Book Review: The Fisherman by John Langan

 

Review by Hana Noel

“I’ve been fishing for a long time now, and as you might guess, I know a story or two. That’s what fishermen are, right? Storytellers.”

The Fisherman by John Langan is composed of 3 parts. The first part is about our main character Abe, his love of fishing, and the grief he feels after his wife succumbs to cancer. It also entails his unlikely friendship with his coworker Dan (who also lost his wife and kids) and how they started to fish together. Part one is excruciatingly descriptive and slow in my opinion. It sets out to build up character development with Abe and Dan and the whole tone of the novel, but the pacing is painfully sedated.

The second part starts to pick up a bit. Dan and Abe are heading to a new fishing spot, Dutchman’s Creek. They stop at a diner on the way and are told by Howard a very long story about the history of the town, the river, and why it isn’t a place to frequent. The story Howard tells spans a majority of the book and what starts as a history lesson quickly morphs into a Lovecraftian tale, one with a dead woman walking around, bones broken, whispering people’s secrets, another about a house with a whole black ocean in it.

“Splashed by the water the man vomited for his trouble, the brother said that the water was full of tadpoles. Only, they were such tadpoles as no one among them had ever seen before, black strips of flesh one or two inches long, every one capped by a single, bulbous blue eye, so it seemed as if the fellow who’d thrown them up had swallowed a bucketful of eyeballs.”

The third part is the best in my opinion. They get to the Dutchman’s Creek despite Howard’s warnings and, as they’re fishing, pull something horrific out of the water. This leads to what can only be called a haunting, both men seeing things that aren’t there, that aren’t quite right.

I chose to reread this book as it’s been a long time since I last visited it. I hailed it as one of my favorites. Though the second time reading it I found more faults within its pages.

Langan is a fantastic storyteller, there’s no doubt about that. My qualm is that this work is overly descriptive, to the point where I found myself skimming. It absolutely drags on about things that don’t seem pivotal to the story. Quite a bit of it feels like filler, in-depth descriptions of trees and telling rather than showing. By this I mean, writing every single action down that happens. Rather than just showing the reader, it spells things out.

Another issue I have with this book is the pacing. It is unhurried, almost technical. The second part, the little history lesson on Dutchman’s Creek, though interesting, takes up a majority of the book. It is told at a snail’s pace, with a few exciting and spooky encounters sprinkled throughout yes, but not enough to truly redeem it.

The story itself is good. You understand, as you finish the book, that the history lesson and the agonizing world building and character study did actually serve a purpose in some ways. That doesn’t make it any less boring though.

Like I said, this is a re-read of a previous favorite book. Originally I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I’d say now I rate 3 out of 5.

If you can make it through the dry descriptions and the heft of the prose, the overall tone and message of this book can be thoroughly enjoyed.

Historian of Horror : Magus of the Magazines

I feel fairly certain that everyone reading this has at least heard of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The demographics of those present incline me to suspect that his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is known amongst the populace if nothing else he wrote is. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also a magazine editor.

In 1836, Richard Bentley asked Dickens to edit his new magazine, Bentley’s Miscellany. Dickens left the post after three years due to a disagreement with his publisher. Along the way, he serialized his second novel, Oliver Twist, and published several ghost stories by Thomas Ingoldsby, a nom de plume for the English clergyman Richard Harris Barham. The Ingoldsby Legends as they became known were quite popular, later being collected in several volumes. The periodical continued on without Dickens, lasting until 1868. All six volumes from his stint are available in the Internet Archives. Wikipedia reports that the magazine published several stories by Edgar Allan Poe, but I can find no trace of them in those first six volumes. Perhaps Dickens’ successor as editor acquired them.

Shortly thereafter, Dickens lasted a mere ten weeks as editor of the progressive newspaper, London’s Daily News, before a disagreement with one of the co-owners put an end to that gig. In 1850, he began his own magazine, Household Words, which ran for nine years until Dickens had a dispute with his publishers. 

Are we starting to detect a pattern here?

Charlotte Brontë biographer and occasional ghost story writer Elizabeth Gaskell was a frequent contributor to Household Words. Her short gothic ghost story, “The Poor Clare”, for example, was serialized over three issues in 1856. Wilkie Collins also appeared often, although his early gothic work tended towards happier endings than our preferred genre requires.

Both authors were even more regularly seen in Dickens’ subsequent magazine, All the Year Round, which debuted even before the last issue of Household Words went to press. They each contributed a chapter to the round-robin story, The Haunted House, in the Christmas, 1859 issue. Collins’s gothic novel The Woman in White and seminal mystery book The Moonstone also ran in All the Year Round, as did the five stories that were combined into Gaskell’s collection, Lois the Witch (1861), along with half-a-dozen tales by Carmilla author J. Sheridan le Fanu. Dickens himself contributed A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

Dickens’ tenure on All the Year Round ended with his death in 1870, but his son, Charles Dickens, Jr., continued editing the magazine until at least 1888. His involvement with the issues published from 1889 to 1895 is unclear, but the title definitely ended in that latter year. 

Like the bulk of Dickens’ work, the various periodicals he edited were tilted towards the social issues that concerned him, with a sprinkling of ghost yarns and gothic tales mixed in. A more careful examination of each volume would be necessary to root out all the spooky tales, as so many were published anonymously. I have provided links to the relevant sites within the Internet Archives, but if a better source is desired, I have recently obtained high quality PDF scans of both Household Words and All the Year Round that were made from well-preserved bound copies found in a medical school library in London in the not-too-distant past. I plan to spend as much time as is available to me in combing through the indices for each magazine to find whatever scary tales might be lurking. By available time, I mean the precious few moments afforded me by my constantly demanding children who seem to assume that my current condition of being retired allows them to make myriad demands on me and my time, given that I am not obliged to spend those precious hours at anything as mundane as a job. 

In other words, don’t hold your breath. Not if I’m doing it on my own, anyhow.

Any volunteers?

 

Our lagniappe this time out is one of those great old tunes I learned by careful repeated listening to the Dr. Demento Show back in the mid-1970s on WKDF-FM in Nashville, leaning in towards the muted radio on a Sunday night so my parents wouldn’t hear what degenerate Satanic music I dared to pollute their God-fearing home with on the Lord’s Day. If there is any song that should be the national anthem of Horror Addicts, or indeed any horror fan organization, my vote is for this one – Rose and the Arrangement’s 1974 classic, “The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati”. Some of my younger readers may need to look up a couple of references, but overall I feel the piece speaks for itself. No disrespect intended towards the Queen City. 

As always, my fellow gourmands of the Grand-Guignol…

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Free Fiction : Everything Moved Two Inches by HeavyRadio

The discovery was first made on June 2nd, 2015 by a man named Jaylen Walker, a man plagued with severe OCD. According to him, he noticed the change when the steps to get from his house to the nearby gas station were slightly less than the usual 1,374. Alarmed by this since Jaylen always made sure to retrace his steps. He did so twenty more times until he was positive that it now took 1,373 steps. After police were called into the gas station to perform a wellness check on the man, Jaylen insisted that the city check their census records and that once they did they would see he was correct. One week later, after receiving a hundred calls reporting similar circumstances in their neighborhoods, the city planner Rachel Hennley decided to look into the rumors in order to put the public’s mind at ease. However once doing so, Mrs. Hennely was floored to find that the city did indeed move two inches south since 2012.

Thinking that this could be a result of a major water line rupturing, a small crew was tasked to investigate the source of the movement. Led by Mrs. Hennely, it would take nearly a week for the crews to find anything out of the ordinary. Then on June 16th, one of the contractors named Jackson Lee found a small fissure roughly 2 inches in size roughly a half mile from the initial sighting. It is reported that once Mr.Lee had found the fissure, he had shined his flashlight down the fissure. We do not know this for sure, as shortly after finding the source, Mr.Lee would become inconsolable. After several days, he finally was able to say a single sentence.

“Close… the… gap…”

Unfortunately, Mr.Lee would go on to commit suicide after being released from the hospital. 

Curious as to what had made Mr.Lee so distraught, Rachel Hennely and local geology professor Dr.Neil Gallaghar decided to investigate the fissure further. Once down there, they discovered that the fissure had separated by over a foot since Mr. Lee’s report. Wanting to investigate further, Rachel decided to repel down into the fissure while reporting everything she saw to Dr. Gallagher. As she descended, she noted that the fissure seemed to go down almost indefinitely and would become incredibly spacious. After she reached the end of her rope, Rachel reported that she could no longer see the walls of the fissure and that she was above a massive open space. After pulling out her camera and taking several photos, a scream could be heard echoing from the chasm. Quickly looking at his computer, Dr.Gallagher’s eyes widened. It was a massive, perfectly symmetrical face. He scrolled to the next photo, but before he could look at it, his walkie-talkie exploded with sound.

“IT JUST BLINKED”

He looked back at his computer and screamed. The face was now staring directly at him, and to his horror began to smile. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

HeavyRadio is a horror writer out of Boston. Currently, in a Master’s program,

I write all my stories in my free time.

I am most inspired by Clive Barker, H.P Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

Historian of Horror : Sutch a Bother

I have previously admitted in this space to there being at least one area of popular culture in which I enjoy no expertise, that being heavy metal music. Following an enlightening conversation with our very own Ro Merrill (all praise and laudation be unto her name), I have been granted the gift of a brief introduction, albeit not necessarily an indoctrination, into the mysteries of the several genres that comprise such endeavors. I’ve been listening to a fair amount, not only of the form as currently practiced but to its forebears and influences. Along the way, it occurred to me that there was at least one performer whose active period began prior to anything recognizable as heavy metal who has not of late received his due attention. 

And so, I went digging into my nearly half-a-terabyte of genre related music and found the subject of our Essai du jour, the English musician and failed parliamentarian, founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Screaming Lord Sutch.

Before Arthur Brown, before Iggy Pop, before Ozzie Osborne, before Alice Cooper, decades before any of the growling, snarling death metal performers of recent years, there was Sutch. Born David Edward Sutch in 1940, he took on the stage name as above, with the title amended thereunto of 3rd Earl of Harrow. You will find no sutch (sic) listing in Burke’s Peerage. The first part of his nom de scène was inspired by the 1950s novelty performer, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. The second was made up out of whole cloth.

His 1963 novelty song “Jack the Ripper” is the prototype for a great many of the tropes common to heavy metal, and made a sufficient splash in his home country that a short documentary was made about him and his band, The Savages, which concluded with a full version of the song including the simulated disembowelment of a mannikin.

Sutch’s tune, by the way, bears no relation to the surf guitar standard composed by Link Wray that same year. In case anyone was wondering. “Jack the Ripper” a la Sutch bears a more than passing similarity, structurally and musically, to the Hollywood Argyles’ 1960 hit, Alley Oop, based on the American comic strip. Thematically, however… 

Yeah. Not a thing like it.

The putative 3rd Earl of Harrow ran for Parliament nearly forty times, with what can be charitably characterized as limited success. He did garner more votes on occasion than actual, legitimate political parties, including in 1990 when the Social Democratic Party responded to losing to him by disbanding. There’s at least one modern political entity that might want to take note and follow this example. 

Later in the decade, Sutch performed on stage and on vinyl with a variety of major rock ‘n’ roll musicians, including the Who’s drummer Keith Moon, Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, and several members of Led Zeppelin. The album he recorded with the Zeppelinists, Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, was declared in a 1998 poll conducted by the BBC as being the worst album of all time. Not a high watermark in the legendary band’s repertoire.

Despite his exuberant stage presence, Sutch battled depression in later years. He committed suicide by hanging in his late mother’s house on June 16, 1999. He was fifty-eight years old.

A word about His Lordship’s inspiration, the aforementioned Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, seems relevant at this point in the proceedings. Hawkins was born in 1929. Inspired by both operatic and blues singers, he began performing his piano act in the early 1950s, during which period took to wearing leopard skins and red leather, and other outrageous costumes. His most influential recording was his 1956 hit, “I Put a Spell on You”, a performance of which is in the link above. The piece has since been covered numerous times, including by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Nina Simone, Carlos Santana, and Marilyn Manson, and by Bette Midler et alii in the 1993 film, Hocus Pocus. He passed away in 2000 at the age of seventy. 

Arthur Brown, Screaming Lord Scutch’s first significant follower down that dark, flamboyant musical path was born in 1942 in Whitby, England, the very town in which the Demeter ran aground in the novel and several film versions of Dracula, precipitating the Vampire Lord onto British soil. Brown still performs his wild and crazy act at the age of eighty, although perhaps a bit less frenetically in these latter days. 

Our lagniappe this time is from one of my favorite groups of the 1970s, English folk-rockers Steeleye Span. A few days late for Halloween, but you are welcome to put “The Twelve Witches” aside for next year. Just don’t forget where you stashed it.

And so, until next time…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Author Interview : John James Minster

What is your name and what are you known for? 

John James Minster, author of horror stories.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

The Undertaker’s Daughter

A Novel of Supernatural Horror

Don’t play with dead things.

Anna Dingel is an introverted, socially inept 18-year-old raised in the family funeral home. And for some reason, her classmate Timmy—the one in the band—likes her too.

After a makeover from her best friend Naomi, Anna breaks away to see him perform live, but the leader of a bad school clique attempts to assault Anna in the parking lot. Once the leader is released from jail, so begins an ever-widening maelstrom of cruel retribution, turning Anna and Timmy’s summer of love into a nightmare.

In an attempt to frighten the bullies into peace, Anna and Naomi experiment with recently revealed old Jewish magic. But this ancient Abrahamic ritual doesn’t go as planned. The eldritch power Anna has unleashed takes dark and unexpected turns, endangering those she loves and forcing her to decide who she is and who she wants to be.

This spine-tingling supernatural horror story is about love, forgiveness, and consequences. Expect surprise twists throughout, as children learn not to play with dead things.

What places or things inspire your writing?

Supernatural beings described in The Old and The New Testaments.

What music do you listen to while creating?

Downtempo electronic and melodic deep house beats.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

Animated decomposing corpses.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Edgar Allan Poe.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

My infant son getting wheeled into surgery.

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Edgar Allan Poe: matcha green tea, a bamboo whisk, and two porcelain mixing bowls (no, not brandy: I would never do anything to contribute to his untimely death of which alcohol likely played a part.)

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

A movie I saw in a drive-in theater when it first got released (the year I got my driver’s license.) Two friends of mine and our dates watched it. Our girlfriends were terrified. I absolutely loved it. Lucio Fulci’s Italian film Zombi 2 (also known as Zombie, Zombie Flesh Eaters, and Woodoo) is a 1979 Italian zombie horror film directed by Lucio Fulci working from a screenplay by Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti. Probably the best-known of Fulci’s many genre films and it made him a horror icon. When the film was released in 1979 it was condemned for its extremely bloody content, notably by the UK’s Conservative government. It grossed the Euro equivalent of nearly $3 billion dollars, yet of all the many people I ask, not one has seen it. Please do.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

Not personally. But I did help an old man solve his house haunting.

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

Every horror book published by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman (contemporary), and Peter Straub; travels back in time to H.P. Lovecraft, the entire works of Edgar Allan Poe, and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

What are you working on now? 

Polishing up three complete new works: The Vengeful Dead, The Hand of Hubal, and Rise of The Golgoths.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

Bookstores took a major hit in the pandemic and desperately need some love. I would buy or order The Undertaker’s Daughter from your local bookseller. You can order it directly from the publisher, Hellbender Books. Then of course the usual online sellers. The number one URL to get inside my haunted head or to communicate with me is my aggregated links site: https://linktr.ee/johnjamesminster

Free Fiction : Death Job Cover Letter by Bob Gielow

 

November 19, 2021

Lord Hades, God of Death

4 Everlasting Ave

Camden NJ  08104

Dear Lord Hades,

Please accept this cover letter and accompanying resume as my application to become Intern for the Assistant to Death, North America – Region 14.  I learned of this position from a posting I found online at HellJobs.com.  

In addition to being dead myself (obviously), I have significant experience caring for and supporting those who are dying.  After earning a Master’s Degree in gerontological nursing, I spent 18 years offering palliative and hospice care to dying patients at three different homes for the elderly.  At Visiting Angels Senior Home Care in Las Vegas, I was selected “Caring Nurse of the Month,” by staff and families, eight times.  At Elder Care of Bemidji, Minnesota, I was selected to train and lead a group of between 15 and 22 hospice volunteers who spent countless hours with our patients and their families.  At Compassionate Care Senior Services in Conway, South Carolina, I was asked by the Director to inform families whenever their loved one died because I “had such a good rapport with families and always knew the right thing to say that would bring them comfort.”  

Although the job description for this Intern position said very little about the qualities for which you are looking, I believe the work in which you are engaged requires a calm demeanor (to help avoid any hysteria from the pre-dead), a facility with language (to clearly explain what is happening), a confident decision-maker (to act, when necessary, without having to always check in with a supervisor), and an ability to look “death in the eye” (if you don’t mind my using this phrase).  I believe that I possess all of the qualities listed above .  

Although it may or may not be smart for me to admit this, I feel I should acknowledge that I also have experience moving the death process along more quickly than would have been the case otherwise.  As you may know if you can access my life records, I was occasionally suspected but never charged by law enforcement for helping terminally ill patients “slip away” more quickly than they might have otherwise.  Over many years of practice, I became adept at applying a combination of increased pain medication (usually Darvon or Demerol) and/or holding my hands/fingers over the person’s mouth and nose to kill folks who were more than ready for their suffering to end.  If an Intern for the Assistant to Death, North America – Region 14 needs to periodically expedite the death process for a human, which I assume will occur for a variety of reasons, then I am your gal.  

