Press Release: The Scream Machine by Sam Mortimer a Siren’s Call Publication

Press Release: The Scream Machine by Sam Mortimer a Siren’s Call Publication

Synopsis

Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

 

 

 

 

Available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)

 

********

Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.

PRESS RELEASE : The Calling by Brent Abell a Siren’s Call Publication

PRESS  RELEASE: THE CALLING BY BRENT ABELL A SIREN’S CALL PUBLICATION

 

The CallingBrent Abell

Carl Volker has a problem. After waking one morning with a hangover to find his wife gone, he notices a crow stalking around his yard. As days go by with no word from his wife, more and more crows gather.

Frank Hill is sheriff in the seemingly pleasant town of White Creek. Up until recently, his job has been fairly mundane but after a recent spree of murders, bodies are beginning to pile up and Frank has no clue as to who the killer may be.

White Creek has kept its secrets hidden well over the years but the sins of its past are coming to light; the town harbors an evil and the bindings that keep it in check are beginning to unravel.

As Frank and Carl’s friendship is tested and their destinies are revealed, the dead accumulate while the crows watch and The Calling begins!

Available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India | The Netherlands

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Smashwords

CreateSpace (Print)

An Excerpt from The Calling…

Chapter 1:

June 1994

Carl Volker awoke that morning with a hangover that split his head in two and the rooster outside calling out the dawn didn’t make things any better, but instead drove the alcohol’s wedge deeper in his brain. Rolling over, he felt for Maggie’s body and found her half of the bed empty. The early morning light streamed into the window and hit Carl like a sledge hammer. He rubbed his blood shot eyes and pulled the pillow over his head. He drifted off to sleep again, the pillow blocking out the sounds of the rooster and the outside world.

Two hours later he awoke and found the other side of the bed was still empty. He sat up and sniffed the air, hoping to catch a whiff of breakfast cooking or any faint scent of recently cooked food. He smelled nothing and wondered what the hell Maggie was up to. This late in the morning, she usually would have some food cooked up for him before he headed out to the fields for the day. Carl swung his legs over the side of the bed and put on his slippers. His bladder was killing him and his stomach rumbled in hunger.

Carl wandered through the house in his boxer shorts, first visiting the bathroom to unburden his bladder, and then heading down the stairs to fix the stomach issue. He sniffed the air again and was once more denied the smell of breakfast. Stopping in the kitchen doorway, he opened his eyes fully and saw nothing had been moved or used. The skillets lay in the sink where they were left the night before and the loaf of bread sat with no other slices removed. He scratched his head in disbelief.

Where the hell is that woman?” Carl muttered to himself as he sat down at the kitchen table. “Not even any damn coffee either.”

He turned his head to the window to see if maybe Maggie had headed out to the fields to feed the cows and the pigs. From his vantage point, the cows were lined up at the fence waiting for food and the pigs were poking around in their pens seeking a bite. Carl started to be very concerned, not only because he had no coffee or breakfast, but because Maggie seemed to be gone and that was highly unlike her.

Carl began to retrace his steps, only this time he decided to keep his eyes open. The morning hadn’t been kind and his vision remained blurry no matter how many times he rubbed them. He trudged back up the stairs, all of his fifty-two-year-old body protesting every step. This time when he opened the bedroom door, he noticed that Maggie’s clothes were thrown from her drawers and strewn across the floor in a crumpled pile. Carl scratched his head and went to the closet door. Opening it up, he saw that the suitcase was gone. He still didn’t compute what was going on until he peeked into the bathroom and saw her makeup case missing too.

Carl scratched his head again and said, “Well ain’t that a bitch,” to nobody in particular at all.

***

The chores were done by three in the afternoon and Carl decided to leave the field alone for the day. He had to figure out just where his wife went. The last thing he remembered was drinking his whiskey straight from the bottle while Maggie downed glass after glass of wine. They laughed, they drank, they made love, and they drank some more. As he thought back, he couldn’t place anything that Carl thought would make her want to walk out on him. He hung his hat up by the back door and walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer. He removed the church key from the hook besides the fridge and opened his Busch Light. Carl found himself dismayed that supper was not being cooked for him and decided to sit on the porch swing while he finished his beer.

It was when he saw it for the first time; the crow perched in the tulip tree next to the birdbath.

Carl fixed his gaze on the jet black bird that stared back at him; its red eyes burning Carl straight down to his soul. The crow’s beady little eyes unsettled him greatly.

Get the hell out here ya’ bastard!” Carl hollered out to the bird. He reached down and took off his boot. He stood up quickly and chucked the shoe in the direction of the tree. The boot fell far short of its intended target and thudded harmlessly to the ground. The crow called out like it was laughing at Carl and it really pissed him off. First his wife vanished, he still was hung over, and now a damn crow mocked him. After thinking about it for a few minutes, he figured it would be better if he just fired up the Ford and went into town to have supper and get a drink or five at Telly’s Tavern.

