“Animosity” by James Newman

Hello fellow Addicts!

animosityAs lovers of horror, we are misunderstood and stereotyped by people who aren’t fans of the macabre.  Horror writers tend to face that stereotype even more so than the average horror fan at times.  People think that we love the ugly side of life, that we yearn to act out in the ways we describe in our stories simply because that’s how we think and spin a tale.  When horrible things happen, it’s not entirely clichéd to think a lover or creator of fright might be involved in some way.  Author James Newman tackles that very fear in his book, “Animosity”.

Andrew Holland is a horror writer that lives in a very picturesque neighborhood.  His neighbors are fascinated and excited to have a best-selling author living among them, at least until he makes a horrifying discovery.  While out walking his dog, Andrew stumbles across the body of a girl around his daughter’s age.  At first, there is the normal excitement and fear you might expect when a vicious crime like that occurs.  People begin to wonder who the murderer might be, whether they are still in the area, or worse, is it one of their own?  It is only a short span of time before the neighbors start behaving differently towards him.  It becomes painfully obvious that everyone he once considered a friend now thinks him a monster because he writes about them.

I liked this story because of how it played with the fear most people in a similar setting have today.  Is the kind man down the street really a nice guy, or is it an act to cover some heinous crime or depravity.  With serial killers like Ted Bundy and the BTK, that fear is justified.  I think that, for the most part, the turn of the people in the neighborhood was handled in a fairly believable fashion.  There were a couple of people whose actions didn’t seem to fit all that well because it seemed to go completely against the nature of their character.  Also, the way the news seemed to focus their reports of the crime on Andrew and his past seemed an artificial way to make him feel persecuted.

My rating for this book is a 3.5 out of 5.

Until next time…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Advertisements

Press Release: Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 1

imagesWelcome to the weird! Acclaimed author and editor Laird Barron, one of weird fiction’s brightest exponents, brings his expert eye and editorial sense to the inaugural volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. No longer the purview of esoteric readers, weird fiction is enjoying wide popularity. Chiefly derived from early 20th-century pulp fiction, its remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and a healthy helping of the outre. At its best, weird fiction is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the Laws of Nature. It is not confined to one genre, but is the most diverse and welcoming of all genres. Hence, in this initial showcase of weird fiction you will discover tales of horror, fantasy, science fiction, the supernatural, and the macabre. Contributing authors include Jeffrey Ford, Sofia Samatar, Joseph S. Pulver Sr, John Langan, Richard Gavin and many more.

To find out more about the anthology check out: http://chizinepub.com/books/years-best-weird-1

The stories in this anthology are listed below:

“Success” by Michael Blumlein, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,Nov./Dec.

“Like Feather, Like Bone” by Kristi DeMeester, Shimmer #17

“A Terror” by Jeffrey Ford, Tor.com, July.

“The Key to Your Heart Is Made of Brass” by John R. Fultz, Fungi #21

“A Cavern of Redbrick” by Richard Gavin, Shadows & Tall Trees #5

“The Krakatoan” by Maria Dahvana Headley, Nightmare Magazine/The Lowest Heaven, July.

“Bor Urus” by John Langan, Shadow’s Edge

“Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn, The Grimscribe’s Puppets

“Eyes Exchange Bank” by Scott Nicolay, The Grimscribe’s Puppets

“A Quest of Dream” by W.H. Pugmire, Bohemians of Sesqua Valley

“(he) Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror” by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., Lovecraft eZine #28

“Dr. Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron” by A.C. Wise, Ideomancer Vol. 12 Issue 2

“The Year of the Rat” by Chen Quifan, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August.

“Fox into Lady” by Anne-Sylvie Salzman, Darkscapes

“Olimpia’s Ghost” by Sofia Samatar, Phantom Drift #3

“The Nineteenth Step” by Simon Strantzas, Shadows Edge

“The Girl in the Blue Coat” by Anna Taborska, Exotic Gothic 5 Vol. 1

“In Limbo” by Jeffrey Thomas, Worship the Night

“Moonstruck” by Karin Tidbeck, Shadows & Tall Trees #5

“Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks” by Paul Tremblay, Bourbon Penn #8

“No Breather in the World But Thee” by Jeff VanderMeer, Nightmare Magazine, March.

“Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” by Damien Angelica Walters, Shock Totem #7.

Kbatz: Family Friendy Frights!

Family Friendly Frights!

By Kristin Battestella

Scary? Perhaps. However, these macabre bemusements are perfect for mom, dad, the kids, and 2.5 dogs to nestle on the couch and have a spooky night in with the popcorn!

BeetlejuiceDon’t say the bio-exorcist’s name three times! Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast in this humorous tale about a country couple turned ghosts trying to rid their house of a snotty New York family. Winona Ryder is creepy as the goth daughter Lydia, and all of director Tim Burton’s odd touches have their moments-from Juno’ smoke coming out her slit throat to Delia’s infamous ‘Dayo!’ dance party. Multiple viewings are in order here.

