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TOP 13 HORROR SUB-GENRES (Part 2 of 3)

I recently read a piece about how certain sub-genres of horror seem to correlate with similar strata of metal music; death metal matching splatter horror, power metal comparing to action horror, etc.

As a fan, such classifications help me find the kind of horror film for which I’m in the mood, while as a writer, it helps to have some point of reference with which to promote my work — though, in the interests of being all “punk rock” and whatnot, I pay lip service to the notion of defying pigeonholery, and to seeking films and books that do the same.

Thus, I’ve attempted to compile an overview of horror’s various niches, with some illustrative examples. Almost every horror film is a crossover to some degree, of course, which is why the horror universe keeps expanding.


The-FlyBODY HORROR

Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde might well be the first fictional take on body horror, a sub-genre based on the concept of one’s physical person being changed or violated. It surely is the most personal and accessible form of horror, given that it stems from the loss of control that accompanies birth, adolescence, aging and death; all radical changes happening to us, over which we exert little control. Add disease and injury, and the idea that we have any individual sovereignty seems almost ridiculous.

In THE FLY, especially the Cronenberg remake, we see bodily changes that might be regarded as improvements — until we realize that these come at the price of humanity. Also true of many film versions of the werewolf legend, which more closely resemble Stevenson’s aforementioned classic than their original folklore — except that poor Larry Talbot and cousins had no choice in undergoing their transformations.

Citing Cronenberg again, eXistenZ puts the viewer inside a game that is more organic than technological. To play, one has to merge with the game itself. VR seems relatively obsolete doesn’t it? In an industry that values immersive experience, might it be possible to be changed beyond return?

Other examples include Body Melt, Cabin Fever, Clown, Horns, and Thinner.


54d40836cd193_-_godzilla-classicCREATURE FEATURE

Pretty well self explanatory, though there are a couple of crucial parameters. It’s all about the monsters, and best left at that. Character development is not the main attraction in a creature feature, and given SyFy’s long list of formulaic CGI monster-of-the-week Saturday slot-fillers, not even particularly welcome Don’t get me wrong; there are great creature features with wonderfully-drawn principals. It’s just not the current norm. Most Japanese kaiju and 50s-era radioactive mutant movies qualify — “mutant” being a key word. Jaws, Anaconda, being real-life horrors of nature, fall into our next category.


44_d__0_Swarm

NATURE RUN AMUCK

When the giant ants and lizards of the 50s shrunk back down to their God-ordered proportions in the 70s, the Nature Run Amuck subgenre was born. Instead of just doing what they do, only as giants, post-hippie era critters are usually more intelligent, populous, and/or aggressive, made unmanageable by an unprepared but generally deserving mankind. Phase IV pits a crew of scientists against a colony of ants. Swarm plays on the 70s fear of “killer bees” migrating from Brazil. “Link” sees research apes turning the tables on their human keepers. In “Frogs,” it’s a lot more than the titular amphibians who upset the balance, and of course, every natural disaster is made worse by combining it with sharks or spiders.


scream-1996-brrip-650mb_tinymoviez1HORROR COMEDY

Call me a curmudgeon. I just don’t see the point. Do you want to scream or do you want to laugh? Some of the best horror flicks contain moments of brilliant black humor that serve to break tension at crucial points. A horror comedy takes the thing that you focus your fears on and makes it a joke. Everything deserves to be parodied at some point — but is it asking too much for a little subtlety. SCREAM for instance, or POPCORN. But the SCARY MOVIE treatment is unnecessarily heavyhanded.


Brain-DeadMINDFUCK

In the Charles Beaumont-scripted BRAINDEAD from 1990, Bill Paxton is leaving work, carrying a long a brain in a jar, hoping to catch up on his research at home. There’s a tussle with a hobo, and the jar, brain and all, shatters on the sidewalk. It’s a good metaphor for what this subcategory aims for. (As an aside, it’s also a damn sight more hilarious than any of the SCARY MOVIE films, near as I can estimate.) The plot often involves following a protagonist as he or she seemingly descends into madness — or is led to believe they are. It lends itself to creative special effects sequences, as well as unexpected story twists, as it is not necessarily constrained by conventional plot structure. It’s also a fairly loose designation that could encompass films as different from each other as ALTERED STATES, VANILLA SKY, TOTAL RECALL, TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, and PHANTASM.


Come back next week for FOLK HORROR and more.

READ TOP 13 HORROR SUB-GENRES (Part 1 of 3)

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TOP 13 HORROR SUB-GENRES (Part 1 of 3)

If there’s anything the internet has taught us to do, it’s to pointlessly compartmentalize pop-culture trivia to the point it almost seems to matter. You can find lists of everything from Top 10 Worst CGI Effects to 7 Best Songs About Drugs.

