Just Not Here

I mentioned in last week’s post that the idea behind my short story LUNCH came from a poem I had written back in December 2012. For curiosity’s sake, here it is:


On this darkened night I hold you
Arms empty. Your memory my solitary light
Wind raps at pane, sneaks under door
The only thing ever to cross this threshold again
Sandwich on counter grows old with mold
Milk sour. Spoiled.
None of it matters; this candle flickers
And ghosts, they creep along the floor
Sounding so much the way your footfalls once did
When you’d kiss my cheek standing in the hall.
I’d walk somewhere if it wasn’t raining so hard
These clothes already stuck to skin
The weight of everything
The wait for anything…
I’ll sit here then
Because somewhere, you are there
Somewhere. Just not here.
On this darkened night I hold you
Somewhere. Just not here.

© Copyright 2012 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

LUNCH in Midnight Echo Issue 10

My short story LUNCH has been published in Australia’s horror magazine Midnight Echo, Issue 10, edited by Craig Bezant.   It’s their ‘ghost’ issue – a must read for fans of things that go bump in the night – and more than 100 pages of ghoulish fun for all!

LUNCH was conjured from a poem I had written back in December 2012 titled ‘Just Not Here,’ a reflection on someone who has tragically suffered the loss of a child, as well a house that will never again be a home.

Authors also contributing to Issue 10 include Gary A, Braunbeck, Martin Livings, A.J. Brown, Richard Farren Barber, Robert Mammone, Alan Baxter, Jacob Lambert, Rebecca Fung and Greg Chapman.

Take a read, won’t you?  Click here for a Kindle copy!

Midnight Echo, Issue 10

Print copies soon to come…


Midnight Echo, the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association

‘LULLABY’ on Pen of the Damned

A belated happy 2014!  I certainly hope this new year will be healthy and positive for you all!

I’ve never been one for resolutions because a particular day on the calendar dictates I should do so.  I believe that every day is a resolution; every moment.  Trust me, it’s a difficult way to think.  There’s so much in our lives to get caught up in.  But January 1st shouldn’t be the only time to change our way of thinking, the manner in which we treat people, or the long awaited pursuit of one’s dream.  Like I said, try to create a resolution every day.  Big or small – do it, be it, live it.  :)

So enough with my chatter!

Pen of the Damned

2013 was a good year for Pen of the Damned.  We’ve created some amazing fiction, and we’ve gained some wonderful and supportive ‘Damnlings.’  That’s why we do it, after all.  When you’re a creative mind – whether it be a writer, musician, photographer, what have you – your art form needs to be expressed and shared.  A creative mind will starve if kept bottled up.  So at least where Pen of the Damned has been concerned, it’s been an extremely positive experience.  And we believe it will only get better in 2014.  We have some great things planned, so stay tuned!

Following with what I have done in past posts here on my blog (and something I am dreadfully behind on), I’d like to introduce (or reintroduce) you to ‘LULLABY‘ which originally appeared on Pen of the Damned back in October 2013.

It was such a fun story to write.  What I loved most of all was that as it evolved from my head, I realized that ‘LULLABY’ could be and should be part of something much larger.  It’s the tale of a woman who finds herself captive in the middle of the woods along with a group of younger girls.  Who…or what…is behind this?  Hmm, good question.  Don’t you appreciate monster stories that just simply ‘are,’ without all the endless, cloying explanation?  I certainly do, and I think that’s why “LULLABY‘ is so appealing.

Take a read (or a reread) won’t you?  ‘LULLABY,’ only on Pen of the Damned.

‘Oats’ on Pen of the Damned

Since 1992, I’ve kept a notebook collection of story ideas and have been faithful in adding to my potpourri of twisted thoughts ever since.

Oats‘ originated as an unnamed, loose story about a child who loses a tooth, and her evil father who won’t allow her to keep it. I’m pleased that my voice has evolved enough to warrant a re-visitation of that entry from all those years ago.

‘Oats’ was first published in The Sirens Call eZine Issue #8 – Men in Horror and most recently on Pen of the Damned.

If you’ve missed it, please indulge in some ‘OATS.’

I’m also happy to announce the winners of my ‘Horror-tica‘ giveaway!  They are: Madison Woods, Malina Roos and Sue Ann Rakes.  Congrats to all!  Please enjoy the anthology :)

‘Horror-tica’ giveaway

Who doesn’t love horror?  Who doesn’t love sex?  I see that smile across your face, so maybe you have the same thing on your mind as I did when I wrote ‘Plastic.’

