Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Richard Faraday At The End Of The World - NOW AVAILABLE

After a long slog of things, I have finally made my new novel available from Lulu. This has been a long time coming, and I think it's worth what went into it. It's twice as big, ten times as epic, and with a whole host of new characters joining the existing-- and surviving (and not so surviving!)-- characters from the first.

And God DAMN am I proud of it.

(Click the cover to buy)

This one wouldn't be here without the help of all the people who purchased the first, that's the most important thing. If no one wanted to see more from the characters then why would I even bother? It's all well and good writing for yourself but at the same time... fuck it! Who cares about what I want? A big thank you to Kate Hannon and Jon Wilkins for editing the bad boy, but also the continuing support of Sam Miller, who, whilst unable to edit it, was a guiding light during the earlier stages and also in shaping the first book. Ramon Villalobos created the cover, and it's a beauty of a thing. I love it so.

And what's next?

Well, I think I've finalised the title of the third book in the series... Scarlett Faraday Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. If that sticks around, awesome, but the only way you won't see it is if I come up with something better! Not only that, but there will be a CHRISTMAS surprise, fingers crossed.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Having an ultimate brain ache with the formatting of the second novel these last few days. The first proof had a few chapters formatted wrong, the chapter layouts were off, so I fixed it, sent off for another proof. That's fine, that's why you order a proof. Then, after discussing alignment with someone, I went back and intended to change the paragraph alignment again (I had time, everything else was okay, format-wise) but then found that I had somehow fucked up the chapters again, so I fixed it but now I've got a few days to my deadline and no hope of hitting my target of Halloween release (with proof in hand) unless I take a chance and trust that I haven't fucked it up even further...


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Richard Faraday At The End Of The World - Cover Update

Me (Thu 16th October): "Holy shit, that's amazing. What was the thought process behind it?"

Ramon (Sat 20th October): "My thought process was you had kind of asked for the eyes and the trees as elements so I figured as long as I incorporated both of those we'd be set so after that I just played around with different images of trees that I distorted and different mask faces that I mostly disembodied so that it is kind of graphic. I'm a huge fan of Chip Kidd's design work for covers so I looked at his book a ton and tried to add some of that class. I wanted to use red and green because those colors feel kind of like dangerous and acidic in most contexts other than Christmas so yeah I did that and just rolled with it. At first I had the features of the face way more obscured but then I was like nah, this thing is really creepy, I'm going to just... put it out there on the front. It draws the viewers attention in heavy and adds a lot more visual interest to what otherwise was looking too simple, you know? haha, so when I wrote this, I thought I still had the green color on the cover but it was a last minute decision to change it to gray because I thought the green made it too... not christmassy but I thought I was using red and green too much lately and this felt a little more washed out and creepy."

NaNoWriMo Update #1: The Non-Writing Update Update

Today was the first NaNoWriMo* meeting I have ever attended and I was surprised by how much I got out of it! The fact of the matter is I didn't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed. Right now, I'm stuck in a purgatory of not meeting new people who share my interests but being surrounded by people who write fiction and get the same buzz out of it that I do was so inspiring. I'm just disappointed I'm not allowed to start writing until November. Surely there has to be some pre-NaNoWriMo writing allowance**?

I have two weeks before it begins. I know what I'm going to write so I might start plotting. I think this will be difficult, because I don't normally plot so heavily. I have A and C sorted out, but B is up in the air, usually dictated by characters than the story itself, which I think is the right direction to go in. So I'll try plotting, but I can't let myself get too heavily pulled into it else all hell will break loose.

We'll see, eh?

*National Novel Writing Month, obviously.
**I know there isn't, sob.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

I think I lost sight of what I wanted to do with my life this past year or so.

Not to say that I've had some massive misstep or not fulfilled some ultimate destiny I set out for myself, but I think that I've become distracted, more focused on my job for instance, not made any headway on other projects.

I fucking wrote a novel though. Two novels. Three novels if you count The Chain (and I do!), so that's fucking something, isn't it?

But I didn't make those short films I wanted to make (working on rectifying that now).

Being dedicated to my job isn't a bad thing. What's concerning is when it overtakes my entire life to the point that it's the only thing I concentrate on. Writing time is hard to come by, I'm run down to all hell by whatever this bug is that I've got, and I've not got any time to go see a doctor.

But if I can finally make some headway on putting myself out there some more creatively... then I should... should... be okay...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Abandon All Hope / unedited chapter one

With a look on his face that verged toward the inappropriately erotic, Ryan Norman polished his silver badge. He loved the way it glinted in the moonlight. He loved the way it made him look. So why wouldn’t he take pride in its appearance? Why not, when the rest of the night going to be stuck in the same, plodding rut as the night before?
It was another boring night shift at the dock, looking after the hundreds of shipping crates that came and went on a daily basis from the city port. He wasn’t a police officer, nor was he a security guard. What did his bosses back at head office call him? A security guarantor. Some new age bull shit to make the companies he was hired out to feel more comfortable in their decisions. A security guarantor. That wouldn’t last too long, he thought. People like heavy handed names, titles that struck awe and terror in any prospective thieves. Something like ‘security bastard’. Security guarantor was a fad and it wouldn’t be around much longer.
He held his flashlight like it was a gun, strolling worry free through the looming corridors that were created by the crates that had been placed strategically across the area. The only thing he’d ever had to do here was scare of some homeless guys who had made an empty crate their home. That was it. No smugglers-- boo--, no thieves-- yawn--, just hobos trying to keep warm in the night. But he had chased them off, reported their appearance to the authority, and that was that.
Ryan had tried to become a police officer but they had failed him on psychiatric grounds. He couldn’t remember the exact reasoning. Whatever. All that mattered was the task at hand. The job. He continued his patrol, his flashlight poking into the nooks and crannies of the crates just in case there was something waiting there for him. Not that there ever was. He sighed, resigned to another boring night at the--
There was a sound.
A bottle being kicked?
Something being moved when it shouldn’t have been?
Someone being where they shouldn’t.
“Fucking homeless bastards,” mumbled Ryan. He turned on his radio and called in the minor disturbance. Investigating, he said. Could be a rat. A cat. It could be Sinbad the fucking Sailor, but he had to call it in regardless. With that done, he began his approach.
“Hello?” The shadows didn’t answer. He rolled his eyes. “Fucking…”
Ryan followed the source of the sound. He had heard it once and he knew where to look. He kept his cool, just like he had been trained to, and pushed on. “I’m warning--”
Another sound.
The sound of the containers being struck? Like someone was being thrown against them?
Ryan pushed on, determined. This could be something. This could be his something. The trigger for him to finally become a police officer. Then? A detective! Then… he could become the chief of police for the whole city. These were just some of the ideas he had. Some of the ideas he shared with the interviewers when he had applied to the police force. They gave him looks. Jealousy? He shook his head, dismissing his thoughts. Now wasn’t the time.
Ryan turned a corner and as he raised the flashlight the bulb began to flicker and fail. He cursed furiously under his breath but to no avail. The light died unremarkably, leaving Ryan alone with a shape slumped against one of the containers. He holstered the flashlight and approached the slumped figure. “Hello?”
The man-- Ryan was convinced it was a man now-- remained still.
“Hello…” He couldn’t see a thing. He realised he had stumbled into one of the poorest lit areas of the lot-- typical. He moved slowly toward the shadowed shape ahead of him, arms outstretched just in case. In the distance he could see lights flickering on and off, but there was nothing nearby to rely on to guide him through.
“Okay,” he whispered to himself. He knew the man was dead. The man had to be dead. That was the only option now. This was not a night for drunken layabouts slumping over in port authority storage lot. He knelt down next to the figure ready to check for a pulse, but then--
His flashlight turned on in its hilt. He looked down at it in surprise, scrambling to turn it off, and when he looked back up at the man’s face he screamed as loud as his lungs would allow.
Every opening on the naked man’s face was stitched closed. His ears, his eyes, his nostrils and his mouth, all sealed shut with tightly wound strands of black string. The man’s skin was pale and thin, wrapped tightly around his frame. He looked how Ryan imagined mummies to look like in real life, not CGI-effected or made up all Karloff like. His flesh was torn in places, like it had grown so tight that it had began to split. Blackening ulcers oozed what must have been blood but Ryan couldn’t be sure. The viscous fluid was paste-like and oil-like in colour…. Ryan couldn’t help his next reaction--
“Oh, G--”
--Ryan vomited over himself in shock. He’d never seen anything as horrible as this in all his time on the dockyard. He’d seen homeless men and women covered in shit and god knows what else, but this? He wiped his lips of the vomit, and looked down at his shirt.
“Fuh… fuh… fuck--!”
The man grabbed him-- Ryan screamed again as the desperate hands groped at his vomit drenched jacket and pushed the man back against the container, making the same sound that had drawn him to this location. “nnnmmm!”
The man made stifled, suffocated sounds and scratched at his face, not knowing what was going on. He was pale and dehydrated and his every movement was making his situation even worse, spreading the black discharge all over his face He knew what he had to do, even in his terror. He grabbed the man’s hands.
“It’s okay!” he shouted, trying to get through to the man, “ okay, help is here! Help is here! Calm down!”
The man struggled pathetically, but his actions fizzled out. He settled, but still shook, still looked a horrifying mess of a human being. His paper-like skin was now peeling off his body, and Ryan was horrified by the smell coming from the wounds a rotten dead smell he knew he would never be able to forget.
Ryan took his pen knife from his pocket and fiddled with all the attachments. He pulled out the fork and cursed, pushing it back into its slot. Finally, after some struggling-- his own fingers numb and senseless-- he was able to pry out the scissor attachment.
“Stay perfectly still!” he shouted, and the man nodded.
Ryan went to work.
He began to snip at the strands that bound the man’s eyelids closed. The man seized up for a split second, but settled when he realised what was happening. Ryan assumed he was caught in the moment when his eyes were initially sealed, that horror must overcome you at such a time. Ryan was horrified at what he was having to do. He was trying desperately not to touch the man’s skin, but he had to, and when he did so he felt the man’s skin shift and peel under his grip. The man continued to make pained noises as he went to work, but was trying his best to stay calm now.
With one eye done, the man blinked furiously, trying to adjust to his new predicament.
Ryan smiled in an attempt to comfort him, but the man began to scream through sealed lips, grabbing at Ryan’s shoulders as he tried to settle him.
“It’s okay! It’s okay! It’s--”
Someone took a hold of Ryan’s hand and shoved the scissors into the man’s eye, causing blood to spurt into Ryan’s mouth and send the man into convulsions.
Ryan turned and saw a man wearing what he thought was a gas mask, but before he could react he was struck so hard that his nose split open and his world faded to black--

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

One thing I always struggle with is naming characters. It's such a mundane thing yet I struggle with it immensely!

