horror

Fearful Fathoms: Tales of Aquatic Horror

FF How Deep Does Your Fear Go

If you missed it on Facebook, here it is again: Exciting news! My short story Crude Lake was accepted into Fearful Fathoms: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. This anthology is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2017 by Scarlet Galleon Publications. I’m so excited for this anthology and to work with Mark Parker, Publisher & Managing Editor at Scarlet Galleon Publications. Here’s a portion of the acceptance letter that made a dream come true.Crude Lake

“Scarlet Galleon Publications thanks you for your submission to FEARFUL FATHOMS: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. We enjoyed reading your submission and truly appreciate you sharing it with us. We are writing to let you know that your submission “Crude Lake” has been selected for inclusion in the final anthology. It is an honor and pleasure to have you on board!”

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 #20

350 words inspired by the photo above.

350 words inspired by this strange photo.

The Replacements

by Darryl Foster

Lydia Moss had lost everything in a house blaze. She was 35, disfigured by the fire and haunted by the dying screams of her family. Her mind drifted on morphine, prescribed for her excruciating epidermal pain, and her thoughts meandered between senseless ideas of the living and the dead. She missed her family, and home, but she had plans to replace both.

Firstly, insurance money helped Lydia move into a new house. A neighbour dropped by, and he cringed at her hideousness: patchy hair, partial nose, mottled webs of skin grafts. He offered only hearsay during his short visit. He said her home was built over a landfill site where mafia victims begged for their lives before execution. She didn’t need to know that and shooed him away.

The next night Lydia enacted her final plan, and at the kitchen table she created dolls; effigies of her dead family: husband, four kids and granddad. Tomorrow she’d stake them in the garden for a pretend reunion. By four in the morning Lydia had almost completed the dolls when the front door slammed. Clatter tore through the house. The kitchen cupboards banged and something scratched and clawed beneath the floorboards.

Then silence.

Lydia believed it was a sign. Her family had come to her. She picked up the unfinished doll of her four year old daughter Alison and finished her work before bed.

Lydia slept until noon. After she woke she staked the dolls in the garden for the reunion. Alison was the last to be staked in this family of scarecrows. But first, Lydia had to braid her daughter’s straw hair. “There my love, all done.”

“I love you Mommy.”

Lydia’s heart cramped with fear, and she tossed the talking effigy to the grass.

The other dolls flexed on their stakes and turned their button eyes on her.

“Please help.”

“Don’t kill me.”

“I don’t want to die.”

These pleas were not her family, they belonged to the murdered. Lydia’s mind cracked and bled a sick revelation: if she couldn’t have her family then these poor souls, these replacements, would do.

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Click here to visit the Horror Bite Challenge website and check out more linked stories.

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!”

Book Review of Andrew Pyper’s: The Damned

The Damned by Andrew Pyper

Simon & Schuster The Damned by Andrew Pyper Publication Date: February 10, 2015 304 pages | ISBN978-1-4767-5514-4 Order here: The Damned From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Demonologist, called “smart, thrilling, utterly unnerving” by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, comes a spine-tingling supernatural thriller about a survivor of a near-death experience haunted by his beautiful, vindictive twin sister.

The Damned: Danny Orchard wrote a bestselling memoir about his near-death experience in a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ashleigh, but despite the resulting fame and fortune he’s never been able to enjoy his second chance at life. Ash won’t let him. In life, Danny’s charming and magnetic twin had been a budding psychopath who privately terrorized her family—and death hasn’t changed her wicked ways. Ash has haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he’s met the love of his life and has a chance at real happiness, she wants more than ever to punish him for being alive—so she sets her sights on Danny’s new wife and stepson. Danny knows what Ash really wants is him, and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save the ones he loves. The question is: will he make it back this time?

ruinsMy Review: I first discovered Andrew Pyper when I read his previous novel The Demonologist. The prose in that book had literally reached up from the pages and slapped my senses scared. I wasn’t just reading the story, I was experiencing it. Andrew doesn’t let this fan down in The Damned and sets the senses ablaze. Pyper has crafted a story of suspense and horror that transcends this world and plummets the reader into a dark After-world. There are many highlights in The Damned for me: how to tell twins apart, the surreal imagery of the After and the horror of the dryer scene. The dryer scene alone is worthy of the fact that Legendary Pictures has optioned this novel for the big screen. However, the most prominent highlight for me was being subjected to the vile and twisted soul of Ashleigh Orchard. Pyper’s daughter of the underworld, an insidious psychopath who’s both unstoppable in life as she is in death. Set against the background of Detroit (an allusion to that which is damned) the story alternates between the realm of the living and the dead. The Damned traces a sibling rivalry (born in hell) between Ash and her brother Danny Orchard. The story ignites after a house fire sends Ash and Danny to the After-world, but when Danny survives, his sister’s soul becomes restless. Ash pursues Danny from the other-side making his life a living hell. And when Danny’s new family is threatened by Ash’s unrelenting ghost he’s forced to confront his venomous sister in the After-world where he uncovers sinister truths that will keep you gasping to the very end.

