Guest Blog: Six of My Favorite Ghost Stories by John C. Adams

Six of My Favourite Ghost Stories

 As an author and critic of horror fiction, there’s nothing I love more than a good ghost story. I’ve picked six of my all-time favourites to share in this article. Will yours be among them?

 1. At Chrighton Abbey by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – My first choice is a very traditional tale. In the run-up to Christmas, Sarah (a poor relation to the wealthy family who lives at the abbey) returns home from long-term employment abroad as a governess and pays her cousins a visit. She reconnects with her English identity in the best way possible: by fancying that her ancient room is haunted. She dismisses the notion as irrational and foolish and beneath a sensible woman of her age and temperament only to become sucked into her cousin’s concerns about her son, the heir to the abbey. The Chrightons are a cursed family and every hundred years or so something awful happens when a ghostly pack of hounds appears.

 2. The Phantom Coach by Amelia B Edwards – My second choice is a variation on the typical ghost story, in that it doesn’t feature a haunted house or castle, although the isolated farmhouse where the narrator takes shelter from a terrible storm has plenty of oddity about it and his host is decidedly unfriendly. Instead, it is a vehicle in which the narrator takes refuge from the heavy snowfall that conveys ghostly passengers along a neglected and dangerous country road in the dead of night. Although this tale is unusual in focusing upon a mode of transport, it sticks true to the other traditions of the ghost story: the wintry season, the isolated house, the lone narrator who starts the tale by reassuring us of his survival. It’s all here!

 3. The Kit Bag by Algernon Blackwood – No one tells a ghost story quite like Algernon Blackwood, and he always stamps his own identity upon the tale. I used to be a lawyer before I became a writer, so I like that this story revolves around a barrister who works hard to secure the release of a vicious murderer on the grounds of his insanity. By the end of the trial, his private secretary is so traumatized that he needs a holiday to recuperate. It’s winter, of course, so he’s going to the Alps and asks to borrow a stout canvas kit bag for his ski clothes. This story respects the many traditions of the ghost story, but again here it is an object (the kit bag, of course) where the ghostly spirit resides.

 4. The Cicerones by Robert Aickman – ghost stories are such a peculiarly English phenomenon, but just to be perverse some of the best are set abroad. John Trant visits the Cathedral of St Bavon, in Belgium, only half an hour before it will shut for lunch. The guides, or cicerones, who show him the cathedral’s ominous masterpieces are children. Despite the impending deadline, they don’t seem in any hurry to see him leave. I like the way that this story builds up the drama gradually using the artifacts and pictures to give a vivid sense of impending dread and mystery.

 5. The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert – I’m going to include a full-length ghost story. Like a lot of James Herbert’s later works, it’s really quite long. It takes considerable skill to keep the tension of a ghost story going over a complete novel, and it’s not an accident that almost all ghost tales are either short stories or novellas. However, you’re in safe hands with James Herbert.

 6. The Haunted Dolls’ House by M R James – no list of favourite ghost stories is complete without one from the master of the subgenre. I’ve chosen this story, against some pretty stiff company, because I love the novelty of the haunted house being a child’s dolls’ house, rather than a whole family home itself featuring a ghost. It’s quite a postmodern story, in that the narrator is an observer of events from outside, which we in turn them see through his eyes. Of all the ghost stories I know, this one is probably the most original while at the same time being intensely traditional. M R James is such a genius for ghostly tales.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

John C Adams is a nonbinary author and critic of horror and fantasy fiction, reviewing for Horror Tree, British Fantasy Society, and Schlock! Webzine. They’ve had short fiction, reviews, and articles published in many anthologies from independent presses, on the HorrorAddicts.net blog site and in various magazines including the Horror Zine, Sirens Call Magazine, Lovecraftiana Magazine, Devolution Z Magazine, and Blood Moon Rising Magazine.

 They have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and were longlisted for the Aeon Award twice. John’s latest horror novel ‘Blackacre Rising’ is available to preorder now on Amazon and Smashwords.

LINK TO WEBSITE: http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Lords of October – Best Band of 2019

 

Greetings HorrorAddicts! This year has already been chock-a-block full of great music, but today we’re going to revisit a highlight from 2019. The Lords of October were the reigning champs in the HorrorAddicts.net Best Band competition from Season 13 and we have a quick interview with them to catch you up on all the latest news. 

How has winning Best Band of HorrorAddicts.net Season 13 changed your life? At the very least, how does this impact you as a band?

We are terrified by and excited for this news! It’s an honor to be recognized for this and to be held in regard by Horror Addicts.net. We feel as though we are on the right track with such a vote and we look forward to making more monster music that will be —hopefully—loved by those who are our brothers and sisters in horror! This, in our opinion, gives us further horror cred and is exactly the type of award we would strive for. We thank you all! -Uncle Salem

What’s your latest news? Any new adventures? When can fans expect new material?-

The latest music is going on a record inspired by tales of cryptozoology. You know, like hidden creatures and wild mythos and stuff. We have some tunes that are inspired by the Mothman, Loch Ness, the Mongolian death worm and other such things. I have always loved monsters and consider myself a bit of a cryptozoologist, but I was truly inspired after attending the Mothman festival in West Virginia this past summer. It was a lot of fun, but also where the tragic deaths occurred. 

 We are always working hard at new ideas and music, always bringing new stuff to the table. For this new one, we are attempting a more collaborative songwriting effort. We shall have a little more of all of us in the entire creative process. So far, I have written 5 songs for it and Aleister has come up with a couple. We will mix and match and see what happens. 

 We will probably have it out around fall of 2020. It all depends on the daily goings-on of everyone and what we are able to do. We are always looking to play some great shows and make some new videos. Taking it all a day at a time!  -Lucifer Fulci

Best Horror Movie/TV Show/Book of 2019 in your humble opinion?

I saw It Chapter 2 this year and I thought it was fantastic. Best horror movie of the year in my opinion. The acting was great and Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise creeped me to the bone.  -October Phoenix

What title would you most like to earn/award you’d most like to win moving forward in your career?

Best KISSfits band ever. -Aleister Kane

Anything to add?

Lords of October is a hell of a great band and I love to play with these guys. There is a very eclectic influence that plays into some of the styles that you can hear in the music. I enjoy writing music and seeing how these guys interpret it and make it their own. I also like when they bring stuff to me and allow me to add something to it. I have been making music a long time-a lot on my very own – and I enjoy the solitude. (I will have a new solo record out in 2020, also- www.LuciferFulci.com) But to play with Lords, its very special. Like, literally and figuratively, I get to come out and play! 

-Lucifer Fulci

Congratulations to Lords of October and we can’t WAIT more creepily delicious music! 

That’s it for today. Stay Tuned for More Merrill’s Musical Musings…

 

 Gargoyles a Review :  Bernie Casey’s Unsung Role 

Gargoyles : A Review or Bernie Casey’s Unsung Role

by James Goodridge    

Premiering as a television movie the evening of November 24, 1972, on the CBS Network Thursday Night Movies series, Gargoyles was amazing in that a generation of preteens have fond memories of having the bejeezus scared out of them back then.

Considering the glaring budget constraints that showed in the production, it is considered a frightful oldie but goodie. Directed by B.W.L. Norton, written by Elinor and Stephen Karpf, music by Robert Prince and doing the best he can, costume designer Tom Dawson the story is set in the American southwest.

Anthropologist/paleontologist Dr. Mercer Boley (Cornel Wilde of the cinematically provocative Naked Prey 1966) and his daughter Diana played by Jennifer Salt (Who would years later in 2011 would be a producer/showrunner for American Horror Story) are invited to Willie’s Museum run by Uncle Willie played by Woodrow Chambliss, (If you stood at the intersection of TVland and Metv and threw a rock you would hit a TV Western he was in. You have seen him on a dozen shows and never knew his name.)

A young Scott Glenn appears as dirt biker James Reeger. Low and behold Grayson Hall of Dark Shadows has a part as Mrs. Parks the Motel owner always with a glass of something in her hand, Dark Shadows had ended the year before in 1971 on ABC. 

Then you have Bernie Casey. Uncle Willie is incinerated after an attack on his museum during which the Boleys escape with the bones of a fellow gargoyle that’s when we first glimpse them. Their purpose: every 500 years they appear on the earth’s surface to hatch gargoyle eggs.

I must say I can’t remember when I first saw this movie and confess never paid attention to the opening or closing credits but loved whoever the actor was who portrayed “The Gargoyle” so it was a shock for me to find out on IMDb, that it was Casey.

 Bernie Casey’s (6/8/39 – 9/19/17) initial fame was as a high hurdler during the U.S. Olympic trials in 1960. Then as a wide receiver for the NFL’s L.A. Rams and finally the San Francisco 49ers from the mid-’60s. 

Catching the acting bug over the years he appeared in Hit Man (1971), Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1975), The Martian Chronicles (NBC 1980), Spies Like Us (1982) and Deep Space Nine season two, guest-starring as Calvin Hudson in “The Maquis” part one and two episodes just to name a few.

The subplot about a Gargoyle with a thirst for knowledge of the surface world to me is along with that 70’s feel it has is a good grindhouse gem to watch.

While Mr. Casey didn’t have what one would call range as an actor I would give it to him in Gargoyles in that under Mr. Dawson’s make up work he was able to give the character life.

Black History Month : Interview with M. Lamar


Interview by Sumiko Saulson

M Lamar (born May 29, 1972) is a New York City-based composer, musician, performer, multimedia artist, and countertenor.[2] The New York Times describes his exhibit ‘Negrogothic’ as “a bracing alternative to the dispiriting traffic in blandly competent art clogging the New York gallery system these days, M. Lamar plumbs the depths of all-American trauma with visionary verve.”[3] Hilton Als wrote in The New Yorker of M. Lamar: “he deconstructs the persona of the diva even as he wraps himself in divalike hauteur.”[4]

Lamar was born in Mobile, Alabama, studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, attending Yale for graduate school in sculpture before dropping out to focus on music.[5] M. Lamar continues to train vocally with Ira Siff, founder and lead soprano of La Gran Scena Opera Company, who was also Klaus Nomi‘s trainer.[6]

Lamar is the twin brother of actress Laverne Cox;[7] in two episodes of the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, Lamar played his sister’s character prior to her transition.[8][9] Lamar participated in an open dialogue with authors bell hooks, Marci Blackman, and Samuel R. Delany called Transgressive Sexual Practice as part of hooks’ scholar-in-residence at the New School in October 2014.

tps://soundcloud.com/sumiko-saulson/interview-with-negrogothic-artist-m-lamar

About Afrogothic music, literature and culture for February Black History Horror Month, also we have a show (live music) on February 8 but there is a lot of conversation about Beloved, etc… it’s a really good interview. It’s 40 minutes long.

Interview with M. Lamar about the upcoming Vantablack show with Stagefright (my band), Protea and N-Retrograde. We talk about Afrogothic music and literature, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Gothic horror, American Gothic horror and its relationship to the African American community and slavery and the antebellum south. Losing Toni Morrison in 2019. “The Pieces that I Am” and Toni Morrison refusing white centering in literature. Black horror writers, Afropunk,

Whether or not we saw each other at Death Guild in the 90s and why I asked the club to change its logo. Galaxy Chamber and Omewenne and how Stagefright and Protea used to play with them in the 90s. What is Black Eldergoth? Europeans fetishizing Blackness and how that affects Black people in goth culture. My mother dating Gunther Ethan Palmer, son of Warhol Starlet Ivy Nicholson and Ciao! Manhattan director John Palmer. Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) finding out that his dad was African American and if he should be invited to the Picnic.

Race as a social construct, and what that means? Interracial Blackness, white passingness, our historical relationship to the trans-Atlantic trade route. My mother, Carolyn Saulson, Black Eldergoth and singer of Stagefright. Black centering during and outside of Black History Month.

M Lamar’s relationship to queerness, gender and his identical twin Laverne Cox (he acted as her preop in the series Orange is the New Black).

Loving Blackness and Political Race Theory. Who has the right to claim Blackness?

 

Paranormal/ Hauntings Month: The Old Charlseton Jail by Violet Tempest

 

Excerpt from: Legends of Old by Violet Tempest

The Old Charleston Jail, located at 21 Magazine Street, Charleston, SC is well known to locals as being haunted. Some refuse to go near this structure while thrill seekers buy tickets from Bulldog Tours for guided tours. The long history of this jail does give creditability to its many hauntings. Having been used as a prison for over 200 years there was a great deal of suffering that occurred on the grounds and in the cells. (pg. 72)

My personal experience of the tour and afterward:

When our daughter was eleven years old, my husband and I decided it would be fun to start a Halloween tradition of going on a different Ghost Tour in Charleston, SC every year. These would allow us to spend time as a family and introduce our daughter to Lowcountry History.

The area goes back to 1670 when settlers landed on the shores of the Cooper River, founding what is now known as Charlestown Landing. Our first tour was a family friendly tour of the old churches and graveyards in Downtown Charleston.

Two years later we decided to take it up a notch. That’s when we took The Haunted Jail Tour.

By this time our daughter was familiar with the lore of the area, and like us she found the old tales intriguing. Little did we know that the tour would change our views on ghost tours.

We booked a tour for the Saturday before Halloween of 2008. It was chilly evening, and the tour didn’t start until after dark. WE made an event of it, like we had done in the past. Going out to dinner, and our daughter invited her best friend to go with us. The four of us were looking forward to a fun spooky filled evening.

We arrived at the Old Jail with about 20 minutes to spare, so we, along with others who were arriving for the tour, had to stand outside while the tour in progress finished up. Standing on the sidewalk we could hear an occasional loud bang followed by a scream or two. The girls moved to the sidewalk opposite the street, and we weren’t too far behind them. Even across the street we could feel the heavy despair that hung around the old building and grounds.

Finally, the tour ended, and it was time for us to take ours. Friendly, joking banter floated around as strangers teased one another. Nothing that anyone in the group took seriously. I mean, everyone knows the noises on these tours are false.

Right?

Before we could enter, we were told the rules; the most important was to stay together, no one was to wander off. Then the tour began. Standing outside the front entrance our tour guide told us that what is now known as the old jail started out in a hospital for the homeless and other impoverished people.

Years later, in 1802 that building was torn down and replaced with the building that currently stands. Over the years the building that was designed to hold 128 prisoners would at times have so many occupants that there was standing room only. Not only inside, but outside as well. The grounds would be packed with barely enough room for the prisoners to move, and men and women were placed together. They did not separate them.

As you can imagine, the conditions created disease, and many died before they were released. The city kept a body cart on the property where the dead bodies were stacked on top of one another.

When the cart was full, it was then driven to the river, and the bodies dumped. Our guide said that there were many times the bodies piled up before they decayed and so another site, further down the river, would have to be used. Her words painted a vivid image and my flesh crawled as my mind carried me back to that time.

That wasn’t the end of the horror she painted for us.

We followed her inside, and she showed us the shackles that are still on the walls. The torture devise varied from room to room. Our guide told us how the prisoners who were considered the worst of the Charleston population were tortured, shackled, and starved.

Next, we went up the narrow staircase and saw the huge rooms where,  in the winter there wasn’t any heat nor, of course, in the summer any air conditioning.

The criminals weren’t shown any kindness.

These harsh conditions made it almost impossible to survive. It is approximated that by the time the jail closed in 1939 over 10,000 people died on the property.

It was in the last room where we heard the tale of Lavina Fisher, according to legend she’s the country’s first female serial killer. And yes, while we were in the room a loud bang sounded out. Where exactly it came from I cannot say. The sound echoed all around us. Now, even though I have experienced the unexplained since I was a small child, I was skeptical.

“But surely it was Lavina?” some may be asking. I do not know. Personally, I feel it was all sound effects the tour company added to give their customers a thrill. I can tell you the despair that bore down on us before we started the tour did not leave me. There were times that it felt like someone was behind me, but when I looked no one was there. Other times a cold reached my bones that wasn’t from the chilly autumn air.

Throughout the whole tour I couldn’t shake the feeling of evil all around me.

No one was injured on the tour, and everyone took plenty of pictures. Nothing unusual showed in ours and driving away we talked about the history that we had learned that night. Little did we know that our experience with the old jail was far from over.

Over the next year our daughter and I could not shake the feeling of something watching us at all times. Even in our sleep. After a couple of months things progressed. Our daughter began staying in her room all the time and was always sleepy and moody. We chalked it up to her becoming a teenager, even though that didn’t squelch our concerns.

Then she started showing me her sketches. They were full of an evil crawling out of the darkness of her closest. It wasn’t until one night while she stayed with a friend that I discovered what was really happening to her.

My dear husband snores, and when I say snore I mean shake the walls snore. So that night I was awoken by what can only be called an Earth-Shattering Rumble, I went down to her room and crawled into her empty bed. The snoring was tolerable down there, and I eventually fell back asleep. How long I was asleep I do not know. But while I lay there on my right side, under her comforter, deep asleep,  I felt something jump on the bed, placing hands and feet on either side of me, startling me awake.

At first I thought it was our dog, and I turned to pet her and get her to snuggle up beside me.

What I saw was not our dog.

From the streetlight that peeked through the curtains, I could make out the thing on my daughter’s bed straddling me was a deep, dark, green. Its skin was slimy in appearance. Its squished face did not have a nose, but instead two slits located where one should’ve been. Two glowing red embers for eyes, and a thin, toad-like mouth. When it saw me, those lips pulled back in a snarl showing me sharp, pointy, yellow teeth.

That snarl told me it was not expecting me to be there. It raised its thin right arm and swung claws like a big cat at me.

I jumped from the bed. My muscles quivering, my heart pounding.

“How dare you! You meant to attack my daughter!” I said. The creature jumped down off the bed, and with a laugh that was full of evil, made its way toward me. I did the only thing I could think of.

I stood there in the room, shaking my head, anger filling every pore of my body. “No! You will not get away with this.”

I placed my right palm in the air, toward the ceiling, toward the universe. With my left hand I pointed at the creature and with every fiber of my being I said the only thing I could think of.

“I call on the power of the one who created me. I call upon the power of the supreme one to send you back to the depths of Hell from which you came from!”

As those words left my lips, I felt a warm energy enter my right palm, surge down my arm, through my core, before shooting out my left arm. A bright blue beam shown from my left hand.

The creature’s eyes grew big. Its slimy face filled with fear as its mouth opened in a silent scream. Then it was gone, and I was left standing alone in the center of my daughter’s room.

Looking around, I realized what had happened. A demon had come to attack my daughter and to its surprise found me instead. My heart felt like it was going to beat its way out of my chest, and my body trembled as fear started to take the place of anger. Finally satisfied it was gone, at least for the night, I turned and walked quickly back to our bed where my husband was still sound asleep, his snores now a sound of comfort. I slid back under our covers and laid there the rest of the night.

Sleep did not return.

Come morning, I got up and went back into the room. The bed was still a mess like I’d left it and in the light of day, the previous night’s experience seemed unreal. My mind quickly brought up the images of my daughter’s sketches and I knew that thing had been after her. And I also knew where it had come from.

For some reason it latched on to us at the jail. Coming home with us; a sort of supernatural souvenir.

I talked to my daughter and husband about what happened that night and that’s when we found out the creature had been terrorizing her. It had thrown her clothes across the room. Even lifted her up and spun her around. I told her what I had done, and that I hoped that took care of it.

She changed rooms to what was the spare room. Who could blame her?

Never again has the creature made an appearance and no longer do we feel like something is watching us from the shadows. I will tell you this, The Old Charleston Jail is one place I refuse to go back to.

If you decide to take the tour remember this, there’s no telling what souvenir you will end up with.

To learn more about The Old Charleston City Jail and other South Carolina Lowcountry legends read Legends of Old by Violet Tempest with Bonus Feature section with short stories never before published.

Available as Kindle Unlimited, eBook, and paperback on Amazon.com. Click link above to purchase.

Paranormal/Hauntings: Guest Blog by Violet Tempest

 

by Violet Tempest

Since I’m an author, I view stories as a platform to speak out about experiences I have gone through in hopes my experiences may help others. If for no other reason than for them to know they are not alone. 

That is why I would like to share the following experience with you. 

As far back as I can remember I have seen things others don’t. Felt things others seem oblivious to. In almost fifty years I have had more than one experience with the supernatural and paranormal worlds out there. One such experience happened about eleven years ago. My family and I had moved into a house in a new subdivision. Since the place was new, I’d hoped that we would be left alone by those other worlds. 

My hopes would soon prove wrong. 

We’d lived there for about a year when one night I awoke about two in the morning. My husband was fast asleep. I couldn’t figure out what caused me to wake up and as I lay there, I looked about the room. At first my eyes landed on a shadow form. I kept looking at it, expecting that the longer I looked at it the more my eyes would adjust, and it would just be a trick of the eye. 

But that’s not what happened. 

The black form seemed to move closer. Was this a trick of my eye? Were my eyes being fooled by the outside light that filtered in between the curtains? Still, on my back I just watched as this form seemed to float until it stood at the foot of our bed. There what had been dark forms just moments before took the shape of a woman. 

