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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Werewolves, Haunted Castles, and Scottish Legends: Terror By Night by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

Terror By Night
By R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Tandem (186 pages, $1, June 1974)

I’m reasonably familiar with the horror and SF genres, but I have to admit that the name R. Chetwynd-Hayes didn’t ring any bells. But the kind of tacky cover — and the fact that this collection dated from 1974, before the great horror boom of the Eighties kicked in — was enough for me to take this one out for a spin. Chetwynd-Hayes wrote about ten novels and many more collections during his long career, most of them in the horror genre but some leaning more toward SF.

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Children Of The Candy Corn

Old man Burke’s house was off the beaten path, but Jimmy always stopped by each Halloween for a tiny bag of candy corn. It was always tied so nice and neat, with a red ribbon.

This year Burke had replaced the standard kernels with tiny waxy figures. Their sugary bodies had white flesh, yellow clothing and ragged orange hair.

Jimmy eagerly untied the ribbon. The candies were so good. He couldn’t hear the agonized screams or the crunching of bones as he chewed, but Burke could. The old man smiled.

Count Dracula's Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of the Lord Charles D. Razar School for Hemophiliacs

The ageless Count cuts a dashing figure as he walks to the podium, elegant and refined - yes, almost regal. His dark, magnetic eyes scan the room. He clears his throat and speaks. His diction is precise and his thick accent, rather than detracting from his message, only serves to lend it an air of authority.

He speaks eloquently of opportunity and the future and of the patchwork of life that is even now unrolling in front of them like an expensive Persian rug, crisscrossed with an intricate latticework representing an infinite number of possibilities.

They hang on his every word, rapt. There is a minor commotion in front, but most of them are so caught up by his words that they do not notice.

One of the students has lost a small brooch - a family heirloom. She and another student are bent over looking for it. She straightens up - triumphantly clutching the brooch. As she does, she whacks her fellow seeker in the lip with her elbow.

A trickle of blood flows from the split lip. The Count is distracted by the commotion. He spots the blood and falters slightly. He catches himself and continues.

The young man presses the lip with a handkerchief, but of course it keeps bleeding. The handkerchief is soon stained a deep shade of red and the boy's chin is smeared with blood. He excuses himself and slips from the hall, but it is too late.

The Count has become increasingly befuddled and distracted. He stammers and stumbles over his words, mumbling and tugging at his shirt collar. As the boy stands up to leave, he completely loses his train of thought. He stares blankly into the hall, a vacant look on his face. His tongue whisks across his lips. A murmur passes through the audience.

The Count is visibly relieved when the boy leaves. The magic spell he has woven with his words has been shattered, but he manages to gather his thoughts with great difficulty and carries on, just as a thin rivulet of blood trickles from the nose of a girl in the second row.

That does it. The Count slams his palm on the podium, mumbles a halfhearted excuse and stalks offstage, mopping his brow with his sleeve. The crowd murmurs. It is over.

The Werewolf’s Delicate Condition

His father was a mighty wolfman.
And his forefathers before him.
Expectations are high.
When the change comes he can’t wait.
Chases down a rabbit and tears it apart.
And finds himself floored by dizziness and nausea.
It happens every time.
Now he works at the library.
Sees a therapist twice a month and meditates daily.
Adheres to a vegan diet (with plenty of protein and B-12 supplements).
Rarely answers his mother’s calls.
It’s not so bad.
He tells himself.

Remembering When Frankenstein’s Monster Stopped by the Torch and Pitchfork Store

Why would he do such a thing?
He was just asking for trouble.
You’re saying to yourself.
And you have a point.
As you sit there and picture him, lumbering stiffly through the sliding doors, boots clunking heavily on the polished floor.
And that moment of realization as he looks around eagerly, taking in the incredible array of merchandise.
And it slowly begins to sink in.
He freezes and breaks out in a cold sweat.
Yes, he does have working sweat glands.
And it’s all he can do to get out of there before panic overcomes him.
Here’s the thing.
Only then did he realize that Torch and Pitchfork was to be taken literally.
Not a cutesy yuppie store names like Crate and Barrel.

From the Zombie Owners Manual

Bringing a zombie into your home takes a lot of dedication and commitment. But the love you receive will be well worth your time and effort. A zombie may not be easy to love at first, but they are relatively easy to care for. With proper care, you can maintain the health and well-being of your zombie throughout its lifetime (figuratively speaking). Here are a few tips on caring for zombies.

Zombies are surprisingly playful and will love being bounced on your knee, tossed in the air, or playing peek-a-boo.

Never burn any part of a zombie in a wood stove or fireplace.

When first introduced into your home a zombie should be kept in a playpen or crib. Be sure to make your home zombie-proof. One devilish little zombie can make a whole lot of mischief.

Drill a hole in the base of a zombie's skull to release demons.

Only use distilled water to wash your zombie. Use a mild non-allergenic soap. Soaps with perfumes or oils may leave a film on the zombie. To dry your zombie use a soft clean towel. Do not use a hair dryer, as zombies can sometimes be skittish.

Everyone poops - even zombies. Keep their litter box clean and stock up on air freshener.

When bathing your zombie, never leave it unattended. If you leave the bathroom, wrap the zombie in a towel and take it along.

Flesh and intestines are the cornerstones of a healthy diet, but zombies sure do love their treats. Many zombies enjoy toenails, but they are hard to digest and should be given sparingly. Other treats your zombie might enjoy are upholstery, loganberries, drywall paste, cupcakes, mincemeat crepes, and hair.

Zombies sometimes swallow air while feeding, which may make them fussy. Be sure to burp your zombie regularly.

Monitor your zombie for freshness. If it smells "off" or "putrid" or "just plain godawful," remove it from the house.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Defending Children of Dune

When it comes to Dune and the media universe it spawned, it seems there’s not much middle ground. This is more of a perception than a carefully reasoned position with evidence to back it up. But I gather that people like Dune a lot, or they just don’t get what the fuss is about.

I’d put myself in the former camp. I read a great deal of SF in my early years, before drifting away. Somewhere in there I discovered Dune and I read the original trilogy (yes Virginia, Dune was once a paltry trilogy) several times. Near the end of my SF reading days God Emperor of Dune came out and I read it a few times.

Read more at Black Gate