Monday, January 29, 2007

Goreless Me

I have been asked a lot why I write such gruesome stories. Why must I always show the guts plopping out of a man who just got disemboweled by his insane mother? Why must I always splatter everything I write with gore? Is it a shock factor I'm looking for? Perhaps, but that's not all. Horror has to have blood, it's just the way it works in my mind. Granted, I show a bit more than is necessary, but not all my work is blood and guts and monsters. There are quite a few, actually, that contain no blood at all within their chilling pages. Like the very short story that follows. Which isn't a horror story at all but something I can't put my finger on. Is it genre less? I don't know, you be the judge. You decide for yourself just what I wrote here, and lets see what we come up with.

Heal Me
Afraid of losing her again, Dan reached out to grab her. She backed away from him, eyes sad and weary. She shook her head and Dan burst into tears. Christ, he loved her so much! He got out of bed and stumbled toward her as she backed away toward the open closet.
"Emily." He croaked and reached out for her again.
Emily dodged his groping hands and shook her head again. She would not speak and this in itself drove Dan to the point of rage. Although he couldn't be mad at her. What did she do anyway to deserve malice? Nothing. She was the innocent one here, not he. If he should be mad at someone it should be himself.
"Em, oh Em. I love you." He whispered.
A smile bloomed on her pale face just then and he couldn't help the warmth spreading through his body. She loved him as well. He knew she did, but once, just once he'd like to hear it spoken. He knew that was impossible, of course, but he could wish could he? Yes. Yes, he could wish for it. He could hope. But Emily remained silent, her smile fading.
Dan coughed, turned and took up the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels from the nightstand beside his bed. He spun back around, swaying on his feet. She was still there, looking at him with those large lovely eyes of her. He noted both pity and sorrow swimming in them, but ignored it. Dan wrapped his lips around the mouth of the bottle and upturned it. He chugged down a couple gulps and set the bottle back down on the nightstand.
"Em." He murmured and turned back to look at her.
She was frowning now.
"Em...I. Em I can't stop. I want to. But I can't." For being drunk his words flowed out of him without much slurring.
Emily's frown deepened.
"Em." Dan said and stepped closer to her. "Em, I need to help me. The kids, they see this. They see this and know their daddy's a drunk. Heal me, Em. Please."
He dropped to his knees before her, tears building in his eyes. She looked down at him and for a moment he couldn't tell what she might be thinking or feeling. After a moment, she shook her head. Then she turned to leave.
"No! No Em! Don't go! Don't leave me! Please.."
She turned then. A smile like a billion diamonds lengthened on her face and then her lips puckered as she blew him a kiss.
"No, no, no. Don't go."
But she was gone even before he finished. She simply walked out.
Dan awoke the next morning on the floor of his bedroom. His head thrummed and his stomach felt tired and weak. Had last night even happened? He didn't know, and was afraid to even think about it. He sat up and looked at the digital alarm clock on his night stand. 12:00 PM, it read. Holy Christ, he thought, I over slept! He'd have to call work. But first he needed to see if the kids had gotten up for school today. God he hoped so. Another lecture by their princable just might drive him Loony Tunes.
Then his eyes drift to the bottle of Jack Daniels beside the alarm clock. There they stay. He got up off the floor with a groan and picked the bottle up. He looked at the amber liquid sloshing around inside and grimaced. All of a sudden just the sight of it made him sick to his stomach.
Dan dumped the bottle down the kitchen sink after checking if the kids went to school or not, they did thank God. That done, he went to the refrigerator and took out the six pack of Old Milwaukee he kept in the bottom drawer. HE cracked each open and dumped them too down the drain.
"Back to hell with you." He said and actually laughed at that.
A while later he saton the edge of his bed looking down at a newspaper clipping. The headline read: Wife and Mother of Two Killed in Blizzard
Dan sighed.
"Thank you Em." He said. "You healed me even though you couldn't. I love you." In his other hand he held their wedding photo. He kissed her and began to weep.
The End

Friday, January 26, 2007

Kill Your Darlings!!

"You must kill your darlings."

I read that line somewhere, I think Hemingway wrote it once upon a time. I think it's a great line. Here we got a majority of your editing worries pretty much summed up. You must kill your darlings. For me, this is really hard to do since I can't really see which darlings I need to kill. We're talking about writing by the way, just in case you were flailing in the wind there for a second or two.

