Tag Archives: Jeff C. Carter

Welcome to the Bell Club

Tales from the Bell Club (KnightWatch Press) is now available in print and on Kindle, featuring my short story The Wager.

The Wager is a horror story set in the late 1920’s, about a pair of scientists who explore the bottom of the ocean and find death and madness.  I had a great time doing research into the historic Santa Monica and Venice Beach pleasure piers, the local Tongva Indians, 1920’s speech, famous explorers William Beebe and Otis Barton and their record setting invention the bathysphere.  I thought I’d list some foot notes here that captured my imagination.  Spoilers ahoy!

EXPLORER WILLIAM BEEBE

I relied heavily on the real life explorer William Charles Beebe and HALF MILE DOWN, his first person account of breaking the ocean depth record.  Beebe was the most famous American naturalist in the world.  He described things that no one had ever seen, sometimes risking his life in the process.  I would say that my character ‘Charles Beebe’ was a dark reflection of the historical figure, but in truth the real person was all too tragic.

Beebe was a brilliant academic, popular writer and larger-than-life celebrity.  His religion was a mix of Presbyterianism and Buddhism, and he used his eyes to worship the natural world and its inner workings.  He believed that “Boredom is immoral.  All a man has to do is see.  All about us nature puts on the most thrilling adventure stories ever created, but we have to use our eyes.”

His wife, Blair Niles, was a stalwart companion, accomplished writer and fearless explorer in her own right.  She was his assistant and co-writer on their travels around the world, sometimes to places where no white woman had ever been before.  The Explorer’s Club refused to admit females, and so Blair helped found the Society of Woman Geographers.

Despite her loyalty and talent, the couple divorced on the ‘grounds of cruelty’.  Blair’s eyes began to fail, and she could no longer assist her husband with his work.  He started to shun her, not speaking to her for days at a time.  Once he reputedly stuck a pistol in his mouth and threatened to kill himself to terrify her.  I wonder if her vision loss made her corrupt or unworthy in Beebe’s religion of sight.

THE TOWN

The fictional beach town of San Simeon is based on Santa Monica, California.  This story is the first of many I have planned for my own anthology in this setting.  I am fascinated by beach towns and piers, probably because I grew up in a small shoreline town and vacationed with my family ‘down the shore’ in Delaware.  The origins of San Simeon, named after the saint of lost children, will be detailed in future stories.

The ‘pleasure piers’ in this story were all real, harking from an era when all of America flocked to bustling carnivals suspended over the sea.  The entire coast was crowded with mad cap piers extending into the ocean.  Prohibition may have been in effect, but who needs a drink when you can tumble down a wooden dragon slide in a burlap sack?

It was a giddy and surreal playground, mostly untouched by the great Depression.  When oil was discovered the area got another boost.  Soon oil derricks filled the sky like the piers stretched into the ocean.

THE STRANGE SHIP

The bathysphere, the strange submarine invented by Beebe and Barton, appears in one of my other stories as well, along with a summary of its invention.

THE ABYSS

As the intrepid explorers sink down into the ocean they literally penetrate realms of darkness that no mortal has ever witnessed.  Their transgression results in tragedy and madness, which is why you’ll find a few references to ancient gods, titans and myths sprinkled through the story.

When his partner is lost in the abyss, Charles, tormented by the loss, attempts to bring him back.  I wanted to foreshadow this by naming their ship ‘Orpheus’, but chose ‘Izanami’ instead.  The Japanese myth of the death of Izanami-no-mikoto is similar to the tragedy of Orpheus, but I find it more disturbing.

HORRORS OF THE DEEP

There are countless strange creatures in the sunless depths of our oceans.  Beebe described real animals with translucent skin, glowing bodies and giant teeth.  My favorite ugly is Astonesthes Abyssorum, which is Latin for “Eater of the Stars of the Bottomless Pits”.

There are also unnatural beasties at the bottom of San Simeon Bay.  You may spot a reference to my favorite Crypto, El Chupacabra.

In the black heart of the pit dwells an ancient, formless horror.  The slumbering entity spawns monsters, shakes the earth and lures people down to their death.  Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will find it reminiscent of the protoplasmic gods Abhoth and Ubbo-Sathla.

ENDING WITH A BANG

We never learn if Charles Beebe’s plans to strike back at the beast of the abyss ends in success or failure.  There was originally a post script about the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.  An estimated fifty million dollars worth of property damage resulted and 120 lives were lost.  This didn’t mesh with the first person narrative format so I left it out.  One day I will tell the fate of San Simeon and the tragic explorer who gazed upon its hidden horror.

GET THE BOOK

There are 13 other chilling tales in the collection, including an amazing story by Edward M. Erdelac.  Buy the Kindle version here and the print version here.

