This year hasn’t turned out the way I wanted. I started with the hope of publishing Psychopomp and a couple of novellas. Obviously this didn’t happen. I worked hard on Psychopomp, trying to get the novel into shape. But no matter how hard I tried, it just didn’t work. The same old problems kept popping up. It’s a huge mess of a story, with a ton of different elements. None of them ever came together in a satisfactory manner. I decided to scrap the novel back in May.
Over the past five months, I haven’t been able to sustain anything for more than a few pages. I inevitably lost focus and bounced to another story, or screenplay. Every month it seemed like I was working on something different. I’d add a few thousand words, only to move on to something else. Just total frustration. Complete failure as a writer.
Then I discovered Billy Rezneck.
Billy likes to play with dead things. Thinking about Billy, I started to get excited about his story. Since it was late in October, I decided to put off writing about him. NaNoWriMo was just around the corner. Maybe between the fresh unknown of Billy and the rigid schedule of the challenge, I could finish something.
November started, and I began work on Necroshine.
That was 25,000 plus words ago.
I don’t know if this thing is publishable. It contains some of the most graphic stuff I’ve ever written. Explicit scenes of necrophilia, hardcore sex and ridiculous gore. But to be honest, I don’t care. I think the biggest problem I’ve had all year has been pressure. Worrying about publishing what I’m writing has made me second guess every decision, no matter how small. Necroshine is pure id. Every creative impulse I have just spilled out on the page. Will it ever see print? Who knows. I’m just happy that I might actually finish this thing. For now, that’s enough.
The following is the unedited text for the opening chapter from my next release, Extreme Haunt. I’m working on the book as part of NaNoWriMo.
Everyone was dead.
Derek knew something was wrong as he approached the house. The decadence had nearly reached fever-pitch by the time he left. Music louder than a construction site, liquor flowed freely and drugs were openly abused. Seemingly every costumed party-goer was having a good time. By all rights, things should have exploded into an orgy of latex masks, grease paint and naked flesh. But less than a thirty minutes later, the place was ominously quiet.
Stepping on the porch, Derek felt creeping dread take hold of him. He tried to think of a rational explanation for why the Halloween party ended so abruptly. But no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn’t do it. Every thought was interrupted by the dozen or so cars in the drive-way. The house was full house, so why was it so damned quiet?
Everyone was fucking?
The thought of Melanie fucking some stranger drove Derek from the party. He loathed to admit it now, but the prospect turned him on at first. But when he was faced with the reality behind the fantasy, Derek bailed. His pride simply couldn’t handle it. As disturbing as he found the idea of Melanie being penetrated in every orifice, it was infinitely more comforting than the darker alternative. But yet, he couldn’t fully embrace it. His knowledge of the Devil’s House simply wouldn’t let him.
Since Allison invited them to her party, Derek heard all kinds of crazy explanations for why the location was known as the Devil’s House. According to local legend, the place’s history was steeped in blood. Tales of murder, suicide and Satanic ritual circled the house since it had been build. As he stared at the ominous black front door, Derek couldn’t believe he was actually buying into the bullshit.
Not that the truth behind the house’s black past ever really mattered to Allison. Local legend was enough to fuel her desire to own the place. Always drawn to the dark and morbid, she simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live in an infamous murder house. The fact she could move in just before October made the purchase all the sweeter. She wanted her annual Halloween bash to go down in infamy. She pulled out all the stops to make sure that happened. Her work paid off. Part lavish costume bash, part sleazy sex party, the night was definitely one no one would ever forget.
Opening the door, Derek felt his heart sink and a cold streak spill down his spine. No sounds of carnal lust or hushed midnight promises. No drunken revelry or drug fueled ecstasy. Derek found only the unrelenting silence of an abandoned house.
As Derek stood in the darkened foyer, his every instinct told him something was very fucking wrong. He should have immediately ran away. He should have let the darkness of the night wash away any thoughts of the Devil’s House. But yet, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He found himself irrevocably drawn toward the somber candle light glow in the distance.
When he left, the grand room had been the throbbing decadent heart of the party. Drunken and debauched revelers danced, kissed and slowly strip-teased their way out of their costumes. In turns erotic and ridiculous, it lived up to everything Allison promised. But as he stepped inside, he didn’t see sweaty tangles of naked flesh or graphic sex acts. Derek only saw was red.
Blood painted the walls and spattered the ceiling. Thick coagulating pools punctuated the long languid streaks that ran across the floor. Derek’s eyes slowly drifted toward the center of the room where he saw the bodies. Indifferently dumped in the center of the room, the two women were naked and bled white. Viciously cleaved with an ax, their bodies gaped with dark crimson gashes.
