Friday, September 25, 2009

Halloween Horrors! Book Review Project

Hey, all you ghoulies and ghosties, it's time for The Monster Librarian's Annual Horror Book Review. We're proud as punch to be part of this year's exciting project, along with these fine horror folks

Monster Librarian
Dark Scribe Magazine
Horror World
Horror Fiction Review
Dread Central

Throughout the month of October, we'll all be posting various book reviews for your enjoyment.
Below are the first of The Black Glove's reviews for this annual project hosted by The Monster Librarian.

by Joe Hill

In the life of a reader, short story collections that gestalt so immediately, resonate so deeply, are a rarity. Joe Hill’s “20th Century Ghosts” is one of those exceptional books.
I haven’t been so moved by a chain of stories since my wonder years of discovering Ray Bradbury’s poetic prose. There were times that I had to place the book aside to examine my reaction to its latest offering. And that is the power of this man’s voice. He can be so subtle that his fears creep up on you and become your own fears; his emotions become your mirror.
Hill is steeped in the genre, to the extent of giving a knowing wink or two to the initiated (the scene in “Pop Art” with the dog and the station wagon, for instance), but never at the cost of pandering or posing. In fact most of the stories included in “20th Century Ghosts” transcend the genre in such a way as to break down the walls that, at times, hold horror too close to itself. He does not allow style to play first fiddle to the simple act of telling the story, as he displays a basic love for the tale and not the words. Yet they are heart wrenching, nonetheless. His prose has a buried richness that makes the words jump from the page.
And for the writers in the crowd, this may be some of the most impeccable editing I’ve seen in a long time. Every word matters in terms of the story--not the style.
The highpoints of the collection?
“Best New Horror”, the leadoff tale of a jaded horror anthology editor (I was thinking Stephen Jones the whole time) who finds the perfect story, and becomes obsessed with tracking down its mysterious author, only to find that all of those horror clichés he’s despised for so many years have come around to bite him in the arse.
“Pop Art”, an absurdest piece about a balloon boy befriended by a flesh and blood underdog. It’s a tearjerker from start to finish and I have so rarely been so glad to have my emotions manipulated.
“Abraham’s Boys” is a truly disturbing take on the Van Helsing/Dracula mythos that examines the dissolution of father and sons.
“Voluntary Committal” will stick with me for years. Enough said.
“You Will Hear the Locust Sing” is one of the subtlest post-Columbine stories I’ve ever read. When the violence comes, it’s shocking and numbing at the same time.
“My Father’s Mask” is haunting and chilling in its unspoken perversity and terror. I defy anyone to read it and not get a chill as the final paragraph unfolds.
I’ll stop there. Although I could hit on every story, I think it best to read them for yourselves and live inside this man’s world of words. I will add that every story is about some relationship- good or bad- that illuminates how we interact with those who we love and love us. There is nothing simple about this book, and anyone who comes to it for easy entertainment will walk away with more than he/she bargained for.
One last note: Christopher Golden’s introduction may be one of the most accurate introductions I’ve read in years for an author’s short story collection (much like John D. MacDonald’s introduction for King’s first short story collection), in terms of awe and respect for Hill’s work. I imagine he was much like myself after having read “20th Century Ghosts”- in a daze and examining my own words for this transient beauty. I am in awe. And that is a rare thing these days in this genre.
--Nickolas Cook

by Brian Hodge

Brian Hodge’s work should come with a warning label: WILL MESS WITH YOUR PRECONCIEVED NOTIONS OF FAITH AND GOD.
WORLD OF HURT is the story of Andrei, a young man who comes back from death’s door with some very disturbing memories of what lies beyond the threshold of flesh. It’s a story of redemption, betrayal, and sacrifice, of blood and flesh, and spirit and soul. The tale alone is enough to keep his readers up at night, but Hodge also opens a dialogue with his readers, in essence asking, ‘What do you really believe happens after we die?’ and more importantly, ‘Why?’ His revelation of why God can seem so cruel will leave many conservative religious folks reeling in horror, as he contends that the white light at the end of the tunnel is a lie, and only horrors and darkness await us, and that there is no God, but a being called Ialdabaoth waiting to suck us back into It’s terrible, cold essence of despair.
In WORLD OF HURT, Hodge creates a mythos every bit as dismal and bleak as Lovecraft’s Elder Gods, and in fact, Ialdabaoth comes off as a distant cousin to these alien dissenters of mankind. But it’s the peripheral characters with which he’s concerned, the saviors and killers, of this mythos, not the Gods beyond. It’s their emotions and struggles that keep the pages moving along. There is no cold Lovecraftian phrasing here, but pages suffused with warmth and genuine awe for the human spirit, as Hodge handles his characters with a respect and emotion that we’ve come to expect from one of our great under appreciated masters of the craft. He even finds a way to make the antagonist seem pitiful, despite the bloody cruelty of his work.
WORLD OF HURT thrusts you, sometimes unwillingly, into the mind of a remorseless killer, a timeless assassin of killers, and a troubled and confused young man who cannot find rest from his memories of what awaits beyond the shadowy veil. The pace is quick, the writing crisp and smart, the underlying themes and philosophy thought provoking. In short, this is the kind of smart horror that’s missing from the chain store shelves these days. Thank God, for Earthling Publications for brining Hodge’s excellent voice back to the reading public. It’s intelligent, emotive work that only gets better as time goes on. (For those of you who doubt, also pick up WILD HORSES, one hell of a great read from the first page.)
This is a loosely connected work to a trio of shorts published over the years, “The Alchemy of the Throat”, which originally appeared in LOVE IN VEIN (edited by Poppy Z. Brite), “The Dripping of Sundered Wineskins”, which appeared in the sequel anthology, LOVE IN VEIN II: TWICE BITTEN (also edited by Poppy Z. Brite), and “When the Bough Doesn’t Break”, which appeared in the DAMNED anthology (edited by Dave Barnett). But WORLD OF HURT definitely redefines the territory he explored in these previous works. And as he mentions in his Afterword, it’s territory he will undoubtedly dip into again. It should be a rich mine of wonders for a man who can weave dark conspiracies from the world’s bloody history.

--Nickolas Cook

By Jeffrey Konvitz

My suspicion is that there was a different expectation from horror in the 1970s. “The Sentinel” is not as horrific as one might expect from, what is considered, a classic horror work from the early boom of the genre. In 1974, Ira Levin and William Peter Blatty were the leaders of the burgeoning genre, and King had yet to become a household name. Most people didn’t know the difference between a well-written thriller vs. a balls-to-the-wall horror tale. One part mystery and one part horror, this is the space in which Konvitz’s novel falls.
When New York City fashion model, Allison Parker, decides to rent an apartment in a crumbling brownstone building, she is pulled into the mystery of the domicile. A blind priest sits at his eternal vigil in the top floor, and the rooms are full of people who seemingly do not exist. Her life is going out of control after the death of her father; her boyfriend quite possibly murdered his wife to be with her, and who is the naked old man that walks the floors above her at midnight?
Universal Studios took this story and turned it into a classic creepy film. The movie is full of nice touches of light and shadow, slow buildups to some great scares, and great characters we care about.
The book has almost none of these things.
What it does have is a nasty take on lesbians (referred to by most of the characters as perverts), shite dialogue that sounds like a Saturday afternoon radio drama from the 40s, and block-headed descriptive passages that gloss over any attempt at elegance. The extraneous scenes that could have been weeded from this work are too many to count here, but let us just say that a good editor would have been a godsend. And what’s truly astounding is that Dario Argento took a fairly similar notion and created the film “Susperia” a few years later.
Go figure.
All that aside, why is this considered a classic of the genre?
Because in some ways this is a transitional work, one that we can look back on now and recognize as a link between gothic horror and modern (urban) horror. Konvitz took one of the most identifiable tropes of gothic horror (lone female moves into place with mysterious past) and used it to create an admixture of old and new. The story strives for a modern cosmopolitanism, while sitting firmly in the tradition of gothic literature. Sadly, it doesn’t always work, but “The Sentinel” still remains a brick in the wall of the genre.

