Summer Games

Authors note: This is the short story I wrote in July that was rejected. The story had to be under 1k words ( mine is 998 ) and it needed to feature something about camping. Camping for me was a huge part of my childhood. I attended a Christian camp in Wisconsin for many years. Digging back into those memories was wonderful. Finding the scary hidden within was delicious.  

lake

The lake was black and hid many secrets. The only light offered came from the hanging moon above but it could not penetrate the lakes obsidian depths. But it did provide enough light for Brody Fitzmore to see the outline of the peer that floated silently in the distance.

Brody gulped the velvet summer night and crunched his toes deeper into the sandy shore. It was a funny thing to see the place that offered laughter, games, and splashing under the summer sun become so dark and ominously corrupted under the waxing moon.

The buckling ribs of the cicadas, the croaking of something bulbous and slimy just beyond the tall reeds, and the scratchy wool air made 12-year-old Brody, who was crowned bravest of the first-year campers, think only of the horrible hungry things within.

A voice slipped through the dark of the trees that leered behind him like great sentinels of summer.

“It’s the last night of Camp Wonder, Brody.”

The soft chattering of his fellow campers buzzed somewhere between the trees.

“That means this is the last chance  to win the Craw-Man Patch.”

Another wave of exciting chattering followed as this crucial fact fell upon Brody and his doubting thoughts.

He needed to do this. If he failed, the counselors would win the coveted patch and he would never be able to return.

Gritting his teeth, Brody took a step into the inky water. The midnight lake felt cold and treacherous. But the chattering turned into cheers, and Brody was filled with courage.

Emerging from the forest was first-time camp counselor, Ellen Roberts, his competitor. Her red one-piece swimsuit seemed to glow as Brody’s eyes quickly traced her.

“You ready,” she said softly looking down at Brody with more concern than competition.

Brody focused his eyes forward. He dare not look at her completely. If he looked at her he would be distracted. He needed to focus. This was life and death stuff.

“Little more than a hundred yards. First one back gets the patch.”

Ellen smiled at him and took a step into the water. They were side by side. Equals in the pale moonlight. All the games. All the blood, sweat, and tears led to this very moment.

Heck, the entire summer depended on this, thought Brody as he balled up his fists with determination.

“It begins when the fire starts. And remember, beware of the thing that sleeps below!” commanded the voice in the forest.

Brody and Ellen went into a running position. A few clean steps and a perfectly executed dive would be the determining factor without question.

From behind them someone was breathing, moving sticks on sticks, pouring a tin of liquid, scraping a match, and then the whoosh of fire and heat. The final camper vs counselor challenge began with a cold splash.

Brody felt he had taken a better dive but he couldn’t be sure because he did not expect the awesome darkness of the lake. His heart pounded from his arms cutting madly through the water but also from the terror that soaked his very bones.

This must be the feeling the elders talked about last night as they sat around the fire. The water was truly filled with microbial fears that bubbled up from the fathoms below.

My God, thought Brody. How deep is the lake? And what of the slimy, blind, oily things that hide amongst the forest kelp below?

Did something just grab him?

Brody kicked violently with his legs. It was probably just his imagination but it could have been the thing that sleeps below! Another layer of gooseflesh covered him as the horror-filled his mind. Must stay focused-

TTHUNK!

Brody’s head cracked against the floating wooden deck. He made it! Ellen splashed close behind him. Without even trying to clear the stars from his eyes, Brody hurled himself on top of the platform so he could dive back towards the blazing shore. The damage was done.

“Brody! Your head. Your bleeding!”

Brody turned to see Ellen lifting herself up onto the deck. She looked like how he imagined a siren to be. Flowing hair, piercing eyes, smooth skin. Then one of his eyes went dark. With the back of his hand, Brody wiped at it. More hot sticky blood plopped into the water.

Ellen gently tilted his head to the right and examed him. The blood gleamed silver under the spell of the moon as it continued to drip on the deck and fall between the planks.

“It’s not bad. Just a bad scrape,” she said softly.

They locked eyes as she pressed Brody’s hand over it.

“Kinda silly to get hurt over something like this, huh?” She said as her eyes stared out at the bonfire onshore.

“You think your too old for summer games, don’t you?” Brody said with a chord of defiance in his voice. “ You don’t believe in the thing below, do you?”

Ellen looked at Brody with silent teenage knowing.

“It’s all just silly summer camp games, Brody.”

