Tag Archives: short horror story

The Violet Dark #5

Here is the fifth little part of the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. You can buy the full novella for mere pennies/cents/whatever on Amazon.

 

No Ordinary Man

 

You cannot share a voice

 

He put his hand on her bare arm, and she shuddered as if struck with some kind of charge. Her flesh seemed to give way before him, and she tried to stiffen, but her body was relaxing, pooling itself. Her skin spongelike as it bathed in darkness.

‘You are not like ordinary men,’ she murmured, and as she saw the crescent grin of bone she thought of men, men in herds, trampling the jungle and raising barrels of dust on old tracks. Men with their trunks and horns of all sizes waving and cutting through the air. And then, her eyes deeply closed, she saw their sight, their destination, and as if some cabaret parody of the reverse she saw the women, the lithe vulpines, twitching their tails and swaying serpentine, ballooned calling cards on their chests and lower backs, and the herds of men and women raised up their voices in song and shouts and screaming and roaring, all notes of chaos, pleasure and pain.

And then her eyes snapped open, the herds of the sexes snapped out of existence, and she knew how wrong it all was.

‘You see that it is wrong,’ he said, as if courtesy to her visions. ‘I am not like ordinary men because there are no ordinary men. There are no men and women. There is just a man. And there is a woman. And another man, another woman. Do you see? We belong no more to these groups than a cast rock belongs to the hillside. Society feels the need to categorise, and especially for the biggest groups of all, splitting the world into a mere two. But nobody is alike. There is nobody, no individuals or committees who can speak for these groups, because they are chaos. The wall of sound gibberish of billions speaking is the same as having no voice at all. There will be no agreement. Never.’

He paused to smoke. ‘I do not understand these gender wars. You look at me and say no ordinary man. I say no ordinary woman and I could say that to any woman anywhere. There is nothing in gender. You have the animal sex of your body. Beyond that two possibilities. No gender at all. Or every gender, an individual gender for every person that ever walked the earth. Either way it is meaningless. Your gender is your personality. You hold no membership cards to these sprawling groups. They are not your team. You cannot win, you cannot lose.

‘These women and men are shapeless, allowed to become a brick in a living, pulsating wall. They defend “their own”’ – he danced his fingers in the air – ‘by attacking the other side. Us and Them . . . the most primitive of human behaviours, so regressive as to be embarrassing. There are no sides! No sides but every side for every one. Too many sides. You are on your own, do not permit someone to speak for you. You are an individual. You are never a group. Anything more put on you is a direct insult.’

Alright, calm down, she thought. Barely talk and then it all at once. Didn’t ask for an essay. And you’re still no ordinary man.

 

He touched the skin of her arm, and felt it ripple. He closed his eyes and saw the throbbing wetness between her thighs. Under her flesh, the pump of hot blood.

He moved his face closer, and she turned her head, shaking.

‘What?’ he said.

‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I’m struggling to keep hold . . . after what’s happened . . . I don’t know you, I don’t understand what’s changing . . .’

‘I don’t know you either.’ He spoke softly, purring the words. ‘You do not need to struggle. Let life wash you away. Nothing has happened. The past has no existence.’

He took her by the face. ‘Look. Look around at the serenity violet gives you. This gothic theatre. A lurid opulence. This is where you are needed.’

‘Needed by who?’

‘By yourself . . . By me.’

She tried to smile and yet turned her head away again. ‘I need time.’

He inclined his head. ‘Of course. I know that. Time to develop, time to grow, to fall away . . . Time to love again. It took me long, too long.’

He moved away from her, closing an imaginary door behind him. He sighed, reaching for a cigarette, and stood smoking in the cool dark. Clad in a shroud of deep sea blues and the side of his vision bleeding garishly from the bright spectre of the moon.

‘Need,’ he whispered. ‘There’s all the time about us, she won’t be needing that. She’ll be needing a lot more soon. She will be needing me.’

The thought didn’t make him smile.

 

The First

 

What is left when all things are empty

 

They saw the first one when they were on their backs. Lying on a quilt of grass in the hole of the night, loomed over by the skulls of houses.

The air was brittle, and from time to time he would reach out with piano hands and snap it. Fingers ivory keys in the blackness. Palms of the dumb. He’d grope up blindly, eyes tweaking like a pink mole rat rising from the earth. Fat raw limpdick. Loin maggot. Wait till you’re out of your infancy. Snuffling round holes laid in the dewy dawn.

His silverback hands rustling the tins hidden in the sheets of the wind, which hugged and poked them relentlessly, attention-seeking. His fingers curling, crab-like, scrabbling at the elements above. Finding a purchase among the nooks.

She felt it snap. A bone of air. She could hear it, like the click of fingers in her earlobe.

She shuddered, as he did it for the fourth time. ‘Please stop.’

He turned his head on daggers of grass, and looked at her, holding a grin. Werewolf-in-tow. ‘Am I breaking it?’

That’s when it came. Slipping from the edge of a wall.

She shot up, the rush of new perspective disorientating her and she staggered. He took her arm.

 

There’s one there looking at us. No sudden movements. Don’t want her to –

He saw her rise to her feet like a pillar birthed from the soil. His eyes hooded and he climbed to his feet slowly, carefully, just in time to catch her stumble.

The shadow listed closer to them, hugging the wall. It was making sounds. Submarine sounds of the unconscious. They had always sounded so far off, incoherent. Drowned whale songs.

‘I’ve got a gun,’ he said.

 

The thing in front of them, a cut-out of the paper maps of the world and all its inanimates. Only oily space beyond.

The thing moved as if it was falling and melting through the landscape. A handpainted nightmare tripping between the pages of a comic book. Moving in slides. Falling apart and gathering in patches in a Rorschach mime.

She shivered in disgust. There was something deathly about it. Something corpuscular and yet without body – an un-thing, a gap in things. Negation in shape.

