She, He ft Death.

Hi babes. It is almost my birthday (Tuesday 3/16) and here is a little experimental murder ballad.

CW for sexualized violence and regular violence.

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 3 AM. High summer.  

She always sits on her stoop late at night in the summer, a book in one hand, coffee cup at her elbow and a steady chain of cigarettes until she’s done or tired or whatever she does. She knows He prowls. He’s new, not one of the hood dudes. Not one of her neighbors or somebody’s cousin. Not the him she waits for at night. 

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He makes his approach She sitting in her usual spot, in her usual cute booty shorts, her Timbs unlaced, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, lookin’ like a whole ass snack.  

“Hey, how you doin’-” 

She shakes her head, not bothering to look up from the book in her hand. 

“Nah man. Go on.” 

And so, he is curved and salty about it but, like any apex predator he’s patient. He can wait. He’ll shoot his shot another time. 

Days and nights pass.  

He is swift enough to understand that She is a night owl. He can see that his opportunity will come.  

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He knows from asking around that she ain’t strapped. A few men give him vague warnings about her being crazy but, it doesn’t matter. He knows how to handle a woman.  

Tonight, she’s posted up, no Timbs this time, pajama shorty shorts on and flip flops. She reaches to her left and her long fingers grope, then flutter on a soft pack of cigarettes. That drags her attention away from her book and she looks down at the empty pack like it insulted her Mama. 

“Fuck.” 

He smiles. 

He waits. 

He is ready. 

She rises, leaves her coffee cup and book. He watches her walk, her booty almost claps and he wants her right now. He waits. Nobody is around, the bar is closed, the baseheads are all off having basehead dreams. The only light around the corner is the little bodega, the mouth to the alley is ready.  

He is ready. 

The thing about not being from the neighborhood is that, you don’t know shit. Not where the drop pieces are, not where the head stash is, not who might be up and who might not be.  

She knows. 

She ready. 

He sees her as she exits the bodega, she throws a peace sign over her shoulder and calls back. 

“No fuck you Gordo. You still owe me ten from the last time. Man, don’t make me tell your Mama.” 

The whisper of profane Spanish and Gordo’s laughter trails her as she walks back up the block. He waits in the mouth of the alley, rubbing his fingertips together. He can smell her, cocoa butter, smoke, coffee, Black girl deliciousness.  

He is fast, not basehead fast but fast enough to grab a handful of her braids just as she passes by. He holds the knot of hair at the back of her neck like a guide and turns her into the alley. 

“Don’t be so rough.” 

Her voice is raspy tonight, husky. Her breath is warm, she likes her coffee sweet and it makes him feel good.  

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

SETTING: Alley. The witching hour. She is looking up at Him. If he were a smart man, or a film man he would recognize the look. The villain emerges through a downturned chin, upturned eyes and the prettiest wet pink flicker of plump tongue. 

He sees the wet on secret wet of her underlip and thinks, yes. He turns her loose and she walks further into the alley. 

She doesn’t turn around while she tucks her cigarettes into the waistband of her shorts and peels off her tank top. She lets him admire her back as she walks deeper into the shadows.  

He is hard. 

He ain’t ready. 

He is too busy following the idea of a tramp stamp riding her lower back to see what she’s doing when she bends over and reaches under a pallet.  

She moves like a shark. This is her night, her hood and the bat in her hands feels like home. She is Queen Bitch and she plants her feet and swings from her wide hips.  

By the time he registers the low arc of the bat, his right knee explodes and he folds like a paper bag. The pain is enormous, it radiates from his knee to his hip to his balls and he howls.  

No one comes.  

She ready. 

She smile. 

“Listen baby.” 

She licks her lips and lines up for another swing. He swears he can hear the bat whistle as it goes over her head and crashes down onto his hip. He can see her bounce of her pert, chubby little titties and the titanic jiggle of her thighs as she hits him.  

When the pain registers, it is a raging ball of fury that takes his breath and makes him cry for the devil. The pain obscures her fine titties and the idea he started with. The pain rolls through his pelvis like lava, dripping into his balls and making his bowels loose and his asshole clench. His teeth chatter and he can hear sound coming out of him but can’t identify it. 

He is watching her watch him, her head tilted, glossy lips screwed up. 

“You an old head, you know what they say.” 

She swings again and his ribs, dear Jesus his ribs. The breath runs out of him as if fleeing the pain. He can’t breathe, he can’t speak and all he wants is for someone, anyone to save him. 

We could have saved him, had he been a wiser man. 

“Don’t start no shit.” 

Another blow, she breaks his arm.  

“There won’t be no shit.” 

She steps back and her pretty face is lit from within. Glee and malice give her a glow under the fuzzy dim light. He sees her teeth, she’s smiling. Everything is going to be fine. 

For her. 

