In an effort to promote my new novel, A PARLIAMENT OF CROWS, released on Halloween by Lazy Fascist Press, I’ve created a Dilation Exercise to help promote the book. The historical fiction novel is inspired by the life and crimes of the three infamous Wardlaw sisters. This Dilation Exercise is inspired by a courtroom scene in the novel.
The prosecutor turned to Vertiline and said, “Are you asking us to believe, Miss Mortlow, that the additional suicide notes, seemingly one for every occasion, apparently written in your handwriting and found among your effects in a house devoid of writing implements and ink, were in fact penned by the deceased who was at the time bedridden in your care?”
Vertiline took a quick, panicked breath before responding, knowing the jury would never believe her answer.
Artwork: “Original Sin” copyright © 1992 Alan M. Clark. Revised version of an interior illustration for Asimov’s Science Fiction, appearing with the novelette, “Original Sin,” by Phillip C. Jennings.
Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.
—Alan M. Clark
Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.
Alister regretted his decision to turn his imagination into a laundry hamper since his socks were all stretched out of shape and growing insect elephant heads.
Still, he enjoyed reading the prehensile nasal passages while on the toilet, and because they were filled with mucus, they slipped onto his tiny feet more easily.
Artwork: “Hot Head Lends a Hand” copyright © 2008 Alan M. Clark and Steven C. Gilberts. Cover illustration for Lost in Cat Brain Land by Cameron Pierce, published by Eraserhead Press.
Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.
—Alan M. Clark
Steve Roggenbuck is currently on a national tour celebrating the release of his poetry collection CRUNK JUICE. In Portland, he’ll be teaming up with bizarro authors Mykle Hansen, Cameron Pierce, and Bradley Sands, as well as poets Diana Salier and Keegan Crawford for a night of satanic book burning and crunk madness.
Even if you’re not in Portland, you can watch a live broadcast of the reading online at http://www.spreecast.com/events/satanicsummer.
About the Authors:
Steve Roggenbuck is a 24 year old poet/blogger. He has a book CRUNK JUICE and several e-books. He is a vegan and a buddhist. He is currently traveling around the country and staying with friends while he blogs full time. 666.
Mykle Hansen is the author of the bestselling novel HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME, the Wonderland Book Award-winning collection RAMPAGING FUCKERS OF EVERYTHING ON THE CRAZY SHITTING PLANET OF THE VOMIT ATMOSPHERE. His latest is the themed short story collection HOORAY FOR DEATH!
Cameron Pierce is the author of GARGOYLE GIRLS OF SPIDER ISLAND and the Wonderland Book Award-winning collection LOST IN CAT BRAIN LAND. He is also the head editor of Lazy Fascist Press.
Bradley Sands is the author of SORRY I RUINED YOUR ORGY, RICO SLADE WILL FUCKING KILL YOU, and PLEASE DO NOT SHOOT ME IN THE FACE: A NOVEL.
Diana Salier is the author of LETTERS FROM ROBOTS and the chapbook WIKIPEDIA SAYS IT WILL PASS. Her work has appeared in Housefire, Red Lightbulbs, Metazen, Thunderclap, New Wave Vomit, and other places. She is the poetry editor of NAP Magazine. She wears striped pajamas.
Keegan Crawford is the author of the ebook THE MOON LOOKS RED AND THE SKY LOOKS BLACK AND I CAN REMEMBER EXACTLY HOW YOUR HEART SOUNDS AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. His work has appeared in Screaming Seahorse, Spoken War, Amphibius, and is actually a ghost.
This is the final announcement for the raffle of a free painting by Alan M. Clark to promote Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim, published by Lazy Fascist Press. The image on the left is the painting by Alan M. Clark for the raffle [details below]. The image is inspired by Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim, and is currently unpublished. The painting is acrylic on hardboard with dimensions of 12″x18″.
For those of you who missed the initial announcement, here’s how to enter the raffle:
A. Take a picture of yourself with Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim and post it online (on your blog/website, Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere). Send a link to the photo to email@example.com.