When she started registering the sounds she took a step back and gave a little helpless cry of fear. The sounds of dull rotting pines banging together in an empty forest. The foghorns of old animals crawling and crashing out the mountain. Booming and braying at the pus of the moon.

‘Stay back,’ he said. She didn’t know if he was talking to her or it.

‘What is it?’ she whispered, and she noticed he was pointing at it with a twisted metal stick, some set-eyed guru shaman holding the demon back with voodoo.

She blinked and looked between them and saw a shotgun aimed at a quivering, crumbling blur. The noises gibbering and sullen.

‘Don’t shoot,’ she said instinctively. He glanced at her, eyebrows furrowed, and his arms lowered.

In an instant so vacuous, so robbed of living moment, the shadow jumped at them. It was a window pane of time that smashed them in the face, the flesh of the world in the shutter frames of a strobelight. It touched her; some greasy black flap waved over her bare skin. Its huge and hideous face garish in ugliness, in its spits of soot, its streaking lines of black blood. A face amorphous. Porcine and canine and that same naked mole rat twitching its eyes.

She fell back and her spine cracked the grass.

All eyes, mouth eyes. All mouth, eyes mouth.

A second had passed, and yet the scene moved in waves, slow laps at the shores of consciousness. The shape was wrestling with the gun, and her man – person, beautiful real person! Her man! – was roaring angry and wretched. He kicked, and the demon fell. Its shifting coal features once more a smudge. No-face, no-body.

 

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Keep it Clean

Hallo. Keep it Clean may just be the vilest thing I’ve ever written. Well, I suppose it depends on who you are. It’s certainly a little gross.

It is, to put it bluntly, a short pulp horror story about a man and a public toilet.

Still reading? Good. If you like this extract and want to read the rest, you can find it as an ebook here.

 

Keep it Clean

 

He’d have liked to say that from first look it was just an ordinary toilet, no more homicidal than any other, but he’d have been lying. It was, in fact, the lord of toilets, or its most low-born, its befouled emperor or its most grotesque assassin. Was it cherished, worshipped and obeyed? Did it head the assembly, chair the meetings? Or was it tolerated – barely – by the others, only as needs must; kept in the dark, in the shadows, ugly and deformed even by its own kind. Perhaps it was both, for in such an underworld the forms of power come naturally feculent, a triumph of disgust to the masses that lurked there in their cubicles and private rooms. The gilded and implacable, perfumed and cushioned at the foot, lid closed in deference as much as the fetid sinkholes with their vacant dribbling stares.

Whatever its position among them it was one powerful and feared. Its mouth was wide open in a toothless yawn, beckoning him on. He almost made to turn and leave, to hold it in, but he was desperate. If only the pub’s bathroom hadn’t been out of order. His friends were the ones who had told him to go to the public toilet in Piss Alley – that’s what they called this stretch of lightless cobbles, on account of all the homeless were scared of the toilet too, rather letting their urine run down the street than open that door. They knew better.

He’d had to walk past them, and they’d stretched out their hands to him, trying to tug on his jacket. They weren’t the usual fallen on hard times, but elephant men, leprous deformities huddled in rags untouched by moonlight. This was their Piss Alley and in the small hours he knew they prostrated themselves before the toilet; their whimpers reached him even in his dreams.

Call it a dodgy curry, IBS, or a reaction to the alcohol: a cauldron of vomit mistakenly travelling the wrong way. Either way he couldn’t make the journey anywhere else, and he banged the door shut behind him and closed the latch, a movement it seemed all too eager to make.

He surveyed the squalor, face twisting in nausea and fear. The cracked lid was pulled back like lips drawn back on chimpanzees. The rim was stained all shades of brown, caked on and smeared, and dribbled down to the foot. The floor sodden with tissues of muck, holes in the tiles where fat black slugs curled and roamed up the walls and squirmed, half-dropping off the ceiling, their feelers contemplating the suicidal dive into the pool below that sang songs to them with basement witchery.

A cluster of moths flicked their wings against the bulb that hung like a corpse from the lid of the place, its glass bruised and choked into giving a green light that cast the room in seasickness. Every gnarl of dirt – and was that blood? – given its time, its torture-den glow. The only thing left unfouled was the roll holder, a bowed metal head that made him of think of H.R. Giger as it shone with menace, curling its dry paper intestines and keeping them tight and guarded like a baby in the womb.

He had barely summoned the courage to touch the lid when it clanged down, sending him jumping back. The lid was not as filthy as the rim, but still shit-lined and worn patches of what could be rust, could be faeces, could be dried blood. He reached to the metal holder and snatched a sheet of paper before its jaws could clamp shut on his fingers. It cleaned nothing; all marks long made and resistant to his touch, and he shivered as his fingers felt the bumps in the porcelain scars.

The toilet regarded him as every toilet regarded every human: with cold silence. They endured, they waited. He knew their patience, stretched thin and twisted. They spoke to each other, you see, sometimes whispering along the pipes but only when they meant to scare him, for they had a hive mind, and they always knew. He heard them, not through his ears but in his head, or rather he heard the things left unsaid, the silent things.

 

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The School of Necromancy #2

Good eve to you.

As a further taster, here is the second little part to the short gothic story The School of Necromancy. It seems to be a mite more popular than my other stuff, so thought I’d give it another push. This part is more of a brief background/explanation of the school and its subjects.

You can find it for Kindle here (or, as usual, on your local Amazon, if you are not American).

 

The School of Necromancy

 

The S.O.N. functions as a school and university both. It teaches students aged, with exceptions of mature students and gifted young prodigies, fifteen to twenty-one or twenty-two; a degree, to those staying on past the age of eighteen, being either a three year or four year course.

The subjects we teach are many, but you will, perhaps, sense a common theme. The first couple of years are chiefly theoretical, apart from groundswork, which is, when you rub away the bullshit, gravedigging. Like most schools and universities, nobody takes first years seriously, no matter how lofty their ambitions. You do the work, and you do it well, without complaining, and you just might rise in estimation.

