I could see the headline already as the bus lurched, front wheel careening into a ditch: Mass murder survivors killed on route to therapy retreat. But the driver corrected, got himself back on the road, no harm no foul. One more near miss.
For Friday the 13th, a tale of harbingers and doom averted:
Magician Isaac Plank owned a book of obscene spells and a collection of oddities from around the world. But Isaac is dead now, and his father – respectable accountant Lawrence Plank – has put his estate up for auction.
After a local hoarder buys his spell book, she brings Isaac back from beyond the grave and inadvertently unleashes an army of cursed knickknacks. Now, Lawrence and Isaac must do battle against reanimated taxidermy, flesh-eating shrunken heads, an angry mob, and a vengeful mummy who yearns to rule again.
The Doom That Came to Mellonville is a macabre horror comedy in the vein of Beetlejuice, The ‘Burbs, and Reanimator.
Coming soon from Filthy Loot.
A little story written for World Goth Day 2021, inspired by the Type O Negative song “Green Man” and Peter Steele’s former job at the N.Y.C. Parks Department:
PARKS DEPARTMENT, the man’s uniform read.
He towered like a tree, nest of hair tied back hastily, the long limb descending from his right arm sprouting a clamp to cleanse the earth. With mechanical efficiency it picked up a yellow wrapper, a snow-white issue stained with grease, crumpled plastic. Into the black they went, and the world was clean.
Above his head, branches budded.
The man cursed as he overextended himself to capture a crushed Coke can, throwing out his back. “Reprobates,” he muttered at the absent litterers. His broad shoulders hunched, he raised a hand to massage what had been torn.
Not old at all, in the scheme of things, but every season his body felt a little more brittle. Maybe it was a sign. How many years had he been working here? Hundreds, it seemed.
In the canopy, robins chirped and a raven squawked to shut them up. There being no humans around, he leaned on his grabber stick and griped to the birds. The job, the union, the management.
Only the weather, cloudless with sun streaming through the branches, didn’t piss him off today.
When the trees were bare and the last of the leaves had been raked and bagged, he’d be laid off for the winter. He’d pocket his last paycheque and wait for the last of the maintenance crews to leave before slipping under the USE AT YOUR OWN RISK sign and descending back into the park. Then, as he did every year, he’d scrape away a layer of snow (seven feet by four, a large man’s grave), lie down, and sink into the dirt.
And his warmth would be leeched away by the roots of the shrivelled grass and skeleton trees, a reminder for them that the cold wouldn’t last. And he would sleep.
Until spring broke and the roots started tickling his toes and pulling at his hair. “Can’t a man get some rest?” he’d snap, his voice like the dead leaves trapped under the snow.
But he’d let the sprouting foliage push him upward, and the newborn branches reach down to pull him to his feet. And like every year, he’d shave the moss from his face, trim his leafy brows, pull on his green uniform, and clock in for work.
It was a living.
(C) Madison McSweeney
Appears in: When the World Stopped: A Collection of Infectious Stories (Owl Hollow Press)
Release Date: October 2020
Summary: Sophie’s quarantine takes an odd turn when she develops a telepathic connection with the sketchy guy loitering near her building. A pseudoscientific rom-com about these weird times.
Buy a copy of When the World Stopped from Owl Hollow Press.
Appears in: On Time (Transmundane Press)
Release Date: Sept. 27/2020
Summary: A dimension-hopping war arrives at a downtown police station after a trailer on cinder blocks materializes in the middle of traffic. The young woman in the holding cell has a strange story to tell – if she lives long enough.
Buy a copy of On Time from Transmundane Press.
Appears in: Night Frights Issue #1 (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Release Date: Sept. 13/2020
Summary: Concerned about its influence on students, the teachers at Miskatonic Elementary School decide to cancel Halloween. Deprived of their annual tribute, a cabal of monsters and demons plot their nastiest trick yet.
Buy a copy of Night Frights from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.
Appears in: Weird Mask (Issue 24)
Release Date: May/2020
Summary: Two globetrotting academics, one British, one American, get stranded in a storm. As the rains fall and the sky darkens, they find shelter in a mountain shack, realizing too late that this sanctuary may be more dangerous than the wilderness they sought refuge from.
Buy a copy of Weird Mask, or keep reading below.
Appears in: Back Patio Press
Release Date: May 15/2020
Summary: A cinemagoer is startled by the strangely patriotic alternate ending of a sci-fi blockbuster.
Read it for free at Back Patio Press (or continue reading below).
Appears in: Sci-Fi & Scary
Release Date: May 10/2020
Summary: A tongueless punk rocker and an AWOL nurse revolt against a tyrannical government.
Read it for free at Sci-Fi & Scary (or continue reading below).
Appears in: Mysterion
Release Date: Dec. 23/2019
Summary: An eclectic group of fast food workers spend the holidays stranded on an outer space truck stop, in this Christmas sci-fi comedy.
Read it in Mysterion.
Appears in: Horror Tree – Trembling With Fear
Release Date: Nov. 10/2019
Summary: A reluctant groom gets cold feet the day of his post-apocalyptic wedding.
Read it at Horror Tree.