Edward ScissorhandsThis 1990 tale of a lonely, incomplete man with scissors for hands is a little more mature and dark then some of my other suggestions. However, this early, spooky, and yet heartwarming collaboration from director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp has all the whimsy and freakiness needed without getting too comical, bizarre, or just weird. Fine performances from a lovely ensemble cast including Winona Ryder, Kathy Baker, Dianne Wiest, and Vincent Price blend humor, love, and innocence into one charming little tale young and old can enjoy.

Elvira Mistress of the DarkThere’s a touch of mature innuendo, but it’s a treat to see Cassandra Peterson’s alter ego host in a full length picture. The plot’s a predictable fish out of water scenario; with sexy Elvira taking an inheritance in a quiet, conservative town. Nevertheless, Peterson’s wit, bosom, and personality are all in spooky good fun.

Ernest Scared StupidEveryone loves Jim Varney and his plethora of goofy characters. Add a creepy house, trolls, and Halloween and you’ve got all the hijinks for a family fright fest. Yes, it might be stupid as the title suggests, but who cares?

High SpiritsPeter O’Toole and his Irish friends turn their foreclosed castle into a haunted showplace to attract American tourists. Unfortunately, Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson really haunt the place! Some goofy humor, funny romance, even a few scary scenes make this Neil Jordan haunt a keeper.

Munster, Go Home! and The Munsters RevengeBoxers or Briefs? Lennon or McCartney? The Munsters or The Addams Family? Enjoy this funny, charming family of monsters in their 1966 theatrical debut Munster, Go Home! as they take their hijinks-now in Technicolor!- abroad. Though more about the caper at hand instead of the family, The Munsters Revenge is still a treat for fans of Herman, Lily, Eddie, and Grandpa.

Silver BulletAh, a wheelchair bound Corey Haim insists there’s a werewolf in town but no one believes him! A well-rounded cast and scary wolf mysteries make you jump in your seat the first time you see this one. Several memorable, frightening scenes here still stick with me 25 years later. Younger audiences might be too frightened-but it’s only a movie, isn’t it?

Sleepy HollowHere’s another less bizarre and family fun spookfest from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. This 1999 period piece also starring Christina Ricci isn’t as dark and decrepit as a film about Ichabod Crane could be, but its hint of goth and turn of the century humor is perfect for a scary night in for families growing beyond Hocus Pocus. The suspense, ensemble cast, and surprisingly disturbing performance from Christopher Walken as the Headless Horsemen keep this one worthy as the successor to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Who doesn’t love that one?

Kbatz: Horror Documentaries

 A Macabre Documentary or Two

By Kristin Battestella

Looking for some non-fiction programming to spice up this festive, macabre season? Here’s a round up of informative and spooky documentaries, biographies, and shows for demented minds young and old!

anneAnne Rice: Biography – This 2000 television hour focusing on the Interview with a Vampire author is nothing new. Ironically, it is actually dated and somewhat inaccurate thanks to Rice’s more recent life and literary changes and thus this feels somewhat incomplete. A one-minute add-on to encompass the new millennium doesn’t cut it. That aside, it’s still great to see photos from Rice’s early life, hear friends and family recount her childhood and road to publication greatness, and listen to Rice herself talk of religion and the personal tragedies that inspired her writing. In fact, Anne’s familial losses and literary struggles may even be more poignant thanks to the conversations with her late husband, the poet Stan Rice. I’d like to see A&E revisit Rice with an updated two-hour special, but until then, scholarly studies and Rice aficionados can always enjoy this quick profile.

A Cemetery Special – PBS’s 2005 hour-long spotlight doesn’t have enough time to explore this exhaustive subject matter- and it bemusing admits that along with a respectful dedication to those buried in the featured cemeteries. From Pittsburgh to Vermont and Key West to Alaska, lovely footage of graveyards and gardens accents the bent but thought provoking discussion on death, remembrance, art, and the monuments we leave behind. Perhaps lesser-known graveyards are featured, but interesting tales from the Civil War and sleeping place origins are recounted in an almost heartwarming manner. This is the perfect little video for classrooms studying the specific locations and history or macabre scholars researching burial customs. I wish there had been a whole series like this!

hammerFlesh and Blood: Hammer Heritage of Horror – It took forever for this elusive 1994 documentary to arrive from Netflix! Nonetheless, this hour and forty minutes narrated by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing is chock full of great photos, retro posters, archive footage, and film trailers illustrating the behind the scenes stories and production highs and lows of the famed Hammer Film Studios. Lovely reflections by Michael Carreras and Anthony Hinds help recount the earliest Hammer films- from struggles in the thirties and World War II to The Quatermass Xperiment and budding science fiction success. Interviewees such as Hazel Court, Freddie Francis, Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munroe, Joe Dante, Rachel Welch, and our dear narrators seemingly touch upon nearly every Hammer picture- the Frankenstein series, assorted gothic monsters, the Dracula disagreements, blood, bosoms, and the studio’s eventual seventies downfall. Understandably, some of the footage is lower in quality, the sound remixing is tough, and there’s an obviously dry, British style to the presentation. This documentary also shouldn’t be confused with The Horror of Hammer trailer compilation companion or several other similarly themed documentaries. However, this treat is essential for die-hard Hammer fans, horror enthusiasts, and film historians.

