#HorrorAddictsGuide What Inspires Horror with Selah Janel

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 

selah author shot dlI was a big scaredy-cat as a kid but always had a strange fascination with horror. I’d be the one reading the backs of 80’s paperbacks or video boxes in stores when my parents weren’t looking, though it freaked me out. Somewhere along the line, I decided that I didn’t want to be afraid anymore, and really dug into the genre to help myself “get over it.” What I found was that there’s so many facets and sub-genres, so it’s really about finding what was a good fit for me. It escalated into getting involved with haunted events, first as a performer, and then as a costumer, and eventually a designer and consultant. When people think costumes, it’s easy to think about pretty dresses, elaborate theatre productions, historical recreations, and things like that. I found that my wheelhouse is the strange and the weird, and there’s plenty of need for it. I enjoyed the challenge of melding aesthetic with logistics, and every so often that meant I’d challenge myself to create something over the top. I was lucky that those tendencies found a home for so long designing things for amusement park haunts, and it was a journey that was exciting while also challenging. My piece in the book comes from some of those misadventures, both personal and professional. Whether it’s through writing or costume work, I’m inspired to keep creating because there are always more ideas, more processes to figure out, more things to make. It’s a never-ending candy story of weird, and I’m always happy when I get a chance to run around in it.

Check out our new book at: Amazon.com

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Cursed

Plotline: In rural 19th-century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger – and exorcise some of his own demons in the process.

Scariness Factor: 3.5

Goriness: 4

Complaints: N/A

Stars: 5

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Historian of Horror: The Subject Was Bridges

Our theme at the moment is ‘Bridges’. Spooky things, bridges. Think of the covered bridge Ichabod Crane had to reach to escape the Headless Horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Horror”. Or the one in Beetlejuice where the main characters had an unfortunate encounter with a stray dog.

I’ve got a certain bridge in mind to discuss in this edition. Although according to the schedule I’ve made up for myself as to which medium to write about it’s Old Time Radio’s turn in the spotlight, we’ll begin with a few words about its successor, television.

I’ve written before in this space about Rod Serling and his most influential creation, The Twilight Zone, for which the word “groundbreaking” might well have been invented. On February 28, 1964, Serling did something that, to my knowledge, had never been done before – instead of his normal programming, he presented, without commercial interruption, a short French film from 1961 entitled “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce.

Groundbreaking, indeed.

The film, which had no dialogue, had won both the Oscar and the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962 for Best Short Subject. Serling saw it in France and picked it up for a song. Showing it instead of filming a new episode for what was to be The Twilight Zone’s final season brought the show in on budget, a rarity that pleased the suits at ABC-TV. They offered Serling another season, but he was over the whole ‘monster of the week’ format the network wanted, and he declined. And so, the show was canceled.

The story had previously been adapted in 1959 for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV program, and several times for radio, in addition to a number of times into various media since. It concerns one Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate spy during the American Civil War who is about to be hanged from the Owl Creek Bridge. When the rope breaks, he struggles to elude his Yankee pursuers and return to his home, until…

No spoilers here.

I have written before about the symbiotic relationship between the Old Time Radio shows Escape! and Suspense!, the way the two programs often shared scripts. So it was with the Bierce tale. It was aired on Escape! on December 10, 1947, starring OTR stalwart Harry Bartell. Suspense! had three performances – December 9, 1956, with Victor Jory; December 15, 1957, with Joseph Cotten; and July 19, 1959, with Vincent Price.

Since the era of Old Time Radio ended on the evening of September 30, 1962, there have been periodic attempts to revive the medium, with varying degrees of success. The most durable effort, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, began in 1974 and ran until 1982, with a brief revival in 1998. For most of its run, it was hosted by E.G. Marshall, who played the old man terrified of bugs in the final segment of Creepshow in 1982. The show adapted the tale on June 4, 1974, the program’s 101st broadcast.

 

We have another pair of obituaries for this edition. American painter and illustrator James Bama, who contributed many covers to the long run of Doc Savage paperbacks in the 1960s and 1970s as well as the box art for the Aurora monster models kits, died on April 22, 2022, a few days before his 96th birthday. 

And the revolutionary, not to mention legendary, American comic book artist Neal Adams passed away on April 28th. He was eighty. His uncanny ability to render the human form and face elevated the art form to a level it had never seen before, or possibly since. Adams’ genre work included stories for Warren Publications’ Creepy and Eerie magazines, as well as stories and covers for DC Comics’ House of Mystery in the late 1960s, and the El Diablo stories in Weird West Tales in the early 1970s. 

Over much of his stellar career, Adams championed creators’ rights to their own intellectual property in an industry long reliant on ‘work for hire’ as its business model. He was able to get comics giant Jack “King” Kirby’s original artwork for Marvel returned to him, and garnered Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster long-overdue credit and remuneration for their seminal creation, one upon which the entire medium was built. 

His run on the Deadman feature in DC’s Strange Adventures in the late 1960s will be covered in a future podcast segment. Stay tuned.

When next we gather together in this place, Rock Bands will be the theme and television the medium. That can only mean one thing to a child of the 1960s – a certain quartet of musicians with a distinctly simian appellation. Until then, oh ye appreciators of the abhorrent…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 Book Event Calendar

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

Date Item Title Blog address
MAY
May 13 Press Release Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2 HorrorAddicts.net
May 14 Book Calendar Events list HorrorAddicts.net
May 15 An introduction to HAGL2 Emerian Rich HorrorAddicts.net
May 15 Read an excerpt by Angela Yuriko Smith AngelaYSmith.com
May 16 Interview with Renata Pavrey HorrorAddicts.net
May 16 Read an excerpt by Chantal Boudreau ChantellyB.wordpress.com
May 17 What inspires Horror Selah Janel HorrorAddicts.net
May 17 Read an excerpt by Michael Fassbender MichaeltFassbender.com
May 18 What inspires Horror Chantal Boudreau HorrorAddicts.net
May 18 Read an excerpt by M.D. Neu MDNeu.com
May 19 Interview with Sumiko Saulson HorrorAddicts.net
May 19 Read an excerpt by Selah Janel SelahJanel.com
May 20 Interview with Naching T. Kassa HorrorAddicts.net
May 20 Read an excerpt by Tabitha Thompson SumikoSaulson.com
May 21 Facebook Party Invitation Announcement HorrorAddicts.net
May 21 Read an excerpt by Dan Shaurette AngelaYSmith.com
May 22 What inspires Horror James Goodridge HorrorAddicts.net
May 22 Read an excerpt by Naching T. Kassa NachingKassa.wordpress.com
May 23 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 23 Read an excerpt by Sumiko Saulson SumikoSaulson.com
May 24 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 24 Read an excerpt by Daphne Strasert ChantellyB.wordpress.com
May 25 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 25 Interview with Emerian Rich MDNeu.com
May 26 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 26 Read an excerpt by Kieran Judge GoblinsandSteampunk.wordpress.com
May 27 Facebook Party Trivia, games, prizes! facebook.com/groups/horroraddicts.net
May 27 Interview with Emerian Rich SumikoSaulson.com
May 28 Interview with Tabitha Thompson HorrorAddicts.net
May 28 Interview with Loren Rhoads PriscillaBettisAuthor.com
May 29 What inspires Horror R.L. Merrill HorrorAddicts.net
May 29 Interview with Kristin Battestella TomesandTales365.wordpress.com
May 30 Facebook Party Winners Announced! HorrorAddicts.net
May 30 Interview with Emerian Rich LorenRhoads.com
May 31 Interview with A.D. Vick HorrorAddicts.net
May 31 Read an excerpt by Kristin Battestella SelahJanel.com
JUNE
June 1 Interview with Kay Tracy HorrorAddicts.net
June 1 Read an excerpt by Emerian Rich emzbox.com
June 2 What inspires Horror Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
June 2 Interview with Selah Janel RLMerrillAuthor.com
June 3 Interview with Jonathan Fortin HorrorAddicts.net
June 3 Interview with Emerian Rich ChantellyB.wordpress.com
June 4 Interview with Russell Holbrook HorrorAddicts.net
June 4 Read an excerpt by DJ Pitsiladis PriscillaBettisAuthor.com
June 5 What inspires Horror J. Malcolm Stewart HorrorAddicts.net
June 5 Read an excerpt by Geneve Flynn NachingKassa.wordpress.com
June 6 Interview with C.M. Lucas HorrorAddicts.net
June 6 Read an excerpt by Mark Orr EmmyZMadrigal.com
June 7 What inspires Horror Kristin Batestella HorrorAddicts.net
June 7 Interview with Emerian Rich LionelRayGreen.com
June 8 What inspires Horror M.D. Neu HorrorAddicts.net
June 8 Read an excerpt by J. Malcolm Stewart MDNeu.com
June 9 Interview with Rena Mason HorrorAddicts.net
June 9 Interview with R.L. Merrill SelahJanel.com
June 10 Interview with Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
June 11 What inspires Horror Michael Fassbender HorrorAddicts.net
June 11 Read an excerpt by Steven P. Unger The.Best.Guide.to.Transylvania
June 12 Interview with Priscilla Bettis HorrorAddicts.net
June 12 Read an excerpt by Jonathan Fortin JonathanFortin.com
June 13 Interview with Mark Orr HorrorAddicts.net
June 13 Read an excerpt by R.L. Merrill RLMerrillAuthor.com
June 14 What inspires Horror Jonathan Fortin HorrorAddicts.net
June 15 Interview with Geneve Flynn HorrorAddicts.net
June 16 What inspires Horror Tabitha Thompson HorrorAddicts.net
June 17 What inspires Horror Mark Orr HorrorAddicts.net
June 18 Interview with Michael Fassbender HorrorAddicts.net
June 19 Interview with Emmy Z. Madrigal HorrorAddicts.net
June 20 What inspires Horror Sumiko Saulson HorrorAddicts.net
June 21 Interview with M.D. Neu HorrorAddicts.net
June 22 Interview with Jame Goodridge HorrorAddicts.net
June 23 What inspires Horror Rena Mason HorrorAddicts.net
June 24 Interview with Carrie Sessarego HorrorAddicts.net
June 25 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Announcement HorrorAddicts.net
June 26 What inspires Horror Geneve Flynn HorrorAddicts.net
June 27 Interview with Loren Rhoads HorrorAddicts.net
June 28 Interview with Selah Janel HorrorAddicts.net
June 29 What inspires Horror Priscilla Bettis HorrorAddicts.net
June 30 Interview with J. Malcolm Stewart HorrorAddicts.net
JULY
July 1 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 2 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 3 HorrorAddicts.net @ BayCon Look for our panels! BayCon.org
July 4 Interview with Martha Allard HorrorAddicts.net
July 5 What inspires Horror Renata Pavrey HorrorAddicts.net
July 6 Interview with Kristin Battestella HorrorAddicts.net
July 7 Interview with Trinity Adler HorrorAddicts.net
July 8 What inspires Horror Naching T. Kassa HorrorAddicts.net
July 9 Interview with Chantal Boudreau HorrorAddicts.net
July 10 Interview with Steven P. Unger HorrorAddicts.net
July 11 What inspires Horror Russell Holbrook HorrorAddicts.net
July 13 In case you missed it! Recap of all HAGL2 Content HorrorAddicts.net

Available now at: Amazon.com

 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Sevit

Ro’s Review

The Texas band Sevit has a sound reminiscent of Joy Division and according to their Facebook page, their sound comes from “the influences of Pornography-era Cure and a decade of post minimalistic, monologic analog sounds with melodies, big beats, and dreamy vocal hooks.” They released a cover of and this nod to The Crow hits its mark. The accompanying tune “It All Comes Down To Me” is a slow haunting tune to complement the cover tune. It’s a promising collection from the band and we look forward to hearing more in the future.

This week’s Shoutout is for the band Black Angel, who appeared previously on HorrorAddicts.net. Their latest single “Breathe” is the first of four new tracks expected from the band in early 2022 and does not disappoint. Fans of The Cure and Peter Murphy will enjoy the twisted tale of love and obsession. 

Ro’s Recs 

Bring Me The Horizon has become one of my go-to bands for heavy mood times. Their song “Parasite Eve” I’ve shared with you before and it became my Pandemic Anthem. They have a new collaboration out with rapper Masked Wolf, “Fallout,”  and it is a total end-of-the-world creepy track you’ve got to check out. I’ve seen clips of the video and ohhh…Oli Sykes is such a chameleon. I love it.

Ice Nine Kills has also put out a video-game-adjacent track from PubG, “Hunting Season,” and I’m in love. Any gamers out there? I’d love to hear some of your favorite tracks?

That’s it for this time. All of the bands featured in Merrill’s Musical Musings are available on the Horror Addicts 2022 playlist. Stay Tuned for more…

HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

Calling All Horror Fans!
HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: 

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Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2

HAGL2small2Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre? Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horror addict’s life.

Our month-by-month almanac with important dates, movie lists, puzzles, crafts, articles, and recipes will guarantee your whole year is occupied with delightful horror activities. Don’t miss our monster guide with articles about vampires, zombies, ghosts, and some creatures that just can’t be categorized. Enjoy interviews with creators of horror content and hear perspectives from different cultures and backgrounds. Read stories of real hauntings, nightmares, and vile vacations.

Allow us to curate your horror lifestyle.

With articles by: A. Craig Newman, A.D. Vick, Alyson Faye, Angela Yuriko Smith, Brian McKinley, CM Lucas, Camellia Rains, Carrie Sessarego, Chantal Boudreau, Courtney Mroch, Crystal Connor, D.J. Pitsiladis, Dan Shaurette, Daphne Strasert, Dee Blake, Emerian Rich, Geneve Flynn, H.E. Roulo, H.R. Boldwood, J. Malcolm Stewart, James Goodridge, Jaq D Hawkins, Jeff Carroll, Jonathan Fortin, Kate Nox, Kay Tracy, Kerry Alan Denney, Kieran Judge, Kristin Battestella, Ksenia Murray, Lee Murray, Lionel Ray Green, Loren Rhoads, M.D. Neu, Mark Orr, Martha J. Allard, Michael Fassbender, Mimielle, Naching T. Kassa, Pamela K. Kinney, Priscilla Bettis, R.J. Joseph, R.L. Merrill, Rena Mason, Renata Pavrey, Rhonda R. Carpenter, Russell Holbrook, Selah Janel, Steven P. Unger, Sumiko Saulson, Tabitha Thompson, Theresa Braun, Trinity Adler, Valjeanne Jeffers.

Available now at: Amazon.com

 

Serialized Fiction: Shadow’s Love – Chapter 3 – Dominate

Amy Sinclair was at home, counting the words in her economics paper. The teacher had set a minimum of five hundred words, but Amy was already up to eight hundred and still counting. Five hundred words was only average, for average losers who were satisfied with average grades, an average college, an average job, and an average life. Amy was considered precocious as a child and was in all the honors classes, most nights studying past twelve. The teacher’s pool had her as valedictorian by a long shot. 

“833, 834, 835, 836!” She finished triumphantly. Her jubilation was somewhat dampened by her inability to secure a round thousand. Maybe she could beef up the part on how the oil situations in the Middle East were affecting economics in the United States. That should secure her an A-plus and the usual fawning the teacher heaped on her. It should also secure another day’s worth of righteous superiority over her brain-dead classmates. 

Satisfied with her plan, she scrolled through the pages she had already written to find the offending paragraph. The Middle East was definitely deserving of more than three measly lines. Something would have to be done. 

A knock at her door interrupted her brain’s processing.

“It’s mom, sweetie. Can I come in?”

Swallowing her impatience to finish her paper, Amy replied, “Yes, it’s open.” Maybe this wouldn’t take long. 

The doorknob turned, and her mother, the adult version of Amy with short brown hair framing her round face, and slight body, poked her head around the corner. “What are you up to, hon?”

“Finishing up an economics paper,” Amy said, idly clicking keys with the air of someone arrested in the middle of their work.

“Oh…well I’m going to bed, I just wanted to tell you goodnight.” Her mother came in and kissed the top of Amy’s head. “Don’t stay up too late, bookworm.”

“I won’t, this should only take another ten minutes or so. Good night, mom,” Amy said, patting her mother’s arm and turning back to the computer. Her mother left, closing the door carefully behind her, and padded down the hall to the room that had been hers alone since Amy’s father Charles had been claimed in a car accident the previous year. 

Amy heard her mother’s footsteps receding down the hall and began typing. “In…addition…to…the…previous…facts…” Amy stopped and tapped her fingernails on her teeth. In addition, she had no idea what. 

Another knock at the door. She sighed. Her mother had become so clingy and needy since Amy’s father died. It was painful, yes, but it was over a year ago. She was interfering with her daughter’s work, breaking her train of concentration and how would Amy ever get to college with interruptions like that constantly? 

“Come in!” she said, a note of exasperation finding its way into her voice. Not taking her eyes from the computer screen, she typed gibberish to give the impression she was still hard at work. She heard the door open, and then close. “What now, mom? I’m trying to work on my economics report,” she whined. “If I get a thousand words-“

“Then your life will be complete?”

Amy gave a little scream and spun around in her chair, her heart racing. Audrey Spencer was standing in her room, leaning on the wall by the window as though she had every right to be there. 

Amy did not know Audrey very well. She had been in a few of Amy’s classes and on the few occasions they had been put together for a group project, Audrey had doodled vacantly most of the time, obviously not paying attention while Amy was outlining what they should do on the project and had produced, in Amy’s opinion, mediocre products of a morbid nature. Most of them were so macabre that Amy simply threw them out and redid them herself. Amy wasn’t afraid of Audrey, but Audrey was weird, always sitting in corners, drawing, listening to her iPod. Until one day she had up and vanished from campus. Amy hardly noticed – she wouldn’t have if they hadn’t been in a group project that had been due the day she vanished.

“What are you doing here? It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

Audrey did not answer. She just continued staring at Amy. Amy’s constitution began to waver under Audrey’s unflinching gaze but was unwilling to blink first. There was something in Audrey’s eyes, a look she had never seen before, and there was also that – Audrey was looking at her. Audrey never looked at anyone, she was always shrouded in a hoodie sweatshirt and kept her eyes downcast. But now she was staring right back at Amy, for what seemed like the first time, looking as though she would like nothing more than to do something very unpleasant to her. For the first time, Amy felt a stab of fear. 

Audrey smiled, exposing her fangs. 

Amy’s eyes widened and she took a breath to scream but before she could make a sound, Audrey was suddenly at her side. While Amy’s mind struggled to process this, she felt the fangs pierce her neck and now she could scream, but it was a soft sound, more like a squeak. She slapped weakly at Audrey, trying to push her away, but all it did was make Audrey pull Amy closer to her, sinking her fangs in deeper.

There were dark circles dancing in Amy’s vision, slowly getting larger as they did, until finally her body went limp and she stopped struggling. Her mind felt padded with cotton. She could hardly see, she couldn’t think. All she could feel was her blood flowing into Audrey’s mouth. She couldn’t do anything more than let Audrey drain her life out until suddenly, the feeling ended. Amy fell to the floor, what was left of her vision registering another figure in the room, and heard muffled voices.

Guest Blog: For A Horror Writer, Inspiration Can Hit At Any Time

By Kaaron Warren

Most writers have an internal voice that runs day and night, even while we sleep. It’s the voice that points out ideas to us, that says, did you hear that, about a snippet of conversation, or see that, about a piece of grafitti or a stray dog trailing a leash, or new shoes neatly placed in the gutter. As a horror writer, that voice can show up in surprising places.

For me, ideas often come hidden in old magazines. There’s something about jumping into the past (and, in a way, seeing into the future because I can find out what happened next thanks to the internet) that sparks ideas for me.

When The Pixel Project approached me for a story for the important anthology Give the Devil His Due, I knew I wanted to write a story where the abuser truly felt the pain of regret and suffering. I just wasn’t sure how.

