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Short Stories

Look at the Dog, Dog at the Look

you-human-front-500px-height-215x300“Look at the dog, dog at the look,” she said, pressing her right pointer finger straight into the widest, deepest center of the crack… Three-legged dogs. Reverse Mirror Symmetrical/Symmetrical Mirror Reverse. Purple beetles riding on top of purple beetles, all the way down. San Fransisco, a Shadow City with hidden crouch ends… And then, tying it all together, a crack in the wall. A crack that makes you reach out and give it a try…

Find out what comes out when the crack opens up in one of my stranger stories, “Dog at the Look,” available in this fully illustrated new anthology from Dark Regions Press:

What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be real? What does it mean to exist? And most importantly, what does it mean to be human? Twenty-four mind-bending works by some of the best in the business explore humanism through science fiction’s various sub-genres, split into three sections by poetic law.

Available in e-book or paperback HERE directly from Dark Regions and HERE from Amazon

The First and (Maybe) Last Ride of Dan’s Death-Defying Death Car

An ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation makes a decision—the wrong one. The deadly one. The one that can’t be taken back, can’t be undone.That one decision that changed everything—but what if you got another chance at making it?

51Dw3dTNZgL._SX398_BO1204203200_In Dark Passages II, author M.J. Preston brings together writers from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon and Western Canada to spin their tales of THE BLACK HIGHWAY. We open with a biker’s murderous road trip in THE HOLLOW MEN followed by tales from B.E. SCULLY, PATRICK LACEY, JON MICHAEL KELLEY, TONY TREMBLAY, KRISTI PETERSEN SCHOONOVER and many more. On the Black highway you’ll never know what you might find. Child eating amusements, woman possessed, ghosts, even man eating plants. In 8X10 format in the spirit of the now defunct Rod Serling’s Night Cry Magazine, this is the collection ready made for the collector. With exterior and interior artwork by M.J. Preston, this anthology is made to curl up with, but leave an extra light on for things from the black highway are lurking in the shadows. Additional authors include: Gregory L. Norris, Philip C. Perron, Kyle Rader and introducing Cody J. Spagrud. Bonus material: This collection also includes a chapter excerpt from M.J. Preston’s forthcoming novel: Highwayman.

Click here to purchase Dark Passages II: Tales from the Black Highway in paperback or e-book.

The Son Who Shattered His Father’s Dream

Parents always want the best for their children. But what if “the best” ends up being the absolute worst thing any parent could imagine? My short story “The Son Who Shattered His Father’s Dream” is based on a real-life story I read that got me thinking about the tricky territory parents navigate between pushing their children and perhaps pushing them too hard and way too far–sometimes even straight off of a cliff. The story is included in Firbolg Publishing‘s 2015 anthology Enter At Your Own Risk: Dreamscapes Into Darkness.

EnterAtYourOwnRisk_DreamscapesPassions become obsessions. Obsessions become manias. And sometimes, manias turn into nightmares. What happens when one wants so badly that all else, including sanity and self, is consumed by the bonfires of desire? What happens when one achieves the dream, only to discover the nightmares lurking behind the illusions? Firbolg Publishing’s fifth anthology, Enter at Your Own Risk: Dreamscapes into Darkness, explores the old adage of “Be Careful What You Wish For.” Journey down wishful thinking’s twisted pathways and discover what dark ends and detours await-with an introduction from Daniel Knauf, and featuring stories from D.H. Lawrence, Mary Shelley, A.M. Burrage, H.P. Lovecraft, and more Gothic masters from yesteryear and today… enter at your own risk, and be careful not to make a wish!

Click here to purchase Dreamscapes Into Darkness in paperback or ebook format

The Hand Game

A collection of true-life ghost stories from Firbolg Publishing featuring historical photos, first-person accounts, and newspaper articles about the strange and supernatural, along with original tales from authors past and present, including my own short story about how my father managed to pull off one last prank even from “behind the veil.”

FirbolgBookofDeadA shimmer at the end of a corridor. Lights in a graveyard long after the witching hour. Is that the wind, or something calling out to the living from secret, unseen places? The mysteries of the supernatural have captivated the human imagination for centuries. Tales of specters, hauntings, and unexplained phenomena can be found in every culture across the globe. In addition to modern true tales of terror, The Book of the Dead features true life hauntings from the actual pages of history. Truth can indeed be stranger—and far more terrifying!—than fiction.

