It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski

vault

TRADITIONS

by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.

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

Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at: www.amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

It Came From the Vault: New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead by Heather Roulo

vault

How are your Resolutions coming along? In this short Guest Blog I found in the Vault, by Heather Roulo.  A Resolution’s list fit for a zombie!

New Year’s Resolutions Are for Everyone, Even the Undead

by Heather Roulo

The holidays are tough. Even being undead doesn’t put an end to the stress and expectations. So, for the New Year, I’m posting my resolutions. If I can stick to them, so can you!

  1. Diet & Exercise: I haven’t been feeling myself. I’m sluggish and my figure has suffered. From now on, it’s quality food all the way: Human brains, no more animal brains no matter how tempting they look. And the new pedometer I found ensures I’ll shuffle at least 5,000 steps a day. Gotta keep going while I have two good legs, especially since the left one is looking a little soggy.
  2. Reevaluate What I’m Doing with my Undead Existence: This is all we get. At any time, an angry mob, accidental avalanche, or something pointy could come along and I’d be finished walking this earth for real this time. I didn’t like it when my life flashed before my eyes the first time, so my undead life needs to be full and rich, because re-runs are never as good.
  3. Take A Trip: I can’t remember the last time I took a vacation just to see the world. Flying is out, since they locked down all the airports, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped others of my kind from reaching every corner of the earth. With a little determination I can hitch a ride on some survivor’s RV and truly explore nature.
  4. Manage Stress: It’s always fight and hunt, hunt and fight around here. When does a zombie get to just relax? And even when I get the chance, it’s hard to chill when the rest of the horde is getting ahead. But I need to find me time. There’s nothing more peaceful than a deep dark hole, and I’m resolved to dig myself a nice one.
  5. Manage Debt & Save Money: I have totally cut my addiction to credit cards and hardly spend a dime anymore, but somehow creditors continue to hound me. I’ve eaten a few, but it’s never as much fun when they’re chasing you. A little more fiscal responsibility and maybe I can pay off those debts and get them off my back.
  6. Improve my Knowledge & Learn a New Skill: With time, people change. I definitely have interests I’d never have considered a few years back: anatomy, the mechanics of doorknobs, and easy solutions to barbed wire, to name just a few. I’m thinking there must a school, or class, or maybe an online course I can take. If not, I’ll figure it out. Maybe I’ll write a book, because if I’m confused then others are too.
  7. Participate more in my Community and Give Back: Charity begins at home. When I have a lot, you know I share. My hole is your hole. My brains… Stay away from my brains.

And I’m going to take a minute to congratulate myself on last year’s resolution to Drink Less & Smoke Less. My new fear of fire really cut back on the smoking, and alcohol is tasteless. I can’t get drunk, and rarely experience social anxiety anymore. I can’t remember the last mixer I attended. It’s true, that if you avoid situations where you’re used to drinking, you fall out of the habit. Sure, others might say I take a swish now and again, but it’s medicinal. It clears the moss off my teeth.

Times keep changing, but it’s funny how resolutions aren’t that different no matter who you are. So, keep me honest and ask me, next year, how the diet went.

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

It Came From the Vault: Vincent and Me – Garth Von Buchholz

 

vault

Vincent and Me
By Garth Von Buchholz

I wanted to meet Vincent Price. In the late ‘80s, Vincent was in his ’70s but still famous to my generation as for all his kitschy horror cameos in music, movies and TV. His voice was heard in Alice Cooper’s music, he narrated the early Tim Burton animated film Vincent, and he even appeared on Scooby-Doo cartoons, Sesame Street and TV commercials, such as the one for the bug zapper device. His last major film role was the Inventor in Edward Scissorhands. Vincent was everywhere, and all his tongue-in-cheek, campy horror, carried off with a metaphoric wink of the eye and the chilling laugh, made him into an iconic pop culture personality.

To most people, Vincent was no longer scary. He didn’t start his career trying to be scary. In the ‘40s, he was a handsome leading man in gothic romance potboilers such as Laura (1944) and Dragonwyck (1946). By the ‘50s he was doing television roles and appearances, then began his descent into the maelstrom of pop horror by starring in such classics as The Fly (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), and, of course, the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations by Roger Corman (1960-64). He brought his old world Hollywood gravitas to these sensational flicks, but even though he was creating a niche for himself, he was also losing credibility as a serious actor. Hollywood proper wouldn’t come calling until years later when Tim Burton wanted him.

By the ‘60s, Vincent was already becoming parodied, and in fact, he helped parody himself to the younger generation in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)and in his famous role as Egghead in the old Batman TV series (1966-67). By the ‘70s, Vincent was everywhere, a true journeyman actor. He appeared in the brilliant monologue series An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972), the black comedy Theater of Blood (1973) and even on an episode of The Brady Bunch (1972) and The Love Boat (1978). Clearly, Vincent liked to work, had no pretensions about himself as an actor, and had a very dry sense of humor. He simply wanted to pay the bills and earn enough money to support his two true loves: his wife, Australian actress Coral Browne, and his extensive art collection.

As a fan of Poe, I had tremendous respect for the work he did on An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, which you can still see in clips on YouTube. When I heard that he would be appearing in my city to perform poetry by Edgar Allan Poe on stage, accompanied by live music, I decided I had to meet him. As a young writer and journalist, it wasn’t difficult for me to arrange complimentary tickets and a backstage pass to meet him before the show.

On the night of the show, I was ushered backstage to his dressing room. He was sitting at his dressing room table applying stage makeup under the bright globe lights above the mirror. When he caught sight of me, he turned with a broad smile and stood up, like a gentleman, to shake my hand.

“Hello, I’m Vincent Price,” he said, as if an introduction was necessary. His skin pallor was very pale because he had not completed his makeup yet, but his eyes were remarkably clear, and he was a tall, elegant man who stood more than six feet in height (I am six feet tall). It was like meeting a crown prince or duke from Europe. He was the personification of noble grace and elegance. I felt like a thick-tongued commoner in his presence.

I gave him a copy of my own book of poetry as a gift and an introduction (how unembarrassed I was to do that shameless bit of self-promotion!) I explained that I had been a fan of his for many years, and loved his work in the Poe stories. He said that he very much enjoyed doing them as Poe was a wonderful writer. He told me he was looking forward to his performance that evening, although it would require some effort because he had to modulate his voice so the orchestra would not drown him out during some key moments.

As I knew he was preparing to go on stage soon, I thanked him profusely and bid him farewell so that I wouldn’t be in the awkward position of having the stage manager appear to shoo me away. His performance that evening was breathtaking, made even more voluptuous and dramatic because of the orchestra’s choice of atmospheric works such as the spooky Night on Bald Mountain. I can still recall him intoning the words from Poe’s Alone, The Raven and The Conqueror Worm, the last of which made the greatest impression on me. Whenever I re-read The Conqueror Worm, I can still hear his voice.

A few weeks later, the venerable Mr. Price sent me a postcard with a contemporary painting on the front and a few words on the back, thanking me for my book of poetry. This correspondence was an unexpected pleasure, a final goodbye from a famous acquaintance who had endeared himself to me not only for his talent, but for his gentility and generosity. Did he actually read the book or simply toss it on a pile in his library? I believe he did read it. There was an honesty and forthrightness in his reply.