B. Correctly answer the following trivia questions (send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org):
1. What song did Katie sing in the novel during her cousin’s execution?
2. What was given to infants by the childminder, Patricia Ennis, in order to quiet them?
3. What item in the novel is referred to by the slang expression “nose warmer”?
No purchase necessary. If you have any questions about the raffle, please email email@example.com. The winner will be announced on June 4th, 2012.
Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim is a story about the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart.
Alan M. Clark is a World Fantasy Award-winning artist. He has illustrated the works of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Laymon, Brian Lumley, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Keene, William F. Nolan, George Orwell, Poppy Z. Brite, and Christopher Golden.
In this week’s edition of Flash Fiction Friday, we would like to send you out on an adventure to discover some amazing short stories and poems around the internet. Enjoy!
“Shopping at the End of the World” by Douglas Lain (Strange Horizons)
3 flash fictions by J.A. Tyler (Red Fez)
“Alien vs. Predator” by Michael Robbins (The New Yorker)
“A Brief History of an Amputee” by Cameron Pierce (New Dead Families)
“Cardiology” by Ryan Boudinot (Five Chapters)
“Empire” by Andrea Kneeland (Everyday Genius)
“A Private View of Butt City” by Andrew James Weatherhead (Pop Serial 3)
by Cliff Winnig, Nick Mamatas, Cameron Pierce and Kirsten Alene
Here’s a special treat from the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, California.
When I saw Kreayshawn walk down the street, I called out to her—“Hey, Kreayshawn how’s it going?” But the bitch just ignored me.
Later, about seventeen feet down Broadway, I saw a crayfish. This is always happening in Louisiana. “Hey crayfish!” I said, “how’s it going?” But the bitch just ignored me.
That night I went down to the lagoon. I said, “Hey lagoon.” But the lagoon just ignored me. Bitch-goon.
So I went home. I looked in the mirror and said, “Hey me.” And my reflection said, “I ain’t talkin’ to you no more. You’re the bitch.” I stared in the mirror a long time. But the real bitch is, my reflection was right. I was the bitch. Ain’t that a bitch. So I went to bed.
Please call me, Kreayshawn.
Cameron Pierce is the editor of Lazy Fascist Press and the author of Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom, The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island, Lost in Cat Brain Land, and other books.
Kirsten Alene is the author of Love in the Time of Dinosaurs.
Cliff Winnig is an author, dancer, and sitar player. His short fiction appears in many places, including The Aether Age: Helios (Hadley Rille Books/M-Brane Press), Footprints (Hadley Rille Books), and Jack-o’-Spec, Retro Spec, and Cinema Spec (Raven Electrick Ink).
Nick Mamatas is the author of many books including Under My Roof, Move Under Ground, and most recently The Damned Highway (with Brian Keene).
Kreayshawn is a gangster, a music video director, and a rapper.
My latest book, Of Thimble and Threat (now available from Lazy Fascist at amazon.com), is a novel inspired by the life of Catherine Eddowes, a woman believed to be the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper.
I first became interested in the life of Catherine Eddowes after reading the police report about her murder, particularly the part that listed her articles of clothing and the possessions found on her person at the time of her death.
Here’s the list from the police report:
• Black straw bonnet trimmed in green and black velvet with black beads. Black strings, worn tied to the head.
• Black cloth jacket trimmed around the collar and cuffs with imitation fur and around the pockets in black silk braid and fur. Large metal buttons.
• Dark green chintz skirt, 3 flounces, brown button on waistband. The skirt is patterned with Michaelmas daisies and golden lilies.
• Man’s white vest, matching buttons down front.