Taking one last look at the crow, it spread its wings and took off into the darkening sky. Carl tossed his empty beer can off the porch and went in to get ready to go.

***

An old black man sat up in front of the bar and picked the strings on his beat up old guitar. The instrument looked like it’d been through Hell, but the blues ringing out from it sounded like Heaven to the crowd at Telly’s. The farmers and hands all drank while they tapped their feet and smacked the heavy wooden bar as the music struck a chord with the working men. A cloud of cigarette smoke hovered in the air and the haze grew thicker the further away from the bar one got.

Carl sat hunched over a beer at the bar and he stared off at the various signs hanging behind Telly.

What the Hell wrong with you Carl? You’ve been sitting there quiet as a mouse all evening. Maggie got you in the dog house?” Telly bellowed and laughed.

Ain’t seen her all day,” Carl answered and took a long pull from the beer bottle.

What do you mean you ain’t seen her all day? Don’t you control your wife out there at the farm?” Telly prodded and let out another loud laugh.

You let me worry about her, Telly. Why you got an old Negro in here playin’?”

Times changed a long time ago you old bastard and he picks the best blues strings for miles,” Telly retorted.

Carl took another long pull from his beer and emptied it. Slamming the glass on the table, he tossed a few dollars beside it and got up from his stool. “Well, I gotta go and see if she’s come back yet. See ya tomorrow, Telly.”

Telly watched Carl stager from the bar to the door and he shook his head. If he knew Maggie like he did, her splitting was a permanent thing and she wouldn’t be back no matter how much Carl begged. He’d known Carl since high school and he knew he would never beg her to come back. What did surprise him was if what happened was terrible enough she left, she didn’t say anything. His cousin knew how to argue and she’d let Carl have it on her way out of the door. Someone hollered for another round, so he buried his thoughts and went back to work.

***

The first thing Carl noticed when he pulled his old Ford truck in the drive were the four crows perched along the fence by the well. None of them flew off and their heads followed him as he parked the truck and opened the door. In the dark, Carl felt their bright red eyes burn through him.

Picking up a rock, he hurled it at the fence and it smacked the post with a loud thud. The rock bounced to the ground and the crows sat there glaring at him, none of them taking flight.

Go on! Get outta’ here ya’ bastard birds!”

He ran at the fence waving his arms around like a mad man yelling and screaming. The crows stayed perched and remained still.

Caw, caw, caw, the crows sounded out in unison.

Carl froze a few feet from their perch. They stared at him and he felt his booze laced blood go cold. Their eyes locked onto his and he held their gaze for a moment. Neither moved nor blinked. After a few seconds, Carl turned and stormed off into the house.

Inside, he heard the crows begin their song again. The four birds and their constant calling grated on his nerves as he rushed to the hall closet. Flinging the door open, he grabbed his twelve gauge and broke it open to make sure it was still loaded. Everyone told him keeping a loaded shotgun in the house wasn’t a good idea, but he figured at some point, he’d need to defend his property.

Right now, he needed to clean the yard of some annoying birds.

Here you go you bastards!” Carl cried out as he kicked the screen door open. He brought the shotgun up and fired it at the fence.

Flames danced from the gun’s muzzle and he heard the buckshot pepper the fence posts and rails. The sound he didn’t hear pissed him off. He didn’t hear the crows die. Instead they sat motionless, still perched on top of the fence. Quickly, he cracked the casing open and ejected the spent shell. Slamming another shell in, he closed the barrel and aimed at the fence.

The crows were gone.

Carl walked to the fence and studied it. He found splintered wood along the top rail and on the center post where the crows were sitting. Running his finger along the wood, he felt the deep grooves, but he couldn’t find any blood or sign the crows were even there.

I know I saw them sons a bitches,” he muttered and dropped to his knees. “If them crows were here that long, they must have shit.”

The grass below the fence appeared to be all green without a trace of white. Frantically, Carl ran his fingers through the cut grass and only found clippings from where he cut it three days ago. Shaking his head, he stood up and sulked back to the house. Once inside, he poured a shot of bourbon and watched out the window with his shotgun leaning up next to the kitchen door.

He wanted the crows to return.

********

Brent Abell lives in Southern Indiana with his wife, sons, and a pug who sits around eating the souls of wayward people. His stories have been featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses. His work includes his novella In Memoriam, collection Wicked Tales for Wicked People, and novel Southern Devils; which are available now. He also co-authored the horror-comedy Hellmouth series. Currently, he is working on the second book in the Southern Devils series and the next book with Frank Hill in the White Creek Saga.

Facebook: Brent T. Abell

Twitter: @BrentTAbell

Blog: https://brentabell.wordpress.com/

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call: Horror: Odd and Bizarre

 

Horror: Odd and Bizarre

Take two steps to the left of normal and you’ll find the type of stories offered in Horror: Odd and Bizarre. Consider them the red-headed stepchildren of the genre…

From a museum process that not only preserves the dead but brings them back to life to a phone that warns you of the impending apocalypse, each tale hits on a different level of the bizarre. Maybe a killer clown epidemic that preys on everything you hold dear, or a painting that subtly changes to spell out your doom, piques your odd meter instead—don’t worry, they’re in there too.