While he writhes he manages to get through his pain and tears to speak. 

“Please, I got money.” 

He paws at his pocket, he’s got a roll. He had planned on treating himself to a bottle after they were done, maybe breakfast later. A little for rent and a few other necessities. She nudges him onto his back and he wails, she squats with her thighs wide open. 

Her shorts pull tight into her crotch and the plump outline of her fat pussy is clear and close.  

“Go ahead and look. That’s what you wanted.” 

He looks, even in his state of extremis he has to look. 

“Listen, I ain’t gonna kill you.” 

His relief is shaky and he starts to cry.  

“Thank you, I ain’t mean nothin, I was only playin.” 

She laughs, sweet and high and joyful. 

“Oh, I know. But, I still don’t like it.” 

She straightens up, drops the bat and pulls her shirt back on. Grimacing she rolls her left shoulder, lip curled. 

“Softball injury. Well, bye boo.” 

He relaxes. He knows once a little bit of shock sets in he can crawl to the bodega and maybe get some help. That is not to be. 

We know what her whistle brings. 

It is late, but not late enough for all of the night creatures to be in bed. We know that the worst of the worst of night dwelling. She knows him, everyone knows him. He is fucked up, a walking burn mouth corpse but, he is from their neighborhood and knows his place. He eases out from behind the dumpster, jiggling foot to foot. 

“Hooo boy you fucked with the wrong bitch boy, I tell you what.” 

He whimpers, confused and uneasy. She looks at the stranger. 

“I was nice once. You got this?” 

The man, the new man, the scabrous oily creature with the perverse gleam in his eye nods.  

“For real?” 

“For real.” 

They smile at each other.  

We see that the man with the evil smile, is the thin burnt version of her. Her smile is not quite that evil, hers has an edge of fun. Mischief. Prettiness. 

“Yeah. I can keep the money?” 

“Course. Get rid of this shit and I’ll see you at home. Come home today. I’ll make you chicken and waffles.” 

She opens her cigarettes and they smoke together while he begins to understand. Let’s watch him, he knows he has met his death. He should have stayed home. What we know, he is learning. Too late, of course.  

She walks away, her booty almost clapping. Holding her dirty hands away from her still clean tank top. The man on the ground looks up at the Grim Reaper. 

“I-” 

The Grim Reaper shakes his head, we shake our heads, around the corner Gordo shakes his head and she walks into her house smiling. 

“That’s my fuckin’ sister man. My. Sister.” 

His eyes close.  

Our eyes are open. 

What he should have known, we know. 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Grim Reaper: The one she waits for at night. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 4 AM. High summer.  

We know, there is always another He. Always tragic and always dead. 

Nana’s Girl- Flash Horror Freebie

HI FREN!

It is Black history month so here take a little Blackity Black Black ghost story. Written using my fave prompr book no seriously get it. Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side.

Now here we go. Unedited and hot n fresh.

Prompt-1.102  

Begin a story with the line, “It was when I died that….”  

 ~~
It was when I died that I understood what Nana had meant by, get free at all costs. When I was a baby, everyone said I was her spitting image. Same big black eyes, same crooked right eyebrow, same deep brown skin and as I got older the same stank ass attitude and habitual resting bitch face. There was a picture of the two of us, I think I was four and we both had the evilest expressions. It was my favorite photo. 

Mama said that we were one soul in two bodies like twins separated by time and blood. Nana used to like to take walks at night, the street dudes always spoke so nicely to her. She took me on occasion when I couldn’t sleep, we were both nighttime babies. The first time I was about ten and it was the kind of hot dank night nobody really sleeps very well, we wore almost matching housedresses, she held my hand and we shuffled along together in the deep of the night.  

“Nana, what time is it?” She checked her watch, “it us 2:57 AM. You know what they call 3 AM?” I couldn’t stop staring around, I never got to see our neighborhood at rest. Even the various houseless folks, pimps and hang rounds had gone to bed. I was fascinated by the quiet, I stopped and pointed at shiny eyes peering at us from under a porch. “Nana, what is that under there?” She looked and reached into her purse, she tossed crackers into the yard and a plump opossum waddled out to her bounty. “Look, she got babies.” 

Many nights we walked together that way. We fed the raccoons, opossums and ne’er-do-wells. I loved how even the hardest dudes were so soft and deferential to her. “Hey Mrs. Gennessee. Hello Nina.” I remember one of them, Nana and I called him Walter, everyone else called him Big Money. “Hi Walter. How are you?” He like most of the guys never quite met my eyes, he held his hat in his hands and fidgeted like a child. “I’m good Miss Nina. I um, here.” 

