No more new editions or revisions (at least for a while, I hope). This is the ultimate edition. I hope you enjoy.
What’s inside this volume 2?
The celebrations for Imbolc are approaching. Everything seems back to the usual routine of Middletown, but that means a new terrible creature is ready to bring death and fear among the people.
This time both the Knights of Solomon and the Sons of Hecate will be affected closely, and will have to choose between the lives of their brethren and the safety of the city.
LADY OF HELL
Beltane, the fourth Sabbat, the return of the light, Asher’s birthday.
The spring is being a litte too hot in Middletown and a thick fog is spreading from the river.
Something big is about to happen.
Mybe there is a way to lift he curse of Middletown. But at what cost?
As I said in the last post, I’ve been doing some re-editing of my books.
This new edition of Solomon’s Knot actually covers two of the four original novellas that composed The Middletown Records. I decided to publish two volumes instead of four for “economy”, to have a reasonable number of pages at a reasonable price.
So here you’ll find “Solomon’s Knot” and “A Cut in the Mist” which actually makes sense because those two were once one novella that I split and expanded a little. And it makes more sense to me beacuse Solomon’s Knot ends kind of abruptly, while this way you can have the whole story with what happens next.
This is somehow a story of its own, and what cames after it’s a different story, even if in the same universe, and even if it continues what has started.
The next volume will be “Lady of Hell” and incorporate also Blood Trail; I don’t have a release date yet since I still need to work on the text and I have a lot of other things do to in the meantime, but let’s say that it will depend on how the first book goes. If I don’t have any sales, it can stay there waiting forever. I have to please the real living readers before, if you know what I mean.
Anyway here’s the description and links:
Middletown is a dangerous city. There are creatures roaming at night, corpses that come back from the grave, demonic possessions and necromancers. All sort of things come from the fog, on the river. There is a rip in the fabric of reality, marking the border with the netherworld. Deadland, or the Sheol, as it’s called by the Knights of Solomon, who try to protect the city and its people with weapons and rituals. Asher is one of them, at least until he meets Amy, a Daughter of Hecate that opens his eyes to a new and disturbing truth. And now, a dangerous journey awaits him, on the edge between life and death.
I took a little pause from my English writing and posting in the last months.
It was due mostly to having other things to do in my native languange, but also having lost most of my motivation. It’s always like that. I do things alone, I can’t see many results, I feel disheartened and give up.
Then I change my mind and I come back.
I thought for a while that this English thing was simply impossible for me. Aside from my constant self doubt (am I good anough? What else could I do to get better?) I keep reading accounts of people that manage to have readers and make a living writing, while I stare at my counter’s flatline and wonder what did I do wrong.
My main problem is the promotional part. I’m not a sociable person, and I don’t have a budget for advertising, so I’ll do what I can. Add to this my constant insecurity that keeps me from going all the way and makes me run for the hills at the first challenge and there you have it.
So I thought that I should simply retire and do other things. But then I keep getting back to my stories, and maybe I didn’t give them the attention they needed.
So for stater I did a total revision of Tropical Weird, my first novella, and I fixed a lot language glitches, since my English got better with time. I also restyled the cover a bit, see for yourself. And I hope some horror/sci-fi fan will give it a shot. I also added a preface with trigger warnings, because that story is a punch in the guts, even for me. But we have to write the hard things.
I’m still thinking if it’s the case to also make a paperback edition, but we’ll see.
The next step will be a new editing round of The Middletown Records series. I unpublished all the editions and I’m working on a new “package”. It’s four novellas, but actually they were three, and I think I will do two volumes this time. I’m already excited for the new covers, but I’ll show them another time.
I’ve other works in stand by and the real challenge will be to get back to writing. Right after I finish with a thing that needs to be dealt with. But then I’ll be back. More determined than before.
7500 words Bilingual edition English/Italian
She wakes up in a foreign place, with no memory, in the middle of the apocalypse.
She needs to put the pieces together and understand what’s her purpose, and why she keeps having flashbacks of other times and places.
