Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Frank had a long history of letting his temper overwhelm his common sense, so when the cold glare of the basement fluorescents revealed a hideous figure crouched on his freezer, stuffing a mouth like a demonic garbage disposal with handfuls of the Kobe beef he'd left out to thaw, he launched into a fit of bellowing outrage that the more rational parts of his brain were too paralyzed with terror to prevent; the creature, in turn, was so startled by the outburst that Frank lived a full six seconds longer than any previous human who had encountered one of its kind.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Little Fable, by Franz Kafka

"Ach," said the mouse, "the world grows narrower every day. At first it was so broad that I was frightened, I just kept running and was glad to finally see, left and right in the distance, walls; but these long walls have drawn together so quickly that I'm already in the last room, and there in the corner is the trap I'm running into."
"You only have to run in a different direction," said the cat, and ate her.

Monday, August 19, 2013


[This following is a graphic example of what happens when a rat tries to write a two-line horror story, then refuses to stop. Logorrhea: know the warning signs.]

The man, tossing and turning in the humid night air, sneezed himself suddenly awake, awkwardly swiping at his prickling nose with a half-numb arm. "Gesundheit," rasped a voice from out of the darkness of his bedroom. There was a deathly silence, broken only by the tinny whine of the earbuds that insulated the bed's occupant from the outside world as he drifted back to sleep. "Oh, godDAMMIT," muttered the man dressed in the shabby tatters of institutional pajamas, an oversized feather he'd found elsewhere in the house clutched in one red fist. He let it fall to the floor and reached into a bag at his feet. "You try to show a little flair... these fucking kids today." Hefting a hammer in one hand, he braced himself for the messy part.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Two-Minute Mysteries!

Lulled by the swaying of the train car, Martin was slumped half-asleep in his seat, eyes drifting closed, when he became aware of his seatmate out of the corner of his eye. He'd barely paid attention some stops back when the man had heaved himself into the seat beside him with a weary grunt, a vague blur of generic business attire topped with a shiny pink head. As long as they didn't try to strike up a conversation, Martin could put up with anyone. Luckily, the man had pulled a battered paperback from his coat pocket and settled back to read, almost immediately dissolving into the background.
   Now, though, Martin could sense a pink blur to his left, as if the man had leaned forward in his seat. In fact, he got the distinct impression that the man was looking at him. Not past him, out the window at the occasional lights drifting past in the darkness, but directly at him. He didn't know how he knew, but the longer he sat tensely in his seat, trying to mimic the steady breathing of sleep, the more sure he became that his seatmate's attention was directed right at him.
   He didn't dare betray himself by tilting his head for a better look, but with his own head bowed so far forward in fake sleep, he couldn't see the man's face clearly. Keeping his eyelids as close to shut as he could get them, he strained to make out something definite through the quivering blur of his lashes. He had no rational reason why he didn't want the man to know he was awake and aware, but he still felt the impulse for stealth. The side of his face started to burn under the imagined scrutiny.
   Continuing to keep his breathing steady, Martin relaxed and stared straight ahead, trying to focus all his attention on his peripheral vision. The jumbled blur of pink, white, and black started to coalesce into a face, a grotesque grimace, eyes bugged out, mouth wrenched wide, tongue drooping down to below the chin. The expression didn't fit on the face, it was too big in one direction or another, but Martin was afraid to turn his head and look at the man directly. What would he do if it wasn't an optical illusion?
   It was all he could do not to shudder, but then, the image was so vague, he couldn't be sure he wasn't imagining it. Most likely the guy was just looking out the window, leaning in closer now, probably because they were passing through a town, an island of light in the sea of dark. He fought the urge to pull away from the imagined contact as the man loomed closer, his flushed pink face an angry blur that was threatening to resolve into detail at any second. Feigning the abrupt jerk of a man awakened from sleep, Martin lifted his head and looked around, jerking his arms up defensively before seeing to his surprise that his seatmate was slumped in a deep slouch, book clutched weakly in a hand draped across his lap, sound asleep.

   All right, all you sharp-eyed Junior Detectives, tonight's Mystery Question is... Who is that guy standing behind you?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Punk Rock Girl

Since I'm rapidly becoming a local horror celebrity, at least in my own fevered mutant imagination, I figured I'd better start doing some stuff to justify my existence. Hence, this blog, and now... book reviews! Please bear with me as I learn, since my critical faculties aren't the most highly-developed in the world. My reviews generally sound like either, "Yeah, it was decent," or "Sucked a big dung dong." I'll try to offer a little more nuance than that going forward.
So, going forward, as one is wont to do, I--wait, when the hell did I slice a 2-centimeter gash in my thumb, apparently without even noticing? I don't recall toying with either blades or lasers today... or very thin wire... most vexing. Anyway, my first book review will be for the short novel (or novelissijous, to be more precise), "Chick Bassist," by noted editor, anagram fan, and certified Bigfoot Non-Sighter, Ross E. Lockhart. I will also eventually be reviewing his two "Book of Cthulhu" anthologies of Lovecraftian tales, but to save time, you should go ahead and just buy them now, before my persuasive powers can whip you into a frenzy of reckless consumerism. And now, the review!

What happens when a band breaks up? Most people, if you asked them, would guess something like "mass suicide atop a pyre of flaming records." These imaginary people are stupid and ignorant. The truth is that ex-bandmates scatter in different directions like neutrons bursting from a fission reaction, but without the whole nuclear holocaust and all. The scattered neutrons that once made up the recently-exploded band Heroes for Goats, however, aren't as charge-neutral as they think--one of them is arcing inevitably through Punkspace toward another on a rage-fueled rocket scooter. Bay Area word wrangler Ross Lockhart's "Chick Bassist" traces those somewhat wobbly paths in detail, hopping through the points of view of each of the band members as they blearily make their way toward whatever reconfigured, but maybe not quite as Goats-free as they expected, destiny awaits. As William Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."* More dare I say not, lest I reveal too much!
While the book is thin, the author doesn't waste any words, setting a properly punk rock pace that pulls you right through the story without letting up. Occasional pauses to take a mental breath are recommended, as is the playing of whatever music might be mentioned in the text as you go (the Internet is the biggest jukebox in history--use it before someone ruins it completely). The use of different voices for the different points of view that the story cycles through fortunately comes across as more than just a gimmick. Each is compelling to read for a different reason as you follow along for a while in the lives of a few people who, deep down, aren't entirely sure whether they're on their way up or down.
Hey, I just realized I can claim allegiance with punk rock pioneers like the Ramones and those scuzzy overrated fucks the Sex Pistols by keeping my review quick and punchy! That's such an awesome excuse for half-assing my way through a book review that I'm not even going to bother faking it. So, closing thoughts? Two: Jennifer Army may even be a better name for a fictional band than Three-Arm Sally, and this review wasn't that hard to write, so I assume I've bungled it in catastrophic fashion. Whee, defeat is liberating!

*No, I am not sucking up for MENSA Bonus Points, I just really love that quote.