Do You Want To Play a Game?

jack-o-lantern-1679164_640It’s been a while! How are you doing?

I’ve been working in the shadows lately to prepare new things. Since Halloween is near, I wanted to do something special other than the usual giveaway.

So I created this little interactive horror game for browser (I haven’t got to the mobile version yet):

Do You Want to Play a Game?

At the end you can win free ebooks, but even if you’re not interested in my writings, the point is having fun playing, so I hope you enjoy it.

I also created a Facebook event if you want to stay in touch and let me know what do you think of it.

And if you just want to read some of my things, there’s still a 20% discount on the Digital Store.

Have a spooky holiday!

The Chewer – A Vampire of the Plague (Part 2)

Link to part 1.

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“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.

The Nachzehrer is a type of vampire from the German folklore. It was also called the chewer of the shroud, and it was believed to be the cause of the spreading of the plague. It’s a vampire that didn’t complete its transformation and so it stays in a suspended state in its grave, where all it can do is chew on its shroud, feeding on the vital energy of the people around it or eating dead bodies until it gains its full strength. The only way to stop it is to put a brick in its mouth, in order to prevent it from chewing. Photo: Vampire woman found in Venice. Source: http://www.blitzquotidiano.it/opinioni/maria-benedetta-errigo-opinioni/venezia-donna-vampiro-nachzehrer-mattone-1833662/
The Nachzehrer is a type of vampire from the German folklore. It was also called the chewer of the shroud, and it was believed to be the cause of the spreading of the plague. It’s a vampire that didn’t complete its transformation and so it stays in a suspended state in its grave, where all it can do is chew on its shroud, feeding on the vital energy of the people around it or eating dead bodies until it gains its full strength.
The only way to stop it is to put a brick in its mouth, in order to prevent it from chewing.
Photo: Vampire woman found in Venice.
Source: http://www.blitzquotidiano.it/opinioni/maria-benedetta-errigo-opinioni/venezia-donna-vampiro-nachzehrer-mattone-1833662/

“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.

“Amen.”

* * *

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.

A new awareness takes over me.

Nothing could stop me anymore.

 

The Chewer – A Vampire of the Plague (Part 1)

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 :)

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The Chewer

 

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.

The plague doctors wore special clothing to protect themselves from the epidemic. Their outfit consisted of an oilskin, black overcoat, gloves, boots, a wooden stick, and a brim hat. On their face, they wore a weird white mask, shaped like the beak of a bird, which was stuffed with herbs and other aromatic substances in order to cover the smell of death and decay. It was a common believing, according to the miasma theory, that the bad smells were the main cause of the disease.
The plague doctors wore special clothing to protect themselves from the epidemic. Their outfit consisted of an oilskin, black overcoat, gloves, boots, a wooden stick, and a brim hat. On their face, they wore a weird white mask, shaped like the beak of a bird, which was stuffed with herbs and other aromatic substances in order to cover the smell of death and decay. It was a common believing, according to the miasma theory, that the bad smells were the main cause of the disease.
Image source: “Doktorschnabel 430px” di Paul Fürst (after J Columbina) – Imagery From the History of Medicine. Public domain licence with Wikimedia Commons.

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!

* * *

Go to Part 2.

Zombie Wake Up

I’ve been missing for a while, but I feel bad leaving the blog like this deserted and dead, so how about a little short story about the UN-dead?

This is more a funny story than a horror one, if you have a taste for dark humor I mean. It all started with the idea of “zombie chickens”… so you can imagine how things turned out.

If you’re in the mood for a story to refresh your summer, you can read this one. Hope you enjoy!

______________________________

Zombie Wake Up

by Allison J. Wade

______________________________

Honestly, I don’t know how to start writing down this story, but I’ll give it a try.

