Friday, September 24, 2010

"Flash War" at The New Flesh

Hey everyone - There's just five days left to enter the FLASH WAR at The New Flesh.  The game is simple - 1,000 words or less incorporating the theme "Thats why I keep my eye in a pickle jar."  Submit it per the site guidelines, with the addition of "Flash War" in the subject line.  Go for it!

My entry purportedly goes live tomorrow.  Just click over to the New Flesh to check it out. Won't tell you too much about it, but here's a hint:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spookipedia - How about that?

Woke up this morning to a very cool surprise.  A page has been created for me on

spookyfiction.wikia.com.  This is a growing compendium of information on small presses, editors, authors etc. of horror fiction.  Totally shocked that I rate such attention, but thrilled to have it!

Here's a screenshot:


... and here's that link again.

(The picture on the site is by yours truly ... truly awful that is!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An Award? For ME?

Erin Cole nominated me for "The Creative Writing Blog Award".

The Award works as follows - I will list below 6 "Crazy Truths" and 1 "Wacky Lie" or 6 Wacky Lies and 1 Crazy Truth.

Part 2 of the award will come first - and that's the sharing of this distinction with 5 other notable bloggers; and I humbly nominate the following excellent writers (in no particular order):

1) Emma Kathryn - Beware the Vampire Bunnies
2) Barry J Northern - 21st Century writer
3) Jodi MacArthur - Fiction Writer Jodi MacArthur
4) David Barber - David Barber's Fiction World
5) Lee Hughes - Lee Hughes Writes

All are well deserving of numerous honours, but this is the one I'm giving today.

On to the test:

1) I once sang the Star Spangled Banner for a room full of Drunk American College kids - in Toronto
2) I played Jack the Ripper on TV
3) I've served lunch to the "Albino Twins" from the Matrix movies
4) I  wrote, directed, produced, stage managed a play - all whilst working the lights as well
5) I took a two hour plane trip to go on a single date
6) I once made Clive Barker "lol" on Twitter.
7) I once ended up in the emergency room due to a Macaroni and Cheese incident gone horribly wrong.

There you go.  Discuss.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Last Call

Closing in on closing time
The DJ plays matchmaker.
The ballad thins the crowd.


Bleary eyed from much too much
drinkers that danced
and dancers that drank
come together


Long gone are the one-night stands,
their feverish, furious gropings
in the back corners have become
intolerable journeys to one bed or another


Sneaking out the sides are the energy kids,
those brightly dressed retro-glam parakeets
strung out on taurine and vodka.
This music is so slow it hurts their ears


With them go the slam dancers,
Their brazen, impotent playfighting concluded.
Politics they don't understand set to rhythms they do
Will echo in their dreams


Now is not the hour for the painfully shy.
They are home, making love with diversion in their single beds.
Pages turn, televisions flicker, and the internet gives birth
to another social media superstar


The ballad plays on, and
Next to no one is left,
but next to isn't no one


Couples coalesce at the edges of the dance floor
Just outside the remaining light


With mingled desire and resignation
Exhausted arms drape across sweat-damp shoulders.
Clammy hands encircle untucked waists
No one is really sure who is propping up who.

Swaying together,

Side to side

Turn

Side to side

Creativity is gone.
It's out on the sidewalk with their other plans.

This is not who they saw themselves with
When the night began.


The ballad hits its coda.
Fumbling, desperate, awkward kisses begin,
promising nothing beyond the moment


DJ, please play another song.

And leave the lights off.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Madness

Music sometimes informs what I write. Sometimes the stories are just there, but a lot of times, I'll play some of my favourite songs and albums to get the ideas flowing. I write a lot of dark things, and I listen to a lot of dark, heavy music. There's a new story of mine up at Flashes in the Dark today. (Click here to check it out.)

The story is about madness, and while it wasn't directly influenced by the Alice Cooper song below, I'm influenced quite a bit by Alice Cooper, so there you go.

When I was 13 years old, Alice Cooper was touring his Trash album It was the first concert I ever went to, and when they dragged Alice off stage, strapped in a straightjacket, and he "became" Dark Alice, I was hooked. This song started up, and I've never quite been the same since.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spider Week

Lily Childs proposed, in honour of impending autumn and the arrival of many household "visitors" that there should be a week devoted to "Spider Stories" whether real or imagined.  (Post here)

It got my own gears going ... respect spiders, but can't stand them.

Here's my tale: (Limited time engagement - it turned out pretty well, so I'm going to do something with it.)

Sisters


Charlie and Lisa were fighting, again. This time it was over the small off-road motorbike in the boathouse. Lisa had been talking about it all the way up to the cottage. She couldn't wait to strap on her helmet and take to the trails. It was a little windy, which would keep the bugs away, but it was warm enough that a splash through the mud wouldn't cause a ride-ending chill.

Upon arrival at the cottage, however, Charlie had agreed that it was a perfect day for a ride after all, and bolted for the large, weather-beaten barn-like structure near the water. Lisa ran after her and tackled her sister just as she was pulling open one of the heavy barn doors.

