Look at all these places offering free audio tales of terror! Go on, look at them. I said look at theeeeeemmm…oh, now look what you made me do, I spilled my tea. Now run along and listen to things.
Another flash fiction out today? Have I gone mad?! Yes. The Marzipan King Is A Dick on Bizarro Central.
There’s something weird and unpleasant happening inside me in my new flash fiction An Unexpected Reunion on Weird Year.
Good day! I hope you enjoy my new brain splurge, I was writing a long and complicated story and needed a bit of a release. Byeee!
Evening all. Aah, that was a genuine mistake (its 10 am. I really need tea).
Anyway, here’s my latest story in online magazine Black Petals, its historic horror ooh (disclaimer, this one is a bit grim I was in a bad mood). Enjoy!
Today a friend alerted me to a website featuring spooky stories that the average person can add to called the SCP Foundation, although they apparently delete entries that don’t comply with the general tone etc.
They have been described thusly: “The SCP Foundation is a creative writing website centered around pseudo-realistic supernatural reports. The site allows members to author entries in form of reports and documents focusing on entities referred to as SCPs, which are objects whose existence would be considered scientific anomalies and often pose a significant hazard to human health or society.”
If you’re still curious have a read of this.
Projects like this are fun, unusual and good practice, so what are we waiting for?
“LegumeMan Books is an independent press devoted to extreme and/or unusual fiction for extreme and/or unusual people. Run by the Brothers Gunther and operating out of Melbourne, Australia, our aim is to represent upcoming authors writing in the abovementioned styles.
We hope to form an ongoing relationship with upcoming authors who write in styles not represented by major publishers.”
Have a read! It has sweeties and Nazis, what more could you ask?
On Tuesday I went for a day jaunt around my capital city, soaking up information to pass on to others like a disturbing sponge.
I like to think of visits to London as plugging myself in, like a phone that needs recharging, which is very silly. However, the occasional visit does remind me of all the little things I may not have heard about otherwise.
If you’re a cheapskate like me have a look online for a list of free exhibitions and galleries and you’ll be fine. Museums of course are already free, which is as exciting as a singing fish doing cartwheels.
The tube gnomes notified me of Circusfest in May, which looks exciting. I shall certainly be there chatting up the clowns whether they like it or not.
I began my day by going to the Childhood Museum in Bethnal Green to write down as many toys as I could relating to the era of my historical novel. Reading about stuff is great but until you play with a zoetrope I’m not sure you get the whole idea.
The V&A museum will “redesign seven important galleries dedicated to European Art and Design 1600–1800” by 2014 amongst several other projects. It’s already a beautiful place full of art and fashion, both historical and modern.
I wandered into a Georgian ballroom and actually gasped, like they do in novels. I was in there completely alone and the silence made me feel as though I’d stepped through a time gap.The museum is also displaying a cape sewn from silk, which was extracted from millions of Golden Orb spiders.
All the V&A expect is a donation so you can’t really go wrong. They don’t accept bellybutton fluff.
The Serpentine Gallery, as well as featuring very interesting exhibitions, has a shop full of magazines and books dedicated to art and writing. My advice is to go there with a pen and paper and write down the titles. You can look at the submissions guidelines on their websites later.
In case you were unfamiliar with The Serpentine it’s in the middle of Kensington Gardens, just up the road from Exhibition Road (home to the many museums).
The gallery are opening a new space called The Sackler Gallery near the old place this year, so you can run from one to the other and watch dogs sniffing each other in between (disclaimer: don’t run from one to the other).
So there endeth my journey through the capital, may my facts serve you well. Apparently the Underground employs people to sweep up human hair. I like to pretend they’re tiny folks who use it to make nests.
The independent and underground world often bring us the unusual and new, but occasionally mainstream goes weird too. There are too many examples to mention but here are some of my favourites, beginning with two well known ‘uns.
1. Twin Peaks. There may be a segment near the end of series two that goes slightly astray but the good episodes of this programme are way better than most other things that have been on TV. Fire Walk with Me is also very worth seeing.
2. The Twilight Zone. An obvious classic, and the good episodes (there are many) are half hour plays of entertaining freakiness.
3. Three Cases of Murder. I recently watched this at 2am when I couldn’t sleep and was very happily surprised. I love portmanteu horror films (more than one story linked by a main tale – Tales from the Crypt and the Vault of Horror are my personal favourites -) but this ‘un from 1955 is one I’d not heard much about before.
My favourite was the first segment directed by Wendy Toye (yes, a lady in the fifties!). When it begins you prepare yourself for harmless whimsy as Alan Badel observes his own painting with a curator at a gallery, but it quickly descends into something more disturbing. With its skewed camera angles and obsessed characters it was one of the more bonkers things I’d watched that evening. The final segment contains Orson Welles and Alan Badel again (he appears in all three stories) and I actually laughed loudly, though the comedy is, of course, mixed with something a little bit darker.