If you like horror with a unique spin, a bizarre thread that straddles the line, or a tale that just a little off, you’ll definitely enjoy each odd morsel and bizarre bite contained within!

Featuring:

Phantom Pain — Kayce Bennett

All Aboard — C.R. Langille

Self Portrait — Ben Pienaar

The Process — Georgina Morales

A Man Called Cup — Jason A. Wyckoff

Fingers — Maynard Blackoak

A Clown of Thorns — Ken MacGregor

Into The Dream Never — S.E. Foley

Hi — Calypso Kane

Beep — Kristal Stittle

A Clown and a Dragon Walk Into a Bar — Rob E. Boley

Ivy’s First Kiss — Matthew R. Davis

Horror: Odd and Bizarre can be found online at:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call: Twisted Yarns

Twisted Yarns

Twisted Yarns is a collection of eleven depraved stories that will warp your mind and spark your curiosity for tales best muttered in hushed tones and dark corners.

Imagine finding a baby in a dumpster; how far would you go to protect it? Picture yourself trapped in a maze with a monstrous creature that wants nothing more than to spill your blood while others bet on the outcome of your life; would you run to survive? Do you think you could – run or survive? Perhaps you’re clinging to a lost love so strongly that your rational mind doesn’t realize how strongly it’s clinging to you; is it bliss or torture? Come to think of it, is it safe to accept that tasty sample the kindly gentleman who works at the grocery store is offering you? It couldn’t be anything but harmless, could it?

If you prefer your horror twisted with a bit of grit sprinkled on top for flavor, this is the perfect anthology for you!

Featuring:

Blood Oranges — R.k. Kombrinck

Polandrio — Trevor Firetog

Kin — Elizabeth Allen

Dumpster Baby Blues — Bob Macumber

Dead World Protocol — Glynn Owen Barrass

The Road Less Taken — J.T. Seate

Countdown — Danielle Allen

A Walk in Moonlight — Sharon L. Higa

David — John Mc Caffrey

Geo — Micheal Lizarraga

The Garden of Love — Kevin Holton

Twisted Yarns is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call: Out of Phase

 

Out of Phase

Horror and science fiction blend seamlessly in the twelve stories contained within this anthology. Whether it’s mutation, creation, invention, machinery has gone awry, or space/time travel, each of the authors included took on the challenge of weaving a tale that not only stood up against scientific possibilities but will scare the proverbial pants off readers.

Imagine a world where the skies are protected from giant insects by men and women who climb into flying steel contraptions. Or perhaps you like the idea of nanobots quietly working in the background to effect positive change, only to find out that maybe those changes aren’t completely beneficial. How about genetic manipulation went horribly wrong? Fiction that may not be too far from fact…

All of these terrifying, yet thought-provoking scenarios are part of this collection of tales that definitely have some genuine kick!

 

 

 

 

 

Featuring:

Dead Serious: A Story of the Invaders — Paul M. Feeney

Hive Mind — Alex Woolf

The Unity Contagion — B. David Spicer

SkyDogs — Richard Farren Barber

Grey Sands — DJ Tyrer

Waiting Time — Rivka Jacobs

First Second — Jason D’Aprile

Idle Puppet — Dev Jarrett

Face Value — P.N. Roberts

The Forgotten Ones — J. D. Waye

What Really Happened on Green Moon 764… — Sergio Palumbo

Under The Twin Eyes — Matthew Smallwood

Out of Phase is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call : Through Clouded Eyes A Zombie’s Point of View

Through Clouded Eyes

A Zombie’s Point of View

Through Clouded Eyes: A Zombie’s Point of View: a collection of twelve stories told from the Zombie’s perspective.

They’re shambling toward you, feet dragging on the broken roadway. Arms outstretched faces slack, they move as if they’re tracking your scent on the wind. You want to run, but you know there’s nowhere to hide.

Aware of their insatiable hunger, fear paralyzes you.  These things were once human, people someone loved. Is there anything left inside them – some sliver of humanity that may save you from this nightmare? Your mind doesn’t want to accept the inevitable, a single thought consumes you: what are they thinking?

With your chance of escape dwindling, you snap out of it and run like hell knowing there is little to no hope; fate is coming for you. Soon you will see what they see Through Clouded Eyes…

Featuring: 

The Lazarus Virus — Alex Woolf

Metamorphosis — Shannon Lawrence

Night Beat — Neal Privett

Immortal Infantry — Trevor Firetog

Through the Eyes of the Dead — Paul M. Feeney

Granny Gert’s Good Eats Café — Maynard Blackoak

Grisly — Zachary O’Shea

Scrawled Pages — Josh MacLeod

Careful What You Wish For — Mark Steinwachs

Camille’s Walk — Stacy Fileccia

Red — Calvin Demmer

La Cocina de Zombie — DH Hanni

Through Clouded Eyes is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call: Mental Ward : Experiments

 

Mental Ward: Experiments

A dank basement, shadow-filled hallways, the deep echo of a metal latch being thrown while faint screams are heard… These are the things you might experience in a place where the unspeakable happens, where conscientious action and moral turpitude turn a blind eye in the interest of advancing one’s own personal pursuits in the most deranged and unjustifiable manner. The type of place where power corrupts and depravity runs rampant among those imbued with it. A place where the unfortunate are abandoned to the devices of those who convince themselves their actions are in the best interest of science.