Lastly, I think I am qualified for this work because of my recent death experience.  When I tested positive for COVID-19, at home last week, I was told by my doctor to not come into their offices or visit the Emergency Room unless I “was having difficulty breathing.”  I was breathing OK at the time, but respiratory symptoms escalated very quickly overnight.  I woke before dawn the next morning coughing and sputtering, and remembered that my phone was charging downstairs.  I had given up a phone landline several years ago and was trying to not look at my phone screen right before bed or right when I woke up.  Those decisions became fatal when I started coughing halfway down the stairs and fell down so hard I was knocked out.  I must have broken several bones because when I awoke, I could not move my body enough to reach my cell phone.  At one point, my cat Skittles just looked at me lying there and walked away.  I eventually died in pain, not being able to breathe properly, and feeling very alone.  If I am able to, as Intern for the Assistant to Death, I’d like to bring some amount of comfort to those who are experiencing death without any support from a living human.  

Thank you for considering my candidacy for this position.  I look forward to hearing back from you and the hiring committee.  

 

Claire Mortja

claire.mortja@hellmail.com 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A college administrator by day, Bob Gielow (he/him) spins tales in formats we all use when communicating with each other: text messages, emails, fictional Wikipedia posts, and diary entries all allow him to be clinical and thorough in describing his characters, their thinking and actions … without diminishing his ability to explore the resulting human emotions. Bob utilizes these epistolary styles, and others, to tell tales that frequently explore the most common of human experiences, death.  https://twitter.com/bob_gielow

Author Interview with Nick Roberts


What is your name and what are you known for? 

My name is Nick Roberts, and I’m known for my novels, The Exorcist’s House and Anathema. I’ve also had several short stories featured in anthologies from Sinister Smile Press, J. Ellington Ashton Press, and Dead Sea Press and literary publications such as The Fiction Pool, The Blue Mountain Review, Falling Star Magazine, Stonecrop Magazine, and Haunted MTL.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

My novel, The Exorcist’s House, was released by Crystal Lake Publishing in May 2022 and is available now in paperback, hardback, Kindle/KU, and Audible. It has since become Crystal Lake Publishing’s best-selling novel to date. Here is the official synopsis: 

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

“Along with his wife and teenage daughter, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. They are initially seduced by the natural beauty of the country setting. That soon changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes.

“Local legends about the previous owner being an exorcist come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

“This 1990s horror novel is perfect for fans of family thriller books, stories of demonic possession, exorcism fiction, the occult, or thrillers like The Exorcist, A Head Full of Ghosts, and The Amityville Horror.

What places or things inspire your writing?

Both of my novels take place in West Virginia, and many of my short stories do as well. It’s the perfect setting for a spooky situation. The terrain is so versatile; there are cities, suburbs, rolling hills, woodland areas, and much more. I prefer my horror to be remote, so I veer toward the rural countryside. 

What music do you listen to while creating?

I live with my wife, two young kids, and a bunch of animals. Noise-canceling AirPods are essential. Any music with lyrics distracts me, so I tend to listen to classical music, instrumentals, and movie scores. I’m currently listening to the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream if that gives you any indication about the tone of my next novel. 

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

I love creepy chamber pieces. Give me a cabin in the woods or an abandoned mental institution or a haunted hotel room. As far as films go, I love what Jason Blum and James Wan are doing. Movies like The Conjuring, Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Saw are all brilliantly inventive in their minimalism. Both of my novels have one major setting for the most part. I love to settle into one location and get cozy. 

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Leatherface. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a perfect film and has the most shocking introduction to the big baddie. When Leatherface jerks open that sliding metal door and thwacks a dude on the head with the mallet sending him into violent spasms gets me every time. The icing on the violent cake is when he drags the body in, slams the door, and that GONNNNG sound effect kicks in. I love his different ideations throughout the years, but the central concept of a human face for a mask and a chainsaw is the definition of iconic. 

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

When I was around twelve years old, I watched The Exorcist for the first time. It traumatized me, of course, but the real horror happened a few nights later. 

I have twin sisters who had seizures when they were younger. One night, I woke up to use the restroom. I was creeping down the hallway when I heard a bed shaking. I looked into my sisters’ bedroom and they were each in their beds violently spasming in unison. It was Regan MacNeil times two, and I’ve never fully recovered from it. 

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Jordan Peele. Not only is he a brilliant director, but he’s a horror fanboy. It would be fantastic to discuss his films, and geek out over classic horror movies. I would bring Cuban cigars. I have no idea if he likes them but puffing on a stogie and going on deep dives into obscure horror subgenres is my fantasy.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales by Ruth Ann Musick is a childhood favorite of mine. It’s packed full of spooky stories that not only showcase the ghostly side of West Virginia, but it also contains some haunting illustrations. 

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

I’ve never witnessed anything paranormal. I’m a skeptic, but I want to believe. 

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

The following books should be in the library of every horror addict:

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

The Shining by Stephen King

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

Books of Blood by Clive Barker

What are you working on now? 

I’m currently working on my third novel. It has nothing to do with the previous two, but it is similar in tone and structure. Although I can’t reveal much about the plot at this point, I will say that it is supernatural horror that I know will make readers lock their doors at night.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can follow my future exploits and purchase signed copies of my books at www.nickrobertsauthor.com.

I’m also on the following social media platforms: Facebook @spookywv, Twitter @nroberts9859, Instagram @spookywv, and TikTok @spookywv.

Free Halloween Fiction : Circle of Trust By Ravyn Storm

“Jamie…Jamie, if you are present, please, give us a sign…we miss you so much!” My best friend, Becca said, circling the Planchette around the Quiji board.

“Yes, girl, we miss you, queen. Show us a sign!!!” My other BFF, Robert chimed in, eyes closed.

I grinned. I was there. It was Saturday night and Halloween. The one night a spirit or entity could choose to walk and be “among the living”. This being my first Halloween on the other side, I was only recently deceased…I was murdered in June. However, the actual ruling on my death was “accidental overdose”.

My friends Becca (cellist, salutatorian), Robert (drum major, top-ten of our class, and “totally gay”), were joined by Demarcus (my once boyfriend, football captain) and Heather (track teammate of mine, fellow cheerleader, honor student, and current girlfriend to Demarcus). In life, I bridged the social gap between Jamie and Robert, and Heather and Demarcus. We were all in the same honor courses at our prestigious high school. Other than that, our group was a two-by-two sandwich with me in the middle.

My “Jamie Sandwich” posse’ was gathered in Heather’s luxurious bedroom. Honestly, her room was similar to a studio apartment. Her parents were wealthy and owned multiple properties in Texas, Florida, and New York. Heather’s room featured a walk-in closet large to house her expansive wardrobe full of everything from Lululemon to Gucci, as well as a small refrigerator (where she hid vodka in water bottles), and a bottle caddy cradling a few bottles of red wine. She had a perfectly made queen sized bed with Vera Wang bedding, a 50inch flat screen smart TV (complete with every streaming service available to mankind), and a small, round table with four cushioned high-back chairs around it.

My friends each occupied a seat at the candle-lit table with their glasses of wine. Each had a hand on the Planchette of the Quiji board. However, Becca would be the voice in charge of asking the questions. Robert was to Becca’s left, Demarcus on her right, with Heather directly in front of Becca. Perfect set-up.

Invisible, I stood between Becca and Demarcus. I began to move the Planchette.

                 H. I. G. U. Y. S.

Robert’s eyes widened as he wrote down the letters. “Hi, guys!” he exclaimed to our friends.

Following proper procedure like always, Becca asked, “Is this you, Jamie???”

I moved the Planchette, “Yes”.

“Stop moving the thing, Robert!” Heather demanded.

“Child, that is NOT me. I do not mess with spirits,” Robert defended, peeking his eyes in her direction.

Heather cut her eyes over to “her boyfriend” Demarcus.

“Babe, don’t even look at me. You know where my hands like to go,” Demarcus said as his non-Planchette hand rubbed Staci’s thigh under the table headed ever so slightly north.

I rolled my eyes. I bit my lip, resisting the urge to grab Demarcus’s “tool” and twist until it came off. I had to be patient. This was making my plan anxiously all the easier.

“Shhhh…” Becca scolded, her eyes remained closed, but she was clearly annoyed by Demarcus’s comment. “Jamie, if this is you, what is the name of your dog?”

“Toby.” I spelled.

“Ooohhhh…” Robert said excitedly, realizing it was me. Robert had a tendency to be dramatic and emotional, I adored him for it. He wore his heart on his sleeve and always spoke his mind.

“Jamie, were you unhappy?” Becca asked with a crack in her voice. I knew where her anxiety originated. There was speculation my “overdose” was a suicide. Deeply empathetic, Becca would never forgive herself if she missed the warning signs.

“No.” I pointed the Planchette. I wanted to reveal myself to her. Give her a hug. She was struggling more than the others without me. But, I had to wait. Wait for the right moment to exact my revenge.

“Why would you overdose, Jamie? It was so scary to watch you die and I will never get over it,” Heather said with fake sadness. She had no idea. I was going to make sure she would never “get over it”.

I started to spell, “F. U. C. K. Y. O. U.”

Robert, writing down the letters, stopped. “Why would she say that to you, Heather?” He asked slowly, staring at the paper, lifting his glaze to her.

Demarcus was now staring at Heather with morbid curiosity. This was playing out perfectly.

“I-I-I don’t know. I loved you, Jamie!” Heather stated, with a wide-eyed look. By now, all eyes were on Heather, just as she preferred. She was always an attention whore.

“We were best friends, since Ms. Gold’s third-grade class. I held your hand as you died! I was there…I was there!” Heather exclaimed with fake tears. She always was such a great actress. Too bad, she’d never get to use her talents after tonight.

“Tell them.” I spelled out. I was angry. Still cloaked in chosen invisibility, I threw Robert’s glass of red wine onto the carpet. Oh well. This was going down. And I was going to enjoy it.

Robert gasped as the glass flew past him, Demarcus’s eyes widened.

“Tell us what, Heather?” Becca demanded, tears in her eyes.

“This isn’t funny!” Heather screamed.

“Did you do something, Heather?” Demarcus withdrew his non-Planchette hand away from her.

“Bitch,” I spelled, moving the Planchette fast with scary speed. I was burning with anger. I could feel my anger translating into the unworldly strength of the undead. It was almost time.

They would find Fentanyl in Heather’s room. She used it to drug me. Slipped it in my vodka soda during our “girl’s night” after summer cheer practice that fateful night. She would later tell authorities I was depressed and dealing with too much stress, but “had no idea I was taking drugs”.  Heather was full of shit.

Heather had been there when I passed out. There, when I could not be revived. There when I died. She called 911 only after she was positive I was dead. She wanted me out of her way. With me gone, she could have cheer captain, track captain, an easy-made route to any college since her “bestie” died (and her parents could afford any school), but most of all, she wanted Demarcus.

That’s it, it was time to reveal myself. Since the Quiji board was actually unnecessary on Halloween to conjure spirits, I started by violently flipping the board and Planchette off the circle table. It all landed with a deafening thud on the hardwood floor. Next, I wanted a more dramatic entrance. I had the candles shoot their flames up to the extended ceiling of Heather’s massive room. As the flames disappeared, and the candles were once again lit in a more normal manner, I appeared.

“Hi, guys,” I said. Then, turning to Heather, my eyes filled with malice, “Hey, bitch”, I said with stone-cold hatred for my murderer, arching my left eyebrow, I said, “I know.” I gave a slight nod toward her accompanied by a little smirking giggle.

Everyone gasped. Becca grabbed Robert’s hand as tears streamed down her face. I felt bad for the next part, but I did what I had to do. With all the invisible force of the undead, I shoved Jamie and Robert back into Heather’s expansive closet slamming the French double doors behind them. I telepathically threw one of the table’s large chairs at the door, locking them inside. They tried in vain to open the doors.

I turned my attention to a now petrified and crying Demarcus and Heather.

“Jamie, baby, what are you doing?” Demarcus stammered. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she took my life…and now I am taking it back,” I said, with a strange calmness to my tone.

As if on cue, Demarcus started to fall to his knees. His breathing was heavy as he fought to stay upright and awake. And then, just as I had, he succumbed to the lethal amount of Fentanyl placed in his drink.

Heather knelt down beside his body, screaming his name. Demarcus and I would be reunited in death. I grinned a small, evil grin of satisfaction.

We could hear Robert talking to a 911 operator on his cell phone while locked in the closet. Excellent, I thought.

“Familiar sight, huh, Heather?” I calmly inquired.

“Go to hell!” Heather screamed.

“Awe, where do you think I’ve been?” I chuckled, then continued, “By the way, the cops will find your stash of drugs. You might want to get your story straight. I don’t think they’ll believe you twice.”

“So? I’ll tell them-“ Heather started.

“Tell them what, Heather?! Tell them your dead friend came from beyond the grave and murdered your boyfriend while you happen to have massive amounts of Fentanyl in your bedroom? While Robert and Becca will both testify that you murdered us both? Try it.” I invited her.

“Fuck you!” Heather cried in a scream.

I laughed at her. We could hear the sounds of sirens coming closer. I retreated back to my deadly world, out of sight.

A year later, Becca and Robert along with their Quiji board were in Robert’s room sitting on the floor.

Becca, circling the board with the Planchette, began, “Are there any spirits in this room?”

Demarcus and I chuckled as we held hands. With my free hand, I moved the Planchette to “Yes”.

Robert sucked in air and slowly let it out. He said, “Jamie, girl, you know I’ve been in therapy twice a week over your dead ass…but damn, I hope this is you.”

Becca, her eyes closed, giggled.

“LOL. Hi, guys,” I spelled.

We had a good time, the four of us. Before the end of the night, I had another visit to make.

I found myself in Heather’s new, much smaller room. She was now a permanent resident in the Psych Ward of the State Penitentiary. Even daddy’s money could not save her. You know her as “The Fentanyl Killer”. I simply refer to her as “My Bitch”.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ravyn Storm is a lifelong reader and avid horror fan, however, growing up in a small town in the piney woods of East Texas, she found herself feeling strange, unusual, and never fit in with the locals. After attending college, Ravyn became a schoolteacher. In 2017, she left teaching to pursue a career in personal training and competed as a national-level bodybuilder. However, her love of the horror genre never changed. Ravyn resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two fur babies, Oscar and Louis.

IG Account- Ravyn_Storm

Submission Call! Manor of Frights LAST DAY

LAST DAY to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 3 days left

Only 3 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

A Halloween Listicle: SINISTER STORIES FOR THE SPOOKY SEASON

 by Renata Pavrey

The days leading up to Halloween are filled with costumes to prepare, décor to get ready, and treats to bake. The final week of October is a culmination of all the spooky excitement building up throughout the month. Yes! We love our horror movies, can’t have enough of eerie podcasts, and then there are books that thrill and chill. Sometimes it’s just so much to take in, with all that’s happening in a horror fan’s favorite time of the year. Here’s a list of Halloween-themed short story collections, so you can dip in your toes when time runs short on Hallows Eve.

~Halloween Horrors by Alan Ryan – A vintage collection for a night of evil. 13 sinister stories of madness and mayhem that show us a side of Halloween far removed from pumpkin lanterns and hot spiced drinks.

~Ghosts, Goblins, Murder and Madness by Rebecca Rowland – 20 tales of Halloween that showcase the wide expanse of the holiday season – dressing up in costume, playing practical jokes, haunted houses, cursed artifacts, the thin line between the earth and spirit worlds.

~Season of the Witch by RJ Roles and Jason Myers – Witches are not just about brooms and pointy hats; cackling as they fly over the moon on Halloween. This anthology from Crimson Pinnacle Press brings together 19 tales about witches and autumn, providing fresh perspectives to cliches and stereotypes associated with the season.

~Literally Dead by Gaby Triana – Hauntings that go beyond ghosts, spirits who want to help the living, festive greetings that travel through time and space, candy that refuses to be digested – an old school anthology from Alienhead Press that presents common Halloween tropes in spooky new avatars by some of the most terrifying names in contemporary horror.

~Halloween Frights by Brandi Hicks and Shelly Jarvis – If short stories take up too much of your reading time, why not sink your teeth into bite-sized drabbles? Spooky ghost kids, zombie trick-or-treaters, suspicious treats, and decorations coming alive – let’s turn to face the darker side of this autumn holiday.

~Forest of Fear (Books 1, 2 and 3) by Zoey Xolton – There are 3 books in the Fright Night Fiction series from Blood Song Books, that present a delectable collection of Halloween horror drabbles.

~Nom Nom by Ben Thomas and D. Kershaw – Another drabble collection that treats us to a smorgasbord of vampires, djinns, werewolves, jack-o-lanterns, clowns, candies, and everything the festival has to offer in 100-word bits of gore from Black Hare Press.

Submission Call! Manor of Frights 5 days left

Only 5 days left to enter!
Our 2023 Anthology announcement:

Manor of Frights

nathan-mcdine-Sz2UlMzTv4I-unsplashImagine a Victorian house where every room is cursed with a frightful existence. Are monsters in the halls? Ghosts left to fester in the library? Or are the rooms themselves enchanted with malevolent energy? What was summoned long ago and what doorways were left open? Manor of Frights will be a collection of tales all set in different rooms of the same house.

 

Stories MUST follow these guidelines: 

  1. MUST be in 3rd person. No 1st person stories will be considered.
  2. The Manor of Frights was built in 1880. So, stories can take place between 1880-1980. Keep this in mind when writing. Is the house new in your era? Run down? Or refurbished? Has there been a fire? A flood? Are you writing about the homeowner? A guest staying at a BnB? Or maybe… You are writing about the architect renovating the place?
  3. Choose a room and write a horror story that takes place in it. 13 rooms will be picked from the submissions. Choose wisely. Be unique. You can write about the normal rooms in a house like bedrooms, bathrooms, or the kitchen, but some other ideas for rooms are: attic, conservatory, library, basement, study, billiard room, cellar, hall, parlor, boudoir, dining room, den, foyer, living room, nursery, dinette, hearth room, scullery, kit room, linen closet, landing, rotunda, nook, covered porch, widow’s walk, or maybe you have an idea of your own.  
  4. The story must have an overwhelming sense of menace and dread. The KIND of horror is open to you. Is there a monster inside? Does it connect to a demon world? Has it been cursed? Is it haunted? Do vampires reside in the home? Scare us. Entertain us.

