Poetry With A Splash Of Blood


Japanese author Yukio Mishima poses at his home in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 10, 1966. (AP Photo/Nobuyuki Masaki)

“Perfect purity is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood.”

Today marks the passing of one of the finest writers I have ever read, Mishima Yukio, best known for his Sea of Fertility tetralogy, but particularly beloved by me for The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, The Sound Of Waves, Sun and Steel, and The Temple Of The Golden Pavillion. 

Mishima came to manhood during the fall of Imperial Japan, seeing the Emperor renounce his divinity through the eyes of one deemed unfit for military service. A latent homosexual with artistic aspirations discouraged by his strict father, he grew into one of the most important literary voices Japan has ever produced.
But it was perhaps inevitable that a man with his background who would write –
“Most writers are perfectly normal in the head and just carry on like wild men; I behave normally but I’m sick inside.”
-would not shuffle quietly out of life.
Perceiving the Westernized Japan as a country that had lost its samurai soul, he formed a group of young male kendo enthusiasts and political activists he called the Shield Society, in the hopes of re-establishing the manhood he believed his nation had forfeited at the end of World War II, and perhaps, aspiring to the impossible definition of masculinity he had fallen short of in his boyhood.
On this day November 25th in 1970, he marched his four most loyal followers, including his lover, into the office of a general of the armed forces under the pretense of showing him a rare 16th century katana. He took the officer hostage while his men drove off his aides with swords, then had the man assemble his troops in the courtyard.
Mishima stepped out onto the balcony and addressed the gathered soldiers, urging them to stand up and seize control of their country for the glory of the Emperor. The soldiers reportedly jeered up at him as a pair of helicopters circled low overhead, their mechanical droning drowning out his passionate words.
He stepped back into the general’s office, knelt on the floor before the bound and gagged general, stripped off his tunic, and drove his sword into his own belly, disemboweling himself in the traditional manner of seppuku.
His lover standing behind him in order to act as his kaishakunin, strove to sever his head and end his pain, but only succeeded in striking his shoulder and back and cutting his neck deeply.
Mishima begged that his agony be not prolonged.
Another follower took the sword from his fellow and struck off Mishima’s head with one blow.
Mishima, like a samurai, seemed to live for death. I don’t know if he truly believed his call to arms would be successful, but I do think he had long planned a glorious death for himself, to end his life as a line of poetry with a splash of blood. In the end, he must have been disappointed by the failure of those around him to facilitate his desire and to live up to his ideal, much as I suppose, he felt he had disappointed his own father.
Whatever his reasons, he was an admirable writer, and his death was as strange and beautiful as his work.
A small night storm blows
Saying ‘falling is the essence of a flower’
Preceding those who hesitate

Yukio Mishima

DT Moviehouse Reviews: Casino Royale

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 300+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. A bit late to tie into the release of Spectre, here’s Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007, Casino Royale.

Screenplay by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

Directed by Martin Campbell

Tagline: None


What It’s About:

casinoroyale_commentary1In the wake of earning the 00 prefix, MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) follows a twisting trail of a Ugandan terrorist organization’s millions back to criminal financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkselsen). After foiling Le Chiffre’s plan to double his money via the destruction of an international airline, Bond and Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) are tasked by M (Judi Dench) with going head to head with the desperate Le Chiffre in a high stakes game of Texas hold ‘em at the Casino Royale in Montenegro to keep the money out of the terrorists’ hands and force the financier to give up his shadowy criminal employers.

Why I Bought It:

The first James Bond movie I ever saw was Live And Let Die on broadcast television with my parents. While I was impressed by the alligators, Tee-Hee and the voodoo, the ‘kissy stuff’ was a big turn off, and I would roll my eyes as further installments aired over the years, dismissing James Bond as a romance series. In the 90’s I rediscovered Bond via GoldenEye, and was completely arrested by the character (enough to jump at the chance to write him – more on that in a later post). I never did get into Roger Moore much, but I went back and watched the rest of the series, and finally read the musty, water-damaged old Ian Fleming paperbacks from my dad’s college days, which totally outshone the series in my mind, and despite my excitement for the character, I detected the gradual split between the superior books and the films, probably right around You Only Live Twice, with a brief return to form in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and, in terms of feel anyway, parts of Timothy Dalton’s run. Brosnan’s subsequent outings departed from reality and left me a bit cold, so when Daniel Craig and this movie were announced, I didn’t rush out to see it.

The first time I did catch it was in the break room at my then job.

CASINO-FIGHTThe opening of Casino Royale brought the thunder. Shot in brutal, stark black and white, we’re treated to the ‘origin’ of Bond, or at least, the initial two kills which earn him his license to kill. This sequence was an epiphany for me. The savage bathroom fight is harsh and dirty. This is Ian Fleming’s scar-faced assassin, terrifying in one instant and magnetic in the next, as we cut to his confrontation with the rogue section chief. In contrast to the bleak, disheveled whiteness of the restroom, Bond emerges from blackness like a shot out of the Third Man, neat, cold, merciless as he cuts off his quarry’s advice with a suppressed bullet.

