Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harbinger - excerpt from a story in my anthology

I was just notified I would be one of the authors of a new horror anthology. It will be called, "Rhonny Reaper Creature Feature Anthology", published by Zillion Publishing. The story is called, "The Conqueror Worm", an homage to Edgar Allen Poe, but also to HP Lovecraft. It's about two twelve year old boys who get to digging in the yard and find something, fascinating.

Proceeds go to Diabetes research. The last anthology I was in, was for cancer research and I've lost people to that, my little brother, my sister had breast cancer, which she is now free of. My father also died of cancer, I was told a particularly painful type; but as I hadn't seen him in seventeen years at that time, by his choice, I only know what I was told.

I have lost one very good friend to Diabetes. Rose. She was a real live spirit. I miss her and my other friends, and my brother. Rose refused to live according to the rules Diabetes proscribed for her. And so, first they had to remove one foot, then the other, and finally she lost it all. I tried to convince her to take better care of herself, but she said she would live life on her terms, or no terms at all. She died as she lived. You gotta respect that. Now, I don't even have a photo of her.

I heard from my other publisher this weekend. I was assured I'm next in line for my anthology of short horror stories to be reviewed and considered. I know they have been busy over at kNight Publishing and I look forward to things progressing.

So, I thought, just for fun, I would give you here, a sample, an excerpt from one of my stories. The sum of the parts of this particular anthology, the Gestalt if you will, is definitely more than their separate constituent parts. I designed it that way. Taken separately, the stories are all stand alone stories. But taken together, they are something quite much more altogether. Something, rather epic.

No. Really.

Anyway, here is a snippet out of one of the stories called, "Harbinger". The story begins as our protagonist is entering the elevator high up in a very nice hotel in Seattle. I based it upon the "W Hotel" actually. The guy has much on his mind on his long trip down to the lobby. The doors open and he has an experience, that will be in the book, then he enters the lobby area, we pick it up there....

My hat placed firmly on my head and tucking a flimsy leather brief under my arm for a certain look of respectability, I set out for that God forsaken, sodden weather that is Seattle. How it made me long for my American east coast.

As I was about to enter out into a dark and watered down city, I passed a woman in the lobby patting a child’s face with her rain soaked handkerchief. The child was whimpering, a sound I had not heard since a fatal hunting trip in the emerald Irish hills, which I had so recently endeavored so hard not to avoid.

Outside, a taxi horn blared its driver's panic as another vehicle, speeding to enter traffic, nearly sideswiped two limos and the mortally offended taxi driver. Through the Hotel's large wall of glass that served as the fore wall of the building, I could clearly see the guilty driver shakily wiping his now shiny forehead with a handkerchief.

Turning back to the woman and child, I quietly observed as the Hotel's twin pneumatic doors began to shut its warmth and dryness away from me. The woman, who had a rather striking figure and a carriage unknown to most women in the States, had quite instantly gotten the child to stop its appalling lamentations. This feat, nearly impossible for any woman no matter how talented or motherly she was, posed her no concern whatsoever.

She was fascinating. Her hair was blazing red in a most attractive and sensuous fashion.

Before the doors could completely shut the scene out from me, the woman quite suddenly, and much to my amazement and chagrin, snapped one of the pre-pubescent's already pink eyeballs with an elegantly painted ring finger’s nail. For one interminable instant, soft pink eyeball and delicate crimson fingernail became as one. The door sighed closed and a group of formally dressed people pressed by me desperately seeking entrance to the now secured edifice.

I looked down at a sodden lump beneath my left foot. The frigid rains continued pouring down in a steady, heavy evacuation of the northwestern skies. I picked the tiny gray, purple-spotted glove up from beneath my shoe.

Immediately, it occurred to me that this must belong to that pathetic and whimpering child. Although I wished to return the glove, no fastidious desire to confront that woman  urged me on. Nevertheless, I shunted my cowardice aside and re-entered the lobby, albeit, a bit apprehensively.

More people, this time exiting. I stepped aside from the lushly carpeted entrance, scanning the room for the pair. But they were now nowhere to be seen.

Shifting the glove from my right hand to my left, I searched for the stick of gum in my overcoat pocket, continuing to look for the child in that immense lobby. The thumb of my left hand continued to stroke the soft knit glove. I fumbled the gum into my mouth, rubbed my chin and dried my nose. The back of my hand crushed water from my moist eyebrows; residue from the rain steadily dripped off a three day old beard.

