Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

hellraiser
I love Clive Barker. There’s something about the man’s seamless blend of the morbid, and erotic that I’ve always been attracted to.

Hellraiser was one of the first true horror movies I watched as a child, and I still remember the experience vividly. Sneaking out from my bed, and creeping downstairs. Peeking out from behind the wall that separated the living room from the entryway in my childhood home, and listening to the blood-curdling screams as a leather-bound man with pins embedded in his head summoned chains from the pits of hell to dismember those unfortunate enough to stumble upon the gateway to his realm. I instantly fell in love, and peed a little, but mostly the love.

nightbreed1
It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered Nightbreed, an adaptation of his horror-fantasy novel Cabal that was released in 1990.

The film nightbreed2follows Aaron Boone, a mentally unstable man who dreams of a supernatural world that exists within a cemetery called Midian, and is led to believe by his psychotherapist, (David Cronenberg in a thoroughly terrifying role) to be the serial killer responsible for the murders of several families. After escaping Doctor Philip Decker, (who we soon discover is the serial killer, surprise, surprise) Boone takes refuge in Midian, and discovers its denizens are an ancient race known as the Nightbreed who were driven to near extinction by humans. Once there he must lead the Nightbreed in a defence against Dr. Decker who intends to destroy them all.

Nightbreed is another example of  studio mistreatment, in this case 20th Century Fox. The studio barely promoted the film, and much to Barker’s chagrin, released a handful of misleading posters, and trailers that marketed the film as a slasher, and not the unique horror-fantasy that it was. They also refused to screen it for test-audiences, and critics, arguing that the people who watch horror don’t read reviews, causing the film to be sold to the lowest common denominator.nightbreed3

Unsurprisingly the film tanked, regaining only 8.9 of its 11 million dollar budget, and quickly faded into obscurity, but has since found a new audience thanks to Scream Factory’s release of the director’s cut on bluray.

Nightbreed is quirky, grotesque, and rich with as much homosexual undertones as you’d expect to find in a Clive Barker piece of art, and I love it.

nightbreed4

Do yourselves a favour skiddies, and check out Nightbreed.

Midian awaits you.

 

In my last post dedicated to the Walt Disney adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I touched briefly on the darker themes present in the company’s back catalogue, whether intentional or from poor judgement on the creator’s behalf, but there was a time when these themes were common place in children’s entertainment, a time I remember fondly that began in the early eighties, and trickled into the nineties, before dying off completely. Back then filmmakers understood a truth that has sadly been forgotten or is outright denied in today’s overprotective, and overly sensitive world. Children like being scared, it’s right there in their DNA from the early days of Peekaboo, and hide and go seek. Fear produces adrenaline, and as we all know, adrenaline does wonderful things to the brain. Think back to your childhood, to the slumber parties you attended, to the camping trips, and weekend travels to the video store. I bet you remember ghost stories being told, urban legends being spread, even begging mom and dad to rent that scary movie all your friends had been bragging about seeing.

There’s a reason why children love Halloween, and it isn’t just because they get to play dress up, and gobble sack-loads of candy.

Every so often though, filmmakers went a little too far, blurring the line between innocent scares and the outright horrifying, and today I’d like to look at a few of these moments.

                                                              Ernest Scared Stupid

ernest2
We’ll start off innocently enough, with an entry from the Jim Varney led series of films following the adventures of loveable idiot Ernest P. Worrell.

As the title credits roll we know right away that Ernest Scared Stupid is different from its light-hearted, but mildly racist predecessors.

In a plot that could only exist in the 90’s, adult garbage-man, Ernest and his group of pre-tween friends venture to a secluded fort in the woods, and unwittingly awaken an evil troll. Shit gets even more questionable from there, but nothing more outright terrifying than when a little girl is convinced there’s a monster under her bed. This misdirecting mind-fuck of a scene shows her leaning over the edge of the bed, carefully peeling back the covers, and gazing into the blackness below to find nothing more than her beloved teddy. Relieved, she lays back down for a much-needed snuggle session with her fuzzy friend, rolls over, and BAM comes face to face with a scrote-nosed midget monster.

Not cool John Cherry. Not cool.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

rogerrabbit2Whether or not Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a kids film can be debated for days, but one thing that’s undebatable is the sheer terror that is Christopher Lloyd’s, Judge Doom. Practically every scene with this bug-eyed cartoon bastard walking around in a skin suit is pure nightmare fuel, but none so horrible as the steamroller scene. Something about the shrill, blood-curdling shriek he releases while being flattened into a human pancake really sticks with you.

