Tuesday, August 18, 2009
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 155
He booted up the computer and found a message that ordered him to go to a distant part of town. Failure to do so would impact negatively on his life and expectations.
“This must be some kind of joke,” Helmut said. “My spam filter should have stopped this crap coming through.
“Settle down, Helmy,” his wife, Annalise said. “What harm can it do?”
Helmut stamped his feet, not realising that their cat, Hemlock, was sleeping soundly next to his footrest. The cat sprang up in pain, swiping Helmut across the ankles.
“Ouch!” he shrieked, pushing back on his chair and tumbling to the ground. His neck snapped when he hit the ground awkwardly.
“I think I’ll send that message to your mother next,” Helmut heard his wife say as his life faded quickly from him.
Monday, August 17, 2009
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 357
“It was an accident, I swear to you. An accident. The damn guns went off by themselves, despite the fact that there were people in the room.”
“And you just happened to be the only person in that room that seemed to have escaped without a single injury. Most of the bodies had at least half a dozen gunshot wounds.”
“They were my friends. I was in as much a panic as the rest of the people in the room. I don’t know why I was spared?”
“And I suppose you don’t know how the paintball pellets happened to become solid bullets either?”
“How should I know? We were supposed to be spending the day at the Maleny Retreat as a bonding exercise for work. Paintball was organised by the boss, not me?”
“And the boss would be the poor soul with half a dozen holes in his head? It looks like a rainbow went psycho on his head.”
“I love my job and my work mates...”
“Loved, you mean.”
“I still love them. I wish they were still alive.”
The officer paced the interview room, scratching his head.
“Okay, you’re free to go, but don’t leave town. We’ll need to speak with you again soon.”
Charlie stood up and left the room, perspiration dripped from every pore in his body. Outside the station, his girlfriend waited, sitting on the bonnet of her Monaro. When she saw Charlie walking down the stairs she smiled. At the same time, gunshots rang out from the police station.
“What the...” Charlie said, diving for cover.
A police officer staggered out of the front door, blood dripping from the two gunshot wounds to her chest.
“The guns,” she said. “They all started going off...”
Charlie’s girlfriend smiled.
“Come on Charlie,” she said. “Now you don’t have to spend the weekend away, we can have a great weekend together.”
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 349
The snowstorm came suddenly. Blinding snow clogged the highways, slowed traffic, and created an unexpected hazard to everyone. There was something in the snow that had a terrible effect on most of the population in Mayneville; something nobody understood or could explain.
Ben narrowly avoided running into the Ute in front of him when the blizzard came over without warning. He was on his way home, driving along the Bruce Highway in peak hour traffic.
“You turkey!” he yelled when he swerved to avoid the Ute.
Ben noticed that the traffic had stopped on both sides of the highway. People were getting out of their cars, falling to the ground and making snow angels in the middle of the road.
“What the hell’s going on here?” he said.
He turned his Hoodoo Gurus cd off and flicked the radio on to see if he could catch the news, but no stations were broadcasting.
“Blizzard must be interfering with the reception,” he said.
Across the highway, an old biker leant over a teenager making a snow angel. He was yelling some choice words that Ben couldn’t quite hear, but assumed to be a barrage of F-bombs. After a minute, the teenager grabbed the biker by the head and tore half his face off with a savage bite.
“What the f...”
Ben looked around and saw dozens of snow angels attacking those unaffected by the unnatural blizzard. He shoved his car into four-wheel drive mode and sped off into the pine forest beside the highway, occasionally seeing a staggering snow angel from the forestry workers affected by the blizzard. The drive home took an extra hour, but at least half of that was through areas not affected by the snow. It seemed that the blizzard was only in a small radius from where he first saw it.
“You’re home just in time,” his wife said when he walked in the front door. “There’s a terrible snow storm headed this way.”