Any ideas on how to make the process easier?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

I'm treating the opening of the third novel as an American spin on the first. Very procedural, Law & Order with a dash of The X-Files. It's coming along well, just the right amount of punchy, I think.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Fan Fetishisation

My novel started as fan fiction. I wanted to write horror stories and I was seventeen and I didn't want to do the leg work to actively create my own character from scratch. But I knew of a character, quite low profile, not as well defined to modern audiences that I thought I could make "mine". What were originally going to be the adventures of John Constantine, Hellblazer became Doctor Occult due to a scheduling error at the fan fiction website I posted at. I was told I couldn't use Constantine-- even after having a cover done up!-- so I had to come up with a last minute replacement.

And Doctor Occult would do.

So yeah, I, like many before me, started writing in the creative favela of fan fiction. I wrote 35,000 words, and I loved it. This was me writing what I wanted to write: Horror. I hadn't been fully able to do so before but I thought this was pure and unadulterated. I did things I always wanted to do with the genre. And sure, I was influenced by Supernatural and, of course, DC Comics-- so there were cameos from The Shade, The Spectre, Madame Xanadu-- but it was mine. I did things with the character that hadn't been done with him before. I told a whole new story in the context of him.

... Which isn't exactly right, is it?

I mean, I wanted to become-- and I still do!-- a serious writer. A writer on the up and up. And I always thought that fan fiction was something to look down on, and yes, I think it still is, but E.L. James is a millionaire for her Twilight fan-fiction trilogy Fifty Shades..., and all she did was replace vampires with bondage. I mean come on, honestly? Honestly? So my roots in fan fiction aren't the stigma I always thought they were. Yes, they're a bit embarrassing, but so what? My closest friends know I did it, and they were just "yeah, okay, moving on," about it, so I can't fault that reaction.

I tried getting back into it at the tail end of 2011. It was what actually energised me  into writing original content. I wanted to wrap up some stories from a few years ago (I took a massive hiatus after starting my new job) but the excitement petered out. I started strong, wrote like a beast... but then the enthusiasm died. I didn't want to write about Green Lantern. I wanted to write about... something for me.

When I was in America, travelling via trains from Point A to Point Z to all Points in-between I had a journal I was scribbling furiously in. This was... 2010. 2010, a year that was both horrifically unkind to me but also the start of a lot of new, too. I was building a world in my notebook, and a name occurs again and again in my notes. Richard Faraday. And there weren't mentions of his wife Scarlett, she was a later addition, but this was the man I could write stories around. He was a mix of the Winchesters and The Doctor, horror and science fiction rolled up, all my favourite kind of adventures just waiting for him to experience. I wrote about all the characters you find in Books One and Two, you find everything out. He's there. He was whole. And all I had to do was write him. Come 2012, I did just that.

So anyway, if you've read my blog this year you know I just committed to writing. I did what I wanted, and I did it well, I think. 

The stories started out as horror, pure and simple. But as I wrote I found things changing. It became a homage, perhaps a pastiche, to my childhood, and maybe to yours. There were no capes or superpowers. There were spectral private detectives. Odd, numerically inclined mystery men. Every other character was based on the shows of the sixties that had a short revival during the mid-nineties during reruns and have now found a home on ITV4. I'm talking, as you well know, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Prisoner, The Professionals and so much more. Book Two is full of it. Department S, Jason King, Captain Scarlet... it's insane. And you probably won't see them like I do. You'll maybe recognise a name. You might feel fleeting familiarity with one character. But everyone has their origins somewhere. And I've taken them and I've twisted them and placed them within the context of my mythology, and I love it. Book Three is going to be even worse. My novel has become a place for my influences to come out and play. Supernatural, Night Stalker, Doctor Who, Angel, The Wire, The Man from UNCLE, Fringe, Moonlight, True Blood, et al, just dancing wildly to the beat of my drum. Their stories become something new, and then the question is asked... what next? Where did Illya Kuryakin go? What next for Patrick McGoohan's Number Six? Whatever happened to Jason King? And things get bigger and bigger until what can really threaten them other than the end of reality?

I have a plan now. I know where the novels are going, loosely. Getting Book Two out there is the most important thing at the moment, but I want to think beyond that. So, the plan. Three novels-- potentially four-- published by Summer 2013. A pitch in the hands of Image Comics by the same time, based on my novel series. I'm already talking to an artist. I want this stuff to be in the hands of people who come from the same place as me, that's always been the goal.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ahora contare hasta doce y tu te callas y me voy.

I love poetry. I love using someone else's language and soul to convey your own emotions. And it's big and it's scary and it's intimidating but you know what? Okay. Okay, this is fine. This is right. I love songs for the same reason, because I could send you a song and you would know, within a few lines, how I'm feeling. I fall back on using music and words-that-aren't-my-own to communicate because sometimes the world is so overwhelming that you can't verbalise how you feel. I know that sometimes I can't.

Por una vez sobre la tierra
no hablemos en ningun idioma,
por un segundo detengamonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

I also love the work of Pablo Neruda and I am such a cliché to do so. His words just... sing to me... and I want to use them to describe how I feel and how to... haha... oh, I don't even know what I'm saying.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

But what they could not see, scuttling across the ceiling and vanishing down into the darkest recesses of the house, was the oily black thing, with leather-like skin glistening in the fluctuating candle light that illuminated their way. If they had only looked up at the right moment, been able to see the thing for what it was, they would have left the house then and there, vowing never to return. But their curiosity had them in a vice grip, their spatial awareness had them doomed, and they journeyed further into the corridors, further into the shadows, closer and closer towards the nest…

Sunday, 22 April 2012

On Horror

I finished the second novel, tentatively titled In My Time Of Dying (after the song, of course) This one took just over two months, it's nearly a third longer, and it's the longest thing I've ever written-- including The Chain-- so, wow. I was surprised to end to learn that. It just kind of happened. I work toward a 75,000 word goal because everything else seems rubbish, and this one just got away from itself... and I think I've missed out a load of necessary stuff too. So I've sent it to Sam for a story-check, then he'll say-- fingers crossed-- "this, this, this and this don't work. The rest is awful" and I'll go back and hack. So it may very well be 119,462 words at this point, but it might be necessary to hack a lot away. Which would be a shame after all the work went into it, but it has to work, doesn't it? So if it doesn't work now then I'll make it work. That's the only way.

I want to get some ideas and thoughts down about what I've written so far, just for posterities sake, just so I'm not pulling bullshit, or what looks to be bullshit, out of my arse down the line. People say that you should write to evoke a reaction, you should write toward a theme, you should have deeper meaning to your work than just... LOOK AT THIS! LOOK! LOOK HERE!... and I'm not sure that's entirely true. But as I went, I started thinking about how I wanted to tell a love story, this epic love story that's taken place over a century, and about two lovers who have been separated for decades. How love conquers all, perhaps? I know it's a cliché, but I wanted to tell a scary story, one that might stay with you, and one that also subverts expectation. Did I achieve that? I'm not sure. But here's me rationalising a few things:

Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective (click here to buy!) was about building a world. Building some foundations, constructing a world on a framework, and telling a story within that framework. Things made sense (I hope? I think?) and there were rules. You know the kind of things I'm talking about... old chestnuts like "vampires can't be exposed to sunlight, vampires can only be killed by a stake or a beheading, vampires are repulsed by garlic and crucifixes", those kinds of things. This Is The Way The World Works. So for me it meant... ghosts wear white and only a few people can see them. Which is a over-generalisation and steals a few tricks from Dennis Spooner's Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), *wink wink*.

So the world was established as... I don't know. The idea was that magic exists. That much is obvious. It exists just under the surface of ours. There are places where magic and the real world can interact. Place of power. There are places where the magical communities come together, "Under Worlds", as they're called. Everything you've ever heard about or read about exists. A quote that I love, and have slipped into a lot of my works, is this ditty from John Lennon: "I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?" If you've read the novel you know that a character says it because it's true. I think so, anyway. Every god, every demon, every devil and every monster, every fairy and black dog and thing you ever dreamt up is real. Just because you haven't seen them yet doesn't mean they're not real in this world.

So anyway, the first novel was building the world, invest time in the characters, make the reader care. Again, else what's the point? I also made a point of not letting the reader into Richard Faraday's head until the end few chapters. I wanted his character to be quite ambiguous because there are some actions of his that are really questionable. Is he good or is he bad? What lengths will he go to get what he needs? You never know because he's being filtered through the other characters, mainly Marie Ann Tarrant, the POV character. At the end of the Part Two the POV character shifts to someone else and the ambiguity, I hope, increases, because of what takes place. But with the new POV character comes some reveals about Richard, who he is and why he does what he does, so you're rewarded (fingers crossed!) for sticking with the change. So the first novel is this brand new world, through the eyes of someone who has no idea what's waiting for her. You're coming into this world with this woman, you're learning as she does. There are characters in the world who know more than you, but as a reader you're never at a disadvantage to the characters. You know as much as Marie, she won't get things and not share. You might figure it out before her, but that's because you're smart. So there was a plan, there was a structure.

The second novel, In My Time Of Dying, is still going through the revision stages. This book is about taking the world you're used to and breaking it down into pieces. That's the plan, anyway. The world is opened up, you're shown more and more of the magical realm, but the rulebook is thrown out of the window. Sam [Miller, one of the editors] said that the best thing for sequels is to expand upon the world and we're doing just that. We're going to entirely new places, we're introducing brand new characters. The core casts doubles-- perhaps triples-- and characters you've met in Ghost Detective get more of the spotlight, and now we're viewing the world through Richard's eyes. He knows a lot but because the rules have changed he's at a disadvantage. I wanted the story to be filtered through characters. The first novel does that with a laser focus, it's always on Marie, it's always her until it's not possible to be her. The second book has a lot of characters, a lot of balls in the air, and I hope they're all served well. We'll see soon enough.


The original idea with the sequel was to write it a pastiche of styles, a homage to horror through the years. Each Part was going to be in the style of a horror decade. I'll briefly go over each and give you an idea of what was coming, and who knows, maybe this will happen, but In My Time Of Dying took on an epic tone that I didn't want to scupper with an inappropriate writing style. These posts are inevitably going to get longer the later I go, because the later I go the more the films resonate me, as I am the generation they were made for. Those were the films I stayed up late watching every Halloween at Karl's as we had our annual Halloween horror film marathon... these were what made me afraid of the dark again and again and again. So let's get on with this.