Brave little toaster

bravelittletoasterOn the surface Disney’s Brave little Toaster is an upbeat tale about a handful of cutesy sentient appliances on a journey to find their original master, but in true Disney fashion the group encounters a few horrors along the way. There’s the appliance store full of partially dismantled, and out-dated appliances awaiting the electronics version of an organ transplant, Ernie’s Disposal, the junkyard from hell, and of course the mortifying dream sequence featuring a sadistic clown. I’m pretty sure whoever let this one slip through the editing process without being chopped hated children.

The NeverEnding Story

artax
Don’t let the eighties new-wave synth-pop theme song deceive you. From the moment the dreamy title credits roll, The NeverEnding Story is out to get you, and pulverize your heart with a meat tenderizer. No one scene in this collection of nightmare fuel aimed at children is more terrifying than the death of Atreyu’s faithful steed, Artax in the Swamps of Sadness.

                                                         Everything by Don Bluth

the-secret-of-nimh

During the eighties, and early nineties, Disney had some serious competition from Don Bluth, an ex-animator for the company who went on to release a string of successful animated films after his partnership with Steven Spielberg.

5ea3d-alldogsgotoheaven-hell

Now despite being mostly warm tales about anthropomorphic animals, talking dinosaurs, and Russian fairy-tales Bluth was never afraid to shy away from showing children the darker aspects of life. Poverty, and immigration in An American Tale, genetic experimentation, and animal testing in The Secret of NIMH, Hell, and excess in, All Dogs Go To Heaven, and how can anyone forget, what was probably their first encounter with racism, and death in, The Land Before Time.

__mother____mother____by_dwarfdraco-d8825a5

What made Bluth’s films all the more terrifying was his religious use of old-school techniques like rotoscoping, and backlight animation to bring his creations to life.

I’m pretty sure Bluth’s life-force has been sustained all these years from devouring the tears of children.

                                         Watership Down. The whole fucking movie.

watership-down2

Based on the Richard Adams novel of the same name, Watership Down is an exercise in pushing the boundaries of kid-friendly entertainment. The film follows a civilization of rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren in search of a new environment to settle. Along the way the group faces death, betrayal, and more lupine carnage, and blood-shed than any child should ever have to witness.

watership-down1

Seriously. Fuck this movie.

somethingwickedunusedanim

When people hear Disney they think about anthropomorphic mice, fairy tales, plot exposition via song and dance, and a sprinkle of mild racism and archaic gender stereotyping. What they do not think about is horror, which is strange, because beneath the cute and cuddliness of their animated catalog is the stuff of nightmares, patricide, animal cruelty, child and domestic abuse, and many more for those willing enough to scratch beneath the skin of their childhood heroes.

During the early eighties Disney found themselves in dire straights financially. Many of the children who grew up loving their usual family friendly animated, and live-action films were now teenagers, and young adults hungry more mature fare. Seeking to capitalize on this new audience rather than lose them they ventured into the darkness, and created a string of horror films. The trend began with 1980’s, The Watcher in the Woods, followed by Dragonslayer, Return to Oz, and the subject of this post, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

somethingwicked

Based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury, and adapted for the screen by Bradbury himself, Something Wicked This Way Comes revolves around Will Halloway, and Jim Nightshade, young boys confronted by a malevolent evil eager to steal the souls of the inhabitants of their Rockwellian community of Greentown, Illinois after a carnival arrives.

It’s rather fitting that Something Wicked This Way Comes marked the end of Disney’s foray into horror as the film suffered a tumultuous production to say the least. Not satisfied with Bradbury’s original screenplay, the studio insisted director Jack Clayton hire John Mortimer to do an uncredited rewrite to make it more family friendly, you know, the exact type of film they were trying to distance themselves from.

After a lacklustre response following a test screening many scenes were cut or altered. One, an animated sequence of the carnival arriving in Greentown, which would have employed the then groundbreaking technology of computer generated imagery was shortened drastically. Another involving a giant mechanical hand was scrapped in favour of the infamous spider scene, which caused actors Shawn Carson and Vidal Peterson a great deal of discomfort after being exposed to the urticating hairs of live tarantulas.

