Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ghosts and Ghostilism - a guest post

Sorry.


Ghosts and ghostilism. An essay from somone who doesn't believe but has experienced the effects.



May I add some neutral background case notes to help you understand the state of mind which I'm about to describe and my ongoing revalations.


Brought up a Catholic and with all of the associated mystery, faith and also shunning other occult things as being a Demonic or in deed Diabolic. Outward influence which you should reject at all costs. Fuck the devil. Well, except don't cos that means you're in league with him. I wouldn't. I bet he has a spiky whatnot.



Me. Accidentally enrolled in an unwitting, unplanned experiment in sleep deprivation. Ocsillating between dry eyed nose-bridged stabbing pain and the dull duvet feeling of being sonically stifled and having a pillow inserted inbetween the ears. And then the other extreme.



Sleep overindulgement. When total sleep does not come, trying to get there, to that sacred goal of rest and temporary oblivion. 



But if it doesn't come? Lying corpse-like for hours as though the effigy of a martyr atop a granite coffin. Hoping to get to true sleep but prickly nerve tingling on that matress slab in a sleep-like torpor just to make the hours go by. Hands crossed- Oh hang on, that's a bit religious. Hands uncrossed.



Filtering in influences. Hell, you overthink things now but when you have nothing else occupying your attention, things crowd to prod and poke at your attention. That thing with that prick at work. Bills needing to be paid. Hassles from your ex. Concerns about your kids.



Background- stress, overdrive, dependency, hypersensitivity. Occupation.



OH GREAT it's WORK TIME. No great surprise as I've been checking the clock every 20 minutes for the last 5 hours. BLEARGH. 



Kinda like this to not carry on.



*Intermission*



So far I am rejecting mood levelling drugs- tried them twice, didn't like it. Left me zombified.



In my spare time, e.g. when I am on my own, I am in a state where I have a strange fascination for the almost-sleep zone where you are not truly asleep but hovering (hypnagogia) and not lucent dreaming (where you realise you are in the dream and can take control) but don't have the aspect of muscular paralysis so actions you see in your dream result in reciprocal real life twitches and hand snaps and wake-up jerks and snorts.



Am I normal?



That region between being awake and asleep. That Insomnia thing where you are trying to bully your brain into sleep but your mind just won't shut up. The annoyance when you look at the clock and go For Fuck's Sake, I have to be up in 4 hours. Occasionally - with bad luck - I skip proper sleep and go into Hypnagogia. Half awake, half nonsense. My eyes get to waft about with a kind of ghost-like swimmy levitation as I see the imaginary world about me. I'm swooping through everyday scenes of people going about their business. Sometimes I can even fly. 



I can read a newspaper headline over the shoulder of a denizen of my semi-dreamworld which, presumably my own brain is generating. (funnily enough, never any adverts). I can see it through my own dream eyes, into my visual cortex, with my eyes closed while half asleep. It's possible to wander about random landscapes and cities and interact with people in kinda blurred 70s projector haze but suddenly it shifts into almost crystal clear focus. SHASHANG! Then dissapointingly a few seconds later it either blurs back or snaps me awake. Hey! I was enjoying that!



In this landscape there are people gossiping and I feel like I'm eavesdropping in a cafe and their chat is nonsense- but it is fascinating. About such random and unimportant subjects. Pretty much like earwigging at any speakeasy anywhere. The subjects of the chat are random and irrelevant. Still. None of them are saying Kill All Of The People. Kinda friendly.



Hallucination without being in the grip of a serious mental illness can be worrying, scary, but also compelling. It's also cheaper than drugs. I feel like a bit of a shit drug addict in that 'Don't stop me doing it, I'm enjoying it' and 'It's not doing anyone any harm' but then I do worry that it can be so compulsive that you find yourself in a situation when 'under the waves' you are scrolling through menu items on your imaginary phone in bed (while the actual phone is up on the shelf) but your thumb feels the texture of the screen and your hand imaginarily feels the weight of the phone as you do this in semi-sleep. And then you have a sleep apnoea event and jerk awake. And then there's the Exploding Head syndrome. Look it up.



Over-sleeping may also gives you a side effect of visual hallucinations in your peripheral vision during your waking hours. Purely based on pattern recognition. Every sodding thing is a Pokemon or a cat in my case. THAT table over there is a sleeping Arcanine. Oh no. it's not. Piss, it's a Weedle. Again. Oh no, an vacuum cleaner. Bollocks. Time to do the essential maintenance activities again.



