A Delphine Dodd Excerpt From S.P. Miskowski

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Today we have a wonderful visitor in the forest. S.P. Miskowski has dropped by to tell us about her new Omnium Gatherum Media release, Delphine Dodd. Please peruse the eerie excerpt below. But, first, a bit about S.P. Miskowski.


S.P.’s Bio (taken from her site): Author of the novel KNOCK KNOCK published by Omnium Gatherum Media and shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. Three related novellas are forthcoming from Omnium Gatherum beginning with DELPHINE DODD in 2012. My short stories have been published by Supernatural Tales, Horror Bound Magazine, Identity Theory, Other Voices, The Absent Willow Review, and in the anthology DETRITUS. I am a member of the speculative fiction group Wily Writers. One of my scripts, “my new friends (are so much better than you)” was nominated for a Steinberg/ American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and will be adapted as a Web video project in 2012. As an undergraduate I won two Swarthout prizes for short fiction and edited a quarterly small press magazine. I earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Washington and received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, for short fiction and drama.

Delphine Dodd book trailer

Delphine Dodd – an excerpt from the novella

by S.P. Miskowski

Our summer weather varied. We might have two weeks of sunny days and suddenly the rain would return, cold as early spring. On one of these unseasonable days it just so happened that I had to walk to the sanitarium by myself.

Olive lay in bed with a slightly elevated temperature, probably nothing but the change in barometric pressure, but you could never be sure. Eve Alice decided to stay home and keep an eye on her.

The mist had risen from the forest floor. A thin fog drifted across the stream and gently distorted its natural shape, making it tricky to follow by sight. My view of the ridge opposite was intermittent. Then the ridge faded altogether. I was careful to stick close to the path I knew, my shoes clicking on the pebbled shore.

About two thirds of the way, as I passed a cluster of exposed roots jutting from the bluff on my side of the stream, I had a feeling that someone was watching me. I glanced around but didn’t see any crows.

The woods and the ravine could be eerie at certain times of day. Once, early in the morning, Olive and I had seen a wolf drinking from the stream. It raised its head, gazed left and right with shocking gray-blue eyes, lowered its snout, and went on drinking. None of the animals we encountered ever showed an interest, and I never went anywhere without my leather pouch with the tiny jawbone inside. Olive had to be reminded.

“I’m not afraid of bears,” she would say. Or, “That wolf didn’t scare me.”

“It’s because of the witch finger,” I told her.

“How do you know?”

“Livvy, animals aren’t afraid of girls.”

“Maybe they’re afraid of me. I can roar.”

“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “Keep this pouch around your neck, even when you sleep. If you don’t, I’ll tell on you.”

“I’m not scared of wolves, or you,” she whined.

“If you don’t do as Eve Alice said, the lampreys will eat you,” I told her. That did the trick.

The morning I went alone to the sanitarium, there were no wolves or bears. I caught a glint of light from the water and turned, but no one was there.

I walked on. The sensation of being stalked grew with every step. I wanted to turn again, to assure myself that I was wrong, but I couldn’t make myself look.

People often told me I was a sensible girl. Olive was pretty, they said, and I was sensible. I drew on all of my good sense to shut out the uneasiness, but the further along I walked, the stronger it grew. Where I was felt too far from home and too far from my destination, to run. Without meaning to, I found myself staring down at the good luck charm around my neck and wishing I knew a prayer or a chant I could repeat.

I couldn’t run for fear of spilling the broth Eve Alice had prepared. I didn’t see how I could tell her I just got scared and ran away. That would cost us the day’s wages. So I said to myself, again and again, the words I recalled from an old book Mama had given us when we were little:

“Over the river and through the woods… Over the river and through the woods… Over the river and through the woods…”

I must have said this a hundred times, faster and faster as the fear rose up and I felt the cold mist sweep against my back. I huffed and puffed all the way up the crisscrossing terraces, stomping with every step to make sure of my footing, feeling against my chest the pouch with the charm inside, and clutching the jug with both hands. Up the final steps, out of breath, still chanting the words, I climbed until the garden was almost at eye level. With a final hop I was standing at the edge of the garden, and there I stopped dead.

Amid the drifting fog and the ruins of untended rose bushes a gray-white figure emerged. Its shroud clung to jutting bones, and tangled in a mass at the ankles. Stark feet stuck out below the shroud. The figure hung there for a second then started to rotate, so slowly I had time to feel the hairs rising on my arms. Once it faced me I could see its mouth hung open, silent, with long strands of spit on either side.

I dropped the clay jug, spilling all of its contents. The warm liquid hit the ground and steam rose from the spot.