I wanted to keep quite focused but you'll have to excuse me for breaking my own rules straight away. For me, from the 1920s right through to the 1940s, horror was all about Universal; those classy, gothic stories that re-established the genre as something that is profitable and has a potential more so than ever before.  I could have started earlier with the silent horrors of earlier decades but I thought this was the best place to start. Film-makers were feeling out the genre, thinking were could they start. And where best but the literary classics? We got Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolfman... I know that Universal started their horror dominance in the late 20s, but for the sake of my own sanity, I think their heyday was with these films, so bear with me. Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi... and one of the greatest horror directors of all time, James Whale? You can't go wrong, can you? They set the trend, and they're to blame-- for better or for worse!-- for horror as we know it today. Greatness.

1950s were all about the b-movie, zany, massive scale stories about invasion and change and a fear of the unknown. Of course, horror is all about the fear of the unknown, but never has a decade captured an atmosphere as well as the Red Scare that started in the late forties and ended, kind of, in the late fifties. Damned Commies! Better dead than red! I don't have much to say about this era. It feels like, from the films I've seen with Lugosi and Karloff really coasting, that it was more of the same, and more of the same doesn't make for good writing, but the 1950s were about discomfort at the norm, and science fiction encapsulated that amazingly. Plus, we got Steve McQueen fighting The Blob in 1958, so who are we to complain?

Of course the 1960s were all about Hammer Horror. Any horror fan worth tier salt knows that Dracula with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing was a 1958 affair but for succinctness' sake I'm going with the 1960s as a whole. Lee/Cushing was a partnership to be reckoned with and they took their dynamite chemistry and took it to the next level with a twist on their original formula with Hammer's Frankenstein with Lee as the monster and Cushing as something even worse, the creator of the monster, so how can you hate on that? Hammer was the youth revolution, the beautiful counter-culture horror that instilled in me an almighty fear when I started watching as a child. They introduced sex and death in equal measure, and if Universal showed the potential, Hammer took it to the next level. You couldn't get enough of Lee's Dracula, dripping with sexuality and suaveness. And Cushing was so damned British that if you don't enjoy these films you're not a patriot. During the 50s Universal retired their line of 'classics' and introduced a glut of Abbott and Costello films, so Hammer had a coup on their hands, and what a coup. Hammer became one of the greatest franchises-- British or otherwise-- to rule cinema. Of course, as the films went on sensationalism took over... blood and gore and breasts and sex and all that was rife, but the beginning... those classics... you can't go wrong. And sure, if you're in the mood for it, go watch The Vampire Lovers (1970), Lust for a Vampire (1971), and Twins of Evil (1971). Lesbiansss!

In the 1970s the first of the 'gory' horrors started happening. After having parallel success to the Hammer productions in the 1960s Vincent Price took it to the next level with almost farcical levels of blood and gore, and I love him for it. His Thibes two parter and then a year or so later, Theatre of Blood was a later effort for the horror dynamo but it was golden, dramatic and camp, the 1960s spirit with 1970s production value. A theme throughout this piece is the fact that each decade builds on what came before, and I'll go deeper into that later. But Price was debonair, suave, just like his predecessors in the genre... His Roger Corman collaborations introduced the work of Edgar Allan Poe to the general public, and we also had the first hint of the slasher flick with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the late seventies. Again, I have to reiterate that the distinctions I'm making are naturally going to be flawed, that great films fall on the either side of the chunks I'm dividing them up into, but I don't care. The seventies took everything that came before, the  tension, the horror, the fear, and turned it up to eleven. Brilliant. This was also the start of the "masked killer" era, that really took off in the 1980s, but had a massive resurgence in the 1990s. But before we can get to the 90s we have to discuss the 1980s, once of my favourite, absolute favourite decades of horror.

The 1980s sophistication was the key, I think. Taking ideas and evolving them to the next level. Alien (1979!), An American Werewolf In Paris, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Gremlims, Henry: Potrait of a Serial Killer, My Bloody Valentine, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, The Shining-- all films that captured the imaginations of those who watched them and shaped a generation of film makers and creative folk. This was the era of the monster as commodity, as pop culture icon. Sure, we had Lugosi from the 40s making a career off Universal's Dracula, the same could be said for every iconic actor in a role like that. Cushing was Van Helsing from the first Hammer Dracula. And don't get me started on Christopher Lee! But this was the era of sophistication, of more than just what's come before. The genre was subverted by exuberant film makers like Raimi with Evil Dead, we had more experimental fare with the likes of Henry... people were now taking risks and tearing audiences a new one with their work. But not only were we getting truly scary, experimental films, we were also being drowned in the slasher flick, with every serial killer having a gimmick and every serial killer having... a sequel. Yes, this was also the decade of the sequel. the decade that led to the downfall of horror as a franchise. The law of diminishing returns meant that sure, people would still go see Jason and Freddy slaughter their victims, but less of them every time, and with each film that came, the closer we came to the Direct-To-DVD era, the deluge that drowned the 90s until...

...Scream. Which I know was from 1996 but come on, can you name any good horror films from the early/mid-nineties? I'll give it a shot in a bit but the 1990s took everything-- and I know I keep saying this, but the great thing about horror is that it kept building and building and building on what came before, until the eventual deconstruction--and repackaged it to bring the audiences back into theatres. The Faculty. I Know What You Did Last Summer. Scream. Urban Legend. The teenager-as-only-hope. The-authority-figure-as-the-last-person-you-can-trust. We've all seen these films. I know that you might think that 1997 is a bit late in the decade  to really count as a great trend of films, but I've done my research, and I swear to go... have you seen the films that came out during this decade? Basket Case 2, Bride of Re-Animator, Child's Play 2, The Exorcist III, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, House 5, Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, Psycho IV: The Beginning, Slumber Party Massacre III, Sorority House Massacre II, Witchcraft II and Witchcraft III-- and that was just in 1990 itself! The 90s were the decade of the sequel, and that's not good for anyone. I mean honestly, House 5?! Has anyone even seen the first four? (Witchcraft IX: Bitter Flesh came out in 1996 by the way... have you seen the first one? I thought not. Me neither. And that's not even the last sequel!!) There were some exceptions to the rule. We got Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), but that's taking a cultural touch point and reintroducing it to the general populace. I don't think you can define a decade off one film, either. I guess you could say the 1990s were the decade of the adaptation. Stephen King's work was glutting the market, we had a few Frankensteins, some HP Lovecraft bits and pieces here and there, but nothing truly new. 1997 was the year the 90s needed. We had Anaconda, Devil's Advocate, Event Horizon, Mimic, Nightwatch, The Relic... and sure we still had the proliferation of sequels, but I think the fact that we're getting fare less based on an established property and more-- cough-- original-- cough-- storytelling, is the most important thing. We also got Halloween H20: 20 Years Later in 1998-- an attempt at taking an established property and "reboot" it with a modern twist. Sure, it didn't exactly work, but I think this was the first film that showed film companies that there was still hope  for old properties. A proliferation of sequels and also a reboot...then soon after in 1999 came The Faculty, Ring, Audition, Deep Blue Sea, End of Days, The Haunting, House on Haunted Hill, Lake Placid, The Mummy, Ravenous, Sleepy Hollow... a mix of remakes and revamps, and the start of a new trend... the dread remake.

But for me, that's not what the 2000s is for me. It's a horrible mess of trends in this decade. We have the torture porn invasion. The Asian Invasion that was first started in the late 90s and then twisted into a neutered direction with the dreaded continuance of the remake trend (so we are still seeing it there) as bastardised versions of The Ring came out, then The Grudge, Dark Water, Pulse, One Missed Call... American production companies took these modern classics and made them into hollow versions of themselves, and that's why I have a massive problem, most of the time, with remakes. That said, we had Halloween from the mind of Rob Zombie, we had another Texas Chainsaw Massacre-- which is a mess of gore and takes away from the fact that the original had next to no gore and was all about suggestion-- we had Freddy Kruger re-imagined as a paedophile (he wasn't in the original films! He just killed kids, he didn't fiddle them. A very sound distinction!). Rob Zombie got his foot in the door via House of a 1000 Corpses, which was just... horrible. Then The Devils Rejects, which was less good. But Rob Zombie's Halloween was a psychological mind screw of a film, taking everything we knew about Michael Myers and making even more sense of it, sapping away the supernatural and making him a tour de force of murder. I loved what he did with that film. I had originally thought that the 2000s was the decade of sophistication but I don't think that's the case any more. I thought they broke down tropes and reinvented them, but no. I realise now that the 2000s was the decade of torture and I'm not entirely sure what to make of that. Films were horrible. They were scary-- at times-- but they were also horrible. Suddenly people didn't have a hope of escaping. They were locked in abandoned toilets with their ankles chained to pipes (Hello, Saw I-VII!) Characters didn't have a chance at winning and for me that's breaking the golden rule of horror. There have to be rules and if you stick to the rules you can survive. But then characters start getting raped and beaten and tortured and locked up and buried and cremated and it's just... not fair. Even if you escape you don't have a hope. Saw, Cabin Fever, the remake of Texas Chainsaw. You're broken inside,. That never was the case before! Sure, you survived, but you got on with your life. I guess this trend of the horror taking over your life started with Laurie in Halloween or Nancy in Elm Street, then taken to its logical next step with Sidney in Scream (Scream 2 genuinely still creeps me out more so than any sequel, and you know she's not the same person any more, not after what happened to her)...

But anyway. I wanted to tell a section of my second novel in the above styles... which I don't think I've clearly outlined, but you understand where I'm coming from, right? I wanted to pay homage to everything that ever inspired me, and I think I would have done a good job too, but as mentioned previously I think that the story wouldn't have worked within those parameters. Which is a shame, but it gives me a chance down the line to tell those stories at a later date, I just need to find the right project. Looking forward to it!


After I finished Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective, around early February, I asked my friends what I thought to be a very simple question. 

"In three sentences or less (and some took liberties with that), what defines the Horror genre for you?" 

For me personally, it's a story that takes the everyday and makes it Not Quite Right. Slowly at first, the everyday begins to shift, and you're there, in the middle, and the world around you is changing, really slowly, building to this... reveal of the cause of the change. I think if you apply that template to a horror story you'll have a success, and it's the mindset I'm in when I write the genre. I wanted to see if people shared this thought process, and also I wanted to make sure that when I wrote in future, I wrote with what terrified others in mind.

