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Welcome Back

Hello, and welcome to my collection of weird tales and horror fiction for your enjoyment and criticism. I’ve always found that feedback from people not obligated to say nice things has been the best tool for continuing to hone my writing. Here are four of the newest stories for your consideration.

  • Axis Mundi – Loops and whorls of the dead sketching glyphs and geometric shapes drift around the ghost ship, held close by the Yggdrasil’s gentle gravity. 
    • A horror-sci fi story about advanced humans making first contact with an isolated group of humans who’ve been trapped aboard an ancient generation ship.
  • The Crisis Somewhere, swimming in the night above, there are eyes. There are eyes like black stars, and they see me.
  • Digger’s Lament – The voice in the dark laughed, a throaty whisper of mirth. “You are Palta Qynes, and you are no man of the Emperor. You are a digger, and a criminal, and a betrayer.”
    • A fantasy novella following two miscreant archeologists sifting through the ruins of the kingdoms of dead gods.
  • Mapping the Crooked Places  – The blooming corpse-flower smell surged, hotter and brighter than ever, and if I could have scaled the air itself to ascend to the roof above me, I would have clawed through, ground my fingers to the bone.
    • A new version of my story about addiction, architecture, and urban obsession. If you’re familiar with the original version, I think this new take is greatly improved.

Beyond that, look around in the Library on sidebar, and you’ll find a variety of older short horror stories for your enjoyment. As always, I am very grateful for your interest, and would be happy to hear any comments or criticism you have. 

If you have any questions or want to reach me for any reason, don’t hesitate to contact me, and you’ll find other various ways to keep up with like Twitter and Facebook.

If you’re looking to inquire about freelance writing for games, or of any sort, head on over to my professional website for my business contact details.

Thank you again for your interest, and enjoy.

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Between the Walls

The Eastern Empire
Late July, Year of our Lord, 626

When Lecho saw the three walls of Constantinople, rising up like a storm on the horizon, each taller than the last, he knew he’d made his worst mistake. Around him marched the great host of the Avar Khaganate, dragging the skeletal fragments of siege towers. Ahead, he could pick out individual Roman watchmen lining the middle wall, leaning with relaxed arrogance on the crenelations.

Lecho summoned the vilest curses he could and spat them in a circle at his feet. Not for the first time, he damned the blind, hateful luck that had brought him to the foot of the greatest city in the East, ready to grind his flesh into the unbreachable walls until there was little but dust and blood.

As the sun sank in the west, and camps were staked, his motley detachment of Bulgar raiders, Carolingian fugitives, Slavic peasants, and mercenaries from across the continent gathered to hear the words of a minor Avar Khan. Lots were drawn, and they received the honor of being the first over the walls. Lecho watched the Khan palm the tile with the low number etched on it, and pretend to draw it from the ceremonial leather sack, made from some great enemy’s scrotum. He’d known they’d be first, one way or another, but he could do little more than spit in a circle and try not to catch the Khan’s eye.

Continue reading “Between the Walls”

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Roadwork

When Conner arrived at the gas station, he exited the car with a speed that surprised even him. He took a few quick steps, almost at a run, before turning back towards the car. Under the garish sodium lights of the service station, the little blue sedan was a sickly greenish gray. It looked squat and malign in its stillness. The throbbing headache at the base of his skull seemed to diminish with every step and he began to catch his breath.

He took the phone from his pocket and raised it high into the night sky, waving it from side to side like a semaphore flag. Nothing. The signal meter defied him by remaining empty. Not even a flashing roaming message. Conner scowled at the phone and thrust it back into his pocket.

He glanced around the station, two solitary pumps and a closed convenience market. An isolated island of pale yellow light in the dark of the North Carolina forest. The silhouettes of trees bit into the starry night sky, surrounding him like a ring of teeth. The grating hum of electricity mingled with the crackling of insects from the woods beyond, drifting in the warm summer night air.

Jutting from the side of the shuttered market was a scraped and listing pay phone, its metal stalk visibly bent from some long ago impact. Conner approached it, digging a pair of quarters from his pocket, and gripped the scarred plastic handset. For a moment, nothing happened. The sense of isolation deepened, like the ground being pulled out from under him, and the panic returned. A series of quick clicks bit into his ear and the dial tone chimed. His fingers felt numb as he dialed.

Even at a few hours past midnight, Reynolds answered on the first ring.

Continue reading “Roadwork”

Dogs in the Drywall

This is my final text of this story, as heard on Season 10, Episode 9 of the No Sleep Podcast.

I hear the dogs before I see them. It’s Monday morning, I’m in the bathroom stall, pants down, pretending to shit and making polite throat-clearing noises every few minutes. The rotten vegetable green paint on the walls never fails to give me a headache, so I have my eyes shut tight. Still, I can spend twenty minutes here, three to four times a day, eating up an hour. More if you factor in the round trip from office to toilets.

My legs are numb despite my best efforts to restore circulation. That’s my cue to stand up, to go through the motions of wiping, to flush, and to pretend to wash my hands. Before I can lurch upward, I hear them, inside the wall to my right. Nails clicking on pressboard and metal. Fur scraping drywall. Breath like a shuddering air conditioning vent. It’s right next to me, too big to be a rat, and far too real. I spin away, dopey grin on my face in some idiot desire to catch someone’s eye, to have a shared moment of surreal “did you hear that?” camaraderie, but I’m alone in the handicapped stall of a men’s restroom.

Continue reading “Dogs in the Drywall”

Happy Halloween – Three New Stories

Hello, all. It’s been a while, as things have been quiet for me on the fiction front. Until this month – in October, I had three new stories, in three new venues. All these stories are linked by a common thread of parental anxiety, viewed from three different angles.

Last Halloween – The newest residents of a perfect community grapple with the bargain they made to be here. Available for free on the FLAPPERHOUSE website, or in print as part of FLAPPERHOUSE 19

The Shrike – A grieving mother finds an unlikely focus for her grief and anger. Available to read or listen for free (Read by Sandra M Odell) at Pseudopod, the horror fiction podcast.

The Green Tunnel – A wounded woman tries to lose herself solo hiking the Appalachian Trial. Available in the latest issue of Lamplight Magazine.

All of these venues mean a great deal to me, and I’m honored to have such perfect homes for this anxious little trilogy. In due time, I will post the complete texts of these stories here, but I hope you’ll check out all three.

Happy Halloween, and I’ll see you soon.

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.”