Click here to purchase The Book of the Dead!

Metamorphosis, Not Metaphors

Find out whether or not a pair of science officers will finally succeed in assimilating humans with Earth’s new masters after a series of, shall we say,  most unfortunate false-starts and failures in my Kafka-inspired short story “Metamorphosis, Not Metaphors,” in Great Old Ones Publishing’s latest anthology, Bugs: Tales that Slither, Creep, and Crawl:

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34 of today’s top voices of terror take on the undulating hoards of a life form that knows no mercy, only the primitive urges to kill, destroy, and feed. They skitter through remote swamps and pine barrens; slither up from the earth and creep through human civilization, determined to conquer our world and others; crawl under and across our flesh, hungry, so very hungry… Bugs! Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl features stories from Eric S. Brown, David Bernstein, Lawrence Santoro, Tracy L. Carbone, and others.

 

Click here to purchase Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl in paperback!

Click here to purchase the Kindle/e-book!

The Philosopher’s Way

Teacher, master, treacherous madman… after a young scholar sacrifices everything for knowledge, he becomes a charismatic teacher whose students are willing to sacrifice everything for him. And yet as the teacher’s own strange, long-ago mentor once warned, those who wander too far along the philosopher’s way may find themselves going straight over a cliff… Find out more in my short story “The Philosopher’s Way” in Hauntings, the latest anthology from Hic Dragones:

hauntingsA memory, a spectre, a feeling of regret, a sense of déjà vu, ghosts, machines, something you can’t quite put your finger on, a dark double, the long shadow of illness, your past, a nation’s past, your doppelgänger, a place, a song, a half-remembered rhyme, guilt, trauma, doubt, a shape at the corner of your eye, the future, the dead, the undead, the living, a grey cat, a black dog, a ticking clock, someone you used to know, someone you used to be.

We are all haunted.

Twenty-one new tales of the uncanny by: Rachel Halsall, Brandy Schillace, Allen Ashley, Hannah Kate, Audrey Williams, James Everington, David Webb, Sarah Peploe, Michael Hitchins, Patrick Lacey, Tracy Fahey, Rue Karney, Keris McDonald, Guy Burtenshaw, B.E. Scully, Mark Forshaw, Stewart Pringle, Daisy Black, Mere Joyce, Jeanette Greaves, and Elisabeth Brander.

Click HERE to purchase Hauntings: An Anthology in Kindle/e-book form!

                               Click HERE to purchase Hauntings: An Anthology in paperback!

Nothing But Skin and Bones

It sometimes happens with mountaintop removal that old family cemeteries get wiped off the mountain along with everything else. But what happens to those displaced bones in earth that deep and dark? And when the mountains start coming back to life, what else might come back to life along with them? Find out in my short story “Nothing But Skin and Bones” in Firbolg Publishing‘s latest anthology Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning.

Click here and here to read more about “Nothing But Skin and Bones”

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Human beings—the undisputed top of the food chain, the long-standing masters of planet earth. Or are we? What may be crawling out of the sludge to take our place? What monsters have we created in our labs, factories, and our very own genetic code? In the fourth installment of Firbolg Publishing’s Enter at Your Own Risk series, which pairs Gothic masters such as Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and H.P. Lovecraft with modern authors of the dark and macabre, the theme is environmental horror. As mankind’s tsunami wave of progress, industrialization, and technology reaches spectacular new heights, sinister things are churning beneath the surface. An unfamiliar stench on the wind. Waters a bit too murky. Soil a bit too red with blood. Progress at a price. A terrible, terrible price. Will we survive? What strange new worlds will emerge from the chaos? With an introduction from Holly Newstein, Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning explores both the horror of the end and the hope of new beginnings for our planet and ourselves.

Click here to purchase Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning in e-book format

Click here to purchase the paperback

Like Water and Stones

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. I wrote the short story “Like Water and Stones” around a series of actual incidents, memories, and impressions from my own adolescence. Click here to read the story in the Winter 2014 edition of the literary journal Voicecatcher along with the other featured writers, poets, and artists. Also, be sure to check out Voicecatcher’s wide range of publications, events, and programs for writers.

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The Dying House

Every 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 my short story “The Dying House” and plenty of other mind-bending poems and weird tales 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. Click here to read an excerpt.

