The Crisis

I was fortunate enough to be invited to submit to Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward’s “Shadows Over Main Street” anthology, which merged Lovecraft inspired stories with small-town Americana. My contribution started with my interest in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the sense of pending apocalypse nested in my own safe conception of the past, and unspooled from there.

If you enjoy this blend of Mythos and Mayberry, then check out the rest of collection, featuring stories from Nick Mamatas, Gary Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Josh Malerman, and more. The second edition is available at Amazon, and many other booksellers.

 

Erica holds onto my hand as we sit on the couch and stare into the wide eye of her father’s color TV. Her sweaty palm pulses in time with her galloping heartbeat, and she sucks at the air in noisy hiccups. I have to press my lips together to keep from screaming at her to be quiet.

They’re showing the photographs again, the new ones. All week in school we’ve talked about missiles and blast radiuses and blockades, the approach of halloween all but forgotten. Our paper-mache masks, two grinning witches, sit half-finished in the corner, casualties of the Crisis. But it’s all changed again, and we can’t catch up.

“The purpose and function of the structure are still anyone’s guess, but by now it’s clear that the Soviets had another purpose on the island of Cuba entirely. We still don’t have a good explanation for how a sinkhole of that size appeared seemingly over night.”

The man on the television repeats what he can about the new photographs as sweat beads on his upper lip, vivid and crisp on the Dahlberg’s new screen. The man on the television doesn’t know how to describe them, keeps tripping over his words as he tries to make sense of the aerial photographs. No one can. I can hear Mr. Dahlberg screaming in the kitchen, loud and angry.

As of an hour ago, there’s been no more communication with the USSR, and the President’s demands for an explanation have gone unanswered.” Continue reading “The Crisis”

Digger’s Lament

Digger’s Lament is a side story to an epic science-fantasy trilogy I’ve had percolating in my head for a little over five years. Palta and Ananda were supposed to be minor secondary characters, but they are the first to hit the page. Robert Helmbrecht at the sadly defunct Hazardous Press, who bought my first ever story, asked me to contribute to the anthology “Tales of the Black Arts” and I wrote the first draft in one night. I’m more than a little in love with these two characters and have a pair of other adventures in mind for them before I tackle the Big Trilogy, “This Side of the Blue”.

In the night, the valley was so filled with smoke that Palta could not make out the dimmest guidestars. He had a dozen other ways to divine the time and his location, but it still filled him with a slippery dread, a feeling of being half-lost and pointed in the wrong direction. His tent, barely half the size of the reeves’ tents and still stinking of the marsh crossing, seemed to close in on him like a fist as he tried to catch a few fitful moments of sleep.

He’d wet his scarf and tied a thin strip to his face, but the sharp stench of the burned town and a hundred cook-fires crept through, clinging to the soft tissue of his eyes and nose. Outside, he could hear the 17th Expeditionary Host of Imperial Kattaka, the insectile buzz of a thousand men talking grimly by the fires, reeking of dismay and unease. He knew it wouldn’t be long until they started to blame him for the men who’d died that day.

Continue reading “Digger’s Lament”

Metapost: Hello Again

Hello all.

It’s been too long. Since last I posted, I haven’t had the chance to write much fiction, the notable exceptions being Axis Mundi and First Souls in FLAPPERHOUSE, as well as The Crisis in Shadows on Main Street. I spent most of my creative time on Rise of the Tomb Raider, and while I miss writing for myself, I am immensely fond of my contributions to that game. If you played it, you may have seen a few very short horror stories of mine in the games collectible documents, but now that I have transitioned over to being a freelance writer, my hope is that I’ll be able to spin up the prose engine again

Over the next few months, I will be posting some stories that first appeared in print, but I now will be able to share with you, including my fantasy novella “Digger’s Lament” and others, so please keep an eye out for those updates, and some other news as I am allowed to share it.

As always, thank you for reading.

Metapost: Welcome Redux, New Stories, and Thank You, Kris.

I woke up to a particularly loud telephone yesterday morning, alerting me to some sort of twitter goings-on. As it happens, an artist and writer I greatly admire, Kris Straub, had posted a new installment of his “Scared Yet” web-series, and this episode was focused on my stories. I’m flattered by what Kris had to say, and if you’ve found your way here through him, I’m grateful for the exposure. “Candle Cove” is one of the handful of stories in this new-internet-horror-genre that was instrumental in getting me to write creepypastas in the first place, so I’m giddy that the mutual admiration goes both ways.

Kris is currently in the second book of Broodhollow, his blend of classic cartooning and magnificently realized horror. Broodhollow has been hitting on all cylinders since the first strip, and has only grown more tangled, dense, and horrific. The plotting, the use of the format and art styles, the delicate blend of gallows humor and grim dread, and interior and exterior threats, all work hand in hand. The seemingly disparate elements support and enhance one another like complimentary flavors. It’s one of only two webcomics on my RSS feed, and without a doubt the best horror comic I’ve yet read. If you haven’t read it, start at the beginning…

If you’ve come here thanks to Kris, the stories he suggested, North, East, Sick (or, the Algorithm), Thaw, and Barricade can be found at the right, or clicking here. Please poke around, and if you have any feedback, criticism or questions, I am always grateful. The fantastic film version he mentioned of “Sick, or The Algorithm”, by Tom Festo can be found here. As for the pen name, Kris was correct, that came from my old 4chan days. I picked that pen name as a bit of a joke, acknowledging the pastiche and outright theft I was engaged in at the time. I’m more confident in my voice now, so I’ve dropped the pseudonym, but it continues to be the name I’m most known by.