Mental Ward: Experiments is a collection of ten short stories that demonstrate the worst of humanity’s ambition in the interest of ‘civilized’ advancement. Step into a world where sanity is left behind, and horror is what the doctor ordered!

*This book is a collection of similarly themed yet varying fictitious short stories from multiple authors.

Featuring:

Anomaly – Sarah Doebereiner

Pink Dread – Guy Medley

Rorschach – L.E. White

Bell Haven – Frank Collia

Gingham Curtains and Electric Shock – Gwendolyn Kiste

Alice – Stephanie Nett

A Mutual Understanding – Nica Berry

A Taste for Lunacy – John Pham

Ambrosia – Kyle Yadlosky

No Man’s Land Dance – Vic Kerry

Mental Ward: Experiments is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call : Monster Brawl!

 

Monster Brawl!

It’s time to let the monsters loose!

For this book, we collected stories of monsters doing epic battle with other monsters! The beasts could be classical by design with a unique twist, or they could be spawned straight from the author’s imagination. The only rule: there must be a clear-cut winner at the end of each story; one of the creatures had to die!

Some of the stories in this collection pit a single monster against another, while others are all-out gang warfare. Some are campy, some serious, but all a fight for the ages!

It’s time to get your game face on for twelve tales worthy of the title Monster Brawl!

**No monsters were hurt in the writing of these stories**

*This book is a collection of similarly themed yet varying fictitious short stories from multiple authors.

Table of Contents

Market Forces — Ben Howels

The Imp, the Gadfly, and the Hourglass — Joshua Skye

The Matriarch — Mya Lairis

Monster Milk — Hunter Shea

To Fight By the Light of the Silvery Moon — Scott Harper

Vices — Sergio Pereira

Altered Beasts — Jennifer L. Barnes

Save It for the Cameras — T.R. North

Whoever Fights Monsters… — Patrick Loveland

Below the Surface — Chad A. Clark

The Rift Ripper — Kevin Holton

Kingdom of the Spiders — Paul M. Feeney

Monster Brawl! is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada |

Kidnapped! Siren’s Call Wicked Deeds: Witches, Warlocks, Demons & Other Evil Doers

Wicked Deeds:

Witches, Warlocks, Demons, & Other Evil Doers

Sometimes wicked people do wicked things simply because they can…

The twelve stories in Wicked Deeds tell tales of witches and warlocks with ill intent, devilish demons bent on destruction, and other doers of evil who make the world a terrifying place. What is a mother to do when her daughter is gifted but lives under the thumb of her fanatical preacher husband who will brook no talk of the supernatural? What of a demon so desperate to free himself of a trap that he will force another to repeat his atrocities and condemn a young boy to his demonic fate? Or maybe the story of a crotchety old witch with a score to settle against the town she lives in is more to your liking – what evil will the seemingly harmless town-crazy call upon when faced with an ultimatum?

If you’re looking for wicked people with supernatural abilities doing wicked things, this is the collection for you!

*This book is a collection of similarly themed yet varying fictitious short stories from multiple authors.

Table of Contents

A Hundred Crimson Candles — B. David Spicer

Buyers and Cellars — Devin Darcy

Ghostville! — Darren French

The Devil’s in the Details — David O’Hanlon

Shiv — Jennifer Melzer

Puppy Farm — Josie Dorans

The Bone Thief of Belheim City — Kevin Holton

Broomstick and a Pointed Hat — Jonathan D. Nichols

Inquire Within — Mark Christopher Lane

Witches on Salem — Brian D. Mazur

Wicked Deeds: Witches, Warlocks, Demons, & Other Evil Doers is available on:

Amazon: US | UK

Amazon Print: US | UK

CreateSpace (Print) | Smashwords

Kidnapped! Dystopian Nightmare by Jessica B Bell

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Dystopian Nightmare

Jessica B. Bell

One of my favourite books of all time is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It is at once cynical and hopeful, and made me believe that stories were worthwhile, even if sometimes people aren’t. Bradbury believed that TV was the beginning of it all – that our attention spans would drop substantially, and that political correctness would lead to censorship on the ultimate scale. Reading his 1953 novel in a modern age, one can see with eerie hindsight how prophetic his work was. He may have never seen a Reality TV show or surfed the Internet, but the entertainment diversions he described in his book were very much in the same vein.