His Name Was Jason – Everything you’d ever want to know about the Friday the 13th series, with clips from all the films and extensive behind the scenes interviews with every one who was ever involved with Jason-plus his or her grandma!

In Search of Dracula –  Christopher Lee hosts this old school look at the history of Dracula and vampire lore. Young folks might not like the old styles and footage, but vintage vampire fans will delight. You don’t catch classics like this on television anymore!

karlKarloff: The Gentle Monster – This 2006 38 minute documentary is not the hour long Biography episode of the same name but rather a lovely little retrospective found on the Frankenstein blu-ray releases. Although the beginning briefly mentions Karloff’s pre-Universal film appearances, the focus here is with the subtle, silent sympathy of Karloff’s monstrous characters and his long lasting horror appeal. From Frankenstein to later stage work beyond horror such as Arsenic and Old Lace, film scholars and historians discuss early comparisons to Lon Chaney, difficulties with horror make up’s infancy, and more scary film glory with classics such as The Mummy and The Black Cat. Attention is given to Karloff’s quiet success as a character actor thanks to his physicality and ability to be both frightening and sensual at the same time along with his spooky television series and his tireless work across mediums and generations. This is the voice of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, people! It’s also interesting to see movie buffs theorizing on the over reaching and decreasing quality of the studio’s Frankenstein series, beating it into the ground as the franchises, sequels, and remakes do today. Boris fans and horror lovers can eat up the clips and nostalgia here, for sure.

Lon Chaney: Behind the Mask – Rare, unseen silent film footage, vintage photos and clips, charming family home movies, and archive interviews with co-stars and crew anchor this 76 minute 1995 documentary illuminating the Man of a Thousand Faces. From early bit parts to his iconic horror heights, the pain, emotion, and melodramatic catharsis of his tragic portrayals is examined against Chaney’s stanch need for privacy amid the fame orchestrated Hollywood system. Collaborations with director Tod Browning are highlighted, and quotes on the craft from the man himself are smartly reiterated – wisdoms on how to utilize makeup or character flaws to accentuate the performance and create redemption in villainous roles. Of course, the presentation focuses on The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera but ends somewhat suddenly with Chaney’s death rather than any retrospective summation or legacy. Fortunately, there are lots of behind the scenes snippets, photographs, and factoids, for it’s really quite sad to realize how much of Chaney’s work is gone – over 30% of his films have vanished. 56 lost pictures – that’s more movies than some people today make in their entire lifetimes! The dated nineties design, uneven editing, jumping back and forth timeline, and a very dry narration don’t quite hit home here. However, this informative presentation remains classroom ready and will delight new film enthusiasts, longtime Chaney fans, and horror historians.

vlcsnap-5876655Lugosi: The Dark Prince – Like Karloff, Bela Lugosi’s early life and acting career before Dracula go unnoticed in this 36 minute documentary accompanying the 1931 Dracula blu-ray video. Interviews with genre directors Joe Dante, Jimmy Sangster, and other film scholars and authors instead spend the majority of time here on Lugosi’s quintessential appearance in the budding horror cinema and discuss how his phonetic learning of lines accentuated his hypnotic, handsome, somewhat scandalous and always sensual acting style. This masterful paranormal charisma of course unfortunately typecast him, but clips and analysis on Murders in the Rue Morgue, White Zombie, Son of Frankenstein, and The Raven will be a treat for those interested in the irony of Lugosi’s long lasting iconography but relatively short-lived success and underatedness as an actor. Even if the talk isn’t about the man’s personal life per se, there are great insights into the craft here, making for a lovely little bittersweet study on the quick rise and fall of a horror icon.

Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film – In covering a hundred years of scary cinema, this 2009 documentary was bound to miss a few things. However, this hour and half also provides extensive clips from early silent films, Universal monsters, the Roger Corman era, seventies zombies, eighties slashers, and more. Interviewees like George Romero, John Carpenter, and more experts on the genre examine how the social and political statements onscreen, both overt and veiled, influenced film making and audiences thru the decades. Horror has gone from early B-movie child’s play to red scare allusions and now a blockbuster industry- who knew? Some of the more recent conversation and post 9/11 thoughts are perhaps nothing new or could have been dealt with more deeply, for today’s viewer is familiar with these sociopolitical cinema influences, after all. But seeing the paces of vintage horror film thru the years is a real treat for both new and veteran fans. This one’s a great starter for younger folks just getting into horror films or a good accompaniment to a sociology discussion.

Tales from the Crypt: Comics to Television – Very insightful special about the ups and downs of the naughty in naughty comic books and how the guts and glory survived in serial television. Maybe not for mainstream fans, but horror and comic enthusiasts will love this.