Because horror is so diverse in scope, most fans tend to find one or two particular sub-genres they favor; or more often, they go through phases of certain directors, eras, scenarios, or in the case of fiction, authors or publishers.

I recently read a piece about how certain sub-genres of horror seem to correlate with similar strata of metal music; death metal matching splatter horror, power metal comparing to action horror, etc.

As a fan, such classifications help me find the kind of horror film for which I’m in the mood, while as a writer, it helps to have some point of reference with which to promote my work — though, in the interests of being all “punk rock” and whatnot, I pay lip service to the notion of defying pigeonholery, and to seeking films and books that do the same.

Thus, I’ve attempted to compile an overview of horror’s various niches, with some illustrative examples. Almost every horror film is a crossover to some degree, of course, which is why the horror universe keeps expanding.


haunted mansion

GOTHIC

Influenced by the success of Hammer Films’ 50s era reimaginings of classic literary monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy, one Mister Roger Corman produced a series of Poe-inspired films set in gloomy, cob-webbed castles and fog carpeted landscapes, setting the stage for Italian filmmakers to do the same. These films, like the contemporary sub-culture of overly-eyelinered teens which shares the term, relied on gloomy mood rather than startling sudden jumps, leaving an overall impression of oppressive nihilism rather than the roller coaster feeling wrought by less subtle types of horror. Perhaps due to its more deliberate pacing, gothic horror is not one of the more popular sub-genres of recent years, but certainly has its fair share of classics. THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, THE RAVEN, BLACK SUNDAY, BLACK SABBATH, HOUSE OF USHER

And of course: GOTHIC

Some more contemporary examples: SWEENEY TODD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE OTHERS


evil-dead-ii-1987-04-g

SPLATTER

A splatter film need not necessarily be a horror film, but by nature, it would certainly be horrific. George Romero is credited with the first use of the term, so it’s clearly not meant as dismissive, given that his “Dead” series is heavy on social relevance. However, there is more bad splatter than good, as gore was a notoriously easy sell in the grindhouse -and later- DTV markets, hooking the least compromising of screen thrill seekers.

Hammer once again gets much of the credit for bringing (what was once considered) excessive bloodshed to the cinemas, and again it was the Italians who took it and ran with it. 80s Italian horror films went far beyond the level of their British or American counterparts, with lingering, often close up depictions of eyeballs pierced, breasts chewed off, brains eaten and much much worse, all before the advent of CGI allowed filmmakers to create such mayhem in a sanitary editing room. Yes sir, FX technicians had to live the nightmare, and get down and dirty to simulate brutal slaughter back in the old days.

It’s worth noting that splatter has a good many sub-sub-genres and crossovers, such as blood-spurting-yet-somehow artistic samurai films, and the nearly unwatchable collection of cannibal flicks that stained drive-in screens during their heyday. This subgenre is presently thriving at the mainstream level even on television via popular fare like THE WALKING DEAD and AMERICAN HORROR STORY. DAWN OF THE DEAD, DAY OF THE DEAD, ZOMBI, THE EVIL DEAD, JIGOKU, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, BRAIN DEAD, SIN CITY, LONE WOLF AND CUB, REVENGE OF THE NINJA, MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, HELLRAISER

sigourney-weaver-aliens-1

SCI FI

ALIEN is probably the first film that comes to mind when one thinks of a sci-fi/horror hybrid, but it’s far from a watermark. Thomas Edison himself created what was likely the very first sci-fi and/or horror film when he made a loose adaptation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” way back in nineteen-and-ten. The 30s Universal effort could also be called sci fi, along with it’s sequels and crossovers featuring other, folkloric based beasts. But the mix of sci-fi and horror truly come into its own in the 50s, when fears of the new and seemingly limitless powers of atomic energy and space travel gave rise to fears that scientists had gone too far in tampering with nature. Film producers took up where the long-dated warnings of Mary Shelley, H.G Wells and Jules Verne left off by imagining ever more gigantic and unstoppable mutations and manifestations from just beyond these new scientific horizons.

ALIEN was beaten to the punch during this era, coming across in retrospect as an uncredited remake of IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE and Mario Bava’s PLANET OF VAMPIRES.

Some of the best horror is wed with sci fi, as is some of the worst. Getting right down to it, sci-fi horror presents us with some extra-terrestrial threat but genetic mutation is a big seller as well. THE THING, VIRUS, THEM!, TARANTULA, GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS, THE DEADLY MANTIS, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, THE FLY, PANDORUM, GALAXY OF TERROR, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

halloween_0

SLASHER

I don’t think there are any blurred lines in regard to what a slasher film is. Though PSYCHO and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE appeared a few years before the great slasher boom that came in the aftermath of HALLOWEEN, they’re still largely considered part of the subset. But it was actually Bob Clark’s unsettling BLACK CHRISTMAS that set the blueprint. Assuming the set up for a slasher film (with little variation) is agreed to be a set of teens or young adults targeted by a demented stalker on or near a holiday in an isolated setting, it seems to be a pretty limited formula. However, close examination reveals that some of the most highly regarded horror films, such as THE SHINING and ALIEN, are essentially slasher films.