Vincent Price died on October 25, 1993, after completing his final work—ironically, it was voiceover work for an animated movie called The Princess and the Cobbler. He never lived long enough to see how the World Wide Web would become a new medium to perpetuate his legacy as an actor, performer, entertainer, and pop culture persona.

No need to say goodbye. Your ghost is still with us, Vincent.

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com

It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski

vault

TRADITIONS

by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.

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

Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at: www.amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

It Came From the Vault: Ghost Sightings Resurrection Mary

vault

This gem was found when I was strolling, or maybe looking for a dance partner, in our archives. David Watson wrote this in 2011. This is one of my favorite ghost stories and I hope you enjoy it as well. What is your favorite ghost story? What are famous hauntings in your area? Email me at horroraddicts@gmail.com. I would love to hear about them… and now….

Since the last episode of HorrorAddicts was on the 1930’s, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite ghost story: Resurrection Mary.   The story of Resurrection Mary takes place near Chicago Illinois in a town called Justice. Mary is a ghost that haunts Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and the Resurrection cemetery.

Mary was first spotted in the 1930’s. People have described her as a young woman with blond hair, wearing  a white party dress with a shawl and carrying a purse. Men have reported picking her up hitchhiking near the Willowbrook ballroom, sometimes she asks to be taken to the cemetery. She  gets into the car and disappears before the driver reaches their destination. Many people have claimed to have seen Mary. Sometimes she just appears in front of cars driving down Archer Avenue and sometimes she appears in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle and slowly fades away.

Mary’s early appearances started when several motorists who drove past the Resurrection cemetery kept claiming that there was a young woman who kept trying to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The story changed after that, some people  say that they met Mary at the Willowbrook Ballroom which at that time was called the O’ Henry Ballroom. People said that they would dance with the girl and then she would then ask for a ride home. The directions she gave would lead to the cemetery, she did not speak when she got into the car and then mysteriously vanished when they got to the cemetery.

Many people have also claimed that they have seen Mary walking along Archer Avenue and when they ask her if she wants a ride she disappears. The strangest thing about Mary was that most people who saw her in the 30’s all described her as looking the same from her blond hair, blue eyes, and party dress to her shawl and the small purse that she carried.

Other descriptions of Mary were much more terrifying than a vanishing ghost. Some drivers have said they were driving along when a young woman bolted out in front of their car and screamed. Then the driver heard a sickening thud followed by the woman being thrown through the air and striking the pavement. When the driver would go out to check on the girl, they found no trace of a body. The Justice police department has had several reports of people coming in and crying that they had struck and killed a woman but could not find the body.

No one knows for sure who Mary was in real life but the story that most people believe is that in the winter of 1930 there was a young woman dancing at the O’ Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend. At some point in the evening they got into a fight and Mary stormed out of the ballroom and started to walk home along Archer Drive. She was then struck by a hit and run driver and left to die in the road. She was buried by her grieving parents at the Resurrection Cemetery.

Most appearances of Mary happen in the winter and most of the sightings of her were in the 30’s and 40’s but reports of Mary have never stopped. Mary has become a legend and is considered to be Chicago’s most popular ghost.  There have been books written about her and even a movie was released about her a couple of years ago but it didn’t do Mary justice. The only way to really find out about Resurrection Mary is to take a drive along Archer avenue and maybe you will find Mary walking along the road  by herself, trying to get back to the cemetery.

Do you have any favorite ghost stories that you want to share with us,  leave a comment and let us know.

It Came From the Vault: Kbatz: Thanksgiving Treats!

 

 

 

 

 

vault

Looking for some movies to watch this Thanksgiving? Here’s some suggestions that still hold true… Which one or two will you be watching this holiday?

 

Tasty Thanksgiving Treats!

By Kristin Battestella

Put the babes to bed and send the boys to the football game while you pour a glass of Chianti and nestle in for these demented families, cannibals, hungry werewolves, thirsty vampires, and more tasty terrors!

childrenofthecornChildren of the Corn This original isn’t the best, and the entire series is fairly lowbrow in plot and effects. Nevertheless, all those rustling cornfields, creepy kids, and plant worship go a long way for a post-Halloween Harvest marathon. Name players come and go despite the low-budget status; and even if you’ve never actually seen all-count ‘em-seven films, you’ve probably heard of ‘He who walks behind the rows.’ I prefer Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest myself. And to think, I grew up on a farm.

HannibalThis 2001 sequel to Silence of the Lambs obviously has big shoes to fill. Thankfully and blessedly, Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale) is great, and the Italian scenery is flat out awesome. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) is sleazy and so much fun while the twisted Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is unrecognizable. Even in the shadow of prior Clarice Starling Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore (The Hours) shapes her own Clarice beautifully. And but, of course returning Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins is wonderful. He is without a doubt the star here, and does the most in what seems like less screen time. The one on one dialogue and action sequences are perfect, with fine suspense pacing, intelligentsia horror, class, sexy, and gore. Unfortunately, however, great the performances are in getting there, the storyline does meander. Director Ridley Scott’s (Blade Runner) ending is somewhat flat and leaves a ‘What was the point of all this?’ feeling. Nevertheless, I applaud the twisted romantic aspects and creepy for adults only production. Twilight wishes it could be like this.

The Insatiable Sean Patrick Flanery (Young Indiana Jones) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator) are both very cool guys who, after some thinsatiableseriously great stuff, have made their share of clunkers. With that in mind, one wonders if this unconventional 2007 vampire comedy romance can pull off what is so often an uneasy mixing of genres. The mood certainly doesn’t start as horror, and the “Average Joe” life sucks montages get old fast. Actual time punch cards, full-size desktops, pop up AOL email, and typing in all caps replete with old lingo such as “shit is wack” and “word”? The funny and sexy in that anti-hip sardonic way also tries a little too hard, and the black comedy is uneven between the horror research and dark action. Some jokes work – ordering blood on the web, needing a coupon for a big bag of lime – Biehn is bemusing as a wheelchair bound vampire-hunting badass, too. However, some of the dream-esque flashes are off, and the bare minimum blood and gore and standard sweaty chick in a tank top hardly warrant an R rating. Charlotte Ayanna isn’t necessarily weak, but the character is too cute, hip, and poorly drawn to be sexy, evil, and dangerous. Miss Teen USA a vampire does not make. The end is a bit obvious, yes, and the pace never quite balances the humor and dark or seriousness. This should have been a straight horror comedy instead of some depressing mood thing – and yet this nothing stellar, direct to video fair is good for a fun late night viewing.

medium-raw-night-of-the-wolf-2010Medium Raw – John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) is good to start this 2010 wolf meets asylum romp. The maniacs and asylum hang-ups are indeed better than the usual haunted madhouse types, but the wolf designs are unfortunately kind of dumb. Writer/director/hero Andrew Cymek (Dark Rising) is a bit too new and weak as well, but the scary ideas and effective killing concepts are played pretty straight. Okay, so the title is totally stupid, the subtitle Night of the Wolf is even worse, the twist is a bit obvious, and there’s nothing superior here. However, the getting there is good with a few better than expected jump moments. Great claustrophobic sets allow room for dark fears to play (even if that dang title doesn’t give the film much of a chance!) and uses of red lighting, cannibalism, kitchens, and more warped fetishes add to the creepy. Modern jagged camera attempts and silly, unnecessary dream/ghost hinges over do it just a bit, but the Red Riding Hood motifs are just enough. Refreshingly not used for sexy boobs and nudity distractions, Brigitte Kingsley (W/D/H’s wife) and a surprisingly fun Mercedes McNab (Buffy) keep it all together along with X-Files alum William B. Davis. I do however, wonder why new horror movies waste time on intercutting cool credits? No one else does anymore.