Thursday, August 13, 2009
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 442
Gilly played guitar in his band “The Underground Grooves”; it wasn’t really true to say he was in the band as he was living on a totally different plane to the rest of the world. He never turned up to rehearsals, yet he would come up with killer licks when it came time to record a new album, which is why Tendrix, Glapton and Von Helmet put up with his crazy, offbeat behaviour. They could rehearse for weeks, tell Gilly to come to the studio, and he’d lay down the track first go.
Tonight was different though. The Underground Grooves had an impromptu gig at the Palace. Many bands had played there before; some had even survived to become legends for centuries, before they were wiped from the public’s mind. They were nervous about the gig, knowing their lives depended upon their performance.
“Yeh, like...no worries at all cats,” Gilly said when Glapton rang him. “Have you guys got any new tunes to play tonight? I mean, it’s a way out place to release some new material.”
Glapton and the guys had been working on new material for their tenth album, but Gilly hadn’t heard it and that made them extremely nervous, even knowing how gifted Gilly was.
“Sure, Gilly. But do you think tonight is really the right venue to be testing the waters? If we miss a single note, they’ll feed us to the Jaztox beast. That’s heavy shit man, while it digests you; the same acidic stomach juices keep you alive so you’re fresh for a hundred years.”
“Whooh, what a trip,” Gilly said. “That’s like immortality, dude. If you were like, ninety years old, you’d live to be almost two hundred.”
Glapton shook his head.
“Doesn’t the pain worry you? Who wants to be immortal if you are being eaten alive over a century?”
“Don’t stress, dude,” Gilly said. “I’ve got some killer riffs that will blow the Royals away.”
The band met at the Palace at exactly ten that evening and entered the Great Hall, as the previous band were tossed to the beast, instruments and all.
Gilly opened the gig with the most amazing lead anyone had ever heard. The Royals were so mesmerised they gave each member of the band a Knighthood and a grant for the expansion of the arts into the new millennium. Gilly was slightly upset that he didn’t get to live an extra decade, but the rest of the band were happy with what they received.
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 208
“Tonight’s the night we’ve got the truck boys,” Gestav said to the three new police recruits. “We’re going downtown to beat up some drunks, roundup the good whores and have a good old time.”
The three recruits looked at each other and then at the Sergeant.
“Are you serious?” Constable Prunes said.
Gestav quickly drew his Glock and pumped a round into Prunes forehead. Prunes fell backwards off his chair, cracking his skull on the desk behind him before hitting the cold, hard marble floor, spilling his brains everywhere.
“Anymore questions?” Gestav said, putting his pistol back in its holster.
The two remaining recruits shook their heads.
“Okay then, put Prunes in the Cryoplasmatank to fix up that nasty bump on his head.”
Gestav looked at his watch.
“We should have time for a few brews before Prunes is ready to come with us, so let chug-a-lug.”
He tossed two beer pellets to the recruits and swallowed three. The recruits reluctantly took the pills, watching the Sergeant cautiously for fifteen minutes before Prunes was healed and they were ready to start their first night patrol.
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 342
“If you follow these instructions, detail by detail, I guarantee you will find a pot, at the end of the rainbow.”
“I thought that once you caught a leprechaun, that was it, he had to give you the gold?”
“No, no, no,” the leprechaun said. “Everybody knows how much leprechaun’s drink. It’s not that hard to catch us outside the pub and night of the week. If that was it, we’d all be too bloody poor, wouldn’t we.”
Jimmy looked at the five-page list of instruction of how to find the end of the rainbow and the location of the pot of gold. He scratched his head and carelessly loosened the grip on the drunken leprechaun. The leprechaun wiggled from Jimmy’s grasp and staggered away.
“Hey, don’t you go anywhere until I’ve got your gold.”
Jimmy easily caught the leprechaun as he stumbled into the bushes on the side of the road.
“I can’t take you there,” the leprechaun said, burping into Jimmy’s face. “It’s a magical safeguard. A leprechaun’s pot of gold will not appear unless he or a person of his choice performs the rituals by himself.”