Though they were the best of friends at times, Charlie and Lisa spared no punches when fighting was called for. It was a small wonder then, that everyone called them "tomboys".

Mom and Dad had long ago given up trying to come between them. Lisa and Charlie had preferred it that way, and had so far been able to settle their disputes without any bones being broken ... so far.

"Get off!" yelled Charlie, still recovering from being knocked to the ground. Lisa knew from experience she'd have to get her shots in fast. If her sister, two years her senior, got a chance to catch her breath, this would get much harder. Lisa grabbed her sister's shoulders.

"Who gets to go first?" said Lisa. She drew back her hand to slap her sister's face.

With a grunt, Charlie replied, "Me!" and bucked her hips suddenly. Lisa was thrown off balance, and Charlie shot a hand out to grab a handful of Lisa's ponytail. Lisa was slammed hard to the ground, and Charlie jumped on her, panting, redfaced, and pissed off.

"Say uncle." said Charlie.

"NO!" screamed Lisa.

"Say uncle!," Charlie repeated, gritting her teeth. "Or I'll kick your ten-year-old ass into Piper's Creek."

Lisa tried to struggle free. She felt tears welling up. "You always do this!" she cried, "You just want to go because I wanted to go first!"

Charlie pinched her nose hard. It started to bleed.

"Why I wanted to go first doesn't matter," said Charlie, her voice now calm, to the point of being patronizing, "You me from behind, that's against the rules, and now you have to say uncle."

Lisa didn't reply because it was at that moment that she saw the spider. The top of the barn door was clotted thick with spiderweb. When Charlie had opened the boathouse, it had doubtless torn the thick cloud of silk into shreds. The owner of those webs was now descending rapidly on a single strand, as if coming to have a word with the destroyer of its property.

Charlie, who was oblivious to the impending visit, said, "Say uncle, or it's the spit-torture for you." To prove she wasn't bluffing, she pursed her lips and let saliva begin pooling there.

"No. No!" said Lisa, shaking her head back and forth. She was terrified of spiders, and had been since a camping trip three years ago, when she'd been bitten by a big brown spider hidden in their firewood. She'd felt the bite, and, even worse, felt it skitter away down her arm to escape in the brush at her feet. The thought of those little legs still made her shiver.

The spider that was currently descending was just as big, just as brown, and currently on course to land on her face. She could see the thing working its spindly legs behind it.

"Let me up! Let me go Charlie!" screamed Lisa, her voice edging close to panic now.

"Let her go Charlie," came Dad's voice from the car. His tone, however, suggested that he knew he'd be ignored, just as he always was.

The spider was coming closer.

"You asked for it, twerp," said Charlie, and let the spit start to hang down. Lisa wasn't even paying attention to the impending loogie.
"SPIDER. There's a spider coming down on us!" cried Lisa.
Splat. The spit hit her cheek. Lisa didn't notice; she was crying hard now, and her cheeks were slick with tears.

"Uncle! UNCLE! Let me up you fucking bully!" Lisa sputtered, still watching the spider get closer, and closer. It was going to land right on her mouth. She jerked her body, but Charlie was too heavy.

"There we go," said Charlie, smiling. "That wasn't so hard, was it?" She shifted her weight to the side, and got to her feet. Without warning, the spider dropped off its line, and fell the final three feet to land on Lisa's cheek.

Lisa's eyes bugged out. She clamped her lips tight, not wanting it to crawl inside. She wanted to get it off, but fear had disconnected the messages to her hands. Trying to scream with a closed mouth, only a muffled whimper came out. The spider was starting to crawl toward her eye. The tiny legs tickled her skin as they carried the spider across her face.

"Oh! Oh gross!" said Charlie, all malice now gone from her voice. In one swift move, she stooped, and snatched the spider from her sister's face. Charlie stood, and made to throw the spider away.

"Ow! He bit me!" she cried, then dropped the thing to the ground, and stomped it flat. She shook her hand, and looked back at her sister. "Yuck. Are you okay Lise?"

Lisa, able to move again, nodded, and got to her feet.

"Thanks." she said. "I'm sorry I hit you from behind."

"I'm sorry I made you say uncle." replied Charlie, still shaking her hand. "Agh. This really hurts." It was starting to turn an angry red shade.
***

Charlie kept complaining about her hand until, after an agonizing trip to the hospital in town thirty minutes away, the doctor pronounced her bite to be the work of a brown recluse spider. Luckily, it hadn't injected any venom with the bite, or she could have lost half the skin on her hand. As it was, Charlie's palm and fingers would be too sore to do much of anything for the next week.

"Lucky school's out." said the doctor.

"Yeah. Real lucky." replied Charlie, rolling her eyes.
Out of respect for what her sister had done for her, Lisa tried not to enjoy the motorbike too much.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Postage Due, Pandora - Part 3

Postage Due, Pandora - Part 3




Katie sat down hard as the walls spun around her.  Everything was still, and she could hear the whispery scratch as the letter hit the floor and spilled out a handful of twenties.  Her heart felt like a small hard stone throbbing painfully back and forth on overtaxed rubber bands.  She was too shocked to cry.  Her entire world had changed for the worse in the last half hour, and she found she simply didn’t have a response. The door creaked open now, revealing empty halls. There were light spots on the paint where pictures had hung.  Even the carpet was gone.  She didn’t need to leave the room to know that the rest of the house was just as empty. 

