Monday, September 26, 2011

Finished Two Stories This Week

Finishing a story is always a great feeling.  I haven't been writing shorts as much as I used to.  I seem to get one out here and there, usually when I have an idea that won't let go, and I plow through it in a few days without working much on anything else.  Thing is, my Works in Progress folder is becoming inundated with stories that are started and rarely finished.  Sometimes it seems as if I lose steam when I don't finish a story during the session in which I begun it.  The glimmer that drew me in leaves and I just don't see the potential any longer.  Sometimes I troll through that graveyard and finish one of the stories, but many of them have been lying dormant for quite some time.  Some are plain out useless.  Others are downright foolish.

Sure felt good to finish two this week.  One I wrote in two days, and the other I had started a few weeks ago for a specific anthology.  I'll have to re-read the guidelines, because the story ended up pretty brutal.  On top of that, I made some good progress on the final scene of my second novel, of which I had become frustrated with.  I've also begun to edit stories for Through the eyes of the Undead 2.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hot Air and Strange Odors Part 2

Erin thought that her captor had used the brass candelabra on the biker, but he was on the other side of the room grinning.  He rushed from where he watched the biker collapse and knelt on the ground before him near a growing pool of blood on the carpet from his damaged head.

The ghoulish stranger looked up at Erin and spoke to her in the same odd manner as before without moving his lips, like some absurd ventriloquist.  You have to strangle him, he's not dead yet.

What!  You're crazy!  Before Erin's words were finished ringing in her head, her hands were clasped around the biker's thick neck squeezing as tight as they could.

Yes, the ghoul said as he hovered over the biker's body.  Just a little bit more, he's almost there.

Erin watched her captor through eyes that were of two minds.  Her body was probably watching the biker to make sure he was dead, but she was bearing witness to another spectacle.  Her captor's milky eyes rolled into the back of his head as his mouth and nostrils opened unnaturally wide.  His sickly body began to shiver and tremble in his ragged clothes.  His cracked lips began to fill in, the lines on his face fading, his white hair thickening, now vibrant and black.  Not only did his body grow younger, but his clothes began to repair themselves of rips and tears.

As his eyes rolled back in place, now green and life-like, his smile faded.

"What are you looking at?"  He spoke from his mouth this time.  "I told you before never to watch me!"

He stood from the biker's corpse.  There was a look of suspicion on his face, of untrustworthiness, of ill contempt.

"What are you staring at?  Get him into the kitchen."

Erin's body grabbed the biker by his feet and began tugging his corpse toward the kitchen.  Erin screamed and pleaded but no one, including her own body, could hear her calls.  Why wasn't he at least helping her carry the bastard's body?

After she managed to drag the body into the kitchen, she began to strip it of clothing.  Her body then took a filet knife disemboweling him right there on the linoleum floor.  Erin screamed and cried in her mind, did everything she could think to stop her body from cutting the man to pieces, but nothing worked.

With a cleaver, his head was severed and tossed in a garbage pail.  His genitals were discarded along with the organs, at which point Erin's body took the filet knife and skinned him.

The problem with Erin being trapped inside her body's unconscious was that she couldn't close her eyes; she was forced to watch this grizzly slaughter.

Her body skinned him with a precision only experience could account for, and then, with equal measure, her body cut his cadaver up like a butcher.  Some of his body went into the freezer, some in the refrigerator and...

Oh God!

Erin watched as her hands rubbed seasoning on a rack of his ribs.  There was a sense of normalcy to what her body was doing, a sense of knowledge.  The act of butchering the biker was as nonchalant as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Her hand turned the oven on, and a few moments later the rack of ribs went in.

I can't eat that!  There's no way I can eat that!

Little did she know (and slowly she was suspecting) that she had, in fact, been eating people ever since her capture.  Though she may have eaten human flesh under a trance, she could not allow herself to do so knowingly.

As the food (if that's what it could be called) was cooking, Erin discovered how her toilet bucket was changed and how her water was refilled. 

All this time she was her own maid and didn't even know it.

Her captor hid in the shadows the entire time.  She had the feeling that he was watching her, but she didn't see him anywhere.  Maybe he was enjoying his restored body.  Perhaps he enjoyed watching her bizarre ritual of eating his victims.

With the five-gallon bucket back in her hot stinking room, and the bottle of water filled and in its appropriate place, her body opened the oven and pulled out dinner.

The smell was like rotten lamb and as many other mysteries were revealed, so was the strange odor that seemed to have permeated the air conditioner.