My name is Michael. I’m twenty-three and I study political science at college. I live with my grandmother in a provincial town, in one of those old country houses with the court and the vegetable garden and the chickens… A lot like Old McDonald, except there’s only me and grandma. No, not the usual tear-jerker story about parents lost at sea – simply, grandma’s town is near the campus, so I moved in with her just for convenience. There – that’s the situation, mostly, but maybe I should talk in the past tense. I’m messing up already. Sorry. It’s just that lately I’ve been feeling a little confused…

So, let’s start from the beginning. It was May 22nd.

No, actually the night before. Yes, it was May 21st, 2011, the famous day of the prophecies. A day that, according to some pretend expert interpreters of the Bible, should have signaled the beginning of the Apocalypse: the dead rising from their graves, the coming of the Antichrist, the beast from the sea, the beast from the earth, and all their merry friends.

Of course, like all the mentally healthy people thought, nothing happened that day. The world went on like always. Mostly.

The fact is that it was Saturday night and I should have gone out because Sarah, the wonderful and gorgeous Sarah with hair like fire and sparkling eyes – and epic tits – finally accepted to go on a date with me. OK, the deal was that I gave her the notes of Professor Klein and helped her to prepare for the test, but what the hell? At least it would be a crazy Saturday night… or so I thought.

Raging fever, dry throat, abnormal palpitations, nausea and a range of other symptoms that even science could not identify struck suddenly. All I could do was go to bed and agonize in silence.

And at eight p.m. I fell into a profound coma-like sleep, from which I awoke at eleven a.m. the next morning.

When I woke up I felt incredibly rested, fresh like a rose, almost reborn. Mostly.

I came across my grandma in the hallway and she looked at me like she saw a ghost: “Michael, you’re so pale. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine, grandma. Never felt better.”

“I’m going to feed the chicken then. Now it’s late for breakfast; wait for lunch at least.”

What a lovely woman, and still so alert at eighty. “Sure, grandma, I’ll wait for lunch.” But actually I had some pangs.

I went to the bathroom and I looked into the mirror. Crap, grandma was right. As white as a sheet and with dark shadows under my eyes. Maybe I wasn’t so well.

I touched my forehead: cold. Palpitations: nothing.

Nothing?

Yes, nothing. No more pulse. I put my fingers on my wrist, on my neck, a hand on my chest. My heart wasn’t pounding anymore.

It was then that I recalled all the prophecies and the story of the dead rising from the grave… that meant I was dead the night before. And now?

What had I become?

I could see myself in the mirror. The daylight didn’t bother me, I had no protruding canines… Ok, I wasn’t a vampire. But what was that  hunger that grew inside of me?

I tried to make some experiments: I pricked my finger with a pin and I didn’t feel any pain, I cut myself with a Swiss knife and still nothing; the blood poured from the wound, but it was dark and dense like it was already starting to coagulate. I welcomed the news with a mix of concern and anguish, but also with some kind of detachment, almost like a peace of the senses… Still the hunger remained.

At some point, the scent of browning onions reached my nostrils. My sense of smell seemed to have become more sensitive.

“Michael, would you like some carbonara?” grandma called for me.

Smell of raw bacon. Hunger. “Yes grandma, I’m coming!”

I went downstairs. Grandma was at the stove, cooking the cubes of bacon. Meat. Smell of meat. Cooked meats. A smell even more inviting – flesh, living flesh. I approached. Tender flesh, throbbing blood.

Grandma’s neck completely exposed. She was so alert, my grandma. And lively.

I came behind without her even noticing. The hunger was too much – the urge, uncontrollable. With a snap, my teeth closed on her neck. The jugular: bitten, torn out, warm, juicy, dense blood, splatters. Flesh. Living flesh. Tasty bites. More.

Before I could realize what I was doing, I already had picked clean the side of her neck and part of her shoulder. Poor grandma wasn’t even able to scream.

I dropped her and she fell to the floor, motionless.

Holy crap. I killed grandma.

I wiped my mouth with my sleeve. The kitchen was a slaughterhouse, literally. Splatters of blood laid everywhere and the bacon was already burned.

I had to clean up everything. I had to fix that mess.

And grandma? Where would I put grandma?

