Dec 082014
 

 

It was getting dark, but Zach thought he’d better stay put a little longer. He’d ducked behind a dumpster in a trash-strewn alley about twenty minutes ago—not his best bet by any stretch, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. He thought he’d be okay until nightfall, anyway. Until then he planned to lay low. Because they were still out there somewhere, and if they caught him he was dead meat.

He glanced up at the narrow ribbon of darkening summer sky between the alley’s high walls and was rocked by vertigo. The world tilted insanely on its head, leaving him seemingly suspended above a deep shaft that opened on a bottomless black void. He looked quickly away and waited for the world to right itself again, running a trembling hand along his cheek. His palm made a sandpaper sound against his stubble. His eyes darted back and forth. He couldn’t go on like this. Running. Half-starved and dying of thirst. Zach had checked inside the rancid-smelling dumpster for something to eat, but no luck. So he hunkered there in the gathering darkness with only his fear and hate to fill the emptiness.

Zach thought fleetingly of the heads of the orphanage where he had spent a hellish childhood, and how they often spoke of a time when food was abundant. He grunted. Fucking lies.

At the alley’s entrance he heard a gruff voice: “Let’s check in here.” On the heels of that, a sharp, nasal assent, “Yeah, yeah,” followed by a high-pitched giggle. Zach felt his skin crawl. He looked frantically about for something to use as a weapon and was rewarded with nothing but a flimsy slat from a busted crate. But he gripped the piece of wood in his white-knuckled fist as if his life depended on it—which he knew damn well was probably true.

The waning daylight was leaving widening pools of shadow around him, and Zach immersed himself in one of them. Crouching lower, he pressed his back into the corner made by the dumpster and the alley’s rough brick wall, trying to make himself just another shadow. Continue reading »

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 December 8, 2014  Posted by at 2:17 pm writing No Responses »
Dec 032014
 

Today is a good day. It’s raining outside and everything is wet and drippy. And we’re warm and snug inside, listening to vintage rock on Pandora. I’m doing some revisions on a story I plan to put up here later, and working on some cover options.

Meantime, Eyde is a few feet away in her studio painting tulips.

Life is good.

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 December 3, 2014  Posted by at 3:44 pm writing No Responses »
Dec 012014
 

Here’s another short story for you. And this one is straight-up horror. Enjoy.

 

 

 

No one else saw what happened that night between me and my wife out behind the shed under a full white moon. No one heard anything, either. Old Harlan Davis lives within shouting distance, but he’s deaf as a post and about half blind to boot. Besides, he’s crazy as a loon. Bill Pritchard says he was driving by Harlan’s house one day and saw him sitting on his porch eating night crawlers out of a coffee can, which I don’t doubt for a minute. That leaves our other neighbors, all of whom are pretty remote, and a good five-mile empty stretch of State Road 168 that runs between the little town of Owensville, Indiana, and our place.

The place I’m speaking of is a twelve acre parcel of land that’s been in my family for three generations. Four, if you count my three-year-old son, Chris. I’ve never worked the land (don’t have the knack or the inclination), but for the last few years I’ve leased it to Milo Harper, a farmer outside of town, so we’ve always got by alright.

Beyond our back door and catty-corner to the house is a hutch where I raise rabbits for meat. Overlooking the rabbitry is a gigantic sycamore. The great tree shrouds the outbuilding in its enormous shadow every late afternoon when the sun drops toward the western woods. Or at least it did, before things went bad. Continue reading »

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 December 1, 2014  Posted by at 9:06 pm writing No Responses »
Dec 012014
 

Here’s a cover I’m toying with for a new short story. I’m going to offer it up here and on my Tumblr blog for free.

Well, almost. All I ask is A PINT OF BLOOD AND YOUR FIRST-BORN CHILD!

*maniacal laughter as I lurch away to my basement, where I have Dean Koontz bound and gagged*

I’m going to toss this puppy out on social media for some feedback too, so it’s subject to change.

I kinda like it though.