"It's only truly horrifying when something convinces you it could happen, no matter how unrealistic it is. Even ghosts or vampires can be scary when the story's grounded in realism." - Elizabeth Kinports

"Quite literally the first thing that I think of when someone mentions 'horror' is you...!" - Naomi Hannon (I think this is the best response to the question, to be honest)

"Psychology is what makes the horror genre. There is nothing more frightening than helplessly watching a character unravel through their own eyes. Vampires and zombies become silly when pit against the exposure of every day fear we all experience." - Adam Messinger (creator/writer of The Amazing Fist)

"Anything that scares the shit out of me." - Hannah Tadd

"I'm not going to tell you outright. Instead I am going to enter your home, the very rooms where you feel most safe, and make subtle changes that put you on edge. Once you have searched around thoroughly and convinced yourself that there is no reason to worry, I will wait in the shadows until you have begun to drift off to sleep, and in hoarse whispers an inch away from your ear I'll tell you what defines THE HORROR GENRE for me. Before your panicking mind manages to rally you from slumber, I'll have left, stealing your favourite snack food from the cupboard on the way out. (That last bit is less to do with THE HORROR GENRE and more to do with me being a dick)" - Dave Billington

"I guess the horror genre for me would be something that pulls me so far in it starts to take over my life, where I will always have the feeling that it is happening or could happen at any time. Something that will continue feeding my paranoia even when I am not provoked by the original source, would make me second guess every move I make in case the worst would happen." - Karl Stevens

"One word, six letters, begins with a H, ends with an R. It usually starts with the familiar, luring you in, but then  your imagination takes over, the suspense increases as you try to guess what will happen next, and then the unexpected happens, some twist, some surprise, subverting your beliefs - sometimes an anti-climax, but sometimes something  that latches onto the fears in your mind, transmuting them into a different form, enabling you to face them. How effective it all is depends on the storyteller, the content, the rhythms, the timing; sometimes it sticks in your mind and will never go away. That's my definition of horror and yet also my definition of humour. Is it any wonder people find clowns so scary?" - Mark Bowers

"Horror is more than blood and guts; it’s a genre that is supposed to unsettle you, leaving a last impression on you. It’s supposed to be everything that terrified you as a child personified in fiction, not just an excuse to decapitate and deform individuals in some pornographic manner." - Adam Gibson


I think that's enough for today. It's good to get the ideas down for future reference, and I hope you got something out of it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

In My Time Of Dying - A Richard Faraday Adventure [excerpt]

“Let me tell you of the swords you search for. The metal you have is yours alone. But this story… if for all to hear. "An impossible legend has it that the two swordsmiths agreed to create the greatest weapon known to man. For seven days and seven nights they worked with the finest materials, they put all their skills to the test and when they were done they journeyed to a river that was positioned between two warring towns. The towns fought over the river, because they believed that only one town could survive off its life giving waters. Muramasa had created the blade Ten Thousand Cold Nights, and it cut and sliced everything that went against it. Leaves that drifted against the blade split into two. The air hissed and cracked as it was cut by the razor-sharpness of the weapon. Trees were felled and the ground trembled in fear of the weapon. That was the nature of the sword. To destroy.” Yebisu paused and stroked his long beard. “Some might say that is the way of every sword, but that is not for us to decide over fish and dreams. Masamune’s blade, Tender Hands, was slowly lowered tip first into a river. The water flowed past it. The air glided past. Leaves that fell against it simply drifted into the river, and floated away. Nothing was cut. No damage was done. Muramasa laughed and mocked his contemporary, but when the sword was removed from the river a miraculous event occurred—the river had split into two. One part of the river flowed next to one town, and the other part of the river flowed to the second. Masamune created a sword that could create. That could end wars without blood being spilled. How you use the weapon you are given will dictate the world after. Remember that.”

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Month That Was; Final Cover Dressed And My Hysterical Reaction


Ben sent me a dressed version of the cover! I argh! It's so beautiful! I'm amending the back blurb but argh! 

So pretty. 

I realised when he sent this that I love this photo. I love it to pieces. It's a piece called goLem by a photographer who uploads work under the name Scheinbar, and when I first saw it I fell in love. I didn't want it to be distorted or hidden, I wanted the photo. I wanted that ethereal figure walking into the light. Sure, it wasn't taken for the express purpose of this book... but can't we lie and say it was?

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Month That Was; Proof Copy Arrives And All The Trouble That Brings With It

Holy shit look at that. Cover by Raj Mohanlal
The proof for my novel arrived today. As you can probably guess, this is exciting times for me. But I'm so torn. The layout is all wrong. The book is the wrong side. The cover doesn't sit right with me. There are mistakes that I've let through... but it's my bloody proof so I've bloody well achieved something right away, so that fact is kind of overriding all my other senses, common, good, otherwise.

Let me elaborate.

It's a size too big is my first knee jerk reaction. This isn't a  book you carry around with you. I'm not saying it's massive, but it's more like a manual than a novel, so that needs to be changed. I immediately found the appropriate template but because it's an inch or so smaller the layout changes completely, so now it's double the original length, page-wise. Because of that all my planned back-matter, quotes, everything, are going to have to wait for a potential "deluxe" edition I could do, but I'd rather not charge people more money for stuff they don't need (or have read here already) when I can get the actual story in their hands.

The layout is wrong when you start reading it. Things just start and there's not a "professional" finish to it. That was something I had intended to resolve before sending in the proof but my deadline hit hard and I forgot to amend it. Bah. This is an easy enough fix, but trying to work out how to make the layout conform in such a way as to make you look at it and think "oh, this could be a book I buy in Waterstones/WH Smith/off Amazon/etc" is really important so I don't want to screw it up.

The proof cover was based on the below photograph by DeviantArt user Scheinbar, who kindly gave permission to use her work as the cover. I took the advice of my boss, who said that I should make my novel look like it belonged on the shelf of any random bookshop, so I thought photo cover would be the best. Sure, I could commission some art from a friend, but deadlines were deadlines and I needed something really really fast. The photo was atmospheric, eerie, and worked on all the right levels. Damn fucking spooky if you ask me, which is a definite plus. So a good find on all counts.

I sent the image to my long-time collaborator Raj Mohanlal, who was my partner in my old Zenith! Magazine days. I gave him a spec and he went wild, coming up with some rather striking takes on the photo. As you can see from the actual cover, he inked over the photo, taking the image in a very experimental-- and beautifully eerie-- direction. The atmosphere in the piece was turned up to eleven, completely, but there was something about that original photo that just sang to me, and I think that was lost in the final "cut" as it were. I've sought another cover, hopefully have something by the end of the weekend.

That's the biggest problem of this whole endeavour. The January deadline has put me in corners I didn't want to be in, but thankfully, due to the proof reading process I've got a bit more time, so I can look for a new cover. I don't like being put in a corner, I don't like being forced into a decision. But because this is so damn important to me, I'll break my own rules to be happy with the final product. That said, my new deadline to have all the changes applied is Sunday, so, uh... blimey.

Luckily, everything I've noticed is fixable. Everything needs doing is gonna get done.

The plan is to have this on sale mid-February. That's been the plan since Day One and it's going to be done.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Music That Made Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective

This is just a test for something that could potentially appear in the final package. I don't know if I like it.

Music was an integral part of the story-writing process. I purposely avoided all the films and television shows that came from the pool of inspiration I normally work from, instead using music to drive me forward. There were obviously some albums I listened to more than others and there were certainly some tracks that played a massive, emotional role in the process, for example Mogwai’s I Know You Are But What Am I? came on during a particularly intense bout of writing, during one of the narrative’s more melancholic moments. It was perfectly fitting and kept me writing, which I think is the most important thing here. I might mix things up next time around, but for the time being, these are the albums that got me through the month.

A Perfect Circle - Mer De Noms
A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step
Adele - Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Akira Yamaoka - Silent Hill 2 Complete Soundtrack
Akira Yamaoka, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa - Silent Hill 4: The Room OST
Akira Yamaoka, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa - Silent Hill: Shattered Memories OST
Amanda Palmer - Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer [Alternate Tracks]
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Childish Gambino - Camp
Daedelus - Denies The Day’s Demise
Danzig - Circle of Snakes
Dead Man’s Bones - Dead Man's Bones
Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine
Deftones - Around The Fur
Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist
Deftones - White Pony 
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Harry Gregson-Williams - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty OST
Harry Gregson-Williams, Norihiko Hibino, Cynthia Harrell, TAPPY, and Starsailor - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Original Soundtrack
Interpol - Antics
Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Justice – Audio, Video, Disco
Kenji Kawai - Ghost in the Shell: Innocence OST
Kristin Flammio - Live At Southpaw
Lana Del Ray - Video Games
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us
Metallica - Master of Puppets
Metallica - Ride the Lightning
Michael Giacchino - Star Trek score
Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People
Nine Inch Nails - Another Version of the Truth [Las Vegas]
Nine Inch Nails - Another Version of the Truth [The Gift]
Nine Inch Nails - Broken
Nine Inch Nails - Deep (from Tomb Raider)
Nine Inch Nails - Fixed
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Nine Inch Nails - The Slip
Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
Nine Inch Nails - Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D
Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
Nobuko Toda, Shuichi Kobori, Kazuma Jinnouchi, and Harry Gregson-Williams - Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Original Soundtrack
Pearl Jam - Ten
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze
Reuben - In Nothing We Trust
Rob Zombie's Halloween II OST
Rob Zombie's Halloween OST
She Wants Revenge - She Wants Revenge
Sia - Lady Croissant
Slipknot - Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)
The Frames - Burn The Maps
The Frames - Set List
The Good The Bad - From 001 to 017
The Lost Highway 
The Mary Onettes - Islands
The Mary Onettes - The Mary Onettes
The Rza Presents Afro Samurai: Resurrection OST
Tiger Lou - Is My Head Still On?
Trent Reznor - Quake OST
Unkle - War Stories
Zero 7 - The Garden

I was considering, at one point, to only write to Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill scores, but if I did that you probably wouldn't see me today (have you tried listening to that stuff for long periods of time? Jesus!) so it became this grand mixtape of all sorts of genres. Good times I think, but still... what could I have done better?

The Month That Is; How I Wrote Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective - January 22nd 2012

I finished writing Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective at 6.36pm today.

