David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Among the dead

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2019 at 8:39 am

My grandfather sits in the ruin of his house. It is always night when I am here. The sky is my skull, a low dome seen from the inside. His jaw is strong and held hard, grinding the fossils of his teeth. (Even if he still smoked, he could not. His pipe stem could not be forced between those lips. It would be snapped by those teeth. The end of it would stay in that mouth a hundred years, preserved.)

Wind sweeps the ash. I do not feel the cold. I stare at the strength of that head. I remember bending and kissing that head, like a child’s, as it lay on a pillow. The man I never kissed, who only ever shook hands, even with children. The skull beneath the skin.

That he came back to sit here, among the ruins. He does not decay, instead the house does. Each time I come, it has deteriorated further, taking his place in the grave. The elements do not bother him. If the wind wears him, if water drips him away, leaching away the minerals of him a drop at a time, perhaps it is for the best. Perhaps it is what he desires. As he weathers, mountains are ground down, oceans rise, seas fall. Forests grow and are consumed. The constellations shift, all sped up for him. He is the Time Traveller, he is Rod Taylor in his chair, encased in stone, then freed again. In my visits, I am a shadow. I am the flickering ghost. It is I who am death, I am mortality. We are worn down around him.

He gulps sometimes. The throat works, the jaw moves and clenches. He is biting deeper, getting a better grip on the world. Once or twice he has looked towards me. I stand close. He does not stop me. I am calm in his presence, calm with the nostalgia of grief. The longing for those other worlds I can never visit. Childhood. The past. The lives of others. The drowsy warmth of everything will be alright. The knowledge of grief to come.

That he has returned, and so far, not the others. Preserved in his pride, his inflexible ideas of proper behaviour. The feuds that burned silently within, in his room as he read, as he listened to talk back radio.

It is monochrome here. It suits the grey hair, slicked back along his scalp.

I love him, I miss him, I miss them all. All the faces from the Christmas photographs of my childhood, who no longer gather around the table.

My aunt, white gowned against the window, arms raised and pressing the glass. Could only I see her? I am staring at the house, the others have their backs turned to her. Were the adults pretending it was otherwise? My other grandmother, from the other side of my family, smiling, her lips uncertain, her eyes betraying an unease when I caught them. She knew. We mourned when my aunt left, why did no one tell me she was back? Kept inside, a secret.

All the dead are kept inside, a secret that no one else wants to know. We are all haunted, and sometimes they stare out from the windows of our eyes. They come back, but they are not the same.

My grandfather sits amongst the exposed beams, the drooping wallpaper having outlasted the plasterboard beneath. He has made himself comfortable in the chair that was thrown away long ago. Its return is as great a miracle as his. He is silent. Why do we protest? Why do we bother to rage? The brave new world was always coming, and there was nothing we could do about it. We shall consume the whole world, we shall eat our young, the forests will die, the skies will burn.

There is no moon, no stars, no electricity, no peasant mob brandishing torches, but I see him clear in this night. I cannot think how I first found him here. I think I just knew. He cannot be in this house. It was sold years ago, and rebuilt, and another family lives here.  They have covered the verandah, hung a little sign advertising a business. Still, it is where I found him. Perhaps we are in one of those other twenty four dimensions of folded string. I do not know. I just gaze upon him and sit in his quiet presence.

The dead stare. What vision is imprinted on their eyes? We fear what they have seen.

His wife is not there. Will she come? Nobody told me my grandmother was in hospital. I could not answer the phone. I was freezing in a bath of ice, sitting with a child who refused to be comforted unless someone was in there with him, trying to bring his fever down. Later, when I finally was told, in the emergency ward with her as she, unconscious, clawed at the air, as though prematurely buried and scraping at the coffin lid, I prayed and prayed into her ear, a hundred Hail Mary’s to calm her down, and then those arms rested, they allowed themselves to stop. Thank you God for that.

My child, shaking, terrified in the night. Eventually telling us that someone else had been in the house with us, while we all slept. She struggled to get the words out. Her eventual description: “he was like a cricket man”. Cricketers dress completely in white. She could not see his shoes, for his feet were beneath the floor.

The dead are all inside. How many skeleton arms drag torsos forward through the mud of my mind, skulls drooping, exposed spines drifting away to nothing? How many more bony arms are yet to come? When shall I join them? What shall I see?

Or will death be banished forever, all of us infested us with nanobots that work constantly to keep us fit, keep us happy in our jobs, content in the hell we have made?

These are thoughts I think, when I awake after my visits.

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Read “Miracle Cure”

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2018 at 3:58 am

Read Miracle Cure, just click here.

 

The gods of the gaps

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2018 at 6:20 am

3LBE 29

The gods of the gaps

 

Baby, cold outside

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2018 at 10:05 am

Dear Reader, the latest edition of BREACH magazine, featuring Australian and New Zealand writers, is available for your reading pleasure. The former group includes yours truly, with my contribution being a weird tale, “Baby, cold outside”. If you are cold outside, what do you want more than anything, baby?