After spending an additional five-million on re-filming, re-editing, and re-scoring the film it bombed, costing disney a nearly twelve million dollar loss.

something-wicked-this-way-comes-5

In perhaps the greatest review of the final cut, Ray Bradbury referred to it as, “not a great film, no, but a decently nice one.”

Man, I love Bradbury.

Despite its flaws, Something Wicked This Way Comes is an enjoyable film, and a good horror starter horror for families looking for some quality fright time to spend with their killdren in front of the idiot box during the Halloween season.

 

in-the-mouth-of-madness

John Carpenter, has been a name I’ve dropped consistently over the last two weeks, and for good reason. I love the man, and his entire body of work. Even when he’s slumming it, he still produces an enjoyable film. Carpenter is one of the most prolific faces in the horror community, having been responsible for the iconic Michael Myers as well as a handful of cult classics like They Live, Big Trouble in Little China, and the subject of today’s post, In the Mouth of Madness.

In the Mouth of Madness, released in 1995, is the third film in Carpenter’s Apocalypse trilogy, preceded by The Thing, and Prince of Darkness.

The story follows an insurance investigator named John Trent, (played by Sam Neill) tasked with investigating the disappearance of popular horror author Sutter Cane, and recovering his final manuscript. On his journey to uncover Cane’s whereabouts Trent soon realizes that his reality may not be what it seems.

In the Mouth of Madness is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, namely his novella, At the Mountains of Madness. Insanity is the driving theme of the story, a popular trope in much of Lovecraft’s work, and the majority of the film is played out in flashbacks, another common technique employed in his writing. The film is also peppered with references to the Old Ones from the  Cthulhu mythos, and many of Sutter Canes novels are variations of his stories.

The film did well enough to recoup its eight-million dollar budget at the box office, but it released to lacklustre reviews, and quickly faded into obscurity after being released on home video.

I was lucky enough to snag a copy on VHS in my teens after my local video store went out of business, (a tape that has since burned out from repeated viewings) but thankfully for those who may have missed it, the film was rereleased on blu ray by New Line Cinema back in 2013. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely find a copy, and check it out.

In the Mouth of Madness is a divisive film that most either love or hate. Instead of the eerie synch-pop prevalent in most of Carpenter’s films, he opted to compose a more hard-rock inspired soundtrack that purists may find jarring, and the pacing stumbles a bit throughout. In spite of these issues, I fall into the former category, and rank it in my top ten Lovecraftian films

I’ve been busy drafting the final act of my novel, (we’re well over 60,000 words now!) but I thought I’d take a break from squeezing the creative juices out of my brain to offer you a taste of what’s in store. Tragedy is a common theme shared by all the characters in the book, but the one that breaks my heart the most while writing has to be the love affair between the wolf and the bat, two quarters of the quadrangle who make up the betrayed. They are my take on the Shakespearean trope of the star-crossed lovers, and I hope you’ll enjoy a smattering of their sorrow.

Stay scary my darklings.

 

Nearly fifty years had passed since the dread lord freed them from Alcide’s shackles and replaced the old with new, and no matter how far they fled the pale gaze of the moon followed them. As the blood wolf’s curse spread the hunters came, some with ambitious dreams of slaying the fell beasts that plagued the land for fortune and fame, and others with vengeance poisoning their hearts. No matter their cause they all came armed with silver, and their numbers swelled as the country fell to darkness.

There were a precious few who held compassion for the dread lord’s damned children, a hierarchy of holy men and women known as the Order of the Dragon. Some within their sect were monsters like themselves, refuges in search of sanctuary and a desire to end his tyranny, none more so than the son he’d cast aside.

Sebastian and the order aided them as the hunters presence cinched around their throats like a noose, and procured safe passage to a coastal town east of Norwich. Yarmouth was still in its infancy when Thomas and Morrigan built their home there next to its crashing shores, a small timber cabin blessed by the salt of the sea. 

Yarmouth was a haven for their kind, but despite its quaint allure Thomas suspected it was just another pen, a secluded seaside prison away from the lives they may endanger. At least there was freedom in this newfound captivity, but the world would always see him as an animal best kept behind bars, and that knowledge aggrieved his heart. 

Morrigan helped him lug the galley to shore. The full moon was fast approaching, its ginger stare already creeping across the blackening surface of the ocean. There was a bite to the air, and the cold surf caressed their shins as they hauled the boat into the water and the undertow nipped at their ankles.

