The Lodge and Seven Contrivances: How Contrivance Affects Horror Plots

written by John Wiswell Most Horror stories are built on contrivance. In Jaws, a shark that absolutely isn’t native to that region attacks swimmers. How did it get there and why is it behaving this way? Neither Benchley’s novel nor Spielberg’s film cares. Little more effort is put into justifying the mayor and business owners … Continue reading The Lodge and Seven Contrivances: How Contrivance Affects Horror Plots

MOVIE REVIEW: Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman

written by David Steffen Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman is a 2000 straight-to-video cartoon film distributed by Universal Studios reviving the version of the characters from 1983-1990 TV show. Three child-sized anthromorphic chipmunks Alvin (Ross Bagdasarian Jr) , Simon (Ross Bagdasarian Jr), and Theodore (Janice Karman), live with their adopted dad/manager Dave (Ross … Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman

DP FICTION #61B: “The Old Ones, Great and Small” by Rajiv Moté

School’s out, and everybody wants to see the Great Old Ones: the line into the Miskatonic Zoo doubles back and winds out the gates. The American and Massachusetts flags barely flutter above the gate, and the sun today is merciless in a cloudless sky. I ask my grandchildren, Caleb and Cody, if they wouldn’t rather go to a museum or park, catch a ball game, or go anywhere at all less crowded, but they won’t be swayed. The zoo has been closed for renovations for two years now, and they want to see the Great Old Ones in their new, “natural” habitats. 

It was originally built as a prison. It looked the part even when they opened it to public tours, back when I was a baby. It hadn’t done much to change its look in the last 70 years. I’m almost as curious as my grandkids. I’m old enough to have seen America stumble toward evolved attitudes on many things, and the Old Races are a good example. It always starts with fear. Horrors lurking in the dark. And then something shines a light on that fear, and once we see it, we can face it, fight it, drag it into the sunshine, and conquer it. And once we’re not afraid anymore, we can afford to be generous. We make accommodations. We give the object of our fear a place in society—as long as it can never threaten us again. So now the prison for monsters has become a habitat for exotic animals. It happened in a generation.

DP FICTION #59A: “This Is What the Boogeyman Looks Like” by T.J. Berg

This is what the boogeyman looks like.

It has white eyes with no pupils and no irises. Just white all the way through. But it can see you. So I must not fall asleep as I wait outside this closet door in an empty room, in an empty house with a derelict For Sale sign in front of it, everything smaller than I remember, baseball bat gripped in my hands.

*

This is what the boogeyman sounds like.

Short, huffing breaths, almost snorts, like your boss calling you into his office for a chat, because you got yet another email by accident that was supposed go to the CEO, who shares your name. “And you understand,” huff huff huff, “that you obviously didn’t get the whole story with just that one email,” huff huff huff, “and the engineers are definitely going to address that problem before the product goes to market.” Huff. “We understand each other, right?” And you’re too scared of losing your job to do anything but understand.

DP FICTION #50A: “Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey

In a generational shift that some claim threatens the fabric of existence and the sanity of all humanity, surveys show that worship of the Elder Dark is at a record low for one particular group—millennials. Bob Rawlins is worried. “When I was growing up in the 1950s, I made my obeisance before the Manifold Insanity … Continue reading DP FICTION #50A: “Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey

BOOK REVIEW: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

34466922Sleeping Beauties is a drama/fantasy/action novel written by Stephen King and Owen King published in September 2017 by Scribner.

A mysterious condition hits the whole planet in an instant–if a woman falls asleep, threads of what appear to be fungus quickly envelop her, forming a sort of cocoon.  She continues to live inside the cocoon if left undisturbed.  If the cocoon is broken, she will wake up and react violently like a rabid animal.  Meanwhile, in the Appalachian town of Dooling, a mysterious stranger who calls herself Eve who is arrested after violently killing a man with apparently superhuman strength.  There’s no end in sight for the condition that affects only women–the women who are still awake try desperately to stay that way, some of the men left behind are ready to take desperate measures of one kind or another, and all hell is going to break loose.  People find out that Eve can sleep without going into a cocoon, and they become violently desperate to find out why.  Clint Norcross, the prison psychologist, husband of the sheriff, has a violent past from his juvenile days that he keeps to himself, even from his wife, and he takes it upon himself to protect as many women as he can, including Evie.

DP Fiction #27B: “The Aunties Return the Ocean” by Chris Kuriata

Auntie Roberta landed badly on the roof of her escarpment house, scraping her knees across the flagstone shingles and splitting her pantyhose. Her arms were too full of black water to keep her balance so she nearly slid off the edge.

She carried so much ocean she barely knew where to hide it all. Inside her stony home, she filled the kitchen drawers and cupboards with cold dark brine. Every pot and tankard as well. She quickly ran out of places, yet her weary arms were still loaded with the stuff. Where would it all fit? Auntie Roberta got on her knees and stuffed the final bits of ocean into the mouse holes. She heard the panicked mice squeak before drowning.

DP Fiction #25: “Bloody Therapy” by Suzan Palumbo

I hugged my daughter, Ashley, when she returned home from school crying. She told me she was scared of going to the bathroom alone,because of Bloody Mary, and had wet her pants on the bus ride home. I wiped her eyes and kissed her forehead.

“The kids in my class said Bloody Mary would steal my soul if I said her name three times in the bathroom mirror,” she said rubbing her eyes.

“Bloody Mary doesn’t exist, Sweetheart. She’s a story people made up to scare each other.”

“But Mom, you said I would make friends with the kids here if I looked for the good in them. How can they be good if they try to scare me?” Her sobs receded into the focused expression of a child trying to make sense of the world.

“Trust me, Hon, everyone is capable of being good. Even not-real Bloody Mary could be nice if she wanted to be.”

The Best of Pseudopod 2016

written by David Steffen Pseudopod, the weekly horror podcast edited by Shawn Garrett and Alex Hofelich, has now been running for more than ten years, an incredible feat for a podcast, which often fade away after a year or two. 2016 marked some major moments in the podcast’s history–they increased their pay rate for flash … Continue reading The Best of Pseudopod 2016

DP Fiction #20: “October’s Wedding of the Month” by Emma McDonald

When Percy and Astrid met they’d no idea that only a few short weeks later they’d be getting married.

“Percy really swept me off my feet” said Astrid. “I’d just stepped outside the pub for a quick smoke and suddenly this guy was bundling me into his car.”

“It was love at first sight,” Percy confirmed. “I saw her and I just had to have her.”

Despite their unconventional first meeting our October couple are obviously very much in love. Sitting in their home, admiring the various objects of cult paraphernalia, including an antique sacrificial dagger, it’s also obvious that this was never going to be a normal wedding.