OATS

For anyone following my blog, I guess you know by now that I’m a horror author.

Funny thing is, I barely post anything ‘horror’ here.  :P

I’ve shared my poetry.  I’ve shared poignant stories about my daughter. You’ve learned of the release of my moving novella Dusk and Summer, as well my continued efforts raising awareness in the fight against pancreatic cancer. My horror fiction, though?  Not so much.  Go figure!

But it’s good to change things up from time to time, right?  What better way to start than on the heels of my own daughter losing her two front teeth.  Ah, my little Toothless.  Thank you for the inspiration! :)

So I present to you my story ‘Oats.’  A little background: in 1992, I began keeping a notebook of story ideas and have been faithfully adding to my potpourri of twisted thoughts ever since.  ‘Oats‘ originated as an unnamed, rough 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 as well on Pen of the Damned.

‘OATS’

Folks ask all the time how I came to be raising my brothers and sisters. I tell them that my Mama and Daddy, they just run off. Guess they tired of having us kids. I tell folks that. It’s much easier than the truth of things.

We was poor back then. We still poor right now, but we was piss poor then. My brothers and sisters, we ate oatmeal from the same bowl. Notice I didn’t say shared cause when it come to five hungry children, well, five hungry children they don’t share. Five hungry children bite and scratch when food comes near. Mama, she gave up getting between us early on, on account that we needed to learn to fend for ourselves. I ain’t raising no babies, Mama would say, even if we was only babies in our own right. My brothers and sisters and me, make no mistake, we all loved the other, but we learned right quick to eat that oatmeal the second Mama ladled it into the bowl.

Now Daddy, he be out working all day long. Sometime I hear him rustling around when the sun still down and then the whoosh of the front door as he left. If he was lucky, he’d come home just in time for dinner, all us still round the table. We ate that oatmeal for dinner, too. That’s the only time we did share, ’cause Mama always ate first. Daddy too, if he was home in time. He’d scoop it right up from that bowl, right up onto his plate with those black hands of his. Daddy scrubbed his hands all the time with that bristle brush atop the slop sink, but Mama said when you work so hard sometime the dirt, it just curl up inside your skin.

Daddy worked real hard, I know that. He was never no lazy man. Sometime when you work construction, the money, well it just ain’t there to be found, I remember Daddy saying. “Ain’t no money to be found,” he’d tell Mama and me and my brothers and sisters as we ate our oatmeal. “Still ain’t no reason for me to ever stop looking.” I was always proud of my Daddy. Proud of him and his black hands.

I eventually learnt that being hungry and poor does funny things to grownups. Us kids, we made do, mostly ’cause we didn’t know any better. Us kids, we forgot we was poor until oatmeal time rolled round, mostly. After awhile Mama and Daddy though, they started grumbling under their breath about it. Time went by, their talking got louder and louder. Sometime us kids was sleeping, but other times, Mama and Daddy kept us up at night bickering about it. All that shouting. Cabinet banging, too.

Mama, she got real quiet round Daddy when we was all together. She got jittery-like. That made me nervous. And Daddy, we noticed the change come down over his face. He started coming home earlier and earlier every day. His hands not so black any more. Heard him whispering to Mama how the construction was nearly dried up. When Mama told him forceful like that he’s got to look harder for the money, he turned around, face all swollen and red like he just got himself stung by a bee.

***

I remember real clear the time Daddy told me he was gonna rob the Tooth Fairy.

I was hanging laundry on the line for Mama. Daddy come around the corner of the house, wringing his hands worse than Mama wringing the washcloths. He called my name. When I see how wild his face looked, I nearly spilled my clothespin bucket. “How long that front tooth of yours been loose, girl?” Daddy asked me, voice all strangled like.

“Week or two,” I say.

“Should fall out soon then. Real soon. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir. I reckon it should.”

