Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween Flash Fiction

After a break from The Shadow Fabric, I've been getting dirty with flash fiction and short storieseven had a couple accepted for upcoming anthologies, but that's another story... ha!

Halloween is with us and so I've written three flash fiction pieces. They're inspired by a few creepy photographs I found in the cellar of a forgotten cabin out in the woods. They were underneath the Necronomicon before I opened it and recited the words "Klaatu barada nikto." Actually, that's a lie, I of course found them on the internet. Where the hell else?


Demon in the Lake

(350 words)

At first, everyone at the school Halloween party stopped talking. They smiled and pointed, and some of the adults—all teachers—even laughed. The six children wore identical costumes. Their masks were simply boxes sporting pointy-eared and pointy-nosed faces, framed in clumps of lank hair. They had come as some kind of creature. Certainly the best costumes that night.
            And of course, everyone thought their shotguns were toys… until they opened fire on the teachers.
            Screams roared but weren’t as loud as the gunfire. Shells were spent and immediately reloaded. Those six children emptied their weapons over and over. They didn’t fire at the other children, it was only the teachers. Limbs vanished in red bursts, and hands, feet and heads popped like blisters. All but one teacher fell: the headmaster who cowered beneath a table. He thought it strange that none of the children screamed nor fled. It was only the adults who yelled, cried and backed away. Then he started to remember things… something about the lake? And a demon?
             The roars echoed and died, and finally the shooting stopped. Cordite fogged the hall and swirled between the legs of the six children. The spent cartridges peppered the floor around them like red candy-wrappers. Bloody patterns streaked the floor in wet, glistening patches. Each of the teachers now a heaped mess of raw redness, crumpled and silent.
            As one, the other children moved from the walls they’d pressed themselves against. They cheered and clapped.
            When the sheriff arrived, and his deputies took away the six children, the headmaster emerged. Eventually he admitted those masks reminded him of something from fifty years ago. He still couldn’t place it: the lank hair, the sharp features, those freakish ears. That face… yes, that was it. He remembered the local legend: the Demon in the Lake. He remembered how he’d almost drowned. And the demon that had… rescued him?
            As a child he’d attended this school. This had happened before. He, too, had applauded when his teachers were shot down. How could he have forgotten all this?
            He did not feel like applauding now.

~ ~ ~


Pumpkin Patch

(390 words)

As sisters, Mary-Ann and I have always been close. Even though she’s always the first for everything, including Ma and Pa’s love. It’s never bothered me, I’ll always love her. We live with Grandpa too, but he doesn’t say much these days—not since Grandma died last year.
            When Mary-Ann found Grandpa’s memoirs I told her not to read them, and when she used the paper to make her Halloween costume she said she’d hang me up with the scarecrow if I ever told. Her papier mache effort was much better than mine—I ended up settling for a not-so-scary paper bag over my head. She’d made a pumpkin mask, and it was amazing. Everyone said so and maybe even Grandpa smiled. It covered her whole head and looked like a real pumpkin. I couldn’t help thinking how Mary-Ann had slapped the glue over Grandpa’s handwriting.
            One afternoon Mary-Ann sat in the pumpkin patch wearing it. I first thought she was looking for ideas on how to paint it. You know, to get the right colour and pattern and stuff, but it looked finished already.
            Halloween was still weeks away, yet she always wore it. One evening I followed her out to the pumpkin patch and heard voices. She spoke with someone whose deep voice sounded a lot like Grandpa’s. As the sky darkened and the clouds removed the moonlight, I saw Grandma. The cold October air snatched from my throat. She wore that flowery dress of hers and didn’t look dead. She hovered above the ground. I wanted to run to her, to hug her, but the mud sucked at my feet.
            Grandma leaned towards Mary-Ann and grasped her pumpkin head. Then my sister collapsed and Grandma vanished. The papier mache pumpkin rolled away and the moon returned.
            Finally I tugged my feet free and ran over to it. I snatched it up, not even seeing if Mary-Ann was okay. I pulled the pumpkin over my own little head—it didn’t really fit—and I could smell Grandpa’s tobacco. I gagged and quickly yanked it off.
            Mary-Ann was getting to her feet. She rubbed her head.
            When we returned to the farmhouse hand in hand, the sound of Ma’s misery swept towards us. Pa sat on the rocking chair outside the front porch.
            “Grandpa’s died,” he murmured.

~ ~ ~


Mother’s Ideas

(275 words)

The seasons have been cruel and harvest poor, removing us from the Halloween fun. Other families have costumes. We didn’t, until Father came home with the sacks and those sheets. We were ecstatic. Mother scrubbed them best she could, then cut holes for the eyes and the nose, a slit for the mouth. One for each of us, her and Father included.
            Mother always has great ideas.
            I’m wearing mine now, with the stink crawling up my nose. I’m so excited. We all are.
            Mother is the first to kill. She has an axe, and doesn’t stop hacking our neighbour’s neck until his head rolls. She’s off to the village now.
            Father takes me out to the fields, to a hole he wants to show me. It’s deep and at the bottom are several rotted bodies.
            “Where are their heads?” I ask.
            Father shrugs and grabs his shovel.
            Screams echo from the village: that’ll be Mother.
            “Where else do you think I found the sacks, those sheets?” he says and swings the shovel at me.
            It’s hard to see through my mask, but I manage to duck. I want to kill as well. This isn’t fair, so I run. I’m much faster than he is. Soon I find my sister’s head. It’s like she’s kissing the doorstep. Her body’s not far: it lays across the threshold in a red puddle that glistens. Again, that’ll be Mother’s handiwork.
            Father bounds onto the porch and slips in the blood. He crashes into the door frame.
            Look, there’s an axe. It’s not as big as Mother’s, but it should easily slice through Father’s neck.
            When Mother did it, it looked fun. She always has great ideas.