Who is Artemis?
“Reveal The Deep is a short exploration game set in the wreck of a 19th century steamship. Navigate through expansive levels, uncovering the stories of the ship’s demise and it’s passengers. Keep your nerve, your wits about you, and prepare to reveal the secrets of the deep.”
It won’t take too long to complete and it’s not so difficult either, but it was a pleasant surprise.
The graphics is pixelated, minimal but effective.
It’s composed of 3 chapters, but pay attention because you can’t save in the middle of a chapter so if you quit befor completing it you’ll have to start back again, but it doesn’t take long so there’s not much bother.
You can die in some occasions, but you’ll respawn and can get back to play from a certain point. There are some minor jumpscares, but nothing to worry about.
The best part is that if you turn on and off the lights the surroundings will change, and there’s a bit of a lovecraftian theme to it.
I live in a place where there’s a lot of fog in the winter, it’s like walking into nothing, when you can’t see a few feet from where you are standing. All white, like someone has erased the world.
And suddenly you are in Silent Hill.
You don’t know what’s there, in the mist. Driving with such low visibility is a nightmare, you don’t see the road, you don’t see the obstacles until they are very near, you have to make up your mind to figure out where you are going.
But what if there is something else in the mist? Something alien, wild, hungry… Lovecraftian?
You’ll find the answer to this question in Stephen King’s novella and the following movie, The Mist.
By the way, today is Mr. King’s birthday, so let’s celebrate this man who gave us such a great time with his stories! :D
Now, back to the movie.
If there’s one thing that the apocalypse movies have thaught us is this: don’t hide in a freaking supermarket with huge glass windows.
This time the characters didn’t chose to hide there, they were just already there when shit happened, so it’s not their fault. It’s their fault all the stupid things they do after. And they do a lot of stupid things.
But you know what?
That’s the reason why it feels real, because even if you think, oh my god how stupid can you be to set yourself on fire while burning a mop, or why didn’t they cover all the windows instead of just the bottom half, and so on, you realize it’s because that’s what real people who are not prepared to face an apocalypse would do.
Beside that, I really enjoyed the movie, there are a lot of good scenes and I’m glad that there’s a director out there who has finally understood how to make a movie based on a story by Stephen King and make it look good.
However, I think that what strikes the most about this movie and won’t let it pass unnoticed it’s the ending.
I won’t tell how it ends because I don’t want to ruin it for someone (like I unfortunately did for me) but I’ll just say that I think it was very brave to decide to make it end like that. It’s unsettling, it’s unfair, it’s hard to swallow. It is so wrong on so many levels that it becomes good.
So if you didn’t watch the movie and want to give it a try, just know that you’re in for a lot of pain, and probably you won’t be happy when it ends.
“How do we find him?” whispered Anselmo, in the ear of Father Guglielmo. The sun had already set; the last few devotees were preparing to return from the prayer wake on the lonely path that led from the monastery to the village. The two of them were hidden among the vegetation of the surrounding countryside, armed with crucifixes, necklaces of garlic, holy water and pointed sticks.
“It will be on the trail of new preys; this is the only place where he can find them. Nobody gets out in the evening since the outbreak of the plague, and the creatures of the night are not allowed to enter the houses.”
They saw a woman, who, stopping to collect the rosary, fallen from her hands in the darkness, found herself isolated from the rest of the group. They quietly followed her, remaining hidden among the trees that lined the path.
The woman looked around bewildered, as if she had experienced a noise or a presence, then she hurried up and tried to reach the others. It was then that it appeared to bar her way, a black shadow, slender, wrapped in a long cloak.
The woman started to scream, but it hastened to cover her mouth, then stopped on top of her, as to smell her.
Anselmo did not resist and jumped out from the trees, with a cross in his hand, shaking it towards the creature. “Get away from her!”
The monk followed him, reciting, “Vade retro Satan’s beast!”
The creature, caught by surprise, let go of the woman, who just ran away, and turned to the two intruders.