Andrew PyperAbout the Author: Andrew Pyper is the award-winning author of six internationally bestselling novels. Lost Girls won the Arthur Ellis Award, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and appeared on the New York Times and Times (UK) bestseller lists. The Killing Circle was a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. Three of Pyper’s novels, including The Demonologist, are in active development for feature film. www.andrewpyper.com

This story scares people: Flash Fiction “Danny” Published to Quick Brown Fox Blog

t1larg_terror_tsDo you believe in ghosts?

I’m very excited to announce that my flash-fiction piece “Danny” was published on the Quick Brown Fox Blog today. Click here to read a creepy piece of paranormal fiction that seems to be scaring people.

Let me know what you think of the piece by commenting on the blog. Thanks for reading.

Darryl Foster

Don’t Open Your Eyes! A Book Review of Josh Malerman’s: Bird Box

“Chilling terror that’s both mesmerizing and thought provoking. This is a must-read that will captivate you to the very end.” – Darryl Foster

Bird BoxAbout the Book: Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

My Review: Josh Malerman has written a future cult classic. Warning: You will not be able to put this book down until you reach the end so give yourself the time for an all-nighter. This is a must-read for any fan of heart-pounding suspense and horror. Malerman cleverly steals the sense of sight from the reader forcing your other senses to sharpen and take the brunt of a strange and sinister invasion that leaves civilization crumbling in a melting pot of deadly and violent madness.

blindfolded“Don’t open your eyes!”

That phrase is the theme of the book; a mantra repeated by the main character Malorie to protect her children from the lurking horrors sweeping the globe. With blindfolds as their only protection from the things, Malorie packs up her two children and sets out in search of salvation in a post apocalyptic world. Her journey, past and present, is a cauldron of bubbling suspense that will boil in your mind and cook your inner most fears to well-done. Malerman’s Bird Box is terrifying brilliance, and flows flawlessly with entwined story lines that braid together to create an unstoppable page-turner. But just don’t take my word for it, check out the testimonials below then buy the book.

1297574950876_ORIGINALThe Author: You can find Josh Malerman on Twitter, Facebook, and goodreads. Buy the book on Amazon.

“A book that demands to be read in a single sitting, and through the cracks between one’s fingers. There has never been a horror story quite like this. Josh Malerman truly delivers.” —Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool

“[A] chilling debut… Malerman…keeps us tinglingly on edge with his cool, merciless storytelling [and] douses his tale in poetic gloom….An unsettling thriller, this earns comparisons to Hitchcock’s The Birds, as well as the finer efforts of Stephen King and cult sci-fi fantasist Jonathan Carroll.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The author uses understatement and allusion to create a lean, spellbinding thriller that Stephen King fans will relish.” —Publishers Weekly

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

HORROR HAS A RISING TALENT: Book Review of Mark Cassell’s, The Shadow Fabric

ABOUT THE SHADOW FABRIC: Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone…including himself. Now Leo must confront the truth about his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist. THE SHADOW FABRIC is a story revealing the unknown history of witchcraft and the true cause of the Great Fire of London. A supernatural horror novel of sins, shadows, and the reanimated dead.The Shadow Fabric

MY REVIEW: Mark Cassell’s debut novel The Shadow Fabric is an action packed tale of supernatural horror. The book follows the journey of Cassell’s main character Leo. A car accident in Leo’s past had wiped out his memory. In his new life, post-accident, he struggles to recall the memories of his former life. Now, Leo finds himself working for a mysterious man named Victor Jacobs. Victor has secrets, ages old, and Leo quickly finds himself propelled into the secret and deadly world of the twisted Shadow Fabric.

Cassell has written a fast moving novel with a fascinating evil. He navigates us through a mysterious plot, and introduces us to a number of characters, ancient artifacts and legends that are all entwined with the Shadow Fabric. Cassell has effectively created a world at the edge of darkness, and he slaps us consistently with thrills and chills that will make you feel like you’re reading a movie.

Cassell’s marketing and author platform is outstanding, and his imagination is immense, as revealed by the unfolding of the Shadow Fabric mythos in the novel. He is an author with an online presence that clearly demonstrates a dedication to his craft.

I enjoyed reading and discovering the horrors of the Shadow Fabric and all its macabre wonders. If you’re a fan of classic paranormal horror then take the time to read Mark Cassell’s The Shadow Fabric. He has undoubtedly weaved a world by which legends of horror are born. I expect more great works will bleed from this author.

“Praise for Mark Cassell, a rising talent in horror.” ~ Darryl Foster