Brody looks at Ellen with a smile. Taking his hand, he wiped the blood across his entire face as if it was warpaint.

“I hit my head on purpose,” he said with wide, unblinking eyes of madness.

“Why’d you do a thing like that?”

“To bleed.”

“Why did you want to bleed, Brody?” said Ellen nervously.

“Because it’s drawn to blood.”

Suddenly Brody started pounding on his wound. What was once a scrape turned into a cascading gash. Blood flowed freely.

Then it came – A tall shadow with cherry-red eyes and moon drenched claws that clicked and snapped behind Ellen.

Smiling Brody turned and dove back into the black water as the thing that sleeps below violently grabbed Ellen with ancient hunger.

As Brody neared the shore the sound of Ellen being ripped apart was replaced by triumphant cheering from his fellow campers. The fear that nearly conquered him was all but gone. The summer was saved.

The campers had won!

The Visitor

Note: Below you will find a rejected short horror story. The story needed to be under 600 words, feature a post-apocalyptic setting, and have a theme of love and loss. Though it was rejected I enjoyed the process. It was challenging but very rewarding. Enjoy!

The man who hated the world stared out the ash-covered window of his decaying house. Walking up to the house was a raggedy girl wearing tattered clothes. She was no more than 10 years old but she carried herself with great familiarity. The man pursed his lips in thought. 

Why is she here again?

When the seas dried up and the sun faded to an ashy smudge, a sickness fell upon humanity. It did not take long for the world to start eating itself. The rule of flesh was all for one and one for all. So the man would forever watch from the shadows of the house to make sure these murdering madmen stayed away. But sometimes they sent children. 

When the girl entered the house of ruination she did so without fear. The man, hidden in shadow, watched her with great curiosity. Careful to not make a noise, he followed as she gingerly walked up the broken staircase. That is when he saw the crude shiv in her pocket. She was surely one of the flesh-eaters.

He waited for her to reach the top of the staircase. Like she always did, she took a left and entered a room. The man gritted his teeth and followed. 

In the past, he had allowed this little girl the freedom to explore and take, but now, after seeing the knife, he had to but a stop to it. He had to kill her before she killed him. 

Before the greying of the world, he was a man of science and not a murderer of children. But was it not him who gave it to them? Thus, making him a murderer of worlds? The reminder sent a shot of anger and guilt through him as he reached the room upstairs. 

He waited and listened carefully. Was she…crying? 

Of course, thought the man. This little beast was well trained. She knew he was there. This was a trap. The man shifted his view so that he could peer through the crack of the door in hopes of seeing the would-be assassin. She wasn’t hiding. She was sitting Indian style in the middle of the floor, crying and holding something.

He should go inside and strangle her. That’s what he should do. Just get it over with. But, his old-world self could not find the strength to act. But why?

Her crying. It reminded him of what was and what could never be. The floorboards groaned as the weight of this thought made him shift with unease. 

The girl stood up and looked back at the door. The man froze as he saw her dirty and tear-streaked face. 

“Hello?” called out the girl. 

Silence fell between them. The man dare not move. 

“Are you there?” said the girl again. 

A voice from downstairs interrupted.

“Rose, time to go!”

Before the man could move, the girl named Rose opened the door and walked through him. 

Turning, she looked briefly towards the man. Her eyes searching.  

The man, perplexed, watched her leave before turning to the room. It was a child’s bedroom.

His eyes moved to a moth-eaten mattress where a skeleton lay holding a rusted gun. The man’s eyes fell to where the child was crying. On the floor was a picture of him holding the girl called Rose in a field of summer dandelions. 

Suddenly, he remembered the good: the smell of spring rain, the sounds of summer, the goodnight butterfly kisses. 

But then he remembered the betrayal,  the bullet, the loneliness. And suddenly the ghost of the man hated everything once again.  

Ad Nauseam: Wizard Magazine #78

A beautiful read.

ChrisDoesComics.com

AdWizard

Look! Up on the internet! It’s another installment of Ad Nauseam: tediously long articles where I take the form of an elderly man sharing his geeky recollections of “the good ‘ol days” that nobody asked to hear! It’s been a while since I buckled down to write one of these, so I figured my subject matter better have quite the fat to chew. And our issue today is nothing short of obese, folks. I mean, I can practically hear it wheezing.  Let’s set the scene for February 1998:

You’re bummed on the bus ride home from school because your Tamagotchi died for the sixth time this year. As you prepare to get off on your block, Josh the bully, compares your body shape to that of a Teletubbie. Embarrassed, you scurry off with clenched fists. It’s Monday, so you look forward to a new episode of

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Achievement Unlocked.