LBGTQ and POC stories/writers are encouraged to enter. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories. No rape. The editor likes HORROR. Be careful of sci-fi creatures or anything that sways sci-fi or fantasy. She’s not a fan of superheroes or hunters.

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

We are doing blind submissions. Wow us with your story.

Enter up to two short stories only. Make sure they fit the theme

Manuscript Format:

*Font: 12 pt Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

*Double spaced.

*Your manuscript must be in either DOC, DOCx, or RTF format.

*DO NOT place your name in the manuscript.**

*No header on the manuscript. JUST THE TITLE.

**Again, we are doing blind submissions. Make sure the manuscript is scrubbed of your name and personal info. This could be an automatic decline.**

TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY, CLICK HERE:

https://forms.gle/3igMYXjnbCrcnoP49

Deadline: October 31st, 2022, 11:59pm PST

Length: 2,000-3,500 words MAX. No exceptions.

Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy

Accepted stories will be published in these formats: PRINT, eBook, and audio. The audio will be produced for both Season 18 of HorrorAddicts.net (2023), and be placed on an audiobook platform for sale.

Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/22). You should expect an answer within three months of the submission close date. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to:  ha.netpress@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to: ha.netpress@gmail.com

Free Fiction : Eternally by Michael Tennant


He sat calmly, peacefully, on the tree branch. It seemed quite sturdy. It would have to be; it was about to experience a heck of a force. Over a thousand pounds, if his memory wasn’t mistaken. He couldn’t recall which page he’d seen that number on. Maybe it was the rope that would be subjected to that strain. Whatever the case, he was confident that both the branch and the rope were up to the task.

He looked at the knot securing the rope to the branch and hoped he’d tied it well enough. He didn’t subscribe to a belief in a higher power, so he wasn’t worried about an afterlife. Likewise, he gave no credence to the metaphysical, and was thus unconcerned about being cursed to haunt the living with any sort of unfinished business – not that he could imagine what business that might be. He’d prepared a will, had his signature witnessed and notarized, listed his life insurance information, and made sure his passwords and PINs were documented. It wasn’t stories about after death that gave him pause; it was dread for the idea that he might screw this up, as he’d been so good at screwing up in life. Being a statistic, he could handle, as long as that statistic didn’t include the word “attempted.” Failing at life was par for the course; failing at death would be the final push to drive him fully mad.

He checked the knot one last time and felt reassured that it would hold. He slipped the loop over his head, positioned the hangman’s knot beneath the left side of his jaw, and snugged the noose against his throat. The apprehension he’d felt for so long slipped away, and he felt relief, knowing that the end he’d craved for decades was finally upon him. He took a deep breath, let it out, and slid forward off the branch.

Almost too quickly to notice, he’d fallen the five feet and six inches that he’d measured out for the drop. As the knot was pulled violently upward beneath his chin, it snapped his head up, back, and slightly to the right. There was an imperceptibly brief flash of pain as vertebrae separated and his spine was crushed and severed, and then he felt no more, but simply hung there, open eyes turned to the sky. He didn’t feel his lungs expel their last breath, nor did he take notice of his heart’s final beat. He simply watched a dew drop grow fat as it neared the point at which it would drip from a leaf just above him, as he awaited the unconsciousness that should overtake him. But the blissful sleep did not come for him, and the dew didn’t drip.

There was no blackness to envelop him, no light for him to go toward. A hundred, a thousand, a million ideas humans had about what happens after death, but none of them had prepared him for the horror of staring up at that dew drop hanging from the tip of that leaf, eternally.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Michael Tenant I was an enthusiastic fiction writer and poet in high school, and utterly failed to pursue it in any fashion. I’m now trying to rediscover my imagination and creativity, 30 years later.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Haunted Trail

 

 

 

Plotline: A group of college friends receive the surprise of their lives when they discover there is an actual killer on the scene of a local haunted trail.

Who would like it: I think everyone! This movie was so super fun. I had a blast watching this and you will too!

High Points: I loved the super diverse cast of characters and that this movie takes place in a haunted venue

Complaints: Absolutely none!

Overall: I LOVED this movie!

Stars: 5

 

 

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

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Historian of Horror : Monsters to Marvel At!

I’ve written before in this space about the Comics Code Authority, and how it forbade depictions of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls and myriad other creatures of darkness in the comic books approved for consumption by the tender, innocent minds of American youth, beginning in the mid-1950s. This puritanical restriction lasted until the early 1970s, which by a happy coincidence happens to be the time when my most active period of collecting began.

What is most significant about that time as it relates to our favorite genre is that Marvel Comics in particular went absolutely batty over the new freedom, more so than any of their four-color competitors. And it all began at the end of 1971, with the second issue of a title called Marvel Spotlight.

Marvel Spotlight was one of those titles intended to showcase new characters not yet deemed ready for their own series. The first issue featured a Native American Western character called Red Wolf. Not bad, but he went nowhere fast. The second issue, on the other hand…

The cover was by comics legend Neal Adams, inked by another great, Tom Palmer. The interior was drawn by an artist new to me at the time, but one I now acknowledge as a true genius of the art form – Mike Ploog – and written by the equally iconic Roy Thomas. It was called Werewolf By Night.

Oh, frabjous day, calloo, callay! Our long sequential art nightmare was over! There was an actual, bloody-fanged freaking werewolf in a Marvel comic book! And it was available for purchase for only a quarter of a dollar!

Marvel comics dated that February of 1971 were all fifty-two pages for twenty-five cents. It was a brief experiment in a longer format for all the Marvel titles. To flesh out the issue, a story of the Greek goddess Venus from a 1948 issue of her eponymous title, published back when Marvel was still called Timely Comics, was included. It was drawn by Bill Everett, who had in 1939 created the Sub-Mariner, Marvel’s first superhero. 

Werewolf By Night told the tale of Jack Russell, who inherited the curse of the full moon from his father’s side of the family. His adventures continued for another two issues of Marvel Spotlight, both written by Gerry Conway, before a new character, Ghost Rider, took over and Jack’s story transferred to his own title. Werewolf By Night ran for forty-three issues, drawn first by Ploog and later by Don Perlin, an artist I never really warmed to. 

Two months after that issue of Marvel Spotlight came out, a new title appeared, featuring a different monster formerly forbidden by the Comics Code. Tomb of Dracula ran for seventy issues, each one drawn by comic giant Gene Colan, and inked by the aforementioned Tom Palmer. A black and white magazine by the same title ensued, as well as one called Dracula Lives! Neither lasted very long. Nor did the fifty-two pagers Giant-Size Dracula or Giant-Size Werewolf. But they were fun, and I bought them all. 

And there were titles with zombies and mummies and Frankenstein’s Monster and Son of Satan and all manner of spooky critters that had been for so long verboten in the medium. It was a wonderful time to be thirteen and have access to a working lawnmower to make a few bucks to finance a hobby that was not yet priced out of your reach. 

I mowed a lot of lawns in those days. And collected coke bottles, and babysat, and did whatever odd jobs were available. Comic collecting wasn’t nearly as expensive as it became in the late 1980s, but it did take some effort to keep up with. 

And here we are, decades later, living in an age of comic-based movies. One of which I watched just yesterday on Disney+, a live-action television movie based on Werewolf By Night. It also co-stars another Marvel monster of the period, one also intimately associated with artist Mike Plogg at one point in its history. No spoilers here, but I definitely hope the populace will make an effort to seek out and enjoy Werewolf By Night.

I loved it. I recommend it very highly. 

I have mentioned before the passing of Neal Adams. Sadly, Tom Palmer, possibly the greatest inker the medium ever employed, also passed away recently. He died August 18 of this year, at the age of 81. 

For our lagniappe this time out, I tried to find a decent copy of the animated version of Mussourgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” from my favorite Disney movie, Fantasia. Alas, YouTube doesn’t have one worth sharing. Instead, enjoy this 1938 animated version from France. Very unusual, very dark and dreary, and delightfully dour.

And as always, my darling demoniacs…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Free Fiction : Till Death Do Us Part – by C M Lucas

A posh café bathed in the dwindling sunlight as blue skies gave way to brilliant orange and red. La Fin du Soleil: an outlier in this small rural and very American town, was not only a tourist destination but a bit of a local hot spot. This quaint little café was a spot where potential lovers gazed into each other’s eyes, waxed poetically, and fell head over heels for the stranger sitting directly in front of them. Strangers like Linda and James. 

One Year Ago 

Linda Muller loved La Fin Soleil. A talented artist and self-described creative spirit, Linda would often find herself sipping a café Late while dreaming up her latest piece. Typically, while sipping her late, Linda would glance at the café’s patrons, often making quick sketches of them while they enjoyed their coffee. On one fateful Tuesday, Linda happened to meet the gaze of a ruggedly handsome, down-on-his-luck somber soul. Ordinarily, James wouldn’t give the French café a second look, however, on that Tuesday, James felt almost obliged to enter La Fin Soleil. Upon entering the small café, James ordered a regular dark roast with double cream and took a seat at the far end of the café beside a large window. Linda glanced at James as he continuously stirred his coffee while peering out the window. Linda observed as James’ pale blue eyes seemed to express sadness. Shaking her head softly before running her fingers through her hair, Linda got up from her chair and, with coffee in hand, made her way over to the somber man. 

“Penny for your thoughts,” Linda whispered. James glanced up at the petite woman. The sunlight bathed Lina from behind; her auburn hair looked as if it were ablaze as a large smirk formed on her face.

“I’m sorry?” James said, squinting. 

“Look, I know that’s cliché, but I, you know, I’ve never seen you in here before. You kind of stand out; you don’t look like the type of guy to stop in here, you know,” Linda explained, “and… I don’t know, you look… Is everything alright?” James continued to glance at Linda, furrowing his brow. 

“Am I alright? Uh, I… Yea, I guess. I’m sorry, what is this?” James asked. “I don’t know, you just have this sadness about, you know? I just thought that if I don’t come over and save this guy from whatever-” James shook his head before meeting Linda’s gaze. “Uh, ok, I gotta say, this is a little weird. I mean, I’ve never had anyone come up to me and ask me if I was ok,” James explained, “I mean, what are you, like the nicest woman on the planet?” 

“Yes, but only during the day. At night, I fight crime. They call me The Auburn Altruist,” Linda said with a smirk. James furrowed his brow before chuckling and shaking his head. “That was really corny. I can’t believe I laughed at that,” James said. 

“I can,” Linda said before the pair busted out laughing. 

“Thank you. I, uh, I needed that,” James admitted. 

“I know. I’m Linda,” Linda said, extending her hand. 

“James,” James said as the pair shook hands. 

“Care to sit?” 

The Present. 

Inside Las Fin Soleil, the dusty, undisturbed tables and chairs sat quietly as a small beam of sunlight shone through a crack in the plywood nailed to the window. In the far corner, sat James. Sitting almost motionless, James glanced out the tiny crack between the boards across the

window as the sun shined against his pale blue eyes. A rhythmic sequence of knocking at the boarded-up front door snapped James out of his daze before he headed toward the door. James grabbed a hammer from the floor before removing the boards from the door. James opened the door with a quivering smirk. 

“A regular knock would’ve been fine,” James said before Linda stuck out her tongue. Linda and James embraced before the pair boarded the front door. They made their way over to the far end table as James retrieved two coffee cups and placed them on the table. Linda smiled as she took a seat. James scurried over behind the counter and pulled out two candles. Lighting the candles as he made his way over, James placed the candles in a makeshift holder. “Care to sit?” Linda asked. 

One Year Ago. 

Inside La Fin Soleil, James and Linda laughed and smiled, while drinking their coffee. Minutes turned to hours as the pair continued to delight one another with conversation. “No, I’m serious. She actually said, ‘hit the bricks.’ It’s funny now, but at the time, it didn’t register, I guess. But, yea. ‘Hit the bricks.’And just like that, I was fired after, what? Nine years?” James explained as the pair continued to laugh. 

“Well, It’s great to see you laugh at the situation. I don’t know, It’s like they say, ‘If you don’t laugh, you cry,’ right?” Linda asked. James smiled before shaking his head. “You’re a walking book of clichés, aren’t you,” James asked while smirking. Linda nodded before finishing her late. James and Linda shared a moment of silence while gazing into each other’s eyes. 

“Can I buy you another coffee?” James asked.

“I’d like that,” Linda answered with a smile. As James attempts to get the waitresses’ attention, both James and Linda notice most of the café patrons are distracted by the events on the TV. 

“What the hell?” 

The Present. 

Within the La Fin Soleil, Linda and James both run their hands along the boards fixed to the café’s loan window. 

“Ready?” Linda asked. James nodded before beads of sweat began to form on his brow. The pair pried at the boards with hammers before the boards gave way, crashing to the dusty tiled floor. The dwindling sunlight burst into the café, illuminating everything. 

“Alright, Ms. Muller. After you,” James said before Linda once again took a seat. James smiled before passing in front of the window. Where once one could view the town’s quaint brilliance, rows of charred, dilapidated shops and houses now stand. The partially devoured bodies of the townsfolk lie scattered and still, as bodily fluids filled the streets. One Year Ago. 

“Everybody, quiet,” the waitress shouted before turning the volume up on the TV. Linda, James, and the rest of the patrons watched in horror as the live news broadcast displayed hordes of the undead filling the streets. The reporter began to run for his life before being consumed by the horde. The patrons within La Fin Soleil frantically began to rush toward the exit. Linda 

grasped James’ hand tight as the pair sat still with shock. 

The Present.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw the light hit your hair. It looked like your head was on fire, but in an angelic way,” James mused. Linda smiled before taking James’ hands into hers. The pair gazed out the window as the last rays of sunlight peaked from behind the clouds. 

“Here’s to the end. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” Linda said with a quivering smirk. James lowered his head as a deep sadness washed over his face. Linda peered over at the saddened James. 

“Hey, come on. It’s… Look, I… I don’t know, I’m a fool sometimes. But, you love me for it,” Linda said, winking. James continued to hang his head before Linda gently touched his dimpled chin, lifting his head to meet her gaze. A tear began to stream down James’ cheeks. Linda tried in vain to keep her emotions hidden, but as she glanced into James’ eyes, her golden amber eyes began to well up with tears. 

“They’ll be coming,” James said. 

“… I know,” Linda answered. James gazed deeply into Linda’s eyes, grasping her hands tight. 

“I love you, Ms. Muller,” James said, weeping. 

“I-I-I know. H-How could you not?” Linda said before weeping. 

The pair tightly embraced. James ran his hands along Linda’s back, caressing and softly touching every inch. Linda closed her eyes tightly as tears streamed down her cheeks. Intense pounding on the entrance door echoed through the small café, as Linda and James continued to embrace. The boards began to give way before the café door flew open. 

Linda began to loosen her grip before grasping James with an intense grip. James closed his eyes as Linda began to twitch and flail. Linda’s eyes became vacant and bloodshot as all the colour began to drain from her face.

“Shoot it!” 

Linda lifted her head as frothy mucus spewed from her mouth. James closed his eyes before pressing a small revolver to Linda’s temple. As he fired the revolver, Linda fell to the ground. Linda’s lifeless body lay at the feet of the surviving townsfolk. Each member of the mob stood silent, brandishing weapons and assorted body parts displayed in trophy fashion. James stood trembling in front of Linda. His tears continued to stream down his face as he made his way toward Linda’s lifeless body. Retrieving a wilted daisy from his pant pocket, James reached down and placed the daisy beside Linda’s arm. A wilted peddle fell along a large bite mark that ran along the length of her arm before falling to the floor. James rose from the floor before pushing his way through the mob. 

One Year Ago. 

“What’s her problem? Damn waitress just lost her tip-” James abruptly stopped upon peering over at Lindaas he noticed her attention was elsewhere. 

“Wow. First the waitress and now the very woman who rid me of the blues?” James joked. 

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry. Do you see those?” Linda asked. 

“The Daisies?” James asked. 

“Yes, I… I don’t know, I have a thing for daisies. They always bring me to a special place, you know? I, uh, yeah, I love them,” Linda said, a slight smile forming on her face before the waitress began to alert the patrons of La Fin Soleil.

Author Interview: Gwendolyn N. Nix

What is your name and what are you known for? 

My name is Gwendolyn N. Nix. I’m known for my science fiction and fantasy writing, particularly my new release, I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, which is a weird west horror likened to Clive Barker’s Imagica and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m also an editor with Aconyte Books where we create world-expanding fiction, notably for Marvel, Ubisoft, and Arkham Horror – to name but a few! 

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is a weird west dark fantasy horror about fate versus freedom, about no-good brothers, and what it means to sacrifice all you have for power and love. When a demon bounty hunter comes calling, Domino, a witch surviving in the depths of Hell, pairs up with his mother, who died too young and carries the witch lineage in her veins, to survive. Soon the two of them are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid running from whatever torture awaits them and whoever wants to harvest their magic. At the same time, Domino discovers his brother, Wicasah, has concocted an ill-fated deal with an ancient being of lightning and thunder that will take both his sanity and soul.

 

Overall, I consider my work to slipstream in a way, borrowing pieces across genres and melding them into one big story. I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come is an amalgamation of horror, alternative history, dark fantasy, and weird western, which can really cause havoc when trying to pin down where it exactly fits on the shelf… and to me, that is some of the best kind of fiction out there. The best example of what this book comes from a fellow reviewer, “like Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy teaming up to reboot Dante’s Inferno as a Western.” However, it also brings that wide-sweeping epic feeling with prose that will stir the heart and is rooted in Americana horror where demons are cowboys and the landscape has a revenge of its own to enact on those who have abused it. All of that ticks off boxes that draw me to certain books and stories and I hope it will do the same for you.

`What places or things inspire your writing?

I consider myself a magpie writer. I take my inspiration aka “shinies” from everywhere – conversations I’ve privy to, lore and culture, traveling, and exploring the natural world. This novel was heavily inspired by the national parks that I’ve visited and the old stories associated with them, in particular, the Badlands in the Dakotas, alongside the flat plains and dinosaur history native to my home state. I’m heavily inspired by experience and require getting out and experiencing the world to create my unique settings and characters. I hoard these “shinies” and soon enough, the pile of inspiration grows so large that I have to excavate them to make space for the new… resulting in a genre-bending novel. I love exploring historical sites, but sometimes the natural world is the best source of inspiration, overall.