The sea was angry, and Thomas sensed the coming of a storm.

“How many nights have we done this,” he held out his hand and Morrigan took it as she climbed inside the tottering galley, “How many more must we endure?”

He followed her into the boat and it rocked as it took on his weight. When it settled he grabbed an oar and pushed its tip into the silt below until the galley set adrift.

The coastline faded as the waves carried them out to sea.

Thomas stared at their cabin atop the hillside, and followed the smoke billowing from its chimney up to the dark clouds congregating in the sky. He had a penchant for getting lost up there, the only place in the world where he was free from the chains that bound him. Up there he was still a little boy gazing through the stars in search of his father, wondering if he was out there somewhere looking for him as well.

“A great many less than before,” Morrigan said and removed him from his thoughts. She polished the gem beneath his neck with her thumb, and gazed into his silver hemmed eyes, “the beast only awakens once a cycle now, a small burden in light of the alternative.”

“It should not fall on you to bear,” Thomas snarled; the beast already peering through his skin.

“The things we do for love,” she said, words stolen from the dread lord’s lips; like suicide. She placed her hand on the scruff of his chin and shifted her violet eyes toward the setting sun behind him, now a tiny sliver of dying orange light along the undulating horizon. 

Hunter checked their distance from the shore, and when he was certain the wolf could not survive the swim back he grabbed the stone anchor next to this feet and tossed it overboard. The hemp rope attached to it hissed and snapped against the starboard gunwale as the heavy stone sunk into the murky water beneath them. 

“Don’t you grow weary of this existence, of wading into the silence of the water and being warden to the beast,” he said and found the only stars in his life that mattered were the ones resting upon her face. He wanted nothing more than to not see himself as an encumbrance within their reflection, but he could not.

“I mourn only for the plight it brings you, and my inability to help you escape its crushing weight,” her saddened face glistened beneath the moon’s brightening light like an alabaster angel wrapped in a cascade of fire. He’d never thought her more beautiful than he did just then, riding the ocean waves in the path of the oncoming storm. 

“He loves you, you know. I’ve seen it in the way he looks at you,” Thomas’ stomach filled with poison, and he clenched his abs to hinder the monster gestating within.

“So let him look,” she smiled. It was a harmless thing, like a childless woman admiring another’s newborn, “My eyes see only you.”

Thomas’ ribs quaked, and a fire coursed through his flesh that livened the hairs covering his body. Bones cracked beneath his skin, and his joints unhinged with a sickening pop. His hands bore down on the gunwales of the galley as his body turned to splinters. Water spilled over its bow as the wind picked up and the waves engorged, and cold saltwater doused his scorching cheeks. His mouth extended with a meaty snap, and the shedding teeth inside piled atop his tongue. Silver crescents peeked from the void beyond his jaws, and his neck vibrated as a sonorous growl filled the space within it.

“Hold me,” he choked, and she did, even when his flesh turned to a blanket in her arms she held him close to her heart. 

 

Many people know me as primarily a writer of all things nasty and grotesque, but few may remember the days when I spent most of my time writing lyrics for my band, and endless notebooks of melancholic poetry. It was all undoubtedly bad, but we all have start somewhere right? Might as well get the awful stuff out first. Ah, high school, such a glorious time for inspiring the misunderstood rejects who paraded through its halls. I have fond memories of those days, despite being trapped within the thrall of yowling hormones, matriarchal abandonment, and a posse of shapeshifting characters I called my friends.

I hope you enjoy it, it’s short so please have a read, and remember my dearest darklings, stay scared.

 

Twenty-Five By The Lake.. Dean Sexton

The Twenty-Five from the Lake.

Here is the story, from me to you,
Of the ones who plagued me so.
It would seem their tale,
Of plight and sorrow,
Began not long ago.

I write this now, grim lullaby,
Before I come to pass,
For the Twenty-Five, now Twenty-Six,
Whose story demand be passed.

At first they haunted my deepest dreams,
My slumber disturbed by endless screams,
And prodding fingers cold and blue,
Their eyes were a glistening, hateful void

With a paleness alike the moon.

Their fog-like skin fuelled terror within,
I bark from me to you,
Their voices were shrill, ghost reveries,
Telling tales of vicious sin.