The ribs were placed on a carving board.  Erin's hand then took a knife and cut them individually.  To her dismay, she grabbed an individual rib and brought it to her mouth.  Her mouth took a bite and began chewing.  The meat tasted gamy, and though her mouth kept chewing, she had a gag reflex, vomiting what little was in her stomach on to the floor.

"NOOOOOO!" she screamed spitting the taste from her mouth before turning for the faucet and pouring herself a glass of water.  She drank greedily before realizing that she was now in control of her body.  She was drinking the water.

Her captor returned from wherever he had been residing.  His expression was that of worry.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"What the hell have you been doing to me?  Where's my family?  What did you do with them?"

"So you woke up.  Odd."

He walked slowly toward her, staring with green eyes like lurid gems set in his eye sockets.

"You will go back into your room.  Now!" he commanded.

"No!  Where's my family?"

The door swung open by itself.  Erin could feel the stifling heat from the room on her back.  As he drew closer, she took a step backwards, and then another.  He made a gesture with his hands like he was going to push her, and without touching her she was flung into her cell.  The door slammed shut locking her in.

She screamed and yelled pounding on the door.  She screamed for her husband and for her daughter.  She pounded and kicked the walls until her fists and feet hurt, until she finally had to lie down.  In a few moments, her exhausted mind and body together fell asleep.

The next morning Erin woke hungry for the first time.  Not just hungry, but starving.  The idea that the eating of human flesh was keeping her alive made her feel sick, and worse than that was the idea that she may be damned to be the strange man's slave.

"Not if I can help it," she told the empty room. 

On this night, she fought the dreamy spell he played upon her tired brain and found herself more in control than the night before.  He, on the other hand, was apprehensive at best watching her with an eagle eye.  This night was very different from last night for he wasn't in need of a soul and the fridge was well stocked with biker meat.

In addition to her gain of control, she also found that she could submit to his spell and pardon herself from the cooking and eating of last night's kill.  She didn't want to eat the meat, but she was going to need the protein if she were going to construct a plan against her captor.

The next morning Erin woke feeling ill with the knowledge of what the faint taste in her mouth was.  It took everything she had in her not to vomit her dinner up on the floor.  She drank water and thought of her family, hoping they weren't locked in cells of their own, subject to similar cruelty.  She felt hopeless in finding them were she to escape.  If they were alive, they would have brought authorities to the house to save her.  The more she thought about it the worse she felt.

By nightfall, Erin decided that whether Jade and Christopher were dead or alive she was going to actively plot an escape from the house.  It was that or give up.

With each passing night her captor became less worried about her and eventually left her alone to cook her gruesome dinner.  She watched him closely, trying to understand his routine and planning for the night when she would revolt.  He was deteriorating, as she suspected he would.  Why this was happening to him she could only guess, but it was clear that he was becoming weaker as his physical being melted away.  It would be very soon, perhaps the next time he asked her to bring a man to the house, that she would escape.

Like every other night, she closed her mental eyes and sank into his spell allowing her body to eat without regurgitating.  She didn't like allowing herself to fall under his influence, but it beat the hell out of tasting human flesh.

One way or the other, this would be the last night that she would have to succumb to his power.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guess what's available for kindle?

Scarecrow and The Madness, that's what!

Now on kindle in the US and in the UK.

There's also a little bit of a reduction on the print price.  Now only $10.79!  You can't beat that with a rubber hose.

Also, there are new reviews on the UK site.  One on the print page, and one on the kindle page--both very favorable.  Check them out if you're on the fence about buying this book.  Look for a review shortly from Morpheus Tales.  I'll post the link when it goes live.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Am I the Last One to See Paranormal Activity?

I've heard a lot about this movie, but my ears were closed.  I have lost faith in the film industry, truth be told, particularly concerning horror films.  Could be I'm getting older, or could be the crap that comes out today just isn't as good as the crap of yester-year, and the gems are few and far between.  Not sure, but I'm a sucker for old B movies a la Roger Corman, Ted V. Mikels, Mario Bava, HG Lewis, and so many others, and it seems that when I watch something "low budget" these days, it really stinks!  With movies like Creepshow 3 I have to wonder if low-budget filmmakers are even trying anymore.

But that's a tangent and a topic for another post.

I finally watched Paranormal Activity the other night--spoilers to follow, for those who have not seen this film yet.  I thought it was a good movie, though I think they really botched up a few parts, considering the fact that they were going for the this-is-real-and-not-a-movie bit like in Cannibal Holocaust and the atrocious Blair Witch Project.  The Ouija board catching fire was ridiculous, and so was the photo in the attic.  Totally killed the "reality" vibe of the movie.  There were also a few bits of dialogue that sounded so completely unrealistic that I had to wonder why they didn't use a different take.  When conversation sounds like a bad TV commercial it's hard to suspend one's disbelief.  The ending was awful as well--the theatrical ending.  I also watched the alternate ending and I think if they took the beginning of the theatrical ending and the second part of the alternate ending, that would have been frightening and shocking and left the audience wide-eyed and breathless.  The woman crawling on the floor like an animal was just plain out stupid.

