Milk and Moonshine

A beautifully horrific piece of prose from Mercedes M. Yardly, member of PenoftheDamned.com

She was cursed with a fairness that strangled her. Expectations woven into her dark hair, an openness and roundness to her eyes that filled her with horror. They were too pale, too pure, too winsome to protect her. Terrors poured in while tears poured out. Hate and bile ran through her veins, but when her white skin tore prettily, nothing oozed out but healthy scarlet.

“What is your name?” they asked. Townspeople. Sweet old women. Starry-eyed men, lads whose bones were made of milk and oatmeal.

Pestilence. Famine. Hatred. Murder, she answered, but the words changed inside of her mouth, left her soft, dewy lips like starlight.

“My name is Orva. It means ‘golden one’,” she said aloud, and blushed demurely.

She grew up with a boy name Jorge. His last name meant ‘meadow’, and he was just like a meadow himself, with soft and gentle hands. He caught animals…

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Bloody Valentine Horror

A story by A.F. Stewart celebrating The Bloody Valentine Horror Event – Bad Blood on facebook. See you in there!

Welcome to Avalon

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Today’s the day! My annual anti-Valentine, bad love extravaganza! Come check out all the blood-dripping hearts, poisoned candy and dead flowers over on Facebook!

The Bloody Valentine Horror Event

And be sure to check out the last days of our Bloody Valentine Horror Giveaway as well.

The Bloody Valentine Horror Giveaway

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And in honour of the event, here’s a story for you all.

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Stay With Me

I whisper his name at night, while the candle burns, while the rain pitter-patters on the roof of the cottage. I whisper his name while I carve, while I sew the stitches. I whisper his name, the name of the man I love.

The man that left me for another.

Under the moonlight I work, weave my magic and remember.

Oh, how he smiled at me, how he made my heart flutter. We laughed, we danced, we strolled the hillside under the moon. I told…

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Still Dark, a novel by D.W. Gillespie – #Horror #Paranormal #MindControl @dw_gillespie

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Still Dark blog tour with D.W. Gillespie

If you could be any inanimate object from your book, which would it be?

What an odd and interesting question.

I really had to spend some time mulling this one over, but it made me think about the story in ways that I hadn’t before. Considering all the objects around the book, I was able to dig a bit deeper into some of the character’s lives and back stories in ways that I might not have otherwise.

With that said, I would have to pick Walt’s International Scout. My dad had one when I was younger, and if you aren’t familiar, you should Google it. It’s what we would call an SUV nowadays, though I’m not sure that the term existed back then. They have a very distinct look, and some of them had removable tops so you could turn it into a convertible. They’re old and cool and certainly on the verge of extinction, which made it the perfect vehicle for Walt.

Spoilers follow:

There are a few reasons I’d pick the Scout. For one, Walt is just my favorite character in the story, so I’d love to see more of him. He’s an adventurer past his prime, a world traveler who lost a leg to a crocodile in Africa. He’s been around the block a few times, and I can only imagine what sorts of trouble the Scout got into.

The other reason is Walt’s tragic backstory. He found love as a young man, but he tragically lost it when his young bride died of cancer. The two of them ran off and got married together, and though I hadn’t really considered it before, I’d almost guarantee they drove through the mountains in the Scout, the top off, the wind in their hair. It would be a sad thing to see, but lovely all the same.

The Scout didn’t meet a grand end, crushed by a mad bull in the middle of town, but that leads to the last reason to choose Walt’s ride. It would have a front row seat to the craziest damn show of all time.

There might be some other solid choices out there, but I think the Scout wins on variety alone. Give the book a read and let me know what you’d pick.

When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…

Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.

Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!

Amazon Digital and Print:

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

Other Sources:

Kobo | Barnes & Noble (Digital or Print) | iTunes | Smashwords

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.

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Damned Words 25

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November’s group flash collection from Pen of the Damned!

One photo, nine writers, nine different interpretations of the horror one sees at a glance in something as innocuous as a family photo!




Misapprehension
Lee A. Forman

The past withered, faded, much like the photograph Benny held. Time consumed memory, leaving only a reflection of their faces behind his eyes. He couldn’t see beyond the scowl his wife expressed. Often, he mused it was the sun in her eyes—mere speculation, as the gray expanse that once thrived with the living, now decayed with the dead. The end wiped clean all sins, but all good deeds as well; as if a switch had been flipped, those who survived born anew.