Master of Macabre #5, Solomon Archer

Surface Tension by Solomon Archer
Location: New York City
Item: A teddy bear
Creature Origin: An oceanic trench

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Surface Tension

by Solomon Archer, Ph.D.

 

JOSEPH SNAPPED VIOLENTLY AWAKE from a restless sleep by a series of hard bumps as the tiny Cessna hit pocket after pocket of turbulence. As the jet shook and rattled, he could barely hear the pilot over the deafening roar inside the cabin.

“What’d you say?” he yelled. The pilot pointed toward the window.

“Ten miles to the starboard!” he shouted over his shoulder. Joseph looked out the small oval window at the vast ocean below them. The glare from the surface of the sea made it difficult to tell what he was looking at but when the sun momentarily ducked behind a bank of clouds, the mass came into full view. Even so, it took him a few moments to register what he was seeing.

“Oh my God,” Joseph muttered. The pilot nodded his head in agreement at the pile of floating debris covering an area approximately the size of Manhattan.

“You people are out of your minds,” the pilot muttered.

 


Joseph had been hired by Brooklyn Salvage in the past. He liked working with them, though he was not looking forward to being away from his daughter Abby for almost a month. His mother volunteered to look after her while he was away and for that Joseph was eternally grateful.

The crew of the ship, a 75-meter tug named the Cloudburst, was typical for a salvage operation with the exception of a marine biochemist, a cartographer, and two divers.

Joseph was somewhat disappointed that his skills as an underwater welder weren’t needed on this job, but he couldn’t argue with the money. Thirty thousand dollars for a three-week expedition was hard to turn down.

During the initial mission briefing the experts gave an overview of the expedition. The cartographer, whose name Joseph didn’t catch, used colorful maps and bathymetric charts to highlight the currents the garbage island had followed for nearly a decade before stalling over an area known as the Java Trench, a submarine depression in the Indian Ocean four and a half miles deep.

Kim Chen, the biochemist, explained that recent tectonic plate movements had created a vast array of volcanic cones along the lip of the trench. The cones, which were essentially like underwater chimneys, had been churning out a stew of toxic chemicals and debris from as far down as the earth’s mantle.

“What kind of chemicals?” asked one of the salvage crew.

“Well, sodium and calcium, of course. You find that everywhere in the ocean. But these things are also spitting out hydrogen sulfide, silica, chloride, and manganese, just to name a few. It’s a really poisonous mess and it’s coming out hot.”

“How hot?” Joseph asked.

“320 degrees Celsius,” Chen answered.

Joseph frowned, trying to convert that number to Fahrenheit. “And how hot exactly is that?” he asked.

“Hot enough to melt lead,” Chen answered. She must have detected the unease in his voice and quickly added, “Oh don’t worry. All that heat is lost before it gets anywhere near the surface. No, what worries me is the fact that toxic stew seems to be feeding your island.”

“You know, I’m gonna be knee deep in that crap starting tomorrow morning. You got any words of advice?” Joseph asked.

“Yeah,” she said after a moment. “Wear boots.”


It was early afternoon on the second day when their ship approached the floating island. He heard one of the other crew members refer to the island as “continental afterbirth,” and Joseph thought that description was quite fitting. The pile stretched out as far as he could see and appeared to be made up of several countries-worth of garbage. Its surface consisted of a frothy mix of plastic bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes, aluminum siding, and acres of discarded paper products. Dotted throughout were thousands of trash bags – some bloated from decomposition under the relentless sun, others ravaged by the sea and scattered about like ghostly mourners. Rivers of torn clothing and shredded linens meandered through the mass like serpents and the entire tableau was kissed by a layer of white foam.

Occasionally Joseph caught a glimpse of something more exotic: a stuffed white snow leopard that looked covered in mange, its fur faded and frayed by the elements; a ten-by-fourteen foot replica of Van Gogh’s Starry Night peeling from a weathered frame freckled with tar; a congealed mass of melted pink flip-flops that scarred the surface like some ocean-borne strain of Rosacea.

Perhaps strangest of all was what looked like a human torso, hirsute and pale, bobbing up and down in the current, one perfectly severed stump blindly scanning the surrounding sea like a bloodshot eye. The captain had radioed the Coast Guard about that last find, but the exchange consisted of little more than a relay of coordinates. It was unlikely that anyone would be declaring the area a crime scene.


Over the course of the next several days, he and another deckhand named Michael, got into a rhythm of sorting the debris into piles based on whatever language they could find on the items.

At one point he came across a teddy bear fr that was surprisingly intact, other than being waterlogged and a little faded.

“Whatcha got there, Joe?” Dr. Chen asked as she waved a Geiger counter over a nearby pile. He handed it to her, shrugging.

“Some kid’s stuffed toy, looks like,” he replied.

Kim turned the teddy over in her hands. “Huh,” she mumbled. “Mind if I run some tests? I’ve got a decontaminant I’ve been dying to try out if you don’t mind?”