He thrust a paper bag into my hand and Nana handed him a little old babyfood jar. He took it, gave us a strange, terrified smile and sauntered away as quickly as his manhood would let him. “Nana, that ain’t drugs is it?” I gave her the paper bag and she chuckled. “No, you’ll see. Come on baby let’s go home.” The gangsters always found us, Nana showed me how to make them specific mojo bags and oils they anointed themselves in before they went to war. 

When I was 17 at 2:57 AM on February 19th, Nana visited me one last time. I felt her weight on my bed and I pulled her down to cuddle me. “I don’t want you to go. It is our time; Pisces season is just starting.” She held me and stroked my hair; I felt her whisper in my ear. “Freedom. No matter what Nina Simone Gennessee. You hear me?” I turned to put my face in her soft wrinkly neck, I put my hands in her hair like I did when I was a tot and I wanted 2:59 AM to last forever. 

After she was gone, my hair started to turn grey. Just a scattering of delicate silver coils just like hers. My ass got wider, I started to limp a little bit and favor carrying great ugly bags that tinkled with jars and mystical nonsense in them. On my 50th birthday, March 10th at 3 AM I stood in front of the house my Nana had been born in.  

Long before I was born my Grandfather disappeared. Some said he ran off with a loose woman from down the street, others that he was on the run from the law. But, as I stood there watching the play of shadows on the crumbling walls, I knew. I sprinkled salt and a few other things, I watched the spirit trapped inside the remains of the structure rant and rave. I saw Nana right there on the porch, shotgun in her lap and a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth. 

When I died, my daughters and granddaughters laid in bed with me. I told them stories, I told my eldest grandbaby, my baby where to find my most secret herbs, recipes and ephemera. And as 3 AM bore down on us, I saw my death and somewhere in the light, ultimate freedom. Before I went, I told my girls like Nana told me.

“Get free baby by any means necessary. Any. Means.”

A Winter. Broken. – Freebie fiction

HI frens! I have news but we’ll get to it another day. Part of me doing whatever I want to with my words, here is a story inspired by beloved writer Christopher Ropes. I am not sure if this is fan fiction or no but this is inspired by his piece from Nox Pareidolia, which I reviewed back here. So enjoy this lil haunted thingymajiggy.

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Their hold on me had long since loosened. When I went back everything was the same, suspended in time as the snow fell in silent glory. For years I’d heard the whispers in my dreams, seen and felt the gaze of her. My dreams and heart were haunted by the long shadow of her, Moher Hawthorne. I stood in the doorway of one of the rooms, the air was so thin I could see into the Veil and across it. Time moved behind me but not in front of me. For the first time, I understood that I had come home. He had left a hole in the world only I could find.

“Ser Campbell.” I knew her voice. Her shape. I could see just the bare outline of her moving through the still air. When she touched my cheeks with her rough warm hands, the way she smiled down at me I thought I was going to cry but I smiled. “Yes ma’am.” My voice tore at the air, it was never the same after what happened. “You look like him. Come.”

She led me through the house. The empty halls and abandoned rooms throbbed with pain, eons of pain leached into the very earth with blood and terror. It was no haunt, it was the truth I had known elsewhere. “Mother Hawthorne?” She allowed my arm to snake around her waist and she held me close, “yes child?” As we stopped in front of an empty window, I watched the appearance of footsteps in the snow heading away from us and I could hear the echo of her own mad laughter. “I’m afraid. What if, what if he doesn’t want me?”

I let her walk me into the whiteout and I felt her body move with silent laughter. “Hush Ser Campbell. There has been none other than the two of you to end the story.” Before I could respond she was gone, I heard from behind me the rising howl of laughter and felt her spirit rush by and into the whiteness. I heard her cries on the wind, what she’d said to him before she disappeared. I walked into the snow and felt the hood torn from my head and watched the world tilt and slide around me. On the ground I saw a word, and settled down.

The Veil between us had always been thin. I knew that. My life was ruined the day they came. In that when, I lost my Daddy. I had only been 6 years old and they took him, they hurt him, they ruined us. I lost the heart of my Mother that day and until I was 16 all I knew was desperate terror. Until I felt the pull. For a moment, I saw his face in my dreams and he whispered, hope. I carried his whisper inside my soul until I found the place where the Veil would lift and we could be together again.

Time was running out, the snow was slowing and I had to go. I retraced Mother Hawthorne’s steps and took as big a breath as I could. “Thank you! Thank you Mother!” I hollered and gamboled like a newborn fawn, I galloped through the empty hallway cackling and howling with laughter and fear. I was never graceful and the thunder of my steps outpaced the howl of the wind outside. I burst through the right window and I saw him rise from where he knelt writing in the snow. The wind whipped his hood back and I started screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy wait!”