While I was wandering around in panic and looking for the sponges, I realized. I was a fucking zombie. But shouldn’t the zombies be… zombies indeed? Unconscious idiots with limited mental faculties only able to drag their feet and eat and nothing else? No pain, no guilt.

But no, I was fucking awake!

I grabbed grandma’s feet and dragged her to the living room, leaving her on the floor, between the sofa and the tea table. Then I came back to the kitchen and started to clean up.

You have no idea how stinky it is to wipe out the stains of blood from the furniture…

And in the meantime the hunger was back, and growing, and growling. I swallowed all the roll of bacon, but it didn’t satisfy me – stupid dead meat. My stomach was craving for fresher meat – alive, throbbing blood.

But where would I find something alive here around? I couldn’t start to assault the neighbors, of course! And then the idea came to me: chickens.

Ok, it was a humble meal, but better than nothing.

With haste I entered the hen house. The poor beasts, hearing me coming, freaked out with fear, starting to run and jump around in a flit of feathers and cackles.

I grabbed one of them and bit right into its breast – good juicy breast. I spat white and red feathers.

When I was about to take a second bite on the bare flesh, a buzz reached my ears. The doorbell? I was able to hear it even from that distance. Not just my smell, but also my hearing seemed to be more developed than before.

I would have ignored it if I hadn’t heard that voice. “Michael, are you there?”

Sarah. The red-haired beautiful epic-tits Sarah. My forbidden dream.

I was a wide-awake zombie, but maybe not as awake as I thought, because I immediately went to open the door. Right after cleaning my mouth from the blood and the feathers and leaving the stunned chicken in the garden.

My new status forced me to follow the more basic orders – door bell rings: open the door.

“Michael! Jeez, what a face. Are you all right?”

Sarah’s smell stunned me for a moment. I felt the hunger coming back to roar – only an effort of will kept me from jumping onto her.

“Yes, sorry. I wasn’t very well.” I could not eat Sarah. I shouldn’t even think about it.

“I see! You look like a walking corpse.”

“Well, actually…”

“Anyway, listen. Do you mind if I come in? You know, the notes…”

“Sure, sure, come in. I’ll bring them right away…” So typical; she only thought of the notes. If it wasn’t for them, I’d still be there eating up my chickens. And once the chickens were gone…?

Now, a little note about my house. Not that I’m much into architecture and interior design, but with grandma half eaten in the living room… The outer door opens onto a hallway; on one side is the living room – closed door. On the other, the kitchen – just polished. I led her into the kitchen while I went upstairs to take the notes.

Random chat on the stairs.

“Have you already had lunch? Sorry I came at this time…”

“Oh, yes. No, I mean. Not yet. I was just about to…”

“I’m sorry to intrude, but weren’t you living with your grandma?”

“Oh, yes. No, I mean. She’s out feeding the chickens…”

“And she leaves them free in the garden?”

“Uh…?”

Note on the house number two: the kitchen has a second door that opens onto the court. A door that I left wide open.

A scream.

I went down headlong – I wonder what would happen if I break my neck… I reached the kitchen and the chickens were all there, flocked together on the door, mangy and covered with blood, with dull eyes – the ones that still had eyes. I was just gone for two minutes!

In my mind I tried to reconstruct what happened: I bit a chicken, I infected it, and it became zombie and attacked another chicken, this a third one and they happily slaughtered one another, entering the wonderful world of the undead.

And now they were there, hungry for living flash and trying to peck at my guest’s calves. Some of them even reached the table and made inhuman cries – they’re chickens you would say – but like a more guttural cackle, something that gave the goose bumps even to an already-zombified zombie.

I grabbed the broom and started to deliver blows everywhere while Sarah was covering behind me, her back to the hallway – keep that in mind. I was hitting chickens like crazy, starting a new sport halfway between baseball and hockey.

Somehow I managed to chase them all outside and close the door. A few bodies remained on the marble tiles, but with their heads crushed, unable to rise again, with blood and feather scattered – still life with chicken.

