Treasures in the Attic

House of the Past by Clarence John Laughlin; 1948

House of the Past by Clarence John Laughlin; 1948

The thrill of blowing the dust away from a long-forgotten trunk or exploring the hidden treasures of shadowy attic corners–there is something voyeuristically fascinating about the debris and detritus of other peoples’ livesTake care before cracking that lock and opening the lid, though. You never know what–or who–has been waiting patiently among the cobwebs of time…

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

In the ninth and final section, a man discovers that his deceased uncle’s seemingly random collection of things might not be so random after all in “The Collector,” by Miriam H. Harrison; an art connoisseur becomes the grisly inspiration for his own collection in “Another Picture for The Wall,” by Patrick O’Neill; a woman with nothing left but timelessness awaits her bizarre fate in “Mission Box,” by Cheryl Anne Gardner; and discover William Makepeace Thackeray’s  deliciously devilish take on the secrets we keep in “On Being Found Out,” originally published in the Roundabout Papers in 1863.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

RoguesGallery

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

 

What Lies Beneath

The Premature Burial by Antoine Wiertz; 1854

The Premature Burial by Antoine Wiertz; 1854

What could be worse than a violent death in a dark alleyway? Or dead bodies that aren’t actually dead yet—but soon will be? Fiends like Jack the Ripper and the persistent terror of premature burial both haunted the imagination of Victorian society. Only sometimes, such terrors proved anything but imaginary…

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

In Part VII of the collection, shadows in the night meet up with other quite unexpected—and deadly–shadows in J.B. Mulligan’s “Wolves in the Alley;” in “The Triple Event,” by Miriam H. Harrison, sins of the past so terrible they defy time and space collide with equally horrific sins of the present.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

In Part VIII, a wild and passionate woman turns out to be much more—or perhaps much less—than she seems in “The Second Mrs. Chapman,” by Brittany Warman; a seemingly grief-stricken widower unearths more than sentiment from his dead wife’s grave in “Only,” by Miriam H. Harrison; find out what’s been happening to the residents of a strangely empty cemetery in “His Guilt Exhumed,” by Donna Cuttress; and lastly, discover the master of the macabre’s own fittingly bizarre take on going to sleep with the worms a little too early in “The Premature Burial” by Edgar Allan Poe, originally published in The Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper in 1844.

Movie poster for one of the many screen adaptations of Poe's The Premature Burial

1962 movie poster for one of the many screen adaptations of Poe’s The Premature Burial

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

RoguesGallery

premature_burial_title_page1To read more about Poe and the phenomenon of premature burial in the 19th century, click here for a post from Bronteheroine, a blog about Victorian literature and culture.

Secrets of Flesh and Bones

8b870804d2f848dea14f242936b51450It’s truly amazing what kinds of things people get up to behind closed doors…

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

Part V and Part VI explore the inexplicable—the long-dead popping up where they don’t belong, and the still-living doing things they most certainly shouldn’t be doing.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

In “That Sweetest Urge,” by Miriam H. Harrison, one woman’s long-denied desire defies even the grave to find fulfillment in whatever form it can; far from hiding skeletons in the closet, a woman has entirely different plans for hers in Joshua Skye’s “In The Closet.”

When the owner’s away, the cat will play the most diabolical games unimaginable in “Because I Was Bored,” by Vince Liberato; in “Ominous Atonement,” by Blaze McRob, a man’s sacrifice may not be for what—or to whom—he initially intended; one man’s torment is another’s salvation in “The Hunting,” by Miriam H. Harrison—but only if those nails hold fast…

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

RoguesGallery

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Deadest of Them All?

corset-vintage1“Beauty’s a doubtful good, a glass, a flower,

Lost, faded, broken, dead within an hour;

And beauty, blemish’d once, for ever’s lost,

In spite of physic, painting, pain, and cost”
–William Shakespeare

Ah, the power of beauty to bewitch and beguile, to captivate–and to kill. What price would you be willing to pay for beauty? Your honor, your integrity…your very life?

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

The fourth section in the collection concerns the corset, that contraption of laces and lashes that promises wearers the tiniest of waists–that is, if they survive long enough to show it off. Stand up straight, breathe deeply–now PULL!

