Guest blog from Emerian Rich: Kill Switch!

Here is a guest blog post from horror author and FIEND, I mean FRIEND, Emerian Rich!

New book from HorrorAddicts.net Press: Kill Switch!!!

As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?

Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?

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A sneak peek inside…

REMS
by TIM O’NEAL

“Just sign the liability waiver and we’ll get started. This should be a quick painless procedure.” Dr. Charles E. Windygate depressed the plunger, dispensing morphine into his patient’s IV on top of the local anesthesia already administered to his burned lower extremities.

“I trust you. Let’s get this done.” The patient, Larry Dougherty, scribbled his signature and handed the clipboard back without glancing at the print. A simple gold wedding band gleamed on his ring finger. Well-defined muscles rippled in his arms, chest, and torso, but his legs were an oozing blackened mess.

Moments later, Larry gave a loopy grin. “Gosh, I feel better already, Doc.” A fireman by trade, Larry had raced into a burning house to save a toddler trapped on an upper floor. Just as he’d reached the girl, the wooden floor had given way. As they’d fallen, Dougherty had clutched her to his chest, using his body to cushion the impact. When he’d awoken in the hospital, he’d learned his squad had dragged them out. The kid was completely unharmed, but third-degree burns covered his own legs.

Word traveled fast in a hospital and so Dr. Windygate had quickly learned about the fireman’s traumatic burns. Immediately after the man was admitted, Windygate had popped in to ask if he wanted to participate in an experimental wound debridement procedure. Given the chance to stop the immense pain and perhaps save his charred legs, Dougherty had readily accepted.

Sterile white fluorescent light blazed down, harshly illuminating the operating theater. It gleamed off the stainless-steel tables and counters, sparkled off the tile walls, and glinted off sharp, clean, surgical instruments. The hospital smelled of disinfectant and gauzy bandages. Floor polish tickled the nose like an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.

Dr. Windygate ignored the two young medical students standing by to assist—a tall Latina and a rather short, geeky male. He didn’t know their names. He didn’t care. They were only present to comply with hospital research policy, but this was his project, dammit! He’d spent a decade developing this technology on his own. He would not share the glory with just anyone, let alone two upstart medical students. If they cared about their careers in medicine, they’d stay well away and keep their mouths shut.

Dr. Windygate’s hands shook with excitement as he accepted the clipboard from Mr. Dougherty. If this new procedure was successful, he would make medical history, cementing his name in medical texts alongside Linus Pauling, Louis Pasteur, and Edward Jenner. He smirked, adjusting his tiny spectacles. He could almost taste the fame. To conceal his anticipation, he coughed twice and headed to the tiny surgical sink.

“You all set, my good man?” he called, lathering his hands.

“Ready when you are, Doc.”

“There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Nope, nothing at all.” Returning to the bedside, Windygate snapped on sterile blue latex gloves.

“Do anything. I don’t care. Just fix my legs.”

Windygate shrugged away a dribble of nervous perspiration. “Yes, of course. I went to Oxford Medical. I’ve been practicing for twenty years. I’m perfectly relaxed, well-rested, and prepared for this. You’ve absolutely nothing to fear.”

Dougherty’s brow furrowed. He chuckled uneasily. “You trying to convince me or yourself, Doc?”

Windygate inhaled a deep breath, swelling his body like a balloon. “I’m just excited. It’s not every day I get to test out a new surgical technique, is it?” Grinning, he toyed with a scalpel. It gleamed and flashed.

The fireman frowned, considering. “Wait. New? How new?”

“Actually…you’ll be the first human subject. The waiver gave your consent to test this new wound debridement procedure. You still okay with that?”

“I guess,” Dougherty said slowly. “It has been tested though, right? On animals or something?”

“Oh goodness, yes.” Windygate nodded. “Thoroughly tried and tested in the veterinary setting with startling successes. Works in both theory and practice. I perfected it myself. I can assure you, it’s completely safe.”

“Let’s get on with it.”

“I’ll be using new robot technology to debride those burns and accelerate the healing.”

Dougherty propped himself on his elbows. “Robots? Really! Why didn’t you say so? What could be more precise than robots? Seems today’s new technology makes everything safer.”

Windygate gently pressed him back down. “Yes, quite. But, as with any new technology, it still requires a spot of testing. Hence, you.”