Many, especially from the 80s, also double as whodunits in the best Agatha Christie tradition. Once the initial wave of holiday-themed cash-ins settled and other flavors took over the public palate, slasher films became nostalgia, and soon after, fresh again, via Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson with the SCREAM series. Everything that made the sub-genre overtly formulaic was turned on its ear and used against the audience in brilliant fashion. Ironically, this ushered in a whole new age of cookie cutter slashers in the 90s.

These days, the slasher film is surviving, if not thriving, via mostly superior, amped up or intentionally retro variations like LAID TO REST, MALEVOLENCE, HATCHET, and the surprisingly clever BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON.

With 1984’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, the addition of supernatural elements mutated the sub-genre and squeezed some more life from it, giving us an undead Jason in FRIDAY THE 13TH 6 and other defining entries like: BAD DREAMS, CANDYMAN, VENOM, KILLER PARTY

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Italy’s giallo movement, but it deserves a more extended treatment and might even be considered its own sub-genre.


That’s it for this week. Come back next week when we explore more horror sub-genres including Creature Features, Comedy Horror and more.

Goodreads Giveaway – STINGY JACK

goodreads(2)To celebrate its release

we are giving away a signed copy of

STINGY JACK and Other Tales!<

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Stingy Jack and Other Tales by Patrick C. Greene

Stingy Jack and Other Tales

by Patrick C. Greene

Giveaway ends November 17, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

A collection of short horror stories including the new STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE.
Come inside, out of the damp dusk, out from under that ominous black cloud. I want you to meet someone.
Set down your treat bag, take off that stuffy mask. I’d like to introduce Jack.
Yes, that Jack, the legend behind the leering lanterns, like the one burning just outside.
His story is the first treat of the night, to prepare the pallet for the rest.


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 Portal to the Madness(2)

STINGY JACK Available Now!

AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-27 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

22835257_10154844436022601_1720627097_nJulien is a tortured soul. His whole life he’s been infected by his father, the devil. Beings from another world planned a destiny he doesn’t want to fulfill. All he wants is his vampire life back. Will he ever find peace?

 

Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:

Scribbling in the flickering candlelight, the woman tried to capture what happened minutes before. A breath, and then on with the story she’d never show to another living soul. Perhaps the greatest work ever, but no one would ever know, for she was not alone in her small abode.

A stranger lurked only steps away, savoring the moment he may never have again.

“To kill once more,” Julien said to himself. “To drink the blood even as it draws cold. To feel her fear and see a life pass through her eyes which I have only observed.”

An eternity, it seemed as he crossed the room and placed his cool, marble lips to her warm, tender neck.

Alas, the blood was not warm. It was ice cold.

 

Julien woke to find he’d been dreaming, a bittersweet nightmare of a dream with him as the victim, not she. If only Julien could go on, accept his new life, live it as his immortal comrades.

He wanted his passion back. Nothing brought him pleasure anymore. He didn’t need food or drink to live, and even the luscious taste of wine made from Heaven’s own vineyard had lost its potency.

He drifted back into his restless sleep, filled with memories only posing as dreams.

 

A fresh young mortal in his arms, smelling of leather and alcohol. Beauty in its finest form. Her blood had been rich, filled with a power no mortal had, infused with knowledge and enlightenment. She had control over him in those moments before, beckoning him to give her pleasure in that intimate way. Why had he touched her so? Running his hand over her soft breasts, down across her shapely thighs to the mound of ecstasy had seemed a necessity. How warm she was inside. He believed if he submerged his skin into her warm moisture, his immortal coldness would fade. It did, for a time, as she rose to his touch and her blood ran into his mouth like a fountain of youth.

Blood. More of a feeling than a taste. Pure pleasure.

 

Opening his eyes, Julien found himself in the everlasting garden so green it almost hurt his eyes, but hurting was not known in Heaven. Even the bright sunlight had a soft glow to it. Not hurting perhaps, but longing.

Julien knew nothing but longing. He did not want to be the God of Dawn. Although he’d accepted the position, he longed to be a vampire once more. He wanted to be feared, mysterious, allowed the evil deeds he’d pretended to hate in his vampiric life, but which over the years, he’d come to savor.

