Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wherewolf?

This one's for a couple of you American Frankenstein regulars who emailed to say: "Nice excerpt, Norm... but where's the werewolf action you promised?" And you know what? You're right. That excerpt was heavy on sociopathic banker action, not so heavy on werewolves. So let me toss the next section of "Fever Springs" your way, which does include specific lycanthropic content. Enjoy!

Also, I should add that I'm glad to have "Fever Springs" appear in Dark Discoveries, because it's been one of my favorite magazines for a long time. I love their theme issues, and if I get started digging through my collection I'll have to say adios to the afternoon (but I've gotta mention the Twilight Zone issue!). Anyway, let's just say they've done lots of great stuff over the years, and I've wanted to work with editor James Beach for a long time. Thanks to JournalStone honcho Christopher Payne for making it happen -- you made two ol'  horror hounds very happy, Christopher!

Now on to a hound of a different variety. Enter the Werewolf, stage left...

The werewolf’s name was Blasko. Of course, Beaumont didn’t know that for a long time, as Blasko had been born mute. At first Blasko didn’t even understand English. But listening to Mr. Beaumont and those in his employ, the little man learned quickly enough.

Mr. Beaumont was a banker. A most intelligent man. He had a way of making his needs clear. At first, he would simply present Blasko with a swatch of clothing, or sometimes an entire garment. Then he would draw a soft finger across his neck in a slow, slashing motion. Blasko would draw the scent and let it linger in his lungs. Later, as he learned the language and the particular way Mr. Beaumont employed it, the big man would whisper words to Blasko. Never many. Sometimes barely enough. But for Blasko, Mr. Beaumont’s words were like snares. There was no escaping them or the actions they demanded. They were brutal, and simple, and (in their own way) as efficient as Blasko himself.

For Blasko was efficient.

Blasko would hunt… and Blasko would kill.

Sometimes he would kill those who had stolen things from Mr. Beaumont.

Sometimes he would kill those from whom Mr. Beaumont wished to steal.

It was all the same to Blasko. He was content. Life was far better in this country than the one where he was born. Holy men came few and far between here. The air was dry and clean. The land was open, often without trees. Sometimes there were valleys filled with cactus, many as tall as the tallest pines of his homeland, each one bearing thick spikes that might have crucified Jesus without so much as a single Roman nail. In fact, a single valley might hold enough cactus to crucify every man who had hunted or caged Blasko in his youth. And when the moon rose above the desert, its light washed the land like a great wave that carried the barbed cactus shadows into the night. In that wave Beaumont’s enemies waited for Blasko like drowning men, pinned in the darkness, and though there was not much water here there was more than enough blood, especially when Blasko tore open his victims in the moonlight. That is what Blasko liked best. Claws and fangs and blood. Often, he slaked his thirst so deeply that he felt he would drown in a deep red sea.

Slip beneath the surface, into the pulsing blood.

Sink deeper and deeper as scarlet currents drove him down… and down… and down.

Until he found a bottom that was as black and empty as nothing at all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Werewolf Action (As You Like It)

I've got a new werewolf story coming up in Dark Discoveries #26. To amp up the alliteration, it's also a Weird Western... and it's appearing in a special issue dedicated to Weird Western action.

It probably goes without saying that this is definitely my cup of campfire coffee. Can't wait to read this issue. Looks like some interesting nonfic, and stories by Gemma Files and Gary Braunbeck to boot.

Even better: Whole deal is due out at the end of the month from JournalStone. You can pre-order a copy right here. And if you want to sample the goods, here's the opening of my tale, a piece called "Fever Springs":

Mr. Beaumont bought the werewolf somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Actually, a foreign business agent purchased the monster for him. A man with a face like a pine knot. He arrived at Beaumont’s bank on a Sunday afternoon. The bank was closed, which was just as well, because the agent had made the trip in a cast-iron prison wagon.

Not, of course, as an occupant. There was only one man locked in the wagon… or a thing that (at that particular moment) looked like a man. The agent had purchased the creature from a monastery where it had been locked away for years, howling in a solitary cell like a madman. At any rate, that was the agent’s story. Beaumont believed the tale was little more than embroidery, designed to add an element of personal danger and (as a result) raise the agent’s price.

In truth, Beaumont cared not at all where the creature came from. He cared about two things and two things only: 1) what the creature could do for him, and 2) the business at hand. And so Beaumont stared into the eyes of the man with the pine-knot face. Just as he had suspected, he did not like the particular gleam he saw there. In his experience, that gleam was a sign that a man had dreams. Beaumont himself had none at all. It was his belief that time spent dreaming was better spent planning. But the banker did not speak of that. Instead he spoke of other things.

“The full moon rises next Tuesday,” Beaumont said. “I’ll pay you after that.”

“But Mr. Beaumont, I have other business to attend to. If you doubt the veracity of the goods—”

“I have no doubt about the goods. I have done my research. And I don’t believe you’d have purchased a prison wagon to deliver a bucket of hokum to me.”

“Still, I have pressing engagements,” the agent said. “I can’t linger here for a week.”