Apart from groundswork, you will study necrochemistry and necrobiology (nec-chem and nec-bio for short), anatomy, mortuary science, embalming, dissection, cremation, history, gothic art, forensic pathology, elementary reanimation, elementary occultism, and so on. Fairly basic stuff, looking back, and some of us, myself included, felt pretty held back. But of course a lot of us had our wild ideas, and without a solid framework to base them on we may have failed later on.

For every year, including the degree years, you will study and take notes from the many-volumed Necronomicon. Not Abdul Alhazred’s book, of course, but the Necronomicon textbook, 7th edition. In its weighty pages contains just about everything, up to a professional level, to do with treating, understanding, raising, and controlling the dead.

If you choose to do a degree (and some of the less gifted or less ambitious students don’t, instead becoming our laboratory assistants or gravediggers), you have a range of subjects to undertake, including: History of the Dead (fusty), History of Necromancy (almost as fusty), Toxicology (poisons), Theoretical Homicide (not strictly theoretical), Demonology (a farce), Black Tarot (don’t get me started), Mortuary Surgery, Reanimation, Experimental Necroscience, Vampiric Studies, the ever-popular Necromancy, and Necromonology (my chosen degree, which involves the study of and establishing control over the dead, the latter being, in my opinion, an ingredient much missing from my peers’ experiments).

The School itself is like an underground castle, or rather network of dungeons, seeing as it is without a top. All work is engaged in underground, with many layers of soil and stone pressing down upon us. Many first years, and some second years, experience what we refer to as ‘the underlows’, as in ‘he can’t come to class, he’s got a bad case of the underlows’. Eventually almost everyone gets used to it, and you get enough night-time fieldwork (mainly in cemeteries) to give you some fresh air. I never had much problem myself – some of the halls are so huge that you may as well be outside, and I never did miss the sunlight.

Allowing for our various racial skin colour differences, we are by and large a pasty bunch, as you might expect. We get what we need from various tonics and pills, but as the food we acquire (don’t ask – you’d be surprised how many associates and graduates of our school are among you) is so excellent, and our scholarly and personal pursuits are so involving (some would say obsessive, and they’d be right), we don’t want for much, beyond what we need for our work.

Roam the stone corridors and halls, the tunnels and staircases, the laboratories and cellars and libraries, the crypts, morgues, test chambers, operating theatres and black chapels, and you will cross many paths with the School’s prowling cats. There are three of them, or three named ones at least, each as dark as the night. The fat, sluggish one with the unfortunate limp, squashed face and mismatched eyes is affectionately named Igor (and I will happily poison any student who picks on him). Then there are the siblings, Minas and Morgul. Minas is the female, quick and sleek; she sees all, hears all, and every intrepid risk-taking student (the majority of them) who wants to last the course should learn who she’s loyal to.

Morgul is the male, and he is really quite huge, more like a panther than a cat, and if you try to kick him you are likely to end up on a dissecting table within the hour.

The students themselves are a mixed bunch. Most of them have black hair, but not as many as used to. In my day it was various shades of black, grey, silver or white, or perhaps, in the case of eccentrics, a very dark brown. These days you’ll often see a student with purple, red, green, blue hair and so on, or only streaks of these colours. Some are undyed, and come as blondes and brunettes. I’m not wholly prejudiced, so don’t treat them too differently, but I will say if you rock up to a forensic pathology class with bright pink hair, don’t be surprised if old Master Scrimpot directs all his most difficult questions to you.

We wear a lot of black, true, but there are also a lot of white lab coats worn out of class (some bloodstained), and brown tweed isn’t out of the question among some of the more mature students and masters. There are coats and cloaks, robes, three piece suits, shirts and jackets, skirts and dresses, corsets and bodices, lace and leather, soft velvet and jangling chains, and even some bare chests here and there, particularly among groundworkers. Styles are all over the place, though usually on the more gothic, formal, or macabre (if you’re trying to be edgy) end of the spectrum. Victorian and Edwardian fashions clash with new pagan which clash with shinobi which clash with new romantic which clash with seventies librarian which clash with thirties suits. And some of us just look like your average Joe/plain Jane. Those are often the ones to watch.

We are generally old-fashioned and semi-traditional, so some of the more radical newer styles are frowned on, and while the dress code is very relaxed, it is there. Cybergoggles will be taken off you in class. All in all though, we all look the same in a lab coat and gloves, up to our elbows in body parts.

 

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The Watcher

Here is a complete short story, which will feature in the upcoming compilation Faces in the Dark: A Short Compilation of Paranoid Horror.

It is also available as a standalone for Kindle.

I wrote this quite a long time ago now. It’s inspired entirely by not being able to sleep. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The Watcher

 

The air is black, and I do not sleep. The hours tick by. I do not sleep because someone is watching me. The hours toll by and my eyes are open.

In the dark, clouding my vision, I sense his presence. Like a reflection in a mirror he just watches me, hovering, or crouched, at times only inches from my face. He waits for me to look at him, but I never do, and so I never sleep. I fear him in the night, but in the light, when I am brave enough to look, he is never there. He is gone.

I know my surroundings out of the day, but through my imagination they have changed in the night. There are the walls, cracked and bleeding plaster, and the floor, rough, thick and scarred. The pictures around my room leer down at me, faces twisted like demented effigies. The room is no longer the semblance of order and right; it has spiralled down through waves of unease into a macabre cage, a prison of the dark.

My imagination runs further, deep into aberrant horror, and I see above me large black spiders crawling over the ceiling, the size of children’s hands. Their legs are permanently crouched and bent, as if ready to spring down onto me. They are shadows and nothing. They are the focal point of my hallucinations. He can control them, make them spring, with a word, but for now he says nothing.

I never look at him, I never know his name, but I always feel it is on the tip of my tongue. He makes no sound, but I can imagine it, should he ever open his mouth, as an ethereal moan, or a throaty racking groan. They would be at turns sadistic and pathetic. I pity him. He is a ghost. There is no corporeal body; he never truly belongs to this world.

