monster

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.

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

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

Flash Fiction Published on Commuterlit.com: “The Turning”

Are you a Walking Dead fan?

Check out my flash fiction The Turning on commuterlit.com, published today or read on below:

The Turning by Darryl Foster

My eyes flicker open.

A soft ambient glow fills my vision. I strain to focus and what at first appears to be a chalky blackboard sky solidifies to become the moon hovering like an apparition, floating among wisps of cloud. I feel peaceful lying here, somewhere, looking up at the drift of moonlit clouds as they slip through my vision. Each cloud a morphing fractal, a kaleidoscope of changing shapes pushed by the wind, curling, twisting, and then moving far away, leaving me to consider my thoughts and what seems to be my complete loss of self regard and place. The sudden realization that my careless mental drift with the night sky overshadows my current situation trips my consciousness. A tightening in my chest triggers a panic concerning my wellbeing and sends me crashing into the question—where am I?

I attempt to recall my thoughts, reaching back before I woke: What was I doing? How did I arrive here? Who am I? But nothing seems to snap my memory to attention. I am left to wonder if I have any memory of anything. I search my mind again, trying to recall something that could postulate my being here, and the only thing rising from my thoughts is a taste; a coppery bitterness in my mouth, as if I’d been sucking on a penny for days. It seems, for now, I have regained a tiny measure of feeling as my sense of taste returns to life, and with it, a rising intensity of a thousand pricking needles barrels through my body. It feels like I’m a dead limb waking after hours of poor circulation. And as my body comes back to life I regain some muscle control and turn my head. There at eye level, a curb and sidewalk perpendicular to my perception. I’m on my back. I’m lying down on a road, and my revived nerves send forward my sense of touch. I feel cold, and realize I’m shirtless, my skin pressing against clammy tarmac—get up—that’s all I can think.

I take a deep breath. The damp air quickens my senses, sending a flood of activity that rifles my brain, and all my muscles are sore; throbbing with pain. Something is wrong with me, something terribly wrong. A heavy feeling in my body, as if pinned by gravity, makes the road feel like it’s holding up my weight, and suddenly the tension in every muscle fibre seems to loosen as though waking from a bout of temporary paralysis. In that revelation all the pain is gone as if cast out by miracle, but strangely there is something left behind, not a tangible ache, but an encompassing apathetic clarity. Suddenly I’m no longer consumed by the questions plaguing me. It doesn’t matter who I am, where I am or what I am doing. All that matters is what I feel now; the rise of some new found sense of freedom composing itself in my mind. The sensation is: consuming, euphoric, limitless, and whatever questions I have of my past life lift away. This new life without bonds, without care, is far better, and something else—something growing inside—an instinctive reflex: to be, to live, to feed.

I summon my strength and roll onto my side. I push my hands against the cold asphalt and stand. A survey of my body reveals coagulated blood stains on my blue jeans, scrapes across my chest—as if I’d been dragged across pavement—and I notice my right forearm appears mangled as if mauled by a dog trying to wrestle out the bone. There’s no initial shock, and I can clearly see a streak of moist white sinew deep within the jagged valley of the laceration which extends from my elbow to my wrist. The wound is missing fatty tissue and muscle, and it’s easy to see the torn bloody ends of my arteries and veins, but oddly the sight doesn’t seem to concern me; it captivates me. I’m staring at my injury, observing it, picking at it with the hand on my good arm, and there is no pain. Perhaps I no longer understand pain. It doesn’t seem to register in my mind that I’m, hurt, and I don’t feel a need to seek help.

I take another deep breath; a taut pressure in my head releases, and I feel an unhinging of my mind, a mental bon voyage, and suddenly any emotion, desire or forward thought begins to numb. My original self succumbs, relinquishing its hold on this body and fades into oblivion. There is no sense of before or after, and the present doesn’t seem to register any measure of time—there’s only empty space in my thoughts. Regardless, I know I am something. I am alive, and although I may be absent of pulse, I know I exist in some state of living animation, perhaps as a shell, a vessel for whatever minuscule piece of consciousness I have left. And although that remaining part of me seems suppressed, it’s still able to comprehend my surroundings, and detects far-off screams of terror reverberating in the night air.

Those resounding cries of horror are like a beacon, and I’m attracted to whatever distant chaos is unfolding; the scent of it smells like blood spilt into the ocean to spur a frenzy of sharks. The louder the shrieks the more excited I become, and with the excitement a memory rushes through me—a memory of absolute panic—in which I’m running and trying to stay ahead of a tsunami of hysterical people. We are all being chased, unable to outrun a closing horde of clamouring, rot-smelly things that appear human and decayed. A woman on my heels is picked off, sideswiped by one of the creatures. I recall the hollow thud of her body and the crack of her skull on pavement—the sound of instantaneous death—and in the back of my mind I imagine it like a lion taking down a gazelle. The driving fear of her death—and mine pending—kept my legs moving and my senses sharp as I looked for any escape route—and there, ahead is an alley. I charge right, hoping to evade, but one of those things pursues. Its necrotic scent and sour breath looms over my shoulder. I breakout of the alleyway, dash across a sidewalk and race left onto a street, and the thing digs its fingernails into my neck. I feel its bite and jaw lock onto my arm. My eyes shut, and I cringe in breathless agony. A few last steps and this thing wrestles me to the ground. My eyes are wide, my screams choked by horror, as my nemesis hovers over me: vicious, manic and tearing into my arm. It is a hideous figure, appearing as a mangled man with bloody sores, lacerations and missing layers of skin and hair. Its bite is unrelenting and the sting of an acidic like saliva is mixing with my blood and tissue. I’m the gazelle now, surrendering to the kill, submitting to natural selection, and knowing my place in the food chain—blackness consumes, and the memory is gone.

More distant screams and something begins to pump my heart. I can feel it inside, moving in my chest—something has control of my body. Pressure builds in my veins; a wetness above my lip forms and a drip of blood runs uncontrollably from my nose. My eyes feel heavy as if sunken in their sockets. I feel aged, and decayed. My body quivers then turns with a jerk toward the direction of the screams searching out the scent of death in the air, and my eyes fall upon the streetscape ahead of me. The way forward is littered with the carnage of awkwardly splayed bodies reeking with a stench of soured organics. Maybe some will rise and wake like me. Maybe they will see the moon in the sky as I did, luminous with shape-shifting clouds and perhaps they too will wonder where they are, who they are, and perhaps they too will see the world in a different way, a new boundless way. I stumble forward, lurching toward the sounds of the frantic living, churning with a mindless hunger.

 

 

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?