He had to relearn who he was, as did everyone else. But he never accepted the new world. The picture tethered him to what was before. It held part of him in a forgotten place of warmth and hope. But the source of those feelings remained unknown. His head ached, torn between realities, one of which he couldn’t be sure existed. For all he…

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A guest post by Sam Mortimer, #author of Screams The Machine – Bloody Standards, Bionic Madness @gravesideblues

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Bloody Standards, Bionic Madness

Sam Mortimer

Horror is a heavy word. It distorts the image of safety in your mind, invades your mental and physical barriers, and everything you believe will protect you melts. We’re reminded of how fragile life is, how vulnerable our minds can be. Horror is everything dangerous and painful about being human.

Authors of classics like The Exorcist, Hell House, The Hellbound Heart, executed horror stories with an assassin’s skill and grace. The tales were well-wrought and proved sacred ground isn’t always safe, and there’s nothing on the planet that can’t be harmed or desecrated. Nothing is safe. These books raised the bar, and helped horror become a force to be reckoned with. It’s always good to keep the classics’ standards and expectations in mind, but obviously not to copy them. There’s still some bloody terra incognita to uncover.

Technology is great. I love it. It’s always developing, which means there’s always a playing field. Benefiting a horror writer, technology is relevant to the point of great and terrible awe. What was considered science fiction has become (or can become) actualized in the real world. For example, take the circa 1902 silent film, A Trip to the Moon. In the movie, folks are shot to the moon.  Over a century later, we have an international space station. Quantum computing is around the corner, and the Chinese have teleported a photon to outer space.

We have profoundly interesting breakthroughs with artificial intelligence, and we have learned that Facebook’s AI had created its own shorthand form of English, communicating in way humans couldn’t understand. That raised major concerns, and Facebook had to shut the AI down. We also have mass surveillance, and algorithms predicting human behavior with more precision than humans. Bionic limbs. Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality. To boot, I’ve also read about a pending head transplant.

Many developments are fantastic and can be beneficial, but alas, it’s horror’s job to point out what ‘could’ go wrong, what we don’t want to happen, and what would genuinely horrify us if it does happen. Technology is the cornucopia of ideas, and a dark fiction writer’s dream—speaking for myself at least.

A blend of science fiction and horror resounds on a realistic level. Highlighting subjects that are culturally relevant, and developments that might impact humanity’s future, can be steered in deeply horrifying directions.

Many of us grew up with love and respect for science fiction and horror. The genres remain to be the most important styles to me, and I hope my love burns hot in Screams The Machine. Of course, throw some dark fantasy in there as well and the deal is sealed.

Science fiction and horror can wreak serious havoc in the best way possible. The two unleash some bionic madness, expanding the readers mind and hurling them for a strange flight through the phantasmagoric and macabre. I hope Screams The Machine does a fraction of what great books like Richard K. Morgan’s Woken Furies, Steve Nile’s comic Criminal Macabre, and so many more have done for me: Tap ‘dat brain.

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)

 

About the Author:

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.

 

Guest Post: Writing the Unreal with Brent Abell, Author of The Calling @BrentTAbell #horror #supernatural #book

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Writing the Unreal
Brent Abell

I write fiction. It is dark and filled with the things that go bump in the night. In the end, the sun rises and hope fills the world again. Sometimes, what I write for fiction doesn’t hold a candle to our reality. Think of speculative fiction as a mirror. What does the reflection look like when we gaze in to it?

The world needs speculative fiction to make sense of what is happening in reality. One can’t watch the news without seeing the horrors inflicted on fellow human beings on a daily basis. When I write about the unreal, I try to rationalize the real with it. It is hard to explain why people can be so cruel to each other. Yes, it’s human nature, but placing the blame on an evil presence, or on the supernatural, is easier.

Fiction is also an escape, but what are we escaping from when we read? Is it an escape when what you read isn’t any happier than reality? I watch the world go by and it saddens me. I use fiction to help sort my thoughts out about it. Writing fiction is a cathartic exercise to express the fears and concerns I have for the world.

Zombie fiction is a great mirror for the world. I use it to judge us. The genre has moved beyond the Romero comparisons to how mankind is being turned into zombies through commercialism. I use the zombies as a backdrop now to explore humanity. Instead of how do we get to the point of zombies, I write about the survivors and at what price will a person pay to live. We see on a daily basis the lengths people will go to in society to live, heck just to survive in some cases. But when the constraints of society are broken down and removed, how much will the living regress? When inspected under the mirror, not much more.