Brother Campbell didn’t know how many times the scene had played out. His last moments with Mother Hawthorne, his own bitter tears. The sudden loss of so much of his own sorrow had left him adrift in time. He was something worse than a ghost and had almost given up. He’d figured himself to have been just a conduit for the others, for Mother Hawthorne. And then through the eternal bellow of the winter storm he heard it and as he turned to face the old g=house he saw. The snow and whatever the Veil was, gave him a split vision.

His living beauty daughter, whole and unharmed juxtaposed against the ungraceful creature galloping full speed at him. There have been precious few who have gone to their real earned eternal rewards. Brother Campbell had given up the comfort of his own suffering for Mother Hawthorne. He had left the last remnants of his own humanity, the last thing to tether him to the Earth he knew for the others. The snow paused almost and there she was. “Daddy! Daddy!”

The sob he’d held in his gut for he didn’t know how long broke. The young person who flung themselves into his arms was not the ravaged 6 year old he’d lost. “Daddy! Daddy!” They were the daughter he could have had, the potential he’d thought existed but never dreamed to hold in his arms. “They call me Ser Chris Campbell. Is that, is it okay?” He wept, his tears stung his frozen cheeks and he felt the smile crack his frostbitten skin and he looked down at them. “Yes. Of course. Of course, my baby. My darling. My love.”

The two hugged and wept, they laughed and understood. When he could speak he finally asked, “how?” Ser Chris smiled up at him, they pointed at the ground where the word he’d written over and again was disappearing under a fresh layer of snow. “You left hope here.” He pulled her hood up and took her hand. They had few real options in the world and he couldn’t stand the thought of returning to the world she’d been taken from. They stood together a ways down the path, they turned to watch the house.

The old house moaned under the weight of the snow and the release of generations of rage and pain. As they watched it began to rot and wither away until all that was left was the rubble of the foundation. “Daddy, we have to go now. They will rest.” They watched the shades of Mother Hawthorne and others run and laugh and fade until they too were gone and there was only the sound of the snow and the Campbell’s breathing.

Brother Campbell looked down into the face of hope and he understood how Mother Hawthorne had looked the last time he saw her. Ser looked up at him, their big eyes full of the brightness of moonlight on snow and they looked at him as a martyr beholds God and he understood. They bent together to write one last thing in the snow. As they set out arm in arm, Brother Campbell’s tears gave way to laughter. He laughed and ser laughed and they understood. They all, understood.

Talk Nerdy to me- The Origin of the Ghost story Gina Goes Home

Okay buckle up it is fixin to get nerdy af up in this piece today.

Today we’re gonna go all the way the fuck in about a story I wrote last year. Okay you can go read it first or just follow along in another tab, find the chonky baby here.

The Inspiration

I love a good ghost story. I love ghost stories inside of religious mythos, campire yarns. Music, movies, stories I love ghosties. I also love watching paranormal investigation shows. Ghost Hunters, I frickin LOVE Zak Bagins. I watch amateurs on youtube. Love it. That was the initial inspiration.

The other inspo was this. There are theories (no I’m not gonna argue with you if you believe in it or not so don’t) that if you are being haunted, ask the dead what they want. I’ve seen it in movies, referenced in American Gods when Shadow’s dead wife visits and Wednesday asks him if he asked her what she wanted.

The Story

The first thing that this story said to me was, the dead want something. They want someone. They want Gina. I felt like I wanted to tell a story of a modern haunt. Not a historic type thing like a Gray Lady, or even a haunting that would be on an Overlook hotel level.

I really wanted to start small. I call it quaint in the story. I was imagining the kind of hotel you drive by on a roadtrip through the country, not fancy, probably a little shabby but charming. I also wanted to give the reader a clear idea that shit was about to get fucked up.

We get there by the second paragraph, I wasn’t going for subtle. That said, it isn’t the scariest thing, it is if you’re a skeptic you could say that meh, not that bad. See below:

The quaintness of the resident ghosts lasted until 2015. The first report, in the form of a middle-aged shrieking man in basketball shorts and little else came hauling his half naked self-down four flights of stairs. “There, help, please-” Mariah at the front desk had experienced a jumpy guest or two, she had a spare robe behind the desk for such occasions and offered to the gentleman while assuring him she’d check out his room.

This sort of thing happens a lot in hotels. Folks will act up in all sorts of ways and I didn’t want to come right out the gate with the BOO GHOST!

In the next paragraph we have the first instance of what the dead want. If you’ve read me a lot, you know I like to play with repetition for varying effects and in this case, I want the reader to not only hear what the dead want but, at some point it does get unsettling. Who is Gina? Where is Gina? How do we get Gina? What do they want with Gina?