• Brown linsey bodice, black velvet collar with brown buttons down front
• Grey stuff petticoat with white waistband
• Very old green alpaca skirt (worn as undergarment)
• Very old ragged blue skirt with red flounces, light twill lining (worn as undergarment)
• White calico chemise
• No drawers or stays
• Pair of men’s lace up boots, mohair laces. Right boot repaired with red thread
• 1 piece of red gauze silk worn as a neckerchief
• 1 large white pocket handkerchief
• 1 large white cotton handkerchief with red and white bird’s eye border
• 2 unbleached calico pockets, tape strings
• 1 blue stripe bed ticking pocket
• Brown ribbed knee stockings, darned at the feet with white cotton
• 2 small blue bags made of bed ticking
• 2 short black clay pipes
• 1 tin box containing tea
• 1 tin box containing sugar
• 1 tin matchbox, empty
• 12 pieces white rag, some slightly bloodstained
• 1 piece coarse linen, white
• 1 piece of blue and white shirting, 3 cornered
• 1 piece red flannel with pins and needles
• 6 pieces soap
• 1 small tooth comb
• 1 white handle table knife
• 1 metal teaspoon
• 1 red leather cigarette case with white metal fittings
• 1 ball hemp
• 1 piece of old white apron with repair
• Several buttons and a thimble
• Mustard tin containing two pawn tickets, One in the name of Emily Birrell, 52 White’s Row, dated August 31, 9d for a man’s flannel shirt. The other is in the name of Jane Kelly of 6 Dorset Street and dated September 28, 2S for a pair of men’s boots. Both addresses are false.
• Printed handbill and according to a press report- a printed card for ‘Frank Carter,305,Bethnal Green Road
• Portion of a pair of spectacles
• 1 red mitten
Catherine Eddowes had spent each of the two nights before the night of her death in a different casual ward. The casual wards were part of the workhouse system, a place for the transient, the ill, or those known to be criminals to receive temporary shelter in what was considered at the time to be appalling conditions. Like many of the homeless today, she was wearing many layers of clothing. She carried over fifty personal items. It is likely she had everything she owned on her person.
With a sense of what her time and circumstances were, I found this pitiful list more compelling than anything I’ve read about Jack the Ripper, and I had the idea of seeing in a work of fiction how all those possessions and clothing came to her. Our possessions say a lot about who we are, and hers spoke to me about a hard-scrabble life and a desperation—not without hope—that made for good storytelling.
The story begins when she is thirteen years old and concludes at her tragic death at the hands of, what they might have called at the time, a fiend. We don’t say fiend much anymore. We don’t call the Green River Killer or BTK a fiend. It just sounds weak in the light of what we know about these killers today. But that was strong language to describe a killer in Victorian London. I use it here to make a point—if I was going to transport readers to that time and give them a reasonable taste of what her life was like, I’d have to get the atmospherics right.
I would not be inventing her life out of whole cloth (an old expression that fits the theme of the story well) since there was much information about Catherine Eddowes, but to build the world in which she lived, Victorian England, I would have to commit to extensive research. The thought of it was so daunting, it took me over 15 years and finally a request by Cameron Pierce to write a novel for Lazy Fascist Press before I would seriously consider it.
Here are some interesting things I discovered about Catherine Eddowes:
• Her first common-law husband, a man named Conway, wrote gallows ballads and was a chapman. Catherine worked at this business with him and most likely contributed to the writing of the ballads. They made a living attending public executions where they sold their chapbooks for a penny apiece. These were composed of several broad sheets folded together that included a ballad and other written material about the life, the crime and trial of the criminal being executed. They did this at the execution of Catherine’s cousin, a murderer named Robinson.
• She went to the infirmary at the Work House to give birth to her children.
• While living with a man named Kelly, one of Catherine’s aliases was Mary Ann Kelly, an alias also used by the fifth victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Jane Kelly.
• Two days before her murder, Catherine told friends she knew the murderer and would turn him in for the reward.
• The night of her murder, Catherine was arrested for public drunkenness and held in a cell where she slept for several hours. When she awoke, she said she could take care of herself and begged to be released. The police would not let her go without knowing her name. She gave it as Mary Ann Kelly. Within an hour of her release, she was found dead.