I sat up, leaned closer, astonished by what I was seeing. Clearly, I was imagining it.

I reached over with my right hand and began to shake my husband, urging him to wake up. As I did so the woman’s features became crystal clear. No longer was she just shadows but before me, at the foot of our bed stood a woman about five feet in height, average build, long dark hair that seemed to shimmer with non-existent light. Her straight hair so long it went past her waist and seemed to disappear behind her. Around her there appeared this glow that allowed me to see her in detail. Her skin softened with age, tanned as if she spent a lot of time out in the sun, and her clothes, well her clothes seemed to be from an earlier time. Say hundreds of years earlier. Around her shoulders she wore a blue shawl that she clutched with her right hand, her dress appeared brown and it was hard to tell if it were made from leather or cotton. 

As I continued to shake my husband awake, pleading with him to wake up, she began to move along his side of the bed. 

“I really need you to wake-up!” I cried out. By this time the figure was at his feet and began to pat the bed with her left hand. 

“Huh, wha?” He mumbled.

“Wake-up. There’s someone in the room with us!” I demanded. Now the woman was at his waist, still patting his side of the bed as if she were trying to make him lay back down.

“What? Where?!” He sat straight up, looking around him. 

At this point this woman stood right beside him, looking at him. 

“Right there!” I pointed at her. 

He jumped out of the bed and turned the light on. 

But by that time, she had disappeared. As if she had never even been there. 

My heartbeat against my rib cage. My hands shook. My whole body trembled.

My dear husband looked under the bed, in the closest, anywhere he could think of. But I knew he’d never find her or anyone else. 

Then he checked the windows and doors. All were locked.

He never got mad at me. He never called me crazy. He believed me when I said I saw something and to this day he still believes me. And that’s why I love him. Because when I see a ghost he doesn’t question me or make me feel stupid. He accepts that I experienced something he didn’t. 

Which is what happened that night. I saw a ghost. Even though the house and subdivision were new, the land wasn’t. Land can become haunted just as buildings do. I don’t believe what I saw was a poltergeist or a ghost that meant to do harm. I believe what I saw was more of an imprint in time. A spirit doomed to repeat a moment of their life over and over for all eternity. 

I never saw her again. Why? Well, for one thing, the very next day we moved the bed to the opposite wall. If what showed itself was a spirit passing through a gateway, I didn’t want another experience like it so we moved the bed. If that’s why I can’t say. I do know for the rest of the time we lived in that house I didn’t see another ghost despite strange things that happened. Items moved. Lights and water turn on by themselves. Things of that nature. 

It took nine years, but we finally moved from that house. Where we are living seems to be free from the paranormal visitors. But I have a feeling that I will experience something else again. Like I said, I’ve seen and felt things from the Supernatural and Paranormal worlds all my life and expect to until the end.

When will be the next time? I don’t have a clue. 

 

To learn more about Violet visit her website and while there sign up for her newsletter.

 

Kid Fears : Naughtiest Girl in the World Fears

Do bad girls and boys really get coal in their stockings? We had a fireplace in my home growing up, but not a mantle so hanging stockings wasn’t one of our Christmas traditions. 

However, I always wondered if we did, would I have always found coal in my stocking? Was it because we were a stockingless household that Santa never brought what I asked for? Was disregarding my requests his way of letting me know I’d been a bad girl all year? (Again.)

I was no peach, I’ll admit. I could be a difficult child. Knowing what we know these days about special needs children, autism and the like, I wonder if I would’ve been diagnosed with something?

I liked routines. Surprises scared me and would often prompt tantrums or withdrawals. If I knew something was coming or my routine would be disrupted, I fared better. But spring an unexpected stop on me? Or my dad having to take me to school instead of my mom with no advanced notice? Expect major drama. 

But I don’t think my parents ever did expect it. Did they brace themselves for the fallout, or did they continue to be surprised by my meltdowns and not connect the dots? 

I’m thinking the latter because they never tried anything different, ie. a softer approach. They expected me to fall in line, and if I didn’t –which I didn’t– I could expect a major butt spanking. This was the 70s and my parents were old school. Discipline involved corporal punishment. Needless to say, I was well acquainted with the practice. 

I never kept count of how many spankings I got each year. Did Santa? I always just hoped each year when Christmas rolled around I’d have been better and Santa knew it. Or at least he’d know I’d tried really, really hard.

But every year it was the same thing: Naughty List. 

In the early years, I’d tell Santa my wishes in person at the mall. When I learned to write, I’d add in a letter. Because maybe that was the problem. He’d seen so many kids –from all over the world– he’d forgotten what I’d asked for. But if it was in writing, maybe I’d get what I really wanted.

Nope. That didn’t help either.

Don’t get me wrong. I got great gifts from my mom and dad. It’s not like I wasn’t spoiled. 

But the big gift that was supposed to come from Santa was never the big gift my heart longed for. 

So until I learned the truth about Santa, my biggest childhood fear was I’d never get off the naughty list. No matter how hard I tried. 

And I did try. My resolution every year aimed for a No Spankings one. I always failed. It made me wonder about the good kids. How did they make it through a whole year without getting in trouble? They must be extraordinary!

And back to the coal…did the bad kids who hung stockings really get it?

Embarrassment prevented me from asking my friends. Plus, Santa always seemed to bring them exactly what they wanted. Who wants to admit they’re the naughty one? I sure didn’t.

But for years I feared: am I the naughtiest girl in the world? 

Kid Fears : Demon Pigs and Other Childhood Frears by Pricilla Bettis

Demon Pigs and Other Childhood Fears

Slobbering pigs frequently defied gravity and appeared outside the window of my second-story, childhood bedroom in Alaska. These weren’t the cute, when-pigs-fly variety with angel-like wings to lift them to the height of my window. These pigs silently hovered, and they were one of my childhood fears. I’m decades removed from those days, but I still remember my three supernatural childhood fears, starting with the demon pigs.

The pigs would arrive one or two at a time. Their overgrown incisors gleamed white in the midnight sun, and they drooled when they spotted me through the window because they had a taste for human flesh. During the Alaskan winters when the night sky was black and endless, the pigs’ eyes glowed red.

Another fear I had was the vampire under my bed. The cavern below the bed frame was the darkest part of my room and a natural place for an undead creature to lurk. Sometimes the vampire’s hand would skitter out, find the glow cast from the ceiling light, and snap back. I wasn’t allowed to go to sleep with the light on, so I’d stand by the wall switch and, leaving one hand on the switch, crouch like a runner about to dash from the starting line. I’d flip the switch as I leapt forward, and I would sprint then hurl myself onto the bed. The idea was to be airborne before my naked feet got close to the underbowels of my bed where the vampire could snag my ankle with his bony, pale fingers. He had thick, grey fingernails that ended in points like claws. Fortunately, once on top of the bed, I was safe from the vampire.

But I wasn’t safe from the witch in the closet. A few times Daddy would humor me after I called for him, and he’d check my closet. (Of course, I couldn’t check the closet myself because that would mean stepping on the floor near the bed where the vampire could get me.) The witch wasn’t a modern Wiccan woman in tune with nature, no, not that kind of witch. She wasn’t even an old hag from a storybook. This witch was wicked and immortal and freakishly muscular. She stood hunched over with her stringy, dark hair hanging to the sides of her white face. Her eyes were yellow either from centuries of age or from the evil coursing through her body. Her fingernails were yellow, too. (What was it with my younger self and the fingernail detail?) She snarled a lot, and her teeth were too sharp.

It didn’t take a psychologist to figure out why I saw (imagined) these creatures. The brain is a powerful thing and can mess with our bodies and our senses. For instance, when I was four I woke up late at night on Christmas Eve and spied my mother placing presents under the tree. No, it can’t be Mommy! It has to be Santa. My young brain was traumatized by the thought that Santa might not be real. I blinked, and my mother became a jolly old man in a red suit. I can still picture him near the tree to the right of the fireplace.

Later, in elementary school, a teacher had a violent meltdown in the classroom. The metal trash can went soaring and landed with the noise of a construction zone. He shoved desks and threw a chair. He yelled words that until then I had only heard whispered in the far corner of the playground. That evening the vampire appeared under my bed for the first time, and while I knew the beast was simply a reaction to my teacher’s outburst, the vampire refused to leave.

As for the demonic pigs, when the neighborhood newspaper delivery girl had a misunderstanding with my parent’s overpayment, she carved a dirty word in our front door and toilet-papered our house. I got in trouble for it. The pigs appeared a few hours later.

I’m not sure when the witch first appeared, but any of the three fearsome beasts could and would pop up when I’d had a tough day.

Nowadays, I manage life’s stressful encounters from the perspective of adulthood, and I no longer see pigs hovering outside my window or worry about approaching my bed in the dark. But I do still choose to believe in Santa.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Priscilla Bettis read her first grownup horror story, The Exorcist, when she was a little kid. (Because, if you think about it, the children’s book The Three Little Pigs is also a horror story.) She snuck the grownup book from her parents’ den. The Exorcist scared Priscilla silly, and she was hooked on the power of the horror genre from that moment on. She blogs about her writing journey at https://priscillabettisauthor.wordpress.com.

 

Guest Blog : Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt directly from the author, C.A. Verstraete to introduce her writings.

What if everything you heard about the Lizzie Borden story isn’t true … that is, it isn’t complete?

Could it be that the spinster Sunday school teacher picked up an axe that horrific August day in 1892 to fight off an unexpected horror? 

In Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete, Lizzie Borden does the unthinkable for the most unexpected of reasons… her parents have become zombies. Now Lizzie must not only help save her sister, Emma but try to protect her hometown and even the neighbors who view her as nothing but a murderess, from this deadly scourge.


        Excerpt:

Chapter One

Q: You saw his face covered with blood?

A: Yes sir.

Q: Did you see his eyeball hanging out?

A: No sir.

Q: Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open?

A: No sir.

—Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom

August 4, 1892

Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already?

THUMP.

For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself?

“Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?”

No answer.

She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back.

Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-seven-year-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.

Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?

She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws.

“Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?”

Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans.

Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error.


Another Side to the Tale:

But even as Lizzie Borden fights her own battles in court and off, another story begged to be told—that of her long time neighbor and family physician, Dr. Seabury Bowen. He suddenly found his life turned upside down after being the first professional to witness the unexpectedly brutal murder scene firsthand.

Dr. Bowen was a doctor, of course, a man of science used to life and death. But what could prepare him for the scene that awaited him at the Borden household? Would he, and his life, ever be the same?

In The Haunting of Dr. Bowen by C.A. Verstraete, the doctor finds his life changed, even haunted, by what he witnessed that morning. Dare he find the truth and find peace? Will the love of his precious wife, Phoebe, help heal his shattered heart? 

This is a tale of everlasting change… and everlasting love among the darkest of shadows.

Prologue:

“Never did I say to anyone that she had died of fright.

My first thought, when I was standing in the door, was that she had fainted.”

                                      —Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893

“Why won’t anyone believe me? Why, Phoebe, why?”

Dr. Seabury Bowen shoved back the shock of white hair hanging over his forehead and wiped a wrinkled hand across his stubbled chin.

His appearance, like his surroundings, could stand a bit of major housekeeping, not that he cared a whit. 

“Here, it’s here somewhere,” he mumbled.

The old man rummaged among the giant pile of documents, books, and what-not littering the large walnut desk in his study. Several minutes later, and after the search through dozens of loose papers, he saw the faded red book lying beneath a tottering pile. He pulled at it, sending the rest of the stack falling like so much unwanted garbage.

The good doctor, but a shadow of his once-robust self, flipped the pages. He stared at the offending journal entry before setting the book aside with a heartrending sob. 

Chapter One

“I saw the form of Mr. Borden lying on the lounge at the left of the sitting-room door. His face was very badly cut, apparently with a sharp instrument; his face was covered with blood.”

—Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893

The man reached toward him with long, lean fingers. Dr. Seabury Bowen blinked and tried to make out the features of the unknown figure standing in the corner. The unexpected visitor had a broad, dark face and what looked like a band across his forehead. Bowen stretched out his arm in turn and jumped when their fingers touched, the jolt surging through him like the electricity he knew would soon replace all the gas lights.

“Seabury, dear, are you all right?” His wife, Phoebe, sounded concerned. “What’s wrong?”

Bowen breathed hard. He bolted upright and held a hand on his chest, trying to catch his breath. Still stunned, he gazed about the room, disturbed at the odd shapes until he recognized familiar things… the bureau, the armoire, the paintings on his bedroom walls. He swallowed and nodded.

 “Ye-yes. I-I’m fine. A bad dream, that’s all it was. Just a dream.”

“A bad dream? Dear, you’re breathing so hard, your heart must be pounding like a drum in Mr. Sousa’s band! Are you sure you’re fine?”

The doctor took his wife’s hand and kissed it, relieved to feel his heartbeat return to normal. He had to admit his reaction worried him for a minute, too. “I’m fine now, Phoebe. Really, it’s all right. Go back to sleep. I’m too wrought up to rest. I think I’ll go downstairs and read awhile.”

He gave her a loving smile before he rose, and slipped on his robe, his thoughts in a whirl. To tell the truth, these dreams or hallucinations or whatever they were, appeared to be getting stronger and more frequent.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

BIO: (C.A.) Christine Verstraete has had fiction published in various anthologies including 100 Word Horrors 3 and upcoming in 100 Word Zombie Bites. She is the author of the Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter series and The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, plus other books. Learn more at her blog, http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com or visit her website, https://www.cverstraete.com for more details.

Horror Seeker: Are You Scared? Top 5 Countdown

These days, it’s sad to say that horror has lost a few nuances in subtlety. While there are a few outliers, mostly those of the independent realm that still manage to terrify with atmosphere and story, the jump scare has no doubt taken the place of genuine creativity and effort to scare us. It is indeed a shame; while jump scares are nothing new, and when used appropriately they can be effective, it is but one tool, not the ONLY tool by any means. This over-reliance on the exhausted trope may have even left the average moviegoer numb and impatient to any sort of suspense building element a film might have to offer. So, I am here to remind you of, and hopefully share something new, the chill in your spine. That feeling that makes you check the windows twice at night, and make you second guess looking into the dark again. This is by no means a complete list, only a collection of some of my favorites. So, without further ado…

5: FRIDAY THE 13TH VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan

Arguably, the most questionable addition to this list hence why it comes in at number 5, Jason Takes Manhattan is regarded as one of the more discombobulated installments of the franchise, and for good reason. Taking Jason away from Crystal Lake might not have been the best of choices, but this deep into the story there might not have been much left to explore. So, why not give him a “proper” sendoff and bring Jason to the Big Apple? New York has always been the go to for any film/character in good standing.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to the title. Spending only 36 minutes of an hour and forty run time in the big city, it was kind of a letdown, I think most would agree. It is well known that a number of scenes were cut, but it was not without its moments. One I think everyone remembers is Julius’s death – Jason’s one-punch knockout! But that was just a WOW moment, really.

I’d like to talk about one of the many times we see Jason as a boy, in this case, his ghost, played by Tim Murkovich. It is one of the many times boy-Jason makes an appearance, probably the most in any film, however, he hold a certain level of eeriness to him. Waterlogged, and soggy, Jason appears as a harbinger of doom of sorts, preceding Jason’s actual presence. Kind of like his force-ghost, if I can get away with that! But the moment that stands out is one that is thrust onto us nearly without warning. As our survivors (what’s left of them) drive madly down the alley trying to escape Jason, they, or rather our heroine Rennie, is confronted by the boy-ghost. It is not so much his presence, nor the scene, but rather the camera work/editing that sells this one.

The scene begins at a high pace as they drive off in a commandeered police cruiser after having narrowly escaped Jason’s grasp. Your heart is pumping and continues to increase as everyone in the car is screaming, panicking, lost in their own madness and terror, when suddenly Rennie barrels down the alley toward a waiting apparition, one that only she can see. The scene instantly cuts to her perspective; void of any sound except for the abusive drums as she grows closer. It then borrows a modified soundbite from Psycho, bringing us uncomfortably close to the boy’s deformed, patient stare. For that moment, he is looking at you – I mean YOU! And you can feel it. It only lasts a split second, blink and you’ll mercifully miss it, but for those who don’t, it is one of the few times you can actually feel his presence next to you. This is, of course, my experience. What’s yours?

4: CREEPSHOW II – The Hitchhiker

Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, there’s nothing quite like it, is there? You don’t really see too much of the horror miniseries these days, but these tales are still worth their weight in blood. If you’re not familiar, I highly recommend them.

SPOILER WARNING just in case. In this particular story, our adulterous woman is in a hurry to get home to her husband, unaware of the lonely man thumbing for a ride on the side of the road; not that she’d have picked him up anyway. Her night takes a turn for the worse when she accidentally runs him down and leaves him for dead. It is here the horror truly begins, opening up what may very well be one of my worst nightmares.

While calming her nerves, she continues on, soon coming to a stop to further calm herself down. Here she notices a figure approaching; a broken stagger of a man, bloody, but alive? – it can’t be… It may have been her own eyes playing tricks on her, until the same hitchhiker then appears in her window, his mangled body leaning desperately in the car as he thanks her for the “ride”.

These films were definitely played up for exaggeration, being derived from the comics of the respective names, but it’s in this short’s persistence and focus that the horror works. The unrelenting vengeful force that just won’t die no matter what you do. No gun, or tactic, or car, in this case, will help you, as the hitchhiker is run over again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and… it goes on! Truly brutal, and in his frantic, almost spell-binding mantra we are taken for a horrifically graphic trip in its own cartoony, over the top way. Goes without saying, thanks for the ride, lady!

 

3: PUMPKINHEAD – Ed Harley meets Haggis the Witch

Haunting; if I had to put this scene in a word, it’s that. When Ed Harley’s boy is killed by some obnoxious teenagers, he seeks retribution through a local witch known for such malevolent things. We don’t know very much about Haggis (the witch), only that the locals are somewhat uneasy about her presence. They know that she’s capable of some terrifying acts; everyone has stories, some have even seen things, such as Ed Harley has when he was younger. It was the memory that had stuck with him, and the same that had brought him here.

The setting hits all the beats for what one might think of when picturing a witch’s home, minus the bubbling caldron. A lone decrepit house lost in the woods, off the grid, severely weathered. Inside, Haggis sits in front of a fire, looking as though she hasn’t moved in decades. Candles are lit all around, and numerous creatures populate the area; rats, spiders, snakes, even an owl, all of which are keeping a close eye on anyone who might enter.

The witch’s makeup and presence are one of the best I’ve ever seen on screen. It doesn’t try to reinvent the mythos; Haggis looks like any old-timey witch, but it’s the effort put into the roll that sells it so perfectly. Florence Schauffler was 68 years old at the time, but her appearance looked as though she were 680. We don’t know as her backstory is mostly left to the audience’s imagination. It is one of the few times where I clamor for a prequel. Who is this woman? Where did she come from? So many questions raised by this brief encounter.

It is a perfect depiction of the consequences when the need for revenge consumes you completely. Presenting itself almost as a fable parents might tell their kids; a cautionary tale on anger and vengeance. It is a hauntingly atmospheric scene, quiet and unnerving in the way it draws the air out of your lungs as even you are afraid to move, worried that Haggis might see.

 

2: PET SEMETARY – Zelda

This was a tough call, as this scene/character has bothered me my whole life. Anyone who has seen this movie and remembers the disturbing performance by Andrew Hubatsek who portrayed Rachel’s sister Zelda. Among many elements, I feel that the fact that Zelda was played by a man only added to the disturbing nature of the character, and the scenes she was in. Though not a monster, or demon of sorts, she is a ghoulish entity which the MicMac grounds use against Rachel, and it is terrifying!

Even to this day, I get chills when I so much as hear her (well, his) voice in my head. It’s one of two movies I have a hard time watching in the dark alone, and that’s saying something. Like many great scenes, it’s a perfect storm of performance, set up, atmosphere, and cinematography that make it work. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can never forget that twisted look; Zelda’s deformed frame writhing on the bed, misshapen and tortured by fate. Unfortunately for her, she was stricken with spinal meningitis which, in the film is exaggerated of course, but is cringing nonetheless.

Zelda is nothing but Rachel’s haunting memory of her departed sister, so she bares no harm other than what Rachel’s guilty conscious weighs on her. Once again, we as the viewer are brought uncomfortably close to her twisted form as Zelda continuously taunts Rachel with a promise of sorts. In a way, it seems like she’s hoping Rachel will suffer the same fate one day as penance for letting her die. The words are repeated again, and again – yelled in fact, like… I don’t even know what to compare it to! All I know is to this day; it still terrifies me to open a door to a bedroom I’m not familiar with. What’s in there? Is Zelda dead yet? Wondering if she’s going to run up to me screaming, “NEVER GET OUT OF BED AGAIN! NEVER GET OUT OF BED AGAIN!”

 

1: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – Sally and Franklin

After Leatherface’s jarring debut on screen, having just killed three of Sally’s friends, she and her brother franklin are left to wait, and wonder what’s become of them. This final entry wins not for its monster, or blood and gore, but it’s prolonged suspense. The clip below is the best I could find, but the scene is another few minutes longer with Sally and Franklin desperately calling out for their friend Jerry before venturing into the darkened woods.

