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I Need Your Vote: Red Silk by Darryl Foster is live in the Writing Arena

Red SilkI’m excited to announce: Red Silk by Darryl Foster has been unleashed in the Writing Arena and spins a web of horror. This competition started with an application 9 months ago. The story prompt from the Writers Arena arrived August 24, 2015 and required that I write a short story of max 4000 words in 10 days. My writing prompt was bugs, lots of them.

Please head to www.thewritersarena.comwhere my short story Red Silk is live online all week and up against author Tony Southcotte’s short story in a battle of the bugs. For those who don’t know: this competition is like Iron Chef, but for writers. It’s not a food-fight, but a write-fight. I have no idea what Tony has written bug-wise or genre-wise, but I chose a classic skittering horror, and yes they look just like the picture. So please be brave and visit www.thewritersarena.com tomorrow, Battle #52/Current Battle. Read both bug stories and vote for the story you like the most. Thanks everyone.

Horror Bite Challenge #17:

Flash Fiction of 349 words inspired by the image above.

Bait

By Darryl Foster

Earl McTavish was a farmer: early to rise, church on Sundays, a man of denim and plaid. At the edge of his inherited farmland he’d found his missing cow—a carcass of holes, reeking like the bottom of a carnival garbage bin. Earl retched. He’d heard of alien cattle mutilations, but he didn’t believe in them. He believed in poachers. A bitterness shivered through Earl as he remembered his granddad, found dead in this field a year ago. Foul play they had said, and likely a poacher. Earl left the remains and walked home. Tonight he’d bait this field with a cow and trap the poacher.

~

Midnight, and Earl huddled near a silo with his rifle and retriever, Dawson. An hour had passed since he had sent a cow into the dark field.

Dawson’s ears perked.

“What is it boy?”

Dawson growled, sprang forward and charged into the field. The dog’s barking faded with distance then died with a suffering yelp.

“Jesus Christ!” Earl stood alert, rifle ready, and the shadowy figure of a man manifested, embossed against the blackness of the field beyond.

“A man who stinks of church shouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Where’s my dog, poacher?” Earl accused and aimed.

“In pieces.”

“You son-of-a-bitch.” Earl fired. The man’s eye sockets burned with tendrils of flame, and the bullet became molten and dribbled to the ground. Earl’s heart swelled with fear.

“What the hell are you?”

“Your granddad asked the same question before he died. It’s simple, I’m a hunter, and you’re a fool for believing I wanted your cattle. The dead cows were bait to lure you out into the night, my hunting ground. Your grandfather fell for it too. There’s no poacher, only hunger.”

The leathery beat of a thousand wings filled the night and bats descended on Earl. He tossed the rifle and swatted with his hands, but the mouths of many were unstoppable, and tore chunks. Earl screamed and a bat flapped into his mouth, and chewed his tongue. He gargled blood as the man joined the kill with ivory fangs.

Crawlers by Darryl Foster

The prompt: fireworks in a wheelbarrow.

Horror Bite Challenge #16: write a piece of nano-fiction (200-350 words) inspired by an image supplied by Laura Jamez on the Office Mango blog. Here’s the image and my story:

Crawlers

by Darryl Foster

Hide-and-seek, and my daughter Jamie was nowhere to be found in the house. I walked into the kitchen, called her, and my eyes shot wide. A guttural fear surged. “No…no…no!” The patio door which lead to the garden was unlatched. She’d known about the threat of the Crawlers, and I never imagined our most guarded house-rule being broken: never go outside at night.

Day was our time, and the night belonged to the Crawlers—but tell that to a five year old, who can open the door on their own. They simply don’t understand the lurking danger.

I opened the patio door and peered into the garden. The night was cold and the darkness seemed both alive and bottomless. I called for Jamie. No answer—right, we were playing hide-and-seek—and now the clock was ticking. The Crawlers would latch onto her scent and gather.

I shut the patio door and sprang from the kitchen. I careened through the house, opened a door and entered the garage. I had never used the wheelbarrow trick—taught to save wandering children at night—but I was prepared: a wheelbarrow, a lighter and fireworks. A Burning Schoolhouse would keep the Crawlers away while I searched for Jamie.

I opened the garage’s back door and lit the Schoolhouse. The firework sparked and hissed. Light radiated, sulfur clouds billowed, and I pushed the wheelbarrow into the middle of the garden. Beyond the boundary of my protective light-dome: a dark curtain studded with the diamond glints of many eyes.

“Daddy!” Jamie’s cry seemed muffled in my ears.

Crack!

“Jamie!”

No reply, just the wet smacking of many mouths in the dark beyond. A suffocating shock dropped me to my knees. Tears flowed. “I love you Jamie!” If she was alive, I hoped she’d heard.

The Schoolhouse fizzled. Dark.

Sour breath, and sharp twig like fingers crept over my clothes. Rails of teeth clamped the meaty parts of my appendages. I shrieked as my limbs were pulled, and in the kitchen window I saw Jamie inside. I barely heard her scream through the glass, “Daddy!”

What Lurks in The Deep? A Book Review of Nick Cutter’s, The Deep

TheDeep TPB frt v2ABOUT THE BOOK: From the acclaimed author of The Troop—which Stephen King raved “scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down.…old-school horror at its best”—comes this utterly terrifying novel where The Abyss meets The Shining.

A strange plague called the ’Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget—small things at first, like where they left their keys…then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily…and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as “ambrosia” has been discovered—a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea’s surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it’s up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths…and perhaps to encounter an evil blacker than anything one could possibly imagine.