Here are some interesting slang expressions from Victorian London that I used in the novel:
• Cuttie or Nose Warmer—short pipe, mostly smoked by women.
• Billy—silk handkerchief.
• Bludger—violent criminal.
• Dollymop—amateur prostitute.
• Fakement—pretense for begging.
• Flag—an apron.
• Gulpy—gullible, easily duped.
• Lump Hotel—Work House
• Lumper—dock worker.
• Lushington—a drunkard.
• Muck Snipe—someone “down and out”
• Patterer—someone who has hawks using a recited sales pitch.
• Prater—conman preacher.
• Square rigged—soberly dressed.
Here are some interesting things I discovered about Victorian London and British culture:
• London Particular—A mix of pollution and fog, sometimes called pea soup fog for its yellow color, resulting from the extensive use of coal during the industrial revolution in England. The British government in recent years has admitted that the killer fog was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of its citizens.
• The Great Stink—A time in London, during the summer of 1858, when the amount of waste entering the Thames and hot weather combined to create a miasma so potent it nearly shut down the government and brought the city to a halt. Those who could afford to do so evacuated the city.
Phosphorism—A disease that was common among matchmaker (those who labored in match factories). Handling the chemicals used in the production of matches inflicted upon the laborer damage to the teeth and jaw, often resulting in the loss of some or all of the teeth and occasionally requiring the removal of the jaw bone.
• Godfrey’s Cordial—An opium and alcohol elixir used to keep toddles and infants quiet.
• Various Scavengers—Mudlarks (children who scavenge the river Thames, looking for anything of value), Toshers (those who scavenge in the sewers, often children), Bone Grubbers (those who collect bones to sell, either asking for them door to door or scavenging for them along the river).
• Night Soil Men—Those who muck out cesspits, the receptacles of human bodily waste in the basements of tenements and private homes.
• Pig Wash—Primarily the leftovers of a middle class to wealthy household, food that has been to the table too many times and has gone bad or is close to it. The rejected food is given to those in service to the household who have requested and been granted Pig Wash.
• Broxy—the meat of diseased sheep—a cheap source of meat for the poor.
• All Sorts—a drink composed of all the drinks abandoned on tables at a pub, gathered up by the barman or barmaids, and mixed together—a cheap source of alcohol for the poor.
In writing Of Thimble and Threat, my effort was not to create a character we would relate to as one from our time, but one whose words and actions were shaped by her environment and circumstances and whose driving emotions were seen as reasonable within that context. Victorian England, with it’s social structure, polluted environment, the quality of sustenance for its people, labor conditions, the state of scientific and medical knowledge in that period, the prevalence and pervasiveness of disease and the seeming ease with which people became ill and slipped quickly into death, was a very different world from the one in which I live. All these elements combined to create quite different priorities and concerns for the people of that time and place from what most of us experience today. The average person was most likely much more aware of mortality day to day since something as simple as a cut on the finger could easily become infected and lead to death. Choosing an occupation—if one were lucky enough to have a choice—was to choose between compromising one or another aspects of one’s health.
That’s not to say we don’t have these concerns today, but time and experience has led to systems which mitigate much of the extremes seen in Victorian London. Human beings haven’t truly changed—we experience the same emotions we always have. The stimulus for those emotions is what changes from environment to environment, generation to generation. We would certainly relate to those of another time, but having a conversation with someone from the 1800s would be an interesting and singular experience for someone today.
The possessions of Catherine Eddowes started that conversation with me, providing a glimpse of her priorities and concerns, and Of Thimble and Threat is my response.
—Alan M. Clark
by Cameron Pierce
The beavers were busy painting their dam black.
The deer had recently twisted their antlers into pentagrams. The beavers wanted to show those deer who was goth. A black dam was more sinister than pentagram antlers, at least the beavers hoped.