Plastic‘ originally appeared in the Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don’t anthology back in 2010.  It was a story I wrote just for the hell of it earlier that year; a deranged little tale about a man and his love for his sex doll.  I was happy to find a publisher that enjoyed my warped mind.  Three years later, I’m lucky enough that Kevin G. Burton of Cruentus Libri Press has similarly succumbed to my brand of twistedness.  ‘Plastic‘ is now featured in the anthology Horror-tica.

To celebrate, I’m giving away three (3) Kindle copies of Horror-tica to anyone leaving a comment on this blog post.  It’s that easy!  (winners picked at random, names will be drawn from my lucky New Orleans Saints hat).

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Plastic’ to get you wet – your interest, that is ;)

…He unbuttoned his shirt.  He was a bit clumsy.  He tried not to look as he did so, but fumbled at the buttons.  Nervous sweat dampened his pits.  He only wanted to be as sexy as those Chippendales, but the damn buttons.  He glanced at Bunny.  Oh yeah, her back arched impatiently.  She was ready.  Uh-huh.  Girlfriend wanted him.  She wouldn’t care if he skipped the rest of his dance.  Damn you, Chippendales.

He ripped the remainder of the buttons from his shirt.  Flipped his shoes off, yanked the belt from around his waist as if his life depended on it, tore at the button of his pants and…  The belt dangled from his hand; for a moment, he contemplated.  It’d been awhile since he last drew it tightly around his neck.  But tonight wouldn’t be a night to satisfy fetishes.  Tonight would be a night to appease carnal desire.  He flung the belt aside and removed his pants and boxers…


Can’t wait for the giveaway and want to pick up a copy of your own? You can find here it on Amazon

‘Hierarchy’ giveaway

When I came across the call for Sirens Call Publications’ ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylumanthology, I eagerly jumped on it.  How could I not spin a tale about what goes on behind the walls of madness?

One thing I have learned about my own writing is that anything I may have planned might as well be tossed out the window.  My stories take a life all of their own and often lead to a narration arc outside the box.  It makes finding a home for them a study in supreme patience, but in the grand scheme of things, that is a good problem to have.  

As I prepared my contribution to ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum,’ one clear thought in my head emerged: my tale would revolve around an elderly patient named Gloria who had been trapped within an institution for longer than anyone could remember.  Wouldn’t you know it, by the time I hit my stride in only the second paragraph, my brain sprinted off in a completely different direction.

I have to be honest, aside from my initial thoughts about a character named Gloria, I had no inspiration behind what would become my story Hierarchy.’  And that is the complete thrill as a writer — it is like stepping off a ledge to nowhere, only strangely enough, you are completely cognizant that you are heading somewhere

Unfortunately, I cannot reveal the slightest bit about ‘Hierarchy,’ other than to say it was a complete joy to step off that shadowy ledge while writing it.  Divulging anything further would ruin your journey through what ultimately became my spiraling madness.  It is narrated outside the box (would you expect anything less from me?), and I have extreme confidence when I say that you, faithful reader, shall be thrilled to jump off the ledge alongside me while reading. 

I am happy to report that I was not committed upon completion of my tale.

I hope you enjoy my storyHierarchy,’ as well as the other fine stories contained within the walls of Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum.’  A small excerpt is below.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!  Simply leave a comment on this post & be eligible to WIN a free Kindle version of ‘Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum.’  Three (3) lucky winners will be chosen at random (the old name in a hat trick lol).

Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum


Sanatorium, mental ward, psychiatric hospital – they’re all the same. Places where the infirm, the crazy, and the certifiable go for treatment… Or what passes for ‘treatment’.

This is a collection of stories of bedlam taking place within the padded walls of an institution. Stories of experiments gone wrong, patients revolting against the staff, or even the deranged doings of those charged with giving care. They are sick, depraved, and atrocious – the type of stories that rarely reach the light of day.

Are you brave enough to crawl inside the minds of the thirteen authors who wrote these tales… Or are you afraid you’ll be locked up for peeking?

Featuring the talents of:
Delphine Boswell, Alex Chase, Sean Conway, Megan Dorei, A.A. Garrison, Tom Howard, Russell Linton, Suzie Lockhart and Bruce Lockhart 2nd, Jennifer Loring, Sergio Palumbo, Joseph A. Pinto, and D.M. Smith

Purchase Links:
Amazon: US, CA, UK, DE, FR, IT, ES, BR, JP, IN
CreateSpace   Smashwords

Here is a small taste of ‘Hierarchy’. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I have learned a great deal in my time trapped here. If only the others could say the same…

If only these walls could speak.