One of the other things I did in this story was get into the body. Horror gives us such a great opportunity to really do things that are not unsettling because they are traditionally creepy but, I think a lot of us have bodily responses to things and sometimes our bodies will duplicate what we’re reading or seeing in sympathy. Looky here:

The sexless whisper was clear as day and came from the still air. She felt no chill, no movement, no sense of another person in the room. Fear gripped her sacrum in cold, hard fingers. Her anus contracted, her whole body tingled, and turned to stone. It took all of her will to take a breath and turn her head to the right. She forced her eyes wide open and saw nothing. She scooted out of the room and stood in the hallway, “oh shit.”

This paragraph is where I get creepy. I didn’t necessarily want to use common ghost tropes to begin with, cold spots, woowoo chain rattling etc. But the body. Those are always my favorite responses when I watch my paranormal shows and I am fascinated with how our bodies do stuff. When your butthole clenches up because oh fuck what the fuck was that. I really LOVE getting into the body. Real talk, I feel like the best way to learn this technique is to write some real nasty erotica. I’m talking super explicit in order to expand your thinking as to how bodies work and can work.

We’ll talk more about that at another time.

Through the next bits I hit on some common ghost/haunting stuff I hear in my shows. Construction riles up ghosts. I was really thinking of something a friend told me about the hotel he’d been working in. They were refurbishing it and the ghosts went buck fuckin wild and caused at least three of housekeeping to straight up fled mid shift.

As we get into some more of the action, I leave little breadcrumbs that these are not white people. That is important to me and interestingly enough, I did have one white reader be not really here for it because the framing of how these non white folks deal with it, is not what we’re presented with in the paranormal stuff I like.

It starts with this:

“Well ma’am, there are unhappy spirits asking for Gina. We’ve done everything, the ofrenda is fresh, the sills and doorways have been protected. Evelyn even brought her Grandfather around to say a blessing.”

This is not for white readers to be honest. This is a headnod to other POC from me. We have an ofrenda, if that’s too much Spanish google it. Also FYI I do not EVER italicize other languages. Fight me don’t @ me.

SHIT I am long winded as fuck. Anyway moving along.

To speed things along, I added some bro type ghost hunters who wanted to provoke and then, I decided to get into the entities. I wanted to explore the maybe was once human but is not totally not type ghosty, along with some lesser ghosties and create a community so they could have a goal. To get Gina.

As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day and the leader of the ghost hunting group was right about one thing. There was something bad. Someone bad, the other dead called him Boss. While the crew gathered themselves, the dead congregated in the basement. While the camera in the corner rolled, the air roiled with orbs and zigzagging streaks of energy.

“Boss? Boss make them get Gina. Bring Gina home.” Some of the hobgoblins grouped together to whisper, “Gina. Where is Gina?” The chorus of Gina and where is Gina and bring her home wavered through the air. “Boss tell them. Tell them.” Something that resided in the crawl space let their high, thin wail out and spoke for them all, “we want Gina. Gina must come home.”

Now, to me it is a bit more frightening to have the ghosties decide to gang up. Then I went into some classic haunting stuff, the cold air, the more traditional type haunt we get to see on the shows.

In order not to totally spoil the rest cause I want you to read it. I really went in on the idea of after the investigators came, how the situation gets solved and as usual, I wrote a not entirely satisfying ending. it ends but I don’t tell you everything that happened because I’m an asshole. I don’t explain who Gina really is, why they want her or anything.

So the overall lesson is this. Try some shit out. I’ve never written a ghost story like this before and I quite enjoyed doing it. Below find some relevant links.

Zak Bagans Demon House lost footage.

Ofrenda altars, also to give an in the know reader a sense of the time of year.

DASSIT. Happy Women in Horror Month!

Oh Uncle Steve..

Before I get going, let me give y’all some background.

I have loved Stephen King since I was 8 years old. The first adult novel I read was ‘Firestarter’. I thought it was verboten so I hid a borrowed copy and read it feverishly whenever I could until I finished it. I have been a lover of horror since.

As an adult I have struggled with my love of King. I wanted to excuse his Magical Negros and constant fallback to racist tropes. I tried.

My love of his oeuvre and the impact on the artist I am not withstanding, I gotta once again realize that Uncle Steve ain’t here for folks like me.

ohnobb
[image description: a tweet by Stephen King that reads: …I wound never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me to do otherwise would be wrong. Dated 4:20 AM Jan 14, 2020
Unky Steve tried to walk it back but look.

This issue is something I’ve spoken about for ages. I’m not gonna rehash. But let’s get a few things 100.

  1. This position assumes all things are equal. They are not.
  2. This position assumes that, things like institutional racism, sexism etc has no bearing in the arts. They do.
  3. It is just a goddamn bad take.

The main problem with people in Kings position making these type proclamations is that, he is in SUCH a position of influence. Like when I wrote about Phil Anselmo from one of my fave bands Pantera doing Nazi-esque shit as “jokes” I have the same issue here. Yeah, he might not have meant it that way but, there is an impact.