He nodded, but it wasn’t a nod like a man agreeing to something. Daddy nodded like he was sentenced to death. I ain’t never been so scared in all my life. “Good,” he said, but he ain’t talking to me no more, he’s talking to himself. “Good, cause that tooth meant to fall any day now. Maybe any minute. I’ll be ready. Sure as shit, I’ll be ready.” My Daddy, he realized he never used cuss words in front of us kids, and it snapped him back to the here and now. “Listen, honeysuckle,” he said, ’cause that’s what he called me, honeysuckle. “Daddy found a way to make money. I ain’t proud ’bout it, but it’s a way. Now you keep this secret from your Mama, and brothers and sisters too, you hear? I’m gonna take the money from the Tooth Fairy when it come for your tooth, you understand? Don’t look scared now, girl. You know Daddy ain’t never find no reason to stop looking for the money. Well, I been looking, and I been thinking, and I found us something real good.”

“Stealing ain’t never good. You taught us that, Daddy,” I said, close to tears.

Daddy brings his face real close to mine, and my tummy hurt when I realize I don’t know this man no more. “That’s right, honeysuckle. But I know that Tooth Fairy gonna have more than enough of what we need.”

***

I slept with my hands stuffed in my mouth, terrified about that tooth falling out of my head, pressing just as strong as I could press to keep it up inside my gums. I remember waking that morning, waking with my arms down along my sides. I scraped my tongue all around inside my mouth ’till I felt that horrible hole where that tooth should have been.

Daddy stood, just waiting there in the doorway, body all slumped like the air’d been sucked from his chest. His eyes was wilder than any animal I’d ever seen. He brung a hand to his lips and shushed me real gentle like. Leaving me trying to decide what terrified me more…the fact that the black was gone from his hands, or that he was rolling my tooth between his fingers.

“Don’t go waking your brothers and sisters now,” he says to me, ’cause we all crammed into the same room, our mattresses squeezed up one against the other. “I’m gonna lay this tooth ‘neath your pillow tonight, honeysuckle, and come the morn I wager we’ll be set just a little bit better.” And with that, he just slipped away like a ghost in the stories me and my brothers and sisters scare each other with at night.

I did as Daddy said; I didn’t say nothing to nobody. Didn’t feel much like eating oatmeal that day either. I guess it was ’cause of keeping that hole in my mouth a secret.

Mama tucked us all in that night, and Daddy came in after. He kissed me last. I wrapped my arms round him like he was the teddy bear I wished he and Mama could buy me. His lips were tender on my cheek. Then I felt him fumbling under my pillow. He pulled away, and I wish I could of said Daddy don’t do it, Daddy there’s got to be better way! But he swore me to a secret, and I ain’t never disobeyed my Daddy. It was late by the time I fell asleep, that tooth beneath my pillow giving me dreams something wicked.

I’m still not sure what time it was when that window started sliding upward. Mama kept it locked come autumn, but the draft still found its way in and the nip, it always got right down to your bones. But somehow that night, that window come unlocked and sliding upward. Sure enough, the wind start moaning through the room. I squeezed my eyes real tight and did my best to make-believe I was sleeping. The window, it just keep creaking open. I started praying to the baby Jesus that the wind howling through our room was the worst thing I’d hear. But it wasn’t.

I heard it. It was a whole lot raspier than my brothers’ and sisters’ breathing. Real harsh, like nails dragged across shingles. I straight near piddled my panties when something meaty dragged itself over the windowsill. I sensed something hovering over me, its shadow darker than the dark of my closed eyes. It snorted, its stinky breath wetting my cheek. Next thing I know, my pillow done lifted straight from the bed, then settled down again. Coins start rattling in my ear.

Our bedroom door suddenly banged open, and I heard a big tussle. Groans and grunts and screaming… god-awful screaming. Then a shotgun blast. Something splattered all over my face. When I opened my eyes, Mama was sliding down the wall, but she ain’t got a head no more. And my Daddy, he be choking on a knife stuck straight through his throat. I grabbed my brothers and sisters and dragged them half-asleep from the room quick as I could. We ain’t never slept back in there again.