There was a time when dystopian literature spoke to the ills of the day, and was treated as cautionary or satirical. Now, it’s become something of a setting. Write a story and set it in a post-war setting where personal freedoms and liberties have been suspended or done away with altogether. Aesthetic versus social platform.

I started writing the story that would eventually become H(A)UNTED several years ago. It started as notes in a book – character sketches, really – about a very diverse crew of participants in a game show shot in outer space. Only my characters were all caricatures, really. Each character I developed was more ham-fisted and soap-boxy than the next, each representing a current red-button topic. We had the woman who had over 100 abortions so she could sell the tissue for stem cell research. Then there was the man who claimed to be the returned Jesus Christ and, well – you get the picture. It wasn’t a story at all so much as a socio-political statement, and transparently so. There’s a fine line between hitting someone over the head to get your point across and a laughable lack of subtlety.

So I abandoned the story – I’d flip through the book now and again, have a good laugh at myself – but still kept the plot in the back of my mind, so if I ever figured out a proper way to tell the story, I would.

I’d like to say that it came easy, but that would be a lie. It simmered on the back burner for so long, that I eventually used part of the idea as an anecdote in another story (but that’s a tale for another time). I was happy it found a home, but I was still unsatisfied, feeling it could be expanded into something all its own.

Opportunity struck a couple of years ago when I was asked to write a horror story with a sci-fi bent. So, I unpacked my old notebook, got rid of all the heavy-handed political soap-boxing, and re-invented the story as a slasher-flick in space. With, I’ll admit, a little bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure.

You can find the end result, a socio-political-sci-fi-horror tale called H(A)UNTED in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now.

 

jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Kidnapped! Under the Stairs at Grandmother’s House by Jessica B Bell

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Under the Stairs at Grandmother’s House

Jessica B. Bell

When I was a kid, the Bookmobile used to come and park at the end of our street in a little cul-de-sac that once had a tree that all the neighbourhood kids claimed as their own. Now there are low-income apartments there, and kids don’t read books anymore, but there was a time when we would all run, or ride our bikes down to the Bookmobile to borrow books from the travelling library. In the summertime there would be contests for how many books you could read, and of course I always won.

One of my earliest favourites was a book titled Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and its many sequels – More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Even More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Bride of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Revenge of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and my personal favourite, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark versus Predator. Okay, so I may have made some of those up, but the point is, there were a bunch, and they contained such gems as Don’t Ever Laugh When the Hearse Goes By, which I can probably recite to this day. It wasn’t just prose stories, but rather, creepy rhyming poems that were part Dr. Seuss, part Shel Silverstein, and part 1960s EC Horror Comics. It was all very tongue-in-cheek, but the laughter was often uneasy, or perhaps, the laughter was a magic talisman to keep the creeps away.

These stories and poems were some of my first experiences with horror, and I knew even at a young age that I wanted to write like that. There was a dark magic to it – so much so that I began writing stories that very summer. Were they fantastic? Not so much. But I was only about 12, so cut me some slack.

Everyone I know was afraid of the dark at one point – I’ll admit, I still don’t like going into the basement by myself – even though rationally, we know there’s nothing there that wasn’t there in the light. But there was always something about the basement in my grandmother’s house that just didn’t feel right to me. I was sure that there was something living under the stairs – it just smelled wrong down there. It was an old, sick, hungry smell, and I was terrified – no, I knew – that every single creak of the stairs as I tiptoed down them would surely wake that creature, and it would swallow me whole. I can’t tell you how many times I went down into that crypt of a basement, only to run back up the stairs, heart pounding in my chest, breath catching in my throat, sure that I could feel its hot, eager breath on the back of my neck.

Not that I dared turn around and look, of course. That’s how they get you, you know.

Under the Stairs is just such a story – about a monster under the stairs at grandmother’s house – and is told in playful rhyme, like in those Scary Stories… books. You can find it in Viscera, published by Sirens Call Publications and available now. Read it in the dark – if you dare.

 

jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Kidnapped! The Lighter Side of Horror By Jessica B Bell

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The Lighter Side of Horror

Jessica B. Bell

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – two cannibals are having dinner, and the one cannibal says to the other “You know, I really can’t stand my mother-in-law,” and the other one answers “So try the salad.”

I have always been a fan of grim, groaning humour – the kind you’d find in a Tales From the Crypt story or perhaps the ridiculous puns of Freddy Krueger in the later Nightmare on Elm Street movies. And of course, the slapstick hijinks of Ash in Army of Darkness are always highly entertaining. Sometimes you need a little laughter to keep the ghouls at bay.

When I was really young, I remember reading a book called The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and its sequel, Bunnicula – yes, about a vampire bunny. Even at an early age, I was drawn to the so-called “dark side” of things. Monsters are so much a part of pop culture and our collective consciousness that there are even cute, cuddly, friendly versions of them. The monsters of Monster High are by no means dangerous, and this may date me, but there was even a time when everyone wanted their own My Pet Monster.

