Angler In Darkness Is Out!

My first story collection, Angler In Darkness, is out now.

From the front cover:

acollection

From the back cover:

EDWARD M. ERDELAC, Author of Andersonville, Monstrumführer, The Van Helsing Papers, and The Merkabah Rider series presents his first collection of short fiction, spanning nearly a decade of fishing in the sunless depths of the imagination, some brought to light here for the first time.

A frontiersman of bizarre pedigree is peculiarly suited to tracking down a group of creatures rampaging across the settlements of the Texas Hill Country…..

A great white hunter is shaken to his core by a quarry he cannot conceive of….

A bullied inner city kid finds the power to strike back against his tormentors and finds he can’t stop using it….

Outraged plumbing plots its revenge….

Here Blackfoot Indians hunt the undead, the fate of nations is decided by colossal monsters, a salaryman learns the price of abandoning his own life, and even the Angel of Death tells his story.

EIGHTEEN ‘CATCHES’ FROM AN ANGLER IN DARKNESS

Now I decided to take a page from Punktown author Jeffrey Thomas’ promotional playbook and post the first paragraph/line of each story, one a day till release, so here are the openings of all eighteen stories…

Day 1 –
First story up is exclusive to the collection – The Mound Of The Night Panther, about a French trapper who discovers the ultimate fate of the lost Native American city of Cahokia…

Auguste Oudin had come down the Father of All Rivers to Illinois from Quebec three years ago in a forty foot canoe with the Seminarians and Henri DeTonti as a courer des bois, paddling, signing, and trapping for the young priests.

Day 2 –

Today it’s Killer Of The Dead, the first story I ever sold, about a pair of Blackfoot Indians tracking down the gang of vampires who slaughtered their village.

The boy puts his back to the tipis with their warm, glowing bellies, and he feels the smooth, cold stones beneath the trickling surface of the creek with his toes. The water is black but for the fat hunter’s moon reflected lazing amid the wavering stars. He is not afraid to be alone. He thinks the night shadows hide nothing that is not there in the day.

Day 3 –

Today we have Bigfoot Walsh, a weird western about a group of Texas Rangers sent to investigate a series of bloody killings in the hill country, and their tall, shaggy chief scout who, it turns out, is peculiarly suited to the task….

It was a cool spring night when the Texas Rangers rode out of the dark into Fredricksburg.

I remember because the people were out lighting the bonfires on the hilltops, and one of the Rangers, a dirty youth with rusty hair, asked me what they were for.

Day 4 –

Today it’s the first line of Devil’s Cap Brawl, which is about a Central Pacific Railroad crew dynamiting a mountain and releasing an immense creature long trapped within. A mysterious Chinese rail worker comes forward to stop it. It’s a weird western send up of 60’s Godzilla/Gamera movies with a dash of TV’s Kung Fu thrown in….

Joe Blas was so called because his papist upbringing in Drom, County Tipperary, had given him a knack for devising the most ingenious blasphemies anyone on either side of the Sierras had ever heard.

Day 5 –

Spearfinger, about a Cherokee policeman who chases a fugitive murderer up a mountain and comes down with something much worse.

Jimpsey Waterback knocked a spark from his pocketknife with a chip of flint and fanned the handful of smoking grasses with his hat till a single tongue of flame blossomed.

He hated to start a fire, but it was cold up on the mountain tonight. There was a cutting breeze hissing through the pines, causing the bones in his hands to quiver like hammer struck wire. He hoped his pursuers didn’t see or smell the flame. He had a long way to go before he got to Arkansas. The round, windy moon shining like a bullet hole in black canvas was working against him.

Day 6 –

Today it’s In Thunder’s Shadow, a story about an archaeologist in the field during the Bone Wars of the 1870’s tracking down an Arizona legend about a thunderbird, and the wily old hunter who’s not content with fossils.

September 25, 1876

To Professor O.C. Marsh, Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut

 

I have arrived in Delirium Tremens in Arizona Territory and met with the Drucker & Dobbs Mining Co.’s geologist, Elvin Planterbury, who contacted your office about the fossil he discovered in their main copper shaft. Fortunately Mr. Planterbury was able to preserve the specimen before it was broken up and sold off for the price of a few drinks. It is, in my opinion, a tarsal fragment from a large pteranodon (most probably longiceps). I have personally never seen a fossil so well preserved. Work in the mine has necessarily not been halted to await my arrival, and examination of the location at which the fragment was uncovered is impossible. I intend to survey the sedimentary substrate of the upper area of the surrounding Huachuca Mountains. I have hopes that should it prove fruitful, my work might warrant the assignment of a team from the Geological Survey. I was able to purchase a quantity of dynamite from the company as well as sufficient provisions and gear, but I shall likely require more funds to ship any samples I find for your appraisal.

Day 7 –

Today, in The Blood Bay, Jonas, living on his estranged father’s ranch after the death of his mother, pines for a wild, blood red mare. His father will only let him keep her if Jonas can get her to eat….

Jonas stood with his foot on the bottom rail of the breaking pen fence between Clem and Panos, watching Henry bust a three-year-old appaloosa the afternoon his daddy, Famous Fallon, rode up with the bay mare strung behind.

Famous had run out on Jonas’ mama when he was four years old and it drove her to drink. She’d often told him this, and his Grandma said it was so.

Day 8 –

The Exclusive, about a dogged frontier reporter in the last moments of his life who lands the interview of the century with history’s most accomplished killer –

Tom Cotter was no man to be trifled with. He had rustled Mexican steer along the border into a sizeable herd in his youth, and had built himself an empire as one of the first outfits to drive cattle to the Missouri railheads, putting beef in the bellies of starving soldiers during the War Between The States. He owned a good chunk of New Mexico, and was a king among cattlemen. There were senators that doffed their hats to him, and he in turn did their dirty work on occasion, sending out his hired villains to execute foreclosures on land he didn’t own, and gunning down those who tried to resist. He had a beef contract with the local Indian reservation which he rarely fulfilled, yet the government money filled his war bag every month on schedule just the same.