motel-hellMotel Hell You just know what the secret ingredient is in this 1980 country cannibal thriller! Ironic use of hillbilly music and television evangelist Wolfman Jack contribute to the charming and quaint but disturbed feeling here – the mix of late seventies styles and early farmhouse contentment doesn’t seem dated at all. Hanging pigs and slaughterhouse gore aren’t too over the top, but enough bloody suggestion and touches of nudity and kinky accent the dark humor and bizarre yet sentimental familial relationships. Rory Calhoun (How to Marry a Millionaire) has some sick and disturbing fun here yet remains strangely endearing, heck, even likeable. Vincent Smith’s reducing the riff raff population and keeping the community fed – it all seems like a real win win, and the winking tone pokes fun at this irony without being laugh out loud. The audience can chuckle at the soothing New Age eight track music amid the escalating events and interfering romance. Who’s next? When will the good guys find out? The pig mask and chainsaw duel in the finale are stupid and not scary now, hampering the otherwise bemusing wit and multi layered action. However, all in all this is some down home simmering and well done entertainment.

Pumpkinhead0-1988

Pumpkinhead Lance Henriksen (Near Dark) stars in this delightful 1988 backwoods tale full of deepening vengeance and deadly mayhem. Late Oscar winning creature master Stan Winston (Terminator 2, Jurassic Park) directs this taut, sorrowful thriller beautifully while fellow effects designer and performer Tom Woodruff handles the gruesome titular monster. Understandably, this does make the monster look slightly Alien in stature, but the mystical resurrection and freaky pursuits remain solid thanks to the familial revenge and action torment from Henriksen. Awesome as his design work is, why didn’t Winston direct more? Sweet a character cult favorite as he is, why wasn’t Henriksen a leading man more? His predicament is instantly relatable for parents – how far would you go? Pumpkinhead does what the vengeful aren’t capable of doing, but his deeds consume them nonetheless. Perhaps the shocks, thrills, or gore here aren’t super scary, but these ends justifying the means questions are scary concepts in themselves. Yes, there’s no law enforcement, some redneck dialogue is frustrating, and the middle of nowhere witchery may be too much for viewers wanting more polish. Fortunately, there’s atmospheric red lighting and nighttime photography, and the largely outdoor happenings are perfectly dirty, dusty, and desperate – matching the very effective personal scares, dementedness, and questions on right and wrong perfectly.

It Came From the Vault : Guest Blog: KBatz – The Blade Series

vault

Here is a great vault guest contribution on December 27, 2012. This comes from our own Kbatz when she sent in a guest review…….

 

Such Promise, But Blade Sequels Lacking

By Kristin Battestella

When it came time to continue our Halloween movie marathon with Blade II and Blade Trinity, it was soon apparent that the series lost some of its edge since 1998’s Blade. Cool technology and vampire dustings can’t save this Wesley Snipes train.

His mother was attacked while in labor, and thus Blade (Snipes) is born half human, half vampire.  Raised by weapons master and vampire hunter Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, Millennium), daywalker Blade hates vampires and struggles with his need for blood.  Young vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff, Backbeat) uses Blade’s weakness for Dr. Karen Jensen ( N’Bushe Wright) against him and seeks to capture Blade for his unique blood.

Blade establishes its universe and vampire set of rules firmly and sticks to itself almost to the end.  The film went through several rewrites and re shoots before coming up with its best but still lacking ending.  Initially, the devices and dustings in Blade’s very impressive opening are cool, but after so many years of Buffy, I’m a bit tired of vampires exploding or burning to ash in visually cool ways-or better yet with quips and great humor.  Stake them and kill them already.

It might be odd to say it so, but I much prefer the bad ass blackness Blade brings to the vampire genre.  Previously, African American vampires were somewhat of a joke or parody- turned slaves, or voodoo fiends.  Eddie Murphy’s Vampire In Brooklyn didn’t help.  Thankfully, Blade fills another gap in this urban minority horror genre. There’s edge, conflict, and intelligence for the most part.

Blade is also a comic fan’s dream, with references and allusions to numerous comic books and heroes.  Without the popularity of this first film, we might not have had the comic film boom and franchises like X-Men or Spiderman.  I can’t fault the comic origins for director Stephen Norrington’s emphasis on the explosive finally rather than Blade’s torment over being half human/half vampire-which dominates the early part of the movie.  I’ve read many a dark and serious comic book.

Blade II (2002) picks up two years after the first film.  A new subset of reaper fiends is hunting vampires, and Blade must unite with a vampire task team before the hunters upset the underground balance between humans and vampires.  Screenwriter David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) brings Whistler back under some pretty thin circumstances, but some of the better dialogue is between Whistler and new tech boy Scud (Norman Reedus, The Boondocks Saints).  Ron Perlman-now of Hellboy fame-is sufficiently bad ass as vampire henchman Reinhardt, but the silly detonator beacon that Blade sticks to the back of his bald head takes the kick ass down a step.

It’s strange to say I miss Stephen Dorff, but his asinine hedonist style was at least believable to a degree, unlike the decrepit vampire eaters here.  How many times must they get whacked, shot, and tossed through windows?  Blade II lets action and effects take over the more somber elements from the original film, which Goyer can clearly write about if Batman Begins is an example.  Isn’t Blade still conflicted about his dual nature?  Are we supposed to care if he is?  Blade II would have the viewer think not.  Skim on story, sure, but action fans will dig Blade II and its creepy cool devouring sequences.

2004’s Blade Trinity starts out promising.  After Blade is set up by familiars and kills a human, he is taken to the authorities.  New vampire villain Danica (Parker Posey) can’t keep Blade, for he is rescued by Abbie (Jessica Biel), Whistler’s illegitimate daughter, and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) an ex vampire.  Together the trio must destroy Drake aka Dracula.

I like Dominic Purcell on Prison Break, but he’s nearly impossible to take seriously as Dracula.  He’s worthy of the tough ass Blade we’ve known for two movies? Come on. Blade has its own vampire universe, why even bring a seven thousand year old Dracula into it? Trinity starts out so realistic; Blade in the news and being chased by cops-and the extended edition gives us more dialogue and explanations. Unfortunately, somewhere halfway through, we end up with dues ex machina vampire cures, gadgets, and history.  Ryan Reynolds’ (Waiting) comic relief is not needed because we’ve fallen into such unbelievably again.  Blade was already the black hip post Buffy vampire.  We didn’t need a tag team of pretty white kids cracking jokes.  American Pie’s Natasha Lyonne as a blind scientist? Are you serious?