After a few salmon attended a Bauhaus reunion concert while away on their spawning run, all the salmon had taken to wearing plastic vampire fangs. The forest had been on a morbid kick ever since.
The beavers finished painting their dam. Black paint dripped into the river and the river turned black.
Salmon heads poked up in the white-capped current. The salmon were sputtering. They spit out their plastic vampire fangs and said, “We started this, and now we’ve had enough. Please stop trying to be goth.”
“Not goth enough to swim in a black river?” said a beaver with a sneer.
The salmon looked at each other. They always spoke as one when they spoke. “We’ve decided we like being plain old salmon best of all. Being goth salmon has its perks, but we miss the not-so-sinister things in life.”
“Like what?” asked the sneering beaver, genuinely confused that anything that was not satanic and depressing could be meaningful. The sneering beaver had forgotten all about life before the goth days.
The salmon began listing off all the fun and beautiful things in life that were neither satanic nor depressing.
The beavers slapped their tails against the ground while the salmon listed off fun and beautiful things. The beavers felt sad and wistful, remembering all the fun and beautiful things they used to do. The salmon were right. The forest had become a much colder, crueler place when everyone turned goth.
The beavers bent down at the river’s edge and began washing off the white powder on their faces, the black makeup caked around their eyes.
The salmon continued listing off all the fun and beautiful things in life. There were a lot of them, when you thought hard about it.
As the beavers busied themselves with cleaning, the deer with pentagram antlers crept amidst the trees on the other side of the river. The deer carried butcher knives and chainsaws in their hooves.
The deer leapt into the river and massacred the salmon. When all the salmon were dead, the river turned to blood.
The swift river swept the deer downstream, until they were nothing more than pentagrams in the distance, and then they were not even that.
The beavers dipped their paws into the blood and marveled the beauty of this life-giving substance. They raised their bloody paws to the sky and threw up a great big cheer for life. It was the most fun they ever had.
Cameron Pierce is the editor of Lazy Fascist Press and the author of The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island, Lost in Cat Brain Land, Ass Goblins of Auschwitz, Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden, and most recently, Abortion Arcade. His fiction has appeared in The Barcelona Review, Warmed and Bound, The Bizarro Starter Kit (Purple), and many other publications.
Review by Steve Shroyer
I don’t think The Holocaust is that funny, something about 6 million Jews and thousands of other undesirables, doesn’t scream whimsical fun. However, in essence this is why so many stories about The Holocaust are dry as toast and rehashes of everything before… until now.
Last fall I had the pleasure of reading “The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz” by Mr. Cameron Pierce and I must say if any book deserves a film adaptation this is it. It is a spellbinding tale of menace and heart that will swallow you whole.
This book tells the tale of a pair of conjoined twins who are of the many kids who have abducted by the Ass Goblins, a group of sentient alien buttocks with eyes who force the kids to make toys out of human parts. The two boys, 999 and 1001 are soon thrust into a bizarre plot that will make them into monstrosities which may lead to the Goblins end.
The story moves at a fast clip with blood and gore filling each page and splattering on the reader’s subconscious alongside the Goblin’s feces and farts. This story is also a dead serious one, played not for laughs as some would hope but unnamable dread growing as the story builds to its action packed climax. Pierce has made not only a masterpiece of the bizarro genre but a book that deserves its place among the pantheon of dark fantasy and horror alongside works of such mainstream authors as Gaiman and Mielvelle.
If you haven’t picked this out from amazon, what are you waiting for. It is a perfect summer treat and a pallet cleanser from all the crappy summer blockbusters.
A great little story from the author of Scorch Atlas.
A new short story from the author of Abortion Arcade. Published by The Barcelona Review.
Also found in The Barcelona Review, a new one by the author of Cursed, Jeremy C Shipp.
The latest issue, featuring a plethora of weird short fiction and poetry.
A bizarre tale found posted up at Weirdyear.
Mr. Myers is a bright young talent of the weird fiction scene. Read more of his stories here.