We sighed with relief. At least until Sarah started screaming.

From the hallway – and in the meantime my brain arrived at the conclusion: I’m contagious – the newly undead grandma stood up with half her neck and the ancient flower pattern dress stained with blood like at a slaughterhouse, and grabbed the still-alive Sarah, trying to eat her up.

While I was thinking that maybe grandma wasn’t as awake and conscious as me, I was already hitting her head with the broom and all my strength – remarkable, I noticed – with the only result of breaking the wooden panhandle in half, leaving grandma happy and free to sink her teeth into Sarah’s shoulder. Poor sweet Sarah – sweet, she must be delicious…

“Stop, grandma! It’s my future wife that you’re eating!” And in a moment of rage I shoved the end of the panhandle between her jaws until I pierced her brains. She really rolled her eyes and then dropped down dead. She didn’t move anymore; poor grandma.

Sarah stared at me with wide open eyes, reaching with her hand for the wound that was unstoppably splashing blood. She bent on her knees, frightened, gasping, and unable to make any sound. Then her eyes, too, rolled back and she fell to the ground.

I dragged her into the living room and then I put her comfortably onto the couch.

Her heart stopped a while ago.

Now I’m waiting for her to wake up.

I wonder if there are other zombies in town. If not, maybe this time I had the good chance of finding a girlfriend.

As for the hunger, we’ll think about it later.

 

Misplacing Space and Time

e_little03I’m awful because the draft of this post has been in my HD for more than a year now.

But now is time to get things done.

I wanted to talk about two novellas I read which have a similar theme, though seen from different angles.

The titles are Placeholders by John R. Little, and Rewind by Holly Lisle.

And now, finally, I will tell you what they are about: changing your fate.

I think it’s a very strong theme that never gets old, and can be developed in many different ways.

Unfortunately I have a bad bad memory and now I almost forgot and need to read them again, but I’ll try to make up my mind and it’ll be like we discover them together.

In John Little’s novella, a man is stuck in a loop of never ending death. He literally dies a hundred of times. Every time he’s in a new body where he takes the place of the original owner in order to spare him the painful experience of dying. But what initially appears as a series of random events, gradually starts to lead him on a familiar path… and I’m telling no more.

In Holly Lisle’s novella, instead, a woman is able to get back on time in order to change her fate, but what awaits in her childhood memories could be very scary and unsettling…

So each one of these character is struggling to change things that can’t be changed in the real world.

We always make mistakes, and then regret things that can’t be changed, and sometime fiction is our way to atone our sins. Or sometimes it could help us be prepared to face what’s coming and what’s still unknown.

Have a nice read, and never stop wondering ;)

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back

LandsdaleI really like that title. I like titles which almost tell a story of their own.

Maybe one of my favorite is still “I have no mouth and I must scream” (someday I’ll write a post about this kind of story titles).

So that’s why I picked this short story, plus I had to meet Mr. Joe R. Landsdale in what is becoming my personal journey of discovery of the English-speaking world of dark fiction (and I’m really enjoying the thing).

It’s a post-apocalyptic story, so what makes it special? There are many other stories of this kind out there.

I think it’s the roses (if you read you’ll find out what I’m talking about – no spoilers). I think you can spot a great author because he goes “the extra mile”, he pushes to the limit, but never really crosses it.

When you write about monsters and other made-up weird stuff it’s very easy to slip in the ridiculous. Often dark and humor come together but there’s a big difference in wanting to be funny on purpose and making people say, “Are you kidding me?”

I’ve seen a lot of attempts at being “scary” by trying too hard and ending up with comic results, like Flaming Space Hamsters vs. Godzilla or well… Sharknado.

And this story, this is no joke. Maybe because it’s not everything about the “monster” but it also speaks of pain and guilt. But anyway, I think you’ll never watch a rose the same way again.

