feel anything.  How does that sound?”

She clenched Captain Bundrick under her armpit.  She had taken the poor rabbit’s head off twice before by squeezing him in just that manner, and yet she didn’t care now.  Mum would grumble, but she would take him into the sewing nook for doll surgery as she always did.  That is, assuming Mum or anyone else would be left alive in the morning.

The blanket began to shift, slowly, inexorably being tugged downwards.  Obviously The Thing Under the Bed had caught hold of a corner and was pulling, but gently.  The goal was to scare her, not to catch her.  Nevertheless, she scrambled out from under the covers and planted her bottom on her pillow.

The Thing chuckled again.

“Look, it’s the best thing for you just to give in.  What’s your plan anyway?  What’ve you got up there?  A pillow?  And that desiccated old bunny?”

“My Da’ll be home soon enough,” she spouted defiantly.

“Tha’s a nice voice you’ve got.  Very pretty.  I think your vocal cords shall be very tasty.”

“Well, you’re just a big bully.  If you’re so tough, whyn’t you come up here, then?”

So she had finally shut The Thing up.  She grinned over her little victory.

“I’m afraid it doesn’t quite work like that, little pet.  No, you have to come down here.  And you will.  Soon enough.  Along with your Da and your Mum and everybody else.”

She hung her head, trying desperately not to let a mournful tear strike her mattress.  To distract herself, she turned and looked out of the window.  Big Ben seemed to be wearing the moon as a halo.  She had not learned Roman numerals and she still struggled with reading an analog clock, but after a moment’s counting she saw that it was three…something.  Sometime after three in the morning.  Her father would be home from his shift any moment now.

“Why not call out to your Mum?” The Thing whispered in the darkness, “I’ll bet she’d be delicious.  I mean…a big help to you.”

The girl couldn’t tell whether the monster was teasing or not, but the sounds of her Mum’s piggish snoring from the next room betrayed that she had spent another night deep in her bottles.  The girl might call and call for hours but never wake her mother.

She rubbed her forearms.  Without the blanket she was getting cold, but she feared being sucked down into the writhing darkness underneath the bed if The Thing decided to start tugging on the sheets again.

“Why don’t you just be quiet?”

A wave of laughter from beneath the bed splashed the girl’s face like cold water.

“Oh, Mum!” The Thing called out, “Mummykins!  Mother dearest!”

With each word The Thing’s slimy, spectral voice grew louder and louder.

“Quiet!  Quiet!” the girl cried, her heart now beating solidly in her throat.

“It doesn’t matter!  She can’t hear!  She’s soused.  It’s just you and me, my darling.  Now come down here and cuddle.”

At that moment the telltale noise of the door of the flat opening filled the air and a wave of relief washed over her.

“Da!  Da!”

She dared a peek over the side of the bed.

“Not so eager to yell now, are you?”

The Thing held its peace.

“Da!  Da!”

“Oi, what is it?” her father’s voice replied from the foyer.

“Come quick, Da!”

She leaned far out over the side of the bed.  The writhing tentacles of darkness that seemed to slither out from under the bed, forever on the periphery of her vision, had disappeared.  And from the monster, not a peep.

Her father appeared at her doorway, a silhouette in the moonlight.  He flipped the switch and light filled her room, making her blink in surprise.  Finally illuminated, she could see his kind face, smiling eyes, and cracked lips.

“What’s all the racket then, little bit?”

All at once she felt foolish.

“There’s a…there’s something under the bed.”

His right eyebrow shot up, nearly rocketing through the roof.

“What kind of a something?  A shoe?  A ball?”

“No, Da.  A…a monster.”

He smiled deftly, his toothy grin suddenly overtaking the rest of his face.

“Oh, is that all?  Let me run out and get me sawed-off then.”

He turned to leave.

“No, Da!  Da!  Don’t go!  There’s really something under there!”

Her father nodded and went to his knees before her bed, as though he were praying, the same way she did every night.

“Let’s see what’s under here.”

Her father lifted the dangling blanket and stuck his head under the bed.

“Ohhh, I don’t see anything,” her father’s muffled voice reported back, “No, wait.  What’s this?”

Suddenly a sound like a whirring blender filled the room.  She stared down at her father’s kneeling form.  His leg began to twitch.

“Da?”

In an instant his twitching leg turned into a kicking leg, like a grasshopper’s.  Then his whole body began to writhe and shake.  The whirring grew louder and louder and then in the space of a split-second his entire body was sucked under the bed, only his screams and the strange buzz of the devouring monster filling the air.  A plume of blood exploded out from under the bed an instant later, spraying the floor, her Sunday shoes, and the wall.

The girl began to scream.  She began to scream loudly, not caring what the neighbors would think.  Not caring what her Mum would think, if it broke through her drunken torpor at all.  She screamed and screamed for all she was worth at the horrible, bloody demise of her father.

“Enough of that.”

The voice caught her off guard.  It didn’t belong to the monster.  It was far too refined.  And somehow it sounded…smaller.

She glanced down at Captain Bundrick, the stuffed rabbit.  The captain was standing of his own volition and staring at her.  His button eyes didn’t blink, but otherwise he seemed fully alive.

“Cap’n…how are you…?”

“Never mind,” the stuffed rabbit said, “Perhaps you’ve gone mad.  But that’s not what’s important now.  What’s important is that The Thing Under the Bed doesn’t escape.”

“Don’t listen to him,” the monster intoned, “He’s clearly a delusion.”

“If you toss me through the doorway,” Bundrick continued, pointing, “I know where your father keeps the gasoline and matches.  You and your mother won’t survive.  But most of the people in this building will have time to escape.  And more importantly that thing will burn up, too.”

“I’ll make you a counter-proposal,” The Thing said, “If you come down here of your own choice, I’ll leave your Mum alone.”

“There’s no good decision,” Bundrick said, “But there is one correct decision.”

She grabbed the stuffed rabbit and tossed him with all her might through the doorway.  A moment later, the smell of gasoline filled the air.

The next day, the Evening Standard reported a wholly different explanation for the fire.

 

 

THE END

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Meet Writer Pembroke Sinclair, #104

Jessica Robinson 2 BWOur featured author this week is Pembroke Sinclair. She is an author who enjoys writing zombie fiction and likes creating fantastic worlds and memorable characters. She is also a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and is on a committee to create membership criteria for iPAL, which is a sister group to the Published Authors Liaison group and focuses on independent and self-published authors.

This week, Pembroke Sinclair shares with us her story, “Silver Plantation”. It is the story of a man who feels he was wronged by the woman he loved, so he takes her and her new boyfriend to his plantation house to kill them.

So, let’s get to know Pembroke.

HA: What is your most recent work for sale and what is it about?

Pembroke: My most recent work, although it’s not for sale yet, is a nonfiction book about zombies called Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies. Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, it examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears.

HA: What was the spookiest night of your life?

Pembroke: I used to date this guy who lived in a basement apartment. I always had horrific nightmares when I stayed there, and the upstairs neighbors had told us stories about a ghost that haunted the place. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a large shadowy figure right outside the doorway. I closed my eyes and told myself it wasn’t there, and when I opened them again, it was crouching next to the bed right in front of me.

YIKES!

The-Appeal-of-Evil-HRHA: How do you create stories and what is in your writers tool kit?

Pembroke: I use both pen/paper and a computer. It all depends on where I’m at and what is available. I don’t really have a writer’s tool kit. With a family and a full-time job, I squeeze writing in wherever, whenever I can!

HA: Who is one person you’d like to meet, living or dead?

Pembroke: Only one? There are so many people I would like to meet. At the moment, I would have to say it would be George Romero. I think an interview with him would be awesome for my nonfiction book.

HA: What is your favorite horror flick?

Pembroke: Aliens

HA: If you were to battle a hoard of zombies, who would be your dream team fighting next to you?

Pembroke: Robocop, some Terminators, the Predator, Ripley, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We would totally kick some zombie ass!

HA: Where can Horror Addicts chat with you?

Pembroke: Facebook, and I’m on there under Jessica Robinson/Pembroke Sinclair.

Thank you, Pembroke for the chance to check out your work. Listen to her story on #104 of HorrorAddicts.net and to find out more about her, go to: pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com

Meet Writer Jay Hartlove, #103

Hartlove HeadFor HorrorAddicts.net, #103, we have author of the Isis Rising Trilogy, Jay Hartlove. I met Jay at BayCon (a Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Convention) a few years ago. Last season he was on the show as part of our “Answer Five Fast” author quiz. For #103, he’s bringing us a short story called, “A Day with Daddy.” It is a Twilight Zone style story about the power of familial love.

Let’s find out a little more about him.

HA: What is your most recent work for sale and what is it about?

Jay: Daughter Cell is the second book in the Isis Rising trilogy. It continues the adventures of our detective Sanantha Mauwad, the Voodoo psychiatrist from The Chosen. This story starts out as a medical thriller but quickly turns into a very dark exploration of the soul and the nature of evil. I am now writing the third book in the series, Isis Rising. Desiree Macklin, the survivor of the cloning disaster in Daughter Cell comes into her own destiny opposing pure evil. Love my evil. Love my souls. Love my strong female protagonists.

HA: What was the spookiest night of your life?

Jay: Spooky would have to go back to night when I scared the hell out of myself with dark imaginings as a child. Let me tell you about creepy and awesome much more recently. A few years ago I was driving home late at night from the Benicia Clocktower where I was in charge of decorating for a huge fantasy ball. The wind was blowing off the bay so hard it actually howled. There was a full moon with clouds racing in front of it. I was exhausted, fighting to keep my car on the road. My head was already filled with fantastical visions from the work I was doing. So I turned on the radio to keep company, and what comes on? Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” I cranked it up and let the moment overtake me. Living the dream..

HA: How do you create stories and what is in your writers tool kit?

Jay: I prefer the computer for its word processing. If I can’t get to one I use my smart phone to make notes. If I have time and no computer, then I use paper. I found myself in a hotel room with a couple hours to kill recently and I grabbed a legal pad and ripped out another chapter of Isis Rising. I wrote my first novel (an embarrassingly autobiographical sword and sandal fantasy that will never see the light of day) entirely in spiral bound notebooks. Of course that was so long ago I did not have a computer. Once I was done, I went and got a computer and used it to edit the book. The experience of seeing it the second time strictly as an editor was very enlightening.

Daughter CellI do a lot of research for my writing. The Isis Rising Trilogy is a secret history, with the events of the story inserted into real world events between 2001 and 2009. So I do lots of reseach to get it right. I also draw on many religions and history in my writing, and that needs research too. So when you talk about a writer’s toolbox, for me it’s more about resources than equipment.

I am inspired by music. When I can find the right song that feeds my conception of a story, then that touchstone keeps me going. For The Chosen the song was “The Who’s Behind Blue Eyes.” For Daughter Cell it was The Scorpions’ “Loving You.” For the mermaid romance I am writing as an online serial, Mermaid Steel, the song is The Plain White T’s “Rhythm of Love.”

HA: What era do you feel most at home in?

Jay: I wouldn’t want to live in any other era, if only because of the medical and communications technology we have now. When I am playing on paper, I love going places where people feel and react based on what makes sense for them where they are. I have a lot of fun in ancient Egypt, mountainous Haiti, and jungled Malaysia in the Sanantha books. I have a Jules Verne project I love to toy with, so I get the appeal of Steampunk. And I am having all kinds of fun in my mythical mermaid village.

HA: Who is one person you’d like to meet, living or dead, and why?

Jay: Michael Crichton. His courage to combine genres and break whatever molds he needed to tell the the stories he wanted to tell has been an inspiration to me my whole writing career. I consider it the highest praise I could get when a critic said my work reminded him of Crichton.

HA: What is your favorite horror flick?

Jay: Pumpkinhead. About as dark and personal a fairy tale as can be told. And it introduced me to Lance Henrickson.

HA: If you were to battle a hoard of zombies, who would be your dream team fighting next to you?

Jay: Ernst Blofeld, Anton Phibes, Erik Lehnsherr (aka Max Eisenhardt), Darth Vader, and throw in Megatron for good measure. Supervillains know how to get the job done.

HA: What is the most horrifying costume experience you’ve ever had?Reading pic

Jay: I had myself sealed up in a mummy suit for a couple of hours for a stage presentation. There was no ventilation, and the temperature continued to rise the whole time. The presentation was a huge success, but by the time my roadies cut it open, a cloud of steam hit them. Me steam. I was delirious but thankfully not permanently harmed.

HA: Where can readers/listeners chat with you?

Jay: I hang out a lot on Facebook. I’ve got pages for all my current projects up there. Jayhartlove, Chosenthebook, Mermaidsteel, Snowwhiteplay. And I’m on Twitter @jayhartlove.


To find out more about Jay, visit his blog at: jayhartlove.wordpress.com. And to find out about The Isis Rising Trilogy, check out jaywrites.com where he has posted the research that went into the books in a series of essays that are under Tarot cards you flip over. Lots of interactive fun there. Don’t miss his reading of “A Day with Daddy” coming in episode #103.

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY: Ladyaslan

Gothix

by Ladyaslan

“It was only a tree struck by lightning”, she said. The shadows seemed to come after us as they grew from the walls and crawled to the ceiling…watching us, like moonlight over a silent loch, we heard only a low moan from the wind, like the moan of a veiled Italian gypsy casting a magic charm against a perverse icy cold apparition.

We spoke of science and things of the ordinary at first and then the storm became worse. “Lightening is the fundamental energy of the universe”, Jacques spoke of it naked on the top of the castle in the rainfall. The winded rain made my face sodden and my white chiffon dress translucent.

A slow and soundless undead monster came alive that night and it came closer to us, as we all made out in the parlor. The moaning wind consumed us; which is why we started our erotic orgy that dark wet night. We shut the windows tight and chanted protection spells to be freed from its horrible cursed spell in-between our free love sessions. The ghastly specter moved towards us and we were frozen in fear…maggots and leaches were everywhere; all over the apples and cherries and maggots were swimming in the Absinthe, as the ghost moved away from us, I was unable to move or shut my eyes, I felt moved in ways I should not have. Jacques was enthralled with the visions and dreams, he spoke erratically and passionately of them. The others in the room were consumed with empting the bottles of Opium and Absinthe.

The Opium and Absinthe had kicked in and I was ready for a cold bath. I needed to be set straight once again…the hallucinations were strange and unbarring at times. The madness was that; the specter, it had two bloody pricks and they had eyes…the ghost had gone, but the imagined remained.

Wolfs howling in the distance echoed with the wind and danced in our ears for what seemed like a thousand and one years. I stood atop the loft and watched the madness below, like a hatter at his own card game. “Sleep” I was told by a haunting voice, but sleep I could not, for I kept imaging a wee imp on my chest with his mutilated hands upon my neck and he seemed to play hide -n-seek with the lightening crashes in the darkest shadows of the room.

“Lenore, can you feel it?” she asked me, as I lay right next to Amelia, Lord Blanca’s mistress and my half-sister. In her opium-induced coma, she grabbed my hand and placed it upon her stomach. Quickly I pulled away and had a vision of being buried alive and then my next vision was of love and irresistible beauty as blood dripped ever so slowly down my neck and in-between my breasts.

As the Lord sauntered into the other room he gazed down upon the wooden floor and saw a horse’s head, decapitated and bloodied then it turned into the screams of smothered children and then it turned into the head of his mistress. His past was coming to him…making him fear, fear. Absinthe had a way of doing that to a man’s soul.

I had lain in bed recovering from the opium-induced evening when I could feel his lips upon mine as he pulled my panties aside. Deeper he forced his tongue inside of me and the louder I moaned, inside deeper and deeper. Then he kissed me on the mouth and threw my hands up over my head and held me down as he penetrated me repeatedly. I never wanted Jacques to stop.

The room smelled of erotic pleasure and the Gods & Goddesses looked down upon us eager and lustful for more; as for Jacques and me, we were pleased for more. Vampires, ghosts, demons, and whatnot where are all around us watching and moaning for another round of foreplay. What had our distorted minds created that evening in the dark castle?

No one could escape from this English madhouse and the eerie laughter roamed the halls like a vacant breeze with no home. We could smell the damp evil that decided to plague us that dreadful stormy night. We were trapped like a dream in human form…what was left to see or do?

We all regrouped in the conservatory still light headed and slightly aroused, raise we heard a voice come through the wall and say: “Come to me and I will show you your futures…come look in my eyes.” As we all peered into its eyes, it said, “No, look into my eyes…” and as we all looked on it opened its trousers and there were two eyes staring back at us! “Don’t laugh at me” is all it repeated. However, since we switched to the Green Absinthe, that was all we could do, was laugh and run amuck through the Lord’s ancient castle.

The rain let up and the moon went to sleep. We all felt as if we were road hard and put away wet. “No ghosts can get you in the day-light,” Jacques said to me as we all cleaned up and readied ourselves for our homeward bound journey across the loch in our decedent little row boat. We realized we provoked something in our drugged out evening of debauchery.

Across the lawn we heard a thunderous bellow, the barn door swooped open and a decayed mass of blood and bones road away on a horse of fire…we must rid ourselves of our fear…we must rid ourselves of our fear…”the creature chanted those hallow words into the innocent dawn of morning. It just kept repeating its words as it road over the dewy moors into nowhere never to be seen again.

***********

FB PROFILE PUNK JACKETBy day, Anitra DeLorenzo is a mild mannered LMT/LME, graduated from Florida College of Natural Health and holds an Associate’s Degree in Science and Natural Health and additional certifications in the medical esthetician field. By night, she transforms into Ladyaslan-the author of Victorian Days and Punk Rock Nights. Her book has been in the Virgin Top 100 Indie Books list for the last two years. Ladyaslan is a poet and short story novelist. She also is co-host to The Asylum Internet Radio Show ft. Dark Delights by Ladyaslan; it’s an underground horror / music internet radio show with a live unscripted show platform.  Ladyaslan was poet of the year in 2006 and 2007 and holds a Certificate of Accomplishment for Honors in poetic writing by Noble House out of the U.K. She is published in many compendiums including the most recent Poisoned Lullabies( 2010 ) by Kim Acrylic and In The Midnight Hour-An Anthology of Horror Poetry ( 2012 ) and Into The Night ( 2013 )-by Dark Night Publishing. Ladyaslan can be found in the Halloween 2013 edition of Fangoria magazine and Gothic Beauty magazine in regards to her books and most recently in 2014 Ladyaslan’s writings and radio show has been featured in Gorgeous Freaks Magazine out of Costa Rica and Diabolique Magazine. Ladyaslan is a huge music enthusiast and loves 70’s and 80’s Punk and Goth music, but not limited to, other genres. Ladyaslan likes long walks on the beach at midnight and watching candle flames dance in-between the realms. Ladyaslan is currently working on her second book of poetry and short stories; Lipstick and Absinthe, expected release is late-2014. Check out her Facebook Page.

 

3 days left to enter! Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

The 4th Annual Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

This is the 4th annual Masters of Macabre story contest, sponsored by the nightmarish terrors residing over at HorrorAddicts.net. This is the chance for all the gentlemen to show the Wicked Women Writers that we can chill your bones and strike naked fear into the deepest crevices of your psyche just as well as any Great Old One you might find on your next expedition to the dark places of the earth…

What is the Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge?

This is a challenge to all male horror writers, both published and unpublished, to showcase their prose as well as to produce a reading to be aired in podcast form for all of our listening pleasure. Your story (in both text and audio form) will be judged and voted upon by the fans to determine the 2014 Master of the Macabre. Each podcast story must be crafted by the entrant and will be limited to ten (10) minutes.

This year we’ll be having a finalist round where only the very best audio stories will be competing in the final voting round, so make sure your words are as sharp as your claws and saddle up!

2014 Theme: CREATURE FEATURE

Premise: From the rubber costumes of the 20’s to lumbering shuggoths of H.P.Lovecraft to the CG terrors that grace the modern-day silver screen, monsters have always been an integral component to striking horror into our hearts. Whether it’s an alien behemoth from the sky, an otherworldly demon, or a simple mutant pet, it’s time to summon some dark, inhuman creature to menace society.

Challenge: Create a brand new written story and from that story create a 10 minute horror podcast that contains four story elements (below). Register to compete by May 20th, 2014. Audio and text are due on June 20th, 2014

Story Elements: Each participant will be randomly assigned the following three story elements. Your story needs to include each of the following:

1. Location: Where will the story take place? Will your creature attack in a shopping mall? An airplane? Perhaps the havoc will begin in the Gobi desert? The globe is our playground and the black crystal ball will let you know where the monster shall attack.

2. Item:  A simple item will be assigned to you, and it must appear somewhere in your story. Whether it will help or hinder you (and/or your characters) is up to you, but the item shall be gifted to you so you gotta use it. Magic amulets, toilet plungers, dirty wigs, or animal corpses might find it’s way to your inventory, so be hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

3. Creature’s Origin: Where will the nightmare stem from? Will the creature spawn in the dankest city sewers or will it be awoken from the depths of an abandoned copper mine? Will it live in an abandoned church or will it be found living in the hold of a tanker? You must craft the creature, but the dark lords we answer to will choose WHERE it was born.