I’m back working fulltime. It’s an odd thing to complain about but my 3 months off the grid (  thanks to COVID-19 )  was fantastic.

Mostly.

I did get the virus.

But what I also got was unstoppable and untouchable time. I had not felt freedom like that in over 10 years. It was religious.

The day I was put on furlough, I told myself that I would write a horror screenplay and submit it. Well, I did just that. Not only did I write and submit a script, but I also wrote a handful of short stories. It’s been grand.

As cheesy as it sounds I feel like I found my pulse again. Something that keeps me going.

No, I’m not going to give up working my day job in order to write the next great American novel. But what I will do is hold on to the pen a little more tightly this time around.

Quote of the Week: Ray Bradbury (With images) | Writing quotes ...

Cult Horror Icon Guy Zen: DOA?

Guy Zen shocked his way into the horror world by releasing Slash Gut back in 88′. The horror world, or more like his corner of it, knew Guy Zen for his gritty street horror films such as Beast Stalker, The Night Maniac series, Ripper Crew Killers, and most notably 1982’s Sewer Psycho which starred cult hero Brant Bryant who tragically died during the filming of the movie.

To say Guy Zen sold out with Slash Gut is to declare the man a horror fraud. The truth is that Zen was truly born from the horror genre. When John Carpenter was filming the seminal classic, Halloween back in the late 70’s, Guy Zen was already releasing The Knife that Killed Part 2.

Yes, TKTK series was filmed in Italy with an all Italian crew, making it an Italian horror film series, that doesn’t take away from the fact Guy was already seven films in horror when everyone else was a freshman or sophomore. It’s a hard fact that Guy Zen may be the most unknown horror master of all time. That’s why his disappearance is a true mystery.

In 2000 Guy Zen, cult director of 45 films, had gone missing during a shoot of a cannibal jungle movie by Siren Pictures called The Jungle Lives! It was star Claude Debaux that first reported it as he had experienced contractual issues with the director. Claude claims that that Zen had gone made when scouting a location deep in the South American jungle. It was Claude who reported that an unknown tribe had found Zen to be a living God. Days later, cinematographer Tarkaff Goro’s body had been found mutilated – his heart had been ripped from its chest.

The years have passed and now, in the troubling year 2020, Guy Zen has resurfaced. Not in the flesh but in celluloid. A copy of an unknown work was released online and a single physical reel was delivered to Alan Young of Siren Pictures. The movie was or is if you saw it before it was taken down, called The Flesh Project.

The only thing that I could find of value is that the FBI is actively searching for GUy Zen as he is wanted for murder. The film, which I did not see upon its sudden release, featured the death of 15 people – real people.

My skin crawled when I stumbled upon this bit of research. Something evil clearly happened deep in the jungle. And that evil clearly surrounded Guy Zen, the man who I met 21 years ago at a horror convention in Chicago. I still remember what he told me.

“You’ve got nice skin, kid. I’ll be seeing you around.”

Horror 2000: The Greatest Decade of Horror

cultof

One of the most significant decades of horror correlated with my stint as a high school dink. The decade was the 2000’s. And it is one of THE GREATEST DECADES OF HORROR OF ALL TIME.

Great horror stems from significant points in global and/or national history. For example, in the 50’s you had the rise of what I call “Atomic Horror” in which the theatergoer was showered with alien invasions, mega-monster, and science gone wrong horror flicks like Godzilla, Creature from The Black Lagoon, The Blog, The Mole People, etc.

Another prime example of anthropology through horror films would be the Vietnam War. The impact was so powerful it bled over to help create the horror of the ’80s. Our innocence in life was lost in the jungle.

It was through the folly of a war at home and abroad that created The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where the innocence of a road trip with buddies was taken away,  the innocence of a beach was damned forever by Jaws, or even purity of parenthood was blackened by likes of The Exorcist and The Omen. Eventually, the vibrant and violent 70’s turned us into lost children of the ’80s where Satanic Panic, ultra-violence led to the rise of the slasher.

That’s why I believe the anthropological connection to horror of the 2000s will go down as one of the greatest decades of horror of all time. And It was because of the tragedy of 9/11 that horror was resurrected.

The 90’s damned near killed the horror film. The decade was wrought with unfocused horror. It’s not a bad thing because we do have a ton of gems from the ’90s. But we had a wide net which reeled in movies like Blade, The Haunting, Scary Movie, It, Tremors, and Scream which sort of defined the state of horror at the time – bored.

