As long time readers of my blog and chain know, October – renamed Horrortober by yours truly – is my favorite month of the year. Over the past 11 months, I’ve been stockpiling horror books, movies, mags and places to go, so every day of Terrortober is nothing but horror, horror, horror.
So, what will I be reading? What should you be reading? Here is my complete list with links to purchase, or just plain peruse, each book. There’s a little bit of everything here by authors old and new. The one thing they have in common – they all kick some serious ass. Guaranteed to creep you out.
Bed bugs. They hide in mattresses. They wait till you’re asleep. They rise in the dead of night to feast on our blood. They can multiply by the hundreds in less than a week. They are one of the most loathsome, hellish species to ever grace God’s green earth. Thought to be eradicated decades ago, thanks to global travel they’re back. And with them comes a nightmare beyond imagining. Infected with a plague virus so deadly it makes Ebola look like a summer cold, one bite turns people into homicidal maniacs. Now they’re in Chicago and migrating to al points North, South, East and West. The rest of the world in a matter of time. The U.S Government and the CDC are helpless to stop it. Only one man knows what’s causing the epidemic. And the powers-that-be want him dead.
The year is 2009, and the world’s financial and publishing sectors are in chaos. In the midst of this disarray, a burned-out horror writer finds himself haunted by a variety of ghosts, both real and metaphorical. And as the ghosts increase their attacks, his struggle to make a living quickly becomes a fight to hold on to his family – and his very sanity.
In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world — the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge — and sets them on an unthinkable journey… back into the heart of darkness.
On Pine Street, the houses begin to shake. The earth begins to move. The streets crack open and yards split asunder…and rising from subterranean depths far below, a viscid black muck bubbles up and floods the neighborhood.
In it are a ravenous army of gigantic worms seeking human flesh. They wash into houses, they come up through the sewers, through plumbing, filling toilets and tubs, seeking human prey.
Cut off from the rest of the town, the people of Pine Street must wage a war of survival or they’ll never see morning. As bad as the worms are, there’s something worse—and far larger—waiting to emerge.
Charly, Sam, Jesse and the others must do battle with the Children in the labyrinthine subterranean world that the creatures call home. But the situation grows bleaker when many of the survivors are captured and borne deeper into the lightless caverns…where a new and even more horrific species awaits.
In a desperate attempt to save their land from tax foreclosure, Delphus Fraley and his daughter open a camp for at-risk kids, with the goal of building character through experience in the Appalachian Mountain outdoors.
But a strange infection contaminating the camp’s mess hall soon triggers a violent rampage. As the isolated camp turns into a bloodbath, camp counselor Jenny Usher first fights to save the children, and then finds she must fight to save herself.
Because this infection doesn’t just kill, it brings the dead back to life…
A nightmare made real.
On Christmas Eve, six-year-old Tom McCrae witnessed an unspeakable atrocity that left him orphaned, his childhood in tatters. Now in his mid-thirties, Tom still has terrifying nightmares of that night. When Tom is sent to the remote Scottish village of Douglass to negotiate a land grab for his employer it seems like a golden opportunity for him to start over. But Tom can’t help feeling he’s been to Douglass before, and the terrible dreams from his childhood have begun to spill over into his waking life. As murderous events unfold and Tom’s feverish nightmares escalate, he will discover the hideous truth behind the villagers’ strange pagan ritual of The Jack in the Green.
My favorite day is finally here. And even though Hurricane Sandy has pushed the festivities in my area to Saturday, we’re all going to do our best to keep in the spirit today.
As a special treat, here is chapter 3 of my gothic tale of possession and intrigue, MERCY. The first 2 chapters were published on Pen of the Damned. If you need to catch up, you can read chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here. The 4th and final chapter will be posted in early December on the POTD site.
Now sit back by a roaring fire, turn down the lights and go back over 120 years to the land of Mercy, where evil is afoot and two girls find themselves alone in the Old Manse…
MERCY – PART 3
Father had to go to Royal Tunbridge Wells on business, and said he would be back in a week’s time. We so wished he would stay, but daren’t ask that of him. He was an important man, and his business kept us in a lifestyle that others envied.
Esther remained in hospital. Her condition had gown dire as infection spread from one leg to the other. Blood poisoning, they called it. No one knew what had done such a thing to her. It must have been an animal, perhaps a sick wolf that had come round our house. It was the only theory that made sense.