Dates to Remember:

Registration opens – April 20th, 2014

Registration closes – May 20th, 2014

Complete story and audio due – June 20th, 2014

Elimination round down to the top 5 – July 1st, 2014

Stories air and voting begins – August 9th, 2014

Last day to vote – September 9th, 2014

Crowning the Master of Macabre – October 3rd, 2014

How to register: If you are up to the challenge, email your name, headshot, and a short (under 50 word) bio to: horroraddicts@gmail.com. Within a few days you’ll receive the complete set of rules as well as your assigned story elements. The sooner you respond, the more time you’ll have to craft your story and produce your podcast!

Questions? Then email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com. No questions and ready to create something terrifying? Email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

Good luck, and may dreadful winged things rend the flesh from your enemies of writing.

Dreadfully yours,

Rick Kitagawa

2013 Master of Macabre

REMINDER! 4th Annual Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

The 4th Annual Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

This is the 4th annual Masters of Macabre story contest, sponsored by the nightmarish terrors residing over at HorrorAddicts.net. This is the chance for all the gentlemen to show the Wicked Women Writers that we can chill your bones and strike naked fear into the deepest crevices of your psyche just as well as any Great Old One you might find on your next expedition to the dark places of the earth…

What is the Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge?

This is a challenge to all male horror writers, both published and unpublished, to showcase their prose as well as to produce a reading to be aired in podcast form for all of our listening pleasure. Your story (in both text and audio form) will be judged and voted upon by the fans to determine the 2014 Master of the Macabre. Each podcast story must be crafted by the entrant and will be limited to ten (10) minutes.

This year we’ll be having a finalist round where only the very best audio stories will be competing in the final voting round, so make sure your words are as sharp as your claws and saddle up!

2014 Theme: CREATURE FEATURE

Premise: From the rubber costumes of the 20’s to lumbering shuggoths of H.P.Lovecraft to the CG terrors that grace the modern-day silver screen, monsters have always been an integral component to striking horror into our hearts. Whether it’s an alien behemoth from the sky, an otherworldly demon, or a simple mutant pet, it’s time to summon some dark, inhuman creature to menace society.

Challenge: Create a brand new written story and from that story create a 10 minute horror podcast that contains four story elements (below). Register to compete by May 20th, 2014. Audio and text are due on June 20th, 2014

Story Elements: Each participant will be randomly assigned the following three story elements. Your story needs to include each of the following:

1. Location: Where will the story take place? Will your creature attack in a shopping mall? An airplane? Perhaps the havoc will begin in the Gobi desert? The globe is our playground and the black crystal ball will let you know where the monster shall attack.

2. Item:  A simple item will be assigned to you, and it must appear somewhere in your story. Whether it will help or hinder you (and/or your characters) is up to you, but the item shall be gifted to you so you gotta use it. Magic amulets, toilet plungers, dirty wigs, or animal corpses might find it’s way to your inventory, so be hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

3. Creature’s Origin: Where will the nightmare stem from? Will the creature spawn in the dankest city sewers or will it be awoken from the depths of an abandoned copper mine? Will it live in an abandoned church or will it be found living in the hold of a tanker? You must craft the creature, but the dark lords we answer to will choose WHERE it was born.

Dates to Remember:

Registration opens – April 20th, 2014

Registration closes – May 20th, 2014

Complete story and audio due – June 20th, 2014

Elimination round down to the top 5 – July 1st, 2014

Stories air and voting begins – August 9th, 2014

Last day to vote – September 9th, 2014

Crowning the Master of Macabre – October 3rd, 2014

How to register: If you are up to the challenge, email your name, headshot, and a short (under 50 word) bio to: horroraddicts@gmail.com. Within a few days you’ll receive the complete set of rules as well as your assigned story elements. The sooner you respond, the more time you’ll have to craft your story and produce your podcast!

Questions? Then email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com. No questions and ready to create something terrifying? Email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

Good luck, and may dreadful winged things rend the flesh from your enemies of writing.

Dreadfully yours,

Rick Kitagawa

2013 Master of Macabre

4th Annual Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

The 4th Annual Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge

This is the 4th annual Masters of Macabre story contest, sponsored by the nightmarish terrors residing over at HorrorAddicts.net. This is the chance for all the gentlemen to show the Wicked Women Writers that we can chill your bones and strike naked fear into the deepest crevices of your psyche just as well as any Great Old One you might find on your next expedition to the dark places of the earth…

What is the Masters of Macabre Writing Challenge?