Casino_Royale1-e14016479285401.pngThen, like Dorothy stepping out of her house into Oz, the screen floods with brilliant colors and the opening strains of one of the fiercest Bond themes since Live And Let Die, the skin prickling You Know My Name by Chris Cornell. The lyrics are pure Bond. Are they a continuation of the section chief’s warning to the fledgling assassin, or are they a weathered, cold hearted Bond speaking dismissively to Le Chiffre or to his younger self?

Arm yourself because no-one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can’t deny the prize; it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name

blue-white-etc (1)I wrote a bit more extensively about the awesome opening title sequence here for Hasslein Books, so I won’t spend more time on it here.

This was new, this was brilliant. This wasn’t the erudite playboy delivering Schwarzeneggerian quips and lasering comic book bad guys with his wristwatch. This was Fleming’s Bond, stepped right out of the book from which this movie takes its name.

And yet, on that initial viewing, I went from riding high immediately to despair as Bond wound up chasing an African bomber through a construction site in a crazily over the top parkour sequence. I was wrong, this was still comic book stuff. I went through the rest of the flick half-lidded, guffawing at one point when, after a furious fight in a stairwell with two machete wielding Ugandans, Bond discovers the shaken Vesper sitting in the shower fully dressed, sits down next to her, and proceeds to suck her fingers. And Texas Hold ‘Em? Bond’s game is Baccarat. Texas Hold ‘Em is for hillbillies and Vegas rats in hoodies with sunglasses.

I didn’t go see Quantum of Solace (a real shame, because next to this, it’s my favorite Craig outing), and only went to Skyfall because a friend from out of town wanted to see the Cinerama Dome on Vine and chose Skyfall as the movie.

I enjoyed Skyfall, and it induced me to revisit Casino Royale.

If I could kick myself in the head, I would.

Casino Royale isn’t quite Ian Fleming’s Bond, but it’s pretty dang close. It follows most of the plot of the book, even if Craig’s Bond is given a bit of an out by M at the end, so he’s not quite the same cold hearted bastard he is at the end of the book, which, if I’m not mistaken, ends with the line “The bitch is dead.”

picture-of-sebastien-foucan-in-casino-royale-large-picture.jpgThe plot is taut, the action gripping. That parkour chase through the construction site I dismissed in my first viewing is absolutely killer, with Sebastian Foucan (and his freerunning doubles) moving with sublime kinetic grace as Bond pursues his character like a juggernaut, smashing through drywall and finally chasing him down to an embassy which he leaves in flames. The crash of the DBS V12 when Bond nearly runs over Vesper in the road is spectacularly shot, and the tense battle inside a sinking Venetian edifice is a great climax.

Casino_Royale_(120).pngGone are the campy sexploits of stiffly mugging Bond. This is the cold blooded international assassin, slipping a blade into a man at a museum exhibit in the midst of unsuspecting civilians, downing a whisky to quell the shakes after battling to the death in an empty stairwell, then cleaning his cuts and chaning his shirt in time for the next multimillion dollar hand down in the casino. The only gadget on display is a believable adrenaline shot and dashboard defibrillator, the closest thing to a joke in the wake of the action an exultant but exhausted grin as a terrorist mistakenly blows himself up instead of the world’s largest jet liner.

Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond-in-Casino-RoyaleYet despite the superhuman feats Bond pulls off, this is not an untouchable superman. This Bond doesn’t shrug off bullets or car crashes. He nearly succumbs to poison, and after suffering grueling ‘advanced interrogation techniques’ at the eager, sadistic hands of Le Chiffre, he earns a hospital stay. Likewise, this Bond, we are to assume a young Bond early in his career, still feels enough for Vesper’s betrayal to cut out his heart in the end. We’re witnessing a crucible firing. The fat is cut away, and at the end, the man who blows out Mr. White’s knee and stands over him with a silenced submachinegun, truly is Bond, James Bond.

Casino_Royale_(99).pngThe supporting cast of Casino Royale is fabulous. Of course Judi Dench’s return to the role of M is welcome (if a bit puzzling in terms of series continuity, until you arrive at the conclusion that these should basically be viewed and enjoyed the same way as the Godzilla series, where the origin and basic tropes are the same and each subsequent installment unrelated, groups of miniseries within the overall series). Eva Green believably pulls off the arc of a seemingly inexperienced field agent who is also in league with the Devil the whole time, alternately vulnerable and necessarily cruel, tragically beautiful and regretful. This is the movie that introduced me to the great Mads Mikkelsen, whose bleeding-eyed Le Chiffre seems as cool as the other side of the pillow when he’s at the table playing with other people’s money, but is suitably sweaty and frantic when those people come to collect. His scenes with Bond around the table are terrific, and the cringe inducing torture sequence appropriately hard to watch. Jeffrey Wright’s been a favorite actor of mine since Ride With The Devil, and his turn as series mainstay CIA agent Felix Leiter is a welcome casting choice. I like him here and in Quantum of Solace, and have missed his return since. I especially like Giancarlo Giannini in the role of Rene Mathis, a likable, sophisticated mentor for Bond whose loyalty is called into question late in the game. Bond movies are known for their lovely actresses and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely stunning Caterina Murino as Solange, the satiny, neglected wife of one of Bond’s kills who pays the ultimate price for betraying her slimy husband’s doings.