Day 9 –

Tell Tom Tildrum is the tale of a great white hunter relating a story of personal horror to gain membership in a strange, exclusive London club –

“Were the squabs to your liking, Captain Howe?” Bertrand asked, dabbing the grease from his lips with his napkin.

In truth, they had not been. I have never much appreciated the philosophy behind pigeons à la crapaudine; squabs masquerading as frogs. It’s a silly French concoction, a holdover from the old days when papists insisted that their fish be made to look like beef to ease the Lenten fasts. I’d had it once before, the first time I’d dined with the Prestons at Mundui on Lake Navaisha. A preposterous dish. I like my swine arse up and my pigeons on their backs. I’d said so before. That was why Kiki had taken such a liking to me. The American infatuation with plain speaking, I suppose.

Day 10 –

Mighty Nanuq is about an Inuit shaman passing on the secret of his power over Canada’s state sanctioned kaiju to his dubious nephew –

Hal Anawak shook hands with Lt. Governor O’Dea and smiled for the cameras, the bulbs popping off like a chain of lightning among the gathered crowd on the lawn in front of Governor’s House. Luckily his hooded eyes were naturally thinner than a white man’s. Nobody would know he was closing them.

George LeDuc would have thought that was hilarious.

But George was dead.

Day 11 –

A Haunt of Jackals, where a Mossad agent witnesses an attack on Israel by a pair of rampaging giant monsters instituted by a sinister enemy….

And I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; Micah 5:13

The jeep bounced along the rutted country road through the sultry Itapua countryside several kilometers north of Hohenau, packed with four men in dark clothes and harnesses strapped with weapons. Though it was a moonless Paraguayan night, the headlights were off, the driver trusting to the dual tube AN/PVS-5 nightvision goggles he wore.

This wasn’t going to be like Eichmann.

Day 12 –

This one’s from The Better To See You, a story I wrote from an idea my daughter had, an alternate telling of Little Red Riding Hood.

The girl watched her mother pack the last of the sandwiches into the pink picnic basket. She slipped the Cincinnati baseball cap her father had given her (because it was her favorite color; she had no interest whatsoever in baseball) onto her head and snatched up the wicker handle just as her mother closed the lid.

Her mother’s hand slapped down over her’s.

The girl looked into her mother’s eyes.

Her mother held up one finger.

“You know Grandma’s not well these days.”

Day 13 –

Today we have an excerpt from Conviction, the story of a persecuted kid in Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green housing project who suddenly finds the power to strike back at his tormentors.

“Hello, Abassi,” the lady say, when I sit down. “My name is Daniela Orozco. Now, can you tell me why you were referred to me today?”

I just shrug, even though I know.

When she open the folder and slide the piece of paper with my drawing on it, I look down at my busted shoes.

“Your teachers are concerned about you,” she say, though I know really they just worried about they own selves. “Abassi?”

I look up, and her eyes are on me. I look away, but every time I come back, she still looking. She pretty.

“You’re a very good artist, Abassi,” she say.

Nobody never tell me I good at anything. It feel good. I wish the picture was something nicer.

I drew it in history class. We was learning about the minutemen. In the picture in the book they wore GD colors and they was all strapped in the street like they was bangin’. I thought about Lateesa. I drew the minutemen blowing up, like they swallowed bombs. Their triangle hats was on fire, their heads come off, some of ‘em. I drew my own punkinhead self in there too. I shouldn’t have. If I’d of left that out, nobody would’ve said shit.

“You told the teacher these were the minutemen,” she say, with her pencil on the bloody bodies. “But who’s this down here?”

She point to the little boy with the big head and the busted shoes.

I don’t say shit.

Day 14 –

Today we have ‘Crocodile,’ a story about a Pizza Hut cashier at a Flying J truck stop who falls madly in love with a vampire she meets in the parking lot. But vampires aren’t like the ones in the books she reads.

Gwendolyn could not entirely suppress the girlish shudder that began in the pit of her stomach and somehow spread through her torso to the tips of each extremity as Brendan took her hand in his and led her toward the forest.

Brendan.

Her dark angel.

Her Peter Pan.

His hand was cold, as if scoured by a winter wind, though it was a sultry August evening after a rain, the remains of it rising as steam off the moonlit pavement and hanging in the air. Yet despite his coldness, wherever he touched her, warmth spread as if kissed by an noontime sunbeam.

She followed him. She would follow him anywhere. Particularly tonight.

Day 15 –
In Philopatry, a Catholic priest contacts an old altar boy turned hitman and ex-convict, having learned the identity of a serial murderer stalking a South Boston neighborhood….

Nobody at O’Malley’s Bar took much notice of the old priest who came in from the stone cold November night, brushing the rain from his black hat and his dripping beige topcoat. It was a Tuesday, so there weren’t too many people there to take notice. The men were in their drink. The local stylenes, cackling their lipstick stained cigarette laughs crossed and uncrossed their cheetah print legs and paid him no more than a glance. Priests were like a fourth class of male, more unavailable than a married man or a queer even. O’Malley himself would only raise his eyebrows at the entrance of some colored guy from Roxbury. As long as this baby sprinkler paid for his drinks he didn’t care.

Day 16 –
Here’s the opening to Sea of Trees, a tale of a depressed Japanese businessman who wanders into the infamous suicide forest and learns the afterlife doesn’t offer the escape he had hoped for….

Manabu stepped out of his car and let the door close. He did not take the keys. The car was a rental and the Tocoo! agency in Fujiyoshida would want it back.

