Logbook of Terror : Mr Punctuality

By Russell Holbrook 

Robbie flung open the door to Warrington’s Curiosity Shop and ducked in to escape the gray, weeping sky. His eyes roved across the store. He was amazed: It was just as he remembered it. The ceilings were high, the lighting was dim, and the wooden floors wore a well-traveled sheen. The shop was crammed full of every odd and end imaginable, and the air was thick with the scent of age. Robbie reached the counter and rang the silver bell that sat next to the antique register. The bright chime reverberated through the shadowy haze. 

“Hey,” a voice said from behind. Robbie started and spun around. “Can I help you?” The clerk asked.

This wasn’t who Robbie was expecting to see. This man was young and pale and, according to the tag on his shirt, was named Kirk. Robbie’s brow bunched up. “Where’s the old man?”

The clerk fixed Robbie with a blank stare and said flatly, “He died.” Then he sighed and said, “I guess you haven’t been in lately?”

Robbie replied, “No, not since I was a kid really. Who are you?”

“I’m the grandson, Neal.”

“But your name tag says Kirk.”

The clerk chuckled. “Oh yeah, I found this in the back and thought it’d be funny to wear it.” He grinned and exposed a rotted row of teeth. Robbie’s skin crawled. A dark chill swept over him, and it wasn’t due to the cold rainwater that clung to his clothes.  

Robbie paused. A silence fell between them, then Robbie said, “I need a watch; one that will make sure I’m always on time.” 

“You have a problem with tardiness?” Neal said with a chuckle. 

Robbie nodded. “Yes, a big one. No matter how hard I try, I’m always late. It’s like I’m… cursed.” 

Neal’s left eyebrow rose to a peak. For a brief moment he stared at Robbie, then abruptly said, “Okay, man, c’mon,” and slouched over to a short glass case that sat along the left wall of the long, narrow building. 

Robbie followed the clerk to the case, where three shelves full of antique pocket watches rested on burgundy, crushed velvet. Robbie hunched over and peered into the case. Rain beat down on the roof, cold wind whipped around the building, and behind the case, Neal waited. After several minutes, Robbie pointed to a burnished silver watch in the left hand corner of the bottom shelf and said, “That one.”

Neal bent low, slid the case’s door open, and brought out the watch. He smiled. “Oh yeah, this one’s a beauty. You’ll never be late with this one, no way. With this watch, man, you’ll always be right on schedule.” 

Robbie returned the clerk’s smile. “I was hoping you’d say that.” 

***

Robbie sat at the bus stop, gazing into the face of the timepiece, watching the second hand make slow loops. His eyes felt dry and he noticed that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d blinked. He heard a shuffle next to him. A woman was shaking water off an umbrella beneath the covered bus stop. She looked at Robbie.

“Hey, neat, a pocket watch,” she said. “I haven’t seen one of those in ages.” 

Robbie smiled at the woman and said, “It’s almost your time.” 

The woman’s mouth twisted down on one corner. “Pardon me?” 

With a dazed look on his face, Robbie repeated himself and then added, “I’m sorry.” 

The woman’s eyebrows knitted. She backed away from Robbie, out into the rain, into the path of a cyclist barreling down the sidewalk. 

“On your left!” The cyclist yelled.

Alarmed, the woman spun to the right. Her foot snagged on a piece of uneven concrete and she twirled out into the busy street. A car blared its horn and swerved around her. She gained her balance and rushed back toward the sidewalk. Raindrops stung her eyes. She tripped over the edge of the sidewalk and stumbled to a stop a few feet in front of Robbie. The woman heaved, desperately trying to catch her breath, her eyes wide with terror. 

“Oh my God!” She screamed. “I almost–”

The speeding truck seemed to come out of nowhere. It hopped the curb and plowed into the woman. Her body bounced into the street and rolled under the wheels of the oncoming traffic. 

Tires squealed and slid across the wet, slick pavement. The hurtling mass of machines pulled left and right to avoid hitting the woman. Several vehicles slid into the opposite lanes, colliding head-on with the rushing automobiles. A cacophony of bending metal and shattering glass roared into the sky. Screams echoed from cars and trucks and vans. 

And Robbie stared at the watch, his eyes fixed on the languid movement of the spinning second hand. 

A massive city bus, its horn screaming, slammed into the pile-up. The enormous crunch of the impact snapped Robbie out of his trance. He jumped up. A man in a business suit was staggering out of the wreckage, holding his side, with blood pouring from a wide gash on his forehead.

“Help me!” The man shouted to Robbie. 

Robbie froze, clutching the watch. The second, minute,  and hour hands spun at a frantic pace. 

A lone garbage truck swerved away from the growing crash, spilled over sideways, and fell on top of the shuffling businessman. Blood flowed out from under the truck and mixed with the rain. 

Laughter boomed in Robbie’s head. He looked around to see where it was coming from and then realized that it was his own voice he heard ringing in his head. He lurched out into the rain, howling like a maniac, and ran into the deepening evening as emergency response vehicles appeared on the horizon.  

***

Robbie woke up in his bed. He was soaking wet and his head was throbbing. He squinted and glanced around the darkroom. The cell phone on the bedside table let out a shrill ring. Robbie rolled over and answered. 

“Hello,” he mumbled. 

“You bastard!” A woman’s voice screamed from the other end, sharpening and focusing the agony in his head. “You couldn’t even make it to your own son’s birthday party! Where were you, huh? Where the hell were you?!”  

“I, uh, what?” Robbie sputtered. 

“You were drunk again, weren’t you?!” 

Robbie’s heart raced. He tried to swallow although his mouth and throat were a desert. He sat up. The room spun. He gripped the mattress with one hand and held on. “But I,” he began. “I got a watch so I could be on time.”

“Your cell phone tells time, you moron!”

“But, Sheila, this is a special watch, one that tells the real time, the true time. The man said I’d never be late again. And I thought that once I had it, I wouldn’t miss anything ever again. I’d always be there, on time, always.” 

The woman on the other end sobbed and her sobbing became weeping. “Well, it doesn’t matter now, it’s too late!” She shouted. “The party was the day before yesterday, and you missed it. And then–” Sheila’s voice broke off. She drew in a long breath. “—and then, yesterday, when Nana was driving him home from pre-school, they were in a sixteen car pile-up and—and–”

Robbie gasped. Shelia wailed into the phone and hung up. Robbie’s stomach turned. He fell to his knees and threw up on the floor. He shuddered. I need a drink, he thought. He wondered what time it was. He’d need to get to the liquor store before it closed. 

That was when he realized he was gripping a cold, metal object in his right hand. Robbie opened his hand and clicked open the pocket watch. In the gloom, he watched the second hand make its slow rotation and it all came back to him.

He’d been hammered drunk, staggering back to his efficiency apartment in the late afternoon when the sky turned angry and a storm erupted. He’d taken refuge in the old curiosity shop that he’d loved as a child. He hadn’t been there in decades and he couldn’t believe it was still in operation. After relating his woes of tardiness and missed appointments at length to the patient employee, he’d bought a watch. Yes, this watch, he thought. And then what had happened? Had he blacked out again? He needed to know.

***

Robbie struggled to his feet. He felt like he was wading through molasses as he stumbled through his studio apartment and out into the dim evening. A light mist fell lazily from the slate-gray sky. The streetlights blinked on. Robbie hugged his jacket tight around his body and hurried to the antique district, his favorite cut through to avoid the beat cops that liked to arrest the drunks and vagrants that crowded Main Street. The mist turned to a full-on rain when Robbie came out of an alley, turned the corner, and stopped in front of the tattered awning emblazoned with the name, Warrington’s Curiosity Shop, across the front. Robbie’s eyes bulged. 

The front display windows were filthy, covered in spider webs and years of accumulated dust and grime. The rubber Halloween masks still sat on their displays, their colors cracked and faded. The dust jackets of the books on magic and decorating were yellowed with age and eaten away at the edges. The eyes of the spooky dolls and stuffed monkeys with their brass cymbals had all been gouged out. A gust of stale air, reeking of age and neglect, rushed over Robbie. He looked for its source and saw that the tall glass panes in the front door had been kicked in. Shattered glass littered the doorway. 

An old man sat in the shadows near the entrance, dressed in rags and clutching a liquor bottle in a brown paper bag. He looked up at Robbie. “Hey man, how’s the watch workin’ for ya?” He said.

Robbie shifted, as if noticing the old man for the first time. 

The old man arched his left eyebrow. “Well?” 

Robbie looked intently at the old man and noticed he wore a name tag on his jacket that read “Kirk” in faded blue letters.

Robbie’s heart raced. He felt his eyes water and his bottom lip quiver. “Where’s Neal?” He asked. 

The old man grinned wide, revealing a mouth full of rotted teeth. “He’s dead.” 

Robbie’s mouth fell open. The old man cackled. Robbie stumbled back, away from the old man. “He’s dead!” The old man shouted as his cackling turned into roaring laughter. 

 Robbie ran into the street.  A moving truck plowed into him, crushing him beneath its monstrous tires. 

The driver slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop. He cursed to himself. He knew he shouldn’t have been speeding, especially not in the rain, especially not after those six whiskeys he’d had with lunch. But he was running behind. And his boss had said that if he was late one more time he’d lose his job. He just wanted to be on time. He couldn’t understand why he was always late. He tried so hard. It wasn’t fair; it made him feel like he was cursed.  

Free Fiction : On Darkwater by John C. Adams

On Darkwater 

The boys had been out on the lake for hours without success.

‘You need to hold me under longer if it’s going to work,’ Gerald snapped. ‘That last time I just got inky darkness and nothing more.’

The ten year old pinched his cousin. Brett scowled back and rubbed his arm.

Gerald took a deep breath and nodded that he was ready, but something indefinable held back the usually fearless Brett.

‘Don’t blame me when yer half drowned.’

‘There’s something down there. Help me see it!’

Brett ducked Gerald’s head under and held him firmly when he struggled. The seconds ticked to a minute and beyond.

Near death. Oxygen deprivation. Terrifying visions. But Gerald was determined.

As Gerald stiffed, Brett believed for the first time that this could actually work. That it might be more than his cousin’s fancy and fledgling interest in medicine taking shape down there.

Finally, Brett gripped Gerald’s shoulders and dragged him back out of the water, flinging him onto his back. After a few terrible moments of pale paralysis, he spluttered back to life.

‘Well?’

Gerald’s smile unnerved Brett. What had he seen down there?

The silence coiled around them, its poison dripping into Brett’s veins, until he doubted his ability to tell his cousin’s truth from fiction.

Brett shivered. Gerald seemed suddenly very self-contained and insular. Perhaps, if there was something down there, Brett didn’t want to know after all.

‘That’s enough for today,’ he said.

END

________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Blackacre-Rising-Ivy-Spires-Book-ebook/dp/B087Z4499D/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=blackacre+rising

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Giants on the Horizon

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Giant Monsters on the Horizon 

We’ve made it through August, Horror Addicts, and I hope this post does not find you in pieces. I’m preparing to transition into a new teaching job while supporting a high schooler and a new college student through uncertain educational times. It’s wild out there, so take a minute to sink into the slick sounds of this month’s new-to-me artist. 

Giant Monsters on the Horizon, a duo out of St. Louis,  recently released a new album of dark-wave deliciousness, Live from Night City. The album was written during a dark time for the band and elements of despair can be experienced in their sound for sure. There’s an emptiness in tracks like “Oxygen,” and “Android Hellscape” that clearly resonates with all of us still sheltering in place. Through the synthesizers and soothing low-key vocals, you can find a welcome place to zone out. Night City, the setting of this collection of songs, is a stark and drastic place, but GMOTH does an admirable job of filling that space with energizing songs that make you recall why we need and crave music in our lives. 

“Tetra Chroma” and “Del Ctrl & Esc” are standout tracks that will engage your attention and have you up and dancing. The band has a Xymox feel with a side of Camouflage and the moody feel of current alternative bands like PVRIS. I’ll definitely be following them on Spotify for more. It was nice to see on their social media a strong activist presence including participation in fundraisers through Bandcamp. Live From Night City is an excellent collection of songs that fans of electronica and dark-wave will definitely dig. I wish them well with this latest release and their future endeavors. 

That’s it for this edition of Merrill’s Musical Musings. Feel free to check out my Rock ‘n’ Romance blog for more about my books and adventures. I also host other author guests talking about their novels in a feature called Music Behind The Story. Stay creepy, Horror Addicts! 

Logbook of Terror : Peggy’s Flower Basket

Peggy’s Flower Basket by Russell Holbrook

The bell attached to the front door jingled, making its cheery announcement that another customer had entered the store. Peggy looked up from the flower arrangement she was working on and smiled. Resting her shears on the table, she scurried to the front counter. 

“Good morning,” Peggy said. “How can I help you?”

The young man’s eyes darted around the flower shop. “Um, yeah, I, uh, need some flowers in a vase. It’s for my friend. He’s getting married.”

“Oh, I see,” Peggy replied. “Well, let me…”

“He’s my best friend,” the man said, interrupting. “And he’s marrying the only girl I ever loved. And he knows I still love her. He’s always known and he doesn’t care and she knows and she doesn’t care either.” 

Tears welled in his eyes. Peggy’s brow crinkled. The man sniffled. Silently, Peggy waited. 

After a moment, the man went on. “I don’t want them to be happy. That’s what I told them. I told my aunt Emerian about it too. I can tell her anything, cause, um, she always listens. Anyway, she, uh, she sent me here. She said you could help. She said you can, uh… do things.” 

Peggy’s eyes sparkled. “Well, I have been known to do a thing from time to time.” She smiled and walked out from behind the counter. “Now, just come with me and we’ll see what we can dig up.” 

The young man turned and followed Peggy as she led him to a room in the back of the store. Beams of bright, mid-morning sun streamed in through large windows, filling the space with warm, natural light. Cameron entered the room and stopped in the center. Peggy walked to the back wall and began looking through the vases, of which there seemed to be every shape and size and type, sitting on ornate shelves that ran five high across every wall. Peggy’s high, blond bob bounced as her head moved back and forth, her eyes scanning the vases until they settled on one in particular. She reached up.

“Ah, here we go,” Peggy said, “I think this one is just what you’re looking for.”

Peggy held the container out for Cameron to examine. He peered down at the vase, a seafoam green ceramic piece with faded etchings running along its round base. 

“This will, uh, help me?” Cameron asked. 

“I think you’ll find that it will,” Peggy replied, her eyes and lips radiating optimism and joy. 

Cameron sighed morosely and said, “Great, I’ll take it.” 

“Wonderful!” Peggy chirped. “And what kind of flowers would you like to go in your beautiful new vase?”

“Succulents, please. They’re her favorite. The, uh, the bride’s favorite, I mean.” 

Peggy smiled her tender and winning smile. “Oh, of course. And what a lovely choice.” 

Cameron shrugged. Peggy left the room. Cameron listened as her shoes clonked across the hardwood floor, creating an echo that sang through the quiet store as she made her way back to the front. The sad young man looked around at all the unique and ornate vases and thought of how pointless and absurd they were. Just like life, just like everything. He hung his head and shuffled back to the front of the store where he found Peggy the flower lady filling the vase with fresh, aromatic flowers. 

***

The phone was ringing. Peggy answered on the third ring. 

“Peggy’s Flower Basket, how may I help you?” She said in her bright tone. She paused, listening, and then said, “Why yes, Emerian, he just left.”

Another pause, then, “Yes, I did. I made sure he got that exact one, just as you asked.” She smiled wide. “Yes, I’m sure that it will. The bride and groom are sure to have a wedding that they will never, ever forget.” She tossed back her head and let out a loud cackle, causing her hair to jiggle and crow’s feet to sprout on the corners of her eyes. And howls of laughter rang out through the little shop of flowers.  

***

Cameron held the vase up and examined the stamp on the base. A-Pox Designs, made in Transylvania. Cameron’s eyes narrowed. He huffed and sat the flower holder down on the kitchen table. He brushed his fingers over the soft tops of the flowers and mumbled, “Stupid vase. Stupid flowers. Stupid wedding.” 

Suddenly, the hall clock chimed, letting him know it was time to go. Cameron grabbed the vase and headed out the door. 

***

The wedding was boring. The reception was depressing. Cameron sat alone with the vase, watching the guests and the happy couple drinking and dancing. Envying their joy and hating their love, he cursed them in his heart and wished death on them all. No one that happy deserves to live, he scowled. 

As Cameron’s thoughts turned in his mind, his eyes fell on the bride. He would never love another woman the way he’d loved his dear Abigail, and now she was gone forever, into the arms of another man. 

Abigail twirled, her wedding dress spinning out wide, her face beaming with bright joy. She danced across the floor until she reached the table where Cameron sat. She stopped in front of him and smiled. “Cameron, Brian and I are so glad that you’re here. Really, we are. I know it’s weird but…” She trailed off, the vase catching her attention. She pointed. “Are those flowers for me?”

“Yeah,” Cameron said sheepishly. “I wanted to give them to you myself. I was just, um, you know, waiting for, uh, a good time.” 

Abigail picked up the vase. “Succulents! My favorite! And in such a beautiful vase!” The bride’s eyes widened, watered, and glazed over. She didn’t blink. 

Cameron smiled. “Yeah, I’m uh, glad that you like it.” 

“Oh Cameron, I love it! I love it, love it, love it!” Abigail exclaimed. Brian, the groom, and several of the guests turned in her direction, following her voice. 

Abigail twirled around again, holding the vase high. Cameron watched as the guests left the dance floor and formed a circle around the bride. Abigail shouted, “Hear me now: this vase is above all vases, and is the gift above all gifts!” 

The groom and the guests cheered and clapped. Abigail took the flowers out of the vase, one at a time, giving one to each guest and saying, “This is my body, eat it in remembrance of me.” And the guests smiled and ate the flowers. 

When Abigail got to Brian she held the vase out to him. “Dear husband,” she said, “Drink this holy water. It is my blood, which fed my flesh. Drink this in remembrance of me.” And Brian smiled and drank the water from the vase. Abigail took the vase from him and they shared a long, passionate kiss that made Cameron want to slit his wrists, and that’s when the screaming began. 

It was Abigail’s grandmother. Black roses were growing out of her eyes, their thorns tearing through the soft vitreous body. Vines grew out of her ears and wound around her neck, choking her while moss blossomed on her protruding tongue. 

Succulents sprouted from the bridesmaids’ eyes. The groom’s best man threw up bloody mud while the hairs on his head all turned to long, brown weeds. All the guests clutched at their eyes and mouths and throats, falling on the floor, writhing and suffocating as vegetation fed on them and grew out of their flesh. 

Abigail and Brian were slow dancing in the center of the chaos when Abigail started shrieking and convulsing. The flawless skin on her perfect forehead expanded, cracked, and burst. The red tip of a massive earthworm pushed out of the crevice in her head. Her body went limp and swayed as the worm continued to crawl out of her head, peeling back skin and flesh and bone in its wake. 

Brian held tight to Abigail’s deflating body, smiling radiantly as if he was unaware of anything that was happening around him. The giant worm opened its enormous mouth, revealing rows of unnatural, jagged teeth. It hovered over Brian for a brief moment, and then slammed down on him, engulfing the top half of his body and sucking it in. The worm, Abigail’s empty husk, and Brian’s lower half all crashed to the floor with a wet thud. 

Cameron watched the worm eat Brian, its long body expanding as it ingested the groom. He blinked and noticed that he was standing, breathing heavy,  and that the vase was back in his hands. He took one last, longing look at Abigail and thought about how he wished he could have touched her in all her special places. Then the screams of the wedding guests registered in his ears again, and he ran. 

***

The bell on the front door of Peggy’s Flower Basket rang, announcing the arrival of another customer. Peggy looked up from the arrangement she was working on to see a young, teary eyed woman walking toward her. 

“Good morning, dear,” Peggy said. “What can I help you with?”

The woman sniffled. “My friend Cameron, he said you sell…” Her voice dropped. “…cursed objects.” 

Peggy smiled. “And just what kind of object are you looking for.”

“I need a vase,” the young woman said. “A vase that will hurt… someone.”

“And would you like some flowers too? Maybe some… special flowers?”

The woman nodded.

Peggy’s smile widened. She said, “Well, I think I might have just what you’re looking for. Come with me.” 

“Okay. Thank you,” the woman said, her words slipping out on an undercurrent of grief. And she followed Peggy and they walked to the back room where all the most special vases were kept. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs for August

Ro’s Recs – Musical Departures

Greetings from Sweaty California! As I’m writing this I’m in major danger of melting. I hope you’re hanging in there and listening to some great music. Today I want to talk about bands that go rogue…and it works. I was a huge fan of MTV Unplugged from way back, and I admire when bands step away from their usual sound and take a chance, whether it’s a remix or a brand new sound. This pandemic has brought out a decidedly experimental side of many of my favorite artists. They’ve released songs that are outside their usual wheelhouse, and they are wickedly entertaining. Check out this list of recs and open your mind to some experimental sounds.

  1. Motionless in White released new versions of two of their songs. “Eternally Yours” and “Another Life” were two outstanding tracks from Disguise and these melodic versions are incredibly beautiful. Chris Motionless’s vocals are so vulnerable and ethereal. I love the songs in their original arrangements, but the fact that the band stepped out of their comfort zone and showed a different side to their music makes me love the songs even more. 
  2. Metallica was one of the first metal bands to perform with a symphony, which when you think about it, there’s not too much of a stretch between metal and symphonic music. There’s a similar passion and frenetic energy in both performances. So when Metallica joined the San Francisco Symphony again this year and released this version of expectations were high. I love the balance of quiet musings followed by growly declarations from Hetfield. It’s a moody tune that is expertly crafted by the masters of metal. We trust them to carry us through, and so when they diverge from their usual heavy path, we know they’re going to deliver the goods. The album comes out August 28th and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.
  3. Korn is no stranger to cover songs. One of my favorites they’ve done was “Word Up” from the 80s band Cameo. But this summer they blew me away with a cover of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” featuring one of my absolute favorite artists, Yelawolf. The single was posted on Bandcamp as a fundraiser for AwakeningYouth.org—an organization that supports youth who have lost a parent to addiction or suicide—and a way to celebrate the life of the original singer, Charlie Daniels. You gotta give this classic tune a listen. Yelawolf and Jonathan Davis trading vocals on this tune gave me so many feels! And when you’re done, definitely take a deep dive into the music catalog from both Korn and Yelawolf, especially his video for “Shadows.” The song itself is a haunting childhood nightmare, but it’s also filmed at his childhood home. He had to trespass in the now-abandoned house to film.  You won’t be disappointed. 
  4. Corey Taylor, frontman of the legendary Slipknot and the hard-rocking Stone Sour, has released two singles from his upcoming solo album. The first two songs are complete departures from his previous music. “CMFT Must Be Stopped” is a rap-rock tune with guests Tech N9ne, who Taylor has previously collaborated with, and Kid Bookie, a London rapper who I’ll definitely be checking out more from. And for those who like to watch videos, you will be entertained by Corey’s wife’s dance troop (they like to play with fire) and several cameos from Corey’s friends. It’s a fun tune about his big mouth and bigger attitude. The tune “Black Eyes Blue” is a straight pop-rocker with a catchy riff and a feel-good melody. 
  5. Marilyn Manson has put out some incredible music over the past few years, but this new track, “We Are Chaos” is surprisingly full of 70s glam goodness along with Manson’s trademark dark lyrics. I’m looking forward to the rest of this album, which comes out later this year. 

That’s it for this month’s Ro’s Recs. I hope you find a new jam in this collection to help lift your spirits. Dark times are upon us and we need all of the mood boosters we can get. I’m happy to be your guide on a musical journey. If you love music and stories about music, my upcoming novel Brains, and Brawn: Summer of Hush Book Two is out August 24th and it’s my love letter to the years of Warped Tour music festivals. Check it out on Amazon if you’re looking for a pick-me-up romance. Take care of you and yours, comment and share some of your favorite musical departures from your favorite artists, and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs. 

Book Review: 324 Abercorn Street by Mark Allan Gunnells

 

Review by Stephanie Ellis

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: ‘Brad Storm doesn’t believe in ghosts, but moving into the house at 324 Abercorn just may change his mind.

Best-selling author Bradley Storm finally has enough money to buy and restore his dream home. Despite 324 Abercorn’s reputation as one of the most haunted houses in America, Bradley isn’t worried. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Then strange things begin to happen. Objects no longer where he left them. Phantom noises heard from empty rooms. Shadows glimpsed from the corner of his eye.

Is his house truly haunted, or is there something more sinister happening on the property?

With the help of Bradley’s new boyfriend and a few friends who are just as intrigued with the seemingly inexplicable occurrences surrounding the infamous house, they set out to find the truth of what stalks the halls at 324 Abercorn.

A feel-good haunted house story. Can there be such a thing? I never thought so until Crystal Lake Publishing produced this little gem.

When novelist Bradley Storm hits the big time, he finally buys his dream home, the reputedly haunted 324 Abercorn in Savannah. With a strong disbelief in the supernatural, he dismisses the little occurrences going on around him. Television turned on, door open – all can be explained away by logic. The ‘haunted’ element of his house is easily pushed to the back of his mind as he embarks on a relationship with artist and student, Tobias.

As their relationship develops against the warm Savannah backdrop, it feels nothing bad can happen – until it does. Strange visions start to affect him, changing his mind about the supernatural and causing him to doubt his own sanity. Yet he has good friends around him and they join in his search for the truth behind the house.

And this was where the story fell down a little for me. There was no tension between any of the main characters. The quartet of Brad, Tobias, Neisha from the Heritage Centre and Howard, Tobias’s housemate was a perfect circle of friendship, no undercurrent of conflict or hints at a hidden agenda. The reveal was clearly sign-posted very early on and the wrap-up at the end was too swift. This created a lack of tension and weakened any sense of horror, there was no sense of dread. It was this missing chill factor, which made it feel more like a romance with a touch of horror thrown in, that stopped me giving it the full 5 stars.

For me, this was very much a feel-good story, one to be read on a warm summer evening, sat on a terrace with a glass of wine in hand.

New Book: A new wave of horror in Sacrifices Incarnate

Sacrifices Incarnate is an horror anthology, and author Christopher M. Fink’s first publication.

His early years of writing were nothing short of what you’d expect from a seven-year-old; much of those stories read today like bullet points for a developing concept. In those days, they were untouchable gems of literature (at least in his eyes, as well as his grandparents)! Their support was genuine, but the skills needed work, and so began the journey of honing the craft, and molding it into something much more terrifying! Interestingly enough, one of those very gems entitled “The Evil Leprechaun”—yes, it is every bit as corny as you’re thinking—became the basis for one of the very shorts contained in this book.

This much anticipated anthology is more than a simple book, but the vessel which fear is held and guarded. For those brave enough to venture, it is sure to excite the demons in us all! Sacrifices Incarnate is the culmination of many years, and many fumbling’s of several short stories that manifested themselves simply from a number of captivating locations seen in his travels. The first story created is one entitled “No Fracking”, which was based on an old rundown nameless motel in upstate New York he had visited some years back. It was nothing remarkable, but the seclusion and relative dilapidation of the place had its own unique haunting kitsch that was ripe for a tale of terror!

Other story elements have developed into full elaborations of some genuine fears; many of which most others share. From being buried alive, to confrontations with unseen creatures (Restless, “untitled” & The Quiet Ones respectively), and unassuming relationships (Pen Pal). This book is to grant people the chance to face those fears from the comfort of their own homes, knowing that they can’t be hurt in any way. But if these things did happen upon you, how would it make you feel? That’s the question that begs to be answered!

“I love my craft, and even more, the process by which I create the world and the characters therein. There is nothing more engaging and rewarding! And, like many authors, I suspect, we would all like to be able to make even half a living on our work. Regardless, I will never stop writing. It has become, in many ways, a salvation for me, and a vacation I look forward to everyday!”

“It has since become more than my first publication. It is a tremendous milestone in my career, and has afforded me the privilege of meeting some amazing people in the process.”

If you want to enjoy some genuine terror this Halloween season, as we know our plans and events may very well be up in the air, then look no further! No one said we can’t share a scare, so pick up your copy of Sacrifices Incarnate, now available on Amazon!

As always, I want to thank all my readers, and especially the staff here at Horror Addicts! It’s been so much fun thus far, and I’m looking forward to all that the future holds! From The Horror Seeker, happy reading, and if it gets to be too much, just remember, they’re only stories. None of it is… real.

Right?

Logbook of Terror: Miss Unsinkable

Miss Unsinkable by Russell Holbrook

The old man staggered forward, pointing at the couple. “You’re doomed if you get on that boat!” He shouted. 

Morgan wrinkled her nose at the man’s stench and winced at his volume. 

Brady smirked and laughed. “A harbinger… classic!”

Morgan shot her boyfriend an amused look. Their mutual love of horror and the paranormal had bonded them from the beginning. 

The elderly vagrant swayed and waved a finger at the cruise ship. “It’s got a curse on it! The Lord showed me! He told me to warn ya! I had a vision!”

This time Morgan laughed and said, “I think it was the vodka that gave you a vision, not the Lord.”

Brady giggled. He reached out to Morgan to put an arm over her shoulder. The harbinger leaped at Brady, curling bony fingers tight around Brady’s shirt, pulling the young man close. 

“You fool!” The old man shouted in Brady’s face. “You’ll die if you get on that boat!” 

Brady held up his hands as if in surrender. He spoke in a soft, soothing tone. “Hey, hey, man, it’s alright, everything’s okay here. You don’t have to get upset.”

Standing by Brady, Morgan rested a caring hand on the wizened man’s arm. He turned to Morgan. She nodded and said, “You’re okay.” 

Tears welled in the corners of the ancient man’s eyes. His fingers uncoiled. His hands slid down the front of Brady’s shirt. He stepped back and began to sob. “It’s not alright. It never will be, not while she’s on board. Ya gotta know-”

Two police officers appeared at the old man’s side, each taking hold of an arm, abruptly ending his warning. 

“C’mon, Ralph, let’s go,” the officer to Ralph’s left said. They gently began to pull the old man away.

“I’m so sorry he bothered you, Miss. Ralph does this sometimes,” the officer on the right said to Morgan. 

Morgan shook her head. “No, no, it’s okay, he wasn’t-”

“She’s still on there!” Ralph howled. “She’ll kill ya all! She won’t stop! Ne’er!” 

A small crowd of passengers on their way to board the ocean liner had stopped to observe the commotion. They stared intently at the harbinger. With wild, bulging eyes he surveyed the gathered throng. “You’re all doomed! Doomed! Dooooomed!” 

The old man’s screams faded as the police officers led Ralph away and quietly slipped him into the back of their cruiser. The travelers whispered among themselves, scattering, moving onward toward the ship. Morgan turned to Brady. She smiled and said, “Incredible!” 

“I know!” Brady replied, his own smile beaming from his lips. 

“I do hope Ralph is okay, though,” Morgan said, her eyebrows scrunching.

Brady wrapped an arm around Morgan’s waist and kissed her softly on the forehead. “I’m sure he’s fine. Those officers were pretty nice. They’ll probably just take him home, or, somewhere to sleep it off.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right,” Morgan said.

Arm in arm, the young couple fell in line and shuffled toward the boat with the other passengers.

“You know, he really seemed like a true believer,” Brady said. 

“Definitely,” Morgan agreed. She looked up at the boat. Looming just ahead in all her tattered glory was Miss Unsinkable, the last of the great cruise liners from the 1980s. Morgan whispered in awe, “There she is, the most tragic, haunted ship in America.” 

“Wow,” Brady said.

“Do you ever wonder why she’s still in use, you know, after all the murders and disappearances?”

Brady shrugged and said with a wry grin, “Probably because people like us keep buying tickets.” 

Morgan laughed softly. “So true, so true.” 

And as the glow of the morning sun began to give way to the summer afternoon’s harsh glare, the last of the passengers boarded Miss Unsinkable and the captain and crew prepared to set sail. 

***

Morgan clutched her stomach. “Oh no, I think something on that buffet didn’t agree with me. How do you feel?” 

“I’m good, actually,” Brady said with a characteristic shrug. 

Morgan groaned and bent low.

“Why don’t we go to the infirmary and get you something?” 

“I’ll go,” Morgan said, slowly rising off the bed, “you stay here and finish getting the equipment ready. We’re still exploring below deck tonight, no matter what.” 

“Eww, you mean where Violent Violet chopped up the teenage couple, Barry and Lisa, when she walked in on them gettin’ busy?” 

“Nothing says coitus interruptus like an ax to the groin,” Morgan chimed with a giggle that morphed into another moan of pain. 

“I’ll never, ever understand why anyone would kill their own daughter like that,” Brady said as he removed an EVP recorder and an EMF detector from a sturdy case. 

“It was the 80s, that’s why,” Morgan replied. She kissed Brady on the cheek and moved to the cabin door. “Be back in a jiff.” 

“Love you bunches,” Brady said without looking up from the equipment he was setting out on the bed. 

“Love you mega bunches,” Morgan said before she hobbled out the door and disappeared into the hall. 

***

The medical center was deserted. Morgan peeped around and called out. After a moment, an attractive woman with long, flowing brown hair, wearing pastel pink scrubs, appeared from the medical supply closet. She smiled warmly and greeted Morgan. After Morgan described her symptoms, the nurse went back into the closet and quickly returned with a small cardboard box. 

The nurse held the box out to Morgan. “Here,” she said, “this should take care of your troubles.”

Morgan reached out to take the box of tablets. A jolt like a knife twisting in her gut assaulted her with fierce and sudden agony. She cried out and doubled over. The nurse caught Morgan and led her to a nearby bed. 

“Something’s really wrong,” Morgan said through the pain. 

“There, there, you’re going to be fine,” the nurse said. “I’ll get you something a little bit stronger.”

The nurse reached down under the bed and pulled out a bright red emergency ax. She frowned. “Dirty girls like you need strong medicine. Those little pills weren’t gonna cut it.” 

Morgan’s eyes bulged and watered. Her lips trembled. The nurse raised the ax. 

Morgan screamed, “Wait! You’re – you’re- I didn’t know! I didn’t-”

The nurse buried the ax blade in Morgan’s gaping mouth. 

“Fan girls…” Nurse Violet said, blowing a stray lock of hair off her face. “When will they ever learn?” 

***

Just as Brady was beginning to wonder what might be taking Morgan so long at the infirmary and hoping that she would be bringing enough medicine for them both since his stomach had begun to hurt as well, a loud metallic banging echoed off their cabin door. He hurried to the door and flung it open. 

“Room service!” Nurse Violet said. 

Brady’s eyes narrowed and then ballooned with recognition. “No way!” He exclaimed. 

“Yes, way!”

Violet swung the ax, swift and steady, slamming the blade into Brady’s forehead where it sunk in deep and split his skull in half. His expression fell blank and he plummeted to the floor. 

“Well, at least he recognized me right away,” Nurse Violet quipped. She looked at Brady’s lifeless body, lying prone in the doorway. She heard music blaring from the main deck. Feet were shuffling. People were laughing. She guessed a conga line might have started. She sighed, shoved Brady’s body into the cabin, and shut the door.

Violet strolled past the row of closed cabin doors, making her way to the upper deck, smiling as she imagined the laughter of the passengers turning to screams of terror. Poisoning the ship’s food supply was already making her work go that much smoother; killing that first couple had almost been too easy. Still, she was grateful her boss had suggested it. He always did have the best ideas, and even after so many years, she never tired of their work together. She rounded a corner and came to the steps that led to the upper deck. She could already sense the growing of sickness and fear. It was intoxicating. 

How wonderful it is to be at sea, Violet thought, and she knew that there was no place in the world she would rather be. 

Did I Meet Millicent Washburn Shinn? By Kate Nox

Millicent Washburn Shinn was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D from the University of California at Berkeley.  She was an author and poet who took over editorship of Bret Harte’s Overland Monthly, a magazine about California. She also won renown as a psychologist in publishing her Biography of a Baby, from her research on the systematic development of an infant.

And she died of heart failure on August 13, 1940, 12 years and six days before I was born.

So how, you ask, might I have made her acquaintance?

As a program director and chaperone for a group of senior citizens, I made a lot of trips to interesting places. But the day I believe I met Millicent was one I will never forget.

This visit to the historical Shinn home in Fremont, California started like any other. The docent greeted us at the door and led us on a tour of the 1870 Victorian style house. Having finished the tour of the main floor, the docent led us up a narrow stairway to the second floor.

As was my practice, I allowed all the seniors to precede up the stairs and into the room because I was younger and more able to hear the docent’s spiel from outside the room. I then let the seniors exit the room and entered myself to see what they had just viewed and heard about.

The first room at the top of the stairs was your average farmhouse room, pretty stark and nothing very remarkable, except for some clothing hanging on the inside of an open closet door. Because I often work with costumes, I take every opportunity to educate myself on the correctness of what people wore in any time period.

I approached the closet and as I rounded the end of the bed, I got the impression someone was following me. My heart lept inside my chest. In my mind I viewed a young woman in a black dress. I knew when I turned around she would be there, but there was no one.