I go back to Alfred Hitchcock and his definition of suspense. There’s a difference between a bomb going off, and knowing the bomb will go off. Which is more suspenseful? It is the same here; we have already witnessed the horrors that befell Sally’s friends, and what awaits her and Franklin. We know they won’t escape, we know everyone’s dead, we know what is waiting in the dark – WE know! And that is the key element here. We, as the audience know what is to come, we just don’t know when, or how, and I think that is more terrifying than anything. The scare, or the pop if you will, is the catharsis of the moment, and the longer the suspense is, the more it is dragged out, the bigger the pay off. This scene accomplishes this very well!

From the beginning, we learn of Franklin’s condition. A helpless, scared invalid; burden, really, on the group that we struggle to feel sorry for. That is until we get a feel for his point of view. He feels sorry for himself, and it kind of sad to watch. Over time, you do feel bad and begin to empathize with him. Though not entirely idolized as a character, it is his fear you feel resonating from the screen. You can tell how scared he is, how desperately he just wants his friends to come back, and it only gets worse when he realizes the keys are gone, and that they can’t leave even if they wanted to.

The scene is beautifully scored with an ominous droning aura that sounds like it belongs in a cave. But it is looming horror, the pending nightmare that patiently, oh so patiently awaits them. Honk the horn all you like, scream your head off, wait until daylight if you make it that long. Hell, another thing this film does well, is it takes away the security of the light, as most of the horror happens during the day, so you don’t even have that to fall back on.

So many great moments and it bears repeating that I feel it’s a lost art. Subtlety has been forgotten in cinema, unfortunately. The sad thing is, a jump scare will always get a reaction no matter how prepared you think you are, but it’s only as scary as me screaming BOO in your ear when you’re not expecting it. Great for a laugh, but not for a scare, and certainly won’t stay with you as these scenes have done for me. What do you think? Share some of your favorites I may have overlooked! Thanks for reading!

This is The Horror Seeker

Guest Blog: Review of The Witch by Ronald Hutton

The Witch Reviewed by John C Adams

This non-fiction book is subtitled ‘A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present’.

I first came across the author and historian Ronald Hutton fourteen years ago when he appeared as a guest in ‘Tales from the Green Valley’, a BBC TV show featuring a year-long project to re-establish a working Elizabethan farm in Wales using genuine techniques. He provided good-natured expert analysis of the Christmas traditions of the time, and it was apparent that he really knew his stuff.

Last year, I was delighted to receive a copy of this book as a birthday present from my teenage daughter (make of that what you will). I was intrigued when I realised that the author was the same expert on pagan custom and history I’d enjoyed watching a decade and a half earlier. The starting point in reading my daughter’s gift was therefore that Hutton would demonstrate the same thoroughness of expertise and knowledge here, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The book is divided into three sections – deep perspectives (on global, ancient and shamanic contexts in the history of witchcraft), continental perspectives (including the legacy of the Egyptians, the reception of witches in the Middle Ages and the early modern patchwork including the Shakespearean age) and, finally, a section on British perspectives on witches and their relationship with fairies, Celticity and animals.

It would probably be helpful for me to point out that Hutton’s book is a history of how witches (including shamans and service magicians, so the term here is used for both male and female practitioners) are perceived by the wider societies in which they reside, rather than a history of witchcraft itself. To that end, excellently researched and thoughtfully presented though it is, readers seeking a practical history of how witchcraft has been practised or even a how-to manual would be best advised to seek out other titles. On the other hand, as histories of witches and their treatment go, it is impeccably argued and detailed.

I’m a great believer in academics presenting their findings impartially and being careful to explain objectively the limitations of their sources, be honest about the extent of our current knowledge, and highlight areas where further research would help. This, as well as the diligence of decades of in-depth research, is where Hutton’s strength lies. He gets right down into the detail, lays it out and provides a justified conclusion, all in very cool, precise language which doesn’t force on the reader a particular point of view based on preconceived notions. Not all histories are created equal! Instead, Hutton goes where the facts take him and gives the reader space to reach their own conclusions as they make that journey with him.

For all the research and detail, this was far from being a dry read. It was fascinating and informative, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Enjoy!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

John C Adams is a reviewer and writer of horror fiction. Souls for the Master is available for free on Smashwords and for 99p on Kindle.

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Vile Vacations: My Stay In A Haunted Bed and Breakfast By E. A. Black

Originally posted Jan 31, 2017
Vile Vacations: My Stay In A Haunted Bed and Breakfast By E. A. Black

Several decades ago I stayed at the Kitty Knight House on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This B&B nestled next to the Sassafras River and it dated back to the Revolutionary War. I stayed there when I was in town for a theatrical stage crew convention. 

The story behind the haunting is as follows: After British soldiers sailed up the river they set the small town on fire, destroying most of it. Soldiers threw torches on the porch of the Kitty Knight House. The owner, Kitty Knight, swept the torches off the porch with her broom as quickly as the soldiers threw them. She made a deal. She’d provide the soldier’s food and shelter as long as they didn’t burn down her home. They agreed, and this house stood whilst homes around it were turned into cinders. The haunting involves Miss Kitty’s ghost wandering the halls in the dead of night, checking on her visitors staying overnight to make sure everyone was comfortable. The B&B itself is absolutely beautiful, decorated with Victorian furnishings. It includes a small bar and at the time I stayed there you could get a discounted dinner every Friday night. The rooms are beautiful, homey, and spacious in the ornate Victorian style I liked very much.

The first time I stayed it was mid-winter and the off-season rates were very attractive. My room overlooked the Sassafras River. What a view! I enjoyed a delicious meal and then headed to my room. That night I slept well until about 3 am when I heard a party going on in the room next to me. There was a lot of noise. I almost walked over to knock on the door to ask them to keep it down but I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun. I managed to go back to sleep. At about 4:30 AM, I heard heavy footsteps walking up and down the hallway. The party had ceased. Otherwise, it was dead quiet. I immediately thought of the ghost of the owner wandering the halls to check on everyone. I fell back to sleep. The footsteps were heavy and loud so I wondered why Miss Kitty wore combat boots. I wasn’t the least bit afraid. I felt very comfortable, secure and safe.

The next day, when I went down for breakfast, I told the clerk about the party and the footsteps. She told me I couldn’t have heard anything because I had been alone in the building all night. The footsteps! The party! None of it could have happened!

When I calmed down, I rationalized away the entire experience by believing I heard the kitchen staff cleaning up for the night instead of a party, but I want to believe I heard ghosts having a rip-roaring time.

Of course, I had to return.

My husband came along for the ride the second time I stayed there. Someone had turned on the overhead light in the dead of night while we slept. I was a very light sleeper and awakened the second the light turned on. My husband slept, snoring away. Since I was too exhausted to get up, I went back to sleep. The light was out when I awakened shortly before dawn. I later asked my husband later about the light and he said he had turned it off before going to bed. He didn’t get up during the night at all. So who turned the light on? And who turned it off as the sun was coming up?

I heard those footsteps in the hallway again and felt as safe as I did the first time. Sadly, I didn’t hear a party in the room next door. I wasn’t alone in the building since other guests were staying overnight. I haven’t been back since but I’d happily return there assuming the place is still open. It was exciting and gorgeous.


E. A. Black writes in a variety of genres. She writes erotica fiction as Elizabeth Black and horror and dark fiction as E. A. Black. Her new novelette Roughing It is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda Strain, and Outbreak. Her horror fiction has appeared in Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad, Wicked Tales: The Journal Of The New England Horror Writers Vol. 3, Teeming Terrors, and more. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

Guest Blog : Haunting at Ocracoke by Trinity Adler

Haunting at Ocracoke by Trinity Adler

I had a ghost experience. There, I said it. It’s true. It wasn’t a nightmare, not a daydream fantasy or drug hallucination, an actual ghost visitation and not just any ghost either, a famous one. The path was set when I listened to a friend’s recommendation for an inn on the North Carolina coast. My European roommate had visited the place on her first trip to the states. The picture she drew of the inn, cheap, romantic, near the beach ticked off every box on the list for a trip with my beau so we booked rooms for a weekend over spring break and headed for the coast.

After debarking the Ocracoke ferry at Ocracoke island we made our way to the inn. At that time, the island mainly attracted local fishermen. We had no trouble finding the small two-story building that greeted us with a plain painted sign, “Ocracoke Inn Vacancy.” 

The kindest description of the inn would be rustic. The old porch in front looked like an offering to the local termite gods. Its collection of tiny rooms did have private baths, although ours could open to share with the next room if needed. That room was unoccupied so the bolt locks stayed in place for our stay. The hot water was sporadic, and the place had no air conditioning to cool the sticky mid-Atlantic coast air. In summer our room would have felt like a sauna but in Spring it topped out at muggy. 

All of the other guests were fishermen. A few brought their wives. We could hear every sound through the paper thin walls. One of those ladies complained with no mercy to her husband about the accommodations. In the blush of young love, we overlooked the paint worn walls, the humidity, the water issues, the creaking floors and lumpy beds. We promised each other we would never be like the older, unhappy couples around us and would remember this inn as a wonderful romantic story to share with our kids someday. We spent our first day walking over the little island visiting the wild ponies and the beach. Before returning to our room we visited the mini grocery bait and tackle store to pick up some sandwiches and a bottle of cheap, peach flavored sparkling wine. We retired early.

Romance, beaches and wine did their work polishing the locale. We were lucky to be on the second floor facing the island’s little inlet so a breeze kept our room comfortable as we slept. I guess it must have been around one, maybe two in the morning when I woke up. I could see moonlight streaming through the window. The lightweight white cotton curtains rustled a little, casting shadows in the room. For some reason that seemed odd to me. At first, I thought, “Oh yeah, window’s open, it’s just the breeze.” But there wasn’t a breeze and next to me, my partner snored on in the night.

I took a breath and, for a moment, a short moment, I thought “Go back to sleep, nothing’s wrong.” Then I saw one of the bigger shadows move and fear overtook me before I could take another breath. In the moonlight by the window, the changing shadow became a threat. I could see a large man standing between the footboard of our bed and our window staring, just staring at us while we slept. I knew to the depths of my soul this person intended harm to us. 

I forced myself to pretend sleep. I didn’t dare move. I didn’t want the intruder to figure out I’d become aware of his presence. I thought he must have climbed up the old porch roof and come in through the window. Elbowing my fiancé under the coverlet for help didn’t work, he kept snoring. The man stayed still, watching us from his position at the foot of the bed. 

I had to keep my breathing at a regular rate despite my pounding heart and my throat tightening enough that I had to fight the urge to choke or cough. He kept watching us. I tried pinching my lover to no avail. My efforts to avoid the notice of the burglar failed. He began to move around the end of the bed, walking closer to me. 

Hot terror and panic flooded my body. I was experiencing an overwhelming feeling of malice directed towards the two of us in the bed. I knew these would be the final moments of my life. The man started to lean down over us. I couldn’t look at him now. I didn’t want to see that shadowy face up close. I couldn’t stay frozen waiting to die.

I shut my eyes and began screaming for all I was worth, at the same time I started pounding on my beau to wake him up. I lashed out towards the intruder with my other arm. I couldn’t seem to hit the man who menaced us. He must have been dodging my every blow. I kept thinking ” No, I won’t leave the world murdered. Not tonight! Not now!”. I continued doing my best to summon help loosing howls that could rival fire alarms.

My new love finally woke up. He sat up and began shaking me violently. Something made a bang like a door slammed. He kept urging me to wake up. Me? I’d been up an hour! He grabbed me and yelled “Wake up, wake up! You’re dreaming! Open your eyes and stop yelling! I’m here, I’m here”. I opened my eyes but I knew I wasn’t dreaming. I didn’t see the attacker anymore, only my lover. 

“Where is he?” I asked.

“There’s no one here. It’s just us.” 

“No, check the bathroom, the doors, the windows, under the bed. Someone was in here and he was going to kill us!”

“What? If someone’s here, I’ll find him!” 

My partner bounced out of bed and examined the door, locked from the inside. He checked the bathroom connecting door. The bolt sat where we left it, firmly in its place. He found nothing under the bed and he noted someone had painted over the screen locking it onto the window. A book had fallen on the floor by the bed so that explained the banging sound. We both went to see if someone was in the hall. 

If there was an intruder outside you wouldn’t have been able to find him. The only men in the hallway were fishermen zipping up their pants and looking for the woman who’d been begging for help a few minutes earlier. All the men on our floor were up and ready to save a damsel in distress. 

They were not amused when I had to apologize. I told them I thought someone was in our room. My partner said it was a nightmare before pulling me back to the room with “C’mon, let’s go back to bed. I’ll hold you. You’re safe, it was just a dream.” He got more than a few dirty looks before we went back into the room.

Holding me wasn’t going to work after my experience. I told him “Listen, I don’t want to stay here another night. We saw a couple of signs for a newer motel on the other side of the island, I’ll overdraw my bank account if I have too, but we’ve got to change motels tomorrow. I can’t stay here. I just can’t.” 

He agreed. In a few more sleepless hours we were down at the front desk asking the manager to check out. 

“Good Morning Miss. How was your room? The man behind the desk knew damn well my room was a horror. The fishermen were out the door by dawn and I’m sure if they hadn’t reported my screams they left notes about it for management. 

“You know good and well I had an intruder in my room last night.” I said.

The man behind the desk seemed very interested but not in a way that signaled surprise or that apologies were in the offing. 

“What kind of intruder Miss?”

I described the whole event starting with the man standing at the window watching the two of us at the foot of the bed up to his approaching the bed to lean over me. By the time I finished, a little crowd of guests there for breakfast had gathered from the line at the dining room nearby. They could hear my complaints. Most of them couldn’t resist eavesdropping on my complaints after the screaming overnight.

“Someone either has a way onto your porch roof and windows or they have keys to the rooms but I want a refund. I won’t stay here even one more night.” 

The manager was calm although his demeanor and smooth Southern drawl didn’t soothe my temper. If anything, it only heightened it.

“Happy to give a refund Miss. But ya’ll should know plenty of women have had the exact same experience you’ve described. This place here is known for the ghost. He’s been annoying lady guests of this inn for ’bout 200 years. You never heard of Edward Teach? Blackbeard the Pirate? Kilt’ right out in that inlet, right there.” 

He pointed towards the front porch overlooking the inlet and continued his explanation. 

“He ‘n his crew fought it out with the Queen’s men right in view of the inn. This place was likely one of the last buildings on land he saw from his ship when he got beheaded. He visits a few of the female guests in the inn every so often. Always was known for having an eye for the ladies. Doesn’t hurt anyone, just looking under the beds for his head.” 

The manager smiled as he finished. Some of the scattering of people behind us giggled about it. For me, this was beyond creepy. He seemed delighted at my story and thrilled there was a little crowd there to overhear it. I guess nothing helps fill a dilapidated old property like a resident ghost. 

All of the ghost talk made me angry again. “Blackbeard? Blackbeard’s ghost? Right. Terrifying women is how you keep this dust trap booked? You may do a good job with theater here but think about this, you could give someone a heart attack with tricks like that. Now, give me my money back!”

My boyfriend didn’t say a word, he’d dropped back a little way from the counter during my tantrum. I thought he was still numb from lack of sleep and more than a little embarrassed at my behavior but the manager opened the till.

“Yep, here you go Miss.” 

The money for our prepaid two night stay was returned. After we left, my new Yankee partner became effuse.

“That was amazing! I thought they’d throw us out and we’d have to sleep in a tent after waking everyone up last night. You rocked. I can’t believe you got our money back!” 

We checked out and moved across the island to the other inn, a newly built motel. We had one more day to stay at Ocracoke over spring break. We felt lucky there were rooms left at the newer place. The manager of the haunted place called ahead. The hotel owner was waiting for us at the Edward Teach Inn and we got the same room rate. Because of the ghost we were treated like celebrities at the new place. They wanted to hear every detail of the haunting. The new inn’s name was a little creepy after our experience, but this motel had solid locks, hot water and air conditioning. We left the Ghost to his preferred rooms over at the Ocracoke Inn. All I cared about was the Sunday ferry trip off the island.

Guest Blog: From Beast to Man and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Short Bio

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blog: Vampires-Animated Corpses-By Brian McKinley

Vampires – Animated Corpses by Brian McKinley

This is what most people in Western culture think of when they hear the word vampire. But, as you’ll see, there are nearly as many varieties of animated corpse vampires as there are every other kind.

The Vetal of the Indian subcontinent is an example of a vampire who straddles categories. It’s a spirit that possesses and animates corpses and in many tales it has sorcerous powers. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Vetal are said to be a race of divine vampiric beings who appear half human and half bat. However, like other vampires we’ve seen, the Vetal can possess a human corpse in order to disguise itself, using fresh blood to keep the body from decay. Feeding on the intoxicated, the insane, and others whom society would not be likely to believe, the Vetal enters a home by use of a magic thread down the chimney—so those of us with central air are safe. Not content simply with blood, it consumes intestines and excrement as well.

Despite this unsavory aspect, the Vetal is far from a mindless killer. In fact, its’ most famous appearance is in the tale of King Vikram in which one of these creatures thwarts twenty four attempts to capture it by telling tales which all end in a riddle. Later, the vampire gives the king advice on how to turn the tables on a trap which his enemy has planned.

In some versions, a Vetal is created when a child dies and doesn’t receive proper funeral rites. This is similar to creation methods found in vampires of surrounding regions like the Greek peninsula, China, and the Balkans. Turning our attention to China, no survey of vampire folklore would be complete without the Jiangshi, the infamous hopping vampire.

One of the most distinctive and memorable tales from around the globe, the Jiangshi is created in a number of ways: cats jumping over fresh corpses, moonlight shining down on fresh corpses, and black magic. In its early form, it is literally just a corpse stiff with rigor mortis who hops around and attacks either on its own or under the command of a sorcerer. It is difficult to destroy in this form, but relatively easy to capture or elude, as it fears running water, can’t move in anything but a straight line, and has a compulsion to stop and count rice, peas, or iron filings thrown in its direction. While doing that, you sweep them away and the Jiangshi follows so that it can resume counting.

As it ages, however, it is said to grow long white or green fur, limber up, and gain the ability to fly and shape-shift into mist and animals. Now, a lot of these traits—aside from the fur—sound pretty familiar, right? My personal theory is that the Chinese incorporated elements from other vampire legends into their own. Anyway, by this point, Jiangshi are nearly indestructible and need to be burned completely in order to be rid of them.

Which brings us to Greece and the Vrykolaka. These can be created by a person living a bad life, being excommunicated by the church, committing suicide, and many of the other typical methods we’ve seen. One unique method is simply by being a werewolf in life, which is a condition one is born with in Greek culture. When those come back from the dead, they’re called Varkolaks. When Vrykolakas rise from the grave, it looks every bit like the bloated, animated corpse that it is. It will go to the homes of the people it knew in life and knock upon their doors. Whoever has the misfortune to answer, the vrykolaka will ruthlessly attack by day or by night. Victims who happen to survive the attack of a vrykolaka will become this type of vampire themselves when they die unless they eat some of the dirt from the grave of the body that attacked him.

The vrykolaka can be prevented from attacking if its resting place is found. Decapitating the vampire and hiding its head where it cannot be found is used in modern times, but the traditional method of rendering the body to ash is the most certain and effective. The only way to destroy a vrykolaka that was created through excommunication is to have a priest perform a special ceremony over the body followed immediately by either of the methods of destruction previously mentioned. Honestly, though, this one has more regional variations than almost any other.

The Draugr of Iceland was a fearsome revenant exists solely to guard its treasure, which Viking warriors were traditionally buried with. Draugrs could do strange tricks like increasing their body weight and growing or shrinking, move freely through earth and stone, conjure storms, and see the future. What’s more, draugrs were said to be impervious to mundane weapons and that the only way they could be killed was by being wrestled into submission by a hero and then beheaded. Some scholars believe that Grendel of the Beowulf saga was a draugr, and others think that we get the concept of the ogre, troll, and dragon from these legends as well.

Finally, we come to the guy that most of us think of when we think of a traditional vampire: the Upyr. Known by many regional variations including Upire, upior, upiri, vapir, and wampyr, this is most likely the word that eventually gave us the term vampire. Russia’s version has iron teeth that allow it to chew out of its grave and eat the heart from its victim’s chest. Unlike our modern version, though, it tends to be active between noon and midnight—kind of like me. The Polish variety has a stinger on the end of its tongue to drain blood with and it likes to sleep in a bath of blood. In Germany, it resembles the Greek Vrykolaka but needs to be destroyed with a stake made of mountain ash in a single blow. Call Buffy for that one. In other Slavic countries, the body has to be dug up and re-buried face-down so that the suspected vampire can’t dig its way out anymore. In other areas, you hear about garlic, prayers, and holy water.