Jimmy shoved the leprechaun into his esky and began following the instructions on the pages. The writing was smudged and slurred as much as the leprechaun did in his drunken state. It took the remainder of the day to carry out the detailed instructions and reach the end of the rainbow.
“You little ripper,” Jimmy said, seeing the large, black pot filled with gold pieces.
It began to fade as Jimmy walked closer to it, finally disappearing when he reached where it should be. He opened the esky and found the leprechaun frozen to death with a scrunched up piece of paper in his hand.
“You fool,” the paper read. “It’s bloody freezing in here. The gold dies if the leprechaun dies. You have killed me and lost your fortune.”
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 362
“Hey Al, you better get here right away, this guy at the door says he’s the Sheriff, and he’s got a bunch of papers for you to sign"
Al put his Four-ex down on the coffee table and paused the footy match on the telly.
“That better not be on the woodwork, Al!” his wife yelled from the kitchen.
“No luv,” Al said, moving the can onto a coaster and wiping the wet ring from the polished wood.
Standing at the door with the Sheriff was Al’s teenage daughter; she battered her eyelids at the young hunky Officer as she brushed past him and hopped on her scooter.
“My family is just out of control, Jake,” Al said to the Sheriff. “I’m outnumbered, and outvoted by the girls now.”
The Sheriff smiled, he was shagging both Al’s wife and daughter and knew just how out of control his life was.
“You get that when you’re a busy business man and don’t have any son’s to mind the family when you’re at work.”
Al shrugged, “What have you got for me today?”
The Sheriff handed over a pile of papers relating to the dozen bodies Al had collected from the fire at the Chemical Warehouse the previous night. Al had not started the autopsies yet, and was planning to go into work after the game finished on Foxtel.
“You’re not going to let me have the morning off, are you?” Al said.
The Sheriff smiled, thinking about doing Al’s wife on Al’s Jason Recliner once he left to go to work.
“I think you’re really going to have to go to work now and help out your apprentice, Al.”
Al took the paperwork and grabbed his car keys.
“I’ll just let Rosie I’ll be back at five or so,” Al said.
“I’ll do that now, save you some time so you can get home sooner.”
The Sheriff watched Al drive off before heading into the kitchen to take care of Al’s wife, like a good friend would.
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 255
Ezra was relaxing on the hammock slung in the back-yard; enjoying the soft summer breezes he heard the unmistakable sound of an automatic weapon. Without thinking, he rolled off the hammock and hugged the ground for dear life just as the string of bullets ripped through the hammock above him.
“Sorry about that, Nevil,” his wife yelled from the clothes line. She pointed to the white picket fence behind him.
Nevil hadn’t noticed the two zombies trying to force their way into their yard.
“Thanks dear,” Nevil said. “If...”
Nevil’s wife dropped to the ground as he fired a couple of round from his shotgun in her direction. She rolled quickly, leaping to an offensive position and fired a couple of rounds in the direction of the ruckus.
“Did you leave the side gate open again?” she asked, standing up quickly.
“Sorry dear,” he said. “Must have been when I took the garbage out earlier.”
Nevil’s wife fired another round into the head of the twitching corpse on the ground near the open gate.
“Well you can bloody well clean up this time,” she said. “You know the rules, you let them in, you clean up the mess.”
Nevil grunted. So much for a nice relaxing afternoon, he thought to himself as he went to the shed to get the Zombie-Matic mulcher. I really didn’t feel like gardening today.
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 349
The cop pulled the speeding, weaving sports convertible over, and stood well behind the driver’s door as he said, “Listen, you were driving like a crazy, what the hell is going on?”
The driver stuck her head out the window, at least the cop thought it was the driver’s head, until he realised it wasn’t connected to a body. He reached for his sidearm.
“Step Out of the car!” he yelled.
The head retracted back inside the car and the door opened slowly. Blood dripped on the ground as the tall, naked woman stepped out of the car, holding her head in her hand.