I shrugged my shoulders and continued forward thinking to examine the buttons on the first dress. Suddenly, I could not breathe. Not outloud, but in my brain I heard a female voice shouting emphatically,  “Get out! Get out! Get out!”  I left the bedroom quickly without looking back, knowing I would be in danger if I did not.

I didn’t want to frighten the members of the tour group, so I fell in behind them and waited until the tour guide had invited them to explore the upstairs library on their own. I then took her aside and asked if there had been unusual occurrences in the house?

She smiled and asked me if I felt something. I relayed to her that I felt a presence warning me to leave the closet area. She then told me she knew I would feel something when she saw me coming up the stairs.

“Some people are just more sensitive, I could see it in your face.”  She went on to say, workers preparing the house for viewing had several experiences of hearing someone upstairs while they were all working downstairs, but when they went up to check, they found no one there.

One day, after locking up the house, some of the workmen were walking to the parking lot together and heard pounding. Looking up at the window on the second floor, they saw a young girl inside the house. Deciding a child had gotten into the house, two of the workers went back into the house to get her out and send her home before leaving for the night. They spent quite a bit of time calling out and looking into every closet and room but found no child in the house. They felt it was the ghost of a small girl who had fallen from an attic window and died.

Others had felt something in that front bedroom–though not necessarily a young woman’s presence as I had felt and many photographers had found strange orb-like figures in their pictures of the house and grounds.

The docent showed me a clock on a shelf in the front hall near the door. The clock was one which needed wound with a key kept on a shelf inside its cabinet. She said that every day as they left the house, staff made sure to wind the clock, check the time, and latch the cabinet. On numerous mornings when coming back into the house, they found the cabinet standing open and the time changed on the clock.

Needless to say, none of her stories made me feel very comfortable or gave me the desire to return, but I have often wondered who the woman whose presence I felt so frighteningly might have been.

Recently, I decided to write about my experience and visited several websites to reacquaint myself with the layout of the house and remember the significance of the family who had lived there. It was then that I learned about Millicent.

After having pursued her education, worked with early childhood development, and the magazine, she returned home and — as the only female child, took on the societal norms of the times. She bore responsibility to take care of her invalid mother, the household, and to help care for her brother’s children.

Some writers I found espoused the opinion that she did so grudgingly, and may have felt trapped, leaving me to wonder if that was the reason for the anger when I wandered too far into the room?

In the actual history of the family, there are no reports of her begrudging her life on the family farm. I imagine she felt protective over her mother, the children, and the house. Did she see me as one of the children foraging too far into the room and become afraid I might wake her ailing mother? Or had she simply grown tired of people poking about the place and, since I was alone, decided to make her point?

Whatever the reason, and whether or not it was indeed Millicent, or another woman of the past, the message was quite clear and I made up my mind then and there never to visit again for fear of further frightening encounters that might not end well for me!

____________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to take your chance at an encounter,  you may visit the Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum

1251 Peralta Blvd (28.80 mi) Fremont, CA 94536.

Logbook of Terror: Wednesday’s Child

Wednesday’s Child By Russell Holbrook

I told her about the evil thing inside me, and she loved me anyway. And I told her that because of this evil I could never, ever father children. This she knew, and she married me still. 

She said she believed me when I told her of my premonitions, and of the horrors that haunted me in my dreams. She said that –if these visions bore any truth- our love would pull us through whatever may come. I looked into her eyes, and I believed. 

I’d had the vasectomy long before we met. I told her I had to be careful. She said she understood, and that as long as we were together she didn’t need anything or anyone else; not even children. She looked me right in my eyes and told me. And I knew she was lying. 

 ***

I don’t know why I felt surprised when she came to me, radiant with joy, and told me the news- the wonderful, glorious news of the new life growing inside her; a life that our love had created. 

Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I couldn’t speak. A cold terror stabbed my soul. It wasn’t possible! It wasn’t! But… it was. The vasectomy procedure guaranteed a 99.9% rate of prevention. It still left a small chance, and a chance was all that was needed. The evil thing inside me wanted out into this world and, despite my precautions, it had found a way. 

***

I begged her to get rid of it. I pleaded. Bruised and appalled, she declared she would do no such thing. She held firm. I raged, telling her it had already begun warping her mind, taking control, bending her to its will. In a fury I stormed out into the dark streets where I wandered for hours until, exhausted and hopeless, I returned to our home. 

She was waiting for me in the den. I told her how I loved her and pledged to love our child as well, no matter what manner of evil it might hold. She smiled and gave me a kiss that I wished would never end. 

Six Years Later

Our son brought a light into our home and filled our life with an unexpected bliss that swept away all my fears of the supposed family curse –those dreadful terrors that my father had instilled in me since I was a boy, warning me that the curse strikes every sixth generation, which would, therefore, be my offspring, which meant I could never reproduce, or else face the horror of an unimaginable fate. But, with a single look at our baby’s angelic face, all cares and woes were wiped out in an instant. It was an unshakable fact: I loved our dear boy, maybe more than I’d ever loved anything or anyone in my entire life. I felt a zeal to protect him and I knew that I would do anything for him. Anything. Still, my love and devotion notwithstanding, I found the first incident to be quite a shock. 

Uriel and I had taken a bus to the waterfront to go to the comic store. When we were exiting the bus, Uriel stopped and spoke softly with the bus driver, the words they exchanged being out of my range of hearing. The driver smiled, laughed, and told me I had a sweet boy. I thanked the kind, older man, and Uriel and I went on our way. The following morning, I read in our local paper that shortly after we had departed the bus, the driver had plowed through the open-air market, killing twenty-two and wounding at least twelve others. He had then driven off the pier and into the sea, drowning himself and all thirty-six passengers. Apparently, Uriel and I had been the last to get off the bus before the driver’s rampage took flight. 

My breath caught in my throat. The curse was real. I stared at Uriel, who sat in front of the TV watching his favorite cartoon. As if he sensed my gaze, he turned to me and smiled. 

“I love you, father,” he said. 

I struggled to form my own smile, my lips faltering under the weight of this new, diabolical reality. I cleared my throat. “I love you too, son,” I replied. Uriel returned to his cartoon and a solitary tear slipped from my eye. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Welcome to Merrill’s Musical Musings. It’s June, people, and that means it’s about time for us to celebrate the Summer Solstice. For some of us, this means hiding from sun and allergies and finding some new horror films or darker music to listen to, and since many of us are still sheltering-in-place, this month’s review comes at a great time. I know I’m getting a little bored with my current playlists. So, join me for something new from some old friends, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. 

TKK are back with a super groovy offering that had me vibing from the get-go. There’s a little bit of everything here, and fans of industrial, lounge, and quirky throw-back music will all dig their latest album. Sinister Whisperz III is a series of unreleased remixes from their years (1997-2017) on the Rykodisc label.  

I recall the band’s early days and love that they were inspired from the start by those old VHS films us 80s kids rented from the corner store (in my case, daily). The band’s name was meant to be the title of a planned film project, but when their employers at Wax Trax records heard the tunes, they realized they’d found their calling in music. While my Mod friends and I were listening to Front 242 and Ministry, TKK was developing their own unique sound. Listening to them now takes me back to those nights we spent in local underaged clubs, as well as the times we were stuck hanging out at high school dances cringing at the terrible music they played. 

“Girl Without a Planet” and “Freaky Fever” are both smooth tunes that have a real 80s dance feel to them and they’re interspersed with harder tracks like “4 Blondes with Lobotomy Eyes” and “Fangs of Love” that remind me a bit of bands like Love and Rockets and Jene Loves Jezebel. I love the bits of dialogue from B-movies sprinkled on top of funky keyboards and synthesizers with an infectious dance beat. “Flesh Star” is a tune that would get any dance floor moving and I couldn’t sit still while listening to “Dirty Little Secrets.” There are plenty of other tracks on the album to get you out of your chair and having a good time. Just throw on your black club clothes with some Dr. Martens and slink around the house looking bored. You’ll feel so much better! 

Check out the latest from My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and indulge in a bit of musical nostalgia, maybe work off some of that quarantine weight on an improvised dance floor while you’re at it. I know I need to get moving. Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs!

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

Russell Holbrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dean fixed her with a blank expression and squinted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fucking took off,” Dean said.

“What?!” Alec yelled.

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

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

Dean nodded. “Yes, that she did.”

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

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

“I know, right,” Dean said.

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

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

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

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

“Alright, man,” Alec said.

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

“Good deal,” Alec agreed.

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

“Um, hey man,” Alec said.

“Yeah?”

“I thought you were gonna move the car.”

“The lady said not to drive it.”

Alec scoffed. “What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

“Wow, thanks, fucker,” Dean returned.

The two chuckled and sipped on their coffee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not!” Dean screamed.

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh God,” he sobbed.

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

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs June 2020

June is the month we typically celebrate our LGBTQ community, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, Graduations, and the Summer Equinox. This year it’s been a time of reckoning in our nation. This month I want to spotlight Black artists that I love, as well as explore some I haven’t listened to before. As a result, this edition of Ro’s Recs is going to take a deep dive into some incredible offerings by Black artists. It’s important to remember that all of our popular music is influenced by Black music. Without Gospel, Soul and the Blues we would have no rock’n’roll, no hip-hop, and no pop music. So sit back, relax and enjoy some recs to start your summer…

Okay, maybe don’t relax, as this first one will scare the pants off you. As a special treat to my fellow HorrorAddicts, I HAVE to start out with this frenetically creepy band called…get ready…HO99O9. Yes, they are literally called Horror and they have created a blend of punk, electronic, hip-hop and metal with imagery that will make all you HorrorAddicts drool! Check out Street Power:

Their song “Plexiglass” is eerie goose-bumpery that you will love as well. I desperately wanted to go on Slipknot’s Knotfest cruise this summer and getting to see this band would have been EPIC. Alas, there’s no traveling in my near future. Sigh. 

Another artist I’ve recently discovered is Danny Denial from Seattle. His voice has a smooth quality to it that adds weight to his atmospheric indie-rock sound. “Am I Cool Enough For Your Love” and “I’m Not Your Type” are standout tracks. I found Danny Denial after reading this article. Check it out for more recommendations. 

One of my all-time favorite metal bands is Sevendust. Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon has one of the most incredible voices in rock and the band has created a solid sound over the years that is instantly recognizable and groove-worthy. Here’s one of my favorites. 

And I can’t leave Nonpoint off this list. Elias Soriano is an incredible vocalist and frontman and the band’s music has kept me company and inspired me through both good times and bad.

They are high on my bucket list to see in concert as every time I’ve had the opportunity, there’s been a cancellation or I’ve been sick. Someday! 

While watching footage from the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests, I heard a speech from a man called Killer Mike. I was moved by his words so I looked him up. I discovered that he was part of the group Run The Jewels, who were touring with a favorite, Rage Against The Machine, this year. I actually had tickets to see them and had planned to check them out before the world caught on fire back in March. They quickly became one of my repeat-plays on Spotify. I HIGHLY recommend your listen to all of RTJ 3 and RTJ 4 from start to finish!  This video has some cool imagery HorrorAddicts will appreciate. 

There are so many contemporary Black artists that should be on your must-listen list and I could go on forever. Perhaps I’ll have to post a follow-up to this list! In the meantime, remember…one of the most important ways we can support artists is by buying merch, streaming their music, and recommending them to friends. If there are other Black musicians you think I should check out, let me know ESPECIALLY if they are rock ‘n’rollers or have a horror influence! I’m here for it! Post a comment or hit me up at www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings and Ro’s Recs! 

 

 

Logbook of Terror: Debbie’s Box

Russell Holbrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You want it?” Debbie’s mom asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Debbie,

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

             Sincerely,

             All my love,

             Debbie

            

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

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

“Yeah, mom?” Debbie answered.

“Soup’s ready!” Her mother yelled.

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, what’s that?” The man scoffed.

“A hammer,” Debbie said.

“What for?”

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

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

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Justin Symbol/ Candyman

 

Party songs for the end of the world?

Greetings and Salutations, Horror Addicts. When last we visited, the world was headed into a shelter-in-place that has lasted longer than many folks anticipated. While it’s been a mixed bag of despair and uncertainty, there have been glimmers of hope that I’ve been hanging on to, and of course, music has been there in new and exciting ways to ease my soul. I’ve found tunes for every mood and put together a few playlists that I’ll share some of on my next edition of Ro’s Recs. But this month I had a listen to Justin Symbol’s latest work and I gotta say, it’s pretty damn reflective of our current state of affairs. 

Justin Symbol’s opening track to the new album Candyman, “End Times,” sets listeners into an anarchist’s vibe for the end of the world, which might seem fitting to some right now. Often sounding like a Marilyn Manson of old, Symbol has girls “shaking their tits” in celebration of the apocalypse, and you know what? Why not? What are we supposed to do when it seems as though the sky is falling? Candyman contains some juvenile lyrics that are sprinkled with wit and overlaying horror-inspired effects and beats that sometimes miss their mark. At times the album feels like a promising industrial album with songs like “Prophets of Nothing” and “Lust.” These particular tunes feature engaging guitar tracks and lyrics that come close to being a snarky riff on life. ”Mothra” creates strong imagery with lyrics such as  “blackout the sky,” “sorting out the bodies” and “curl up inside a cocoon of flies,” but as the album continues, Symbol delves into extremely graphic sexual content that some may find offensive. If that’s your kink, you may feel right at home. Symbol straddles the line of rap and rock with interesting verse, intriguing riffs, and creepy atmospheric sounds. “The Devil You Know” was a standout for me. Give the album a listen and see if it’s your jam. You can find Justin Symbol on Spotify and Apple Music. 

That’s it for Merrill’s Musings this month. Be sure to check out my next Ro’s Recs, where I will share with you the best songs for surviving the shelter-in-place. Take care, be safe, and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings…

Logbook of Terror: Ranger Danger

Russell Holbrook

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

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

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

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

***

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

Jane snickered. “I’m toasty.”

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

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

“What the eff was what?” 

“What?”

“That’s what I just asked you.” 

“Oh,” Mickey said.

“Oooohhhh!” Jane exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, young lady.”

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

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

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

Roy grinned.

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

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

“No shit?” Jane said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

“Really, seven times?” The man asked.

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

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

“Exploded teenagers.”

“Yeah, that happens.”

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

Ranger Roy glanced up. “Storms almost here.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs May 2020

“There’s nothing on TV. I’ve got nothing to read. All the good snacks are gone. I’m BORED.”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard any of those sentiments during this stay-at-home time. Thankfully, my kids know better for the most part because I will either shove a book in their faces or give them chores to do. 

One of the things that have kept me sane while locked down is music, as usual. I’ve been having so much fun with the musicians that are putting themselves out there on social media with new projects, quarantine videos, and special interaction opportunities. On Instagram, I have notifications set up for artists like Tyler Glenn from the band Neon Trees (@tylerinacoma), and Franky Perez (@frankyperezofficial) who has performed with all kinds of folks including the symphonic metal band from Finland, Apocalyptica.

 Both of these artists frequently do acoustic performances on Instagram/IGTV that are tasty morsels. They keep me going when I need a pick me up.

Recording from home when your band is not with you can be a challenge, but several artists have done a great job. The first video I saw that really touched me was twenty-one pilots who put out a new song and video called “Level of Concern.”

 

While they’re not my usual level of heavy for music, I do admire them and I thought this was a super creative way to get around quarantine separation. Twelve Foot Ninja, a metal fusion band from Australia—they are brilliant and have a horror fan’s sense of humor for sure—and they took on the classic Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News

Stevic McKay did a Zoom interview with Huey Lewis too where they talked about their cover of the song and Huey was such a sweetheart

 

 I highly recommend you give both the video and the interview a watch, especially if you’re a fan of the film American Psycho. Papa Roach—yes they are still around and continue to put out phenomenal music—embraced the insanity of lockdown with kids and recorded this fantastic video for their latest hit “Feel Like Home”

 But the clincher came for Mother’s Day…Ice Nine Kills—the horror fanatics I have absolutely fallen in love with over the past year—did a parody cover of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” called “Jason’s Mom” and, well, you have to watch. Best Mother’s Day Gift!

Musicians have also taken to new platforms to engage with their fans. Twitch and Discord, which are usually populated by gamers, have become a place for musicians to stream the creation of new music as well as a place to meet up with other musicians and tell stories from days on the road, etc. Matt Heafy from Trivium, Brandon Saller from Atreyu, Shim Moore, and Rob Ortiz from Escape the Fate are a few that I’ve checked out and they’ve got interesting things going on. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can link your Twitch account and subscribe for free! 

There are plenty of ways to pass the time during this period of shelter-in-place, so tell your kids to quit bothering you so you can check out all this fun music stuff! And if your “kids” have four legs or if it’s actually your spouse, well, good luck. And if you would like to share your music finds during quarantine, I’d love to hear them! Also…I would love for you to follow me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor) if you hang out over there, even if it means losing my current count…3,666 followers! How metal/horror is that?

 

Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musings…

 

Logbook of Terror : The Tree That Shot Henry

The Tree That Shot Henry by Russell Holbrook

Al had seen a lot in his three-hundred and eighty-seven years. Too much, he felt. But, such was the life of a tree; besides watching and occasionally swaying, there really wasn’t much else to do. Of all that Al had observed in his life, the creatures called humans were what fascinated him the most. As repellant and absurd as he found most of them to be, he couldn’t help becoming enraptured in their daily dramas. There was one human Al found particularly fascinating. His name was Henry, and Al lived in his yard. It was a nice yard on a nice farm and Henry was a nice enough man. One day Henry brought home a very nice girl, who had long blond curls and called herself Carrol.

Henry and Carrol spent many summer afternoons in the cool shade of Al’s branches, laughing and talking, having picnics, and enjoying each other’s company. One night when the moon glowed bright and full, the couple gathered under Al’s arms to play with the Ouija Board. Carrol had been talking about it for weeks but Henry had protested, saying that he thought the Ouija board was boring and pointless because most spirits were bad conversationalists who talked too slow. Still, Carrol persisted until Henry relented and on that night of the full moon they sat under their favorite tree, their hands on the planchette, looking into one another’s eyes. And Al looked down from above. 

After several dud attempts at communicating with whatever spirits may have been around at the time, Carrol and Henry got a response. Carrol gasped. Her bosom heaved. 

Henry felt a stirring in his groin. Hmmm, heaving bosoms

A peal of thunder sounded in the far distance, and Carrol began her questions. 

As it turned out, the spirit didn’t want to talk about their favorite color, their favorite food, or whether or not they liked Ferris wheel rides on brisk, fall evenings. The spirit said their favorite color was hate, they preferred murder over pancakes, and the only ride they liked was the ferry over the river Styx. Henry was both aghast and offended by the spirit’s sarcastic answers which did not produce any further bosom heaves from Carol, who simply felt disappointed. 