The air is black, and still do I not sleep. There is no promise of a dawn; perhaps it may never come. Perhaps I will remain stricken to this bed forever, my eyes always open, and someone always watching me and my fear. I long for an end, for some burning light and sanity to sear me into reality.

I think I know what he looks like. He is clad in ragged cloth, which in the day would shine lurid white, but which in the night is merely images and shapes, fleeting and cowardly. His hair is dank and matted, strewn over his ragged face, and his eyes are worn and tired, the eyes of someone who never sleeps. Behind his eyes can be seen worry, and some semblance of neglect, and also evil, and anger, and hate. He is angry at me, for I never look at him, and for this he hates me; yet he must also love me, for he never leaves while the night still reigns. He knows nothing of the goodness of love.

The black air starts to scare me now, and I want him to go away. Terror is like a rolling wave washing over me and sending me shivers and cold clarity of the threatening silence that tries to engulf. I switch on the light by my bed, and the soft glow throws shadows around like paper. I dare a quick glance around my room to see if he is gone.

He is still here, but he is hiding in the shadows. I think he is close. I breathe in dryly and then I cannot resist as he climbs in my mouth and into my body, where he whispers to me, so quietly I cannot hear any words, just morbid intentions and whining pleas.

He cries out deep in the abscesses of my mind; he calls for rebellion and misanthropy, for anger and disgust, for guilt and the ending of all things that are good. I try to push him out but he has set up throne; he is reigning in demons and ghouls. He is everybody now. I have never known anything else.

Eventually he leaves, to wriggle into a gap under my bed, into the welcoming gloom. I can still feel him boring into me, puncturing my life. An hour creeps slowly and agonisingly past, and then another, with every second like a dead weight on my chest, until dawn finally seems to come, the thin sun slowly burning its way through my curtains. I crawl out of bed and open them, to flood the room with a dreary grey fire, to chase the shadows and the darkness away. Simple and natural illumination to destroy the phantasms of the night.

My room looks normal by day. The pictures are all blank on the clean walls. The floor is simple carpet. The ceiling is bare. There is nothing frightening anymore. There is nothing to fear anymore. He is gone.

I hear, or think I hear, a knock on my door, as the birds chirp their dawn chorus. I open it but there is no-one there. I look around the corridor but it is empty and barren.

Perturbed, I step away from the door, which quietly closes before me. I shrink back further into my room, feeling a slight chill, and a small sense of unease creeping up my back. Too many nights without sleep, I think.

There is another knock. I open the door again.

He is there, in the day. He has taken control now. It has taken time, but he has broken me. He is there, in the day, clad in white rags, with his arm outstretched. Maybe he has come to shake my hand. Maybe he has come to kill me.

 

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The School of Necromancy now available!

The gothic science/gothic horror short story inspired by Harry Potter as much as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and H.P. Lovecraft is now available on Amazon!

Better yet, assuming you read this post fast enough, it’s FREE for the rest of today (4/12/14) and tomorrow. Not to fear if you miss it, as it’s mere pennies/cents afterwards.

Deep below the city of York, below the sewers, below the catacombs, lies the School. It is here, if you are privileged to be selected, that you can study the art of raising the dead. Reanimation, demonology, experimental necroscience, theoretical homicide… It’s all there for the learning, in a vast underground complex of stone corridors and halls, tunnels and staircases, laboratories and cellars and libraries, crypts, morgues, test chambers, operating theatres and black chapels…
It’s all there, that is, if you can keep your head…

 

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The Violet Dark #4

Here is the fourth little part of the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. You can buy the full novella for mere pennies/cents/whatever on Amazon.

 

More violet, and on they went. Past houses, yards, fields and bushes, past monsters and effigies and voodoo tombs.

All that she had missed. All that had never come. Already she owed violet, owed her escape.

And you owe him.

The land blew past in dreams, just part of the wind.

 

The shades of the violet-cast day grew stronger and deeper as the sun grew tired. They drank water from a stream and the coldness ran through like a frozen orgasm.

The road was silent and solitary but for their bikes and the background roar of the world. They saw nobody, taking the small roads. Sometimes she thought she saw huge shadows chasing each other in the distance, on other roads. When the violet was strong all old detail was gone, replaced by a new kind of detail of what the mind believed.

She thought of the stories she used to write when she was younger, before she gave up. This wasn’t like that, but it felt now like she was writing new stories constantly, her mind scribbling away, telling her what this was and what that was. Rocks made of felt and drifting fields of haunted corn, and a sky painted blue by the same aliens behind the pyramids, behind Stonehenge, behind her birth. That shape a pygmy bear-child, the last of its kind. That shape a living statue down on all knees, grieving for its lost parent.

That shape before her the man who had taken her.

 

Nightmares come and

Nightmares go

Beauty sees

What nightmares show

A nursery rhyme of her own devising. She felt rather proud of herself. That is, until it repeated over and over through her head, not letting go. You came up with me? It seemed to be whining, snarling. And now you want rid of me? You are my creator. You are my stupid repetitive creator. There is nothing in you, it is all in the outside world. I owe my worthless existence to you. I am your Frankenstein and you will feel me. Ride on, bitch.

She rode on, and eventually the rhyme repeated itself less and less often. Each time it did it was angry and loud, overcompensating for its weakness. Breaking through the oceans of formless thought to attack, and then cast adrift, screaming as the mere flotsam it was got swept over the waterfall.

Nightmares come but

You are dumb

You are dumb

To take his cum

 

He looked behind him at the sound of laughter. She was trailing behind, giggling to herself as her bike weaved erratically. Never again would he see her so beautiful, so perfect. She was his missing lung, his missing bladder, his missing stomach. He wanted to breathe her, piss her and eat her.

My angel of darkness.

Her body was his tomb. He would choose to lie and let the worms gnaw him forever, as long as he rotted inside her.

My angel of death.