I flicked through an old Punch Magazine from the 1960s and came across an advertisement for cigars. Two men, one sitting in a leather armchair, one with his foot up on a stool, both completely filled with self-assurance and certainty of their importance. They were in a place called The Steering Wheel Club, which did, in fact, exist at one time.

The idea for a horror story lay hidden under the façade of comfort, companionship and wealth. There were apparently famous steering wheels mounted on the walls and with my horror writer’s imagination, I wondered what sort of men would collect steering wheels behind which someone had died.

Horror stories are a glimpse into the truth.

Glimpses of truth lie hidden in the pages of an old history book. I was glancing through a publication called The Archaeological Journal 1931, and I came across a description of an unnamed woman (who they call Kathleen, but whose name was not Kathleen) who fell in love with a priest, the author says, ‘until he gave her a thorough and well deserved flogging with a handfuls of nettles” after which she saw ‘the error of her ways’ and became a nun. In the Thomas Moore poem, the priest in fact ‘hurls her from the beetling rock’ to her death. The priest comes to regret the loss of her love (not Kathleen, but her adoration) and blesses her to be happy in Heaven, which makes her ghost, which glides mournfully across the lake, smile.

I feel a helpless fury reading this, the same I get when I read about Henry the Eighth’s wives or any other abused ‘appendage’. I’m helpless to change what happened, but through fiction I can affect how I feel about it, and to perhaps gain some small revenge. The good thing about writing horror is that I can make bad things happen. I have people come back from the dead, and ghosts haunt, and I can have Kathleen smile like she does in the poem, but in my story she’ll thrust her ice-cold fingers into his eyes so he will never see god’s beautiful creation again…

Violence against women in domestic situations can be similarly hidden. The face people present to the world (as individuals or as families) can hide the true nature of that relationship. I wanted to be a part of this anthology because while my voice gives me ideas for stories, and I can speak it aloud, there are many, many others who need help, and need the chance to ask for help.


About Giving The Devil His Due (http://bit.ly/GivingTheDevilHisDue

Giving The Devil His Due is a charity anthology featuirng stories where The Twilight Zone meets Promising Young Woman as men who abuse and murder women meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways. Edited by Rebecca Brewer, the anthology features sixteen major names and rising stars in Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror including Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Henry, Dana Cameron, Errick Nunnally, Hillary Monahan, Jason Sanford, Kaaron Warren, Kelley Armstrong, Kenesha Williams, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lee Murray, Linda D. Addison, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nisi Shawl, Peter Tieryas, and Stephen Graham Jones.  The book includes resources for victims and survivors of VAW worldwide, making it a valuable tool for getting life-saving information to domestic violence victims still under their abuser’s control or rape survivors who are too ashamed to ask for help. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women work. Find out where to get your copy of the Special Edition via http://bit.ly/GivingTheDevilHisDue. The upcoming Classic Edition will be released on 25 May 2022 by Running Wild Press (https://runningwildpress.com/).

About The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net

 

 

The Pixel Project is a complete virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 nonprofit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using  a combination of social media, new technologies, and popular culture/the Arts

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson award-winner Kaaron Warren’s most recent books include the re-release of her acclaimed novels, Slights, Mistification and Walking the Tree (IFWG Australia), Tool Tales, a chapbook in collaboration with Ellen Datlow (also IFWG), a novella Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Press), which was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award and the Bram Stoker Award, winning the Aurealis Award, and Capturing Ghosts, a writing advice chapbook from Brain Jar Press. She was Guest of Honour at Genrecon 2018, World Fantasy 2018, Stokercon 2019 and Geysercon 2019.

The Last Stop – by CM Lucas

Dust devils encircle a dingy blue Pontiac Sun fire as the summer sun’s rays reflect off the few exposed areas of clean finish. The looming shadow of The Last Stop diner begins to overtake the Pontiac. The antiquated eatery bakes in the scorching New Mexico heat, while inside hungry patrons fair no better.

The buzzing of a single osculating fan blows hot, dry air in customers’ faces; perspiration dripping from every inch of exposed skin, relief from the heat only coming from tepid ice tea and warm root beer.

Swaying back and forth on his stool sits a man fidgeting with his paper napkin. Sitting at the center of the counter, the man periodically peers up from his napkin, glancing at the various customers, peering over at the entrance and back to his napkin. The man wipes the excessive perspiration from his brow and runs his trembling hand along the scruff that adorns his scarred chin.

“You ready, darlin’?” asks the waitress with a large, comforting smile.

“Uh, y-yea, Um… I-I’ll have the s-strawberry sundae,” says the man, briefly making eye contact before returning his gaze to his crumpled napkin.

“Ran out about two hours ago. Ice cream’s a hot commodity in heat like this, darlin’. Anything else?” asks the waitress as she fans her freckled skin with a menu. The man shrugs his shoulders and continues to fiddle with his napkin.

“You ok, darlin’? You seem a little nervous,” asks the waitress, flashing her comforting smile the man’s way. The man rises from his stand, reaching into his pants to retrieve a large pistol.

“Everybody, get the fuck down. Now!” yells the man, waving his pistol wildly in every direction. The customers begin to scream with fear. An elderly couple freezes in place, the businessman within the far corner drops to the floor, and the newly-wed couple close to the window embraces as the man jerks violently within the diner.

“You. G-get your hand up w-where I can see them,” says the man; his hands trembling. pointing at the register, the man aims his pistol at the cowering waitress.

“Start emptying t-the register,” demands the man. The waitress, wide-eyed and frozen in place, struggles to respond.

“Do it! Now!” yells the man as his pistol gets closer to her face. Tears begin to stream down the waitress’ face as she empties the contents of the register into a plastic bag. The man twists around to survey the diner. Spotting the businessman with a cell phone in his hand, The man rushes over; his pistol now directly in the businessman’s face.

“Put that fucking thing down!” screams the man. The businessman drops his phone and begins to cower in his chair. The man turns his attention to the newly-wed couple as the young bride begins to wince in pain. the man moves toward the woman with a furrowed brow. The young bride drops to the floor, revealing her enlarged stomach. She clenches her stomach as her husband rushes over to his bride.

“Hey, hey, hey! Get back to your-” the husband throws his arms in the air.

“Please, My wife’s pregnant,” says the husband, cradling his wife’s head as she moves to her back, panting and moaning.

“Oh, God. I think she’s going into labour!” Yells the waitress.

“E-everybody, shut up,” says the man, moving around frantically.

“You have to do something,” says the waitress. The man continues to tremble.

“W-what?” asks the man.

“To help her. You have to help her,” screams the waitress. The diner’s begin to panic as the young bride’s contractions being to worsen.

“Shut up! Everybody, s-shut up!” shouts the man as he makes his way over to the pregnant bride. As the man’s heart pounds within his chest, he glaces down at the bride, moaning in pain. The man kneels to the floor.

“What d-do I have to d-do. I’m not a fucking doctor. You do something,” says the man, pointing at the husband. The husband begins to move toward his bride’s legs, but his wife firmly grasps his arms.

“No, John! Stay… Ah! Stay h… Ah,” says the bride as her contractions worsen.

“You have to help her,” screams the waitress. The man wipes the sweat from his brow and moves toward the bride’s legs.

“W-what do I do?” asks the man as he trembles in place.

“Talk to her. Make sure the baby doesn’t fall to the floor,” says the businessman.

“… You’re going to b-be ok. Y-you’re doing good,” says the man softly. The bride begins to wince and gyrate; his screams echo through the diner as the man positions his hand beneath the bride’s legs. The young bride continues to moan as the contraction worsens.

“T-that’s It. Y-you’re ok,” asserts the man; his hands trembling. The bride gives a final push as the newborn’s head emerges. The rest of the body begins to show with the final push until the newborn is within the man’s shaky arms. The bride begins to sob with joy, as does her husband. A collective sigh of relief washes over the diner as they temporarily forget the situation they are in.

The man hands the newborn baby over to its parents. He rises to his feet and begins to weep uncontrollably. Suddenly, the police burst into the diner. With their weapons drawn, The man puts up no resistance, placing his hands behind his back as the police place him in handcuffs. The man is placed in the back of the squad car. As the squad car begins to pull away, the man glances at the diner. Paramedics being to arrive at the scene, escorting the newlyweds out of the diner.

The bride glances at the man in the back of the squad car. She smiles and mouths ‘thank you’ at the man before the police car pulls away. The man begins to well up before he smiles back and nods.

No. Don’t you do it, you fuck. You can resist, the man thinks to himself as his pulse begins to race. Suddenly, the man begins to sweat profusely, his heart smashes against his chest. The man closes his eyes tightly as he struggles to conceal his pronounced canine teeth. A deluge of perspiration pours down his forehead as the narrow slits that are his pupils dilate as the man focuses on the diner. The man breaks free of his restraints, reaching through the cage that separates him from the officers in the front of the police car. The flesh on the man’s arms rips and tear as his talon-like fingernails plunge into the neck of the officer driving the police car. Blood sprays across the windshield as the police car collides with a telephone pole. The fire from the exploding squad car gains the attention of the patrons within the diner.

The new mother grips her child as she rushes toward the diner’s window. Her eyes well up as she glances into the vertical pupil eyes and panting tongue of the man who minutes ago helped bring her newborn baby into the world.

End

Book Review: SAIR BACK, SAIR BANES by Anthony Engebretson

A book review by Renata Pavrey

With a catchy title and cover, Sair Back, Sair Banes certainly piques the reader’s interest. I love books about folklore from around the world, and this novella set in Scotland was placed on my to-read list as soon as publisher Ghost Orchid Press mentioned it.

Genevieve takes a trip from America to connect with an old family friend of her now-deceased parents. Her father loved the outdoors and adventure, and often spoke about his love for the Scottish people, customs, lore, and legends. He also regaled Genevieve’s childhood with stories of the kelpie – shape-shifting horses that inhabit water bodies.

Genevieve’s host lives right next to a loch, and she encounters a drowning horse on her first day. But no one else was around to see the horse struggling and disappearing beneath the cold, dark waters. Nobody owns a horse around here, as far as anyone can tell. Was Genevieve imagining it, was someone playing a prank on her, or is there more to the legend of the kelpies? An over-friendly bartender, an icy pub owner, people going missing, a killer on the loose, trauma of parental abuse and suicide – Sair Back, Sair Banes packs a punch within its few pages.

The phrase ‘Sair Back, Sair Banes’ comes from an old folk curse, about a problematic horse in Scottish history. Blending folklore and legends with modern themes of loneliness, isolation, mental health, along with family history and relationships, Anthony Engebretson takes the reader on a trip through the Scottish landscape and culture. His story has one story and many stories; where the protagonist could be anybody, as could the antagonist. A place where spirits could be good and people could be bad; where there’s more to our ancestors than the stories they pass on. I loved this interweaving of themes and emotions – a well-written story that gives the reader something to ponder upon, much after having finished the book.

Sair Back, Sair Banes is Anthony Engebretson’s debut book, although he has written short stories for several anthologies. This was my first time reading this author, and I’ll certainly look forward to more from him. Ghost Orchid Press is known for featuring unpredictable, but brilliant writing. From the body horror Blood and Bone, to the eco-terror Chlorophobia, and the haunting collection Palimpsest, I look forward to their new releases. Sair Back, Sair Banes is another stellar book from their repertoire.

HorrorAddicts.net 206, Hannah Hulbert

halogoHorror Addicts Episode# 206 | SEASON 17
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

206 | Divination | Hannah Hulbert | The Royal Ritual

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

177 days till Halloween

Theme: #Divination #DarkDivinations 

Dark Divinations: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086YD6DR9

Music: “Gnossienne No. 1” The Royal Ritual

Catchup: #restart #eventson #airbnb #horrorstories #axemurders #serialkillers #creaturecomforts #asthma #scaredycat #twinpeaks

Historian of Horror: #MarkOrr #magiceightball #magic8ball #mattel

Dead Mail:
MARTIN- #ZombieJokes #YesFeratu
NATASHA- #Interviewwiththevampire #POCVamps #AnneRice #Lestat #Louis
KELLY- #AnneRice #MayfairWitches #RLMerrill #HarryHamlin #CourtlandMayfair
Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc… Also, send show theme ideas!

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Nightmare Fuel: #DJPitsiladis #kokkuri #JapanSpirits #divination

NEWS: 

#Esoterik#Alchemy #TriaPrima 

#Kbatz #GothicLitterBox

#Daphne #ThereIsNoDeathThereAreNoDead #AaronJFrench #JessLandry

#JesseOrr #ShadowsLove

#RLMerrill #TheRoyalRitual

#KieranJudge #Macbeth #horror

#LionelRayGreen #DavidFord

#CrystalConnor #Ultrasound

#JSOconnor #AxeMurderIowa

#RussellHolbrook #LogbookofTerror #LookInside

#WorldGothDayFestival #RLMerrill #EmerianRich #AlamedaEvents #USSHornet 

May 21st, 10-4, Booth #48 in Hangar Bay 2

https://www.themenagerieodditiesmarket.com

Feat Author: #HannahHulbert #PowerandShadow

From Anthology #DarkDivinations

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086YD6DR9
Voices by #EmerianRich and #KadriahWade

————————————-

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

b l o g  e d i t o r

Kate Nox

r e v i e w  c o o r d i n a t o r 

Daphne Strasert

s t a f f

KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Naching T. Kassa, Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor
————————————-

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Spooky Locations: The Axe Murder House of Villisca, Iowa

By J.S. O’connor

When thinking of a “Spooky Location”, it’s easy to think of the paranormal. However, a real-life tragedy can be more terrifying than the paranormal. The Axe Murder House of Villisca, Iowa is both – a paranormal location as well as a real tragedy that took the lives of eight people and still remains unsolved over a hundred years later. 

Villisca, Iowa is a small town with a population just over one thousand located in southeastern Iowa. It fits the definition of a “blink and you’ll miss it” town. It’s a peaceful-looking town with the exception of one house with a bad reputation.

 The story of the murders is as follows: Lena and Ina Stillinger spent the night at the Moores’ house after church on a Sunday. The next morning, the Moores’ next-door neighbor, Mary Peckham, had not seen the Moores and placed a call to the brother of Joseph Moore. When they entered the home, they discovered the bodies of Joseph Moore, his wife Sarah, and their six children: Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul, and the Stillinger Sisters. The children were between six and twelve years of age, with the murders estimated to have taken place after midnight. All had been brutally butchered with Joseph’s own axe. The murderer has never been found. The list of suspects for the murder is long, including a serial killer Henry Lee Moore to a State Senator Frank F. Jones, who may have hired someone to carry out the murders, and everyone in between.  

Even though the house has been renovated a number of times since 1912, the current owners have been hard at work returning the house to its former self. Currently, the owners offer paranormal tours and overnight stays to the curious. Some may say that turning a tragic murder into a paranormal tour is an insult to the people who tragically lost their lives. Others would say that it is a way of keeping the memory of the Moore family and Stillinger sisters alive and never forgotten. Whichever you believe, it’s important to remember and honor the people who have lost their lives.  

Work Cited:

 The Official Site of the Villisca Axe Murders of 1912, https://www.villiscaiowa.com/index.php. 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Ultrasound

Plotline: After his car breaks down, Glen spends one hell of an odd night with a married couple, setting into motion a chain of events that alter their lives plus those of several random strangers.

Genre: Sci-fi, Drama, Mystery & thriller

Release date: (Theaters) March 11, 2022 (USA)

Limited Director: Rob Schroeder

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red-ram.jpg

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Odds and Dead Ends : The Best of The Bard: Why ‘Macbeth’ should be considered Horror

Anyone who says that Shakespeare is classy, refined, and ‘proper’, has clearly never read him. Sure he had his moments of genius, but then he also wrote Titus Andronicus, which contains tricking someone into eating their sons, and ends its three hours with fourteen people dead. Romeo & Juliet has a higher human body count than Halloween (Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Juliet, Romeo, and Lady Montague makes six for The Bard, and Judith, the truck driver, Annie, Paul, and Linda make five for John Carpenter). Yet of all his works, Macbeth might be the most mad, terrifying, and downright horrific story he told, and I firmly believe it deserves a higher place in horror fans’ hearts.

            Firstly, a recap for those who don’t know your classics. Macbeth, a general in King Duncan’s army, is told by three witches that he will become Thane of Cawdor, and eventually King. When Macbeth is granted the title ‘Thane of Cawdor’, he plots with his wife to kill Duncan, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. In panic, believing his deed to have been discovered, he sends an assassin to kill his friend Banquo, who might suspect him, after which he hallucinates and is driven into madness during his rule. Meanwhile, a rebel army from England led by Macduff rises up against him, whom he initially does not fear as the witches tell Macbeth that he can’t die ‘“until/ Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill/ Shall come against him.”’ (an impossibility, for trees, can’t walk), and that he can’t die from someone born from a woman. The final scenes see Lady Macbeth driven mad by guilt, and Macduff’s army chop down branches from Birnham wood and carry them in front of them as protection and camouflage. At a final confrontation, Macduff, who was born by C-section, kills Macbeth, and brings peace to the land, and fulfills all the prophecies.

            There are so many points in Macbeth which appear in horror/sci-fi vocabulary and iconography. The three witches are the most obvious, and their lines have filtered into the common tongue without us being aware of it. ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes’ of course gives us Ray Bradbury’s title to his famous novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes and combines with their ‘Double, double toil and trouble,’ speech to make the song sung upon entering Hogwarts in The Prisoner of Azkaban film.

            Let us not forget, however, that their prophecies also bring up that age-old question of free will vs. determinism. Would Macbeth have still become king, been killed by Macduff, etc, had the witches not given him their prophecy? Was their act of prophesying itself fate, or could it have been averted? Therefore, is there something even more malevolent behind the witches, conspiratorially so, which encouraged them to speak to Macbeth and Banquo, and therefore set events in motion? So many stories extend off this question, asking if a foretold fate can be actively avoided, from cheap thrillers like 2019’s Countdown, to the vase scene in The Matrix, to Scrooge’s pleading with the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come at his gravestone, ‘“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they the shadows of the things that May be, only?”’ Philip K. Dick’s novella The Minority Report is based around a man running a company which predicts crime being told he himself will kill someone.

            Then there’s the urban legend that the play itself is cursed. Shakespeare apparently based some of the lines for the witches off actual witches who lived nearby, and in retaliation, they cursed the play, so that it became unlucky to refer to it as ‘Macbeth’, and has become known in acting circles as ‘The Scottish Play’ instead. Exorcising demons as a result of saying the name is still done by superstitious performers, and not doing so will cause bad luck to fall on the production. Blackadder The Third has great fun at this expense in a memorable skit.

            And let’s ignore for brevity’s sake the appearance of Hecate, Greek Goddess of witchcraft and magic and the moon, etc, to the three witches in Act IV. Because that’s just going overboard, and we all know how horror movies love to use Greek myths and legends (see Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse, and The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth for more information).

            The play is so dark and gloomy, filled with paranoia and murder, that to ignore how it set the stage for horror stories to come would be remiss. With eight dead by the end (not counting off-screen deaths), the play has a high enough body count to keep any horror fan happy. Conspiring in dark castle hallways to commit regicide by the dead of night is straight gothic, and let us not forget that murder in castles is pretty much where the whole thing started, as Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the original gothic novel, has this in spades.

            And finally, at a feast in Act III Scene IV, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo, his friend whom he has had assassinated. At first, accusing others of setting it up as a prank, he is led away, raving and cursing, Lady Macbeth feigning the excuse that he has been prone to fits of madness since childhood. We’re never told whether this ghost is really a phantom or a figment of Macbeth’s overworked imagination, but considering he’s already hallucinated a dagger in Act II Scene I (“Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?”) it is likely. Yet Shakespeare’s already used one of the most famous ghosts in literature, that of Hamlet’s father on the battlements, years before, so his use of supernatural elements isn’t unknown. And we’ve all seen and read films and stories which hinge on our interpretation as to whether the ghosts are real or not (Jacob’s Ladder, It Follows, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Turn of the Screw; you can come up with your own thousands more examples), which is further proof how the tradition follows on into our modern genre.