“Knock yourself out, doc,” he said and returned to the pile.

When she was gone, Michael sidled up to him and, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one else was around, showed Joseph a watch he had found. The hands were frozen at 2:25 and it was missing a diamond at the 12:00 o’clock position, but otherwise looked to be in good shape.

Joseph whistled. “Is that a Rolex?”

“Score, right?” Michael beamed.

“You gonna tell the captain about it?” Joseph asked, already knowing the answer.

Michael snorted. “Hell no! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got bills to pay. I mean, 30 grand is great and all, don’t get me wrong. But this piece could be worth a couple thousand easy.” His smile faltered for a moment. “You’re not gonna say anything, are you?”

“’Course not,” Joseph reassured him. “Finders keepers. Congratulations. But if I were you I’d think about having Dr. Chen decontaminate it first.”

Michael smiled as he pocketed the watch. “Yeah, I’ll sure give that some thought.” Joseph nodded knowing Michael would do no such thing and the two returned to sifting through the trash.

By the time the Cloudburst finally docked at the Southeast Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Hudson Bay and Joseph had made it back to his apartment, it was nearly midnight and all he wanted to do was kiss his daughter, take a shower, and sleep for two weeks. As he unpacked his overstuffed duffel, he was surprised to find a clear plastic bag containing the teddy bear he had found at the site several weeks earlier and a note from Kim.

“Success!” the note began. “The decontamination worked better than I expected. Not even a trace of toxic chemicals or radiation. For providing me with my first test subject, you win a teddy bear! Signed K.”

Joseph examined the bear and had to admit Kim had done a damn fine job. It looked brand new with a shiny fur coat and it smelled like it had just come out of the wash. Abby would love it.

He popped his head into his daughter’s room found her asleep in her crib. He placed the teddy bear next to her head and was delighted to see her roll over, wrap a tiny arm around its neck, and start chewing on the animal’s ear.

 


Joseph went to the bathroom and stripped off his clothes and stood under the scalding stream for over ten minutes watching the water gradually get lighter as it circled the drain. He might have fallen asleep had not the high pitch of overworked metal pipes started screaming in protest. Joseph jumped at the racket coming from the wall and quickly shut off the water. But the squealing did not stop and it struck him that the sound was not coming from the pipes. He stood naked for a moment trying to figure out what it was when an inhuman shriek threatened to tear the bathroom door off its hinges.

He raced from the bathroom toward his daughter’s room, which seemed to be the source of the commotion. He was not at all prepared for what he saw when he opened the door.

In the dim pink glow of the nightlight, Abby was flailing in her crib and at first he thought she had somehow bitten into an electrical cord. He flipped on the light and raced to the crib, stopping short when he peered over the edge.

The skin from her face was entirely melted away, leaving a pulsing white and red mass of bone and tissue underneath. Her lips slid off her chin and dropped in a pile of blood, spit, and teeth on her chest, which was vibrating erratically. He thought crazily that she was having a seizure until the wet hole that used to be her mouth produced a bubbling cry followed by a fit of ragged wheezing as Abby desperately tried to fill her lungs with air.

Something in Joseph’s mind broke when he saw the skin of her neck tear open and he recoiled instinctively as several hundred worms, some more than four feet in length, bored through her throat. Red, orange, and black dots glistened on their shiny albino bodies and they moved impossibly fast as they engulfed her entire head. The sickening sound of his daughter’s skull cracking was enough to jolt Joseph to action.

He shot his arms forward grabbing Abby beneath her armpits, intending to pull her from the crib. It was last time he would ever touch her.

The moment his hands locked behind her back, her arms were torn from her body by a second wave of worms that had emerged from a gaping hole in her chest. He slipped in the growing pool of gore oozing out of the crib.

As he scrambled to get to his feet, he felt the first of them enter him through his ankle. He nearly blacked out from the pain as worm after worm burrowed into his legs and snaked into his body. They tore through flesh, bone, and muscle as they spread throughout. A few that had been devouring the contents of his last meal penetrated his bladder and exited his body through his urethra like a stream of lava. Some of the creatures had discovered his trachea and in their frenzied feast produced screams Joseph did not even recognize as his own. The last two things he ever saw in this world were the teddy bear, its stuffing teeming with what looked like albino maggots and the inside of his skull as his eyes were pulled into his head.

After that, he knew nothing more.


Madeline had been searching online for an anniversary gift for over an hour and had nearly settled on a tactical barbeque vest when she struck eBay gold: a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust. She considered herself to be something of a connoisseur of men’s fashion and other than missing a diamond at the 12 o’clock spot, the watch was in near pristine condition and at $1500 this one was a steal. She hesitated over the “buy” button for only a second before confirming her purchase. She couldn’t wait to see the look on her husband’s face when he tried it on. It would be memorable – of that much she could be sure.