I guess you could say I'm too much in love with what I wrote down that I don't see anything wrong with the story except for the glaring spelling errors. Tunnel vision. I see only what I want to see and move on. Since I started my blog and thanks to friends like Stewart Sternberg and Chuck Zaglanis, Susan Miller and Christina Rundle (and of course everyone else out there who leave comments)my sight has been growing wider and wider. Sooner or later I'll see the whole picture, and wouldn't that be grand? Yes. It would be totally kickin!! Okay that was dumb. Moving on...

Proof readers come in real handy here. Chances are one of them are most likely going to find the errors you missed. But even with proof readers one must be wary of grammar and structure and making sure you've got the right word where it belongs.

So you've found something that really doesn't contribute to the story you're trying to write. A word, a sentence, even an entire paragraph, whatever, it's just not working. If it doesn't and you or your proof readers see it, then toss it. Rework it. Kill you darlings...and gain control of your writing.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I wrote this poem when I was a freshman in high school. I just found it today while I was digging through some stuff. Thought I'd post it here.


Somewhere passed the old oak tree
passed the thick fog
It hides…
But from what? You may ask and I answer with only a shrug.
As we gaze in to the distance of this foggy night
Nothing is certain…
No, nothing at all.
A bitter breeze blows from our right…
Ruffling our hair and sending our skin to lump with goose flesh.
It hides…It waits…
A low growl from behind
We turn…
But nothing is there
Sick laughter to our left…We turn…
But again…Nothing is there.
That bitter breeze lifts again and our hearts skip a beat.
This is the haunted place…
This is where dead things speak
This is in our head.
This is nothing…

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Everybody in the Pool

In Stephen King's latest novel, "Lisey's Story", he writes about a certain pool. In fact the entire story is pretty much centered around this pool. It's often mentioned as the Pool of Life, the cup of imagination...more importantly, The Word Pool. Perhaps you folks have heard of it, perhaps not. For me, it isn't a pool, but a deep swift river with its even deeper, more bountiful, lazy spots along its winding path. It is in these "lazy spots" where the big ones live. I fish there often, and sometimes work up enough courage to go swimming in one or two of those deeper lazy spots down river.
Pool or river, both come down to about the same, we all know where this place is.

"It's the pool where we all go down to drink, to swim, to catch a little fish from the edge of shore; also the pool where some hardy souls (Faulkner is only one example) go out in their flimsy wooden boats after the big ones. "

For a writer, words are eternal, and Stewart Sternberg has touched on this subject more than once I think. Words are a writer's way of expression. Some words are beautiful and stunning, some are most definitely grim and nasty. But words are words and to write, one must know what words work, and what don't. Even if you are not a fiction writer, the Pool, or river, is still very much active. Speeches, lectures, the folks who can do these the best have been wading and dunking themselves in the Pool for quite sometime. So, yes, the Pool is where we all go down to drink. And drink we must, if we want to speak and write our best. It is there, all one has to do is close their eyes, and look.

If you haven't read "Lisey's Story", I strongly recommend it. It's a beautiful novel, with plenty of horrific events that will leave you in shuddering awe. I loved the book. And I believe in the Pool. Do you?

Monday, January 15, 2007

On a Lighter Note

I write a lot about the dark and what crawls and lurches within it, but for this post I'm going to stray from that stuff for a moment to talk about something brighter. Indulge me will you?
We got our first real snow last night, and it's still snowing today, in Iowa. I called into work because of how bad it was out there. It's nothing, really compared to the winters I spent in Minnesota and Michigan, but it's bad enough. All you Minnesotans and Michiganites know what I'm talking about. Snow up to your hips and so forth. It can be a pain in the as for most adults who need to commute for work.
But for children, why...for children that much snow means play time. It means sledding, building snowmen/women, snow forts, snowball fights. It means they can finally get out the house and have some fun already. As kids should. My oldest daughter woke up this morning, she's three years old and almost smarter than me I think, cute as hell, looked out her window and cried:

"Daddy is snowing!" (We're working with her to pronounce words better, just in case you thought that was a typo. Is is for it more often than not.)