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 December 1, 2014  Posted by at 1:55 pm writing No Responses »
Oct 292014
 

Here’s my contribution to the wonderful Rocky Wood‘s Horror Selfies for the Horror Writers Association. Anybody can submit a photo, whether you’re a member of the HWA, a horror writer who’s currently an aspiring member, or just a crazy rabid horror fan like myself. The deadline to get yours in is November 6, 2014, and first prize is a ton of signed books by some noteworthy authors. So what do you got to lose? Like they say, you can’t win if you don’t enter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 October 29, 2014  Posted by at 5:32 pm writing No Responses »
Sep 212014
 

I knew I wanted to write when I was seven. Around nine or ten I was reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke, just to name a few. I still wanted to write, and was constantly holed up in my bedroom pounding out weird stories while my brothers played outside. I emulated all my favorite writers, but was still looking for my own voice.

Carrie was released in 1974, but it would take another eight years before Stephen King even registered on my radar. I happened to pick up a copy of The Stand in 1982, four years after it was published. That novel changed everything for me. First of all, it instantly became my favorite book, and has remained so ever since. Secondly, I became a loyal King fan from then on, one of his “constant readers.”

Finally, it helped me to find my own voice as a writer.

Stephen King said that where other writers were filet mignon, he was a Big Mac. I know what he meant by that humble statement, and though there is some truth to it, I think he was really selling himself short at the time. And history has proven that he is a hell of a lot more substantial and significant.

He combined the fantastic with the mundane in a way that no one had ever really done before. And he made the horror feel more real by having the monster walk into a Burger King rather than a “fast food restaurant.” Or by showing the villain sipping a Pepsi instead of a “soft drink” or “soda.” You get what I mean. He not only put the reader in the make-believe world, he brought the make-believe into the real world, and the reader was like, “Man, this could happen.” He made it more intimate, somehow.

I know some people who refuse to read King because they say they’re not into “that kind of stuff.” And I get it. The guy made his bones as a horror writer. But those people who see him as nothing more than the Wes Craven of the literary world are really missing out. Stephen King is a philosopher and an astute observer of the human condition. He is a master of characterization. And, most of all, he’s a great storyteller.

I remember reading that King was in a grocery store, or some such place, when he encountered a woman who said she was not a fan of his, that she detested the sort of books he wrote. When they got on the subject of the movie adaptations of his stories, Stand By Me (originally titled The Body, from the collection Different Seasons), The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption (originally titled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, also from Different Seasons) came up.

She said, “Oh, you couldn’t have written those.”

When King asked her why not, she replied, “Because those are all wonderful stories.”

I love that.

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 September 21, 2014  Posted by at 10:15 am writing 2 Responses »
Sep 032014
 

This story is a little off my beaten path. There are no monsters, or time travelers, or space aliens. But it is dark. And that, my friends, is most definitely up my alley. Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

Airplanes and elevators. I hate them both. And it seemed no sooner had our stressful four-hour flight on the one ended (our brief cab ride through the dark, silent city being my only respite) than we found ourselves being hoisted aloft on the other. I’d left my stomach somewhere over Kansas. Figured I’d pick it up on my way back to California.

Naturally I’m not too keen on hospitals, either. Yet here I was in one—indeed, the very one in which I’d been born. It occurred to me (not for the first time) that the past is always reaching out to drag us relentlessly back, like a black hole from which even light cannot escape. It was a depressing thought. I squeezed Ellie’s hand and she looked up at me with a little wrinkle in her brow.

“It’ll be okay,” she said, although we both knew it wouldn’t.

We were alone in the small space, and I began to feel claustrophobic. My heart started pounding to beat the band and I realized I wouldn’t need to retrieve my stomach on the return trip after all. It had tracked me down and was in there now, doing somersaults.

When the elevator doors slid open on the ninth floor and the overwhelming smell of disinfectant (not to mention the underlying stink of sickness and dying) wafted in, it certainly didn’t help matters much. We exited the car and followed the signs to the ICU, an enclosed area made up of large-windowed rooms with a nurses’ station at its hub.

Hospital workers, some dressed in brightly colored smocks, others clad in green scrubs, bustled about on their various errands. Still clasping hands, my wife and I approached a mid-thirties brunette seated behind a horseshoe-shaped counter, intently tapping away at her computer keyboard. In one of the rooms I could hear a woman weeping softly. Continue reading »

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 September 3, 2014  Posted by at 11:46 am writing 4 Responses »