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

 

 

 

 

The Tygre

In Dark Muses, Spoken Silences, Firbolg Publishing’s latest release in the popular Enter at Your Own Risk series, ten authors were asked to reimagine four classic Gothic tales from the point of view of one of the “unspoken” secondary characters. My tale was Polidori’s Vampyre; my character–the decidedly not so innocent Miss Aubrey. What unfolds is the tale of The Tygre, a creature no less ruthless than The Vampyre, and even more determined to do whatever it takes to claw her way free of the cage that holds her.
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Click here to purchase Enter At Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences  in paperback or e-book form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hands of Time
Inside every mummy is a story waiting to be told… but are you certain it’s a story you’re prepared to hear? Read 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.
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Click here to purchase Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification in paperback or e-book form.

 

 

 

 

Castles of Stone, Castles of Air
Ah, the consequences of chasing castles that may or may not exist… and the even greater consequences of not chasing them… Read my short story “Castles of Stone, Castles of Air” in the March 2013 issue of Paranomicon magazine.

  
Time for One Last Show

Ah, misty, magical San Francisco… find out what happens when an exotic dancer with a deadly secret comes back to haunt the faded rooms of a time-worn strip club in “Time for One Last Show,” my contribution to the gay-themed ghost story collection Enter At Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms from Firbolg Publishing. 

“A collection of seventeen tales that explore the passions, lusts and longings that ignite the fires that inflame and consume us, leaving behind phantoms to rise from their ashes. In Firbolg Publishing’s latest ghostly, gay-themed addition to the Enter at you Own Risk series, a diverse range of acclaimed authors tell haunting tales of scorned lovers with malevolent secrets and vengeful surprises; of fateful obsessions, unleashed impulses, doomed affairs and desire stronger than death; of love that remains ruinously unrequited and love that triumphs over bloodcurdling odds. With an outstanding introduction from Robert Dunbar, Phantoms and Fires sets free gothic visions that manipulate our emotions and penetrate the deepest, most forbidden corners of our psyches—Enter…at your own risk.”

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Click here to purchase
the paperback edition
Click here for the e-book
(free for Kindle Prime)

 

 

 

 

 

The Oracle Bone

My short story “The Oracle Bone” is included in The Horror Society’s Dangers Untold anthology:
“We think a monster can at least be killed; it’s flesh and blood.
Therefore it can die.
If it doesn’t die, it will always be there—lurking in our shadows.”
Dangers Untold isn’t your normal horror anthology; not a vampire, zombie or werewolf to be found. Filled with unusual monsters and unexpected terror, Dangers Untold is a series of seventeen short stories from horror industry professionals who have a different take on what makes for good horror. From a legend come true to hidden artifacts in the ice to a child’s playmate, these tales will creep in through the cracks when you aren’t looking to linger in your mind long after you have closed the book. Keep the lights on because you’re about to read Dangers Untold.

Click here for print edition on Amazon
Click here for Kindle edition
Click here to purchase directly from Alliteration Ink

Proposition Ate 
Whatever your opinion of the gay marriage debate, here’s an interesting angle on an issue controversial enough to raise the dead…

Click here for a free read of my short story Proposition Ate.

Paid In Full
I’ve been missing my dark, fanged friends of late, so here’s a little vampire story in the Summer 2012 issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, 125 pages packed with short stories, poetry, and art.
Click here to purchase the print edition, or here for the Kindle edition on Amazon.

Might As Well Live
Another flash fiction piece, my little bit of gallows humor called “Might as Well Live,” in the anthology Cup of Joe: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2 from Wicked East Press Books.
Publication Date: March 31, 2012
“Hustle and bustle, run and get many things done. That is the style of our lives. Over 100 authors offer this collection for every person on the run. Pick it up, read a few, put it down, and start in a different place the next time. Always a new story to take you away. So pick up a coffee and a quick read today.”
Click here to purchase from Amazon

The Consequences of Dental Visits
My flash fiction piece about trauma, love (or do I repeat myself?), and some strange kind of recovery in the Torrid Literature Journal Volume II, The Bare Naked Truth. Available for print or digital purchase here: Torrid Literature Journal Volume II – The Bare Naked Truth

Free Fall
My flash fiction piece about ambiguous nostalgia is included in the Vol. 4 No. 2 October 2011 issue of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine published by The University of Chester; U.K. The issue features stories from Jennifer Egan; Robert Olen Butler; Liesl Jobson, and many more.
Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine
Editorial and Contents
Sample Stories

Freebie! Ah, the strange new world of tweeting, murder, and social media graveyards…  
Tweet Me Back  here for the taking!