The first draft word count is 72,400, and it's been a maddening twenty two days of writing. It's shown me that if I put my mind to something I can get it done, which I think is what I needed for the start of 2012.

Sam has the first two thirds of the novel and is editing them as we speak, and I'll be meshing his edits with the third and final part when I receive them then sending them back for a second round of editing. I've got some stuff I need to add retrospectively, but then I think it's plain sailing.

The terrible thing is that I could keep writing it, but I know that with this one month deadline I can't afford that luxury. It was a different style of writing (frantic, stream of conscious, etc) and I think it shows in places (I fall into bad habits when I write; the more I write the more I write the same thing in different ways, and the more time I spend writing after that is time spent writing the same thing differently but the same, which is one hell of a mind fuck to get my head around).

I still need to explain what I've written. And I think now that the first draft is done I'll take a step back from the heinous daily blogging (it's not like anyone was looking every day!) and focus on other things needed for the publishing of this bad boy (organising blog notes, a glossary, playlist, all that). When I get the second draft back then I'll do what I gotta and that'll be that.

So the first Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective book will be published by the end of February. Blimey.

 The following albums were listened to in the final run at the novel. As ever, they're in no particular order: Interpol - Antics, A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms , Metallica – Ride the Lightning, Amanda Palmer - Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer [Alternate Tracks], A Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step, The Rza Presents Afro Samurai-Resurrection-OST, Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights,  M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us, Lana Del Ray - Video Games, The Mary Onettes - The Mary Onettes, Kenji Kawai – Ghost in the Shell: Innocence OST, Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral and Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Month That Is; How I Wrote Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective - January 21th 2012

Word count at the end of the day is 62,531. That's bloody brilliant.

Hit the final straight but needed to sleep. Will hopefully finish the entire thing tomorrow. 70,000+ word count will be my target. I can do this. Yes, I can.

I'm going to hold off on reporting all the music I listened to this time around, more important things to focus on, but hey, doing well, doing well...

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Month That Is; How I Wrote Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective - January 20th 2012

Another bus journey home and I'm writing in the margins of some magazine I picked up in a bar. It's this weird moment in transit, between work and home, that I have this weird urge just to write... and I never normally do. But why shouldn't I? Writing in my notebook seems too formal. I don't carry my laptop around with me. But there's something very... nitty-gritty about just scrawling in the blank spaces between paragraphs in some magazine I picked up. I love it. I just hope my hand writing is readable tomorrow when I write it all up. I was sat looking like a head case on the bus, and then walking home, darting between street lights, I couldn't stop. I'll have to be sure to take some photos of it, just that it's there for posterity's sake.

No word count today, but I'll give you the total that's written up: 57, 208. That's pretty damn cool. By tomorrow I hope to hit 60,000. Then my endgame is 70,000 for the whole novel. I just need to commit to that final push now. If I can get it done this weekend, even better.


Oh, and when I'm done, I'll give you the full lowdown on what I'm doing.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Month That Is; How I Wrote Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective - January 19th 2012

Today is a good day. Stayed up later than usual but I've knocked out 5,273 and I'm getting to the meat now. There was something really stopping me from reaching the point I needed to, but I just thought... hell, it needs doing. So here's to tomorrow, and hopefully hitting another 10k in all this week, and then... here's to finishing it. Blimey.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective, in: Black Dog

I've not been able to continue with the novel today. I know what I need to write, like I've said before, but I've not been able to write it. I think I'm coming to the realisation that I can do one thing well in life at a time, and now that I'm working again I find myself... well, working, and my writing ability is being pushed into an email writing box. Dear sir... and not what I was doing two weeks ago. Two weeks ago it was writing writing writing and nothing else, so the change is disconcerting, and some what worrying. 


This is a Richard Faraday story, a short one at that. I wrote this for a different character that was the basis of what I'm doing with Richard Faraday, and I re-jigged it to fit into the mythology of the Ghost Detective. The main chunk of the story is from... 2008. I've made changes today just so it works within the next context I'm hoping to establish. The story is called "Black Dog" (after the song, natch) and it establishes the framework of future Richard Faraday stories: Mystery. Monster. Magic. Later books will delve into this structure and play with it in different ways, but the first book ignores it completely for an over-arc that is just... insane. But I like the done-in-one. I tell Sam how much I love Supernatural's "Monster of the Week" episodes, and this is inspired by that format. A 'homage', perhaps? Probably not. Anyway, I digress. I apologise for any glaring grammatical errors, this is also half-edited and probably a slight mess. 

Read on...

Richard Faraday, Ghost Detective, in:
Black Dog

Chapter One:

Twenty Five Years Ago:

“This here be Hellhound country, son.

The sky rumbled, far-off thunder rolling in, but the clear sky didn’t crack, the taut blue curtain separating here and there didn’t slip, and the warm, pre-storm air refused to ease off. Something was coming. But it wasn’t here.

Not yet, anyway.

But soon…

“Excuse me?” Daniel Jarin had been taking advantage of the summer long break offered to him by his university education, and hopped a plane to the Yew Ess of Ayy. It had long been a dream of his to road trip from one coast to the other, and he was about two quarters of the way  through his journey when he found himself in the middle of nowhere, ‘pumping gas’ into the cherry red convertible his father had arranged for him from the other side of the world.

Going on six thousand miles away, and his dad still had his eye on him.  

Dan had just finished filling the car when the man hobbled into view, all nostril flares and grandiose overstatement.

“Were you talking to me, sir?” asked Daniel.

The crooked man who owned the gas station stank of beer, like he’d taken a life-long dip into a vat of the stuff. The man sniffed the air, and then loomed large over the British tourist. “Hellhounds. They roam the hills around the town, picking off stragglers and runaways. That’s why you don’t leave Deliverance at night. Not if you want to be making it out to the big wide world by morning.”

Dan handed him three ten dollar bills, and then leaned against his car, chuckling. “You’re joking, right?”

The man licked his thin, yellow teeth delicately, and then pouted, almost hurt. “Do I look like I’m joking?” The man unbuttoned his shirt, and pulled it open, revealing an unearthly black scar that traversed the length of his torso, vanishing at his waistline. “Do I really look like I’m joking, boy?”

“Oh, wow, you’re insane, man. And no offence to you, but I have to be on my way. Thanks for the petrol. Uh. Gas.” Danny climbed into his car and nodded in acknowledgement, before turning the key in the ignition. He thanked his stars when the engine roared and he could get on his merry way. He’d seen enough bad films to know which way that conversation could have gone. It could have ended with chainsaws and a frenetic addition to the film score, it could have ended with blood on the sand and his corpse hanging by hooks in the basement of the petrol station. It could have ended… but it didn’t.

Not yet, anyway.

The man patted the bonnet of the car as it rolled out of the station, and the man shouted a goodbye. “My pleasure, kid, just remember though, don’t be travelling down Route 666 after midnight--!”

Route 666?’ thought Danny, as he drove out of the garage, ‘There’s a Route 666 out from Deliverance?’


The road was empty and the signs passed by like dreams in the night, not entirely there and hard to remember when they were gone. Dan’s radio was dipping in and out; he was far from anywhere, in the middle of God Knows USA, and he was lucky to be able to find anything to keep him amused and cognisant on this long drive through the night. He didn’t mind these night rides, he loved the stars above and the long empty road, but for some reason-- some reason that itched like that nagging thought of ‘Hey, did I lock the front door before turning in for bed? Did I lock the door and what’s that sound downstairs like footsteps?-- he was nervous tonight. Was it something the old man had said? A story like a virus, infecting his head with thoughts of Hellhounds and horror?

The radio found a signal through the static and the nonsense, and began to spout words. “--It’s nearing midnight in Deliverance, and we here at K666 are going to be leaving you to your regularly scheduled static in a few minutes time, but by popular request, we’ll be leaving you with this little ditty. Catch you on the airwaves human folk, till next time. I got to keep moving, I got to keep moving, blues falling down like hail, blues falling down like hail…”

Dan looked at his digital watch, a gift from his mother on his twenty first birthday. 11.59pm buzzed back at him. He looked up at the road, and leaned back in his seat. He’d have to drive all night to reach civilization. He enjoyed the desert roads and the curiosities that came along with it like he loved the stars and the vastness. He enjoyed the mythology of America. The long road cleansed him of the city. He was a nomad in spirit, and he loved it. This whole experience made him feel like he was Real American, not just a naive stranger to the land. He made plans in his head to move here when all was said and done, when university was a footnote, but until then…

“…Mmm, blues falling down like hail, blues falling down like hail and the day keeps on remindin' me, there's a hellhound on my trail…”

Danny’s grip tightened on the steering wheel as Robert Johnson crooned. He looked down at his watch. “Huh.” 11.59pm still. Weird. The hairs on the back of his neck began to prick up. He tapped along to the scratchy strumming of the guitar that echoed out into the night sky.

A wolf howled.

He grinned. Real American.

“…Hellhound on my trail, hellhound on my trail…”

He looked at his watch. 11.59pm. It had been 11.59pm for two minutes now, hadn’t it? His watch must have been broken. He didn’t know how and he didn’t care. There was no clock on the dashboard, and his phone was stuffed inside his bag somewhere on the back seat. He’d check it when he pulled over next. Time could wait. Time always could. He shook his head and rolled his eyes, staring back up at the stars.

Then the car began to make an inhuman noise, like the interior of the engine was being torn to shreds, like it wanted to throw up and die.

The engine spluttered and coughed. It screamed for Danny to pull over and take the key out the ignition. It prayed for a stop to the pain. Dan acquiesced hurriedly. He rummaged in his bag and grabbed a flashlight from one of the pockets. After fumbling with some batteries the torch clicked on and Dan opened the hood with a flick of a switch underneath the steering wheel He headed to the front of his convertible and checked out the damage…

Everything looked fine.

He stuck the light in as far as it could go without it getting stuck and preventing him from surveying the damage. Nothing. How weird. He looked back from where he had just come from. Deliverance. The town was dark. Not a light on in sight. He sighed. “That’s about an hour walk. Two and back.”

He grabbed his duffel bag from the trunk and what he had called his survival kit from the backseat, and began the walk back to civilisation.

Daniel Jarin never reached Deliverance.

The authorities found the car, abandoned with no petrol in the tank.

It was like Daniel had just pulled over and walked into the desert.

The sky was free from the Hellhound song the next night.

Chapter Two:

He pumped the gas into her car, and looked up at her, his jagged grin as wide as they came. “Passing through?”