Mother had been sedated to the point where she was nothing more than a slip of a phantom, drifting throughout the Old Manse at odd hours. Most days, she didn’t even recognize us. Her occasional jabberings as she roamed the dark house at night chilled me to the bone. My mother had become the shambling embodiment of my nightmares.
Jessamine and I did the cooking and cleaning while Father was away, and made sure Mother didn’t waste away to nothing in between doses of laudanum.
I was bringing up a tray of broth, brown bread and cold chicken when Jessamine shouted from Mother’s room.
“Mercy, come quick!”
Placing the tray on the floor, I ran to the room. Jessamine stood by Mother’s bed, her mouth agape. Mother slept, unaware of our intrusion.
“Blood!” I exclaimed.
Streams of crimson stained the crisp, white sheets.
“Look!” Jessamine said, pointing at mother’s left hand.
Mother’s ring finger was gone. A nub of yellow bone poked out of the gore that remained of her finger. There was no trace of the finger itself; only the bloody show left in its leaving’s wake.
“What…what happened?” I said. My vision began to tilt and I felt ready to fall. Jessamine’s firm grip on my arm kept me upright.
“I don’t know. It looks like most of the bleeding has stopped. Here, press the sheet against it while I go get Dr. Fenimore”
Even though it was Mother on the bed, wounded yet serene, the thought of touching that space where her finger used to be brought a a wave of revulsion that threatened to spill from my mouth. I recoiled.
Jessamine was insistent. “I know what you’re feeling, but you must do what I say. I’ll return with the doctor before you know it.”
Before I could protest, she was down the stairs and out the door. I heard the clatter of our mare’s hooves pound upon the path to the Old Manse. Mother slept on while I prayed, my trembling hand doing its best to keep pressure on the nub. I looked longingly at my room across the hall, wishing I had Lucy under my arm to comfort me.
“And you didn’t see or hear anything?” Dr. Fenimore asked. His bulbous, veiny nose twitched when he spoke.
“Nothing,” Jessamine answered. “I was right next door, reading, and Mercy was downstairs preparing supper for mother.”
I nodded, slightly afraid of the corpulent, old doctor. His body and his personality filled the room.
He snorted. “This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Not counting Esther, I thought.
“How on earth could an animal waltz right in and do something like this without either of you noticing? It makes no sense.” He reached into his valet and extracted a bottle of clear liquid and a thick pad of gauze. “Your mother is going to be disoriented when I wake her up. I need you both to keep her calm and help me get her to my carriage.”
He poured the liquid on the gauze and wafted it under her nose. Mother’s eyes fluttered open and she sat up gasping.
When she saw the blood, she asked excitedly, “What’s this? Why is the doctor here? What have you done?”
We did our best to sooth her, but when she saw her hand, she began to wail until she was in full hysterics.
“Get her on her feet and help me walks her downstairs,” the doctor ordered.
It wasn’t easy, and her blood, flowing once again, spattered the walls and floor. Once she was in the doctor’s carriage and sedated , he turned to us and said, “I’ll send word to your father. You mother will have to go to hospital. I don’t want what’s happened to your charwoman to repeat itself. Keep your doors and windows barred and be wary of any stray animals about. Do you hear?”
We both nodded. Before we could ask a single question, he cracked the whip over his horse and rumbled out of sight.
That night, the Old Manse was bathed in gloom. Not just from the moonless night, but from the heaviness in our hearts.
Normal sounds, like wind against the eaves or the bark of a stray dog, made us jump. We lit as many candles as we could to defy the dark. Jessamine suggested we spend the night in the parlor, surrounded by our family’s books, craft works and piano.
“We could play music until dawn. That always cheers you up,” Jessamine said. Her fingers nibly braided my long hair.
“I’m not in the mood for music,” I said. I sat on the settee with Lucy in my lap. Her painted blue eyes looked into my own. Lucy wasn’t afraid. I so wish I could be like Lucy, a creature of porcelain and fabric, fearless and unaware of the dangers that lurked about our home.
Jessamine sighed. “It’s just as well. I don’t think I have the mind to play anyway. What should we do?”
An idea blossomed. I exclaimed, “Father always said that knowledge is power. We’re afraid because we don’t know what’s happening. Like when you were…”
“Possessed,” she said, staring at the floor.