            Macbeth has all the violence, superstition, curses, hallucinations, omens, atmosphere, and madness to last a horror addict for a lifetime. It is filled with those little moments that, over the years, millions have been inspired by, creating the network of iconography which helped the gothic stories of the 18th century, the penny dreadfuls of the 19th century, and the cinematic explosion of the genre of the 20th. Film critic Mark Kermode quotes The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty as saying that the play is about ‘the numbing of the moral senses’, and if there’s ever a phrase which applies to horror, I don’t know of it. Macbeth is not just for the classroom; it’s for a horror addict’s life.

Article by Kieran Judge

Twitter/Instagram: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : It’s Just a Game

To say that my Southern Baptist parents did not entirely approve of my childhood interest in the macabre and the monstrous would be putting it mildly. They barely tolerated it, in fact, but drew the line firmly when it came to anything that smacked of the heathen practices of divination. So, of course, I was just contrary enough so as to be fascinated by the small collection of predictive playthings that began being advertised in the back pages of my favorite comic books in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. Not that I was ever foolish enough to bring one of those games or toys into the house, but I didn’t shy away when I encountered them in the homes of my friends. 

Interactive playthings based on the supernatural had been around for all of that spooky period. We’ve discussed the reasons behind the general proliferation of horrific goodies in popular culture before. It was standard practice to cobble together board games based on the television shows that haunted the airwaves – The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, The Addams Family, etc. They were mostly variations on Parcheesi or Chutes ‘n’ Ladders or Life, but they were fun on those rainy days when riding our bikes at top speed down the hill in front of our house to crash-land at the end of the cul-de-sac our street dead-ended into was not an option. There were also Ideal’s 1962 Haunted House Game; the first glow-in-the-dark game, Green Ghost, released by Transogram in 1965; and Milton-Bradley’s Which Witch? from 1970, among others. And of course, lots of Ouija Boards, which Parker Brothers had been marketing since the early 20th Century.

The one I really wanted to get my hands on was an intriguing little item called Ka-Bala, a 1967 Transogram production. The comic book ads promised all manner of predictive delights, none of which I was able to take advantage of because I never knew anyone who had one. But just look at it, a big eye floating above the board, indicating which phony Tarot card will decide your future for you. How cool is that?

Not cool enough for all the Southern Baptists around me in those years to tolerate, apparently. I never even saw one, either in a store or at a friend’s house. That still sucks. Sure, I could shell out the nearly two hundred bucks the thing goes for on ebay, but I’d kind of like to stay married a little longer. And alive. My wife knows where too many sharp implements are to be located in our house.

I did have friends who had Ouija boards. The Catholics, of whom I knew none, seem in retrospect to have been a lot more concerned about the negative spiritual effects of using one of those to communicate with the deceased than did the Southern Baptists, or even the Methodists. But we all figured out pretty quickly that it was one of us moving the planchette around. We got bored with it almost immediately.

I like to think our amusement with Ka-Bala might have lasted a little longer. I mean, that big ol’ eye thing! The Ouija board just lay there, flat on the table. Ka-Bala had an eye, an actual eye, looking right into your soul, ready to tell you all sorts of things! I’m not even sure we’d have cared about the predictions. We weren’t all that interested in having jobs yet, or who we would get married to, or stuff like that. And I doubt it would reveal who would be the villain in the next issue of Spider-Man, or if the president would interrupt our evening programming for some boring speech regarding stuff we knew nothing about, but which would be on all three channels so – Arrrrrggghhhh! Every kid in the country seriously hated when that happened because we’d have to do homework instead of watching our favorite shows, and nothing sucked more than that.

Anyhow. No, it wasn’t going to tell us anything we really wanted to know, but that wasn’t the point. It was the principle of the thing. Knowing the future would grant us the only real power we could possibly feel in our very powerless young lives – being in on the secrets of the universe as only that solitary eye in the middle of the game board had the power to reveal. Or so we thought, which really was the fun of it all.

Ah, to be a child again. But only if my parents would be considerate enough to be atheists, this time around.

When next we meet, we’ll traipse across a bridge that leads to… well, nowhere, as it turns out. Until then, my fellow zealots of zombification…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Shadow’s Love : Chapter 2 – Safe in the Darkness

She awoke hours later to silence. Not even distant sirens penetrated the quiet. She tried to sit up and found her arms had been tied over her head, to what felt like a bedpost. Her heart sank. She tried to blink and found she could not. The room was not completely dark, her eyes had been obscured by a blindfold. She began struggling, pulling at the bindings holding her arms above her head in a frantic effort to escape.

“Stop.”

She froze. The voice had come from beside the bed. It was not Joe’s voice though, from which she drew small comfort. “Wh-what are you going to do to me? Please don’t hurt me…”

He laughed, a sound less like mirth than she had ever heard. “How much you hurt depends entirely upon you. If I take this blindfold off, are you going to be good?”

Audrey nodded. She couldn’t think of a time she had wanted to be well more than now. She heard him lean forward and felt the blindfold slip off. Opening her eyes, she saw she was in a room with a four-poster bed and no windows, lit only by two black candles at the head of the bed. She squinted at the shape standing beside her, straining to make him out from the gloom. As her eyes adjusted, she saw the face from earlier, the pale face with sunken eyes, high cheekbones, and the same crimson light shining in the eyes. 

He seated himself beside her and she smelled something like earth, but a coppery metallic smell too. It ignited a spark in her brain that she couldn’t place exactly. 

“I want your blood,” he intoned, and her eyes snapped open. “One way or another, I’m going to get it. You can fight and have it hurt worse than you can imagine, and you will die. Or…” His hand slid down her cheek and caressed her neck. “…you can enjoy it.” He brought his mouth to her neck, scraping long canines against the soft white skin of her throat. She gasped a little and flinched, her autonomic nervous system reflexively trying to pull away. Like a snake, he struck, burying his fangs deep into her neck. She screamed, softly; it was as if her voice had been cut in half by his fangs. She thrashed instinctively about, whatever reservations she had giving full voice to their objections. As the sound of her scream died away, her eyes caught his, and calm struck her – this was not an out-of-control monster. The eyes she looked into were as placid and devoid of evil as she had ever seen. 

She tilted her head, exposing more to him, her lips parted and eyes shut in an expression of ecstasy as the pain completely vanished.  She could feel the blood rushing through her body toward the gash in her neck and trickling out of her. She smelled copper again, but stronger, and she knew it was her own blood. It excited her to no end and she moaned, vibrating his fangs in her neck.

He withdrew them from her, catching a drop of the blood trickling from the wound with a long finger, and brought it to her mouth. Her red tongue flicked out and licked it off his finger. Her eyes opened weakly, devoid of the white spark characteristic of a living person’s eyes. They rolled back and her eyelids fluttered closed. She was dead, but not yet. 

Audrey felt so weak and dizzy, and couldn’t stand to keep her eyes open. She knew if she slept now, she would never awaken, but honestly didn’t care. If she died now, at least she would die happy. She heard the vampire hiss and she felt something warm dripping on her lips. Audrey stuck out her tongue and for the first time, tasted the copper taste of blood, blood that had not come from her father striking her or a pulled tooth. Blood not her own. Her eyes crawled minutely open. He was holding his slit wrist to her mouth, inviting her to drink his blood. 

Upon seeing it there, so close, she felt as though an inner demon had possessed her. The ties holding her wrists to the bed were shredded as she grabbed his arm and pulled it to her mouth, fastening it around the dripping gash in his wrist and sucking the blood from it as if her life depended on it. She could feel her body gaining strength, but not the way it used to feel. She was feeling…invincible. Like she could go anywhere, do anything, and nobody could stop her. But she needed more. She kept feeding, ravenously sucking the blood from his arm until he pulled it away from her, breathing heavily, nursing his wrist.

“That’s enough for now, young one,” he said and licked his wrist.

Audrey was not listening. She was staring, transfixed at herself in a mirror on the wall. Her eyes had lost their dull flatness and now had a crimson shine in their depths when the light reflected just right. Also, she was noticing differences in the way things looked, and sounded, and…she could smell. It was as if all her five senses had been enhanced, and she seemed to have gained more. 

His eyes were on her, and she knew he was sizing her up. “How do you feel, Audrey?”

She ran her tongue across her lips, letting out a little gasp as her new fangs nipped her tongue. Tentatively she reached a finger into her mouth and ran it along her elongated canines. A wicked look came into her eyes and she looked at the vampire. “I want more.”

Logbook of Terror: “Look Inside” by Russell Holbrook

“Look Inside”

Shanna wove her fork into the spaghetti noodles. The pasta wound like worms as the utensil slid through it. 

Shanna’s roommate, Babs, scowled and muttered, “You’re trying to do that trick again, huh?”

   “It’s not a trick; it’s magic.”

   Babs narrowed her eyes and loudly slurped a noodle into her mouth. “It’s the reason we’ve been eating pasta every night for the past week.” 

   “You could cook something,” Shanna replied quietly without taking her gaze from her plate. 

   Babs grumbled, “You know I don’t cook.” She scooped up another fork-full and added, “You just wanna be like the guy in that Naching Kassa story. That was cool but this is just lame.” 

   “Please stop talking,” Shanna said through tight lips. 

   “Spoiler alert: that guy used intestines; you’re just playing with your food,” Babs continued. 

   Shanna clenched her teeth.

   Babs chewed loudly with her mouth open. She yelled, “Spaghetti divination!”  and burst into laughter. 

   Shanna slammed a fist down, leapt across the short table, and plunged her fork into Babs’s left eye. 

   A scream lodged in Babs’s throat as she choked on the food, her hands frantically moving from the fork in her eye to her neck and back again. Her right eye pleaded with Shanna for help. 

Shanna left the table and returned with a carving knife. She pulled Babs away from the table and threw her onto the floor. 

Babs kicked and writhed on the linoleum. Blood and tears oozed from her punctured eye. Shanna reached down and twisted the fork a half-turn. A choked and garbled cry scratched its way out of Babs’ throat. Shanna grinned, yanked up Babs’s shirt, and thrust the knife into her roommate’s belly. 

  The knife moved smoothly through the skin, opening Babs up. Once Shanna had Babs’s midsection spread wide, she twirled her fingers in the dead woman’s intestines, looking for clues and insights into the future. 

Shanna’s brow furrowed. Her lips drew into a thin line. Her eyes narrowed. She held her breath. And she saw nothing. She punched the floor in frustration and then returned to her spaghetti, swirling it back and forth across her plate. She focused more intently and, to her delight, images formed in the red sauce and noodles. 

Shanna saw an ancient tree. Chunks of meat became rocks. Shanna’s eyes widened with excitement, and then bulged in shock as a wet noose squeezed tight around her throat, cutting off her air supply. She slapped at the reanimated hands tightening the intestinal rope that Babs had wrapped around Shanna’s neck.

   “I always knew you’d do something like this,” Babs mumbled, “So I had to have a protective spell of my own.” 

Babs yanked Shanna out of the chair. She peered over and saw the vision in the spaghetti. “Yeah, that looks about right.” She grabbed the carving knife and pulled Shanna out of the kitchen. 

   Shanna kicked and clawed as Babs dragged her from the apartment, using the length of her long intestine that Babs had also used to strangle Shanna. 

   When they were out at the old tree in the woods behind the apartment building, it didn’t take long for Babs to cut Shanna open and string her up by a length of Shanna’s own slimy innards. Once her work was done, the spell ended and Babs collapsed against the tree with her roommate’s corpse swaying in the breeze above her and a heap of Shanna’s intestines coiled on the ground beside her.

   The police never made sense of the crime, although the lead detective swore that he saw something in the pile of intestines strewn over the ground. It was an image that he couldn’t let go of, one that drove him to need to discover more, and set him on the path of holy divination, a path that would make detective Kyle Loring a ghoul of the night, gaining insight from the insides of each of his victims, but with each clue, each divine insight only leaving him wanting and needing more, forever searching, forever hunting, forever seeing, never stopping. And but of all the seeking and questioning, he knows that one thing is for certain: all the answers are on the inside. 

 

Book Birthday : HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Clockwork Wonderland.

 

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Clockwork Wonderland.

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…

Clockwork Wonderland.

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Featuring authors:

Trinity Adler
Ezra Barany
Jaap Boekestein
Dustin Coffman
Stephanie Ellis
Jonathan Fortin
Laurel Anne Hill
N. McGuire
Jeremy Megargee
James Pyne
Michele Roger
H.E. Roulo
Sumiko Saulson
K.L. Wallis

With Foreword by David Watson

Hatter’s Warning by Emerian Rich

Starting off with a poem from the Mad Hatter who warns us, our time is running out and Alice the queen of Wonderland is after our heads and our souls.

Jabberclocky by Jonathan Fortin

A drunken clock repair shop owner and his abused son receive a visit form the Mad Hatter who has an evil plan to bring a murderous Jaberclock to life. Only the Cheshire Cat can save the day or is he as mad as the Hatter?

Hands of Time by Stephanie Ellis

The Queen of Heart’s executioner and timekeeper are looking for an apprentice and a new set of hands to kill and kill again to run the queen’s clock.

Clockwork Justice by Trinity Adler

With only one day and two clues, a bloody torn card and carrot tarts, Alice fights to prove she’s innocent and avoid losing her head to the Red Queen’s executioner.

My Clockwork Valentine by Sumiko Saulson

Unlike the White Rabbit, Blanche Lapin does not carry her timepiece in her pocket, but in her chest. It’s a Victorian-era clockwork pacemaker and if it’s not wound every forty-eight hours, she will die. When the key is stolen, the thief who has it will let her die if she doesn’t declare her love and stay with him forever.

Blood will Have Blood by James Pyne

There are many Wonderlands and a young woman is trapped in one where she is expected to be the new Alice. It’s a place where the rivers are filled with corpses and that’s not even the worst of it. The only way out is by wearing a clock necklace that needs blood for fuel, but what happens if it runs out?

Midnight Dance by Emerian Rich

Wonderland is being overrun by zombies. Mr. Marsh and The Mad Hatter are in a race against time to jam up the clockmaker’s clock and stop the undead apocalypse. If they can’t the apocalypse will start over and over as the clock strikes one.

A Room for Alice by Ezra Barany

When Alice is locked in a blood-splattered room and poisoned by D, she must behead the Queen of Spades within fifteen minutes in order to get the antidote. Can Tweedle help, or is he part of the problem?

Frayed Ears by H.E. Roulo

Caught in a child’s fever-fueled dream, The White Rabbit, The Scarecrow, and other storybook characters soon discover that story time is coming to an end and maybe so are they.

King of Hearts by Dustin Coffman

A prequel story to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this tale explains how the Queen became mad, and why she hates the name Alice so much, though it has nothing to do with the real one.

Riddle by N. McGuire

A steampunk take on the infamous tea party, with a killer twist.

Tick Tock by Jaap Boekestein

To hear him tell it, a heroic wild card fights against the usurper Alice and puts Mary—the true Queen Of Hearts—on Watch World’s throne. Is that what’s really going on?

Gone a’ Hunting by Laurel Anne Hill

Alease goes rabbit hunting, but she’s the one caught in a place where she will have plenty of time to think about what she’s done.

The Note by Jeremy Megargee

Cheshire Cat tells a story about the changing, horrifying world of Wonderland and why he has to leave it.

Half Past by K.L. Wallis

A woman follows a mysterious man though the subway and travels back in time to the late 1800s, where she finds that instead of the patriarchal norms of the past, she is in a Wonderland where women are the superior sex and moral boundaries cease to exist.

Ticking Heart by Michele Roger

A woman on a train goes to visit Alice in a war-torn steampunk Wonderland, which is very different than the one we know.

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.

HorrorAddicts.net 205, Kevin Ground

halogoHorror Addicts Episode# 205 | SEASON 17
Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich
Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

205 | Graveyards | Kevin Ground | Crimson Brulee

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

191 days till Halloween

Theme: #Graveyards #Cemeteries #LorenRhoads #CemeteryTravel #DeathsGardenRevisited

Music: “Nothing Dies Forever” #CrimsonBrulee

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#Neonpocalypse #GameOver

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Feat Author: #KevinGround #Maudaleen

From Anthology #HauntsandHellions
https://www.amazon.com/Haunts-Hellions-Gothic-Romance-Anthology/dp/B09429HWLJ

Voices by #RishOutfield and #EmerianRich

————————————-

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

b l o g  e d i t o r

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r e v i e w  c o o r d i n a t o r 

Daphne Strasert

s t a f f

KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Naching T. Kassa, Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Russell Holbrook, Renata Pavrey, CM “Spookas” Lucas, JS O’Connor
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Chilling Chat: Episode #205 – Kevin Ground

chillingchat

Third age author and spoken word performer, Kevin Ground specialises in Victorian, Gothic, contemporary horror, and ghost short stories. He actually doesn’t know where his preference for the revolting comes from,Kevin Ground other than to say he is always, always turning normal on its head and seeing where his imagination takes him. He rarely knows where a short story is going till it’s finished.

His story, “Maudaleen,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology

NTK: Kevin, a graveyard figures prominently in your story, “Maudaleen.” Have you had any interesting or strange experiences in cemeteries?

KG: I am a fan of cemeteries in as much as I enjoy the contemplative atmosphere of commemorative buildings, headstones, and artwork. Amongst the hustle and bustle of modern life, cemeteries put you in your place. Once you’ve taken up residence your earthly worries are over. Unless, like the unfortunate Maudaleen, you are not at peace with yourself.

In the cemetery where Maudaleen is set, there are sections of very old, neglected graves. The headstones lean this way and that. Unreadable, lichen-covered, some broken. When I walk in that area I feel a sense of great sadness and anger. The resentment the departed feel about being forgotten is palpable in the very air. I do not linger in that area over much. I can offer no comfort to placate the resentful dead.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

KG: A chance encounter in a secondhand book shop with a battered hardback entitled Titus Groan by author Mervyn Peake. I loved the style, content, and fantastic array of characters. Delving further into the works of Poe. M R James. Sheridan Le Fanu. Algernon Blackwood and other such worthies hooked me in for life.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

KG: A double-edged sword of emotion that cuts through the chaff of life to reveal the love of your life. If your love is denied by its intended, or worse still, accepted then betrayed. The reverse edge of the blade will cut you and wound you in a way that never fully heals. Lucky are those who do not know the sting of this blade and find true love at the first attempt.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

KG: The Woman in Black by author Susan Hill

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

KG: Yes, I do. The 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. Fantastic black and white film that brings the characters and events to life with great emotion. Charles Laughton’s portrayal of Quasimodo embodies a love that cannot be yet refuses to be denied. Marvelous stuff.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

KG: Not whole people, rather certain characteristics of a person. Their dress, hairstyle, mannerism’s that catch the eye when they go about their daily lives. Catching a train, shopping at the supermarket. Negotiating steps in a wheelchair. I am no peeping tom, but I do take my time to look at what’s about me. Some marvelous material to be had people watching.

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

KG: I never use an outline. Normally, the story develops as it unfolds in my imagination. I do however keep an eye on names, dates, and ages of my characters as it isn’t unusual for me to mix up a grandad with a daughter and turn the two into a third person altogether. I imagine quicker than I type being the issue here. I rarely have any idea of where a story is going before it’s finished.

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

KG: A bit of both really. Some of my characters take flight and run free and easy whilst others progress with a more sedate step. The story decides who does what. As the author, I sometimes subject my characters to some pretty distasteful events that play hell with who they are. The hero doesn’t always survive unscathed if at all. I have no firm rule on this. Preferring to keep my options open.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

KG: As a man who has just celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday, I am becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality. Being old, weak, and helpless. That frightens me.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

KG: 1984’s Winston and Julia. Doomed to failure but a love that defied Big Brother. An example of many real romances that fail because of outside influences. Winston and Julia never stood a chance, but emotion and the need for love could not, and would not be denied.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

KG: This is a difficult one. So many excellent authors to choose from, but I would have to go for Graham Masterton. Closely followed by Darren Shan, and Algernon Blackwood

NTK: What do you like most about Darren Shan’s work?