But...other than those minor gripes, I thought the film was pretty good.  I give it a solid 4/5 stars.

I don't think I'll watch the sequel.  There was no other reason than a cash-in to make a sequel.  In fact, I would like filmmakers to stop making sequels when a film is successful for the sole purpose of "cashing in".  Sequels are to continue telling the story, not to re-hash it for profit.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cover art for People of the Ethereal Realm...

Not yet revealed, but I have seen it and damn it's cool!  I have to write a blurb for the back cover.  I think I have a few different blurbs I wrote while submitting the novel.  I'll have to dig them up and see what I think.  I should be doing this right now rather than posting on the ole blog, but, well, I suppose I'll take care of that just as soon as I'm finished.  I actually thought I would be working on the finale of the first draft of my second novel right now, but the Net has a way of sucking one in and not letting go.

The cover looks great, as I said above.  The back cover is under construction and awaiting my blurb, and as soon as they are approved by the voices that be over at Twisted Library Press, I will post a teaser here for all to see.

The edits are going kind of slow, but my editor has several projects in the works, as most any writer does, so I can understand.  I have to admit to slacking off about editing Through the Eyes of the Undead 2.  I've been busy with other projects, damn-it!  I did edit the first story last week and I'm going to make a concerted effort to get on the ball.

Look for the People of the Ethereal Realm cover in the not-too-distant future.  It's a good one.  I hope the book will live up to the expectations it creates.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hot Air and Strange Odors -- Part 1

The room was dismal, but Erin was well acquainted with the cracks on the walls, the brown water stains on the ceiling, and the hot air and strange odors.  The heat was the hardest to get used to, and even as she stared to the ceiling at the whirling air vents, Erin felt stifled.

How long had it been?  At least a year. 

Though the room was without windows, she could tell dusk and dawn by the light refracted from the whirling vents.  At first, she kept track of the months by her menstrual cycle, but, about four months into her imprisonment, she lost count.

The hot air was generated by the air conditioner in the wall next to the only door to the desperate room.  The air conditioner ran constantly, cooling whatever room was on the opposite side of the wall, dispensing the foul stinking hot air into her empty hell.  Not only was the air hot, but humid as well.

Erin could only guess what the fetid stink in the air was.  It reminded her of roasted lamb—Erin always hated the smell of lamb—yet there was something off about it, and it never ceased.

She pondered what the house on the other side must look like, what kind of scum-bags lived there, but, like everything else about her confinement, it was a mystery.

How she found herself in this dire room, held captive by who or what, she didn’t know.  It had been so long since she tried to remember the last thoughts she had before her capture that she has given up understanding.  Her will is strong but she wondered how long she could last. 

In a time that seemed an eon ago Erin had a husband, Christopher, and a daughter, Jade.  She remembered them fondly, crying herself to sleep many nights on the concrete slab floor.  Christopher was a good man who worked hard so she could stay home and raise their daughter and keep up the house.  More than just her husband and lover, Christopher was her best friend as well.

Poor Jade was eight, far too young to lose her mother, her mind far too impressionable and fragile to deal with the world without a mother’s guidance.  They were close.  Erin has cried often imagining the heartbreak her poor little girl must have felt in her mother’s absence.

Those were the thoughts that tormented and filled Erin’s miserable life with pain, a pain worse than the aches from sleeping on a concrete floor without a pillow or blankets.  Though the thoughts she cherished so desperately brought her such sorrow, these thoughts were her will.  Without them, she very well may have given up and starved herself to death, but then again, could she?

Where and when she ate she did not know.  Every morning her stomach was full, the strange taste of whatever she was fed left in her mouth—always the same indescribably unpleasant taste.

In the same fashion as the blackouts during her feeding time was the cleaning of the bucket she used for a toilet.  Every morning when she woke, her stomach was full and the bucket clean.  It was as if she were drugged every evening before falling asleep during which time her captor cleaned and force-fed her.

As with anything in life, any situation whether it is married life or a new job, whether pleasant or unpleasant, there is an uncanny ability for people to become adjusted to their surroundings.  Erin became very much adjusted to her strange feeding and toilet cleaning blackouts.  After a while, it seemed as normal as sleeping on the floor without a pillow.