I wrote the first draft of this story last year, during breaks on a work conference to Krakow. The next day, we travelled to Auschwitz. The story is not about the Holocaust or Nazis, but perhaps it was informed by the strange mood I was in.

Breach #8 is available for $2 USD here and here.

Breach #08

Its a miracle …

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2018 at 2:21 am

You can check out my latest published story, “Miracle cure”, at Liquid Imagination – just click on the link.

(Sitting at home just now with my new friend, Gastroenteritis, but I’ll put up with the illness in preference to a miracle cure like this one … stomach, I have cared for you so well all these years, and this is how you betray me?)

Breach

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2018 at 9:50 am

Very happy that my weird story “Baby, cold outside”, has found a home in Breach magazine, and will appear in Breach #08 in August. More details to follow …

… meanwhile, while you are waiting, you can read (or listen to) my latest published story, “The gods of the gaps”, here at Three-lobed Burning Eye magazine.

… we have to be careful of our own disposition to irony. There is tradition, even for scientists. Spilled blood pays strange bills, and we have our fingers in so very many pies…

I did not win an award

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2018 at 8:26 am

There, that’s a blunt factual title!

My story, The Big Reveal, did NOT win the 2017 Australian Shadows Award for short fiction. Congratulations to the winner, Matthew J Morrison for his story The Banksia Boys (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #66).

Nonetheless, feel free to click on the link to read my story which appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of Kaleidotrope, edited and published by Fred Coppersmith. I still like the opening (self-praise is no recommendation, as Mrs Carver used to say, the teacher who told me there was no Santa):

When he heard the cracking before the lights had even been doused — a noise he would later realize was the sound of small facial bones breaking — when he looked up and saw the man’s face turning into someone else’s, the boy stopped paying attention to the stuffed horse he had been pulling hair from all afternoon.

Or of course, you can read something else … like The gods of the gaps, in the latest 3LBE

(So many links. Somehow, I think there would have been less shameless self-promotion here if I had won… 🙂 )

It was excellent to have been nominated.

Sorry Fred …. Kaleidotrope … Mum … I let you all down … 😦

I think I am not getting the tone right, too many inconsistencies. Well, here is something that always cheers me up:

Serial Killer Blues

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2018 at 5:41 pm

The latest edition of The Literary Hatchet, is available now, just click here for details.

Which reminds me, you can read my own contribution to The Literary Hatchet, Serial Killer Blues, for free – just click here, fill out the form, and a PDF of volume 14 will be sent to you. You can also buy hard copies at Amazon if you are so inclined.

The Passage

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Justin Cronin’s The Passage was an excellent book. You should definitely read it. A great thrilling scary read, one of my favourite vampire books, which means one of my favourite books.

Never had I looked forward to a sequel more. My excitement increased when I picked up a more recent paperback edition, with a special preview of the The Twelve. Woo-hoo, the sniper we were briefly introduced to in The Passage has his story told – shooting vampires, escaping soldiers, a nightmare journey through an underground car park. This is great, I thought, just like the fat guy in Animal House before the horse dies. Oh, but it wasn’t. It was shit, except for bits, and boring, and annoying. And then came The City of Mirrors, which was also shit, except for bits. (And part of that shit was that after having been teased about the role of Australia in the future, only to find out everyone died and Australia was colonised by Americans who lost their knowledge of everything but still had the University of NSW – I may be slightly wrong on the detail, my copy is in another continent.) Two fat shit books that I have probably read more than many good skinny books, I think because I kept telling myself I must have remembered wrong, they cannot be that bad, BUT THEY WERE. So you should definitely read The Passage, and then mourn the fact that Justin Cronin made so much money from it that he never bothered to write the sequels.

Any way,  so much for 8 year old books.

So, we live in a golden age of television. Its a fact, I should know, I watch enough. You know, all the shows, with their modern approaches to story telling, their realistic setting, their ARTFULNESS. And in this modern age, someone makes this …

As I said, shit. They took the good book and made a crappy cheap looking generic … well, ok its just a trailer, but why is it so clean, and where is the darkness, and the monsters, and the ATMOSPHERE? Has nobody learned anything? And is it just me, or are they actually remaking I Am Legend? – the Will Smith thing, not the excellent book, which again, is one of my favourite vampire books. Where is the creepiness? What, no murdered nuns? No Virals ripping cities apart? Oh, go to buggery …

The Big Reveal

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2018 at 6:16 pm

My story “The Big Reveal” is a finalist in the short fiction section of the Australian Shadows Awards. Big thanks to the Australasian Horror Writers Association for the nomination. And big thanks to Fred Coppersmith at Kaleidotrope for publishing the story.

I opened an email listing the nominees, thinking wouldn’t it be nice if my name appeared in here, and there it was, a big surprise (on a day when I really needed something nice!).

Read the story here.

Read the list of nominees here.

Check out the latest edition of Kaleidotrope here.