Friday 31 January 2014

Dark Fiction - First World Problems

First World Problems

By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash

The half-eaten jam tart slipped through the clasping fingers, the sticky digits closing together an instant too late as it entered free-fall. It flipped and turned lazily in the electric glow of the kitchen lights, the semi-loose metal foil holder glinting as it caught the yellow beams. Down it fell, a graceful arc of sweet pastry deciding to end its existence and avoid the digestive fate that had befallen its other half.
It hit the floor with a dull thump, the shiny silver metal uppermost, the pastry and strawberry jam kissing the slightly hairy carpet tiles. The red sugary pulp seeped out through a small crack in the side; a pool of blood around a suicide.
Neighbours three doors down heard the almighty expulsion; a string of swear words so profoundly wrong, that an old lady swooned and a Labrador soiled his masters bed.
Nothing would ever be the same again.


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Monday 27 January 2014

Dark Review – The Gothic Shift

The Gothic Shift by B.D Bruns

Reviewed by Casey Douglass

I haven’t reviewed fiction for a long time, so if any of this review comes across as awkward or stilted, you’ll know why. I also think spoilers are one hundred times worse for the written word than films and TV so have done my best to not give anything key away. In the interests of being honest, I was given a free copy of the book to review, I didn’t buy it myself. Anyway, onwards and downwards.

The Gothic Shift is a collection of four macabre tales by B.D Bruns.

The first tale, The Ghost of Naked Molly, is set in New Orleans on the night of the Louisiana purchase. The appearance of a naked woman on the roof of a wealthy landowner causes him many problems, which he simply doesn’t need as he plots and schemes to increase his standing and wealth.

The second, The Swamp Hive, takes place during the American Civil War. It follows the tribulations of a rebel cook who takes great pride in his ability to fill the mens’ stomachs with something to eat, but lacks any other real confidence or fortitude. Not taking part in the actual fighting, his eyes are open to the things on the periphery. It is with this open gaze that he discovers something far more scary than fighting the Union. Something...or things, that sneak through the destruction unseen, with stealth, speed and claws.

The third tale, Blue Caribou, takes place in 1859 and is set on an exploratory ship that becomes stranded in Arctic ice. Some crew are lost in the accident, but as the cold begins to set in and the rations become scarce, madness, paranoia and murder all play out against the uncorrupted white scenery.

The final tale, Wax and Wayne, is set in the current day. A tired waitress working in a restaurant has to deal with a glutton of a man who comes in and progressively eats more and more shrimp. He appears to maintain, or even lose weight, whilst the waitress seems to put it on whilst eating less and less.

I really appreciated the variety in the stories, each using a different theme and setting. This meant that each tale didn’t really outstay its welcome or become “old” before you had finished it. B.D writes in a very easy to read manner, and his description of place and emotion soon conjure in detail the scenes in your mind. I’m not the biggest fan of American History, I can take it or leave it as a rule. B.D does make it a very alive setting however, and I did find myself enjoying it mainly due to this.

My favourite story was The Swamp Hive. I loved the “menace” that intertwined with the more familiar “war story” vibe. It was also very nice to see the meek cook grow as a person as the tale progressed, pushing himself well past his usual limits, in part because he felt that things couldn’t really get any worse. It also had that element of “fortress” about it, literally as it was set in Fort Henry, and metaphorically, the known and the unknown overlapping in a “strong” place that was all too weak.

The story I least liked was Wax and Wayne. It’s set in modern times, and even though it has a nice hint of the weird and macabre about it, I just didn’t particularly gel with it. It was not written worse than the preceding tales, I think I just preferred the ones set in the past. So again, a testament to the job B.D has done if it makes someone neutral about American History turn his back on the only modern day story!

I’m rating The Gothic Shift 4/5 mainly for the reason that personally, it didn’t really scare me or make me feel unnerved. This is just down to me and my own horror/macabre proclivities, and I’m sure it would unnerve someone else. The Swamp Hive is the story that stuck with me the longest after reading, as this had the most pleasing horror elements as far as my own tastes go. I would certainly recommend The Gothic Shift to horror readers, and especially to those who might not usually go for the more Gothic style. So all in all, good stuff!

You can find out more about B.D Brun's other books etc on his site here

Friday 24 January 2014

Dark Fiction - Reach


By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash

The little girl floats through the air, the tassels on her mittens knocking against the undersides of her forearms. It is like some graceful slow motion replay of an Olympic swimmer beginning their dive. 


Her face is still smiling, her tongue protruding from pale little lips, her eyes a sparkle. She is enjoying it! 