Trinity seems to go for some cult stunt casting with this crew, including Parker Posey, who normally is great fun as the cute or bitchy hip chick like Dazed and Confused and You’ve Got Mail. Here unfortunately, she’s made to be one stupid and ugly vampire.  What happened to the original vampire organizations established in the first film?  Where is Karen and her hematologist realism?  Dividing the issues of cures and vampire origins among a young, sexy white cast is not in the spirit of Blade.    Unless you’re a die hard fan of the Wesley Snipes and the comic books, I’d rather watch Blade ten times over before I view Blade II and Trinity again. After these two disastrous sequels, why would anyone tune into the short livedBlade: The Series?

I never thought myself so sappy, but audiences who love the tragic romantic vampires ala Interview With A Vampire won’t enjoy the action and fast paced style of the Blade series.  There’s enough story and establishment of its universe with Blade for serious enjoyment, and action and gore enough for those fans in Blade II and Trinity.  Unfortunately, the lack of consistency and further suspension too far into unbelievability doesn’t give this trilogy much repeat viewing.  Blade should have been much more than kick ass.

It Came From the Vault: Real Life Horror – Garth Von Buchholz

vault

The Lady with the Owl Eyes
By Garth Von Buchholz

When I was in college, I had a summer job at a personal care home for the elderly. I was that young kid wheel chairing the snowy-haired old doll into the courtyard, or saying carefully chosen words to the Alzheimer’s patient who wanted to know when her father was arriving, or helping a wizened gentleman in a musty suit and tie mount the stairs to the tour bus. They had their own tour bus that was used for taking residents on outings, provided their state of health was such that they wouldn’t collapse in the middle of a coffee shop in some other town.

The old folks seemed to like me. Occasionally they’d get a little cranky, but that was part of the deal. You get old, your body is sore, and you have a right to bitch at young people like me who could still get out of bed and look forward to the day instead of feeling like they were a wounded infantryman about to climb out of the trenches and onto the battlefield one more time. I liked most of them, too, but my favorite resident was Mrs. V., a Russian immigrant who settled in Canada after the Second World War. She was a cultured woman with round, glassy eyes like an owl, a haughty stance with her chin raised to a 20 degree angle, thick white hair that was styled like a movie star, and an impeccably outdated wardrobe that must have been fashionable once, though I wasn’t sure when. She looked like a living, black-and-white Kodak photo from a half a century ago.

Mrs. V and I would spend time talking after our weekly excursions on the bus. She admitted that she had no interest in most of the destinations that we visited, but simply went along with the group so she could escape her small suite. She was fairly independent, and was allowed to keep a small electric coffee percolator in her room so she could brew her own harsh, metallic java that I had to share with her. She asked me whether I had girlfriends.

“I started dating someone,” I replied.

“Are you having sex with her?” she asked me bluntly. I drank some coffee to collect myself.

“No, it’s not…we’re not at that point right now.”

She shook her head and twisted her mouth as if she had swallowed an insect.

“If I liked a man, I would give him sex,” she said in her percussive Russian syllables. “Get another girl. Don’t waste your time. You grow old fast enough, yes?”

“Yes,” was my meek reply, not certain what we had just agreed upon.

By the end of the summer, Mrs V. was ill with heart problems. She stopped joining the bus tours and started spending more time in bed. I still had my responsibilities with the tours, but I always stopped in to see Mrs. V. afterward, just to keep our little tradition alive.

The last time I saw her before she passed, she was startled as I entered her unlocked room. She had been asleep, and her curtains were drawn. When I spoke to her, she rose up on one arm and stared at me for several moments as if I were a stranger who was slowly transforming into someone she vaguely remembered.

I gave her a moment to primp her hair and sit up in bed with some dignity. I noticed she was holding a small, ornate box in her hand—not quite a jewelry box but more like a fancy pillbox that a child might use to store a baby tooth that had fallen out. She saw me looking at it, and her moonish eyes opened wider.

“It’s a lock of hair from a baby,” she explained. “My daughter.”

I was afraid to ask. “Is she still….”

“No, she died as an infant. An infant!” she emphasized.

I shook my head to show my sympathy.

“Do you know what you must suffer for your children? No, you don’t. You will have a child someday, you are young. Her name was Ekaterina. She was born in 1941, the year the Germans marched into Russia. In July, Stalin was ordering the Russian people to fight back against the Germans. Better to burn your own barns rather than leave them to the invaders, he said. My husband was fighting with the Red Army. I was alone with our child.”

Mrs. V opened the box and beckoned me to touch the hair inside. It was blonde. I didn’t want to touch it.

“One morning, the neighbors came to my door. They were fleeing. ‘The Germans are only a few kilometers away!’ they cried. My best friend, Sofia, told me the Germans were raping women and bayoneting babies to the walls of their homes. She was shaking so badly it made her baby’s little head nod up and down as if it were agreeing with her.”

“Terrible,” I said, for lack of anything else to say.

“I wanted to run with them, but I had valuables, things my husband entrusted to me. If I left without taking them along, he would never forgive me. It was all we had, something to help us start anew after the war. “

Mrs V. stopped and stared at a point just above my head. I could see the memories returning to her, at first like a slideshow and then as the frames started appearing more quickly, a movie.

“What was I thinking?” she asked herself, alarmed by some impending crisis that had, in fact, happened decades ago. “The time flew. As my mother always said, ‘Pray to God, but keep a sharp mind!’ I was tying a satchel and dressing the baby when I heard it.” She stopped and went still.

“Mrs. V?” I prodded. Was she having a stroke?

She looked at me gently, her eyes more glazed than ever.

“I heard my neighbors screaming,” she said. “I heard cars, tanks. The invaders had arrived. They were almost at my doorstep.”

My mouth was open, but I could not speak.

“The women were screaming. And children. ‘Mama, mama!’ I had no where to hide. I could not outrun their vehicles. That was when I knew that I would be raped in a few minutes. Raped. And my baby….” She trailed off.

I glanced at the open box again, and the little lock of golden hair seemed ghoulish, as if I were standing beside an open grave. I was stiffened by the horror of what had become of Ekaterina. It was too much for me to hear. I wasn’t certain I wanted to know what happened next. I tried to fast-forward her story.

“How did you finally get away? How did you survive?”

She laughed. “Oh, yes, it was survival of a sort. We were interned by the Germans, then the Red Army pushed back the German front and freed us into poverty a few months later. Here…” she said suddenly, pressing the little pillbox into my hand. “Keep it. You can throw away the contents, but not until after you leave this building, please. Maybe you give your girl a little ring inside it someday?”

I was aghast at her offer. I did not want the box. I did not want to touch the baby’s hair, ever.

“Please,” she begged. “I have no one left. The people here will put it on the table to be sold at one of those silly craft sales they have here. I want you to have it because you know the story now. Part of the story.”

I nodded weakly. I would accept it, just to honor her wishes. Then I would throw it away the first chance I got. She placed it in the palm of my right hand, and closed my fingers around it.

“The Germans did not kill my baby,” she said. There was a long pause. I counted her breaths: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….

“Do you understand?” she asked.

I did not.

She whispered. “I would not wait for them to stick my baby on the walls with the tip of their bayonet. My mother taught me how to bleed a goat or a lamb. When I walked into my front yard carrying my child and my razor, Ekaterina’s sweet blood was soaking the front of my dress. It made me go mad. I was smiling because I knew she was in heaven and would never be harmed by those devils.”