But beneath their icy, watery gaze,
I noted a sadness deep within,
These wretched ghostly, drowned souls,
Desired something stolen from their kin.

Although they spoke, but not a word,
Their voice was true as day,
They spoke of deceit, of murder, and betrayal,
Of vengeance for their dismay.

This cottage of mine, of my inheritance,
The one beside the lake,
Was once their land, was once their home,
And not for us to take.

We burned their village, we raped their women,
Their children were enslaved,
And so the planks of evil came,
Erecting a monolith of pain.

The Twenty-Five,

The red skinned clan,

The ones who loved the lake,
The murdered souls, thrown deep beneath,
Thrown deep within the lake.

These tortured souls, these hateful ghouls,
Had found me at long last,
The last born son, the next of kin,
The name my father passed.

And so this story, from me to you,
This tale I’ve come to pass,
The Twenty-Five, now Twenty-Six,
For I’ve become the last.

Copyright Dean Sexton 2006-Present.

What Colin saw on my face when I burst through the basement door must have shocked him. Normally, I’m a composed old bastard, if not a miserable one, and it shows on my face, my frown wrinkles have frown wrinkles, but as I rushed passed him toward the downstairs kitchen I could tell the kid knew something was sour.
He spoke intelligible words as I stumbled to the sink. Warm and itchy droplets of sweat spread upon my brow like wildfire and my heart was pumping like a couple of horny rabbits mid coitus. And you know what? I liked it. The chest pain, the nervous sweats, the anxiety blended up with a hint of arousal and terror. It made me feel young, like I did before Wilma sucked the youth right out of me.
I leaned over the sink and let a steady stream of cold water douse my face, feeling the drops of sweat turn into icebergs upon my head.
What the fuck was going on in that basement, and why was everyone acting so peculiar? My mind had already found the answers to those questions but had disregarded them. I lived in the real world for fuck sake, a place where mutant plants that infect human beings didn’t exist no matter how obvious the signs were around me .
“You okay Mr. Ashman,” Colin asked from my side, his voice an affable hum piercing through the chaotic ringing in my ears. I tilted my head toward him, letting the stream of cold water trickle into my ear. That curious look was on his face again, the one that resembled a mixture fear and excitement. I didn’t like it. The boy was torn, if he’d been a little older I’m sure he would have seen nothing but money in that damn plant just as I had. Lucky for me he was still innocent, despite his misfortune, and I could see that although he was curious he was concerned.
“I’m fine kid, thought I heard a ghost,” I said, swallowing a mouth full of cool water. I turned the tap off and wiped my face with a trembling hand, “You were calling me?”
“There’s… something I think you should see,” stammered Colin, “out front.”
I followed Colin to the bay window at the front of the shop. I didn’t see it before but the kid looked frazzled, like he’d finally witnessed something in his life he couldn’t explain.
“Kid now’s not the time to be pulling any shit,” I barked delaying my eyes from glancing through the large window in front of us to discover what had put the spooks into the boy.
“Just look,” Colin hissed.
I shrugged and turned my attention to the window, forcing my peepers to witness another abnormality.
Apparently our customers hadn’t left. They were standing on the sidewalk in front of the shop, in a straight line like a company of soldiers. Their backs were hunched and their arms hung limp at their sides. There was an abject horror to their unity, like a swarm of bees, or a murder of crows. Staring at their faces made me feel like I’d swallowed a hurricane and my gut was trying its damnedest to digest the fucker. The glazed over look in their eyes was still there, but it had worsened-
I once read an article about the Mauthausen Concentration Camp situated in Austria during the second world war. It was a place where Nazis exterminated the higher educated people from the areas they occupied during the war. It was an awful piece of literature, not because of its prose but because of the photographs that were posted alongside it. One of those photographs came to mind while I was staring out that window. In it stood a throng of prisoners from the Ebensee sub camp. Their bodies were frail, almost nonexistent and their eyes contained a measure of plight that only they could ever comprehend. Beneath the pain though I remember noticing how hungry they looked, like starving vultures. It pained me to see how far humanity had fallen, how evil they’d let themselves become, to see the way so many had suffered. But that hunger in their eyes, it terrified me, it was the kind of hunger that doesn’t discriminate. As I stared out the window I saw that same hunger in our customers’ eyes, and that hunger was focused on us.
“Well I’ll be fucked by a rusty flagpole,” I stammered.