I find Darren Shan’s character creation and scene-setting, to be right up there with the best of the genre’s acknowledged masters. Although aimed at the young adult market, the subject matter of his work is pretty adult. His characters get right in there when it comes to tearing each other apart emotionally and physically. The stories get on with it at a brisk pace and every word matters. I think Darren Shan has found his niche and the horror enjoying public are the better for it.

Safe to say I never want to play chess with Lord Loss. Or get on the wrong side of Mr. Tiny.

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

KG: Where to start. I have three projects on the go at present.

The first is an anthology of contemporary flash fiction pieces aptly named a book of shorts. These little bites of unpleasantness are stand-alone short stories but in microfiction format. I hope to have this anthology finished and published via Amazon by the autumn of this year.

The second is a project that features an anthology of contemporary short stories where women are the main characters.  Either victim or villain, the supposedly weaker sex gets to sharpen their razors and raise hell. Provisionally entitled Women Trouble. This is a project scheduled for publication on Amazon towards the autumn of this year.

The third project is an entirely different kettle of fish as it comprises four novella-length pieces of Victorian Gothic horror. This work is actually almost complete, and work is about to commence on final reads and proofing by my sharp-eyed proofreader, Sarah. All four of the novellas have a strong faith-based element underpinning the stories, but the characters are far too busy squaring up to each other to let a little thing like doing right get in the way.

If you like Victorian Gothic I believe, biased though I am, you’re in for a treat. Again, this anthology yet to be titled will be published via Amazon probably in time for Christmas this year.

Addicts, you can find Kevin on Amazon and Facebook. His back catalogue can be found on his website.

Historian of Horror : The Price of Fame is, Apparently, Seven Bucks

Once upon a time, not far from Vanderbilt University, nestled snugly between the Elliston Place Soda Shop and the second best comic book store in Nashville, there existed an emporium known as Elder’s Bookstore. I remember it as being a dusty, dirty, disorganized display of decaying detritus, piled aimlessly and according to no discernable pattern, in which nothing was in its place, or even priced. If one did manage to find something desirable, and not too shabby, one had to confront Old Man Elder, himself. That ancient curmudgeon, as I recollect him, usually quoted a value far in excess of worth. In several decades of occasionally venturing into that dungeon of decomposing compositions, I only recall purchasing two objects – a dust-jacket free first edition of Don Marquis’s archy and mehitabel, for which I paid the very reasonable sum of ten dollars, and a rather ill-used copy of the June 1945 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, which cost what was at the time the mildly exorbitant sum of seven dollars. However, as pulp magazines were not a particularly common commodity in my hometown in the 1970s, I set aside my Scottish frugality and grabbed it up.

Famous Fantastic Mysteries was launched in 1939 by the Munsey Company as a venue for reprinting speculative fiction short stories that had originally premiered in its magazines, Argosy, All-Story, etc. A companion magazine, Fantastic Novels, appeared a year later, and featured longer works but only lasted five issues. In 1942, Famous Fantastic Mysteries was sold to Popular Publications, which switched it from multiple reprints to a single classic novel-length speculative fiction tale, accompanied by one or two new, or at least newer, shorter works. Popular revived Fantastic Novels in 1948, for a twenty-issue run over the next three years. Famous Fantastic Mysteries lasted until 1953, which was more or less the end of the pulp era.

The authors reprinted in the magazines represent a who’s-who of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and adventure scriveners of previous decades – A. Merritt, H. Rider Haggard, Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, J.U. Geisy, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, George Allan England, Ralph Milne Farley, etc., etc., etc. Merritt seems to have been especially well represented, with virtually all of his novels appearing in one title or the other, usually represented by cover art courtesy of THE greatest of all the pulp illustrators, Virgil Finlay. More on him and his impact on fantasy art in a future column.

That first issue I acquired featured one of William Hope Hodgson’s nautical terror tales, his 1907 novel The Boats of the Glen Carrig. You might have run across another of his ship-borne yarns, “The Voice in the Dark”, which is one of the most reprinted short stories in all of horror literature. The second story is a 1936 short novel by one J.S. Bradford, Even a Worm. If Bradford ever published anything else, I cannot find evidence of such. Several pages of readers’ letters complete the issue.

The cover painting and interior artwork are all by the major pulp artist Lawrence Stevens, who signed his work simply ‘Lawrence’. I have since acquired a few other issues, all of which have covers by him. The inner pages, however, contain many fine examples of Finlay’s work, which pleases me no end. Apropos of nothing, in particular, they all feature novels by H. Rider Haggard, a favorite of mine since childhood. I’m not sure if that was intentional, or simply happenstance.

A significant number of issues of both magazines have been posted to the Internet Archives. Alas, my first issue hasn’t been. Maybe it will be, someday.

Our lagniappe for this edition is another sad one, an obituary of a contributor to the popular culture of horror. Mitchell Ryan passed away on March 4th at the age of 88. He starred as Burke Devlin in the first season of Dark Shadows, from June 1966 to June 1967. He also appeared in the 1995 film, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. I had the pleasure of seeing him on stage when I was at the University of Tennessee in 1983, playing Jason in Medea opposite Zoe Caldwell, whose passing I noted some time back. Slowly but surely, the various bits and pieces of my childhood and young adulthood go drifting off into the void. C’est la vie.

When next we meet, we’ll drop around to check out a very grave situation – a chapel in the heart of Europe in which the bones of the long-dead have been put to uses not normally recommended for human remains. Join me, won’t you, for a viewing of what I dig up for your edification and enjoyment.

Until then, fellow x-plorers of the x-treme…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Odd and Dead Ends : Up and At ‘Em/ The Skeleton Fight in ‘Jason and the Argonauts’

There are a myriad of skeletal monstrosities in film and TV, from the bodies in the pool in Poltergeist, to the musical mayhem of the Danse Macabre in Disney’s Silly Symphonies, and Doctor Who’s skeleton in a spacesuit from the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead two-parter. Even Scooby-Doo’s laughing alien skeleton is enough to give anyone nightmares. But for me, the best of the best comes from the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, with its legendary skeleton fight sequence.

            Mixing live-action and stop-motion, Jason and his fellow adventurers have almost made off with the mythical Golden Fleece. It’s just a shame that the magician of the land invokes the gods, and with a whizz of magic, scatters some bones which grow into seven deadly skeletons. The Children of the Hydra’s Teeth ascend from the cold ground with swords and shields in hand, ready to do battle. It’s up to our heroes to fight them off and try to escape with their lives, and the fleece, intact.

            All of the creature effects were designed and created by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen was the stop-motion animation genius, responsible for many of the classic monsters of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. After his initial success on Mighty Young Joe, he went on to create creature and monster effects for films such as Clash of the Titans, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Earth vs The Flying Saucers, as well as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, a film inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story, ‘The Foghorn’, and in turn directly inspired the creation of Godzilla.

            In order to allow the real actors to fight with stop motion puppets only a few inches tall, the actors would carefully choreograph their exact movements with stunt doubles playing the skeletons. These doubles would then be absent when the cameras rolled, and the actors would perform one side of the fight from muscle memory, fighting air, miming the duel. Afterward, this footage would be projected onto a screen in Harryhausen’s workshop, where he would then line up his own camera and the creatures, pose them just right against the background to make it look as if the actors and the creatures were the same height, and snap a photo. After that, onto the next frame.

            The skeleton fight reportedly took up to four months to complete for just a several-minute sequence, all seven skeletons requiring precise actions, moved just the right amount to create as smooth a movement as possible. Because they’re real figures, we get real light on the bones, as opposed to modern CGI attempts, so it all feels tactile and real. The lighting and creature design gives them deep black eyes which the light never hits, and a ridge above the eyes like eyebrows. They end up with a menacing, sneering quality, which when combined with their mouldy bones and slightly open jaws, one gets the distinct sense that they’re enjoying the slaughter and the fighting. They’re not just re-animated corpses; they’ve got brains, sense, purpose, and thought behind them. You forget they’re puppets only a few inches tall, and suddenly it’s the undead fighting our brave heroes in Ancient Greece, outnumbered, three men against three warriors who can’t ever die.

            Their characterisation really sells the illusion. At first, they slowly advance on the heroes as a pack, creeping forward, pushing them back inch by inch. And then a piercing screech and they all lunge forward. Each has their own unique shield design, helping us to identify each one, and they all have their own movements and moments of action. It’s not mindless animation; the whole thing is thought out and prepared. They have their heads knocked off (animated in mid-air using braces and strings), and on occasion they leap into the air across ruins and bodies with bloodied swords, leaving the ground as that extra convincer that they’re not puppets mounted on the floor.

            To finally top it all off, not all of our heroes survive the encounter. There is nothing like a body count to let the audience know that nothing’s off-limits, that danger is here, and that these animated frames of the dead can do damage. It all combines to sell the illusion. Every little thing which can be done has been done, and it all works seamlessly to create arguably the scariest skeletons ever put to screen, and certainly the scariest fighting undead not in a horror movie. Jason and the Argonauts is a classic that’s inspired filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and Tim Burton, and its danse macabre finale is not one to be missed.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter/Instagram: kjudgemental

Historian of Horror : The Leg Bone’s Connected to the… Chandelier? 

I have written before in this space about being in some faraway place for what is likely to be the only time in your life and later finding out that you missed seeing something you would really have liked to have seen. Given the insane number of cool things in the world, that’s almost a given. It’s just about impossible to squeeze everything in, no matter where you go. It happened to me at least once more on that same 2011 trip through Eastern Europe during which I did not see Bela Lugosi’s bust.

It was early June in the Czech Republic, as it was still called in those days. Our Mercedes-Benz bus had left Brno behind after lunch and we motorvated towards the absolutely gorgeous city of Prague. As we neared the capital, we passed south of the town of Kutná Hora. Located in a suburb of that city is the Sedlec Ossuary, in which the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 human beings have been repurposed as decorations and furnishings for a chapel under Hřbitovní Kostel Všech Svatých, the Cemetery Church of All Saints, in the former Sedlec Abbey.

As much as I would have liked to make that detour, we were well into the second week of our journey and ready for our last major stop. From Prague, we had only to drive back to Frankfurt-am-Main, with a lunch stop at Rothenberg, before heading home. There were forty-some of us on that bus including the driver and guide, and we were all in agreement that it was getting close to being time to break up the band. It had been fun, especially with so many Australians aboard, but we all longed for home and hearth.

Besides, we had spent an afternoon just a few days before exploring the Kaisergruft in Vienna, the crypt beneath a Cistercian monastery in which the remains of almost four hundred years worth of Austro-Hungarian royalty had been interred. That had been just about enough death, I suspect, for most of my traveling companions. Another dose might have proven fatal to what was left of our congenial fellowship. 

And thus it was that we skipped the Sedlec Ossuary for a cruise on the Vltava River, a tour of St. Vitus Cathedral, and a walk across the Charles Bridge instead, as well as good food, great beer, and a fountain in the form of two men urinating at one another. Google search that on your own time. Warning: NSFW!

So, we ate, and we drank, and we were merry, and then we scattered to the four corners of the Earth and basked in the warmth of our memories, which did not, alas, include the Ossuary. I would like to direct your attention to a short film on YouTube that describes what we missed better than I possibly could. It’s only about ten minutes long, and in Czech, but it does have English subtitles. I recommend it highly.

There is a statue about halfway across the Charles Bridge that, when touched, is supposed to bring its molester back to Prague within a year. It didn’t work for me, but I do hope to return to that wonderful city someday and take that short trip to Kutná Hora as long as I’m in the neighborhood. I hope you can, too. Maybe we’ll meet in the Old Town Square in view of the Church of St. Mary before Tyn afterward, and talk about bones over a bottle of Becherovka. 

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I will expound more fully on the Kaisergruft in a future column, by the way, as well as some of the other places I have visited wherein the deceased have found their perpetual rest. Something to look forward to, n’est pas? Do stay tuned.

Our lagniappe is the opening salvo from a collection I cannot recommend to the populace too highly, The 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music. While I don’t necessarily agree with all the selections being particularly dark, and certainly find a few of their omissions surprising, it is a good place to start for the budding aficionado of spooky classical music. For your cultural edification, I, therefore, present Franz Liszt’s Totentanz (Dance of Death). Enjoy!

In our next episode, we’ll be taking a look at a variety of games available to kids of my antiquated generation, pastimes designed to circumvent that veil that separates we mere mortals from the spirit world, as well as from future events. For, as Criswell pointed out in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the future is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives! Join us for some spooky playtime.

And, as always, ye yearners after yeti…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Crimson Brulee

Ro’s Review

NY-based Crimson Brulee released their promising EP Tragica, which brings us “words for the wounded hearts of the world.” Guitar-heavy licks laced with synthesizers give them a rich sound and the production quality on this EP is quite pleasing. The male vocalist channels his inner Peter Murphy while the female’s vocals add a soft melodic quality to their tracks. Crimson Brulee is definitely a band to watch.

The track “I Came Back To You” has an 80s horror movie vibe Horror Addicts will enjoy, and “Nothing Dies Forever” is a goth love anthem for the ages. “Where Tarantulas Roam” has a radio-ready hook that surprised me with its catchy vibe. Check out Crimson Brulee on YouTube Music

I’d also like to give a Shout-out to the band Cut Like This. Their track “The Boogieman” is like dancing with a nightmarish Gwen Stefani and I am here for it. Horrorpunk is such a fun genre and I recommend you check out this fun creepy lullaby.

Ro’s Recs:

If the Trinity of Terror tour happens to come to your town, you should totally check it out. Lilith Czar, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, and Ice Nine Kills? Yes, please! I caught the San Jose show at the Civic Auditorium, which is a gloriously old venue that had great energy and my black little heart was so fulfilled by their musical offerings. If Ice Nine Kills would just create a rock opera and bring it to the stage, the world would be a better place. 

Catch tracks from all of the bands I’m reviewing this season on the HorrorAddicts.net YouTube Music Playlist. Stay Tuned for more…

Shadow’s Love : Chapter One ~ Jesse Orr

He tilted his head back and tasted the air. Long used to the stench of the city, he no longer gagged at the various assaults on his senses but was able to distinguish just what he wanted. He had found fear to taste almost as sweet as guilt, and when combined with the innocence he craved tonight, it was almost irresistible. Pulling his trench coat tighter about himself, he set off in the direction of the new blood, tasting the air occasionally, always staying in the shadows.

Audrey was only 20, but she had seen her share of pain. She was now wandering around aimlessly downtown late at night and had already escaped from several would-be johns and was seriously considering going back home to tolerate her parents. She wished someone somewhere would take a chance on one of her hundreds of job applications and hire her, enabling her to perhaps escape her parents’ oppressive rule once and for all. But her poverty continued, the world indifferent to her plight.

She tentatively approached a figure standing alone against a building, sizing him up, ready to run if he made any sudden moves. But he hardly seemed to notice her. His eyes momentarily flicked towards her, but if not for that she would have thought he was oblivious to her existence. He was tall and handsome and looked as though he could work in a bank as easily as lean against a shadowy building. She decided to chance it.

     “Excuse me?”

His eyes returned to her and an eyebrow raised questioningly.

     “Er…I was wondering if you could tell me…where the nearest bus stop is?”

He closed his eyes for a second as if he was thinking. Then he smiled apologetically. “Sorry, I’m hell with directions. I could take you?”

He stepped toward her and she flinched, instinctively stepping back. His face showed understanding. “You don’t trust me. If you like, you can follow me so you can run if I prove untrustworthy.” He grinned ruefully.

She considered his offer torn; he would be hard pressed to grab her if she was following behind him, as quick as she was.

     “All right,” she said. “But don’t try anything funny or I’ll scream,” she warned. 

He nodded and set off, calling over his shoulder, “I’m Joe, what’s your name?”

     “Audrey,” she said, letting him get a good lead before falling in behind him. 

     “It’s nice to meet you, Audrey,” Joe said. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing here at this time of night?”

     “I had a fight with…my boyfriend,” she said with a flash of inspiration. Maybe if he thought people were waiting for her, he wouldn’t try            anything.  “I ran off, but he’ll be worried if I don’t come back.”

They continued like this for a while. Joe led, asking questions and turning appropriate corners. Audrey answered his questions gratefully, pouring out her heart, glad to find someone willing to listen to her problems. 

     “So what did you get into a fight with your boyfriend about?”

     “Oh…um…we…I…he said…” she scrabbled for an answer, not noticing the left they took. “He wanted me to sleep with him!” she blurted,                grabbing a cliché from sex ed. “But when I was running away, he said he was kidding…” her voice trailed off. “Where are we?” They had taken several more turns and ended up in front of a dingy warehouse at the end of a cul-de-sac and she honestly had no idea how they had gotten there. Fear grabbed at her. 

     “He wanted you to sleep with him? You should have realized,” Joe turned around, an ugly leer etched on his once handsome features, “boys            only want one thing.”  

     “What are we doing here?” Audrey asked, her mouth dry. Joe began walking toward her. She retreated until she found she had been strategically positioned against a wall and had nowhere to go. 

     “I have a business opportunity for you, young lady.” He reached up and stroked her cheek. She slapped his hand away and his other came up, pinning her against the wall by her throat. “In that warehouse is several thousand dollars worth of video cameras, lighting, and several of my friends who have been dying for a little beauty like you to test them on.” His grin grew uglier. “Get the picture?”

     She struggled against his hand, trying to scream with what little air she could draw into her lungs.

     “No!”

     “I bet you wish you’d fucked your boyfriend now, don’t you?” he said and tried to kiss her but her boot connected with his shin and he released her with a grunt of pain. With a furious look on his face, he bashed her head into the wall, stunning her. As sparkles overwhelmed her vision, she dimly made out his face coming through the darkness to kiss her again.

Before she could summon the strength to fight, his eyes bulged in surprise as fingers curled around the back of his neck. Another hand snaked around the front, setting its nails into Joe’s throat and tightening. The sharp nails stabbed into his flesh as he screamed, a gurgling wail as his throat was torn out and dropped to the ground. Audrey’s heart sank as the shapeless mass behind Joe dropped the lifeless pornographer’s body to the ground and looked up and directly into her eyes.

He was very tall, his face was as pale as a sheet of paper. Long dark hair framed his high cheekbones and sunken eyes in shadow. Almost before this all registered, he was standing in front of her, nearly close enough to share her breath, staring deep into her eyes. She cowered against the dirty wall, trying to make herself as small as possible.

     “What is your name?” said his voice as if from a distance as Audrey’s world grew darker.

     “A..Audrey…” she whispered. Then the light vanished as the world completely faded away and the darkness claimed her.

 

Free Fiction : Seeing Out the Monkey by Ann Folks

Alice showed me into the Medical Sciences Research Institute. The pouring rain outside ran in sheets down the floor-to-ceiling windows. Lightning flashed far away in the dark sky.

She handed me a key card and we walked to the elevator that went down to my janitor’s closet in the subbasement. Taped on the back of the door was a calendar and newspaper clipping about the previous janitor that just retired on his 67th birthday, October 1, 2021.   “No more crazy monkeys!” was scrawled across the calendar.  

     Upstairs, Alice explained, “You are almost the only one in the building, the other cleaner quit already.  Phillip works on the animal cages on the       top 3 floors. Your card won’t work on those, put his phone number into your phone. When you need to clean those floors, call him and he’ll               unlock the doors. So just pull the trash, push in the chairs, questions?”

     “Do the keypads on the swipe boxes have codes?”

     “Only for an emergency. Do the month and year, so this being October, the code would be 1021. Again, the top three floors have a different,              longer code. Only Phillip knows it, don’t try to guess, three wrong tries, and you’re locked out or in, depending on where you are. “

     “Leaving…”.  And she was gone. 

Pushing in the chairs was easy, pulling the trash, was somewhat difficult. Some of the trash cans were overflowing. These labs hadn’t been cleaned for days. The lights flickered; beeping came from some of the equipment. On the 7th floor, scurrying footsteps of animals upstairs rattled.  The storm grew closer, the lightning lit up the lab.  I called Phillip. He answered panting.