--Nickolas Cook

by James Herbert

When Herbert is on, he’s one of the best horror writers in the world. And I’m not just saying that. For anyone who’s ever read “The Rats”, “The Fog”, or “The Dark” can tell you he writes splatter horror like no one else in the business. But he has been known to write a quieter horror as well, as evidenced by such books as “The Magic Cottage” and “Fluke”. “The Spear” falls into that quieter category, as he tells the story of Harry Steadman, ex agent for Mossad living in London and working as a private investigator. When he’s asked to find a missing Mossad agent for his old spy fraternity, he refuses, tired of the violence of his old life. But his partner is tortured and killed at his front step and he makes it his business to find and destroy the people responsible. What he doesn’t bargain for is the desperate depths that his old Nazi enemies have sunk to regain world power.
“The Spear” plays more as a spy novel than a horror novel, and with that caveat having been said, fear not...there are moments of horror. For Herbert has attempted one of the few true mummy novels in horror. There are only a few of them around, and most were written long before this one. He does an admirable job of working the Nazi angle into his tale, and if nothing else “The Spear” makes for one heck of a rousing action story. But the horror isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone who’s actually reading the book. There are plenty of hints of what’s to come, as we learn how Heinrich Himmler never actually died and the body identified as his was only someone pretending to be him to save the last power circle of Nazi masters from the righteous fury of the conquering armies. There is a certain surprising conservative message between the lines, as hedonistic sex and a hermaphrodite are made the targets of some pretty vile remarks, something I would never have seen coming from Herbert, who may be one of England’s most subversive living authors. But as this was written in the early 80s, things do change, so perhaps his philosophy has as well.
There is also a nice subplot about Hitler and his love for Wagner’s works, and a pseudo-religious one about the spear used to stab Jesus Christ as a weapon of mass evil destruction. But in the end, as much as the story seemed to rely on these dual components, neither of them carry through to the end as much as the spy angle, or the Himmler angle.
Herbert’s use of the solitary hero strongman was also used in another excellent horror novel, much like “The Spear” in its quiet insinuations instead of full blown blood and guts extremes: “Sepulcher”. And if you find “The Spear” to your liking, then I would suggest finding a copy of this one as well.

--Nickolas Cook

Friday, September 4, 2009

Editorial September 09 e-issue #3

Editorial September 09 e-issue #3
By Nickolas Cook

As I age into myself a bit, I realize there’s a lot about horror that just doesn’t work for me anymore. I used to watch such atrocious shit as ‘Cannibal Ferox’, ‘I Spit On Your Grave’, ‘The Last House On the Left’, and the inevitable 80s sick-o ‘Faces of Death’ film series. Usually I did so with groups of like minded people, many of us simply doing so to fulfill a dare, or perhaps to prove nothing bothered us. We were a bunch of young toughs, devil may care, take life by the horns kind of film watchers. Maybe I did it because I wanted to see just how far down the cesspool some so called filmmakers will plumb to make a buck. Let’s face it: there is no redeeming value to something like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. Sure, if you want to see animals tortured and killed for your fucking enjoyment, by all means pop up a bag of popcorn, get your sodas, and watch it happen. None of that is faked, folks. Those animals die for real. And in some cases they are tortured first, so you can get a good listen to their squeals of pain and confusion.
Some people I’ve encountered online in various web sites have argued that such filmmaking is the essence of guerilla filmmaking, that by showing such things the filmmakers are giving us the real thing.
Yeah, ok…right.

And as I’ve stated on those various online forums…bullshit.
What you are getting is some sick asshole’s desperate desire to make money. He is using shock value, allowing you to see something die before your eyes, to make a buck.
Now I won’t sit here and condemn a person for watching it the first time. After all, it’s there, and we are a curious-minded species. We want to know how things tick; in this case, how something really dies. There’s that sideshow freak kind of mentality involved in secretly wanting to see it happen.
But if you’re watching this crap again and again, rewinding to watch the animals’ deaths over and over, or even just actively seeking to see more of the same in other movies, then, brother, you are, in layman’s terms, one sick son of a bitch.
Yes, I have seen the movies, so I’m not trying to be a hypocrite here, but let’s face it, when you’re a kid, or even just a young adult, this sort of thing invariably does hold a sense of fascination for you, doesn’t it? But at a certain age digging this shit just isn’t in any form or fashion normal, my friend.

In this age modern age of internet porn, we have the ability to see, literally, some of the grossest, most depraved, acts ever committed on the human body (or in some cases by an animal to a human body). I mean, some of this stuff is damn near psychopathic in what we’re allowed to see. I will not go into detail here, but let’s suffice it to say, even if you wanted to see a real person eating pieces of a real person- while they are still alive, mind you- there are ‘for-real’ videos out there for you to watch.
I suggest you do NOT attempt to find them. Because, I am here to tell you, you cannot unsee what you see, friend.
I made the mistake once of watching a video of one of the numerous terrorist beheadings and it messed me up for about a year afterwards. I will never, to my dying day, forget the sounds that poor man made as they sawed through his neck. I don’t ever have to see such things again to know what they’ll do to me.
But back to my point with this rather judgmental sounding editorial (and forgive me if it insults you, but remember: this is only my opinion, not commandments from God, Jesus, or Buddha). As I grew older, I found such sick-o movies held absolutely no charm for me. And it’s not that I’ve turned into some smug stick-in-the-mud curmudgeon, cursing those dad-blasted young whipper-snappers. No, its simply this: I’m old enough to have seen some things in my life that make some glibly excused depiction of real life violence for the mere thrill of it seem mean and low down…inhumane, even. In a fictional narrative that sort of realistic depiction MUST HAVE MERIT and not be there simply for the sake of showing off some gore.
Of course, some readers are thinking right now- hey, Nick, you eat meat don’t you? Yeah, I do. But here’s the difference (and this should be pretty self evident, but I’ll say it anyway)—I didn’t go to the slaughterhouse to watch the animal die so I could eat it. I know where my steaks and chicken breasts come from, and it’s unfortunate that I feel I have to eat meat to survive, but the bottom line is: I didn’t have to watch the animal die for my own sustenance.
As stated in previous editorials (see last month’s, for instance), I grew up in the deep dark woods of Florida. We weren’t rich. We were sometimes dirt poor, which meant that if we didn’t kill it, we didn’t eat that night. So, yeah, I’ve had to kill to eat. I don’t have to now. I never enjoyed it when I was a kid, and I sure as hell wouldn’t enjoy it now. I have no desire to kill for enjoyment.
If you do, that’s your business; but arguments about shooting a living thing just to see it die do not sit well within my own moral/ethical structure.
Another thing I’ve found as I’ve grown older: my sympathies for antagonists and protagonists have shifted.