Wilma, an excerpt from chapter 8. DEAN SEXTON

Hiring Colin from an entrepreneurial perspective was like winning the lottery. That boy was a workhorse, hell he worked harder than me most days and I’m no pooch-screwer. He was motivated, always keeping busy, be it watering the flowers or sweeping the floors. He gave the place a strange kind of glow. Until his arrival Wilma’s had become a red bricked nexus on the downtown strip, but he brightened the place up, cleansing its dreariness.
I have to admit I was a little upset he was only able to work on weekends and I truly believe he felt the same way, if it were up to him I‘m positive he would have never left the shop. That’s part of the issue with custody, the child almost never gets to have a say. So often that which we wish to protect we inevitably destroy.
I couldn’t complain too much though, I’m a man who believes in being thankful for what he’s been given and despite him only working weekends he did wonders for Wilma’s. After a couple of months there were customers inside Wilma’s again and business was improving. I was beginning to think I was wrong about my ex-wife leaving me with a curse.
How age can make a fool out of you, playing tricks on your mind, making memories a distant haze of foggy events that morph ceaselessly. It enfeebles your senses and instincts, forcing you to make choices you never would have made in your youth.
Not letting go of Wilma was the second biggest mistake I ever made, after she left I was destroyed, emotionally crippled. Despite her absence I always felt as though she was somehow still around me, as though she was living within the walls of that damned store, I always thought it was just my minds way of coping with her loss, but she was there, she never left. I think it was Colin’s positive nature that awakened her, that brought her back from whatever hell she’d been living in. Don’t misunderstand me, I hated the bitch, marrying her was the first big mistake I made in my life, I guess when she left I felt as though I was cheated, she made me suffer for so long that I thought I’d never be free of her, then like the coming of nightfall she left because of a Spanish flower. The destruction and emotional instability came from my hatred for her, and I think, not unalike Colin’s positive attitude that my hatred also played a part in her return.
There I go again, getting ahead of myself, jumping face first into the shit-hurricane. It’s kind of hard not to when it comes to Wilma, she was, well, she was the kind of woman who isn’t easily forgotten. The kind of woman who carried a chip on her shoulder for anyone who didn’t give her the attention she felt she was entitled to. That’s part of the reason why I am the way I am, even though she’s dead she’ll never really let me go, not completely anyways. Even now that she’s nothing more than a pile of ashes the bitch still has a hold on me.
We had a good run the kid and I, before the devil woman came back . I went from dangling on the edge of bankruptcy to being a successful business owner. Townsfolk stopped wasting their gas driving to Grimsby for flowers and started coming into the shop, buying local, which is something that I recommend everyone to do. Supporting a corporation is a lot like spending money on a hooker. In the end the hooker does all the leg work and the pimp walks away with most of the money.
I was glad things were moving inside that store again, it was nice having what I’d always considered my burden become my reward, my back pay for all the years of suffering and nagging, all the years of listening to that cunt’s tongue waggle at both ends.
Customers weren’t the only thing moving around inside that shop though, oh no, there was something much less beneficial lurking within its interior.

WILMA - Chapter Three - Dean Sexton

Here she is my lost ones, the antagonist of the story in all her sickening glory. Hopefully she gives you mortifying daydreams on this thundery summer morning!

WILMA - THE REVEAL - DEAN SEXTON


Growing from the dirt floor beneath the basement window was a plant, and not just any plant but the strangest fucking plant I’d ever laid eyes on. Its peduncle was a translucent green that had a circumference of thirty inches and it rose out of the ground in a slight spiral. Beneath the peduncle was a thicket of long greenish auburn vines that spread out in every direction, slithering across the floor like the tentacles of an octopus. As I gawked at them I noticed they were covered by countless fibers that resembled the quills of a porcupine. As my eyes followed its peduncle toward the ceiling, they witnessed marvel after marvel. Large, membranous auburn petals spread out from it the size of bath towels. They had an almost erotic appearance and curved voluptuously from their center. Branching off its peduncle were dozens of beautiful flowers that appeared to be a hybrid of a lily and an orchid. Their petals were crimson with a slight hint of black and their pistils were a garish yellow that reminded me of a cat’s eyes. I felt discomfort rumble within my gut as I looked at them, they were staring at me, dozens of yellow eyes leering at me as I stood ogling at it in astonishment, watching my every move. At the peak of its peduncle were its calyx, enshrouding a massive flesh colored bulb like embracing arms. Whatever kind of flower it was it hadn’t matured yet, only its children had come to life, surprising given the living condition of the shop’s musty basement. Its bulb was about five feet tall and rested a few inches beneath the ceiling. Judging by its appearance I was sure it would never bloom, its fleshy bulb looked rotten and sticky, like the skin of someone suffering from necrosis, or an untreated burn. Long red veins traveled through the petals and seemed to glow beneath the faint sliver of sunlight shining in from outside. I can’t be certain, but as I stared at that damned bulb I swear it was moving, pulsating even. It looked like it wanted to come to life but didn’t have the strength to do so. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of dread, something was off about the plant, and I had the sudden urge to bolt up the fucking stairs and forget I ever saw the freakish looking thing in the first place. I didn’t though, I just stood there staring at it like a horny teenager in love.