I stopped breathing.

“When the Germans saw the crazy woman with the dead baby, the soldiers and their motorcade veered around me. They never even came near me.”

Garth Von Buchholz is an author of dark fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. His new book of dark poetry, Mad Shadows, was published in June. Garth is the founder of the Dark Fiction Guild (http://DarkFictionGuild.com) and Poe International (http://PoeInternational.com). He is also the Editor and Publisher of Dark Eye Glances, the eJournal of dark poetry.  Garth lives on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.  Visit his website: http://VonBuchholz.com

It Came from the Vault: HorrorAddicts.net Bonus, Halloween Carol Special

vault

 

 

ha-tag

Horror Addicts Episode# BONUS!

Horror Hostesses: Emerian Rich & Camellia Rains

Intro Music by: Dean Farnell

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

halloween carol special!

Feat. “The Monster’s Ball” by Dean Farnell

Feat. Renee and Evan Roulo

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

horroraddicts@gmail.com

 

b l o g  / c o n t a c t / s h o w . n o t e s

http://www.horroraddicts.net

It Came From the Vault: Classic Horror novels

 

 

vault

 

Origninally published January 1, 2011…. A short suggestion of Classic Horror Books… Maybe you are looking for something “new” to read for the coming fall… Check out these titles have you read them all?

 

 

With the topic for episode 54 of Horror Addicts being classic horror. It would be easy to just mention Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or maybe Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. I thought it would be more fun to find some lesser known classics. If your willing to look for them you will find these for free online.

Varney_the_Vampire

One book I found was Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcom Rymer. Though in some places the author for Varney the Vampire was given as Thomas Preskett Prest. Both James and Thomas wrote several books in the mid 1800’s and they introduced the world to Sweeney Todd in a book called The String of Pearls in 1847.

The Feast of Blood was a serialized gothic horror story which was released in a series of penny dreadfuls between 1845 and 1847. The story is about a vampire named Varney and the troubles he brings to a family called the Bannerworths.  As the story moves along Varney is shown as a sympathetic character. He was cursed to be a vampire after accidentally killing his son in a fit of anger. He is either killed or commits suicide several times in the book but always comes back to life and is doomed to feed on the blood of  the living for eternity.

Varney The Vampire was published as a book in 1847 and totals about 667,000 words. Varney was a major influence on vampire fiction, he has fangs, hypnotic powers and super human strength but he is able to walk in daylight and is not afraid of crosses. This book is one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Another book that inspired Dracula is The Vampyre by John William Polidori. This story was written during the same period as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Authors Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, John Polidori, Claire Clairmont and Percy Shelley were staying at the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816. It was rainy and to pass the time the five of them wrote stories.

This book was released in 1819, the story revolves around a young Englishman named Aubrey who meets a man named Lord Ruthven. Aubrey soon realizes that everywhere Lord Ruthven goes people end up mysteriously dying. Lord Ruthven is not a traditional vampire but several comparisons can be made between Lord Ruthven and Count Dracula.

A third book I found was The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This is a book from 1898 about a haunted house in England. The story follows a boy named Miles who was just expelled from a boarding school. When he returns home he brings along two ghosts that terrorize Miles and the rest of the people that live in the house.

Some other books I found was The Book of Were-wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould This book contains several old myths and short stories that pertain to shape shifters. This book may not be a traditional classic but its all older stories about werewolves and I love werewolves so I wanted to include it here.

The last book I wanted to mention was Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer. The story follows a man named Dr. Bruce Cairn who is using mind control to get people to kill for him. This pulp novel was written in 1918 by the same author who created Dr. Fu Manchu.

Guest Blog: KBatz- Hex

vault

HEX a Bizarre Mixed Bag of Lost Potential

By Kristin Battestella

I don’t recall how I came to the 2005 British series HEX, but it is a conundrum of a little series, I’ll tell you that. Over the course of two brief seasons, HEX establishes a fine premise, intriguing characters, and some budding paranormal fun. Unfortunately, too many changes and growing pains prematurely damaged the show into merely what could have been. Cassandra ‘Cassie’ (Christina Cole) and her roommate Thelma Bates (Jemima Rooper) don’t exactly fit in with handsome Troy (Joseph Morgan) and popular Roxanne (Amber Sainsbury) at the posh country school Medenham Hall. Cassie explores the abandoned buildings on the grounds, discovering more and more about Rachel McBain (Jessica Oyelowo, Mayo) and the estate’s torrid history of witches, persecutions, torture, and ghosts. Soon, she sees the frightening and mysterious Azazeal (Michael Fassbender) stalking her. The leader of the fallen Nephilim angels, Azazeal proves his might to Cassie by sacrificing Thelma, thus making her a ghost only Cassie and others supernaturally inclined can see. Azazeal uses his fully regained powers to possess and seduce Cassie. Now that Cassie is carrying Azazeal’s child, 500-year-old anointed witch Ella Dee (Laura Pyper) enrolls at Medenham so she can kill their fast growing, half- demon child Malachi (Joseph Beattie). Unfortunately, Malachi’s charm and fallen angel arsenal make the task difficult for Ella. After centuries of fighting the forces of evil, she finally has a chance at a normal life with fellow student Leon (Jamie Davis). However, as Malachi matures, the fabric between worlds breaks down, allowing more Nephilim, demons, and ghosts to cross over, jeopardizing everyone at Medenham and beyond.

Wow, this was a tough show to summarize! The witchy premise and demonic storylines are intriguing at the start, but we get too much too soon and yet not enough by the series’ premature end. As a result of significant cast departures and changes, HEX never adheres to its potential. We open as linear story, creating longer and longer previouslies introducing each episode- we think we have something good in place. Sadly, the revolving cast door leaves HEX without firm footing; plots meanders too much, and the storylines grows obvious and repetitive. When foreshadowing gives away more than it should, it just isn’t foreshadowing anymore, is it? Though I applaud the frank teen pregnancy issues and abortion debates, these heavy subjects are dealt with a little too casually- and the end of the world is at stake, to boot! There are the usual questions of statutory affairs and pedophilic immortals and witches getting it on with teenagers as well, but all that is lost while HEX tries to find its path by exploring the histories, comings, and goings of its players. Perhaps all these issues, characters, and more could have become something coherent in time? By the final episodes, however, all the floundering leaves the audience wondering why we should even care.

HEX also errs a little too much on the lesbian angles. While it’s lovely to have a nice, realistic, and frank portrayal, frequent director Brian Grant (As If, She Wolf of London) and oft writer Lucy Watkins (Sugar Rush, Demons) quickly fall into the safe stereotypes. The unabashed lesbian dies and becomes a ghost for goodness sake; unable to have a real relationship with the living heterosexual roommate she loves. It’s a little hypocritical to have the occasional dreamy girl on girl make outs for the flair but then say its not true romance compared to the demonic possession shenanigans. A lesbian ghost always gawking at the uninterested also perpetuates the myth that every gay person has the hots for the nearest straight person. The same sex motifs should have been handled much better or left alone. Having someone say she’s a ‘lesbian ghost’ doesn’t make one gay, does it? When the wonderful Thelma finally does get other magically convenient lesbian ghosts to play with, it’s just too contrived for the audience to care. I’ve gone on this subject for a while, simply because the production team put the topic at the forefront of the show. That in itself is not erroneous television, but hinging the show on their faulty lesbian visions is a mistake. Mature, lesbian relationships can be done wonderfully, look at Buffy. I don’t want to be stereotypical myself, but perhaps producers Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps just can’t write for chicks, as in my main complaint with the handling of their female characters in Merlin.

