New tales from the darkness.

The Horror Zine has a new issue online, with new stories to delight your adrenal glands and tickle your pancreas. Many talented writers, poets and artists have been selected by the tireless editor for this issue, and she has even found time to write more of her own.

The first part of Jeani Rector’s novel, We all Fall Down, is here, and you can get the whole thing here (for the UK, here). I have to visit Amazon soon anyway because I loaned my copy of Twice the Terror to Hamish McBookworm, he’s passed it to someone else and now it’s going around the village at a rate that suggests I’ll never get it back. If I do, it will probably be all creased and I like my books pristine.

The news section is big this month, and starts with a short story competition that pays out prizes but is free to enter – my favourite arrangement for such things. Best get the thinking cap on. Mine really works because it’s made of dried and cured cerebral cortex and has batteries. It even has a light bulb on top for those ‘Aha!’ moments. Not one of those eco-bulbs that take hours to warm up, but a proper filament bulb that comes on at once. I don’t have all day.

At the bottom of this month’s news is the little book of old stories I put on Lulu. That’s free too, if you like downloads, and cheap if you prefer print. It’s not there to make me rich. It’s there to keep all those old stories I sold to magazines and Ezines that have since folded their final pages closed. Since first rights have gone for all but two of the stories in there, they won’t sell again.

I’m not sure whether I’m a turncoat for abandoning the still-cooling corpse of Alienskin so quickly, or a parasite for latching on to the Horror Zine.

Oh well. Both are noble professions, embraced by many a Dume down the ages. Either will do.

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Stage Two.

I have been somewhat lax about submitting novels, it’s true. They never seem quite finished. Then there are the distractions – bandaging Senga after she’s fed Caligula, soothing Caligula after he’s failed to catch the postman again, supper with Red Stan (I’ll never understand why the spoons have to be so long), evenings in the jolly company of Death and the rather more morose company of the Professor, constant social worker visits to check on Caligula which at least keeps the larder well stocked… so much to do.

Those are all excuses. The real reason for sporadic submission is procrastination. I’m never sure the stories are just right yet and I want to check them over. And over, and over. Once in a while I get up the nerve to send some sample chapters.

This time I sent Jessica’s Trap to a publisher, and today I responded to a request for the full story. It’s the first time I’ve had a request for the full manuscript although to be fair, the number of submissions I’ve sent so far is still in single figures.

So, fingers crossed, and by that I mean I have opened every jar of fingers in the laboratory and stitched them into pairs. I might not pass stage two this time but I have at least reached it, and that is a milestone in itself.

If they like Jessica’s Trap and want to see more, Samuel’s Girl is ready to go too.

If they don’t, I am encouraged anyway.

The Social Lunch.

Someone calling herself a ‘Social Worker’ visited today. I’m not sociable and don’t like work so it was clear from the outset we weren’t going to get on. She claimed she wanted to check on little Caligula and was empowered by law to enter. I’ve met one who claimed that once before. He was a bit stringy but this one looked plumper.

I let her in, closed and locked the door. Sometimes they try to make a break for it and their screams set the Ferals off. I have researched the matter and it is true that they have hundreds of laws saying I have to let them in. They don’t have a single one that says I have to let them out.

“Why have you locked the door?” She folded her arms and looked prim and proper at me.

“Ferals,” I said. “They steal food, you know.”

“Hmph” she said, although I am not sure that the noise she made could be considered conversation. “Where is your wife?”

“Recovering. She fed Caligula earler and it takes quite a toll on her.” I guided the bun-haired harpy along the corridor.

“Breast feeding, is she?”

I laughed aloud. “Of course not. She’s not stupid.” The idea of putting anything made of meat into Caligula’s mouth and expecting to get it back had me chuckling all the way to his room.

She tried the door. “It’s locked. That is child abuse. If there is anything wrong with this child, I will report it and you’ll lose him forever.” The look of malicious glee on her face endeared her to me briefly, but I’m already married and I’m not going to do that again. It’s just too much of a chore.

“Wrong with him? Well, be my guest.” I checked through the peephole before opening the door. Caligula is pretty fast these days. He was in the corner of the room, playing with a mouse. They taste better when they are properly scared.

I opened the door, let her in and shut it quickly. There was a brief interlude of ‘Hello little boy, I’m here to help you’, then a short period of screaming.

When Caligula is full, he’ll fall asleep. Then I’ll clean his room and put the rest in the fridge.

With any luck, someone will come looking for her soon.