Friday, November 15, 2013

The Town Where Bad Things Happen

Here's a preview of my tale "Incarnadine," which will appear in Turn Down the Lights, the 25th anniversary anthology coming soon from Cemetery Dance. (Brief detour: Above is Steven C. Gilberts' illustration for the special Artist and Lettered editions of the book, which for my $$$$ is a spot-on dead-solid-perfect interpretation of the story. Thanks, Steven!)

So without further ado, here's a slice of Cemetery Dance-style darkness. In the tradition of the best Coming Attractions trailers, I'll give you a peek at the monster:

The creature’s glove is off now. Five sharp metal fingers gleam in the moonlight. Then the witch is gone for another moment. Unconscious. A flash fills her skull, like wild electricity, and her mind snaps back. Swollen eyes… blurry vision… but the witch sees the thing coming her way. Wiry gait. Clanking motion. Moonlight threading through its body like a sieve. A misplaced sculpture free of some mad museum… and a misplacer of time, too -- for several more moments have vanished.

And then it happens again. Now the shambler is carrying the witch… now they are away from the trees and the riverbed… now they are climbing together on a switchback path that rises through the darkness. Yes. The clock has skipped a serious beat. The witch blinks, tries to speak through bruised lips, but words won’t come. The thing moves forward, as if in a hurry. It wears both cops’ badges now, clipped to the gridwork of its chest. And it has a head. She sees that. A rusty bucket pockmarked with holes, and… blood. Blood spills over the edges of the bucket, leaks through the pockmarked holes. And the witch hears things slapping wetly within the bucket -- things the creature harvested from the dead cops down by the riverbed.

A brain, no doubt... and maybe a heart. Again, the witch fades. The wiry shambler inclines its bucket head, and blood spills on her face, and blood awakens her.

Drip drip drip, she thinks. This is how it starts. And then the dam begins to break, like dams always do. And then the river --