“No, I’m visiting my grandpa. You might know him, Lon Gardiner?”

The man’s eyes darkened. “I know of him.”

“Well, I’m Lucy Matthau. I grew up here. You might know my grandfather, Lon?”

“Oh, that’s interesting. Prodigal daughter returns. I’m Travis Kent, but the peoples ‘round here call me… Well. Travis.” He chuckled. “When’d you leave?”

“Ten years back now, I think. My mom, she married my dad and, well, been in San Fran pretty much ever since. But my grandpa, he stuck around and it’s been so long… I just had this urge to come home.”

“Understandable, Ms Matthau. Well, you’re all done here, I don’t want to be keeping you.” He doffed his cap as she climbed back into her car.

She hesitated. “Do I know you?”

Not yet,” he winked. She smiled tentatively, and as she pulled out, another car pulled in, and the garage owner smiled. He stank of beer but there was an eerie familiarity about him. She probably did know him. Everyone knew everyone where she had grown up. Travis Kent was probably a name and a face that had been lost to the ether of growing up.

Lucy drove on. She was home now. It had been ten long years, she’d lived, she’d loved, and now she was home. She drove through familiar streets, passed familiar store fronts, and headed to the north of the town, toward her grandpa’s home, just inside the limits.

She pulled into his driveway, and caught a glimpse of her grandfather in the doorway, talking to a man in a brown coat and hat. “Weird…” The old man noticed her sudden arrival and grinned as wide as someone humanly could, and the man he was talking to slowly turned to look at her.

Where she was petite and blonde, the stranger was tall, dark and conventionally handsome. He looked like a movie star. Not the ones you would see nowadays, swaggering and steroid-infused, no, she cast her mind back, and conjured up the stars of her mothers favourite movies, of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, and that memory warmed her.

“Bunny rabbit!” cried her grandpa with happiness, as he jogged down to meet her. The man behind him followed slowly, not wanting to intrude on the moment.

Lucy felt herself crumple in her grandfather’s embrace, but she was very much aware of the attractive man standing on the outskirts of their reunion. “Gran’pa, company…”

“It’s been years! I don’t think my guest will mind me squeezing the life out of my little bunny rabbit!”

The man behind him chuckled, “Murder would bother me somewhat, but I’ll leave you to it. I’ll see you later, Ivan.”

“Alright. We’ll grab that beer I owe you!”

“Yes.” The man pulled his lapels up, and walked down the old, dusty lane, and vanished round a corner, leaving Lucy and her grandfather on his drive.

“Who was that?” asked Lucy, as she felt herself collect itself after being on the receiving end of a bear hug. “And ‘Ivan’? Who’s ‘Ivan’?”

“That’s my name,” said Lon with a smile. “I wasn’t always American, you know. And he was an old friend. From my past.”

“‘Old friend’? He’s pretty young to be an ‘old friend’, gran’pa…”

“Well, yes, that’s all subjective isn’t it? Now come in! A chill just threw itself up, and I bet you have many, many stories to tell, yes?”

“Of course!” She followed her grandpa into his house, but found her eyes wandering to the bottom of the road, where that mysterious man had just stood. ‘Old friend’?

Chapter Three:

“--It’s nearing midnight in Deliverance, and we here at K666 are going to be leaving you to your regularly scheduled static in a few minutes time, but by popular request, we’ll be leaving you with this little ditty. Catch you on the airwaves human folk, till next time.”

“Can you turn that off, Sam? I mean, can’t we just talk for a while? I’m getting sick of fucking pirate radio…”

There's blood on the wall… So what..?

“Oh, honey, I love this song, ‘sides, after this, all we’ve got is dead air. Five minutes, ok? Five minutes, Danni, then I’m yours.”


“What’s the time, beautiful?”

Danielle glanced at her watch. “11.59pm”

“Then by my calculations, we’ll be home before morning. I’m quite happy I pepped up on caffeine. That town sure does a mighty strong cup of Joe.”

The radio continued to shriek. Screams and grinding computer sounds. Danni hated this. Her stupid boyfriend’s stupid taste in music. She could barely make out the lyrics. Whatever. Five minutes.


“This road trip was your idea, Danni! Don’t be woo-ing me!” He fell silent, and looked out at the road.

Danni found herself tapping along to the sound of machines shrieking. “I didn’t like that gas station guy.”

“Him and his stories. Yeah, God love those loons. I mean, what was he on? And that story… Mothmen? What the fuck are Mothmen?”

Man. Singular. Mothman,” corrected Danielle

“Is that anything like a Batman?”

“Batman’s not real.”

“And a Mothman is?” Sam turned back to the road, and then ground his back teeth as the engine began to howl and whine. His grip tightened on the steering wheel and a flash of panic flared in his eyes. “Oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus, okay, pulling over, pulling over and we’ve pulled over and we’re okay…”

“Calm down, Sam.” Danni laughed. She climbed out of the car, quickly followed by Sam, and they opened the hood. “Well. I can’t see anything wrong with the thing… But then again I’m not a big burly man-man like you are. What do you think, hon?”

“I have no idea. My dad was the mechanic, not me. What do you say we head back into town? It won’t take us too long. What’s the time now?”

“11.59 at the PM. Huh.” Danni put her watch to her ear to try and hear ticking. Nothing came of it. “That’s weird. My watch has stopped.”

“Well let’s get--” Sam paused. He looked around. “Did you hear that?”


“That fluttering? Like wings?”

“Don’t you dare, Sam. Not after that Mothmen crap.”

“Mothman! And I’m not joking, I hear like--” An inhuman shape swooped down and knocked Sam over, and Danni shrieked. “Danni, get back in the car, get back--” The mass engulfed Sam, and he screamed as talons dug into his chest, blood dribbling down his torso. “--Aaaaaaauuuuuuu!”

The creature was bigger than a man, its body was covered in scales and its eyes, crimson and as big as fists, glowed in the night sky. Its mouth, full of rows upon rows of fangs, dribbled saliva down on Sam’s face, and as he fought to get the thing off him, he didn’t notice the footsteps behind him.

A fantastic beam of light illuminated the duo, and the creature screamed-- like glass shattering-- as it jerked back off of Sam. At that moment it looked like an insect with its wings pinned. Like it was having a seizure.

“Get away from him.”

The creature looked at the source of the light, and leaped for the person behind it, but before it could even reach the source, another beam struck it straight in the chest, and the Mothman evaporated from existence.

“Oh oh oh oh God,” Sam could feel his life draining out of his chest. He could feel the blood stop pumping. This was it he thought. Dead on the sands. No hope. But the light… what was that? “oh oh God why why”

The wielder of the light went over to Sam, and placed a hand over his bleeding chest.

“These wounds aren’t real. That thing that attacked you: Not real. You can think past it, with a little help.” In the man’s hand was a thin black wand, and he pointed it over Sam’s wounds. “My help. Remember. Remember a time when you weren’t hurt. Remember 11.58pm.” The light that had seemingly disintegrated whatever it was that attacked the couple pulsed at the point of the wand, and obscured the wound that had been torn into Sam. There was a long moment of silence as Danni just watched the man whisper under his breath, but a second later, the light faded and Sam gasped, suddenly becoming active and alert-- his wounds healed. “Good boy.”

“What was that thing?” Danni clambered out of the car, her hands shaking, tears streaming down her face, and looked at the man. “Who are you? What’s that thing you’re holding? I saw Sam, he was, he was…”

“Your car works. Drive. Get the Hell out of this town.”

The man stood tall as the couple climbed back into the car and screamed into the distance. He dusted of his brown trench coat, and then froze.

“I know you’re there. I can hear you. You won’t have me yet though, will you? It’s not today. But soon.” He looked behind himself. “Soon.”

Chapter Four:

Lucy took a sip from her tea, and looked up at her grandpa. “Who was that man? I mean, apart from being an ‘old friend’ who really is too young to be referred to as such.” She laughed. It felt good to laugh with her grandpa. It had been too long, after all.

“I know him from my hunting days.”

“Hunting? I didn’t know you hunted.”

Lon smiled. “It’s how I met your nana, bunny rabbit. But that’s a long, drawn out story. Maybe tomorrow, if I’m feeling up to it.”

“Sure thing, pops. I’m going to head out and just walk. I know it’s late, but hey, I’ve got to get reacquainted with the old place…” She finished her tea and carried her cup into the kitchen. Lon followed her, and kept to the sides of the room, almost unsure if he should move closer to his granddaughter. She pulled on her coat and then kissed him on the cheek. “I shouldn’t be too long.”

Lon watched her as she opened the door. “You be careful now.”

“I always am!” Lucy loved Deliverance. Nothing had changed, the people were the same, the stores, the parks, everything. It was a weird little Eden in her chaotic world, and she was happy to be back. It wasn’t the city; there wasn’t that hustle and bustle of activity around her.

She grinned. She was really happy. “Whoa!” she bumped into someone whose attention was elsewhere, their hands holding a small book. “Whoa, sorry.”

“Oh, don’t apologize, it was my mistake,” he closed his book and looked at her for a second time. “Hello! You’re Lon’s grandchild, aren’t you?”

It was ‘Jimmy Grant’, still looking as handsome as the last time she saw him a few hours ago. His accent was distinctly English, his smile made her knees shiver with a tiny bit of lust. Who was this man? “Yes! Yes, I am. You know, we were never formally introduced. I’m Lucy.” She put out her hand, and smiled.

He took it and bowed. “Richard.” He kissed her hand gently, and Lucy felt herself blush.

“Oh! Ha. Well. Umm.” Lucy collected herself quickly. “I… I have a question, something that’s really been bugging me… My grandpa, he said, well, that you were an ‘old friend’ and, umm, you aren’t at all old, are you, Richard? You can’t be older than thirty, for sure…”

“Thirty!” Richard laughed. “I’m older than I look, but come on, age is completely subjective. You’re as old as you feel. Right now, I feel fantastic, and really, that’s what matters, isn’t it?”

She smiled. “I guess. Where you headed?”

“Uh.” Richard suddenly span around, looked behind himself, like someone had put a hand on his shoulder. “Sorry, thought I heard… nevermind.” His darkened features suddenly lit up. “I was going to grab a drink. Need to gather my thoughts. Would you like to join me?”

Lucy looked at him, confused, but then smiled. What a strange, strange man. “Sure.”

