Tag Archives: anthology

Sneak Preview – Put Up Your Spooks

Episode #1 – Pilot

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Here is a sneak preview of our new spin-off podcast, Put Up Your Spooks! Ryan and Jeff rate and review horror tv anthologies from the 80’s and 90’s.

put up concept tvs fixed

This week’s theme: Pilots

Our first contender, from the wintry north, is ‘The Phantom Cab’, the pilot episode of 90’s kid show ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?

phantomcabmirror

Next comes ‘The Man Who Was Death’, the pilot episode of 80’s adult horror TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

The-man-who-was-death

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Punktown AF

Dark Regions Press presents TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN, a new anthology set in the weird, bleak, urban, shared world of Jeffrey Thomas. If you like your science fiction to feel lived in you will love Punktown. This book is an escape from the shiny plastic sets of the Star Wars prequels and a journey through the flesh and blood lives and grease and grime worlds you’ve seen in Blade Runner, The Expanse and yes, Mos Eisley.

Punktown is a coral reef, an accretion of bones, concrete, dreams and stories. In my entry, Less, Then Zero, a luckless thief has a scheme to trade places with one of the city’s anonymous, ever present labor clones.


Mik regained consciousness and tried to blink. He could not feel his eyelids. Do I still have my face? Or did the drugs wear off too soon? He imagined stumbling to the mirror to see a fleshless skull screaming back.

A robotic arm unspooled Kwik-Klot bandaging from his head. Each loop brought the world back in shades of red, from wine dark to scarlet to cherry-red.

He squinted at the harsh light of the body-mod shop and pushed the delicate auto-doc aside. He looked in the mirror. A stranger’s face looked back, the corners of its mouth twitching with a weak smile. It worked!

Mik gently touched his new face and winced, expecting pain, but the stolen flesh was numb. He bent his ear. The jailhouse tattoo tucked behind it, Gillen’s date of birth, was gone. In exchange he had a large, stylized ZERO inked across his scalp and forehead.

The auto-doc’s thin arms lifted a sterile tray holding Mik’s original face. No one had ever looked kindly on that portrait of failure. Even his own reflection had glared back with loathing.

“Flush it with the rest.” The auto-doc dumped the thin slice of flesh into a vat. It landed with a sticky slap upon a naked, faceless corpse.

The lid of the vat squealed shut and filled with caustic chemicals. Mik pried it open with one hand. Blistering fumes and the stench of dissolving meat stung his eyes. He gripped the auto-doc, uprooted it from its base station, and shoved it down.

The vat flushed. Corroded robot parts and melting bones rattled down the gurgling pipes. He zipped up the clone’s jumpsuit. The perfect crime, at last. Here’s to many more.


Transmissions from Punktown is available for pre-order now! Get the ebook, paperback or hardcover from Dark Regions Press here.

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Delta Green: Extraordinary Renditions now available

DG Extraordinary Renditions cover

My short story Le Pain Maudit is now available in an anthology of all new mythos fiction from Arc Dream Publishing.

These are 18 case histories ranging from the late 1940s to present day by some of the most popular writers in the horror and RPG field.

Here is the table of contents

  • “The Color of Dust” by Laurel Halbany.
  • “PAPERCLIP” by Kenneth Hite.
  • “A Spider With Barbed-Wire Legs” by Davide Mana.
  • “Le Pain Maudit” by Jeff C. Carter.
  • “Cracks in the Door” by Jason Mical.
  • “Ganzfeld Gate” by Cody Goodfellow.
  • “Utopia” by David Farnell.
  • “The Perplexing Demise of Stooge Wilson” by David J. Fielding.
  • “Dark” by Daniel Harms.
  • “Morning in America” by James Lowder.
  • “Boxes Inside Boxes” and “The Mirror Maze” by Dennis Detwiller.
  • “A Question of Memory” by Greg Stolze.
  • “Pluperfect” by Ray Winninger.
  • “Friendly Advice” by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.
  • “Passing the Torch” by Adam Scott Glancy.
  • “The Lucky Ones” by John Scott Tynes.
  • “Syndemic” and an introduction by Shane Ivey.

I have been a fan of Delta Green since the U.S. military stormed the blighted town at the end of ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’. The paradigm of military vs. monsters is thrilling because we think monsters aren’t real. When you delve deeper into the military and intelligence side, however, the ground does not get more stable. The secrets you learn do not make you feel safer. This is a world of paranoia and murder. This is the real world, where even now people with unlimited budgets are scrambling to invent the next existential threat before ‘the other side’ can.

My story follows from two disturbing chapters in recent history. The first was the revelation of the CIA’s Project MKULTRA, which attempted to develop mind control techniques that they tested on innocent people without their consent.