“This spirit is a smarty-pants jerk,” Carrol said.

Henry nodded in agreement. 

“Why don’t you ask a question,” she said to Henry. 

Henry sighed but agreed. After a moment’s contemplation he said, “Spirit, is there buried treasure in my yard?”

The planchette moved. Yes 

The couple’s eyes lit up. They smiled together. 

“Spirit,” Henry said, “where is the treasure buried? How did it get here? Can you provide exact coordinates?” 

And the planchette began to move as the spirit began to speak. 

Long, long ago there was a farmer who lived on this very land. The farmer was very poor, and being poor made him very, very sad. Although the farmer had a loving wife and a kind-hearted son and a working farm, he wanted money and riches above all else. One day the farmer’s teenage son came home from the market with a large goat who had a coat blacker than a starless night, a fierce gray beard, burning red eyes, and long, gnarled, pointy horns. The sight of the mysterious animal filled the farmer with trepidation. Upon the father’s inquiry, the boy revealed that the goat had been given to him by a fellow farmer, a haggard man whom the son had never seen at the market before. Happy that the farm would have a buck, the son gladly accepted and brought the goat home. He named the goat Black Francis and gave him his own room in the barn. 

A week later the farmer was watching Black Francis wander around the yard. When the goat stopped to poop, the farmer noticed something peculiar: Francis’s waste seemed to sparkle in the sun. The farmer went over to inspect and discovered that Black Francis had expelled a small pile of gold. He was a very special goat indeed. 

The farmer became obsessed with Black Francis. He neglected everything and everyone but the goat, and spent every day following him around the yard. And every time Black Francis made a pile of gold, the farmer would bury it where it fell. 

Henry interrupted the spirit’s tale. “But why would he do that? Why not collect all the gold and store it somewhere safe?”

The planchette moved, spelling out: I do not know; I was not there.

“Spirit, you don’t have to be rude! Please finish your tale,” Carrol said. 

Okay, the spirit replied, and the planchette resumed its slow movement over the board. 

For days and weeks and months, the farmer stayed by Black Francis’s side, barely eating, hardly sleeping, simply watching, waiting, digging, burying, hoarding every single drop of the golden dung. The farmer became consumed with paranoia, believing that everyone was out to get his gold, even his family. His dear wife, frightened and having lost all hope, took her teenage son and fled to her parents’. 

The following evening the farmer sat beneath a grand old tree that stood in a corner of the yard. While trembling in his delirium, the man had a sudden and striking moment of clarity and he knew what he had to do. The time had come to claim his rightful fortune, to leave the farm and his family and start a new life where no one would bother him or try to take his riches. Surely there would be so much gold that he would never have to work another day in his life. His mind beamed with the prospect. So the farmer fetched his shovel and he began to dig. 

All through the night the farmer dug for the gold he had buried and when the gray dawn broke, he still hadn’t found a single bit. Exhausted, he saw Black Francis leisurely chewing on grass in the early morning light. The farmer cursed the odd buck and went to the barn to get a length of rope with which to lead the goat back to the market and pass him on to another hapless fool. When the man returned with the rope, the goat was gone. The farmer searched the property and the neighboring farms but the goat was nowhere to be found. Flustered and enraged, the farmer returned home and did the only thing he could think to do: keep digging. And he dug and dug and dug until, after three days of non-stop digging, with his hands bloody and raw, he collapsed in the field and died. And there was never any gold to be found, not even one little bit. The end. Copyright 2020, Azazel Beelzebub Azaroth McAllister-Smith. 

Carrol clutched her side and fell over laughing. “A goat that pooped gold! Ouija Boards say the craziest things!” 

Henry’s eyes were wild with excitement. He panted.

“What is it, Henry?” Carrol asked.

“Gold!” Henry whispered. 

“That was just a story, dear.” 

“No, not just a story!” Henry snapped, “I know there’s gold here. I can feel it! Your magic board was actually telling a truth!”

Carrol sat up. She inched back, looking closely at Henry’s face. His features seemed to blur in the moonlight, as if shadows were gliding over him. Her breath hitched in her throat as a glint of red flared in his eyes. 

“Henry, are you alright?”

Henry dug his fingers into the earth. “Gold!” He whispered again. He laughed to himself. “I’ll be rich!” 

“What has come over you? Why are you…?”

Henry lept to his feet, cutting Carrol off. “There’s no time!” He shouted, adding, “I’ll call you tomorrow!”

He ran to the tool shed to get a shovel.  

“Goodnight, then!” Carrol called out after Henry as he ran away. Then she packed up her Ouija Board and walked home. 

*

Henry didn’t call the next day, or the next, or even the one after that. Filled with anxiety, Carrol went to Henry’s house. When she arrived, she found him wearing the same clothes she saw him in last, covered in dirt and sweat, digging in the yard. Small, shallow holes dotted the yard for as far as Carrol could see. She brought her hand to her mouth. Slowly, she approached. 

“Henry,” she said, “what are you doing?”

He kept his eyes fixed on the earth and rammed the shovel down. “Digging. What else would I be doing?”

“Didn’t you go to work today?”

“This is my work,” he grumbled. 

Carrol stepped closer. Softly, she ventured, “Why don’t you come inside and have a rest? I’ll fix you a cool glass of lemon pepper soda.”

Henry grunted and replied, “There’s no time for rest; I have to find it!”

“Find what, dear?”

“The gold!” Henry roared. He turned toward Carrol. His eyes burned a deep red. “Don’t you remember, you stupid bitch!?” 

Tears flooded Carrols eyes. Henry is a kind man; he never speaks to me this way!

“The spirit of the magic board told me there’s gold buried right here and I know it’s true, I know the treasure is here- I know it!”

“Henry, the board, that was just a game!” Carrol sobbed. 

“That wasn’t the game! This is the game- you and me! You’re playing me! You just want all the gold for yourself, you goddamn, lecherous cunt!” White foam and dry spittle flew out of Henry’s mouth. “I fucking hate you! I hate you I hate you I hate you!” He screamed. “You don’t care about me, you just want my gold! My gold!” 

His face turned red. “Get out now or I’ll fucking rip out your entrails and ram them down your throat!” He raised the shovel and stepped toward Carrol. 

She screamed, “Henry, please, I love you!”

“I hate you and I want to fucking kill you!” He howled.  

Henry swung the shovel. Carrol lunged back. The shovel flew past her face, its tip nearly grazing her lips. She whirled, caught her balance, and sprinted across the yard. Henry slammed the shovel’s head on the ground over and over again, screeching curses and insults and horrible, unforgivable words that grew and towered and chased Carrol from the yard. Once she was out of sight, Henry returned to digging.   

*

Carrol burst through the front door, startling her mother, father, and brother who were in the den playing a late-night game of Shark Versus Swimmer. Before her family had time to react, Carrol stood before them with her father’s revolver pressed under her chin. Her father cried out for her to stop, to please, God please put the gun down. She simply screamed, “Henry!” and pulled the trigger. 

Blood, bone, and brain painted the ceiling and walls. Carrol’s parents and brother wailed. Her mother fell to the floor weeping. Her father and brother ran to Carrol’s fallen body. Her father cradled Carrol’s exploded head in his lap, calling out, “My Carrol, my dear sweet child!” over and over. 

Carrol’s brother took the gun from his sister’s dead, still-warm fingers, and promised to bring vengeance down upon Henry’s house. With the cries and protests of his parents ringing in his ears, he ran into the night. 

*

When Carrol’s brother arrived, Henry was digging beneath Al’s limbs, his shovel clanging against the giant roots of the great tree. 

Carrol’s brother raised the gun at Henry. He shouted, “You monster! You broke Carrol’s heart and she took her life because of it!”

Henry looked up from his work. He smiled. “Carl, what are you doing with that little gun?” 

“You’re the reason my sister is gone! It’s your fault!” Carl roared. 

Tears blurred his vision. Carl pulled the trigger and the second bullet of the night hurled straight toward Henry’s head. 

Henry spun and fell face-first into the dirt. Carl trembled. Sweat poured down his face. He’d just killed a man. His vengeance was complete, and since there was nothing more he could do, he turned the gun on himself.  And Al, the great old tree, watched in distress as young Carl blew his own face off and fell to the ground. 

For a long while, Al contemplated how a person so young could end their life in such a rash and sudden manner, especially when Carl hadn’t even completed his task. He had simply knocked his intended victim unconscious; the bullet that was meant to kill Henry was lodged painfully in Al’s trunk.

*

In pain and confused, Henry opened his eyes. The first rays of dawn were puncturing the dark canvas of night. He sat up and touched his face. A bloody gash ran the length of his right cheek. He thought back. He remembered: Carl, the gun, the shot. He tried to kill me. He missed! It was then that Henry noticed Carl’s corpse lying nearby in the grass. He giggled. His eyes flared red. I have to find my gold! I’ll clean that mess of a dead body up later. 

Henry stumbled to his feet and started digging. A breeze blew and a leaf lilted onto his filthy shirt. Henry frowned at the leaf and shucked it off. Another leaf fell. He looked up into Al’s branches. 

“Stop it,” Henry said to the tree. 

Another leaf glided by on the wind. Clouds were gathering, blocking out the morning sun. 

Henry stomped on the ground and glared at Al. “I said stop!” 

A gust of wind blew a handful of leaves out of the limbs. They sailed past Henry. 

“Stop mocking me!” Henry screamed. He flailed and slammed the shovelhead on the ground. He stared up at Al, the old and patient tree. Henry’s eyebrows curled. His chin dropped. “It’s you, isn’t it? You’re doing it; you’re hiding my gold! You’ve got it all under there, under those roots!”

Al’s branches swayed in the wind. Gray clouds turned black. 

“You’re not going to do this to me. It’s my gold and you can’t have it!” Henry shouted. 

Henry struck Al’s great roots with the shovel. He dug fiercely into the soil surrounding the base of the tree. It was no use; he could barely even break the ground. Henry cursed, threw down his shovel, and rushed to the shed. Moments later he was pushing a wheel barrel full of dynamite toward the tree while lightning and thunder filled the sky. 

“You can’t have my gold!” Henry shouted. He tied the explosive sticks together and lined them around the base of the tree. 

Al watched Henry with sad amusement. I suppose this is it for me, he thought. 

The wind died down for the briefest of moments. Henry struck a match and put it to the fuse. The fuse lit and Henry stumbled away. Seconds later, a mammoth explosion shook the sky.  

Shards of wood flew through the air. Al creaked and groaned. His mighty trunk faltered and snapped and a report echoed above the noise of cracking and breaking wood. Henry felt a sharp sting between his eyes. The sting was followed by liquid. The wet ran down Henry’s face. He grabbed at his head and, upon pulling away his hands, saw that they were covered in his own blood. He remembered the sound, the report. He looked up at Al. The great tree was falling straight toward him. “You shot me,” Henry mumbled. 

A great and mighty limb struck Henry on the top of his head. Al put down his full weight and crushed the tiny human into the dirt. Ah, a satisfying conclusion to a glorious life, Al thought as his life-force slipped away and his spirit went back into the earth. And three counties over, as dark rain began to fall, a curious black goat grazed in a farmer’s field. 

My Darling Dead: Bastards Episode 3/ Council Rules

Orteg’s favored tavern was situated in the forest proper. A small dirt road led from the stone-paved thoroughfare to its front doors, the road flanked by huge trees older than time itself. A bird familiar with cartography would see the tavern at the center of a hundred little paths wending their way towards it through the forest, like the center of a spider’s web. It was down one of these paths that Zavier and Orteg now walked, away from the main thoroughfare. 

Orteg gaped. “Who are you? How do you know of all this?”

“I am the son of the counsel to King Wendell, the wizard Sapius was my father and shared with me your entire pathetic history,” Zavier said, waving a hand impatiently. “I have long been searching for you to tell you this, and to tell you: you must be made king!

“When the princess Alasin, your half-sister, was born, she was the recipient of a dreadful curse by a fairy at her christening ceremony. As revenge against the king for two-timing the fairy, the princess was doomed to continually suffer the loss of the one she loved most, which, at the time, was the king. He died as a result and the steps the queen took to preserve her own life ultimately drove the princess mad, though she was none too stable, to begin with. 

“Alasin took a love potion before looking in the mirror beside her mother, and, falling in love with both of them, sealed their fate. The curse dispatched them that night but was never broken by her dying a natural death. Which is the plague, the rat creatures, rampant filth, all the side effects of the curse, are going to continue on and on until a new king is christened, properly. You are that king!”

Zavier halted, breathing heavily, staring at Orteg with hot, unblinking eyes.

“So…what am I supposed to do?” asked Orteg, feeling foolish. 

“You must get to the castle. The council which has attempted to govern in light of a real king will be gathered. In their presence, I will perform a spell which shall reveal your lineage. They will have no choice but to crown you king!” Zavier cried, spittle flying from his mouth in his ardor. “The entire kingdom will fall under your rule, with your divine right as Wendell’s heir a new era will come to the kingdom, one of lawful productivity rather than the dark squalor of insanity, a strong, new…”

They continued down the path, Zavier extolling the upcoming Orteg Era of the kingdom as its namesake listened in a daze, only catching half of what was being said. As the wizard’s voice began to fade, in the foliage of one of the branches looming over the forest path, what had once been a human female crawled from a tree limb. Her eyes glowed with a crazed fire and her matted hair was crusted with dirt and sticks. She had long ago lost the power of speech, but her subconscious retained enough of the language skills she had learned as a child to understand it. She knew the information she had heard would be worth something to the council, and that meant food. After waiting for the sound of footsteps to die away, she slithered headfirst down the tree and set off in the direction of the castle, giving the two men a wide berth. 

The Honorable Prefect Mosh Barris sat at the head of the long council table in the courtroom of the castle, pulled up to the table as close as his ample stomach would allow. Three of his six chins wobbled as he chewed the mouthful of roast oxen with relish. Six men sat to his left and six women sat to his right, making up the government of the kingdom. All were well-fed, though none so well-fed as Barris himself, all were wearing wigs and all were staring down their noses at the little man cringing before them, wringing a filthy hat in his equally filthy hands.

“Farmer Ellis,” Barris rumbled after swallowing, taking care to keep the smile from his meaty features, “The effects of the rat creatures upon your farm is not the concern of this council. The pestilence is your responsibility to control to the best of your ability and is not to interfere with your tithings. Therefore, your request for an extension on your land tax is denied.” 

“But… Your Honor, my entire family has been taken by the pox or the rat plague. It is only me to care for them all and to maintain the farm.” Tears were coursing down his gaunt cheeks as he fell to his knees, beseeching each member of the council in turn. “I beg of you, have mercy.”

“Exceptions cannot be made,” said the woman immediately to Barris’s right. “Any exception would result in the same request being made a thousandfold.”

“Quite right, Agathas,” said Barris, favoring her with a thick-lipped smile. “At any rate, the kingdom needs taxes, not excuses. You may go, Ellis.”

The farmer got to his feet and jammed his hat on his head. Turning to go, he was halfway to the door, before he spun around and threw his hat to the ground.

“Barris! You and your council of toads are nothing but bloated bags of gas feeding on the misfortunes of others! May you one day face the same mercy you have shown!” Ellis shouted, his voice shrill. “There will be others, and before long, you will be buried by them! Selfish pigs—”

“BAILIFF!” screamed Barris, crashing to his feet, his own large features turning a dark purple. “Take this man away and execute him for treason! To speak against the governing faction of the kingdom is to speak against the kingdom itself.” He slumped back in his chair, breathing heavily. 

Before Ellis could react, his arms had been pinioned behind his back by a hulking man in a gray smock who had been standing unnoticed in the corner. The hulking man gave a sharp jerk upward and a wet popping sound filled the room as the farmer’s arm was broken from its socket. Ellis screamed still louder. The woman Agathas watched with rising color of her own, her tongue moistening her lips. Barris could feel himself getting aroused. 

“On second thought, bailiff,” Barris said with a grin, watching Agathas. “Execute him here, for our amusement.”

Ellis began to blubber through his tears and screams, begging and pleading, words about his family, sick and dying without him. The hulking man stunned him with a rap to the back of the head. “As you wish, sir. Would you like it to be quick, or slow?”

Barris looked at Agathas and raised his eyebrows inquisitively. 

“Slowly,” she said. Her hand was already between her legs and her breathing ragged. “But not too slowly.” 

 

 

Logbook of Terror : Just a Scratch!

Just a Scratch

By Russell Holbrook

Devon’s appearance was plain and unremarkable, and that’s the way he wanted it to be. He believed that blending in helped him move through life without being noticed too much, which made things easier for him. But Devon’s appearance wasn’t what the strangers he met on dark streets were thinking about. They were usually wondering why he was plunging a meat cleaver into the side of their neck. Well, sometimes it was a hacksaw or a plain, old-fashioned butcher knife. That last one was an undeniable classic, and besides, Devon wasn’t too picky about his instruments. He liked having variety in his work. He was saving up to buy a chainsaw.

It was on a Thursday evening that Devon ran into his arch-rival, Mach Tudor, at the local Slurp Fountain and Elixir Emporium. Devon fixed his enemy with a harsh glare. “I thought I told you to stay out of here, Mach.”

Mach returned Devon’s glare with a grin. “I can go where I want.”

“That’s not a reasonable explanation.”

Mach stared at Devon and sucked bright blue Slurp through an orange straw. 

Devon stepped closer. He clenched his fists and whispered, “Get out. This is my spot. It’s where I go to think and right now you’re interrupting my thinking.” 

“I like it here,” Mach replied. 

“If you don’t leave now, I’m going to make you,” Devon said, fire burning behind his eyes. 

Mach leaned his lanky frame against the counter and took another casual pull off his Slurp. “Yeah, I’m sure,” he said. 

Devon fumed. “You arrogant prick! You know how much I need a Slurp after I…” he looked around and lowered his voice. “After, you know… I’ve been out… working.”

“Uh-hu,” Mach said. He took another drink. “I needed one too. I just did my sixth one of the night.”

Devon’s nostrils flared. “Six!? In one night?! That’s impossible!” 

“Not when you’re as good as I am. Everyone knows I’m the best in town.” Mach’s voice lowered. “Maybe even the greatest of all time.” 

Devon frowned. He looked Mach over, taking in the tall, trim man’s swagger and appearance. He’s so cocky, so self-assured, Devon thought. But I have to admit, he really is well put together. Then, something caught Devon’s eye: a bloody rip across Mach’s tight, ironed, otherwise spotless gray slacks. Devon could see through the tear, which was near the top of his right thigh, about three inches across. He pointed at the wound. “What’s that?”  