He turned to his instrument tray and picked up a squat clear plastic container filled with several hundred, small, white, beads. Twisting the lid, he broke the seal and retrieved a handful of the tiny smooth spheres. Carefully, he extended his cupped gloved hand.

“Take a look, but do be careful, they cost a thousand dollars apiece. My research grant paid for them and I do hope to re-use them.”

Dougherty leaned over, craning his neck. “Huh. They’re tiny. Don’t look scary at all! What are they?”

“I call them: Remote-controlled Electronic Maggots. REMs for short.”

“Maggots, ugh!” Dougherty recoiled, making a face.

“Nominally only, for how they break down the dead tissue like maggots. But never you worry, they’re entirely controlled by this remote. See?”

Windygate plucked a gray rectangular object about the size of a cell phone from his instrument tray. Its hard rubber face had six smooth, raised buttons—four blue directional arrows, one red square, and one green circle. He passed it to Dougherty.

“A remote control, eh? Like something my boys might drive their toy cars with.” He handed it back.

“Yes, but in case you have any residual worries, my REMs have two built-in failsafe mechanisms,” Windygate bragged. “The red button kills their power, immediately stopping them. Second, they work by sensing inflammatory biomarkers near the wound. If they’re not in contact with necrotic skin, they won’t move. Prevents them from damaging any healthy tissue. See, here on my glove, it doesn’t move at all. There’s nothing for it to do. But, when I put it on your leg, it activates.”

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EDITED BY:

DAN SHAURETTE & EMERIAN RICH

STORIES BY:

H.E. ROULO, TIM O’NEAL, JERRY J. DAVIS, EMERIAN RICH, BILL DAVIDSON, DANA HAMMER, NACHING T. KASSA, GARRETT ROWLAN, DAPHNE STRASERT, PHILLIP T. STEVENS, LAUREL ANNE HILL, CHANTAL BOUDREAU, GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ

Available on Amazon!

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Guest Blog: Crescendo of Darkness

I was asked to post a guest blog on May 19 for HorrorAddicts.net. Here it is now (a little late, darn it)! As a writer getting into making audio stories, this is educational! (I will be voicing a nervous teenager for an upcoming anthology by Emerian Rich, one of the editors and story contributors for Crescendo of Darkness.)

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction.

HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.

“Loved to Death” by Sam Morgan Phillips

Death explores his dream of being a rock star, but can’t avoid his purpose when a young woman forces him to live up to his destiny.

Death sat in his dressing room, getting ready for the show. He went through his vocal exercises and psyched himself up. He looked at the beer fridge and wished he could have a drink, but he knew it wouldn’t have any effect.

The door was locked for a good reason. He had yet to put on his mask and gloves and pull the black cowl up over his head. He looked at himself in the mirror.

His face of rotting flesh stretched over his skull made him look severe and terrifying. A black robe was both his costume and habitual dress. He pulled it closed over an exposed ribcage. He flexed his skeletal hands and wondered if he was doing the right thing.

He wasn’t ashamed of who he was. He was Death. He didn’t hide behind his costume or his on stage persona. In fact, they represented him perfectly. It was just that he couldn’t be exactly who he was. Not for real. He had to hide it behind art. There was no other way to get his message across. No other way to be understood.

And he so desperately wanted to be understood.

He heaved an otherworldly sigh born of supernatural vigour rather than from lungs. It rasped through his teeth, harsh and metallic.

I can do this. I’m not my father. I have my own my way. I’m Death now.

There was a knock at the door and the muffled sound of words spoken—show time. He put on his mask. It was made of hard black plastic. Painted on the front was a stylised version of his face. It captured the form, but not the essence. He knew how terrifying his true face was.

He pulled on his gloves of black leather. He raised the cowl over his head of thin flesh and exposed bone and went out through the door of his dressing room, clicking the heels of his black army boots on the floor.

As he made his way through the dimly lit backstage area, guided by a roadie, he heard the crowd chanting, calling for him.

“Death, Death, Death!” It lifted his spirits.

His band, The Minions of Death, had already taken the stage and their intro track played. It was the sound of many people screaming. He had recorded and mixed it over the years, overlapping the terrified sounds people made when he came for them. To him it was an elegy, dedicated to the dead, and celebrating the purpose of his life. He felt at home as he walked up the steps at the side of the stage.

The lights flashed red and a smoke machine filled the stage with volumes of bilious gas. The smell of sweat and stale beer filled the long hall, a metal club in the city, jam-packed with people. He stepped up to the microphone and the crowd erupted.