That was until now.

The idea to flee, to escape, to somehow breakout of this repulsive prison of hot muggy air-conditioner discharge dissipated after about a month.  Without any windows and nothing for ventilation more than mere whirling vents in the vaulted ceiling, Erin lost hope of breaking free.  The walls were plaster and impenetrable with her small fists.  A man could likely bust a hole in the wall but she was one hundred twenty-five pounds soaking wet, which made her attempts futile.

As she lay on the concrete with her hands laced behind her head in that dreamy state just before sleep, her thoughts mixing amongst one another incoherently, she fought to stay awake.  It was the first time she consciously tried to stay awake as sleep began to steal her away, sleep normally a small blessing.

It was in that dreamy state as she fought the sandman when she watched the shape come through the door, at least that’s what it seemed to do.  The urge to scream was immediate, but it was too late, she had fallen under the spell of sleep once again, drawing her into a state of immobility.

The next morning was much like every other morning, her stomach was full and the five-gallon bucket was emptied of her bodily waste.

There was one thing different about this morning though.  The image that was burning in her brain was different.  The image was like a fading out-of-focus Polaroid though it was clearly a man who came into her room last night.

What was he drugging her with?  It had to be her water—another mystery of the nightly blackout.  She drank from her water jug every day without a thought that it may be harming her, so she decided to go on a water strike.

Tonight she was going to be awake when her captor came to her, and she was going to play the part of the drugged captive.  Then, when he was least expecting it (he shouldn’t expect anything!) she would attack.

It was a plan at least, which was a first.

She had decided long ago that there wasn’t a surveillance system in the room.  She had plenty of time to study every inch of her domain and found it impossible to conceal a video camera; therefore she wasn’t afraid of being seen as she poured some of her water into her toilet bucket.  She poured another few ounces of water on the concrete assuming it would soak into the slab and dissipate before nighttime.  It was difficult not drinking water, near impossible, but she stuck to her plan dry mouth and all.

Laying on her back with her hands laced behind her head, identical to every other night in this hellhole, she stared at the ceiling.  With her eyes, she traced the cracks she would never forget were she to escape.  Probably she would develop a phobia of cracks and feel the compulsion to spackle them to hide the pencil thin shadow that would lead to bad memories of this place.  In those fissures was her whole life, now locked away and replaced with damnation.  The images of her childhood, her family, her daughter, all plastered on the walls of her mind in a mental collage.  She stared into those ceiling cracks night after night, searching through her memories for something forgotten that may bring her even an ounce of satisfaction and strength.  To forget her memories would be to give up.

Is tracing the jagged fissures like counting sheep? she wondered as she began to feel woozy in the head.  That dreamy, foggy state between waking and sleeping was playing with her mind, beginning to distort her thoughts and drag her consciousness into the subconscious.

There he was again—the strange man.

The door opened.  Faintly she could hear him speaking and before she could gather her thoughts together, she stood and followed him out of the room and into the rest of the house.  The door shut behind her.  She saw, drearily, the other side of the air conditioner that blew a constant flow of foul air into her cell.  The room was deathly cold.

Fighting the drunken swooning of her brain, she struggled to understand her surroundings.  Her body was moving as if ordered to do so against her will in a somnambulist trance.  It was as if she had woken up during surgery but was unable to scream for the doctor to stop.

He spoke words without moving his dry, cracked lips.  He was pale and thin, his ragged clothes hanging on his body like a shroud.  There was something about him, something mischievous and evil.  He was commanding her.  The tone and manner in which he spoke indicated a sense of routine.  And she was obliging.

I need another soul, he said to her telepathically, his cataract eyes menacing.  I need you to go out and get me another soul.  Be stealth and be quick.  Lure him here for sex and I’ll do the rest.  Then you can eat.

Erin screamed inside her mind, locked in his trance.  It wasn’t a drug he was seducing her with, it was something far worse, something dark, something evil.  She was powerless under his influence and beyond the reach of her mental warnings.

Oh my god! she screamed out in her mind as she realized just why her surroundings were so familiar.  It hadn’t struck her at first why she recognized the wallpaper in the kitchen, but as her body walked into the master bedroom she realized that she was in her home. 

How could she have been held captive in her own home? 

She found it difficult to hold on to her thoughts being how she wasn’t in control of her body.

As Erin’s body undressed and redressed into a pair of short shorts and a tank top (a very low cut tank top) she pounded on the walls of her mind with her inner voice, screaming for consciousness.  The body continued to change and ready itself to leave the house and pick up a man, just as the stranger commanded it to.