A devoted husband gives new meaning to the warning “be careful what you wish for” in “A New Beginning,” by Michael Seese; in R.J. Murray’s “The Duchess of Mount Zirra,” a vain duchess who enshrines herself in a chamber of mirrors learns that the glass may not reflect back who–or what–she wishes to see; in “Felicity Cinch,” by Eric Nash, a reluctant burlesque dancer thinks she gets the better of her audience—that is, until it’s time for the encore; gaze upon the horrifying face of truly ultimate beauty in “The Beauty Within,” by Miriam H. Harrison; in “Death in the Lady’s Dressing Room,” by Charie D. La Marr, a woman discovers that beauty is indeed skin deep—very, very deep; a young girl learns the secret—and the deadly price–of eternal youth in “Forever Young,” by Crystal Leflar; in “A Mother’s Touch,” by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd, the phrase “like mother, like daughter” takes on an entirely deadly new meaning; and learn how a father’s devotion becomes literally all-consuming in “Dear Dead,” by Joshua Skye.

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

RoguesGallery

Secrets Beneath the Sacred

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

 

Light a candle and place it in the shadowy corners of an ancient cathedral. Now sit back and wait for the awe-inspiring silence of the ages to flood the soul and inspire the spirit. But wait…beneath that silence—far, far beneath, in the hidden catacombs and secret corridors below—lurk secrets and skeletons of a decidedly unholy kind…

 

 

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

The monks of St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas in October, 1955

The monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas in October, 1955

Devil worship illustration from the book The Freemason, 1932

Devil worship illustration from the book The Freemason, 1932

The third section in the collection is about a set of unexpected bones that turn up where they most definitely don’t belong. In “The Nun’s Corpse,” by Debbie Powers, a priest comes face-to-skeletal-face with the long-hidden sins of the past; discover the diabolically double-edged sword of lust and temptation in “The Woman,” by Joshua Skye; find out what happens when an exorcism goes horribly wrong inBones,” by Carole Gill; in “The Writing on the Wall,” by Christopher Bleakley, a man’s obsessive quest for the Grail seems to have finally come to an end—but not quite the end he’d been expecting; a most unexpected witness bears testimony to a most unspeakable crime in “Consecratio Virginum,” by Miriam H. Harrison; and bear witness to an evil act of jealous revenge in “The Death of Sister Dorothea,” by D.C. Copeland.

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

RoguesGallery

I Think We Might Have a Tiny Problem… or Two

halloween5Rats.

There’s just something about those creepy kinds of critters that slowly but surely chew their way through walls and settle down to stay. Chances are there’s one in your house right now, sniffling at the wallpaper or scratching beneath the floorboards. In fact, there may even be more than one… and they might have more on their minds for dinner than the chip crumbs under the couch.

True crime meets its equally bizarre match when dark fiction authors pair up with original illustrations from the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News in Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, which includes my flash fiction piece “No Hard Feelings.

The second section in the collection is all about rats. But it’s what those rats get up to in the middle of the night that will keep you up along with them, listening for those tell-tale squeaks and scratches.

The Illustrated Police News

The Illustrated Police News

In “Rest,” Miriam H. Harrison presents a frightful twist on the concept of making new friends wherever one finds them; in “Dead Girl Found in Cellar!”, M. von Schüssler weaves a horrifying account of madness, murder, and mayhem in a family that gives new meaning to the phrase “skeletons in the closet”; find out how the course of true love–or was that “corpse” of true love?–can go very, very wrong in Alex James’ macabre tale “The Best Laid Plans of Rats and Women”; discover a most bizarre troop of rats given even more bizarre “marching orders” in “The Blackened Cadence or Squeak,” by J.D. Isip; in Troy Serverance’s “Simply Dreadful,” a woman learns that the hierarchy of “man above beast” can be turned horribly upside down; in “While the Cat’s Away,” by Canto Clarke, a town’s attempt to purge itself of sin backfires in the most diabolically ironic fashion; A. Carina Barry’s “Sweet Enough” presents the unthinkable consequences of being literally too sweet for one’s own good; and prepare for heartbreak with “Unrest,” by Joshua Skye, an account of the fine line between life and death, and the ravenous, pitiless creatures all too willing to cross it.