“Put your horns in the air!”

They obeyed, hands raised in the universal metal salute. He raised both of his arms in benediction, cutting a Christ-like pose.

“Tremble before me, mere mortals—for I am Death!”

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To read the rest of this story and thirteen other horror music shorts, check out: 

Crescendo of Darkness

Direct link: https://www.amazon.com/Crescendo-Darkness-Jeremiah-Donaldson/dp/1987708156

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski

HorrorAddicts.net Press 

Let music unlock your fear within.

First Stumpfinger story is published!

“The Dimensional Dollar,” the first short story I wrote with my Donald-Trumpy money-gulping supervillain Stumpfinger, is now published. Series 1963 A: An Anthology of California Writers is a series of stories from the California South Bay Writers Club about the journey of a single dollar bill, which side-slips into Super Holly’s universe for my story. I helped select and edit a few of these stories. I know these writers. They’re good. Spend $1.29 and have a good time.

P.S. In this first story, I spelled Stumpfinger’s first name as Billutons (goofy and greedy) instead of Billington (real and snooty). I’ll likely change it to Billington later, unless people like Billutons better. Comments and votes are welcome.

An Oscar Animated Shorts shows that bigger is better.

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Go see the 2017 Oscar Animated Shorts, I just did. They were fun, no clunkers. Here is a link to the nominees (this link does not grade them: links that did weren’t to my taste).

I braced myself at the start of the 35 minutes of Pear Cider and Cigarettes. But this documentary of a self-destructive guy, animated Aeon Flux style, held my interest for every one of those minutes.

Also included are three “Highly Commended” shorts. The Head Vanishes (Frank Dion/9 minutes/Canada/France) — Losing one’s head with age. I figured it out early. Asteria (Josh Crute/5 minutes/USA) — Two races (human and goofy) fight over a small planet. A third race has a use for it. Once Upon a Line (Alicja Jasina/8 minutes/Cyprus) — Line animation of a boring life getting interesting.

My 2016 vote

ms-trump-600x856Click here to read how I’ll vote. Especially if you want California proposition advice. But if you have not made up your mind about president yet, regardless of your politics, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? It’s Hillary, Trump, third party, or write-in, you should know by now! This is not advice, but to paraphrase Squidward Tentacles, I would rather tear out my brain stem, drag it to the nearest four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, rather than vote for Donald Trump! I hope my Hillary vote will help make misogynists’ slimy, stinky, squirmy little brains explode the same way racist brains exploded with Obama.

P.S. Unlike Ms. Marvel, Super Holly Hansson would not talk it out. In my short story, The Dimensional Dollar (for an upcoming anthology for the South Bay Writer’s Club), Super Holly punches, wrestles, and head-butts my Trumpy supervillain Money Man in the most vicious fight scene I have ever written.

I will perform “The Sinister Soul Surfer” tomorrow!

fault zone 2015Sunday August 28 at 2pm, at the Belmont Library, 1110 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont, CA, the Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club is celebrating six years of the Fault Zone anthology. The authors in the latest Fault Zone (theme: Transform) will read their short stories and poems.

I will be reading/performing from my story, “The Sinister Soul Surfer!” My Batman-esque movie critic, Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert, must rescue Super Holly Hansson from the evil surfer-dude clutches of Bobby Breaker, who jumps into and possesses Holly’s superheroine body with a cry of, “I’m catching’ those curves!”

Can Cal free Holly without Bobby using Holly’s super-strength to smash him into an Intellecta-pancake? Drop by tomorrow at 2 and find out! Same Intellecta-time, same Intellecta-channel!

It’s my Happy 60th Birthday!

And thanks to my Facebook posters!

20131226-154718.jpgI had promised myself that I’d have the entire first draft of my novel done today. (Keef Knight did this shirt for me.) I did not make that goal, although much is filled in, and every chapter that is not written is outlined and inserted into the current draft. So writing the outlined chapters will be a lot easier, now that I have a bunch of short stories under my belt.

To make up for the above, I have two stories coming out in two local anthologies: The Sinister Soul Surfer in Fault Zone, and The terror of the Twisted Tonguester in Scripting Change. I will post links when they are available.

I will be at the San Jose Short Film Festival this weekend. I hope to meet indie film makers. I’ll bring my Holly cards.

Blast from the past: here is my old WordPress photo with Dev-Em, and yes, I remember reading that comic as a kid.

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