She reaches the apex of her flight and then begins to dip, the expression on her face creaking into a rictus of terror. Now she is scared. Down she falls, lower and lower. In mere moments, she is beneath the level at which I myself am standing, a cacophony of noise billowing out behind me.

A deep booming rumble percusses her landing, but it is not her that causes it. The train rounds the bend, the noise of lots of tiny metal wheels rat-a-clatting rat-a-clatting as it draws into the station. 

A scream sounds to my right, punching through my time dilation. I am about to turn but pins and needles draw my attention to my right arm. I gaze along it trying to fathom why it should ache so. Realisation breaks my confusion and I see that it is outstretched, elbow aching, hand grasping, fingers splayed, the digits partially hiding the girl from my sight.

The train squeals and churns and chews at the metal tracks as it tries to reduce its momentum. It fails. 

--THE END-- 

Friday 17 January 2014

Dark Fiction - Burn


By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash 

My insides hurt. Worse than that time I swallowed a measure of Dad’s best whisky when I was four. I got such a hidin’ for that. He turned his back for half a minute to do somethin’ at the kitchen table, an’ I walk in in my little red dungarees, lookin’ for somethin’ to drink.
I remember the sunlight shinin’ through the dusty window. It was that late arternoon light that washes everythin’ and makes it look real pretty. It shon on the shot glass, the golden light hittin’ the already magic lookin’ liquid. I think my young mind just knew it was somethin’ grand. Why would it glow like that? I snatched it from the table and gulped it right down. God did it burn!
Dad turned around when the coughin’ started and swore at me when the glass exploded on the tiled kitchen floor. I don’t know what bothered ’im more. The mess, the sick little kid, the wasted whisky. Could ’ave bin all three. Could ’ave bin somethin’ else entirely. Three days my tummy ache lasted. All I could manage was bread an’ milk. I remember bein’ most upset by not bein’ able to eat my sweets. The shop down the road sold chewy jelly worms that always fascinated me. You could bite’em in half, stretch’em, suck on ‘em. You name it, I tried it. Always my favourite. I couldn’t do that now, stretch’em and whatnot. Not with my teeth. I’d swap this tummy ache for that one any day though. Now all I’ve next to me is a small plastic cup thing with thick green liquid inside. The sun is shinin’ on it now, but it ain’t golden. Still burns goin’ down though.



Friday 10 January 2014

Dark Fiction - Infernal Dating

Infernal Dating

By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash

Infernal Dating

Epoch 16 Day 34 : InfernalDating Message from Incu69:
Hi handsome.

Epoch 16 Day 34 : Reply:
Hello yourself. That’s some set of wings!

Epoch 16 Day 35 : InfernalDating Message from Incu69:
Thanks! Two millennia of pilates honey!

Epoch 16 Day 36 : Reply:
So what do you like to do?

Epoch 16 Day 36 : InfernalDating Message from Incu69:
The usual things really, feeding on desperate boys, watching TV, walks beside the lava sea. How about yourself?

Epoch 16 Day 36 : Reply:
I don’t like feeding on desperate boys lmao. I like quieter things. I’ve been ill for five hundred years. Some fool blessed me and now I just can’t do what I used to.

Epoch 16 Day 37 : InfernalDating Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 38 : InfernalDating Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 39 : Email from Agnathia:
Hello you. How’s the online dating going? Hope you are inundated with nice young ladies by now!

Epoch 16 Day 39 : Email reply:
Hi Aggy. I had one message the other day but she has gone quiet now.

Epoch 16 Day 40 : Email from Agnathia:
Oh that’s a shame. Keep going though, you’ll find someone soon I’m sure.

Epoch 16 Day 40 : InfernalDating Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 41 : InfernalDating Message from WISp_in_my_eAR:
Hey, how are you? Gorgeous horns!

Epoch 16 Day 41 : Reply:
You are too kind. I’m okay thanks, how are you?

Epoch 16 Day 44 : InfernalDating Message from WISp_in_my_eAR:
I’m great baby. What are you upto?

Epoch 16 Day 44 : Reply:
Just some writing at the moment. How about you?

Epoch 16 Day 45 : InfernalDating Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 46 : InfernalDating Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 57 : Email from Agnathia:
Hey, any luck yet?

Epoch 16 Day 58 : Email Reply:
No just another one who went quiet.

Epoch 16 Day 58: Email from Agnathia:
Really? That website is pretty good. I’m going on a date with someone who I met on there tonight actually.

Epoch 16 Day 58 : Email Reply:
Have a nice time.