Hadn’t she just been speaking to her mother?  Not twenty minutes ago, she’d left her mother singing and dancing in the kitchen.  You were preoccupied, she thought, you were dealing with imaginary eyes, and fake monsters.  The voice of her thoughts sounded distinctly petulant.  The Cure could’ve played a special one-time show in your kitchen just now and you wouldn’t have noticed because you were too busy having your little panic attack over what? A scary marble?  You’re pathetic.


Hearing her own thoughts attacking her, was enough to start the tears flowing.  She lowered her head and let the sobs come.  She cried because she was scared.  She cried because she wanted her mother. She cried for her broken life. 

Spasms wracked her body, and she could feel the sting of her makeup running and snot dripping off her chin.  After what seemed ages, the awful hitching in her chest slowed, and she wiped her face on her T-Shirt, leaving a gummy whitish smear behind.  She looked at the money lying on the floor and tried to think of what to do next.

CLACK. 

The rolling sound came back.  It was amplified now, and had a metallic echo.  Katie’s eyes went to the heating duct.   It had found a way out of the bathroom after all. The cover was still in place, just next to the door. But would it hold?

There was a heavy sounding click, and the lights went out.  She could barely see now by the dusky light coming through her rain-streaked bedroom window.  All too soon the bruised purple would fade to twilight blue, and she’d be practically blind.  And trapped in an empty house with the eye, she thought, don’t forget that.  She moved backward, keeping her focus on where she thought she remembered the duct to be.

The rolling came again.  The eye was ricocheting off the walls of the ductwork, like a marble in her old mousetrap game.  It sounded like it was right behind the bedroom grate now.

Katie finally understood.  This wasn’t happening.  This was some kind of hallucination.  She must have hit her head when she tripped up the stairs.  For all she knew, she was still lying there, at the top of the stairs with a possible concussion.

It was the only thing that made sense.  There was no other way so many things could be happening just to her, and so close together.  No way at all.

There was a squeal of metal, then … more rolling.  Rolling. Stop.  She looked down, and there was the eye.

She laughed.  “You’re not real.  Get lost.”  

The eye spun around once and fixed its glare on her again.  Faintly, she could hear the muffled thumping footsteps making their way down the hallway again.

Sudden red rage gripped Katie, and she grabbed the eye – meaning to throw it as she had before.  This time though, her arm convulsed, as energy coursed into her from the eye.  She was frozen in place, staring into its dead silver iris. She heard the mutant-thing in the hall bellow.  It was a choked, watery sound, like it was screaming through a mouthful of meat.  She was certain then, that this eye belonged to that beast.

Katie was afraid.  She felt terror pumping into her like liquid.  It hurt to breathe, her heart hurt to pump.  Her pants turned dark as with a noiseless rush her bladder emptied its contents.

“Why are you doing this to me?”  She screamed in her head, but all that came out of her mouth was a tortured squeak.  Somehow though, the eye heard her, and increased the flow of energy.

As suddenly as it had begun, the awful pulsing stopped, and Katie collapsed onto her knees, and the eye rolled out of her hands and across the floor.  She took several deep breaths, watching the eye now, wary of further harm. 

The thumping steps started again. Her mind clawed for purchase.  Because asking “why” had worked out so badly, she found herself replaying the list she’d first heard in Mr. Allen’s Grade 11 English class.  “Everything you want to know about the world kids, you can find out with one of these six questions – ‘Who, what, where, when, why and how.’  If you run out of things to say, ask one of these questions.”  Mr. Allen had been a total jackass that year, passing her with a lowly sixty-one, but that little nugget of wisdom had stayed with her.

So – the questions -“why” was out.  Maybe she could get a grip on things if she could just stop for a second and for chrissakes think!

Thump.  She felt her anger return, and threaten to cloud her judgment again.  No.  Just ignore it for a second and think.  Her brain looped the loop and the sequence started again.

Who? Me, just me. 

Where? My house, but it’s not really my house anymore, everything’s gone freaky.

THUMP
What? No way, too big, too weird.  I’ll go even crazier.

When?

The eye spun around then, and fixed her with the dead silver of its gaze again. It hopped up about an inch and clacked against the wood floor as it came back down.

When.  There was something there.  When did all this madness start?  Something in her mind clicked as loud as the eye had.  When she’d opened the box.  The box.

There is nothing in the box.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Michael J. Solender's Dog Days of Summer - E-Chap book

The results are in!  Michael J. Solender's "Dog Days of Summer" contest is over.  The contest was to write 101 words, incorporating "heat", and "summer."  My very silly take on it is toward the end of the e-Chapbook.

I made it into the final chapbook, and so did many other fantastic writers.  I've already taken a look, and was in awe of the entries.  Check it out here.  Lots of folks I know actually "placed" very well - with honourable mention, and "Special Jury" awards.  Won't ruin it for you here though.  But you know who you are - and congratulations!