What music do you listen to while creating?

Crafting a playlist about the novel I’m writing is, in itself, a work in progress. It usually starts with a song that has one line of lyrics that catapults my imagination into a new realm. Genre-wise, it can be anything, but I tend to generate mood music, symphonic/orchestra pieces around it. Right now, I’m heavily inspired by The Amazing Devil and have something in the works while listening to that. While I was writing I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, I had a lot of Southern Gothic music playing in the background – Delta Rae, The Brothers Bright, The Civil Wars, a lil’ Johnny Cash.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

I love creeping horror, cosmic horror, weird horror, and folklore horror. Essentially, I look for that creeping dread and unusual twisting of the known that only the absolute unknown can create. I love monsters emerging from the woodwork that stalk their prey, perhaps opening up an entrance into a cosmic otherworld. I really enjoy historical horror, too – I’d love to read a book about pilgrims landing in a strange, unknown world that’s full of horrific things.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

I have a great love of Ash Williams from the Evil Dead franchise. He’s raunchy and weird and just totally oblivious, but he exudes this confidence that somehow lets him slay Deadites in a bumbling hilarious way. I also love The Gentlemen from The Buffy Vampire Hunter episode “Hush.” Such a unique way to present a monster to the audience and the exact type of creeping monsters that intrigue me.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

The scariest thing I’ve witnessed happened while I was in Belize conducting shark conservation research. I had an afternoon off and took a swim in the bright blue ocean waters. While I was there, I noticed a barracuda swimming close, but paid it no mind. However, I soon noticed it was swimming closer and closer. I raised a fist – as if a punch would stop the snaggle-toothed fish – when I soon realized I was surrounded by a whole school of barracuda, all of them slowly making a tight circle around me. I swam for the dock and got out of the water as soon as I could, but that hunted feeling was terrifying. 

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

This one is difficult! I’d love to have dinner with Mary Shelley and ask her to take me on a graveyard walk where I’d bring pencil and paper and make gravestone markings for fun. I’d want to know everything she had going on in her head and future stories that she was mulling over. I’d want to ask her about genre and understand the intimate details of her work and imagination. 

Realistically, I desperately want to meet Jonathan Sims! He’s part of The Rusty Quill, which created one of my favorite podcasts of all time, The Magnus Archives. 

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

An amazing horror gem I don’t hear about enough is this wonderful indie film called Pontypool, which has a unique take on zombie media. It’s black and white and takes place at a radio station in winter. The reveal is so unique and there is a hidden ending that makes you rethink the meaning of language.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

Not too long ago I would’ve said no! I’ve always considered myself a supernatural dead zone. However, while I was on a ghost hunt in Butte, Montana, we were exploring an old tin shop that had also a house of ill repute in the 1800s. And, while I was upstairs listening to our guide, I heard someone climbing the stairs with what sounded like steel-toe boots with spurs. Of course, there was no one there as we were the only tour that night! And, my friend heard it too, so I knew it wasn’t part of my imagination.

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

Ooo this is a good question. I like my horror with a good dose of fantasy or science fiction. Some of my cherished books are The Fisherman by John Langan, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, Bunny by Mona Awad, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. However, I really love supporting short story outlets and have found some of my favorite scary stories within their pages. These stories are both inspirational, shooting for what I want to create with my own work, and they also give me chills! Check out “Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris and “Leviathan Sings To Me in the Deep” by Nibedita Sen.

What are you working on now? 

Currently, I’m working on the third and final installment in my Celestial Scripts series. But because I have way too many ideas and not enough time, I’m also writing a standalone book about a city made from the bones of a dead god of magic.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

You can find my work anywhere online, but check out my website for direct links to my books, ongoing projects, book reviews, and general thoughts and musings on writing: https://gwendolynnix.com/books-projects/

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: The Exorcism Of God

 

Plotline: An American priest working in Mexico is possessed during an exorcism and ends up committing a terrible act. Eighteen years later, the consequences of his sin come back to haunt him, unleashing the greatest battle within.

Who would like it: Fans of Paranormal Activity franchises and those who loved The Taken of Deborah Logan

High Points: This movie didn’t do it for me at all.

Complaints: There are so many, this priest should have NOT been in charge of a parish and he wasn’t strong enough to do what needed to be done.

Overall: Really good concept but they just didn’t pull it off.

Stars: 2.5

Where I watched it: VOD

 

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings by Gaby Triana

Review by staff writer and book blogger Renata Pavrey

Literally Dead is the first book in the holiday hauntings series, set around Halloween. Nineteen horror writers come together to create a collection of spooky tales for the Halloween season. There are stories about haunted dresses and shady bookstores, real-life monsters and costumed creatures, murder victims and ghostly insects, soldiers of war, and civilians affected by war. There are monsters in refrigerators, serial killers disguised as ghosts; suspicious postcards, and corn fields that harbour more than corn. We read about scavenger hunts to collect ghosts, and ghosts that teach us how to get rid of ghosts; physical entities, and demons of the mind. The crew of esteemed authors in the horror genre brings to us an assortment of stories under the theme of hauntings.

With such a narrow theme, I wondered what new ideas the writers would present for Halloween. But each one is outstanding in its own way. The collection covers a range of subjects from war to folklore, including genres of crime and contemporary fiction, with tones ranging from humor to out-and-out horror. Literally Dead brings together common Halloween tropes of haunted houses and spirits to beware of, costumes and candy, and memories associated with October 31st that have nothing to do with Halloween, and presents these well-worn concepts into a rich anthology of holiday horrors. I loved the touch of Chinese, Ukrainian and Welsh folklore and customs associated with Halloween, contemporary social issues and significant historic moments, nostalgia, and beauty associated with a season of darkness.

Some of my favorites were The Ghost Cricket by Lee Murray (a touch of Chinese folklore with a noisy cricket that refuses to be quiet even in death), The Ghost Lake Mermaid by Alethea Kontis (the ghosts of murder victims discuss racism and the law when the color of your skin decides if your corpse gets justice), Ghosts of Enerhodar by Henry Herz (the ghosts of Ukrainian folklore feature against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war), Halloween at the Babylon by Lisa Morton (a theatre patron tries to prevent other guests from becoming ghosts like herself), Ghosts of Candies Past by Jeff Strand (a quirky, sugary fest of long-eaten Halloween treats that return to haunt), Soul Cakes by Catherine McCarthy (the living and dead collide at a special time of the year, under the veil of Welsh folklore), Always October by Jeremy Megargee (about a ghost hunter on the lookout for her replacement).

Editor Gaby Triana has done a fabulous job in curating this anthology. A wonderful collection for the spooky season that keeps the reader wanting to read more. It feels like nineteen stories aren’t enough and thirty-one would have been just right – one for each day of the Halloween month. The cover has an old-fashioned vibe with costumed trick-or-treaters and pumpkin baskets, and I love how the book emphasizes the nostalgic aspect of Halloween. There’s a brilliant piece by the cover artist that makes for an equally good read, like the rest of the stories.

Some quotes:

-He didn’t believe in ghosts and haunted houses. Maybe they believed in him.

-You weren’t supposed to run up the stairs of a house that was disproving your assertion that it was not haunted.

-Thoughts crash into my head now; everything falls into place, a well-ordered avalanche.

-An old ghost once told me that if my story faded, I would fade with it.

-The ghostly insect set up a mournful song, the wistful notes as pure and sharp as a mountain stream.

-Are you running from ghosts, or are they running from you?

-Even death couldn’t tame her – if anything, it only seemed to make her more defiant.

-This tradition isn’t to appease her ghost. It’s to keep the ghost in her place.

-Alex had always been a ghost. Long before he died.

-I’d counted twenty-five casseroles. I wondered if they were some kind of charm or talisman. Bringing something not just to feed the grieving family, but to appease the ghosts.

My rating – 5/5

Historian of Horror : ‘Tis the Season to be Horrid!

I know, I know, in my last missive I tantalized the populace with the prospect of an examination of the stellar, if flawed career of legendary British anthologist Peter Haining for this edition, but some new information has become available but not yet acquired. That posting must needs go onto the back burner for the nonce. Fear not, my faithful fiends, it will be forthcoming. For now, as Halloween is rapidly approaching, something more in keeping with the season seemed appropriate to take its place.

Holiday episodes of popular TV programs are a common occurrence, and indeed were even in the days when the dominant home medium was radio. After some research I have identified what appears to be the very first Halloween-related broadcast on what was in 1952 the new medium of American television: the fifth episode of the first season of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

Ozzie Nelson was a big band leader in the 1930s who married his lead singer, Harriet Hilliard before they moved from the ballroom stage to the airwaves as regulars on Red Skelton’s radio show, The Raleigh Cigarette Program. Along the way, the couple found time to spawn a pair of sons, David (1936-2011) and Eric Hilliard, born in 1940 and known to family, friends and fans alike as Ricky. In 1944, Ozzie had enough clout to start his own radio show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, starring himself and his better half as themselves with actors portraying their offspring. It was a typical sitcom of the time and medium, and was quite successful. Halfway through its ten-year run, the Nelson boys were deemed old enough to play themselves, and so mote it was. 

By 1952, television had been around long enough to warrant its own versions of many popular shows from the old medium, including the Nelson family’s. That program lasted fourteen seasons, for reasons that, honestly, I do not understand. Even more so after watching the TV broadcast of October 31, 1952, “The Halloween Party”.

I have no recollection of ever watching The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet during its run from 1952 to 1966, the reason probably being that my father, who exercised a sort of benevolent dictatorship over the family viewing on the one set we owned at the time, found it so monumentally boring that he refused to allow it to be seen in our house. As he was fond of saying, it offended by its blandness.

For so it is. Feel free to watch that episode with its aimless depiction of Ozzie’s utter ineptness at planning and executing a Halloween party for the neighborhood adults. I don’t recommend it, except as a rather curious historical artifact.

Instead, may I direct your attention to the radio broadcast of exactly four years earlier, October 31, 1948, “Haunted House”. Rather than engaging in banal pursuits into contrived incompetence, Ozzie spends his half-hour air time playing around with the idea of investigating a supposedly haunted house in the neighborhood, with some fairly amusing results. It had an energy to it that the television show lacked for its entire run, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain from the few times I’ve been able to bring myself to watch the odd episode or two. As with so many programs that made the transition, it was better heard but not seen. 

Despite that, it lasted long enough for younger son Ricky to join the trend of juvenile television stars making the move into music. Following the collapse of the first generation of rock ‘n’ rollers by 1959, including the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson in a plane crash that February, Ricky and his peers filled the airwaves with a more adult-acceptable version of the genre, one that had its rough edges carefully excised. Ricky was more successful than most, but his fame petered out by the time Motown and the British Invasion reshaped popular music for the better a few years later.

He did make a comeback fueled by nostalgia in the 1970s, but himself died in a plane crash in 1985. Ozzie passed in 1975, and Harriet in 1994. The couple’s one genre-related TV performance was in the seventh episode of the third season of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in a tale called “You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan”, which aired on November 12, 1972. Ricky appeared in the fifth episode of Tales of the Unexpected on March 9, 1977, in a story entitled “A Hand for Sonny Blue”. 

A minimal contribution to the genre, admittedly, but an historic one. Being first does count for something.

And so, until next we meet, I bid you, as always…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Author Interview : Paul DeBlassie III

What is your name and what are you known for? Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., psychologist/writer of metaphysical thrillers to pop off the top on the head with trickster mischief and magic and spinning out this interview for HorrorAddicts.net – great to be with u!

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it. I’ll go with my latest metaphysical head spinner – Goddess of Everything. Be careful! Folks/readers/reviewers have said it has triggers aplenty, a psychic dynamic I think is a bad/good thing since badness looms large so we can better see what’s behind it, a catch-you-by-surprise, mind-blowing reality. It’s a really decent story – 100 4.5-star Goodread reviews!

What places or things inspire your writing? I’m totally into New Mexico, my homeland with ancestral DNA going back 1000 years. So, plenty of mystery, magic, religion, witchcraft, and horror are floating through the ether sphere. It births the stuff infused in my three horror novels: The Unholy, Goddess of the Wild Thing, and Goddess of Everything.

What music do you listen to while creating? John Lee Hooker is my man for all things conjuring and mystic making, the beat and rhythm and drone of the tunes setting me into a headspace that drives my supernatural narratives into weird dimensions.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? Well, gotta admit it’s the supernatural thriller razzmatazz that sets my psychic fires going, the works of King, Blackwood, and Lovecraft are major sources of literary fuel.

Who is your favorite horror icon? Without a doubt, no way anyone else compares to the touch, mystery, and metaphysical intrigue of Algernon Blackwood, a true pioneer, and eternal spirit in the world of supernatural storytelling.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed? Oooooh….I’m a clinical depth psychologist who treats the transpersonal unconscious mind, so there’s a storehouse of scary, spinetingling, and horrifying experiences I’ve gone through in forty years of psychotherapy practice I bring to the phenomenological collage painted onto the pages of my novels – wicked archbishops unwittingly or deliberately employing dark magic to access power, patients who willfully have engaged the spirit world for egoic purposes that inevitably scar the mind and generate frightening encounters with the dark side of the Great Unseen. And then there comes to mind the time I permitted a personal lapse of consciousness: I entered a haunted home I shouldn’t have gone into. A spirit attached itself to my shoulder and followed me home – had to do a bit of an exorcism to banish that foul presence – ugh! So, I once heard Stephen King say on a podcast interview, he’d never had experiences with the supernatural; but, for me, it’s quite the opposite. Supernatural occurrences manifest regularly in my life and generate enormous psychic oomph for my novels.

If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring? I wouldn’t go. It’s like Gabriel Garcia Marquez said when asked what he’d do if while walking on the streets of Mexico City, he saw Hemmingway on the other side of the road. Would he cross over and introduce himself and meet the famous man? He said no. He wouldn’t want to confuse the man with the work. Besides, those who’ve passed on – Blackwood and Algernon – hover in my study, whispering plot points and wicked ideas as I write. So, you don’t need dinner when there’s ready access to the ever-present reality of the Unseen World.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?) My surrealist artist wife, Kate, and I are finishing Dark on Netflix, a multi-layered horror flick that dips into alternate realities, choices, and fate. It’s mystifying, mind-bending, and a gem in the horror genre.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost? Oh yeah! We all have been. Sometimes we allow our psychic eyes to open to the fact, and sometimes we don’t. Maybe we don’t want to see into the mystic, fearing what’s there. Depth psychology says shifts of mood and energy indicate psychic triggering of the spirit world, ghosts called forth. Sometimes you see them through the corner of your eyes, or they manifest as a startling mental image (S. King expertly taps into this phenomenon). At times, they work behind the scenes via synchronous events or scary happenings like thinking evil thoughts about someone you’ve held bitterness against and a bird splatters against your car windshield while driving. Ghosts can be bloody!

What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict? Select volumes of Stephen King (what’s stayed with you over time), and all of Black and Lovecraft. Then, on the contemporary scene, there are so many good writers, I’d say go with and keep on your virtual or literal shelf whatever has had soul nourishment and you feel drawn to pick up again and again over time, open at random, and discover new little supernatural jewels. I just finished, The Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts. Well done!

What are you working on now? I’ve got Seer: The Case of the Man Who Lost His Soul sizzling on my literary cast iron griddle. You can lose your soul. It’s a tough and scary world that a person trips into when they’ve traded the soul, thinking they can simply get it back by reforming their evil ways, making resolutions, or getting religion. Hah! Not so, my friend, not so. Seerdelves into the phenomenon of evil set against the reality of natural magic and how it plays out with Dr. Ernesto de la Tierra and an arrogant, wealthy patient. They thought playing with dark metaphysical realities was no big thing. Surprise . . . there are no small things with little consequences when it comes to toying with the supernatural.

Where can readers find your work?  I’m a one-stop shopper for all things metaphysical, supernatural, and horrifying – Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3GCBuNL

Ep 217 Nightmare Fuel: The Bye Bye Man

nightmarefuel

bye bye manHello Addicts,

In 2017, a movie came out that introduced us to the entity known as the Bye Bye Man. It was an introduction to a boogeyman who hunted you just for thinking his name. Rather than offer a review of the movie, this week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the legend of the Bye Bye Man.

The Bye Bye Man’s first appearance was in a short story by Robert Damon Schneck titled “The Bridge to Body Island”. The legend begins in an orphanage in the 1920s with a blind albino boy constantly teased by the other children. He attempts to run away several times, only for his plans to fail each time. Eventually, he escapes by stabbing one of his caretakers with a pair of scissors. After that, the young man lives a life on the railroad hopping on trains and killing at each stop. In need of companionship, he creates a dog with pieces of his victims, mostly eyes and tongues, who he names Gloomsinger. When the Bye Bye man feels someone talking or even thinking about him, he uses Gloomsinger to track them down. Once this creepy canine finds its quarry, he lets out a shrill whistle to alert his master, who then kills them.

The Bye Bye Man’s description is of a pale white skinned man with long hair wearing black glasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and a pea coat. There is a tattoo on his right wrist and carries a sack around with him. Inside this Sack of Gore are more pieces of his victims, which he uses to replenish a constantly decaying Gloomsinger. His preferred killing locations are along the railways, but he has wandered to people’s homes and used tricks to get them to open the door. This includes voice mimicry of someone you know. Make no mistake, once you open that door, you are his next victim.

Could this just be an elaborate story to scare people? Certainly. Can it be true? Possibly. The only way to know for sure is to think of or talk about the Bye Bye Man and listen for the whistle.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Logbook of Terror : Horror Addict’s Lament

 Mark sat in the breakfast nook, his steaming cup of coffee untouched, staring out at the myriad of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that adorned his front yard. The day after Halloween was always a difficult time for him, and this year, with his wife having passed on just one week prior, he felt more alone than it seemed right or allowable for a person to feel. Halloween was always their most special time together. No matter what was going on in their lives or in the world around them, they always had their beloved season and their sacred day. They always had Halloween, just like they had each other. 