Mkultra-lsd-doc

The second was the strange tragedy known as ‘Le Pain Maudit’, the outbreak of mass hallucinations that ravaged a small French village in 1951. Some theorize that the local baker’s bread was contaminated by ergot fungus. There are clues, however, that suggest the CIA had dosed the town with LSD.

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Here is an excerpt from Le Pain Maudit:

Frank, Gerhard and John stood shoulder to shoulder, watching through the two-way mirror. Edward was negotiating with Monsieur Tatin over wine, cheese and bread. John filmed the proceedings with a purring film camera.

Frank idly scratched his pen on the metal clipboard balanced on his forearm while he observed the German. Gerhard marked his log each time Tatin took a bite or sip. He checked a stop watch and smiled.

“Any moment now.”

Frank pulled off his headphones and whispered.

“What did you dose him with?”

Shwarzlotos.”

“Black lotus?”

Ja, a potent hallucinogen. It enhances the truth-serum effects of LSD.”

A crash from the main room turned their heads.

Monsieur Tatin had dropped his wine glass and stumbled against the wall. Edward eased him into a chair.

“Relax, monsieur. It’s all right.”

Je suis désolé, I do not feel so well. I just….”

Monsieur Tatin twisted to stare into the firelight. His eyes had dilated into gaping black holes.

“How are you feeling, monsieur? What do you see?”

Clermond Farrand

The Frenchman licked his wine-stained lips and wavered.

“A black temple…with spires that reach the stars. It’s impossible. So vast. So ancient!”

Gerhard’s scratching pen fell silent. Frank looked over. The German had closed his eyes in an expression like prayer.

Tatin gripped the edge of the table and shook.

“I’m being pulled inside. I’m sinking! In the crypts, they dwell…fungal things…silently waiting. I’m frightened! They know I am there! They know!”

He spewed a stream of bile across the table and collapsed. Edward hurried over and checked his pulse.

            “Monsieur?”

Tatin looked around with blurry, bloodshot eyes. His pupils were returning to normal. He finally noticed Edward standing over him.

“What happened?”

“We drank too much, monsieur. Let me walk you home.”

John turned off the recording equipment. Frank pretended to finish his notes while watching Gerhard. The German gathered the remaining food and wine with great reverence, like a priest handling sacraments.

Frank stepped out of the bedroom and waved a pen.

“Was that a success or a failure, Herr Doktor?”

~

Follow this link to buy the book in a variety of formats

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Deck the Halls with Boughs of Horror

My creepy Christmas story ‘With Their Eyes All Aglow’ was recently singled out in a review on Shocktotem, so I thought I’d share a little research that went into the tale.

O Little Town of Deathlehem, edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

O Little Town of Deathlehem, edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

Last Christmas time I heard a disturbing factoid reported on the radio: Each Christmas tree brings up to 25,000 bugs into your house.

Okay, tiny mites are icky, but it’s hard to beat spiders for pure terror. I looked at the lights shining on my tree and imagined a cluster of luminescent arachnids. Do glow-in-the-dark spiders even exist?

The glowing spider has only been spotted once, in the deepest jungle of Myanmar in 1923 by Barnum Brown, the curator for the American Museum of Natural History.

“Darkness came on swiftly and my pony began to stumble. Somewhere we had missed the trail…Presently, a few feet away, I saw a ball of light as large as a man’s thumb.

Tying the horse, I advanced as carefully as possible toward the object, which was surrounded by thorny bushes…I struck a match. There in full view was a spider, his large oval abdomen grayish with darker markings. Still he did not move, and as the match flame died out, his abdomen again glowed to full power, a completely oval light, similar in quality to that of the fireflies.

Remembering native tales of poisonous insects and spiders, I wrapped a handkerchief around one hand, parted the brush with the other, and when close enough, made a quick grab. Alas! The handkerchief caught on a stick before I could encircle him and my treasure scurried away. I followed as quickly as possible, but the light soon disappeared under stones, brush, or in some burrow, for I never saw it again.”

I had my spider and my setting. To make things more interesting, I made my glowing spiders more sociable.

Giant spider web forming in Texasbig web 2

Social spiders cooperate like ants or bees. Colonies can spin much larger webs and then swarm to take down prey as large as birds and bats.

(I was going to insert some photos of bats in webs, but I couldn’t find any that were not being feasted upon by giant spiders.  You’re welcome.)

My wife suggested the title for this story be, ‘Spiders get all up in yo’ bidness and then ruin Christmas.’ Yes, these spiders may ruin Christmas for a few unlucky people, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the anthology O Little Town of Deathlehem. You can buy the book at Amazon, and all profits from the anthology will benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

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Gods Gonna Cut You Down

Many country western songs, especially those favored by Johnny Cash, seem to exist in a bleak Weird West haunted by wailing winds and ruled by Old Testament justice.  Listen to ‘Ain’t No Grave’, ‘The Man Comes Around’, or ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ and you’ll see what I mean.