Case in point: I just finished Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. If you’ve never read it, the short description is that a young man, Dorian Gray, of high society London allows himself to be painted by a friend. The painting is so accurate that he bemoans the fact he must age and the painting stay young. He makes a seemingly frivolous wish that the painting change while he remains young and untouched by life’s inevitable experiences. As the years go on, Gray seeks more and more depraved activities to keep himself satisfied, and even though he does some rather despicable things to get his jollies (maybe watching ‘Cannibal Ferox’ was one) he is never satisfied. And he never seems to age. He discovers his wish has come true as the painting he has hidden in the attic of his home (a little psychology from good old Wilde, eh?) is becoming more hideous with each new terrible thing he does.
When I was a younger man, I felt nothing but sympathy for young Gray. I knew what he must feel inside: he wanted to live life, not back down from any new experience, no matter how dark and depraved. I wanted his painter friend, Basil Hallward, to stop fucking whining and pushing Gray to become a better person. What could he know about it? Just because he was scared to try anything new. And I felt indifference for the driving engine of the narrative, Lord Henry Wotten. He was a smart ass at best and not much to think on.
Well, at forty, boy, have my emotions on the story changed.
Now, I loath Gray. He is a weakling who deserves every shitty thing that happens to him and it’s a shame it doesn’t happen sooner. Lots of innocent people would have lived.
As for Basil: I finally understood his speeches, his entreaties to Gray to shape up or prepare to face the consequences.
But the biggest shift is with Lord Henry.
At age forty, I feel sorrow for him. He is aging and does nothing but pine for his lost youth, while grasping desperately to find something or someone he can love. In the course of the story we find that Lord Henry is married to a woman for whom he has no emotion, has no parents, no children, in fact, has nothing but his charm and razor sharp wit and insults. People don’t really like him, but like to hear him defame their peers. In short, Lord Henry becomes what most famous people become: bitter, worthless in the eyes of an ever youthful society, and finally alone.
It’s no accident that I chose ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ to talk about after speaking to the sick-o shock movies of the 70s and 80s. Such a time could create such movies for an audience looking for the next thrill, no matter the cost. But I often find myself wondering how much our culture’s hidden portrait might have changed…you know…sitting up in that attic room, that dank, dimly lighted, cobwebbed space. While our culture demands youth worship, somewhere that portrait is dripping and changing in some strange Protean way, and the evil shit we’re doing now to get that next thrill-hit is lighting somewhere. Even our horror culture is becoming less and less able to release pressure through those time honored cathartic valves.
I’m convinced Wilde was writing a warning, whether he knew it or not. But it’s a warning that stands not only for an individual man’s experience, but for a society as a whole.
We should truly worry about that wee attic room and that shifting portrait because the bill’s going to come due someday, just like it did for stupid, vain Dorian Gray. And like Gray, I don’t think we know when to stop.

--Nickolas Cook

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bloody Pages Feature Writer: F. Paul Wilson

Interview conducted by David T. Wilbanks

1. What is the best thing about writing a series character like
Repairman Jack?

As with most series, you’re not at square one when you start page one. You’ve got a fleshed-out (we hope) protagonist, an environment, a circle of friends, enemies, contacts. Also you have the chance to indulge in long story arcs that build from book to book. That’s not ideal for a series since it’s probably best, from a selling stance, to have each book stand alone. But I always intended Jack as a series with a direction and a purpose and a conclusion.

2. What is the worst thing?

Finding new ways to describe old characters. Keeping it fresh. Not falling into a formula. I resolved from the git go to make every book different. I’ve involved Jack in medical thrillers, techno thrillers, haunted house tales, yojimbo-type stories, anything to provide variety. This isn’t always met with enthusiasm. There’s a cadre of readers who wanna nutha one juzlike thutha one. Perhaps the worst thing of all is ending it. You hear wails and groans, but if you want this to be a bright spot in your opus vitae, you don’t want to run it into the ground. You want to go out on a high note.

3. Who are some of your favorite fictional characters created by
other authors?

Ready for total lowbrow? In no particular order: Uncle Scrooge, Conan, Bob the Nailer, Fu Manchu, the Continental Op, the Shadow, the Spider, Philip Marlowe, John Carter, the Spirit, Plastic Man, Daddy Warbucks, Dick Tracy…I know I’m forgetting some, but these are all on my bookshelves right now.

4. Who are some of the authors who’ve influenced your own writing?

Isn’t this where most of us say, James, Jackson, Bierce, Blackwood, Proust? Sorry. Can’t do that. As far as style goes, I’ve admired Matheson and Hammett for cleanliness and leanliness. As for content, ready for some schizophenia? Ludlum, Lovecraft, Camus, Howard, Bradbury, Vonnegut, Rohmer, and whoever else I’ve swiped from through the decades.

5. What is the latest F. Paul Wilson movie/TV buzz?

Buzz? More like a whisper. Beacon has screwed up the Repairman Jack film, I’m afraid. I don’t know if it will ever be made. It’s a long, painful story and you can follow it through the years via the movie thread on the website.

6. What is the best advice you¹ve ever received about the writing

None, unfortunately. (Okay, maybe my agent saying, “Why don’t you give this idea about German soldiers occupying a deserted castle in the Transylvanian Alps a shot.”) Mostly I had to learn it all first hand. None of these workshops and boot camps with experienced authors dropping advice right and left was around when I was coming up. I had to stumble my way through. But the most important thing I learned myself that I pass on at every opportunity is that you must write every day. Get those words on paper. Fiddle with them all you want later on, but first get those suckers down.

7. What is the current state of horror fiction?

I don’t pretend to have a comprehensive overview. I know it’s alive and well in the small presses. I think e-publishing will give it a boost as a discrete genre. Horror is always there, creeping about in various guises. I do know it’s thriving with the romance writers and readers. I understand erotic zombie romances are starting to appear. (Rigor mortis confined to one body part? Must we go there?)

8. What are the last five books you¹ve read?

Nobody Move – Denis Johnson
Damnable - Hank Schwaeble
The Book of Lies - Brad Meltzer
Kiss of Life - Dan Waters
The Suspect – John Lescroart

9. What can Wilson readers look forward to in the future?

Repairman Jack #13 (GROUND ZERO) in September. Then the last 2 novels (14 & 15), trade paperbacks of REBORN and REPRISAL followed by a heavily revised NIGHTWORLD. The 2nd and 3rd YA Jack novels. Then a thriller that’s been ductch-ovening for years. I’m considering a 4th YA novel from which I’d like to spin off a contemporary YA series. (I like writing for young readers.) I’d like to do some novels about Jack’s early years in the city, learning the ropes, meeting Julio and Abe, feeling his way toward the Jack of the later novels; these would be compact and noirish, with no supernatural / paranormal elements. I’d also like to go back and write a fat fantasy series about the First Age, where Glaeken and Rasalom first locked horns. (I have to find a way to live long enough to do all this.)