     “Yeah?” 

     “Hi, I’m the new cleaner and …”

     “On my way down”. He hung up. 

A thirty-something man, of large build, with a limp, walked out of the elevator. He was sweating.

     “Look, I have a situation with Nero. Here’s my card. Just open the doors as you need them.  But do NOT come up to 10.  Nero always acts                freaky during storms, but this one is the worst.  They adjusted his meds and he’s almost uncontrollable.  I’ll find you when I get him back into        his cage.”

He turned around and got back on the elevator. 

     “Remember. Stay off 10”.  The doors closed.

***

On 8, the lights were out. I turned on my phone flashlight. Cockroaches and mice scurried into dark corners.   Puppies and kittens with electrodes attached to their heads whimpered and mewed.  Water was dripping somewhere. Lightning illuminated the lab. I screamed when suddenly something jumped on me, and claws dug into my back. It was just a cat, as scared as I was. It jumped off. I ran out of the lab.

On 9, still dark. Lights flickered on and off.  Open cages were perched on stainless-steel tables, but no animals.   

I was happy to be finished.  I turned to leave the room when I heard Phillip scream from above on 10, the forbidden floor. Another scream emanated from upstairs, furniture was being overturned and something crashed to the ground.  In the elevator, I pushed 10. I had to see if I could help Phillip.

When the elevator doors opened, it took a minute for my eyes to focus. Blood was everywhere. Bleeding from a large wound on his thigh, Phillip sat propped by a desk.  A monkey with a prosthetic leg and one real and one fake eyeball was staring, grinning wickedly, blood dripping from his mouth. I saw a cabinet with glass doors and fruit inside. I threw some grapes at Nero. He ate the grapes, staring back and forth at us. 

     Phillip said, “he’s going to kill us.”

I tiptoed towards Phillip, past Nero. He kept staring at us, back and forth.

I used rags from my cart to try to stop the bleeding. We struggled into an office and locked it. 

     “I’ll call the police and wait with you”. 

      Phillip whispered. “No, you have to let them in. No access.”

      I asked, “Why is Nero so crazy?”

      Whispering again, “Afraid of lightning. The code, it’s his ‘rith day”

He passed out.

I dialed 911.

***

Outside of the office, I blocked the door with a desk.

Lighting flashed again, the room went dark, and uneven footsteps and screeches followed me. 

 I screamed when Nero suddenly jumped on my back. His hand reached around and yanked at the key card from behind. The lanyard started to cut off my air. Searing pain shot through my shoulder as his teeth sunk into my collarbone.  Still screeching, he bit the lanyard and it snapped off my neck, letting me take a deep breath. His jaw moved down to my forearm and spinning around I slammed him against the block wall. He fell down.

I ran to the stairwell and found the code box. I had three tries. I tried today’s date, nothing. The newspaper clipping said he retired on 10/01/2021. Nothing. He was 67. 10/01/1954. It clicked and flashed green, and the door to the stairwell unlocked.  

A searing pain shot through my other shoulder. He was on my back and wouldn’t let go. I ran down the stairwell, slamming him into the walls, the railings, even the steps when I fell. He still wouldn’t let go. Finally, I saw his head leaning way over my shoulder as if he was trying to see where he was going. I ran towards the wall at the 4th floor landing and cracked his head as hard as I could into the block wall. He went limp and fell from my body. I picked him up and threw him down the rectangular hole the banister made down the levels. He landed with a metallic thud on the concrete below. 

I limped as best as I could to the front doors and let waiting police in. They found Phillip, they loaded us in the ambulance. 

It’s the last time I’ll work in the same building as a monkey. 


 

Ann Folks is a beginning writer and so far has only entered her stories into writing contests. I really liked this one and it’s been entered into a contest but it didn’t place. I got some decent reviews on it so I tweaked it and I’m submitting it here to see if I get some good input. All comments are welcome.

Terror Trax: Interview with Amulet by William Zimmerman

  1. Where did the project name, Amulet come from?

Stephanie Stryker: I’ve always wanted my band to be called Amulet. It’s mystical, fancy, and mysterious.

  1. Who are your main inspirations?

MJ Phoenix: Punk, new wave, reggae, and funk genres. Also, Stephanie herself.

SS: NIN and Manson are in my musical DNA, along with goth classics like Sisters of Mercy.

  1. What non-musical things inspire your music?

MJ: Heartbreak, each other, despair, general dissatisfaction, darkness.

SS: Beauty in darkness, esotericism, and occultism. Mysteries of the unknown and exploring those topics.

  1. What actor/actress could you most identify with? Why?

MJ: Leonardo DiCaprio he’s a great environmental advocate.

SS: She’s just a character, but Lily Munster. I love her dark housewife lifestyle and she cared deeply for her family and home. She’s got that take-no-shit sass to boot!

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

MJ: Small venue with a packed house and good vibe. Public Bar Live in DC was great, so was Ottobar in Baltimore.

SS: 100% agreed with MJ. The vibe of a crowd enjoying the music is the best part of a venue.

  1. What are your favorite horror movies?

MJ: Nosferatu. Not a horror movie, but I love Cat People.

SS: I love witch, occult, ghost, and vampire-themed movies. I also love all the dark fantasy classics with Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and friends.

  1. What was the scariest night of your life?

MJ: When I was marooned on a roof rack of a speeding car going between Nepal and Katmandu. Long story…

SS: I saw Limp Bizkit in 1999 and was very close to dying in a mosh pit. Thankfully, someone pulled me out, but I lost my JNCOs and chain wallet to the pit. Can this story be any more 90’s?!

  1. If you could bring back greats who have passed on, who would be your undead opening band?

SS: David Bowie and Type O Negative, but we’d be okay opening for them ;).

  1. Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the Horror Addicts?

MJ: If you feel like writing a song, do it! Go with your inspiration.

SS: Be true to yourself. Authenticity is so valuable and it helps people relate to you.

Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to get updates on upcoming events and releases. We are coming out with new music, photography, music videos, live shows, and more.

Our website is amulettheband.com, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @amulettheband.com

(Fan contacts…)

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Bandcamp?

Music video for our track Vampire:

HorrorAddicts.net Bonus, The Deadbringer Audiodrama in FULL

Horror Addicts Bonus Episode
SEASON 16 Audiodrama
The Deadbringer
by E.M. Markoff
Intro Music by: Monroy Solis


The Deadbringer Audiodrama in FULL.

Find more info at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 1: The Shining City
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 2: Locked Doors
10:53
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 3: The Bastion
19:48
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 4: Corpse Road
28.09
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 5: Corpse Hill 1
34:41
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 6: Corpse Hill 2
40:44
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 7: Rain of Blood
48:47
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 8: Sleep
58:05
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 9: A Chance Encounter
1:05:40
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 10: Revelations 1
1:14:17
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 11: Revelation 2
1:20:30
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 12: Time 1
1:28:32
The Deadbringer by E.M. Markoff
Chapter 13: Time 2
1:34:32

The Deadbringer was written by E.M. Markoff. Find out more at
www.ellderet.com

With voices by:
E.M. Markoff (Narr, Mrs. Stone, The Stranger)
James Seo (Kira Vidal)
Rish Outfield (Eutau Vidal)
Emerian Rich (Sal Zem)
Kadriah Wade (Elia the Herbalist)
Phillip Ginn (Mr. Stone/Skinstealer)
Gabriel Markoff (Grieved Partner, misc agents)
Ramon Cantarero (Kim Lafont)
DJ Pitsiladis (Tim, Bastion Agent)
Dave M Strom (The Shopkeeper)

The theme song is “Huitzil” by Sarah Monroy Solis. Find her on Instagram
@sarisolis.

————————————-

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

Also, send show theme ideas!

horroraddicts@gmail.com

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

h e a d  o f  p u b l i s h i n g

Naching T. Kassa

p u b l i s h i n g  p. a.

Cedar George

b l o g  e d i t o r

Kate Nox

s t a f f

KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Daphne Strasert, Jesse Orr, Lionel Green, Kieran Judge, Crystal Connor, Nightshade, R.L. Merrill, Mark Orr, DJ Pitsiladis, Christopher Fink, CM “Spookus” Lucas

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

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Free Fiction: Long Time No See by James Peace

It had been at least three years since I had last seen John. I wondered if “best friend” was still applicable, given the circumstances. Somehow semantics were the last thing on my mind. Who left a voicemail in this day and age, anyway? Only John. His social and emotional ineptitude let him feel, think and act with not a single care for what others found acceptable or “in”. I admired that in him. He was the opposite of me, as I was confident and outgoing. I went to the parties, did the drugs, drank the shots. I had my own place way before he even considered leaving his parents’ home. Yet still, in a way, he had always been far more “free” than me.

Of course, that was back when we were in college. After we parted ways, the journey of life took…different routes for each of us. I ended up enlisting and following a boot’s lifestyle for a few years. John collected degrees like stamps and hopped between part-time jobs. We tried to meet up and connect for cultural events or each other’s birthdays. Life inevitably takes its course, though. Over time our get-togethers dwindled from once a month to once a year. For a long while, not even that. By the time I was 26, I hadn’t spoken with the man I loved as a brother in two years. We met at his family’s summer house by the northern coast for a pair of days. Bars, a casino, the beach, and a penthouse all to ourselves. Still, it hadn’t ended on the best of terms.

Three whole years had passed since then and here I was, tripping over every piece of furniture in my house. I dodged the third lego piece behind the corner of the stairwell, saving myself quite a bit of grief, and went down into the basement to get my duffle bag. At times, I had to question whether my son left these out of negligence or if he was trying to show his old man that he could hunt “big animals” too. Adorable little runt.

Throwing the duffle bag over my shoulder, I dialed my wife’s number into my phone. Life in the army, both during and after Bootcamp tended to prepare one for pretty much anything. The habits of getting up early, making one’s bed, and keeping a bag ready for sudden departures hadn’t been lost on me. With the house locked, the dog fed and the woman of my life appeased with promises of a weekend getaway, I threw the bag onto the backseat and left. Unlike my 99 Astra, life sure had a way of coming at you fast. Much like said Astra, though, I took pride in being a tough bone to chew on. After the dishonorable discharge, bouncing back wasn’t the easiest thing in the world yet I did it nonetheless. I took a couple of swigs from my pocket flask to steel myself against the cold and carried on.

On the way, I lost myself to the roads of memory. The teenage years spent with John, playing video games and geeking out with the other nerds in our group of friends. The wild nights of college when I ran out his patience with the latest of my dramas and mischiefs. I remembered the nights I spent having dinner at his place, his parents still sent me a gift when my birthday came along every year. Great people, all of them odd in their own harmless way. These had been some of the best times of my life. Sure, there were mistakes made along the way, but I for one never liked to dwell on the past.

I found the town by sundown and the coastline was deserted as I’d expected. With the rain and the cold, nobody stepped foot in it. His house was pretty isolated, a couple of miles away from the center. It was very characteristic of his family to keep a comfortable distance. As I slowly rolled into his driveway, I could see the lights were already on. I parked the car and took in a deep breath.  I forced down over half of the contents of my flask, replacing the sobering chill with a vigorous burn.

I stepped outside the car, shaking off the tension in my legs and back, and looked over to his porch. There he was, waving down at me with a big grin on his face. His hair was oily and black, his features rough and germanic. You could see a hint of eastern in his eyes. He wore the same black button-up shirt and brown chinos he’d worn three years before when we “made it big”. I missed him with all of my heart. I didn’t bother waving back as I opened the backseat door. Reaching my duffle bag, I grasped around for a small box and cold steel. As I pulled the Winchester M21 out and closed the door, I slid the two slugs into their respective barrels, glancing at the corner of the yard. The small dirt mound was still where I left it. Where I’d left him. I was holding in my right hand the same gun that had blown a hole through John so cleanly that a dessert plate could have easily fit through. Right through his trusting heart. Right through the shirt that thing, whatever it was, was wearing. I’ve never considered myself a man of prejudice, but dead things should stay dead and certainly not leave voicemails to their former friends.

Turning my attention back to “John”, I could see he was no longer waving at me. In fact, he was no longer smiling, either. Swallowing my fear, I took aim.


 

A young author from Western Europe, 24 years old, fascinated by all things horror and interested in publishing his own horror novel. Currently in the military, pursuing future involvement in Special Forces. Loves people, dogs, and the three F’s of life.

Free Fiction : Come Dine With Me by Pete Kijek

I never imagined in a million years that when I submitted the advert in the local paper asking to have someone for dinner, that someone would actually respond!

The advertisement was only short, necessity and a price per word dictated that. ‘Lonely 41-year-old male seeks like-minded individual for evening meal. Non-smoker, pref. non-drinker, must enjoy secluded weekends away and keeping fit.’ I must confess to being somewhat hesitant to submit, yet submit I did and paid for a four-week run. 

Towards the end of the third week, I received a response. A woman from Tettenhall had written back, saying that she wanted to meet! I read through her profile. She was thirty-five, single, no children, and had recently moved to the Midlands from Durham as a mature student. She sounded ideal! 

I wrote back, asking if she wanted to meet for coffee first, as I understood that simply going for dinner with someone could be a bit daunting for a single woman these days. She replied saying that she would be up for coffee, and we arranged to meet the following Saturday in Coffee Moments in the Wulfrun Centre.

I will confess right now, I have never felt so anxious as I did that Saturday sitting at the shopping centre waiting for her to turn up. I had lost count of the number of times I had re-positioned the little Chicaboo monkey on the table in front of me, propped up on the sugar dispenser.

I knew it was her the instant she stopped outside the shop. Light brown hair tied in a loose ponytail, stonewash blue jeggings and a camel-coloured turtle neck jumper, and a purple cross-body tote bag. She wasn’t fat, but not entirely slim either – I guess the politically correct way of putting it was that she had curves, the classic hourglass figure. In short, she was gorgeous! Far too good for the likes of me.

She grabbed herself a cappuccino and came and sat down at my table. Her name was Lauren, and we sat for hours just talking to each other. I had never known anyone to be so attentive in their listening, so engaging in their conversation. I honestly believe that right there and then was the moment I fell in love with her.

We arranged to have dinner the following weekend, at my place. Now, I must confess, I have never hosted anything like a dinner date before. I mean, I’ve seen stuff on TV, but this was the first time I had ever tried something like this myself. Our first meal together had to be something truly special and unforgettable. I even managed to coax the twins from Number 16 down the road to be a part of it, and when they turned up that afternoon, already dressed in smart, waiter/waitress-y clothing, I could not have been more excited!

The doorbell rang just after 7pm, and I went to get the door. Lauren was there in the most stunning little red number, and I ushered her through to the lounge whilst I ran her coat upstairs quickly.

Coming back down, I entered through the dining room, bringing two flutes and a bottle of prosecco with me, the cork already popped. Lauren took a glass, and I poured the fizzing liquid, eliciting a small giggle as I accidentally spilled some on my hand. 

Holding my eye contact, she softly took hold of my hand, bringing it to her lips and lightly licking the prosecco from my skin. To say the evening was already perfect would be an understatement. I had never known a woman like her. She was entirely bewitching, and I was held entranced by her spell.

I beckoned to her to enter the dining room, where I placed the bottle and my glass down on the table before seating her as every gentleman should.

Disappearing briefly into the kitchen, I returned with a small bowl of tomato soup in each hand. I placed Lauren’s bowl before her, then sat down to mine. 

The conversation was magical. I can honestly say I have never laughed so much – we just clicked, if that makes sense? It was like we had known each other for years, for centuries. 

With the soup course over, I stood placing my napkin carefully on the table and suggested she come with me into the kitchen, as I had a surprise for her. This main course would be to die for! Everything had happened so perfectly, running smoothly and according to plan.

Lauren stood and took my hand, as I led her into the kitchen. 

Taking care to walk over the plastic sheeting that covered the floor and every work surface, I led her to the chest freezer on the far side of the kitchen, being careful not to knock the bags containing the somewhat sanguinary corpses of the house’s previous occupants.

Opening the freezer, Lauren’s eyes widened with anticipation as the chilled but very much alive twin children looked up at both of us, abject horror and despair displayed on both their faces. 

Lauren indicated the boy, which was ideal as I had already provisionally hoped to have the girl. Taking them from the chiller, we led them to the huge island table in the centre of the kitchen, laying them down side by side, and taking hold of the knives with which we would prepare our feast.

“You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Claudio,” said Lauren, as she pierced the flesh of the boy, his screams muffled by the tape around his mouth.

I simply looked at her, lovingly, the charade of being strangers evaporating as I opened the girl from collarbone to navel and started peeling the skin back to reveal the tender morsels within.

“Well,” I replied, “I’ve got another hundred and fifty years to think up the next dinner.”


 

 

Once, many moons and 1 failed marriage ago, I started writing a high fantasy novel, on the urging of my now ex-wife. I really enjoyed what I was writing, and probably would’ve carried on had things not gone awry at home. It is now 2021, I have a new wife, and a new novel idea to write about, which I am currently writing. I have also found a penchant for writing horror. I live with my family, emotional support hound, Fallon, and am addicted to Coco Pops and Hula Hoops

Interview with Eugen Bacon by Renata Pavrey

 African-Australian writer, Eugen Bacon, whose works span across prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, talks to book blogger and staff writer Renata Pavrey.

 As part of the upcoming release of her latest book, Mage of Fools, I got the chance to interview author Eugen Bacon, thanks to the publishing house Meerkat Press. I have read and loved other books from this publisher that specializes in speculative fiction, and had also interviewed Bacon about her previous books. Here, I get to talk to her about her newest dystopian novel that revolves around storytelling.

        From the blurb:

       In the dystopian world of Mafinga, Jasmin must contend with a dictator’s sorcerer to cleanse the socialist state of its deadly pollution. Mafinga’s malevolent king dislikes books and, together with his sorcerer Atari, has collapsed the environment to almost uninhabitable. The sun has killed all the able men, including Jasmin’s husband Godi. But Jasmin has Godi’s secret story machine that tells of a better world, far different from the wastelands of Mafinga. Jasmin’s crime for possessing the machine and its forbidden literature filled with subversive text is punishable by death. Fate grants a cruel reprieve in the service of a childless queen who claims Jasmin’s children as her own. Jasmin is powerless—until she discovers secrets behind the king and his sorcerer.

Renata: Hi Eugen, Congratulations on the release of your latest book. You have written The Road to Woop Woop – a collection of short stories, and Speculate – a co-creation of vignettes with Dominique Hecq. Mage of Fools is a dystopian novel. What’s your experience switching between writing forms and styles?

Eugen: I’ve always found it natural to switch mid-text across forms and genres, wearing different faces, hats, and cloaks.  I think it’s because of the immersion I find in writing, and our world is not black and white. I love experimentation, bending boundaries. I tend to resist boundaries that restrict text, and I approach a work with an openness to how a story may morph and shape itself. 

One of my recent stories is a blend between a short story and a script. Some of my short stories have prose poetry hidden in them. Some of my novels have short stories hidden in them. Some of my creative nonfiction—like ‘Inhabitation: Genni and I’ (Sydney Review of Books), where I talk to my other self, or ‘The New Seduction of an Old Literary Crime Classic’ (LitHub), where I pay homage to Peter Temple—integrates excerpts of fiction or poetry in it. 

I love the fluidity of text, as a literary enthusiast, Roland Barthes would have it.  

Renata: Your books fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction – alternating science fiction, fantasy and horror. Is there a genre you prefer, both as a reader and writer?

Eugen: My favourite genre is literary speculative fiction, where imagination is the limit. An introduction to my upcoming collection, Chasing Whispers by Raw Dog Screaming Press, describes my work as ‘towards an Afro-irreality’. Except for a time travel novel (Secondhand Daylight) that I am co-writing with a European slipstream author, Andrew Hook, I never start a story thinking that this is going to be science fiction, fantasy, or horror. 