    But not anymore. 

    Judith was gone and she wasn’t coming back, no matter how hard Mark hoped that she would. So, accepting this fact, he’d endeavored to reach her. He tried all the spells that he could find, went to the local medium, and did everything he could to break through, to make contact somehow, but nothing worked. Even on All Hallow’s Eve, the holiest of all days, when the veil between the living and the dead is thread-bare thin, still…nothing. 

    Mark let out a deep, mournful sigh, then picked his coffee up and sipped it slowly, his eyes still on the yard, his mind churning. Since he’d been unable to contact Judith in the spirit realm, Mark retreated to his first intention: resurrection. 

    There has to be a way to bring her back, he mused, there must! And I’m going to find out and my Judith and I will be together again! 

    Mark savored his coffee. Midnight Syndicate played softly on the nearby stereo. Then, he stood and walked out to the yard. 

    The leaves crunched beneath him as Mark laid down among the Styrofoam headstones. He whispered his wife’s name and closed his eyes while dark clouds rolled in above him. 

    Wind blew over Mark, catching Mark’s thoughts and his grief and carrying them into the ether, through the in-between, to the deep darkness,  where Judith waited and listened. She felt the pain and mourning from her dear husband. And she reached out…

***

    Judith’s decaying hands burst out of the ground on either side of Mark. She scratched and clawed and pulled herself up and wrapped her arms around his torso. 

    Thunder crashed and the sky turned black. The soil opened up, and Judith pulled her loving husband down into the dark soil.

    Mark screamed in horror and confusion. The loose earth spread out around him. 

    “Why do you wake me, my dear?” Judith rasped. 

    “Because I love you! I miss you!” Mark wailed, dirt falling into his mouth 

    “And now, because you couldn’t let me sleep, we will be together, in terror and unrest forever!” 

    Mark fought and screamed for help as his wife forced him into the earth, the soil filling in above them, the decorative tombstones marking their place. 

    And as he sank into the dirt, Mark wished he hadn’t used black magic to bring Judith back.

***

    As the years passed, Mark and Judith’s house sat untouched. Even the most ambitious realtors in town feared the rumors that surrounded the property and refused to go near it. The bank ignored it. The neighborhood children made up stories about the old couple who had lived there, telling tales of how they loved Halloween, that they had become ghouls themselves and that they haunted their own former home. And maybe those stories were true, for on chilly October evenings, are said to be seen sitting in the breakfast nook, sipping tea. And the Halloween decorations are still in the yard and on the house, covered in moss and vines, standing year-round, untouched, forever. 

Author Interview : Isaac Thorne

What is your name and what are you known for? 

 Isaac Thorne. I started out trying to make myself known as an author of short tales of dark comic horror in the vein of stuff like Tales From the Crypt and Creepshow. After writing my debut novel, The Gordon Place, my attention shifted away from that and toward horror with a social commentary edge.

Tell us about one of your works and why we should read it.

Hell Spring is my new novel (released Sept. 21, 2022). It’s not a direct follow-up to The Gordon Place, but it is set in the same fictional small town of Lost Hollow. Eight people in 1955 get trapped in their local general store by a thunderstorm and flash flooding. One of the eight is a supernatural predator in the guise of a famous sex symbol of the time. She’s a demon who feeds on the toxic guilt and shame of those with whom she is trapped. 

The commentary component of Hell Spring is a bit less overt than the antiracist message of The Gordon Place, but it does address some stuff we all deal with throughout our lives.

What places or things inspire your writing?

I’m not sure I believe in inspiration as far as my work is concerned. My ideas are prompted mainly by the news, though. I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie. The nightly catastrophes and disappointments there are fuel for the more esoteric components of my work, the stuff that people reading at the surface level might not get right away. More than that, my lifetime of horror fandom, the area I live in, and the interesting, unique people around me typically swirl around in my head while I’m working.

What music do you listen to while creating?

That totally depends. Sometimes I need absolute quiet, especially if I’m working on a particularly challenging scene that has little basis in reality. For Hell Spring, I spent much of my writing time listening to oldies, shit from the late 1940s and early 1950s. I tried to put myself in the mindset of the era by listening to the types of music the residents of my little town might’ve heard when they switched on the radio on any given day.

What is your favorite horror aesthetic? 

This depends on my mood. For movies, I’ve lately been drawn to early 1970s Giallo as well as the old Hammer films. The bright colors, the melodrama, and their uninhibitedness appeals to me. That said, I also love a good 80s slasher from time to time. Regarding books, I’ll read just about any type of horror. I’m most drawn to realistically depicted, character-driven stuff, though.

Who is your favorite horror icon?

Edgar Allan Poe. As much as I’d like to provide a more modern answer to that, I’ve probably read and reread Poe more than anyone else. Sure, he was the father of the modern detective story, but his gothic horror stuff always deserves another look.

What was the scariest thing you’ve witnessed?

Shit, man. Everything’s scary. Life is scary. On a more personal note, that would be a car versus motorcycle accident I witnessed one summer day. The dude on the bike was struck by the car at an intersection. He flew off, lost his helmet, and tumbled through the air like a stick thrown by a child. He survived, fortunately. But I’ll never forget seeing that burly man’s body spinning through the air like that.

8. If invited to dinner with your favorite (living or dead) horror creator, who would it be and what would you bring?

Dead: Edgar Allan Poe and a bottle of Stonehaus Davenport.

Living: Stephen King and a cherry cheesecake.

What’s a horror gem you think most horror addicts don’t know about? (book, movie, musician?)

Tennessee Gothic, a movie based on the horror-comedy short story “American Gothic” by Ray Russell. I had the good fortune to review that movie for TNHorror.com a few years ago. It ended up winning the Hubbie Award at Joe Bob’s first Drive-In Jamboree.

Have you ever been haunted or seen a ghost?

I don’t think so. When I was a small child, I saw some weird shit in the first house I remember living in (like a pair of jeans walking around the bedroom on their own). I’ve always had a lot of trouble sleeping, though. It could’ve been exhaustion or sleep paralysis.

11. What are some books that you feel should be in the library of every horror addict?

You need to have one or more Richard Matheson books. Preferably a novel and a collection of short stories. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story should be there as well. And Stephen King’s Cujo.

What are you working on now? 

The next Lost Hollow novel. Nope, I’m not done with that little town yet.

Where can readers find your work? (URL #1 place for them to go.)

https://www.isaacthorne.com

Book Review: Black Flames & Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman

Review by Stephanie Ellis 

4 stars

Black Flames & Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman, pub. Independent, 28 Feb. 2020

Synopsis:

This is Frank Coffman’s second large collection of speculative poetry. As before, the verses herein cross the spectrum of Weird Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure and include examples from sub-genres of these modes of the high imagination. Following his chapbook, This Ae Nighte, Every Nighte and Alle (2018) and his acclaimed magnum opus, The Coven’s Hornbook & Other Poems (2019), this collection of 93 poems (six sequences of poems: sonnet sequences, a “megasonnet” sequence, a sequence in an Old Irish metric, etc) continues in the same tradition. A formalist whose rhymed and metered verses follow in the tradition of the exemplary work of the great early Weird Tales poets such as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Donald Wandrei, and Leah Bodine Drake, he is also a great experimenter with a broad variety of exotic and cross-cultural forms and an innovative creator of several new ones. His poetry has been published in several magazines, including Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, The Audient Void, Abyss & Apex, Gathering Storm, Phatasmagoria and Lovedraftiana; and in anthologies such as Quoth the Raven, Caravan’s Awry, and Sounds of the Night.

Review:

Black Flames and Gleaming Shadows by Frank Coffman is very much verse in the traditional sense, by which I refer to his employment of recognised forms, for example, the sonnet, or his adaptation of them to create his own variant. Having read, and written much, in recent years in blank or free verse, it took a while to settle back into reading poetry of this style, but settle I did.

During my degree studies, I spent some time on Victorian poetry which led me to the likes of Tennyson and Browning, the latter remaining a favourite, especially with his “Porphyria’s Lover” and “The Laboratory”. Coffman’s poetry took me right back to that place, that sense of enjoyment of a tale told well, in poetic form. One word of advice: this collection is one very much to dip in and out of as I find my brain has a tendency to try and overlay the pattern and rhythm of one poem onto the next – which does the subsequent poem a disservice until you pause, reset and re-read. You might find the same.

From the King in Yellow to King Arthur, Coffman covers a wide variety of subjects, each fitting neatly into the convenient sections: Weird Tales & Cosmic Horror, Vampiricon, Samhain Halloween, Poems of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Myth, Legend, and Metapoetry, Homages & Some Traditional Verse. All are written in traditional form and there is a very useful Glossary of Forms explaining those he uses.

Yet tradition does not mean dry mimicry, instead, he adopts an element of playful homage at times as in “The Spooky Path Not Taken” (a wonderful ghostly take on Robert Frost’s classic) and “It WAS a Dark and Stormy Night” (which is most definitely not the opening line).

Whilst the writing is in this ‘older’ style, the subject matter is often very modern and pertinent to the concerns of today. “The Cyborg Dilemma” questions our advance into a brave new world where biomechanics bring the human and machine into ever closer contact, a synthesis of worrying implications. “Leaving Earth Behind” finishes with a poignant couplet effectively asking – shouldn’t we look after our own planet first before trying to ‘terraform’ others. Strong emotion with the lightest touch can be found in “Fib-on-ac-ci-dent?”, such wistfulness in so few words.

Other poems are akin to the epic narrative verse of yore. The gothic “The Vampire Ball” is surely something that should become a must for reading aloud at a small gathering, by a roaring fire, on a dark and stormy night …

Frank Coffman has taken tradition and made it his own, indeed amongst some of his poems are pleas not to discard the old, simply because it is just that. “Post” starts ‘This age of ours – it seems to me – is flawed/Things and Ideas “Old” must be replaced …  That traditions are deemed anathema is scary.”

With Coffman’s journey not yet done, I’ll finish with his own words from “Verse’s Vagabond”. ‘No rest! So many roads I’ve never gone!/Though I set off at dusk … ‘twill soon enough be dawn.’

Let us all accompany him on his adventure, vagabond readers traveling with him.

Historian of Horror : Down to the Sea in Ships

Eventually, one comes to the realization that not everything from childhood is worth clinging to. I have, for example, lost my taste for sugary breakfast cereals. It’s been decades since I’ve stood on a skateboard. And, as much as it pains me to admit, the original Lost in Space absolutely sucked.

I’m not all that crazy about the most recent incarnation, either. What sort of idiot takes his family into a space storm without securing all the large, heavy boxes in the room?!?!?!?

Anyhow. The show started out well, back in 1965, but by the third season, it had long since jumped the shark. Being as how the theme this time out is haunted lighthouses, I had planned to write this on the seventh episode from that year, called, coincidentally, “The Haunted Lighthouse”, which aired on October 18, 1967. It concerned the Robinson clan encountering a spaceship that acted as a sort of lighthouse and is kind of sort of haunted, but honestly, I couldn’t tell you much more about it than that, as I found it completely unwatchable.

So, instead, let’s take a look at a house of another kind, one I’ve mentioned before.

I hope the populace has had a chance to watch the utterly delightful Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”. If so, you will have met Cain and Abel, the caretakers of the Houses respectively of Mystery and Secrets. I wrote about Abel’s domicile recently. This column concerns Cain’s.

Unlike House of Secrets, there was no hiatus for House of Mystery after the old days of cheesy superheroics ended and Cain took the abode into a much darker direction, beginning with issue 174, dated May-June, 1968. I had previously read the title occasionally, but my first experience with the new style came not quite a year later, with issue 179, dated March-April, 1969. 

The issue is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. It contains the earliest known professional work of iconic artist Bernie Wrightson. And it has a story drawn by Neal Adams, whom I believe I have also mentioned before.

In addition, I have noted my love of Victorian architecture, especially those designated Second Empire. One of the features commonly seen on that type of house is a widow’s walk, a sort of fenced-in area atop the upper levels of the Mansard roof that is the defining characteristic of Second Empire. From such a vantage point, the wives of seamen would watch for their husband’s ships to return from lengthy voyages, as long as they have had the foresight to construct said edifice within viewing range of the nearest body of water capacious enough to contain docking facilities for such vessels. Thus it is with the final story of the comic book, other than a single-page reprint.

“Widow’s Walk” has sailor Angus Beame marrying the daughter of a shipping magnate in hopes of inheriting the family fortune. However, after engineering his father-in-law’s untimely demise, he is furious that he is cut out of the will, other than the ship he has been captaining for the firm. He sails off in a huff, which is not a kind of sailing vessel. His abandoned bride lays down a curse upon him to the effect that Angus will not be able to return to his home port, nor any other, until she dies. She stands on the widow’s walk every subsequent day of her very long life, reiterating the malediction. There, she eventually collapses and dies of extreme old age, upon which her husband’s ship floats up from Davy Jones’ Locker, where it has been berthed since the curse was put upon him. He stands at the wheel, more than a little the worse for wear.

The story was written by Howie Post, best known for humorous comic book stories but who did spend some time on the horror comics published by Atlas, the precursor to Marvel Comics. It was inked by Joe Orlando, whose own horror pedigree is rather more impressive. He spent time on the EC horror comics of the 1950s, including Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and Vault of Horror, as well as numerous Atlas titles. By 1968, he was an editor at DC Comics, including on House of Mystery.

So, not a lighthouse, but the topic is maritime-related. Close enough for government work, as we used to say back when I worked for the government.

Our next venture into the outre from this space will concern legendary horror anthologist Peter Haining, a man possessed of great vision that was not always 20-20, but whose is? Join me then, won’t you? A good time will be had by all, I assure you.

And, as always, my dear raconteurs of the repugnant…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Odds and Dead Ends: The Fog Horn/The Legacy of Bradbury’s Lighthouse

There are stories out there that have legacies that transcend their origins. Everyone has heard of Sweeney Todd, but very few could say that he first appeared in a penny dreadful called The String of Pearls. Werewolves changing with the full moon is common knowledge, but we forget that this concept was first properly grounded in the public consciousness by the 1943 film Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man. So many stories have had those they influence outlast their humble beginnings. And so is perhaps true with ‘The Fog Horn’, a short story published by science-fiction writer, Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury is perhaps best known now for his novel Fahrenheit 451, one of the staples of mid-twentieth-century dystopian fiction, featuring a society which has prohibited the possession of books, with the fire department now in charge of creating fires, not extinguishing them, to rid the world of the paperback devils. His other publications include Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man, and are also very well regarded. He is, therefore, a damn good writer.

In 1951, Bradbury published a short story called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. In this story, two lighthouse attendants witness a great creature rising up from the depths. This creature is big, with great eyes that reflect the light of the lighthouse, with a great neck, and a massive, hulking body. The last of a species of dinosaur, it is speculated. It has come here once a year for the past few years now, and the sound of the lighthouse’s fog horn is almost exactly the same as the monster’s, to the lighthouse on the rock, which is described as similarly looking like a long neck on a great body emerging from the sea. The monster attacks the lighthouse, destroying it and trapping the two keepers in the rubble. Having destroyed the thing it believes to be another of its own kind, the monster howls in lamentation and sorrow, before departing into the seas, never to be seen again.

When this story was published, a small monster movie about a monster awakened from the depths of the sea thanks to atomic testing, was in development. The working title for this film was apparently to be called Monster from Beneath The Sea. Upon seeing the story, the producers bought the rights to the story and changed their script around a bit to capitalize on Bradbury’s up-and-coming success. They included a scene where their dinosaur, a Rhedosaurus (completely made up for the film), appears in silhouette, and attacks and destroys a lighthouse, before going on its rampage through Manhattan. The film itself is actually good fun, with some great stop-motion monster effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen, and it finishes off with a nice sequence utilizing Coney Island to have its finale. Meanwhile, the original story, when it is anthologised in The Golden Apples Of The Sun, has its name changed to ‘The Fog Horn,’ and has been called so ever since.

The story, however, does not end there with this little B-movie. When The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was released, the poster depicted it breathing smoke and fire. The Rhedosaurus doesn’t breathe any such smoke or flame in the film because of budget and other practical reasons, but since when do posters tell the objective truth of a film? This poster attracted the attention of Japanese film producers, who decided to make a similar film. They brought in Ishiro Honda, interwove their own, very recent atomic age fears and memories into the narrative (remember that Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t even a decade past), and created their own beast from the depths of the sea. Thus was born Gojira, or, to western audiences, Godzilla.

So we have a little short story about a dinosaur and a lighthouse to thank for the biggest monster of them all, the cementation of the kaiju as an international force of nature, and thousands of action figures and t-shirts worldwide. And if anyone is an old-school Pokemon fan, go back and watch the episode ‘Mystery At The Lighthouse’, an episode which you probably forgot about completely and yet will instantly remember as soon as you’ve read this. A massive dinosaur-like pokemon with shining eyes emerges from the sea to the summons of a fog-shrouded lighthouse, it’s one of the most haunting images of many people’s childhoods at a certain age. Coincidence?

And then let’s wonder if other lighthouse-based stories have been influenced by this classic short. It’s been stated by Leonard Nimoy that an episode of Star Trek was inspired by the story, but could we also include 2019’s The Lighthouse as having been influenced in some way by Bradbury? Two male lighthouse keepers trapped far away from civilization, seeing ancient things rising out of the depths? Seems familiar. And what about the 1977 serial of Doctor Who, ‘The Horror at Fang Rock’, where again, a lighthouse shrouded by the mists comes under attack from a strange, monstrous presence? How far does Bradbury’s tale’s influence go?