10. What are your five favorite music albums?

(I have to name 10. Except for World party, do we see a trend? A guy suspended in amber from somewhere around the Permian extinction?)
The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Rolling Stones Now
Allman Bros Live at Fillmore East
Blonde on Blonde (Dylan)
Can’t Buy a Thrill (Steely Dan)
The Flying Burrito Brothers (the eponymous 3rd album)
Eli and the 13th Confession (Laura Nyro)
Goodbye Jumbo (World Party)
Daydream (Lovin Spoonful)

(F. PAUL WILSON is the award-winning, NY Times bestselling author of more than forty books and nearly 100 short stories spanning science fiction, horror, adventure, medical thrillers, and virtually everything between. His work has been translated into twenty-four languages. His latest thrillers, BY THE SWORD and GROUND ZERO, star his urban mercenary, Repairman Jack. JACK: SECRET HISTORIES recently kicked off a young-adult series starring a fourteen-year-old Jack. Paul resides at the Jersey Shore and can be found on the Web at

--David T. Wilbanks

(David T. Wilbanks is the co-author of the DEAD EARTH horror-adventure series (with Mark Justice). The next novel is VENGEANCE ROAD and is scheduled for publication in 2010. Check out

(The Black Glove wants to thank both F. Paul Wilson and David T. Wilbanks for their time and efforts)

Stabbed In Stanzas: Feature Poet, Scott E. Green

An Interview with Scott E. Green conducted by Karen L. Newman for The Black Glove

KLN: Your poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, both online and in print. However, you have only four collections out for your over thirty-five years of writing. Why is that? Do you have any more collections planned after your current one, Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas?
SEG: Most of my poetry is concerned with the history and the roots of science fiction fantasy and horror. In other words I am looking backward to see where we are today. I think most publishers of genre poetry chapbooks are looking forward to where we will be. Right now I do not have plans for more collections but you never know.

KLN: Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas consists of short poems. Why did you decide to use short poems? What do you consider to be the benefits of the short form over longer forms?
SEG: I usually use short poems because it allows me to get right to the point of what I want to say. Another reason I use short poems is because typically editors are looking for shorter rather than longer pieces. I write short poems out of habit.

KLN: You are the author of the poetry reference book Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Poetry: A Resource Guide and Biographical Directory, published in 1989 by Greenwood. Is this book still available for purchase? If so, where? Do you plan on writing an updated version? What would be your criteria for inclusion, particularly for horror poetry and poets? Which is your favorite genre in which to write: horror, science fiction, or fantasy? Why?
SEG: I believe it is still available on Amazon. I do not plan on writing an updated version. If I did it would be anyone who sold 5 or more poems to paying markets and/or been nominated for a major award. I love all 3 equally and I particularly like to write poems set in Lovecraft Universe. So I get to play in all 3 genres simultaneously.

KLN: I was fascinated to discover you were the poet guest of honor at the 1985 Boston Star Trek Convention. How was that experience? Tell us your most memorable experiences from there. Why do you think having poet guests of honor at conventions has fallen out of favor? What do you think it will take for that to come back, if ever?
SEG: I loved being a big shot at that convention. Usually when you tell someone you’re a poetry program person their eyes start to glaze. My most memorable experience at the convention had nothing to do with the program. During a convention cabaret, I was sitting at a table with several convention officials and Kirstie Alley. There was this person sitting at the table with us who kept telling us not to bother Kirstie with so many questions because she needed to relax. Finally I said to her that she was fortunate to have such a protective staff person. She told us that she didn't know who the guy was. The guy soon left the table. I think it is a cycle and I don't think there is any importance to having poet guests of honor. It just goes in and out of fashion.

KLN: You have spoken at numerous horror conventions. Has attendance at poetry panels increased or decreased over the years? What are the most common questions asked and how do you answer them?
SEG: Every time I go to a poetry panel I don't know how many people are going to show up. Sometimes it is just one person, sometimes it's 30. It all depends what we are scheduled against. The most common question is where do I get my ideas from and my answer is always the same. The body of work within the field both printed and film.

KLN: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Scott. I appreciate your time. Is there anything additional you’d like to share with our readers?
SEG: There are a few things, first, nag the magazine editors that you want to see poetry in their magazines. Secondly, tell the editors of anthology projects that they ought to buy poetry. Lastly if you’re writing in the field, keep writing, keep sending but never ever send your poetry to markets that use them but don't pay for them. If you can't sell your poems to a paying market maybe it needs to be reworked.

--Karen L. Newman
(The Black Glove wants to thank Scott E. Green for his time)

Stabbed In Stanzas: Horror Poetry Book Review

Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas
by Scott E. Green;
Abbott ePublishing, 2009;
38 pages; PDF $2.49

reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas by Scott E. Green is an expansion of his previous collection Private Worlds, first released in 1985 and then issued again in e-format in 2001, except this collection has additional poems. There are asterisks in front of several poems, which are assumed to be the new works, although this is not made clear in the copy received from the publisher for this review. In the title of each poem the word ‘world’ is used after the name of an actor, filmmaker, artist, author, or other person associated with horror, science fiction, or fantasy. After several pages, these titles become monotonous to read, unfortunate considering the exquisite craftsmanship of each poem. Green sums up his impression of each person in few words for maximum effect. However, if unfamiliar with these people, this effect is lost, particularly since only the last name is utilized.
The poems are presented in alphabetical order, instead of organized by any subset, which adds to the diversity of the collection. Green’s writing style varies from poem to poem, indicating the differences in each spotlighted person. Consonance and alliteration are featured in place of rhyme, so as to pack an emotional punch without being contrite or contrived. An example would be an excerpt from the poem “Lovecraft’s World”:

using humanity
in hidden moves

Green pays homage in verse, a novel way to honor these influential people, so clever as to be considered epitaphs. Despite, its flaws, Private Worlds: A Revised Atlas is certainly worth the price.

--Karen L. Newman

Outsider Book of the Month- September 09 e-issue #3 The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Outsider Book of the Month- September 09 e-issue #3
The Drowned World (1962 original print)
By J.G. Ballard
Review by Nickolas Cook

Traditionally, the bulk of recently deceased (April 19th 2009) J.G. Ballard’s works have been classified as sci-fi, but in reality his works transcend the usually conservative ranks of such narrow labels. His fiction is, in most cases, about mankind, not their machinery (‘Crash’, his classic and disturbing work about auto-erotica, is less about cars than the animism/sexuality we attach to them).
In ‘The Drowned World’ we have a continuation of Ballard’s excellent apocalypse quartet, which also include The Wind From Nowhere (1961), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966). The year is 2145 and London is under water, due to a slight rise in the worldwide temperature (yeah, does that sound familiar, folks? This novel could be prophetic, trust me). In fact, a lot of the world has become either swamp or desert as the landmasses have altered, driving the bulk of humanity into the ever shrinking habitable regions of the earth.
Our story picks up with a small research science team who are about to pull out of what’s left of London- a virtual swamp, populated by giant sized lizards and man eating alligators. Dr. Robert Kerns and several members of the team are having strange dreams in which they are devolving into something more than lizards, less than human, and being driven instinctually to remain in the swamp and make it their home. When the other scientists and military personnel finally leave, Kerns, a fellow scientist, Dr. Bodkin, and Kerns’ lover, reclusive Beatrice Dhal, hide away and watch them depart. They settle down to see what will happen as they succumb more and more to their dreams of devolution. But along comes an albino called Strangman, leading a band of near savage pirates into their new bay home—riding on a wave of killer crocs and gators, no less. How’s that for subtlety? Strangman has his own ideas of the new world, and he plans to loot as much of the old world as possible before it comes about. An uneasy tension develops between them: Strangman wants Dahl for himself. Finally, when Bodkin tries to stop him from draining the lagoon so he can raid the underwater remains of London, Strangman justifies placing Kerns under arrest and hunting down Bodkin and killing him. He wants to make an example of Kerns, so he crucifies him for the enjoyment of his men, allowing them to perform strange and symbolic tribalistic rituals on his body, torturing and starving him to a slow death.
Kerns manages to survive the ordeal, and tries to rescue Dahl from Strangman. But the albino gets the upper hand and is about to murder them both when the military returns to save them. Strangman allies himself with the military, still intent upon raiding the remains of London. Kerns grows frustrated and manages to flood the lagoon and escaping Strangman and the military commanders. We are left with Kerns fleeing into the swampy wilds in search of the new world, driven by his dreams and instinct.
In ‘The Drowned World’ Ballard has created, at least partially, a horror narrative of the mind, where man is falling to the wayside as the world slowly destroys the old flesh in favor of the new flesh. There are scenes that are horrific, brutal- not what you’d expect in what is nominally referred to as sci-fi. But, as stated above, that goes for most of Ballard’s works. If you can find a copy of ‘The Drowned World’, get it, read it, and discover why Ballard was one of the most important speculative writers of this century.