He took the hiking trail out of the parking lot and walked for an hour into the woods before he came to the No Hiking Beyond This Point sign and stepped over the rope to pick his way among the tangled roots
.
His mother had told him as a boy never to play in Aokigahara Forest, the Sea of Trees, because it was haunted by the miserable ghosts of those that every year wandered in here to die. It had been going on since back in the old days of the daimyos when the destitute families around Mount Fuji used the woods for ubasute, abandoning their elderly infirm to the elements in times of famine, to spare the remainder of the household.

Manabu’s mother had told him the Ubasuteyama story once.
This wasn’t in Aokigahara, but in Nagano somewhere. There was a famine, and a boy chose to carry his crippled old mother up to the mountain to leave her in the woods. He carried her very deep into the forest, perhaps thinking to lose his conscience too.

When at last he set her down, he saw that he might become lost himself on the way back down.

“Don’t worry, son,” croaked the old woman. “As you carried me, I spread out my hands and broke off the twigs of the trees. There is a trail of the broken ends behind you now to follow home.”

Manabu’s mother had ended this story by clasping both sides of his pudgy face in her hands and promising him that she loved him as much as the old women in the story had loved her son.

Manabu’s mother was two years dead now.

Day 17-
Almost there! Here’s an excerpt from Thy Just Punishments, the story of a South Boston priest who hires himself out as an occult hitman to the Irish mob to support his gambling habit….

The steady flow of sins petty and titanic, real and imagined, droned in hushed whispers through the confessional screen, punctuated each time by a myriad of variations on the Act of Contrition;

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offended Thee, O Lord, who art all-merciful and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more.”

Father Tim O’Herlihey half-listened, doled out Hail Marys and Our Fathers, muttered out rehearsed advice when prompted, and checked the passing of every other minute on his watch, fighting to keep from laying his head against the finished wood wall and snoring. He squinted at his racing form and wondered if he could hit the ATM and catch the Blue Line down to Suffolk Downs in time for the last run.

The Bishop had promised him a new priest this month, just in time for him to saddle the poor bastard with Saturday confession and free him up for next month’s Belmont Stakes Day.

Of course, first he had to pull a stake together. There had been questions about the lightness of the parish’s tithe last month. He had thought he’d had a sure thing with this maiden horse Norfolk Enchants, but the stupid nag had busted its leg on a turn and thrown its jockey over the withers, losing to Peony’s Envy.

Day 18 –

The capper story, The Wrath of Benjo, is a take on the Japanese legend of the tsukumogami; that useful inanimate objects gain sentience after a hundred years. But what happens when they fall to disuse and can no longer serve their purpose?

Benjo wept bitterly as the rain struck the barred windowpane. 
Long had he gone hungry counting the tiles on the floor, staring at the dirty white walls, at the chromed hinges and latches of the gray stall doors. He had marked his time by the disgraceful yellowing of the paper rolls as they grew old, brittle and angry. He would council them to keep heart, to maintain their cleanliness, remember their duty and be watchful, but after many years the hunger and resentment had at last seeped into his heart too. The paper had shriveled and gone silent.

Even the attendant had ceased coming. He had resorted to cleaning himself as best as he could.

“Useless! Useless!” His cries bounced off the empty walls for the thousandth time, matching the lightning and the thunder.

For many years he had wiled away the lonesome hours imagining the luxuries he would bestow upon his next guest, if ever one came.

But that dream had died long ago. He knew only the ravenous hunger now….

 

Order here –

Mindbreaker: James Bond vs. Cthulhu Coming Soon!

bondunknowncover

Coming late August from April Moon Books, my novelette Mindbreaker, side-by-side with William Meikle’s Into The Green in BOND UNKNOWN – two tales of 007 facing off against elements of the Lovecraftian mythos. Peep the cover by Mark Maddox!

In Mindbreaker, British agent James Bond (yes, that James Bond) finds himself seconded to a classified subsection of MI6 itself, assigned to track down a pair of missing field agents and stop a sinister occult organization from using the blood of a kidnapped royal to activate an ancient weapon of mass destruction.

Watch this space for more.

Published in: on July 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm  Comments (1)  
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Conquer Comes Calling In Occult Detective Quarterly #2

I’m pleased to announce the appearance of my story Conquer Comes Calling in the latest issue of Occult Detective Quarterly.

You can pick it up here –


https://www.amazon.com/Occult-Detective-Quarterly-Electric-Pentacle/dp/1546562370/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496273691&sr=8-1&keywords=occult+detective+quarterly

My late cousin got me into the electric Shaft movies from the 70’s, which was my gateway to top notch blaxploitation fare like Blacula, Truck Turner, Superfly, and The Mack.

truck-turner-poster1

It also led to my collecting and enjoying the criminally forgotten series of novels by Ernest Tidyman. They’re notoriously hard to find, so seriously, if anyone has a line on Goodbye Mr. Shaft or The Last Shaft, let me know. They’re the only two I need.

Shaft.1

I’ve also got a long abiding, completely fannish love for Len Wein and Gene Colan’s Marvel Comics character Jericho Drumm AKA Brother Voodoo which I share with about two other people I personally know of. I was thrilled when Daniel Drumm showed up briefly in the Dr. Strange movie.

I think my affection for BV began in an issue of Werewolf By Night, and was cemented by his reappearance (while afflicted with zombie-ism) in Marc Spector’s Moon Knight in the late 80’s.  I’ve always liked the fighting scholar types, and the more obscure knowledge they commanded the better. For a white suburban kid in Illinois, there was nothing more obscure than Haitian Vodoun.

werewolf-by-a5c774120

My character John Conquer is a fusion of the two, a street smart Harlem PI steeped in Hoodoo and West African shamanism.

He’s the cool black cat the Man calls when the cases get too far out.

The NYPD pays a call on a fortune telling numbers banker, and they’re taken aback when they find a miniaturized corpse floating in a lava lamp.

Only one man to call….

Here’s an excerpt. This is isn’t the last you’ll see of John Conquer.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

“Hang up, Carmody. You’ll wake up my secretary,” said Conquer, pulling the metal door shut behind him.