Here’s chapter two of Wilma to read on this dreary overcast day! It introduces you to the second protagonist, Colin Romero, a bookish teenager who’s trying his best to escape the side effects of his broken home and the hands of his abusive drunkard father. Fun fact the protagonists both pay homage to horror industry veterans, Colin’s being pretty easy to figure out. Brownie points to whoever can figure out who Roger Ashman pays tribute to! Enjoy my lost ones! ❤

WILMA - Chapter Two - Dean Sexton


His name was Colin Romero, and the day I met him I almost kicked him out of my store, my first possible customer in weeks and I was ready to toss him out. He came into Wilma’s with his back-pack slung over his right shoulder drooping toward his ass. I could see it was overloaded by the expression of exhaustion on his gaunt face. I didn’t know it then, mainly because I thought every adolescent hoodlum that walked the streets of Smithville was a crook, but that bag was full of books.
He walked into the store, lugging his heavy knapsack around as his hazel eyes darted around its interior, looking like a teenager who‘s just stumbled into his first titty bar. He trudged through the shop, his bag swinging like a nylon pendulum as he gawked at the floral display I’d set up at the front of the store. Valentines day was coming up and I’d put together several bouquets of roses on a table. There were roses of every color, red, pink, white, but his eyes kept returning to the black ones, as if he were staring at an impossibility. Every time that pendulum hanging from his shoulder swung I felt my teeth grind within my trap, I was sure the clumsy fucker was going to knock over a flowerpot or worse swing it straight into the glass cooler where I kept a variety of flowers for custom arrangements, but it never did, the boy was as graceful as a ballerina, minus the tutu.
I watched him walk around silently, my eyes never leaving his tiny mitts, (as I said before there was a time when I thought that every kid in the shit-ville was a crook), as I waited for one of them to reach out and stuff something into his knapsack.
He didn’t notice me sitting behind the glass counter, my callused hands folded atop its surface, my head tilted slightly to one side. I had a nice vantage point behind a pot of mums and the cash register.
Eventually he reached for his knapsack, and like a spider anticipating the moment when the fly becomes tangled within its web I slid out from behind the counter, teenage criminal was on the menu, and I couldn’t wait to sink my fangs into him.
I placed my grey hair dusted mitts on his shoulders while one of his hands disappeared into his pack and began to squeeze, just tight enough to put a little shock out of him. No pain, just fear.
“Shoplifting is a major crime,” I growled as I let my fingers slide down his chest, letting them sink into the concave between his collarbone and shoulders.
“I wasn‘t, I mean I know sir, I m-,” stammered Colin as he wriggled to free himself from my grip, discovering that there was still some power within this gaffer’s paws.
I grabbed the arm that had disappeared into his knapsack and tugged it free. I’ll admit I was a little embarrassed when I saw what was clutched between his fingers, and I’m a man who doesn’t like to admit anything nearing embarrassment. It was a book with a crisp red flower on its cover, Deciphering the Rose, by Lawrence Tate was written across it in a fancy cursive font. I let go of his shoulders and brought my hands down to my hips. I was in a situation, a delicate one. I’d more or less assaulted the kid and he knew it, I had to think hard about what came out of my mouth at that moment or else I was liable to find myself out of a home and a business, stink-hole or not. I stood in front of him looking like an elderly, handicapped gorilla, swaying from side to side, my face an expression of idiocy
“It’s the black roses, they don‘t exist in nature,” stammered Colin as he clutched his book like a bible against his chest, letting his knapsack droop further toward the ground. I glanced inside it as I stared at him and noticed it was loaded with books.
“Reaching into your bag like that in a store is a good way to find yourself in a pile of shit boy,” I grunted as I scanned the contents of his backpack.
“I know, I was curious,” he said pleasantly, running his free hand through the shaggy sandy blonde mess atop his head.
“Stupid is what you were,” I said, narrowing my eyes as he stared back. He shrugged and lowered his head. I was beginning to see why this kid was such a bookworm, apparently human interaction wasn’t his thing, something we had in common.