--Nickolas Cook

Bloody Pages Book Reviews

Review by Steve Jensen

Official Summary: 'Leaving behind his father's tragic failures, Gabriel Swift arrives in London in 1826 to study with Edwin Poll, the great anatomist. But he finds himself drawn to his master's nemesis, Lucan, the most powerful of the city's resurrectionists and governor of its trade in stolen bodies.'
'Dismissed by Poll, Gabriel is pulled into the sinister and mysterious underworld of Georgian London - and must make a journey that will change his life forever.'
James Bradley refuses to play it safe. He presents us with an unsympathetic protagonist, an emotional nihilist; villains who are only vaguely sinister (despite their misdemeanours); 'love stories' which wither into wilful loneliness; a disjointed novel of two halves, each dry and brittle despite the glittering promise of its premise. For these 'faults', the book has received many negative reviews; for failing to deliver what was expected, James Bradley has been widely criticised.
The author should be applauded for not giving the public what they want & expect. All too often, writers use Nineteenth-century London (the 'sinister' fog, the romanticised poverty, the sleazy, slumming gentlemen, the kind-hearted prostitutes etc) as a ready-made atmospheric backdrop in lieu of creating their own gripping atmosphere, through the 'strength' of their writing. In a similar fashion, romance writers often cast their love stories against the backdrop of war, an irresistible metaphor for the fragility, turbulence and uncertainty of love.
Bradley refuses to play this cheap game, and instead gently encourages his readers to look inside themselves. Casual readers, hoping for the stereotypical, hackneyed trappings of Georgian/Victorian London - the overuse of fog akin to the 'dry ice' surrounding our pop stars, the stock characters with ludicrous, Dickensian names - come away disappointed, feeling cheated somehow. These are not the readers James Bradley seeks; the loss is theirs...
Perhaps these readers anticipated a 'romp', or a gruelling and gruesome tale of body-snatchers bound for hell in a hansom cab. And although there are villains to be met, up to their elbows in blood and grime, Bradley does not dress them up as the incarnation of Lucifer - there is no-one to rival, say, The Flesh and the Fiends' portrayal of the notorious resurrectionists Burke and Hare. Each of the ne'er-do-wells have their vulnerabilities and none are truly 'larger than life'; even Lucan's demise is merely a reflection of Gabriel's descent into himself. Grand Guignol-style horror The Resurrectionist is not, despite its cast, subject matter and setting.
There is a heart of darkness at the centre of The Resurrectionist, or rather, a hollow heart. Gabriel Swift is a natural loner, and even in his love affairs one never feels that he will sacrifice or compromise all to secure the lasting affection of his women. This is not merely indicative of his resignation to a lonely fate; Swift actually dislikes the company of others - the reader senses this even when he is in his cups, surrounded by friends and associates.
No doubt I've made this novel sound very unappealing but, in spite of all the above 'faults', The Resurrectionist is a wonderful book, for those with eyes to see. Or rather, for those with the patience and temperament suited to deeper things than mere 'entertainment'. For Gabriel Swift tells his life story in delicate, stark and beautiful words; also, the tale is not without its philosophy, dispensed sparingly but nonetheless unforgettably throughout:
It is a strange thing, tenderness, how near to pain it is, as if it were itself a sort of loss, a longing for a closeness we can never know.
They are such thin things, these lives of ours; cheap got, cheap lost, mere flickers against the ever dark, brief shadows on a wall. This life no more substantial than breath, a light which fills the chambers of our bodies, and is gone...
This idea of light and its counterpoint darkness, so often remarked upon in the story, reminded me at once of the Eighteenth-century artist Joseph Wright's chiaroscuro paintings. Likewise, Gabriel's penchant for sketching birds (and his habit of contrasting and comparing human life to that of birds) put me in mind of Wright's famous An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump:
Coincidentally (or not, as the case may be), this masterpiece contains virtually every human aspect
Bradley has noted in The Resurrectionist: science, cruelty in the name of science, despair, enlightenment, curiosity, intellectual rumination, affection. All human life is here, hidden by darkness, brought into light...another of the novel's themes - death and rebirth - can be viewed through the prism of our minds; we reflect on the meaning of our existence.
Another painting, The Hermit Studying Anatomy, is of course more atuned to the subject matter of The Resurrectionist, but that is just its surface meaning.
Look closer, and we see that scientific enquiry is just folly, for Man is essentially unknowable; the hermit (and surely Gabriel Swift is a hermit, by inclination and as a result of circumstance) idly toys with those bare, lifeless bones, searching for the Man within. It seems that philosophical enquiry is the best we can hope for. I wonder if James Bradley was influenced by Joseph Wright's work? I wonder if it's just a coincidence that Bradley named his protagonist Swift, the maiden name of Wright's wife Ann...
There must be a place in our literature, on our bookshelves, for luminous works such as The Resurrectionist. Disregard the negative reviews; look within the novel and perhaps you will find yourself. But, regardless of the outcome, the enquiry itself will be your reward.

--Steve Jensen

Shock Totem Magazine #1
Review by Nickolas Cook

I’m here to tell you: small press magazine publishing is a bitch. You’ve got the high costs of printing the magazine, paying the writers- fiction or otherwise- and then there’s the problems of distribution, overhead, storage, ad sales, subscription drives…shew!! Seriously, you’d have to be a little crazy, or a whole lot rich, to make a go of it in this tight economy.
Or you can do what Publisher/Editor K. Allen Wood has done for his debut issue of the bi-annual Shock Totem: offer 100 pages of great fiction, great artwork, insightful interviews and reviews for the discerning horror fan at the low cost of $5.99 (US) in the hopes that it will make a splash in a less than professionally run magazine market.
The high gloss trade paperback digest size and style of the first issue is impressive as hell and that artwork, by Robert Høyem, is stand at attention beautiful.
It’s easy to see there was a lot of hard work and patience put into in this debut. The stories are pro level writing (Don D’Ammassa, Kurt Newman, David Niall Wilson to name a few), the reviews sharp and honest, and interviews with likes of John Skipp and Alan Robert deeper than the usual offerings we see year in and out.
If these guys can keep up the professional level of this issue, then I foresee Shock Totem becoming the next Cemetery Dance- a magazine that readers wait for with baited breath and eager writers salivate to get their stuff into.
Keep up the fine work, guys. You give us horror fans hope for the small press magazine markets.