One day long past, he would have come off violet to see if he felt the same. But such a thing was useless. Even if he hated her sober, even if she was ugly and cruel – though he knew she was neither – as long as he was in love with the violet her, that was enough.

And how does she see me? Which me does she see? I am all forms. I can be ugly and cruel. A day comes I am a saint. A day comes I am a devil. A day comes I am a troglodyte, better served in caves than under another’s gaze. A day comes I would rape myself, such potent narcissism.

 

Life

 

Into the black

 

She looked at him, at this heavy-coated figure rocking slowly by the light of the fire. ‘Where are you from? I know nothing about you. Tell me about yourself.’

He looked at her. ‘The violet is wearing down.’

‘How do you know? It is.’

‘You would not be asking such a question otherwise. The violet distracts. Here, have some more.’ He made to fetch the hipflask but she held up a hand.

‘Later, maybe. I need this clarity.’

He shrugged. ‘I don’t see why.’

‘Where are you from?’ she asked again.

He looked into the fire. ‘Somewhere south, somewhere north. A way to the east, a little to the west. I don’t know. I’m from nowhere and everywhere. I’ve forgotten my home. If ever I had one.’

‘Do you always answer in riddles?’

He grinned. ‘Maybe.’

‘What happened to you?’

‘Life. Life happened.’

‘What about life?’

‘All of it. Everything.’ He shook his head. ‘I gave up explaining a long time ago.’

‘Try me.’

He sighed, and took a small sip from the hipflask. ‘Fine. I never enjoyed it. Life. At least, not that I have any memory of. I wandered, in ceaseless revolutions of depression, apathy and disillusion. Bitterly bewildered by the state of existence. Never knowing, never understanding, and never, ever content. Finding enjoyment in next to nothing, nothing that would last. That was on a good day. I told myself that I always bounced back, over and over and over. After every blackness came the dawn . . . The nights were the worst. Not like now. With violet the night is my friend. But back then . . . I told myself as long as I had oxygen in my lungs I would always surface from the depths.’

‘And then one day you stopped?’

‘No. I had never bounced back. I had never surfaced. I rose in little bits, but I sank deeper with every night. I just didn’t see it for what it was.’

‘Depression.’

He laughed mirthlessly. ‘I thought that was all it was too, for a spell. No. Eventually I realised that in my times of blackness I had the truth of it. The fault was not with me, but with the world. Those around me wanted me to change. I did not understand that. It is too easy to tell a person to change. Hard to tell the world to change. But the blame must be laid at the right feet.’

She shifted uncomfortably. She did not want to question this, seeing that this man before her was a different beast entirely and she knew him not.

‘I eventually left the company of others. I felt sick and weary. I tried violet for the first time, and from that there was no turning back. The world was beautiful for the first time, either since childhood, or since forever.’

‘Populated by nightmares.’

‘Perhaps. But the kind of nightmares I can handle. Not the nightmare of a sober world and its expectations.’

She saw the sprites of the fire reflecting the sadness in his eyes, and she moved close to him. He looked at her and his grin was wide and bare.

‘Why don’t -’

‘No advice,’ he interrupted her. ‘I’ve heard it all.’

She said nothing for a minute, then quietly said ‘How do you get money?’

‘I find it.’

She looked into the demons dancing in the fire.

‘I don’t need much.’

‘Mmhmm.’

He picked up the flask and offered it to her. ‘Here, have some more.’

‘I’m okay for now.’

He shook it at her. ‘Go on.’

‘Why?’

He looked a little taken aback, as if such a question was indecipherable to him. Then he waggled it again. ‘You have lived your whole life up to this point seeing the world a certain way. You have done this once. The second time you will feel more in control.’

‘Is that so.’

‘You know you want to.’ He pushed it into her unresisting hand. His thumb touched hers. He looked at her with fierce, indigo eyes, and she felt the strength in the fire and the strength in his weakness. She drank a mouthful and he beamed at her.

‘What happens when this runs out?’

‘There’s a good deal more in my pack. If that goes, then we sober up a little and hook ourselves up with some more. It’s easy.’

‘And buy it with?’

‘I have money. And I told you, I can find more. It’s always lying around someplace.’

She nodded slowly, feeling the violet come on again. The fire reddened. Waving thumbprints and casting its thousand burning angels.

 

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The School of Necromancy opening extract

Hello!

I’ve been busy of late, writing various short stories, some of which you can find by visiting my Amazon author page.

I’ll put up excerpts from these (or the entire story, if short enough) on this site in due course, as some are being entered into writing competitions or being submitted for magazines.

Here is the first draft beginning to a story I am currently writing, that is turning out to be the longest short story yet. It’s called The School of Necromancy, and it is about just that . . . think Harry Potter meets Frankenstein . . . and a lot of morbidity, black humour, and a science/classic sci-fi-horror theme over a straightforward magical one. Lighthearted gothic, and with a perhaps Lovecraftian bent to the approach, what with it being a personal account. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The School of Necromancy

 

I’m here to explain some things to you. A lot of questions have been asked, and a lot of people seem to be pretty concerned, so I have taken it upon myself, when no-one else will, to describe to you the events that led to the six dead bodies found about York last week, which has got the constabulary so vexed. There were, in fact, eight bodies. One was homeless, and the homeless are often forgotten. The other was one of us, and we hold onto our own.

The rules have never said ‘Don’t talk about the School’. They in fact say, ‘We recommend, in your best interests, not to talk about the School, for nobody will take you seriously, and if they do, you are likely to meet an untimely demise.’ And so, given that I am confident in my abilities to resist the poorly-concocted assassination attempts of my fellows, and even more confident that nobody who reads this will take me seriously (or, if someone does, that nobody will take them seriously), I feel like I have nothing to lose by writing this, and I have my own dry amusement to gain, like a serial killer might feel smug upon announcing his morbid deeds to somebody who takes the whole thing as a joke. Doubtless some of my fellows will disagree with me, but they always were a bit fusty and overly serious.