A DEATH by Stepen King (and other random things)

tommyknockers-poster
It’s odd how I usually state I don’t like stories with aliens but this was the first King’s book I read and one of my favorite TV shows was X-Files (and did I mention my obsession for Superman?)

The first time I willingly approached a shelf and bought a book to read just for my enjoyment, I was thirteen and the book was The Tommyknockers by Stephen King.

And for some time after that day, King was almost the only author I read. I was really into horror fiction!

So I read at least 25 of his books (actually It and On Writing twice and The Dead Zone four times, it’s my darling), then I changed and started to read other authors and other kinds of books, but I think this is the first time I read one of his story in its original language, and it was about time, I should say.

King is one of the most famous writers even in my forgotten country, and there are a lot of reason for that. His prose, his stories, his weird imagination, the incredible amount of pages he was able to type through all these years!

It’s been a while since I read one of his stories, mostly because I didn’t want to be so monothematic and there were many other authors out there to get to know, then the other day I saw this free short story on The New Yorker website and said, why not?

I love his English-original prose, now that my English is enough to appreciate it, so I say, what’s so good about this story? And the first thing that comes to mind: it feels real, it feels like it’s really happened. That’s what strikes the most about his writing. And then the way he plays with your feelings, because [SPOILER ALERT] I really believed he was innocent, until the truth hit me in the face.

If you want to read it, here’s the link: A Death by Stephen King.

Sirens Call – Women in Horror Month

2015_February_ezine_cover_medI’m so excited!

This month is Women in Horror Month. Just check out the official site to know what’s all about. And all around the web there were some nice events for women who write horror, one of these events is the special issues of Sirens Call eZine, a publication all made by women.

I had the pleasure to have my short story Whispers appear on this issue, so if you like horror (and if you’re here you probably do) you can download for free and read a lot of horror stories written by talented women and some interviews regarding the event.

Here’s the Sirens Call website: http://sirenscallpublications.com/

And here’s the direct download link (pdf): Whispers in the Dark.

Enjoy! :)

Three guys and a cemetery

This could sound like a horror story, but it actually isn’t, even if there’s a bit of dark humor to it.

It’s a story that my grandmother used to tell me when I was little (and maybe it could sound kind of morbid? Maybe it’s why I got so much into horror? Who knows?), anyway, please notice that the setting is the Italian northern countryside, maybe half a century ago in a Catholic and deeply religious community, which didn’t mean that there wasn’t room for this kind of stories.

Here’s what my grandma (who’s now 91 and still kicking) and I remember of the story.

There was in town this girl called Teresina who had three guys fighting for her love, and since they were becoming annoying, she decided to punish them with a quite mean prank.

She said to the first one, “If you love me, show me. Go to the cemetery tonight at midnight, wearing a white nightgown, you’ll find an open grave in the ground, just lay there with your arms crossed and wait for an hour.”

Then she said to second one, “If you love me, show me. Go to the cemetery tonight, at ten past midnight, with a lit candle and wearing a black cape. You’ll find an open grave. Just stay there for half an hour.”

Then she said to the third, “If you love me, show me. Go to the cemetery tonight, at twenty past midnight, wearing a white sheet and chains all around, and start running on the cemetery wall screaming you’re the Devil.”

No one of the guys knew what Teresina had said to the others, so they thought it would be a piece of cake and just got ready for the night.

At midnight, the first one entered the grave in the empty and silent cemetery. It was kind of odd. He laid down on the bare ground, crossed his arms and looked up at the night sky. It was a bit cold but in the end not so bad, he even started to doze off a little, but he heard some footsteps approaching.

From beneath, he saw a dark figure, leaning on the open grave with a candle in his hand, who looked like death itself. Not knowing what to do, he just froze in panic.

The other guy, who arrived at the cemetery with his cape and his candle, actually didn’t imagine, when he stood on the grave, that he would have found someone lying inside of it! With his arms crossed, motionless and white like a corpse. He didn’t know what to do; he just stood there with his candle, trying not to shake too much and holding still to show he wasn’t afraid.