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #4, D. J. Pitsiladis

The Samaritan by D.J. Pitsiladis
Location: Angkor Wat
Item: Running Shoes
Origin: Meteor Site

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

The Samaritan

By D.J. Pitsiladis

Gary jerked himself upright and muttered an apology to his sour faced neighbor.  The man muttered something in Cambodian before he turned his attention back to the window.  The American received similar reactions since his arrival in Bangkok, Thailand, the day before, and he thought about how it differed from the pro-tourism ads he saw while planning the pilgrimage.  As he popped open the third energy drink of the long bus trip, Gary promised himself, “Next time I take the window seat with all the fresh air.”

 

A bright flash lit up the sky seconds before the bus shuddered and began to roll on its side.  Gary bounced off his neighbor’s body before he hit the floor and smacked his head against one of the benches.  Pain blossomed behind his eyes from the impact before everything went black.  He didn’t know how long he was unconscious for, but when a hand pushed on his shoulder and a girl’s voice said, “Wake up,” he tried to open his eyes.  They remained shut until he felt another nudge, “Please wake up.”  The American’s eyes fluttered open to find a young Thai girl’s tear streaked face as it broke into a relieved smile.  Nausea washed over him like a wave and he laid his head back down until the girl whimpered and pushed his shoulder again.  “Please, mister, you need to wake up.”

 

Gary sat up and winced when he touched the top of his head.  “Probably have a concussion,” he thought as another wave of nausea hit.  The girl, meanwhile, placed her hands on his shoulders to help steady him while he checked their surroundings.  “Are there any others alive?” he asked.  She lowered her gaze and shook her head with a sniffle.  He swore under his breath, but then grabbed the side of the bench above him and pulled himself to his feet.

 

While he waited for his balance to steady, Gary checked out the girl for injuries.  She wore a stained yellow t-shirt and tan slacks with dark patches of blood, but no obvious signs of injury.  What really caught his attention were her clean running shoes.  He looked around at the other passengers and saw a considerable amount of blood and debris mixed in with pale bodies.  With all of that, he didn’t know how she managed to keep them so clean.  He meant to ask her about it when a noise from the outside grabbed his attention.

 

With careful steps, they made their way to the shattered front window and peeked outside.  Two of the temple complex’s five towers stood tall over a large pile of rubble while toppled trees burned around it.  They stepped from the vehicle and stared in amazement.  “How are we not dead?” Gary asked in disbelief.  Men yelled for help off in the distance, and he took a look at the girl and made a decision.  “Stay here,” he said.  “Help will be here soon.”  She opened her mouth to protest, maybe even beg him to stay until it did, but he worried that people might die if he did.

 

Military helicopters appeared within seconds and began to circle the fiery crater.  Gary wondered about what crashed there, but thought, “There’ll be plenty of time to find out after the injured are safe.”  Three armored personnel vehicles sped past the temple entrance and he jumped back to get out of their way.  He didn’t see the girl behind him until she bounced off his back and fell to the ground hard.  When she finally got her feet back under her, the girl headed for the temple with her left arm clutched tight against her chest.  Gary watched in disbelief as the military vehicles swerved to drive around her.

 

Once inside the outer walls, two monks saw them and yelled for help from a nearby pile of rubble.  Gary managed to free one of the men from the rocky trap, and let girl drag him out of the way while he turned his attention to the second monk.  It took a little longer to free the second holy man, but when he did, neither the girl nor the other monk were anywhere to be found.  When he didn’t find them, he checked the man’s leg and knew at first sight it was shattered and needed more care than he was able to offer.  When the girl finally walked around the corner, he asked, “What happened to the other guy?”

 

The girl looked around at the piles of debris and said, “He went to help more of his people.”  She met Gary’s gaze and pointed at the monk on the ground, “What about him?”  The expression on her face looked weird, but he let it go given the stressful situation.

 

“He’s not going anywhere,” Gary replied.  “His leg is badly shattered and we don’t have any way to move him.”  She turned her full attention on the man and went to his side.  The way she stared at the man looked more like hunger than concern, but, as much as his instincts told him to stay, he needed to go find more survivors.  “Can you stay here with him?” She nodded and he jogged around the opposite corner.  He didn’t get far before his gut told him to go back.  When he rounded the corner again, the scene he found terrified him.

 

The girl sat astride the monk’s chest with her knees on each arm, her left hand clamped tight over his mouth, and some kind of flat red disk against his forehead.  He realized when she pulled it away that the device was actually her hand.

 

“I can explain,” she said in a raspy voice.  Gary stared in horror as her once young and beautiful face shriveled into an opaque nightmare.  She took a tentative step toward him and added, “Then again, I don’t think you’ll understand the explanation any more than you can understand my hunger.”  The girl took another step toward him, “My kind needs blood for sustenance, but I spared you to help me find safety.”  His gaze lowered to the shriveled dead man behind her and realized not everyone on the bus died from the crash.  It proved enough to break his paralysis and he darted behind the pile of stones and headed for the soldiers.