For new and old visitors, if you’re looking for news or more conent, click through for a couple of updates for what I’ve been engaged in or otherwise up to.

Continue reading “Metapost: Welcome Redux, New Stories, and Thank You, Kris.”

Axis Mundi

“Axis Mundi” is deeper into the sci-fi spectrum than most of my stories and much longer, but what started as a fairly straightforward space-cannibal story turned into something very different… This story was originally published in the esteemed FLAPPERHOUSE.

 

CAPTAIN ELISHA DRIFTS BACK TO HER BODY. Sedative fog curls around her edges for a long, liquid minute before she remembers she has eyes to open. Lids slide across her sclera, a syrupy-sweet motion that tingles her spine like some small secret pleasure. Her forearms feel hot and then cold, as catheters spit the next layer of the wakeup cocktail into her blood. Already, the induced euphoria’s fading, shepherding the last of the delirium and confusion away to be replaced by a conscious, knowing glee. They’ve arrived.

Her new stateroom smells of wood and leather, warm aromas painted in crimson and deep oak hues. The armchair creaks as she moves, and smartbands retreat into its folds like startled snakes. The catheters slip from her flesh, spraying a thin mist of skinbond to cover their tracks, and constrict away into the arms of the chair.

Her vision drifts to a far wall, her eyes looping on a pleasing swirl in the burlwood, where Mithradates projects her feeds in layers of soft amber light. The most important detail rises to the surface in pulsing cobalt: No one has followed. Right up until their unscheduled departure, no alarms were even raised.

Now the slip is over, only a few hours passed, and the slick ebon needle of her new ship, the Mithra, drifts above the ecliptic of Gliese 667C. Mithradates maps the bewildering orbits of the neighboring stars and the six rocky planets around 667C, adjusting for any local eccentricities since the stellar event. The third star, a dull red coal, squats at the center of a tangle of scorched planets. Elisha waits for Mithradates to find any sign of their quarry, but so far she only sees the purples and oranges of worlds and moons.

Continue reading “Axis Mundi”

Black Stars Rise: New Fiction in FLAPPERHOUSE and True Detective Ramblings

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Firstly, this week marks the release of the first issue of FLAPPERHOUSE, a new magazine from editor Joe O’Brien. Joe is a long time visitor to the site, and I was honored that he asked me to submit. My story, “Axis Mundi”, (sample here!) is a sci-fi/horror story about derelict spaceships and divinity, is one of several new stories and poems to grace the pages of the first issue. It’s a terrific collection of varied voices, and the more I read, the more proud I am to be a part of it.

Secondly, I just finished True Detective last week. I wanted to hold off on the last episode for several years, just to inhabit the liminal space forever, but my wife demanded that we finish it. I’ve been enormously taken by the show, from the deliberate reference to the philosophy of Thomas Ligotti and other antinatalists in the first 15 minutes, to the series-wide use of weird fiction in general and Robert Chambers’ “The King in Yellow”in specific, the show was not only expertly written, shot and acted, it was also directly created to please me. Or, that’s how it felt across most of the 8 episodes. I’m fairly certain that this is, and will remain for some time, my favorite series on television, ever.

Since the show ended, I’ve been chewing on some things. One thing I’m maybe mildly disappointed with is that a lot of the intricacy of symbolism in set and costume design turned out to be coincidental more than intentional, but the show still has the feel of a puzzle box. And I adore puzzle boxes. With the writer mentioning that he’s a fan of some of my weird fiction authors (Ligotti, Barron, and Langan among them), and that he’s drawn direct inspiration from the genre (beyond the overarching King in Yellow references within the story), it had me on high alert for references, metaphors and symbolism. So, this is me pulling on threads and seeing what tumbles out.

Spoilers, obviously.

Right fucking

I’ll try, Rust. Here’s my thoughts on one of the repeating images and concepts from the show: Black Stars…

Continue reading “Black Stars Rise: New Fiction in FLAPPERHOUSE and True Detective Ramblings”

Metapost: 2013 – Year Two and “Jamais Vu, Issue 1” Giveaway!

So, here we are, 2013.

Sorry, yes, I am going to give away a copy of Jamais Vu Journal, Winter 2014, but at the end of this post (and one more on facebook, and one more on twitter), so feel free to scroll right past all this other hogwash.

Anyway, I didn’t quite hit my goals this year, but enough good was accomplished that I’m not going to lament about it too much.

I didn’t quite keep up a respectable output, still falling into the feast and famine patterns of writing a huge chunk and then not again for many days. Here’s the thing: I know “write every day” is the advice everyone gives writers, but… Sometimes that’s not possible. For me, with a demanding job and a family, it’s rarely possible, and just accepting that was a big step for me this year. It meant untangling a few threads of guilt at perceived failure from all thoughts of writing. If I found time, that became a good thing, not a reminder of yesterday’s failure . This translated into longer and longer stories, as I wrote four and five thousand words in a sitting. While I wrote two flash pieces this year for specific contests and calls, the other pieces I finished clocked in at 11k and 12k words, far longer than my old 2k word stories. I’m finding I quite like the wider canvas to work on, and that novelette and novella length stories are very difficult to find markets for… So, click through to see how this year stacked up:

Continue reading “Metapost: 2013 – Year Two and “Jamais Vu, Issue 1” Giveaway!”