She got so excited she started putting on her boots and coat before she realized she still had her night gown pajamas on. We remedied that problem, got my youngest daughter up, ate some breakfast, and before you knew it we were all outside tromping and slipping around in the fresh, powdery snow. Too powdery to make a snowman or snowballs, but we had plenty of fun nonetheless. When they laugh and smile it always brightens up what ever moment we share together. Like their mother, they're beautiful. And I adore them all.
So we played in the snow, and for just that moment, I felt like I was seven years old again, having the time of my life as most children can accomplish without much urging at all at or around that age. And as I rolled around with them, pulled them in the sled and laughed, I couldn't help but wonder if they too will remember this? Maybe not so much my youngest, but what about the oldest? Will she remember what fun we had today? Will it be forever etched in her mind? Probably not...but she might. One day when she's all grown up with children of her own, perhaps one day she'll remember today. And maybe, just maybe, a soft smile will spread across her face at the memory. There will be plenty of fun days for us ahead, but today will always be one of my favorites.
Remember your own childhood...and see if one fine memory doesn't make you smile, at least a little.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is There a Hell?

There are some who say the only Hell that exists is the one we're living in. Life is Hell in other words. And although I presume some of these folks need to up the dosages on their medications, I think their partly right. As I think they are partly wrong. Life is more of a testing place, I think, than anything. Part Hell and part humanity. See, I believe there is a God Almighty, as I believe there is a Devil capering in the bowels of Hell. I favor God over the Devil though, despite what I write. And even though I practice no organized religion.
Life is a testing place for all of us. A kind of, let-me-see-if-your-worthy-to-be-in-my-Heaven, from God's point of view. So what we do, how we treat others and what are beliefs are, determine whether we go down screaming to the very pits of Hell or float to the wondrous Heaven above. Although I mean down and above metaphorically, of course. Obviously Heaven isn't above us literally, we would have found it by now. Perhaps both Heaven and Hell reside in different dimensions, I don't know. But all we need to do is believe to get there, I think.
So, I wonder, is there really a Hell? Is there really a Devil? I say yes, there is. It's what I believe, but what do you say? Do you think there's a Hell? A Devil? Do you think there will be an End of Days, as the Bible foresees? I guess what I'm asking here is, what do you believe to be true?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Head Rush

Head Rush

I sent her roses by the dozens and poems by the thousands. Yet still she doesn’t acknowledge my existence. I know she knows who I am. But I don’t think she realizes what a swell guy can be; that I can treat her better than any of the other more attractive men can; those filthy swine that are only after one thing. Well, tonight I’ll show her Max Quinton isn’t just some crazy man. I’ll show her what those men really want from her. Then maybe she’ll see why I am the best of them all.
Despite even my blasted dislocated eyeball.
It dangles there on its stalk now, the heavy wetness of my eyeball resting on my cheek. I hate it when it does this. And oh how it hurts when I’ve got to shove it back into its socket. I do so now, as I sit in my car across the street from her apartment. I do it in one quick gesture so it won’t hurt as bad. The eyeball goes in with an audible wet popping sound. I roll my eyes, adjusting it better in the socket and then I get out of the car. I’ve got a job to do tonight.
I look up and spot her current lover and her in the single window of her apartment. They appear to be dancing. Well, they won’t be for long. I climb the short thatch of stairs to the apartment building’s front doors. I enter.
Her apartment is on the second floor, third door on the right. Number 10C. I stop here, staring at the closed door and praying I don’t find them doing anything nasty when I come in. That just might drive me over the edge.
I take out the straight razor I bought at the old drug store south of town, from my jacket pocket. I open it. The blade gleams in the soft light of the corridor. I take a deep breath, turn to the door mark 10C and kick it open.
Rushing in and find them on the floor, her hair in disarray and his jeans unbuttoned. I scream and rush at them, swinging the straight razor in long quick slashes. The girl I love scrambles off the man, the sickening swine and runs to her bedroom and closes the door. The man, the swine, only has time to sit up before I slit his forehead in two. He screams in pain as blood flows out of the gash and into his eyes. The lower part of the gash flaps down to his eyebrows.
Oh, but what’s this? He’s getting up now. His screams are gone. Now I see rage in his bloody eyes. This doesn’t frighten me a bit. I sucker punch him with my free hand directly in the nose. Blood splatters everywhere. I giggle as he crumbles to the floor. Now I must show my love what a swine he really is.
I grab onto the collar of his shirt and drag him to the closed door. I can hear her sobbing. I knock on the door.
“Leave me alone! I called the cops on you! They’re-“
“Open the door my love.” I say. “This swine has something to tell you.”
Said swine is moaning and moving. She doesn’t open the door so I kick it in. She’s standing near her tiny closet, weeping like a lost child.
I set the swine on the bed and slap him to wake him up. He screams and I slap him again. He calms down enough for me to speak.
“Now,” I say. “Tell her why you’re here tonight.”
He glances at the woman and then back at me.
“I don’t-“ I slap him again.
“You do know. Why are you here tonight? What did you plan to do?”
“Nothing! I-“
This time I run the razor down his cheek. He shrieks and yells.
“To screw her! Just to screw her and leave!”
“That’s what I thought.” I say and turn to her.
“See? He only wants you for one thing.”
She looks at the man on the bed, then at me. Her crying has tapered off a little. I nod, turn to the swine and slit his throat.
That done I turn to her. She’s screaming now. But that’s okay. I saw in her eyes how diluted she really is. My love is a slut. She knew why the swine was here.
I advance toward her, straight razor lifting. I think I’ll cut off her face. My eyeball has popped out again, but I ignore it, for now.

The End
This was my take on Stewart Sternberg's assignment. And I might add I had a lot of fun with it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Pssst! Look Here...

Here we are, you and I, alone. Alone in the least that's what we hope. There is no telling what sort of mangled horror creeps and lurks within these shadows. Why, it could be right behind you now as we sit here. It could be grinning its silvery grin, raising one claw toward your neck. Or it could be in your closet and when you open the door to lay out next mornings' wardrobe, BLAH!, it pops out from behind your best suit or dress (or ugly Hawaiian shirt), all teeth and ragged claws. Why, it could be anywhere.
But listen, I assure you we are alone at this very moment. We are alone, and for now at least, let us palaver. Let us talk about fear. While the horrid beast has yet to find us here in the dark.
Now, now, there's nothing to be scared of here. Look around you. Empty darkness as far as the eye can see. Listen, you hear nothing but a slight rustling. So slight it's barely heard at all. But fear not that rustling, my friend, it's nothing but a few stray leaves that followed us here. Soon the sound will be gone, and the breeze here will die. So relax, move in closer...and let us speak of terrors, let us talk about what scares us, and what fear is exactly. Why are we afraid of what we're afraid of?

I see you're a bit shy, so I'll start, okay? Good. Okey-Dokey. When I think of fear, I think of humanity. Sure, dogs, cats, everything can feel fear, but it is us humans who are able to articulate that fear. We're the only things on this vast planet that can bring our fear into focus, if not a little fuzzy at times, and learn to deal with them. But let's face it. Some fears are just there to stay. Some fears, no matter how much will you think you have, still cling nastily on. Haunting us till our dying day. Mine will always be heights. To this day I still can't get up on the roof of a house to help shingle it, or clean out the gutters. The worst part for me is the ladder. If I had an elevator to the roof I'd be one happy long as said elevator is enclosed. And as for water parks? You know, the ones with all those giant water slides and tubes looping and twisting every which way like giant petrified serpents? No dice. There's no smucking way your getting me up there just to slide down a tube. Nope, not gonna do it. And I don't care how hot it is. I'm smucking scared of heights okay? Okay.
That is my biggest fear, heights. I can all to imagine a bolt coming loose as I ascend to the water slide, or the step I'm standing on, because the mother smucking lines are always so long, gives way under me and I plunge sixty or so feet straight into solid concrete. I blame my fear on an over active imagination. But I digress.
Now, tell me...what is your greatest fear?

Saturday, January 6, 2007


I've got an idea here. What if we were all to collaborate on a very short story, what would it turn out like, I wonder? Stewart Sternburg has his assignments, which are fun and enlightening. So I wonder what it would be like for all of us to collaborate and or variate for want of a better word, on this little story I came up with? I think it might be really neat to see what each person comes up with.
Okay. How this works is I provide a very small story, say no more than eight hundred words, and you can either write your own variation of the story, or you can add to mine, create an alternate ending. This is different, I know, but why not give it a try and see what comes of it? Post your variation on your blogs and let me know when your ready for me to stop by and take a gander. Here we go:

Chomper and Donkey
The dog emerged from the shadows, its muzzle wet and dripping with a dark liquid Donkey cared not to look at. Chomper had killed again, the mangy mutt. But Donkey knew if he said anything Chomper would definitely be angry. And what then? Would Chomper eat Donkey too? Donkey shuddered at the thought. Chomper could be a real prick when he wanted to be, Donkey had the bite marks to prove it. Not to mention his missing tail too. Chomper trotted over, grinning, blood spattering the sidewalk.
"Got'em, Donk. Good eats all aroun'." Said Chomper as he came to a stop before Donkey.
"Good fa you Chompa." Donkey said, hoping his smile was at least partially convincing.
It must have been because Chomper nodded and turned to look back at the small house he had just finished dinning in.
"Damn good eats, Donk. The man tried to trick me but I gotts him b'for he could so much as wiggle that steak at me. Dumb human."
"We betta get a move along, Chompa. Don' wanna be 'round when more humans show up." Donk said, his voice soft.
"Yeah." Chomper said and began padding down the sidewalk.
Donk followed behind Chomper, his heart trip-hammering in his furry chest. He should've never gotten hooked up with Chomper to begin with. Chomper was mean, evil almost. The mutt loved to kill people, something whick Donk didn't much like at all. Donk was a simple, usually kind hearted animal, if not a little odd looking. He knew he was ugly, but that didn't mean he was a bad a guy, did it? No. Of course it didn't. Donk just had no other friends anymore. Chomper was the only friend left, and Chomper had made damn sure of it too. Donk was a prisoner here. Chomper was the warden, and executioner. If Donk tried to leave, Chomper would kill him sure as shit out of a cows' bum.
So Donk kept his mouth shut, and followed his insane dog friend. He followed, knowing he was a prisoner, and nothing he could do, besides die, would release him from it. Chomper held him at bay with horror and terror. Tomorrow night they will come back to town. Tomorrow night Chomper will eat his meal of human flesh and so continued Donk's miserable life. How many were there in store, he wondered? Just how many could he take? The answer was simple: Not many at all.
The End

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Chronicles

HERE'S THE EXCLUSIVE GLIMPSE!!! This excerpt will be a story of perhaps novella length. These chronicles began frothing in my head Christmas night and so I decided to write them down. I'm trying my first ever outline on this one and it's turning out great. Please feel free to comment too. If you like you may email me, and if I trust you, for the rest of part 1. Here's an "exclusive" glimpse of what I'm talking about.


What realm is this? Beyond human grasps, a world upon worlds, stitched within the very fabrics of life? What blasted magic could conjure such and abomination of time and space? What creature so vile, so grotesque, could account for this realm, this other world, without a grimace or a bout of nausea?
Could there be a such a monster?
Answer: Yes. Yes, there is.
I am that creature. I am that monster. Although, I was human once, a long, long, time ago. I was so before even Christ was born on that fabled night. But humanity change for me when I discovered a different world other than my own. One that changed me forever and sent me to damnation.
I have no logical complaints, though. This is a life, if one wanted to call it that, I thrive on. It has taught me more than my human world ever had. And it is here where I write this, my dark world. Here is where I write my fall from humanity and my rise into the realm of darkness.
May name is Zim, short for Ziminious. This, my ill fated friends, is my story.

(1007 B.C.) Part 1:

The moon shown nothing of the horrors that slipped and slithered, scurried and lumbered, stalked and prowled the night. The silver glow thrown down could not reveal such, for those horrors even moonlight can not touch.
I stood there, staring up at this luminous coin in the bruised sky of night, my heart thrumming with anticipation. A terrified giddiness I could not control had swept over me and then ate me alive.
The stones at my filthy bare feet, those which vibrated and glittered in the light of the waxing moon. The stones the creature left on my door step without word or warning six days ago; the very same creature now standing before me, grinning its razor grin at me as I fought with a decision that would likely either save my soul or damn it in a single stroke.

"What say you Ziminious. Do you choose the stones, or your pretty family?" The abomination asked, its voice
cold, evil.

My eyes lowered to the hideous thing hunched before me. A wretched murderer of children and a bringer of death and disease. I had to choose.....

Most words here have been altered from the original version...but I think it worked out all right...thank you...