I didn’t want to hurt her, but most of all, I didn’t want to open the doorway for the evil to return, not even the slightest crack, just as Father had warned me.
But then, I thought, wasn’t some form of evil alive in the Manse yet again?
“Well, when it first started, we were all so terrified. We spent months in a kind of daze, ” I continued.
“I remember, at least in the beginning.”
“It wasn’t until father began reading, searching for the cause of your sickness, that things began to get better. Once he knew what was happening to you, he also knew what needed to be done to stop it.” I was beginning to grow bold, bolstered by my own logic.
“Do you think the demon is back, within me? Do you think I’ve done this to Esther and Mother?” Jessamine’s eyes were wide and wet, shivering like disturbed pools with terror.
I violently shook my head. “No, of course not. Believe me, I would know if that was the case. You were unrecognizable when you were under the devil’s spell. No, this is something different. Maybe if we look in the books that Father gathered back then, we can find our answer!”
The old grandfather clock chimed nine o’clock. We both let out a sharp cry.
“Look at us, afraid of clocks,” Jessamine said with a quivering laugh.
“Not for long,” I said. I pulled an armful of books from one of the shelves and poured them onto the floor. “After you.”
We read deep into the night, skimming through Bibles, books on witchcraft, Medieval monsters, essays on chimeras, beasts and tales of shape shifters. They should have frozen our blood with their stories of godless creatures and death, but we remained true to our task.
To find the truth of the matter.
Some time after midnight, I closed a heavy book with a loud thunk and leaned back against Father’s chair.
“My eyes are going cross,” I said with a yawn.
Jessamine didn’t reply. Her head remained within the pages of a black, leather bound book that was almost as big as me.
“What do we know so far?” she eventually asked, her voice muffled behind the book.
“That Esther and Mother both had parts of their bodies eaten by a supposed animal. Yet no one has seen or heard anything.”
She slammed the book down on the floor and pointed. “I think I found our culprit.”
I moved round to sit by her side.
Her finger rested on a drawing of a horrid creature. It was short, standing on two deformed legs, skin the sickly color of an algae-infested pond, with warts suppurating along every inch of vile flesh. Sharp fangs sprouted from the overbite in its mouth and talons dangled from fingertips that were twisted like an old tree.
“That’s disgusting!” I gasped.
“Most ghouls are,” she said. “They can transport from one place to another with merely a thought, and people claim they are able to change shape in order to camouflage themselves within the real world. Here’s the part that caught my eye.”
I read aloud. “Ghouls exist for one thing: to consume the flesh of humans, whether dead or alive. Demonic in nature, ghouls have been known to lead people, especially small children, astray so they can feast upon their flesh. Once a victim has been marked by the bite of a ghoul, it will come back often, taking what it can, until life can be sustained no more. A man or woman marked by a ghoul is marked for death.”
I felt hot tears well up in my eyes and my vision blurred. “Mother’s going to die?”
“Not necessarily,” Jessamine said. “Read on.”
“To free a victim from the ghoul’s poison, one must catch the ghoul in the act of extracting its scrap of human meat. The ghoul can be destroyed by the kiss of flame to its evil eyes. Be wary! Ghouls are as hard to restrain as they are to find. Beware of its bite, lest you be marked as well.”
I wiped a tear from my eye. “That’s little help. It doesn’t tell us how to find or catch one, if that’s truly what’s plaguing our family.”
“But it does say it’s demonic in nature. Mercy, I’ve already danced with a demon. I know that I would be able to feel its presence if it came near. I think that’s why it’s gone after Esther and Mother. It’s kept clear of me to remain hidden.”
“So what do we do?” Despair began to take hold of me and all I wanted to do was saddle our mare and find Father, even if it meant riding all night, alone in the dark.
Jessamine closed the book and pulled me close. “Tonight, you stay by me. I doubt any ghoul would dare come to you as long as you’re in my embrace. I’ll stay up and watch over you. Get some sleep. Tomorrow, we’ll think of something.”
I fought sleep for as long as I could. I desperately wanted to stay awake. However, my eyelids felt like great slabs of stone and I couldn’t stop from yawning.
“You promise you’ll hold me all night, and never take your eyes off me?” I asked.
She smiled, and brushed a lock of my hair from my face. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
I nestled my head into her lap, pulled Lucy under my arm, and let the sandman in.