The song ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ has always painted vivid pictures in my mind.  In the song God tells John to let five sinners (the long tongued liar, the midnight rider, the rambler, the gambler and the back biter) know that they’re marked for judgment.  I wondered who these colorful characters were, and how they had ended up on the wrong side of God’s Law.  Who was John, the chosen messenger and avenger of the almighty?

Inspired, I decided to write my first story in the weird western genre.  Happily, my piece found the perfect home in SONG STORIES : BLAZE OF GLORY.  This is the second anthology from Song Stories Press featuring tales created from music.

Song Stories Blaze of Glory cover

In order to ground the ‘Weird’ I  wanted to make the historical details of my ‘West’ as accurate as I could.  Here are a few notes about the WEIRD.

MEET THE GANG:

The Long Tongued Liar

orochimaru

I chose the Long Tongued Liar to head up my band of outlaws.  The name conjured up Orochimaru, the scheming master of serpents and my favorite villain from the manga Naruto.  With God as long arm of the law, however, I knew my outlaws should be hell-spawn.  I searched the tomes of demonology for an appropriate counterpart and found Jezebeth, the Demoness of Falsehoods.  It’s hard to track down reliable information about her, but what else would you expect?

The Midnight Rider

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I have always wanted to write a weird western tale about the song ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’.

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name
If you want to save your soul from Hell a-riding on our range
Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
Trying to catch the Devil’s herd, across these endless skies

With that character already in mind, I had my Midnight Rider.

The Rambler

medicinewagon

How to make rambling seem villainous?  I had a choice between a character that moved around a lot or one that talked too much.  I chose that latter and created Giovanni Mountebank, the loquacious showman behind “Dr. Giovanni Mountebank’s Medicine Show & Traveling Dime Museum.”

plague-doctor

A clue to Giovanni’s origins is the sinister bird mask that hangs above his clockwork wagon.  He was born in the Dark Ages, where he began his dubious career in medicine as a Plague Doctor.  While no medical training or experience was necessary, Plague Doctors had the special authority not only to record the Last Will and Testament of their patients, but to perform their autopsies as well.  Imagine the possibilities for corruption and you get an idea of Giovanni’s path to the dark side.

The Gambler

Navajo god 2

Every weird western needs a Skinwalker, and Nayenezgani Biwosi is mine.  His first name comes from the monster slaying hero of Navajo mythology.  Tucked into the background of all my demon outlaws is the story of righteous men corrupted by Jezebeth.  The name Biwosi comes from Hastiin Biwosi, the first Navajo killed in the witch purge of 1878.

In the gambling halls of the badlands, however, he is known as ‘The Suicide King’.  His favorite game is ‘Russian Roulette’ (although the term hadn’t been invented yet).  A skinwalker can assume the form of any hide or fur he is wearing.  The Gambler keeps a coyote pelt draped over his fancy clothes, but he plays for the skin of his victims.

The Backbiter

NosferatuShadow

I wanted to round out my rogues’ gallery with a vampire.  I needed to find a different angle on it as well as a way for a vampire to move around in the harsh sun baked southwest.  My solution was twofold: conjoined twins, one living, one undead.

siamese twins skeleton

John

civil war soldier

The grim avenger in this story is a mysterious man known only as John.  He hides scars beneath his deerskin gloves, carries thirty pieces of silver and wields an antiquated blunderbuss pistol loaded with crucifixion nails.  He once walked a very different path, but Jezebeth destroyed everything he knew.  Check out the story to find out more.

Pistol_Bayonet

Song Stories: Blaze of Glory on Amazon Paperback and Kindle

Song Story Press

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Bang!

My story “From the Barrel of a Gun” has been accepted into SUPER, an anthology of super hero fiction from Static Movement Press.

This story was adapted from a screenplay I wrote in film school about a city over run by brawling super heroes and villains and the group of determined snipers who fight back.  One of my many strange mantras is that “A gun is the ultimate super power.”  I had a lot of fun doing the research for this story, and I think it shows.  I’ll share more when the book comes out.

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Short Sips 2 Now Available!

Short Sips Vol 2 from Pill Hill Press is now available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  It features many fine short horror stories, including my own ‘TOOTH AND BONE.’

This story was conceived in a dentist chair during a harrowing series of painful and bloody purification rituals.  I passed the rites and returned to my tribe inspired to write a horror story and find better dental insurance.

Recently, my lovely wife gave me a certificate for a professional massage.  Lying in a dark room, face down with a stranger, my mind wondered to the macabre as it is wont to do.  Tickling my mind was a particularly ghastly segment on a Discovery Channel show about parasites that can infest the human body.  As the stranger dug into my muscle and sinew a new idea began to take root in my brain.  I urge you, go see the dentist before reading my story.  And get a massage, you deserve it.  But do it soon.  Once I write my massage story you may not find them so relaxing.

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