Far beyond what he intended, that’s for sure. The little lighthouse that could, it seems to have a great legacy in the world of horror, science-fiction, and fantasy; one that has left it forever changed.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter/Instagram: KJudgeMental

Shadow’s Love : The Land Below

“The council is our system of government. They choose everything: the governing codes, Admissions, Subtractions, and the…entertainment,” he said in obvious disgust. Anticipating Lastor’s question, the messenger hastened to explain. “The entertainment is a weekly ritual. It is a competition of torture, its subjects brought by the week’s contestants. Some subjects are convinced they will become vampires at last, fulfilling some pathetic fantasy but most are brought forcefully, as lambs to the slaughter.”

“Truly they have forgotten. Neither life is less deserving, we all deserve to die.” Lastor stopped pacing. “How is it possible no humans know of this?”

The messenger waved a hand dismissively. “Currently, most believe that the sewer line is so precariously balanced geographically that to go in would be near suicide. The sewers break through to a monstrous cavern, with space enough to comfortably hold hundreds, protected from the sun by miles of dirt. Those with admission may come and go as they please, those craving admission must win their favor to gain entry. 

“You are Lady Audrey’s husband. They have been watching one who fits your description since the councilman’s son decided he would marry your wife. If you were foolish enough to go through the proper channels, they would kill you in a heartbeat.”

“How do they know who I am?” Lastor demanded.

“They broke into her mind.” The messenger looked downcast. “As a result, they know everything about you. They know her passion for you is equaled only by yours for her, and that eventually, somehow, they can expect you to arrive. As such, they will watch for you and hunt you until you are in pieces. Or dead, but they do generally prefer pieces. It will be nearly impossible for you to break in and free her and you will almost certainly not survive. There are other ways of liberating your wife.”

            Lastor remained quiet, his eyes searching for answers. 

The messenger took a breath. “You recall that she is to marry the son of a council member.” 

Lastor nodded. 

“You would of course have no way of knowing that I am the council member’s second son. It is to be my brother who marries your wife. Were he to be unable to marry her for any reason, I will immediately be required by the council to marry her. If I marry her, she will be in my control and must obey me, as stipulated by the council code. From there we have but to remove her at our leisure.”

“Clever.” Lastor looked around him and grabbed one of the bartenders who was coming out the service entrance for a smoke and looked him in the eyes. “May I have a cigarette please.”

The bartender nodded demurely and pulled the unopened pack from his pocket and handed it as well as a book of matches to Lastor.

“Thank you,” Lastor said, unwrapping the cigarettes. “You can go now.” 

The bartender nodded again and walked back into the club with a vacant look on his face.

The lighter flickered in the dark, the flame unruffled by the slightest breath of wind. The night felt dead. Lastor rolled his eyes, taking a drag off his cigarette. He squeezed his eyes tight shut for a moment until sparkles danced in his vision. “When do we leave?”

Lastor and the messenger ducked through a wrought iron archway in the oldest part of town, leading down an alley that was practically falling apart around them. Bits of mortar crumbled as Lastor’s long coat brushed past. They picked their way through piles of brick and rubble, following what was only a vaguely beaten path. 

The messenger finally stopped. He crouched down and set his fingers into the manhole cover and pulled it up as easily as if it were a plate. He slid the cover aside and climbed down the rusty ladder. Lastor followed, pulling the cover back behind him and dropping the last ten feet or so to the dirty sewer floor.

Lastor lost count of the twists and turns they made. The scent of ancient human waste overrode all else, and Lastor could no more have scented a den of vampires than heard them.

The tunnel began to glow with an ambient light that gently filled the tunnel, growing brighter slowly. As they rounded a final turn, Lastor’s stomach dropped as the floor suddenly ceased to exist. Hundreds of yards away, he could vaguely make out the other side of what was an enormous cavern. Lastor edged closer to the precipice and peered out over the edge.

It was an amazing sight. The cavern was large enough to fit several Coliseums and a few Chrysler buildings between them. There were buildings in crooked rows, shacks, houses, mansions, what appeared to be clubs, and at the center a large arena, all cobbled together with collected rubbish. From their vantage point, they had a bird’s eye view of the center of the arena, empty but for a single raised platform with an altar. Beside the arena was a giant black building with pillars lining it like bars. The back of the black building was connected to one of the statelier mansions. The whole cavern was lit by the soft greenish-white glow from what appeared to be streetlights.

Lastor tore his eyes away from the building and looked at the messenger. “So. We’re here. Now what?”

The messenger smirked. “Now you go kill my brother.”

Lastor’s eyes flashed and he allowed himself a tiny smile. “Where is he?”

The messenger closed his eyes and was very still, searching as Lastor had done. He was quiet for a moment or two. Then he opened his eyes and looked at Lastor. 

            “With your wife.”

Lastor’s eyes blazed. Before the messenger knew what was happening, Lastor had vanished down the giant ladder to the cavern floor. 

Nightmare Fuel: The Seguin Island Lighthouse

nightmarefuel

Sequin Lighthouse (2006)

Sequin Lighthouse (2006), courtesy of MaineAnEncyclopedia.com

Hello Addicts,

When you are out at sea during a storm, one of the most welcome sights is the light coming from shore. A bright shining beam cutting through the darkest night, the roughest of storms, and the densest bank of fog, letting you know that shore is nearby. It also lets you know that there are rocks nearby so you don’t run aground. But what is it like for those who maintained the light? This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the haunting of the Seguin Island Lighthouse.

Being a lighthouse keeper is a solitary life and an enormous commitment. Even if your family is with you, the isolation can get to you and do strange things to your mind unless you have some sort of release. A keeper’s wife at the Seguin Island Lighthouse in Georgetown, ME, used a piano to battle the loneliness, but according to legend, she only learned one song on it. Between the isolation and the repetition of the song, the keeper was driven insane. Much like in Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining”, he destroyed the piano with an ax before turning it on her and then finishing with himself. This happened in the mid-19th century but hasn’t stopped them from letting their presence known.

People who visit the lighthouse report hearing the ghostly piano melody, even though there is no piano on the premises. Also, there are reports from members of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed there of furniture moving, things vanishing, a young girl laughing and waving, and other ghostly sounds. A Coast Guard warrant officer also claimed to have spotted a spirit wearing oilskin clothing, shaking him out of sleep and shouting, “Don’t take the furniture. Please, leave my home alone!” The next day, a boat carrying the furniture and the warrant officer sank. Was it the ghost trying to keep his possessions there, or was it just a freak coincidence?

Isolation can play a lot of tricks on people’s minds, especially when you have a high value and high anxiety position, such as a lighthouse keeper. That, coupled with moving water and the right combination of stone, can make for a recording of past events to be played out again and again. Can it also trap spirits there? Who can really say?

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Portland Horror Film Fest Day 5 Part 2

 
 
 

 

Live Action Reviews on location! Portland Horror Film Festival 2022. This film festival is a 5-day International Festival of Terror, bringing horror from around the world to creepy Portland, OR, a tree-filled land with a deep and dark history.

This was the evening of day 5…

Sunday, July 3 – Independence Eve of HORROR! 5:30-11 pm at the Hollywood Theatre It’s a Double Double! 2 features and 2 blocks of short films!

5:30 pm – Bonus Shorts

Memento Mori

Mummering Legends (CA)

I Call Upon Thee (AU)

Tistlebu (NO)

6:20 pm – Feature: The Parker Sessions (US) w/director Stephen King Simmons

8:00 pm – Shorts Gone Wild! (shorts 6) w/filmmaker Q&A

Bottom

Hooky

Shiny New World (NL)

Love is a Fire

Guts

Erotic Insect

It Takes a Village

Bug Bites

Meat Friend

Every Time We Meet for Ice Cream Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes

9:25 pm – Feature: It Hatched (Iceland)

 

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Daniel Oullette Artist Interview – by William Zimmerman

What horror-related themes have you found to be the most inspiring for your music?

Universal Studios Monsters and Kaiju Films

What horror movie/TV show would you re-score if given the chance?

Are Hallmark Channel movies considered horror? Because they are scary! Hmm… Dark Shadows from the 1960/the 70s would be fun!

What non-musical things inspire your music?

Buddhism, the sea,  Julia Child, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Gardening, my loved ones because so many are creative.

What film/TV horror-related character would you most identify with? Why?

I think Elvira because of the balance of horror and humor which I love.

How do you handle fear as an artist?

Sometimes I walk right into it and sometimes I walk right beside it or around it. I don’t like to walk away from fear. I walk away from other things like foolishness. Life is always out of our hands a bit. 

What are your favorite horror movies?

Dracula, Dracula’s Daughter, The Others, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Pan’s Labyrinth

What was the scariest night of your life?

Is this about something supernatural? A friend and I once went ghost hunting along route 44 in Rehobeth, MA, and ended up having the rubber of the tire break and slap the side of the car. We were sure it was a ghost! There is a fable about a ghost there.

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

Ofra Haza, though I would have to be her opening act. 

Her voice was from celestial realms not yet discovered.

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

Please check out my new album El salón (A Happy Home is a Haunted Home)! It is horror and humor and what I hope is weird fun! 

(Fan contacts…)

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Bandcamp?

www.danielouellette.net

https://danielouellette.bandcamp.com/album/el-sal-n-a-happy-home-is-a-haunted-home

 

Video YouTube link: 

O lindo sonâmbulo (Um fantasma na minha casa)

https://youtu.be/g5C8Ck-SvNM

 

Book Review – Ashthorne by April Yates

By staff writer and book blogger Renata Pavrey

 

Title – Ashthorne

Author – April Yates

Genre – Historical fiction, Gothic horror

Publisher – Ghost Orchid Press

In the aftermath of WWI, Adelaide Frost seeks employment as a nurse at Ashthorne – a manor house that has been designated as a convalescence center for soldiers of war. She is sternly informed not to make contact with the house owners, Mr. Ashthorne, and his daughter Evelyn. Her job requires her to work for the injured soldiers without asking any questions. A resident doctor operates in his treatment room, that no one has access to besides the doctor and the patients.

Something is amiss at Ashthorne. Initially dismissed as the after-effects and trauma of fighting and being rendered disabled by war, Adelaide learns there’s more to the soldiers’ wanting to kill themselves and not coming out alive from the doctor’s treatment room. Evelyn has her own suspicions about the evil lurking within her father’s home, but her investigations haven’t revealed much so far. Now, with Adelaide’s help, the two women seek to uncover the truth behind Ashthorne. What happened to Evelyn’s mother, why does her father blindly believe the doctor, who is the priest with much say in the town’s proceedings, can the nurses be trusted, why is the land on which Ashthorne stands so important?

In a short, compact, and concise novella, April Yates packs a punch of a story that covers so much in so few words. I was introduced to Yates’ writing in the short story First Harvest from Blood and Bone, edited by A.R. Ward. I loved that anthology and found every story so outstanding that I looked forward to her debut book. And Yates doesn’t disappoint. With Ashthorne, she creates a world that brings together historical fiction with gothic horror, thriller, and romance. And there’s another world within this world that addresses post-traumatic stress disorder, rehabilitation, homosexuality, religion and medicine, and the role of women in society.

The characters are multi-layered and well-developed. The storyline involves several tangents, but they all fall together nicely. The plot is to the point and quick-paced. Sometimes, novels are so long drawn out, that one wonders why the author had to drag a story that could have been said in a few words. With Ashthorne, you hope for the opposite. The novella is so well written, that one hopes it could have been a longer novel. I would have liked to learn more about the caves and the history of Ashthorne that makes the grounds significant. I love books that blur the lines between thriller and horror, and Ashthorne keeps you wanting to read more.

A haunted house story that incorporates witchcraft, demons, mysterious mirrors, and basements to beware of. As a historical fiction sapphic horror story, Ashthorne is splendidly written and deserves to be read. April Yates is an author to look out for. And kudos to the cover designer!

My rating – 5/5

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Portland Horror Film Fest Day 5 Part 1

 

Live Action Reviews on location! Portland Horror Film Festival 2022. This film festival is a 5-day International Festival of Terror, bringing horror from around the world to creepy Portland, OR, a tree-filled land with a deep and dark history.

This was the morning of day 5…

12-4 pm at the Clinton Street Theater 12 pm – Short Films 5 w/filmmaker Q&A

Bumper: Return

Ordinary Family (CN)

Posted No Hunting

Plantae

Infested Hearts

You Will See Us

Tapehead

In the Dark (CA)

2 pm – Bonus Shorts

Caregiver

The Sickness of Perfection

Stuck (IT)

Safe and Sound

2:30 pm – Feature: Nati Morti (Italy)

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

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

Historian of Horror : Herr Sandmann, bringt mir ein Traum

If you translate that title into English, you get the first line of a classic piece of American popular music, recorded by the Chordettes in 1954. In German, however, it refers to a story written in 1817 by an author you probably don’t realize you’re familiar with.

I daresay it would be difficult for anyone with much contact with Western popular culture to have avoided some exposure to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, or its music. Pieces from the suite composed for the ballet have been liberally sprinkled in movies and television shows as long as those media have been able to project sound, and several were animated in the 1940 Disney film, Fantasia. Cities all over the world host performances of the ballet during the Christmas season, and every little girl I know, including my three daughters and my oldest granddaughter, has been taken to their local performance hall to witness the holiday spectacle, live.

No reason boys can’t go, but I can only speak of the children my wife has taken. The mileage in your family may vary. 

The story the ballet is based on is The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a novella by the German author, E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822). Hoffmann was a prolific writer of fantasy and Gothic horror short stories during his brief life. His stories inspired French composer Jacques Offenbach to set three of them in an opéra fantastique that premiered in 1881, four months after he died.

One of the stories that comprised Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) was “Der Sandmann”, which had first appeared in Hoffmann’s 1817 collection Die Nachtstücke (Night Pieces). “The Sandman” concerns a young man named Nathaniel with a morbid fear of the title entity, a creature who sneaks into children’s rooms to steal their eyes. He returns home from school to find that a lovely young woman named Olimpia is living across the way from him so that his window faces hers. He courts her, but Olimpia’s only reply to his entreaties is “Ah, ah… ah, ah”.

When Nathaniel goes to propose to Olimpia, he finds his professor, Spallanzani, standing over the eyeless body of Olimpia, arguing with the lens maker Coppolla over which of them built the automaton’s clockwork and which made her enamel eyes. Coppolla is revealed to be the villainous Coppelius, who represents the mythical Sandman in Nathaniel’s fantasies and has sought to ruin his life at every opportunity. Nathaniel loses what few marbles he has left by this point, and things go sideways in every awful way imaginable.

Prior to Offenbach’s effort, his fellow Frenchman Adolphe Adam had adapted the story alone as an opéra comique in 1852 under the title La poupée de Nuremberg. It played with significant success at Paris’ Théâtre Lyrique. Fifteen years after Offenbach’s opera premiered, yet another French composer turned the tale into yet another opera. Edmond Audran’s own version, La poupée, opened at the Théâtre de la Gaîté, also in Paris, in 1896.

“Der Sandmann” also provided the inspiration for Leo Delibes’s ballet, Coppélia, which is sometimes subtitled La Fille aux Yeux d’Émail (The Girl with the Enamel Eyes). 

There have been several film versions of the story or one of the works it inspired, including Michael Powell’s stunningly beautiful 1951 film of The Tales of Hoffmann, starring Irish ballerina Moira Shearer as Olimpia in the first section. A 1991 stop-motion animated version created by Paul Berry was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. 

In 2012, Mark Gatiss discussed the story on the BBC radio program, The Uncanny

Not all literary clockwork creations were lovely young ballerinas, however. Some played chess. The automaton in Ambrose Bierce’s 1899 short story “Moxon’s Master” was based on several phony automata that toured the European entertainment circuits in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Poe himself wrote an article exposing one that was called The Turk as a fake, although for the wrong reason, in that a truly automated chess player would never lose. Moxon’s creation turns out to be a sore loser and murders its creator in retaliation of its defeat. The Turk was simply a fallible man hiding inside the machinery.

The Turk was constructed by a German “inventor”, Wolfgang von Kempelen, and later sold to inventor, engineer and showman Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Mälzel had created a number of working automata, and his reputation ensured that the purely clockwork nature of the Turk would never be questioned. The truth was not revealed until after the Turk was destroyed by fire in 1854. 

***

Our lagniappe for this edition is a swinging little number, Jack & Jim’s 1959 recording, Midnight Monsters Hop. Enjoy! 

And so, as always, my dear devotees of the devilishly diabolical…

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Shadow’s Love : Chapter 11/ Enlightenment

The messenger looked at him approvingly. “She knew you would need some time and told me to tarry a while.”

Lastor was torn between amusement and annoyance. Did she still know him that well? Was he really that predictable? 

“She was…as you say… my wife,” Lastor said, more to himself. He absent-mindedly touched the pocket where her letter was folded and shook his head. “Where do I go?” His eyes narrowed. “How did I not know of this place, this… land below?”

“It is a place of class and civilization – at least that is what they claim. In reality it is nothing more than a cesspool of pompous ostentatious fakes. They have forgotten; that vampires are not gods, merely immortal, victims of circumstance, no more than accidents, or bad timing. They glorify in their status, wallow in it, and deify it.” The messenger shook his head scornfully. “The only ones who crave the land below are those who think they are special, instead of merely different.”

“You still have not explained how I did not know of such a place.” Lastor tapped his foot.

“Think about it, Lastor. Would you seek out such a community? It is relatively new, two or three years strong at most.”

Two years.

Unbidden, Lastor’s mind flashed through the past to a memory from just over two years ago.

  “You don’t know anything about what we are! You just float through the world doing as you please! You never think about what it all means; you don’t care what it all means!” 

Lastor’s eyes narrowed. “And when you learn what it all means, what then? You will suddenly discover your purpose in life? What will they offer you that I cannot?” His tone was scornful.

Audrey’s temper, so near the breaking point these days, was tested again and she had to refrain from picking up something large and heavy and throwing it at Lastor’s head. She contented herself with speaking slowly and clearly, venom dripping from every syllable. “I don’t know, you idiot, but THEY do! That’s the whole point! I DON’T know because of you!”

“They say they know. Nobody knows the meaning of life, Audrey, it means something different for everyone. Nobody can find happiness and meaning for the general population.  Anyone who claims they know it is either manipulating the weak-minded or so self-deluded they actually believe it. Nobody knows why vampires are here. We’re just an accident. A cosmic fuckup.”