Sales and subscriptions for Shock Totem can be found here

Submission guidelines can be found here

--Nickolas Cook

(Scribner- 2006)
By Stephen King
Review by Nickolas Cook

Well, I’ve got to admit I never saw a cyberpunk horror novel coming from the King of Horror, but that’s exactly what we have in ‘Cell’. But relax: you won’t have to wade through tons of science lectures and inconceivable concepts to get into the novel. After all, this is Stephen King we’re talking about here, right? He knows better than any other American fiction writer how to make his writing as broadly accessible as possible. He is writing for the masses. Not Star Trek fans.
In ‘Cell’ you’ll find nods to both Richard Matheson’s ‘I Am Legend’ and George Romero’s zombie apocalypse world, but it becomes more an apocalypse as filtered through the likes of J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg as the new flesh comes to the fore, a flesh ruled by an ultimately unexplained hive collective mentality.
This is an ‘end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it’ scenario that is nowhere near as expansive or complex as King’s classic ‘The Stand’-- much to the disappointment of many of his fans, by the way. To some, this is going to seem like cheat of a read, because it’s pretty narrow in its coverage of the end of the world. I won’t try to speak for King, but it’s obvious to me as a reader he’s got some serious issues with the modern world and wants us to know his general discomfort and disappointment with the seeming fall of mankind at the feet of the ever growing technogod/religion of hot wires and circuits- the school of more, faster, and now is better. One gets the sense that King sort of feels we get what we deserve in ‘Cell’.
It’s peopled with the typical cast of King characters: graphic artist Clayton Riddell, elderly Tom McCourt, and fifteen year old hope for the future Alice Maxwell. They band together to find a way out of town after what is labeled ‘The Pulse’ has turned anyone with a cell phone into a raving maniac killer. Along the way they meet other survivors and discover the ‘zombies’ or ‘phoners’ are beginning to flock like animals to certain places at certain times, as if they’re being guided by some outside force.
Well, I won’t give away much more of the story because if you haven’t read it anything beyond this is going to spoil the experience.
I will add a few other observations about ‘Cell’, however.
The first being that, to me, it seems King’s concept of how people would naturally turn to one another in such an extreme scenario has changed. Drastically. This ain’t Stu Redman and Frannie Walsh we’re talking here, folks. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe ‘Cell’ is more realistic than ‘The Stand’ in that way. It’s a hell of a depressing thought, though.
Another thing: ‘Cell’ comes to take on another meaning as the survivors form their own cells and begin to find ways to eradicate the ‘phoners’. Turning the terrorists angle on its head? Again, King owes a debt to Matheson for this concept first used in ‘I Am Legend’.
And one last observation: ‘Cell’ ultimately feels like an incomplete story. There is no true denouement, no true ending, in fact. And, again, maybe this is because King’s sense of modern man is that this is probably how it would really turn out applies here as well.

--Nickolas Cook

Movie vs. Book : The Thing From Another World / “Who Goes There?”

I’ll admit I was a bit afraid of doing another movie vs. book review after the Mephisto Waltz debacle. Luckily, this time Bill picked “Who Goes There?” as the book. That gave me two movies to pick from, one being The Thing, the John Carpenter classic. But let’s face it—more people reading this have seen it than have not. So I went for the other version.
The Thing From Another World was done three decades before the Carpenter version, in 1951. Depending on who you believe, the movie was either directed by Christian Nyby, as credited, or by Howard Hawks, the producer. To me, it didn’t matter who directed it. Whoever it was, they did a pretty good job.
A bunch of Army guys are sent to the North Pole because some strange aircraft crash landed, and they need to investigate. Once there, they find it wasn’t the Russian airplane they originally thought, but a flying saucer. And, lo and behold, they find a Martian frozen in a block of ice. They bring the Martian back to base, with express orders to keep it frozen.
And wouldn’t you know it, but some guy accidentally defrosts the spaceman.
This is not a friendly, Close Encounters alien. No, he is made from plant material and therefore thinks like a plant—with no emotion. His mission is to absorb as many living Earth creatures as possible, to grow and take over the world. Combine that with a few side plots of sexual tension between a Captain and his secretary, a mad scientist, and we have our movie.
It being made in 1951, that alone is going to cause some drawbacks. The effects are not nearly what they were by the time Carpenter’s version hit the screen, let alone what we have today. Also, when dealing with the romance, there’s only so steamy it can get. What was a pleasant surprise was how deftly they overcame these obstacles.
Yes, the spaceman was a bit corny-looking. But he was hardly on screen. Instead, you had the threat of him. They built the suspense so much that it did frighten you once he busted through the door.
The same pacing that built the suspense also helped to carry the rest of the movie. While today the dialogue might be looked at as affected or stylized, it worked in this flick. The conversations were rapid-fire back-and-forths, keeping the scenes moving and the viewer hooked. There were no empty spaces, no dead air where we might lose interest.
That’s not to say they overused the dialogue. There were plenty of times that the sound effects, the very capable music, or even a well-placed, well-acted silent stare were enough to help build the tension.
And, especially considering the era in which it was made, the movie was pretty gutsy. There wasn’t a whole lot of violence or gore, but more than audiences were used to in the time. The flirtation between our two lovebirds crossed a few lines past the innocent batted eyelashes of Production Code Hollywood. Don’t misunderstand me—this movie was hardly splatterpunk nor was it soft core porn. It had enough of the sex and violence to add layers to the story, but not so much that it took over.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by The Thing From Another World. The DVD case made it look like another cheap mid century monster flick. Instead, I got a damn fine movie watching experience. Highly recommended.

--Jenny Orosel

“Who Goes There?” isn’t even a book. It’s a novella. And it’s almost brilliant.
It was originally published in 1938 by John W. Campbell, Jr. for Astounding, while he was the magazine’s editor. (He published it under his pseudonym.) In it, the reader finds all of the traits which made Campbell such a major figure within science fiction.
Campbell is widely regarded as the reason for the transition between traditional space opera and escapist space fantasy and the contemporary “hard” and “soft” science fiction. He insisted that sf stories include actual plausible scientific elements. “Who Goes There?” is no exception, including such details as having the alien ship combust due to magnesium construction materials and the meteorological implausibility of high-speed winds in the Antarctic.. He also drew criticism from some when in later years his insistence on scientific speculation led him to promote things which were eventually discredited, such as psi powers. That is also foreshadowed in the story, where one character is explained as having a stronger reaction to the alien due to being more psychically sensitive.
Amidst the science (and pseudo-science) one finds another trait of Campbell: the ability to recognize a remarkable story. The reader watches as characters debate their situation and try to thwart the alien assault. The tension grows as characters who were recently hosting the reader’s point of view are revealed to have been turned. All of it leads to a satisfying climax.
(The oddest aspect of the story in the movies is the influence of special effects. In the original film version, reviewed above, the creature is a plant-based alien, rigid in form. In the Carpenter version, the creature is malleable, as per the original story, but far more liquid than in the prose form. The story creatures shift slowly, which allows a group of humans to literally fall upon one and hack it to pieces, rendering it easily destroyed. With the varying abilities of the aliens and the different quantities of station members, the three versions all work well within their established boundaries.)
The greatest drawback of the story is a function of the time. Magazines published short novels as serials, and novellas as single-issue stories. Campbell, knowing what he intended to put into the various issues of Astounding, had to know he would have space for a novella but not a short novel. Also, given his editing duties, he likely didn’t have much time available for writing outside of his monthly editorials.
The result is a classic novella which could easily have been a legendary novel. Not enough time is given to developing the characters for the reader to feel a strong connection to them, which would have combined ideally with the paranoia implicit in the story. It’s a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, but it feels hurried and oddly over-edited.

