Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dark Fiction - Not so Hollow-een

Dark Fiction Image

Not so Hollow-een

By Casey Douglass

‘So what can I do for you? It isn’t often you show your face up here.’
‘And we both know why that is don’t we?’
‘Too true.’
A large hand about twenty feet across emerged from the nebulous cloud of white light, the cuff of a sky blue sleeve swaying back and forth as the hand moved. Slowly, the light dimmed and the contours of the room began to make a faint impression.
‘Oh come on! I don’t even warrant a full manifestation? That’s very rude.’
A deep sigh rumbled from the ether as the partner hand to the first emerged. They both rose up and clapped together, a thundering explosion of noise sending the room spiralling into shards of light.
‘Take your hands away from your ears!’
‘Your hands!’
Lucifer shakily lowered his hands, his ears hissed like a thousand serpents.
‘First you almost blind me and then you deafen me!’
‘So what is it you wanted?’
‘I mean come on! Play the game!’
‘My time is precious.’
‘Oh yes, there must be others you have to torment before lunch!’
‘Are you finished?’
‘Good. Now...’
God leaned forward on a large crystal desk, the borders lined with gold and silver filigree. Lucifer smiled and wondered why God always wore his old beggar robe and visage, who was he fooling?
‘Hang on a second, my hearing is still a bit wacky.’
He moved his head from side to side, a pleasing crack popping from his neck vertebrae. He squinted, the room was still insufferably bright, the walls, ceiling and floor glaring, white and swirling with the visual manifestation of harps, laughter and love.
‘You really are a card! I bet you don’t pull all of this sickly shit for the others.’
‘Noo just you. I know how you like it. You are one to talk anyway!’
‘Maybe I just knew what you were like. You mean you don’t like how I look?’
‘You know I cannot stand Justin Bieber!’
The smirk that appeared on the face of a teenager stayed still. The face around it changed in a heartbeat. A middle aged man sat there now, his dark hair, small goatee and immaculate black suit all cementing him into the scene. He seemed more real now, more dangerous.
‘How is this? And are you going to change too?’
‘No. You are vexing me, get to it.’
‘Not even the beard? I can’t even see your mouth!’
‘I know you heard me.’
The air in the room fuzzed with potential, the particles crackling like a flame surging into rotten wood. Lucifer cleared his throat.
‘Yes you know, it is Halloween today.’
‘Yes...’ It was said in that long and drawn out way, that if it had a visual equivalent, would be like an old squeaky door being opened very slowly, the darkness beyond it inviting and repelling at the same time.
‘Well...I was about a proper one this year?’
‘You know...real?’
‘Isn’t it every year?’
‘Are you joking?’ Lucifer turns to you and winks, ‘He’s joking right?’
‘No I am not! Get to it and don’t involve “them” okay?’
Lucifer grimaces and turns away from you, his eyes locked on the big cheese once more.
‘Apologies. I was just being friendly.’
‘This is getting truly tiresome. You have sixty seconds.’
‘Okay okay...well I was thinking, how about you allow me to “open the gates” for awhile, just for the night. It will do them the world of good, a night out, and allow us to get on with some of those maintenance things that we just can’t do when it is so crowded...the infernal sewers for a start...oh the smell, it’s a bit like when something crawls-’
‘-into a small hole to die and then something else-’
A hand thumped the desk, a small vase of flowers manifesting just long enough to be launched into the air, twirl gracefully and then plummet to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces before it vanished once more.
‘That’s a bit melodramatic isn’t it?’ Lucifer sniffed.
‘Why on earth would I agree to that stupid idea?’
‘Why on earth indeed. People are complacent. They roam the planet taking pleasure in their technology, their cars, gadgets and healthcare. Where is the fear that drove them to your doors every day? The plagues, the monsters?’
‘I am doing okay...’
‘Oh yes, and you’re very welcome for that! I am doing my job to bring out the evil in the hearts of some of them, and very nasty some of them are too! Which reminds me we should renegotiate my wage sometime but that’s neither here nor there. Where was I?
‘Opening the gates of hell?’
‘A wonderful idea! Thank you I will see to it at once...’
‘You can’t blame a chap for trying! Erm, oh yes. Imagine what a single night of terror would do for them. Your churches would be packed, especially if some malcontent let slip that it was the only place to be safe? In one night you would see such an up-swelling of belief, you could expand heaven and still have good will to spare!’
‘That all sounds very nice...but I couldn’t do it to them. I still wonder why I keep you around at all!’
The room flashed black with a subsonic rumble before slowly fading back to white once more. Lucifer leaned forward, the tips of fangs jutting over his lips slightly.
‘Forgive me, but don’t be no naïve! You know what happens when you give them what they want! They turn into morons! Need I remind you of your last attempt?’
‘No...’ The grey head shook sadly.
‘You made them that planet, gave them all the things they could ever want and what did they do? They ran around like simpletons, taking epochs to even form basic tools and language. Whereas these ones, my word! Look what they have accomplished with a little hardship and strife. You admitted to me a long time ago that you had never imagined that they would grow in strength and fortitude in such a way. You were even pleased!’
‘Yes I But I do not want them harmed, no matter how much it might be in their best interests.’
‘Well why didn’t you say so? I will enforce a strict “no harming” policy, problem solved. We will just scare the bejesus out of them...sorry.’
‘Forgiven. If anything, we need to scare the bejesus into them. What if people realize that noone is being hurt? They are very bright sometimes!’
‘No problem at all! I will get some of the denizens to adopt human form, they can be the ones that the others tear apart. Some of them quite enjoy that kind of thing. Now we are on the same page! So what do you think?’
The room fell silent, even the sickly ambience fizzling to nothing. Somewhere a sensitive soul tossed and turned, struggling with a nightmare of demons and monsters walking the streets, brow beaded with sweat, body trembling. Creation waited with baited breath, time trying to tiptoe past in an apologetic way that wouldn’t attact attention. A throat was cleared.
‘Do it.’