Who is Like God?
Strange things have been happening in the Exclusion Zone, where nothing (supposedly) goes in…and nothing (should) come out… Click here to read “Who is Like God?” free at Dark Media City

 

 Polar Night

Finnish moonshine, the Tarot, and Rock n’ Roll: my short story “Polar Night” is included in the premiere issue of Dark River Press Magazine along with work by Brian Lumley, Amanda Norman, and much more! Update: It appears that as with far too many publications these days, Dark River is now defunct. Goal: To get this short story into another publication soon.
Publication Date: 01 February, 2012

Enter at Your Own Risk: Old Masters, New Voices

Check out my two short stories (“The Ground Always Wins” and a reprint of  “Maybe What We Need Are More Trolls Under the Bridge”) in this amazing collection of Gothic literature!

Publication Date: October 8, 2011

“If Gothic masters like Lovecraft, Poe, and Stoker could whisper new tales from beyond the grave, what stories would they create in response to increasingly urgent issues such as the threat of environmental collapse, the ongoing struggles for equal rights, and the innumerable challenges, thrills, and dangers of life in the 21st century? In this new anthology, classic Gothic tales are juxtaposed with modern short stories in a fascinating exploration of how much things change in the world of horror and chills–and how much they stay the same. The stories provide an engaging time travel through the twisted tunnels of the human psyche and the equally disturbing behavior that accompanies it–guilt, lust, revenge, regret, the eternal (and often deadly) power of love, the inseparable allure/repellence of evil… and the sceptered shadow of Death which lurks over all. Special treats from the classic authors include a rare, early story from Poe, and Bram Stoker’s “lost” chapter from Dracula. With 26 tales from three centuries’ worth of delightfully deranged minds, this collection reveals the astonishing scope of the Gothic writer’s incomparable genius for revealing our deepest emotions and penetrating our darkest dreams.”

 

Click here for the paperback version
Click here for e-book
(free for Kindle Prime)

 

I don’t usually write zombies…but a “Winter’s Bone” inspired idea landed me in this upcoming anthology–send more brains!
Publication Date: December 14, 2011
“In world where the dead walk…In a world where the living struggle to survive…
In a world where Munchkins fight alongside flying monkeys… Those are just some of the things you will find inside this mammoth book of zombie fiction by writers from Michigan to Malaysian, from Austin to Austria. So, pull on your bibs and prepare to sink your teeth in.
With stories by Bint Arab, Robert Forrester, Michael C. Dick, K. A. Masters, T. Fox Dunham, Kenneth E. Olson, Jason Papke, Richard Jay Goldstein, T. L. Barrett, Theresa Derwin, Joe Sherry, Jack Bantry, Bruce L. Priddy, Jonathan Wood, Gary Madden, Nicky Peacock, Douglas J. Moore, Iain Rob Wright, Dale Elster, Rebecca Snow, T. L. Decay, Philip Harris, Annie Neugebauer, Jamal K. Luckett, Marc-Anthony Taylor, Michelle Ann King, Suzanne Robb, C. Douglas Birkhead, Anne E. Johnson, Indy McDaniel, Bryan Vogt, Paul S. Huggins, Stef White, Jim Gadsby, J. Rodimus Fowler, Golda Mowe, Mihai Boc, Jessica A. Weiss, B.E. Scully, Scott Lininger, Katie Young, Allen Jacoby, Kelly Evans, S. Wayne Roberts, Alyn Day, R. S. Pyne, Kristal Stittle, Theresa Derwin, Pembroke Sinclair, Justin Sharples, Vince Liberato and an amazing cover by Gary McCluskey.”
Click here for paperback edition
Click here for e-book (free for Kindle Prime) 
 Maybe What We Need Are More Trolls Under the Bridge

When the trolls have had enough, we’d better stay away from bridges… eco troll revenge!
Published Feb. 2011, The Absent Willow Review

Sadly, The Absent Willow Review magazine has since closed shop, but this story is now available in the “Enter at You Own Risk” anthology.

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