“What seems to be the problem, Officer?” she said.
Carelessly, the officer stepped back and tripped over, landing flat on his back just as a semi trailer hurtled down the highway.
“Watch out!” the woman yelled.
It was too late. The truck ran over the officer, squashing his intestines out of his mouth and rectum and broke his back in five places.
The woman knelt down beside the corpse and ran her fingers through his hair gently. He coughed, spitting out his entrails to clear his throat.
“You’ll need a lift I think,” the woman said as the Officer tried to sit up. “I can only restore life; unfortunately I can’t heal your injuries.”
The Officer used his muscular arms to sit up; everything from the chest down was a bloody and useless mound of torn flesh. His spine snapped as he turned to face the headless woman.
“Here, let me help you,” she said and placed her head on the bonnet of her car. She grabbed the Officer under each arm and lifted him into her car.
“What about my torso...my legs...my junk?” The Officer cried.
“I’m afraid that half of your body seems to have stayed dead, Officer.”
The Officer looked in disbelief at his other half as the headless woman drove off down the highway.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 226
“Mr. Panofsky,” the deacon said to one of the churchgoers, “I saw you today, bold as a thief take money out of the alms bag...instead of putting it in. What about that.”
The elderly gentleman looked at the deacon with a raised eyebrow.
“Don’t try and deny it now, Mr. Panofsky. I’m sure we could find a few witnesses to agree with me if you want to make this a public issue.”
Mr. Panofsky shook his head, “Look, I’m really sorry. Since Gertrude passed away, I haven’t been able to make ends meet on the single aged-pension. What with the funeral expenses and all. I just needed some bread for supper.”
The deacon put his arm around Mr. Panofsky’s shoulder and smiled.
“Let’s just put the money back, shall we. Then we’ll see what we can do about your diner.”
The deacon held out the collection bag and shook it in front of Mr. Panofsky, who took the coins from his pocket and put them in the velvet bag.
Mr. Panofsky looked down and thought he saw teeth at opening of the bag, almost smiling at him. Sitting on top of the coins in the bag were three of his fingers.
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 231
Friendships are so intricate, so demanding. If you are not careful, they are apt to poke large holes in one’s psyche. Jude knew this to be true from personal experience and bore the scars to prove it. The last time she opened up and let someone in, she ended up getting hurt and it took her ages to get over it. This would be the last time that she would give in to her emotions and trust someone. She was sure of it.
“Okay,” she said to the tall and slender Elf with silver hair and lime green eyes. “You can come around this weekend, if you promise to show me how to make some of those Elvish broaches.”
The Elf smiled.
“You know that only Elves can give the broaches the magical properties though?”
“I do now,” said Jude. “After selling a bundle of them at the markets after that were nothing but shiny knick knacks and almost getting my head kicked in.”
“Not all Elves like Gnomes you know,” the Elf said.
“Yeh, but to play a joke like that is a bit low, even for an Elf.”
Jude did not see the two other Elves snickering in the bushes as she walked off with her new “friend.”
Sunday, August 2, 2009
The following digest of recent horror news is compiled from pieces published to HorrorScope and the Australian Horror Writers' Association website.
Dymocks Southland Bestselling Horror Titles for July ‘09
Dymocks Southland is a general bookshop in Cheltenham, Victoria, boasting an extensive range of genre stock. Click through for the top 10 bestselling horror titles for July 2009.
Eclecticism Issue 9
Eclecticism E-zine are celebrating their 2nd Anniversary with the release of Issue #9! Come and join the festivities by downloading the free online magazine.
The ‘Nameless’ competition has been extended until the 1st of September 2009, and a $500 winner’s cheque has been added to sweeten the already tasty prize pool. Read the story here. Come up with a conclusion and a title. Make your $10 donation and enter the competition here. Click through for more details!