Like Phil, I fucking still love the dude. If I knew either of them, I’d probably just be like BRO WHAT THE FUCK IS U DOING….because I care about them. I enjoy their art.

Here’s the thing.

When people in positions of influene, like Mssrs. Anselmo and King, say and do dumb shit like this, there is a large part of their fans/followers and people they influence in their respective arenas who absolutely use things like this to back their own bias and put it into action.

The problem is that, it is #20-dingdang-20 and we HAVE to stop allowing White liberals to say shit like this and pretend like it is fine. It is not fine.

Had Uncle Steve been paying attention to his own industry for I dunno the last 15 years, he’d probably be well aware that in his most famous genre in particular, women, POC, etc have not been exactly welcomed with open arms.

We who are not cis white hetero men, don’t have the luxury of sitting back and resting on the quality of our work. We never have. Here in the year of fuckery of 2020 we still don’t.

As it is, right this minute. There are many white people in influential positions in horror publishing who are publicly neonazis. This is happening now.

How about a storytime? This is post Racefail ’09 and happened to me a few years ago when I decided to maybe start easing my way back into the horror area of lit life, I went to an event where there were HWA people.

It was some bucketlist shit for me. Many moons and out of prints ago, I was super close to making enough pro horror sales to qualify to be a member. That is all I wanted in life. Now, you may or may not know that in meatspace, I can be kinda shy and skittish. I’m a feral cat in a dress and easily startled. BUT when I wanna meet folks, I sweat and get it done.

I met some folks from the org and they were nice white folks. Generally welcoming, I don’t know if they were local to me. BUT, when we started talking authors, neither of them (and they were both older than me) had heard of not one SINGLE Black writer I mentioned. Most of the writers I tried to talk to them about were members in good standing, several of them were quite prolific and included Tananarive Due.

Tananarive Due.

……………

Y’all. It was enlightening to me.

The fact that they had NO IDEA of contempary horror writers who were producing work for big houses at that point, and weirdly they were all not White….

For a bit further sauce, around the same time I had been contacted by a small (no longer around) horror start up mag. They knew of my work from my porny horror I’d had published years earlier, they were nice White folks who said diversity a lot.

They liked a lot of the horror stuff I like. They solicited work from me. I may have the bones of the story somewhere but basically, it was a hood ass haunted house story. Very classic haunting and yes in the hood without the smirk. Hood kids, one of them with a root working Nana,

Their style of editing was quite eh, handsy. They wanted to work in a very collaborative, edit as you go type of way that they framed as “shaping” and “development”. I wasn’t a fan but I really wanted to be in their debut issue with a fat ass Blackity Black Black horror story.

As we worked, most of their inquiries were thinly veiled white folks being amazed that Black things exist. A lot of the story was hooked to 90s r&b and they questioned if their audience would recognize it. See also questions about if their audience would “feel” things like:

  • Mentioning braids or beaded hairstyles
  • Very light AAVE
  • Endless questions about things folks in the story did/knew about. Black biker gangs, passing mention of thins like Rodney King (remember this was very much placed in the 90s),

Etc etc. It became very clear to me that their discomfort was not the story itself but the absolutely unapologetic Blackness. That this story was not centered in the White gaze and thus was not “relatable”. They never questioned the quality of the work. They loved the idea but not the execution in that it was not, centered in the traditionally super whiteness of Horror.

I pulled out. I couldn’t take it. I felt so beat down and defeated. After that, I bounced off of horror for a long time. I didn’t read a lot of it, I didn’t follow the industry. I stuck to tried and true faves until the Anti-Blackness in those (UNCLE STEVE) was too much for me.

So look.

We can’t keep pretending that all things are equal in any sense of the word. Uncle Steve, please stop. This shit is exhausting. Read the link below and follow the links in it. Y’all can we fuckin not.

#StokersSoWhite: 2016-2018, the fall of tokenism at the HWA by Sumiko Saulson. 

Fiction Fun Using Prompts

OH Hi there.

So one of my favorite things in the world is to write mythos, y’all know this. I’ve been feeling a little creatively constipated so I brought out the big guns.

Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side by Michael A. Arnzen.* (evil empire affiliate link srry).

This book came out in 2013 and I’ve literally been using it since the week after it debuted. This is one of my favorite books of prompts and it has been so well worth the money. I love to use prompts to see what happens when I poke my brain meat.

Below find a um, refashioning of a Lovecraft beasty. For reference this is about Shub-Niggurath.

For whatever reason, my brain parsed the prompt as, write a Black as fuck new Lovecrafty thing. SO I present you a fresh out of my brainmeat, recrafting of Shub-Niggurath. An origin tale if you will. With the prompt. ENJOY!

Prompt-1.57  

The title of your piece is “Death by Chocolate.” Go.  

