Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween - A final (Trick or) treat

Happy Halloween everyone.  First off, if you haven't done so, Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror wraps up today.  Head on over and check out the finale.  It's a killer!

Next - I had totally planned to unveil one last "Halloween Card" for you here, but wouldn't you know it, the story took off, and it's now way too long.  So, I'm pleased to share with you a piece that debuted at Flashes in the Dark last Halloween.  All the best!

At the All Hallow's Eve Buffet (Kids Eat Free) 

“Hello Clarisse. Have the lambs stopped screaming?”

“Take that off, Dennis. It wasn't funny in that movie and it's not funny now. Great. You've ruined it now. I was going to eat that, you know.”

“You don't need it Carla. The grease goes right to your ass.”

“You shut up Lindsay. If anyone needs to watch their weight ...”

“I'm an ogre Carla.  Honestly.  Besides, I've only had a thigh and one breast."

The were-jackal was sulking now and the rest of the group couldn't care less. They were having the time of their lives. 

"You know," the Cacodemon's voice was sloppy as he munched on a leg, "We should do this more often."

The triclops, Walt to his friends, rolled all his eyes.  The Cacodemon was a first rate killer, but could be dumb as a post at times; so he couldn’t resist, “You’re absolutely right Dennis, what say we get together on Hallowe’en next month too?”

Dennis helped himself to another piece of meat and said nothing else.  His natural red hue got a few shades darker.

There was a tremendous crash to the left, and a hideous, burbling scream that should have liquified the bowels of anyone within earshot.  Being that all the most horrible creatures in the world were present and accounted for, nobody around the campfire batted an eyelash.

The mud golem emerged, and seeing he had impressed absolutely nobody, slumped down beside Carla and threw a sludge-encrusted arm around her.  "What's goin' on good lookin'?"

That got a reaction, as the woman-thing snapped her powerful jaws together, severing the elemental's hand at the wrist, "Ugh, you taste like man-hands.  Go away Steve."  

“This from a girl who couldn’t read ‘Beware of Dog.’” 


“Whatever.”  The muck-man regrew his hand and started chomping on a hindquarter.

The behoemoth to his left flashed him a snaggle-toothed grin, and batted lumpy eyelids, “Steve, how was it out there?”

“Same as always, Lindsay, best night of the year.  Nobody says a word when they see you walking around, just right out there in the open.  Oh, except for this,”  There was a sludgy, ripping sound as something vomited  free from his chest. It was a tiny, dirty brass cup. “Some drunk frat kids gave this to me.  They said I deserved it more than them. Kids, huh?”  There was a sinister round of laughter at that.

The group fell silent for a few minutes.  All that could be heard against the silent backdrop of the woods was the greasy smacking sound of meat being rent from bone.  Even Carla had decided to dig in again, perceived slights forgotten for the moment.  Happily, there’d been at least one more juicy strip of crispy skin left, so she was sated, “Whoever thought of this was a genius.  This whole night has been SUCH a treat so far.”  She threw down her bones back into the bucket.”

The Cacodemon burped in agreement.  “Now I know why the humans like this stuff.  Eleven herbs and spices make it SO tender”

Walt had a more pragmatic concern, “Any left?”  A quick look around confirmed the chicken was, in fact done.  “Well then,” he continued, “shall we get on with the main event?”
They all turned to the group of bound and gagged teenagers, each still wearing their torn and bloody costumes.  The pretty young blonde who seemed to be dressed as a hooker-cat had been sobbing non-stop, and thick black mascara coated her cheeks.  The biggest boy, dressed as a vampire, which actually made the monsters a little embarrassed on his behalf, was whimpering and smelled distinctly like shit.  It turned out Steve’s little bellow had scared someone.

“Alright kids,” the triclops bared his double row of needle teeth in a nightmare grin, “Trick or Treat?”

The abominations advanced, and the screaming began in earnest.

“Oh, and thanks for the chicken,” added the Cacodemon..


Friday, October 29, 2010

13 Days of Horror - Frosted Glass

Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror has had some fantastic stories this year.  Every day has brought a new scary, elegantly crafted work of horror fiction.

Today, to my great and humble honour, is my turn.  Sincere thank you to Erin for choosing my story, and for hosting this phenomenal showcase of talent.

Here's the link. The story is called "Frosted Glass."

Have a great day (I am.)


Monday, October 25, 2010

At the Normal Café - Part 7 - Closing Time

My seven-part serial at Thrillers, Killers n' Chillers has reached its conclusion. Read "Closing Time" here.