Happy Halloween to everyone. Even you, Justin Bieber. 

Mental GPS

I wonder what the world would be like if such a thing existed. It would certainly give the creators/controllers massive power, and would probably be subsidised with adverts, but in some situations it could be life saving. How about a jealous lover about to confront their partner, and the mental GPS chimes in with “Go home, cool down, take a bath” and then shows a projection of what might happen if they don’t? How much crime would that reduce?

One step further would be one that takes control like the computer gadgetry in certain cars that brake for you if it detects an obstacle. How many punches would it stop being thrown? How many drugs taken?

I know I know a libertarian nightmare, riddled with all kinds of situations and unique “what ifs” but interesting to ponder. If it followed the same scheme as normal GPS it would probably be sold with a year of free updates to cover “new preventative scenarios” and the deluxe model would probably include the equivalent of a traffic jam sensor, highlighting to you which sales person in a shop is in the most generous mood, or which member of the opposite sex in a bar is interested in you.

Screw the GPS, just give me the deluxe perk and I’ll be on my way.


How many times would you see the same person in a day before you started to think they were following you? Don’t worry, I am not wearing my tinfoil hat, I haven’t even made one (yet). It just happens to me sometimes, and when it does, it just has a strange feeling to it.

I suppose if you had a guilty conscience, you would think its a private detective hired by your partner, or an undercover police person. If you were religious you might think it was an angel sent to watch over you. If you were paranoid, you might think you’d come up on some list and the government are surveilling you. Ooh I’ve just thought of a great way to toy with someone. Find some identical twins and do that all day to them. If the twins look like someone creepy from a film, even better. I don’t know how hard it is to find sinister identical twins, although I did see a couple the other day, I’ll ask them tomorrow.

I think it might be good fodder for a dark tale, it could get really twisted, or all just be paranoia and self induced delusion. I think if such a thing as a mental GPS existed, it would be warning that following that road leads to madness.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Halloween is almost upon us.

Halloween. Strange word. I suppose as a horror writer I should be looking forward to Halloween but I am just a bit ‘meh’ about it all. Maybe I would be more interested if it hadn’t been bogarted into a kid friendly evening of sweets, costumes and walking around with your parents way past your bedtime. It holds no mystery for me, no allure. I am glad it exists, don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to see a festival from pre-Christian times still being celebrated, what with the shop til you drop mentality of Christmas, the drunken debauchery of New years and the chocolatey indulgence of Easter. Money money money. I know that has seeped into Halloween too but thankfully the shops don’t devote too much shelf space to ghost costumes and fake wounds. They can’t. They are too full of Christmas stuff all-fuckin’ ready!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dark Fiction - Heavy Metal