 

Gary saw the bridge that led to the army, but didn’t see the girl until she slammed into his back and sent him to the ground hard.  Before he regained his breath, she rolled him over and sat on his chest with her knees firmly on his arms.  “All of that running made me hungry, and you look kind of tasty.”  He opened his mouth to shout for help, but her hand clamped over it as she laughed like a snake.  “Don’t worry.  I’m sure those soldiers will be happy to help.  After all…”  The girl’s image shifted back to the teenage girl and she said, “How can anyone resist a young girl in distress?”  He closed his eyes as her other hand rested on his forehead and she began to feed.

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014

Master of Macabre #3, Rish Outfield

Lighthouse View by Rish Outfield
Location: A lighthouse
Item: A camera
Creature Origin: Volcano

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

Lighthouse View

Rish Outfield

 

Carly arrived at the lighthouse just before ten in the morning, and the old man was already waiting for her.

“News lady?” he asked, putting down his large print Louis L’amour collection.

She had the camera and tripod on one shoulder, her sound bag in the other, but still said,  “That’s me.”

He slowly rose to his feet.  “You know you prolly made this trip for nothin’?”

“It’s not for nothing.  I get to see your beautiful lighthouse.”

“Ain’t been beautiful in years,” he grumbled.  He was an ancient-looking man with a white beard, a sailor hat over a bald head, and about a million wrinkles.  “View’s nice, though.”

She followed him into the old building.  It surprised Carly Page to find so few lighthouses on this part of the coast.  Her internet search had classified the one at Puente Dormido as being “Closed.”  Turned out the old man who ran it years before had bought the disused relic, and lived there now.

When she’d tracked him down on the telephone, he’d guessed what she was after.  “There’s prolly a one in a thousand chance the monster comes here.”

“Good enough for me,” she’d said, sitting in front of her computer, satellite photos on the screen showing a tail, a bulbous head, and a long body, though not in the same shot.

The monster, or Quetzalcoatl, as CNN had dubbed it, had emerged from a volcano in the Pacific two days before.  It seemed to be a giant snake or worm that either swam or flew–depending on if you thought the smudge in one photo was wings or not.  Scientists argued about whether it would head for the mainland, go to an island, or never be seen again, perhaps burrowing back into the sea.  Carly didn’t know why, but she had immediately thought of a lighthouse, and found the closest one.  If the monster came here, she might get some great footage, if not, she would interview a fascinating old man.

The lighthouse was damp and foul-smelling, and had fallen into disrepair inside and out.  “You okay?” The way he was breathing, she worried he might topple backward onto her.

“Just old,” he wheezed.  Well, that was an understatement.  Her grandfather had looked better the last time she’d seen him, and that had been in a funeral parlor.

On the upper level was a living area, with a sofa, several shelves lined with books, and a little radio.

“You say you’re from Channel 8?” he asked her, pausing to catch his breath.  Above them, the stairs continued another ten feet or so to a thick door leading to the roof.

“I was.”

He squinted at her.  “You got a face for the TV.  What’s the problem?”

She figured the interview would go better if she earned his trust, so she told him.  “The regular anchor had a baby, so I got the job to fill in for her.  On my second day, I read a story with the word knickerbocker in it.  Only I didn’t say it like that, exactly.”

“So, nobody caught the error?”

“Oh, about a thousand viewers did,” she said, though the calls and emails had actually numbered about twenty.  “TV news is live.  Goes out as you say it.  They wanted me to apologize on the next show.  I wouldn’t.  On Wednesday, there was a new guest anchor sitting in for me.”

“So, gettin’ a picture of the killer snake monster will put you back on top.”

They emerged onto the upper terrace.  The view was spectacular.  Blue, grey, and white ocean water as far as the eye could see, a cool and refreshing breeze.

“The radio said the coast guard spotted it,” she said.  “How far from us was that?”

“About eighteen mile from here.”

Carly’s odds of seeing the creature had just gotten better.

As if reading her thoughts, Walter said, “Eighteen is a lot of miles, Miss Knickerbocker.  Don’t think we’ll be hostin’ a monster party today.”

They stood in silence, Carly and the old man searching the horizon for anything more interesting than a boat.

Finally, she turned the camera on him.  “How old a man are you, Mr. Walter?”

“Ninety-one,” he said.  He definitely looked his age.

“Does this discovery make you question your understanding of the world?”

“Stuff with the snake, you mean?”  Walter gave her a wink.  “Nahh, I fought Hitler and Benito, I always believed in monsters.”

She smiled at that.  He was a charming man, even if he wasn’t very photogenic.

They left the terrace and went slowly down the creaking stairs.  Carly wondered if this building would still be standing ten years from now.

She set up the camera in front of the man’s couch.  The question she had asked him had been on a lot of minds since Quetzalcoatl emerged from the eruption.  Many took the monster as a sign that the Biblical end times were finally upon us, many took it as evidence that God did not exist.  Some were now worshiping the flying serpent like the Maya of old.