casino-royale3.jpgAs for Daniel Craig himself, he’s the best Bond since Timothy Dalton, and captures the look and feel of the literary 007 possibly better than any of his predecessors. Sure he’s a sophisticate and a connoisseur of various fineries, but the drinks and the pills are holding him together, and beneath that veneer he’s the scary killer smashing through the dry wall to get at you. Those freakin’ eyes!


Best Dialogue/Line:

The initial exchange between Vesper and Bond.

Vesper Lynd: All right… by the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford or wherever. Naturally you think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come from money, and your school friends never let you forget it. Which means that you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity: hence that chip on your shoulder. And since you’re first thought about me ran to “orphan,” that’s what I’d say you are.

[he smiles but says nothing]

Vesper Lynd: Oh, you are? I like this poker thing. And that makes perfect sense! Since MI6 looks for maladjusted young men, who give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect queen and country. You know… former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches.

[Glances at his wrist]

Vesper Lynd: Rolex?

James Bond: Omega.

Vesper Lynd: Beautiful. Now, having just met you, I wouldn’t go as far as calling you a cold-hearted bastard…

James Bond: No, of course not.

Vesper Lynd: But it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine. You think of women as disposable pleasures, rather than meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money – and off your perfectly-formed arse.

James Bond: You noticed?

Vesper Lynd: Even accountants have imagination. How was your lamb?

James Bond: Skewered. One sympathizes.

Best Scene:

Casino_Royale_(9).pngHas to be that opener, one of the best of the series.

Dryden: How did he die?

Bond: Your contact? Not well.

Dryden: Made you feel it, did he? Well, you needn’t worry. The second is…


Bond: Yes. Considerably.

Would I Buy It Again: Yessir. Though I think I’d like to hunt down that European cut, which is a bit more brutal, I hear.

Next In The Queue: Chato’s Land

DT Moviehouse Reviews: The Car

Time once more for my blog feature, DT Moviehouse Reviews, in which I make my way alphabetically through my 200+ DVD/Blu-Ray collection (you can see the list right here) and decide if each one was worth the money. Today, in keeping with the Halloween season, I review 1977’s The Car.

Screenplay by Dennis Shryack, Michael Butler

Directed by Elliot Silverstein

Tagline: What Evil Drives….The Car?


What It’s About:

When a string of hit and run killings by a mysterious and apparently driverless black car plague a desert community, Sherriff Wade Parent (James Brolin) and his deputies are baffled. When the killings escalate, Wade’s girlfriend, plucky schoolteacher Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd) becomes the Car’s next target.


Why I Bought It:

I saw The Car on TV as a kid so young I couldn’t remember the name of it (duh!) or much of anything about it except that it was an evil car, all black. In later years, hearing about Stephen King’s Christine, I sought out the John Carpenter movie thinking it had to be it, because how many killer car movies could there possibly be?

But nope.

So The Car led me to my OTHER favorite killer car movie, Christine.

vlcsnap-2011-08-19-15h25m30s2131But this is the original, and after finally rediscovering it a couple years ago, I had to add it to my collection. I love this movie. I love the singular design of the vehicle. It’s up there with Mad Max’s Interceptor, the General Lee, Zebra 3, KITT, and the ’66 Batmobile in terms of iconic movie and TV vehicles for me. The big hooptie Cadillac styling, the gnashing teeth grill and goggle eye headlights that look like the staring eyes of a psychopath. Imagine Darth Vader was a car. That Guillermo Del Toro is driving around in a replica of this thing makes me extremely happy.

But more than the look of the car itself, everything in this flick works for me. It’s a perfect storm that takes me all the way back to the barely remembered 1970’s of my youth. Yeah, it’s just Jaws with a car. Yeah the premise is crazy. But so what? It’s a blast to watch, very well made, with a great cast of supporting actors and a proto Bakshi Lord of The Rings score by Leonard Rosenman.