 Mach looked down, following Devon’s finger. “Oh, that?” Mach said. “That’s just a scratch.”

Devon grinned wide. “They fought back?”

Mach nodded. “Hard.”

“I like it when they fight,” Devon said. 

Mach shrugged indifferently. Devon felt outraged by Mach’s flippant attitude toward the work that he himself had dedicated his life to. He shook his head and plowed into Mach’s personal space. His broad, muscular shoulders edged Mach out of the way. “You take no pride in your craft. You have no respect. You don’t care about anything. Get the hell out of my way.” Devon grabbed an extra-large cup. 

“They’re out of grape,” Mach said lackadaisically.

“Dammit!” Devon cursed. He threw the cup on the floor and watched it bounce away. “I was having such a great night before I saw you!” 

Devon stomped away from the purring Slurp machine and picked up the cup. He slammed it into the trash can. “Six? Really?”

“I have their heads in my trunk if you don’t believe me,” Mach said.

“I thought you drove a hatch back.”

Mach slurped the last of his drink, dragging his straw over the bottom of the plastic cup. He swiped the back of his hand across his mouth, sat the empty cup on the counter for the clerk to clean up, and walked past Devon toward the door. Devon followed. 

Out in the murky night, in the empty rear parking lot, Mach popped the trunk. There, spread out on black plastic trash bag, sat six severed heads. Devon leaned in and inspected them under the trunk’s dim light. Dammit, they’re fresh

“Told ya,” Mach said. His upper lip curled like he was about to do a Billy Idol impersonation. 

For a moment Devon was speechless. He had no idea of what to say. Then, a new perspective, sudden yet welcome, came upon him. He turned to Mach. “You really think you’re hot potatoes, don’t you?”

“The hottest.”

“You’re an idiot,” Devon spat, “an arrogant, reckless, idiot. You think you’re invincible, but you’ll get caught and that’ll bring the heat down on the rest of us, and then everyone’s work will be in danger.”

“Shut up! I’m never gonna get caught!”  

Devon sighed. “We’ll see.” 

“I’m too good to get caught,” Mach asserted. 

Devon walked away to begin the long trek back to his basement apartment. He hung his head and mumbled to himself, “We’ll see.”

Mach considered yelling a sarcastic remark or an insult at Devon’s back, but then felt that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. He reached down and plucked one of the heads out of the trunk. It had belonged to a student who was taking night classes at the community college. Her name was Sandy. She had been pre-law. Sandy’s mouth was locked in the scream position. Her canines protruded out beyond her thin, bloodless lips. Mach held the head up to eye level. “Hey there, little fighter,” he said, just before he shut the trunk and hopped behind the wheel with Sandy’s head cradled in his arm. The night clerk of the Slurp Fountain and Elixir Emporium found Mach’s empty cup and cursed the lazy customer’s insolence just as Mach squealed out of the parking lot. 

Cool night air rushed in through open windows. Sandy’s head rested in Mach’s lap. His favorite band, The Power Trippers, came on the radio and he turned it up. As the chorus kicked in, Mach felt something cold and slimy sliding across the wound on his upper thigh. Ugh, what the… His eyes left the road and shot down to his lap, where Sandy’s head was tonguing the gash in his leg. He screamed. The car swerved. Reflexively, Mach’s leg bounced. Sandy’s head sunk her canines deep into Mach’s flesh. His scream turned to a wail. He slammed the break and slid the car off the road. He lept from the car with Sandy’s teeth still buried in his leg. Running into the woods, with a howl Mach tore Sandy’s teeth from his leg and threw her head into the trees. Pain radiated through his leg and lower body. 

“I give you the honor of being a part of my work and this is how you repay me!?” Mach shouted into the woods at the severed head which he could no longer see. “You can just stay out there all alone forever!” 

Grumbling to himself, Mach got back into his car and drove home. When he reached his house, he carefully placed the other five heads in the freezer and went to sleep. 

Five Days Later

The headline surprised Devon so much he had to read it twice. House of Horrors Discovered on East Side. Devon’s eyes jumped down to the front page article. Gripping the paper between shaking hands, he read:

When local, award-winning jewel thief Kristen Calle’ entered 618 Maple Street on a routine heist this past Friday night, she found something most people hope to never see during the course of their lives. It was a sight so grisly, so macabre, Ms. Calle’ ran from the residence and didn’t stop running until she burst through the front doors of police headquarters in tears. Officers and CSI units were immediately dispatched to the scene and, following a routine survey, investigations began in earnest. Over the next five days human remains in varying stages of decomposition were discovered throughout the home, which CSI veteran Pauline McCabe called, “A museum of grotesque depravities.” She went on to say, “In all my thirty-seven years on the force, never have I witnessed such a vile display of human carnage.” 

Devon was spellbound. He read on. 

To date, the remains of three-hundred and sixteen victims have been discovered, having been found buried in the backyard and cellar, boxed up in the attic, hidden between walls and beneath floors, and stored in the refrigerator. The kitchen pantry was full of dried and cured skin, and a bedroom had been converted to a walk-in freezer which was dedicated entirely to the preservation of severed heads.  

“Nice touch,” Devon said to himself. He turned the page and straightened the paper. 

Investigators have linked the crimes to the home’s owner, local tennis shoe model MachTudor. Mr.Tudor was found unresponsive in the master bedroom, the apparent victim of an infected leg wound. As the number of remains discovered continues to grow, investigators suspect that Mach Tudor will go down as one of the most prolific serial killers of all-time, if not the most prolific, ever. Lead investigator Saul Grey stated, “All he needs is a spooky nickname and he’s ready for the true-crime history books. This guy was a true sicko; clearly, he really loved his work.”

Devon’s face turned red. Trembling, he ripped the paper in half and threw the pieces to the floor. He fell out of his easy chair and rolled across the floor, beating his fists against the hardwood floor and screaming, “Dammit!” over and over and over again. Disturbed by the violent outburst and annoyed by the noise, his upstairs neighbors called the police. Half an hour later, two officers knocked on Devon’s door. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs April / In This Moment

Ro’s Recs April In This Moment Review 

What better way to spend our time on lockdown but by discovering new music? Artists all over the world have been doing live streams, living room concerts, and performing special acoustic tunes. I’ve found some amazing new artists like Tami Neilson, Devon Gilfillian, and Ida Mae as well as hearing some of my old favorites playing some incredible music like this collab between Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker covering Paramore’s Misery’s Business and Tyler Glenn from Neon Trees (http://www.instagram.com/tylerinacoma) doing his regular Songs from the Red Chair performances on his Instagram Live. Metallica is even streaming concert performances on YouTube and Facebook Monday nights. Let some good music into your lives and I promise it will make you feel better. 

Releasing a new piece of art during this unprecedented time is a scary proposition. I released a new book Friday, March 13th, just before most of California went into a mandatory shelter-in-place. Thankfully, my family is doing okay, but for musicians who have lost revenue from touring, releasing an album could be the only way for them to stay financially afloat. As artists, many of us are giving away our creations for free or at a discounted rate to keep shut-in folks entertained, but for musicians, losing money from canceled or postponed tours means taking a huge hit. SiriusXM is streaming FREE for this month, which is a HUGE opportunity for you to discover new music and I encourage you to get out there and support your favorite musicians however you can! Recommend their music, stream their albums on a platform like Spotify or Apple, and buy merch from their websites including CDs and vinyl if you have machines with which to play them. 

In This Moment, a phenomenal female-fronted metal band from Las Vegas, Nevada released their latest album Mother at the end of March and it is a deliciously decadent mix of original and cover songs. You’ve never heard “Fly Like An Eagle” performed quite so sensually as when Maria Brink stretches out those lyrics. Their last album, 2017’s Ritual, was filled with ruminations on witchcraft and dark elements, and that theme continues on the new record. Mother promises to be just as addictive as their previous material. Already I’m repeat-playing “Holy Man,” “God is She,” “Hunting Ground,” and the title track. So listen to the album, several times if you will, and then make sure you add a notification through Bandsintown or whatever source you get your live music recommendations from because you will NEED to see Maria Brink and Co. the next time they come through your town. They are one of the most exciting live acts on the road today. I’ve seen them at least three times and the theatrics Brink and her maidens bring to the stage, as well as the power and excellent musicianship the band exudes will provide a show like you’ve never seen before. Don’t believe me? Check out this live clip from the Loudwire Music Awards. HorrorAddicts, you will fall under the spell of In This Moment, I guarantee. 

That’s it for now, but I promise to bring you more of Ro’s Recs and reviews to keep your soul satisfied. Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

Logbook of Terror : Call Before You Dig!

 By Russell Holbrook

Jay squinted his eyes and stared at the small sign and its simple admonishment. Know what’s below. Call before you dig! He turned to Carl.

“Management approved this dig site, yeah?” 

Carl nodded. “And our coordinates are correct. This is the place.”

Jay stepped toward the sign. He scratched his chin stubble and looked closer. The sign, attached to a bright orange pole, suddenly looked like an almost perfect imitation. 

“This isn’t an official county notice,” Jay said.

Carl huffed and looked the sign over. “I think you’re right. The number’s 611. Shouldn’t it be 811?”

“Yeah, it should,” Jay answered.

“Call it,” Carl said.

Quickly, Jay punched 6-1-1 into his company cell. It rang. A pleasant female voice picked up on the other end. Carl watched his partner inquire about the signage. Jay shot Carl an incredulous look. He shook his head. “This is a joke, yeah?” 

“What is it?” Carl whispered.

Jay waved a hand for Carl to be quiet. 

“Sorry,” Carl said.

Jay gripped the phone. “I understand that miss, but we’re official employees of the County Archeology and Treasure Hunting Division and we have our work orders.”

Jay listened. He closed his eyes and sighed. “I appreciate your concern, miss, but our work is very serious. If we don’t dig -now, today- we’ll be in deep with our employers.” 

Jay listened again. His eyes rolled. Carl stood by, tapping his foot, watching, and waiting. Finally, Jay said a word of thanks and hung up. 

“So?” Carl asked.

“So, this is some bullshit,” Jay replied. 

“What kinda bullshit?” 

Jay kicked a rock and mumbled under his breath.

“Come on, man, what?” Carl said.

Jay sighed. “The woman on the phone said we’re on consecrated ground that can never be disturbed.” He stopped and raised his eyes to his partner.

“And?” Carl said.

“And…” Jay shook his head.

“And…” Carl repeated.

“And that anyone who digs here will be cursed, even official county workers.”

Carl scoffed. “What the hell? Why?” 

Jay felt his face flush with embarrassment before the words even came out of his mouth. “Because a powerful child wizard, who just happened to be her only son, buried his collection of two-thousand plastic toy soldiers here on this very spot before he ascended to heaven at the age of thirteen.” 

A second of silence breathed between the two men before Carl burst into an exaggerated belly laugh. Jay smiled. 

“Now that is some serious bullshit!” Carl bellowed. 

Jay began to laugh. “It really is, yeah?”

“Hell yeah!” Carl shouted. “Gimme my goddamn shovel!” 

The two men laughed heartily and began to dig. Thirty minutes and two feet later, Carl brought up a shovel full of dirt and tiny, green plastic soldiers. 

“Look at that!” Carl said. “They’re just shitty little toys like you get from the dollar store.”

“I used to melt those kinds when I was a kid,” Jay said as he heaved up a pile of the plastic soldiers and tossed them to the side. 

Carl pulled up two more hefty clods of dirt and little plastic men. “Say, what’re we supposed to be digging for anyway?”

Jay shrugged. “Dunno, man; didn’t ask, don’t care.”

Carl added his own shrug and he and Jay plunged their shovels into the dirt. 

The fabric of Carl’s white t-shirt ripped. A massive wound appeared across his belly. He screamed and fell back as his insides fell out in a torrent of blood. 

Jay’s eyes went wide. A scream tore halfway out of his throat, cut short by the deep gash that appeared in his neck. He gargled as his head lopped to one side, held on by mere strands of flesh and sinew. 

The two men shared a final glance at one another and collapsed into the freshly turned earth. 

Moments later a black SUV arrived at the dig site. A woman, a man, and a young boy exited the vehicle and eagerly stepped to the blood-soaked bodies of the dead county workers. The trio wore lab coats and the woman carried a clipboard. The man smiled wide and surveyed the scene while the woman hastily scribbled observational notes on a legal pad.

“Brilliant!” The man said. After donning plastic gloves, he pried the shovels from the hands of each of the dead workers and held them up for the woman and the boy to inspect. A toy soldier was impaled on the end of each of the shovels, one through the stomach area and the other through the neck. 

“The curse is a success!” The woman said with a note of triumph in her voice. 

“Yes! This will surely give us the competitive edge over Mallocorp and their simple machines!” the man added.

The man and the woman placed their hands on the shoulders of the young boy. 

“We’re so very, very proud of you, Jeremy,” the woman said. 

The boy smiled. “Thanks, mom. I like making curses for you and dad. It’s fun!”

The man and woman laughed heartily and drew their son in close for a hug. 

“That’s my special boy!” The father said with pride. 

And the little family hopped in their giant black SUV and drove away, filled with the excitement and joy of another successful experiment.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: The Music of Sharone

The Music of Sharone 

sharoneGreetings and welcome to another issue of Merrill’s Musical Musings. Today I’m checking out Denver Goth rocker Sharone. She started her career inspired by the haunting rock of Evanescence and has since created a sound that is unique. She’s opened for popular rock bands like Fuel, Saving Abel, Tantric, and Stitched Up Heart. Fans of bands like Nightwish and Lacuna Coil may enjoy her melodic tunes, which are full of deeply personal lyrics. Known for her energetic stage show, the artist experiments with different instrumentation and vocal styles and sounds creating a collection of stylistic songs. Her third album Reflection, which came out in December 2019, dances between gentle, mellow piano to hard-hitting and metal-infused beats that will catch the listener’s attention. “White Witch,” “Closer to Love,” and “Final Reflection” are high points on the album. Keep an eye on her social media for performances in the Denver area this spring. She’s working on new songs with her band and promises a great show.

 Social Links:

https://sharone-music.com         

https://www.facebook.com/sharone.official/      

https://mobile.twitter.com/sharone_music         

https://www.instagram.com/sharone_official/   

Download / Stream

https://music.apple.com/us/artist/sharone/1444696312

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3AmKAuGRZ8Ir8XTRl2IlXp

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Sharone&i=digital-music&search-type=ss&ref=ntt_srch_drd_B004RP63DW

https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/Sharone?id=Axh2g6cipumpvbu3cshwjqqtnva

 

My Darling Dead : Bastards – Episode 1 The New King

 

Orteg slammed open the door of his hut, a gust of cold wet air following him into the sitting room. The meager fire his wife Dashani had managed to coax from their remaining splinters of wood was almost extinguished by the blast. Orteg, groping with his foot, managed to shut the door behind him without dropping the armful of wood he carried. His three children huddled beneath a moth-eaten bearskin rug beside the smudge of fire. Their mother looked up as the door latched and Orteg stomped over to the fireplace, leaving muddy footprints in his wake. He dropped the pile of soggy logs and wiped his hands on his dirty trousers with a disgruntled sigh.

“Could you get no more?” Dashani asked, her voice sharp and accusatory. She prodded at the pile of wood with a finger. “These’re soaked through.”

Orteg didn’t answer. He had gone into the corner of the sitting room which served as their kitchen and appeared to be tearing it apart, tossing things from their places onto the floor where they rolled until his feet kicked them aside. The children withdrew further into their bearskin sanctuary, becoming little more than brown lumps as the clankings and crashings continued. Dashani pushed herself to her feet with a sound of exasperation and limped toward him. Her leg had been savagely gashed in a fall and the infection was beginning to smell. Orteg attempted in vain to withdraw from her even as he upended a basket. 

“What in the devil are you doing?” she snapped, leaning against the counter as he reached behind a cupboard. “You know no whiskey remains after you drank it all last night. Is this ache not enough to remind you?” She reached up and rapped her knuckles on his skull.

“Devil take you, woman!” he snarled, slapping her hand away and stepping back. “Curse your infernal tongue, why not use it to clean out that festering hole in your leg, that you might stand a prayer of it remaining, and leave me in peace?”

“Do not be speaking to me that way, Orteg Bluenote,” Dashani shrilled, waving a finger in his face. “If you had been better than a no ‘count lazy good-for-nothing drunk you would have seen the morning’s sunrise and I’d have not needed to be crossing the ravine to check your traps, that we might have food for another night for the children you were so keen to put in me that you now scarcely look at! This is all your doing and don’t you forget it!”

Orteg’s hand moved like lightning, connecting with Dashani’s face and sending her sprawling. The lumps under the bearskin let out small cries, mixing with her own cry of pain as her back collided with the bed frame in the other corner of the hut’s single room. Tears rolled down her face unbidden as she cowered on the floor while her husband advanced on her, roaring “SILENCE! By all the gods that are, woman, you will give me peace or I will take it!” He raised a hand again and when she flinched but said nothing, he grunted in satisfaction. 

“Snake-tongued devil bitch,” he flung over his shoulder as he left, allowing another cold blast of wet air into the hut. This time, the fire went out. The children began to weep in earnest, their cries joining in with their mother’s as all four sobbed into the uncaring darkness. 

Orteg stumped through the woods, his feet following the path they had made with no conscious thought required from him. The palm of his hand stung where it had collided with Dashani’s face and he flexed it, relishing its sting. It was difficult for Orteg to remember the fiery young peasant girl he had fingered in the hayloft and impregnated that same summer. Though it had been less than three years ago it seemed as though a lifetime. Now, all he could think was…

He heard the sound of laughter and music up ahead and hastened his footsteps, his mouth-watering. The tavern was well lit, cheery and inviting. Orteg slipped into its comforting bosom and once again, all his cares evaporated. 

Hours later, Orteg stumbled up to the bar, nearly losing his footing and catching himself on it. “Barkeep, more whiskey,” he slurred, rapping his mug on the bar. Holding it out, his bloodshot eyes roved around the bar, taking in its clientele and sifting them for availability, desirability, ease of access and past experience. There was the usual menagerie of rough trade; farmers with dirt crusted so thick on their faces that what lay beneath was a mystery, hags seeking companionship, tavern wenches looking pretty but resigned, the usual riffraff. Further down the bar, a trio of dwarves were laughing uproariously at something. A table of what appeared to be elves were deep in conversation at a table in the corner, a beautiful blade on the table between them. 