“Then you won’t wait for your money?”

“But, sir—my business…”

“Yes, sir. Your business.” Beaumont opened a desk drawer and withdrew a small stack of letters. “At present it intersects with my own, and this is a matter I do not take lightly. You have an appointment with me today. Next month, you have another in Denver. And then another in San Francisco a month after that.” Three times, Beaumont tapped a stout finger against the envelopes. “And it seems you’re selling the same merchandise at each stop.”

The man’s pine-knot face seemed to split as his jaw dropped open. Only slightly. He searched for words with grim effort, not understanding that it was a pointless exercise. For now that Beaumont’s accusation had been plainly spoken a feeling boiled up in the thick-set banker, a feeling that another man was of the opinion that Beaumont could be played for a fool. That was not a feeling that set well in Mr. Beaumont gullet or belly, and especially not in his brain.

“You thought you’d sell the wolf to me. Then sell him again. Then sell him one more time after that. Was that your plan?”

“Sir, I—”

“Did you plan to kill me yourself, or was the wolf going to do it?”

“Mr. Beaumont. Please. If you’ll only listen…”

But listening was a waste of time. This Beaumont understood all too well. So he pulled a Colt revolver from his desk and put a bullet in the foreign agent’s brain. The man’s skull cracked like a walnut in a hot fire. A red flower, not unlike a carnation, seemed to bloom on what remained of the agent’s forehead, and his puckered lips loosed his last breath with the same small effort they would employ in releasing a lie.

Soon the face and the lips were covered with blood. Then the dead man slid out of the chair. Beaumont returned his pistol to the drawer, along with the money he had intended to pay for the werewolf.

Next he rifled the agent’s pockets and found the man’s wallet.

The wallet was fat.

Beaumont smiled.

All in all, it was a good day’s work.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Waxworks Smackdown

Werewolf vs. vampire. Tooth and claw. Dig that Barnabas-style cane, and the pretty slick Van Heusen hipster shirt on the lycanthrope. Can't remember the name of the wax museum, but it was in New Orleans and this was taken during the '94 World Fantasy Convention. Somewhere in the French Quarter, nearly Halloween, and the Cramps were playing just up the street.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gonna Getcha So You Know You've Been Got!

The October Boy/Richy Sampson
And that's not the worst of it. The October Boy is standing about fifteen feet away, right in the middle of the road, staring straight at him. The Chrysler's Gorgon headlights reveal the thing clearly... just as they reveal the gleaming butcher knife that feeds stiletto-style through the knotted vines that comprise its left hand, filling it as long fingers wrap around its hilt.

And, seeing that, you know exactly how Mitch feels. He's belly to the ground, staring up at a legend. It's like staring up at Santa Claus, or the goddamn Easter Bunny... but only if Santa was the kind of guy who'd strangle you with your own stocking, and only if the Easter Bunny was the kind of rabbit who'd stomp you dead and peel your cracked skullcap like a hardboiled egg.

Yeah. You remember how it feels to go nose to nose with a legend. That's why the stories they spin about the October Boy are all about fear. You heard them around a campfire out in the woods when you were just a kid, and they were whispered to you late at night in your dark bedroom when your best friend spent the night, and they scared you so bad tenting out in your backyard one summer night that you thought you wouldn't sleep for a week. So there's not much chance of separating reputation from reality when you look the real deal straight in the face. He's the October Boy... the reaper that grows in the field, the merciless trick with a heart made of treats, the butchering nightmare with the hacksaw face... and he's gonna getcha! That's what they always told you... he's gonna getcha so you know you've been got!!!!!


Thanks to Richy Sampson for an amazing piece of October Boy art!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cars, Cards and Carbines

So, do you want to read a Norm Partridge story featuring cars, cards and carbines? In other words, a story about bad guys and worse guys, with supernatural action by the bucketful and plenty of gunpowder and brimstone? And while you're at it, want to read a bunch of other stories by talented writers, too? Then check out the kickstarter campaign for an anthology project from John Helfers and Travis Heermann.

To tell the truth, I'm itching to write a piece for this book. Been a while since I've written a mean roadrace to nowhere, and I hope you'll help give me the excuse.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Things to do in Denver When You're Dead

Nineties. Roadkill Press days. Elvis was in the window, and that's a first season Rockies ballcap.

And, yep, the left lane was closed.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday Paper on a Saturday Night (a.k.a. Sunday Supplement 11/17/13)


Still the real deal, Lucille. Order up!

Cribbed this one from Too Much Horror Fiction: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Charlie Grant, Karl Edward Wagner, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Whitley Streiber, Alan Ryan, and Dennis Etchison on the State of Horror, circa 1983. If you cut your fangs reading during this era, hearing these writers talk (especially about bad books) is fun fun fun 'til your daddy takes the surfin' hearse away. Guaranteed to make you nostalgic for the age of the black-spine paperback original with the screaming skeleton cover model (and you can find plenty of those over at Too Much Horror Fiction, too).

An American FrankenFlashback: The Outsider.

Yes. Now there are (officially) too many t-shirts in the world.