The leads are an appealing couple. Brolin is suitably masculine and charming, sort of a second tier Burt Reynolds with kids. Kathleen Lloyd is pretty sexy, a more wholesome version of Sarah Silverman. Part of what’s interesting about The Car to me is how destructive the monster is on the lives of the protagonists. The movie’s so fast paced you barely have time to consider where the characters all end up by the time the credits role. It’s actually a pretty tragic movie if you consider the butcher’s bill.

the-car-6Every member of the cast portrays an interesting, believable individual. I like that there’s a kind of love triangle going on between the wife beating RG Armstrong’s Amos, his wife Margie (Elizabeth Thompson), and Deputy Everett (The Godfather’s John Marley) that never gets resolved because the Car has little regard for human relationships and isn’t concerned with plot points. Then you’ve got Robocop’s Ronny Cox as a deputy who falls off the wagon when he learns of the death of a kid he knew, and John Rubinstein in a quick bit as a French horn playing hitchhiker dreaming of getting picked up by a hot older woman who’ll take him water skiing. There’s tough Navajo cop Denson (Eddie Little Sky) and Donna the dispatcher (Geraldine Keams –Little Moonlight from The Outlaw Josey Wales), all memorable, well realized characters, called to mind all off the top of my head, proving what a fine job all the actors and writers did, bringing their A game to a B picture.

7-the-car-1977-george-barrisThen there’s the biggest selling point. The stunts. I don’t know how many cars they went through to film this movie, but there are definitely more than a few scenes where the Car gets trashed. In one of my favorites, it roars headlong at a pair of squad cars only to veer hard and go rolling across the tops of the police, totaling them in a fireball and speeding off unscathed.  It drives off a cliff, it blows through a living room, it smashes into a cemetery gate post, announcing its presence with an air horn blast as distinctive in its way as the notes of the Jaws theme.

What the heck is it? Possessed by Satan? Why the heck does the Devil strike this little town in the form of a car? What is the impetus? Amos abusing his wife? Yet he’s one of the only characters to come out OK in the end.

I don’t know. Probably best not to dwell too deeply on it. It’s an entertaining movie. My son and I love to watch this thing and then re-enact every crack up with his Matchbox cars.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe Satan’s just playing with his Matchbox car.

Best Dialogue/Line:

Best Scene:

Would I Buy It Again: You bet.

Next In The Queue: (probably in time for Spectre) Casino Royale

The Wood of Ephraim On Tales To Terrify

Tales To Terrify recently got Rish Outfield to dramatize my Lovecraftian sword and sorcery story of Biblical proportions, The Wood Of Ephraim, which appeared recently in Swords And Mythos from Innsmouth Free Press. Read about the story RIGHT HERE.

Turn out the lights and give a listen below. Cool way to kick off the Halloween season a bit early. My story starts at the 27:00 mark.



Crocodile In 18 Wheels Of Horror

Eric Miller, Stoker nominated editor of the Hell Comes to Hollywood books has a new trucker-themed horror anthology, 18 Wheels Of Horror through his Big Times Books imprint.

A DARK ROAD by Ray Garton
RISING FAWN by Brad C. Hodson
NEVER LOST AGAIN by Joseph Spencer
BIG WATER by R.B. Payne
DOWNSHIFT by Daniel P. Coughlin
SIREN by Eric Miller
WHISTLIN’ BY by Shane Bitterling
LUCKY by Del Howison
HAPPY JOE’S REST STOP by John Palisano
PURSUIT by Hal Bodner
TAKE THE NIGHT by Janet Joyce Holden
KING SHITS by Charles Austin Muir
CARGO by Tim Chizmar
SLEEPER by Ian Welke
THE IRON BULLDOGGE by Michael Paul Gonzalez
ROAD KILL by Jeff Seeman
Dig the cool distressed early 80’s style paperback cover.
My story, Crocodile, concerns a hapless truck stop Pizza Hut counter girl with big dreams who, one fateful night, encounters a real live dreamy vampire boy.
Except he’s not quite the fairy tale she expected….

She gushed a lot, babbled out to him her whole life story, all her daydreams, her secret surety that some of them were real, her boundless delight in vindication. When she was finished, she begged to know his story.

He told her his name was Brendan, but that he had once had another name back when he’d been mortal, ‘in Bible times.’  He told her he had come from a wealthy family of merchants. He had befriended a young Roman soldier named Messala who one day rose to the position of provincial governor. When the Romans had marched into his city, Brendan and his mother and sister had been standing on a roof and accidentally knocked a loose piece of tile down into the street. The tile had hit Messala and for the offense, Brendan had been sentenced to slavery, chained to an oar on a warship while his family was imprisoned in a Roman dungeon. During a sea battle with Egyptians in which their ship was sunk, he had saved the life of the Roman captain and been freed, then granted Roman citizenship in gratitude.

Soon after he’d learned that his family had died of leprosy while he’d been away. He renounced his newfound citizenship and instigated a revolt, leading an army of gladiators to the palace of his former friend. He ran him down with a chariot.

As he told her this, tears spilled down Gwendolyn’s face. What tribulations he had faced! His life could have been a book itself, maybe even a movie.