Despite some of these faults, the players in HEX keep things fun and juicy for the most part. Their styles and dialogue may be too Brit to some, but Christina Cole (What a Girl Wants) and Jemima Rooper (Lost in Austen) are sassy and worthwhile. Thelma’s ghostly ways can be irritating at times, but Rooper’s charm keeps Thelma’s unique situation real. It’s so nice to see the second lead in a television show not be the traditional blonde, super thin, totally hip hottie. Thelma’s quirky view and tough choices are a breath of fresh air, and when the character is sometimes reduced to a ‘freaky, fat dyke’ for the humor; it’s a little unfair to Rooper’s hard work. It’s also a little amusing that Cassie can talk to ghost Thelma is public and no one notices! The writing inconsistencies and teeny bopper girlie logic is annoying, and HEX becomes more frustrating as it loses its aim. Laura Pyper (Emma) comes into an awkward situation of replacing the departing Cole, and again the fickle writing decisions- dumbing down a 500 year old witch into said annoying lusty teen-doesn’t do Pyper justice. Wasn’t this show about Cassie, anyway? It’s as if the first 10 episodes and the back 9 shows of the series are from two different television programs. The cast are all adults, but some of the sexual scenes, vices, and abuses also seem a bit much for the ladies, too. It’s tough to discern how old they are, exactly what type of school Medenham is, and let’s not forget the touch of pedophilish relationships. Amber Sainsbury’s (30 Days of Night) resident hooch Roxanne has a fine arc with all this juiciness, but she’s pushed to the backburner while the changing over leads battle for the spotlight.

Alright, I confess it, so you must forgive me the pun. I’ve been on a bit of a bender recently over Michael Fassbender. His somehow sweet, sexy, and alluring but no less evil and ruthless turn here has Azazeal has converted my indifference to his Stelios in 300. I had to reread my commentaries on 300 to compare- but I didn’t even mention him! That’s an ouch and a whoops on my part. While I’m kicking myself for not fully realizing this talented actor sooner, this chameleon style also creates more applause. How deceptive the devil is, isn’t he? Azazeal is supposed to be the bad of the bads, yet there is an air of ambiguity, a sense of tragic love lost over the millennia. He’s slick, intelligent, predatory, ancient and evil- yet almost sympathetic in his own way. By far Azazeal is the best thing about HEX. Not because of the latent swoonability of Mr. Fassbender, but because his role is the best written and delivered part of the show. He took his time with the part and is somehow completely subtle while giving a nothing to lose kinetic energy and over the top style in Azazeal’s every move. The period piece ruthlessness blended with the modern edginess seals the deal on his ensnarement. I don’t know if it was a planned departure or Fassbender chose to leave the series, but it is tough watching HEX’s final episodes without him- particularly after the fine episode 10 “Ella’s Burning.”

Sadly, I am not as fond of the other gentleman on HEX. Joseph Morgan‘s (Ben-Hur, Doc Martin) Troy is nothing but a plot element, to be manipulated by Cassie or Azazeal as needed. Jamie Davis (Footballer’s Wives) matures and adds depth to Leon for Series 2, but he also ends up as romantic fodder for Ella. Joseph Beattie (Mansfield Park) also comes in secondary- simply because he comes across as a poor girl’s Fassbender. Didn’t we just see the storyline involving a demon trying to seduce a witch? Why are we wasting time on this again? More coming and going cast members also aren’t treated to full potential, like the very cool Headmaster Colin Salmon (Die Another Day, Dinotopia) and Anna Wilson-Jones (Afterlife) as the kind but eventually seriously misguided teacher Jo Watkins. So many fine supporting players come and go in HEX, its tough to discern who’s important, who isn’t, or who will even be around for more than two episodes. Again, it seems like someone was playing eenie meenie miney mo with the cast and characters without regard to the goldmine of talent to be had. Some of that was no one’s fault- actors come and go, storylines start and finish as needed, but as this rotating company increases, it makes HEX very frustrating to watch.

I’m not a British teenager, obviously, but my goodness the fashion sense here is horrible! These girls look like 30-year-old streetwalkers! If that was the Brit style then, or if that’s how teens really dress nowadays, oiy. What is with all the odd hair lengths and one off earrings? It’s not cool, just distracting- and everyone seems to wear the same few things all the time. Don’t these rich kids have enough money to buy a decent wardrobe? Maybe the Nuevo grunge but steampunk trash all at the same time is just some European thing, but hinging HEX on such an eclectic looks and music makes the show very dated only five years later. While the Colonial and Puritan-esque period piece looks are wonderful and the Englefield filming location is dynamite, these aren’t used to their full potential. The aforementioned casting changes and meandering on who the true lead of the series was also gives an uneven, incomplete, or rushed and poor production feeling. What little special effects there are aren’t that good, either. Usually I’m all for a relatively no-effects show winning on its cast and writing laurels, but there should be more spooky things in HEX than there are. We’re just kind of in between- a teen drama that has haunting elements or an all- gothic show that has serious drama. In a first season, shows are entitled to these growing pains, but as this is all the HEX we have, it doesn’t work in the brief series’ favor. Too many inconsistencies hamper our disbelief. Where are all the damn cell phones and laptops? Aren’t there any real school schedules, security, or rules? Some of the basics are treated too willy-nilly, putting another nail in HEX’s coffin.

Naturally, the DVD presentation of HEX is totally screwy. The first 6 episodes of Season 1 and the first 4 episodes of Season 2 comprise the ‘Season 1’ Region 1 release, and the final 9 episodes of Season 2 have not been released in North America. Well that’s a big “Huh?” isn’t it? The features for both seasons are mingled across the Season 1 discs, revealing spoilers for the entire series, too. And, to top it off, there are no effing subtitles! American audiences, it seems, have been screwed (or should I say hexed?) all around. Fans of the cast or paranormal television can try rental or online options or fully invest in the complete Region 2 releases, but the naughty language, British lingo, nudity, and other raunchy goodness are not for prudes or the super young set.

HEX simply is what it is. Would it have been better if the series continued for a third season, magically finding its path amid such complete cast turnaround? Perhaps. Was the damage of such a shaky start and constant upheavals already done? Probably. All these character movements and nice progression developments would have been fine had they happened naturally through the course of a longstanding show, but too many changes and inconsistencies happen over HEX’s measly 19 episodes. The show seems to have been flying blind- I mean, outside of its literal definition, what the heck does the title have to do with anything, anyway? Take the good of HEX, but be prepared to let the potential go. Don’t dwell, just drool, indulge, and yell at the TV.

It Came From The Vault: The Mouth of the Mountain

vault

The Mouth of the Mountain

by Michael Gormley

October 27th, 1912

 

The luminescent moon shone brightly through the clouds as I descended my usual mountain path.  When finally, the moon was admitted a gasp of air from the clouds, a ring of white light formed around it, and reverberated so viciously that my eyes became strained. My head pounded as brutally as the pulsations.