Anyone who has visited this old blog and chain knows that I’m a real big time ghost guy. From having my own experiences to visiting famous haunted locations and writing books about our evanescent neighbors, I can’t seem to get enough, During my travels, I was lucky enough to become friends with the lovely and hysterical Annaliesje Cady, head honcho of the coolest damn paranormal group, Pink Kitty Paranormal.
The crew of PKP ain’t your average ghost hunting squad. Donning pink tutus and fur-covered EMF meters, they go where others dare not tread with a sense of adventure and fun rarely seen in the paranormal circuit these days. If I could tag along with any ghost hunting group in the world for a night in a dark cemetery, PKP would be my # 1 choice. I recently sat down to chat with the beautiful members of PKP…Annaliesje, Scooby, Daniella and Zeegee, and had a blast. I can’t think of a better group to spotlight on Halloween week! Ladies, take it away…
1. I love the name of your group. How did you come up with Pink Kitty Paranormal?
ANNALIESJE…I have dreamed of having my own ghostie hunting group for like ever, that was based on a part of what I love. That would be PINK. I love Kitties (KITTY). I love the PARANORMAL. Some peeps think of PINK KITTY being a little dirty and that it means a certain female anatomy. I say to them all, “That’s fine, all of us girls have one”!!!
ANNALIESJE…Myself, Daniella, Scooby and Zeegee (Zombie Girl Nowal) were friends before PKP got started. But we all actually met at a hair salon!! Go figure!!!
3. Because everyone in this field has a back story, what got you interested in ghost hunting and the paranormal in general?
ANNALIESJE…I had an experience with my mom when I was in high school but really got interested about 6 years ago when I started getting hooked on some popular paranormal shows. I signed up for a contest, Ghost Hunters Academy on a dare and actually got called by a producer. I ended up not getting picked for the show. I tried to contact other ghostie groups in my area but nobody wanted to let me join. That is when I said “F” it, I will start my own damn paranormal group!!
SCOOBY…I had some experiences but mainly fell into it when Annaliesje asked me to be a photographer for PKP. I am scared as “F” but can’t stop coming back for more with these crazy bitches!
ZEEGEE…I have had experiences since I was born and my mother as well. Something has been following me, well, since I was born. I have been curious every since. When I was asked to join PKP, I said HELLS YES!!
DANIELLA.. I have been interested in the paranormal since I was little. I had my first paranormal experience when I was about 10. But really I have to say that it is because Leonard Nimoy’s show, In Search Of. He is the one that made me the ghostie huntress that I am today. THANKS LEONARD! ❤
ALL OF PKP..We have to say that every one of our clients have been coolio with us investigating. They usually know what we are about and how we dress. A lot of times they want to investigate with us. We have to say we end up winning them all. Maybe we might get a few in the future that we won’t be able to win over. All we have to say to that is…..OLE!!!
5. Some of you were featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures. Care to tell everyone what that was like? Did you meet any of the GA crew?
ANNALIESJE..hahaha yes, I wouldn’t say we were featured. We did get credits at the end but not for PKP. Myself and former PKP member, Nurse Rachel, helped with GHOST ADVENTURES reenactment scenes on the Shanghai tunnels episode. PKP then were volunteers for the Cascade Geographic Society, who runs most of the tunnel tours, and we were asked to help. With such short notice, Nurse Rachel and I were the only ones that were able to participate. We both had a blast. I played Nynah, a young native American girl that was sold into slavery. I also played a saloon girl . Nurse Rachel played the main saloon girl that helps shanghai a poor chap..lol. The only one that we got to chat with were the filming crew for Travel Channel. Joe was my favorite. We picked on each other a lot. Filming took from 10am to 7pm on a Tuesday. It is amazing how long it takes to film a few minutes of what really airs. Sadly Zak, Aaron, Nick and Billy were already gone but months later Aaron and Billy did meet my dad in Vegas and took pics with him at a Gold Show..don’t ask..long story..always is..lol
ANNALIESJE…I would have to say the second time we investigated an old hotel in Carson, WA. It’s funny how you can investigate a location and it’s quiet the first time and the second time you go back it does a one eighty..zoom! We went back to film some footage that was asked for by a network. Everything that had to do with video died, even with fully charged batteries. Something there clearly did not want us to film. We got clear sentences in our PKP gotcha ghostie box (when asked, “Was that you that made our cameras die?” the reply was a very loud and clear, “yup”!!! and when asked, “Why don’t you want us to film you?”, the reply was, “Because it’s abomination!!!”
