Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tears down Cold Faces

Tears down Cold Faces
By Christopher Allan Death

Everything is dark.

I can hear dirt falling over my head. It sounds like a million angry bees, fluttering back and forth in the pitch black void above me. They shudder and heave across the coffin lid, streaking the expensive mahogany finish and wedging into the engraved silver plaque. It says Ronald T. Thurston, 1956-2007.

That was my name once. Before I invited that damned woman into my life; before I opened up my arms and my bank account and my heart; before that damned woman took everything I had and shoved a meat cleaver through my chest.

That was before I met Katherine Von Saint.

Ever since I saw her that fateful autumn day, I knew she was trouble. Her gorgeous auburn eyes and supple Hungarian skin made my young American heart skip a beat. But I had no idea what she intended to do with it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all Hungarian women are evil money laundering she devils; just the ones that wear glossy lipstick and bat their huge, sultry eyes.

However, that is not where my story begins. The events leading to my bloody fate started to unravel when I set foot into that damned country. The country where the sun rises into a blood red sky and the darkness embraces the landscape like a long lost lover; the country called Transylvania.

Now I must warn you. This story is not for the faint of heart. If you detest sad stories, please read no further. I’m afraid that my life contains very few happy moments after this point. But I digress.

The date was October 17, 1985 when I set sail from my native land. I was nineteen years old, with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. And like most audacious young men, I suspected that fate would lead me beyond the shores of North America.

Unfortunately I was correct.

With nothing but the clothes on my back and a thirst for salty sea air, I snuck aboard the USS Widget, a freighter bound for foreign soil. Little did I know the ship’s ultimate destination. Or the terror I would encounter once it had arrived.
The captain was a swarthy man named Jeremiah Cutter, whose bad temper was matched only by his mouthful of bad teeth. I will never forget the day when he found me below deck, feasting on his rations and fresh water supply. The lashings were endless.

Fortunately I managed to jump ship once we reached port. I was sick of eating moldy bread and drinking filthy water. That was my first taste of sea life and I never wanted to go back. The relentless sun and salty ocean waves had turned my skin into rawhide.

I spent the next two days wandering through the coastal towns, hitching rides from strangers and making acquaintances with the locals. I knew that I was somewhere around Bucharest, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

The foliage grew tall and thick as I ventured further inland. Trees thrust through the forest floor, threading their mossy arms heavenward like long-lost souls. Vines curled around hulking limbs. And the sounds of wildlife buzzed around me like a chorus of a thousand voices.

"What is this place?" I asked one of the village elders. He merely shook his head and affixed his gleaming yellow eyes into the distance.

"You stand in devil territory," he said. But when I tried questioning him further, he only uttered one word: "Transylvania."

Now there is one thing you must understand. Transylvania is not a mythical place where vampires roam the twilight and feed off wary villagers. It is a serene country with beautiful sights and ancient castles. A far cry from the bleak countryside portrayed in modern Hollywood monster movies.

Nevertheless, it took me several days to comprehend what the old villager meant. He was not talking about the country at all, but rather what I would discover inside it.

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on Katherine. She was walking down a cobblestone street with a designer purse slung over her shoulder. She looked at me with those seductive auburn eyes and immediately I was in love.

Looking back on that day, I wish I had never seen her beautiful face. I wish I had never taken her hand and asked her name. But above all, I wish I had never placed my heart in her hands.

You see, not all women from Transylvania are vampires, but some are equally heartless and bloodthirsty. I learned that lesson the hard way.

She told me that she loved me. She wrapped her arms around me and made me feel like I was special. But she was merely a demon in disguise. And once she held my heart in her hands … she crushed it.

I can still feel the meat cleaver in my chest. The cold steel rends through my fragile flesh, severing muscle tissue and releasing a fountain of blood down my abdomen and thighs. It is sticky and warm and strangely exhilarating.

The next thing I know, I am eclipsed in darkness. I can hear the reverend speaking nearby, but his voice is muffled. The sound of people crying intermingles with his dry discourse.

The funeral service ends. I am enfolded within the sheltering arms of silence. Only the darkness can mend my broken heart. I am all alone.

Some people think that dead bodies cannot feel. They think that death is the final blow. But they are wrong. Even death cannot dull the throb of a broken heart. Some types of pain follow men into the grave itself.

Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you are sitting in your luxurious suburban home, watching the clouds float past and laughing at my misfortune. But it doesn’t matter. One day you will learn the truth. Until then, I will be quietly languishing in my grave. And shedding a tear for the love I lost.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Daddy Man, Silly Man, God Man and Me

Daddy Man, Silly Man, God Man and Me
by Terry Doss

That copper pot been in the kitchen, long as I
'member. It always bubblin' and hissin'. Sometime I
run a toy car on a makin' believe road in the kitchen.
Daddy Man told me stay away. That pot'll burn you, he
say. I keep away. It keep on bubblin' and hissin'.

Over in the corner sit the man Daddy Man brung home. He
play makin' believe with me too. Sometime he run the
car in what he call the "sittee." When I ask Daddy Man
what the "sittee" be, he told me it just silly makin'
believe. I think maybe that right. I seen that man
lookin' silly at me, like I look at bugs in the
kitchen, when I squish them.

Come up supper time, Daddy Man holler for me. Go fetch
wood he say. I go out back to the wood pile. I fetch
in one, and two, and three pieces sometime. Stack it
to the mark on the wall that Daddy Man made. Silly Man
got his supper then. My bowl at the table too. Daddy
like to eat out the front door. He like to look at
the moon. Silly Man don't even finish his bowl. I
finish what he don't eat. Daddy Man don' t like us to

I wash the supper bowls and go say my amens. Ask
God Man to bless Daddy Man and me. Ask him to bless that
Silly Man too. Ask him maybe someday let me see the
"sittee." I tell him I saw him in the sky today,
making a deep shwoosh. Amen.

I climb in my blanket and stay quiet. Daddy Man come
in the house, all heavy boots on the wood floor. He
go and check my cleanin' in the kitchen. He talk with
the Silly Man a bit. Heavy boots on the wood floor
again. Daddy Man sit in his chair and look at the special
book. I look at it sometime, but I'm not s'posed to.
It has one, and two, and three and four ladies in it,
not with any clothes. I wonder if one maybe Momma

That night I dream 'bout God Man in the sky, all
silver and poopin' clouds. He come down in a big
shoosh and I climb on his shiny back. He fly me off
to the "sittee" and Momma Lady be standin' not with
any clothes on. Silly Man be holdin' her hand. I
wave and smile all teeth on the back of God Man. God
Man tell me not to feel better than anyone, just 'cuz
I fly off on his back. That what they call pride. I
look back to Momma Lady and Silly Man got his hand on
her milk sacks. Like I do with the goat sometime, he
squeeze a bit and aim the milk in his mouth. God Man
throw me off and I hit the wood floor next to my bed.
I climb back into bed and sleep 'til the sun start up
in the sky.

Daddy Man makin' eggs an biscuits. He tell me Silly
Man don't want any today and I eat his. I eat 'til I
am full as a dog tick. Daddy Man don't like us to waste.

I clean the breakfast dishes and Daddy Man, he go out
in the wood, checkin' the loop lines. Silly Man ask
me if I want to see the "sittee" with him. I ask him
how he gettin' to the "sittee" an he tell me he got a
car. He say he and me can go in it. I laugh at his
silly talk. I tell him I can get to the "sittee" on
the back of God Man, and if he can hold on tight,
maybe he can go on the back of God Man too. I tell
him we can go to see Momma Lady and he can squeeze
milk out of Momma Lady's milk sacks. Silly Man get
all quiet, and look at the floor. I think maybe he
miss his Momma Lady. I miss my Momma Lady too.

After cleanin' the kitchen, I go out to the field
past the creek and find a patch of clover. I rip up
big handfulls of it and make a basket out of my shirt
to hold it. I pull enough so it start to fall out the
side of the shirt, and start for the house. I hear
God Man swhooshin' in the clouds, but I don't see him.
I whoop and holler to him, but he don't slow down. I
carry the clover back to the house.

The bunnies hop to the back of the cage when I push
the clover in. They eat and I put their poop in a
bucket with the shovel. Daddy Man tell me to spread the
poop far out and not in one place. He tell me the
bunny poop be hot and can burn the plants. I let the
poop cool down before I throw it out in the woods.

The bunnies eat clover from my hand sometime.
Sometime, Daddy Man have me hold the bunny to keep it calm
before he hit it with a hammer. Excited bunnies taste
sour he tell me. It make me sad a little, but it
better than when Daddy Man grab them by the ears and whop
them. They scream when he grab them. They scream,
and scream, and then whack, they are quiet, and they
kick their bunny feet for the last time I s'pose.
Bunny meat taste good. Like chicken.