Now, under the crescent moon, its figure was visible: it had the traits and the physicality of a man, tall and thin, with deathly pallor and long hair, matted and black, but its face was deformed in an angry grin. He opened its mouth, showing pointy fangs, and hissing like a cat at the sight of the crosses and the scent of garlic.
Anselmo hesitated, appalled by its appearance. “Who… who are you, demon?”
“Vampire!” said Father Guglielmo, and then he bustled about with a couple of flints to light a torch.
The vampire laughed. “Stupid mortals. You had courage to chase me, only the two of you. I am the Nachzehrer, devourer of the night!” Its accent sounded foreigner.
Anselmo pointed his sharp stick at it. “You’re the one who brought the plague in our country!”
The spark had caught on and Father Guglielmo had managed to light the torch; there was no time to waste on small talk. He sprang toward it, threatening it with fire. The demon walked away, but didn’t run; it was too much the desire to hunt its new preys.
It caught Anselmo from behind, snatched his garlic necklace with a cry of disgust.
The Father took the opportunity to approach it with fire. The flame seared the vampire’s face and alight its long hair, forcing it to give up and gesture to smother the flames. It was only a temporary distraction. The next instant, the demon, furious, jumped on the monk, throwing him to the ground, causing him to drop the torch.
The Father tried to resist, pressing the cross on the vampire’s chest, causing it to scream in pain, burned, but he could not make it desist from it hunger for death.
As the creature flung open its jaws to bite the neck of Father Guglielmo, Anselmo came from behind and pierced its heart with his stick.
The creature screamed into the night, howling at the moon its last groans, then slumped to the ground lifeless.
Anselmo helped the monk to get up. “Do you think he’s dead, Father?”
Father Guglielmo went to pick up the torch, which was still lit. “Ashes to ashes…” he whispered, and then set the vampire’s clothes on fire.
Within a few moments, the body was engulfed in flames.
The two men watched it burn and be consumed slowly, and they made the sign of the cross.
When the fire was extinguished, the monk sprinkled its remains with holy water and put them in a sack. “He will be buried in consecrated ground, so that it could not rise again.”
They walked toward the convent.
“What about that girl who was bitten?” asked Anselmo.
“She will die,” replied the monk, somberly. “She will die and then rise again, unless we stop her. The Nachzehrer is also known as shroud chewer. Once infected, the body wakes up after death and, guided by hunger, it start to bite and feed on everything it encounters, to regain its strength and become a true vampire. By doing so, it drains the energies of human beings, exposing them to diseases and plagues. But there is a way to prevent this from happening.”
* * *
A new energy runs through my veins, I feel my body become stronger, my mind is clearer, my eyes penetrate the darkness and I can finally see.
What I bit and devoured greedily is the body of a young woman with alabaster skin and long dark hair. Its aroma of wilted flower intoxicates me.
I feel the strength flowing back into my arms; I can finally move the upper part of my body. I lever with my elbows and try to sit up, raising my back with effort. Now I can look around.
I’m in a crypt dug in the rock, I lie on an altar of stone and there are other bodies here with me, dozens of corpses disfigured by the signs of the plague. They’ve been left this way, haphazardly, thrown with hopeless neglect when the space for the dead was no longer sufficient; the bodies piled on top of each other, abandoned. Like the young girl who has been cast upon me, who has now become my source of nourishment.
I’m not ready, I’m not complete yet. I need more blood, even if it’s as bitter as gall, and more flesh, even if it’s flaccid and rotten; my hunger has not yet subsided.
I grab her with both hands and I maul her white neck as I feel her lymph flowing inside of me. I have everything I need here to rise again.
* * *
Lightning, thunders, and finally the rain.
The water came down from the sky, unstoppable, absorbed by the thirsty and needy earth, cleaning up the streets, purifying the air.
Anselmo greeted it with renewed optimism, while, dressed in his vulture mask, he loaded the girl’s body, wrapped in a blanket, on his cart.
Two days had passed since the night they killed the vampire, and now, inevitably, the bitten girl had perished, overwhelmed by its poison.