THE AUTHOR: When I was introduced to Nick Cutter via Twitter in February 2014 I was on a business trip in San Diego. My Twitter feed was on fire with this Nick Cutter fellow whose book came with a Stephen King endorsement “…scared the hell out of me and I couldn’t put it down…” –the King had spoken, and my book-alert siren went off like the Starship Enterprise was under attack. Number-One, set new course for the local book store, engage. Warp drive is a little slow on the San Diego transit system, but soon my cash-energized tractor beam brought The Troop into my hands. The book proved to be an incredible novel of raw horror…and I couldn’t put it down.

Flash forward eight months to October 25, 2015: Creemore, Ontario and the IFOA had come to town. When I first met Nick Cutter (aka Craig Davidson) I thought I could wrestle him for an ARC copy of The Deep, but his tall gait and suspicious armband tattoo told me I was dealing with an Alpha Male, and it kept me civil in my seat. At the end of the author presentations I approached Nick to sign my copy of The Troop, and to my surprise “because it never hurts to ask” he had an ARC copy of The Deep for me. Inside my eyes went puffy, red and teary like a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, oh joy, but on the outside a cool composure, and a modest “thank you” prevailed. Mr. Cutter, you have a fan for life.

Bathyscaphe_TriesteMY REVIEW: How deep is The Deep? Oh, it’s crushingly deep. The Trieste submersible platform (the island of this novel) is deep in the Mariana Trench where life has to evolve to withstand the pressure of 15,750 pounds per square inch (thank you Wikipedia). But as deep as the Trieste is under the Pacific, there is another deep, one that also has crushing depths and it’s found in the fathoms of the human mind: madness.

The Deep has a tagline, “…the Shining meets the Abyss…” and that intersection is both chilling and surprising in the book.

The Deep follows the main character Luke on a thrilling ride to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the Trieste platform where his brother Clayton, a scientist, is researching a substance called Ambrosia, found on the sea floor. Ambrosia represents a possible cure for a disease called the ‘Gets that plagues the surface, and is the reason why Cutter has us swimming in the deep end of the pool. Before and after we dock with the Trieste, Cutter has us strapped into a narrative-roller-coaster that tunnels deep into the darkest depths of Luke’s consciousness. The novel is both a trip to the bottom of the ocean, as it is a trip through the hollows of a tortured mind. Throughout the book brilliantly written flashbacks pick away at the fears we all carry in ourselves, and those fears are amplified in Luke, escalated by the airtight confines of the seemingly haunted, metal-creaking Trieste.Lurker

Nick Cutter scuttles any chance for a life preserver and holds nothing back in The Deep. He’s a Literary Artist hell-bent on painting grotesque images with nerve-shattering detail, bringing to life scratch-and-sniff scenes that will make you feel like you’re experiencing the book through your senses. The madness, the horror, the tight claustrophobic places intended to strangle your mind are all key in setting the stage for a classic horror novel under the sea with a surprise ending that hits an even deeper note than you can imagine.

The Deep, as was The Troop, are my top horror reads for 2014. Publication date for The Deep is set for January 13, 2015 from Gallery Books. Order here from Amazon.

Darryl Foster

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

2013-09-02 14.22.31Something is happening in this world that seems to hover in the shadows of our sensory perception, but every now and then, for a brief moment, that something comes into range. There are many stories in the media of sensible and credible people experiencing paranormal events and witnessing apparitions. The Internet is awash in “true stories” of the paranormal and plastered with ghostly photographs and videos.  Television programming captures empirical evidence of ghosts in the hit show Long Island Medium, where Theresa Caputo has an uncanny ability to channel spirits, and TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) logs ghostly encounters by using instruments designed to capture disembodied voices and movements of the departed. Some footage is astonishing and explainable, but what these shows bring to light is the question: Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe most of us have had some form of engagement with the supernatural (I have), and as frightening as these encounters might seem these events teach us something about ourselves: there’s a lurking monster in our fear of the unknown. The less we understand something and the more it defies natural reason, the more it frightens us.  I attempt to expose that formula of fear in my short story entitled “Danny” (to read click here). The story was written to evoke a feeling in the reader, prodding them with something unknown, something defying natural reason, and I channel this through the main character’s young son. At the end of the story, a thrilling tension bursts into a realization of terror regarding that unknown and without any reasonable explanation for this unknown a chilling fear surfaces in one of the characters. If I’ve done my job well as a writer that fear transfers to the reader. I want that chilling feeling to stay with them after the story, and in the future the reader may nervously second glance every closet door in their home—mission accomplished.

This brings me to note that the reader or each of us has a different way of interpreting our experiences with the paranormal. When we struggle to stitch logic around those experiences we find the boundaries of what we define as normal and preternatural, blurred and breeched. It leaves me to wonder about my opening question, “Do you believe in ghosts?” I have a feeling the answer to that question rests solely with the individual perceiving the experience and how they choose to interpret it.

Take a moment to recall a paranormal experience in your life. Remember that feeling of facing something unexplainable and terrifying. Perhaps it was a ghost, a phantom whisper, a knocking poltergeist or a moving shadow at the end of your bed. You’re a reasonable person, you’re educated, you have street smarts, but still you can’t frame this experience in any logical way. I ask you: if you’ve encountered a paranormal event, or when your time comes to behold something so terrifying, do we really have any choice but to trust our senses, and believe?