An ancient gentleman was enjoying a snack on one of the couches near the center of the lobby. He began to choke. Purple faced, he spit something into a napkin and resumed eating. Again he began to choke, repeated the process and began to eat once more. It was then that I noticed a dull, coppery tang upon my palate. The old codger and I mimicked each other’s motions. I extracted the gum. At first, it looked quite all right for cinnamon gum. “Ripe Red” cinnamon gum, from Ireland. It was the last of a pack belonging to poor Nikolas. God rest him at least now, in peace.

It was then that I noticed the pink all over the palm of my hand, with dark red streaks. The reflection staring back at me in the chrome latticework encompassing the elegant entrance bedeviled me. The lack of my usual antiseptic look to my appearance shocked me. My best efforts had been put into maintaining a low profile since long before I had made it to London. And now....

My face was now a marbled red, splotches of dark pink spotting my chin, my nose. There were no cuts; none on my face, nor on my hands. The small gray and purple glove still rested silently in my left hand against my dark trouser leg. Intrigued, I squeezed it and watched. Focusing beyond it onto the cream colored carpet I now noticed the dark spots of the gray glove draining, shrouding perhaps a child's tempered screams. I winced. My heart skipped a few beats; my face paled.

Squeezing harder, a red streak slowly followed previously unnoticed droplets to the carpet; a tiny, macabre Rorschach built from living materials. Lifting the glove to my nose, I sniffed it. It stank of cheap metals, of old cuts on plump, swollen flesh, fallen rabid from septic misuse.

Profane memories came flooding back to me. Blood Oaths of Revenge. Blasphemies. Acts of Sacrilegious Dimensions. My head began to swim, for it had been I who had set the bomb in the R.U.C. Headquarters next to that of the British Army, in that far away Gaelic land. The three of us had sworn vengeance undiluted by the civilities of cultivated thoughts against men we had never seen. Men who had never hurt us.

They were unavoidable events. Events which had lead a few friends and myself, a New England State, Masters student in Literature, to those beautiful, but wrathful hills of Ireland; a land with incomprehensibly complicated, internal difficulties; events which once seemed rather distant and childishly simple, but were now quite, quite immediate. Time... for me now, may be quite possibly, of very limited scope and duration.

How...how, did I end up in such an unbelievable situation?

Once again, I looked for the woman. Perhaps this small diversion amongst my more serious problems relaxed me. However, there was no sign of either of them. Carefully, I laid the accusing glove over a chrome cigarette ash can. Relieved and disturbed, I took out my handkerchief and briskly wiped the blood and dismay from my face; off my hands. A man pushed past me.

Wonder swept over me at those unattending people surrounding me. They were caught up in a whirlpool of their own devising; busy in their own times, with their own desperations.

A rising sickness came into my throat, forced ever higher by an empty, gray and purple-spotted, tumultuous stomach. Tides of churlish nausea rose from deep within my chest, besieging ever-mounting depths of a cynical adherence to a culture, which many years ago, had ceased to make much sense to me. And the thoughts...thoughts of revenge, murder; of a heart attack in Paris; one brought on much too soon in my young life, and not long forgotten. This trip had taken an incredible toll upon my body, and my life.

Pushing this all back from me as forcefully as I could, I pushed on again, out into the night. The torrents of rain violently increased; just my luck to have bad weather as Lover. She had followed me ever since Ireland. In fact, this storm had begun brewing the very day Timothy had died.

Again I wiped my face overly hard with my handkerchief, this time being the last. I threw it into the gutter. I watched as it convulsed inexpensively into a nearby storm drain.

Why? Where was the connection? What was it that I was missing? Where...when will I find safety again? Ever? Where...where was...that place? That one place which permits no insanity. Where there is no deliverance from peace, none from happiness...perhaps merely the interminable, ever-loyal contentment of the apathetic.

Shouldering my personal burdens, I begrudgingly shunted my hat back on my head in the Seattle downpour and walked away from the Hotel's entryway. Unexpectedly, the child appeared from the alleyway up ahead, and stopped in front of me. The pained look transferred from the child, to my chest and down my left arm, throbbing.

With a quite proper English accent, he said:

"Have YOU ever known the Ashes of the Damned, Sir?"

END Excerpt

Well, that's it for now. See you around.

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