My new short story collection, Dark Wonderland, was just released by Hellbound Books.
It’s a thick one at 120,000 words, and includes 27 stories published between 1991 to 2012 taken from the pages of magazines like Deathrealm, Brutarian, Cemetery Dance, Horror Garage, and anthologies like Strange Tales, Indian Country Noir, Mojo: Conjure Stories, Lost on the Darkside, as well as, of course, many other others.
15 stories received Honorable Mentions in various editions Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and Year’s Best Horror, and one of those was anthologized in Best Dark Fantasy and Horror.
Like the title says, the stories are dark but also have elements of the fantastic. They range from strange to scary, with maybe a touch of the surreal here and there, and hopefully filled with characters and situations you’d never want to run into.
21 years of pouring out the heart’s darkness, yours for the reading.
Here’s the book blurb:
Change your shades. Get a new prescription for those glasses. Take a fresh look at the world, the real world of wonders and darkness that is the heart beat of reality, the truth behind the shadow theater of human existence. Listen for the whispers, pay attention to the voices speaking like static beneath fear’s desperation.
Feel what’s coming. Embrace it. You might…
…find what makes a dead man, and a live one, crawl.
…walk the unnameable path, serving masters who are teeth and hunger.
…search for another question to replace the one you cannot answer – are you insane?
…discover gods in mirrors, and in yourself.
…reach for the glory of youth on a road to nowhere.
… hear the Whistle Men coming for you.
…find life again among ghosts from the past.
…help three strangers make things right.
…pay a price in your heart for falling in love with a woman chased by a monster.
Or, go ahead, ignore the wonder, run from the darkness. They’ll catch up to you, sooner or later. The Dark Wonderland always does…
And here’s a sample of the first tale…
Born dead. Murdered by the age of three. At seven, thrown into a pit and buried alive with others of my ethnic background. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I killed. Fourteen, hung by vigilantes seeking vengeance. Eighteen, sentenced to death for murder. Twenty-one, executed.
Then I became a man.
Simon flipped the card over. On the back, a telephone number in a small, thin font invited him to call. He read the front again.
No. Really. He didn’t need the help. Not this time. Not yet.
“Thanks for thinking of me,” he said, turning to look up at whoever had placed the card on the table, next to the wine. There was no one there. The waiter was at the bar picking up an order of drinks. The busboy was busily scrapping crumbs from another table. The people at the surrounding tables seemed immersed in their conversations, company, or thoughts.
When he returned to his meal, the card was gone.
It was only then that he realized no one else in the room would have accepted the card’s message, and understood it, as he just had. No one else would have picked up their fork and knife and cut into their steak, au jus, after the card’s disappearance. There should have been outrage. Fear. A free meal.
Simon put the meat into his mouth and chewed, savoring the texture, the warmth, the bloody juice squirting against his gums, trickling over his tongue, savory, piquant.
What he feared was finding the card, again.
What made him set down his fork and knife and clutch at the cell phone clipped to his belt as if it was a hand grenade about to go off, was the terror in remembering that number, and calling it.
He’d just escaped. There was no trace left of the encounter. He was innocent. Untouched. There was no reason to call. It would be foolish – no, crazy, to struggle to recall that number. Everything would work out.
Simon waved for the check, leaving his steak and bottle of wine unfinished.
He couldn’t remember how to work the remote.
“Mommy, what’s wrong with Daddy?” his little girl asked.
Yvonne, his wife, could have said he was drunk, or sleepy, or just fooling around. Instead, she asked, “What Daddy?” in a tone that sent a chill down Simon’s back.
She appeared suddenly in the doorway, silken night gown fluttering. Gloria, his little girl, sat in front of the dead TV with the remote in her hands. Yvonne’s eyes were hard as she scanned the living room. Her lips were set in a purposeful line straight across her face, like a zipper sealing everything she wanted to say inside.
Already, he was gone, though he’d never been there. This was the apartment she’d taken after leaving him.
Yvonne relaxed, sat down next to Gloria, took the remote from her hands. Powered the television up. “Silly, you were pushing the wrong buttons,” she said, her body visibly relaxing from shoulders to feet.
Then Simon lost touch, found himself back at work, tracking reports of terrorist activity in a basement bunker office, darkened except for his cubicle. He was working overtime for the homeland’s defense. The terrorists never slept. Neither would he.
At least he wasn’t dead. Yet.