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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

“The Siamese Python” is a flash fiction I wrote, published in Issue 2 of a delightfully twisted UK magazine called The Alarmist back in February 2013. Until recently, the issue was only available in print. But now The Alarmist has posted excerpts from that issue online, and they were kind enough to include “The Siamese Python” in its entirety:

The Siamese Python, if you haven’t already guessed, is a two-headed snake. It’s not actually from Siam, or even Thailand. The Siamese Python is a cold-blooded creature of the U.S.A.

As to where exactly in the U.S.A. it originated, few people can agree. Among the 200 or so living souls who have encountered The Siamese Python, there are approximately 112 different opinions on where it came from. Some folks say it emerged from the sewers of Manhattan. Others claim it jumped right outta the Rio Grande. A couple swear it couldn’t have taken its first slithers anywhere else but the bayous of New Orleans. One man, Gunther Flendricks of Tergen, Ohio, swears The Siamese Python hails from Tergen, Ohio.

Excerpts from The Alarmist, Issue 2

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Unlike 2012, which was clearly Louis CK’s Foolish Flailing, and 2011, which was obviously Walter White’s Mad Cackle, 2013 wasn’t so easy to summarize in one moment of Television. On one hand, it felt like an epic year, one of immense dread and majestic beauty– much like the final scene in the 6th episode of Game Of Thrones’ 3rd season, where Littlefinger tells Varys how chaos is like a ladder, and then Jon Snow & Ygritte exhibit the exhilaration and tranquility that can await the good souls who are strong and brave enough to conquer “The Climb.”

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, given a chance to climb, they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

On the other hand, 2013 was also an extremely fun year, popping with pleasant surprises and good-time sing-alongs. It was like, in some way, we were all Parks And Recreation‘s April Ludgate, temporarily shedding our smart-ass façades to belt out a few bars of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” with Anne and Donna.

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RonSwansonHunting

(I’ve never written fan fiction or mash-ups before, and I doubt I will again. But I couldn’t resist trying to combine one of my favorite TV shows, Parks and Recreation, with one of my favorite books of the past few years, Frank Bill’s Crimes In Southern Indiana.)

In the cloudy, gravel-gray dusk, Ron Swanson crept past the motel parking lot in his dark red Buick Park Avenue and rolled to a stop. He snatched the .12-gauge double-barrel from the passenger seat, flung open the driver’s door, marched toward the only room with piss-yellow lamplight seeping through the curtains. Didn’t bother to close the car door or even take the keys. No one was around for miles, and besides, he didn’t plan on staying long.

He knew this was serious business. Tom could be dramatic and fragile, sure, but Ron had heard much more than the usual Tom Haverford whining when the little man called him 30 minutes ago in a shrieking panic. Ron heard something he’d never heard in Tom’s voice before: genuine, blood-chilling terror. Ron didn’t even ask what landed Tom in this kettle of shit. He assumed it had to be the fault of Jean-Ralphio, that slimy skid-mark of  a human being. Probably stiffed some gap-toothed mullet-head dealer on a bag of whatever drug he was into this week.

Ron stood before the motel room door and pointed his shotgun at chest-level. He saw a sturdy November breeze rattle the door’s flimsy knob, and figured he could just kick the door open, save a shell. So that’s what he did.

(more…)

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Orson Welles’ ominous narration of “Before The Law,” from his adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial:

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For almost as long as we’ve been together, my wife has asked me to read to her before she goes to sleep. I believe we started with anthologies of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, and after many months, maybe more than a year, we got through every single strip. Since then we’ve also read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, some Edward Goreys, a little Shel Silverstein, Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, a couple Roald Dahls, to name but a few. But the author we’ve read most is probably Neil Gaiman: CoralineMirrormask, almost all of Sandman. So this past June when m’lady gifted me with Gaiman’s latest, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I knew it was also a gift for her, a new bedtime story. Which was totally cool with me, because I enjoy reading her bedtime stories as much as she loves being read to.

While part of me wished I could scarf the book down as fast as I could, I think I preferred reading it out loud, in small pieces, late at night, over the course of several months. After all, most of Gaiman’s non-comic stories seem to’ve been written with out-loud reading in mind.

And like most Gaiman books, Ocean is essentially a fairy tale in a literary fiction dust jacket, a novel-length illustration of when GK Chesterton said:

The timidity of the child or the savage is entirely reasonable; they are alarmed at this world, because this world is a very alarming place. They dislike being alone because it is verily and indeed an awful idea to be alone. Barbarians fear the unknown for the same reason that Agnostics worship it—because it is a fact. Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.

The “dragon” in The Ocean takes many forms, one of which sounds an awful lot like the crippling doubt of depression:

It was not one voice, not any longer. It was two people talking in unison. Or a hundred people. I could not tell. So many voices.

‘How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time, until your loved ones give you poison and sell you to anatomy, and even then you will die with a hole inside you, and you will wail and curse at a life ill-lived. But you won’t grow. You can come out, and we will end it, cleanly, or you can die in there, of hunger and fear…’

Reading that passage aloud shook me pretty hard. I knew those voices, and I was truly, deeply frightened for Ocean‘s little hero. But then in the next paragraph, Gaiman’s little hero finally slays that dragon, and elegantly so, with just a few simple words:

[Spoilers, maybe?]

‘P’raps it will be like that,’ I said, to the darkness and the shadows, ‘and p’raps it won’t.’

I don’t know if my wife heard it in my voice, but reading that next part aloud was like hearing the answer to a prayer, and suddenly I was awash in glorious relief.

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Check it out, FLAPPERHOUSE was interviewed by a real-live Interviewer!

Interviewer: FLAPPERHOUSE has described itself as “Dragging the future back through the past, like a rotting donkey on a grand piano.”

FLAPPERHOUSE: Chien! Andalusia! We are un!

Interviewer: Precisely. And by “the past,” more specifically you mean circa the 1920′s?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Yes and no. Mostly yes. We do think the future should have much more futurism. But with much less fascism. We’d also like to see more surrealism, expressionism, dadaism, psychological horror, and, of course, modernism.

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The ruthlessly cynical “If Sharks Were Men,” from Bertolt Brecht’s Stories Of Mr. Keuner:

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Last month, my beloved wife & I enjoyed a good old American road trip between Brooklyn, New York and Louisville, Kentucky. My dear friend Todd Pate, the self-proclaimed hobo journalist behind El Jamberoo, asked me to write a little something about the trip for his website, so I did. Here’s the result, “Autumn In America,” which covers America’s most famous battlefield, a West Virginia lunatic asylum, why the government shutdown is like “Redneck Crazy,” and much more:

Smells like burning wood, my wife notes as we roll through Gettysburg in our little gray Honda Fit, a third of the way between Brooklyn and Louisville. Not sure if it’s the homey aroma of autumn hearth-blazes, or maybe a burgeoning forest fire.

Click here for the whole thing

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Be careful out there: The Devil’s everywhere, according to Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages:

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Try to destroy Troy & Abed, and you’ll only make them… MORE AWESOME!

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