Carmody couldn’t have been more surprised if his own gun had jumped from its holster and shot him.

“John!” Lazzeroni stammered.

Lazzeroni was the quintessential NPYD gumshoe with a donut sack belly and bloodhound eyes from too many stakeouts, his tobacco yellow teeth hid by a bushy mustache, the remainder of his hair regulated to the back of his head and crannies of his drooping body Conquer didn’t care to dwell on.

“Easy boys,” Conquer said. “You’re in Harlem, remember? You’re bound to see more of us.”

“How’d you know….?” Carmody began.

Conquer plucked his business card from the cop’s fingers.

“Don’t need you callin’ me at all hours and hangin’ up,” he said.

“What brings you here, John?” Lazzeroni said, eyeing him sideways. “Just happened to be in the neighborhood?”

That was why Lazzeroni had bars on his collar, whereas Carmody just had dandruff.

“Serendipity, man. That’s my business.”

Carmody snorted, making a show of being unimpressed.

“Go watch the stairs, Mike,” Lou said to Carmody.

Carmody scowled and replaced the receiver. He went to stand on the landing, slamming the heavy metal door behind him. He coughed a few times.

“I get the feeling he doesn’t like you,” Lazzeroni quipped.

“You could fill a phonebook with folks Carmody don’t like. All the area codes would be 706 or 762.”

“We got word this fortune teller was running a numbers bank for King Solomon,” Lazzeroni went on. “We were on our way to talk to him when dispatch calls in a 10-71 at this address. Now you show me yours.”

“Maybe later,” said Conquer. “What’s the story? You wouldn’t call me just to say hi.”

“Aw, don’t be needy. Receptionist said somebody charged in here as they were about to close. She heard ‘em arguing and called it in. Then she heard shooting, so she ran out. Locked the security door out of habit.”

Lazzeroni went to the inner door and opened it.

A single barred window illuminated the space beyond, and the hunched shadow of a cat hissed on the sill, arched its back, and scrambled somewhere into the shadows growling lowly.

Conquer followed Lazzeroni in and shut the door behind him.

This was apartment space converted to office, or vice versa. The living room had been done up in fake gypsy crap the kind of sucker who shelled out his welfare check to a cat like Genie Jones would expect to see; a cheap table draped in a cloth festooned with magically delicious stars and moons, astronomy charts on the walls, astrological signs. A sparkling red and green beaded curtain led to where the all-knowing Genie kicked up his slippers after hours to watch Charlie’s Angels or roll a joint on the toilet, by the skunky scent just beneath the odor of patchouli smoldering in the ceramic Hotei Buddha incense burner, probably lifted from the counter of some Chinese restaurant.

It was a mess. The chairs were overturned, and the requisite crystal ball lay on the floor, cracked. Tarot cards were strewn everywhere, like somebody had busted up the world’s strangest poker game.

“So who caught a bullet?”

“Nobody, so far as I can tell,” said Lazzeroni.

“No stiff?”

Lazzeroni reached over and took a trilby that matched his raincoat off a lava lamp on a table next to the door and set it on his balding head. Why was it there?

“I didn’t say that.”

He snapped the light on, and the dim room was bathed in slow moving red amoebas that slid across the walls and ceiling like oversized blood cells out of Fantastic Voyage.  Projected on the walls, suspended among the amorphous red blots, floated the ghostly black silhouette of a man.

Conquer looked from the walls to the lamp itself. Bobbing in the glowing cylinder of the lamp like a buoy among the islands of molten wax was a tiny naked body. Some kind of fetish? He didn’t think so.

“I saw it before Mike did,” said Lazzeroni.

Conquer found the light switch on the wall, but nothing came on. He took a mini TeknaLite from his pocket and shined the thin beam up, saw broken glass and bullet holes.

“Found your shooting victim, Lou,” he said, then turned back to the lamp.

“Be serious, man. Is that real?”

Conquer pulled the plug on the lava lamp. The red blobs and the black ghost vanished.

“Give me something to hold this with. These things get hot.”

Lazzeroni gave him a pocket handkerchief. Conquer grimaced. With all the coughing he and Carmody were doing, he didn’t want to catch anything going around the stationhouse. Still, he carefully lifted the top. The bottlecap opening had been popped off and the miniscule figure had apparently been stuffed down through the opening. One of the elbows was bent the wrong way.

“How do we get it out?”

Conquer turned and dropped the lamp on the floor. It smashed.

“Jesus,” said Lazzeroni, flinching back as the wax splattered the shag throw rug and wood floor.

Conquer hunkered down, directing the light at the swollen little figure lying amid the wreckage.

The boiled flesh bubbled with blisters, the poached eyes bulged from the balloon face. If it was a model, it was a ghastly masterwork.

He took the spindly little arm between his two fingers. It was warm from the lamp. Gently squeezing, he felt the little toothpick bones grinding beneath the loose skin. It was like handling a broken chicken wing.

“It’s real,” he muttered, and took his penknife from his coat.

Angler In Darkness Is Up For Preorder

My first short fiction collection, Angler In Darkness, is now up for preorder in ebook formats. Release is scheduled August. The print version will follow close behind.

These are 18 stories running the gamut from fantasy, to dark adventure and horror, some in print for the first time, with a great cover by M. Wayne Miller and design by Shawn King.

A frontiersman of bizarre pedigree is peculiarly suited to tracking down a group of creatures rampaging across the settlements of the Texas Hill Country…..

A great white hunter is shaken to his core by a quarry he cannot conceive of….

A bullied inner city kid finds the power to strike back against his tormentors and finds he can’t stop using it….

Outraged plumbing plots its revenge….