She sat Walter down with a microphone and adjusted the camera angle to best capture his craggy face.  “State your name and spell it for me.”

“Alec Walter Junior.  Eye-tee,” said Walter, and grinned for the lens.  It made him look like a bearded skeleton from a Disney pirate movie.

“Mister Walter, could–”

“Call me Alec.”

“Alec, could you tell me when you first saw this lighthouse?”

“Oh, surely.  I was six years old.  My pappy had decided–”

And then Carly heard the sound of a helicopter through the microphone.  It sounded close, getting closer.

Carly wrestled the camera off its tripod, and carried it up the stairwell with as much speed as she could muster. The old man followed, almost disappointed about the interview.

On the terrace, he saw the helicopter hovering over the water only half a mile away–a big ugly military vehicle.   Carly was filming something beyond the helicopter.  White water sprayed where an enormous shape moved fast through the ocean to the northwest.

“I can’t believe it!” she laughed, and it was infectious, the delighted laughter of the young.  “This is it!  I’m back in for sure now!”

“Hope you got enough film in that thing.”

A moment later, the helicopter rose higher.  The monster exploded out of the water and into the air.  The damned thing did have wings.

“Did you get that?” he asked, but the way she was beaming, he knew that she had.

The monster angled toward the shore.  Its wings were tiny, flapping so fast they were a blur, like a bug’s wings.  And as its body became more visible, a pale flying caterpillar, he realized that it looked a bit like his home.

“Here it comes!” Carly called in awe.

Alec Walter grabbed the girl’s thin arm and gave it a pull.  “We need to go.”

She looked away from the creature, just for a moment.

“Move!” he shouted, clutching her arm as tightly as he could manage, and pulling her in the direction of the stairs.

She thought of recording the creature’s truck tire-sized grey eyes.  Maybe, while she’d been looking at it, it had been looking at her.

She moved.  The old man focused on descending the stairs, and halfway down, he stumbled.  She steadied him with her free arm.  He was gasping, his whole back wet with sweat.

There came a sound above them–a skittering noise that insects made in the woods–but it was much, much too loud.  “Go!” Walter coughed.  But she kept supporting him until they finally made it to the bottom of the lighthouse.

He burst out the front door, but Carly didn’t want to leave the protection of the building.

“Come . . . on!” he managed, putting out his hand to her.

“We’re safer inside th–”

“It doesn’t . . . want us,” he coughed, and she ran to his side, helping him again as they moved away from the foot of the lighthouse.

The chittering stopped, and Carly saw Quetzalcoatl as it hovered next to the lighthouse.  It darted in the air, seeming to dance.

Beside Carly, the old man collapsed onto his knees, then rolled to a sitting position, where he could see the monster.  “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he got out.  He was barely getting any breath in, but she heard him whisper, “Shoot your camera.”

Quetzalcoatl kept bending its lower body toward the building, like a wasp about to sting.  “It thinks the lighthouse is an enemy,” she marveled, raising the camera–which had never stopped recording–to catch the full body of the flying worm.

“Ain’t mad,” Walter laughed, surprising Carly.  “It’s horny.”

She looked at its body language anew, and realized he was right.  The monster, though smaller than the lighthouse, was shaped very similarly to it, and was shaking its tail like a . . . well, like anybody who shook their ass for a suitor.

The helicopter slowly circled the top of the lighthouse, the only other witnesses to the giant worm’s dance.  Then the creature rotated itself 180 degrees, and landed on the side of the lighthouse.  She heard the building groan with the added weight, and saw brick drop off where the monster’s body connected.  Its tail was now right at the top of the edifice, where the terrace was.

Carly saw through the camera lens something wet and yellow emerge onto the top of the tower.  “It’s . . . laying eggs!”

“Now I’ve seen everything,” Walter mumbled beside her, and Carly felt an almost overwhelming affection for the old man.  If she hadn’t been holding the camera, trying to catch each sticky sphere as it came out and stuck in a pile, she would surely have hugged him.

Carly slowly panned onto the monster’s big flat face.  Later, she would remember it looking right at her, as though aware it had an audience.

Finally, the worm’s opaque wings began to vibrate again, and it disengaged itself from the lighthouse.  There was a cluster of twenty or so eggs up there, and Carly’s heart now thumped from exhilaration.  She had a big grin on her face, and the smile never faded as Quetzalcoatl’s wings blurred into motion again and it—she–turned and plunged into the ocean once again.  The military helicopter followed, trying to keep up.

She held the shot a moment more, arm aching from keeping the camera steady, and finally stopped recording.  “Yep,” she said, lowering her right arm.  “That will probably make me a–”

She turned and stared at the old man.  Alec Walter Junior was laying back, his mouth and his eyes both open a slit.  He no longer stirred, no longer breathed.

“Now you’ve seen everything,” she sighed.

 

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

To vote for this story in the 2014 Master of Macabre Writing Contest, send an e-mail to horroraddicts@gmail.com
Voting ends: September 9th, 2014