When people explain how they've been haunted and heard mysterious noises at night- I'm so lucky. Me too, but the choice of my own wonky brain was to choose to pipe in birdsong. Tinnitus with a blessing. For those who wake up with a visual death's head phantom towering above them as a menacing apparition while locked solid and unable to move, sorry to make you jealous- I've had the same proximate and totally realistic feeling that you are frozen next to someone. It was my partner who was 100 miles away at the time. I was haunted by my love. Heard her do that little ripply snore, felt her phantom hand in mine giving a little unconcious squeeze of reassurance. And she was not at this point about to plough into the Atlantic aboard a doomed airliner and sending me her final thoughts and wishes. I haven't checked in the last 20 minutes but I think she's OK.



For me the idea of ghosts are tied up with religion. That's where I've got a disconnect. Oh, and science. Let everyone believe what they would like to but I have experienced 100% ghost-like activity in my own sensual penumbra while over/under slept. If your Auntie Winnie has appeared to you as a glowing orb then that's wonderful if it makes you happy and join the spiritualists. If you are haunted by a terrible apparition then take it from me, it's a psychosynthetic projection of your own fears while in a semi-sleep state and if you get the opportunity to undo your sleep paralysis, kick it into the nether regions.



I know a few words won't change your long-held beliefs but I'm just saying. I'm there. If you're experiencing the same things, you're not alone. It's not your aunty Millicent and certainly isn't Henry VIIIth. UNLESS they direct you to a bag of hidden gold.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sparks - It's Alive!!!


Yesterday saw the release party for Sparks at Southcart Books in Walsall. If you haven't been following my facebook page, Sparks is an electricity themed horror anthology where all the proceeds will be going to Resources for Autism, an incredibly worthy cause.

It's available on Amazon (click here for the link) and features a veritable wealth of talent including Emma Dehaney, Matthew Cash, Mark Cassell, Calum Chambers, Pippa Bailey, Betty Breen, Peter Germany, Lex Jones, Christopher Law, Dani Brown, G.H. Finn, C.H. Baum, Ash Hartwell and yours truly.

It was a great day; there were readings, and also - crucially - sausage rolls and twiglets.  Here's wishing every success to the book, and that it does some good for a great cause. The reviews coming in are really good, and Matthew and Emma should be very proud of themselves for having put together such a great collection.

I read the opening segments from my contribution to the book - a twisted little tale called Power Trip.  Said video can be found by clicking here, should you so wish!





Friday, August 11, 2017

Tales to Terrify - Let It Cry

Very pleased to announce that my story "Let It Cry" is featured on the 289th edition of the Tales to Terrify podcast.

"Let it Cry" is one of the stories from the forthcoming "Scenes of Mild Peril", my next anthology of short stories to be released by the awesome Stitched Smile Publications.  It's a favourite of mine, and was inspired by a trip around haunted and macabre spots located in and around Dublin. It's the first every story of mine that has involved any actual historical research!  Click here to give it a listen.

Tales to Terrify is a Hugo nominated weekly horror podcast that's been going since January 2012. Some notable authors featured on it include Christoper Fowler, Steven King, Joe R Lansdale, Stephen Volk and Kim Newman.

If you've found your way through to here via Tales to Terrify and you like what you've heard, why not follow me on Facebook and Twitter? Cheers!

#StayStitched

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cladded

Part of Londons burning,
the heart of Londons burning
in a building which
now serves as little more
than a pretty pyre
for the rich.

RIP

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dot

Frayed dried twig fingers knead lumps of pink matter,
Into a bloodied straw mass that grows fatter and fatter.
The donor, a victim that life has eschewed,
Her cold flesh as scarlet as her ruby red shoes.
A needle, a thread – open straw scars are sewed,
as blood drips to the bricks of the long amber road.
Then the murderer sings, with a cheery refrain
‘"If I Only" No longer, now that I have my brain.’

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Thing from Another World

Toppling towards Earth,
the place of our birth,
is something burning bright like a furnace.
It’s an alien vessel,
which at a rough guess will
plummet out of control to the surface.

There are few places parkier
than the depths of Antarctica,
where the landscape is nothing but snow.
But then something of note, a
loud helicopter rotor
of a chopper that’s hovering low.

They’re in hot pursuit
of a stray Malamute
but keep failing to hit with their gun.
The Norwegians are frustrated
and get quite agitated when
it reaches Outpost thirty-one.

The chopper lands on a verge as
the gunner emerges
and pulls out a grenade which he’d stowed.
The throw’s fucked up a treat
and it lands at his feet
and the pilot and chopper explode.

With reckless abandon
He keeps shooting at random,
gibbering, clearly off his head.
As stray bullets fly by,
Bennings is caught in the thigh,
and Garry shoots the Norwegian stone dead.

MacReady and Doc. Copper
head off in their chopper
and find that the Norwegian base is
just a charred shell that’s filled
with dead bodies, as well
as a humanoid corpse with two faces.

They bring it from there
for their biologist, Blair.
“This thing isn’t human,” he proposes.
and meanwhile the mutt
confirms somethings afoot,
as the bloody thing metamorphoses.

