Macro-level horror in “Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” by Rhoads Brazos / Horror de nivel macro en “Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” de Rhoads Brazos

“Tread Upon the Brittle Shell” by Rhoads Brazos is a great little adventure story that flips the horror element from the usual micro-level tension to macro—super macro. After reading a couple of the other pieces in The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 7, edited by Ellen Datlow, I stumbled on to this one primarily because a quick scan told me it was set in the Outback and I looked forward to moving into a realm where I knew little about the rules and reference points for horror.

We meet a speleologist, Charlie, who’s disconcerted by strange surface terrains, though quite at home with exploring the depths of caverns. She meets a geophysicist who is exploring a here-to-fore unknown cavern Charlie discovered deep in the Outback after following the geophysicist’s directions. Continue reading

Illustrated version of “Sania and the Bee” now available!

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I am so pleased to announce that I have a new, illustrated version of “Sania and the Bee” on the Free Stories page (click the English link). This endeavor was part experiment for the writer turned publisher, and part labor of love to satisfy my conviction that more fiction should be illustrated, even if the work is aimed at adult audiences–although this allegorical tale is intended for pre-teens and older youth.

The story was inspired by real events reported at the beginning of the war in Syria. Sadly, the war is still going on, and things are not getting better. I cannot even begin to understand their suffering, but anyone who cares to pay attention can see that every day the Syrian people are fighting indiscriminate bombings, hunger, and violent extremism in addition to the mind-numbing grief of losing loved ones and seeing their country destroyed. It is no wonder that we see the millions of people on the move now. Continue reading

Crowdsourcing the beginning of a ghost story

Note: Below is a draft page from a ghost story I’m working on. I have resisted posting stories until I felt they were in final form, but I’m tired of second guessing myself on how to start this one, so I thought we’d try a little crowdsourcing. Help me out, Dear Readers. Let me know what you think. I don’t care if you take a macro or micro view of this. Let it rip. Would you read a story that started this way?

1930sgroup2Everything was off that morning, but I didn’t think much about it at the time. It was late summer—one of those evangelical days that starts as hard and hot as it ends, and every living creature just tries to stay out of its way. The cats acted skittish and hissed as I poured them some thin milk over the last of the cornbread. When I opened the coop to gather the eggs the hens were in such a frantic, squawking hurry to get out, I suspected a black snake but didn’t find anything.

On my way back to the house for my own breakfast, I saw the mares pressed up against the fence across the road. Better to feed them early, I thought, while the morning was still bearable. I took the gator to the barn across the road and put a half bale in the back.

While loading the hay and a scoop of corn for each worthless horse, I remember shaking my head at the effort such small chores required of me. There had been a day when I could have carried a full bale bucked up on my thigh from the house to the horse pasture and thought nothing of it. Not any more. Sweat was running down my legs into my rubber boots and hauling their half bale from the gator to the feed box seemed to ask more from my muscles than they were willing to give. Continue reading

“Blood Kin” by Steve Rasnic Tem channels old school American gothic / “Blood Kin” de Steve Rasnic Tem canaliza la novela gótica estadounidense tradicional

blood-kin-9781781081976_hrLooking for an old school American horror story? Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem, published by Solaris Books/Rebellion Publishing Ltd., may scratch that itch if you’re willing to return to greater Appalachia and the well trod world of inbred families, screaming preachers and the vagaries of nature. I don’t often pick up American gothic novels, not because I don’t appreciate them, but because I overdosed on them as a teenager, and I thought I was done with that type of story.

But maybe not. Continue reading