This was surely a definition of madness to be watching oneself commence without the ability to rectify the actions of ones own body.  Yet her inner voice was not mad.  Frightened and terrified, yes, but not mad.

Her body walked down the hall from the master bedroom toward the shifty figure in old tattered clothes.  Was she actually going to watch herself whore around the local bars for a horny man to take back here for the strange ghoul with the cataract eyes?  As her body picked up her purse (a purse she remembered receiving as a gift from her sister) the answer was: yes.

It had been over a year since she had seen any nature with the exception of the occasional spider or silverfish in her cell.  The air was cool and refreshing though she felt as if she were in a different cell.  She wanted to take deep breaths, run, jump, and roll around on the dew laden grass feeling the cool moisture soaking into her clothes, but her body walked in a way she had never walked before, shaking her rump from side to side like a bell—the steady persistent walk of a vixen who was ready for a one-nighter.

And just what did Mr. Creepy have in mind when she returned with her hot-blooded stud.  Did he like to watch her fuck him?  Was that it?  She thought not.  More likely he was going to murder the man.  What was it he said—I need another soul. 

Down a few blocks her body turned onto the main drag where bars and loose men were a plenty, and before she knew it, she was watching herself flirt in a way she had never known.  It wasn’t like her at all to be making eyes with men and talking so vulgarly the way her body was doing, but in no time at all she hooked one and was on his motorcycle for the two-block ride back to her house.

Her reputation must have suffered in the past year.  There was no telling how many times she had unknowingly picked up strange men in bars, and what did the neighbors think? what did her friends think? What did her family think?

Where was her family?  How she had forgotten about them she couldn’t understand, but if it was her house she was being held captive in, what happened to her family?  She didn’t want to think about that.  Their fate may may have been worse than hers.

The motorcycle came to a stop at her house, her body told him to park it in the garage.

Take me away from here!  Please, take me away from here, I beg you!  Can’t you hear me! Erin yelled and yelled to no avail.  Even as she screamed, her body was talking to the man, cooing him so he would be oblivious to what was going to happen to him once he walked into the house.

Like a disaster in slow motion, it happened.  Her body opened the front door and walked into the house, biker in tow.  As he stepped over the threshold a large brass candelabra seemed to come from nowhere crashing into his head, knocking him out cold.  

Inside, she screamed, but her body regarded the situation with the same calm one elicits for a house guest. For Erin, the act of murder was radical and horrific, however it had become clear that she had done this before.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Scarecrow & The Madness -- OUT NOW!

Blood Bound Books presents: Scarecrow and The Madness, now available at amazon or Createspace for $11.99.  This book contains two novellas by Robert Essig and Craig Saunders.  Check out the Amazon listing for blurbs and a synopses for each story.

Blood Bound Books has brought us several great anthologies of horror such as Night Terrors, Steamy Screams, and Seasons in the AbyssScarecrow and The Madness is the first book from their novel/novella series, and I am proud to share the pages of this book with the talented Craig Saunders. 

For those of you who buy a copy of this book, please leave a review on amazon when you are finished.

Hot Air and Strange Odors -- Introduction

After contemplating publishing my own work on my blog, I have decided to begin with a story that was published a few years back of which I own the rights to.  Probably not many of you, if any, have read this story due to the magazine it was published in.  I NEVER talk badly about any of my publishers, and for the most part I have had nothing but good experiences, but the so-called publisher who published "Hot Air and Strange Odors" is infamous and due to his rants and foolish behavior I split ways.  I never should have submitted a story to him in the first place, but I hadn't done my homework.  I consider the original publication of this story a case of live-and-learn, and I would like to make the story available as a three-part series here on my blog, because I do believe it is quite an eerie tale and deserves to be read.

As for all the other publishers I've worked with in the past several years, I thank each and every one of you.  I won't let one bad apple spoil the whole damn bunch.

As for "Hot Air and Strange Odors," it is a tale of deprivation, triumph, and tragedy.  Erin has been living in a windowless room sleeping on a concrete slap, day after excruciating day, her life shrouded in despair and nightly blackouts.  Deprivation can either eat away at one's soul like cancer, or cause one to become stronger willed, particularly if they have something worth fighting for, something more valuable than their own life.  Perhaps a family.  Fighting through stifling captivation, Erin discovers the secrets to her misery and the truth of the hot air and strange odors.

I will post part one in the next few days, with parts two and three to follow as a three-part weekly serial.  I hope those of you who read the story enjoy the fruits of my madness.  Feel free to comment.  It took me a while, but I finally found out how to reply to comments.  (Yeah, I know, I'm technologically challenged.)