Dark Fiction Image

Heavy Metal

By Casey Douglass

The fog deepened as he walked, the echoes of his footsteps swallowed by the milky darkness around him. He smiled to himself, it was a very fortunate occurrence, as fabricating a thick fog like this would be very draining for him. Sometimes nature just gave you a hand.
The street was empty, which was odd for this time of night in the city. High rise offices in the distance loomed like silent sentinels, blocking out the first stars of the evening with their black bulk. Small particles of moisture in the air swirled and eddied around dirty street lights, which strained to give off more light than a candle which was about to burn itself out.
He sighed heavily. He missed candles. Oh he knew they were around, but not like in the old days when entire houses were lit with them, the flickering flames dancing against the carefully sculpted décor...a much richer time for everyone, especially him.
Glancing down, he straightened his black t-shirt with its satanic pictograph, hesitated, and then messed it up a little once more. He caught sight of his ripped jeans, the heavy pewter chains clinking gently with each stride. Such vulgarity.
The sound of laughter pulled him from his quiet introspection as a group of teenagers rounded a corner ahead of him, their backs to him as they headed the same way he walked. He heard the muffled chirping of a mobile phone, the laugher coming every time it made the humorous noise.
The vein in his right arm started to throb. He wondered if it was hunger or annoyance, but he wasn’t sure. The gaggle of teens turned the next corner and began down the hill to the venue, other lone stragglers joining them from other directions as they got nearer to the main door, all converging on their place of worship, most wearing Lacuna Coil clothing. The vague thump of music reached his ears, the sound proofing doing a remarkably good job of not unsettling the locals who lived nearby. The river behind the building glistened in the reflected light that travelled from street lights to fog to water, a silvery serpent just moving through.
‘Ticket please?’
He flinched, surprised that he had reached the door with its surly guardian so quickly.
‘Of course.’ He reached into his back pocket and handed the scowling man the small slip of paper. The man tore the end and returned the main piece to him.
‘Have a good night.’
‘Thank you...and you.’ He almost smiled but dare not chance it.
Strolling inside, he found the outer foyer to be deserted, but the show had already started so he registered no surprise. Upon opening the second door, the rawkish music washed over him, the darkness married with the flashing lights above the stage dazzling and disorientating him. Everything swam around him as dark silhouettes jumped up and down, waving their arms to the music and bouncing off each other. A jolt of annoyance rose through his body, his teeth biting into his lip. He arched his back and pulled himself to his full stature, the room around him stationary and crystal clear once more.
Slowly he moved through the crowd, tracing a line around the back to where the bar was. The potential! The crowd erupted into applause as one tune ended and another seemed about to start. He ignored what was said by the noisy man on stage, tried to block out the screeching of guitars being adjusted and tested. He scanned the massed bodies, his stomach beginning to rumble.
The next song began. The music was excruciating, a mass of noise and shouting that seemed to reverberate inside his chest. His eyes fell upon a woman a few paces away, jumping up and down to the rhythm. She smelt clean and fresh, and had a hint of that earthy smell that he could never quite place, but that usually meant high quality blood.
‘You’ll do very nicely,’ he said into the ambient noise around him.
He began to move closer, teasing himself with the anticipation, his incisors pressing uncomfortably into his cheeks. He couldn’t do it here but he didn’t want to lose track of her if the crowd shifted.
A large fat man sidled into his path barring the way. He gently pressed the man's shoulder, transmitting the irresistible urge to urinate to the man’s subconscious. The man hunched over and quickly waddled away crying out as he went.
He stood right behind her now, the smell was intoxicating. He reached out about to enthral her when the voice began. He stared at the stage in awe as the dark haired female began to sing along with the music. What had seemed a cacophony of sound lacking all profundity, now sounded like honey dripping from a crystal spoon, like the sigh of a spring breeze on the fresh leaves of the season, he had ever heard before. With a jolt he realised that the woman was watching him, singing to him, her smiling eyes bewitching him. He shook his head from side to side, a feeling of sluggishness worming its way into his thoughts. The woman winked and turned away, the uncomfortable feeling vanishing as quickly as it had come.
He stood in a daze as song after song washed over him, not realizing that his original target was long gone, or that his mouth had fallen open, revealing more than he would usually have dared allow. Before he knew it, the crowd around him erupted and whooped, the members of the travelling band standing hand in hand, bowing down before them. He applauded without thinking, his claps louder than any others. Then the stage was empty, the crowd around him thinning to the point of isolation. His wits returning he made for the egress, and hastily slipped into the shadows.