Here Blackfoot Indians hunt the undead, the fate of nations is decided by colossal monsters, a salaryman learns the price of abandoning his own life, and even the Angel of Death tells his story.

acollection

Currently available for preorder in a number of fine e-retailers.

books2read.com/u/3JK9zP

Hear The Eagle Scream In Horror Library 6

HLV6CoverEbook

 

My story Hear The Eagle Scream is debuting in Farolight Publishing’s Horror Library Volume 6, edited by Eric G. Guignard.

Stories include –

Garrett Quinn – I’ve Finally Found You
Jackson Kuhl – Cartagena Hotel
Stephanie Bedwell-Grime – The Exterminators
Connor de Bruler – Il Mostro
Tom Johnstone – Oldstone Gardens
Bentley Little – The Plumber
Kathryn E. McGee – The Creek Keepers’ Lodge
Josh Rountree – Snowfather
Jeffrey Ford – Five Pointed Spell
John M. Floyd – The Red-Eye to Boston
Raymond Little – Elsa and I
Rebecca J. Allred – Mother’s Mouth, Full of Dirt
Darren O. Godfrey – D.U.I.
Sean Eads – Predestination’s a Bitch
David Tallerman – Casualty of Peace
Marc E. Fitch – The Starry Crown
Vitor Abdala – Instant Messaging
JG Faherty – The H Train
Dean H. Wild – The Gaff
Jayani C. Senanayake – Kalu Kumaraya (My Dark Prince)
Lucas Pederson – We Were Monsters
C. Michael Cook – The Night Crier
Thomas P. Balázs – Waiting for Mrs. Hemley
Jay Caselberg – The Ride
Ahna Wayne Aposhian – Old Hag
Carole Johnstone – Better You Believe

Here’s an excerpt from my story, which concerns an old rancher taking on a drifting hired hand in Depression-era Texas against his better judgment.

*************************************************************************************

It was not uncommon to see men on the road, what with that son of a bitch Hoover in the White House. Jim Thiemann did not stir when his old eyes first caught sight of one, even when the ragged man paused at the chicken wire and wagon wheel gate that separated the Longview Ranch from the rest of Scurry County.

He did cease rocking in his chair and put his hand to the double barreled shotgun leaning against the porch rail when the man lifted the gate and started trudging up to the house.

Just in case.

Jim had a long time to watch him, but it wasn’t till he was about halfway up the road that his failing eyes could make anything out other than his tall, slim shape. The details gradually coalesced as if surfacing from a murky depth.

He had a growth of beard, dirty blonde, and his coveralls were patched, as were the elbows of the corduroy coat slung over his shoulder. There was a beat up hat, what Jim’s daddy had always called a ‘goin’ to hell hat,’ tilted on his head at an angle Jim didn’t much care for, and ratty shoes whose soles flapped like chatty old spinsters when he walked, kicking up half the dust in Texas. The setting orange sun lit the dust like smoke from a brush fire.

“Hello there, brother,” the man called cheerfully as he came to a stop.

“Hello yourself,” Jim replied. He didn’t care for that ‘brother’ talk straight off. In this country you called no man brother who was not, and old men went by ‘sir.’

“You’ve got a sign on your gate says you’re lookin’ to hire a man,” said the stranger.

“I know it. I put it there.”

“Well, I’m your man.”

“You ain’t even asked what kinda work it is.”

“If it pays somethin’ more than stale bread or a can of peas, I’ll do it.”

“You ever worked around a ranch?”

“In California.”

“You know what a fence rider is?”

“Yeah.”

“What is it?”

“Somebody to restring wire, dig postholes, mend gaps.””

“If it weren’t for this goddamn arthritis I’d do it myself. As it is, I can’t keep a cow on the place. What stock I got left’s grazin’ up in them hills,” Jim said, throwing a twisted thumb over his shoulder to indicate the grassy uplands behind the house. “About forty head. The fence needs to get fixed before you can even start bringin’ ‘em down. You get your pay when the job’s done, food and a place to sleep till then. But don’t let me catch you slackin’ to prolong your meals, or you’ll be out on your ass.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“What’s your name?”

“Horace Greeley.”

Jim stared at the younger man a minute.

“Why do I know that name?”

“He founded the Republican Party. My pa was a tried and true Republican.”

“If you’re greenin’ me right from the get-go….”

“Brother believe me, I wouldn’t do that,” said Horace, showing his gritty palms. “Not in the state I’m in.”

“Alright, well the first thing you got to learn is in Texas you don’t go around callin’ your boss ‘brother.’ You call me ‘boss’ or ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. Thiemann’ or ‘Jim.’”

“Fair enough,” said Horace.

“Second thing is, that hat might be alright for workin’ in the orange groves, but it ain’t gonna make it here. After you go fetch that help sign off the gate, you can come on up to the house,” he said, rising out of the chair. “We’ll get you some proper headgear.”

Horace’s smile fell at the sight of the shotgun, which he apparently hadn’t noticed before.

“Don’t worry. It’s for coyotes. And tried and true Republicans,” Jim said, rubbing his aching back.

Pick up Horror Library Vol 6 here –

Thorne & Cross

I’ll be on Thorne & Cross tonight at 5PM Pacific speaking to Alistair and Tamara about Monstrumfuhrer and doing my best to sound intelligent. Hopefully the kids are quiet! You can listen in below. Don’t worry if you miss the time and day, it becomes a permanent podcast link afterwards.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairradio2/2017/01/27/ed-erdelac-returns-to-thorne-cross-haunted-nights-live

Published in: on January 26, 2017 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy 111th Birthday, Robert E. Howard

yearbook-detailJanuary 22nd nearly came and went without me marking the birthday of my favorite author, Texan Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan The Barbarian, Solomon Kane, King Kull, and others.

As always, I feel the best way to honor the man is to read his words. This year, I present a selection from The Grey God Passes, Howard’s rendition of the Battle of Clontarf.

“My Lord,” said Conn, fingering the great copper ring around his neck, “I have slain the man who put this thrall-mark on me. I would be free of it.”