This is a challenge to all male horror writers, both published and unpublished, to showcase their prose as well as to produce a reading to be aired in podcast form for all of our listening pleasure. Your story (in both text and audio form) will be judged and voted upon by the fans to determine the 2014 Master of the Macabre. Each podcast story must be crafted by the entrant and will be limited to ten (10) minutes.

This year we’ll be having a finalist round where only the very best audio stories will be competing in the final voting round, so make sure your words are as sharp as your claws and saddle up!

2014 Theme: CREATURE FEATURE

Premise: From the rubber costumes of the 20’s to lumbering shuggoths of H.P.Lovecraft to the CG terrors that grace the modern-day silver screen, monsters have always been an integral component to striking horror into our hearts. Whether it’s an alien behemoth from the sky, an otherworldly demon, or a simple mutant pet, it’s time to summon some dark, inhuman creature to menace society.

Challenge: Create a brand new written story and from that story create a 10 minute horror podcast that contains four story elements (below). Register to compete by May 20th, 2014. Audio and text are due on June 20th, 2014

Story Elements: Each participant will be randomly assigned the following three story elements. Your story needs to include each of the following:

1. Location: Where will the story take place? Will your creature attack in a shopping mall? An airplane? Perhaps the havoc will begin in the Gobi desert? The globe is our playground and the black crystal ball will let you know where the monster shall attack.

2. Item:  A simple item will be assigned to you, and it must appear somewhere in your story. Whether it will help or hinder you (and/or your characters) is up to you, but the item shall be gifted to you so you gotta use it. Magic amulets, toilet plungers, dirty wigs, or animal corpses might find it’s way to your inventory, so be hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

3. Creature’s Origin: Where will the nightmare stem from? Will the creature spawn in the dankest city sewers or will it be awoken from the depths of an abandoned copper mine? Will it live in an abandoned church or will it be found living in the hold of a tanker? You must craft the creature, but the dark lords we answer to will choose WHERE it was born.

Dates to Remember:

Registration opens – April 20th, 2014

Registration closes – May 20th, 2014

Complete story and audio due – June 20th, 2014

Elimination round down to the top 5 – July 1st, 2014

Stories air and voting begins – August 9th, 2014

Last day to vote – September 9th, 2014

Crowning the Master of Macabre – October 3rd, 2014

How to register: If you are up to the challenge, email your name, headshot, and a short (under 50 word) bio to: horroraddicts@gmail.com. Within a few days you’ll receive the complete set of rules as well as your assigned story elements. The sooner you respond, the more time you’ll have to craft your story and produce your podcast!

Questions? Then email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com. No questions and ready to create something terrifying? Email us at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

Good luck, and may dreadful winged things rend the flesh from your enemies of writing.

Dreadfully yours,

Rick Kitagawa

2013 Master of Macabre

Bizarre Deaths: Dan Andersson

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman

Dan Andersson

Dan Andersson

 (April 6th 1888 – September 16th 1920)

Notable works: The Charcoal-Burner’s Tales, The Charcoal-Burner’s Songs, Three Homeless Ones

Dan Andersson was a Swedish author, poet and composer, who became a cult figure in his native Sweden posthumously. Regarded as one of Sweden’s greatest ever poets, his themes of naturalist mysticism and searching for God continue to resonate with his readers to this day.

Andersson’s memory has been commemorated with two stamps in his honour, a museum in his hometown of Ludrika, in addition to a Dan Andersson week, celebrated in the first week of every August.  There is also a bust of the iconic poet in the country’s capital, Gothenburg.

The thirty-two year old Andersson met his premature demise when he went to Stockholm in September 1920 to try and secure a job at the newspaper Social-Demokraten.  On arrival at the hotel he was due to stay in, the Hotel Hellman, the receptionist failed to inform him that his room had just been treated with hydrogen cyanide, in an effort to eradicate an infestation of bed bugs.  At three pm on September 16th 1920 Andersson was found dead in his room.

 

**********

Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to: www.guyportman.com

Bizarre Deaths: Percy Shelley

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman

Percy Shelley 

Shelley

(August 4th 1792 – July 8th 1822)

Notable works: Ozymandrias, Music, The Cloud, Queen Mab

The husband of Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley was an English Romantic poet.  Shelley did not achieve fame during his short lifetime, in part because publishers were reluctant to publish his work, due to his radical political and social views.  Today he is regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets of the English language.