Tarasha Golden had a routine. She woke at 5 AM sharp, did her fifteen-minute yoga practice, made her smoothie bowls and spent time caring for her skin and body. Most mornings, she even managed to use some little part of herself as an offering, she kept bits of herself to offer to her Mother to keep their connection. To exist on the Earth meant she had options, her decisions to transubstantiate revolved around her love of the gibbering lust of weak men and her perverted desires to procreate just to see what could happen.  

This time around she built herself in the image of the ones she loved to look at. The Black girls she liked were thick, goddess bodied women who lived in the liminal shadow of hate and desire. She made herself to be in that place. Prior to committing to the physical, she had looked at women all over the world. The coveted beauties. The lotus footed beauties in the Song Dynasty, the lead poisoned priestesses in Greece, the blessed Hijra, the masculine beauties with wives in the American west, so many to choose from. She loved them in their intricate diversity, she walked in their skins feeling herself as the kids started to say at some point. 

Tarasha had been all of them, she inhabited the flesh and the experience in ways that as she had learned by the modern age, were easy to use as weapons. The twin flames of lust and hate, rather than greed or even religion were the means she liked to use to destroy the weakest amongst men. Upon close examination of her earliest mates and playthings, their desires cut into their most secret hatreds, their petty jealousies and could turn from a lovers touch to an abusers slap, with the speed of the word no crossing her lips.  

Once she happened upon the broken mix of human malaise and the depths of depravity her favorite prey mates could reach, there was no turning back. In modern times, Tarasha watched for a time. It was time for her to mate and cultivate the Gof’nn hupadgh, her most beloved worshippers once more. She was ready to give them suck of her milk and bear her many children.  

Tarasha chose wisely for both her own aesthetic pleasure and to tickle the hateful madness in her prey mates. She made herself tall and deep dark brown, thick as the human children said, fine and yes, yes she could look at her new form in the mirror, naked and gleaming, gloriously fertile and everything, her prey mates hated, she felt resplendent and ready.  

Once, she had to wait for a new moon and a woodland and the call of sacrificial flesh and blood and other nonsense.  Instead, there was one of her Gof’nn hupadgh, her most fervent true believer who, in lieu of a woodland or person to sacrifice, called under a new moon, in a room reeking of her offspring and jittering with the ruckus of her gibbering dark offspring. They made the wood and thus she came. 

The Gof’nn hupadgh, fell to his knees before her. He could not hide his surprise nor his momentary uncontrolled feral hate and lust, it was delicious. She smiled at him, “what’s wrong Gof’nn hupadgh? Do I not please you?” From her voluptuous lips, the voice churned in the human. He felt it pull and the dank heat of it in his bowels, “forgive me mother but you, you’re-” 

She bent forward and the splendid Black body she had created, undulated and flickered to give glimpses of the gleaming wet black maw of her true self. “I am, what?” The Gof’nn hupadgh’s eyes went white all round as the Black body he wanted and hated, exposed the corpse scented tentacled true body of his most beloved Mother and his little mind, his poor mind could not reconcile the two. Hate, lust, want, need, the impostures of his own broken desires begat a new madness. 

Tarasha, so named by her own mind wanted this and when the Gof’nn hupadgh at her feet, let go and raised his hands to her, his eyes settling between her legs, she understood this new game. She understood the new game in this world, to use their latent hate and allow them to fertilize a new generation of her Dark Young. A new tradition. New fun in form and function. 

She took the Gof’nn hupadgh into her womb and felt, his anger and disgust and need and it was good. Upon taking him in, she let the blessed event proceed as it had done for millennia before. He would be her first, and yet not her last. Upon his rebirth, he knelt at her feet mewling for her milk.  

Tarasha stroked the creature tenderly, a smile on her lush carmine lips. “Yes, I know. Now come on, we have things to do, come come come.” 

Tarasha Golden strode out of the makeshift wood, under the New Moon, in her new skin and feeling fine and ready for the realm.  

Horror Musings- Ma and #ownvoices

I saw the movie Ma recently and (spoilers in link) and I have some thots. Buckle up. SPOILERS bro.

On the surface of it, Ma is a pretty okay movie. Good amount of suspense, interesting main antagonist but, by the time they started to “reveal” Ma’s backstory it was really too late. This was obviously not written by a Black person. I checked and sure enough, nope.

From the start, this had potential had someone Black written it. Here we have Sue Anne, one of obviously very few Black folks in this town and we (we as in probably mostly Black folks lezbehonest) know some shit happened. When you are one of few Black folks in any very white place, shit is gonna go down.

Perfect set up for a psychological thriller where you Sue Anne get your revenge by killing the kids of the folks who fucked with you. However, this is where #ownvoices is so important, in spite of how magnificent and menacing Octavia was in this role, the lack of providing us even glimpses via flashback, nightmares, something left the later mentions of stuff having happened empty to me.