He rose from the healthy, damp grass, his limbs numb and head throbbing. True, there was no pain in Heaven, but his sorrow surpassed physical aches. He stretched his arms far up into the sky. The sight of his pale, marble-like limbs sent a spark of anger through him. They had made him their…creature. Their god. His mother—if she truly was his mother—had planned it. The olden gods had helped. Damn them! And damn his father—the devil himself—for causing it.

Never did Julien’s life seem so meaningless. He was supposed to be happy, to feel purpose. He was Lord Dawn, the god of the time between Night and Day when the first appearance of daylight breaks the morning, waking birds and farmers and…

Never again. I will never feel as I did, again.

Julien walked around The Garden, and then broke into a sprint. The Garden went by in a blur as his speed grew. His long white hair flew out behind him. He wanted to be away from the beautiful world. He wanted to be alone. In the too pretty place, with no pain, he felt as if he were being judged, as if the olden gods, or the gods above, or even Jespa waited to see him fail.

Damn Jespa! Damn her world! Damn every force that be! Julien’s rage built as he rounded The Garden. Away! I want to be away! He ran faster and faster, thinking of all that had passed. All he’d lost. Finally, he jumped into the nothingness of his own sector, creating a path to run on. Just a path. No towers or gates or gold cherubs or red sky, just a road…to nowhere.


22834583_10154844436072601_802260320_n

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

 

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

 

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

 

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

 

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shuarette, Lilith’s Love

 

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

 

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

 

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

 

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dusks-Warriors-Nights-Knights-Vampire/dp/1544628803


22895026_10154844435977601_1337514846_nEmerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

 

 

Amazon Freebies to Celebrate!

STINGY JACK is coming October 27th and we want to celebrate with you! Mark your calendars! October 27-29 you can get two free kindle short stories.

A Gift for You

About TRICK

“This is a great Halloween short, it has all the elements of a great, seasonal read… the spooky local Urban Legend, trick-or-treaters, ghosts, possible severed body parts, and TRICKS!!”  full review at Becki’s Book Blog

“Another great story by Mr. Greene. I honestly don’t think this guy could write a bad story, even if he tried. This story was a friendly and slightly warped reminder to not trick. Just give out the dang candy!” Lisa C. on Amazon

Teen punks Kell and Toby have big plans for Halloween. They’re going to out-trick the neighborhood kids with the kind of pranks that will leave their victims scarred for life. But a trio of otherworldly trick-or-treaters refuses to walk away empty-handed. Kell and Toby will soon know the true meaning of Halloween.

About FINDERS KEEPERS

“Patrick Greene is a masterful story-teller. This short story is suspenseful, fast-paced, and ends with a bang. I’d highly suggest it to anyone wanting a quick, exciting read. Five stars.” -Vincent Hobbes

“Patrick C. Greene is from the twilight zone, and I am just lucky to be along for the ride! Mr. Greene seems to be one of those authors that you seldom come across. His stories are different and well written. He kind of reminds me of a younger Clive Barker, and that’s a good thing. Yes, I recommend this story and every other bit of fiction he writes!” –Lisa

Within just a few hours of meeting her, Vic convinced sweet young Allison to go along on a robbery–and now they’re on the run, stopping to rest in an out of the way fleabag motel. The initial rush is gone, and Allison is terrified, as Vic’s behavior becomes increasingly psychotic. A battered old suitcase sitting in a dark corner of the closet holds what may be Allison’s last chance–or a fate far worse.


Would you like to receive a free advance copy of STINGY JACK too?! Just subscribe to our free newsletter! CLICK HERE!

STINGY JACK is coming soon…

COMING SOON to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-3 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

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Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

Keep Reading STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, and a  HEAD FULL OF FIRE…

Goodreads Giveaway – PROGENY

goodreads(2)To celebrate the five year anniversary of its release

we are giving away five signed copies of PROGENY!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Progeny by Patrick C. Greene

Progeny

by Patrick C. Greene

Giveaway ends October 22, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

progeny pile“A rip-roaring quick read told so vividly, you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie.Bigger than the battle between man and Bigfoot is the battle between man and son. Three father/son relationships, each one has their own complexities, dramas and heartaches. Although different, they also share a painful similarity: loss. Loss of respect. Loss of innocence. Loss of control. A horror story that goes beyond monsters lurking in a forest..a story of monsters lurking within living beings..of broken relationships and misunderstandings that wreak more havoc than Bigfoot himself.”(Edited) Jen’s Pen Den


 

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 Portal to the Madness(2)

Dates Announced for SCARES THAT CARE CHARITY WEEKEND 2018!

It’s Official! Scares That Care Charity Weekend 2018 will be held in Williamsburg VA August 3rd – 5th. CAN.NOT.WAIT.IMG_0570

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