The talented poet met his premature end when he drowned in a storm while sailing off the coast of Italy.  There has been much speculation over the exact cause of his death, with theories ranging from murder to suicide.

Events were to take a bizarre turn when Shelley’s washed-up body was cremated on the beach.  The poet’s heart refused to burn, probably due to a heart condition that had caused it to calcify.  Edward Trelawny, a friend of the deceased, removed the heart from the fire and gave it to Mary Shelley.  What happened next is much debated, with some claiming that the poet’s wife kept the crumbling remains in her desk.  The heart was later buried alongside her son, Percy Florence.

 

**********

Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to: www.guyportman.com

Bizarre Deaths: Dante Alighieri

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman

 

Dante Alighieri

Dante

 (May/June c. 1265 – September 9th 1321)

Notable works: The Divine Comedy, Convivio, The Vita Nuova.

Florence born Dante’s defining work, The Divine Comedy, is widely regarded to this day, as the greatest piece of literature ever composed in Italian.  The description of Dante’s fictional journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso), was to prove an important milestone in the development of Italian as an established literary language.

Italy’s sommo poeta (supreme poet) is remembered not only for his remarkable achievements, but also for the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.  Dante died of malaria in Ravenna in 1321, which was not unusual in itself during this era.  However posthumous events took a bizarre turn when Florence, the city of Dante’s birth, demanded the return of their famous son.

Church officials in Ravenna secretly hid Dante’s body in a wall to prevent it from being stolen and returned to Florence.  It lay forgotten until being unearthed during church renovations in 1863, when it was discovered that parts of the body had been taken at the time of the burial.  In 1878 a repentant former town clerk, Pasquale Miccoli, returned a box of bones he had stolen.

**********

Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to: www.guyportman.com

Bizarre Deaths: Edgar Allan Poe

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

(January 19th 1809 – October 7th 1849) 

Notable works: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, Tamerlan and Other Poems

Poe was an author, poet, editor and literary critic, whose tales of mystery and the macabre are still widely read to this day.  One of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, Poe is also widely considered as being the inventor of the detective fiction genre.  Evidence of the writer’s enduring popularity is the fact that an original copy of Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems sold at Christie’s in New York for $662,500, a record price for a work of American literature.

The bizarre events surrounding Poe’s death were as mysterious as the nature of his writing.  On October 3rd 1849 Mr. Joseph Walker found Poe wandering the streets of Baltimore in a delirious state.  The writer was taken to hospital, but was unable to give an accurate account of what had occurred before his demise four days later.

There has been much speculation surrounding Poe’s sudden deterioration and death.  Due to the fact that he was found wearing someone else’s clothes it has been argued that he was the victim of cooping, a practice in which citizens were attacked, absconded, plied with alcohol and forced to vote for a political candidate.  His sudden deterioration and demise has also been attributed to alcoholism, TB, epilepsy, diabetes and even rabies.

**********

Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to: www.guyportman.com

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop – CLOSES TODAY!

CLOSES TODAY!

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline: 
December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 9 in 2014.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. If you are a minor, you will be entered in the junior league workshop. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, must include the first chapter.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either PDF or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop – Closes in 2 Days!

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline: 
December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 9 in 2014.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. If you are a minor, you will be entered in the junior league workshop. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, must include the first chapter.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either PDF or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop – Closes in 2 weeks!

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline: 
December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 9 in 2014.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. If you are a minor, you will be entered in the junior league workshop. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, must include the first chapter.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either PDF or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop – Closes in 31 days!

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline: 
December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 9 in 2014.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. If you are a minor, you will be entered in the junior league workshop. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, must include the first chapter.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either PDF or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline: 
December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 9 in 2014.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. If you are a minor, you will be entered in the junior league workshop. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2013, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, must include the first chapter.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either PDF or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Meet Emz at the Sonoma County Book Festival

Free Admission!

The 12th annual Sonoma County Book Festival, the oldest general interest book festival in Northern California, features a full day of literature, poetry and entertainment for the entire family.

Come meet Emerian Rich


at Sonoma County Book Festival
in Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa Downtown Courthouse Square and Central Library
this Saturday
September 24
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Emerian will be reading at Redwood Writers Village at 11 a.m. during the Broad Universe: Rapid Fire Readings. She will also be seated at a table during the rest of the festival, so come up, say hello, and check out the freebies she has with her.

Also in attendance will be this year’s Wicked Women Writer Winner, Laurel Anne Hill.