“No, you’re just an accident that happened to me! Now I’m stuck like this, something no one knows anything about. At least when I was really human I knew I had a purpose, even if I didn’t know what it was yet, and I knew where I came from. The only way I can stand this is if I at least have some glimmer of what being a vampire means, and you obviously don’t have a fucking clue.”

“What makes you think anyone else does? What makes you think these cretins know anything more than I do? Audrey, the answers you seek DO NOT EXIST. Do you think there are books written with all the answers and I just don’t have them?”

“It wouldn’t surprise me!”

“Go then.” Lastor’s voice was flat and cold, emotionless. 

“What?” Audrey snapped.

“GO ON!!” Lastor roared, eyes blazing. “LEAVE! Go live with your friends wherever they think is good enough, since here obviously isn’t anymore!”

“It never was, I just didn’t know yet,” Audrey sneered, jerking her coat over her shoulders. 

Lastor heard an odd ringing sound in his ears as her voice seemed to echo inside his head and the hateful look in her eyes as she glared at him seemed to magnify, swelling up until her scorn was all he could see, shrouded in red mist.

Without even realizing it, Lastor had crossed the room and lifted her up by the throat, his nails digging in. Trickles of blood dripped down to stain Audrey’s shirt, as he threw her forcefully through the door leading outside. 

***

Lastor blinked, coming to his senses, breathing heavily with the remnants of the red mist still fading. “Indeed.”

The messenger must have guessed what was in his heart, for he quickly resumed talking, grounding Lastor’s thoughts firmly to the present. “The way to the land below is no lighted promenade either. Being underground, naturally, one must go down.” His eyes dropped to a manhole cover nearby.

Lastor’s eyes followed, and then came up to look at the messenger. “You MUST be joking.”

The messenger chuckled. “No. There is an old sewer system that has not been used for decades. It is dry and relatively tidy. Elitists are not likely to sully their feet with mortal filth, I assure you.”

“Well I’m no elitist but I’m not too keen on trudging through sewage, bound for some subterranean promised land.” He pointed a finger at TM. “And you. What are you doing there, if all its residents are phony?”

“I’m sure you will agree, there is benefit in seeming to support the most powerful beings of our kind, artificial as they may be.”

“If you’re lying to me—” Lastor began but TM held up a hand.

“Sir, your lady has already enlightened me as to the consequences of deceiving either of you. I do not wish, as the Lady Spencer has kindly offered, to be bound and gagged by my own intestines as you…er…fornicate in my blood?”

Lastor smiled in spite of himself. “That’s Audrey all right.”

“Ah, but perhaps not for long,” TM said, his face growing dark. “Soon she is to marry the eldest son of the senior member of the Council of Choice, and her personality will be… quite irrelevant.”

Lastor’s smile vanished. “Council…married??”

“Well obviously she would prefer to avoid this eventuality as well, which I daresay is why we are talking now.

Ep. 215 Nightmare Fuel: The Brahmaparusha

nightmarefuel

brahmaparushHello Addicts,

One of the all-time classic creatures of the night is the vampire. Whether it is the debonair aristocrat like Dracula, the punk look of The Lost Boys, or the almost feral pack in 30 Days of Night, we have seen a wide variety of the blood sucking demons. There is, however, another type that doesn’t just stop at blood, and takes a particular revelry in devouring its prey. This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the brahmaparusha.

The legend of the brahmaparusha originates from northern India. Hindu legends describe it as a supernatural being who resembles a human, but is a separate species from them. When you come across one, you will find it wearing their last victim’s intestines like a crown around their head, draped around their neck, and wrapped around their waist. In one hand will be a previous victim’s skull, which they will use as a cup to catch your blood in before drinking from it. Once they have finished with your blood, they will then move on to your brains, consuming them as you helplessly watch. After that, they will disembowel you to add your intestines to their collection of adornments before ritualistically dancing around your corpse and then seeking their next victim.

It’s unknown how to create or stop a brahmaparusha. The legends speak of their almost insatiable hunger, thirst, and bloodlust. Sometimes it takes many feedings before they feel satisfied enough to stop for a time. They also take great pride in the kill, doing all that they can to prolong your life and enjoy every delicious morsel of it as you watch, powerless to stop them. Your best bet to keep from becoming one of its victims is to run, hide, and pray that the creature doesn’t find you.

Keep playing hide and go seek, and beware the person wearing entrails like fancy jewelry. If they catch you, you may be next on their menu.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Logbook of Terror: A dirge for Broken Clocks

   

Braxton didn’t overreact when the hands of his pocket watch started running backward. Like most things in his life, he thought it was a curious phenomenon that needed investigation. At that same moment, a woman passed him on the sidewalk. She nodded with a smile and said something and while her lips moved to the melody of “Good morning”, the words came out of her mouth in reverse. 

    The woman’s eyes went past Braxton to an approaching man. She waved and called out a greeting, or maybe a name, Braxton couldn’t tell because all of the words were backward. Now alarmed and on the verge of overreacting, Braxton rushed the last few steps to his shop and hurriedly let himself in. Once safely inside the Hands of Time Clock Repair and Curio Emporium, Braxton locked the door and took a deep breath. The sound of his own strained breathing eased and gave way to the most horrific sound of all: silence. Dreadful, terrifying…silence.

    In a shop full of hundreds of vintage clocks, there was not one tick, not one tock. Nothing. Braxton shuddered and ran to the back of the shop. 

    A door led to a dark hallway which took Braxton into the deepest recesses of the Emporium. He burst through a last door and there in the center of a high-ceilinged room loomed a massive clock. 

    The clock towered high over Braxton. It had the gnarled face of an ancient being that seemed almost human but entirely something else. Huge, mutant gears encased in flesh turned in a tired, wheezing rhythm. 

    “I’m tired,” the clock said to Braxton, its voice a creaky drone. 

    “What’s wrong, Father?” Braxton asked. 

    “I’m tired,” the clock repeated. 

    Braxton hesitated, then said, “I saw them outside, speaking backward, and all the clocks in our shop have stopped.” 

    “You can fix me,” the clock said. “You know what you must do.”

    With a deep sigh, Braxton unbuttoned his shirt. With pain in his eyes, he worked his skilled hand through his skin and into his chest. A moment later he pulled out a blood-covered gear. Seeing this, the Father smiled with his crooked mouth. 

    Braxton went to the back of the massive clock. Climbing a tall ladder, he searched through a section of the gears until he found a small cog with a broken spoke. Braxton removed the fractured gear and replaced it with the one from his chest. He climbed down and stood in front of the clock. 

    “Try now, Father,” Braxton said.  

    The clock took a deep breath. Braxton waited. The gears began to grind… backward. 

    Every clock in the shop started screaming. A high-pitched, metallic wailing filled the air. 

    Braxton grabbed his chest. “No!”

    “Yes!” Shouted the giant clock. “It is the end!”

    Blood filled Braxton’s eyes. “Please Father, no!” 

    The clock let out a rumbling laugh that shook the shop. The clocks, watches, and time-keeping devices that filled the shop kept screaming. Glass casings shattered. Gears were pulled backward. Time was erasing itself. 

    Braxton fell to the floor. The pain of all of his gears working against themselves filled his body. He collapsed and his life seeped out of him. 

    And all of the clocks in the world cried out in fear and pain as their gears wound in reverse, and then came to a dead and quiet stop.

   With no gears turning, the earth stopped spinning and drifted off into the deepest darkness of space.

    And the Father clock smiled and went to sleep because he was very, very tired indeed. 

Free Fiction : The Hole/ Part 2 by C M Lucas

 As Cassidy-Ann entered the room, the overwhelming scent of the fragrant candle combined with twinkling rainbow lights put her at ease immediately. Bright posters of pop 

stars on the walls were accompanied by intricate building block cityscapes scrolling below.

             This is my room, Cassidy thought. As she wandered over to her daybed, Cassidy-Ann picked up one of her many stuffed animals. The fuzzy, purple bear flashed a stitched smile.

  The bedroom door creaked as it slowly closed. Cassidy-Ann twisted around to glance at the door. Peering back around, the young Cassidy-Ann’s eyes widened as the colourful lights began to darken. Her walls once alive with bright pastels were now muted and dull. Cassidy-Ann began to squeeze the fuzzy bear, only to find it thick with moisture. Glancing down, she glanced at her plush bear now tattered and soiled. Cassidy-Ann ran her hands along the unraveling stitches as her eyes filled with tears. She dropped to her knees, clenching the bear tightly against her chest. 

Looking about the room, the girl dropped her bear. She covered her eyes as tears streamed from the spaces between her fingers. Cassidy-Ann peered up at her dresser and paused. She noticed a picture of her family atop the dresser. Rising to her feet, Cassidy-Ann headed toward her dresser. She glanced at the picture. I remember this. This was before mom got sick, Cassidy-Ann thought as a tear rolled down her freckled cheek, she was so beautiful

Cassidy-Ann’s eyes moved along the picture, There’s d-dad… Who’s that? It’s me again, but I look older, she thought,  his arms are around that gir… me, she pondered.

   “Who’s there?” asks Cassidy-Ann as she spun around to locate the source of the noise. T… The closet. It came from the closet, Cassidy-Ann thought, wandering over to the closet. She wiped the tears from her eyes and reached for the knob. 

“A staircase?” said Cassidy-Ann, glancing down the stairs. “H… Hello…,” she said as she took her first step. The stairs creaked under Cassidy-Ann’s feet, while a faint light from the bottom of the stairs bounced in her eyes.

   Smoke… Cigar s-smoke, thought Cassidy-Ann as she crossed her trembling arms. Suddenly, the walls began to close in on her. Jagged bricks compressed and squeezed young Cassidy-Ann as immense pressure from behind caused her to wince. The walls closed in until there was nowhere left to go. The blood vessels in Cassidy-Ann’s eyes began to pop as liquid slowly rose, filling the narrow space.

   Young Cassidy-Ann began to wiggle frantically as the liquid rose ever closer to her mouth. As the liquid slowly made its way beyond her nose, Cassidy-Ann’s submerged, condensed body experienced a final thrust of extreme pressure that sent her careening out of the constricted space. 

   Cassidy-Ann opened her eyes as dim, yellow light saturated the area. Trembling as she rose off the concrete floor, she waved her arm to disperse a thick cloud of smoke in her face. Glancing at the concrete walls stained with tobacco smoke and the rattling water heater, she began to rub her wrists but quickly stopped, placing her hands in her pockets.   The basement… I-, Cassidy-Ann thought before her thoughts disappeared as she rounded the corner.  Her breath visible; her body shivering, Cassidy-Ann froze in place as her eyes widened.

   “D-Daddy?” said the trembling girl as she gazed at the back of the ebony-haired man peering out the lone basement window. His posture arched; his head an inch away from the ceiling as he stood cramped within the basement. 

   Cassidy-Ann motioned toward the man. Her knees shaking as she peered down at her feet, she approached. The plush, purple bear lay at the feet of the man as a cloud of smoke loomed above his head.

   “… D-Daddy?” said Cassidy-Ann. The man peered to his side. He dropped his cigar as the walls dissolved into darkness. The dull, yellow light illuminating the centre of the void as Cassidy-Ann slowly moved away. Suddenly, the man’s eyes met hers as he twisted around. 

“W… Who are you?” Cassidy-Ann asked as her bloodshot eyes began to fill with tears. The man glared at Cassidy-Ann. The deep yellow of his eyes shone as his vertical pupils focused on the trembling girl.  Young Cassidy-Ann fell to the ground as the man began to gyrate violently. 

She scurried away as the man’s limbs began to contort; his clothes ripping at the seams as the man’s body widened and stretched in all directions. As his limbs retracted into his body, the man’s body continued to stretch. Cassidy-Ann covered her eyes as the man growled. A rumbling hiss pierced Cassidy-Ann’s ears as she removed her shaky hands from her eyes.

The eclipsing shadow bathed her in darkness; the piercing, neon glow of the creature’s eyes glared at young Cassidy-Ann. Vertical pupils focused to fine slits as a forked tongue slid along glistening fangs. As the creature Inched closer to the girl, Cassidy-Ann continued to move away. The serpent reared back and lunged forward with fangs extended. Cassidy-Ann leapt out of the way, sprinting into the void. 

   Coming to an abrupt stop, the young girl, forced to a halt as flames slowly rose, encircling Cassidy-Ann, and the giant serpent in a glowing ring of fire. The serpent smiled; viscous liquid oozing from its fangs as it slithered back through the flames and into the darkness.

   Cassidy-Ann twisted every which way to locate the menacing creature. Heavy breathing bombarding her ears from the void, hissing echoing in the darkness.  Cassidy-Ann twisted around, alerted by the sound of shuffling scales as the serpent lunged toward her. Cassidy-Ann vaulted out of the way of the charging reptile as its fangs collided with the concrete floor.

   The girl spun around to view the serpent as the monstrous reptile struggled to free its fangs from the concrete. The creature glared at Cassidy-Ann as she quivered in place. The serpent’s tongue unraveled from its mouth, wrapping around her ankle, pulling her toward the scaled beast’s gaping mouth. Cassidy-Ann struggled, scraping and clawing at the concrete floor, she twisted around to face the menacing reptile.

   Cassidy-Ann sank her teeth into the giant serpent’s tongue. The reptile chuckled as its tongue continued to draw her closer. Cassidy-Ann struck the beast’s fang with her foot, causing it to break. The reptile squealed and retreated into the darkness. Young Cassidy-Ann rose to her feet. Wiping the tears from her eyes, an intense anger washed over her face.

   “Come on!” screamed, Cassidy-Ann as she clenched her fists and glared past the flames into the void. As laughter echoed from the darkness, Cassidy-Ann continued to glare into the void. 

The serpent lunged from behind the girl. Cassidy-Ann bent over, reaching for the reptile’s broken fang as the surging beast’s forked tongue ran along its scaled lips. As the serpent reached Cassidy-Ann, she spun around, plunging the broken fang into the beast’s eye. The serpent continued to speed toward Cassidy-Ann as the broken fang plunged deeper into the beast’s eye until it penetrated the reptile’s brain.

   The serpent fell to the ground. Drenched in the beast’s blood, the trembling girl stood silent. A single tear ran down her flushed, freckled cheek as she turned around to face the serpent. Cassidy-Ann’s dejected mood became dispassionate as the once menacing snake vanished, leaving the cigar-smoking man face down in its place. 

   As she walked toward the man, she noticed the family picture within his hand. Cassidy-Ann dropped to her knees as the man disappeared. The flaming circle slowly faded away as the darkness began to surround her. Cassidy-Ann covered her eyes and wept. 

  As the whimpering softly echoed into the darkness, a small shaft of light from the void peaked out from behind young Cassidy-Ann. The beam of light shone on the family picture, illuminating a young, vibrant Cassidy-Ann.

The End.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Portland Horror Film Fest Day 4

 

Live Action Reviews on location! Portland Horror Film Festival 2022.

This film festival is a 5-day International Festival of Terror, bringing horror from around the world to creepy Portland, OR, a tree-filled land with a deep and dark history.

This was day Four …

Saturday, July 2 12-5 pm at the Clinton Street Theater Horror by Women Double Feature & Short films

12 pm – Feature: Stag (US) w/director Alexandra Spieth

1:45 pm – Short Films 4 w/filmmaker Q&A

Bumper: The Body

The Boy Who Woke Up Dead

Spaghetti Face

I’ll Never Be Alive Again

A Conversation with E (CA)

The Cookie Crumbles

The Strong Box

The Last Christmas (CA) 3:10 pm – Feature: Maya (Pakistan) w/director K/XI

 

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

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

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

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

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

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

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Seven: Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories

The aptly titled Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories is a sampler of collected tales by prolific Bigfoot author and fly-fishing guide Rusty Wilson. According to Amazon, Wilson has written 24 books from 2010 to 2021, mostly about the “Big Guy.”

Released in 2011, Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories is a logical place to start on Wilson’s catalog, which features tales of Bigfoot encounters told by a half-dozen of his fly-fishing clients. 

Each entry includes an informal introduction about the storyteller. Their first-person narratives are plainspoken and sometimes folksy. For example, one storyteller says, “Oh sweet holy Scooby Doo” when seeing Bigfoot tracks. 

The opener titled “The Wild Cave” is told by a man named Jeremy, who found himself lost and injured inside a Colorado cave with a red-eyed, rock-throwing, smelly beast. 

Like “The Wild Cave,” most of the stories highlight the fear engendered by a possible Bigfoot encounter. 

In “Lunch Guests,” a land surveyor in Montana shares his experience as a pair of curious, whistling Bigfoot interrupt the crew’s work. 

“Peddling with Disaster” is the most traumatic of the stories as a woman’s friend goes missing on a mountain bike ride in Colorado.

In “Black Hand at Box Canyon,” a woman is lost and falls off a cliff. While clinging to a life-saving bush, she sees “a pair of green eyes staring at me from a massive black body.” 

My favorite tale is “Do the Monster Twist” because it attributes Bigfoot for saving a couple’s lives during a tornado in Nebraska. 

The last story, “Devil’s Playground,” details a sighting of more than two dozen Bigfoot near a lake in northern California. 

“The Bigfoot children swam and played just like human kids would, and the adults seemed to be visiting, just like humans,” the storyteller says. 

Of course, these are campfire stories, and even Wilson is not sure which ones are authentic or farfetched. 

“It’s listener beware,” Wilson writes. 

Whether real or imagined, Six Short Bigfoot Campfire Stories does provide insight into how humans view Bigfoot. There’s a mixture of awe and curiosity but mostly fear and some sympathy. Either way, if you like the storytelling approach to Bigfoot in this collection, there are more than a dozen books of Wilson’s Campfire Stories to check out. Click HERE to visit Wilson’s Amazon page.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Eight: Bigfoot Country. I review the 2017 film directed by Jason Mills.