Afternoon time and Daddy Man come back from the wood.
He ain't got nothin' from the loop lines. He tell me
to go inside and play with Silly Man.

I go in the kitchen and there sit Silly Man. He
been sleeping all day. I shake him awake and ask him
to tell me about "sittee" again. He say that "sittee"
have light all the time, not just in the day. I ask
him if he 'member his Momma Lady, and he 'member her
for me. He 'member her rockin' him for sleep, and

Daddy Man come in from outside while I play with
Silly Man and whop! Silly Man kick his feet for the
last time I s'pose. I hear God man swooshin' outside,
and inside that copper pot keep bubblin' and hissin'.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ten Questions for Eric S. Brown

Magazine of the Dead's own Nathan Tyree has Interviewed Zombie Master Eric. S. Brown. MotD presents this interview for your erudition and pleasure.

Ten Questions for Eric S. Brown.

Eric S. Brown is a 32 year old author living in North Carolina with his wife and son. Some of his books include the zombie novel/novellas The Queen, Cobble, and The Wave. Some of his chapbooks include Zombies: The War Stories, As We All Breakdown, Still Dead, and Viruses and Vamps. His latest book, Zombies II: Inhuman will be out in June, 2007 from Naked Snake Books. For those interested in checking out his work, his books can be found on www.amazon.com, www.nakedsnakepress.com, www.shocklines.com, and www.fictionwise.com

NT:How did you come to focus on the zombie sub-genre?

Eric: I just have always loved zombies since the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. When I started writing, my first story not only that I wrote but that I sold was a zombie tale. Since then they have just kind of stuck with me. I write more zombie stuff than anything else and zombies are what I am known for most in my career.

NT:Do you feel that the zombie genre offers greater opportunity for social satire, philosophical musing and political statement than other forms of horror?

Eric: YES! Take one look at George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and you can see all those things in it. I try to have a message in my tales sometimes too but honestly I write out of a love of the zombie genre than anything else.

NT: What work within the zombie genre (be it novel, short story, film, image, etc) has most influenced your work?

Eric: The Rising by Brian Keene. That book not only made zombies cool again but it opened the door to much less traditional takes on the living dead in fiction.

NT: Zombie fiction (as well as horror in general) is making a real comeback these days. Do you believe that there is a political aspect to this? That is, is it true that as a society we turn to the frightening and the terrible in times of political or economic insecurity? If so, why?

Eric: Though many would disagree, I think so. I think we want to escape into a fantasy world rather than deal with the problems in our own real world and zombie tales despite their end of the world storylines often are filled with hope and if nothing else at least try to remind the reader why it’s important to try to stay alive.

NT: Other than yourself, who is the best writer working in this field?

Eric: There are a ton of great writers out there today. Brian Keene is certainly the one that has caused the most change but I think I would say David Moody. He’s a writer who’s not scared to take chances and his work is so character driven you can’t help but be amazed at his talent after reading Autumn. Travis Adkins, I think, is certainly one of the younger, newer authors to watch. He has great potential.

NT: To be effective does a zombie tale have to contain a extreme gore? Can the same effect be gained through other means, and if it could would it be as good?

Eric: Readers do expect some gore or it wouldn’t be a zombie tale but certainly books like David Moody’s Autumn come across as powerful and moving without focusing on that aspect of the genre. Gore isn’t needed but it shouldn’t be completely left out either.

NT: What’s the most important thing you’ve ever put off or ignored to write?

Eric: I have always wanted to do a super-hero type comic book since comics are my other real passion in life aside from zombies, my wife, and my son. It’s something I have thought about my whole life but have yet to really try to do it.

NT: What’s your favorite book (zombie or non-zombie)?

Eric: The Legion of Super-heroes and The Fantastic Four are my favorite comics and I also have a love for the old Weird War Tales books that DC did in the 70s but as to a novel I would likely say Hyperion by Dan Simmons or The Rising by Brian Keene. However the all time greatest ever zombie book to me would certainly be The Book of the Dead anthology.

NT: What’s your advice for someone trying to break in to the zombie fiction market?

Eric: As a person who was writing and selling zombie tales before they were cool again I know how hard it can be. I think the most important things are just to write a lot, develop a body of work, and keep sending it out to publishers. If you really want to make it, you can.

NT: Are zombies real?

Eric: That depends on what you mean by that statement. I think Romero type zombies certainly could be someday with the way science continues to advance but if you’re talking Haitian type creatures then certainly just as seen in The Serpent and the Rainbow.