LovecraftRats

March 1924 issue of Weird Tales

In addition to the modern authors, The Rogues Gallery includes H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Rats in the Walls,” originally published in Weird Tales magazine in 1924—once you read this unforgettable tale from the master of monsters, you will never look at rascally rodents in quite the same way.

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE!

RoguesGallery

Well-Mannered Ladies and Gentlemen…and the Vultures that Eat them

Queen Victoria, 1887

Queen Victoria, 1887

Ah, the good old days… What could be more civilized and proper than the white-gloved ladies and mustachioed gentlemen, the drawing rooms and demure parlor games of Queen Victoria’s prim and peaceful era? Just be sure to keep the ravenous vultures at bay…

Vintage illustration from Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 1897

Vintage illustration from Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 1897

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Firbolg Publishing’s latest release, The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News, editor Alex Scully explains that the Victorian tabloid, published around 1870, “had the largest circulation of any periodical of its time. The public devoured a weekly diet of real-life horrors deliberately calculated to churn the strongest stomach and boost the next issue’s sales.”

For this special e-book edition, Firbolg challenged authors to come up with their own flash fiction based on the original illustrations: “Each image is an actual drawing from The Illustrated Police News. The stories were violent and disturbing. So, too, are the stories from our modern authors. Capturing that horrific sense of the macabre, the writers presented here reopened the cases of yesteryear with their own interpretations.”

1508508_533030980128310_970916595_n

For the first illustration, author S. Kay Nash conjures a protagonist who must choose between a life-threatening task and an even more terrifying mistress…not to mention her children and their rather, shall we say, different appetites; Joshua Skye spins a haunting tale of a young girl with a most unusual anatomical feature who gives new meaning to the term “the sins of the father;” my own story tells the strange fate of a woman condemned to death as a witch who finds a rather reluctant ally in a very unexpected place; Miriam H. Harrison presents a woman who must make a terrifying choice to either set herself free and join her lost lover, or–!; and A. Carina Barry relates the story of a woman who pays an unthinkable price when a vengeful vulture reminds her that there’s far more to life—and death—than gold and riches.

Click here to read these stories and many more in The Rogues Gallery: The Illustrated Police News!
More featured stories coming next week…

Click here to find out how to get one of Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies FREE! RoguesGallery

Like Water and Stones

Photo by Toni Frissell, 1947

Photo by Toni Frissell, 1947

“On the same day Jo turned thirteen, a girl drowned down by the lake. Summer vacation had just started and Jo didn’t hear about it until everything was already over. The story had it that the girl fell out of a boat and didn’t even try to swim to safety. She just disappeared beneath the water and wasn’t seen again until the rescuers found her at the bottom. At least that’s how the story had it…”

Adolescence–that watershed time of life when kindness and cruelty, innocence and evil, empathy and egoism blend and do battle on the shifting sands of becoming oneself. It’s also a time of breath-taking vulnerability, particularly for young girls just beginning to wield the power tools of sexual attraction without yet being in possession of the necessary operating skills or safety gear.

I wrote the short story “Like Water and Stones” around a series of actual incidents, memories, and impressions from my own adolescence. It found the perfect home with VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions. Click on the link to visit their web site and discover their wide range of publications, events, and programs for writers.

Click here to read my short story “Like Water and Stones.” Special mention to Christi Krug for her insightful editorial suggestions.

The Winter 2014 edition also features prose pieces from Mary Mandeville; Jessica Zisa; Suzanne Lehman; and Valerie Wagner. In addition, it also features thirteen never-before-published poems by twelve master-class voices; the lyrical language of five young poets; and artwork by established craftswomen and aspiring visionaries.

Dive in, the water’s most enticing…

journheadart

The Dying House

Getty9Every town has at least one… the house at the end of the deserted street with the malevolent, off-kilter window eyes; the dark side of the lake where the air feels just a little colder, the wind a little meaner; the lonely lane or gravel path that makes you quicken your step on a moonless night…

In River Town, that place is The Dying House–as dark and deadly as it is necessary, folks come to this ancient plot of land to die… that is, until the continuing begins…

Read an excerpt from my short story “The Dying House,” included in ANTHOLOGY Year Two: Inner Demons Out, A Celebration of Speculative Fiction and Art, a collection showcasing the combined talents of the authors, poets and artists of AnthoCon, Northern New England’s only Multi-Genre Literature and Arts Convention:

Cross the bridge and walk toward the east edge of town until you reach the overgrown railroad tracks. Nothing but weeds and creeper vines travel along those rails now, but sometimes they still get the chance to take folks where they need to go—at least folks headed for the Dying House, that is.

Follow the tracks past the abandoned mine and you’ll notice the houses getting leaner. Not run-down, exactly, but forced to prioritize. You might see a place with broken rain spouting or boards nailed over the windows and yet there won’t be a single weed growing in the immaculate patch of grass out front. You see that little trailer down by the toppled billboard sign? The green moss and mildew stains are about the only paint job left to speak of, yet just last summer the owner added on a brand new redwood porch with hand carved railings and everything. You’d be mistaken to think the residents of River Town don’t take pride in their neighborhood. They’ve just got to handle that pride a little more carefully than most folks.

There’s always lots of dogs lying around in the dust or chasing each other through the backwoods—no shortage of cats, either, though you see less of them. You sure do hear them, though, wailing in the lonesome moonlight for some demon accomplice that may or may not ever show up. If you cross in at night you might see open fires burning on the road. Sometimes men and women gather around them in haphazard clusters, sometimes they just burn alone.

Probably wiser to go during the day, though. It’s not that the folks of River Town aren’t friendly—they’d be the first to invite you in for a cold drink on a hot day, or take a look under the hood of your car to see where that smoke may be coming from, or direct you back toward the highway if you strayed a little too far off your tourist map. But they don’t like strangers coming around concerning themselves with things that don’t concern them, especially when it comes to the Dying House.

The Fall of the House of Usher_Czech_1981

510fyO3nDWL._SY300_Praise for Inner Demons Out from author and contributor Errick A. Nunnally:

“For the disturbing mysterious force genre, a few standouts would be John Goodrich’s “A Poor Sinner’s Hands” which puts a fresh spin on the Old Gods mythos, and G. Elmer Munson’s “Cooking With Kate” lets us know just how horribly wrong a reality cooking show can get. Craig D.B. Patton’s “Unknown Caller” is about the creepiest thing a phone booth could ever do. Psychological or “secular” horror, as one of my friends puts it, has a strong showing here. Holly Newstein’s “Eight Minutes” will break your heart three ways under the Big Top, Bracken MacLeod’s “Mine, Not Yours” is another emotional roller-coaster ride featuring the kind of demented horror house that only a church could come up with, and T.G. Arsenault’s “My Aching Black Heart” is sadness transferred right from heart to ink. We’ve got science fiction in the form of advanced science with David North-Martino’s “The Interloper” demonstrating how far a scientist would go for love, Scott Christian Carr’s “M.A.D.D.” is largely a human interest story set in a damaged future where jealousy and mechanized armor collide, and “Dead Letter Office” by Robert Davies takes us into queasy bizarro territory when a man has an illicit relationship with an obviously powerful man’s wife. Ghost stories of multiple sorts are featured here as well with T.T. Zuma’s “The Soldier’s Wife” which is as much a tribute to the military and honor as it is horrific, “The Dying House” by B.E. Scully wherein a town learns how steep a price it has to pay for a cursed piece of real estate, and many more standouts from weird western to creepy dolls and subversive demons to hidden devils. All in all, a pleasing read, touching with nuance on multiple genres that are made all the more entertaining by great writers. I enjoyed the vast majority of the original work in this anthology, feeling not one bit out of place moving through this diverse group of stories.”