Since then, I ain’t never had the chance to stop looking for the money. My hands are black now, just like Daddy’s used to be. And those folks, they ask all the time how I came to be raising my brothers and sisters. No one’s gonna believe the truth. The truth of how my Mama and Daddy really done killed each other. The truth of how I saw the Tooth Fairy leaving through the window. Crooked finger at its yellowy lips, shushing me real gentle into yet another secret. I don’t tell no secrets, never have, never will.

We still eat that oatmeal. Got to—especially since I used Daddy’s old pliers to pull out every last one of our teeth.

~ Joseph A. Pinto

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

Hunter Shea and the Hell Hole Tour

Hello all! My good friend and fellow Pen of the Damned mate Hunter Shea takes over my blog today!  So without further ado, take it away Hunter!

‘From the Desk of Squatchmo’

My gracious host, Joe Pinto, and lots of other people often call me Squatch Man, Squatchmo, Mr. Bigfoot and a host of other cryptid-tinged monikers. I wear those names with pride, man. When I saw the Patterson-Gimlin film of Bigfoot on In Search Of in the mid-70s, I was hooked. I’ve been a Bigfoot loving beast ever since.

Going from passive Sasquatch enthusiast to weaver of the legend’s tales has been one of the high water marks of my career, if not life. Sure, I don’t write about true tales and investigations into BF. I leave that for folks like Loren Coleman and Nick Redfern. They own that corner, if you know what I mean.

For me, the thrill has been trying to explore new avenues of the Bigfoot mythos, to boldly go where no squatch has gone before. I got my first crack at it with my book, Swamp Monster Massacre. There, I turned to the lesser known Skunk Apes of the Everglades and let the horrific times roll! The book was my best selling (until The Montauk Monster came along this summer) and started me down the cryptid fiction path – a path I’m thrilled to tread.

So, when I started my weird west novel for Samhain, Hell Hole, I figured I’d done my bit with Bigfoot for a while and sent my heroes, Nat and Teta, to a haunted abandoned mining town in Wyoming. At the start, I planned it to be a straight up ghost story.

But, somewhere along the way, I added wild men into the mix. The book is set in 1905, before the name Bigfoot was made popular. At that time, they were known as wild men (among many other nicknames given by various Indian tribes over the centuries). Well, before I knew it, I had packs of wild men descending on Nat and Teta, howling and tearing things up before fading into the night.

This unexpected turn changed the entire story, making it, I feel, far better and scarier. And who needs 1 Bigfoot when you can have hundreds? The key here, and part of my quest to change things up, is that they may not be exactly as they seem. No matter what their origin, they are terrifying.

So my fascination with BF continues. If you want to see what two old cowpokes do when faced with the hairy fellas, check out Hell Hole. Just remember to oil your six-shooter and bring a change of pants.

hell hole

Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits.

Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem–those who go seeking their fortune never return.

Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. But the remnants of Hecla are far from empty. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark mine…as well as a force so sinister Nat’s and Teta’s very souls are in jeopardy.

There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.

Amazon:

Samhain Horror:
https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5076/hell-hole

GoodReads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22548186-hell-hole

Raves for Hunter Shea:

Forest of Shadows
“A frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” –Night Owl Reviews

Sinister Entity
“This is the real deal. The fear is palpable. Horror novels don’t get much better than this.” –Literal Remains
“. . .Culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!” –Horror Novel Reviews

Evil Eternal
“Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant. . .a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare.” –Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows

Swamp Monster Massacre
“If you’re craving an old-school creature-feature that has excessive gore. . .B-horror movie fans rejoice, Hunter Shea is here to bring you the ultimate tale of terror!” –Horror Novel Reviews

Hunter Shea, Biography:

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. HellHole came out in August 2014 and is his first western horror. His next Samhain novel, Island of the Forbidden, publishes January 2015.

The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster was published by Kensington/Pinnacle. He’s working on a second novel to come through them.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled HellHole, is set to come out in August 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at http://www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Hell Hole button

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:

JUST NOT HERE

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_Issue_10

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…

Horror-tica

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