I should point out now that I was not the killer. Just to get that out of your heads. In fact, I wasn’t even there, and the story I have to tell is not my own. But I make it my business to know things that happen here, deep under your feet, and I always enjoy interrogating the other students.

My name is Raiden Black, and this is not my story.

As an addendum, before I continue, I want to say that of course it’s not my real name. We are all given new names when we enter the School. Many years ago pretty much half of all the first years would choose ‘Black’ as their surname, and there was a great deal of names like ‘Night’ and ‘Death’ and it all got a bit tedious. Nowadays the masters choose your name for you, and you get three vetoes before you have to suck it up and accept it. I took receiving the now quite elite surname ‘Black’ as a vote of confidence in me, and have endeavoured to remain deserving of it ever since.

Anyway.

 

Find a sewer grate or manhole somewhere in York, somewhere in the centre preferably. You will, of course, have to do this at night, unless you are exceptionally quick and daring, or you have found a perfectly hidden spot. Different cliques of students have their own entrances, and if you find yourself sharing yours with a member of The Brotherhood, you have my sympathies.

Head down into the sewers, and head east. Follow the rats. They always seem to congregate around the School, and we never did quite know why they are drawn here so, but we don’t complain, not when there are so many post-mortem opportunities at hand.

Eventually you won’t need the rats at all, and you can follow your nose. Take the turns where the air is stalest, closest . . . You feel that certain something in the air? You don’t know what it is, but you feel it, just like the rats. Seek out the source, for that is us.

Assuming you have a good sense of direction, and have not become irretrievably lost, nor have you been bitten by a rat carrying one of the new experimental strains of plague we have developed, then you should, eventually, come to a door.

It is of heavy wood, and looks ancient, and no amount of battering force will break it open. Here you must knock a certain number of times, to a certain rhythm. And that is one thing I will not tell you.

You can however, assuming you finished reading this before you set out, go to the gloomiest pubs in York and, on suitable dark, grim nights, find a sallow youth all in black drinking by himself, looking terribly preoccupied with something, and perhaps a trifle jittery. He will have bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and excess of obsession.

He will at first want nothing to do with you, and will be sullen and uncooperative, but ply him with drinks. At the opportune moment, ask him about the secret knock, and he may tell you.

He will of course be lying. That’s one thing we are very good at.

Let’s assume, though, that you now know the secret knock, by fair means or foul, and have rapped sharply on the door in this very particular rhythm. The door opens, slowly, with the groan of a thousand years. There is nobody behind it. You may think it black magic, and I wouldn’t dare ruin it for you.

You’re not at the School yet. Down a spiral staircase of stone steps you go, and as it levels out you find yourself in a series of twisting, crossing corridors. These are the catacombs of York. Our catacombs.

Set into the walls, lit by burning torches, are all manner of artefacts. You may be surprised to see Egyptian sarcophagi and urns, so far away from their origins, along with Greek burial shrouds, and the beaks of plague doctors from the time of the Black Death.

You will see small cairns, caskets, tools of morticians and torturers, stones and pieces of hard wood with strange carvings, pagan statues, death masks, old coins to lay on eyes, cotton to wrap and minerals to sprinkle on the departed. What you will not see, however, no matter what you will most fearfully open, are bodies, not even skeletons. We have claimed them all, for we do not allow waste.

Navigate the catacombs (a clue: follow the eyes), and you will find another staircase, which will lead to one final door, requiring a key to unlock. You don’t have such a key, you say? That is a shame.

Beyond this door lies the School of Necromancy.

There is also a perfectly serviceable lift that cuts out all this, but let’s keep things traditional.

 

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The Violet Dark now available on Amazon!

It’s my pleasure to announce that the short novella and hallucinogenic road horror The Violet Dark is now available on Amazon!

The direct link to the US Amazon page (as now appearing on the sidebar of this  blog) is here.

The direct link to the UK Amazon page is here.

Keep an eye out, because starting from tomorrow (20/11/14) the book will be completely free to download for five days!

 

Blurb

When you leave the paths of light, you fall and you fall forever.

A man finds a woman crouched over the body of her murdered father. The man is hallucinating on a liquid drug called violet, and offers it as a promise of escape. The woman, numb with shock and grief, takes it and soon finds herself in a ‘beautiful nightmare’, the shadowy world of the violet dark. They ride the endless roads on motorbikes, lost in the drug and almost lost to reality…
Terrible, grotesque things are hunting them. If only she could convince herself that the danger was all in her head…

– The Violet Dark is a short novella by the author of the twisted dystopian thriller Moral Zero. You don’t want to miss this hallucinogenic road horror. A toxic love song to darkness itself, this book is guaranteed to make you see things that aren’t there – or perhaps they are…

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Dead Streets

Here is a short story, which will feature in the upcoming compilation Faces in the Dark: A Short Compilation of Paranoid Horror.

This story is more of the sad and haunted kind of darkness rather than the grotesque kind of horror. I hope you like it!

 

Dead Streets

 

It was between Hallowe’en and the advent of Christmas, that half-haunted and melancholic time of year when spirits and ghasts one by one went to their slumber in the hidden places. I had spent the night drinking and smoking with a friend, and now in the small hours I set off on the pale roads to home.

From the first steps, as the chill night closed its web around me, I knew this was no ordinary walk. I was there for a snapshot of rare world, a world in undress that was intended for no human eyes. The ground crunched under my feet as I turned out of the estate and onto a main road.

Cars lined the street in an endless procession of tombstones. Each appearing to me some frozen sentinel cold and implacable. The roads and the land betrayed no movement. Each grave of a car standing as testimony to the desertion or extinction of the human race. I would say that never before had I felt so alone, and yet this was not true, for I was shepherded by the world, and roused those spirits not yet asleep, or woken by my heavy footfall. Unseen eyes opened in slits to see my passing.