It was when he almost started to get accustomed to that weird situation that the loudest noise came from the cemetery wall. Some white ghost all wrapped up in chain was coming running, shaking chains an yelling “I’m the Devil!” like some otherworldly demon.

The one in the grave couldn’t hold it anymore, now it was completely frightened and wanted to get the hell out of there, so he jumped up and climbed out, scaring the shit out of the other one with the black cape who let go of the candle and almost set himself on fire.

The third one, who though he would have just been alone playing around, saw the black figure and the corpse rising from the grave, and this time he started to scream in fear, he left there all his chain and sheets and ran away like hell, disappearing in the night.

It was just the day after, following a night spent shaking, that the three of them met, and told the story to each other, discovering they had been pranked.

And this is where me and grandma actually didn’t remember what happened next, but the guys wanted to get revenge and it involved Teresina ending up covered with feathers.

We can tell for sure that back in those days people knew how to have fun.

3 Stories About Cats

Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig.  Check out his blog because he's awesome.
Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig.
Check out his blog Terribleminds.com because he’s awesome.

I won’t bother you with all the cat-witches special bond thing, or the ancient Egyptians and their death-spirits-I don’t know but somehow cats are involved.

But.

Fact is that cats have always been good material for horror stories.

Actually I do love cats. When I was little I had some of them, one was black and I was very fond of her (and she wasn’t scary at all, okay, maybe a little wild).

But today I want to talk about some horror stories about cats that kind of scared the hell out of me and that I think are somehow related one to another, and I don’t even know if that was on purpose or not. Anyway here are the titles of the stories, in case you want to check them out:

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

The Price by Neil Gaiman

Dog-man and Cat-bird (a Flying Cat Story) by Chuck Wendig

 

“The Black Cat” is perhaps the first horror story that I ever read. I was twelve and was already into horror stuff and I found this collection of Poe’s stories at my grandparents’ house, so I started reading (and I loved Poe and horror stories since then).

Actually that story didn’t scare me that much, I thought it was strange and felt a little “ancient” compared to the things I was used to watch on TV (mostly Japanese anime and some movies from the eighties – it was around ’92, so now you know how old I am). Several years have passed and I re-read it maybe a couple of times (once was the original English version, since I’ve always read in Italian, but at the time I was in High School and my English wasn’t so good so I don’t know how much could I have understood of that), but now the memory is kind of blurry – I would read it again someday – and all that I can remember is that there were two black cats, a crazy old man, a fire and some sort of weird cat tapestry or cat decoupage that now I think it’s very funny (in my twisted sense of humor), and at the time just puzzled me a little.

Then years passed and I don’t bothered with cats horror stories anymore; I just thought that all the cats & witches thing was just a cliché (cats are not evil! I like witches! They were persecuted! And so on) even if I actually used a black cat in a story once, but then I read this story by Neil Gaiman that really gave me nightmares, and it wasn’t for the cat but for the thing the cat was fighting every night.  The original title is “The Price” from the collection “M is for Magic”.  Someone also made a short animated movie based on the story: http://vimeo.com/56573423
The thing I loved the most about this story is that the cats are not the bad guys here, but the real heroes and the protectors, and I loved how such a small being can be so brave. And also the last sentence gave me the goosebumps because you know, uncertainty and incumbent danger… always works.

And then some time ago I picked up “Irregular Creatures” by Chuck Wendig and read the first story “Dog-man and Cat-bird (I Flying Cat Story)” and I was like: Hey guardian cat! We meet again! It’s nice to see that you’re still alive and now you have gained wings. It was lovely. And a very good story that mixes humor with tension and fear. I have to say that I really like Chuck Wending because the guy is crazy (in a very good way) and has a colorful imagination. The story starts like a very odd and funny fact – a man who find a cat with wings – and then became more and more dark and scary. And I like when all the pieces come together. But I won’t say anything more because you should read it, I won’t spoil your fun!

So that’s it, for the moment. And I am sure there are tons of cat stories out there, but these are my special ones.