My evening strolls to the wooded top was a nightly adventure, and it was not until as of late that the trip had actually become adventurous.  Prior to the past few weeks my late walks were nothing more than routine.  After dinner, Edgar – my seven-year-old Weimaraner, a retired hunting dog – and I would head into the mountain’s path, blanketed by conifers and limber pines.  The entrance to the woods was decorated with a few weeping willows that were now fading as the fall was coming to an abrupt end.

Within the last month or so, Edgar became violent.  Not towards me, as I do not think he ever would, but more so to the intensifying moon.

Edgar was orphaned by his previous master, an esteemed hunter in the eastern states, from what I have learned.  I also, unfortunately, had learned that Edgar was orphaned in a disturbing, almost fatal manner.  It was not much for me to bring him back to health, since I did not do as much as I had before.  Now being sixty-seven years old, I spent most of my prolonged days within the woods.

Edgar went through complex stages over the last few weeks.  First, he was increasingly curious on our walks, mostly after the sun had set and the moon prowled behind the clouds.  Then he became angry with the subtle sounds and critters in the brush.  The week after, Edgar became disgruntled with myself for leaving him behind in our quaint cabin as I took my own walks in solitude.  It was as if Edgar knew what lay in wait within the lush mountains behind our cabin. It was as if Edgar’s insightful perspective had made me curious as to know the same as him.

Other than the uneasy feeling of being alone after dusk in the wooded mountains, which I had been growing more accustomed to, it was not until that night that I felt uneased – I assumed it was the same feeling Edgar had experience a few weeks prior.  Covert at first by the spontaneous migraine, the sense of dread veiled my thoughts.

Normal nights were dark by the time I had reached the top of the mountain, but this night was more somber than usual, even with the effulgent moon above.

I sat in the cold, dew covered grass.  I could feel them crawling all over my body, like the distressing itch that shows on one during an over bearing and sticky night.  It was the itch that even tossing off the sheets cannot cure.  I could feel them crawling, a feeling so strong that I knew which had four legs, which had eight, or even more.  I could feel their antennae brushing across my porous skin.  I knew that they could taste my fear.  Yet as hard as I tried – and the scratches that I had inflicted all the way down my arms would attest to my trial – could not remove them from my now violated body, let alone even see them.

I cannot recall the time spent running, tripping, and staggering down the root-full mountain path.  As I broke the forest line, beyond the weeping willows, swaying in the breeze, – as if they laughed and mocked my fear – my body was free from whatever itching invaders had turned my body into their shelter.  My pulsating head ceased its pounding.  I could almost feel the sense of dread seeping from my body, but my fear was so great that I could not have been so certain.  I was almost sure, however, because I felt lighter.

Edgar whimpered, like a stricken child cowering behind his mother, and found a corner of darkness when I erupted through the cabin door.  I could tell he wanted to smell me, to again investigate the odd events that he had surely encountered weeks before I had, but he was too afraid.  The smell of whatever was in the forest was on my clothes, and the eerie recognition had dazed him.  I pitied Edgar – he had been through enough to have that fear – but I did not care.

I needed to wash away the darkness.

The fire was easier to light than ever.  My clothes that I had worn into the woods burned easier than any kindling, and Edgar finally welcomed my return.  As I sat on my torn sofa in front of the crackling fire, he licked my hand like I had been wounded.  Before I even had the chance to plop my hand on his brown-speckled head, and scratch behind his ear in reassurance that we were both fine, I was fast asleep.  I needed the rest for my journey back into the fateful forest tomorrow evening.

I awoke early after a foolproof sleep.  I could not recall dreaming or, as I had half expected, recalled any nightmares.  I was rested, and more so than I should have been.

Edgar was still asleep, breathing heavily from his heart palpitations – another side-effect caused by his abandonment, as I was told – in front of the still simmering and smoky fireplace.  The stench from the burned clothes made my stomach turn, and I decided that there would be no breakfast this morning.

My day was restless.  My mind turned and twisted as I attempted to pass the time with a novel from above my hearth.  After I remained on the first page for an hour or so, I sealed the booked and it coughed a stagnant cloud of dust as it was slammed shut.

With the sun setting, I hesitantly dug out my Winchester Seventy-Three from the shed.  I sat, loading it full of stale cartridges, and received the reaction that I had rightfully expected from Edgar.  Again he found a dark corner of the house to hide and whine.

I had decided, almost fully subconsciously, that Edgar would again, after almost a full month now, rejoin me in the curious woods.

Therefore, the Seventy-Three would not.

I spent the last hour before dusk contemplating, and in more ways fighting with my conscious, about my decision to be accompanied by Edgar.  He had sensed the darkness, the queer happenings of the woods almost a full month prior to my odd experience (and for all that I knew) he understood them but was not granted the ability to properly communicate to me his knowledge.

Edgar would join me.

That night, as the sun was bleeding over the horizon-line in a cast of dark orange, Edgar and I – unfortunately without the sound reassurance of my Seventy-Three – set out toward the mountain path.

The air was brisk and cool, nipping at my skin through my plaid jacket.  We approached the entrance to the mountain path, and I could see Edgar shivering with each step.  I wanted to believe it was from the chill in the air, but I knew that he felt the same fear as I.

The entrance seemed to fold in on itself more than normal, and the branches hung over the opening like large, rotten teeth, waiting for us to feed its appetite.

Edgar and I obliged the woods.  We entered through the mountain’s starved mouth – hesitantly, I will admit – yet I did not feel anything unusual other than the goosebumps rising on my arms and the back of my exposed neck.

Fight through the depths of your will, Edgar.  I need you by my side.

I did not even receive the slightest amount of recognition from my companion, but with me, he trudged on.

With no issue, we reached the mountain top and gazed out upon the forest’s canopy.  The leaves were almost gone, granted the pines still held their beauty.  The mountain peak was empty, and the grass duller and dead than the night before.  I sat beside Edgar – who panted happily – and together we watched the radiant moon rise high into the sky.

How frivolous was I?  To justify my hallucinations on my mentally unstable canine companion.

Another restful night had passed, and the day had gone by just as flawlessly.  Edgar and I had gone into town for errands.  I returned to mount my Seventy-Three above the hearth.

It wasn’t until 5 PM that I had realized I still had not eaten since the night before.  Anxious to return to our now normal nightly walks, I scarfed down my dinner and allowed Edgar to indulge himself in my scraps as I laced my boots.

The mouth of the forest was again more closed than the nights before, yet I no longer felt any apprehension.

I entered through the mouth yet again, this time Edgar trotting ahead of me.  He held a spirited walk.  I had not seen that in months.

The moon was already high, tucked again behind the clouds, and as I gazed through the breaches in the canopy, a strong sense of anger filled my soul.

I looked again to Edgar, who gained some ground on me as he continued his carefree trot.

This angered me; exceedingly.

Heel mutt.

            The bizarre size of my voice caused Edgar to leap an entire foot off the hardened ground, and with that he was seated by my side.  His head was lowered in anticipation of the strike he so justifiably assumed, but his eyes were raised up to meet mine.