8531442650_7448acc7af_b (1)Heartbroken by the death of his mother and sister, Brendan had for a time found love in the arms of a slave girl he had freed from Messala’s house, but the gladiator army was ambushed by the Romans and they were both taken prisoner and crucified. He said the greater suffering had been to watch her die slowly just out of his reach. Then that night as he hung on a cross, a pale traveler had come upon him. Seeing he was still alive, he had taken a ladder from his cart, set it up against his cross and climbed it. Brendan had thought the man intended to cut him down and save him out of pity, but he had been a vampire, looking for an easy meal. A passing cohort of legionnaires had surprised the stranger, and he had run off, but not before his bite had infected Brendan. Using his new supernatural strength, he had agonizingly freed himself from the cross and hid from the rising sun in a cave.

He said he had never been back to Italy since.

“And that’s why to this very day….I still hate wops,” he finished, brushing her hair from her face. “You know, you remind me of her, the slave girl who died. She was a Trojan.”

“What was her name?” she asked.


Then, as it was near dawn, he got up to leave.

She begged to see him again, and he swore that she would, sealing the immortal promise by leaning in and kissing her softly. It was like licking an ice cube, or a patch of snow. His breath smelled metallic, like the groaning pipes beneath the sink. When they parted from that first, wonderful kiss, her breath roiled in a little white cloud in his sad smile, across his deep dark eyes, brimming with a pain and sorrow that seemed to span the ages.

She knew right away that she loved him. Who else could she ever love?

That night she dreamed of him in green tights and a red feathered cap, circling the ceiling of her bedroom and smiling down at her.

She went right back to work because she knew he would be there at the end of her shift. She knew because of the kiss.

And he was. Every night afterwards he met her in the parking lot. Sometimes they drove, mostly they walked, and talked, and kissed. He told her all about the long life he had lived all over the world, about all the people he had known through history, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, even Sherlock Holmes.

He held her till she shivered in his cold arms (but he was always a perfect gentleman, even though sometimes she sort of wished he wasn’t), and he answered every question she had about vampires.

All but one.

“When will you take me to your lair?”

“Soon,” was all he said, and drew her closer, taking in her scent with a flare of his nostrils, then kissing her deeply.

She always knew the time would come.

And tonight it had.

She had somehow woken in the morning knowing this would be the night they would be together at last. She had packed an outfit in the car and changed before she clocked out. A sexy black top with lace trim and her best jeans, her Victoria’s Secret panties, the red ones with the matching bra. She had worn perfume for him too, something with a name she didn’t dare try to pronounce in front of him for fear he’d laugh at her.

She’d brought condoms. She wasn’t sure if she could get pregnant, but it was best to be safe. Did vampires cum? She didn’t honestly care if he did get her pregnant. She would gladly have his child, but she didn’t know how he felt and thought it best to wait until another time to bring it up. She thought she might like to bear his child before he made her a vampire, just in case vampire women couldn’t have babies.

She wondered if Brendan’s baby would be a half vampire, like Blade.

If he was, would other vampires hate him? She would teach him or her to be good, to love both halves of him or herself, to accept him or herself first.

She had never thought to ask him about other vampires. Had he met any in his travels? There would be time enough to ask later. All the time in the world.

Brendan would turn her, and they could travel the world together, all three of them, see the things she never thought she’d see.

Well, everything except Italy maybe.


Saturday, October 3rd, I’ll be signing copies of 18 Wheels Of Horror along with several other authors at Dark Delicacies on Magnolia in Burbank, from 2-4pm. http://www.darkdel.com/store/p224/Sat,_Oct_3rd_@_2_pm:_18_Wheels_of_Horror.html

Hope you’ll swing by and say hey.


Pick up 18 Wheels here – http://www.amazon.com/18-Wheels-Horror-Trailer-Trucking/dp/0990686612/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442517539&sr=8-1&keywords=18+wheels+of+horror

Thorne & Cross Take Two

As some of you may know there was a technical glitch last Thursday that booted everybody from the Thorne & Cross show. We’re trying it again tonight at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern, so tune in below.


Published in: on September 14, 2015 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Up And Down The Dial: Interview On Thorne & Cross Haunted Nights LIVE

EDIT: Whoops! Due to a technical glitch, I’ll be recording that interview this Monday instead.

In just a bit I’ll be on Thorne & Cross Haunted Nights LIVE talking about Andersonville, With Sword And Pistol, and whatever else I can get in. Come give a listen.  If you miss it, no worries. I’m told the show will remain up at the link below.