He waited for a long time, his sensitive ears picking up scores of voices through a slightly open window at the back of the building. He strained to hear hers. He felt ill and weak, he hadn’t fed for months, not since that unpleasant business with the actress and her director. He could really do without that kind of exposure. His trembling hands toyed with the chain on his jeans, his grip flexing and bending the links until they snapped and tinkled to the floor. He didn’t notice.
‘I’m just going out for some air, it’s stuffy.’
He jolted to full awareness, it was her! Her voice sounded different, an exotic accent added a flavour to her words that didn’t come through to any great degree when she sang. It transfixed him. She was coming outside! A small side door banged open and she stepped out, still wearing her stage uniform which he had failed to notice before. She was petit, with a slender body, and her dark hair coiled around her collar. Her black jacket and trousers clung to her figure tightly as the heat had plastered them to her. She carried a small bottle of water in her hand which she sipped as she walked to a railing and stared out across the river.
He edged out from the shadows and soundlessly stalked forward, walking in that special way that, if compared, would make a slinking cat sound like a clumsy dog running on gravel. Nearing the door, he gently pushed it closed with one finger. No interruptions.
The woman ahead sighed and fanned herself with her free hand, the dank river air currents carrying back her scent to him. He stopped short and trembled. He might woo her instead! The trembling, the dazed mind, it might not be hunger after all, it could be love, truly and utterly. How could he feed from her against her will, a creature of such beauty and voice, it would be the most evil thing he had ever done. A tear stung the side of his eye as a leaden feeling pressed his stomach down. He was a monster. Maybe she could help? Maybe she could help him break his habits, his dark deeds. Maybe she would save him from his loneliness, help him find the light again, help him-
‘Don’t stand there all night, are you coming to talk to me or not?’ she said, her back still to him.
‘Oh...I’m sorry, I was being bashful.’
‘Come on, no need to be like that!’ she giggled.
He slowly moved towards her, he felt like he was floating.
‘I wondered what you’d think, a stranger accosting a pretty woman when she is alone in the dark, I didn’t want to scare you.’
He had almost reached her, he could feel the heat coming from her body, he could sense her pulse.
‘I thought you might be scared of me,’ she said. ‘Don’t worry, I don’t bite.’
He stopped. She spun around and buried something sharp and cold into the side of his neck. He opened his mouth to scream but she clamped a hand firmly over it. The world spun around him and he fell to his knees, she dropping to hers at the same moment, tightening her grip. Her eyes flashed close to his, mischief sparkling near their edges.
‘Didn’t you wonder?’ she asked smiling.
Gasping, he felt sticky fluid running down his neck and through his clothes, his eyes still locked onto hers.
‘Was that a “What?” I think it was! Didn’t you wonder why we always tour out of the way places that no body would ever dream we would play at?’ She wrenched the object out of his neck, the fluid having stopped moments before. He saw her glance at the ornate knife before pushing it into his chest. His eyes screwed shut as he felt it piercing his heart, a white hot feeling rushing through his breast. Even at this stage his mind wondered if the pain was from the knife or from the desire unrequited. A tear dripped down the side of his nose when he managed to open his eyes again.
‘We know where you are, what you are, and what you do. We arrange our little tours when news of one of you bastards gets to us.’ She spat at him.
The night seemed darker now, the shifting fog revealing more figures around them. Standing. Watching.
‘Finish him Cristina,’ one of them said. ‘I don’t think he is the one!’
‘Marco, did I interfere when you got that piece of shit in Milan? What do you mean not the one?’
‘Our vamp is older, greyer, you know...shrivelled prune type face.’
She turned and looked at them, ‘So who’s this?’
‘Must be a random.’
Turning back she smiled and in a mocking voice said, ‘Poor baby, chose the wrong gig to just wander into did we? What’s your name?’ She eased her hand away slightly.
‘Thomas,’ he spluttered.
‘A nice name. Well Thomas...’ she said it like she was trying to swallow some unpalatable meat, ‘goodbye!’
‘Thank you.’ Thomas said weakly, his vision dark, his hearing fading.
‘Thank you?’
‘Yes...I thought you would set me free....not in this way...I was...half right.’
She pulled the knife out and let the body fall backwards, the corpse disintegrating as it hit the hard concrete.
‘Why do they all fucking fall in love with me?’ she sighed and stood up brushing herself down.
Andrea walked up behind her and put his arm around her shoulders, ‘Why do you think we do so well compared to the others? Every trap needs a honey.’
‘Don’t you mean needs honey?’
‘No. I got it right the first time.’
A tittering came from behind them. Cristina turned and shouted, ‘Marco stop being a dick and do something useful, like finding a broom for that mess! And Cristiano! Find out where the hell our real guy got to!’
Marco muttered under his breath, ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’
Her hand cuffed him around the head, making his ears ring.
‘Hey!’ he shouted.
‘You wouldn’t want me to catch you Marco, do you know what happened to the last guy?’
She put her arm around him as they all moved back to the door, quiet laughter filling the murky air.