I could feel the very distinct dread from within his hazel eyes, as if his entire soul was pouring itself out to me.  I am not sure what heinous thoughts crossed my mind in my anger, or maybe I just did not want to believe them.

I walked on past Edgar.

My stomach was an endless pit, filling expeditiously with malicious hatred towards these woods, towards Edgar, and towards that damned, reverberating moon.

The peak of the mountain brought back the uneasy itch over the entirety of my body, anger rising.

Less than a full twenty-four hours prior, Edgar and I gazed upon the stars, sitting in the grass before me.  At that moment it would not have been possible – even if I had contained half of the anger inside of me – since the ground in front of my fully conscious eyes were filched by three slate-grey stones, as large as the ones of Stonehenge.

Two lay fallen, with another laying perfectly across the others.  The curious structure stood no higher than my dinner table, but the stones were too large to have been placed by human hands, at least within one day.

I reached out with my left hand, trembling, unaware of any consequences, and ran my calloused fingers against the stone top.  It was smoother than even the most polished garnet, or even coated wood.

The hundreds of legs again crawled over my body, sent into an immense frenzy as I brushed the stone.

Four legs I could feel on one, eight on another.  There were countless limbs traversing my helpless body, yet I still could not find them.  I tore at my jacket and shirt until they were ripped from me in miniscule pieces at my feet.

I felt the legs on my chest but still could not see them with my own eyes.

Again, I scratched and clawed, but they would not cease their incessant hurrying.  From deep within my pants pocket I pulled my whittling knife and hacked across my chest.  The blood ran wild like the steam coursing down the mountain’s path, but it did not wash away the legs.

I tried my arms, and again, the blood poured, but the insects – or whatever they were in their visual absence – remained.

Edgar’s delicate whimper broke my concentration and ended my irrational slashing.

Had I not told him to heel?

In the midst of licking the recently inflicted wounds on my left arm, I grew more disgusted with the mongrel.

I hacked at him.

Edgar had lived an unfortunate life, but a lucky life at that.  Blind in my hatred for these woods, for Edgar, and for the moon, I missed him with my scarlet blade.

As quickly as my hatred had consumed me, I brought back the handle of my small knife onto Edgar’s fragile spine, and with an agonizing yelp he bolted back down towards the mouth of the mountain.

I felt no guilt, only uncontrollable rage, and I too bolted after the mutt.

The descent detached from my mind all recollection of the assemblage of legs, from the woods, and from the migraine that pounded in unison with the pulsating moon.  But not, this time, from Edgar.

Breaking through the mouth of the mountain felt as if I had reached the surface, still alive, after an impossible and tedious swim from the ocean depths.

A crackling of thunder rolled through the air as a drizzle fell upon my aching head, already soaked from my perspiration.  Lightning ripped apart the gloomy clouds above and seemed to reach the ground, possibly closer to my unoccupied cabin.

Had Edgar gone back?  More importantly, would Edgar ever return to me?  Another corrupt master in his poor life.

I had spent the following day on my porch waiting for Edgar.  I did not call for him.  I did not want him to hear my traitorous voice.  Frankly, I did not want to hear it either.

Heavy rain fell from the sky all day, splashing upon the porch.  The pattering was soothing, but it did not put my mind at ease, and it did not help that the sky remained a dull grey for the remainder of the day.

Until the sun was setting I had not recalled smashing my whittling knife into Edgar’s back, only my vile language and anger.  The chances were high that he remained in the wicked woods, injured or expired on the ground.  I had done nothing but merely sit on the porch, listening to the now annoying rain.  I would go back through the mountain’s mouth.

I would rescue Edgar again.

The willows at the mountain’s jaw – as I had come to expect – drooped ever so slightly more than the night before.  On this night, dull and gloomy – like the relationship had turned between Edgar and myself – the pelting rain crashed upon me, the woods whispered to me.  It was not as if I heard the voices clearly, but I could feel that I was anxiously invited in.

I was hesitant, but I entered through the mouth of the mountain.  I would not return without Edgar in my arms.

Looking up through the sporadic breaches in the canopy top – for the last time I had hoped– again, I felt the moon absorb my soul, filling me with irreversible emotion.  Thankfully, I prayed that I was correct in my gratitude, it was not the rage returning.

Twenty-seven years ago, I lost my wife commencing my decision to relocate to my cottage in the hills.  For nearly twenty-seven years, until I fostered Edgar, I lived in my remote homestead – peacefully I would add – no less than ten miles from the nearest town.

In that, I never felt more alone than in my ascent to the mountain plateau.

With each step growing ever so wearisome I began to sob.  Initially, I assumed that it was in the dreadful reality of Edgar’s situation.  I also decided, more than that, it was from the desire to see my wife again.  I remembered the moon, pumping its white light in unison with my escalating heartbeat.  The forest was the causation of my isolation and seclusion.

I was alone.

A distant, muffled yelp came from the mountain, breaking my mind out of its daunting state of inconsistency.

I began to run, my legs felt heavier with each step.  In the likes of my mind, I again blamed these woods.  I walked this path an inordinate amount of times to becoming sluggish on that night of all.

I should have been blinded as I broke out into the mountain plateau, for still stood those stones.  A fog had settled there, and I could barely see even my knees.

Around the enigmatic stones, at least two-handful of sable-like figures stood, shrouded by the fog, all facing the stones.  Human in size, still I could not make out any distinctive features other than their inverse knees, pointed backwards as they stood.

Their rhythmic chanting in unison filled the night and echoed off of the peak.

Dum nalag Ro

            Dum nalag Nath

            Dum nalag RoNath

         

   With deficient reason I stood listening, growing more careful with each repetition as the chant mesmerized me.  It was an odd language in which I never heard. Somehow, as if they wanted me to comprehend – which was the more frightful matter, knowing I had been noticed – the elementary word “follower” materialized in my mind.

With that word, I knew.  What it was specifically I could not be certain, but beyond any reasonable doubt I knew.

Each step closer to the stones abated my heartbeat.  Each step sucked more of the emotional pressure from my tainted soul.

With each step closer that I had taken, those fearsome figures, with their satiric knees took equally attentive steps away from the stones, still deep in chant.  Still in precise unison.

As they regressed, and their shadowy forms faded into the mist – I saw him.

I saw Edgar, suspended to a grand pine by splintered, detached branches, two pierced through his withered ribcage.

I wanted to blame myself for Edgar’s demise.  I wanted to blame the monster that I had become, but I knew the adverse truth.  It was these poisonous woods that were to blame.

The pain I felt was none, and the absence of my guilt was resolute, because that is what the celestial moon had decided for me on that night.

I laid down on the stone table, staring up into the night sky, now clear of all its rain clouds.  The pulse of the moon had almost wholly subsided, and I assumed that my heart would match its pace yet again.

This was my peaceful confinement.

The sky blackened and the moon faded as the menacing branches folded in over me, fingertips of the wicked woods.  Closing my eyes, I hoped that I would soon again have Edgar by my side.

The gradual pulse of the shimmering moon finally ended.

_________

Michael Gormley is a student at Cleveland State University. Born and raised in Ohio, Michael resides roughly an hour outside of Cleveland. Writing in the genres of horror, thriller, and science-fiction, Michael traverses the ideas and phenomenons that are associated with human emotions.