4. The Unknown. The twenties and thirties made some very peculiar filmic gems, ‘Freaks’ being one example. Another is The Unknown from 1927 by the same writer/director Tod Browning. Joan Crawford (pre ‘wire hangers’) and horror regular Lon Chaney both work in a circus.
He’s the armless (?) knife thrower and she the beautiful assistant. He loves her, and she has a terrible phobia of men’s hands. Oh, and he’s also a robber and murderer with two thumbs, who really does have hands, and decides to have them removed permanently when one of his victims recognises him. Can he live dementedly ever after with Joan, or will things go horribly wrong?
5. Weird Night. There was a 90s-tastic series of BBC programmes in 94 during a special evening entitled ‘Weird Night.’ At 13 I’d not been exposed to too much of this sort of thing yet and I consumed it eagerly. The schedule ran as such:
1.Fortean Review of the Year
3. The last American Freak Show (different to the one mentioned in a previous post)
7. Weird Thoughts
You can watch each of the programmes on this youtube channel (thanks skynet!). Below I’ve included all segments of the final show – Weird Thoughts – in which ‘experts’ debate their opinions on all things weird. Weird weird weird weird (my painkillers just kicked in). As expected, everyone laughs at silly old scientist with his knowledge and that.
6. Eerie Indiana. Another 90s offering which shaped my interests growing up. Watching it as a grown up is better though; not only do you have nostalgia but you notice the horror/sci fi references that appear throughout, thus satiating the geek beast within.
7. Sacred Weeds. The 90s seemed to develop an obsession with the ‘out there’ and odd. If it wasn’t Fortean it was mind bending plants.
This was a truly odd documentary series. One person who had never consumed a certain natural drug (proper drug, not homeopathy) and another who had taken them before joined a team of scientists in a big house to trip balls while being asked questions. I’m serious, it happened. Cue many peculiar scenes of suited men assisting in salvia bong hits and mushroom tea dosage. The plants tested (one per episode) were: Fly Agaric mushroom, Salvia, Henbane and Blue Lilly.
Thats enough for now you greedy little pickles, we shall meet again.
During this series of Tales of the Slightly Unexpected we’ve had suspension parties, living in a squat, acting in a low budget horror and being an intern at Bizarre magazine. Now its time for something much more mundane…the night I set fire to my room.
I had just turned 15. My room was decorated in that 90s ‘I’m an oddball’ fashion of suns, moons, stars, Nirvana and Radiohead everywhere and a friend of mine had bought me a joke present, a book of witch’s spells.
Halloween was in the October air as I flicked through the pages one evening, never intending to enact any of the ‘magic,’ as I was far too lazy to draw pentagrams or collect leaves facing only in a south-easterly direction on a Tuesday etc. However I stopped when I reached a particular page.
Being a normal 15 year old girl I had a crush on somebody, and the ‘love spell’ was the only thing that wouldn’t require lots of effort. All I had to do was write their name on a piece of paper and burn it. Easy, right?
I eagerly wrote the name down and got out my lighter – for candles and oil burners – and set alight to the corner of the paper. I watched the orange flame flicker and grow stronger and the thought occured to me…what now? It wasn’t stopping automatically, it didn’t decide ‘Maddie’s one true love is now waiting outside therefore I shall put myself out.’ No, of course it carried on burning and began to make a frightening roaring sound.
I panicked and threw it away… in the bin. In the wicker bin. It really picked up at that point and consumed it with ease, growing taller and roaring and reaching for more. I watched it happen, doing a sort of hopping up and down dance. It hadn’t occured to me in my panic that my bin was under the curtains.
I emitted a helpless whimper as the bottoms of the material caught alight and the flame began to travel smokily upwards. I realised if I didn’t snap out of my shock I was going to burn the house down. My eyes flicked around the room…the empty glasses I was always being told off for! “Stop taking up a different glass every time you have a drink,” mum would say and yet here they were, calling out for me to use them.
I grabbed as many as I could and ran to the bathroom, filling them with water and trying to breathe evenly so as not to spill too much on the journey back. It was working…the flames began to recede and I made a scrambling dash to the bathroom with more empty glasses. I heard a voice travel up the stairs: “Maddie, I can smell smoke, what’s going on?”
“Everything’s fine!” I called like a housewife on valium, and soon the fire was nothing more than a smoking, smouldering mess of wicker and black curtains.
“I can definately smell something, I’m coming up!” She did come up the stairs, and she wasn’t happy. I did, however, point out the life saving role the empty glasses had played. For some reason she wasn’t as impressed as I was.