Life in Rockwood
The Senorita had watched over Emilia Flores’s garden before there had been a garden. The old scarecrow had shown up not long after the first house had been built. No one could remember who put the Senorita up with her black flamenco dress stuffed with straw and her pumpkin head, painted black and white with her eyes closed and a wry smile across her lips. But she seemed to do no harm, and when the first house was torn down and a new one built in its place, pains were taken to not disturb the Senorita. And when Emilia had decided to plant a garden, beneath the Senorita’s watchful gaze seemed the right place for it.
The garden did flourish. Occasionally they’d find a dead rabbit or bird among the tomatoes and carrots. Emilia would remark that it was the Senorita taking her due, that death was part of life, and that there was no better metaphor than a garden.… Read the rest “A Dance with the Senorita”
Jen drove into the swamp on a cool wet night. The roads were muddy, but her four wheel drive could handle it. She drove through the dark, an unopened beer in her hand. She thought about taking a drink because–fuck it– it was only one beer and anyone wandering through the swamp at this time of night deserved to get run over. But if it happened by some one-in-a-million chance, she’d feel shitty about it. She didn’t need that. Though killing someone would be the perfect finish to her night.
She drove through the mist, afraid she’d miss her turn. It’d been years since she’d been to the cabin.
The turn came. It was farther than she remembered. When the cabin finally came into view, she barely recognize it.
The place was a broken down shack. It still stood, but she expected it’d fall over if she slammed the jeep door too forcefully.… Read the rest “Lost and Found in the Mire”
From the ol’ Action Force mailbag:
Ok, got an interesting question. I asked you recently about Duke and Earl (of Gil’s All Fright Diner). I also noticed, on Facebook, someone else did, too. I’m suspecting it’s a question you get a lot and one you’re getting maybe a little irritated answering. That said, I’m curious about what made you lose interest in these characters?
Great question, and the answer is complicated enough that I thought I’d answer it here publicly.
First of all, I don’t find the question irritating. It’s never insulting to be asked this sort of thing because it means I did a good job. Writing is a lonely profession without a lot of direct feedback, so stuff like this is always flattering and rewarding.
Gil’s All Fright Diner was my first published novel. It was not, however, my first novel.… Read the rest “Q&A: Losing Interest”
Bill tapped his white cane against the floor in a steady rhythm, counting the seconds, the minutes, the just over an hour that he’d been sitting in this interrogation room.
The doors creaky hinges squeaked. Chestnut raised her head and gave a soft growl. He patted her on the head. “Easy, girl.”
Connie set a folder down on the table. “Hello, Mr. Velasco. My name is Constance Verity, and I’m here to help you.”
Chestnut slinked behind Bill’s chair.
Connie’s voice sounded vaguely familiar to Bill, like a not-quite-obscure-character actor he couldn’t quite place..
“Are you my lawyer?” he asked.
“You don’t need one,” said Connie. “Would you like something to drink? I have a water bottle I’m putting directly in front of you.” She set it down and gave him the courtesy of allowing him to reach for it.… Read the rest “Inside Dog”
Most of the time, freelancing for the Unknowables was a simple gig. Track something down. Bring something back. Fix this. Break that. Keep your head down. Don’t ask too many questions because the answers are never going to satisfy you.
But sometimes things got complicated. Sometimes, you ended up surrounded by cultists worshipping ancient gods. Most of the gods didn’t give a damn about who or who didn’t worship them. We were beneath their notice. Tiny crawling things screaming to the void in hopes it might hear us, never pondering it might be better to be ignored. We looked to the stars with dreams of greatness when all along it was waiting to devour us for wanting more than we had.
There was nothing wrong with wanting more. I had dreams. Dreams of living with Mom under the sea, dwelling in the shadow of an indifferent god.… Read the rest “The Indifferent Stars”
Someone as a joke had painted out the second L in The Lickety Split. Everybody just rolled with it.
The thing was there, hidden in the darkened bowels of the Spit, squeezed behind the pipes. And it was hungry. It reached out with one of its hands, wriggling its clawed fingers. Its two yellow eyes gleamed in the shadows.
“Pass me my sandwich, would you?”
Adam handed the peanut butter and anchovy on rye to the blutarian mechanic, who shoved it whole into its maw without bothering to unwrap it. It swallowed, plastic and all, in one gulp, and went back to work.
Adam hated sewage duty. He wasn’t built for crawling around in these cramped spaces. Not like Nickles, who had the advantage of a skeleton made almost entirely of cartilage and only three vital internal organs had their advantages.… Read the rest “Gloop”
He met the old woman by the river. She knelt by the water, beating bloody clothes against the rocks. She’d wring out the fabric, dripping streams of bright blood into the water.
He’d seen her before. Many times. But he’d never had the nerve to approach her. As dusk settled, he came closer.
The old woman kept her back to him as she hunched over the water. Her long black hair kept him from seeing her face, but her dirty gown clung to her bones and her hands were withered and claw-like.
“So you finally come to talk,” she said. “I didn’t know if you ever would.”
“My mother’s dying,” he said.
The woman laughed coldly. “I know.”
“They say the old woman of the river–you–know the secrets of life and death.”
“They are not secrets you want to know, boy.”… Read the rest “Stains”
“There is something you need to know about magic,” said Sean.
“I know,” replied Gary. “It always has a price.”
“What? No. Who told you that?”
“Everybody,” said Gary.
“Well, everybody is wrong.”
“But what about the laws of thermodynamics?”
“If magic followed the rules of thermodynamics, it wouldn’t be magic, would it?”
“But surely there must be some grounding in physics,” said Gary. “Maybe quantum physics?”
“Quantum physics only works on a tiny scale. If you were going to conjure a teacup the size of an atom, then maybe quantum physics would apply. But who the hell would want to do that?”
“All right,” said Gary. “So throw thermodynamics, physics, all that out the window. Got it. What’s it going to cost me? Do I have to sell my soul? Do I have to give up part of my life force?… Read the rest “The Truth About Magic”
Life in Rockwood
The Weeping Woman had haunted Jack since he was a boy as she had haunted all the men of the Banfield family. Sometimes, when alone, the phone would ring, and he’d answer to the sounds of gentle weeping. Or when flicking through the channels of the TV, he’d come across a static-filled outline of the gaunt, pale woman, her face hidden behind the her burial shroud. Once, he’d seen her under the flickering streetlight beside the Gas N Guzzle. Mostly shadow, though she grimaced with her pointed yellow teeth and wrung a bloodied cloth with her claw-like fingers. He’d almost confronted her then, but a car horn distracted him. When he turned back, she was gone.
Although she was never really gone.
The Woman had followed the Banfields long before they’d come to Rockwood. Jack’s ma said that one of the Banfield ancestors had killed his wife in a jealous rage, and that this was God’s punishment for the crime.… Read the rest “Curses”