There was an almost unbearable, and yet beautiful, sadness throughout. Here was the world stripped bare, skeletal in form, and I privy to these emotions that were at all other times impossibly guarded. I could feel them leaking, the last few leaves on the branches dripping like tears, the railings shivering in quiet failure, desperate to cease their never-ending point to the heavens, waiting to leave my sight so they could collapse.in solitude.

My own tears sprang to my eyes as I beheld all that had been hidden, and at such longstanding pains. I ran a gloved hand over the window of one of the dead cars, preparing myself for something terrible within; a rotting ghoul perhaps, or a bristling werewolf. As the ice swept away I only saw a hollow, an emptiness like deep space that echoed that within my chest, and I sank away and continued on.

I did not really want to see such horrible phantasms, to fright myself to death on this eerie walk. But, somehow, the nothingness was always worse.

I crossed a bridge and looked out on the black glass of the canal. Willow trees hung over the banks, their ends wilfully drowning. I pictured huge crocodiles under that still surface, and then Lovecraftian monstrosities. At any moment their heads and tentacles could break the waters and rear up to me, gnashing and flailing . . . but the moment passed, and all other moments, and the water remained as it was, all such secrets kept too deep for mortal knowledge.

The bridge and canal was lost to the turns of my route. Houses passed on the side, every one lightless, each street a cemetery. Humanity’s gaze had ceased to rest on this town, perhaps everywhere, and there were not even other animals to make sound or sight. If there was life anywhere it was only in the drift of ghosts and their haunts, coming to rest now that humanity and its noisy wildlife had been finally scared to death. I knew then, as my footsteps echoed in the silence and my breath fogged out like bonedust, what it would be like to be the last person alive.

It was while I was thinking thus that a figure came upon me, and we both kept our faces to the ground, saying not a word in greeting or parting. For nights as this belong to each of us alone, and it must be alone, for on such nights nobody is entirely human. The thoughts and moods in the air are not to be shared, except from the earth’s whisperings to our individual soul.

The figure left, and it was as though it had never appeared; and perhaps it never had, and I had imagined it as I imagine so much else.

I looked up as I walked. In the ghost-black, almost translucent sky was a pinhole moon, something stabbed through from beyond. I peered at it and through it I sensed a bright hospital room, crowded with doctors unnaturally long of limb and face, who called out to me for my birth.

Push through, they said. Come on through.

I will, I replied.

Come on.

Soon.

I came upon the road leading up to my flat, passing the glow of traffic lights that changed for no-one. On the path was a telephone box, and I wondered how many years had come and gone without its use. It emanated a wispy, amber light, that gathered as if in currents, and I wanted to believe that it was a hostel for travelling spirits, readying for the next fly-through in the cold, and yet as I passed it seemed occult with melancholy, and I almost heard the plaintive calls that were sirens to my heart.

On the last stretch to my home I felt the rising and familiar urge to stop dead. I knew if I did so I would not move again. But no matter the strength of the feeling, my body would keep on even while my mind rebelled, for my body was as much on autopilot as it has been since my beginning. I would take the same route, the same steps, think the same thoughts in the same order and say the same words to every person I met no matter if I’d turned back time a hundred times.

If I stopped then the sun would rise on my statue. People would try to talk to me, and there would be no answer. The police would try to move me, and they would fail. Days, weeks, and eventually years would crawl by, and people would become long used to this immovable form, as though I were a lamppost or a park bench. Kids would throw things, and drunk men would piss on my feet.

A little girl, on a day trip, would tug at her mother’s sleeve and whisper, curious and biting her lip. ‘Why is he standing there?’

The mother would look up and say, as the residents bustling around them smiled and shook their heads, ‘Why don’t you ask him?’

The little girl would hesitantly come up to me, and ask me the same question.

‘I don’t know,’ I’d reply, out of the corner of my mouth, so nobody else could see, and so quietly only the girl could hear. ‘Why don’t you join me?’

The girl looked confused. ‘There must be some reason.’

‘I think, perhaps, if I stay completely still, then maybe things won’t carry on without me. Or at least as far as I’m concerned. I can put a stop to it by putting a stop to myself. Don’t you want to join me? If you stop too, then maybe other people will stop, and one day everyone can be completely still, and nothing bad or difficult or tiresome will ever happen again.’

The child would bite her lip again and then shake her head, and her mother would call her back and they’d both walk away. And neither of them would stop for me, just like all the other times. And in the end I would always be the only one.

 

I let myself in the front door and climbed the stairs to the flat. I entered the warmth and turned the lights on. I took off my gloves and scarf and coat and unlaced my boots. I poured myself a drink and sipped it, and in the lounge I closed the curtains, dissolving the night into a mere fancy of the imagination. Something that could never be truly explained to anyone, never accurately described, for it was a night that may have happened and may not have happened, but whether it did or it didn’t it happened to me, and I cherished it’s rarity, now gone.

This was not a story about zombies and vampires, about things going bump in the night, about unbridled terror and nightmares realised. This was a story about the things that don’t happen, the nothingness out there, and that hollow emptiness in the car’s window. My nightmare is not monstrous or disfigured, it does not have tentacles or fangs or the form of a beast, it does not drip goo or blood and it does not shuffle and it does not snarl.

I drank my drink and I looked at my television and my computer, at my large collection of DVDs and books and videogames, and at the pictures on my walls, and I sat down, my thoughts once again returning to suicide.

But for one more night like this.

 

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The Violet Dark #3

Firstly, apologies for the website being down for so long. Blame my behind the scenes fiddling.

Anyhow, here is the third part to the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. Again, first draft, work in progress! The second part has also been updated. My aim is for you to follow me along my own road; that of crafting a new novel from scratch. If you find any mistakes I have missed please don’t hesitate to point them out.

 

The rain stopped first. The clouds hung around, waiting for something that didn’t come. One by one they slunk off, freeing the sky, the lightning and thunder gone to their beds in other lands. The orchestra over. Time, gentlemen.