Renata: Stories occupy an important place in Mage of Fools, where reading is banned and characters try to sneak in their daily dose of storytelling. The novel is peppered with the names of authors. Who are your favorite authors? Any favorite books you would recommend?

Eugen: I was only recently talking about Anthony Doerr and look forward to reading his latest historical and speculative fiction Cloud Cuckoo Land. Peter Temple’s dialogue is genius. 

And Toni Morrison is subversively in Mage of Fools, where I imagine her language in my stories. Anyone who hasn’t read all this Nobel prize-winning author’s fiction is missing big time. 

I am inspired by selfless people, like Nelson Mandela, who give of themselves so generously. 

I also have on my reading list a hardcover copy of Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings.  

Renata: When writing speculative fiction, what goes into world-building? How do you balance imaginary scenarios with real-world issues; the new with the familiar?

Eugen: The reader must find familiarity in the worlds we create, however strange, through the nature of our worldbuilding, whose intent is to demystify. Credibility is a necessity in any imaginary world. 

It all depends on the size of the story, its nature or setting, where it wants to take me, to determine whether it is a primary world (that resembles our real world) or a secondary world (mostly invented and dissimilar from our real-world). 

But even in a secondary world, an author may want to introduce themes and issues pertinent in our world today, and how the protagonists in those invented worlds deal with them. This is the author as an agent of change.   

Renata: Your writing is often poetic and lyrical, starkly contrasting the dark themes explored. Is this merging of prose and poetry deliberate, or does the narrative lead you?

Eugen: The narrative talks itself, the characters guiding it. Language is important and, in my mind’s eye, is always the musicality of the text. 

Renata: The cover of Mage of Fools mixes the traditional with the futuristic. Could you tell us about the story behind the cover?

Eugen: Ask the publisher, Tricia Reeks of Meerkat Press! She’s the closet designer, discovering herself. She asked for my art preference, and I said something African, maybe a mask. 

Renata: Thank you, Eugen, for taking out time for this interview. We wish you all the very best with Mage of Fools, and other books that follow.

Eugen: The pleasure is entirely mine. 


About the author: 

Eugen Bacon is African Australian—her books Ivory’s Story, Danged Black Thing, and Saving Shadows are finalists in the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards. Eugen was announced in the honor list of 2022 Otherwise Fellowships. She has won, been longlisted or commended in international awards, including the Foreword Indies Awards, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Horror Writers Association Diversity Grant, Otherwise, Rhysling, Australian Shadows, Ditmar Awards, and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Eugen’s creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award-Winning Australian Writing, BSFA, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. New releases: Danged Black Thing (collection), Saving Shadows (illustrated prose poetry). In 2022: Mage of Fools (Meerkat Press), Chasing Whispers (Raw Dog Screaming Press) and An Earnest Blackness (Anti-Oedipus Press). 

Website: eugenbacon.com / Twitter: @EugenBacon

 

Historian of Horror : The Perils of Real Estate


I think I might have mentioned before in this space that the 1960s was a wonderful time in which to grow up. Along with every other aspect, the music flowing over the airwaves was objectively far superior to its modern-day counterpart. University studies have actually proven this. I kid thee not. No, seriously. You could look it up.

One of the more popular American musical acts of the mid-decade was one Domingo Samudio, born February 28, 1937. With and without his backup group, the Pharaohs, he became famous as Sam the Sham and had two huge hits, Wooly Bully and the somewhat genre-peripheral, Little Red Riding Hood. Both songs peaked at Number 2 on the American charts, a not-inconsiderable achievement in the midst of the British Invasion.

In 1964, he covered the 1958 Johnny Fuller hit, Haunted House. The song tells the tale of a gentleman who buys a house only to find he has an unwanted roommate, a being with ‘one big eye and two big feet ‘. The ghost tries every trick it can think of to drive the new owner out, but as Lydia Deetz said of her father in Beetlejuice, he is not one to walk away from equity. There’s no real resolution of the conflict by the fade-out, but that might be said of many such antagonistic arrangements in life. I like to think they’re both living there still, cohabiting with a minimum of friction. Nah, I don’t believe it either. 

Fuller’s version was more rockabilly than R&B, which was unusual for an African-American artist of his time. He toured in the late 1950s with white acts like Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon, which distanced him from his previous black audience. He died of cancer in 1985 at the age of fifty-six.

Sam’s cover was a bluesy affair, as was the style by 1964. That same year, “Jumpin’” Gene Simmons issued a smoother, less edgy version. Of the three, I prefer Sam’s, probably because I associate it with the attendant joys of childhood. I do like the others, though.

A decade later, a bassist named Chaim Witz liked the last version so much, or at least the singer, that he changed his name to Gene Simmons and joined some rock ‘n’ roll band you might have heard of. I think they were called Kiss, or something like that. The name sounds vaguely familiar, anyhow.

The original Simmons began his career in 1956 as an opening act for Elvis Presley, even appearing in a bit part in one of The King’s movies, 1963’s Fun in Acapulco. His version reached Number 11 in the Top 100 on August 29, 1964. Exactly forty-two years later, he passed away at the age of seventy-three. 

Haunted House was later covered by rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty, and country singer John Anderson, among others. Come around my house in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and you’re apt to hear one version or another of it. 

Sam the Sham has mostly retired from music, but still makes the occasional concert appearance. I have no information on whether or not he still performs Haunted House on those rare occasions when he puts the turban back on. I’d like to think he does.

 This edition’s first lagniappe is a rather sad one, I’m afraid. As you might have noticed, I am no longer producing my Russian-novel length “In Memoriam” columns, but there have been a few recent passings that I felt ought to be noted. 

Any post I make on the history of comic books, comic strips, or pulp magazines is likely to have been informed, at least in part, by the work of author and popular culture historian Ron Goulart. He passed away on January 14, 2022, one day after his eighty-ninth birthday. 

French actress Yvette Mimieux, 75, star of the 1960 George Pal classic, The Time Machine, expired January 18th.

Czech-Canadian film director Ivan Reitman, 75, who gave us GhostBusters in 1984, departed this life on February 12th.

And British actress Veronica Carlson, 77, who starred in three Hammer films (Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), shuffled off this mortal coil on February 27th.

On a happier note, here is some surf-guitar/spaghetti-western/zombie-apocalypse goodness courtesy of The Metrolites, “Gunfight at the Zombie Mineshaft”. Enjoy!

Be here in two weeks for an exploration of the wonders found in one of the great pulp magazines of the 1940s and 1950s, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, along with a preview of a future post regarding its most influential illustrator. I hope the populace will find the offering pleasing to the palate. 

Until then, watchers in wariness…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Free Fiction: This Year’s Costume by Peter Kijek

 

     “Alice! Where’s my costume?” Danny shouted to his sister from upstairs in his room, “I can’t find it?”

     “Down here, on the sofa, where you left it,” she yelled back as she gathered the suit hanger from the back of the dining room chair. “Come down and get it yourself!”

Danny raced down the staircase and into the lounge with all the haste a nine-year-old boy could muster.

     “This was such a great idea Mum had for Halloween this year!!”

Alice had to admit, this idea did go one better than last year’s costume, where they pretended to be mini demons whilst Dad sat in the car, and they beat the roof with his ‘severed head’. They loved to go all out to provide a real scare for the neighbourhood, and last year’s was horrific but immense fun. They’d moved to a new area shortly after, just before Christmas, and this Halloween was a great chance to not only top last year, but to show the new neighbourhood kids what Halloween was all about.

Upstairs in her room, a typical bedroom for a twelve-year-old girl, she unzipped the case and carefully took out the hanger that held her costume in place. It was perfect, absolutely historically accurate to the turn of the century period. It was a replica of the clothes worn by Susan Buckley who, along with her brother John, was reportedly photographed outside their house with their mother sat between them, axe in Susan’s hand, their mother’s head in John’s. The photograph had since been debunked, with experts claiming to know how the original portrait had been doctored to make it look like the kids had decapitated their poor mother. Whether it was real or not didn’t matter, it was a great urban legend and a great idea for a Halloween costume!

With the dress on, Alice pulled on the boots that came with it and dusted herself down in front of the mirror to flatten out any last-minute creases. Her hair was already tied up in an untidy bun. Brilliant, she thought, I look just like Susan Buckley! She grabbed the small axe from her bed, already stained with blood for that authentic look, and stepped out onto the landing. 

     “Are you ready yet?” she called to Danny, knocking on his bedroom door.  The door opened, and he stepped out, pulling at the collar with one finger to loosen it from chafing him. 

     “This shirt itches,” he complained.

     “That’s the starch,” explained Alice, “It helps with the authenticity.”

The children made their way downstairs, excited at the prospect of their costumes this year. Such a shame that their father wouldn’t be there to see the fruits of their labour, but that was okay, they understood the time of year and that he’d no doubt be buried in something keeping him extremely occupied. 

     “Is Mother ready?” asked Danny as he grabbed the shopping bag from the table.

     “She’s outside, sat on her chair,” replied Alice as she moved towards the front door, “She’s waiting for us. Now, come on! Some of the local kids are coming, I can see the lights from their mobiles.” Opening the door, she ushered Danny outside to the chair on the front lawn where their mother sat.

     “Here they come,” she whispered to her brother, “Get ready! As soon as they see us, they’ll want to take photos, just like the Buckley children!”

Standing on the opposite side of his mother to where Alice was, Danny reached into the shopping bag and pulled out his mother’s head, blood still dripping from the ragged flesh where Alice had hacked it off earlier that afternoon. 

Alice quietly moved her head to one side, to whisper to Danny. “I don’t know how we’re going to top this next year? Here’s hoping Uncle Mark has some good ideas….. ?”

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Once, many moons and 1 failed marriage ago, I started writing a high fantasy novel, on the urging of my now ex-wife. I really enjoyed what I was writing, and probably would’ve carried on had things not gone awry at home. It is now 2022, I have a new wife, and a new novel idea I am currently writing. I have also found a penchant for writing horror. I live with my family, emotional support hound, Fallon, and am addicted to Coco Pops and Hula Hoops. Find Peter on Facebook.

Free Fiction: A Handful Of Bones by Anita Dénes

Bird bones, bird bones, rattling in my hand. Small and brittle. I listen to the soft clicking sounds they make as I shake them, cast them like dice on the worn carpet to tell me answers.

They’re not really the bones of a bird, though, they belong to a child or used to. A child with black curls and a quick smile. I’m holding her finger bones, or maybe a part of her foot.

Does that frighten you? Then you’re in the wrong place, love. And anyway, I lied. They’re squirrel bones, you can see a rib, can’t you, and children don’t have ribs that small.

Well, not once they’re born, anyway. Maybe these are child bones, after all, dug up from a worse place than the wet earth.

You decide what they are and what I am, if what I tell you is a lie or a truth. They called me Lügner, back in the old days – it means ‘liar’. Amazing how much a truth can sound like a filthy lie if you decide you don’t like what you’re hearing.

So what do you want to know? Your future? Someone else’s? Do you want to hear how to stop a treacherous heart without being discovered, or give life to a dry womb?

No. You wouldn’t have journeyed this far for that. Mother Lügner’s home is hidden in the whistling reeds, the capricious swamp, and it takes a brave one or a fool to find it. Or someone who has burned every single bridge, even the one she’s walking on.

Tell me, love, or I can’t help you.

You’re so young and lovely like I never was even when my hair was still dark and I had all my teeth. I should hate you for that. But how could I hate you when you sit there crying?

Don’t waste water like that. We don’t have much of it. Wipe your eyes, now, quiet down, and tell me what you want.

The creatures from the mountains, yes, of course, I know them. If you want to know how to avoid them, you need more than my words, I have no power over something that is not human anymore.

You… want to become one?

Oh, I haven’t had a laugh like that since the ash began falling from the sky. Tell me what you really want, and I will grant it to you just for cheering me like that.

Oh.

You were not joking.

You want to cast away your humanity, all you have left in these black days. You want to become mindless, a slave to hunger and cold and nothing else. A beast preying on the few of us that are left, your own family, maybe. You are running from something, but why do you want to run that far?

What have you done?

Ah. So that is why you went so pale when I said I was holding a child’s bones. Hard times beget harder measures, and hunger is the lord of us all.

Did you hold your brother’s bones when your stomach was full?

Don’t run away, love. You will drown in the swamp if you stumble around sobbing like that. I couldn’t care less about what happens to you, but I don’t want the carrion birds near my house. Or your… friends.

Yes, I will help you, if only just to get you out of here. Let us hear what the bones have to say.

Click-click-click, the sound of your future. A handful of bones finding you the road to damnation.

What is that little smile I see on your lips? Are you that eager to throw away all that you are, just to forget?

I cast the bones from my hand. Let us see.

That rib pointing at your foot, that is the direction you will have to go in once you leave my house. Through swamp and wood and snow, follow the line even if the path curves away from under you. Don’t lose it! Straight on until you run into this little vertebra, see? That will be a hill.

You will need to go into that hill, down in its hollowed-out stomach. Just follow the staircase, long ago laid bare by storms more vicious than you have lived to see. You will find a doorway at the bottom of the stairs, the door ripped off its hinges before you were born.

That is where those things came from. The first they feasted on were the people who made them.

You will find the cache in the secret room, untouched inside the hill. Untouched because no one in their right mind would open one of those crates, but you are not in your right mind anymore, are you, love?

They will look like little bottles of clean, cool water, but make no mistake. They are what you need. Open one and drink from it.

It will hurt.

Five of those bottles emptied into a city’s water tank were enough to wipe out thousands of men, women, and children. Drink only enough to moisten your mouth. Even I don’t know what will happen if you drink more.

No one can tell what you will look like once the agony passes. Eight limbs, maybe, eyes all over your skin, or a snout to crush a skull with. All of those at once, even. The tumors will kill you in a few years, of course, but for those few years, you will be free to roam and forget.

You are smiling once again. You disturb me, love, and few things disturb Mother Lügner these days.

You have not told me everything.

Oh. Oh.

That taste of flesh… You cried because you hated it.

And you smile now because you crave it.

Get out.

Get out!

My old heart races so. She will go where I said, no doubt, and destroy herself.

Man on the cross, forgive me. I should have lied to her.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Anita Dénes grew up in Transylvania as an avid reader, and later writer of strange stories, both in English and Hungarian. She published her first short story in a Hungarian magazine at the age of 20. Now, at 23, she is an aspiring author dreaming of publishing a full-length book one day and working on mysterious and macabre tales in the meantime.

Free Fiction: Pockets of Posies by Nexie Maryln

Remember that one nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosie? Well in this case two kids were in the woods when they heard the nursery rhyme through the wisping fall wind. Here is their story.

One day in October near Halloween, Lyla and Kyla were walking in the woods as the wind picked up putting an utter chill in the fall air when the twins heard a faint sound of a music box and as they neared the end of the woods the sound grew louder and louder so before the twins left the woods, they went exploring and found an old plantation style house was the source of the music. They ventured into the gate with a loud creak. The music stopped and they saw a little girl emerge from the broken door. She couldn’t have been any older than 4 or 5 years old. She looked very scared and was in ripped clothes.

     “Maybe she is homeless?” Lyla asked Kyla.  

Unbeknownst to the girls, the little girl Rosiee was the victim of a game of ouija board Ring Around the Rosie, where they summoned a demon who wanted to “play” with the little girl and her family. As they followed her in, they felt this unfamiliar feeling that made them uneasy. They ventured further into the home not trusting their gut to leave immediately.  Once they caught up to the little girl, they looked at the room and realized that they had fallen into a trap of the demon that possessed Rosiee. With her head cocked to one side, Rosieeand giggled as her eyes turned black and her face slowly began to slide off as her body grew two feet taller. By the time the girls turned to run Rosiee took the form of the demon that possessed her.

As soon as the girls got to the door it slammed shut, trapping the girls who were now cowering in fear. The demon rushed over to the girls and consumed them just like she had the family. 

So if you see three girls beckoning for you to come in. Run for your life before it is too late and you fall victim to the demons of Ring Around the Rosie. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Nexie Maryln is a short story author that wants to do this full time.

Death’s Garden Revisited… Coming soon!

DeathsGarden
Coming soon… Death’s Garden Revisited!
With Emz’s personal tale of “The Forgotten Angels”

Death’s Garden Revisited is an anthology of cemetery essays from genealogists and geocachers, tour guides and travelers, horror authors, ghost hunters, pagan priestesses, and more about why they visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

Contributors include horror authors A. M. Muffaz, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christine Sutton, Denise N. Tapscott, E. M. Markoff, Emerian Rich, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Francesca Maria, Greg Roensch, Mary Rajotte, Melodie Bolt, Priscilla Bettis, Rain Graves, Rena Mason, Robert Holt, R. L. Merrill, Saraliza Anzaldua, Stephen Mark Rainey, and Trish Wilson.

Editor Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and the death-positive memoir This Morbid Life. She was the editor of the award-winning Morbid Curiosity magazine.

Get a sneak peek and choose your rewards at: Death’s Garden Revisited

Free Fiction: He is Coming by S.Tierney

Under bough and moonlight, we bide, the twilight breeze fluttering the hems of our white cotton gowns. Behind us, staving the chill while preventing retreat, a semicircle of elders support burning torches, their grimaces of paternal anticipation veiled behind a portrait mask. 

Before us, awaiting us, beckoning us: a fruitless and endless and altogether lifeless density of brambles, an entwined jungle of octopus tentacle with talon-like thorns for suckers. The wind causes the vines to grind together, sounding a scratching akin to a butcher’s tools being sharpened – yet shortly we must attempt to achieve what the moonlight cannot. Upon the dimming of the moon behind a cloud we must penetrate this barbed mass, run headlong into its jagged crush without a moment’s hesitation, all in an attempt to reach the other side. 

This is the way of it–

And so we are away. Gowns flapping. Faces preemptively scrunched. The initial thorns cut the deepest, fangs puncturing, biting our momentum. Immediately we are lodged, imprisoned within nature’s chains. In animal reflex one cannot help but raise their hands to their face, fearing scars and lacerations and the likely loss of an eye. But this is a mistake. Although we are all virgins to this ceremony and therefore inexperienced, the best of us know instinctively that one’s hands are better put to use not in preservation but in parting. Reach for those brambles! Tear them from their roots! Yes, just as our cheeks, our palms will soon be glossy with blood, that loose skin between the fingers spliced from so much snagging; yet these torments must be ignored. We must hasten. Endure. Suffer. Clench. Scream if you must, cry out! But whatever you do, do not hesitate, not even for a moment.

For He is coming.

He moves faster than us, compelled by a purpose comparable with a predator’s lust. He carves through the brambles with all the impulsion of a stag trampling roses, following those paths of least resistance which we have so courteously made ready. Yes, we benefit from a head start, that interval between the thinning of the clouds and the returning of the moon; but He has strength on His side, power, size, and a rampant desire to capture those laggers who have fallen behind. 

Dare you look over your calloused shoulders you would see that His lumbering structure is barnacled with faces. Masks, to be exact, sunken wicker skulls with only a lacquer of meat depicted across the bone. Not only is His face concealed as per the elders; He is draped in masks as though a stone clustered with oysters, His ribs and shins and forearms and spine consumed beneath armor-like myiasis of haunted expressions, each more pained and repentant than the next. This spore of woven faces seems to cry out as He thrusts them through the brambles, the wailing mill of thorn against willow akin to teeth down a blackboard – not that He fosters any heed. The thorns are nothing to Him. He feels no pain. He only wills the chase. His chase. Our chase. With each stride, He surges faster, grows more determined–

Should you maintain the inclination to escape, you must do the same.