I stood frozen, staring. The figure gave a little jerk of its head and seemed to notice me. It headed in my direction with one shoulder thrust forward and the shroud catching at its ankles with every step. Without a thought in my head I screamed.


Published by Omnium Gatherum Media, Delphine Dodd is available in paperback and ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Delphine-Dodd-ebook/dp/B009GT0ILW

From S.P.: “Delphine Dodd is the first in a three-novella series set in the same world as Knock Knock. The books share characters and themes and may be read in any order. Together they connect in ways I hope the reader will find interesting.”

Click the book cover or link above to order a copy!

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Much thanks to Gef Fox for his recent Old School interview and review. You can take a peek at the interview with yours truly here: http://waggingthefox.blogspot.ca/2012/08/sparkly-vampires-need-not-apply.html and you can read the Old School review right here: http://waggingthefox.blogspot.ca/2012/08/rabid-reads-old-school-edited-by-louise.html

While you’re there, be sure to check out all the goodies Gef has up on offer! Thanks again, Gef!

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Much thanks goes out to Gef Fox of Wag The Fox blog for his recent Old School review. Keep checking Gef’s blog for his Summer of Short Fiction posts, which will have more Old School goodness included. We Old School authors are thrilled he enjoyed the anthology.

Check out the full review of Old School here:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340675654

Why not grab a copy of Old School while you’re at it? Fourteen short tales offered by David Dunwoody, Jackie Gamber, R. Scott McCoy,Natalie L. Sin, Horace James, Gregory L. Hall, and Louise Bohmer, all tied together by selected poems from Zombie Zak – Old School reminds one of terrors best not forgotten.

Within these pages, evil children terrorize, witches gather the teeth of the young, cosmic blobs eat the world, while creepy crawlies ruin a man’s life and a headless ghost seeks revenge. Wander down this spooky path with poems and stories that revive our nightmares about golems, harpies, and other creatures.

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This review is part of The Werewolf Run to help promote the release of K.H Koehler’s werewolf novel, A Werewolf in Time (Mrs. McGillicuddy #2). Please visit Amazon and Barnes & Noble online for information on ordering a copy of the book for your Kindle or Nook. To see where she’ll be in the next month, visit: http://www.khkoehler.com/the-werewolf-run/

CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)

Hammer Films. The words evoke bright, eye-watering images of blood-slathered damsels in distress, evil Counts and Barons, strained corsets, and hapless villagers being victimized—and often slaughtered—en masse. In the early 1960’s, the Hammer Film studio wanted to crank out films that undermined—or, at the very least, made fun of—the sometimes ridiculously puritanical films being shoveled out by Universal Pictures under the misnomer of “horror.” Universal, like all American film studios from 1930 until 1968, was shackled by the Motion Picture Production Code, which forbid a formidably long laundry list of “indecent” or “immoral” behavior in motion pictures. But the UK, Italy and other countries which were heavily influencing films during the 1960’s, weren’t restricted by such guidelines and so were free to produce films like Curse of the Werewolf, a film that, with its subtle sexuality and not-so-subtle violence, would never have passed approval in America until at least the late 1960’s, when the Motion Picture Production Code began to fail.

Curse of the Werewolf was another film that made the popular circuit of Saturday afternoon matinee channels in my time. I remember it fondly as the “Oliver Reed werewolf movie.” I’d had, and still have, an ongoing crush on the young Oliver Reed, and his moody, almost manic-depressive performance in the movie makes me wish he’d done more Hammer films. But I can only guess that in some ways, Reed, who was a fairly popular leading man at the time, was kind of slumming it a bit by doing the movie. That or someone got him very drunk. I should like to thank that man.

Curse of the Werewolf is roughly based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endor. Following a more literary path toward its storytelling than most werewolf films, it actually starts decades before the real story even begins, with an old beggar being taken in by a cruel marques in 18th Century Spain. He’s used as entertainment for some festivities, and then tossed into a prison and quickly forgotten. During that time, his only contact with the outside world is the jailer and his beautiful, mute (and nameless) daughter. Some fifteen years later, the evil, decrepit marques makes advances on the now adult daughter, but when she rejects him, he throws her to the old, mad beggar, a recipe for disaster. The beggar rapes her and dies.

The girl is released and sent back to entertain the marques (who, frankly, has a few nuts and bolts rolling around his head himself) but manages to kill him before fleeing the castle. Eventually she is found in the forest by the scholar Don Alfredo Corledo and is nursed back to healthy by the kind Don and his housekeeper Theresa. And yet, despite their care, the girls dies some time later while giving birth to a baby on Christmas Day, something Theresa feels is a bad omen. Her fears are quickly realized when the child, adopted by Don Alfredo, cannot even be christened without the somber cry of some hellborn beast ringing out over the village.