Orteg dismissed them as immaterial as his eye made contact with one of the tavern wenches he had known many times, frequently when Dashani’s less than welcoming nature had sent him to the tavern. Sarina had just returned to the main room from the upstairs, where private business was transacted. She straightened her bodice as a man followed her, a silly grin on his features and walking unsteadily. He went to kiss her and she turned her head with a smile, deflecting it to her cheek as she winked at Orteg with one soft brown eye. The man chortled and pecked her on the cheek before stumbling to the bar. Behind him, Sarina beckoned to Orteg, sliding a finger down the center of her décolletage and licking her lips. Draining his glass, Orteg stood and lurched toward the girl, bouncing off another patron with a curse. Attempting to bypass the stranger proved impossible, for he moved to block Orteg. 

“Away, fool,” Orteg muttered thickly, attempting to walk through the man. “Can’t you see what awaits?”

“I would speak with you, Bluenote,” said the figure from beneath its cowl. “What I have to say to you, I daresay you will find more engaging than pleasures of the flesh.” 

Orteg, who could think of no such thing, grunted laughter and attempted again to pass the figure. “I doubt that very much, sir.” The tavern wench grinned, lifted her skirt a little and turned to mount the stairs. 

“Son of Wendell, you must heed me!”

The dead king’s name floated before Orteg’s bloodshot eyes for a moment before vanishing. Sarina smiled prettily, lifting her skirt still higher. Calf gave way to thigh and Orteg felt his own member responding. She grinned and rubbed a hand over her crotch. 

“Outta my way,” Orteg grunted, shouldering the figure aside. The world had dwindled to the tavern wench and Orteg smiled oafishly at her. “‘m comin’ with you.” 

“It is so,” Sarina said with a musical laugh, dropping her skirt to take his hand, rubbing her other hand under his nose. “You like this?” Her smell overwhelmed him. 

“Yuh,” he said, his tongue thick and his hands busy. She slapped at them. “Come,” she said, and turned, ascending the stairs. In a stupor of lust, Orteg followed, panting. 

She slipped into the first door at the top of the stairs and with a giggle ran to the bed. Flouncing upon it, she looked at him prettily as he stumbled through the doorway. He shut the door behind him, turning the key in the lock as he grinned, absently rubbing his crotch. 

“Aren’t you coming?” she asked, her voice demure as she patted the bed beside her. 

“Sure am,” he slurred, and with a stagger, fell onto the bed atop her. 

As he did, the door shuddered as it was splintered by a savage blow. Orteg floundered on the bed, the girl beneath him, unable to get his balance. With another mighty crash, the door caved inward and three scrawny figures on all fours scrabbled into the room. Orteg screamed, trying to get his feet underneath him and stand but Sarina held on, her fingers clutching at his back with sudden needlelike claws. She grinned at him, and Orteg felt a whole new level of fear. Her teeth were now long and sharp, her eyes feline slits. Her expression made him feel like prey.

“Son of the king, I have long awaited my day of reckoning with you,” she rasped, in a voice unlike her own. 

The next moment, he was forcefully yanked off of her and thrown to the ground by two of the thin figures. The third stepped hard on his chest, knocking the breath from him, as the other two held his arms out to his sides. Orteg thrashed his lower half around for a moment until the increasing pressure on his chest compelled him to cease. 

“That’s better,” Sarina said, rising to her feet and moving toward him. “Many years ago, your kin did away with me. Your sister, to be precise. She stabbed me and I bled to death, or so she thought. Now I shall have the pleasure of doing away with the last of her bloodline.” She raised a hand, clawed fingers reaching for Orteg’s throat. 

From the doorway, a firm voice said “Not while I breathe, Esemli, Fairy of Darkness. Stand away from the king’s rightful heir!” 

Orteg jerked his head to the side, seeing the hooded figure which had attempted to detain him on his way upstairs, even as his brain sought to interpret the words he had heard and make sense of them.

King’s…heir?? But…

The fairy wench spun, hissing. “Fool! Leave, while you are still able. This does not concern you.” She pointed a clawed finger at Orteg. “The man is mine!”

“It concerns us all, and he belongs to the kingdom. Now begone!” thundered the hooded man and made a downward slashing gesture with both hands. The figure standing on Orteg’s chest was knocked back against the wall. Blood spurted from its nose and it made desperate moaning noises, eyes bulging before slumping over onto its face. 

Orteg felt the other two release him as air flooded back into his lungs. The fairy wench screamed and leaped for him just as Orteg felt something pass him with frightful speed and strike the woman between the eyes. They met Orteg’s as she flew backward, he seeing the feral slits return to their normal soft brown and her teeth retreat from their sharp points just as she hit the wall with a sickening crunch. Sliding to the ground, she did not move.

With fierce chattering noises, the other two shapes charged at Zavier. The latter raised one hand before him and shut his eyes, screwing up his face in concentration. The air grew very hot, stinging Orteg’s face, causing him to screw up his eyes as the two shapes halted as though they had been frozen. When Orteg opened his eyes again, they were gone, leaving only shimmering air where their bodies had been.

 “They are gone,” Zavier said, breathing hard, “But they will return. My power will only remove them for a short time.” He gestured. “Now, come. We must go. There are things to be said which should not be said here.” Swirling his cloak around him, he was out the door and gone before Orteg could do more than gape. 

After a moment, Orteg blundered to his feet. Trying not to look at the two dead bodies in the room, he stumbled to the door and looked out warily. Down on the main floor, immobile in the sea of bodies in motion, stood the hooded man, staring at Orteg. 

His mouth formed words:

Follow.

Orteg followed. 

HorrorAddicts.net Season 15, Theme Announced

In these uncertain times, it’s important to know what NOT to do to keep yourself safe.  But we aren’t talking about hand sanitizer, face masks, and bleach. We aren’t even talking about the virus. We’re talking about the very real danger of being CURSED.

For the past two seasons (13 and 14) we’ve been telling you all about cursed objects and places, how they got cursed, and what’s happened to people who’ve crossed their paths. Season 15 will bring you cautionary tales of those who have fallen prey to the curse and how NOT to become one of them.

Each episode, we’ll be talking about ways you can protect yourself against curses such as:

*Don’t be a boasting jerk. Learn about the dude who just couldn’t win gracefully and carried his rivals head around to boast about it. The curse got him in the end.

*Don’t board a boat with Violet. Learn about the woman who survived three boat sinkings and the hundreds that died in her place.

*Leave well enough alone. Learn about the dude who missed being shot, but was shot by the same bullet while attempting to remove it from a tree.

Learn these warnings and more during the 13-episode Season 15, coming in April 2020.

The Horror Seeker : Give me the power I beg of you! / Bayou Berserk Month

“Thank you, almighty Damballa for life after death…”

Not exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to be based in reality. You know what they say, the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and this is apparently the case with Child’s Play, rather the chant that Chucky needs to transfer his soul out of the infamous good guy doll.

Not so much the act of transferring a soul, but to my surprise, I found that Damballa, in Haitian and Louisiana lore, is known as the “sky father”. One might consider him to be on par with God, as he’s often synchronized with St. Patrick, Christ the Redeemer, or even Moses.

It’s interesting to note that he is referred to as ‘sky father”, as we all remember the rolling storm that would loom as Chucky recited his chant. Nowhere have I found that this is any kind of myth, or truth to Damballa, so I guess it’s safe to say it’s pure fiction. More so, I think the fact of him being sky father is nothing more than a coincidence, as the element of Voodoo was one of the last things added to the film, which admittedly helps it stand out amongst the horror community, even today.

Many aspects of Voodoo were used in the film: we see a Voodoo doll being executed to kill Chucky’s mentor… and, this one I just learned while penning this article. If you go back and listen to Chucky’s dialogue when he first meets John as the Good Guy doll, he presents himself by saying: “What do you think? The Gris Gris (gree-gree) work?” John nods but is terrified all the same, almost as if he can’t believe what happened. And neither did we… in Bride of Chucky.

Those familiar with the film can all agree, the sudden macguffin of the film, the amulet which Chucky and Tiffany are now after was in no way referenced in the original 1988 film… or was it?

No, we never see Charles Lee Ray wearing, or using it in any way when he’s killed, even though it’s made clear it was around his neck the night he died. It has been written off as a lame plot device to service the fourth installment, and I’m here to tell you that the filmmakers may have once again stumbled onto a bit of fortuitous history here, as well. As it turns out, a Gris-gris is indeed a Voodoo amulet based in Africa that is said to protect the wearer from evil, and or bring good fortune. It is something that has been found not only as a wearable charm, but any sort of intended stone put on buildings, etc. for the same reason.

Mind blown! Further, it’s entomology has best been traced back to the French term Juju, meaning fetish, or alternatively ‘doll” or “plaything”. You can make with the jokes, by all means, but it’s still quite interesting the speculated unintentional accuracy these films had!

Voodoo has a long and rich history, no doubt, but it is only a religion through and through. Like any ancient beliefs, I’m sure that much of its truths are beholden to those who are truly devout. For the rest of us, Voodoo has always had an ominous haze overhead which I guess you could say is due to our lack of modern understanding. Many who are nervous about it make jokes, are not informed, and are influenced by pop culture which isn’t always the best resource. I myself have always found it an interesting subject and look to read into it, for nothing more than curiosity, really. But what do you think? Are you familiar with the practice? If so, share below, and until next time my children… this is The Horror Seeker!

Haunt Jaunts : Haunted by the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau

With Courtney Mroch

How many years had it been since I’d been to New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter? It was perhaps best measured in decades and it’d been at least a few.

I’d been a pre-teen sent to stay with relatives for the summer the last time I’d been there. They lived in a small town near Lake Pontchartrain about a half an hour from New Orleans, but we’d made several trips into the city that hot, steamy summer.

And now I was back, in the land of my ancestors. My grandma and her sister had been born and raised there. They came of age there just after the turn of the twentieth century, in the early 1900s.

Gram had long since passed. Her sister had passed long before her. But I felt them as I walked the streets. It was as if their ghosts were guiding me to all the places they knew I wanted to see most.

Yes, I had been there before, but not to the places I went now. My relatives hadn’t taken me past Madame LaLaurie’s house. Discussing a serial killer wouldn’t have been age-appropriate subject matter back then. But I wanted to see it now, and with ease, no directions needed, there I was.

Same for when I wanted to visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in search of Marie Laveau’s grave. My relatives wouldn’t have thought to take me to a cemetery back then. If they had, I probably would’ve thought it was weird and ended up with nightmares for a week.

But now I felt my visit to NOLA wasn’t complete without seeing it. Again, I felt my ancestors with me on my quest to find the grave.

Everything was perfect until we got to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. It was just a tiny little shop on Bourbon Street. I went in, had a look around, noted –and respected– the “no photos” sign, bought a couple postcards to send to friends, then left.

But before I did I wanted to get a photo of some kind. I turned to take a photo of the store’s facade. That’s when I was blasted, for lack of a better word, with an angry energy.

It wasn’t evil or demonic. It didn’t feel hate-filled exactly, but it sure contained animosity.

But just as soon as it hit me, it evaporated. I didn’t think any more about it other than maybe I was hot and in need of a cool drink, some A/C and a little rest. I’d hit the ground running early that morning and hadn’t stopped since.

I thought about it again later that night, though, when I had a horrible dream.

In the dream, I was still asleep in my hotel room, but as dreams do I could see multiple perspectives at once. I also saw the outside of Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo as I had that day, and I once again felt that angry energy, but this time it was accompanied by a scream. One so loud I covered my ears and closed my eyes and that’s when my mind’s eye saw the Voodoo Queen hovering horizontally against the ceilings of both the shop and my hotel room, her mouth twisted in a snarling growl from whence emerged the ear-shattering scream.

Which was bad enough, but her eyes were boring into mine…even though mine were closed. My eyelids provided no protection at all. There was nowhere to hide.

It was her eyes that told me her anger was personal. Marie Laveau hated me. She wanted me gone. Not gone as in dead, but out of her city.

When I woke up, I was glad it was just a dream, but…it didn’t feel like just a dream. The residue stayed with me the rest of the day. Even now, years later, the feeling still persists.

But what could I have done to Marie Laveau? Angered her because I was one of the tacky tourists curious to see her grave? That seemed unlikely.

Besides, as I said, the anger felt very personal and intimate. Like I’d done something very egregious to warrant her wrath.

A few years later one of my cousins emailed me excited about a discovery she’d made during genealogy research. I’d never shared the Marie Laveau incident, so she blew me away with what she had to say.

“You’re going to love this. I think I may have found a connection between our family and Marie Laveau!”

“What do you mean by connection?” Laveau

“As in we might be related to her!”

“I see,” I said doubtfully. For one, Marie Laveau was a woman of color. Where was that color in our family?

“No, I’m serious. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have all the facts yet, but I think one of our great-great somebodies might’ve married one of her daughters or granddaughters. Big scandal. He got disowned. When I find out more, I’ll let you know.”

She still hasn’t let me know, but was that why I felt Marie Laveau’s wrath? Had my great-great somebody really married one of her offspring and perhaps caused chaos of some kind for her too? Maybe he hadn’t provided for her like he needed to because of getting disowned?

I still don’t know, and I have to admit as much as it thrilled me at first to think we may be connected to the famous Voodoo Queen, I knew it was most likely wishful thinking.

Until I decided to take a DNA test and received some surprising results: 8.1% of my ancestry hails from Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Huh. Didn’t see that one coming.

But even more interesting was the timeline that detailed how many generations back my most recent ancestors came from each ancestry composition. My African ancestors were from the 1700s to the early 1800s.

Marie Laveau lived from 1801-1881. She had two daughters with her husband Jacques Paris: Felicite (born 1817) and Angele (born 1820.) It’s possible they died because there is no further record of them after the 1820s.

When Jacques died, she had formed a “domestic partnership” with Christophe Dominick Duminy de Glapion and had at least seven children with him. Some reports say they had as many as 15, but some of them could’ve been grandchildren.

However, it’s thought only two of her children survived to adulthood, Marie Euchariste Eloise Laveau (1827-1862) and Marie Philomene Glapion (1836-1897). One of these Marie’s became Marie Laveau II, but it’s not clear which one.

Marie Laveau was born in the French Quarter but her mother had Native American, African and French ancestry.

Perhaps one of my ancestors hooked up with one of hers in the 1800s? Perhaps we’re the result of their offspring?

Which would mean I have Marie Laveau blood in my veins, if only a little bit.

Before the DNA info, I doubted it was possible. Now? I’m not so sure.

I’m continuing to dig to see if I come across any connections, and I’m still hoping my cousin’s research will prove something. Either one way or the other.

Until then, the mystery of it all haunts me –both whether I’m related to Marie Laveau and if my overactive imagination dreamed up the anger I felt her directing at me.

 

 

 Gargoyles a Review :  Bernie Casey’s Unsung Role 

Gargoyles : A Review or Bernie Casey’s Unsung Role

by James Goodridge    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs

Ro’s Recs

Many great albums were released in 2019, and while I’m not a big list maker, I thought I’d share a few of them here. Some bands have been with us for decades like Slipknot and Korn and others were new to me. Bands like Papa Roach, Sleeping with Sirens, Volbeat, and Bring Me The Horizon took big risks on a new sound that paid off well. We lost Vinnie Paul from Hellyeah, but the band gave him a beautiful sendoff with Welcome Home. Motionless in White and New Year’s Day put out powerful albums that cemented their status in the rock community as artists that have fought long and hard to be there. Baroness returned from a harrowing tragedy to put out a strong album. I Prevail had a fairytale beginning with a cover of Taylor Swift and this year they’ve been nominated for a Grammy! And lastly, The Hu, Fever333 and Bad Wolves were all new bands to me that I am glad I took a chance on. I hope you will too. 

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust?

Hellyeah – Welcome Home

Motionless in White – Disguise

New Year’s Day – Unbreakable

Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Korn – The Nothing

The Hu – Gereg

Baroness – Gold and Grey

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.

Fever333 – Strength in Numb333rs

Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost

I Prevail – Trauma 

There’s a wide variety on this list, a little something for everyone, so as we prepare for a new year of music, give some of these a listen.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know what music I should be looking out for in 2020. And with that, Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…

Book Review : Knowing When To Die by Mort Castle

Review – Knowing When to Die by Mort Castle

Review By Chantal Boudreau

I volunteered for this review because the premise of this short story collection, stories about death, intrigued me. I especially like what I refer to as “real-life horror,” tales with no supernatural element so I don’t have to quash the skeptic in me while I’m reading, and I was hoping I’d find at least a few of these within the collection. I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m not sure I would describe all of these stories as horror. They do all deal with death, as promised, in many instances suicide, and at a minimum have an element of the startling or disturbing, but many of them did not chill or scare me. They were beautifully written, with a keen awareness of language and a plethora of metaphor, so they were definitely worthy of being read, but I was looking for something a little more scary. The stories I would describe as horror I would define as “literary horror” and play with the ideas within them. Some of the stories were concept stories, without an expected start to finish approach but more of an exploration of theme.

I did have some favourites amongst the collection. The opening story hooked me. I’m not a big celebrity fan type, and I think Marilyn Munroe has been overdone but found the novel way of presenting her death fascinating. “Guidance” is one of the scarier stories, and I liked it even though I usually find stories involving ghosts not all that frightening. I considered “Robot” quite entertaining and I’d like to see more stories with seniors as protagonists. It is one of the better character studies in the collection. And lastly, the story I enjoyed the most — the one that seemed the most chilling and jarring and is based on a real-life event — is “Prayer”.

If you are the type of person that looks for pulpy, gore-filled horror anthologies, this collection is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for something a little more subtle and intellectual, I would recommend this as a good read. It is certainly thought-provoking.

Merrill’s Musical Musings – HorrorAddicts.net Season 13’s Best Band of 2019

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

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

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

-Uncle Salem

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

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

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

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

-Lucifer Fulci

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

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

-October Phoenix

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

Best KISSfits band ever.

-Aleister Kane

Anything to add?

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

-Lucifer Fulci

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

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

Haunt Jaunts : Voodoo and My First Horse-Drawn Carriage Ghost Tour

With Courtney Mroch

The first thing I spotted as we took a jaunt to scope out the Jekyll Island Club & Resort’s surroundings was the A-frame sign listing all of the horse-drawn carriage tour options. Of course, the ghost tour caught my eye.

“A horse-drawn carriage ghost tour?” I exclaimed to my husband. “I’ve never taken one of those before. In fact, have we ever even taken a carriage ride together?”

“I’m sure we have.”

“Where?” I challenged, pretty sure we hadn’t.

He thought about it for a second.

“I don’t know, but it seems like we did once upon a time.”

“Well, to make sure we do, can we take one tonight if they’re offering the ghost tour? Wouldn’t that be so romantic?”

His expression answered better than any words could. His idea of romance and mine were very different.