And that most famous of vampire terms, Nosferatu? Where’s he? Well, there’s some debate about that. The term itself comes from Greek and means plague-bearer; many believe that it had nothing at all to do with vampires until Emily Gerard used it in her book on Transylvania, which Bram Stoker based much of his folklore in Dracula on. Others insist that there is a particularly sexually oriented vampire by that name in central and Eastern Europe, known to return to its home and try to resume its old life. To me, this also sounds a lot like some of the stories of the Vrykolaka, but I could be wrong.

In any event, you’ve probably noticed that almost none of these types fit all the tropes of the modern vampire archetype and that’s true. Today’s vampire is an ever-changing amalgamation of various folklores and that’s what makes them so captivating.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Guest Blog: Otherworldly Vampires by Brian Mckinley

Otherworldly Vampires by Brian McKinley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Guest Blog: Vampire Witches by Brian McKinley

Guest Blog by Brian McKinley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

Guest Blog: Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

 

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

Review of Essel Pratts, UnGodly Undoing

by Michele Roger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blog: Excerpt from Soul Scent by Reyna Favis

 

Excerpt from Soul Scent:

“Can you tell me about the baby?”

Cam lifted a shoulder and then stared at the bottle in his hands. “Not much to tell, really. It was 1975 and I was working a job in Kings Worthy.” Glancing at me, he elaborated. “That’s in England. It’s a very old place. It was listed in the Domesday Book – you know, the survey taken in 1066?”

I bristled a little. “By William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest. I know. I was a history major, remember?”

Nodding, Cam took up the story again. “Anyway, I was busy trying to lay the ghost of a Victorian clergyman who had taken up residence in the old church. At the same time, there was an archaeological dig taking place in the churchyard. They were interested in the old Anglo-Saxon burials and they eventually unearthed the skeletal remains of a young woman.” He took another drink and affected nonchalance as he continued the story. “Lying between the long bones of her legs, they found the skull of a full-term infant, but the fetal leg bones were still clearly within her pelvic cavity.”

“A coffin birth?” My eyes went wide at this thought.

Cam nodded again. “It happens. A pregnant woman dies and is buried and because of pressure from the gases that build up during decomposition, the dead fetus is expelled from the equally dead mother.” Looking down at his hands again, Cam picked at the label on the bottle. “Anyway, shortly after this find, the cries of a baby could be heard coming from the graveyard. It so disturbed the archaeological team that no one wanted to dig anymore and the work came to a grinding halt.”

 

“And did it also disturb you? Cam, I can tell this is difficult to talk about.”

Cam rolled his eyes and exhaled deeply, his words were clipped. “Yes, right. It bothered me a great deal. The baby was an innocent and completely blameless, yet she was left to suffer horribly for centuries.”

“But wasn’t the mother with the baby? How did you finally help her to move on?”

“I went into the churchyard with Zackie late one night to find the baby. The mother was nowhere to be found, so I assume she crossed over shortly after her death.”

“She left the baby?” My mouth hung open, aghast at the thought of just taking off and leaving an infant.

“She probably didn’t know the baby remained. In her time, the belief was that unbaptized infants went to Limbo, so in all likelihood, she died assuming that the baby would find its way and be taken care of.” Cam shrugged again. “Who knows? All I know is that earthbound souls of infants are a rarity, so most of the time, they move on with no difficulties. Something went wrong for this one.” Cam frowned as he stared into the middle distance for a beat. “But, you know, as soon as she saw Zackie, she quieted and stopped crying. Getting her to go through the portal was a breeze compared to the clergyman. I had to work another two weeks before the clergyman moved on.”

********
Bio:
Reyna Favis is the author of SOUL SEARCH and SOUL SCENT, modern tales of the psychopomp set in the search and rescue world. Reyna holds a Ph.D. in biology and brings a scientist’s critical eye to the unseen world, imposing logical consistency and mechanistic detail to the unexplained. A proud and militant introvert, Reyna exerts her power as mistress of the dark arts of introversion through her blog, Introvert Broadcasting Network. When not writing, she responds to callouts as a canine handler for search and rescue.

Guest Blog: ARTICLE: A MEIKLE MYTHOS?

 

ARTICLE: A MEIKLE MYTHOS?

__________________________

Several of the stories in my new collection THE GHOST CLUB fit into my ongoing Sigils and Totems mythos.

It’s a simple enough concept.

There are houses like this all over the world. Most people only know of them from whispered stories over campfires;
tall tales told to scare the unwary. But some, those who suffer… some know better. They are drawn to the places where
what ails them can be eased.

If you have the will, the fortitude, you can peer into another life, where the dead are not gone, where you can see
that they thrive and go on, in the dreams that stuff is made of.

There it is in a nutshell. There are houses where people can go to get in touch with their dead loved ones.

But this gives me lots of things to play with. To even get inside a room, you need a sigil; a tattoo or carving on your
skin, and a totem, a memento of your loved one. Then there’s the fact that your loved one might be a parallel
universe version rather than the one you actually know.

And where do these houses come from? What’s behind the walls? How do they work? Why do they work? And who chooses the concierges who run them? Or fixes them when they don’t work?

So I’ve got all that to play with, plus the fact that the houses can exist anywhere, at any time. They’re like lots
of boxy, multi-faceted Tardis, spread across space time,  places and situations into which I can hook in characters
and stories.

I think I’ve stumbled into something that could keep me busy for a few years.

When it came to writing THE GHOST CLUB stories, I thought it would be fun to have some of the famous writers stumble into this mythos, as if it’s something that has always been out there, on the fringes of storytelling since stories were first told.

So I have Bram Stoker telling of strange doings in a house in Whitechapel, a tale that is the most directly linked in
the mythos of them all, I have Rudyard Kipling’s army officer stumbling into a cellar in the mountains of India
where a house is in the process of being ‘born’, and I have Henry James telling of a chess set that may, or may
not, have come from another such house, and which will turn up soon in a later story of mine that’s going into the
whole mythos in more depth.

These stories add to the novel, three novellas, and another handful of tales that are already published, and there is
more to come.

I’m Willie Meikle, and this is my mythos.

********

 William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with over twenty novels published in the genre press and more than 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. He has books available from a variety of publishers and his work has appeared in a large number of professional anthologies and magazines. He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company. When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory. Willie Meikle on Amazon

To purchase The Ghost Club Amazonon

Guest Blog: Bishop’s Curse Part II by J. C. Eickelberg

Bishop’s Curse Part II

By: J. C. Eickelberg

 

All the soldiers looked at the killer. He looked to his comrade-in-arms, calling out some who shared comments about the music. Agitated sounds from outside went unnoticed. Heavy doors slammed open and boomed when they hit the wall. A shadow filled the doorway. It passed through the group to fall across the musician. Screams of astonishment spread around the Bishop’s men. The figure stopped by the fallen musician. It stood head and shoulders above the assembly. Space appeared around the Monsignor, musician and massive figure. Murmurs of astonishment went around the group.

Who stopped the music?” The voice reverberated in the vast building. He looked at each man in turn.

I did, Gargoyle,” came the voice of the soldier.

It’s not proper music for a house of worship. Neither are you, Abomination!” Bishop Cornelius spoke up as the musician’s killer advanced. Monsignor was shocked to hear the senior cleric speak up so severely. He hadn’t mentioned his disfavor of the music until it was too late to make a change.

Stop,” Monsignor interjected. His voice boomed over his guests. Eyes locked on the younger cleric. “There will be no more violence in my church. You will answer for your actions.”

Bishop Cornelius was uncertain of the massive figure. He stood among his entourage. Now he came forward. “Monsignor, you will answer for allowing this creature in a house of God.”

Monsignor wasn’t moved. “Bishop. As far as this town is concerned, myself included, this creature is a protecting angel. One of many. They defend us from invasion and pestilence. In return, we give them music, whether in voice or by an instrument. The organ is their most loved form of music.”

Nonsense,” Bishop intoned. “They are animals. No house of worship should be defiled by their presence.” He pointed at the gargoyle and looked to the captain of the guard. “Remove that thing from this church.”

Soldiers moved in. Dozens of voices came alive. Everyone reacted to the cacophony. All looked to the choir loft. Standing, sitting and occupying every available space was a gargoyle. Each sounding a warning to the visitors. The guards faced the gargoyles, surrounding the Bishop. The massive gargoyle stood his ground, unperturbed.

Bishop, your visit here is over,” Monsignor announced. “My flock has spoken. One of yours killed one of mine. You may not welcome gargoyles, but I do. So does this town. I will not stand for more violence in this church, or town. I cannot guarantee your safety any longer. No one in your traveling party is welcome here anymore.” His voice held authority Cornelius flinched at.

Sounds of mayhem from outside brought attention to the doors. Bishop Cornelius looked back to Monsignor Marcus. Fear convulsed Cornelius’s countenance when he saw the gargoyles had descended to their level. There were twenty gargoyles for every person present. Only the aisle to the door remained clear.

Monsignor,” Bishop Cornelius said. He locked his gaze on the younger cleric. “If this is your flock, I curse you and your flock to forever live as one. Women will give birth to the offspring of the animals they care for.” He locked a scornful gaze on Marcus.

May you have safe travels home,” Marcus replied in good faith. Marcus wasn’t fazed by the bishop’s words. All humans were as welcome in his church as the animals they brought in with them.

As Bishop Cornelius exited the church, Marcus pondered the significance of a curse from a religious figure. Curses were spoken and believed by practitioners of the dark arts. Witches cursed people, not a church leader. Marcus wasn’t concerned about a curse from a cleric. His concern was for the well-being of his community and parishioners.

Marcus turned to see his organist being taken away. Shadows sailed across the windows. Horses and soldiers clamored to get ready for travel. Gargoyles walled off the Bishop’s group from returning inside. Noises from the organist’s pit brought Marcus’s attention to the vacated keyboard. An alternate organist was getting ready to play. Signals went to his assistants to start working the organ’s bellows. Notes and tones murmured as the organist warmed up. Six bars into his warm up the organ wound up to full volume. Notes of ‘Toccata and Fugue’ rattled any loose items in the cathedral. Windows vibrated in their frames. Marcus had to take refuge in the courtyard. Ringing ears and physical discomfort followed him out.

Groups of gargoyles had taken wing from all directions, blocking the sun like storm clouds. Every clan within earshot responded to the call of danger. No living gargoyle remained still as Bishop Cornelius’s group left town as fast as their tired mounts could go. Every animal nearby voiced their displeasure with the organ’s volume. Birds able to take flight did. A falconer had his birds hooded, but still had to sooth his charges. Marcus noted all flying masses routed themselves along the road leading away from town.

Monsignor,” a page said, running to him. He was out of breath. Marcus calmed him. “A mounted unit is running out of the forest to meet the Bishop. There’s going to be trouble for Bishop Cornelius.”

Yes, there is,” Marcus agreed. “Is everyone back from hunting?”

Yes, Monsignor. They told me about the soldiers coming towards town.”

Unfortunately, the Bishop hasn’t been agreeable to us.”

Why? I heard him speak so highly of our town.”

He doesn’t like our dealings with the gargoyles and animals. Our friendship with them wasn’t acceptable to him.” The page was crestfallen to hear this. He looked up, realizing something. “Why is Master Garrett playing the organ?”

How do you know he’s playing?”

This is his call-to-arms piece. I recognize his playing. Master Gregor should be playing.”

I have some bad news.” Monsignor’s face saddened. “Master Gregor was killed by one of the soldiers waiting for the Bishop.”

Despair crossed the page’s face. Gregor was Garrett’s twin brother. They were equals in everything they did. Music was now deafening inside. Outside the volume was tolerable when the page arrived. Now both could feel the music’s intensity in their bones. Marcus, in all his years leading this church, had never heard the organ played so loudly, so intensely.

Marcus led the page to a lookout tower at the far corner of the building. They witnessed the gargoyles dive toward the horsemen. Gargoyles dove with the grace of a hawk. They gained altitude with a rider before dropping them. Some soldiers flailed, trying to swim to safety. Some fell like stones. Bishop Cornelius’s outbound contingent was unceremoniously dispatched. Few members of his inbound contingent fell victim to the onslaught. Experienced leaders retreated back to the forested hills to wait out the attack.

Bishop Cornelius and his group were properly laid to rest. Monsignor Marcus made sure everyone was calmed and repairs were made. Master Gregor was interred in regal fashion. His brother played solemn pieces at the service. Every member of the church turned out to pay their respects. During the service, all parishioners passed by, saying their goodbyes, and commenting on the music. Garrett was present at the graveside service. Monsignor presided over all ceremonies. Every townsperson, organist, and cleric were present. As people dispersed Marcus pulled Garrett aside.

Master Garrett. Who’s playing the organ?” Marcus asked.

No one,” Garrett replied. “You don’t suppose Gregor is making his presence known?”

Perhaps,” Marcus said. Gregor was a dedicated organist in life. In death, he seemed unable to part with the best instrument in existence.

Life went on adjusting to the loss of a much-loved musician. Weeks passed, life returned to normal. Bishop Cornelius’s visit faded from memory. Marriages and births brought light back to the community. Organ music kept the townspeople in good spirits. Gargoyles flew and performed their acrobatics like any other day. Good memories dimmed for Monsignor Marcus when parents brought their newborns to him. Parents of one youth he remembered brought their newborn for a visit.

How is you litter doing, Marie?” he asked the young girl.

Very well, Monsignor,” she said. “They’re very playful.”

That’s nice to hear.” He smiled at her, turned to her parents and asked, “What brings you here?”

Our son,” Marie’s mother said. “He wasn’t born right.” She controlled sobs, but tears leaked down her cheeks.

He’s different from other children,” Marie’s father stated.

Let’s see him,” Marcus said, calmly. He hadn’t seen this level of fear since Bishop Cornelius’s departure.

Marcus looked at the bundled form. His heart chilled at the sight of the newborn. A small hand reached out for his finger. Hairiness had been seen before. In front of him, swaddled by his loving mother was the face heavily influenced by a lynx. Roundness in shape of an infant was covered in soft fuzz. Ears, slender like his mother’s, had the distinct tufts of a lynx, and the mouth and nose stuck out like a kitten’s. Father, mother, and sister had no traits of a lynx.

He’s as beautiful as his family,” Marcus said.

No one in our family has any resemblance to him, or near as much hair,” mother said. The baby cooed, almost purred. “Other mothers have similar concerns.” She pointed out other parents approaching Marcus and her family.

Similarly, swaddled infants paraded forward to be shown their altered appearances. An assortment of irregularities presented themselves. Canine and feline traits morphed with human traits were most common. Faces and limbs displayed all sorts of combinations. Fingers and toes were lengthened to various degrees, ending in equal varieties of nails and claws. Spread through the congregation were gargoyle broods. Their youth showed equal influences of humans.

Monsignor Marcus looked around. All newborns were unique in their appearance and loved by the parents. He stepped into an impromptu sermon about God’s love of man, beast and the willingness of all present to live next to each other. He preached love of all God’s creatures. Background ambiance of the organ kept people calm. Everyone left the sermon even more enamored by their recent additions. The shock of the unusualness of each infant disappeared.

Monsignor, you gave a wonderful sermon,” came a firm voice.

Thank you, Turok. Everyone was more accepting than I believed possible,” Marcus said. He turned to leave.

Turok followed Marcus. “You seem worried.”

Turok, during Bishop Cornelius’s visit, he voiced a curse referencing our cohabitation. I took it as heated words and passed it off. He cursed our children to be mixed with animals their families cared for.” He turned to look at the taller being. “What are your thoughts?”

Being a senior member of your church, he may have knowledge of dark arts to keep tabs on its practitioners. Perhaps he was tempted to experience the power of those dark arts. Unfortunately, I’ve seen its use, just not to this extent,” Turok said.

You’re more insightful than any bishop I’ve ever met.”

Bishop Cornelius…” Turok searched for the right phrasing.

Was corrupt and power hungry,” Marcus finished. “I recognized his desire to claim this cathedral as his.” They walked in silence for a minute.

Now we live with the changelings,” Turok said.

Yes, we do,” Marcus agreed. “We’ve cohabitated all these years and are as neighborly as can be.”

Now we learn to live with a new progeny and teach them a new way of life,” Turok said.

Our ancestors adapted to each other,” Marcus reminisced.

And we will continue to live just fine together,” Turok stated.

Care for lunch, old friend?” Marcus asked.

I’d be happy to join you. Audrey does wonders in the kitchen.”

They sat down to eat. Lynx cubs playfully greeted them when they entered the dining room. Marie hurried after them. Her parents settled down on one side of the table. Turok looked at their newborn. A hand swiped at him.

As playful and beautiful as his sister,” Turok admired.

Thank you,” Marie’s mother said. She accepted her new child as easily as the gargoyle next to her. “I hope he won’t shed too bad as he grows.”

That may be the least of your worries,” Turok said. He looked over to see one cub balancing on the mantle while a littermate leapt for a butterfly flying through the room.

 

********

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

Guest Blog: Bishop’s Curse Part I By: J. C. Eickelberg

Bishop’s Curse Part I 

By: J. C. Eickelberg

Emerald Valley was a fertile valley valued by many groups. Three roadways lead into the mountains to major cities. Skirmishes had been fought over the fertile land for decades. No single power was ever able to lay claim to any portion of the valley.

As the Great Pestilence swept through cities and towns, armies stopped fighting in the vicinity of the valley. People fled cities to settle away from diseased and decaying neighborhoods. Farmers took advantage of the lush landscape and settled there, ignoring rumors from soldiers about winged creatures. These creatures were ready to bother any and all travelers moving through the valley. As groups settled, small towns grew. Populations sang praises of their good fortunes in finding fertile farmlands and plentiful wildlife.

Rumors of flying creatures became widespread as these communities merged and supplies from cities arrived. Travelers new to the area reported most of the sightings of the winged creatures following them. Residents had grown accustomed to the flying creatures. Groups not from the area were stopped by cloaked figures and searched. Wagons of goods were stopped and any vermin found were dispatched and wagons sent back empty. Drivers reported these imposing men wearing dark cloaks as harsh and persistent in keeping pests out. Fear of them drove the wagon drivers away from their scattered loads.

Shopkeepers sent hunters and scouts to search the roads for overdue shipments. When supplies were found, figures emerged from the landscape to confront the scouts. Questions were raised when they found the abandoned supplies. These ‘cloaked’ people became known and trusted to the scouts after persistent questioning. With trust came knowledge of the ‘Cloaked Ones’ true identity. Scouts found their identity at first disturbing, but were quickly soothed by their purpose; protecting all living things in the valley from plague and invasion. They were a local clan of gargoyles. Appearances varied greatly with the gargoyles, each chosen for a specific job. More animal appearing gargoyles scared away unwanted groups. The more human appearing gargoyles interacted with residents of the valley. The humans showed appreciation for what the gargoyles did by singing.

Songs related their thanks for keeping sickness and war away. All armies and bandits avoided entering the valley fearing for their wellbeing. Gargoyles were the saving angels of the valley, keeping danger out. The human population held their faith and pursued their lives in peace. Songs to keep the human spirit in check and uplifted were appreciated by the gargoyles. They, in turn, helped hunting parties and shepherding duties. Outsiders and invaders never learned about the cohabitation and coordination of the gargoyles and humans. News from outside the valley came readily, but news of the gargoyles true identity never left the valley. Residents and their trusted allies made sure of this.

When the population grew large enough a vast cathedral was built. Artisans worked on the interior with images equal in grandeur to the exterior architecture. Appreciation of music was shown by countless aerial sorties and acrobatics by the gargoyles. People enjoyed their protection and awed at their aerial feats. Musicians joined in with the wandering singers. In quick succession, the cathedral soon added its own voice. The largest pipe organ ever built was installed. With doors and windows open, the cathedral exuded the sound of organ music across the landscape.

As the organ played, it drew more gargoyles from farther out. The more organ music, the more they flew around town like bees around flowers. Their displayed love of music was highest when the churches and cathedral were full and everyone sang. In markets, wandering minstrels performed for market-goers, keeping minds off the wrath of the Great Pestilence in distant cities and wars. Watching from rooftops and balconies, gargoyles were equally entertained. Organ music regularly brought more clans in enjoy the organ’s voice. Visitors were rare any time in the best of weather. Royalty and church elders almost never ventured so far from home.

Bishop Cornelius was the rare church cleric to make the trip. He had heard about the prosperity of the Emerald Valley population and wanted to experience the music first hand. His arrival was announced first by the gargoyles, then by two squads of lightly armored soldiers traveling with him. Most of the mounted soldiers were kept at the edge of the valley. Their leaders did not want to endanger any more soldiers than necessary.

As the Bishop’s entourage entered town musicians stopped performing. Gargoyles disappeared from view as the music faded. The most curious gargoyles remained statue still to watch the procession. Moving through town, Bishop Cornelius witnessed more peace than seen anywhere else. At the cathedral, he was amazed by its size and grandeur. Elaborate stained-glass windows and ornate statues decorated the facade. Hearing the Bishop was making his way through town, the local clergy gathered at the doors of the church. Bishop Cornelius dismounted and approached Monsignor Marcus.

Bishop Cornelius. What a surprise! Welcome to Castile Rosa.”