The mother said her goodbye with the sign of the cross, while the rain washed away the last tears from her face.
Anselmo spurred his horse without looking back, heading to the graveyard where Father Guglielmo was already waiting for him.
He had dug a hole under the pouring water, his sparse hair plastered to his head, his robe soaked and heavy, with drops flowing from his eyelids and the curves of his face. He felt almost cleansed. He greeted Anselmo’s arrival with a nod.
The doctor came down from the cart, but this time he didn’t took off his outfit. A mixture of fear and anxiety had crept into his heart, but in the end, he trusted the monk and would follow his instructions.
“Place it here,” said Father Guglielmo pointing to the side of the hole.
Anselmo dumped the bundle, trying to deposit it with as much delicacy as possible.
The monk leaned over, and uncovered her face. Only then Anselmo noticed the strange objects he had brought with him: a stone and a hammer.
“What are you going to do to her, Father?”
“To prevent the Nachzehrer from rising, we need to prevent it from feeding. It’s only this way that it can gather the energy to escape its grave.” With his bare hands, he grabbed the girl’s face and opened her mouth, then took the stone, which had the size of a foot, and rested it on her tongue, inserting it into the oral cavity. “We have to stop it from chewing.” He picked up the hammer and with a few blows the stone sank into the young girl’s skull, smashing her jaw.
Anselmo looked away, disturbed; a shudder ran through his spine like icy fingers.
The monk placed a crucifix on the victim’s chest, uttering muffled prayers and then concluded, “We have done everything we could. Now help me.”
Anselmo regained his cool and returned promptly to give his support to the monk as he lifted the body to place it into the hole. The incessant water had soaked the cloth and now that miserable bundle seemed overwhelmingly heavy.
They dropped it to the bottom, and then began to shovel the wet dirt to seal the grave.
The Father ended with a prayer for the dead.
“Have you found other sick people with bite marks, in the village?” he finally asked, startling Anselmo.
“Not that I remember, not this month… all whom I visited had the signs of the plague only.”
“So maybe we are safe. Pray to God that this nightmare has come to an end.”
Anselmo made the sign of the cross.
* * *
So be it.
The time has come.
I gathered my new energy by feeding on flesh and blood, I feel my power grow, I feel an ancient and dark force pulsate underneath my skin.
Every fiber of my body is throbbing of its essence. My legs are infused with strength and vigor.
I get off from my altar and finally stand in all my stature. I have a strong young body. My clothes are humble, but a new nobility pervades me. I am the Lord of the Night, I hear the call of the moon and the stars.
I hear the call of a new hunger.
This time it will be living blood and healthy flesh.
This is a short story with a bit of history in it. It’s supposed to be set in an Italian village during one of the plague epidemics (it could be the one of 1630 in the North of Italy), of course most of the details are fictional, but I’ll try to put some real information with pictures here and there.
Since it’s a bit long for a blog post, there will be two parts.
Hope you enjoy :)
The shroud lies on my face like a cobweb, it tickles me, it bothers me. I try to move, but my body is cold and numb. Still, I feel the hunger devouring me from the inside; the craving clouds my mind, fills my every thought.
I open my eyes.
Darkness is complete.
I can smell the rotting flesh, it penetrates my nostrils, my hunger grows turning into pain… I must eat.
I make an effort to regain the control of my limbs; just the lower jaw seems to respond. It goes down, my mouth opens wide, I try to inhale a breath in my wrinkled and deflated lungs. The sheet that covers me is sucked in, I feel the cloth adhere to my tongue. For a moment it’s like suffocating, I gasp, longing for oxygen, but nothing comes inside my body, nothing comes out. I don’t need air. The hunger is the only thing I feel.
I shut my mouth, bite the cloth, I feel it between my teeth. I want to devour everything…
I start to chew inexorably, moistening the shroud with drops of saliva and acids coming from my body.
I bite, I tear, I chew.