Black Turlough took his red stained ax-head in his hands and, pressing it against the ring, drove the keen edge through the softer metal. The keen edge gashed Conn’s shoulder, but neither heeded.

“Now I am truly free,” said Conn, flexing his mighty arms. “My heart is heavy for the chiefs who have fallen, but my mind is mazed with wonder and glory. Will ever such a battle be fought again? Truly it was a feast of ravens, a sea of slaughter….”

His voice trailed off, and he stood like a statue, head flung back, eyes staring into the clouded heavens. The sun was sinking in a dark ocean of scarlet.  Great clouds rolled and tumbled, piled mountainously against the smoldering red of the sunset. A wind blew out of them, biting, cold, and borne on the wind, etched shadowy against the clouds, a vague, gigantic form went flying, beard and wild locks streaming in the gale, cloak billowing out like great wings – speeding into the mysterious blue mists that pulsed and shimmered in the brooding North.

“Look up there – in the sky!” cried Conn. “The grey man! It is he! The grey man with the single terrible eye. I saw him in the mountains of Torka. I glimpsed him brooding on the walls of Dublin while the battle raged. I saw him looming above Prince Murrogh as he died. Look! He rides the wind and races the tall clouds. He swindles. He fades into the void. He vanishes!”

“It is Odin, god of the sea-people,” said Turlogh somberly. “His children are broken, his altars crumble, and his worshipers fallen before the swords of the South. He flees the new gods and their children, and returns to the blue gulfs of the North which gave him birth. No more will helpless victims howl beneath the daggers of his priests – no more will he stalk the black clouds.” He shook his head darkly. “The Grey God passes, and we too are passing, though we have conquered. The days of the twilight come on amain, and a strange feeling is upon me as of a waning age. What are we all, too, but ghosts waning into the night?”

And he went on into the dusk, leaving Conn to his freedom – from thralldom and cruelty, as both he and all the Gaels were now free of the shadow of the Grey God and his ruthless worshipers.

battle_of_clontarf_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_hugh_frazer_1826

Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stories On The Great Jones Street

The Great Jones Street is a fairly new app that promises to be the Netflix of short fiction, and boasts a searchable database of a wide variety of short stories in various genres, including a couple offerings by yours truly.

https://www.greatjonesstreet.press/stories/

Here are direct links to Spearfinger –

https://www.greatjonesstreet.press/spearfinger-edward-m-erdelac-2/

Black Tallow –

https://greatjonesstreet.app.link/qXopl9hf1z?action=story-detail&storyId=16784&storyTitle=Black+Tallow&author=Edward+M.+Erdelac&referring_user_id=A552C8CA-7DB3-46A8-A242-8BD28D823E6A&share_medium=SMS

And The Blood Bay, a favorite of mine –

https://greatjonesstreet.app.link/b2TTxLmf1z?action=story-detail&storyId=16785&storyTitle=The+Blood+Bay&author=Edward+M.+Erdelac&referring_user_id=A552C8CA-7DB3-46A8-A242-8BD28D823E6A&share_medium=SMS

Download the app and check ’em out.

 

 

Published in: on January 18, 2017 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Angler In Darkness by M. Wayne Miller

I was gonna wait till the titles were in place and all, but rather than mar it with my name, I thought I’d give you all a sneak peak of M. Wayne Miller’s art for my forthcoming short fiction collection Angler In Darkness.

I love working with Wayne because while the development of my own art skills was arrested somewhere around my Freshman year of high school, I can float him a meager sketch of what I want and he delivers it so close to how I actually see it in my mind it’s uncanny. He may as well be mind melding with me. The late great Norm Rubenstein introduced me to Wayne when he got him to do the awesome wraparound cover for my Van Helsing novel Terovolas. I only sent him a text description, but he absolutely nailed what Norm and I both envisioned.  

Later, I was nervous sending him a sketch of what I envisioned for my story The Boonieman in World War Cthulhu as I didn’t want to offend him as an artist, but he took the bare bones I sent him and just…well, turned it into art. 

Anyway, without further ado….

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Awesome.

Check out Wayne’s work here.

http://www.mwaynemiller.com/

 

Monstrumfuhrer Chapter One

The opening chapter to my tenth novel, Monstrumfuhrer, due out January 24th from Comet Press.

opel_olympia1936’s December blew a bracing cold through high Ingolstadt. A cream colored new model Opel Olympia hummed through the twisting streets that ran between the crowded old edifices, necessarily clustered because of its encircling wall designed to defend it in its long gone capitol days. The car’s frame shuddered on the chipped cobbles just as the iron tires of the horse drawn carts had once.

A pudgy, flush faced boy paused at a curb to let the car rumble by, seeing himself stretch and thin in the bright world captured in the mud spattered chrome. It was as though he had been granted a brief glimpse of his future, better self to bolster him in the remainder of his awkward years. The boy smiled, and waved to the driver.

The well groomed man at the wheel looked down at the boy through the glass, acknowledging him with a nod for the clear passage granted, and a lazy half-salute. The boy waved harder, an excited puff of warm breath escaping between his teeth; he thought the man might be a movie star.

The car went on.

After a few blocks, it drew up to a curb across the street from one of the old-style gabled houses. This one sprouted a high, stone turret.

The engine of the Olympia cut out, and the driver’s door groaned open, relinquishing its motorist to the cold. The driver shuddered briefly beneath his rich, camel hair coat and set a feathered, Bavarian style hat on his head. One ivory gloved hand pushed the car door shut, and he crossed the street to the door of the house.

There followed a long moment after the visitor sounded the bell, in which the man turned slowly in place with his hands deep in his pockets and his shoulders hunched, stomping his feet for warmth. It was easy to see how the boy had mistaken him for an actor. He seemed too good looking to be anything else. His fine dark hair was neatly trimmed and styled, his face free of stubble, unmarred by even the blemish of cold.