Four stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Terror Bytes

Our first excerpt comes from author William Ollie. It's from his upcoming December 2009 release from Cargo Cult Press of THE MOUNTAIN

She ran giggling through the woods, happy to have gotten away. But it wasn’t much of a trick, not really. She’d planned it as soon as she landed in a heap on the bowls and silverware that had been swept off the table when Mark slung her across it. She was just sorry that other bitch hadn’t been behind her, the one who had stuck her with the fork and threatened to feed her eyeball to her. It didn’t matter though, not now it didn’t. None of them were going to make it off the mountain tonight. Not with what she was about to do.
There were several entrances to the caves, all of them leading to a series of dark passageways, many of which ended down in the pit. And Dolly knew every nook and cranny of each and every one of them. She didn’t need light to find her way around—she’d been in and out of those long and winding tunnels as far back as she could remember, visiting Granny, hiding in the shadows while Willem and Lewis and Arley dragged somebody kicking and screaming into the caves. Watching what they did to some of those outsiders made her glad she wasn’t one. She sure would have hated to end up like that, the way Mark and Eddie and that mean bitch Tina was going to end up: down in the dark with the Shadows ripping them to shreds. So maybe it was a good thing she had stabbed the other girl; that way she wouldn’t have to find herself down there with the shadow-people. Dolly was sure she wouldn’t have wanted that to happen. Dolly wouldn’t have wanted it to happen to her.
She stopped and turned and looked up the footpath. The fog was so thick she couldn’t see very far, so she just stood quietly, listening. She had expected them to chase after her, especially after she stabbed that girl, but they must not have because she would’ve heard them by now—talking or shouting, crashing through the underbrush or… something. But no one was following her, she was sure of it.
She grabbed the thin trunk of a tree, pulling herself up the hill as she leaned forward. Legs pumping and feet digging into the dirt, she kept going, until finally she had stopped again, fifteen yards or so above the footpath.
The fog was thick, but it didn’t stop her from locating the entrance she’d been searching for. She’d wanted them to chase her, not because she thought they could catch up to her—huh uh. No way. She knew they couldn’t do that. She wanted to run them around in circles and leave them wondering where the heck she had gotten off to. Which would’ve been up here, giggling and sliding into a hole much too narrow for a grownup to fit into. And she would have called out to them, too, just so they could see her scramble away, and then claw and scratch their way up after her, only to find her laughing at them on the other side of an entrance they could only reach an arm through.
And God help them if they did that.
Dolly couldn’t help giggling to herself as she dropped into the hole, her feet and hands finding every jutting rock as if they were a ladder she herself had built. She scaled the wall, down to the floor, and then took off along the long, dark corridor. Anyone else would have kept going until the tunnel dead ended into a solid wall of rock. But not Dolly—she knew better. A little ways down, she ran her left hand along the rough-hewn wall. When the wall dropped away she turned into the opening. She quickly found the wall lining this tunnel, and then skipped along until it too dropped away. Then she was standing in the opening, staring up at a faint yellow glow that she knew would lead her up to the pit.
At the top of the tunnel, she saw Lewis leaning over a girl with blood all over her pants, stroking a hand across her long blonde hair. He didn’t see Dolly. He didn’t hear her either, because Granny and the Others were calling up to him. But that was okay with Dolly. She wasn’t here to see him anyway. She took off to her left, past arms and legs and hunks of meat, and two heads on a rock that seemed to be watching her run by them… down into another tunnel that led to Granny and the rest of her kin.
Halfway down the corridor, a big metal key hung by a leather bootlace on a hook that was embedded into the wall. Anybody else would’ve run right by it. But not Dolly. Dolly knew where everything was down here. She ran by the hook and grabbed the key, and kept on running until she reached the rusty old gate that kept Granny and the Others from leaving the pit. Arley and Lewis said they weren’t allowed to leave it. That’s what Willem said, too. But Elbert didn’t like keeping them down here—he’d told her that himself. And this was an emergency, wasn’t it? Why sure it was—a bunch of outsiders were fixing to hightail it to town to make trouble for the rest of them.
Not if Dolly could help it, they weren’t.
And Dolly could help it.
She fit the key into the lock that held the gate in place, turned the key and the lock popped open. She could still hear the voices calling out from the pit, echoing through the cave behind her as she lifted the lock away and dropped it to the ground. The rusty hinges squalled when she tugged on the gate. When it finally opened, she stepped further into the darkness, and yelled, “GRANNY! COME QUICK!”
In the darkness in front of her, someone said, “The gate’s open.”
Further away, someone else called out, “The gate’s open!”
From deep within the pit, somebody screamed, “THE GATE’S OPEN!”
Dolly took a backward step. She could hear them coming, screaming and shouting and calling out, “THE GATE’S OPEN! THE GATE’S OPEN!”
A webbed hand that looked more like a dolphin’s flipper touched her arm. It was soft and clammy and slippery-wet. A face appeared in the darkness, attached to a body that was slithering through the dirt like a snake. A second figure came crab-walking across the floor behind it. Seconds later, she was swept up in a mass of deformity, a swirling sea of human depravity that carried her away from the gate and up toward the flickering yellow glow at the apex of the tunnel.

From the backcover:

To Eddie Marshall, the idea seemed ridiculous: hitchhike to the mountains of North Carolina to help his lifelong pal haul a truck load of Christmas trees out to Louisiana.
But Mark Rockley had a way of making the ridiculous seem perfectly reasonable. And what did Eddie have to lose anyway? At least up here he could take his mind off crooked managers and bickering band-mates, and the conniving woman he’d left behind.
Had he known what happened to Harold and Maggie on the mountain this morning, he would never have agreed to go up there tonight. Even if there was a patch of trees free for the taking.
If Mark and Eddie had known what waited in the shadow of Rickert’s Peak, they would have stayed far, far away from that place.
Tonight, reason turns to madness, madness gives way to terror.
And bad things happen on… The Mountain.

Our next excerpt comes This is from my own 2007 release BALEFUL EYE from the fine folks over at Publishing.