Whilst their dogs buy the farm,
MacReady pulls the alarm
and Childs turns the dogs into toast
Blair checks out the corpse
“This is alien, of course,
and can perfectly mimic its host”.

“It’s from an alien race
come from deep outer space
and we can’t let it get out of here.
If it reaches civilization,
It’ll mean all our damnation.
Earth’ll be assimilated in just a few years.”

Bennings dies by cremation,
caught mid-transformation,
and they’re forced to lock Blair in the shed.
With an axe he went crazy, Oh,
and chopped up the radio
and killed all the sled dogs stone dead.

Copper says “With our blood,
a simple test should
reveal the alien now rather than later.”
But the blood stores are trashed,
al the samples left smashed.
It’s clear now that there is a traitor.

The biologist Fuchs
says that he’ll take a look,
and that he’ll continue Blair’s studies.
But later that night
of him there’s no sight
so venture outside, do his buddies.

They find Fuch’s corpse burnt black,
and so Windows heads back
in order to go raise the alert.
Nauls too, is deflated
fearing his friend assimilated
when he finds a scrap of MacReady’s torn shirt.

As the team congregate
to debate MacReady’s fate,
he appears with explosives, quite stressed.
“I’ll blow you to bits,
If you attack me, you shits.”
(Norris suffers a cardiac arrest).

Without hesitation, they try
defibrillation
The outcome for Norris looks bleak
but to their disbelief
his stomach sprouts teeth
and teaches Copper a hands-off technique.

The mutated fellow
is toasted like a marshmallow
although one you wouldn’t dare digest
“Windows, gather everyone round
and tie them all down.
We’re going to try out a test.”

Clark, who fears for his life,
goes for him with a knife,
and MacReady just shoots the man dead.
They’re all stunned into silence
by this act of violence
having seen their friend shot in the head.

“Guys” said MacReady,
“I think I’ve got a theory.
The alien just wants to survive.
if we can just determine,
who’s a host to this vermin,
then we might just stay alive.”

Everyone tied and seated,
a copper wire’s heated
and placed into samples of blood.
But when the wire tip was probin’
Palmer’s Haemoglobin
it leapt off as far as it could.

With little advance warning,
Palmer’s now transforming
as tentacles sprout from his head
Windows hesitates to flame him,
and death comes to claim him
and MacReady has to burn them both dead.

Garry’s been through the wringer,
He feels loathe to linger, so
it’s only fair that he seems a grouch.
“You’ve been through a lot,
but I would rather not
spend Winter tied to this fucking couch”

With Childs left to guard,
the others head to the yard
in order to go and test Blair.
They open his shed
and find they’ve all been misled.
The alien has tunnelled out of there.

Though they thought him Mammalian,
turns out Blair is an alien
and the blighter’s given them the slip
He’s been scavenging equipment
which is for his ship meant,
and has part-built a makeshift space ship.

Garry looks all forlorn.
“The Generator’s gone”
“Is there any way we can fix it?”,
MacReady asks with a frown.
Garry stares at the ground,
“No, I meant as in somebodies nicked it”

“Oh, bugger, shit and damn,
I know the things plan.”
MacReady states, with some consternation.
“We’ll all freeze to death,
and we’ll breathe our last breath –
it’ll be safe whilst it’s in hibernation”

The most hopeful prognosis
was to lay the explosives
agreed the remaining three guys
The dynamite was placed
(and Blair melts Garry’s face)
but then came the biggest surprise.

A vast tentacled Blair
bursts out into the air
popping open like some vile haemorrhoid
But with some dynamite (the last),
MacReady triggers the blast
And the base and the beast are destroyed.

As the flames all burn higher,
MacReady sits by the fire
as Childs reappears with a wry smile.
They can do nothing but watch
as they both share some Scotch.
“Why don’t we both just wait here a while.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Squamous Man

Obscene angles,
On dreams landscape desolate -
will Night-gaunts make a meal of me yet?

In Innsmouth’s only bar,
a squamous man.

Why risk losing your sanity
when you're destined to be
an Elder Thing’s treat?

I would escape tonight,
but I haven't any arms to bear.
That man is so gruesome
from some kind of loathsome nightmare.

Arrrggh! A Deep One in the bar,
he’s screaming in my face
and hits me with a swing.
He knows so many arcane things
He knows so much about dread things

I would escape tonight,
but I haven't any arms to bear.
That man is so gruesome
from some kind of loathsome nightmare.
La, la-la, la-la, la-la, a squamous man
Oh, la-la, la-la, la-la, a squamous man

Arrrggh! A Deep One in the bar,
he’s screaming in my face
and hits me with a swing.

He knows so much about dread things
He knows so many eldritch things
He knows so many dreadful things...

- with apologies to both HP Lovecraft and Steven Morrissey :)