It is impossible to know how deep you are into the brambles – it is all one endless, seizing tract. You may have grappled through an acre or an inch of it, for an hour or a lifetime; and all you have to show is a gown torn to ribbons. Your flesh fares little better, gashed raw that it is. At least be thankful that you are still moving, still breathing, even writhing – which is more than can be said for your fellows…

Having previously been cocooned within a company as numerous as a flock of doves, now the flock is dissipating, His ravenous hawk bringing down you fledglings beak by beak. A begging squawk is stifled within the brambles, snuffed out like a candle. Moments later and out goes another. Then another. Between the vines, you catch a flash of cotton as it is snatched away, pale and bloodied. You feel yourself alone, isolated; you fear you too will soon be snatched, for you are freezing and fretting and all-but naked and exhausted to your soul – yet you must endure, just a little further. Another inch. Another lifetime. Look, the brambles are thinning. The light beyond them swells! Of this, you convince yourself if only to drown out the howling reality that He is almost upon you. Within the reflective beads of blood and sweat and dew and tears which cling to the vines ahead, you see His charging form glinting in the moonlight, unblinking eyes staring hungrily, bared teeth snapping like those of a pack of hounds. As though an extension of his wicker the brambles seem to harden, converge, wrap around you. The light…it is so close now. One final push. One final tolerance of laceration and suffering and-

You collapse to a bed of wild and welcoming grass, the brambles renounced behind your swollen ankles. Your breath is hurried, moist exhalations swirling around the smoke from the semicircle of torches which stand over you. An elder in a red gown lifts your head and presses a chalice to your lips. You swallow as best you can – the tart fluid bubbles over your chin. A mask, a robe, and a torch are awarded – and a second sip.

Thankful, you roll over and glance behind you; each indistinguishable from the other, His wicker masks peer out from the brambles, more innumerous than before. 

And then, in accordance with the moon, they recede.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

S. Tierney is an author of novels, comics, and several acclaimed short stories – which have been translated into audiobooks – and the novella ‘Kin’. Find more of his work on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scott-Tierney/e/B00J21D0O6?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1641651813&sr=8-1

 

Free Fiction: It’ Hard Out There For A Cryptid by Andy Martin

Devil let Dogman push his advantage, his strength, his reach, but Dogman’s big haymakers were too wild to really connect, claws too short and too dog to do much damage, and when Devil felt Dogman’s whole weight shift forward for the kill Devil dropped back on his wings like he was done for but then kicked out with both hooves, catching the mutt high on the chest. Dogman hit the sand like there wasn’t a bone left in his body.

Devil followed through and landed more or less upright on his hooves, that spot on his back, right above his tail, absolutely screaming. He’d feel that one in the morning.

     “Welcome to New Jersey kid,” he said, wisps of smoke and sulfur for punctuation.  

Dogman’s eyes were rolled over white but he was whimpering so he’d live. 

     “Don’t feel bad. I’ve been pulling that move since the 18th century. One time I turned a grass ape’s head completely around like that, so count       yourself lucky.” He grabbed a handful of Dogman’s pelt and dragged him toward the creek. “Let’s get some water in you.”

***

     “Anything?” Buddy said, his phone on selfie mode as checked his headlamp.

     “I’ve barely got any bars, no, wait, wait, I got it. You’re good,” Steve said, turning his phone with the aftermarket lighting and stabilization rig             toward Buddy. He got Buddy framed up, the pine trunks behind him looking like rotted teeth in the glare of the big light. “Rolling.”

     “What’s up Youwatch, this is Cryptid Buddy coming from deep in the Jersey Pines, but tonight we’re not talking about Jersey Devil, tonight             we’re talking about-”

***

Dogman was on the shore, shaking cedar water from his fur and spitting blood. Devil hopped off a stump and stretched hard, maybe too hard, because Dogman flinched and whined.

     “Relax pal. We’re good.” Except for my back, which is not good, Devil thought. “Friends?” Devil said and offered a claw. Dogman shrunk and           Devil turned his claw palm down, let him come in for a sniff.

     “Good boy. See? We’re fine. Look kid, I was young once too, I get it. 1909? I was all the rage. People were so scared of me, they couldn’t keep       my name out of their mouths. I was chasing trollies and closing schools. I mean, it wasn’t quite the 18th, when I was eating babies and                  burning churches, but I loved it…until some kid in California willed me into existence and a Bigfoot kicked my ass.”

***

“Dogmen. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Devil of Ben Franklin’s day is no match for these carnivorous Cano-sapiens, and I have exclusive information that animal mutilations are on the rise in the Pine Barrens and there have been numerous sightings of large humanoids-”

Steve was fighting to keep up with Buddy in the soft sand, the pines crowding the road and throwing menacing shadows in the camera light-

***

Dogman stopped licking his paw and made a little whine.

     “Look, I get it. You’re holed up somewhere, sleeping that deep sleep, and you feel it, or smell it, or whatever. That scared, eager mind. That            delicious belief. But kid, we’ve all got our patches. I still feel that pull from all over the country, not like ’09, but it’s there. Maybe it’s because          everyone, everywhere, is from New Jersey, but either way, lots of people, all over the place, they step in the woods at night, they think of me.”

Dogman whined again and looked anywhere but at Devil.

     “But you know what? Colorado ain’t my patch. Florida ain’t my patch. Bodwin Moor ain’t my patch. Jersey is my patch, and I still get plenty of         Boy Scout trips out here to keep me going strong. I need a pick me up, I just land close to one of those little circles of tents and scream like         hell, plant that seed of terror that those kids will carry for the rest of their lives and years from now, they’ll be around a campfire and telling             their own kids about what they heard one night, and that’s me, going strong for another few years. You try to be everywhere where someone         thinks they see a Dogman and you’ll burn out. Or some old-timer like me or the Opogo is gonna clean your clock-”

Devil snapped a claw at Dogman.

     “Hey! There’s places you’re meant to be and places you ain’t. The Pines are mine. I’m not pissing on hydrants in Michigan, so do me the                 same      courtesy, you get me?”

Dogman nodded, his eyes still anywhere but on the Devil and skulked into the night.

***

      “What was that?!”

Steve did like he was supposed to and whipped his phone back and forth across the logging road, the sand wetter now, like maybe this was a bad idea and they were walking into a bog.

      “I heard it too!” Steve hissed, but it wasn’t only a stage whisper. Somewhere way out in the night, he’d heard some sort of low moan, half-animal, half-human but all hurt. It left his balls crawling. 

     “There! There!” Buddy shouted and backed up, squelching in the wet sand, banging full on into Steve, the camera spinning, Steve sick to his         stomach and cold all over at the same time. 

Steve heard wings beating, big ones.

     “Buddy, we gotta go,” he said. 

     “What is it?” Buddy asked, more a moan than words, all the bravado gone and then the moon winked out and winked back on, something                huge and black flying over the road, the shadow bending off to the right like it was circling back-

The scream hit them, and Steve pissed Mountain Dew in his pants and they were both running, no thoughts of Dogmen anymore because only one monster rules the night in New Jersey.

 

——————————————————————————————————————————-

 

 

 

Andy Martin is an archaeologist and musician living in South Philly with his girlfriend and cat. He sings songs about shipwrecks and survival cannibalism for the band Clamfight. His fiction has appeared at Cultured Vultures and Necrology Shorts, and he’s authored or coauthored archaeology articles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Historian of Horror : The Prehistory of the Horror Comic Book; or, Ten Cents a Scare

As I have already pointed out in this space, the first continuing original horror anthology comic book was American Comics Group’s Adventures into the Unknown, which debuted in 1948 and ran for 174 issues. But, you might well ask, surely there were spooky comic books before then?

And so there were, starting all the way back in the days even before Superman debuted in 1938, buried in the middle pages of anthology titles, nestled between the superheroes, cowboys, and ace aviators. There were legions of ghost detectives, beginning with DC Comics’ Doctor Occult, along with a variety of second-string sorcerers, magicians, and prestidigitators all more or less based on the newspaper comic strip, Mandrake. Captain America and the other superheroes at Timely Comics regularly fought vampires, mummies and reanimated corpses on their way to becoming the stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Charlton’s Yellowjacket Comics began inserting brief adaptations of the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe beginning with the third issue, cover-dated November, 1944. I’ve already written about the four-color muck monsters inspired by Theodore Sturgeon’s short story, It. And so on. Monsters and other supernatural menaces were, until after the end of the Second World War, regularly used but not deemed worthy of being featured in their own titles.

With one exception – Classic Comics #13. This Gilberton publication, later known as Classics Illustrated, adapted the great works of literature into comics format well into the 1970s. The August 1943 issue featured Robert Louis Stevenson’s horror novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – the first comic book devoted entirely to horror. But not original horror, and not an anthology. Not yet. That took four more years.

Avon Comics began around 1945 as an off-shoot of Avon Publications, a paperback and digest-sized magazine house specializing in speculative fiction and suggestive love stories. Eerie Comics #1 was an early effort, cover-dated January 1947. Legendary comic book artist Joe Kubert and Airboy artist Fred Kida contributed, along with Bob Fujitani, who also created the cover. Despite the provocative image on the front of the book, sales were poor and no follow-up issues were published. 

By the time the title was revived in 1951 for a seventeen issue run, it was only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of horror comics of its time, distinguished only by its inclusion of early work by artist Wally Wood. Avon never became a major player in the comic book industry, despite some very attractive publications, including a one-shot adaptation of the 1932 Boris Karloff film, The Mask of Fu Manchu, in 1951. Wood contributed both cover and interior art. There was also a backup story drawn by African-American penciller Alvin Hollingsworth, who not long afterwards left comics to become a noted fine artist. By the mid-1950s, Avon Comics was no more. Avon Publications survives to this day as a romance novel publisher.

But they were the first to envision the future of horror comic books. Before Tales from the Crypt, before House of Mystery, before Strange Tales, before This Magazine is Haunted or Ghostly Tales from the Haunted House or Creepy or Chilling Adventures in Sorcery, Avon established the format for so much to come. 

Well, somebody had to get things started. A minor player does something that has a major impact – isn’t that the essence of what we like to think of as being the very story of America? 

 

I do have a lagniappe to offer the populace this time out – a follow-up to my last post. It never ceases to amaze me how often things come to my attention almost immediately after I hit that old ‘send’ button, things that are vitally relevant to the post just submitted. Case in point, my tardy discovery of The Hound of the Baskervilles comic strip adaptation in January. 

And so it was within a few days after shooting off my post on the French-language Angoisse publications. I only just now learned of a website from which English translations can be purchased of some of the volumes I wrote about previously. Black Coat Press has a massive catalog of French novels, anthologies, and collections for sale both as e-books and dead tree editions. I am seriously lusting after their Maurice Limat volume, Mephista. I encourage the populace to browse around their website if they are so inclined. There’s bound to be something to pique the interest of the discriminating reader. 

Next time, we’ll venture into the realm of popular music, and drop in on a Haunted House inhabited by numerous recording artists, including Johnny Fuller, Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, and Sam the Sham himself. Ought to be fun.

And so, valedictorians of the vile, until we meet again…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Free Fiction: The Mighty One by P. M. Thomas

My mind is like a record, left on playback, constantly looping, never stopping, always repeating the same notes, over and over and over. Ad nauseam.

I’m amazed I’ve lasted as long as I have. Most men would have lost it in less than a year. But not me. For over two decades, I have been hearing the same record play the same tune. From the tender age of a boy, it began – a small note, something others would have ignored, but not I.

I listened to the melody, got caught in its vicious trap, its intrusive cycle. Sealed in the routine of the song, the melody grew stronger every day and thereon, it took total control, dominated my mind, controlled my life.

It almost destroyed me on several occasions. Luckily, I managed to survive; luckily, I managed to hold on to the slither of strength I had left.

I suppose you’re wondering, why don’t I just switch off the record and stop listening to it? I have tried, believe me, dear reader, I have tried.
Every time I attempt to block out the endless loop, it always comes back, louder and louder.
What does my mind play, I hear you ask?

Words. Words of great disturbance, words of darkness, words that must be purified. Cleansed of their evil. Decontaminated with the light of goodness.

Now, I hear you say, they are only words … Can words cause harm?

Oh, dear reader, I shall shed light on why these dark words must be purged of their vileness in order to prevent any harm that their wretchedness could bring.

It’s because of the Mighty One.

Who is that? I hear you wonder. Allow me to explain. The Mighty One is a being of omnipotent power, a being that processes my thoughts in a heartbeat and can make them happen.

The Mighty One resides in the far reaches of my consciousness. We are linked – we are one, it and I. We both determine the fate of the world.

I did not ask for such a heavy responsibility, the Mighty One chose me and made me the guardian of all life. You can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is having to hold all our lives in my mind.

My mind. The battlefield. Where every minute of every hour of every day is spent battling the dark words with the words of salvation.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m crazy.

You could be right. Of course, you could be wrong.

Who’s to say that my mind doesn’t have the power to cause pain and misery if the dark words were ever processed by the Mighty One?

The world is a mystery; who knows what incredible things lurk behind the veil of reality, the mask of sanity, the logic of reason?

There is a good chance it all could be in my head. Maybe I have a disturbed mind that needs to make an average guy like me seem important to the world. Or could there be a phenomenon that this mind of mine contains? My mind … the key to the destruction of someone, of everyone and – worst case scenario – of the whole wide world.

Not to mention, the key to destroying my very self if the words wished to.

Might I be a man with an overactive imagination sparked into overdrive, no longer able to tell reality and fantasy apart? Or might I be a guardian, keeping the world and all lives within the world existing every single day, non-stop?

Whatever I am, I stand on the fine line between life and death, good and evil, light and darkness, purity and corruption, peace and mayhem, hope and doom, existence and oblivion.

I suppose you are wondering by now… what are the dark words that may or may not cause catastrophic effects?

You’re not going to like the answer but I can not tell you what the words are. To even speak of them or write them could cause the catalyst. The dark words must remain sealed in my head.

You may not care about risking the possible end of your life, another life, my life or all life in the world, but I do.

I’m afraid I can not take such a risk to indulge your curiosity.

Fret not, dear reader, for while I am unable to give you the apocalyptic words, I can give you the words of salvation that were given to me by the Mighty One.

And when you read these words, think of the difficult struggle that I, your sole protector, must do to keep you going to bed, safe and sound, every night.

There is no rest for me, there is no peace for me. I have a duty that I must uphold till the day I die.

And to you sceptics out there, those who do not believe me, those who feel I am mad or making this up: continue to live your life as you wish, in bliss.

Whether I am a guardian or not, these are the words I must repeat endlessly to keep you all alive and well as I sit here on my own, day in, day out, locked in my little white room.

 

Oh Mighty One, protect the world.

Oh Mighty One, protect all life.

Oh Mighty One, protect me.

Oh Mighty One, do not unmake the world.

Oh Mighty One, do not unmake all life.

Oh Mighty One, do not unmake me.

Oh Mighty One, never forsake the world.

Oh Mighty One, never forsake all life.

Oh Mighty One, never forsake me.

Oh Mighty One, have mercy on all life.

Oh Mighty One, have mercy on me.

Oh Mighty One, give all life strength.

Oh Mighty One, give me strength.

Please, Mighty One, please.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

P.M. Thomas is an author from Birmingham, UK. He has always had a love and passion for the art of storytelling, especially when it’s associated with horror.   Find more of his work at: https://philipbrocklehurst3.wixsite.com/p-m-thomas

HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents: Two Book Birthdays Today/Horrible Disasters and Plague Master Sanctuary Dome

Horrible Disasters

hahdfront-coverA Horror Disaster Anthology
Available now on Amazon.com

HorrorAddicts.net proudly presents Horrible Disasters. Thirteen authors from around the globe share their visions of terror set during real natural disasters throughout history. Travel back in time to earth shattering events like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and the Winter of Terror avalanches, 1950. What supernatural events went unnoticed? What creatures caused such destruction without remorse? Stock your emergency kit, hunker in your bunker, and prepare for… Horrible Disasters.

Cover Art by: Thierry Pouzergues

Edited by: Larraine Barnard

authors:
Emerian Rich
H. E. Roulo
Dan Shaurette
Steve Merrifield
Mark Eller
Laurel Anne Hill
Timothy Reynolds
Ed Pope
Jennifer Rahn
Chris Ringler
Philip Carroll
Mike McGee
Garth von Buchholz

Proceeds to benefit Disaster Relief by way of the non-profit agency, Rescue Task Force.

Historian of Horror : Boo-La-LA!

I am obliged to admit to being at a bit of a disadvantage this time out. While I did take one year of French in the ninth grade, that was almost fifty years ago. The next year, I switched to German. I took three years of it in high school and another couple in college. Although my Deutsch is very rusty after not using it for so long, I can still usually parse out fairly simple passages. I’m way past being able to read philosophical treatises, but I could probably manage the back of a cereal box.

On the other hand, I find I have to rely on what shared vocabulary English has with the Romance languages to make much sense of them. There’s a bunch, thankfully, so I can sometimes get through extremely simple bits, especially if I have some understanding of the context. So, when I chose to write today about a French publisher of horror novels, I was forced to call on whatever residual skills and knowledge I possessed along those lines because there is darn near diddly on the history of that enterprise in English on the internet. 

What in the world was I thinking?

Oh, well. Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together…

Our story begins in 1949 with Fleuve éditions, a publisher of popular novels. Their subsidiary imprint, Fleuve noir, specialized in a variety of genres arranged in separate collections – Spécial Police and Espionnage, which are pretty much self-explanatory; Anticipation, which was for science-fiction; and Angoisse, horror. Angoisse roughly correlates to the German word, Angst, which most English readers will no doubt recognize as being a component of that essential ingredient of horror, le frisson, that I keep going on about, that anticipatory shiver we all crave when delving into our favorite genre.

Angoisse was active from 1954 to 1974, with 261 books published. Based on the fewer than half of the novels I’ve been able to track down any information on, their most popular authors included Maurice Limat (September 23, 1914 – January 23, 2002), who split his efforts between Angoisse and Anticipation; Marc Agapit (pseudonym of Adrien Sobra, October 12, 1897 – September 21, 1985); Dominique Arly (November 8, 1915 – November 8, 2009); André Caroff (February 8, 1924 – March 9, 2009); and Dominique Rocher (July 6, 1929 – September 13, 2016). There were also occasional translations of American stories, including Donald Wandrei’s 1948 novel, The Web of Easter Island, published as Cimetière de l’effroi.

Limat was a prolific writer in several genres. His detective character, Teddy Verona, debuted in 1937 and became an occult detective when Limat went to work for Angoisse, beginning with 1962’s Le Marchand de Cauchmars (The Merchant of Nightmares). Limat wrote twenty-four Teddy Verona books for Angoisse, thirteen of which pitted him against the very naughty Mephista, beginning in 1969. Limat continued to write his adventures until 1981.

Agapit’s first novel for Angoisse, Agence tout crimes, came out in 1958; his last, Le Dragon de lumière (The Dragon of Light),  in 1974, a total of forty-four books. If he ever wrote a series with continuing characters, I can’t tell.

Dominique Arly wrote nineteen Angoisse books. Five featured one Rosamond Lew, all published in 1970 and 1971. Dominique Rocher contributed ten, none in any series that I can figure out.

Caroff had a series about the nefarious Madame Atomos that ran to seventeen volumes, plus one novel published under the Anticipation imprint, Les Sphères Attaquent (Attack of the Spheres), in which she was renamed Madame Cosmos. Along the way, she created a younger version of herself, Miss Atomos, who switched sides and fought against her ‘mother’. Comics publisher Aredit put out twenty-four issues of a Madame Atomos comic book beginning in 1968, most based on the series novels, the remainder adapted from other works by Caroff.

There were others, of course, including the house name Benoit Becker, under which several writers wrote pseudonymously; André Ruellan, who wrote under the name Kurt Steiner; and Agnès Laurent, which was the pseudonym of Hélène Simart. And so on for 261 volumes of scary French goodies. 

One of these days, I really need to drop around at some community college nearby and take a few courses in that most lovely of languages so I can finally read some of the books I’ve alluded to above. Might as well brush up on my German while I’m there since there are similar houses on the far side of the Rhine River that not only reprinted the Angoisse books but published long series of their own horror titles. But that’s another column, for another day.