~ ~ ~


Thanks for reading! If you liked these, you can find more flash fiction here.

Your comments are always appreciated.



Mark Cassell's dark fantasy novel is available
from all bookshops and also Amazon.

    


Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.


Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkCassell

Friday, 25 October 2013

Clive Barker is Remaking Horror Classic Hellraiser

Today Clive Barker announced:

"HOT FROM HELL! My friends,I have some news which may be of interest to you. A few weeks ago I had a very productive meeting with Bob Weinstein of Dimension Pictures,in the course of which I pitched a remake of the first HELLRAISER film. The idea of my coming back to the original film and telling the story with a fresh intensity-honoring the structure and the designs from the first incarnation but hopefully creating an even darker and richer film-was attractive to Dimension.

Today I have officially been invited to write the script based upon that pitch. What can I tell you about it? Well, it will not be a film awash with CGI. I remain as passionate about the power of practical make-up effects as I was when I wrote and directed the first HELLRAISER. Of course the best make-up in the world loses force if not inhabited by a first-rate actor. I told the Dimension team that in my opinion there could never be a Pinhead without Doug Bradley,and much to my delight Bob Weinstein agreed. So once the papers are signed , I will open a Lemarchand Configuration,dip my quill in its contents and start writing.

I promise that there will be nowhere on the Internet where the news of my progress will be more reliable than here ,because the only author of these reports will be Your Infernal Corespondent ,me.

My very best wishes to you all, my friends. 

Clive."



Barker has inspired my own horror writing since I first read his Books of Blood series, and he has gone on to write some outstanding novels. Imajica and Weaveworld remain, to this day, two of my favourites.


This news of Barker being behind the remake of the 1987 horror classic is exciting, certainly, and I'm relieved he won't be leaning on CGI to portray his vision.

Hellraiser the movie was originally a novella, titled The Hellbound Heart first published in November 1986 by Dark Harvest. It was featured in the third volume of their Night Visions anthology series.




Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.


Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkCassell

Monday, 21 October 2013

If I was an artist... Oh, the Horror!

Okay, so this has nothing to do with my novel, The Shadow Fabric. But it's all in the name of horror and art...

What is an artist?

By definition, an artist is one who paints, sculpts, or writes. Most of us, however, refer to the artist as someone with a pencil or brush. I know a tattooist (hi Manda), and her weapon is the needle - she's an artist. It's amazing what she can do with flesh as a canvas.


artist

n.


  1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
  2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
  3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
  4. One who is adept at an activity, especially one involving trickery or deceit: a con artist.

The Dark Horrors


The internet is a demon to the procrastinator, and be honest, you may be doing that right now. A few days ago when researching for an ezine I'm currently involved in, I discovered Anastasios Gionis. This guy's artwork bursts from the screen with its many limbs - and I exaggerate very slightly when I say that.


Anastasios is a digital sculptor and 3D modeler for the film industry, and although no longer draws for a living, he still does traditional art just for himself. This guy is an artist.

His work has featured in films such as Snow White and the Huntsman, Cabin in the Woods, Land of the Lost, Hop, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.



If I could pick up a pencil and draw this stuff, I would. 
I write dark; Gionis draws dark.

You'll find more of his work at www.stillenacht.deviantart.com.






  

  
My handwriting is terrible, let alone any attempt at drawing. If I had Anastasios's talent I reckon my artwork would be just as dark... but I'm an artist of words. My novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a dark piece of fiction, and recently Rayne Hall (author and also editor of the Ten Tales Anthologies) invited me to contribute a dark dragon story to the next anthology in her series.

The upcoming Ten Tales of Fiery Beasts will feature my short story, Alone with the Bones.


All artwork on this post is by Anastasios Gionis.



Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge

Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.


Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkCassell

Monday, 14 October 2013

Literary heroes and what they say about themselves

Here's a small collection of quotes from famous Authors. What do they have to say about themselves?
  • “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.” - Stephen King
  • “I can’t change overnight into a serious literary author. You can’t compare apples to oranges. William Faulkner was a great literary genius. I am not.” - John Grisham
  • “I don’t know why I started writing. I don’t know why anybody does it. Maybe they’re bored, or failures at something else.” - Cormac McCarthy
  • “Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.” - Vladimir Nabokov
  • “A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame.” - Ray Bradbury
  • “I’m slightly mercenary: I write for the money.” - Frederick Forsyth
  • “I fell into writing, I suppose, being one of those awful children who wrote verses. I went to a convent in New York—the Blessed Sacrament… I was fired from there, finally, for a lot of things, among them my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was spontaneous combustion.” - Dorothy Parker
  • “It was then that I saw the business of writing for what it truly was and is to me. It is your penance for not being lucky. It is an attempt to reach others and to make them love you. It is your instinctive protest, when you find you have no voice at the world’s tribunals, and that no one will speak for you.” - Anita Brookner
  • “I’m the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.” - V.S. Naipaul
  •  “The idea of writer as sage is pretty much dead today. I would certainly feel very uncomfortable in the role.” - J. M. Coetzee 
  • “I have forgotten my rave reviews and memorized my vicious ones - like most writers.” - Erica Jong
  • “I never wrote so much as a line worth a nickel when I was under the influence of alcohol.” - Raymond Carver
  • “I’m pleased to have outsold great writers. But I’m not insane - I realize I am a writer people buy to take on vacation.” - Maeve Binchy




Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.


Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkCassell