On the fifth day of Halloween my true love gave to me… a reading of “Three Deaths.” This is another written for Nina D’Arcangela‘s Ladies of Horror monthly photo prompt—I think her prompts inspire some of my best work. This one was written back in November 2018 and is included in my newest chapbook, Altars and Oubliettes, available on Amazon here.
Why did I write it? I had just read that in Mexican tradition, people die three deaths. The first is when the heart stops beating and the body grows cold. The second is when the body has returned to earth and ash. The third and final death is when no one is left that remembers your name.
Perhaps we’d all be a little friendlier if they sounded like this. This is “Three Deaths,” written by me and performed by Ryan Aussie Smith. Published in my newly released poetry chapbook Altars and Oubliettes, available on Amazon here.
On the fourth day of Halloween my true love gave to me… a reading of Exquisite Corpse. This was originally written for Nina D’Arcangela‘s Ladies of Horror monthly photo prompt back in August of 2018. It’s also included in my just released poetry chapbook Altars and Oubliettes, available on Amazon here.
Why did I write it? The image is just a skeleton’s face close up. At the time I was putting together some exquisite corpse poems (find many of them here). Confusing, I know. This is not an exquisite corpse… just titled that. To make matters worse, I think I have a short story somewhere of the same title. I do like making the most of things.
This is “Exquisite Corpse,” written by me and performed by Ryan Aussie Smith. Published in my newly released poetry chapbook Altars and Oubliettes, available on Amazon here.
On the third day of Halloween my true love gave to me… a production of “The Lady in Gray.” This was written for the recent Poetry in the Graveyard LIVE readings that Amy Zoeller and I did at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Why did I write it? This is my tribute (and bait) for local ghost legend Lady in Gray to pay us a visit. No one knows who she is, but after I had all the strange technical issues outside the Vaille Mausoleum, I suspect it may be Mrs. Vaille herself, also a local ghost legend. You can watch the video for that here.
If poetry makes good ghost bait, be assured I’ll be writing many more like this. This is “The Lady in Gray,” written by me and performed by Ryan Aussie Smith for Poetry in the Graveyard LIVE readings with Amy Zoeller (Hipness and Outrage).
On the second day of Halloween my true love gave to me… a reading of “Digital Djinn.” This was just written this week for Nina D’Arcangela‘s Ladies of Horror monthly photo prompt so it isn’t included anywhere else.
Why did I write it? When you see the photo Nina sent, you’ll understand. A woman stands in a doorway looking back. There’s tech distortions across the image as if we see her on a screen. If you look close enough, you realize she’s floating in the shadows. I can imagine finding her trapped in a thumb drive on some dusty bookshelf… waiting for freedom.
This is “Digital Djinn,” written by me and performed by Ryan Aussie Smith.
A quick note for those who like their writing and reading dark: now is the perfect time to join the Horror Writer’s Association! Because of the pro-rated dues schedule, membership just prices dropped—$37 as an Active/Affiliate/Academic/Associate member or $27 as a Supporting member for the rest of the year.
HWA is the best thing I ever did for myself as an author. It’s like a non-dysfunctional family—the more experienced authors are happy to guide the newbies. There is a strong sense within the HWA community that the stronger the parts, the stronger the whole.
In the short time since I’ve joined I’ve benefitted: I’ve had the honor of having one of my poems selected for publication in an upcoming electronic chapbook featuring poets from the second HWA Horror Poetry Showcase, great exposure. I’ve taken advantage of the mentor program, which is worth the pittance of a fee alone, but with so many great advantages of joining I still find the most valuable benefit is the community.
Having a large group of like minded people like HWA behind you, pushing you to to do your best and enjoying your efforts is an amazing experience. If you love the horror genre, either creating or absorbing it, I advise you to join this community and meet me in Las Vegas next May for the first ever StokerCon 🙂
From Lisa Morton, HWA President: (If you) haven’t yet joined HWA, today’s a great day to do it because our pro-rated dues schedule means prices dropped today – just $37 as an Active/Affiliate/Academic/Associate member or $27 as a Supporting member for the rest of 2015. Remember, you get access to our monthly Newsletter, our Mentor Program (which is now ready to take new writers!), our book promotional opportunities, local chapter events, our Grievance Committee, our discounts page, and so much more.
The month has been so busy and stressful I haven’t gotten any of my own writing done until tonight. I’ve started a short story I’ve been thinking about since last month. This is just the beginning, but feel free to share thoughts and suggestions to make it better. I’m looking forward to a long weekend and, finally, some time to work.
Before I share some of my new story, I’d like to thank people and friends who take time to visit and read. The other day a friend brought up that she had been reading my blog. Inside I was ecstatic and flattered, but outside I played nonchalant. I apologize. If you are reading this, thank you. Knowing someone is reading is the biggest compliment. I just get shy when I know someone’s paying attention 🙂
And now, here’s the beginning of my rough draft, more to come. Comments and critiques welcome.
Nine o’clock—time to put the brat to bed. Cambria yawned, stretched and groped for the remote. Clicking off the television, she listened to the quiet house. It seemed too quiet.
“Hey Brat!” she called out. “What are you destroying now?” Silence. Cambria felt a shiver go through her bowels. “You better answer me…” Her voice trailed off as her ears picked up a gargling sound from upstairs. She dropped the remote and ran to the staircase. She rounded the corner to see Missy, the kid she was babysitting, on the top step, her eyes bulging out of her head, face blue. The five year old’s tongue protruded from her mouth and she gave a guttural, gargling cry.
“Oh my God!” Cambria yelled out as she took the stairs three at a time. “Oh my God!” she yelled again and she grabbed Missy and shook her. “What is wrong with you?” She stuck her fingers in Missy’s mouth to search for whatever she was choking on.
“Merph… stop it,” Missy said around the invasive fingers. Cambria pulled her fingers out while the little girl pushed her away. “What the Hell are you doing? You scared me to death,” she scolded. Missy giggled. “Your fingers taste like butt,” she said.
“You are such a brat,” said Cambria. “I’m going to tell your parents I can never babysit for you again because you’re so bad. They’ll probably spank you.” She pushed the girl to one side and sat down. “I guess you better go to bed so you don’t piss me off anymore.”
“No!” Missy protested. “I’ll be better. I was just pretending I was like the woman with the braid.” Her chin trembled as she looked up at Cambria. “She was making funny faces.” The little girl turned her face away from Cambria and looked up into the empty air above the stairwell and Cambria followed her gaze.
The ceiling was high enough to be slightly in shadow with a dark wooden beam crossing over the stairwell for decoration. The beam creaked slightly as the house shifted and Cambria felt thick silence stuff itself into the empty rooms around them. “What woman,” she asked in a low voice.
Missy pointed to the beam, creaking softly with the invisible movement of the house. It was regular, rhythmic and Cambria wondered why she’d never noticed the sound before. She swallowed. “There’s no one there, stupid.” Cambria shook off the trembling feeling that was settling into her stomach.
“C’mon,” she said said, standing up. Her voice seemed to ring through the house. “Let’s get you to bed.” Missy was still staring at the shadows over the stairs. Cambria tried again. “C’mon now and I’ll give you a braid your like hers.” Missy looked up at her babysitter, blue eyes wide with shock.
“No!” she cried. “No Cambria, don’t give me a braid like hers. That’s why she makes funny faces.” To demonstrate, Missy cocked her head at an unnatural angle, and let her jaw go slack. She rolled her eyes up as she held her breath and stuck out her tongue again. Realization washed through Cambria’s mind and her chest tightened. Missy gargled and choked before taking a breath.
“The braid’s around her neck,” she said. Cambria turned her head to look back up at the dark ceiling and the beam that still creaked softly, under the weight of nothing.