Thank you, Monsignor Marcus. I’ve heard so much about your church and town I couldn’t resist seeing it for myself,” Bishop Cornelius replied.

You’re most welcome. You’ve had a long journey. Please join me for a meal.”

Your hospitality is most welcome.”

There are stables nearby for your escort,” Monsignor said, pointing toward the armed contingent. “These soldiers aren’t needed here. You won’t find a safer town anywhere.”

The soldiers will follow me wherever I go. They will protect us and find the stable later,” Bishop Cornelius said. A few groans came from the escort.

Cornelius followed him to the doors of the cathedral. They stopped at the top to look around the vicinity. Birds circled around the buildings, singing along with the organ inside. Larger birds could be seen farther out, circling fields, looking for food. These went unnoticed by the Bishop. He watched a dog meander down the street looking for scraps. Another dog walked near his entourage, not caring how close it was to horses, or surly soldiers. Some soldiers shooed it away with a hand. A lancer swung his weapon at it. A growl drifted toward the Bishop and Monsignor as the dog gave the group a wide berth.

You have a very well-kept town. Much cleaner than everywhere else I’ve been to.”

When our forefathers built this town, cleanliness, and order were paramount. Evils of the body and lifestyles aren’t allowed here. We protect ourselves against the Pestilence as best we as can.”

They went inside. Coolness welcomed them as the two clerics walked through the sanctuary. Organ music played as people cleaned and moved throughout the building. Cornelius admired the decor inside as much as he had the exterior adornments. Light filtered through the windows in a kaleidoscope of color; the craftsmanship of the church rivaled that of any found in a larger city. A small contingent of his entourage followed the Bishop. Wherever they went, music from the organ could be heard. Every person they passed hummed or sang, happy to hear the organ. Every opening let the music escape to all parts of Castile Rosa. Grumbling from the weary soldiers faded as they moved deeper into the building. Smells of cooking food intensified.

Monsignor, how many are we expecting for lunch?”

Audrey, we’ll be needing places for six more,” Monsignor announced.

Very well, Monsignor. I’ll see his men outside will get something, as well.” She walked to an assistant and rattled off a list of goods for man and horse.

You’re too kind, Monsignor,” Bishop Cornelius stated. “My men will find accommodations later.”

You’re our guests. We take care of all of our visitors.”

They walked out to a well-maintained courtyard. In the center was a stable, holding an assortment of animals. Horse, mules, goats, and chickens moved in penned areas. At the far side of the courtyard, a sturdy staircase went up to the mezzanine level. At the top, a door opened to a large room with a table laid out for a meal. Windows stood ajar to allow a refreshing breeze to pass through. Music echoed everywhere mixing with birdsong.

Bishop Cornelius stopped to look over the courtyard. Animals were tended to as affectionately as the garden. Cleanliness and health glowed everywhere he looked. Frescoes and murals on the walls were minimal but no less impressive. A hawk rested on the railing twenty feet from the Bishop. A young man approached him holding the end of a taut cord. A medium sized mountain lion led the young man. It favored a leg, obviously recovering from an injury. Monsignor Marcus signaled the start of lunch. Bishop Cornelius turned to find food laid out on the table. He glanced over his shoulder at the predatory animal on its leash, uneasily reflecting on the relationship of the animal and the man tending to it. Sitting at the head of the table he calmed himself with the meal. Hunger overrode his desire to ask about the assortment of animals. Platters of wonderful smelling food were set out. The travelers dug in with ravenous focus. Marcus took the opportunity to check on attendants as they passed. His guests remained quiet as they ate.

With his appetite satiated, Bishop Cornelius focused on the room. At the hearth was a wicker basket tended to by a youth of about ten years. Soft noises emitted from it sounded feline like to him. The intensity of her ministrations touched his heart. He rose from the table and approached the hearth. Inside the basket was a litter of lynx cubs. A mother cat investigated the girl and her charges as it passed through the room. The cat sniffed at the furry charges, checking for herself on the welfare of the cubs before embarking on a distant mission. He followed the cat to the balcony. Outside he looked over the railing to watch the activity of the courtyard. Cornelius noticed a variety of noises in the courtyard. Dogs barking inside the main building, other animal sounds drifted to his position at the railing. The stable loft door opened to reveal an assortment of animals. Inside he focused on another mountain lion with a bandaged leg and wrapped midsection attempting to move around.

Monsignor, I’ve seen many unusual things in my travels, but your church is unique,” Cornelius said. “All around me is beauty and peace. It seems those who’ve taken refuge here are animals.” He pointed to the lynx cubs on the hearth and a young man waiting at the door with an injured bird.

Bishop, we are all God’s creatures. Man, and beast alike,” Monsignor said. “Our town founders have obliged future generations to share with the animals we’ve run off to build our town,” Monsignor replied firmly. “I will not turn away the injured animals brought here.”

In the silence, he heard only the sounds of the courtyard. The organ was no longer being played. Members of his staff stopped to listen. Murmurs arose at the lack of sound. There were times no music played. This was not a time of rest for man or instrument.

In seeing all the animals you care for here, I’d like to know where the human flock is tended to,” Cornelius said. “I’ve seen doors to many rooms, but very few townsfolk.”

Our town takes care of anyone in need. Neighbors help neighbors. When man can’t get help, they come here.” He saw an elderly man approach, an urgent expression on his face. Marcus watched him approach. He signaled the man to come closer. “Yes, Walter.”

Monsignor, there’s an incident in the sanctuary.” He looked to the Bishop. “One of the soldiers is involved.” Walter led the way.

Everyone made room for Marcus and Cornelius as they went back to the church proper. Birdsong and women whispering were the only sounds along the way back to the sanctuary. All present watched a soldier hover over a prone figure. Marcus went to the organist laying across the aisle.

This man is dead. Why?” Monsignor stared at the soldier. In the choir loft, and on every available ledge, Marcus saw a mass of fidgeting figures watching the scene. Shadows fluttered across the windows.

I asked him to stop playing. The music hurt my ears.” The soldier’s expression was grave. “He wouldn’t stop.”

It’s not your place to ask him to stop playing,” Bishop Cornelius stated. “Your actions are inexcusable.”

 

 

********

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

Guest Blog: Gland by Hormones

r

Artist: Hormones

Track title: Gland

“Conventional music laws” absolutely doesn’t describe my music… It’s more like musical impressionism, instrumental, not based on melody at all, but rhythms are the interesting thing about those tracks. Rhythm, in my creation, is an ALGOrithm, which a listener need to think about and figure out. Combination of math and music. So when the listener figures out the “abstract” beats and bars, it gives him more than a satisfaction from the sound, melody, atmosphere, etc. but also a feeling like solving a mystery. Obviously, the listener would have to play the track more times so he could think about that… Algorithm instead of normal, 4/4, boring, for ages overused rhythm gives a new dimension to the music.

So I explained all the weirdness about my music and now I should be more specific about the “genre”. Instrumental, an atmospheric/abstract, dark/horror, cacophonic, low tuned sharp guitar sound (the main guitar sound is played on bass guitar with hard distortion) combined with a sweet soft guitar that makes a contrast. Dirty bass, regular drums, piano, some sythns.Sounds good when home alone, or walking in a city at night…

********
Bio: Karel Fošumpaur, CZE, 17 y.o. “Hormones” (one-man-band). Track “Gland” from the first self-titled album “Hormones”.

Guest Blog: The Most Haunted Cemetery in the World by Loren Rhoads

 

The Most Haunted Cemetery in the World

by Loren Rhoads

In 1447, Franciscan monks (the so-called Gray Friars) built their friary at the north end of the Grassmarket on a slope with a lovely view of Edinburgh Castle. The Franciscans, a medical order, served the poor there until they were chased out of Scotland in 1558 by the Reformation.

Their friary yard was claimed by Queen Mary in 1562 for a public burial ground. Just in time, too. The graveyard was used “extensively” during the Black Plague of 1568.

At the foot of the cemetery’s east walk stands the Covenanters’ Monument, which remembers Scottish Presbyterians who died for their faith rather than convert to the Anglican Church founded by Henry VIII in England.

The scourge of the Covenanters was Sir George Mackenzie. He was a highly educated member of the Scottish Parliament, a lawyer, and a member of the Privy Council of Scotland. In 1677, he became Lord Advocate in the service of King Charles II of England, in charge of punishing anyone who refused to swear loyalty to King Charles or rejected the Church of England.

Four hundred Covenanters were imprisoned in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in 1679. The guards abused them. They suffered from the weather, lack of shelter, and starvation. Many ended up buried anonymously in a mass grave in the Kirkyard. In all, Mackenzie is blamed for the deaths of nearly 18,000 people during the eight years dubbed “the Killing Time.”

Mackenzie himself died and was buried in the Kirkyard in 1691. His tomb stood quietly until 1998 when a homeless man broke into it. When the thief ransacked the coffins, the floor collapsed beneath him, spilling him into a plague pit full of bones beneath the mausoleum. The man managed to haul himself out, then ran screaming into the night.

Something had been unleashed.

For the past twenty years, Greyfriars Kirkyard has been considered one of the most haunted graveyards in the world. Visitors have been scratched, bruised, and bitten near Mackenzie’s mausoleum. Blasts of cold air chase some visitors away. Others become nauseous and disoriented or are struck with splitting headaches. One woman was found unconscious near the mausoleum with bruises like finger-marks around her neck.

In 2000, spiritualist minister Colin Grant attempted to exorcise the mausoleum. He felt the presence of hundreds of souls in torment and a presence of overwhelming evil. He fled the Kirkyard, but it was too late. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack several weeks later.

YouTube is full of videos of people showing off bite marks and bruises received while touring Greyfriars Kirkyard. Enter at your own risk.

Greyfriars Kirkyard is one of the 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads. She is also the author of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and writes about graveyards for the Horror Writers Association. She blogs about cemeteries as vacation destinations at cemeterytravel.com.

 

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2xFsas3

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die-loren-rhoads/1125684248?ean=9780316438438#/

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316438438

 

 

 

 

Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wVzjG6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog: Playa de Los Muertos By: J.C. Eickelberg

Playa de Los Muertos

By: J.C. Eickelberg

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, we have a great Guest Blog about Pirates.

Row, damn you. Put your backs into it,” Captain Scythe demanded. He was paranoid to get his plunder buried. It couldn’t disappear fast enough. No one was going to take it from him. His ship nearly emptied of loot, sat out in the sheltered bay bordering Puerta Vallarta to the west. The crew strained at the oars to keep their crazed captain happy. Each boat was heavily loaded with precious cargo plundered from the Spanish fleet.

Few pirates knew of this sheltered bay. Those fortunate enough to know sailed with Captain Scythe. He was a savage among pirates, guarding his ship and treasure with unparalleled brutality.

Scythe had survived a plague ship, walked away from destroying the powder magazine at a Spanish fort, and was rumored to have survived a volcano blowing his home into the ocean. His scarred appearance sent terror into the hearts of all but his closest, most trusted crew. These crewmembers, his lieutenants, skippered each of the boats rowing to shore.

Every load ashore was relayed to a mine dug into the side of a nearby mountain. The lieutenants followed each load to the mine as it was passed from one group of press-ganged workers to another. As one laborer fell to fatigue, one took his place. No able-bodied person was left out. Men and women, old enough to spend a day in the fields, or digging in the mine, took part in hauling treasure inland. If they stopped moving, they stopped living. These unlucky souls took the blade to the throat or were run through. Each leg of the relay had at least one corpse propped against a tree as an example. Non-blinking eyes and stench of blood told the workers their neighbor was dead.

Chaos erupted at the edge of town, near the first exchange point. Captain Scythe stormed to the sight of pandemonium. Torches surrounded the upright corpse posted there. The corpse’s bloodied and shredded shirt shimmered in the light. A mangy mutt growled at each torch jabbed toward it. Blood on its muzzle told of its attempted feast.

Chupacabra,” was muttered among the gathered townspeople. They hovered on the far side of the clearing. No one wandered from the scene, fearing retribution from the pirates more than the ugly creature they taunted. A thick-armed pirate came out of the crowd to pin the creature to the ground. It snarled and fought for freedom from the massive hand. Another massive hand wrapped around its neck, ending the snarling wretch’s fight with a snap of its spine.

Take care of that, Gunny,” Scythe told the burly man. Gunny nonchalantly took charge of the limp form as the treasure continued up the mountain. No one saw what happened next to the creature.

Women crossed themselves as they muttered prayers. Men pushed wives and sisters along, eager to be away from their dead, and eviscerated, neighbor. Bags and chests of loot went into the mine as they arrived. Everyone was held off to the side until every piece of treasure was stashed inside. With the final bundle laid to rest, the miners were ordered to seal the opening.

The youngest in the group stumbled with fatigue. She managed to stay on her feet. Standing with as much dignity as she could muster, she held her ground. Bravado withered when she emitted a shrill scream. The thick-armed pirate had turned away from the mine opening to show the headless corpse of the Chupacabra hanging over the entrance. Blood oozed from the decapitated corpse. More screams came from others. The mangy head, torn from the carcass, stared at the young woman from a length of hemp cord worn by the pirate.

Vamos,” he bellowed, leading the way back to town. The lone word boomed across the assembly. Scythe heard that voice over cannon fire.

Fellow pirates prodded the group into moving toward town. Two armed guards remained with the miners. Quick work was made of sealing the mine and the beach soon held the town’s population. Gunshots echoed down the streets as the miners attempted to run off. Fear became unbridle terror. Barking and howling announced wild dogs had moved in with the predawn wind.

Scythe smiled at the overwhelming fear on the faces of his workforce. His crew responded to a quiet command. They raised their weapons and fired at the whimpering crowd. Huddled in fear, no one could escape. Face the guns or wild dogs. It was death either way. Smells of death and rotting seaweed wafted toward the open water as the wind picked up.

Rowboats followed the winds back to the ship. Sacks of food, barrels of fresh water and jugs of a local brew found a new home onboard. Scythe noted the pile of scavenged food.

Gunny,” Scythe said, pointing at the food.

They won’t need it,” Gunny said. His thick hand caressed the Chupacabra head as he gestured to shore with the other. “Better’n what we got.”

They never looked back as the stench of death followed them to sea. A crab reached up to pluck a morsel from a nearby corpse. Other animals followed the dogs onto the beach for a meal.

Daylight brought market goers to a scene of carnage. Their curiosity why nothing in the market was open brought them to the beach. All the town’s residents lay dead, blood drained into the sand and mangled by scavengers.

 

 

********

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

Guest Blog Photo: Cover of Pet Cemetery by J.C. Eickelberg

This week for the Guest Blog, we have some fan art. J.C. Eickelberg sent us this nice cover from the book “Pet Cemetery” as fan art. We enjoy this photo and would like to share it with you guys. If you have fan art or anything you would like us to share with other HorrorAddicts, do send to us at horroraddicts@gmail.com.

 

This is a little background from J.C.Eickelberg on the cover:

“I found an old assignment I did in an art class a very long time ago.  I kept it because it scares me so much.  The cover of Pet Cemetery scared me when I drew it, and still gets to me today.”

 

Guest Blog: EMERALD EYES By R. B. Wood

EMERALD EYES

By R. B. Wood

It was raining the night the dark-faced, false-skinned murderers came for my children. I’d been through and survived their senseless killings before, escaping with my life and little else.

If it were just me, I wouldn’t be concerned. But I had children now, and the three youngsters were asleep, huddled together for warmth and comfort. The wind howled at our home while torrents of rain lashed down, threatening to drown us. Indistinct voices sounded outside. They didn’t kill us to eat. They slaughtered us for fun, and they were far more dangerous than any jungle storm.

Lightning exploded around me as I woke the children. The two youngest, Chand and Saarya, fussed and complained sleepily, but Ishaan, my eldest, woke instantly and was immediately alert, staring at me with his beautiful and expectant emerald eyes. There was so much more to teach them, but there was no more time. I had to trust that they could find their own path, as young as they were. I did once, long ago. Now it was their turn. I needed to face the false-skinned murderers and keep them from my family.

I knew that by dawn, I would be dead.

I nodded once to Ishaan, then to the jungle. He nodded once in response. He swatted at his sister and brother and the two fell into line behind him. My three babies stole away through the lashing rain. It took only seconds for them to disappear from sight—an impressive feat for ones so young. I felt a moment of pride, just then, I admit it.

Ishaan was doing his job as the eldest. It was time for me to do mine as their mother. The false-skinned murderers wanted something to kill? I would not make it easy for them. I leaped out of the door of my home for the last time and began to stalk my prey. I found the first one urinating against a tree. I took him before he even knew there was danger.

I ripped the throat out of a second murderer moments later. This one lets out a gurgling cry, but the wind and then rain masked the sound of his death. I was approaching a third when I heard a loud crack—the report of one of their damnable fire-sticks. Caution be damned, I ran toward the sound, already knowing what I’d find. Little Chand was lying among the fronds, his blood pooling, mixing with the rain and the dirt. A ragged wound had taken the place of the soft, black fur of his chest. I watched him take his last breath. Whether he realized I was with him when he died, I’ll never know. 

A second crack sounded nearby and I roared with rage, bounding away from one dead child only to find another—my little Saarya—missing half of her head. I could see bloody, broken teeth showing through the hole. A grotesque mockery of what had been her beautiful smile. All around my daughter I could smell her death, taste her blood. I was about to scream again when I heard a higher pitched yell of fear and pain. Not Ishann too, I thought and set off as fast as my legs would carry me.

I splashed through puddles and slid in the muck, scrambling to get to my boy. I found him. But it hadn’t been he who screamed. Lying on the ground was a murderer. His throat had been ripped out, much like I’d done to his companion moments before. A broken fire-stick lay beside him.

Ishaan was there, ripping at the murder’s false-skin, tearing into the dark flesh underneath. My son was in the middle of a blood rage. He had lost the sense of himself, lost awareness of the danger that still surrounded us. I pulled him off his kill. He bit and clawed at me, and I let him until his rage faded.

Shouts could be heard coming closer, and beams from false-suns sprang up. More murderers would come, as they always did, sensing an impending kill. They would be riding in metal beasts and carrying larger fire-sticks.

We needed to run.

No, I thought. Ishann needs to run. I failed to keep the false-skinned killers from Chand and Saarya. I will not fail a third time.

I held my son close, inhaling his scent, trying to explain to him how he needed to run, how proud I was of him. How much I loved him. Rain washed away the blood and dirt from the fur of my child as I set him down upon the sodden ground. He looked up at me, emerald eyes unblinking, understanding. And at the next flash of lightning, my son was gone. Thunder rumbled, and I growled a challenge in response, matching tone and timber.

Voices were all around me now. Many false-suns lit the jungle chaotically, bouncing off trees and ground and rain.

And me.

One of them shouted, and other false-suns turned to me in an instant. There was no more time. I snarled in defiance.

This is for Chand and Saarya. This is to keep my Ishann free.

I pounced amongst screams. Their fire-sticks roared. Blood flowed, and the rains fell harder.

 

*********

 

BIO:

R. B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Speculative and Dark Fiction.  His first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, was released to critical acclaim in 2012.  Mr. Wood is currently working on multiple stories and his MFA (Emerson College Class of ’19).  Along with his writing passion, R. B.  is the host of The Word Count Podcast – a show that features talent from all around the globe reading original flash-fiction stories.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner, Tina, a multitude of cats and various other critters that visit from time to time.

Guest Blog: The Infernal Clock Anthology Stephanie Ellis

Time ticks for everybody and has become the instrument with which humans torture themselves, marking as it does the countdown to each person’s eventual end. Not a precious minute can be wasted in each of our allotted lifespans … whether it be used for good or evil.

 

The Infernal Clock is an anthology tracking one day in time, each of its 24 hours filled with horrors and torments. Between the covers, lie a collection of diverse styles ranging from dark fantasy to the literary to the classical—here is horror in its many forms. The anthology is available on Amazon but to celebrate its recent launch we are offering the chance to win a print copy of the book. Check out our 500 word flash horror competition over at The Infernal Clock blog. And if that’s not enough, here’s a taster from the book:

The Graveyard Shift

by Stephanie Ellis

“Are any awake?” asked Nurse Maddison. Joseph cast his eye over the bank of monitors in front of him. Each showed a sleeping patient, unmoving. “Dead to the world,” he said. “If only,” said the nurse as she walked away. They both laughed at the joke, tired though it was. The graveyard shift was almost over. She just had to wait until the clock struck three. And the big hand was almost there, moving slowly towards the end of its hourly journey, second … by second … by second.

Click.

He watched her grab her freedom, striding out of the facility’s gates, waving up at his camera as she disappeared into the night.

He sighed. It was alright for her, he still had another hour to go; another hour of mind-numbing boredom. He could pass the time like others by watching TV or flicking through trashy magazines but he had more of a conscience than that, ever since … well, what was past was past but from then on he had always done everything by the book—almost always anyway. Needless to say it did not help his popularity and he frequently found himself walking the corridors or watching the monitors at this unearthly hour, his colleagues having bagged the more attractive shifts as payback.

A slight movement in Patient One’s cell caught his eye; Nurse Maddison’s replacement—Nurse Ole Lukøje, a male medic this time. The Dane had been there a week and Joseph still hadn’t met him. It was almost as if he lost time when Ole was on duty. Joseph had a worrying suspicion he sometimes dozed off on the job despite all his good intentions. But nothing had happened and nobody had caught him. Hell, it wasn’t a sleep clinic for nothing; he could afford to cut himself a little slack, all those years of tedious conscientiousness had built him a balance of credit he felt could do with spending. And his time here was nearly up after all. Tonight though, his curiosity was piqued. It was definitely about time he met the guy. He rubbed his eyes and returned his gaze to the monitor. Ole Lukøje, he pondered the name, a Danish synonym for the Sandman, very apt.

He continued to watch Patient One. What dreams are you giving your patients, Nurse Lukøje, he wondered. The nurse had left but the man was no longer sleeping peacefully. His body had begun to twitch uncontrollably, his legs jerking as if running from something, his hands swinging out wildly against an unseen attacker. Joseph cast his eye over the patient’s notes left with him in case of ‘emergencies’. Patient One was prone to night terrors—well that was something new—and apparently only a recent development as it had been added by Nurse Lukøje. There had been no such observations from any of the other nurses who worked that shift. An extra note had been squashed into the space at the bottom of the page. It merely stated that normal sleep patterns resumed at 4 a.m. Joseph frowned. Usually the nurse would stay longer, wait until the patient had settled down, adjust the meds if any were being administered. But he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. And Patient One was becoming more agitated by the minute.

To read more and find out what other horrors can happen in 24 hours, check out The Infernal Clock

Guest Blog: Breaking Conventions with Jane Lisa Lane

Breaking Conventions with Jane Lisa Lane

I didn’t set out to write anything extreme, but the story had different ideas. Jane’s nasty past was determined to haunt her in terrible ways no matter how hard I worked to keep the work subtle. Her world was forged in loss and betrayal, the circumstance leading her into the arms of a monster. It became dark—really dark. I realized, though, that this balance between supernatural drama and extreme horror could say a lot collectively about Jane’s character.

Tragedy and horror spawn both villains and heroes. An antagonist isn’t usually born the antagonist. The bad guy feels justified in his or her crimes, no matter how heinous, because other terrible events have often led the person to that point. However, the same events might lead a person of greater character down a more altruistic road. Jane is that person of greater character. Instead of inflicting the kind of pain she’s suffered, she goes out of her way to extend kindness. She’s a tortured soul in the truest sense, but she sees it as her mission to do right by all living things—which includes, in good hippie fashion, refraining from using animal products of all kinds.

Still, I have to admit that even I was surprised by how graphic Jane’s flashback was in Hair… and then Flower Power was a creature all its own. I knew the vampire that turned Jane had been a sadistic psychopath, but I fell down a disturbing road when I decided to answer the question: How horrific might the torture get if the subject were very, very difficult to kill, and the thing inflicting it happened to be exceptionally evil?

Jane really is a character of unexpected extremes. Despite her desire to do only good, she does sometimes kill people in violent ways. She gets to a point, after a couple weeks without any fresh blood, when she loses all sense of what she’s doing and simply sees prey. The peace-lover she is, she tries her best at playing vigilante to get by, but good people do sometimes end up going down in her wake. She ends up putting herself in an endless cycle in her quest for redemption: she has deluded herself into believing she might eventually reverse her curse if she performs enough good deeds—but by merely staying alive, she puts those around her regularly at risk. As guilty as she feels about it, she does often downplay the significance of the deaths that result when she “goes red.”

Her most recent adventure, Dazed and Confused, exemplifies that downplaying, while also going back to the milder, somewhat less graphic roots of Love Beads and Flashbacks. The balance of darkness is still there but on a much subtle level. Take Jane’s “hangover.” Then, by placing her in a horror survival situation, the episode’s antagonist being the undead of a wholly different kind, the coin is able to flip, revealing the humanity Jane does still possess—as well as her vulnerabilities.

Because of all Jane encompasses, I’m overjoyed that the Vampire Tours of San Francisco invited me to join them on their 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love tour. The tour will include a hippie vampire costume contest, and I’ve been told there will be prizes. For more information on the Vampire Tours of San Francisco, go to http://www.sfvampiretour.com.

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Jane the Hippie Vampire is going old school. For the first time ever, Love Beads, Flashbacks, Hair, and Dazed and Confused are available individually in trade paperback.

Love Beads https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521217467

Flashbacks https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521219796

Hair https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521219869

Dazed and Confused https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521219931

For more info and updates, go to my blog: http://www.cerebralwriter.com/blog.

Guest Blog : Delicious by David Mallory

Delicious by David Mallory

Late one night, I was talking to Bryan, my boyfriend, over the phone. We were just talking about the typical things that we’d talk about, like the movie that we had gone to see in the theatre and when we would be able to see each other again.

Continuing my habit of walking back and forth as I talked on the phone, I was next to one of the vents that led to the basement and as I stood there for a second, I heard a sound coming from down there. Something that sounded like a ton of items had just been thrown on the ground. I leaped back, making sure to keep the vent and myself far away from each other.

“What the fuck was that?” I yelled, completely shaken and almost leaped out of my skin when I heard a voice coming from beside me as I had almost forgotten that I was still holding the phone to my ear.

“What was what?” asked Bryan worriedly, as he had no clue what was going on since he was not able to hear the noise that came from the vent.

After composing myself for a second, I explained to him what had just happened. He was extremely worried about what could have made the sound, but that worry quickly changed to anger after I told him that I was going to head downstairs to find out what caused it.

“What? Are you crazy?” he yelled, “You don’t know what’s down there, it could be anything!”

Even though I knew he was right, I needed to see what was going on, to satisfy my curiosity and to make it easier to sleep at night.

“I’m not crazy,” I told him, “I just need to know what’s down there, besides it’s probably just the wind.”

Bryan sighed, he knew that when I was like this, there’s no talking me out of it, I’ll do it no matter what.

“Fine, but please just be careful.”

“Of course, I’ll be careful.” I replied, “When am I not careful?” I heard him mutter something, probably some sort of snarky comment, but by that time, I had already put the phone and began to head towards the basement door.

Once I got to the door, I unlocked it and opened the door as I turned the light on. At first, everything seemed completely normal and I was about to completely close the door when my eyes caught the shadow of something zip along the wall. I quickly opened the door, when I saw what looked like a humanoid figure standing at the bottom of the stairs, seemingly staring at one of the steps.

It moved its head up and when it noticed me, it started charging up the stairs, running so fast that it looked like it was gliding. I stood at the top of the stairs with the door in hand, completely shocked at what was happening. Unsure of what to do, I waited until it made it to the final step and then I grabbed the thing’s neck and I began squeezing.

The thing began flailing its arms and moving its head around to escape from my grasp, but I continued choking it until I heard a loud ‘crack’ come from it and I felt it go limp in my hands. I stared at the body in my hands for a few seconds and I laid the body on the ground. I ran over to the phone that Bryan was still on, unsure of what I was going to do now.

I was sitting on my bed, staring at the window while I waited for David to get back on the line to tell me that everything was alright. I had almost convinced myself to drive over to his house when I heard deep breathing come from over the phone.

“David? Is that you?” I answered, “Are you okay?”

“No, no, I’m not.” came the shaken reply, “I-I think I just killed someone.”

“What?” I yelled, “Are you serious? Cause if this is one of your jokes, it isn’t funny!”

“I’m not joking, I swear!” he said, sounding like he was on the brink of tears, “I killed someone in self-defense and the body is-“

“David?” I yelled into the receiver, “David, what’s going on?”

“OH MY GOD!” David yelled over the phone, “THE BODY – IT’S GETTING BACK UP! BRYAN, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO-“

Suddenly, there were screams and growls coming from the phone and then everything went silent.

“David! David!” I screamed, “Speak to me? Are you okay?” I was about to call the police when I heard a click, like someone picking up the phone. “David? Are you okay?”

I heard heavy breathing come from over the phone and after what felt like a year, I got a reply.

“Yes, he’s okay.” came what sounded like several voices all growling together, “In fact, he’s better than okay, he’s delicious.”

 

*********

David loves macabre and bizarre things. He also loves movies and is an aspiring horror writer.

URL: https://twitter.com/66Xeno

Guest Blog : Horror: A Love Story By: Kenzie Kordic

Horror: A Love Story

By: Kenzie Kordic

Horror has always, for as long as I can remember, been a huge part of my life. Everything from watching it, reading it, and even writing it, nothing has been off limits for me. I love everything about horror from the music, the visuals, and the way it just gets under your skin. It is rare when you can find that magic in any other genre. I will let you in on the history how horror became a huge part of my life and how it impacts me today.

It all started at the age of one. Yes, one years old. What most people would call bad parenting, I call amazing. When I was just a little girl, my dad would watch Tales from the Crypt and plop me down on the pillow to watch it with him. The opening scene has to be one of the most terrifying minute long horror segments that I watched as a child. From there, as I got older, I started watching whatever horror movies would come on television. At that point in time Child’s Play was still really popular and I was deathly afraid but yet in love with that movie. Fast forward a few years and I am a middle school student. I had walked into class and saw another girl making a list of people in the class and how they would die. When I talked to her about it, it turns out that she got the idea from the movie Final Destination and from then on, we were soul mates. I finally found the one person who understood my love for horror in a small town, and I was no longer the weird kid.

In high school, I started writing short stories, and wrote numerous terrible novels. I decided to join a creative writing class in high school and actually won an award for my writing. It was only high school level, but that I was the first time in my life that I felt my writing was worth something. I have always loved writing and have only recently been trying to make something from it. The hardest thing for me was actually making something scary. Now that I’m older, I can take everything that scares me in my mind, and put it on paper. I have a short story coming out the end of the year in an anthology series entitled Depraved Desires. I have been working on my novel for some time now and am nearing completion, and I continue to submit short stories on almost a near daily basis. Even if I never become traditionally published, a household name, or anything else that comes with being an author, I will still be happy because I am throwing myself into the thing that I love most: horror.

GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY PART TWO by J.C. Eickelberg

GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY PART TWO by  J.C. Eickelberg

Part One

“It’s nice to see you again, Dominic,” his mother said.

“And nice to see you, too, Elizabeth.” He turned to his son. “How have you been?”

“About the same as when we talked last,” he responded. “Just touching on the topic of family inheritance.”

“I see. What concerns do you have?” Dominic asked his grandson. His cloak fell off his shoulders and arched away from his sides, mimicking the angel’s wings. Logan saw Dominic’s cloak wasn’t clothing. It was a pair of wings. A figure glided to his side, as graceful as any angel.

“Good evening, mother,” Logan’s father said.

“Good evening, Gregor,” she said. “This must be that grandson of mine. My how you’ve grown into such a handsome young man. You’ve got your mother’s dark hair.” She smiled at the young man sitting on the plinth.

Logan stared at the winged couple standing in his yard. They were the warm grandparents he remembered from his youth, with the exception of the wings. He didn’t remember their wings from previous visits. He had wondered if they had passed away given their rare contact with him. When he flung out the insult about being a gargoyle, he never expected to see them as real. His grandparents appeared as close to his imagination of what one would look like. Then he looked at his father. There was no mistaking the resemblance to his grandfather’s bulky form and grandmother’s kind eyes. The only exception was his lack of wings. Some gargoyles he’d seen were grotesque. His grandmother was regal in her beauty and his grandfather was noble in his bearing. Both were preternaturally tall and well defined for their apparent age. And nothing like the bestial ornamentation on an old building.

“Logan, you are part of a long line of special beings,” his mother said. Her sable complexion glowed warm with love, but stern. She soothed his fear and uncertainty.

“Where are your wings?” Logan asked his father. “And yours? And mine, for that matter?” He looked at his mother.

“Mine were damaged too badly when I was younger to keep. Unfortunately, I had to have them removed. I have the scars to prove they were there. Yours weren’t formed correctly,” Gregor said. “Your mother was the donor of the DNA used to correct your ‘anomaly’.”

“Your anomaly was malformed wings,” his grandmother said. “I would have offered to donated my DNA, but your parents pointed out you would have been the only flyer in town. No one would have been around when it came time to get you acquainted with flying. Your grandfather and I spend a lot of time visiting family all over. Accepting communities of our kind are few and far between. Wings are a rarity here in your town. If your wings were left as they were, your spine would have become misshapen.”

“Logan, I wasn’t born with wings. I was a rarity for our kind. No wings meant I could walk among everyone and not get pointed at or taunted.” Elizabeth went to sit next to her son. “I love your father for who he is. Not for something he’s not or doesn’t have. I know the story of how he lost his wings. He knows I never had them. I almost wished I had wings to experience flight, but then I realize in this day and age, we don’t have the freedom to fly like your grandparents could in their youth.”

“Logan,” his grandmother said. “Your wings gradually reduced to nothing after your treatment. Your parents didn’t tell you because they wanted you to grow up like other kids in the neighborhood. No wings meant you wouldn’t have to hide them or explain them. Your grandfather and I lived in a small community that accepted us and treated us as equals. Neighboring villagers tended to treat us as demons, or worse. Some of my family were killed for being who we are.”

“Even though you don’t have wings like we do,” his grandfather said, gesturing to his wife, “we still love you as much as we love your father and mother. It makes no difference to us. You are family. You have your special traits you’re learning to use, and honing very well from what I’ve seen.”

“What you have seen?” Logan asked, astonished they knew so much about what he did in his spare time. “I haven’t seen you in years.”

“I saw you intercept and catch that hawk. Your timing was very good,” he said. Logan recalled the large shadow crossing the driveway when he leaped off the roof. “I saw you walk out of the house, but not how you stalked the squirrel. Your agility and reflexes are phenomenal. Aren’t they Althea?”

“They most certainly are.” She saw Logan’s confusion. “We were far above the hawk, waiting for shadows to lengthen. Riding thermals is just as invigorating as it was when we were younger.”

“I have so many questions to ask you.” Logan looked at his grandparents. Wonder and awe welled up in him. He remembered seeing images from folk art and old architecture of gargoyles or creatures more animal-like than the beings in front of him. His grandparents were quarterback and cheerleader good looking, even in their advanced age. “How old are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?”

“A good place to start. We grew up in a small town in the mountains long before airplanes were thought up. Our town was the last to get electricity, and still has a population of our kind. There are many of us out there. You may have seen the gargoyles on old buildings?” Logan nodded, remembering their beastly appearance. His family did not resemble those animals. They all could walk down the street with no second looks. His father appeared as normal as anyone he’d seen at the store. The wings his grandparents had were the only obvious difference between themselves and people in school. “We are not those creatures. Wings are the most obvious similarities. Some other features are more easily left unseen.” Althea tapped a lengthened canine tooth with a long nail.

Logan looked at his fingers. His nails (or were they claws?) didn’t show their length like when he caught the hawk. He thought about them and they extended with a little effort.

“I know it’s harder for us to hide those,” Gregor said, extending his claws. They lengthened significantly. “Some of us can get away with longer ‘nails’.” He looked lovingly at his wife, who checked a rough edge on one claw.

“That I can do,” Logan said. “What about this?” He stood and removed his shirt. What had started as a downy covering of hair was filling out to a glossy coat of fur.

“Goodness,” Althea stated. She examined the color of Logan’s thickening pelt. “You certainly have your mother’s coat and color. It suits you handsomely.”

“Grandmother, no other kids have this much hair. I’ve been able to hide the claws and teeth. No one else I’ve seen in school has hair like this.” Logan’s angst came out in his protest. “People have wondered why I don’t go to the pool. I want to go. I want to have friends that accept me.”

“We will always accept you,” Althea said. “You may not have wings, but we love you. I’m jealous of you in one thing. I’ve never been able to climb as well as you do. I’m sure there are kids that would want to know how you can climb like you do. Friends will come. If they accept you, then keep them. You need to be patient with others and find how they react to us before letting them know what you are.”

“Logan. Unfortunately, your hair isn’t so easy to explain to others. Some babies were hairy. Some don’t grow out of it.” His mother gave him a coy smile. She pulled her shirt up as if to pull it over her head.

“Mom!” Logan declared as he turned his head away.

“Logan. Look at me.” She was stern.

Logan looked toward his grandparents. They showed no shock, or surprise at his mother’s action. His grandmother gestured back to her daughter-in-law.

“Logan. Your mother has more to tell you,” his grandfather said. Sternness demanding Logan to return his attention to his mother.

She stood closer to him now, shirt in hand. Wearing a skimpy top he’d seen her wear during dance practice, his mother stood unperturbed without a shirt. Logan had never seen her without something fully covering her torso. He saw the same velvety layer of hair covering her shoulders and bare belly that covered his torso.

“Yes. You have inherited something from me that doesn’t quite fit in with everyone else.” His mother watched Logan’s face. Acceptance came slowly to Logan. “I’ve seen some people watching you. Most looked who at you were taken by you. I’ve seen admiration of your good looks. That anomaly you had, wings notwithstanding, would have left you hunched over. The little bit extra I gave you through that DNA treatment meant you weren’t going have funny looking wings on a hunched back. It may have meant a little more hair, but you can deal with it. I’ve seen how well you’ve grown into it.”

“Might this be one of those classmates that watches you, Logan?” Grandmother Althea asked.

Logan peered over his shoulder to see his grandmother looking back toward the house. Her wings were wrapped around her shoulders, appearing as a cloak in the growing darkness. With a place to look, Logan turned to see someone coming down the driveway. A friendly smile on the newcomer’s face.

“Good evening, Michelle,” Logan’s mother said. “What can I do for you?”

“Good evening, Mrs. Everson,” Michell said. “I wanted to drop off your dance shoes. They came into the store today. I thought I’d save you a trip to pick them up. It’s on my way home.” Michelle smiled warmly. Seeing Logan, a twinkle appeared in her eyes. “Hi, Logan.”

“Hi, Michelle.” Logan smiled back. He forgot about his trepidation of fitting in at school. He also forgot about the shirt in his hand.

“I don’t want to interrupt a family get together.” Michelle gave the shoes to Logan’s mother. “See you at school, Logan.” She turned to leave. As she did, she pushed some hair behind her ear. Logan noticed the tuft of hair on the top of her ear. Michelle fluttered her fingers at Logan and went back down the driveway. Shock settled on Logan’s face.

“Mom,” Logan said, looking at her. “Did you know?”

“Know what?” she asked, innocently.

“That’s she’s part Lynx,” he said.

“No. I knew she liked you.” Logan looked at her, not believing her. “That’s why I told her to stop by with the shoes when they came in. She lives half a block down. I’ve heard you talk about her. I also know you’re too hard on yourself and wouldn’t have talked to her.”

“Logan,” Grandfather Dominic said. “You have more to learn about the community you live in than you know.”

“That young lady is a start,” Grandmother Althea said. “Take it from a mother. Sometimes a son needs to have his eyes opened a little by a parent.”

“Yes, they do,” his father said, humbly. “Just as they need to keep in mind, not everyone is ready to accept someone equally linked to a bird of prey, a jaguar, and a human. Or another animal.” He glanced down the driveway at Michelle.

“Mom, I thought you had a panther in your family.” Logan’s shock of being known was wearing off. “I’ve never seen spots on you.”

“I have one. A ‘birthmark’ on my leg. Michelle recognized it in dance class for what it was. When she asked about it, without concern, I knew she could be accepting of a certain young man I know. Like not having a tail, I won’t miss a mopey teenager getting over whatever it is you have to get over.”

Logan looked to his father.

“Like your grandmother said. Sometimes it takes someone else to open your eyes. You have three generations who accept you for you. One of them was a stranger to you.”

“Was a stranger? I’ve never talked to her outside of class.”

“You have your chance to get to know her. You’ve always wanted to fit in. Now there’s someone you can talk to about getting in touch with your animal side.” Gregor looked at his son. “I almost let your mother get away. Don’t do that with Michelle.”

His mother tugged the shirt out of his hand and balled it up. She put it on against his bare torso and said, “She’s not a stranger to most of the neighborhood. Michelle’s a keeper. Don’t let her get away. Chimera or not, you have a life to live.”

“I will. Do me a favor first,” Logan said, looking at his father.

“What?”

“Don’t burn dinner. I’m wanting something with no char on it,” Logan said.

“Now do your mother a favor,” his mother said. “Set the table for five. Your grandparents are staying for dinner. I’ve got some cooking you can help to finish.”

“If I’d known, I’d have gotten the squirrel, too.” Logan chuckled.

“Glad to see you’re out of your funk. Now go in and wash your paws. I don’t want to see feathers at the table,” Grandmother Althea said.

 

*********

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

Guest Blog: Smart Machines by Kay Tracy

Smart Machines by Kay Tracy

It was a Saturday, before the holidays. I had to pull some overtime on a few reports for the boss. Friday night, in the winter, now well after dark, and I couldn’t get the door to open. Something moved behind me low on the floor. A mouse?