Scribe launches the CAL Scribe Fiction Prize
Scribe is delighted to announce the launch of the CAL Scribe Fiction Prize. The prize is open for an unpublished manuscript by any Australian writer over 35, who may or may not have been published before. The winner of the CAL Scribe Fiction Prize will be awarded a book contract from Scribe and a prize of $12,000.
The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One
Ellen Datlow has announced the contents of the forthcoming The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One, due out in October from Night Shade Books. The book features two Australian horror writers - Miranda Siemienowicz and Margo Lanagan.
The Mother US edition
The US limited edition of Brett McBean's second novel The Mother is now up for pre-order from Thunderstorm Books. This is the uncut version, with two graphic scenes previously deemed too extreme, now restored back into the text.
First National Republican Short Story Competition
On 6 November 2009, it will be 10 years since the republican referendum was lost. To commemorate this event and to remind Australians of what they still don't have, the Australian Republican Movement is calling for speculative fiction short stories between 2000 and 4000 words that portray an Australian republican future in a positive light and demonstrate the absurdity of a hereditary monarch as the Australian Head of State in twenty-first century Australian society. Click through for more details.
'Family Demons' midnight screening
Ursula Dabrowsky, winner of the Best Australian Director award at the 2009 A Night of Horror International Film Festival for her eerie psychological feature film, Family Demons, is proud to be screening the film at the 2009 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. The event will be held on Saturday, 29 August 2009 at 11pm at the Embassy (formerly the Queensbridge Hotel), 1 Queensbridge St, South Melbourne.
Aeon Award 2009 2nd round shortlist
As recently announced on the Albedo One website, a number of stories have been added to the Aeon Award 2009 shortlist after the second round of consideration, which ran from April to the end of July. The competition directors would like to emphasize that the Aeon Award is still open for entries to the end of November '09. Click through for more details.
Quentin Tarantino & Popcorn Taxi present Dark Age
To celebrate the great Aussie genre films of the eighties, Inglourious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino presents his own personal 35mm print of Arch Nicholson's 1987 Ozploitation classic Dark Age for a phenomenal one-off Popcorn Taxi screening. Event Sold Out!
Award Winning Australian Writing 2009
The Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) congratulates Benjamin Hayes, winner of the AHWA Flash and Short Story Competition 2008 (Flash Fiction category), whose winning entry has been selected for inclusion in the 2009 edition of Award Winning Australian Writing, to be published by Melbourne Books. Other noteworthy Australian speculative authors to have work included are Cat Sparks and Simon Brown. The book launch will be held at this year's Melbourne Writers' Festival. 2:30pm, August 21, Festival Club, ACMI, Melbourne.
Terry Dowling Ticonderoga editions available for pre-order
The best work of Terry Dowling, Australia’s "master of fantasy", will be released in two volumes published by independent WA publisher Ticonderoga Publications. The two volumes, Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear and Make Believe: A Terry Dowling Reader, collect thirty stories from Dowling’s almost 30-year career. These books are available for pre-order from Indie Books Online.
Writer/director Brett Anstey invites horror affictionados to the world-premiere screening of his banshee/walking dead horror film, Damned By Dawn. The event is FREE - although management request RSVP by email to email@example.com Wednesday August 12, 7:30pm, ACMI, Melbourne.
In The Dead Of Night
Australia’s first ‘choose your own adventure’ cabaret debuts in Melbourne… and it’s not for the faint of heart. After directing professional cabaret and theatre for nearly a decade, Play Right Theatre founder Kim Edwards has channelled her dark side and finally released a long-time pet project of her own on the stage. Edwards’ previous credits include children’s drama classes and Theatre In Education work, but it will be adults only when In The Dead Of Night: A Cult Show is let loose at The Butterfly Club in all its gothic, grotesque, and darkly funny glory.
2009 Chronos Award finalists
The Continuum Foundation has announced the ballot for the 2009 Chronos Awards, which honours the best works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror produced by Victorians in 2008 as recommended by Australian SF fans. The Chronos Award winners will be presented at Continuum 5. Click through for a list of nominees.