The Unrepeatables Appearing in Tales Of Cthulhu Invictus


Long before ivy grew on the walls of Miskatonic University or the Deep Ones first came to Innsmouth, centuries before the mad Arab penned the dreaded Necronomicon, the malevolent powers of the Cthulhu Mythos plagued mankind. During the Age of the Antonines (96 AD–192 AD), when the Roman Empire was at the peak of its power, dark and unknowable forces were at work. Ancient wizards sought ways to cheat death, explorers stumbled on the remnants of alien civilizations, foul cults practiced unholy rites, and inhuman creatures sought to mix their blood with ours.

Across Rome’s vast empire, a few brave men and women rose up to meet these threats for the greater good of mankind. They carried light into the darkness, dispelling a poisonous taint which grows best in the shadows. With steel and spell and burning torch, these heroic investigators of the ancient world defended their civilization from the fearsome powers of the Cthulhu Mythos. Golden Goblin Press is proud to offer up nine tales of their horrific struggles and sacrifices.

Tales of Cthulhu Invictus – Edited by Brian Sammons

  • Vulcan’s Forge by William Meikle
  • Fecunditati Augustae by Christine Morgan
  • A Plague of Wounds by Konstantine Paradias
  • Tempus Edax Rerum by Pete Rawlik
  • The Unrepeatables by Edward M. Erdelac
  • Magnum Innominandum by Penelope Love
  • Lines in the Sand by Tom Lynch
  • The Temple of Iald-T’qurhoth by Lee Clark Zumpe
  • The Seven Thunders by Robert M. Price      

My story, The Unrepeatables follows Damis of Nineveh, the former companion of the famed miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana, and ex-Centurion Modus Macula as they investigate the summer home of a famous charioteer under suspicion of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Here’s an excerpt.

roman-feast-1“Ah, you are an initiate then?” Atomus asked.

“Yes,” said Damis. “I have been trying to convince Macula to attend in the coming year.”

“Fat chance,” Calidas piped up. “If I remember Macula, he does not believe in the gods. Isn’t that right?”

“I believe in what I can put between my hands,” said Macula.

“Ah! A brimming wine goblet! A fat woman!” Bibaculus laughed, squeezing the girl at his side until she squealed and slapped his hairy arm.

“Or a sword,” finished Macula.

“But wasn’t Apollonius a devotee of Pythagoras?” Atomus asked. “How does one reconcile initiation in a Greek rite with monotheism?”

“By Jove!” Calidas spat into his cup. “You’re not a Christian are you?”

The room shook with laughter.

Damis smiled thinly.

In no other manner can one exhibit a fitting respect for the Divine being than by refusing to offer any victim at all; to Him we must not kindle fire or make promise unto Him of any sensible object whatsoever. For He needs nothing even from beings higher than ourselves. Nor is there any plant or animal which earth sends up or nourishes, to which some pollution is not incident. We should make use in relation to Him solely of that which issues not by the lips, but from the noblest faculty we possess, and that faculty is intelligence, which needs no organ. That is what my master taught.”

“Even Jews sacrifice,” said Calidas. “How else can that which is worth attaining be attained, save through offering and hardship?” he went on, squeezing Brehane’s hand. “Without the race there is no victory.”

“Is that what you believe, Atomus?” Damis asked.

“What makes you think I am a Jew?” Atomus countered.

“What are you then? A Simonian? One of these Valentinians?” He leaned closer. “Something else?”

“My father was a priest in the Temple when Titus burned it and carried off the Menorah for the Colosseum. What I knew of the glory of the holy city I knew from stories. I grew up in its ruins. I was there when Hadrian burnt the Torah atop the Mount, breaking his promise to rebuild the Temple and renaming Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina.”

The atmosphere around the table had plummeted into a silent coldness, and Damis and Atomus glared at each other with naked but inscrutable dislike.

“This is too heated a discussion for the dinner table,” Calidas said, finding his victorious smile again. “Don’t be boring, Atomus. Macula? What say you, Damis?”

Soleas poscere,” said Damis, signaling that the dinner had ended for him.

Dutifully, two of the slaves emerged with their sandals.

Macula, mouth full of dormouse, blinked surprise. Something had roused the ire of the old mystic, but he had no idea what.

They got up from the table. Damis took him by the elbow and guided him to the lararium on the wall to pay their respects to the household gods depicted in miniature statuary in the recessed little niche.

As Macula began to bow, Damis gripped him tightly, causing him to straighten, and steered him out into the atrium, where two burly slaves standing in the vestibulum pulled open the doors for them.

Soon they were on the dim, torch lit road winding down the hill, the lights of town below, the moonlight playing on the rippling bay.

“I take it you’ve found something,” Macula said.

“I’m not sure. Take this, for I fear we shall know in a moment.”

042From under his voluminous philosopher’s robes, Damis produced a short, glittering pugio in a silver frame scabbard which had been fashioned into a fanciful depiction of a man sinking a sword into the breast of some dragon-like monstrosity.

“Where did you get that?”

“Master Damis! Master Macula!”

Macula half-turned, to see the two well-built door slaves trotting down the road after them.

They had napkins bundled in their hands.