That was three weeks ago, and I am still here. I can’t get out. Gods help me, I truly wish I could say it was because of my boss. How I wish a mouse was what I had glimpsed!

The firefighters who broke open the door keep trying to tell me I was in shock.

People sometimes ask about it, but no one really ‘knows’. Folks really don’t want to know.

You have seen them in many offices, those machines that will print, copy, and, staple. Oh, to be sure, there is someone who is designated to change the ink or toner as it calls for it. And usually, office etiquette says, if you empty the paper, then you are supposed to put more into the machine. Easy enough, But there is one thing most people never think about. I know I never did. At least, not until now.

I t was trivial at first. I started noticing little things go missing. It was easy enough to think it was my co-workers. Steph had run out of paperclips and took some from my desk. No worry there. The odd safety pin that I would keep in my drawer was next. I did think it was a bit rude for folks to go into the drawers of my desk without asking first. I mean, really!

In talking to others, I found out that they too had had things go missing from their desks. Small stuff at first. Then James complained that his new steel mug and thermos was gone. Julia’s power cord to her computer was next. Harold had an entire desk lamp disappear. The objects were getting larger, and stranger. Soon, anything that was made of metal was going missing. Small pocket change, keys, it seemed odd. Then William asked when we got the pretty staples. Everyone came to see, and there on his desk was a stack of reports with copper colored staples. I wondered about all those pennies that were once in the coffee fund can, which was now missing. But then, so too was the coffee maker!

I am desperate now, trying to find a way out of here. The parts inside the phone are gone now. The thing grows longer snakelike arms every day. The larger, more complicated items it brings to me for disassembly. I have no idea when it will have all it wants or needs, maybe then I can leave.

People really should know about these things. Maintenance includes more than just the paper and ink. More than just the “machine guy” every three months for a cleaning and lube. The staples should not be overlooked on these ‘smart machines’.

*********

Kay Tracy is now retired, and has time to do all the things she thought she never would do! She loves to travel, play Magic, and write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*********

Kay Tracy is retired and now have the time to do all the things she never thought she would! She loves to travel, play Magic, and writing.

GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY Part One by J.C. Eickelberg

GUEST BLOG: C. DARWIN DECAY PART TWO by  J.C. Eickelberg

What are you telling me? I’m a freak?” Logan asked. He was visibly upset.

No. You’re not a freak,” his dad said. “You had genes spliced into you to correct a genetic abnormality. You’re as normal as I am.”

What kind of genes were used? Monkey? Dog? Slug? What am I?” Logan didn’t like hearing he wasn’t truly his parent’s kid.

You are as human as I am. Every piece of DNA used came from a person. You don’t have to worry about turning into a fish, or growing a tail.”

Yeah right.” Logan rolled his eyes. “I’ve seen pictures of people with tails, and little kids with enough hair for three people. I even did a report on Werewolf Boy. Is he a cousin? Or is mermaid girl?”

Nothing of the sort. Your genetic anomaly was corrected with valid strands of DNA. A flu virus was used to get the DNA into you and do what was needed. It didn’t make you sick. It made you better.” His dad reassured his son as best he could. 

“If anything, your eyesight might be better than anyone else in the family.”

Great. I won’t need glasses. What about me not wanting that treatment? Maybe I didn’t want it.” He glared at his father, disgust evident in his voice.

Then we wouldn’t be here having this conversation, and you wouldn’t have become the healthy young man you are,” his dad said. He looked at his son, tired of the conversation. 

“Is there anything else?”

When can I expect to start howling at the moon? Or should I make arrangements to catch a flight south to keep up with the flock? Are my wings going to start growing soon?” He chided his father.

He didn’t believe all his father had said about the source of DNA he was given as a child. “I’m pretty sure I remember the desire the hang out in trees.”

You always were a bit of a climber,” his dad admitted. “I’m going to say it again; only DNA from a family member was used. What do I have to say to convince you of that?”

Convince me? When half our family is built like gorillas? I don’t think that’s going to happen. I may as well be a gargoyle.” He shot this at his dad. 

“Darwin would roll over in his grave, messing around with a person’s genes.” Logan couldn’t help thinking this was a Lovecraftian conversation.

That’s not true. You’re not a gargoyle. Those reflexes of yours are more cat-like than a gargoyle’s.”

If not a gargoyle, then what am I? A snake like you for doing this to me?” He glared at his father.

“Why do I feel like I want to chase birds?” Not waiting for a response, he continued, “Come to think about it, I’m going out to go get something to eat. Do you want me to bring back a mouse for you?” He didn’t wait for a reply.

As far as he was concerned, he didn’t want to hear any more about what benefits he ‘inherited’ from the donated DNA. He just wanted to be like everyone else he met. All human, no mixed DNA. As much as his father said about getting nothing but human material, who’s to say the source didn’t start with the non-human material.

He stormed out of the house. Looking around the yard, he found the massive oak tree he spent so much time in as a kid. It had massive limbs reaching over the roof of his parent’s two story house. The lowest branch was head high. He easily leaped to this lowest branch, claws digging into the bark. Chirping birds fluttered through the neighborhood as a squirrel chattered farther up the tree. Nothing in sight calmed him. Friends down the block playing soccer held no interest. His tree companion kept yelling at him for joining it in the tree. A shadow moved over the tree. Warbles filtered down, announcing the hawk looking for something.

Logan moved silently up the tree. His movements sleek and quiet. A flurry of movement brought his attention to focus on his target. The squirrel darted passed him, moving toward the house. Its movement was too spastically for him. A better target presented itself as the squirrel made the leap to the roof. Making adjustments while moving through the tree, Logan made his leap as the hawk streaked toward the ground. Logan landed on the roof. The squirrel raced over the peek. Logan heard the door close.

Logan, what are you doing up there?” his dad said.

Like I said. I wanted a snack.” He held the hawk out to his father, still embedded on his claws. “Want some?”

Get down here,” he demanded. Logan landed next to him, as light as a cat jumping from a countertop. His father lowered his voice. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. No hunting in the neighborhood.”

Fine. You get the grill out. I’ll get this cleaned.” Logan smiled, showing off long canine teeth.

Good catch. That’s a big one. I’ve been wanting to catch that one, myself,” his dad said.

Logan went to the backyard to begin the task of dressing out his catch. A shadow sailed across the ground. He dismissed it as another predator scouting the neighborhood. His father made a grunting sound in his throat as another shadow passed, a larger one this time.

Dad, have you talked to Grandpa Everson lately?” Logan asked, mind lost in thought.

Not for a little while. Why do you ask?”

I’ve been thinking of him lately. I don’t remember much about him.” His dad watched his son carefully. “I was hoping to talk to him about our family.”

Why the interest? Anything your mother and I can help you with?” He watched as Logan began the task of preparing his catch for the grill.

I know all the stories you told me. I want to know what it was like for him growing up in the old country. Why did he move? Where does he live now? What did he do for a job at your age? What does he do now?” A shadow of doubt and a recriminating looked aimed at his father wasn’t lost as feathers fell to the ground.

Odd you ask about him. He just contacted me about coming for a visit. In particular, he wants to talk with you,” his mother said from the backyard. Her lithe figure, cat-like in her movements as she soundlessly crossed the deck.

Logan started at her voice. He hadn’t heard her open and close the back door, or walk across the wooden surface. “Mom, you’re too quiet.”

Not when I want to be,” she purred. “And I wanted to know what’s up with you. Why so much interest in knowing about the family? And why the hostility about being a healthy young man? Too many girls in the neighborhood chasing you home, wanting a boyfriend?” She reached to take the bird’s carcass and continued to prepare it more gently. A few bones were clearly dislocated from Logan’s efforts.

No. I just want to know what anomaly I inherited from the family.” He walked into the backyard toward the statuary his parents kept there. “What was it?” He demanded of the statues as he turned to his parents. He sat on the plinth of his favorite statue. An angel with wings hanging to the side, face looking down in concern.

I believe your grandfather was wanting to talk to about just that topic,” his mom soothed. She deftly finished with the bird as his father got the grill warming. A smile stretched across her face, white teeth set off by her sable complexion. He couldn’t help notice his familiar smile used on him. Even down to the canines.

That’s right,” came a baritone reply.

Logan turned to see a figure nearly taller than the statue behind him. In the growing shadows, he walked forward wrapped in a nondescript cloak. The width of his grandfather seemed just as impressive as the last time he visited. It was clear where his father inherited his size. Fear and awe settled on Logan as the immense figure walked into the yard. The chiseled facial features warmed with a smile in return of his mother’s…….

 

*********

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

Guest Blog : Where Nightmares Come From by Drunk Dracula

In this Guest Blog, Drunk Dracula wrote about nightmares. Check this out, and if you want more Drunk Dracula, check out his site at the end of this blog entry…. enjoy the nightmares 🙂
Where Nightmares Come From

My daughter once asked me where nightmares come from, so I told her the story my father told me and his father told him.

Long ago, there were no nightmares, only memories. Memories of the things men do and the things men see. Then sometime around the 5th Century, during the migration of Germanic tribes into what would become most of Western Europe, there was a Lord. And like many Lords of the time, he acquired land. He acquired this land the way everyone acquired land then, he conquered it.

It was in the aftermath of a particularly brutal battle, near the edges of a deep crevasse, that the Lord found a pale child wandering among the littered corpses. It was a girl, blackened by smoke and stained with the spattered blood of the fallen. She had dark eyes and a misshapen body with deformities that made even the bravest soldiers avoid her gaze and step from her path. Now this Lord was a generous one, loved by his men and his people, and he felt pity for this impish girl and he took her in, raising her within the confines of his castle.

He named the girl Nocturne for her dark eyes and her peculiar habit of avoiding sleep and staying up late into the night, seemingly for days and weeks at a time. Despite her appearance, Nocturne soon showed a Jesters talent for making the Lord and the neighboring aristocracy laugh and enjoy themselves at her stories, tales and tricks.

This Lord also had a handsome son, a Prince who would one day inherit the throne, the castle, and its lands. The Prince, like the others, also enjoyed the antics of this new girl who was always by his Fathers side, telling stories and riddles to delight the crowd. But each night, the Prince would watch as Nocturne would whisper into the Lords ear at days end, leaving the Prince to question this girl jester and the way his father seemed enthralled by such a grotesque and deformed comedienne who never seemed to sleep.

Soon, the Prince was of age and he prepared to leave the castle for his studies. He embraced his father tightly, knowing they would not see each other for years. As he rode away, leaving the only home he knew for the very first time, he glanced back at the castle and the people surrounding his waving Father. The last thing he saw before the castle slipped from view was Nocturne, there at his Fathers side, whispering her whispers in his ear.

The stories reached the Prince in the final year of his studies. They seemed fantastical at first and claimed that his Father had become a monster, a bane to his own land. It seemed the Lord had begun taxing his people harshly and imprisoning any who could not pay, condemning them to the bowels of the castle to await some form of trial and eventually, a horrible death. There were tales of lavish sin-fueled parties where the Lord would fly into rages at others, often baiting guests into heated debates, only to shackle them in chains for disobeying his view or command. Neighboring Lords and land-owners avoided the castle, fearing the tales of torture, and staying clear of the screams that lasted well into the night. And within each chilling account, what each witness never ceased to mention, was that the girl Nocturne was there, with her strange whispers for only the Lord’s ear. It seemed that Nocturne was either immune to the Dukes blood rage, or the very cause of it. Now, with this madness consuming his Father, the Prince was told that neighboring Lords were preparing to siege the castle and divide its lands among them. As the Prince rode quickly for home, he knew that any such battle would be short, since recent tales told that much of the castle had been abandoned and now only the Lord and Nocturne lived within its bloodied walls.

As the Prince neared the castle, he galloped past the villages he remembered as a young man. Once vibrant and alive, they were now shells of towns, filled with the starving, the desperate, and the dead. The castle road was littered with bloated corpses and the creek he once played in as a boy ran red with blood.

The Prince burst into the castle, sword drawn, and called for his Father. From a splintered bench in the corner of the throne room, the Lords feeble voice replied. The Prince’s Father was now thin, with sunken eyes and trembling hands, but he stood feebly and reached longingly for his son. The Prince embraced his Father and asked if the stories were true. The Lord nodded, shame washing over his pale face. The Prince gripped his sword tight and roared for Nocturne, vowing to end this damnable reign of madness. She appeared behind him, whispering a welcome to the Prince. She was seated on the Lord’s throne, her small crooked body dwarfed by the immense gilded chair. The Prince lunged at Nocturne but his sword was halted inches from her throat by the call of his Father, who cried NO.

In labored gasps, the weak Lord told his son that Nocturne was no girl, but a witch raised from Hell that day on the battlefield. It was her whispers, her foul and tiny voice in his ear that spread the madness, a rain of nightly tales of horror that he himself would in turn make real by day. The Lord said he kept Nocturne here in the castle, fearing that her tales, should they spread through the land, would inflict the very same horrors that happened here at his home. With this, the Lord gripped his sons hand and looked deeply into Nocturnes black eyes and let out his last cold breath. The Princes eyes filled with tears seeing his dead Father. As for Nocturne, she laughed. It was a tiny laugh, but a laugh that filled the Prince with rage. He stood and stared into that small witch’s eyes and in one swift motion he sank his sword through her down to its hilt. Nocturne’s laugh went silent and her eyes bulged black, dark blood seeping from her mouth. A watery, bubbling sound crept up from deep within her, traveling up her throat and past her bloodied lips. It was one last whisper. An evil sound that echoed throughout the castle, past its gates, past its lands and into our world.

Years went by, and the Prince was eventually killed in battle, the castle divided among the aristocracy. The tale of Nocturne, the Lord and the Prince was almost lost to time and the long shadows of a growing and aging Europe. But some still share the tale of the sleepless Nocturne, the girl who was something altogether not human, a creature beyond the grip of sleep, or night or day. For what the King said that day to his son was true. When Nocturne was killed, she was released from that castle and into the ether, adrift in the world. She is now free to whisper to more than just one old Lord. Her whispered stories and tales and riddles can now reach us all while we sleep. Gone are the Kings, Dukes and lands of old, now there are factories, industry, automobiles, and airplanes. But Nocturne remains, creeping silently into the bedrooms of men, of women, and especially of children. Like she did with that long dead Lord, she whispers into your ear while you sleep, and breathes vile tales of terror, of dread, of lifes poisons witnessed throughout her days on this Earth.

Maybe she’ll whisper in your ear, or maybe she already has. Because she, my dear daughter, She is where nightmares come from.

More Drunk Dracula here

Guest Blog: The Sign by Kay Tracy

The Sign

I have always struggled with these things. There are signs everywhere to give you direction. You see them, Stop signs, Green lights. These are for those obvious things in life or death. Where to look, though when things are not as obvious as you, or I, might wish them to be? It depends. There was the day that everything was in place. It was ‘ON!” I had planned it to the second! Every detail covered, every contingency accounted for. Or so I thought. All of it. I was ready to proceed, then, it began to snow. Lightly, but enough to mean there would be tracks, visible evidence would be heightened. It was a sign, a signal that this was not to happen. A ‘No’ go. Or perhaps, they chose to direct me to something, or someone, else.

I hate when anything interferes. They will only wait so long you know. I HAVE to appease them. I don’t do these things for just myself. No! You have to understand, they have very far reaching desires. My small contributions to their demands help keep them contained. Satisfied, if you will. Or so I hope. They hunger, and I try so hard to keep them in check. Of course, they frighten me. You would fear them as well, I know it. If you realized just what those dim shapes you glimpse now and then, just out of clear view, really were. Be glad that don’t. God knows, if he exists, there are days I wish I did not have. There is no time for self-pity.

It’s time now. Everything is in place, ready. Now to wait for the sign if this thing is to be done. There are people everywhere. Firefighters. Adults, and small children. And the firetrucks are inside. They could be a disadvantage, this will be very difficult with so many. I am sure I have done everything as instructed, according to the plan, but I need the sign. I have to know if this will be the time, and I am to go ahead. Is it on? Is it now? I look up, and there, above me, I see it, my answer, shining clearly.

photo credit:  centennialbulb.org

*********

Kay Tracy is now retired, and has time to do all the things she thought she never would do! She loves to travel, play Magic, and write.

Guest Blog : Horror Movie Conspiracy Theories: The Thing (1982) By: Kenzie Kordic

Horror Movie Conspiracy Theories: The Thing (1982)

By: Kenzie Kordic

The Thing (1982 version) is critically acclaimed as one of the greatest horror movies ever made. It has everything: aliens, isolation, frozen wastelands, and much more. Since this is such a popular horror movie, obviously there are going to be fan conspiracy theories that need to be delved into and examined thoroughly. The biggest conspiracy to come out of that movie, that is heavily debated, is that Childs is the thing in the end. This article will comb through this theory, giving you all of the supporting evidence, so that you can form your own opinions.

At the end of the movie, in the final scene, Childs and MacCready are sitting against a building, talking and relaxing, after fighting off the alien once more. One of the two had to be the alien because they didn’t kill it. They are drinking hard liquor and MacCready hands Childs a cup full of liquid and Childs accepts it, taking a drink, and the movie ends.

This is where the conspiracy starts. There are two different conspiracies related to the end of the film. The first one is that Childs had to have been the alien because he wouldn’t have accepted a drink from MacCready if MacCready was the alien. Common sense, right? The other conspiracy is that the bottle of liquor looked exactly like the other bottles that they were using as Molotov cocktails earlier in the film and some say that the bottle was full of gasoline and since Childs drank it so easily, that must mean that he was the alien.

It doesn’t matter which conspiracy you believe or which way you spin it, but without a doubt, Childs is the alien. If you believe the first conspiracy, why would a rational human being accept a drink from an alien that not only killed off all of his friends but the dogs as well? If you believe the second conspiracy, then you know that Childs has to be an alien because who can drink gasoline and not even flinch?

In conclusion, The Thing has numerous conspiracy theories, some of which wasn’t discussed in this article, and it can be fun to think about what the writers and directors were trying to portray without them holding your hand through the movie. Horror conspiracies is a rabbit hole that I love getting lost in, and I hope you do too.

********

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

facebook.com/kenziekordic

Guest Blog: The Blind Seeker by Kay Tracy

 

The Blind Seeker
by Kay Tracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

box.

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

 

Horror Movie Conspiracies: The Scream Franchise By Kenzie Kordic

Horror Movie Conspiracies: The Scream Franchise  By Kenzie Kordic

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

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

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

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

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

 

*********

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

kenziekordic.com

twitter.com/kenziekordic

facebook.com/kenziekordic

Disheveled Dreams : Guest Blog : Slither by Valarie Savage Kinney

 

Excerpt:

Something was wrong.

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

And she was suffocating.

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

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

“No!”

“We are Slither! We are bound together!”

“I won’t! I won’t do this!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmett, Emmett, Emmett! Help me!

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

*********

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

Slither by Valarie Savage Kinney

http://t.co/VYqWGEN0wG Slither Kindle

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

http://t.co/zr22CDT3BU Slither Kobo

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

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

Crafting Horror: Theatre of the Mind

by H.R. Boldwood

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

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

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

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

The crowd chuckled. Surely, disaster awaited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should be.

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

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

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

It’s that simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder how my characters will feel about that.

#

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

 

*********

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

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

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

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

Guest Blog : Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80’s Voodoo Revival by J. Malcom Stewart

guestblog2

Black Zombie: Hollywood and the 80’s Voodoo Revival

In the beginning, there was the Zoumbie.

What began as a mixture of the ancient spirituality, chemical sciences and social control practices of West and Central Africa ended up stranded in the former home of the Arawak and the Carib by way of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Just as water wears down stone, what started as historical reality became whittled into mythology. And where there were deep roots, the stalk that grew from that dark, fertile soil became forever altered by the gaze of the European Other.

The legendary flesh-and-blood inspiration for the modern cinematic motif arose and walked through the jungles of Haiti and other Caribbean islands in those days, allegedly bringing terror and destruction to those not wise enough to avoid the paths of voodoo, the false cognate for the misunderstood, syncretic systems of religion alternatively called Vodou, Vodun, Vaudou or Santeria.

So, naturally, someone had to make a movie about it.

In 1932, Hollywood came a’ knocking and our beloved Zoumbie left his sun kissed isle to star alongside Bela Lugosi in the black-and-white Golden Age horror classic, White Zombie. A title truly intentional in its contradiction as Lugosi plays a white Haitian landowner who discovers from his black peonage the secret of Zoumbie creation through a process of hypnosis and drugs.

Lugosi then, of course, uses his powers to cement his control over the black populace while subsequently terrorizing his white neighbors, kidnapping a visiting American co-ed and daring her beau to brave the terrors of his plantation to save her.

The strange, occult powers of his character are almost of secondary concern to our heroes given his over-familiarity with the way of “natives,” causing the boyfriend character to exclaim that if the damsel-in-distress were to accidentally fall into the hands of the black workers “it would be a fate worse than could be imagined!” His comrade-in-arms admonishes him strongly not to even consider such a horror.

Never fear… The movie going audience of 1932 was spared the threat of racial miscegenation when the aforementioned boyfriend confronts Lugosi and breaks the spell of the Zombie. All was again right in the world. Except it started a bit of a craze for more cinematic distortion of the Zoumbie tradition, the biggest of which was the mispronounced cultural appropriation of the Zoumbie name.

For a while, our hero held sway in the imagination of filmmakers wanting to explore the field of culturally incorrect exotica. He had regular work in those days, showing up in such forgotten gems as I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Voodoo Man (1944) and the Plague of the Zombies (1966).

Then came George Romero. And like a lot things in the 60’s, there was a changing of the guard.

With Night of the Living Dead, the (pseudo) Scientific Zombie became the king of the block and our hero was forced back into semi-obscurity, through perhaps Romero gave a slight nod of sympathy by casting Duane Jones as a protagonist who shared some heritage with our ancient hero. But mostly, the original item ended sitting around the house, downing bottle-after-bottle of Red Stripe, waiting for his next close up.

Thankfully for him, the 80’s came along. And with it, a “real-life” novel length account from Harvard researcher Wade Davis called The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis’ book, presented as his actual experiences with so-called “zombie masters” in Haiti during the final years of the Duvalier dictatorship. And with its publication came the most pointed scholarly disagreement among anthropologists since Carlos Castaneda’s “Don Juan” thesis that stole the 70’s.

How could it not help but start a new, focused sensation about the Zoumbie and the Voodoo system?

First up in March of 1987 was Angel Heart. The all-star cast of Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet was steeped in both anticipation and controversy. It brought together two of the most respected “Method” actors of the era, one of whom (DeNiro) had already won his Oscar and the other (Rourke) was an odds-on favorite to be the next “great American actor.” It also was greeted with tabloid buzz as Bonet was on thin ice with her TV dad and employer, Bill Cosby, due to the erotic nature of the film. Angel Heart was nearly slapped with the emerging NC-17 rating before some compromising cuts were made.

The film itself was an atmospheric exploration of the “Hoodoo” belief system, a American near cousin to Voudon and Santeria. The Hoodoo concept and practice, prevalent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, sets the background for the New Orleans location for Angel Heart, as Rourke is a noir-cut detective tasked with finding a semi-famous singer who doesn’t want to be found. The set up, while simple sounding, is a complete misdirection for twists and turns, including bizarre symbolism, weird sex and DeNiro as a Brill Cream infused version of the Devil.

The film, which got a fairly favorable critical reception, was less than a box office sensation, perhaps weighed down by all the expectations of fireworks between Rourke and DeNiro and the gossipy infighting over Bonet’s role. Angel Heart has grown in prominence in the decades since, with many fans citing it as a conversation piece for unconventional horror. However, the really frightening thing maybe what happened to Rourke and Bonet’s careers after the film.

Hot on the heels of Angel Heart came The Believers. The May 1987 Martin Sheen vehicle attempted to explore the dangerous side of Santeria, the Spanish Speaking cousin of Vodun, as Sheen plays a skeptical psychologist who is drawn into the world of Caribbean mysticism when his son is threatened by a group of evil Santeru.

While The Believers brought some big budget production values to the subject, the script and direction fell back into some dominant culture stereotypes as the ultimate group of villains revealed had only a flimsy link to the actual Santeria tradition. Apparently, Hollywood hadn’t found much new material for practitioners of African traditional spiritualism in the intervening 55 years between it and White Zombie.

Fortunately for traditional zombie fans, the next year of 1988 contained a much more positive development as one of the decade’s legendary “Three C’s” took on adapting Wade Davis’ book. Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow brought the spotlight back to the place where it all began for our beloved friend, Haiti

Released in Feb. 1988, Serpent took advantage of Hollywood’s renewed interest in voodoo. Craven, then at the height of his powers and popularity, dove into the trend by giving us the most “naturalistic” Hollywood zombie movie to that date.
Set on the island in the early 1980’s, our hero (played by Bill Pullman) is a biologist/ anthropologist /chemist (the script is never sure which) who comes to the island nation in order to find the ancient, narcotic powder used by voodoo masters to put their victims into a state of living death.

For Pullman’s trouble, he is kicked, beaten, buried alive and has a nail driven through his scrotum. But for his tribulations, he manages to do something thought impossible. Bring the undead back to life a second time.

Shot on location around Hispaniola in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Serpent still stands as a glorious, although slower-paced, exploration of the Haitian “voodoo” culture. The film takes considerable time to explain the theology and worldview of the Zombie Makers while also delving into the culture and politics of the proud yet troubled nation.

Freaky undead doings abound, making for some killer scenes. Zombie hands in pea soup, crazy chicks eating glass, a corpse-bride with a python tongue The topper of an undead Paul Garfield pulling off his own head to throw it at a freshly returned Bill Pullman was one of my personal favorite horror moments of the 80’ . And while it wasn’t a big hit for Craven, it’s remembered fondly by many fans as one of his most unique films, despite its over-the-top ending.

Despite the flurry of interest at the end of the Reagan years, Hollywood quickly returned to the modern Zombie model, pushing out the Romero clones with frightening efficiency during  the last 30 years. There haven’t been a ton of films Hollywood exploring the flavors of the voodoo belief (2005’s The Skeleton Key comes to mind), but that’s not to say our hero’s time won’t come again.

In 2017, you can’t go anywhere in the horror genre without finding a Romero style cliche showing it.

 

Guest Blog: The Occult World of Phillippa Schuyler by James Goodridge

guestblog2

 

The Occult World of Phillippa Schuyler  by James Goodridge

The circumstance was the visit of my son and his girlfriend visiting for the holidays Christmas 2016 a brutal year in the world of music that made me do what I did.

  “Hey, pop can I play with this ?” Ruth asks (name changed for this story)  

   Smiling at my OUIJA board sitting all by its lonesome self on a shelf among CDs,DVDs, VHS tapes (don’t judge me I keep them because among the tapes I have left to view is a classic home recorded Plan 9 From Outer Space I taped off of the old WOR channel 9) and books. I myself have never used the board having bought the glow in the dark, hours of fun item at a thrift shop for a dollar. But after hearing way too many stories on late night radio advising against its use, being that it could be a portal for unnamed evil unknowns, in other words, you think you’re talking to Grandma, but in fact, you’re chatting with the Demon Box of Ebril.ps

  I give into her innocent pleading, but I warn her sounding like Peter Cushing in an old Hammer film what she may be in for trying to contact her aunt, but Ruth being a millennial doesn’t pay me no mind. A lone red candle helps us see the OUIJA board in the living room darkness, my son Monte I can see doesn’t what to do this but he’s a trooper. We get a message from her aunt more like a warning that who or whatever is NOT her aunt. The planchette moves back and forth. Then I can’t help it ” Phillippa are you here ?” I yell out.

  African American classical pianist, a right-wing journalist, feminist in her later years along with parleying with Stokley Carmicheal and devout Catholic, Phillippa Schuyler was a woman of paradoxical life flows. A child prodigy with an IQ said to be 185, the biracial daughter of George Schuyler a figure in the Harlem Renaissance Movement and Josephine Cogdell Schuyler a member of a prominent rich Texas family, Phillippa would be compared to Mozart early in her career (for a haunting rendition of Ravel’s “Alborada del Gracioso “) i as a composer. I first came across Ms. Schuyler”s life story while doing research 

  Initially, I came across Ms. Schuyler’s life story while doing research on lesser known black historical figures to be included in a series of occult detective stories. I was fascinated by the contradictions in her life. A role model to the Black community yet, at one point she tried to pass herself off as white using the name “Monterro” in the classical music world which had its biases.  ” Compositions in Black and White” by Kathryn Talalay (Oxford Press 1995) is a well-written biography of Schuyler’s life, the racial dynamic, and conflict during the pianist’s life, I credit her book with helping my research. But it seems whether intended or not Schuyler’s occult leanings were left out. ps2

  By chance, while online looking for a book on dream divination, I came across a title : Kingdom of Dreams by Josephine and Phillippa Duke Schuyler,  (1966 Award books) and then reprinted in 1968, a year after her death and around the time of her mothers suicide. I ordered it. While this book is not mentioned in Talalay’s book (another mystery is the middle maiden name Duke) she does let on that Schuyler’s interest started in 1952 while on tour in Curacao. This was a failed kidnapping attempt, she met a mysterious Herr van Kleed who introduced her to the reading of TAROT cards and a crystal ball reading, which among other visions predicted a plane crash. Kingdom of Dreams seems to me having read her style of writing in snippets was written by Phillippa in the majority. A book that speaks to us in symbolic terms about dreams (as a child she would sleep for ten plus hours dreaming) and their meanings and self-help, it stretches into a defense of alchemy and its heroes the immortal St. Germain, Paracelsus and Robert Fludd. Schuyler also felt a connection between Karl Jungs theories and the alchemists work within the natural world was the key to life along with dream divination and numerology.

The unseen realm of demons, vampires, goblins, werewolves, leprechauns, gnomes, pidwidgeons, mermans/maids, trolls succubi, incubi etc.. included. And while she admits it is a fake Schuyler has a defensive interest in theWheelof Pythagoras representing: God, microcosm/man, and macrocosm/world. Schuyler believed that science was not infallible and that there was a “theory of analogy or the magic association of ideas” led by the signs of the zodiac. Phillippa Schuyler drowned off the coast of Vietnam in the Da nang sector when a U.S. Army helicopter crashed, she was riding in with Catholic orphans she was taking to a safer haven crashed into the ocean in 1967. After a funeral in St. Patrick Cathedral she was cremated.

My temples feel as if someone is pressing books or something hard on both sides, the planchette moves under Ruth, my son Monte and I hands across the board giving Phillippa’s or I hope Phillippa’s answer: N V 3 . N V 3 ?

Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: “Characters Come in All Shapes and Sizes” by Maynard Blackoak

guestblog2

Characters Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Maynard Blackoak

Modeling characters is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me. There are many interesting characters, both real and fictional, which can translate well into literature. As a writer, it is my job to search my database of people to select just the right person to fit the characters in a story.

Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West is filled with characters modeled after some of my favorite people from history and film. As a fan of history, classic literature, and cinema, I had many models from which to choose. Sometimes, the vast array of choices made selecting the right person for a character a difficult task. Other times, it was a no-brainer.

One of my favorite characters was Sadie in The Culling. She is a brash, shoot-from-the-hip lady that does not mince words. As I considered her personality, Mae West stood out in my mind as the perfect model. Thinking back on her quotes and her own roles in film, I drew on the traits she displayed in life and the movies to pattern Sadie. Though her appearances in the story were limited, she makes a larger than life impression, much as Mae did in life.

Swede Hanson and Lou from The Devil’s Herds were patterned after slick talking, sleazy politicians. No matter which side of the political spectrum one falls, we all know of one or two such types that make us scowl with contempt when we hear them speak their rhetoric. These two characters were not modeled after any one person. Instead, I drew upon the qualities of several politicians both past and present to create their personalities.

One of my favorite actresses of all time is Bette Davis. Her portrayal of scandalous women was second to none. Such was her performances, oftentimes, I found myself rooting for her despite the questionable character of the women she played. A montage of several of her roles factored into the personality of Hattie in Deception at Skull Creek.

In The Jonah Herd, the actor, Arthur Honnicutt, greatly influenced the creation of the character, Hank. His roles were usually old, grizzled curmudgeon types that were never at a loss for words. He spoke his mind, whether it made sense or not. I pictured Hank much the same way.

As I created the character, Devileye Bobby Chambers in Collateral Winds, I considered many notable outlaw and Hollywood heavies before settling on Jim Davis as the model. Those familiar with him will remember him as Jock Ewing from the Dallas television show. He was also known for playing bad guys in westerns long before his role as the father of one of television’s iconic characters many people loved to hate.

Several other characters are modeled after historical figures and actors from the golden age of Hollywood. Some you might recognize. While others, you might not. There might even be a few characters that remind readers of someone real or created, from the past or present. That is one of the enjoyable parts of both reading and creating stories, projecting the image of someone to go with a character in a story.

Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: “Historical Inspiration for the Supernatural Story” by Maynard Blackoak

guestblog2

Historical Inspiration for the Supernatural Story

Maynard Blackoak

As a writer, I find inspiration around me. Somedays, it seems all I have to do is look outside the door. There are other times it is a task to find it. Sometimes it comes to me out of the blue, in an unexpected place. For example, listening to old legends and stories told by the elderly can spark the flame of imagination. From a simple tale that had been retold for generations, a new and harrowing tale is born.

Since I was a young child, I was told of the infamous gunfight in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory. Many times, I have visited the old ghost town of weathered structures, and visualized in my mind what that fateful day would have been like. Often time, I would place a hand on spots that looked like decayedbullet holes, and believe I could smell the spent gunpowder.

It was a no-brainer the first tale I wrote for Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West was Claire Simmons, a tale that revolves around that legendary gun battle. I had relived the incident so many times in my head, it was as if I had witnessed it firsthand. I knew most the ins and outs of the story. I just needed to do a little research to fill in a few blanks. Throw in an eerie element, and the story took on a whole new perspective.

Spending a significant amount of childhood in Oklahoma, I was also exposed to many Native legends. One of those old tales made it into my collection in the story, Willows of the Mourning Dove. While I did embellish on the original folklore, certain aspects remained true to the story as I remember hearing it.

Another story, Deception at Skull Creek, was based upon various pieces of gossip I have heard throughout my life. I have often overheard women, and men too for that matter, retelling a story of a certain party. Sometimes the stories involved a granule of truth that somehow had managed to grow in depravity like a snowball rolling downhill. Though not one of the stories occurred during the time of the Wild West, it was not a stretch of the imagination to apply their sordid elements to a story of that era.

Cimarron Rose was a story based partly on fact and partly on rumors of the time. Of course, imagination took the gossip to a whole other level to give it a taste of horror. Still, if not for stories I had heard about the real Rose of Cimarron, this story would most likely have not popped in my head. Besides, rumors normally make for a much juicier read than the truth.

Though, off the top of my head, I cannot think of another story in Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West that was inspired by folklore or gossip, I am certain one, or the other, or both, influenced a tale or two—at least marginally. After all, there is not much telling what lurks in the cobwebbed corners of my memories. Sometimes, they even reveal themselves subconsciously. One thing I do believe is readers of this collection will enjoy the strange ride through the Wild West.

Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: When Horror and the Paranormal Collide in the Wild West by Maynard Blackoak

guestblog2

When Horror and the Paranormal Collide in the Wild West

Maynard Blackoak

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing horror is that it allows the imagination to run wild. Monsters and fiends come in all shapes and sizes, from the very real to the abstract and every combination in between. There are no wrong models to use when creating a frightening tale, only those not aptly given reality in words.

There are horrors to be found in everyday life. Tiny microscopic creatures capable of devouring a body from the inside out lurk in nearly every body of water. Beasts of nature prowl nearly every nook and cranny of the globe, ready to pounce on unsuspecting victims. Vile sociopaths walk our streets dressed in suits of normality. It is a dangerous world in which we live. Any of its many real terrors make for a frightening tale. When reality collides with the paranormal, a true tale of horror with a touch of plausibility begins to unfold.

When I wrote Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, I took some of the real dangers of life in the old west and added an element of the supernatural. Some of the storylines borrowed heavily on old legends. Others trotted out tried and true monsters of lore. One or two added an element of mythology to give them more of a unique flavor.

Growing up I was, and still am, a huge Twilight Zone fan. Besides the odd and bizarre nature of its stories, the show also touched on societal fears of the times. Writing my tales, I could feel a Twilight Zone sway influencing me. As a result, many of the stories in my Wild West horror collection touched on the fears of that era and took on the eerie feel of that classic TV show.

Another aspect of writing horror that appeals to me is creating stories with a twist. It not only keeps a reader on their toes, but also leaves a lasting impression. Adding an unforeseen turn or two in a story jolts a reader and sometimes prompts them to reread from the beginning to ensure nothing was missed. Of course, a writer should be careful not to overuse twists in their tale. Too many turns can cause a story to lose its readability and actually make it a boring read.

It is definitely a challenge when a story unfolds to add an unexpected turn. My trick is to allow a story to basically tell itself until I reach a point where I believe the tale needs to slap the reader in the face with something they never saw coming. While many of my twists come at the end, some come earlier to take the story down another dusty trail. After all, my tales revolve around the untamed west of less traveled paths.

Writing Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had as a writer. I love horror and am fascinated by the old west. Combining the two was a rewarding experience for me. Each word that flowed from me felt like a tribute to my love of classic horror and my cowboy roots. If enough people enjoy these fourteen horror yarns of the dusty trail, there might be a volume two forthcoming in a couple years. I know this old cowboy would sure love to take another strange ride down some eerie trails.

 

 

 

Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: “Memorable Characters” by Maynard Blackoak

guestblog2

Memorable Characters

Maynard Blackoak

The enjoyable aspect, and sometimes the most challenging, of writing is creating characters with personalities that leap off the page. I tend to think of character development as adding flesh to words. If the people in the story do not seem real, the author has not done the tale justice. When the figures of a story take on a distinct life of their own, I feel like Doctor Frankenstein—instilling life upon a creature constructed from various corpses.

Another challenge of character development is to give each their own individual voice. As in real life, we all have our idiosyncrasies and personalities. It is what keeps the world from growing stagnant, and sometimes keeps it in conflict. Characters in a story should speak in different voices, even if the variances are slight or its reading will be monotonous.

Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West has many diverse characters, from despicable outlaws to sympathetic individuals. There are a few villainous figures that evoke mixed feelings. There are also a handful of seemingly good people whose actions are highly suspect. Choosing a personal favorite would be difficult at best. Still, a few stand out among the others.

First and perhaps foremost are the brothers, Kid Cooper and Cole the Younger from The Culling. To explain my affinity for these characters I should reveal they were modeled after my two grandsons. Using their personalities and the character of their parents as a basis, I aged them to adulthood and placed them in the old west. Perhaps I am a little biased, but I believe they made good cowboys.

Annie Shoulders from Willows of the Mourning Dove and Hattie from Deception at Skull Creek are characters that also stand out in my mind. Annie proves herself a strong woman with grit and determination. Hattie is as tough and clever as they come. Their characters are meant to showcase that strong women inhabited the wild west as well.

Some characters appear only briefly in a story, yet manage to make a memorable impact. Loki from The Most Killed Man in the West is one of those. He only appears twice in the story, though his final appearance will leave the reader with a grin.

For pure contemptible villainy, Boone Helm of Neither Friend nor Foe Wasted is as vile as they came in the old west. He cannibalized those he counted as friend and foe alike. Given that he was just as despicable in real life as he is in the story, makes him the type of character everyone loves to hate.

Rose Dunn from Cimarron Rose is a tragic figure from the Wild West. A star-crossed lover whose place in the world was unjustly removed, it is difficult to read her saga without hoping for the best for her. Her sad tale tugs at the heartstrings all the way to the final paragraph.

I am sure the readers of this collection will have their own favorites. With so many colorful and diverse characters from which to choose, I hope they find it as difficult to select a favorite as I did.

Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: Interview with Maynard Blackoak

guestblog2

Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West Interview – Horror Tree

1: What made you decide on the Wild West as a setting for these short stories?

I’ve always been fascinated by the old west. Plus, I come from a long line of ranchers and cowboys. Add in my own experiences of wrangling cattle on horseback and it was only natural that I wrote some kind of cowboy stories.

2: How do you find inspiration for writing?

Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes a song conjures images in my mind. Other times a story is written in the way the wind blows. There are times looking at an old dilapidated building makes me wonder about the folks who dwelt in it or the history it might have witnessed. There’s inspiration all around me. I just never know when or how it will strike me.

3: Why horror?

My first memories are of watching the old classic black and white horror films with my momma. I grew up loving them and later on fell in love with classic horror literature

4: Who are your writing influences?

I love Poe’s use of obscure words. I love the way Dickens paints images in the mind. Since I was young, I enjoyed the way Conan Doyle challenged my mind with his intellectual approach to storytelling. I’d have to say those three influenced me more than any others

5: You have a couple books under your writing career, these are much different than Wild West. What is your most favorite subject of the horror genre?

To be honest, I don’t have a favorite. Each is fun to write in its own right, but some off more of a challenge than others. Since I don’t prefer one over any of the others, it helps maintain a diverse imagination

6: Do you believe in aliens?

Only if they believe in me and buy my books

7: If you could tell your young writing self something in three words, what would you tell them?

Don’t be stupid.

And if I can add this: put down the pen in pursuit of the mighty dollar. It is possible to keep writing while pursuing a career in the corporate world.

8: What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

Like my writing, my taste in music is diverse. I listened to a lot of cowboy music writing my Wild West tales. Other times I listened to heavy metal and in others, it was goth music. Oftentimes, my playlist is filled with songs from many genres

9: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Being a cowboy, I’d have to be shot if I didn’t say a horse. Besides, there’s no better way to feel free than riding a horse on the open range

10: What should we look out for in the future of your writing?

Look for something totally different than the wild west. Maybe something more like classic literature of old. Also, there just might be something more contemporary and even a little depraved. You just never know what will spin through the splintered windmill of my brain.