Begrudgingly he agreed to the tour, though. Probably for a few reasons.

  1. We were only there the one night.
  2. We didn’t have anything else planned that evening, so he couldn’t very well make excuses for why we couldn’t.
  3. I think he was hoping that since it was past spooky season, as well as being the island’s offseason, there wouldn’t be a ghost tour.

Sadly for him, but lucky for me, there was. We made our reservation and then continued our exploration.

Along the way, we passed a shiny ebony horse pulling a white carriage whose occupants were getting a history tour of the island. I heard the driver call out, “Whoa, Voodoo, whoa!” as she maneuvered the carriage off the trail in front of one of the millionaire’s cottages.

At the same time that my husband said, “Did you hear the horse’s name?” I said, “Voodoo? I hope that’s the horse we get for our tour!”

I’ll save you the suspense. We did.

I’ve taken a few ghost tours in my day. Ones on foot, some by car or bus, but never in a horse-drawn carriage led by a horse named Voodoo.

Jekyll Island is nestled along south Georgia’s coast. It was a crisp late November night that we met the driver (who also served as our ghost tour guide) at the designated pick up point. We climbed aboard where a seat with thick, heavy blankets waited for us to bundle ourselves under them.

Our guide was wonderful. I wish I could remember her name. I thought I had written it down. I guess I was so excited about Voodoo and my first horse-drawn carriage ghost tour that I didn’t.

To my surprise, she had a plethora of stories to tell. I knew the Jekyll Island Club where we were staying for the night was rumored to be haunted. That’s why I’d booked us there.

I also knew from a previous visit to the island that the former cottage that had once housed the bookstore allegedly had a ghost. The last time I’d visited had been with my sister. Like me, she couldn’t pass a bookstore and not stop in.

It had been my sister’s birthday. She loved riding bikes, so my present to her was taking her up to Jekyll, renting bikes for the day and cruising all over the island.

Stopping in the bookstore also allowed us a little rest stop. That’s how my sister got to talking to the owner and somehow it came out the place was haunted.

This was years before I started my site, Haunt Jaunts, but it was another reason why I did. Back then I was always going on unofficial haunt jaunts. Except for that day. Ghosts hadn’t been on my mind. Yet, a story of one still fell in my lap.

I’d forgotten about that until our guide related a story about Phoebe, a little girl of one of the staff members back in the day who allegedly disappeared from the island. Her body was never found, but that’s who some think they see when they spot a child spirit in a couple of places on the Jekyll Island Club’s property. Among them being a small cottage that used to be the bookstore, which had since relocated and its former building now stood vacant.

But before we got to the part about the bookstore, our guide shared a little history about the island and its former inhabitants.

It had started as a private hunting club for America’s elite, such as Rockefeller, Pullitzer, and even the Macy family. However, they soon decided it would make a fine place to get away with their families in the winter, so several of them built “cottages.”

Their idea of a cottage, however, resulted in stunning seaside mini-mansions in a variety of architectural styles.

I have been enamored (and obsessed) with the cottages ever since I first saw them back in the late 1990s. I had only seen them in the daytime previously, though, as I’d never been fortunate enough to stay overnight on the island — until the night of the tour.

Voodoo led us down the live oak-lined trails where Spanish moss created a canopy above us that fluttered in the breeze. One of the first ghost story stops was the Hollybourne Cottage.

It would turn out to be my favorite stop.

Almost all of the cottages have lighting illuminating them at night. Hollybourne was no different. However, when Voodoo circled the carriage around the drive, the light cast a marvelous silhouette of his head against the cottage’s grey tabby facade.

For a moment I felt I had leaped back in time. Except I remembered what age I was in and that we had cameras on our phones. I scrambled to pull mine out so I could capture the sight of Voodoo in the light because it was Gothic and haunting and I wanted to capture that memory.

If ever there was a time for a ghost to appear, that would’ve been it. One did manifest — by way of the ghost tour guide’s tales.

Allegedly a little girl died in the house. Some claim to have seen her face appear when they stand before the home’s glass front door.

I didn’t have time to test it then, but I made a note to go back and try the next morning. (She didn’t appear for me, but that’s okay. Perhaps she sensed I might not have been as impressed by that as I was by the site of Voodoo in the light the night before.)

As we pulled away from Hollybourne, our guide asked, “What room are you in?”

I told her and she said, “I always ask because the little girl’s mother haunts room 3101 in the Annex.”

I think I surprised her when I said, “Darn. That’s just down the hall from us.”

I don’t think she meets many people hoping to stay in a haunted hotel room.

She shared other tales of the island’s ghostly inhabitants, like the helpful phantom bellman who assists wedding parties staying at the hotel.

The island had been abandoned during the Civil War and the animals had all been left behind. After the war, when people returned, they were trying to round up the animals, including a white stallion, but he kept eluding them. While chasing him, he ran into the water and drowned. Some say disembodied horse noises coming from the water belong to him.

She even showed us the photo of a ghost face in the Sans Souci, which was essentially an apartment building Rockefeller built. His quarters were on the top floor.  Some report smelling cigar smoke. He had a penchant for smoking them.

Does his restless spirit still roam there? Our guide believed he does. She showed us a photo of the building. It was taken during the daytime, but she zoomed in to show us a white specter’s face looking out of one of the top floor windows. (I spent a great deal of time the next morning trying to recreate the shot, to no avail.)

But the scariest part of the night was when Voodoo led us around a curve and not even five feet away stood a deer. Not that I’m afraid of deer, and maybe “startle” is a better word, because that’s what happened. It startled me to see the deer appear seemingly out of nowhere.

It was real, though. Not a ghost. It stood contemplating us inquisitively, its ears twitching a bit, its tail flicking a time or two. Voodoo clopped away, leaving the deer to watch us as we drove off.

As ghost tours go, it was short. Only about 30 minutes. But it couldn’t have been more perfect. A chill in the hushed air. Snuggled up next to the love of my life. The gentle glow from the few street lights interspersed with the carriage’s lantern. A perfect romantic atmosphere for listening to ghost stories.

And then there was Voodoo, who added an extra bit of pizzazz to make the evening pure magic.

Book Review : Clockwork Wonderland

Clockwork Wonderland Review by Ariel Da Wintre

I really enjoyed this Anthology. The book consisted of 14 stories and a poem. It has something
for everyone; scary, intriguing and creative. All the stories have the theme of clocks and Alice in
Wonderland characters. The writers added new characters, taking the classic story and
giving it a horror element. I think this works really well as parts of the original story could be
considered scary all on their own. I found the stories very original and some I didn’t
want to end.

The book starts with a poem by Emerian Rich, “Hatter’s Warning”, and it reminded me of the poems in the original Alice in Wonderland.

The first story is, “Jabberclocky”, by Jonathan Fortin. This story is about a boy named Henry and his unexpected visitor,  the Hatter. I really liked this and I was completely drawn into Henry’s story and the scary Jabberclocky. I loved the end but I didn’t want it to end.

I am still tripped out by the very scary, “Hands of Time” by Stephanie Ellis. It is about an apprentice named Rab who meets an executioner and the timekeeper. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like a bloody good time this is the story for you.

Next, “Clockwork Justice”, by Trinity Adler, is another thrilling story. Alice finds herself in Wonderland and accused of murder. Who did she murder? I won’t say but will she keep her head? Will she solve the crime? All my favorite characters are part of the story Mad Hatter, Cheshire cat and more.

The story, “My Clockwork Valentine”, by Sumiko Saulson is about a girl named Blanche and what happens to her. I loved the imagery in this story and the concept of time. You will get swept away by the story and hope our heroine survives.

“Blood Will Have Blood” by James Pyne, starts with the main character, Alicia, getting pulled into Wonderland and being told she is the new Alice. I think you can see where this is going. I found this story creative and different and it is about a blood clock. It is pretty scary I don’t want to be part of that Wonderland.

I loved “Midnight Dance” by Emerian Rich. This story follows the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It has a very different twist but with characters we all know and love from the book and Zombies!

The next story, “A Room for Alice” by Ezra Barany, is a scary story that follows Alice as she wakes up in a scary place and meets Tweedle D. I enjoyed this story it had lots of plots and twists and left me thinking for some time afterward. It had a lot of creepy elements and I found it very descriptive.

“Frayed Ears” by H.E. Roulo is a story I loved. It has a Rabbit going through many childhood fairy tales. I couldn’t wait to see who would show up next to help the White Rabbit and will he make it on time and who is causing this to happen.

The next story is “King of Hearts,” by Dustin Coffman. This story had a great twist, a guy goes down the rabbit hole instead of Alice. Lenny is checking the closet for his daughter who hears a strange noise and finds himself in Wonderland. He meets the White Rabbit and other characters. Watch out for the Queen of Hearts!

“Riddle”, by N. McGuire, is about a young lady named Alice. She follows the white rabbit on a train and she is drawn into a very strange situation with different Wonderland characters.  Will she solve the riddle?

The next story is, “Tick Tock”, by Jaap Boekestein. This story has all the characters you love but they are not the way you remember them. Wonderland is at war and you don’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. This story will keep you intrigued.

The story, “Gone A’ Hunting,” by Laurel Anne Hill, follows a young lady named Alease who is chasing the White Rabbit for dinner. She gets more than she’s bargaining for and needs to escape. Will the White Rabbit help her after she was just trying to kill him? Great story, scary to the end.

I really liked “The Note”, by Jeremy Megargee. It had a great concept. Wonderland is not the same and the character telling the story seems so lost and sad. The story has a lot of suspense. I enjoyed the whole vision of this scary wonderland.

The next story is “Half Past”, by K.L. Wallis. This story follows a girl named Alyssa. She is bumped into by someone who drops their pocket watch. She tries to return it and finds herself traveling on a train to Wonderland with Albert Hare. Alyssa ends up going with the hare to his sister Hatty’s home where everyone keeps calling her Alice. There are great twists and turns in this story. The Queen of Hearts in this story which keeps you wondering until the end; will Alyssa/Alice survive.

The final story is, “Ticking Heart”,  by Michele Roger. The story is about a friend of Alice’s coming to visit her in Wonderland and something is very wrong. The Queen of Spades wants to take over and it’s going to be bloody. Will the good guys save Alice and Wonderland?

I enjoyed this collection of short stories thoroughly. I also found myself looking at the cover thinking it really fits this book. I could read these stories over and over again. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Cellmod Review

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Cellmod Review 

Greetings and salutations. Welcome to March! It’s nearly Spring, Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, and in California, the trees are blooming, the sun is shining, and the primary election is happening soon.

Many things are afoot in Ro’s world and things are about to get hectic. I’ve got a new supernatural suspense novel—Healer—releasing on Friday, March 13th, and then I’m off to Nashville for the Book Lovers Con March 18-22.

I plan to do some music-related visits such as Third Man Records—Jack White’s record label and vinyl factory—and southern songwriter and alternative rapper Yelawolf’s Slumerican made flagship vintage clothing store and barbershop. I’m also going on a bus tour with a bunch of drunken friends where we’re supposedly getting some history of the town, but if you have suggestions of can’t-miss music locations—bonus points if they’re haunted—please leave them in the comments or hit me up at rlmerrillauthor@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor. I’ll be posting pics on my author page as well as my Instagram @rlmerrillauthor and I’ll tag you if you leave me a suggestion. 

This month’s review is of EDM/Trance/Trip-Hop artist Cellmod’s new album The Dissident. According to his bio, “Cellmod was born to display an adaptation to his surrounding environment. The name itself signifies a desire to unify with the very roots of one’s physical being, or in simpler terms, Cellmod is taking it back to the vibe and pulse of the music.” I can definitely feel that vibe as I listen to standout tracks such as “Ransacked” and the naughty, old school sci-fi tinged “Harder Serum.” I can picture a woman with dark hair perched atop dramatic stilettos in a fitted pencil skirt and blazer as she walks with purpose down a stark white hallway, passing unmarked doors. The clack-clack of her heels is drowned out by the ominous sound of “The Machine” as she enters a laboratory where classified experiments are being done on unsuspecting young male subjects. Oh…did my imagination carry me away there for a minute? Fine. I will say that the track “Let Them Sleep” gives me a very Nine Inch Nails groove that I dig very much. If electronic music is your jam and you like to have some well-produced, good quality background music to do your…experiments to, Cellmod is your guy. Check out The Dissidents today!

Stay tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

March Theme: Bayou Berserk and New Orleans Horror

March Theme:  Bayou Berserk / Bizarro / Mardi Gras / Plantation / Swamp / Cemetery / Voodoo

Say that again three times fast! It’s a mouth full! More importantly, it is a month full of creepy, scary, frightening, and deadly tales that we hope you will enjoy. 

Whether you’re a fan of Anne Rice’s Louisiana horror or an enthusiast of voodoo legend, the bayou holds a certain air of mystery and dread. 

If you have traveled to New Orleans you have likely seen the signs outside the cemeteries. “Don’t go in alone!” We’ll help you see what even the tourism bureau makes sure to warn you of, and it’s not just to sell tours! 

If you prefer to read spine-tingling tales of ghosts in vine-covered plantations or you’re a fan of Bizarro fiction, our Bayou Berserk month will give you a fright! 

Merrill’s Musical Musings: Her Despair

Her Despair 

Greetings and Salutations for a brand new year and decade that I am confident will be filled with amazing music. I’m Ro, your musical tour guide, and today I want to introduce you to a Goth rock outfit from the UK called Her Despair. Their music will take you right back to those 80s afternoons sitting in your bedroom listening to cassettes—or perhaps your vinyl collection—waiting for the night to fall and bring with it the creepy darkness where anything can happen and life is just a little more interesting. 

 

Her Despair melds together sounds of Peter Murphy and Sisters of Mercy as well as current artists like Nightwish and HIM. Their latest release, Exorcisms of Eroticism, was released in summer 2019 and contains melodic jams like “Pandaemonium” and “The Exorcism,” which has an appropriately dark music video to go along with it. “In That Moment” is my favorite track on the EP. The haunting, romantic vocals dance over the dichotomy of the synthesizers and guitars, giving it a nostalgic sound, but you could also expect to hear it on a modern-day alternative rock station. “Like a Crucifixion” is another excellent example of their sound. A steady rock beat with powerful lyrics make for an enjoyable combination and will have you slipping into Her Despair like a comfortable pair of black fishnets…or a worn pair of Doc Martens. 

For more on Her Despair, check them out at the links below.

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair/

https://www.instagram.com/herdespairband/?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVZhKFjVsq1Wpbruy-dryuw/featured

See also my companion article this month: Ro’s Recs Best of 2019, here at Horroraddicts.net

Multimedia Opportunities at HOW Con 2020!

Don’t have time to read everything at the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference this week? Prefer to Learn with Audio? Enjoy Video Workshops instead? HOW has you covered for a Multimedia Writing Experience!

Browse a variety of Technological Teaching Tools including:

Next Great Horror Writer Podcast Series

HorrorAddicts.net African American Multimedia Conference Video Coverage

Horror Podcasting with Nancy Kilpatrick

Back to Basics: Writing Like We’re 10 Video Prompts

SecondLife Workshops with Sumiko Saulson

Even when our Live Conference Events end, HOW remains as an Online Archive to browse Chat Transcripts, Author Panels, and Writing Workshops brought to you by HorrorAddicts.net!

 

This Week! : HOW CON 2020 Coming February 25-27!

We’re BACK and once again The HOW Conference is open to Any Genre and General Writing Topics, not just Horror!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to be part of The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference February 25-27, 2020. Learn HOW to hone your literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write.

Workshop Submissions for HOW are Currently OPEN!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW you ask?

~Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
~Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
~Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
~Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event, let us know! Shoutbox Chats and Live Events are currently being scheduled for Tuesday, February 25 and Wednesday, February 26. Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more information. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! Workshop submissions can be done directly through the forum system or by emailing your workshop proposal no later than February 7 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading ‘Horror Addicts Online Conference Query’ so we recognize your message.


To participate in HOW, you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. During the week of the conference, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

 

Revisit the Writing HOW-tos from Last Year’s Conference:

HOW Video Workshops

HOW Guest Authors

HOW Chat Transcripts

 

Haunt Jaunts : Ghoulish Goodies Mystery Boxes

Satisfy Your Dark Craving for Specialized Spooky Gifts

What tickles your ghoulish fancy? Witches? Halloween? Killer clowns? Horror movie villains? Just something gothic in general? Imagine receiving a mystery box in the mail from a company called Ghoulish Goodies filled with creeptastic themed items.

Well, you don’t need to imagine it. The company really exists. They specialize in crafting mystery boxes filled with “the most ghastly and gruesome goodies to soothe your black heart and satisfy your dark soul.”

Ghoulish Goodies has themed boxes of all kinds. It’s a mystery exactly what’s in each one, but they’re filled with things like candy, trinkets and individually wrapped gifts –in custom made paper.

Kevin, the company’s owner and Head Ghoul, attempts to capture the magic, mystery and excitement of Christmas morning and Halloween night.

I think he nails it.

I gifted a Haunt Jaunts reader a Budget Black Cat box as part of a contest. Here’s what she wrote to me after receiving it:

It was the best present I got in 58 years.

Here’s what she wrote to Ghoulish Goodies:

I was amazed at all the surprises that were in the box. It was opened and i saw cobwebs and spiders. Then all the goodies were wrapped up nicely. Lots of black cats that were stuffed and glass. Pencil cases, lots of candy, more bugs. My cats are enjoying those. Stickers, and many more items. I was very pleased with all my things.

Other reviews left on Ghoulish Goodies Facebook page reflect the same sentiment:

From Christina M.

One of my best friends bought me a custom made box of “all things gore” for my birthday. It was seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Lots of things to open. It was so fun to see what was inside! My friend also got an “Exorcist” themed box for her husband. I watched him open it and it was equally as fun as the one I got! 10/10 would recommend. A lot of work, thought, and care are reflected in each of these boxes. Because of this gift, Ghoulish Goodies has a new customer

From Kimchi A.

Talk about presentation, personalization and the best bang for your buck you could ever hope to find, The Exorcist deluxe box was an absolute treasure trove! For the collector, there wasn’t anything left out. Pictures, posters, postcards, memorabilia, toys and rarities in personalized wrapping paper. All this surrounded by Red Hots and Hot Tamales candy boxes, complete with Exorcist lip balm (Lick me! The power of chap compels you!) and a single solitary can of split pea soup. Out of 5 stars, you get 666 for this effort!! HIGHLY recommended!

From Amber S.

Received my box today, I loved it “alot”. It was fun and was one of the best mystery boxes I Received so far. I mostly loved how everything was individually wrapped, but could have done better without the candy. Also i know it’s always random stuff in the boxes but if a pop figure is in one of these boxes please make sure to be careful with the pop boxs because it did have some damage. Overall I loved the box and I WILL BE GETTING MORE.