Revolted by the sheer brutality on display, Derek recoiled.
Stomach lurching, he doubled over and tried to fight back the bile racing up his throat. Suddenly aware of the nauseous stench of death in the air, he failed miserably. The contents of his stomach hit the floor with a violent wet splat. His knees buckling, he grabbed the wall for support.
His stomach still churning, he closed his eyes. Taking big gasping breaths, he let the stillness of the house wash over him. Everyone was dead. An icy chill spilled through his guts, soothing the chaos but leaving a dead cold terror that was much worse. Everyone didn’t just mean the anonymous faces and casual acquaintance Allison populated the party with.
Everyone meant Melanie as well.
He slowly turned to face the gruesome tableau. Derek thought the bodies had been simply dumped on the floor; but as he surveyed the remains, he realized he had been horribly mistaken. Their faces planted between each others’ splayed legs, the women had been carefully positioned. The longer he examined the corpses, the more the grotesque sexual component of the scene became apparent. Severed arms had been violently pushed forearm deep into each of the blond’s orifices. Her sex hacked opened, the black haired woman’s entrails were yanked through the mutilation and spread across the floor. The blond’s face was buried inside the raw crimson gash. As horrifying as the living room was, Derek found a strange sense of comfort within the layers of gore when he didn’t recognize either girl. Melanie was still somewhere in the house.
Drifting back into the foyer, Derek cast an uneasy look at the stairs. The darkness waiting for him at the top was deep and seemingly impenetrable. He took a deep breath and started up the stairs.
Midway up, Derek saw a body on the landing. Chopped in half, the man’s blood-slicked torso sat upright in the corner. Stringy viscera splattered the hardwood, leading toward the lower half of the body. Up close, Derek discovered the butchery wasn’t limited to the bisection. Like the women, the man’s body had been savaged with an ax. A series of deep ugly gashes reduced his chest to a wet pulpy mess of blood and bone. His lower jaw dangled loosely, still connected the rest of his head by only a flap of skin. His penis had been severed, and stuffed into his gullet.
The discovery was just a preamble to the gallery of horrors waiting Derek when he reached the top of the stairs. It was a veritable slaughter house. Butchered bodies and severed limbs indifferently lined the hall. Entrails were strewn about the floor like party streamers. Blood painted the hardwood, making it sheen like obsidian in the darkness. The rank stench of death was so overwhelming, Derek retched so hard it felt like his body was trying to eject his entire digestive system.
Before he could recover, Derek realized he wasn’t alone. Claws scrapping the hardwood, low animalistic growls tremored in the distance. His pulse jumped as he turned to face the ominously dark room at the end of the hall. Although he wanted to escape the hellish slaughter surrounding him, he couldn’t. He had yet to find Melanie.
His whole body shaking, Derek navigated the carnage to continue his search. While the corpses downstairs had been carefully staged, here they had been discarded like so much refuse. The remains he couldn’t outright dismiss, Derek had to roll over or pull their heads back to get a good look at their faces. None of the bodies belonged to Melanie.
Tears welling up in his eyes, Derek staggered. The animal sounds had given way to the wet ripping and greedy snapping of several large beasts feeding.
Something was eating her.
Unable to truly comprehend what was happening Derek finally broke. Tears spilling freely down his cheeks, a series of great wracking sobs ripped through him. Derek felt like he was about to be torn apart by the sheer weight of his grief when he heard the footsteps.
The massive footfalls pulled Derek’s eyes down the hallway. The darkness seemed to grow ever darker as the behemoth emerged. His body corded with powerful muscles, the mountain of a man wielded a massive double edged ax and wore a leather sensory deprivation mask. Although he had no obvious means of sight, the pale Brute was fixated on Derek. As he stormed toward Derek, darkness seemed to cling to the Brute’s flowing black smock.
Terror gripping him, Derek ran.
On his mad dash down the stairs, Derek slipped on pile of messy entrails. Tumbling head first, he crashed hard on the landing. For a moment his vision went fuzzy and darkness started to creep in around the edges of the world.
Slowly getting back to his feet, Derek saw the Brute descend the stairs. His ax ready, the maniac divided the distance like a shark attacking its prey.
The ax sliced through the air.
Derek pivoted, barely avoiding the killing blow.
The wall exploded into a thousand shards of wood and drywall.
Racing down the stairs, Derek glanced back and saw the mountain pulling his weapon free. The Brute whipped around and fixed his eyeless gaze on him. As he made his escape, Derek could sense the murderous rage beneath the surface of Brute’s leather mask.