The year 2000 started it looked like we would get yet another decade of bored horror with released like American Psycho ( great movie btw), Dracula 2000, Final Destination, and smattering of ghost flicks. The ’90s and the year 2000 created Scary Movie. That should help sum up how lost the horror ship was. That is until the entire world was changed in a single morning when four airplanes were hijacked by assholes who hated everybody but themselves.

In comes the year 2002 which the world gets horror movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and Dog Soldiers. Though these movies were not constructed because of the terrorist attack they, eerily enough, fit perfectly in the tragedy of what was to come. In 28 Days and Resident Evil, you had a world turned upside down, and in Dog Soldiers you had soldiers fighting a new and unknown enemy.

But it was the horror films in 2003 that truly gave way to the results of 9/11. Suddenly, ghosts, slapstick, and action-horror was overtaken by A House of 1,000 Corpses, High Tension ( 2003 reg release but 2005  US release), Wrong Turn, and the essential remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Once again, the horror genre had a true purpose. It was inspired. That inspiration created 2004’s Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead which single handily re-animated the zombie genre. We also experienced the dawn of a new franchise – Saw.  One of the most interesting realizations I found in my research was that every massive human event gave birth to a significant zombie film.

The world we lived in would continue to be ripped apart and our innocence would, once again, be stripped from us. In the middle of the decade, we would find ourselves forced to experience Torture Porn in the classic Hostel. We would also find ourselves at the mercy of movies like The Devils Rejects, The Descent, and Wolf Creek. Each of these movies added our fear of traveling, random acts of violence, and they made us aware that the world is filled with people that want to kill you for reasons you may never understand.

As the war of terror raged and terrorists continued to commit unthinkable acts, the year 2006 continued to remind us that all that you love can be taken away with the release of The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw: The Begining, Them, Black Christmas, and Turistas. The decade would continue to rehash remakes and sequels that would add value to the state of horror.

My final year of High School was in 2007. It was at this time when I found myself working at a movie theater, chilling with my friends, and flexing my movie-making interests. It was also the year that we got The Mist, 28 Weeks Later, Death Proof/Planet Terror, The Orphanage, Trick R’ Treat, Vacancy, Hostel Part II, REC, and Rob Zombies Halloween.

The decade was almost over but the war continued, and violence across America raged. This would be shown to us in the 2008 releases of The Strangers; a film that owned the year. I can still remember watching the trailer as I checked ID’s at the entrance. I actually witnessed a girl run out of the theater in fear. No joke. Anyways, we did receive gems like The Ruins and Splinter but the year would also give way to the genesis of found-footage horror flicks such as Quarantine and Cloverfield.

When 2009 came to be I found myself in film school. But I also found myself completely lost. I took on this Bob Dylan like persona that ended up cutting a hollow hole inside me. That mixed with massive family drama wrecked me totally. It was around this time that the decade of great horror hit its peak with the release of Human Centipede. the trash bag release of Friday the 13th,  Anti-Christ, Zombieland, and the cheap thrills of Drag Me To Hell. All of these films tasted like microwaved hotdogs.

The world had finally become weary of all the real-life rot the decade had to offer. The United States introduced a new president, Swine Flu hit, and the world lost an icon of humanity – Michael Jackson. The horror of  9/11 seemed like a faded image from a polaroid camera.

The nature of horror greatness will always bring forth a dark time. But when The Oughts ended, I can’t help but notice it brought forward a slew of horror films that did not find proper accolades because the new decade, the 10’s, did not really have a pulse. Matter of fact, horror hasn’t had a resurrection since the 2000s. Sure, we had some gems but the entire horror genre was random, scattered, and simply lost.

I look back at the 2000s with all my nostalgic love. The decade gave me my life skills, my best friend, and memories that I will have forever. It was the defining decade of my life. It was also the defining decade of horror. If I could put the horror of 2000’s on a greatest hits bundle – this is what it would look like:

  • 2000 – American Psycho
  • 2001 – The Devils Backbone
  • 2002 – 28 Days Later
  • 2003 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • 2004 – Shaun of the Dead
  • 2005 – Hostel & Wolf Creek
  • 2006 – The Hills Have Eyes
  • 2007 – Halloween
  • 2008 – The Strangers
  • 2009 – The Human Centipede

 

 

 

 

Marvel Projectors Action Figures!

