Our Halloween festivities continue with an excerpt and a free book!
About the Book
In a season of dead weather, the mind clutches at reality; but what does it find instead? Madness, or monsters? Ghosts, or things more terrible than ghosts? Illusions, or invasions? Dreams, or the darkness at the end of all nightmares? One thing is clear: these are tales that echoes tell, in a season of dead weather.
The weird, the uncanny, the strange: these are the local conditions of dead weather.
And these are stories based on dreams and nightmares, on things barely glimpsed in the moonrise, on places perfectly normal by day but haunted by the light of winter stars.
Along with stories that appeared in “All Hallows” (edited by Barbara and Christopher Roden) and in the ROC anthology, “Alone on the Darkside” (edited by John Pelan) are tales that have never seen the light — but now, as daylight fades, the stories can be told.
Stalk the Author!
From the short story “The Weight of its Awareness,” included in this collection
But now the park was different.
It was no longer empty: the lawn was crowded with tightly-grouped sculptures and statues. Some were formed of wrought iron, green or black; others of marble, salmon pink or white; and a few had been daubed with bold reds that gleamed in the angled sunlight of late afternoon.
For a moment he stood in surprise; then he stepped forward and turned to face the nearest group of statues. He peered at this tableau for what seemed a long frozen time, and felt a growing chill that had nothing to do with autumn.
Before him stood a man of white marble. Life-sized and life-like in all its details, it clutched at the air with hands on which every tendon stood out in ridges of extreme pain. Every tendon stood out on its neck as it reared backwards and screamed in silence at the sky. Its body was contorted with agony, surrounded and pressed in from all sides by three distorted creatures of black wrought iron: diseased unicorns the size of Clydesdales, emaciated, skeletal at many points, yet with slabs of muscle that bulged in brutal exertion as they crushed the man between their shoulders and chests, muscles that clenched like tree roots on their straining necks as they reached down with black teeth to tear at the screaming face.
Appalled, Mikhail turned away, and noticed that the pool was also different. The iridescent mosaic was gone, replaced by a sculpted representation of an undersea floor. In the clear, shallow water, a thick mass of weeds like dark green spears tipped with red lined the bottom of the pool, and partially entangled, partially concealed, lay the supine body of a dead man. Only the arched torso could be seen; that, and the lower part of the head, with its gaping mouth. The pale stone of the corpse had a vaguely greenish hue, a sickly green that looked too convincingly realistic — as realistic as the long jade form of a sea serpent, coiled in a choking circle around the corpse, and lurking in the weeds for another victim. From its head extended a long, backwards-leaning spike or spine, poisonously red and obviously deadly; its one visible eye peered up through the water with calm reptilian patience — directly, it seemed, at Mikhail.
The water trembled with sudden ripples: the wind seemed sharper, now, and much more cold.
He turned away, and nearly stumbled into the next tableau. Lean goatish figures of pale stone, tall as human beings and equally bipedal, with insane eyes rolled upwards in each socket, with yellow teeth gaping and shallow jaws red with slick paint, they crouched, lunged at each other with lowered horns or cloven hooves, fought with each other to grab a torn, flayed bundle that one of the creatures hugged to itself possessively with snarling greed: the mutilated body of a human child.
Mikhail hunched himself against the sight and turned away, but every space to right or left confronted him with some new atrocity in stone. And so he peered up instead at the crazed high rooftops of the partially concealed houses; he looked up and saw that every house had windows: from every gable and dormer, black panes glinted like the eyes of a waiting spider.
And then the wind faltered, and gave way to a throbbing silence.
In one angular bay window high above, a casement swung open.