RELATED LINKS

THE BIGFOOT FILES

Book Review: Falling by Drew Turney

Review by Veronica McCollum

Drew Turney’s book was quite an unexpected treasure. I kept thinking it was almost over and then it would go on with more thrills and chills. The book lives up to its title. The story revolves around the main character Dale and his friends and support system. The story centers around the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The picture you see in the beginning is kind of scary on its own.  Turney does a great job of giving details and making you feel like you are there with the characters. Falling has a lot of the main horror thrills: the paranormal, monsters, gore, and some violence. I liked the book as the author had a good foundation for his story and had some futuristic ideas that were very interesting.

I really liked the arc of the story. I was hooked from the beginning to the end wondering what would happen next. I am not normally afraid of bridges, but it sure made me not ever want to be stuck on them. I felt transported by the book and what was happening to the characters. I don’t want to give away any of the story but the monsters and scientific ideas were exciting and great to read. I always considered falling to be one of my greatest fears, and this book reinforces that! 

The story premise I thought was amazing. I didn’t have any complaints about the book except, that it does have a subject that not all readers will like. The author explains why he kept this in the story and it makes sense to keep the story moving along. The book was very engaging and well thought out. The horror worked well and it had sci-fi horror as well .

Historian of Horror : Republic Robots Running Rampant!

In 1935, Herbert J. Yates ran a small film processing laboratory in Hollywood. He’d been processing movies for the major studios for several years, but when they all decided to take care of that chore in-house, Yates needed to diversify in order to keep afloat in the midst of the Great Depression. He managed to acquire six small Poverty Row studios, and combined them into one mini-major studio he called Republic Pictures.

One of the six, Mascot Pictures, provided Yates with three things that make this little foray into the history of celluloid mechanical horrors possible: experience in producing movie serials going back into the silent era; the former Mack Sennett studio; and the recent discovery of singing cowboy Gene Autry.

Serials, or cliffhangers for those of you who remember Annie Wilkes talking about them in Misery (“He didn’t get out of the cock-a-doodie car!”), were cheaply made adventure films broken up into ten to fifteen chapters intended to be shown on successive Saturday afternoons for the kiddie crowd, mostly. Mom would drop her brood off at the local cinema with a dime for admission and another for snacks, and they’d be entertained by a couple of B-movies, cartoons, assorted short subjects, and a serial chapter long enough for the materfamilias to run her errands. Good clean fun, with plenty of violence but no sex.

Yates’s first venture into serial making made use of his new film star, as well as the well-appointed studio he’d inherited from Sennett. Before Autry went on to become the biggest western star in the world (yes, bigger than John Wayne for his most active years), and long before he owned the Los Angeles Angels baseball team, he starred in one chapterplay for the new studio, The Phantom Empire (1935). Starting off from his day job as a radio performer, Autry discovered an underground kingdom under his ranch. Murania was a technologically advanced civilization that made extensive use of robots. Hence, the title of this installment. Gene managed to escape Murania and save Radio Ranch from the bad guys who were after his radium mine, all in twelve chapters. 

Autry soon switched over to making B-Westerns and was known as the “King of the Cowboys” until going off to fight in World War II. After the war, Autry finished out his contract with Republic, then transferred to Columbia for the remainder of his movie and television career. He passed away in 1998, at the age of 91.

A year after Autry triumphed over the Muranians, former stuntman and future Terror from Beyond Space Ray “Crash” Corrigan found similar adventures in Atlantis in another twelve-chapter serial, Undersea Kingdom. Future Wolf Man Lon Chaney, Jr. played one of the main villain’s henchmen. Once again, the villains had robots to assist them in their nefarious schemes. 

Republic let a few years go by before throwing another mechanized marvel at the Saturday afternoon audience. One of the best serials ever, Mysterious Doctor Satan, is rumored to have been intended as the first Superman chapterplay, but if so negotiations with DC Comics fell through. Instead, a generic hero called Copperhead took on the title villain and his mechanical monster. When the fifteen chapters were spliced together a few years later into feature length, the resulting version was called Dr. Satan’s Robot. That’s how I first saw it on our local television station’s afternoon movie, The Big Show, in the Summer of 1973. 

Republic got out of the mechanical monster business after that, although their robots were later recycled for serials at Columbia and Universal. Almost immediately, they made the first two serials based on comic book characters, Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) and Spy Smasher (1942), before ceding that source to Columbia, who managed to make two Superman cliffhangers near the end of the decade. Television killed off the serials by 1956, and Republic shut down production in 1958.

Speaking of Columbia, they featured their own version of a robot terror in 1945’s The Monster and the Ape, with the aforementioned Ray Corrigan in a gorilla suit helping to steal the mechanical marvel from its inventor. From hero to monkey in the short span of nine years – quelle horreur!

Universal made one significant contribution to the pantheon of serialized mechanical monsters in 1939. Bela Lugosi starred in The Phantom Creeps, in which he created what had to be the creepiest robot ever filmed. It was so memorable that DC Comics even adapted it in Movie Comics #6. The Phantom Creeps was one of several serials Lugosi starred in, but the only one featuring a robot. Pity, he demonstrated quite a knack for constructing them.

And so, all who are intrigued by the inhuman, until we meet again…

Be afraid…

Be very afraid.

Shadow’s Love : Chapter 10 – Desperate Plea

Lastor was awakened by a knocking at the door of his hotel room. He lifted his head, tasting the brandy. His head spun, punctuated by knocking. Groping his way upright, Lastor scrabbled for the bathroom doorknob, finally found it, cursing, and opened the door. His head did not explode in agony, so he opened his eyes. The blinking red numbers said 10.30pm. At least the sun was finally gone.

But then… who the hell was knocking at his door at 10.30?

“Go away,” he croaked at it. “I’m paid for the week.”

“No, sir,” said the door, polite and calm. “I bring a letter, for your eyes only.”

Lastor rolled his eyes. “From who?”

“The Lady Audrey Spencer.”

The next thing the messenger knew, the door had crashed open and he was suddenly seized by the throat with iron fingers, pulled into the room, and slammed up against the wall as a dark shadow roared “WHO sent you???”

The messenger reached up and adjusted the glasses Lastor had knocked askew. “The Lady Audrey Spencer, sir. She was very adamant about it. I was told –” 

“I don’t care what she told you. Give me the letter, NOW.” Lastor grated, his eyes blazing.

The messenger reached into his pocket and withdrew an envelope. Lastor snatched it and dropped him roughly, breaking the wax seal before the messenger hit the ground. Lastor pulled out the letter and immediately was assaulted by an all too familiar scent that erased any doubts as to the letter’s origin.

Audrey.

My Love

I realize you want me dead for what I’ve done to you. The irony is that I have been dying inside since last I saw you, and if you want me dead, all you have to do is nothing. I no longer understand my actions – their way has escaped me. I know you won’t trust a word of this; you would be a fool to, particularly now, but not half the fool I am for having to say these empty meaningless words: I’m sorry. 

I am betrayed., and now their prisoner. I was first tempted by the answers they dangled before me, only to learn too late that they are nothing more than lies spun by a crafty spider. They will kill me if I try again to escape. Their coldness numbs my aching heart as my blood grows ever weaker and more sluggish. 

Please, Lastor, save me from this. Only you can return me to myself. I do not live without you. I have always been

Yours,

Audrey

***

Lastor’s eyes rose from the letter to the messenger’s face. “Where is she?”

“She is being held in the land below, deep underground,” the messenger said.

“What makes her think I would do anything to help her?” 

“She was your wife before, was she not?”

Lastor crushed the paper and threw it to the side. “I think ‘was’ is the key word there, little man. Now leave, before I kill the messenger.”

The little man brushed himself off and stepped over the rubble in the doorway, stopping to look back at the vampire. “Then you never really loved her anyway.”

Before Lastor could move or react, the messenger was gone. 

Lastor stood with the messenger’s words ringing in his ears over and over, burning into his subconscious. Finally, he moved to the door, barring it as best he could. Going to the dresser, he pulled out a half bottle of whiskey and drained it. Drunkenly throwing the bottle aside and not really hearing it shatter, Lastor stumbled toward the corner which housed the crumpled paper. Unfolding it, Lastor read the letter again, slowly. 

He left the hotel room, barely discernible from the shadows in the dim hall. His long black coat wrapped around him like a shroud, his pale face the only thing to show through the darkness. His eyes, dark and cloudy for so long, now burned with a fiery purpose. The hooker sitting in the stairway saw and hastened to move out of his path, a stained needle still hanging from her arm, teeth as gnarled as her veins. Lastor’s eyes swept over her, noting her indiscernibly. Pausing in his stride, he looked at her. Deaf to her protests, he plucked the syringe from her wasted arm, snapping it beneath his boot. 

“Hey – what the—”

The hooker started upright angrily but Lastor grabbed her face and threw her sideways, knocking her head against the wall. She slumped to the floor, senseless as he stepped over her, wiping his hand fastidiously on his coat.

Stepping out onto the street, Lastor inhaled deeply, tasting the air. Without hesitating, he turned left, following the messenger’s smell.

Lastor pushed a door open and was immediately assaulted by the pounding of industrialized gothic beat. The walls were black with red trim and the babble of voices almost drowned out the music. Different kinds of smoke hung thick in the air. Dimly lit bodies in various stages of undress undulated beneath multicolored lighting. A DJ with a bored face was mixing techno at an elevated console behind a spool of razor wire.

As Lastor’s eyes moved over the room, he spotted the messenger sipping something red from a rocks glass and playing with a cherry stem as he nodded politely at the pretty thing that was chatting him up. As Lastor watched, the messenger stood up and said something to the pretty girl, taking her empty glass, before picking his way delicately through the crowd to the bar. 

Lastor moved between the patrons and materialized behind the messenger, waiting for him to deposit the empty glasses on the bar, before grabbing him by the back of the collar and steering him forcefully through the crowd and out a nearby service entrance. The messenger did not look surprised to see him.

“You will tell me how to get to the land below,” Lastor said. 

 

Ep. 214 Nightmare Fuel: Bostian’s Bridge Ghost Train

Train Wreck of Bostian Bridge, Iredell County, NC. Wreck occurred August 27, 1891, near Statesville. Photos by Stimson Studio, Statesville, NC, courtesy of the State Archives of NC.

Hello Addicts,

We consider trains the lifeblood of the United States. They were one of the earliest forms of fast interstate travel, predating the automobile and airplanes. Many a western movie featured the train as a mainstay setting, second perhaps to the horse. They were also prone to horrendous accidents from jumping the tracks. These accidents have spawned legends about people seeing a train wreck replayed or a train on otherwise unused tracks. In this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at one such tale of a ghost train.

Early on the morning or August 27, 1941, a Statesville, NC, woman was waiting along the side of the road near Bostian’s Bridge, a sixty-foot-high arch bridge made of stone spanning over Third Creek. The tire on the car she rode in had gone flat and her husband left to find help, leaving her alone. As she waited for his return, she noticed a train approaching and watched as it reached the halfway point on the bridge and left the tracks. She saw the wooden cars pulled down to the creek and heard the screams of pain after it hit the water. Concerned, the woman followed the sounds until she came across the twisted wreck. The train lay in the creek, taking on water while passengers tried to climb free. She heard a car pull up on the road and ran to get help, knowing time was of the essence.

The car was her husband returning with help. When the men heard the wife’s tale, all three went back to the creek to see what they could do to help. What they found was an empty creek. There were no signs of any accidents having occurred, much less the catastrophic one the wife had seen. The couple later found out that there had been a train wreck in that same creek, only it happened fifty years prior. On August 27, 1891, a passenger train running from Salisbury to Asheville plunged into Third Creek from Bostian’s Bridge. The cause remained a mystery, but twenty-two people died in that accident.

People still report sightings of the Bostian’s Bridge ghost train, which eventually led to an unfortunate tragedy. On August 27, 2010, a group of amateur ghost hunters were investigating on the bridge when an actual train came along. They reportedly thought it was the ghost train, so didn’t get off the tracks until it was on top of them, resulting in two injuries and one death.

There are far more legends of ghost trains spanning the world. Wherever there are train tracks, you’ll find a haunting legend attached. Just be cautious when investigating them. You never know if the light at the end of the bridge or tunnel is an actual train or a phantom one.

Until next time, Addicts,

D.J.

Logbook of Terror : Fluffy Loves You!

   

The cold, dark eyes of the poofy white mechanical cat gazed up at Yates. The toy’s mouth shot open and, in a sing-song voice it said, “I’m Fluffy!” 

    Yates chuckled. “It’s so cute.”

    “For the price, it goddamn better be,” Poppy said, sitting their drinks on the coffee table and sinking into the couch.

    “You think she’ll like it?” Yates asked. 

    Poppy smirked. “Of course she will, she’s four. And besides, Katie loves cats.” 

    “Why don’t we have an actual cat, then?” Yates asked, looking puzzled. 

    “Are you kidding?” Poppy huffed. “Those things are disgusting.”

    Yates looked down at Fluffy’s innocent, adorable face. The tan eyebrows turned down and the sweet expression became a menacing glare. 

    Yates’ face crumpled. 

    Poppy absently sipped her drink and stared into the images moving across the television screen. 

    A low growl rumbled out of the toy cat. 

    Yates hopped up from the floor and handed Fluffy to Poppy. “Hold this, I gotta pee.” He hurried from the room and slipped up the stairs. 

    Already feeling the effects of her codeine cough syrup and whiskey nightcap, Poppy sat the toy kitty on the table and gave the thing a hard stare. After turning her attention back to the TV show, Poppy had the distinct sensation that she was being watched. Her eyes darted to Fluffy, whose wide-eyed gaze was fixed on her. 

     Poppy narrowed her eyes. “Stop looking at me,” she said. 

    “Fluffy loves you!” The doll chirped. 

    “Yeah? Well, I don’t care,” Poppy replied. 

***

    Yates was looking in on Katie when Poppy’s shrill shrieking attacked his ears. Startled out of the peaceful moment of watching his daughter sleep, he raced back down to the living room. 

    The metallic smell of fresh blood curdled his nostrils as Yates rounded the corner to see his wife sprawled across the couch, her throat ripped from her neck. Fluffy the mechanical cat sat on the coffee table, cleaning a paw, her white fur soaked in blood. 

    Yates stared at the corpse of his wife on the couch. 

    A small voice echoed from the bottom of the stairs, asking, “Is she dead?” 

    Yates smiled. “She sure is, honey.” 

    Katie ran to her father and leapt into his arms. 

    “You’re a genius, little girl, it worked just like you said it would.” 

    “It wasn’t me, daddy, it was the toy maker. He told me Fluffy would help get rid of mean mommy.”

    Yates looked at Fluffy. Smiling wide, he said, “Well, she sure did.” 

    Fluffy’s eyes grew big and bright. Drenched in blood and bits of viscera, she squealed, “Fluffy loves you!”  

    “Yay!” Katie yipped with joy.

    And Yates hugged his daughter tight and thought about the hole at the edge of his vegetable garden. Human flesh does make for wonderful fertilizer, yes it does indeed.  

Josie Pace Interview From William Zimmerman

 

What TV/movie horror character do you most identify with and why?

I feel like I always identify with the misunderstood villains, I can always see their side of things for the most part. But every time I watch “The Lost Boys” I feel an absolute connection with David…a kick-ass hair connection that is, and who wouldn’t want to be an awesome vampire with platinum hair?

What is the most frightening thing you’ve written about as a lyricist?

I think the most frightening thing I’ve written about is death/ loss of someone close to me. I’ve written about losing my close friend in a car accident and also losing my friend and manager to suicide. It is scary but everyone can relate to losing someone. Writing about it really helps my grieving process and it definitely keeps my memories of them closer to me.

What non-musical things inspire your music?

I pull from emotions from personal experiences, nature, and even solitude. All of these things really inspire songs and pull from deeper parts of myself. I am constantly getting ideas from scents that remind me of past events which bring up emotions and things I have forgotten about.

What is the meaning behind the album name, ‘IV0X10V5’?

We took the name “IV0X10V5” (pronounced noxious) from my song “Battleground”. Whilst shooting the music video, my friend and artist painted the lyrics of the song onto my body to mimic tattoos. Across my collar bone, she painted noxious, but the way that she painted it looked more like how we write it for the album. Almost like leet speak. It just stuck with us ever since then.

If you could re-score any horror movie or tv show, what would it be?

I love the soundtrack to The Craft and I think it would be SO fun to re-score it with some modern music with keeping the feel of the 90s. I’d kill to hear my songs in a horror movie.

What are your favorite horror movies?

I would have to say my favorite horror movies are Scream (1996), Raw, and Donnie Darko. I love the cheesy jump scares of Scream. And both Scream and Raw have some awesome amounts of bloodiness. But the psychological aspects of all three of these movies are so interesting I could watch them a thousand times.

What was the scariest night of your life?

I have quite a few, but one that sticks in my head is when I was flying back to MI from Cali. I absolutely hate flying but I suck it up for the most part and wear my brave face even if I have to bring a stuffed animal on the flight with me. The flight was about 5 hours and I remember it being the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. At one point we had dropped altitude so fast that my arms flew into the air. I was certain we would be falling out of the sky at any moment. I had put on a movie before takeoff and I didn’t watch any of it. I was gripping the armrests and squeezing my eyes shut for the ENTIRE flight. I was scared out of my mind.

My heart never beat so hard. I remember getting off the flight and being absolutely drained. My arms were sore from gripping the armrests for so long. Not super scary to most but it is one of my biggest fears.

If you could bring back greats who have passed on, who would be your

undead opening band?

There are so many that I would love to bring back. Recently I’ve been listening to Alice in Chains and I would love to bring back Layne Staley, his voice is so iconic and his songwriting was so unique. I would bring back Taylor Hawkins on drums, have to have Jimi Hendrix on guitar and John Lennon on the bass.

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

Thank you for checking out my interview, now “We’re friends till the end, remember?” -Chuckie (Childs Play [1988])

http://www.josiepace.com

https://www.facebook.com/JosiePaceGSM

https://www.instagram.com/josiepacemusic_official_/

https://josiepace.bandcamp.com/

“I’m Begging You” Music Video