Click here to purchase AnthoCon Year Two Anthology: Inner Demons Out from Amazon.com

Edited by jOhnny Morse; preface by Mark Wholley; design/artwork by Danny Evarts

Featuring Works From: Meghan Arcuri; T. G. Arsenault; Michael Bailey; David Bernstein; Tracy L. Carbone; Scott Christian Carr; Victorya Chase; Robert Davies; Mandy DeGeit; Timothy P. Flynn; John Goodrich; Scott T. Goudsward; Marianne Halbert; Stacey Longo; Kevin Lucia; Bracken MacLeod; Michelle Mixell; G. Elmer Munson; Holly Newstein; David North-Martino; Errick A. Nunnally; Craig D. B. Patton; Susan Scofield; B. E. Scully; Julie Stipes; Andrew Wolter; K. Allen Wood; Richard Wright; Candace Yost; T. T. Zuma

 

The Hands of Time: Mummies, Eternal Life, and Being Careful What You Wish to Preserve

mummy1Mummies… ancient messengers bearing witness to the human obsession of self-preservation against the ravaging hands of time. But what if the prize of earthly immortality turns out to be a curse far crueler than death–and far, far more difficult from which to escape…

Inside every mummy is a story waiting to be told… but are you certain it’s a story you’re prepared to hear?

Read “The Hands of Time,” my journey into the unexplored dark heart of mummification and its consequences in Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification, a new anthology from Philip Perron,  Gregory L. Norris, and D.B. Poirier’s  Great Old Ones Publishing, available now from Amazon and other fine venues.

Excerpt from “The Hands of Time”:

“You said having something that belonged to Ray would help. Maybe this will do the trick.”

The woman who had introduced herself as Dora pulled something brown and withered from a plastic shopping bag. When she laid it on the table between them, there was no mistaking what it was: a perfectly mummified human hand.

Griff McGillis, Great Clairvoyant and Speaker for the Dead, made his living finding whatever words his clients came looking for. But now the only ones he could manage were, “That’s not… that can’t be…”

She flashed him a smile full of jagged yellow cliffs and empty pink valleys. “You’d best believe it is.”

Apparently Dora had taken his instruction to bring along one of the departed loved one’s most cherished possessions a bit too literally.

She leaned across the table and dropped her voice to a whisper as if she feared the tiny room concealed spies. “Ray never went in for that all that funeral business. Had it right in his will to be cremated A.S.A.P. Fine by me, but ending up with only a little pile of ash after almost forty years of puttin’ up with the flesh and blood man—and believe me, we’re talkin’ a lot of flesh here—well, that just didn’t seem fair to me. My cousin Ruthie heard about an undertaker over in Paradise Valley—let’s call him Joe for the sake of conversation—who’s willing to bend the rules a bit in exchange for a little extra slipped into the bill, if you know what I mean. So when I wanted something of Ray to take home with me, Joe worked out a fair price and there you go. Way it’s turned out, it’s a good thing I’m sentimental, eh?”

“Uh, good thing, indeed,” Griff said, stalling for time. He was trying to think of a way to get rid of Dora without involving the police. “And, ah, how did it end up so… well preserved? Did Joe take care of that, too?”

“Why, no, sir! I did that all by myself, thank you very much. Makin’ a mummy is easy if you know how to do it…” mummy-arm

And yet Griff McGillis couldn’t have known how horrifically uneasy the result would be.

Click here to purchase Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification from Amazon.com.

3D-cover-huge-207x300“From a filmmaker’s perspective, these stories are truly cinematic, with compelling plots and well-drawn characters … It’s anthologies like these that will inspire a new generation of storytellers and keep the current ones working overtime to move and entertain.” From the Foreword by Patrick Rea, director of the Lionsgate Film, Nailbiter. Their desiccated corpses creep through dusty desert crypts and cursed bogs; crowded old world bazaars and desolate no man’s lands. Most of all, they haunt the darkest of our dreams, unleash the deepest of our fears, for once they were us. Exhume terrifying secrets and unravel truths best left entombed. A horror anthology including tales from H. P. Lovecraft, T.G. Arsenault, Michael Bailey, Eric S. Brown, Judi Ann Calhoun, Tracy L. Carbone, Karen Dent, Roxanne Dent, Jonathan Dubey, Allen Dusk, Melissa M. Gates, Marianne Halbert, David Hayes, Michael Hughes, Joe Knetter, Esther S. Leiper-Estabrooks, John McIlveen, Gregory L. Norris, Philip C. Perron, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Douglas B. Poirier, James Pratt, M.J. Preston, Kyle Rader, Suzanne Robb, Gord Rollo, Lawrence Santoro, Brett A. Savory, B.E. Scully, Henry Snider, and Erin Thorne.