But Gloria does. Incessantly. And has not stopped since first admitted to this ward. Ward. I cannot help but snicker at my Freudian slip. The word, cold and unforgiving in its own right, nonetheless suggests the tiniest sliver of hope when spoken in my mind. But cold and unforgiving would be a welcome reprieve for the hell these husks of wasting flesh find themselves trapped within; nothing more than common livestock to be herded, slowly quartered. I will recognize it for what it truly is, then—an asylum, alive of its own accord, its sickened heart bloated with the poison coursing through this decrepit place.

Since first wheeled on the gurney through these doors, Gloria has not shut up.

Chattering to invisible entities —friends, family, perhaps? Always, no one is there; of this, I am quite sure. No soul, living or dead, aspires to linger within this rotted canyon of the lost. Gloria does not truly speak, however; she mouths unintelligible, disconnected exhalations that one would assume are sentences. In truth, they are nothing more than neurotic blatherings. I am sure Gloria did not ask for this. No sane person would. Still, she finds herself here, like so many of the others, the corners of her lips moist with drool, soiled rag of what passes as a nightgown hanging about her emaciated body. Aside from the haunts in her mind, she remains alone. Still, I possess no pity for her.

Not for any of them.

Today, Gloria sits before a crooked wooden desk, a tepid bowl of tomato soup atop its warped surface. She shoves a rusted spoon and a single piece of moldy white bread to the side. Into the coagulating surface of the soup she dips her hand, and then proceeds to greedily suck upon her slickened fingers. The sound simply unbearable, is still a welcome reprieve from her babbling. She slurps each finger down to the knuckle until the bowl is half consumed. Face and gown now a pink slathered mess, she slumps forward.

Then she talks to the walls.

She rambles, a mad incantation of mangled syllables, every so often chortling over her stream of nonsense. Every so often she nods, some sense of approval discovered within the conversation polluting her brain. Today, however, something is different. I have listened to her ravings with as much patience as one could expect, tirelessly enduring as the sun rises and falls beyond the bars of her grime-stained window. Now her endless torrent of gibberish ceases. Now something coherent comes forth from her lips. “I… hear…”

Anxiously I await more, but her focus shifts from the shadows of nether that only her cloudy eyes seem to pinpoint to the orderly that shuffles through the doorway.

A puzzled look upon his greasy face slowly fades as he scans her room for the sound. He has little to check over—sparse, generic furniture squats upon the squalid floors. Characterless, colorless. Lifeless, like so much here. He blows a disgusted sigh from his pudgy cheeks. “You’re a mess.”

Gloria reaches for her white bread. Nibbles disinterestedly on a broken corner of crust…

© Copyright 2013 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

‘Sweet Nothings’ on Pen of the Damned

Believe it or not, I first wrote ‘Sweet Nothings‘ way back in May of 1988.  Then, it was titled ‘I Know Something You Don’t Know.’  The original concept was that of a man who learns his girlfriend has cheated on him, so he kidnaps her lover and tortures him.  The twist, of course, is that he never reveals his evil ways to his girlfriend.

I never thought it was a good story.  To me, it seemed too plain, too simple.  Too predictable.  I never discarded it, however, and 25 years later, I thumbed through it again.  It seemed the perfect offering for the readers of Pen of the Damned – after an infusion of new blood, of course!  And hence, ‘Sweet Nothings‘ was reborn.

My story is extremely ‘voice’ driven and pulls you in from the start.  It’s not flashy; it’s not complex.  But I dare you to admit it did not make you shudder…

Please enjoy ‘Sweet Nothings‘ on Pen of the Damned

“Oats” in The Sirens Call eZine

I‘m happy to announce that my story “Oats” is currently appearing in The Sirens Call eZine Issue #8 – Men in Horror!

Sirens Call has consistently published strong anthologies since emerging on the horror scene, and their eZines have definitely followed suit.  Issue #8 is no different.  98 pages of horrific fun featuring short stories, flash fiction, poetry, artwork and more.  The unbelievable thing is that the ladies over at Sirens Call make their eZines free to everyone.  Download and read it chunks at a time or devour it all at once!  The choice is yours!

What’s so special about “Oats,” you ask?  Well, I’ve kept and maintained a collection of story ideas since 1992, and no matter how silly or odd an idea may sound, into my tome it goes!  It could be something snipped from the news, or a nightmarish conjuring from within my head.  No idea is judged; no idea deemed too good or bad.

Oats” originated around 1993 as an unnamed, loose story about a child who loses a tooth and the evil father who won’t allow said child to keep it.  I knew that Sirens Call was looking for submissions for Issue #8, so I decided it would be fun to go burrowing into my journal.  Lo and behold, an entry caught my eye.  Twenty years later, I am proud of the fact I birthed that idea to fruition.