“Our master begs you not to forget your napkins.”

Macula narrowed his eyes. It was customary for the host of a party to wrap his guest’s personal napkins about some token gift before returning them.

Except they had taken their napkins with them.

As the first of the two big slaves reached them, Macula whipped the dagger free of its scabbard with a ring and thrust the point in his heart to the hilt.

He had to kick the body off the blade as the second slave lunged at him, something flashing in his fist.

Macula ducked under the swing and jabbed upwards, catching the second man under the chin, the point popping out of the crown of his skull.

He retrieved one of the napkins and wiped the blood from the blade.

The napkin of the first man had a dagger hidden in the folds.

“So I was right,” Damis breathed.

“What’s going on? Why did you bring a pugio to the party if you didn’t suspect anything?”

“Traveling with Apollonius I learned to take precautions. The star Sothis is ascendant. It is an ill-omen.”

“I thought you hated astrology.”

“I hate astrologers,” Damis corrected.  “I thought very little of this errand of yours, true, when the night began.”

“Till you saw that Iacchus in the mosaic?”

“It raised my suspicions.  You may not believe in the gods, Macula, and the guise in which you know them may indeed be a lie, but just as Jove is Zeus, once they had other names and other faces, terrible to behold.”

As he spoke, Damis removed a pouch from his robes and spilled its contents into his hand. There were six rings, each with a different colored intaglio gem, like the one he already wore, engraved with a symbol representing each of the seven stars.

He slipped them on one at a time.

maenads-silenus“Iacchus,” he said, “the son of Hades and Demeter, who was later known as Bacchus and Dionysus, whose maenad cult was driven to terrible ecstasies, ripping apart goats with their bare hands. And yet the nameless cult of Iacchus, or Icthiacchilius as he is known, sacrificed a goat without horns beneath the moon and the Star of Sothia, and tore their victim apart with their teeth. And behind him, behind Demeter and Mithras, behind Nuada, Ashur, Neptune and Cthulhu, the great whirling chaos, the Womb of Darkness from which the gods spawned, as far outside our knowing as is dread Tartarus. Chaos. Tiamat. Azathoth.”

Macula shook his head, staring down at the moonlight on the blade of the dagger, which was engraved with seals and unreadable voces mysticae.

“So what do we tell Marcius Turbo?”

“I fear there is no time to return to Rome,” said Damis. “This night, foul things are afoot in that house, and must be stopped.”

At that moment, a shrill scream rang out from high on the hill, a woman’s scream, prolonged in agony, which dwindled till it was lost on the sea breeze.

Macula was already running back up the road with Damis huffing behind.


On sale now at the Golden Goblin Press website.


Andersonville On Tour

andersonvilleReviews for my new Random House-Hydra novel Andersonville are coming from Lit Reactor, Publishers Weekly, and Examiner as well as Goodreads and so far they’re pretty positive across the board.

Gef Fox interviewed me about the book at his blog and the always friendly folks at Fantasy Book Review lent me some space there to talk about the development of the novel, so please check those out.

Andersonville is doing the rounds of a slew of blogs across the ether, so please take a look at these fine sites. They’ll be featuring reviews at the appointed times or thereabouts.


Monday, August 17th: Stephanie’s Book Reviews….100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, August 18th: Fourth Street Review

Tuesday, August 18th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 19th: The Reader’s Hollow

Wednesday, August 19th: Tynga’s Reviews

Thursday, August 20th: A Book Geek

Monday, August 24th: Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, August 25th: Kissin’ Blue Karen

Wednesday, August 26th: Kari J. Wolfe

Thursday, August 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, August 28th: Vic’s Media Room

Monday, August 31st: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, September 1st: SJ2B House of Books

Wednesday, September 2nd: Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, September 3rd: Kimberly’s Bookshelf

Friday, September 4th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Monday, September 7th: From the TBR Pile

An Excerpt From Andersonville

My historical horror novel Andersonville is due out August 18th from Random House/Hydra.


In 1864, 30,000 half-starved men pray for a way out of the disease ridden confines of Andersonville prison, unaware that they are about to become part of a dark ritual enacted by a madman to swing the course of the Civil War.

One man fights his way in to stop him.

Here’s an excerpt.


The exhausted tunnelers were rotated out to disposal and lookout duty.  Enderlein went first into the passage with the shovel, then Bill, then Barclay, taking over the relay duty. It was two hours of painful crawling back and forth in the cramped tunnel with buckets of earth. One of the Irishmen, O’Bannon, manned the bellows, and though it did provide a gush of fresh air whenever Barclay neared it to pass the bucket up, he couldn’t imagine the meager air Bill and Enderlein were getting further down the tunnel, if any.

fig28The work was taxing, and the thought of the tons of shifting sand waiting to come down through the crumbling clay ceiling of the passage caused Barclay’s heart to hammer in his chest.  He kept his breaths shallow and quick, but the blood pounded in his ears. They worked mainly in darkness, it being too close and the air too precious to burn away with candlelight. The only sign that they were not in the grave itself was the pinprick of light from the flickering candle O’Bannon kept on the dug out shelf in the vertical shaft that was their umbilical to the surface.