And we were also followed to our hotel room. Let’s just say we left the lights on when we went to bed and for the record, I NEVER DO THAT EVER!
SCOOBY..F ing everything!!!
ZEEGEE..Agree with Annaliesje..something followed us to our room and we got a lot of readings on our k-2 meters and more evp’s from our room..that shit was carrrazy!
DANIELLA..Carson, WA for sure. Something was f ing with us! It was the first time we encountered a hostile ghostie. The whole investigation was awkward and uncomfortable!!
7. If you could list your top 3 dream ghost investigations, what would they be and why?
ANNALIESJA..DisneyLand! Because I want to see if I can talk to Walt!! It would be great to get some evp’s of that brilliant man and plus..I love everything Disney ❤ Alcatraz! Because I want to dress the team up in prison stripes and have Daniella be a cop and get some evp action with birdman!! Amityville Horrrror House. Well because, I just remember watching a documentary about it when I was little and some paranormal group left cameras in one hallway and caught a little boy with glowing eyes..I want to mess with that little ghostie! Lol
SCOOBY…Graceland! Because I want to see if Elvis still lives! Neverland..well, just because! Last but not least..THE BUCKINGHAM PALACE! Get some dirty evp’s on the royals!!
DANIELLA.. I like psycho shit, so first off would be Trans Allegheny, Viscilica Axe Murder House. Last would be Hurricane Mills..Loretta Lynn. Because I love her and love that she has haunted shit happen to her there. Want to hear her stories!!
ZEEGEE..Tower of London, Lizzy Borden House and of course Waverly. Why? Because I like GUTS!
8. OK, if you could have your favorite cocktail, food and dessert right now, what would they be?
ANNALIESJA..Margarita on the rocks but with fresh oranges and lime freshly squeezed..triple sec and the most expensive f’ing IT WILL KILLYA (tequila) possible. Sushi..I just love sushi!! I would say all dessert..I am like Buddy the elf..I love anything sugar..it is my weakness!
ZEEGEE..I just trust my bartender to set me up..whatevs. Sushi..oh yeah..A spoon of NUTELLA!!
SCOOBY..A slightly dirty martini made with Kettle 1. Kraft Mac And Cheese. The inner Mexican in me says, FLAN!
DANIELLA..Well, I am drinking a GodDamn good Cab right now. Anything prepared by the sexy chef, Gordon Ramsay! Lavender crème Brule!! Mmmmm!
To follow the adventures of PKP, just click on any of thier pictures and it will take you right to their YouTube channel and FaceBook page. Happy hunting!
October for horror writers and lovers is like April for accountants – pure madness. And madness is damn good. I’m gearing up big time for Halloween and have a lot of treats to share (so no egging my house!).
First off, Swamp Monster Massacre is tearing it up. So happy to see skunk ape love out there. The reviews have been nothing short of fantastic. Here’s what some folks had to say (you can click on each to see the full review):
Like a good little horror ghoul, I’ve been watching horror movies all month. Rememebr to follow me on Twitter and check out #Terrortober for the list and my reviews of each, as well as the books I’ve been reading. The movies have spanned from 1920 to 2011, so there’s a lot to see.
The Monster Men unleashed our second annual Halloween episode. We have a brand new theme song and some funny surprises peppered throughout. We go from The Great Pumpkin to hanted asylums and slasher flicks. Check it out!
Speaking of the Monster Men, Jack and I will be interviewed on The Secret to Everything radio show on Wednesday October 24th at 7pm ET. Lord knows what stupid things we’re apt to say. I’m sure it will be archived at the same link.
Coming later this week will be an interview with my favorite ghost hunting team, Pink Kitty Paranormal. Get ready for a wild ride!
On Halloween, I’m going to post chapter 3 of my free gothic story, MERCY. You can visit Pen of the Damned to catch up.
Last but not least, I had a fun book event at The Wicked Wolf Tavern in White Plains, NY this past weekend. I was there along with author Robert Stava, who premiered his new book, At Van Eyckmann’s Request. We had a tarot card reader on hand, giveaways, filmed Monster Men episodes and had many, many drinks. That Jeagermeister shot machine was the end of me. Thank you to everyone who came. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a glimpse…