In the end, we use fiction for what we need it to be. If you need an escape, a coping mechanism, or a way to reflect; speculative fiction is there for everyone who chooses it. Maybe when you watch the news or look out the window, you can see behind the veil of this world and imagine what lies beyond. Pick up the book on the table next to you and escape. Escape into other worlds and enjoy the break from reality.

What do you see when you look into the mirror?

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)

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: Our Darkest Fears

Crone

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When you’re at the end of your rope and you’re desperate for a solution, who do you turn to? According to Christopher Liccardi, you seek out the old Crone. And when she gives you the only solution for killing seven demons in a single stoke… I’ll let you read the what comes next!

Crone, by Christopher Liccardi

That crazy bitch said seven.

Seven of them, but she didn’t say which seven. She didn’t say where they were or how to find them!

Fuck!

Why did everything have to be so damn cryptic? He hated all the mysticism and bullshit.

Peter recalled that conversation, the last normal conversation he’d had. “Seven Devils, boy. You have to kill them all at once, or they come back.” She laughed, sticking her bony finger in his face.

“What the hell are you pointing at?” He slapped at the finger, but she was too quick. Old age had taken nothing but her looks away from her.

“I can see them,” she cackled. The last three teeth in her head were black. The urge to strangle the life out of her was overwhelming.

“I can’t see them. How can I kill what I can’t see?” he spat back at her.

“No, you…

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Sweet Ophelia

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A sublimely haunting piece by A.F. Stewart written in prose as beautiful as the tale it delivers.

Daddy, Daddy! Look! It’s snowing. Can we go out and play?”

Ophelia giggled and pressed her face close to the windowpane, staring at the flakes descending from the sky. She traced her chubby finger along the frost touched glass, waiting for an answer.

It never came.

Her silent father only sat in his high-backed chair and gulped another mouthful of Scotch. He stared into the flames crackling in the fireplace, ignoring anything else. When he drained the glass, he poured himself another drink.

Impatient, Ophelia sighed and climbed down from her window ledge perch. She glided out of the room in search of her mother. She found her in the kitchen washing dishes.

“It’s snowing, Mummy. Can we go play in the snow?”

Her mother never looked at her, simply kept at her task, and Ophelia sighed again. “No one pays attention to me anymore.” She tried stamping her…

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#NGHW Winner of the Poetry Challenge!

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Julianne Snow and I were fortunate to be invited on as guest judges for the fifth challenge of The Next Great Horror Writer Contest hosted by HorrorAddicts.com. Here is a sampling of the wining poem by Jonathan Fortin – A Warning on Wings.

HorrorAddicts.net

This is just a taste of Jonathan’s poem that will be featured in an
upcoming issue of Sirens Call Magazine.

A Warning on Wings by Jonathan Fortin

His prayer was drawn in blood, the circle like a door

He sat beside the threshold, book open on the floor

This will never work, to himself he sighed

But he was so lonely that every night he cried

He was a somber man, not blessed with good looks

Hated by his village, he found solace in books

Tonight he stripped naked, legs crossed, arms spread

He whispered the words that from the pages bled:

“For you I’d be the greatest that I could ever be

I would do it all, anything you ask of me.”

The circle was no prison; he did not seek a slave

Nor mindless copulation, which would bore him to the grave

No, he sought the thing…

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Serpentine Willow

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A beautifully written tale of devotion and horror by Lee A. Forman. ‘Serpentine Willow’ on Pen of the Damned.

Rebecca’s toes curled in her boots when her feet touched the unholy earth. Ancient trees populated the forest ahead, pale fog twisting between their trunks with serpentine grace. Gnarled limbs formed an impenetrable canopy above, coloring all with a nocturnal hue. Tendrils of mist slithered around her legs, and her knees ached to buckle, but she forced herself on; she knew fear would bring demise.

She thought of Oliver. His shining face cast iron rods into her bones. It kept her from succumbing to the black moss which grabbed at her feet. His smile, the way he always wanted his sandwiches without the crust, his unending questions—memories that powered her will.

Movement in the brush clenched her jaw. But her eyes never averted the path; they stared forward, glazed with determination, intent only on reaching the end. After that it wouldn’t matter.

A clearing opened ahead. Rebecca stopped and…

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