There’s a great Canadian show called Ruby Gloom which promises to show you “the bright side of the dark side” and features talking skeletons, a Raven named Poe, and a two-headed guitarist named Frank and Len, who frequently make musical references that truly, only the parents watching will understand. If Robert Smith from The Cure made cartoons instead of music, this cartoon would be it (actually, it’s made by the same people that made the Beetlejuice cartoon from the late ‘80s). Further back than that, there was Casper the friendly ghost, and nobody was afraid of him. But even children are fascinated with ghosts and monsters – because we all enjoy being scared – it gives us a thrill, it gets our adrenaline pumping, and it makes us feel alive. But lets not go to far – I’m not saying show slasher films to children – I’m saying that by normalizing monsters, it can teach children how to deal with their fear; let them no that there are no real vampires. After all, no one’s afraid of the Count from Sesame Street sneaking into Big Bird’s house and sucking his blood while the giant yellow bird sleeps, tucking his beak under one wing and dreaming of snuffing out Snuffaluffagus. (But wouldn’t that make for a great episode?)

Someone challenged me to make a child-friendly horror story, and so, I tried to put myself back in the head of a little girl, and how she would see the world, with her limited knowledge and vocabulary. I don’t know if I succeeded completely, but Hannah Marie’s Theory on Vampires, Cereal Killers and Scary Mummies is a look into the scary world of a six-year-old in the cereal aisle of her local supermarket. Read it, and other stories (none of which are suitable for a six-year-old, I promise you) in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now.

 

jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Kidnapped! Ghost Stories by Jessica B Bell

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Ghost Stories

Jessica B. Bell

I am a sucker for a good ghost story – but then, I should qualify that by telling you what I think is a good ghost story. I’ve always been of the opinion that the less you see, the scarier it is. There are exceptions, of course – Guilermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak has a ghost that makes you shiver – but for the most part, special effects are, in my opinion, no match for a well-written Gothic story that hints, suggests, and frightens you with the possibility of a ghost.

Even more, I like stories where you know there are ghosts – a ghost might even be the narrator, or a main character. Or perhaps, a character whose exploits you’ve been reading is revealed to be a ghost.

There are all sorts of different philosophies or mythologies about ghosts, and when you’re writing about ghosts, you have to sort of decide what the rules of your universe are. What are ghosts? Are they demons? Are they just unlucky souls who got trapped here, unable to move on? Are they bound here by some unfinished business, like revenge? Are they aware of the living? Or is their presence merely an echo of past events, and we are only frightened by them because of a sense of violation, which is further frustrated by an inability to communicate with them.

And speaking of communicating – do they communicate? What of mediums and necromancers – can they talk to the dead? Can they be trapped? Should you cross the streams? What do you do if someone asks you if you are a god?

I think it’s great there are so many types of ghost stories – from those intended to make you pee your pants with fright, to those intended to make you laugh until you, well, pee your pants again. Not that ghost stories are only intended to make you incontinent, but it happens. One of the earliest movies that gave me nightmares was Poltergeist, and it’s still a classic. It defines an entire subgenre of ghost stories, and the horror trope of the house built on top of an old graveyard. This was the first time I’d seen a real reason behind the haunting, and it started a life-long love affair with stories about haunted hotels, creepy old psychiatric hospitals and abandoned mining towns.

I love the stories behind the ghost stories. I’m a sucker for Gothic stories, and so I want to know how the ghost died; who they were when they were alive; why they are still here. I want to know what their connection is with the person being haunted, if there is one. Because for me, a good ghost story is a tragedy. Whatever caused this soul to remain behind must have been terrible – or tragic. I’ll admit, I’m also a sucker for a ‘love conquers death’ story, where the reason the ghost stays behind is because they cannot bear to be parted from their beloved (cue Unchained Melody and bring me my potter’s wheel).

The Lessons of the Courtyard is a horror story, and it is also a tragedy – the story of a mother forced to watch her son be raised by her brutish husband, unable to temper him with a mother’s touch. Read it and more in Viscera, a collection of strange tales published by Sirens Call Publications and available now.

 

 

jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Kidnapped! Jessica B Bell Interview

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Interview with Jessica B. Bell 

 

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to be a writer?

 

Oh, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I’ve loved reading my whole life – my parents read me Dr. Seuss and such before I could read on my own, but once I figured out how to read stories, I knew I wanted to tell some of my own. Whether or not I’ll ever be able to do it for a living, I know I’ll always have stories to tell.

 

What is the best horror movie you have seen? Worst?

 

I am a huge fan of 28 Days Later, and even the sequel, 28 Weeks Later is great. I also love Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, even with Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s questionable English accents, or lack thereof (Gary Oldman redeems it all). The cinematography is phenomenal (those shadows moving by themselves were a nice touch) and the score is perfectly haunting. It came out when I was in high school, and I snuck out my parents’ car to go see it in the theater three nights in a row.