Derek realized he had been screaming when he emerged from the house. Even though his voice was hoarse and raw, he kept screaming as he collapsed across the front lawn. His sweaty and blood covered body aching, he knew he couldn’t stop. Images of the Brute’s blood spattered mask flashed through his mind. He clawed his way back to his feet and staggered towards the drive way. As he fumbled for his keys, he cast a desperate look back.
No sign of the Brute, Derek climbed inside his car.
Barely able to control himself, much less a car, Derek threw the car into reverse. As he tore down the drive, the air was filled with horrible the horrible scrapes and screams of metal on metal. It felt like he must have smashed into every parked car, but he didn’t give a shit. He just needed to get away from the house.
His wheels find the road, Derek slammed on the breaks.
Taking a deep breath, he took a final look at the Devil’s House. The place looked like any other three story old colonial. There was no hint of the hellish slaughter contained within it walls. Tears spilling down his face, Derek slammed the car into gear and hoped to never see the house again.
On November 1st, I began work on Haunt Me as part of NaNoWriMo 2013. Haunt Me was meant to represent a shift away from the gore and sex that marked Live Undead and Nothing Zero. It was supposed to be a straightforward supernatural novel for general readers. In a word, it was supposed to be “mainstream”.
Funny how things work out.
One week later, I realized I had made a mistake. Haunt Me wasn’t ready to be written. The concept was there, but the storyline and characters simply weren’t developed enough to support the breakneck pace that NaNoWriMo requires. So I shifted gears. I decided to move away from Haunt Me and toward another book that had been in the back of my head for nearly two years. The book I had originally envisioned as the follow-up to Live Undead. I started writing Psychopomp on November 10th and completed its first draft on November 30th.
Psychopomp is a grim and gritty superhero story; sort of a 90s style comic but in novel form. Blood is shed, limb are severed and hell is literally unleashed on a city. It’s pretty much the antithesis of what I intended Haunt Me to be. Psychopomp is blood soaked and powered by Satan; but it won’t be released for a while. I have unfinished business to take care of first.
Today I start editing Nothing Zero. Weighing in at 90,000 words, Nothing Zero is morbidly obese. I know I’ll need to cut it down to size. Ideally I’ll be able to chop some 10,000-20,000 words out of its bulk. But it’ll take time. I plan to spend the entire month of December working on the first edit, which means January will be dedicated to finalizing the final draft. Currently Nothing Zero is schedule for release on February 11, 2014.
With Nothing Zero keeping me busy, I won’t be able to give Psychopomp the attention it deserves until January. Hopefully I’ll be able to release it in April or May of 2014. But the edit process for it will be much slower, as I intend to start work on my next novel in January as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time, but I’ve never tried it before.
I currently have no idea what my next novel will be. I could write the zombie Bigfoot story that’s been floating around in my head for a while. I could tackle a Gothic horror. I could write a slasher novel. Maybe a biker werewolf tale? I might even revisit Haunt Me. Regardless of what I do next, it won’t be for another month. Right now, I have a vampire rock star that needs my attention. He hits the stage on February 11th and I don’t want him to be late.
“If you die, I will die too.”
Tracing his razor across Kimber’s snow white wrist, Adam knew her promise to be true. Teasing the delicate blue of her vein with the blade, Adam kissed her. When their lips parted, he caught a fleeting glimpse of the deep unending misery behind the icy blue of her eyes. In that moment Kimber had never been more perfect.
“I want you to know, I belong to you.” Adam took her hand, razor blade pinched tightly between her delicate fingers, and led it towards his wrist.
“I know.” Kimber pressed the blade in, gently breaking the skin.
Again their eyes met and Adam couldn’t find any trace of apprehension or regret. Not that he expected to. There hadn’t been an idle moment during the past six months where the seventeen year olds hadn’t discussed the act. Be it laying in Kimber’s bed after making love, doing homework in Adam’s room or even curled up on the couch in his parent’s rec room watching The Evil Dead, they inevitably returned to the idea of taking their own lives.
Adam often told Kimber that there was a short in his brain’s wiring. He simply couldn’t experience pleasure or happiness like a normal person. While other boys would celebrate having Adam’s effortless 4.0 average or savor the attention his brooding good looks brought from the girls, Adam simply couldn’t care less. Depression and indifference grew where pleasure and happiness should have taken root.
While Adam’s emotions could be described with a thousand indifferent shades of gray, Kimber experienced the whole rainbow, often swinging from the brightest shades of delirium to the deepest hues of depression in a matter of minutes.