 Next time, we’ll take a look at the very first horror comic book, Avon’s 1947 one-shot, Eerie Comics #1. Until then, aficionados of angst…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Free Fiction: Seconds Left For Tomorrow Melissa R. Mendelson

The clock hands rested across the nine and the eleven. The red second line convulsed, struggling to break in-between. It pushed forward, then fell back. It refused to give up, shaking so hard that it might just snap, but it slipped forward. An inch forward. It was stuck again.

I closed my eyes. The hum of the lights overhead did not help. The breakdown of the seconds did not help. The shouting outside did not help. If only the world could just stop. Stop for one damn minute.  Let me concentrate, and I closed my eyes, drawing in a breath. Come on. Focus. You can do it. Just focus.

“Damn it! Will you all outside shut the fuck up?” I stared at the thin walls, knowing that they heard me. “Thank you. I need to concentrate.” I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes. “Someone turn off the fucking lights,” and the hum died.

I could see it now. The black, square object spinning wildly. Its hum was silent but deafening. It could not leave its orbit. It was stuck like that red second line, convulsing, threatening to break. I slipped forward, pushed back by its electric field. Never had I dealt with such resistance. I reached for it. My hand touched it. I was thrown against the wall, and the wall cracked.

“What is the obstacle here?” the suit asked.

“The obstacle?” I laughed, wiping the blood from my nose. “It won’t let me near it.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Are you deaf, man? It won’t let me near it.”

“Don’t you control that thing?”

“There is no control,” I said. “We have a mutual relationship. At least, we did.” I looked down at the blood on my hand. “Something’s wrong,” I said.

“No shit, buddy. We’re on the brink of war, and we’re barely surviving the viral outbreak. You were our last resort.”

“I’m sorry.” I waited for the suit to help me up. Instead, he sat in my chair. “Sure. Just leave me on the floor,” I said. “I’m fine here.”

“None of us are fine, if we can’t see tomorrow. We need to… I need to know. You’re the man that can see the future, and you need to see if there is a tomorrow.”

“I’m trying! I never had this obstacle before. I could always see tomorrow and the tomorrows after that. Too much is happening right now.”

“There is always something happening in the world,” the suit said.

“No. Not like this. It’s like the floodgates were thrown open, and there are too many variables in play. There might be a tomorrow, but what kind of tomorrow? There might not be a tomorrow, but then what did we do wrong today? What did we do yesterday that set off the end of the world? Let’s face it. We are at the end.”

“Try again. Take a moment, and try again.”

“I’ve been at this all day. I just have this really bad feeling.”

“That it’s over?”

“No. There will be a tomorrow, but not our tomorrow.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means buckle up. Whatever is coming our way, there is no stopping it.”

“So, you’re giving up?”

I didn’t answer him. I knew what I had to do. Something bad was coming. Something really bad, and I didn’t want to see it. There was only one thing left then to escape that fate. I found the black, square object spinning wildly in its orbit. I grabbed hold with both hands this time, and I didn’t let go. The electric field pierced through the fabric of my being. My mind split apart. Before I snapped into oblivion, I caught a glimpse. I saw the world from yesterday, and it was burning in orange flames.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Melissa R. Mendelson is a horror, dystopian and science-fiction author,                                                                        whose short stories have been published in Sirens Call Publications,                                                                                        Dark Helix Press and Transmundane Press.

You may find her work at: http://www.melissamendelson.com

Terror Trax : Dave McAnally/ SYS MACHINE – Interview by William Zimmerman

Dave McAnally is the main driving force behind electro-industrial acts, SYS MACHINE, and DERISION CULT and is an extremely prolific artist/songwriter.  Graceful Isolation is the title of the new Sys Machine album available via Bandcamp.  We’d like to thank Dave for his time in this short interview.

You are the main guy behind the projects Sys Machine and Derision Cult.  What are the differences in terms of themes, inspirations, and otherwise?

I’m the main guy behind both of them, but I have different folks I collaborate with.  Gabe Wilkinson from the band Microwaved is involved in various ways on both Sys Machine and Derision Cult.  Kimberly of Bow Ever Down does vocals on 2/3 of the tracks on ‘Graceful Isolation’ and I worked with a number of remixers for that.  Derision Cult really started as sort of my platform to comment on what I felt were big themes in society.  It’s not so much political as is sociological.  I spent a lot of years in the advertising industry and saw firsthand how public perceptions have been manipulated and how big companies will seize on moments and movements to harness anger and anxiety to sell more products.  

Particularly on ‘Charlatans Inc’ I felt like those were important issues to address- especially with what’s all happened in the last couple of years with the pandemic and political agitation in America.  Some of that is more coerced and less altruistic than it appears.  So that’s more me talking about the world at large.  Musically, it’s industrial metal.  It’s me fusing my love of all things thrash, punk, and industrial and I am always fusing other things like blues, jazz, rockabilly, and reggae into it – which are also things I’m really into.   Sys Machine is a different animal entirely.  It started life as experiments with different sounds, synths, and arrangements, and ‘Graceful Isolation’ is really the culmination of a few years of that.  It felt like the right time with the tracks that became ‘Graceful Isolation’ to step up a bit, work with new people and really make something of those tracks and turn them into songs.  I take inspiration from what some industrial artists from the ’90s were doing in the early 2000’s – Van Christie with Eco-Hed, Chris Randall with Micronaut, Mike Fisher with Amish Rake Fight, etc.   There’s some really excellent stuff that got made.  

Can you tell us more about the specific themes behind “Graceful Isolation”, the new album from Sys Machine? 

 Kim’s lyrics deal primarily with isolation, revenge through rising above situations and chasing dreams even when they feel unattainable.   My tracks are almost entirely related to what I was going through while we were putting the tracks together.   I’d quit drinking a bit prior to that and wanted to say something about what that felt like.  I don’t have any point of view about what people should or shouldn’t do in their lives or anything like that.  But the experience of giving that up and sort of looking at the world with a fresh sober set of eyes is pretty profound.  Anybody who’s given up something like that probably knows what I mean.  You see how a lot of notions you had about joys in life are really illusions brought on by whatever vice in question.  So “Drowning in the Past” is sort of a hypothetical conversation I’d have with myself if I could go back and tell my former self what it’s like on the other side of that decision and how there’s really nothing to be worried about.   “Illusions” is pretty to the point about all the distorted realities you can create for yourself in the service of a vice.  

Since this is a horror site, we have to ask some horror-related questions…  What horror movie character would you identify with most and why?   

 Ha!  I was literally just having a conversation with my daughter about all the classic Universal monsters.  Some definitely aged better than others!  But I used to watch those all the time when I was her age (she’s going to be 8).  Anyhow- I think I’d say I identify the most with Dr. Frankenstein (not the monster, the scientist dude).  In the 1931 movie- they sort of touch on how myopic and obsessive he is.  He gets pretty single-minded about his projects, to the detriment of people close to him.   I don’t want to go raise the dead or anything,  I’m definitely somebody who gets tunnel vision and hyper-focuses on things– be it in music or in business or whatever. 

Do you have any particular favorite horror-related films, TV shows, and so on?  

Oh man, we love Stranger Things in my house!  Not sure if that counts.  When it comes to horror, I’m a total occult/satanism guy.  I still think The Exorcist is one of the freakiest movies even till.  There’s another movie from the ’70s that never became iconic like that, but it’s called The Sentinel and it’s another one of those 70’s occult horror films that had to rely on practical effects to bring the scary.  It’s got that same “the older it gets the scarier it gets” vibe the Exorcist does.  But exorcisms, possessions, ghosts, etc– those are my jam.  My wife likes the blood and guts stuff like Saw and the demonic stuff keeps her up at night so we usually watch horror movies in separate rooms haha. 

What’s been the scariest time for you over the past couple of challenging years?  

Definitely when the company I was working at basically buckled under the weight of Covid.  It happened pretty fast because we were so steeped in the travel industry and that was one of the first to grind to a halt.  Anybody who’s been in that position of having the rug yanked out from you career-wise knows what that’s like.  Unless you’re independently wealthy or something things like how you’re going to pay for groceries or the mortgage or whatever, let alone plan for the future become constant stresses.  But like most of those situations, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I ended up starting my own company and that’s been a huge success.  So much that I’ve since started another business that’s also coming together nicely.  So it was a scary time, but it had a happy ending. 

Thanks for your time.  These last words are yours.  

Thanks for the questions!  You can check out both Sys Machine and Derision Cult on Bandcamp, and we’re streaming everywhere!   Got a big year planned with new collaborations on both fronts! 

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/SysMachine

https://sysmachine.bandcamp.com/album/graceful-isolation

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

William Zimmerman runs the blog noisebeneaththesnow.com and regularly does guest posts for the goth/industrial music arena.

Free Fiction : The Glubb by Brittanty Erickson

The Glubb

There once was a lady with no hair. She smoked 5 packs a day in front of endless Golden Girl marathons. She ashed on the couch, ashed on her carpet, her sink, her cats, the parrot ate butts as a snack. She loved to ash in her tub while she sat on the loo. She never used the tub, but once in a while, she’d pour the rest of her Old Milwaukee down the drain, which was clogged with food and ash. The smell was more than rancid. She would often see a mass move in the corner of her eye but always disregarded it as her own mind playing tricks.

She had no kids. Her parents had passed. But, this was more than depression and misery. A spiral of emptiness, a void. She began to think, “Why would anything be real?” 

With her cat snuggling her, fur matted with ash, she stroked his tail. She was laying on the couch, waiting for ‘The Price is Right’ to end. Then she heard a slurping sound. She ignored it as the building’s pipes were in bad shape.

In the bathroom, the mass began to grow. The parrot had disappeared the day before. She figured, “He must have flown away when I chucked out the cans.” She went to have another loo. Walking down the ash-ridden hallway, cancerous dust puffed from her feet. She angled her arm around the corner to turn on the light. It was covered in a moist, unfamiliar material. She reached for her smartphone and clicked the power to light the screen. She heard a loud POP and saw ash fall from the walls. 

“Grhhh-ggh,” came from the tub. She found herself unable to move when she noticed feathers plastered to the walls.

The mass continued down through her tub, into the lower pipes. A man was bathing below, getting ready for work. When he raised his razor to his cheeks, he felt a tickle on his foot. He jerked, cutting his cheek down to his chin. 

“Dammit!” He screamed. The bath began to fill with a black substance. Touching his cheek, he saw red, not black. The water became a dark grey and began to gurgle. It slipped into his pelvis and used his gut to travel through to his wound. The man felt dry, too dry to move. His skin began to shrivel, his hair fell out. The cut on his cheek began to ooze black.

The mass traveled back down the drain, searching for an exit. The pipes of this complex led to the sewer. Soon the city was to become monotone.

Frightened by the explosive amount of ash, the lady was in disbelief. “It’s not real, it’s not real,” she said to the ash. 

The lady laid back down on her couch. She stayed inside her home until she needed groceries 2 weeks later. She never ran the water, and lived strictly on diet-soda. She grabbed her one key and began her walk out of the door. No point in locking it, nothing to steal. 

As she walked, ash flew from her toes. It was such a normal, homely feeling.

It was unusually quiet inside the building, but outside was unusually loud. A gurgling, burping could be heard from the sewer grate under her apartment. She trembled and hugged her flannel jacket closer to her skin.  

She lived only 2 blocks away from her grocery stop. Instantly, she noticed the market had no employees. The food was starting to rot. There was a rancid smell coming from the shop doors. She grabbed a bag and started stealing cans and boxes of non-perishables. On her way back home, no one passed her, no one was walking across the street. She could only hear the “grubble-glubb,” from the sewer beneath.

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Brittany Erickson is a 30-year-old mom who enjoys writing stories and poems. She lives in rural Iowa, USA, always has.

Book Review: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Review by Hailey Knoblock

What would you do if you stumbled across a puzzle box that held wonders unknown to man? Would you try to solve it? Or would you push your curiosities aside and leave it alone? 

Frank Cotton, a criminal sadomasochist, has been all over the world and is getting bored with himself and the desires that he indulges himself with. However, Frank stumbles upon Lemarchand’s puzzle box that has been constructed by a master craftsman and is persistent on opening it. Frank expected an insane amount of pleasure to come after opening the box. Instead, Frank got introduced to the Cenobites who are otherworldly beings that understand pleasure as pain and vice versa. Frank opens the box in an old house and the Cenobites come to take him away. A few months later, Frank’s brother Rory and his wife Julia move into the house. Rory thinks that Frank is on vacation somewhere.  However, when Rory accidentally cuts himself and bleeds in the room where Frank summoned the Cenobites, all hell breaks loose. 

I enjoyed reading Julia’s character arc throughout the novel. She first starts off as a passive but beautiful woman who is clearly not in love with her husband anymore. Once she realizes that Rory’s brother Frank never really left the house and is still there, her character changes to a more active role. Female killers always capture my attention and the way she went about picking up men from the bar and bringing them back to her home to kill them was awesome to read about. I feel like a lot of novels don’t go into depth about a female killing someone but Clive Barker gives great detail about the gore. For this novel to be published in 1986, Clive Barker was making bold moves by having one of the main female characters in his novel be a complete savage killer. 

I wish that the novel went more into the Cenobites lore and backstory. The whole story really revolves around Frank and Julia’s love for each other which is cute in a sick and twisted way. However, the film series Hellraiser does the Cenobites justice by expanding their backstory if you are interested in learning more about them. 

If you are interested in reading a book with lots of gore described in detail and a book that has an intense female character, then The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker is the book for you. 

INTERVIEW WITH CAITLIN MARCEAU –WRITER OF ‘PALIMPSEST’

For Women in Horror Month, short story writer, poet, and creator of the horror collection Palimpsest, Caitlin Marceau talks to book blogger and staff writer Renata Pavrey.

Renata: Hi Caitlin, Congratulations on the release of your latest book. While you have been featured in anthologies before, what made you come out with a collection of your own?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! I’m over the moon by the reception this book has had so far! It’s such a dream come true for me and I’m so grateful to everyone who’s helped make this book a reality. 

When it comes to why I wanted to put this collection together, I think it was exactly that: because I’ve been in so many anthologies before. Some of the books are out of print, others are pretty hard to find, and I hated the idea of these stories being so scattered. I wanted to centralize my work while giving these stories new life. 

Renata: Several stories from Palimpsest have been published in other books and magazines, and even performed live. How did you decide which stories and poems to pick for this book?

Caitlin: Oh man, picking the stories for this collection was like pulling teeth. I struggled, doubted every single one of my choices. Ultimately, I tried to focus on the stories I was most proud of, stories that had gone out of print, and—most importantly—pieces that I felt best represented my body of work. I wanted them all to be diverse enough so that everyone could find something to enjoy, but cohesive enough that they complemented each other. 

Renata: You are a prominent name in the contemporary horror writing scene. Your stories range from supernatural and paranormal events to domestic violence and body shaming that are rooted in reality. How do you strike a balance between real versus imagined horrors?

Caitlin: First, can I just say that that’s an incredible compliment to be given? I’m absolutely honoured by it.

As for finding a balance between real versus imagined horror, I wish I could say there was a formula for getting it right, but I really just go with my gut when I’m writing. I believe that the real world is already pretty scary and doesn’t need too much help from me to be terrifying. So, kind of like cooking, I season my stories sparingly when it comes to imagined horror and add more in if there’s not enough kick to it. 

Renata: The stories in Palimpsest are set around locations in your native Canada, but there’s a universality in the topics you cover. How challenging is it for a writer, to write local while addressing a worldwide audience of readers?

Caitlin: I think the great thing about storytelling is that so much of it is universal. Everyone understands loss, love, family, individuality, and all those fun foundational themes we see in writing. I think the same can be said about what scares us. So, for me, although it has its tricky moments—like when I use regional language people outside of Quebec might not know—it’s not as difficult as people might think! 

Renata: Your writing is impactful in few words, and your poetry is often a class apart. Do you prefer writing prose or poetry? How do you decide which form would be better suitable for a particular theme/story idea?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! That’s so kind of you to say! 

Truthfully, I’ve always been partial to prose. Usually, when I’m deciding how to approach an idea, I’ll write an outline, and then—depending on the length of the outline—I’ll know whether it needs to be a short story or a poem. I’ll also opt for poetry if I have a really strong emotional connection to the material or if I’m in the mood to play with form. 

Renata: Are there any favorite books or writers in horror you would recommend we read? Who are your literary influences?

Caitlin: There are so many incredible authors out there that it’s hard to pick a favourite, but I can tell you some of the authors I’m loving right now! Off the top of my head, I’d probably encourage people to check out Sonora Taylor’s Someone to Share My Nightmares, Hailey Piper’s Queen of Teeth, anything and everything by Antonia Ward (the brilliant editor of Palimpsest), and I’m a huge fan of the talent that’s appeared on Mark Nixon’s Shadows at the Door: The Podcast. (Hannah Butler and Christopher Long’s stories are especially brilliant, as are Nixon’s Professor Troughton tales and “Slender Chances.”)

When it comes to literary influences, it would probably be Tamora Pierce because of the advice she gave me when I was a kid. She told me to write the stories I wanted to read, and that’s what I’ve done every single day since then. 

Renata: Running is a common activity across some of the stories in Palimpsest, along with ice hockey, video games, and hiking in the woods. What are your hobbies – any sports or creative pursuits besides writing?

Caitlin: Plenty, but as the least athletic woman in Canada, I can promise you that almost none of them are sports-related! I really love playing video games and right now, for some reason, I can’t get enough of Back 4 Blood. When it comes to art outside of my writing, a lot of people don’t know this about me, but I’m also a visual artist so I draw all the time.

Renata: Palimpsest is striking from start to finish. What’s the story behind the title and the cover?

Caitlin: Thank you so much! I’m delighted you think so! 

For the title, I really wanted something that conveyed the idea that a lot of these stories were previously published but had been given a second chance. Eventually, I settled on Palimpsest, which means “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.” 

As for the cover, I knew that I wanted a white background because of all the snow in my stories and I loved the idea of being able to incorporate a silhouette somewhere, but that was it. Antonia Ward (editor at publishing house Ghost Orchid Press) is super talented because she took all nine million of my vague ideas and made them into something beautiful. 

Renata: Thank you, Caitlin, for taking out time for this interview. We wish you all the best for your newest collection, and look forward to more of your writing. 

Caitlin: Thank you so much for having me! It was a blast and I really appreciate it! 

About Caitlin Marceau:

Caitlin Marceau is an author and lecturer living and working in Montreal. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and spends most of her time writing horror and experimental fiction. She’s been published for journalism, poetry, as well as creative non-fiction, and has spoken about horror literature at several Canadian conventions. Her debut collection, Palimpsest, is available from Ghost Orchid Press and her second collection, A Blackness Absolute, is slated for publication later this year. For more information, visit her at the links below. 

Social media/website links:

caitlinmarceau.ca

twiter.com/CaitlinMarceau

facebook.com/CaitlinMarceau

instagram.com/CaitlinMarceau

Book links: 

https://geni.us/palimpsest

https://ghostorchidpress.square.site

 

Terror Trax: Cut Like This / Interview with William Zimmerman

 

 

Could you give us a brief background on Cut Like This?

We are an NYC Horrorpunk trio.

What’s the inspiration behind the new single, “The Boogeyman.”?

Freddy Krueger and Insomnia.

What character in a horror movie or TV show can you most identify with and why?

Ash from Evil Dead, he’s a mess but badass!

What are your favorite horror movies?

Evil Dead, The Thing, Aliens

What was the scariest night of your life?

Having emergency surgery!

What’s next for Cut Like This in 2022?

A music video for Boogeyman!

Final thoughts / Anything you want to tell the Horror Addicts?

We have a horror show on YouTube!

(Fan contacts…)

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Bandcamp?

www.cutlikethismusic.com

www.facebook.com/cutlikethismusic

www.cutlikethis.bandcamp.com

Insert one of your video YouTube links:

https://youtu.be/mT3jkImwMvs

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William is a full-time publicist and blogger for noisebeneaththesnow.com.