* * *
The morning was gray, shreds of clouds looked like rain, yet a single drop of water hadn’t been seen for weeks. The month of August had been hot and merciless, but finally it had passed and September was bringing along its gloomy promises.
Anselmo looked hopefully from a chink of the window, waiting for a storm that would wash away the filth and the grief from the streets. He had the impression that the pestilential air was stagnating through the roads of the village, leaking in every corner, bringer of infirmity and death.
Death. He had been seeing it every day for a month.
All had started with the miller’s daughter. The most beautiful girls were the privileged victims. It looked like a simple fever, but then day by day it worsened, the swellings appeared, and within a few weeks, other cases showed throughout the village and the inhabitants started to drop like flies.
Anselmo put on his shoulders the black oilcloth, then took the mask with the long beak, stuffed with spices and aromatic herbs, he put it on his face and above it the glasses. He wore the gloves, then completed the figure with the brim hat and the steak.
He went out in the courtyard, stroked his horse, which was already accustomed to seeing him in that outfit and didn’t bother anymore, and then got on his cart for his daily tour.
The roads were calm and quiet; the whole town was in quarantine, just once in a while some lonely soul showed up to go to work in the fields or to confess at Saint Mary’s Chapel, to the Dominicans monks.
When someone met Anselmo, the only doctor left, he crossed himself in fear, moving away his look and running. He, otherwise, didn’t pay attention to these people, but just to the closed doors and barred windows, looking for a white rag informing of the presence of the sick ones. He brought ointments, garlic strings, talismans and some word of hope and sorrow.
He was still wondering if there was some way to dispel that obscure illness, he reasoned about the causes. Once completed his scouring, he promised himself to go back talking to father Guglielmo at the convent.
He was lost in his thoughts when a rag tied to a window drew his attention and made him stop.
He got down from his cart and approached the modest house. He knocked three times to the door.
“It’s the doctor,” he said hoping someone inside would hear him.
After a few moments, a woman came and opened. She was tiny, with gray hair combed in a bun and a sunken face, lined with wrinkles; she crossed herself and whispered, “My daughter is sick,” then she made space to let him enter the house, addressing him to the bed where lay a young woman.
She was covered in sweat and mortally pale, her lips were livid and her breath labored. When she saw him come inside, looking like a crow, she opened her eyes wide in fear, clutching the covers to her chest, and she would have run away if she had had the strength.
Anselmo approached slowly. “Don’t be afraid,” he said with his voice muffled by his grotesque mask.
The young woman’s dark hair was disheveled and sticky on her forehead. She had a very high fever and was delirious.
“She’s been this way since last night,” explained her mother with trembling voice. “Since she came back from the prayer wake, after the sunset…”
Anselmo turned to observe the patient. Something grabbed his attention: a mark was showing under her shirt, on her neck. He removed the clothes to take a closer look, it seemed like a bite, and it was recent. He turned toward the mother. “Is it possible that she was attacked by an animal? A stray dog maybe?”
The girl gasped and started to mumble confused words. “Him… the man… nach… dark man… rer… nach… rer…” then she rolled her eyes backward and lost consciousness.
Anselmo turned to the gray-haired woman, again. “Bring some cold water with vinegar and soak a rag in it, then put it on her forehead. Keep her checked for pustules or swellings, and if you find them, spread this ointment on them. Barr the door. No one must enter nor leave, and no one must have contact with the girl. Each time you touch her, rinse your hands with vinegar. I will be back to check her; leave the rag at the window. And pray.”
The woman thanked him, making again the sign of the cross, murmuring a blessing, and Anselmo went back to his cart.
The sight of the girl had troubled him. The symptoms were similar to those of the plague, but there were no other visible signs, and that bite on her neck was a weird occurrence. He decided to immediately reach Father Guglielmo and dispel his doubts.
The convent was located on a hill, right outside the town. Surrounded by walls and isolated from the world, it occasionally welcomed beggars and pilgrims.
Anselmo stopped the cart tying the horse near the entrance. He took off his mask, his cape, and the rest of his outfit, and slammed the heavy iron knocker.