After meeting during their freshman year, it didn’t take long for each of them to realize they had found a partner to help cope with their damaged psyches. But as they opened up, sharing their favorite music, books and movies, they discovered they had far more in common than just their faltering mental health. Joy Division, Kurt Vonnegut and Lucio Fulci finished forging the bond that misery had started. As the days turned into weeks, the weeks piled into months and then the months amassed into years, things couldn’t have been more perfect. They were two miserable kids destined to become miserable adults together.
Then Adam started hearing the voices.
Clawing forward from the dark recesses of his mind, the voices embodied all the hatred and self-loathing that Adam felt. But regardless the obscenity they hissed, the violent action they urged or ugly truth they whispered, Adam resolutely ignored them. He hoped they would eventually sink back into the black pit from which they came.
But his burgeoning psychosis would not be ignored.
No matter how often he ignore them, the voices kept returning. Screaming, growling and hissing. He couldn’t stand hearing them. Growing tired of their abuse, he told Kimber.
When he confessed his troubles, Kimber’s understood his admission to mean only one thing. It was a diagnosis Adam feared, but could never allow himself to believe. Schizophrenia. The word was ugly but the truth it carried was even uglier. The voices would only progressive become worse without medical help. But medical attention meant medication or even hospitalization. Neither were options Adam could live with. They decided they would fight Adam’s condition together.
Less than three months later, they realized it was a fight they could not win.
The voices had grown so disruptive Adam couldn’t ignore them, even when Kimber was around to help him focus on reality. As they stared down the possibility that Adam would be hospitalized, Kimber suggested they take their own lives.
It was a desperate and stupid suggestion, but as the days passed it was one they kept returning to. The thought of taking their own lives was so simple but yet it was somehow deeply profound. They had lived their lives on their own terms and they would end them the same way. In death, they would be together forever.
“Together forever,” Kimber stated.
Pushing the hair from her face, Adam leaned forward. Wanting to taste the warmth of her lips one final time, he kissed her. Soft, fleeting and perfect; it was their love perfectly summarized in a single act. “If we part, my pulse will guide you through,” Adam said. Despite the conviction behind his words, Adam heard his voice falter and fade. It sounded painfully thin and weak. He just hoped Kimber hadn’t heard the same weakness to his words.
“I love you,” she said.
The unending darkness of her eyes never wavered as Adam cut her wrist.
Her blood drizzled in a long languid crimson trail down her wrist and along her hand. Kimber smiled and tenderly stroked Adam’s face. The wetness she left behind was warm and sticky, like paint that had freshly dried.
Now that it was Kimber’s turn, Adam took a deep breath.
The cut was smooth and perfect, Adam barely felt the razor slash his vein. It wasn’t until he felt the warmth of his own blood pulsing down his arm that Adam realized Kimber had followed through.
Slowly exhaling, Adam mentally counted down. He started at sixty. By the time he reached thirty, his head felt hazy and the world started to spin. Kimber blurred into a ghost like presence. He barely felt her hand gripping his own.
After a minute, Adam realized the ghost was gone.
His whole body growing number by the moment, Adam looked around. He found Kimber on the ground and gently consigned himself to the floor right beside her.
The warmth of their collective blood cutting through the numbness of his body, Adam smiled and pulled Kimber close to him. As her body slumped against his own, Adam found a stunning moment of clarity. He could see the two of them on the ground. Neither of them breathing. Motionless, in a dried pool of crimson, they were young and beautiful. Together forever. Feeling his vision growing ever clearer, Adam noticed a shape in the distance.
Kimber’s mother entered the room.
Today I finished the new draft of Nothing Zero. Coming in at 91,000 words, it’s easily the longest thing I’ve ever written. Given that this draft ballooned to nearly double its original length, I’m going to need time to properly edit it and prepare it for publication. Unfortunately time is something I’m incredibly short on at the moment.
Today is the beginning of NaNoWriMo and I’ve decided to participate. This means I’m trying to crank out a 50,000 word this month. While I doubt my ability to do it this year, I want to give it my all. As a result, I’m backing away from Nothing Zero until December. At that time I’ll sit down with the novel and give it the love and care it desperately needs. I’m certain that I can complete a speedy edit, but I’m not going to commit to that. Ideally, Nothing Zero will be published in late December or early January at the latest. It may be a few months later than I originally planned, but it still feels good to finally be done.
Now I can begin my NaNoWriMo book, Haunt Me. This time I’ll be sure to back-up my work in multiple places.