Epoch 16 Day 58 : Email from Agnathia:
Thanks x-p

Epoch 16 Day 58 : InfernalDating Message Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 59 : InfernalDating Message Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 78 : InfernalDating Message Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 102 : Email from Agnathia:
Hey, just to let you know I’m getting married on the outer ring. That guy I was dating is soo my partner in crime. We just share everything. We love the same sins and just know what the other is thinking before anything is said! I’d love to invite you to the wedding but we are already rammed. Hope you understand?

Epoch 16 Day 102 : InfernalDating Message Inbox Empty

Epoch 16 Day 123 : You have deactivated your InfernalDating profile. Any time for which you have already paid is non-refundable. Please state your reason for leaving...You have selected No. Profile deleted.

Epoch 16 Day 124 : Internet Search Initiated : Hot nymph on incubus action

Epoch 16 Day 124 : Internet Search Initiated : FREE Hot nymph on incubus action


Thursday 9 January 2014

Horror Blogger Alliance

Thanks to the Horror Blogger Alliance for accepting me into their midst. Anyone wanting to check out some awesome dark/horror blogs should have a little peep here.

Friday 3 January 2014

Dark Fiction - Right Click. Save

Right Click. Save.

By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash

Bathed in the soft white glow of the screen, the figure leans forward, his nose only inches away from the display. Indistinct fleshy rectangles dance up the screen as his permanently bent index finger diddles the smooth warm rubber of the mouse-wheel.

The hard-drive clicks and stutters into brief life but the sound fades unheeded. He coughs and clicks the mouse, the images on screen all taking on a different appearance, but their forms staying very much the same.

He drags the mouse to one side as one image flows and fills the entirety of the screen, his hand knocking a small note pad skidding over the edge of the desk. It lands with a dull slap on the floor. He looks down at it and with a grunt, leans down and pushes it away, the pages flicking open to tease diagrams and sketchings, goals and ideas, that disappear from sight into the darkness beneath the desk.

Another image fills the screen, this time a moving one with low moaning sounds and fleshy thumping grunts. A small sigh darts out from between clenched teeth as he adjusts himself on his chair. 

A tinny beep causes him to sit more fully upright, snaking fingers diverting the mouse to another open window. This one contains a smiling amiable face, the eyes still alive and interested. His. A mass of expertly honed text spreads out beneath, every word and turn of phrase weighed and mulled until it dazzled. A pop-up slides into view announcing a special discount for anyone wanting to upgrade to a premium membership, assuring any reader that they will be sure to find more success in love should they take the chance and back themselves with a token of belief. Twenty tokens of belief as a matter of fact.

He snorts and dismisses the message with a vicious jab of the left mouse button, the small white pointer causing the little trash icon to flicker and the message vanish. Two more deft clicks sees him back to where he left off, his eyes glazing slightly as they drink in the sights.

He right-clicks and saves, right-clicks and saves; the cascade of file requests coming and going like a fly repeatedly buzzing against a closed window.

His tongue moistens his dry lips. The room is muggy, the air thrumming with the warm exhaust of the computer fans and the occasional sigh of its human occupant. 

He feels like a troll. Sitting in his cave watching the world pass by the entrance. Those people who looked normal and fine practically a different race to his own, their lives full of the kinds of things that life should be full of. The people who looked so friendly and kind, yet were either unaware of his existence, or disinterested in it to varying degrees.

Right-click. Save.

People...women who wouldn’t give him the time of day. Oh they talked a good game, but when it came down to it, they wanted someone more able, someone who had so much more to offer. He understood that, but it didn’t stop that old spiky feeling in his bowels; when his innards turned to ice and he just wanted to not be here any more.

Right-click. Save.

He was out of ideas, well and truly. Wherever he went, whatever he did, it all came to nought. Not that he craved mere sex; he wanted the whole package. He just could never get beyond “You’re so lovely. Why are you still single?” Just like someone praising a painting on sale but never actually buying it. 

Right-click. Save.

So he chased ghosts. The abstractions of what could have been. These women who he worshipped from afar and who infused his mind with the tickling tingling of hope and then smothered it with pity. He found those like them on the internet. He enjoyed searching, enjoyed the hunt. Revelled in seeing their most private moments of vulnerability, even though it was often staged and sponsored by some big faceless company, eager for his money to sell him even more stunning milfs, gang-bangs and Hollywood film parodies. It was a sham, it was a hollow promise. He knew it...but it was a window into a world he was barred from.

Right-click. Save.


Thursday 2 January 2014

Dark Fiction - Pollywocker (Darker Times Competition Honourable Mention)

My entry to the December 2013 Darker Times Competition, Pollywocker, achieved an honourable mention. Anyone who would like to read my strange story can read it here.