Just want to take a second to thank Matt Hilton, Col Bury (and now) Lee Hughes, for giving me a chance to try something "big" on their site, for talking up the various chapters when they've gone up, for picking wicked pics to accompany them, and for being huge supporters of new work.  TKn'C should be on everyone's bookmark list.

While endings are always a little bittersweet, arriving at a conclusion to this piece is also a bit of a relief.  Having told it from so many angles, I was in danger of losing the thread. 

Ultimately, I'm happy with where this ended up, and I hope, if you've been following around, that you will be too.  If you want to read the rest, or just refresh your memory, there's links to the other parts on a dedicated page. (Way up in the top corner here.)

Now. On to the next story ...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

13 Days of Horror is Here!

It wowed the blog-o-sphere last year, and quickly became one of the most eagerly awaited story events of the year. 

Now it's back.  Erin Cole, talented author of Grave Echoes, has assembled another rogue's gallery of wicked authors to chill your bones for the next 13 Days.  Check in daily to see fresh new stories that are sure to thrill and delight.

I sent a little something to Erin to consider for this.  Did it make it in? I'm as curious as you are!

That's enough from me - get on over to the 13 Days of Horror - you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Postage Due, Pandora - Part 4 - Conclusion

With Halloween coming up, and a bunch of little stories on the burner (including a few rejects I need to clean the "sad" off of and resubmit) I didn't want to let this series drop into the forgotten pile.  Once October is out, I'll be trying to sharpen up the old work-ethic during NaNoWriMo, and, hopefully, finishing the prep work I'm doing on the big work.

If you haven't read the previous three chapters - start here. 
If you just need  a refresher, Part 3 is here.

So, with no further blathering, here is the final chapter of "Postage Due, Pandora." Comments are welcome and appreciated.

Postage Due, Pandora - Conclusion 

“There is nothing in the box.”

Everything had begun with the box.

Thump.  Katie could hear the creature now, scraping along the hallway.  It was slowed by the width of the hallway, but it would be on her soon.  She realized something had finally gone her way. 

“There is nothing in the box.”  Repeating this over and over, Katie felt that if she could only prove this to herself all this would be over. 

Picking up the robin’s egg blue box, she lifted the lid once more.  This time it fought.  Though she had wedged her fingers under and was pulling with all her strength, there was a brief moment when she feared it would simply snap shut and sever the joints at the knuckle.  There’d be something in the box then, she thought with a shudder and kept pulling.  Finally, it popped open without warning.  It just seemed to give up.  The inside of the box had changed as well. Gone was the deep black velvet.  The inside of the box now seemed to be made up of darkness itself. “Nothing. That’s what I’m looking at.  There is nothing in the box.” 

Still, her plan was all she had, and from the sound of destruction now coming from downstairs, the thing was forcing its way around to resume the chase.  Underneath that, a smaller, sharper sound.  The click, click, click of something small bouncing on hardwood. Glancing to her left, the eye was staring back at her. 
Oh, right.  That thing, she thought, and on the tails of that came motivation, Alright Katie, quit thinking about it and just do it.
Katie jammed her hand down into the box, and it immediately felt all wrong.  The black insides of the box enveloped her hand, sucking it in, like a muscular throat, swallowing her down.  No. Her inner-voice broke in fiercely, like a slap in the face.  It’s playing its games again.  If you let it, it’ll kill you.  Just break through it.  You have to take control, or it’s over.  The blackness felt moist, and it was moving now, gulping.  Katie gritted her teeth and spread her fingers open wide.  Her nails, long, and coated with black polish raked against the insides of the box.  The shape of the box was just barely discernible beyond the membrane.  The blackness reacted immediately, spasming against her.  Katie felt something sharp, like teeth. Splinters, it’s just splinters.  Go on.  The darkness bit.  She felt the flesh on the back of her hand give way and blood start to flow.  With a small grunt of pain, Katie raked her hands down the sides, feeling all the while for the shape of the wood.  Under the circumstances, she wasn’t surprised to find that she was now up to her elbow in a box that had fit in her palm when she’d first opened the package.    The blackness pulsed again.  More splinter teeth dug in, clawing their way through her palm now. 

Nightmare images flooded Katie's mind and became real all around her room.  Dead animals twitched in the corner.  A shadowy figure was doing something horrific to another form bound against the wall.  They insisted themselves upon her, demanding she look.