A plump, white haired man with a broom mustache answered the door.

“Hello Friedrich,” the visitor said, doffing his hat.

“Beppo!” the older man exclaimed, stepping aside and waving him in. “Come in! Come in!”

The foyer was warm and the red drained from the visitor’s ears. The older man took his hat, but ‘Beppo (the name seemed a woeful misnomer)’ made no move to surrender his coat.

“Please,” Friedrich said, gesturing to a brass hook on the nearby mirror stand, “let me take your coat.”

“No really,” Beppo demurred. “I’m afraid I can’t stay. I’m expecting important news you see, and I must return to Leipzig in the morning.”

Friedrich held the hat in both hands, his lined face disappointed.

“Ah? Are you sure you can’t stay? At least for supper?”

The younger man shook his head, apologetic.

“I’m afraid not. It’s about my appointment, you see. I really must be there, and I want to get an early start.”

“Of course, of course,” the old man nodded, hanging the hat on the hook. “You’ll stay for a cup of tea, though?”

“Certainly,” Beppo allowed, removing his pristine doeskin gloves and folding them neatly.

The young man took a seat in the adjoining drawing room and regarded the collection of delicate ceramic Capodimonte gypsies capering on the mantle. They were snowed in under a blanket of dust. Nothing a man would keep in his house; these were the exquisite relics of Friedrich’s late wife, whose name escaped his memory. A cuckoo clock poised to release its inmate for hourly exercise hung high on the wall. The young man’s mind again wandered to the trip that lay before him and the important matter that waited at the end of it.

Friedrich returned, bearing a plain tray of china cups and a steaming pot. After a bit of clattering, he handed over a dainty cup and saucer. More womanly remembrances. The young man crossed his legs and sipped the tea as his host took the high-backed chair opposite him.

“How are your father and the factory?” Friedrich asked, brushing at his mustache with a table napkin.

“Thank you, fine,” the younger man replied. “He sends you his best as always.” then, as an afterthought before the tea touched his lips again, “As does mother.”

“Your appointment,” Friedrich ventured, “it will be at the university?”

The younger man shook his head.

“Not at the university proper,” he sipped, relishing his news as though it were contained in the cup. “Actually, Professor Mollinson has recommended me to Professor Von Verscheur’s staff at the Reich Institute.”

Friedrich raised his eyebrows.

The younger man uncrossed his legs and rested his elbows on his knees, excited.  Friedrich was the first he’d told, officially.

“Of course, I don’t dare hope that I’ll be accepted, but if I should…,” he smiled uncontrollably revealing a gap between his two front teeth that spoiled his film star looks only slightly. “Think of it, Freidrich!”

Friedrich smiled broadly at his young guest’s enthusiasm. He probably had little more than an inkling of the importance of the news. The Reich Institute he had heard of surely, Von Verscheur, likely he had not.

“But why shouldn’t you hope for the best, Beppo?” he said, wagging a finger in a way his grandfather used to do. “You are a brilliant physician. Your father always knew you would exceed all our expectations.”

The young man rubbed the bridge of his nose and chuckled at the praise.  Friedrich knew nothing of the Institute or of his skill as a physician. These were just empty, stupid words of encouragement.

“You embarrass me,” Beppo said. “It’s only an assistant’s position.” Of course it was more, but what did the old man know or care?

“Ah,” said Friedrich, mustering more encouragement, “but Herr Professor Von Verscheur is a great man, is he not? Great men recognize greatness in others.”

The young man sat back and sipped his tea. In his blindness, the old man had stumbled upon a truth. A hope he had not dared to express himself, but one that he harbored nonetheless.

“We are at the threshold of exciting times, Freidrich,” he said, glad to give free rein to his excitement even in this dusty drawing room to an uneducated widower who still called him by his childhood nickname. “In every flowering aspect of our culture, particularly in the realm of scientific knowledge, Germany is at the forefront of revolutionary thought. Human genetics is at last taking its rightful place among the classic sciences. Soon, it may even surpass them. All that is required to usher in the new era are men with the will to put the theories of great thinkers like Von Verscheur to practical application;men with the courage to further the boundaries of human understanding by any means. Men…”

“Men like you, Beppo?” Friedrich interrupted, smiling mischievously across his tea cup, fat fingers shoved into the too small handle.

The young man exhaled, like a ship with slackening sails. He stared at the old man. The nickname was suddenly unwelcome. Like the word ‘life,’ too small and paltry a thing to describe such a grand and expansive concept. It was almost insulting.

pinHe watched the old man’s expression falter, eyes falling, perhaps for the first time, on the party pin on the lapel of his coat.

The young man laughed, shaking his head. He was truly embarrassed now. Did a lion roar at an insect in its path? Ridiculous.

“Yes, Friedrich,” he said, letting the old man know it was alright again. “Like me.”

The last, he said into his empty teacup.

Exactly like me.”

The cuckoo sprang and toodled out the advancing hour.

After that, conversation dwindled. Friedrich spoke of his wife and the loneliness of the house, and his thoughts of selling and moving back to Gunzburg near the factory. The man pined for the old rustic village and was now intent on returning to his memories of farm tools and beer. Some were born to endless night, the younger man thought. At the end of this maudlin tirade, he glanced at his wristwatch.

He muttered his excuse and they both stood up, he still didn’t know the name of Friedrich’s late wife.

“I’m sorry to see you leave so soon, Beppo,” Friedrich said, as he took his hat off the hook in the foyer.

He looked at the old man, not without affection, for he could hear the sincerity in his voice. This man had worked for his father, had raised him up on his shoulders as a boy and shown him the workings of the factory, though they had bored him even then. He had taken pride in his work nonetheless. He was a good German.

He clapped the old man’s shoulder, pursing his lips.

“It’s regrettable, Friedrich,” he said. “I don’t know when I’ll be in Ingolstadt again.”

The old man shrugged.