If you have news about Australian and New Zealand Horror publishing and film, or news of professional development opportunities in the field, feel free to submit news to Talie Helene, AHWA News Editor. Just visit HorrorScope, and click on the convenient email link. (International news is not unwelcome, although relevance to Antipodean literary arts practitioners is strongly preferred.)
For information on the Australian Horror Writers' Association, visit australianhorror.com.
This AHWA NEWS DIGEST has been compiled, written, and republished in select Australian horror haunts by Talie Helene. Currently archived at the AHWA MySpace page, and Southern Horror; hosted at the social networking sites Darklands and A Writer Goes On A Journey; and hosted by AHWA members Felicity Dowker, Brenton Tomlinson, Scott Wilson, and Jeff Ritchie (Scary Minds: Horror's Last Colonial Outpost).
If you would like to support the AHWA News effort by hosting a copy of the AHWA News Digest on your blog or website, contact Talie to receive a fully formatted HTML edition of the digest by email.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 626
It looked like an ordinary deck of playing cards with an ordinary blue-checkered pattern on the back and various comical cartoon pictures in the centre of the symbols on the playing side. Tommy flicked through them slowly, taking time at each turn to study each. Only thirty-six cards remained in the deck, because Tommy used the others over the month since finding them under the desk at university.
Tommy stopped at the nine of hearts. The caricature was a young red haired lady, dressed in a knee-high pair of snakeskin boots, short denim skirt that barely covered her black lace g-string, a checkered red sleeveless cowgirl shirt and a black R M Williams hat.
"Are you anything like your sister, the two of hearts?" he said softly.
The picture winked at him and blew him a kiss.
Tommy put the rest of the cards back in the packet, carefully slid them into the pocket of his jeans, slid then kissed the nine of hearts before placing it into his shirt pocket. He hopped up and walked towards the toilets at the back of the refectory.
"Okay honey," he said to the card once comfortably sitting in the cubicle at the end of the toilets. "Let's see what you can do."
Tommy flicked his wrist, tossing the playing card high in the air. It reached the top of the cubicle, and then disappeared with a wet popping sound. Tommy eagerly opened the cubicle door eagerly and was disappointed to see an empty bathroom. He felt a warm hand caress the back of his neck.
"Hey big boy," said a seductive and husky voice behind him.
Tommy turned slowly. The gorgeous girl from the deck was leaning against the door of the cubicle. She beckoned him back to the piss smelling stall, wishing that the cards from the university grounds. He'd use them all in his bedroom rather than a stinking public toilet if he had the choice.
Tommy closed the door behind him, grinning deviously as the red head slowly unbuttoned her shirt. She wore no bra. Her voluptuous breast burst out when the last button was released. She pulled his head towards her chest, rubbing her breasts again his face with both hands.
"Oh yeah, that's it," she said.
Tommy kissed her nipples and gently played with them tongue. Before he found the deck of cards, he was a virgin. But, what was he now?
Tommy felt her press her large breasts firmly against the sides of his head. It felt nice, until the pressure kept closing in around his head. He couldn't breathe and blacked out.
When Tommy came to, he smelt a waxy, musky odor and did not know where he was. He heard voices in the distance, but could not feel anything, he could not move. He could not move. He tried to yell, but no words came out. After a period of time that Tommy could not determine, he felt as though something lifted him up. Light filled his eyes, blinding him for a second until they had time to adjust. He looked around, but could only see straight ahead, he couldn't turn his head.
"Hello, big boy," a familiar voice said.
Tommy saw the nine of hearts looking down at him, like she were a giant, or he were an ant.
Tommy saw a suddenly inflated nine of hearts looking down on him.
He felt himself rising up quickly. A giant pair of lips pressed against his face, almost smothering him in their soft, moist embrace.
The smiling vixen took the nine of hearts away from her lips and placed in back on the table next to the other thirty-five cards evenly spread out.