Every once in awhile, I come across a title on Netflix or Kodi that just begs to be seen, if only out of morbid curiosity. I found a movie once called The Shark Exorcist that was as bad as you think it was. Of course, I also think that there are a lot of mainstream, successful films that are just awful, but everyone has their preferences.

 

Why did you choose the horror genre?

 

I like weird things, and I like to try all sorts of different genres, but when I’m taking my writing seriously, I always seem to end up writing strange tales – not necessarily horror, but definitely strange. Like many of us, my parents read Stephen King, and when I was old enough, I started reading him, and Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice. They were okay, but I wanted more, and so I started reading classics like Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and of course, Dracula, Frankenstein, things like that. I like horror so much that I’m sort of a student of the genre. When I write, I’m very aware of the conventions and tropes that people are familiar with, and try to incorporate them into my own work.

 

When you want to be inspired, what do you use for inspiration?

 

Music, for the most part. Or I’ll go for a drive. I’ll dictate notes to my phone, which is great unless you accidentally reset your phone and lose all your notes.

 

Coffee or pizza?

 

Two of my favourite things, really, and both go great for breakfast, but if you’re talking about as a weapon (like, say, in the game of Clue), I’d go with a nice scalding cuppa joe. Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a Venti Americano.

 

Which story in Viscera is your favorite? 

 

So, I have a few, of course, but two in particular spring to mind (this time you ask me, anyway – ask me again tomorrow and I’ll give you a different answer). Paraxenogenesis, or, What Alice Found There is the completed version of a story I’ve been trying to write since I was about 15 years old. It’s changed completely, of course, but the crux of it was a nightmare I had as a kid. The other story is the title story, Viscera, about which I initially had reservations. More than any other story in the collection, this was the one that I sent out for beta-readers to give feedback on. The story itself is a bit of chicanery, and I wanted to make sure I pulled it off successfully, and that I wasn’t being obtuse. But I didn’t absolutely love the story until I had a reader come to me in tears, saying how much the story had moved her. She’d seen the metaphors in the story that others had missed, and when you connect with a reader like that, well, there’s nothing better.

 

What theme do you enjoy writing about? Space, aliens, zombies, death etc etc?

 

Yes. Actually, it’s strange. I don’t usually like writing about space or aliens, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t. Ridley Scott’s Alien is, in my opinion, the best sci-fi horror movie ever – and Giger’s creature (as well as his other art) was hugely influential, not only on my nightmares, but in my stories as well, particularly Paraxenogenesis. I like writing about broken characters trying to make their way through unusual situations. I really like writing about cults, strange gods, human sacrifice, ancient rituals, and the like. My upcoming novel, CHUK, deals with all of those, and a swamp monster to boot.

 

You have a story about alien abduction in this collection, do you believe they are real?

 

I, ahem, want to believe.

 

What is a scary night / nightmare you can’t forget?

 

One year on Halloween night, a friend (I use the term loosely) took me to an old, unfinished tunnel that went halfway under the Welland Canal. There was a ghost story attached to the place, of course – some legend about a spurned lover who accidentally stumbled into the tunnel and dropped her lantern, burning herself to death. We went into the tunnel, in the dark, and my friend’s flashlight batteries conveniently died. So of course, we had to resort to flicking our lighters to light the way, but even that was short-lived, as our thumbs began burning. At some point, my friend stopped walking as I continued toward the back of the tunnel. We were so far in that if I turned back, the opening of the tunnel was only about the size of my fist. It was about then that my friend decided to tell me the rest of the legend – that if you lit a match at midnight, the sight of the fire would cause the ghost to scream. Well, we didn’t see a ghost, but when my friend lit a match, blew it out, and began to scream, I may or may not have ran so hard toward to the open end of the tunnel that I knocked her over and together, covered in mud and laughing, we stumbled our way back out into the night air, where I gave her hell for scaring me so.

 

Cats or dogs?

Either is good if prepared correctly. But you mean… anyway, I like cats but I don’t trust them. Something inherently evil about them. Dogs are great companions, but they’re dumb as dirt.

 

What made you want to do a collection of short stories?

 

I’ve been writing short fiction for years now, in between bigger ideas. Even if I was working on a novel, there would be ideas that came that were smaller. I was given a tattered copy of Night Shift by Stephen King when I was a teenager, and between that and a collection called Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, I fell in love with the short story format. I hope that readers will get a taste for my writing with these small chunks as an appetizer, and hunger for more.

 

I saw that there is a poem in the collection. I liked it… and woah by the way… What made you decide to include it?

 

There are actually a couple of poetic works in the collection, but if you are referring to A Visit to the Doctor, then I’m glad you liked it. I love the ambiguity of what’s actually going on in the poem. A lot of my writing uses normal, everyday occurrences (like going to the doctor) and juxtaposes them with something twisted. The result is something quite horrific.

***Editor’s Note: I was talking about A Visit to the Doctor and Woah… I loved it.

 

Last question: What should we be looking out for in the future from you?