The two walked in silence for a few minutes, Lucy taking the lead almost subconsciously. This man, Richard, he was a visitor to the town, and he was just walking. Who knew when they would find a bar if he was searching? So Lucy walked, her hand brushed against the man’s sleeve, and she led him on a merry little walk through the dusty streets. There was a moment of exhilaration as she arrived at her intended location. The bar she’d always loved the idea of.

Mallory’s was this epitome of cool when Lucy was a little girl. Even as a child, she knew that if you made it into Mallory’s, you were an adult.

The school kids, even though this was a close knit little community, schemed to get in, making [embarrassingly] bad false IDs and trying their best to fool Brian Mallory, the owner (though, to her recollection, only Mark Terrance got in, and he hit puberty early, had a beard like De Niro in The Mission and after a beer, vomited all over Brian. He was barred after that.). Now that she was all grown up, and legally allowed in, it wasn’t all that impressive. It was dirtier and darker than most, if not all the bars she’d frequented back in San Francisco, but it was a bar none the less. In the corner, next to the bar, was a large, industrial radio, the kind that stood all by itself and could kill you if you were unlucky enough to be underneath it if it was pushed over…

Lucy frowned, her Eden receding to reality for a moment.

Richard approached the bar, and turned to her. “May I buy you a drink?”

“Tonic water, please.”

“My dear, I’m buying, don’t feel you have to go easy on my wallet. Anything you like?”

Lucy felt herself blush again. “A beer then. A bottle though. Never been a fan of the tap.”

Ten years on, and Brian Mallory was still there, still looking like a Hell’s Angel with a smile slapped on his face. Richard chatted to him for a few moments, and then headed over to where Lucy was sitting, an ice-cold bottle of beer in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. “So, you’ve been away from home for ten years? What was that like?”

Lucy was midway through a sip when she froze. “How did you know that?”

Richard grinned. “Your grandfather told me! I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have sprung that on you without context.”

“No, it’s fine, just surprised me is all.”

“Well, I apologize. So, he said you were in San Fran studying?”

“I went back three years ago, an English Literature degree wasn’t all I wanted it to be. Decided to do Business Management and a short course, ‘Modern American Folklore’. Brilliant.”

“The two sound like they go together!” said Richard, grinning.

“It’s something that my grandpa instilled in me when I was a kid. This love of myth and legend. He used to tell the most amazing, vivid stories...”

Richard sipped his water. “That’s Ivan.”

“Did you know my grandma then? I don’t ever get the chance to talk to my grandpa’s old friends. And I’ve never heard any of the guys around here call him Ivan. When did you know him?”

Richard opened up a pack of peanuts and began to eat them, one by one. “I was there when your grandma and grandpa met. It was like magic.”

“What? How is that even possible? This is just getting weird. You can’t be older than thirty, and my grandpa… My grandma and grandpa met over sixty years ago. I feel like I’m missing out on a massive piece of the story. Like I’m just getting the ‘one upon a time’ and then nothing else. Where’s the happily ever after? When am I going to be told the rest of this story?”

Richard tapped the table top, contemplating Lucy’s outburst, and then simply shrugged. “I just look good for my age. Your grandma and Ivan met when he and I were hunting. Damn shame when she… passed.” He cleared his throat and abruptly changed the subject. “But yes! I look good for my age. Clean living and all that.”

All of a sudden the bar was electrified with the sound of a song blaring out of the radio. The few people sat in there, sipping their lukewarm beers seemed to jump in unison, and after the first shrieking notes echoed into their heads, the next sound they heard was that of Brian Mallory swearing as he slammed his fist down on the unruly radio that had just scared the living daylights out of the majority of his clientele.

“Dammit! God shit dammit!”

“Something wrong?” asked Lucy. It was a stupid question, she knew that, but she couldn’t help but ask.

“This damn radio! And that damn radio station!” Brian grunted as he looked around the radio as it continued to play. Lucy wondered what he was looking for.

Richard stood. “What’s wrong with this radio station?”

“Pirate radio, pal, someone’s cutting into the airwaves, in between the dead space. Every now and then it just breaks in spontaneously. K666. Someone’s idea of a bad joke.”


“Because Route 666 was closed down 60 years back now.” Brian started to heave the large radio forward as he looked for the power outlet. “Someone’s idea of a bad joke…”

“But I’ve been up Route 666, there are signs…” started Lucy, recollecting her journey home.

“Look darlin’, I go up and down that road every other weekend to see my kids in the big city. It’s Interstate 27 now. If you’ve seen signs, I’m afraid you’re imagining them. Aha!” Brian pulled the plug out and grinned. “There we go.”

“What the hell…” Richard rubbed his temple. “What does this mean? A road that doesn’t exist…?”

“Hey, Richard?”

Richard looked up to Lucy, who was pointing at the radio. Brian held the power cable in his hand and he was now as pale as a sheet. The rest of the bar were looking at the events unfolding next to the beer taps.

“Yes?” asked Richard, until it became obvious to Lucy that he understood what she was drawing his attention to…

The radio continued to play, independent of power.

Richard’s eyes widened. “And a haunted radio station. Right. Come on, Lucy, I’m getting you home.” He threw money on the counter. “Cheers, Brian, keep on… trucking!”

Brian looked at the money, looked at the plug in his hand, and then at the radio, that still blared. “Right, thanks…” The old rocker turned to one of his patrons. “Pass me that fire axe over there, Rob?”

Chapter Five:

“What’s going on, Richard?” Lucy watched Richard look around when they hit the staid, warm air of the street. “What was going on with that radio? It was unplugged! It kept playing!”


She was not in the mood for this stranger’s attitude right now. Her little paradise, her calm among the storm that was the world, was slowly crumbling away at the edges, revealing something dark and dirty, and she didn’t like it one bit. “Don’t joke, what the Hell is happening here?”

Richard turned on his heel and looked her straight in the eye. “Something is going on, dear. You can feel it in your gut, right? That feeling of unrest? That feeling of something not quite right? That’s because something is happening here that’s unnatural. This place is haunted.”

Richard’s words dawned on her.

“You aren’t… You aren’t joking…”

“No. I’m not. Come here.” Richard held out his hand, and without thinking, she took it. “Close your eyes.”

“What? Why--” Lucy blinked once and nearly stumbled back as she found herself now stood next to her car, on the drive that lead to her grandpa’s house. How had they moved nearly a kilometre without taking a step? She thought she was going to be sick. Her stomach lurched but Richard squeezed her arm, drawing her back into the moment. “My… God…”

“No. Not God. Come on.”

Richard darted up the drive, and then suddenly gun shots shattered the silence of the town. Lucy’s hand was at her mouth, but Richard hadn’t stopped moving.

Ivan!” Richard kicked the door down, rushed inside the house, and saw a dark figure looming over his old friend, the shape’s hand glistening blood red in the darkness, each finger ending in a clawed talon. Richard drew his wand, focused all his magical power, and a cannon ball of mystical energy dissipated the attacker. Lon was holding a revolver, still smoking. “Ivan, are you alright?”

Lucy pushed past Richard and embraced her grandpa. “Grandpa, oh, God, grandpa…”

“It’s okay, Lucy! It’s okay.” Lon hugged her, dropping the gun into Richard’s waiting hand. “I’m fine.”

Richard opened up the barrel of the gun and smiled. “Silver bullets. You haven’t lost your edge, Ivan.”

“Fat lot of good it did me, Richard…” He pulled himself up, and Lucy supported him. “Those would have stopped a real apparition in its tracks.”

Lucy punched Richard in the arm, and grabbed her grandpa’s shoulder. She was so confused. So angry. “What the Hell is going on?”

Richard looked at his old friend. “Ivan?”

“Lucy… I’m a hunter. I told you that. But what I hunted… It wasn’t deer. I hunted ghosts. Demons. Monsters. I was a hero of sorts, back home. I kept the small villages safe from the roaming packs of feral Wila that caused trouble at times… I plucked many a hair from their bodies, kept my people safe… but Russia wasn’t the home it should have been after a time. I moved here in the twenties, kept hunting, kept doing what I had to, to keep this town safe without anyone knowing what it was I doing.” Lon shrugged. “They would not have agreed with my methods, I do think.”

Lucy was trying to process all this information. It didn’t make sense, but when her grandfather was speaking she listened, and words from his mouth, stories that he told, if he said they were true then they were true, that was the nature of her respect and adoration for him.

“So when Richard said this town was haunted… He wasn’t joking?”

Richard smiled. “No. I wasn’t.”

Lon sighed. “There have been disappearances… young people who came through Deliverance and didn’t make it home, I tried to investigate, but my old bones… my scrying didn’t come up with anything so I thought it must not be a supernatural occurrence. Maybe it was something simple like a serial killer. I do not know. But when Richard appeared at my door… I had no idea what’s going on but I knew it was something otherworldly.”

Richard removed his hat and coat, and sat on the seat nearest the fire. “Ivan suspected something and his suspicions ring true, as ever. Something is in Deliverance, and it’s been killing drifters. Students. The people who pass by unnoticed. That something, I’ve been able to figure out, focuses itself on the old Route 666 outside of town. Reality shifts, and until now it’s been localized, but with the projection in the bar and the thing that attacked you, Ivan… it knows it’s in danger.”

“Do you know what it is?” asked Lucy.

Richard and Lon looked at each other.

“No, bunny,” said Lon.

“I need to think. Has anything been… Out of the ordinary recently? Any blue moons or ghost swarms?” said Richard.

“I think I’d remember ghost swarms, Richard.”

“What about Travis?” Lucy asked suddenly.

Lon looked up. “Who?”

“Travis Kent, the old gas station guy? I don’t remember him… And I think I would. When I saw him… There was something off about everything. I don’t know.” She shrugged, trying to explain, wanting to be helpful. It made her feel better, but Richard just stared off into the distance, his fingers latticed, thinking.

“Who the Hell is Travis Kent?” asked Lon.

Richard jerked upwards suddenly, realization hitting him like a slap to the face. “The drifters, they’d have to fill up on petrol, which makes sense. Lucy, you don’t recognise him… and Ivan, you don’t know of him…?”

“So whoever is doing this is sat on the edge of town, going unnoticed…” said Lon.

“Only appearing, perhaps, to those it can murder without drawing attention to itself! You two stay here, I’m going to end this.”

Lucy put up her hand. “Not without--”

Richard put up his hand. “No. No way in Hell are you coming with me. This is dangerous and I’ll be back as soon as I have a nice talk with Mr. Kent. Stay. Here.” He waved his hand in front of his face, seemingly tracing a symbol in the air in front of him and then he muttered a few words. In a flash of colour, he was gone, and Lucy was stood in the wrecked front room of her grandfather, not knowing what to do next.