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It’s Alive!

RESULTS MAY VARY, my very first short story to be accepted for print publication, is now available at Amazon in the Static Movement Press anthology SCIENCE GONE MAD.

This story takes place in a very dark near future of bio-terrorism and paranoia.  My early drafts revealed more about the world that was later omitted as unnecessary exposition.  But seeing as how this is my secret crypt, you’ll find all sorts of interesting things on the cutting room floor.

I do so love to laugh.  It keeps me young!

Puns!

 

The evolution of terrorism in China (specifically the breakaway Uyghur Muslim separatists) has lead fanatical yet highly educated scientists to engineer Genocide Bombers.  The first attack occurs at the Olympic games in Hyderabad, India.  Four million die, the United States joins China in their struggle against terrorism, and we become the next targets.

It’s a tense situation: entire cities are quarantined, people live in fear of deadly plagues and the government is ready to firebomb any location they suspect is compromised.  Our hero is bored and lonely in his sealed apartment, and looking for a distraction before he goes stir crazy.  When he orders an experimental party drug from a darknet website his life gets stranger than he could ever imagine.

I often listen to music to set the mood while I write, and I listened to a lot of Philip Jeck for this one.  These are deep, moody and often disturbing soundscapes.  Ah, Dystopia!

 

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Staring into the Abyss

I am happy to announce that my short story ‘The Wager’ will appear in Knightwatch Press’ upcoming anthology TALES FROM THE BELL CLUB.

My entry takes place in the late 1920’s in the haunted southern california town of San Simeon.  My main character is based on my favorite mad scientist, William Beebe,  and the invention of his suicidal science vehicle the Bathysphere.  What did they find lurking beneath the black waters of San Simeon Bay?  I’ll reveal more when the book hits the presses!

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Mecha West says Howdy

I’m excited to officially announce that my collaborators and I have finally begun working on MECHA WEST, a new addition to Heroic Journey Publishing’s popular RPG game MECHA.

In MECHA WEST players will be able to use the giant battle suits of anime in an old west setting.  Yes, we’re talking cowboys, robots and steam punk technology.

This is just a quick note to watch this space as things develop.  We’ll be delving deep into how certain advances in technology reshape the american west and make it a lot more wild.

Stay tuned !

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Round Trip to Davy Jones’ Locker

My story LEVIATHAN is now online at Avenir Eclectia.   This is the second story featuring Dr. Kwame Singh, and this time he’s taking the plunge into the alien planet’s ocean depths.

He takes his ride in a high tech bathysphere.  The bathysphere was invented in the late 1920’s by Otis Barton and William Beebe to observe deep-sea animals in their natural habitat.  These brave explorers would climb into the 1 inch thick steel sphere and the hatch would be bolted shut.  For oxygen they breathed in cannned air, used trays of chemicals to absorb CO2, and circulated the air by hand with palm fans.

A crane lowered the craft on a cable half a mile down into the ocean.  Their windows were giant plugs of fused quartz.  General Electric provided a lamp to illuminate animals and Bell Laboratories provided a telephone system so that the sphere could communicate with the surface.

Down at such crushing depths there were many ways to die.  One thing they didn’t worry about was drowning: due to the immense pressure any leak meant that “the first few drops of water would have shot through flesh and bone like steel bullets.”

Not only did they broadcast some of their dives over national radio, they also brought film cameras to record many fish new to science, and set many new depth records.  Because they could not bring back the specimens they observed many of the alien and bizarre creatures could not be confirmed until many years later.  Some of those beasts have still not been confirmed at all.  Beebe wrote an article for National Geographic  titled “A Half Mile Down: Strange Creatures Beautiful and Grotesque as Figments of Fancy, Reveal Themselves at Windows of Bathysphere”.

Soon the bathysphere was made obsolete by advances in submarine technology.  The New York Zoological society loaned the craft to the U.S. Navy and later the World’s Fair.  It ended up in an exhibit in the New York Aquarium, but was later moved to storage for almost a decade under the Coney Island Cyclone.

Imagine a group of curious boys crawling under the Coney Island boardwalk and finding the silent hulk half buried in the sand.  The brass bolts, green with rust, are unyielding.  They throw rocks at the strange thick windows and they bounce off, sending deep gongs across the steel shell and through their skin.

Something skitters to life inside the bathysphere but the sound is lost as the roller coaster rattles overhead.  What grotesque creatures had been spotted out those windows so long ago, never to be seen again?  Something uncoils beneath the sand.  The Cyclone thunders by again, snatching up the screams of children into its chorus.

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While you’re at Avenir Eclectia also check out the stories by my fellow authors Ed M Erdelac and Greg Mitchell.

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