She got up, so sodden and heavy and filthy with the mud that the rain had not washed away. Not a mermaid or a fish, just a fat, slow woman, creaking the ground with her ponderous weight.

She followed him back to the bikes. She didn’t know how he remembered their location so well, but then again every tree was different, as was every bush and every blade of grass. After a time she noticed that the trees were pointing the way, and ushering them along. Their impatience was evident when a branch whipped her backside, and they hurried their pace, leaving a leaking trail as they went.

Perhaps it was the time dilation, but it seemed to take a lot longer to find the bikes than she’d have thought. How far had I run? The walk got easier as it went on, as the water fell from their clothes and hair, and after another sip of violet her body lightened even more. The air blew fresh and clear around the amaranthine trees, curling and singing sweetly as it sought them out and kissed them dry.

They sensed the silence of the road before they came upon it, and their bikes lay there like sleeping metal tyrants.

He walked past them to the road, and laid himself down.

‘Are we not riding?’

‘Not yet,’ he said.

She lay next to him and blew invisible smoke rings into the firmament.

 

The Moon

 

Watching as you sleep

 

She looked up into the sky, that lonely chasm. Each star a little slice of heaven, some sharp, needle holes poking through the blanket to something better, to the paradise of whiteness beyond.

And the moon. Fat and bulging, it dominated the sky, a bulbous eye watching, ever watching. It grew whenever she looked away, whenever she blinked, whenever her gaze unfocused.

Not grew – came closer. Everything did it – the trees, the rocks – creeping closer behind your vision.

It reminded her of a TV programme she had seen as a child. There was a bunch of standing stones near a house, and they kept coming closer, and closer, but you never saw them move, not an inch. Eventually they were right outside the windows, right outside the front door. You turned your back and they were right there.

The show had terrified her. The terror of the inanimate, the unknown mysteries – worse than undead, never meant to be alive, never seen to be alive, and yet –

It was like spiders, one of her fears. The horror, the real horror wasn’t in the movement, but in the non-movement, the waiting for movement, the dreadful anticipation, wound up like high tensile wire. The lock of the legs. They crouched, and did nothing. When they moved, as quick and horrible as it was, it was never as bad as how it had been in your mind. Horror always truly lay with what you didn’t see, with what you made up, with the imagination giving graveyard life to the shadowed objects around you.

The moon seemed to fill the sky now. It was no mere eye of the night but a pale Sauron, a single staring eye for the cyclopean Anti-God. The eye of Death’s negative.

The black pits on its face seemed to wink at her, and it grinned.

‘The moon scares me,’ she said, and it did not sound ridiculous at that moment but rather the words consolidated her fear.

‘I know,’ he replied. ‘It’s always watching. It watches everything. It wants you to be scared of it.’

 

He gave her his blanket and she wrapped herself in it, while he lay out on the grass in nothing. Sleep came on her like a coma. She moved through the bellies of demons and angels with diamond eyes fucked her softly.

 

He watched her for a long time before closing his eyes.

 

The Wayside

 

Stepping through mouldy sunshine

 

She tried to blink away the sun, but it would not go. Her head swam and when she tried to sit up everything was too sharp, too bright and painful. Everything newly angled, even the grass was carved with a knife.

He was at her side stroking her hair and she wondered how long he had been there.

‘I’m thirsty,’ she said.

He had the flask already in his hand, ready to touch her lips.

‘Do you have water?’

‘This will keep you hydrated.’

‘Hair of the dog, huh.’ She took a tiny sip of the drink. Anything to make the land soften.

‘You’ll need a bit more than that.’

She rolled her eyes, but that made her skull ache. ‘Get me a proper drink first.’

‘This is a proper drink.’

‘I want a fucking coke.’

He stood up and looked down at her, then walked off to find their bikes. A few minutes later they had steered them back onto the road and were on their way.

She’s forgotten what the day had looked like. There was something pale and harsh and sad about it. She kept her eyes half-closed. The violet had taken a small effect, had taken the edges out of the world. She could feel them pushing to come back though. An artist’s hand waiting to re-sketch, to draw every line harder with thicker, meaner pencils.

She watched him from behind, watched his hair run with the wind. When she drew up closer she sometimes saw his eyes closed as he drove, and then as if he could feel her eyes he opened them slowly and smiled at her.

Who was this man? Why had she shacked up with him? Was he dangerous?

She thought of the farm and the big house, now empty and loveless. She thought of the thing in the mirror and she suddenly realised she had not taken her father’s body out of the road.

The thought was so awful that she drew a sword against it and cut it out of her mind.

Some tombs are best left undisturbed. Sometimes suns die and yet they never leave the sky. Just don’t look at it. Don’t let it hurt you.

 

They stopped off at a big store by the wayside. Both somewhat sobered; he was taking another as she pushed open the screen door.

‘It doesn’t belong here,’ he was saying. ‘It doesn’t fit. Where’s it gonna go? No place at all.’

There was only a couple of people in the store but they peered at her strangely and she felt uncomfortable. Well fuck you too. She wandered the aisles, feeling as out of place in this man-made artifice as the store itself was in the country around it. The man at the till coughed loudly and it echoed down the aisles. She concentrated on what she needed. All these names, brands, bullshit. She remembered when she would come to a place like this and how she had always wanted more than she could afford. Now little took her interest.

She bought a sleeping bag. She bought biscuits and bread. She bought vodka and coke.

They drank the coke, squinting in the muddy glaze of sunshine. They crouched under the jutting roof of the store. Less aggressive. A cool hand in service of the night. Helping the strangers who go all hours by the wayside.

‘I feel like I’m growing horns,’ he said.

‘What?’

He laughed at her with hard eyes. ‘We need to move on.’

            Leave life behind and follow him, came the unshakeable thought. It’s easy. Just follow. Follow until you are ready to lead.

‘Where are we going?’

‘There is no where. There is nowhere to go. We just go.’

‘Until?’

‘The dark will come soon. Then we go again.’

‘Forever?’

‘For as long as time takes us.’

 

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