This story was written after I was lucky enough to go and see Lacuna Coil live. They were totally amazing, and it was the best gig I have ever seen. They were as good in person as one their albums and I really hope I get to see them again. I kept thinking about the gig and thought that this was a fitting way of paying tribute. I thought they might like the idea if ever they read it themselves at least.

Lacuna Coil are : Cristina Scabbia, Andrea Ferro, Cristiano Migliore, Marco Biazzi, Marco Coti Zelati and Cristiano Mozzati.

The Official Lacuna Coil Website :

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Today feels like Winter has finally arrived. I think it must have made some backroom deal with Summer though, something along the lines of “Hey bud, fancy clockin’ in for me while I kick it at home a bit longer? I promise I`ll be late clocking out for you next year, I’m totally good for it!” 

The last few weeks have been so mild, evidence of which is the swarming of the insects around the hedgerows, and, get this, I heard a cricket on the lawn a few days ago! I know! I have a feeling that said cricket will be dead soon. We have had hail and sleet so far, heavy downpours, a chill wind, and the temperature has dropped by around five degrees celcius. 

My fingers are cold, my neck is beginning to feel the breath of the dead (or drafts if you want less drama), and I am drinking more hot drinks. Yes winter is here and I say about time.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dark Review - Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

Dark Review Image

Review of the book Enders Game

By Casey Douglass

I recently finished reading Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, and I have to say I was very impressed by it. It follows the story of Ender Wiggin, a child born into red tape from day one, a future where population control is rife and only with special dispensation can you have more than two children. Ender is a ‘third’ and if it wasn’t for the military’s interest in him and his hoped for genius, he probably wouldn’t even exist. The earth is under threat from the ‘buggers’, an alien race that has already attacked previously, and it is felt that Ender should have the talent and skills to lead humanity to victory and safety.
He is taken away to Battle School when he is six years old and is introduced to ‘The Game’ which is a zero gravity battleground around which he and the other children (ranging in age from six to early double figures) do battle, using special lasers that freeze the targets battle-suit, either partially or fully, taking them out of the game. It is a way to teach the kids command, tactics and other skills that are useful in preparing them for war, and separating the chaff. Of course, things are not that simple for Ender, he has to be given every opportunity to shine, and so they attempt to grind him into dust by always stacking things against him. More, you will have to read for yourself.

Orson has a way of writing that is very easy to read, and yet still conveys layers of meaning. Ender is a very likeable character, brilliant but unsure, capable of violence but enshrouded in guilt whenever it occurs, even if it was in his own self defense. It is interesting to see how they attempt to break Ender down, and even more exciting to see how he proves time and again that he is truly exceptional. They even use promotion of rank against him, to unsettle him just when he is getting his feet more firmly on the ground.

The story has a nice pace to it and while you couldn’t accuse it of being quick paced, it’s no slouch. There are some nice twists to it and the ending hits you with a few surprises in a short space of time, but it is done in such a way that it just seems right and in keeping with the whole story. It is also one of those rare stories that doesn’t expect you to believe life and morals are black and white, and there is moral ambiguity and shades of grey to many pivotal scenes in the story, which I liked very much.

It isn’t often that I read flat out sci-fi, I am more a fantasy/horror chap, but this was good. I immediately picked up the next two books in trilogy and am just hoping that they will be up to the same standard.

The only thing I struggled with in the book was the mental image of the bugs from the starship troopers film, whenever the buggers were mentioned. While not eithers fault, it was hard to shake, even though the buggers in Enders Game had their own advanced technology and spacecraft.

A solid 10 out of 10 book for me, if I absolutely had to rate it.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Life Getting in the Way

I haven’t forgotten the blog, far from it. I feel I should be writing on it daily but my health has been a struggle for me lately, and my writing has ground to a halt.

There were a number of promising competitions coming up for Halloween that I had hoped to enter but whenever I tried to conceive or develop an idea, my mind seemed to clam up and mock me with silence. I’m not sure if it was writers block, procrastination or just my mind being worn out and telling me to get stuffed. Even worse, when I have been able to watch a little TV or play a little Xbox, my mental "kick-him-when-he's-down" coach chimes in with “Oh, you can do that but you can’t write 100 words?”

On the plus side, I am reading a lot more and getting through books in record time for me, so at the least, I am expanding my horizons in some measure. Actually, when I am in the mood to write, I don’t read so much, so maybe that’s my natural pattern. Who knows.

I have a few blog posts already fleshed out so will be upping my output now hopefully. Don't worry though, I won't be posting about my every meal or bowel movement, no matter how spectacular lol.