In the end, regardless of the performances (I also really loved Juliette Lewis playing a grown person) there is a disconnect in this film. I could tell very quickly this was not a Black story. From wiki, this is the problem:

He read Scotty Landes’ script of the film, which Blumhouse Productions had bought the day before.[5] Although the original draft was written with a white woman in the title role, Taylor immediately thought about Spencer.[4] He went out to the hall, called Spencer, and asked her if she would like to be in a horror film;[5] without reading the script, Spencer boarded the project.[5]

The issue is that, you can’t just plug Blackness into any story. You can’t always just say NO BUT MAKE THEM BLACK and have that make the Blackness in the media you’re creating work. To put a finer point on it, if you’re going to bring in that racism and misogynoir into the story, the men who wrote it have no clue about how those things could make a monster like Sue Anne and for me it fell flat.

This is where I would say the solution is sensitivity readers/writers. I think Blumhouse really missed a great chance to look at a script and say, we need Black folks on this to make this story better. If you want to:

“I want to do something really fucked up.”[5]

Do the damn work.

This is why #ownvoices is so important. This film could have been so much better. Deeper. Richer. A more terrifying experience.

Overall, it was ok. I’ll probably watch it again for Octavia’s work alone but, really if you’re gonna make a Black ass horror story, consult some Black people.

If you’re gonna use a racism trope, use it. Don’t drop it in cause you’ve switched your main antagonist to be a Black person. This is an instance where I want to cheer but I feel like, y’all coulda done more. Blumhouse has the cash. Do the work. Take a chance on doing something great and fucked up.

In terms of horror fiction, this is a great set up. It is rich territory to explore and we need more of it. Just, not done by a team of white folks.

I think that’s all for now. Coming soon, book reviews!!

First up next week, beloved Jen Pastiloff then beloved Gabino Iglesias. WOO!

 

Yeah Write #452- Harold in the Afterlife

 

Harold in the Afterlife

by

Shannon Barber

He was excited to see 150 new emails in his inbox. The world had given him the gift of solitude in his communications. No more ridiculous chanting, no more exhausting transmogrification on demand, a simple button push and voila, everything he needed to get it all done. The little ding of an email sent or received had become his greatest pleasure.

He thought he would spend the rest of his eternity quietly tapping away on his miracle machine with dignity and organizational beauty but, no. One email, a single line and the dreaded high importance flag.

“Fifteen minutes.”

He left his little safe space and appeared as summoned. He stood with his hands folded in front of him, trying to look pleasant. The Boss looked at him over his glasses.

“Harold. We need to talk.”

“Yes sir.”

The Boss nodded.

“Harold, you are not an administrator anymore. You are dead. You are a ghost. Do your job please. Those emails you send, they don’t go anywhere. Please, you are assigned to full manifestations and shadow person appearances. We have tried to work with your needs and this, situation is untenable. It has been fifteen years.”

Harold sighed and squirmed.

“Yes sir.”

He looked so dejected and heart broken, The Boss held up a finger and tilted his head back. He hated to see such a face and made a decision.

“Harold, we’ll be moving you into this new industrial office park. It was built on desecrated ground. They have a lot of those computers you are so fond of. You can get in there and do whatever you want. Send emails, block emails, uh do the YouTube.”

The grin that spread across Harold’s misty face was beatific for a moment.

“Oh yes sir. I would like that very much. May I go right now?”

The Boss nodded and Harold dissipated. The Boss shook his head a little and muttered as he got back to work, “once a bureaucrat….”

###

Yeah Write #442-….safe.

….safe.

by

Shannon Barber

In the sun, in June you are safe. But, it grows. Cradled in light and heat, you are free, safe. There is no reason for the world to slip and slide on the periphery of you. No reason for the chill between your thighs.

You will not scream. The darkness will not come. And yet the cold place grows inside.

###

Yeah, Write #430

Yeah, Write #430 

-you’ll Laugh

You Know.

by Shannon Barber

You know.

-you’ll laugh.

You want to call them faceless, nameless, formless even- it would be easier wouldn’t it? Everything would be better if you didn’t feel their name songs in your bones when you lay down to sleep, if you didn’t see their faces smile at you from darkened corners, if your skin didn’t remember the heat of their touch. Easy, you crave any ease and moments of illusory peace.

You know.

-you’ll laugh.

You watch everyone else. Their petty struggles and their ignorance of the name songs and weight of the dead that hangs on them make you smile when everything else is- as is. You hold your truth close, truth is your secret. Watch the rest of the fools dance and squirm. You tell yourself while your bones vibrate with name songs and your skin buzzes with ghosts, at least you know. Tonight you’ll laugh.

You know.

-you’ll laugh.

You know. You will take your complexities and one foot on the other side life because-

You know-

-you’ll laugh.

###