“Perhaps if you come to Christmas in Gunzburg, to see your family, you will see me there too, one of these days.”

“Perhaps,” he said, smiling and setting his hat on his head. “Thank you for the tea, Friedrich. It was good seeing you.”

He turned toward the door and opened it, the cold blasting his face.

“Just a moment, Beppo,” the old man said behind him. “I’d almost forgotten.”

He turned, and the old man gestured to a weighty, belted stack of books on the stand beneath the mirror, which the younger man hadn’t noticed before.

“I remembered your fondness for antique books,” the old man explained, smiling behind his moustache. “These are for you.”

The younger man pulled the door closed and moved to the books. He unbelted them and sifted through the stack. They were very old, bound in leather, some of them filigreed, the pages yellowed. His fingers trembled slightly as they traced the embossments, as they always did when physically connecting to old words and in his mind, to the forgotten men who authored them.

“These are very old,” he said, and there was a flutter in his chest. Some of them were probably quite valuable.

He inspected the titles, his marvel building with each subsequent name. Here was Paracelsus and the great Agrippa…Frater Albertus…the legendary Eirenaues Philalethes…mad Alhazred…John Dee…some even he had never encountered in his readings.

These were the alchemical and magical texts of the old masters, some dating back to the 15th century at least, and in good condition, hand copied. Their teachings were of course obsolete, but the books themselves were a treasure trove of historical value. He considered refusing the gift, shaking the old man by the shoulders and making him aware of the literal fortune which he sought to give away. An antiquarian or a museum, maybe even the Reich Institute would pay out a charitable sum for these books. They would be carefully preserved and copied as cultural artifacts. But if he did, what would Freidrich truly do with them? He would laugh at his young guest’s enthusiasm and leave them here in the foyer to gather dust like the dainty gypsy figurines his wife had left behind.

Money from their sale would help him and his new bride immensely as well. Who could use it more; an old man bumping about the cavernous, waning days of a lonesome twilight, or a young doctor with promising years ahead of him?

He struggled to retain his composure and smiled.

“Wherever did you get these, Freidrich?”

Friedrich waved off their importance.

“Oh, the prior owner was an invalid. She didn’t get out, let alone upstairs. I found them in an attic room. Old textbooks, most of them, left over from the university days, no doubt.”

12-c16-paracelsusThe younger man nodded, thumbing briefly but lovingly through the aged pages, inspecting the hand-inked paragraphs with their quasi-mystical formulas and complex diagrams. The university Freidrich spoke of was the old Jesuit university in Ingolstadt, where the astronomer Christoph Scheiner and Weishaupt, the founder of the Illuminati had taught. It had been closed in 1800 by Maximillian.

“This was a boarding house back then,” Freidrich went on. “Many of the students and young priests stayed here over the years.

The doctor paused on one of the pages, admiring an astoundingly detailed anatomical cross section of a human eye. It looked to be hand drawn, accurate to the minutest detail and annotated in a broad, handsome Latin. The drawing was strikingly beautiful. An eye so laid bare and removed from the context of the body was like a fanciful creature, alien of form, sprung entirely from whimsy.

Friedrich ran his liver-spotted hand over the back of his neck modestly.

“Probably just a lot of quaint old foolishness compared to what they assign you to read in Munich.”

“Not at all,” the doctor said, reluctantly closing the book and reading the cover. It was some sort of experimental log, unpublished. He didn’t recognize the author’s name. Some anonymous medical student long dead. “One should never disparage things of the past, Friedrich. Who can say what has been written and perhaps forgotten?”

“Well,” Friedrich smiled. “They are yours, Herr Doktor.”

The doctor smiled thinly. Herr Doktor. It was infinitely better than ‘Beppo.’

He nodded.

“Thank you again, Freidrich. I will cherish these.”

Friedrich waved him off and moved to open the door for him.

He stepped out into the cold again, hugging the books as if they would warm him. Snow drifted down outside like the remnants of frozen, dying stars.

“Drive carefully,” the old man said.

The doctor stepped out into the street.

“Goodbye!”

There was no traffic, and he crossed easily. The old man lingered in the doorway behind him and called;

“Give my love to your mother and father!”

The young doctor raised one gloved hand but did not look back. He reached the Olympia, now frosted with ice.

He wrenched open the door and slid in, setting the books on the passenger’s seat beside him.

“And to all the Mengeles!” Friedrich called.

Dr. Josef Mengele nodded as he closed the door, and mouthed a final goodbye. He shivered and turned the engine over, revving the accelerator, flooding its oily heart with combustible life. He could see his own breath. He wanted to let the car idle a bit before he began, but he saw that Friedrich intended to wait in the open doorway and see him off.

The old man’s love for the Mengele family was admirable, but a bit dogged for one who had drawn simple foreman’s wages and enjoyed only a passing friendship at his father’s tool factory. He knew his father had aided Freidrich’s family in some way long ago. Some trouble with the man’s son, he believed. But where was that son now? In his lonesomeness, the old man had practically adopted Josef in the short span of time they had spent together.

Still, he could not begrudge Friedrich his gift.

Mengele glanced at the spines of the books on the seat as he put the car into reverse and prepared to draw away from the curb. Paracelsus’ Der Grossen Wundartzney leapt out at him. So too, Albertus Magnus’ Physica. And then there was that enticing book with the drawing of the eye, marked in French, ‘Journal Experimental.’ The one by the unknown author, M. Victor Frankenstein.

When he shifted back into first gear and eased the Olympia onto the street, Friedrich was still waving from the doorway of the old house. The snow pelted the windscreen furiously as he guided the car out of Ingolstadt. A driving storm greeted him when he at last pointed it toward Leipzig.

monstrumtitle
Pick it up here –
https://www.amazon.com/Monstrumfuhrer-Edward-M-Erdelac/dp/1936964015/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482205530&sr=8-1&keywords=monstrumfuhrer