So what do you get when you mix a creepy tooth fairy and my love for oatmeal in one bowl?  Well, “Oats” of course.

Please download Sirens Call Publications Issue #8 – Men in Horror! for free and read “Oats“, which is on page 34, along with the a multitude of fine stories by talented writers including two other Pen of the Damned members!.  Please drop me a message and let me know what you think.


Insight behind “Sweet Nectar of Life”

I had a blast writing “Sweet Nectar of Life!”  It wasn’t such a blast getting there, however.

Just months before crafting the tale, my daughter entered this world.  I simply didn’t know how I’d cope.  I’d lost my father to pancreatic cancer only two months before, and the swell and swing of emotions was simply beyond my grasp.  I couldn’t comprehend that my own father was gone, let alone that I was becoming one.  It became a dark time within my heart, and I was oblivious to the sunshine surrounding me.

So how could I have had so much fun writing “Sweet Nectar of Life?”  It became very therapeutic for me; the story spoke and I listened.  My tongue firmly planted in my cheek throughout, it is nonetheless a dark tale, and the suspense and cold dread are without question palpable.  More than anything else though, “Sweet Nectar of Life” taught me an invaluable lesson.  If I did “dad” things instead of thinking I was now a “dad,” well, then “dad” would be just fine.  And I was.  From that point forward, being anything other than a dad to my sweet little sunshine seemed incomprehensible, and still is to this day.

Sweet Nectar of Life” is currently in the Cruentus Libri Press anthology ‘The Dark Side of the Womb.’  A glowing review for the anthology can be found at Review Folder.

Wet your appetite with a little taste:

“Sweet Nectar of Life”

Yet did I somehow… no, impossible!  I’m beginning to sound like a crazy man.  But what if… what if I’d inadvertently cursed the child while it still lay in its mother’s womb?  Like the hex the infamous Mother Leeds placed on her ill-fated thirteenth infant, doomed to suffer a fate only the damned could appreciate. 

I’d done no such thing, of course.  Not consciously.  Oh but how the worry picks at my brain the way a rat nibbles on discarded scraps!  And I did have my worries.  I was justified to have my worries.  I’d expect any man to have them – but would they voice them as I had?  Raising a child in today’s world… the corruption of society… the erosion of morals… the implosion of economics…  I’m not ashamed for stating that a man and woman could be considered downright selfish for introducing an innocent soul into this cesspool we call humanity.  What is greater – the loss or the gain?   

My wife, as expected, was appalled.  My arguments (which I believed as entirely sensible and she as entirely unforgivable) drove her from our room on numerous occasions.  God granted the miracle of birth; did He not also grant the miracle of free will, thought and speech?  Why couldn’t I exercise my own?  So many nights I left my bed to lay upon the couch as the question ping-ponged inside my head.  And just before dawn, face drawn from distress and insomnia, I’d sneak back into bed again, finding my wife the way I left her – sleeping upon her side, pillow between her knees, one hand dangling over the edge of the mattress, the other gripping her swollen stomach…

Give “Sweet Nectar of Life” a loving home, won’t you?  It may be the last thing you ever do…

Available on Amazon.com

‘Sex-Starved Thing’ on Pen of the Damned

Where do I even begin?  Maybe I should start by saying that I don’t “game plan” my writing.  I sit; I write.  It’s that simple.  I never steer a story’s direction, nor do I even attempt to influence it in any way.  I see images in my mind; I feel emotions wash over me.  Then I go about creating…  It’s not something I can easily describe.

Each story has life.  Each story is a life.  It’s my responsibility to birth it.  I allow each their own identity.  They are my children, and I am equally proud of them all.

Have you read Sex-Starved Thing on Pen of the Damned yet?  I have no issue telling you it’s quite the story.  It’s a depraved tale about a man and his Sex-Starved Thing.  It is brutal.  It is violent.  It is disturbing.  Yet it’s about as beautiful a piece of prose as I have ever written.

I created Sex-Starved Thing while sitting in my basement.  Ipad on my lap; wine on my table.  Stereo cranked.  No motive inside my head.  But there it was: “Nails grate across stone; she comes for me.”  The beginnings of a new life.  As I said earlier, it’s that simple.  No game plan.  No map.

But that only scratches the surface.  True, I had no idea how my story would develop.  But once crafted, I realized my subconscious screamed out on many darker levels.  Is Sex-Starved Thing a state of unconditional love or a condemnation to love’s conditions?  Hmm.  So many things unanswered; so many angles left to ponder on your own.

What does it stir within you?

Please enjoy Sex-Starved Thing on Pen of the Damned