“I’m sorry sir, I’ll leave,“ he said, bending over to zip up his knapsack. For a kid who had nothing more to hide than a bunch of books he sure had the jitters when it came to talking to me, and as he leaned over I got a clear picture of why. On the back of his neck were three swollen, purple finger length bruises. The kid was someone’s punching bag.
“No trouble kid, just, try to be more cautious,” I said looking at the plum colored bruises that raised from the flesh beneath his hair line. Someone was beating on him, and I had a pretty good idea of who it was.
Colin’s father was Richard Romero, the town drunk, a man I’d grown to know and loathe.
Rick was the type who spent his weekends at the bar, and when I say weekends I mean weekends. He’d hit the legion at opening and close the place down and that meant Colin was left to his own devices, left alone to wander a shitty country town that had little more to offer him than a twenty-four hour Tim Horton’s and a Giant Tiger. Colin being a resourceful boy and one who understood a good thing when he saw it, used his father getting liquored up at the local watering hole as an opportunity to explore, a chance to get away. Now Smithville is a place that doesn’t have a whole lot of landscape to explore, there’s the 20 mile creek, a murky slug of water that starts at the border of Hamilton and travels through Smithville, splitting the town in half before spitting itself into the Chippawa Creek near Wellandport. Aside from the filthy channel of water that’s welcoming to no creature other than the pike, snappers and suckers that call it home there’s a dismembered railroad track and more farmland than your eyes can handle. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find anything interesting if you were a fourteen year old boy, but in all the time I knew Colin I never once heard him complain. I guess anything is better than sitting in front of a bar, basking in the stench of flat beer and stale cigarette smoke, listening to stories of men who’d been defeated, men who’d lost it all, men whose only savior was the bottle, broken men, men who’d be better off if someone put them down like wounded animals. Rick was one of those men, his wife, Colin’s mother had left him a year after his birth. I’d heard him mourning her on one of the few occasions I found myself boozing within the Legion’s dingy basement, how he’d have given her everything if she’d have just let him, how if she stayed they’d be sitting pretty, the three of them living the life of luxury. Typical drunken banter. The part he always left out was how the drink was what really drove her away, how his problem with the bottle was why she took her son and fled, fled from the late night screaming matches and four am beatings, from having to explain to her parents that the bruises on her cheeks came from her inescapable clumsiness, and the black eyes as well. What really drove her away, and this is my reflection on the matter of course, was the night Rick snuffed a cigarette out on Colin’s head. He was no older than ten months and Rick had been into the cups heavy, he said that the boy was a curse, that he’d crippled him and stolen away his youth, hindering his dreams.
You hear things in small towns, you either believe them or disregard them, it wasn’t until I saw the scar on the boy’s hairline that I discovered just how sick Richard was. I’m glad the bastard’s gone.
“I will sir,” he said as he tucked his book into the front pouch on his knapsack. He half smiled at me and started toward the front door, lugging that damned backpack over his shoulder.
“I dye them,” I said to his back. “The roses, I dye them, and my name isn’t sir, it’s Roger Ashman. Sir is a name for a fucking knight…and I‘m far from chivalrous.”
“Really? Why?” Asked Colin, releasing the door handle and gazing at me with intrigue.
“I started doing it for funerals and around Halloween,” I said as I motioned him closer.
“How,“ asked Colin and for the first time I noticed just how inquisitive he really was.
“I fill a vase with water, and ink,” I said, giving him a friendly wink. “Then I just dunk them in.”
“They’re pretty neat.”
“They are aren’t they?”
I’m not sure why I did what I did after our clumsy introduction, perhaps it was the bruises on his neck that forced my hand or his misplaced enthusiasm for botany, more than likely it was because I’d become lonely after Wilma left me. For whatever reason, I doomed that kid to a lifetime of nightmares.
“Say kid, you interested in a job?”