They did not speak as they worked, but the huffing of their breath let each man know the others still lived.

Then, when Barclay felt he couldn’t stand the dark closeness any longer, Bill whispered to him.

“Enderlein figures another couple feet and he’s past the outer wall.”

Barclay inched laboriously back to O’Bannon and watched the Irishman smile through his feet when he passed him the word.

Then there was a strange sound from up ahead, and Enderlein shrieked once in alarm. It was the sound of rushing water.

God, thought Barclay. Had they misjudged their direction and double backed to the creek? Had they struck some underground spring they hadn’t anticipated?

O’Bannon reacted quickly, and gripping Barclay by the ankles, yanked him out of the tunnel into the shaft.

They had three ropes made from braided cloth tied around the leg of each man in the tunnel proper.

O’Bannon grabbed one and began to furiously pull.

Barclay sat up and pulled the other.

High above, Skinny’s face appeared over the hole.

“What’s the matter?” he called down in as loud a whisper as he could manage.

“I don’t know! Trouble! Underground spring maybe or….”

At that moment the water gushed from the tunnel and spread across the floor of the shaft.

Except it wasn’t water.

It was blood.

Not some dark mud as Limber had suggested the night he’d pulled the red tipped root from the ground. As before, Barclay could smell the copper taint, feel the consistency as it swiftly rose to his ankles. It was blood, and it was filling the tunnel like a giant capillary.

“My God!” O’Bannon exclaimed, pausing in his work at the sight of the stuff pooling around his ankles.

“Keep pulling, goddammit!” Barclay yelled over the rushing blood, now threatening their calves.

Barclay pulled for all he was worth, and in a few moments he was rewarded as Bill Mixinisaw came kicking and splashing out of the tunnel, entirely painted red.

So O’Bannon had a hold of Enderlein.

“What happened?” Barclay asked, pulling the spluttering Indian up out of the stuff.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” said Bill. “Enderlein was digging and he stopped and stuck the spade in the ground. It all just started rushing in. There’s something in there.”


“I felt something claw at me.”

“Here he comes!” O’Bannon bellowed triumphantly.

The left foot of Enderlein broke the surface of the well of blood as O’Bannon dragged it from the tunnel with effort.

Enderlein’s leg was not attached.

thedescentcrawlerInstead, a terrifying face breached the surface of the frothing blood. It was thin and skull-like, devoid of hair, yet not entirely fleshless, for it had flabby, overlarge ears and a bat-like nose that flared and inflated twin bubbles of blood at the first taste of air. Its jaw was clamped down on the ragged end of Enderlein’s disembodied foot, at the ankle, where the torn flesh exposed a piece of crushed bone to which it had affixed its double rows of triangular, serrated, bloodstained teeth. The brow was downturned in the extreme, the red painted flesh of the forehead wrinkled in astounding, almost mesmerizing patterns, amid a blanket of ugly, tumorous growths so large they flapped independently with every movement of the grotesque head.

Then, from that scarlet mask, the vertical lids covering its two bulbous eyes slid open.

The shaft was filled with blinding yellow light, as if from a theater spot, blazing from the eyes of this horror paddling into the shaft.

“Don’t look in its eyes!” Barclay warned, throwing his back to the well and shielding the glare with his hand.

The blood was up to his thighs now.

The thing screeched shrilly, dropping Enderlein’s foot, and leapt from the tunnel, spreading out impossibly long, thin arms that ended in dramatically curved red talons, like the claws of a digging mole.

It bore down on O’Bannon and dragged him beneath the surface of the ever-rising pool of blood.

Bill screamed and started to climb the shaft, throwing his feet against one wall and his back against the opposite, hopping nimbly up.

The blood covering Bill now drizzled in a red rain down on Barclay, who groped in the pool for O’Bannon, trying to snag hold of his thrashing arms and legs. He gripped a limb and pulled, but found he had gotten hold of the thing’s arm. Its hard flesh was scorching to the touch, and burned his fingers red before he let go with a yelp.

He straightened and looked up. Bill was halfway up the shaft. Suddenly the sandy wall against which his back was braced collapsed inward. Two sharp clawed red hands burst out and wrapped themselves around his torso, pulling the Indian in.

The blood was up to Barclay’s waist, and O’Bannon had stopped fighting.

Now the thing surfaced and stood in the shaft, popping its jaws, rending some unidentifiable hunk of O’Bannon to stringy sinew.

Behind it, the tunnel opening, nearly submerged, expelled a third blood covered thing into the pit with him.



Published in: on August 9, 2015 at 3:39 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,291 other followers