The real story starts as the boy, Leon, grows from a child to a man and slowly becomes overwhelmed by his own bloodlust and the curse that has followed him from his birth. He learns that the love of a good woman could theoretically save and redeem him, but it just might not be enough as the man and the wolf battle for dominance over Leon’s body. The interesting twist here is that Leon is cursed through violent circumstances not of his own doing. He was cursed, and damned, before he was ever born. Not many werewolf movies today make use of the older methods of contracting lycanthropy, such as being a child of rape, committing a great act of evil, finding a belt of wolf fur, or drinking water from the paw print of a wolf. The film is unique in that it calls back to the older legends, many of which were long ago mixed-up and confused with similar tropes of witchcraft and vampirism.

Curse of the Werewolf remains one of my favorite Hammer films, and one of my favorite werewolf movies of all time. The complexity of its storytelling and the beautiful, almost garish (and very Hammeresque) sets and filming alone are worth the price of admission.

4 pentacles out of 5.

Agree or disagree? Share your opinion below.


Click the cover to grab a copy of A Werewolf In Time for your Kindle.

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Once upon a time, I walked the streets of New Bedlam with many of my friends. I’m sure some of you will remember those cold, dark streets, where anything could be creeping around the next corner. Here’s a story from those times. In fact it was my first New Bedlam tale. Hope you enjoy today’s free read.

Cold Iron

Louise Bohmer

The following account was found in a journal discovered at a New Bedlam heritage site. According to town archives, the original homestead that stood on the property was gutted by fire in 1895. Somehow this journal survived, with all its pages intact.

* * *

Hillary helped me arrange my iron tools in a circle just outside the front door. No clouds in the sky means no threat of rain tonight, so they’ll be safe. I pray the spring storms don’t come anytime soon. We forgot to lay some iron out before the barn, so I fear what it might do to the cows. How I hope we don’t find a mess in the morning.

We could hear it last night, laughing and shouting threats from underneath our bedroom window. I was terrified it would try to get in through the back entrance, but the lock on that door is made of iron so that should keep it out. It hasn’t yet tried the two windows at the front of our cabin.

Its racket woke up our little Mary. She came down from her tiny room in the loft and asked to sleep with us. She could hear it scratching at her wall. I assume it must’ve climbed up to the roof to try our chimney.

I still cannot discern what we have done to make it so angry with us. Hillary and I always left payment for its hard work around our home and farm. We left it bread and honey, milk and some fresh baked biscuits—every night it had a feast, as requested. How did we insult the creature?

Mind you, we are in New Bedlam, and strange occurrences are frequent in this town. I thought moving here would be a fresh start for Hillary, Mary, and I, after we lost so much back in Alberta. Now, I’m not so sure.

Speaking with Rose Trotten—who some townsfolk fear and avoid, as she’s rumored to be a witch in trade with Satan—I learned this area has a history of tragedy. I fear we made a grave mistake coming here. Rose offered me advice on dealing with the creature, so I can at least be thankful for that. She believes something in the town could be warping its intent, corrupting it. This place is starting to stink with a festering malevolence.

I can’t completely blame the town, though. My grave mistake came when I met it at the crossroads and offered it passage in my wagon. I let it in my home and gave it food. It wasn’t until it took off its hat and brushed back its shaggy hair that I noticed its face. The creature—then posing as a man—looked exactly like me. This gave me quite a shock.

It revealed itself as a Fetch—a co-walker to my spirit, a double of my soul. A denizen of Fey, it claimed to be. Was I naïve to take it at its word? In truth, I was afraid of it by then, afraid not to. When it offered work in exchange for a place to stay and some food, I chose not to deny it. My next fatal mistake came there. I gave it too much will over my home and hearth.

I can see it now, from my bedroom window. I watch it as Hillary and I prepare for sleep. It still resembles me somewhat, but its appearance is more akin to animal than human now. Its pug-nosed face has taken on a piggish appearance. Its yellow eyes remind me of a wolf. When I catch a glimpse of it by daylight, its skin shines an odd, light blue. At this moment, it sits in a looming willow and peers in at me. I clutch the iron spike, one of a few I’ve stolen from the railway yard. Should it decide to try the windows tonight, I will be ready.


Copyright © 2012 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be distributed, shared, or posted online without the author’s written permission.


Want more horrifying Louise fiction? Why not check out Detritus or Old School?

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