ChrisDoesComics.com

MProjectorsIn 1994 there were action figures that projected adventures from their chests and I just found out about it…


As an adult, did you ever come across something in the toy aisle you just knew you’d love when you were a child? I ask because in my internet wanderings, I discovered ToyBiz’s Marvel Comics Projectors action figure line circa 1994

2xQ3KN “I’m the best there is at what I do and what I do is shoot out pictures from my cartoon show using a giant bulb in my chest…” -Wolverine

Ultradope, right? But what really toasts my Pop-Tarts is that I was prime age for these. Yet for whatever reason, I missed them. Unfortunately I do not have a time machine to correct this…but I do have money and an eBay account…which is almost the same thing.

Projectors1 I really can’t help myself and it’s a problem…

I…

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What Happened To Torture Porn?

A God amongst men once said, “Before you judge me, try hard to love me.” So I ask you all to not judge me for wondering what the hell happened to torture porn?! It’s a legit question.

“So is asking a stranger if they’re a size 14.”

( Shut it, Bill! )

I came across Hostel on Netflix. Seeing the poster to Hostel really sends me back to a different time. I was seriously tripping hard on a radical wave of nostalgia for a good ten minuteses from my past trigger that feeling but when it does it is freaking awesome. And the reason why Hostel is a lost toy for me has to do with the time period…

The year was 2005. The world was still fresh for me. I was a sophomore in high school and everything was pretty freaking sweet. Why? Because I saw a fucking movie that changed how I saw horror. The Eli Roth masterpiece, Hostel dropped in the stupid cold of January.

My dad dropped me and Frank off at the movie theater. We went in with smiles and left looking like we saw our parents porno tape.

mr bean

For the entirety of the winter, I walked around the world contemplating life, art and the meaning of horror. It was awesome. My horror education took yet another massive step into higher learning. That feeling of something new. Something WTF really makes me miss good ol’ torture porn. And that isn’t a bad thing.

After Hostel, I found Wolf Creek ( a huge fav of mine), Wes Craven’s Last House on The Left, Italian horror gems like Deep Red, Torso, and Pieces, Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead, and eventually landed my way to films like Turistas, the entire Texas Chainsaw series, and eventually the Human Centipede series. Interestingly enough, Human Centipede II was the last time this torture porn genre shocked me. Suddenly, my roughly 6-year eduction into torture porn ended.

So I ask myself, upon a deep nostalgia trip, what the hell happened to torture porn? Have we become to damn sensitive as a culture? Or have we simply out WTF’d ourselves already?

 

Image result for Wolf Creek movie

With the current stream of real-life shocks on the daily, I think torture porn, over the top, no-nonsense violence is needed to let off a little steam. Don’t get me wrong, we did get a few gems like The Green Inferno, but they are few and far between. I don’t want a cell phone horror flick. I want a true Hollywood release of something painful. Or do I want it? Am I just drowning in the nostalgia of Hostel? Was it a perfect example of one’s teenage experiences? I have no idea.

All I know is that I may just watch Hostel 1-2 and Wolf Creek while the world continues to be attacked by microbial assholes.

 

Sad Drac Out!

 

Us horror movie- Jordan Peele is NOT a master of horror.

Jordan Peele is NOT a master of horror.

But he sure as hell could be if the following happens:

  1. Us is another smash hit for the genre
  2. His 3rd horror film is a smash hit
  3. Has a successful genre show (Twilight Zone becomes a sensation)
  4. He makes a crap 4th film that becomes a cult classic

These are the 4 rules of becoming a horror icon. Don’t believe me? Just looks at the Crazy Uncle of horror John Carpenter’s holy trilogy: Halloween, The Fog and The Thing.

jcold.jpg

“Somebody pay me!”

Still not convinced? Check out the cool Uncle of Horror – Wes Craven’s Holy Trilogy: The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, Mr. Craven’s entire career was filled with classics and cult classics. But it is his holy trilogy that skyrocketed him to success!

Image result for wes craven swamp thing

“Don’t forget about me!”

And let us not forget the author turned legendary director Stephen King!

Image result for stephen king maximum overdrive

Stephen King filming Maximum Overdrive while on Cocaine 

God. If Us turns into a bad horror flick we will all be sad. After all, Jordan Peele is a fucking guy that has shocked us all (especially white folk).

Here’s to hoping Jordan Peele becomes a horror icon!

 

GET YOUR TIX: https://www.usmovie.com/