Katie pushed down harder into the box, and dug deeper with her fingers, scoring the wood now. The pressure threatening to bend her fingernails back, or rip them off completely.  The blackness was up to her shoulder now, and she had to get her head closer to the box to reach further in.  The box was breathing.  It gave short quick gasps, like the shallow panting of a wounded animal.  It was hurt.  With renewed strength, Katie thrust deeper, clawing the insides of the box, and finally, she was  rewarded, finding the outline of something hard and round, a ring - it seemed - just under the flesh.  Seizing it with all her strength, Katie pulled.  The membrane jerked and pulled at her hands, the splinters dug deeper.  The door crashed in and remained intact, releasing the invisible shambler to make its short final trip to ravage her.
She wrenched with her hand again, and felt the membrane tear slightly.  Emboldened, she pulled harder.  A sharp CLACK made her jerk her head up.  The eye was balanced on the lid of the box, and stared at her with impotent rage. Something in her bicep strained and popped.  She let out a single cry of pain and tugged again.  With a final jerk, the ring came free of the box.   Immediately the shambler’s thumping footsteps stopped.  In front of her the eye evaporated in a puff of robin’s egg blue smoke.  She looked at the ring.  It was small thing made of tarnished copper. Attached was a metal and plastic luggage tag.  Inside the tag was stuffed a small, folded slip of paper:

Katie, I hope you’re reading this.
If you are - I’m so sorry.   
Once you open the box, it doesn’t stop until you give it away.  I tried once to warn you not to open it, but then it came back to me. I tried again with just a small hint, and obviously, it worked.
Be well, and for god’s sake don’t start buying top 40 just because I’m not around. 
Love you Kates, and I’m proud of you for winning.

Katie read the note again, and then a third time, hating Stephen one moment, and missing him terribly the next. She lamented that this had come to her, and despaired that she would be passing misery onto someone else.
When she lifted her eyes from the paper, she wasn’t surprised to see her room had returned, and that she could hear her Mom, still singing downstairs.

One week later, Katie sat down at her desk. She had Shannon’s yearbook message to her open on the desk, the one which proclaimed them “BFF’s.”  The school year after she’d signed this missive, Stephen had been gone for six months, and Shannon had thrown herself at Mark Norman, the very day after Katie had confessed her secret crush.
Taking the pretty red and yellow gift tag, Katie signed it, 

Dear Shannon,
Thinking of you.
Love, Katie.

P.S. There is nothing in the box.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Freedom within Reach - MicroHorror Contest Entry

Trying hard to repeat the first place finish in last year's MicroHorror Halloween Contest.  (Full disclosure - it was a 6 way tie for first!)

My entry - "Freedom Within Reach" is up now.  Check it out here.

Like last year, I'll at least be submitting a bunch of entries, as I find these contests completely energizing, and I seem to get a lot of great ideas flowing when the pressure is on.  It's also a good way to get ready before the madness of NaNoWriMo kicks off.

Keep reading / writing.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I love October

I'm going to have to work a lot harder to ever craft something this awesome.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quickly - a New Story, A Contest, and Stuff.

Nothing fancy today - there's a bunch of stories that I've left dangling, and I've got ideas for all of them - which is rare, so I've got to make hay.

New story up at Thrillers, Killers n' Chillers - A Question of Faith.  This story's actually one year old, having debuted at the 2009 MicroHorror Halloween contest.  Though I was mostly pleased with how the original turned out, I was less than happy with the ending.  I needed a bit more space to tie it up properly.  Thanks to Lee, Matt and Col at TKn'C, I've received that chance.  Check it out!

Speaking of MicroHorror, the 2010 contest is now open!  500 words or less on "Space" as in the physical dimension (as opposed to outer space.)  There's a link to the rules at the top corner of my site, and I'll be keeping it there until the contest ends. 

That's all for now guys, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The story with a life of its own

Quick - it's getting away!

So, while I'm busy researching, making notes and outlines for "the book", I've been doing short stories and flash pieces to keep the mental hamster running.

Yesterday, I saw it was the last day for submissions on a new Monsters anthology.  Minimum was 1,200 words.  Well , thought I, that sounds like a challenge if I ever heard one.  So off to the races I go, and sure enough - 10:30 last night, I finished not only the first draft, but a second and third pass through as well.  Visiting the site to double check the submission and formatting guidelines, I realized that the story I'd finished no longer fit the guidelines ... at all.  (They wanted tongue-in-cheek, I ended up with abject pathos.)

Oh well. 

I'm happy the story took charge of itself, as those are the ones that usually turn out to be pretty good reads.  Time to take a deep breath, and spend a little more time polishing it.  There'll be a home for it somewhere, and I'll tell all of you where that is when it happens.

In the meantime - it's Friday. #FLASH something! 

Have a great weekend,