“Who the Hell is that, grandpa?” asked Lucy. “You owe me the truth now, after all that’s happened… people are dying?! You’re a hunter?! Your real name is Ivan?!”

Lon picked up his six-shooter, and reloaded it. “Richard Faraday. He’s a A-Grade magician. If he says he’s going to do something, he’ll do it. So we sit here and we wait.”


No. We wait, Lucy.”

“Fine.” Lucy sat down on the sofa and leant back with her arms crossed. “This whole thing is mad.”

“This whole thing is life, Lucy. Do you want a cup of tea?”

Chapter Six:

Richard Faraday appeared on the edge of town, and looked around at the surroundings. Even at night, the sky was clear, the full moon shining down like it was a flood light above a football pitch. There was a gutted old gas station to his right, but it hadn’t been used for decades by the look of it. Next to the front door of the small store attached to the place was a deck chair, opened and new, an oddity amongst oddities. Someone had been here, and recently.

Richard walked inside the small shop and dug his fingers into the sand and dust. It was thick, there was no sign of movement within this place. He looked outside and saw the moon vanish. An impossible action over an impossible place. He headed outside and found himself walking into depths of darkness that could have drowned the unsuspecting.

What are you afraid of?” whispered the newly-drawn darkness.

The air seemed to shake. There was a sound, a buzzing like flies over rancid meat that filled the long, desert-cast shadows and made the atmosphere quake with change.

What makes your blood run cold?” continued the voice.

Richard couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The voice was close… but how close?

“I have seen things that would make you and yours hide under the covers and shake in abject terror,” said Richard, slowly. “So what’s your game?”

You should know by now that for all your bravado and bluster, I can see right through you… all of you… lowly, pathetic humans… boring… and then you… whatever you are… you scar me… you scar me… with your light?

Richard laughed loudly. “Oh, my! You’re a low level telepath. Of course you are! You need to figure out what scares us. But nothing you can glean from me--”

There was a flutter of wings, and then a scratching noise. The darkness seemed to vibrate with an electric charge-- and Richard turned just as a winged monstrosity tore into the space he had just been occupying. The darkness had taken on the form of a pale skinned humanoid, ink-black wings protruding from its back, empty eye sockets seemingly staring down at the occult investigator. Richard swallowed down his sudden shock and the monster grinned. Its wings flapped, and it floated above the sand. Even without flight it would have been seven, eight feet tall.

I know what terrifies you,” said the creature, “I know what causes you to lose sleep at night.

“Very well played,” said Richard, a thin sheen of sweat forming on his brow. “But you’re going to have to do better than that--!”

Chapter Seven:

It’s been two hours! Where is he?” Lucy paced the room, whilst Lon polished his guns. “He could be dead! Or worse!”

“What’s worse than being dead, bunny?”

“I don’t know! I just… he should be here, shouldn’t he?”


“Depends on wha--”


“What the hell?!” Lon jerked out of his seat, and spun around. “What the hell’s that?”

“Static?” The idea struck Lucy like a hammer blow. “It’s… the… radio.” Her eyes darted around the room. “Oh, God!”

“I don’t own a radio.” Lon pulled back the hammer of his revolver with his thumb, and reached out to Lucy. “Get behind me.”

The door erupted from its hinges, colliding with the stairs in front of it. The windows in the house shattered like a bomb had gone off, and the fireplace was snuffed out in a gust of cold air. A man stepped forward from the darkness, grinning a crooked grin. “Ivan, you old bastard, I told ya’ I’d be back for you.”

Lon’s eyes widened. He threw up his gun and fired six shots, each hitting Travis Kent square in the chest. Travis grinned as he continued to step forward. “Sixty long years, I been waiting. An’ now our little angel is all grown up! Aren’t you gonna’ introduce us?”

Lon backed up, keeping himself in front of Lucy. “Get the Hell away from her!”

Lucy pressed her hands against the wall, and looked around for a way out. “What’s going on?!”

“Sixty years,” rasped Kent. “Sixty years since that bastard came to town and killed my family and stole my sister! Him and that bastard immortal!” he sniggered. “Well he ain’t so immortal anymore, I can tell you that. He died screaming.”

“Richard?” whispered Lucy.

“Richard? Yeah, that was him. Goddamn it feels good to be out in the open like this.”

They were trapped. The creepy man with the crooked grin was between Lon, Lucy and the door, and was he… growing? Lucy couldn’t tell, but he seemed to be taking up more and more room. She had to stall, she thought, because someone had to have heard that explosion right? Someone down the street must have seen the man kick down the door and storm inside… Right? “Who are you?!”

“I don’t have a real name on this plane of existence, bunny. This body is a figment, you ain’t ever seen nothing like me before.” He laughed. “You can call me Kent though. Or gran’pappy.”

Lon threw his empty weapon aside. “This is between you and me, leave her out of this.”

“No, it’s about her too. She’s blood of my blood, Commie, you know that. Diluted by two generations of… humanity, but she got the spark alright.”

Lucy looked at her grandpa. “What?”

Lon ground his back teeth together. “Your grandmother… wasn’t…”

“She was better than what this Ruskie bastard is! More human than human! But he came along, the strapping demon hunter, an’ with her being the black sheep of the family, fell for ‘im! And you know what they did then? They killed the rest of us. Killed our merry brood. Because she didn’t like what she was and she wanted to live like the rest of them. Like cattle. But I survived!” Red and black light swarmed around him, and he really did begin to grow. Skin stretched over sprouting muscles, nails and teeth began to grow-- Lon and Lucy were trapped, and he was just getting started. “I lived through it and I been biding my time and now it’s--” He stumbled forward. “Whuhhh? Uuggh--”

“You’re done.”

Richard Faraday drove the stake deep through the man’s back, and after what seemed like an eternity, ‘Travis Kent’ fell forward. Richard swayed for a moment, before steadying himself against the wall.

“The thing with these creatures… these ‘Menageries’ as they’re called… is that they talk too much. And their spatial awareness? Rubbish. A stake through the heart kills them. Just like…” he breathed in, a bloody patch visible inside of his trenchcoat, bruises covering his face, and his clothes torn and ragged. “…The good old days…” He laughed, and then wiped his brow. “Phew.”

Lon moved slowly around Travis’ body, and supported Richard as he approached the sofa. The occultist folded as soon as he hit the cushions, and Lucy stood, confused, panicked, but safe-- at least, that’s how she felt.

“What just happened?”

“A fairy tale,” said Richard. “‘And they all lived’, or at least, part of it.” He looked at the moist, red patch inside his coat, and groaned. Lon could see the pain the man was in, how much blood this apparent immortal had lost.

“Relax, Richard,” Lon closed his eyes, and laid his hands upon the wound. Blue light drifted down from his fingers and the colour in Faraday’s face returned.

“A laying of hands. Kicking it old school today, aren’t we?”

“What’s going on?” barked Lucy. “What was that monster talking about?”

Richard leaned forward, and took Lucy’s hands in his own. “What does it mean? You’ve lived your life without knowing about your heritage and you’ve lived a long good life. ‘Travis Kent’ wasn’t human, he just appeared as one. He was a Menagerie, a collection of thoughts and shapes that he used to kill. Normally, things like that, they’re raised by their own. Raised to be nasty, evil things.”

“Your grandma was one of them,” said Lon, interrupting his friend. “She didn’t want to be bad. She was the brightest and best of anyone I ever knew, and that made her the worst of her kind, in their eyes. They were killing this town and she helped us get rid of them. Sealed the hole they were climbing through to attack the townsfolk. She was the bravest woman I knew. It was love at first sight.”

“Thing is, you, like your mother, were raised by good people. Nature versus nurture, and nurture wins, always. You don’t have some innate evil inside you. That kind of evil, like that thing had? That was created by others.” Richard squeezed Lucy’s hand softly. “If you look at myth, in Native American folklore, the Coyote was viewed as the Creator. As a force of good.” He rubbed his chin. “Reminds me of the old adage: ‘Coyote takes water from the Frog people...’

‘…Because it is not right that one people have all the water.’” Lucy sighed. “I know.” She steeled herself. “Right. So, my mom, does she…? I’ve never seen her… change shape, or anything… so, what does that mean?”

Richard shrugged. “We don’t know what causes the things from the other side to have their powers. Maybe because you’re not from Over There you don’t have access to the innate abilities of those trickster folk. Or maybe it comes with time, when you’re old enough. Who knows? Perhaps it even skips a generation.”

Lon waved the conversation away. “Thank God you were here, Richard. We could have died. How did you pick up the scent of this thing?”

Richard stood up, and picked up his coat. “I didn’t.”

Lon entered the room, and his brow furrowed. “You didn’t?”

“I heard rumblings of… Hellhounds. Monsters roaming the deserts. And I thought that a hole into Hell had opened up. I was wrong. It was all the Menagerie’s work.”

“So you were looking for a hole into Hell? Why?”

There was a long, lingering silence in the air, before Richard spoke again. He was quiet. It was nearly a whisper. “I think something bad is coming. And I don’t know what. I thought that old enemies could be rising against me, hoping to take something dear away from me… if I could have looked into Hell, taken a peak at least, I could see if those enemies were still locked up nice and tight.” Richard placed his hat on his head. Lucy could see the glint of wonder in his eye, but didn’t say anything. “I have to go.”

“Good luck, Richard.” Lon put out his hand. “And thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It was nothing.” He turned to Lucy. “He saved my life once, this man. You’re a very lucky granddaughter.”

Lucy nodded in agreement and her smile lit up the room. “I know.” She watched Richard exit the house, and vanish into the ether outside. Lon watched her as her mind processed the events that just transpired. He didn’t know what to say. Nothing much would do it justice.

“Tell me everything,” Lucy said, finally. “Tell me everything about the world.”


Richard Faraday walked. He headed for parts unknown. And he heard it, behind him. The growling. The quiet snarl. “I know you’re there.” He was being followed by something only he could see. By something only he could hear. He looked over his shoulder, and saw it there, bigger than a man, black and shaggy, white eyes and fangs bigger than anything. A Black Dog. An omen. A harbinger of death.

“You won’t stop me.”

Art by Ramon Villalobos, piece is called "Big Dog and a Man", and is based on a version of this story that we discussed years ago at length. Ramon's art is a major part of inspiration for this series. Check his DeviantArt out here: http://glantern133.deviantart.com/