 

2017 should bring at least two new books – CHUK is my first full-length novel, and is currently being edited for publication – and I am working with a handful of other writers to finish Incarnate, the third and final book in the meta-fictional Jessica series. I’m also working on a book cycle called The People of the Manatii. The first book is already written, and the second is brewing.

 

jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Kidnapped! Spotlight on author Jessica B Bell

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jessicabbell

Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumored that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

viscera_frontcover_promo

Viscera — Jessica B. Bell

Viscera is a collection of short stories full of all the things that make you squirm, cringe, and laugh when you know you shouldn’t. You’ll remember why you’re afraid of the dark and experience an abundance of weird creatures: witches, ancient gods, and all-too-human monsters – the scariest of all.

Indulge your twisted sense of humor with stories about unconventional werewolves and a woman with a frog fetish. Know what it’s like to arrive too late to save an unusual alien abductee, or giggle with sick delight as a woman serves up a special Hasenpfeffer dinner to her pig of a husband.

Settle in for bedtime stories fit for monsters.

Viscera will grab you by the gut and squeeze, making you cry for mercy—or laugh like a fiend!

Available on:

Amazon:

US| UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

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Barnes & Noble

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iTunes

Free Fiction Friday: Zombie Ate My Girlfriend by Ken MacGregor

Zombie Ate My Girlfriend

By Ken MacGregor

 

Okay. So, I’m pathetic. Fine. I won’t argue; I think so, too. But, hey! On the bright side, I’m still alive.

Of course, living with myself just got a lot harder.

Let me back up a little. Everything was great for a while there. Well, relatively great anyway. Can’t really say anything’s been more than “tolerable” for the past eight months or so. But, all things considered, I was doing all right. It helped that I’d gotten very good at shooting the damn things in the head. Had to. Anywhere else and they just keep coming. I still blame George Romero. Oh, sure, he didn’t invent the virus that turned half of the country into the walking dead, but he gave whoever did the idea. Yep. His fault, all right. Dick.

Anyway, I was doing okay. Keeping my head above water. Above ground. Hiding, mostly. Shooting when I had to. Running away a lot. It got to be pretty routine after a while. You know? It’s amazing what you can get used to. Then, total fluke, I met Rebecca. First of all, she was alive, a big plus in my book. Also, she was really cute. That didn’t hurt at all. Third, I totally saved her life, making me the Hero. Finally, it wasn’t like either of us had a lot of dating options. We hooked up. Let me tell you something: post-apocalyptic sex is awesome.

Turns out Rebecca is a pretty good shot, too; she doesn’t always get the head shot on the first try, but she always does by the second. Did. I mean “did”. And “was”. Fuck.

So, there we were: a couple of hardened Zombie Apocalypse veterans, fighting for our lives and trying to make a baby every chance we get. Pretty storybook, huh? It was … until it wasn’t.

We were holed up (I hate that expression; why do I even use it?) in an apartment building, upper floor – sixth maybe –  and were well-fed and rested, two things you really learn to appreciate. We knew we had enough food to last us maybe a week, and it seemed like a safe spot, so we let our guard down.

You can’t do that. Not anymore.

The family of five, Dad, Mom, Teen Boy and Girl (Twins? So hard to tell when they’re dead) and Zombie Toddler burst in through the door on day two. They were pretty far gone, so they must not have eaten for a long time. They might have been stuck in this building for weeks, maybe months. Who knows? One thing’s for sure: they were very anxious to come in.

My rifle, never far from my hand, took out two of them as they crossed the threshold. Rebecca got one a second later, but that left two. Teen Girl Zombie (sounds like a Roger Corman film, doesn’t it?) lunged at me, hunger making her faster than they usually are. I got the shot off at the last second, and she landed on top of me, unmoving, unbiting, half her head missing. I threw her off, disgusted by the smell and the weight of her. Rebecca was looking at me, afraid I’d been turned.

“She didn’t get me,” I started to say, but stopped. We had both forgotten about Zombie Toddler. The little bastard bit her on the inner thigh. Femoral blood geysered out and Rebecca smashed her rifle butt into his tiny head, killing (if that’s even the right term) the kid instantly. But, the damage was done. We might stop the bleeding, put some stitches in the wound, but no way was she going to survive. Not as a human anyway. She looked at me, pleading, asking me with her eyes to do the unthinkable. To shoot my girlfriend in the head. I wanted to, I really did. But I just couldn’t do it. Pathetic, right? As I ran down the stairs, alone, I heard the shot. Turns out Rebecca had bigger balls than I.

I know, I know. I even kind of make myself a little sick. But, hey…still alive. Counts for a lot.

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

Zombie Ate My Girlfriend has been previously published in Siren Call’s, An Aberrant Mind .

Author picKen MacGregor’s work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, magazines and podcasts. In 2013, a collection of his short stories, called An Aberrant Mind, was released by Sirens Call Publications. Ken is a member of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. Ken’s the kind of guy that, if he found himself stranded somewhere with you, would probably eat you to survive. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two unstable cats. His author website is http://ken-macgregor.com.​