Christmas has passed but Valentine’s Day is coming. And yep. Ghoulish Goodies offers Bleeding Hearts boxes in their Holiday Themed Mystery Boxes section.

But of course you can send any type of box any time you want, no holiday or special occasion needed. You can even treat yo’ self!

They have three tiers of box types to choose from:

  1. Budget Boxes for $69.99
  2. Biggie Boxes for $110
  3. Deluxe Boxes for $159.99

The more you spend, the bigger the box and the more impressive the goodies inside. All prices include shipping.

For More Info

Visit Ghoulish Goodies: http://www.ghoulishgoodies.net/

Disclaimer: This was not a paid endorsement, but I am friends with the company’s owner. I really believe in him and the passion he pours into putting his boxes together. People don’t take the time to gift people gifts like this anymore with all the wrapping and thoughtfulness. I think that’s why his boxes make such a huge impact when they’re opened.

 

Mocha Memoirs Press : Tell Your Story Regardless

Telling Your Story Regardless
by Nuzo Onoh

A while ago, a lovely literary agent had this to say about my manuscript when I contacted him for representation. It is impressively wrought and fully realized. I am sorry to say that I don’t have a clear vision for how to break it out in a very crowded and challenging market for fiction.

Ouch! Needless to say, I was gutted by the rejection. Without him telling me, I knew without vanity that my story was indeed impressively wrought and fully realised, but just like several other agents before him had stated, they all lacked the courage to take on something so different from the current market trend, that it was simply easier to pass.

Did I sit down and fold my hands and cry, chuck my manuscript into a drawer and leave it to collect dust and wallow in hopeless despair? Hell no! What I’ve done is take control of my writing and my destiny. I knew I had a story to tell, a rich African culture to share with a wider audience through the medium of horror.

Growing up, my earliest African horror influence was a book by Amos Tutuola titled, The Palmwine Drinkard. The book was a brilliant narrative of folklore, told in the authentic pidgin English of the average uneducated Nigerian, and it resonated so much with me that I knew I wanted to write and tell my own story, one laced with African lore but embodying all the modern elements of a good horror story. I wanted to write African ghost stories, supernatural narratives that will induce feelings of dread, suspense, terror, revulsion and shock, stories that are unsettling and unexpected, yet showcasing African culture and lore.

In time, as I started discovering other works of regional horror, from Japanese horror to Scandinavian horror, I realised there was no market for African horror in the literary field, even though there were a few results for African horror film, thanks mainly to the Nigerian Nollywood industry and the South African horror film fest. It wasn’t because Africans weren’t writing horror; rather, it was simply because no African writer had opted to market their work under that genre. Worse, the popular press had already cannibalised the phrase so negatively, that a google search for African Horror inevitably came up with negative results about the African continent, covering stories about wars, famine, Aids and every other evil they could report. Needless to say, similar or worse events taking place in Europe and America were never covered under the heading of American Horror, British Horror or Spanish Horror etc.

So, when I started writing my stories, I decided to reclaim that heading and turn the phrase, “African Horror” into something horrifically positive. Firstly, I set up my own publishing company, Canaan-Star Publishing, UK. I had no idea about publishing. It wasn’t one of the things we were taught during my masters degree programme in Writing. But I was determined to tell my story nonetheless and so, spent endless hours poring over internet articles on publishing and marketing.

My first African Horror book, The Reluctant Dead, was finally published in 2014 and I undertook a vigorous marketing strategy using the phrase, African Horror” for my book’s category. It worked. By the time I’d published my third book, The Sleepless, in 2016, not only was my name coming up in google searches, but other African writers were now using the same category to market their work! I have since been invited several times to either give talks, deliver lectures or contribute to anthologies by people who googled the phrase, African Horror and discovered my name.

My journey is not over yet. My story is not done yet. I still have many characters begging me to tell their stories, to bring them to life in the pages of a book. My stories may not be commercially viable for agents to represent, but as long as I have a story to tell, I will continue writing. The good news for me is that today, almost 6 years since I first wrote and published my first African Horror book, and despite the fact that I’ve not carried out any promotions or published a book in two years due to some health problems, my books continue to sell and my desire to share my unique story remains as strong as ever. This just shows that a good story will always connect with someone, somewhere, somehow.

So, if you have a story to tell, if you hear the voices of those characters who won’t give you any rest till you tell their stories, then just write. Just write regardless of rejections, regardless of financial constraints, regardless of self-doubt and regardless of the commercial market. Just write because if you don’t, you’ll never know what could have happened if you’d taken the risk and followed your dream.


Nuzo Onoh is a British Writer of African descent. Popularly known as The Queen of African Horror, Nuzo is the writer of horror fiction from the African continent. Her works have featured in multiple anthologies and magazines, promoting her unique genre, African Horror. Nuzo holds both a law degree and a Masters Degree in Writing from The University of Warwick, England. She lives in Coventry, from where she runs her own publishing company, Canaan-Star Publishing. Now recognised as the front-runner of African Horror, Nuzo is the author of the bestseller, Unhallowed Graves, a collection of African ghost stories, amongst other works. Her books are available from Amazon.

Reminder : HOW CON 2020 Coming February 25-27!

We’re BACK and once again The HOW Conference is open to Any Genre and General Writing Topics, not just Horror!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to be part of The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference February 25-27, 2020. Learn HOW to hone your literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write.

Workshop Submissions for HOW are Currently OPEN!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW you ask?

~Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
~Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
~Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
~Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event, let us know! Shoutbox Chats and Live Events are currently being scheduled for Tuesday, February 25 and Wednesday, February 26. Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more information. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! Workshop submissions can be done directly through the forum system or by emailing your workshop proposal no later than February 7 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading ‘Horror Addicts Online Conference Query’ so we recognize your message.


To participate in HOW, you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. During the week of the conference, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

 

Revisit the Writing HOW-tos from Last Year’s Conference:

HOW Video Workshops

HOW Guest Authors

HOW Chat Transcripts

 

February Theme : Black Horror/Women in Horror/ Horror Online Writers Conference

February promises to be a full month here at HorrorAddics.net!

First, for Black Horror History Month, we have special guests, Mocha Memoirs Press.

Mocha Memoirs Press is a publisher whose mission statement reads: We believe representation in speculative fiction (science fiction, horror, fantasy) is not only important but a necessity. We publish engaging stories that amplify diverse experiences with vivid storytelling, robust protagonists, and fearless voices.

We here at HorrorAddicts.net enjoy bringing diverse voices to you, but this month, we reach further to find out more about black history that maybe you did not know. Not only will we have articles from some of the authors of Mocha Memoirs Press, but we’ll also have historical pieces by returning authors.

Second, as you may know, February is also Women in Horror Month. We’ll be exploring some of the women horror writers that you’ve come to enjoy, as well as some you may not have encountered before.

To round out the month, our very own Kbatz has created the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writer’s Conference (HOWcon) from Feb 25th-27th. To find out more, got to: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net

We hope you have a very spooky Valentine’s Day and enjoy our February month exploration.

~Nox

Blog Editor

From the Horror Seeker: Gozer the Gozarian

Gozer, for all its wonder, seems to be a Deity without any definitive form or essence of its own, coming to our plain in a predetermined form given to it by its followers, then surrendering its essence to a champion of its worshipers to choose the form by which it will destroy the earth. As we have come to know it, Gozer came to us in 1984 in the form of a Serbian actress Slavitza Jovan, where it was to be chosen by the Ghostbusters to destroy the earth in the form of the Stay Puff marshmallow man. Wait, what?

Yeah, it no doubt got our attention then, but when compared to the ancient tellings of Gozer, as it was by Egon in the film, Gozer has had many other, more intimidating figures it has brought upon humanity in the past.
Gozer came into pop culture as the main antagonist in 1984’s Ghostbusters. An ancient, but obscure God worshiped by the Mesopotamians, Sumerians and the Hittites somewhere around 6000 B.C.

Gozer was banished by the followers of an opposing force in Gozer’s sibling, Tiamat where it was exiled and left to roam the universe and its many dimensions, hence one of its many names as “The Traveller” Gozer spent many eons exploring and conquering world upon world until finally being summoned back to Earth more or less by a then strengthening group of followers headed by Dr. Ivo Shandor who went on to erect a building in NYC as an antenna to focus the spiritual energies of the plain and bring forth Gozer to take over the earth.

I thought it’d be an interesting look into an underappreciated antagonist, what with the 2020 Ghostbusters film on the way this summer. It has been rumored that Gozer will be making a comeback of sorts, and it will be very curious to see in what respect it will return; what form will it take now?

I have always thought Gozer to be something of an interesting character, not just for the sake of the film, but for inspiration. It is very clear that the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man is pure, uncontested fiction, obviously, however, a deity of Gozer’s like is nothing too obscure in history. As long as there has been man, there have been those man has worshiped. Regardless of a God/Deity’s intent, it almost seemed necessary for man’s survival, and I found myself wondering which God or Gods come closest to that of Gozer. Upon much digging, I have found it quite difficult to find anything close, until I uncovered an obscure Mesopotamian Deity known as Enlil. His roll in Mesopotamian mythology is power and authority, as such he has the ability to create and “destroy” – Gozer the Destructor.

An interesting passage I found here: Enlil was a provider, and as such he was declared the “Lord of abundance” in a hymn for Šu-Suen (2037-2029 BCE) (ETCSL 2.4.4.a: 20-21). However, Enlil could also take such plenty away and devastate the land, e.g., in The Lament for Urim, he is said to have “brought the storm of abundance away”, to have “annihilated the land, silenced the city” (ETCSL 2.2.2), and destroyed their houses and demolished their walls Enki and the World Order (ETCSL 1.1.3: 245).

There was nothing significant, however, about the timing of Enlil’s reign when compared to what we know, thanks to Egon. Nor was there anything relevant to a pairing of demi-gods in order to bring Gozer forward. However, further reading on Enlil will see he is also known as the “decreer of fates” and the holder of the “Tablet of destinies” to which the possessor would command the worlds. It becomes apparent why there would be such a devout following, and why Ivo Shandor would want to worship such a deity.

It has become a very interesting read though and I’d love to get some more of your thoughts on what you think of Gozer, as well as any further reading or discoveries you may find on anything closer resembling Gozer. Tell me what you hope to see in the upcoming film; if Gozer should return, and in what form?

From the Horror Seeker, we ask you to choose the form of the destructor—and perish!

Reminder : HOW CON 2020 Coming February 25-27!

We’re BACK and once again The HOW Conference is open to Any Genre and General Writing Topics, not just Horror!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to be part of The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference February 25-27, 2020. Learn HOW to hone your literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write.

Workshop Submissions for HOW are Currently OPEN!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW you ask?

~Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
~Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
~Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
~Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event, let us know! Shoutbox Chats and Live Events are currently being scheduled for Tuesday, February 25 and Wednesday, February 26. Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more information. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! Workshop submissions can be done directly through the forum system or by emailing your workshop proposal no later than February 7 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading ‘Horror Addicts Online Conference Query’ so we recognize your message.


To participate in HOW, you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. During the week of the conference, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

 

Revisit the Writing HOW-tos from Last Year’s Conference:

HOW Video Workshops

HOW Guest Authors

HOW Chat Transcripts

 

Review: Coven’s Hornbook by Frank Coffman

Review by Marie RavenSoul of The Coven’s Hornbook and Other Poems, by Frank Coffman

 

I HAD to read this book. The intriguing title drew me in like a moth to a flame. Knowing that within its pages were poems about the weird and supernatural made my dark heart leap with joy.

In his introduction, Koffman explains that the title was inspired by Leah Bodine Drake’s poetry collection A Hornbook for Witches. The preface is written by Donald Sidney-Fryer and the illustrations are by Yves Tourigny.

There are fifteen sections of the book, including Witchcraft and Warlockry, Sorcery and Summonings, and The Lycanthropicon: Werewolves and Their Ilk. The poems have numerous origins including Welsh, Spanish, Russian, and Korean. Many are sonnets, and others are long, randomly rhymed, and poetic narratives.

It begins with— A Meeting of the Coven.

       “Then, as the balefire glows

       And flames lick at the sky

       And embers crack and fly,

       A summoning is nigh!

       Soon, called forth by their cries,

       A Demon does arise.”

 The second poem called The Witches’ Sabbats has great meaning for me. I can picture the scene where the Witches are gathering in the forest to celebrate. The following lines gave me chills as they remind me of when I was blessed by Satan-Lucifer. 

       “A Circle round the central Fire as Demon’s called advance

        To join us—baptized in the light of Lucifer.”

Heritage: An Old Country Legend is a long poem. It tells the story of Caleb, his wife, and his children. How one-night Caleb’s wife went up to the graveyard to read poetry—or so she said. It became a regular occurrence until Caleb found her dead with the book, along with a note, by her side. Chilling events continued to happen to the family, making me read as fast as I could with anticipation.

Those Days in Salem Town is about the Salem Witch Trials. When accused of Witchcraft by young girls, members of the town were put on trial and then hanged. It is a compelling story and the following last lines are powerful.

       “But some few know the truth, 

        Fallen spellbound, enthralled.

        By the Dark One we’re called:

         And now—We rise!”

Legend: Archer Avenue, Chicago is a long poem and is about a man who sees a beautiful young girl, dressed in white, as he is driving down a long road. He takes her home, but when he returns to visit, he is in for a shock. The author uses description well and I loved how I could see the girl in her flowing white dress and her light coloured hair. It is the perfect ghost poem that also touches the heart.

I enjoyed Neophyte’s Lesson as it speaks of Baphomet, Crowley, black candles, and bloody letters. A story of a man who studied well-known occultists but got no results. Then when he began to practice, he got more than he bargained for. 

I love the poem Halloween. It has fun rhymes and is about goblins, warlocks, pumpkins, black cats, and spider webs. Children will find it enjoyable to read out loud, especially as part of their Halloween celebrations. 

Ring of Horror is a creepy poem which is one of the reasons why I like it. It makes me feel nostalgic as it reminds me of a circle of stones in a park that I visited a lot as a teenager. Just as in the poem, no one seemed to know how long the stones had been there, and it was rumoured that rituals took place there at night.

Nosferatu is about the vampire film with the same title. It describes Nosferatu in a compelling way to where you can picture his hairless head and pointed ears. He states:

       “This is a vampire from a different realm

       Than Stoker outlined on the classic page. 

       Though sepia black and white, in darkly contrast,

       The Mind’s Eye fills, with colourings of Horror

       At the creature’s form, indelibly to last—”

Another poem that I enjoyed was The Ways Poems Come to Me. It talks about how a poem is put together, beginning with the form in which the poem will be written in, parts of speech, verbs, nouns, what inspired it, and more. It is quite long, but it is worth the read. If you are a poet, then you will be able to identify. 

Great poems to read out loud are The Witches’ Rite at Beltane, The Fateful Flower, Vengeance, and At the Gravesite. The words rhyme in a way that makes them fun to say while adding unique expressions to each line.

A ‘Glossary of Forms’ gives detailed explanations of the many kinds of poetry forms that exist in this book. This includes the ‘Cynghanedd Sain,’ which is when two words in a line rhyme and the second rhymed word alliterates with the final word of the line. The Pantoum, which is a Malaysian form that I recently started using, is fun to write. It is a way to strongly express a feeling or idea as the second and fourth lines of each quatrain are repeated as the first and third lines of the next one. I appreciate all the effort that Coffman put into the glossary, and it will be something that I will return to often to assist with my poetry writing.

 An ‘Alphabetical Index of Titles,’ an ‘Acknowledgement—with Thanks,’ and a ‘Colophon’ concludes the book.

The only gripe that I have with the book is that there are quite a few stereotypical references to Satan and Demons. No, Witches and Satanists do not sacrifice babies nor do the Demons desire it. Unfortunately, these are common themes in horror, but I wish that people would stop using these old myths. 

Overall, this was a good book and I recommend it to those who love horror. If you know someone who doesn’t usually like poetry, you might want to use this book to spark their interest. I suggest taking your time reading this by enjoying one poem at a time, not rushing through the book like it’s a novel. 

Frank Coffman has published fiction and speculative poetry in numerous anthologies and magazines. His writing goes beyond the weird, supernatural, and horrific. He founded the Weird Poets Society Facebook group and is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. He is a retired professor of college Creative Writing, English, and Journalism.

10iversary Feedback From our Friends

 

“Horror Addicts creates amazing content for authors and readers while also supporting the careers of up-and-coming talent. We’re proud supporters, fans, and colleagues.” 

 Crystal Lake Publishing  

*******

I was voted Best In Blood for the fourth season of Horror Addicts and it was and remains a huge honor. As an author that has been working at this for a very long time with not a lot of notice it was great to get that recognition and boost and I cannot thank Horror Addicts enough for that opportunity, which lead to me contributing to two of their book releases as well.

Huge honors that I remain grateful for. 

Chris Ringler 

*******

HorrorAddicts.net kickstarted my writing career with its Next Great Horror Writer Competition, which earned me a novel contract with Crystal Lake Publishing. I’ll forever be in its debt!

Jonathan Fortin – Winner, Next Great Horror Writer Competition

*******

I’m honored to be a part of the 10 year anniversary celebration! It’s been a few years since I’ve been a part of the HorrorAddicts team. But I will never forget my time as the Blog Editor and Interviewer. Emz is so kind and patient, she put a lot of faith into a high school student to hold such an important role. I enjoyed every minute of it and learned so much from her.

The 13 Questions interview series was an amazing experience. As a naturally curious person, I loved getting to talk to the various authors, musicians, and movie producers about their projects. The HA community is full of wonderful and inspiring personalities, it is no surprise that I am a Horror Addict for life!

Thanks,

Sapphire Neal

HOW CON 2020 Coming February 25-27!

We’re BACK and once again The HOW Conference is open to Any Genre and General Writing Topics, not just Horror!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to be part of The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference February 25-27, 2020. Learn HOW to hone your literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write.

Workshop Submissions for HOW are Currently OPEN!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW you ask?

~Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
~Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
~Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
~Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event, let us know! Shoutbox Chats and Live Events are currently being scheduled for Tuesday, February 25 and Wednesday, February 26. Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more information. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! Workshop submissions can be done directly through the forum system or by emailing your workshop proposal no later than February 7 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading ‘Horror Addicts Online Conference Query’ so we recognize your message.


To participate in HOW, you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. During the week of the conference, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

 

Revisit the Writing HOW-tos from Last Year’s Conference:

HOW Video Workshops

HOW Guest Authors

HOW Chat Transcripts