Father Guglielmo met him in the courtyard, welcoming him with a smile, gentle and sad at the same time. “What brings you here, in such dark days?”
“Father, I need to talk to you about a strange thing,” confessed Anselmo, and told him about his last visit.
“A bite mark, you say?” repeated the monk to himself. “And a mention to a dark-haired man and foreign words…”
Anselmo tortured his hands impatiently. “Father, do you think it could be a plague spreader? Tell me, what could possibly have caused this plague? We are a small village; we do not trade with strangers…”
The monk seemed pondering. “Son, I think there are dark forces at work behind these unfortunate events. There are creatures that roam in the dark of night, feeding on the blood and energy of men, mainly attracted by young girls…”
“Like the miller’s daughter! She was the first!”
“These creatures… the bite is unequivocal,” said the monk as to convince himself. “Wherever they go, they bring pestilence and death, and who’s affected by their bite becomes one of them.”
Anselmo shuddered. “You mean that for that girl there is a fate worse than death itself?”
“Now, let’s not rush to conclusions. First we must make sure who that brown man was, chase him away, or catch him if possible, so we will know what we are facing.”
Anselmo nodded. “Good, I’m going to look for him this very night.”
The monk grabbed his arm. “But you cannot go alone. These creatures have unimaginable powers.”
“And who could I bring with me? The men of the village are scared and many are sick…”
The monk stroked his beard, thoughtfully at first, then more resolute. “Well, I’ll come with you. Now follow me, we’ll need the tools of the Lord to protect us.”
* * *
This is not enough for me; my hunger grows. Now that my shroud is consumed, my tongue wanders around looking for something that satisfies it. I need to find more food.
It’s dark in here, I cannot see.
I feel something above me, a burden that weighs on my chest, something that crushes me.
My sense of smell intensified, I perceive the stench of putrefaction, the scent of flesh and blood. There is something beside me, above me, if I lean just a bit… I force my tendons and the muscles of my neck, they seem to respond, I’m starting to move slowly.
I am guided by my senses and I finally reach it. My nostrils sing the triumph of the next meal: it is a body! A corpse. Dead.
Doesn’t matter, my hunger is too much.
Without hesitation, I open my jaws and take the first bite. My teeth sink into the flesh, I feel the fluids of the creature slipping down my throat, on my chin, they stain my face. My jaws do not stop, I keep my avid chewing, I bite pieces of skin and flesh and I eat… what a wonderful feeling!
Many times in my life I heard people saying, why do you watch those awful things? Why do you like things so bloody and gory? Violence is a bad thing, who likes horror must be some kind of psycho, and so on.
I’ve a few friends who like and write horror fiction and I assure you they are totally nice people. I won’t say normal because who’s normal these days?
Honestly I’m more concerned about people who are very negative towards the genre, it always turns on all my inner alarms and makes me be very careful in dealing with them. Why? Because I don’t trust people that are not able to discern between fiction and reality, and take everything too seriously.
I think we’ve become too sensitive on a lot of matters. Everything seems to be considered offensive and aggressive nowadays. Even written words and made-up stories.
I cringe every time I see someone who wants to ban something, a picture, a book, an idea. That scares me more than any ghost or werewolf in any horror story.
This is my reason why I need the horror genre.
I need a way out. I need a breath of fresh air from a society that has become suffocating. I need violence and blood and death or all this fake goodness will make me crazy.
Have you ever noticed how the creepiest villains are those who think strongly of being virtuous? Because in the end, evil people are not evil for the sake of it. They really believe they’re doing what’s best.
And moreover, some of the most horrible things that happen to people, like accidents, illness, natural disasters, are not evil at all. They’re just fortuity, things that happen for no reason. And we need to know that. Death is a part of life, and we can try to trick it, or pretend it doesn’t exists. But in the end it comes for everyone.
And the horror genre reminds you of that, it tells you that bad things happen and you have to deal with them, like it or not.
It reminds you that your laws, your ethics and moral are just arbitrary constructions, and every light has its shadow.