Midday, and Miles Bale sat in a crowded downtown café so nondescript he wondered if the staff had a hard time remembering how to find the place each day. Outside, the traffic was a heavy line of cars crawling slowly past the reflective windows.
He looked glumly away from the street, and across the table Bale at ‘the kid’. A pot of coffee smoked between them, besides that only two stained and chipped cups sat on the black-checkered table.
Looking at the greasy kid made Bale feel old. He knew he looked his years and then some, with doughy, pale features, as unmemorable as a wisp of smoke in the gathering of a crowd. The kind of face that blended into the background. Anyone who saw Bale on the street never recognized him again a few minutes later when he was waiting in a doorway; they never remembered him. It was the kind of thing that was an asset for Bale’s job.
It was good not to be noticed when you killed people for a living.
The only thing that anyone who got close enough to him could remember about Miles Bale was his shark’s stare. Dead and merciless eyes. Twin pools of dark intent that watched every movement around him.
Right now, he was watching the kid as the younger man lifted his cup and dribbled some of the coffee in his mouth between spitting his words across the table.
The kid’s real name was Trip (and, oh, how Bale had rolled his eyes when he heard that silly bit of news), and he was Bale’s antithesis in every way. Loud and obnoxious; his eyes darted like greedy mice at every little movement. He wore his greasy black hair slicked back, and a golden skull and crossbones earring dangled from his left lobe. The punk also sported a ridiculous looking gold-capped front tooth that made him look like he had a stain every time he smiled. And Bale got plenty chances to see Trip’s nasty knowing smile, with his dirty looking gold tooth, because the kid did it a lot. Usually at his own stupid comments. The punk was afflicted with a shit-disease: he thought he was one hell of a conversational hoot.
He wasn’t.
Ten minutes after meeting Trip, Bale was ready to kick his ass and hand it back to him on a gold-capped platter.
“I hate the black motherfuckers,” Trip said. His voice was too loud, and Bale could see a few of the restaurant’s patrons give them fuming stares. That was a bad thing in their line of work; the less they were remembered, the better for everyone concerned.
After his pronouncement, this sneering asshole set his cup down so hard that his coffee slopped all over the tabletop. “You know I once saw one of the sons of bitches rip off an old woman, man. A little gray-haired goddamn old lady, man! What kind of bastard rips off a little old lady?”
Bale ground his teeth. Loud or not, he didn’t care for this kind of talk.
“Listen, Trip,” he leaned in to speak quietly, “just cause one asshole does something shitty, doesn’t mean everyone that’s black is bad. That’s a queer bit of generalizing.”
“Fuck that noise,” Trip burst, shaking his head, and angrily jabbing his finger towards Bale to make his point. “A goddamn nigger, is a nigger, is a nigger, man. They’re fucking assholes because they’re black. Wouldn’t see no white man ripping off a little old woman for her goddam pension check.”
Bale let his eyes flick down at Trip’s pointing finger, just gazed mildly at it until Trip finally lowered it. He would put up with a lot for a quick few thousand; but by God he wasn’t going to have some piss-ant sticking his finger in his face. It was enough to have to sit here and listen to this racist little shit go on and on. But he figured some people didn’t know better. “Being black has nothing to do with it,” Bale explained in a mild tone. “It’s economic environment that makes someone steal. Whites and Latinos, Italians and Jews, can all be assholes just as easily. You take away any hope a man has of ever getting ahead in life and he’ll start taking what he needs, instead of earning it. That’s just a common societal fact.”
Trip sneered and poured himself more coffee, sloshing yet more on the soiled table. Guy’s a goddamn slob, Bale thought in disgust. Should be wearing a bib to drink a cup of simple goddam coffee. If he hadn’t been hired on to work with this waste of sperm, he’d just as soon put a bullet in his head for the sake of humanity. Something this abrasive should be scrubbing dishes or filing nails.
“Mex’cans ain’t nothing but light skin niggers anyway,” Trip helpfully classified for Bale. “Never met a one that I could trust as far as I could throw him. Last job I was on—”
“And how many jobs have you been on,” Bale interrupted. Since the subject had come up he figured he should know. The guy couldn’t have been any older than twenty-four or -five. He sure couldn’t have been on too many jobs at that age. Most guys Bale had known usually didn’t make it to what you’d call ‘retirement age’. They had a way of pissing off someone, sooner or later, and usually got ‘hit’ themselves. But a good gunman didn’t start hitting his stride until he hit his mid-thirties. Bale was willing to bet this pup was all bark and no bite. Probably knew someone that knew someone that needed a guy with a gun and a killer’s willingness to shoot whoever they were told to.
The abrupt question stopped Trip in mid-sentence and his beady green eyes narrowed in anger; his mouth turned down to a thin slit. Then there was that finger in Bale’s face again. “You trying to say something here, man? You think I can’t handle this shit?”
Bale placidly pushed the finger away. “No. I just wondered how many you’ve done. That’s all. But since you fucking mention it, Trip, I am beginning to wonder if maybe I got stuck with you to sort of baby-sit.”
Trip started to jab his finger at Bale again, but seemed to think better of it because he lowered his hand. But, clearly, Bale had pushed the kid. Now he had to show his balls or shut his mouth.
They both knew it.
Bale waited to see what Trip would do.
The seething young man sat back in the red sparkly vinyl booth and glared at Bale like a small dog who wasn’t sure if he wanted to fight or not, his cheeks hot red blooms. Bale could see his hands shook as he put them flat on the table in front of him.
“This your second, or third, one?” Bale asked with a glib smile.
Trip tried to stare the older man down, but Bale returned the glare, steady and ice cold. His eyes said what he would do to anyone who pushed too hard, too fast. Bale waited. He could see a tattoo beat pulsing at the kid’s neck. The restaurant full of people seemed to fade away around them, their locked eyes the only two things left in the universe. Neither blinked; the air coagulated with the invisible emotion between them.
Finally Bale chuckled. “Kid, you are one silly bastard, ain’t you? Here you are ready to get yourself shot over a simple question. I’m asking a question any professional should ask.”
“You best stop calling me kid right now, man.” Trip’s warning quavered unsteadily. “I was hired on and that should be good enough for you. They don’t send assholes to do something like this job. You know that.”
Bale knew that was the way things had once been. But things had changed a lot in his line of work. No one worried about quality anymore. Just the quick, easy hit. No skill, no art, just a bullet through the eye, or an ice pick in the temple if the guy was feeling particularly innovative. Sometimes, if a strong message was intended, there was the chainsaw or a rusty hacksaw. Just depended.
He gave Trip a shrug. “We’ll see,” he said, waiting until he saw the kid stand down. Slowly he poured more coffee in his own cup, took a lackadaisical sip, and set the cup back down again. He might as well get some things straight before the job. Better to say what needed saying. You never knew when you might not get the chance again.
“I don’t care for racists, Trip,” he said. “There’s something imbecilic about someone who dislikes a man because of the color of his skin. I’ve known plenty of black men who’d make ten of you. And, yes, a few fucking Mexicans, too. What counts in the world, kid, is how a man conducts himself. What he adds to the world. Being poor or rich is just as much a matter of chance and genetics as someone’s skin color. I don’t hold with that kind of shit talk. And I’ll thank you to keep your fucking mouth shut about your fucking politics and do the job.”
Trip’s lips trembled into a nasty sneer, some bravado words ready to leap out and piss Bale off even more. Bale felt his anger rise like a striking snake. Without seeming to move, he launched over the tabletop and had Trip’s shirt bunched tight in his fist. Trip blinked in surprise at the speed with which he’d been grabbed.
Close to his face now, Bale’s eyes bored into the younger man’s stunned visage. “Piss me off enough and I’ll make sure this is your last job,” Bale said, low and even, without emotion. He gave Trip a hard shove against the booth. A tuft of heavily oiled black hair fell over one of the young man’s eyes, giving him a ridiculous waif quality. Bale gazed ice at him and settled back in his seat. His anger, still a throbbing meat hook in his gut; made his hands tingle with barely controlled violence.
So that he had something to keep them from wrapping around the little asshole’s neck, he picked up his cup and drank some more coffee. The hot liquid scorched his inner cheeks. He could sense people staring at them, and now he felt like an asshole because he had done exactly what he didn’t like the kid doing. He had drawn attention to them, had slipped from his anonymity, into the limelight, because he had let his anger get the best of him.
After a few tense seconds, Trip’s frightened stare dropped to the tabletop. The ‘test and flex’ was done. He was the little dog and Bale was the big one. That was the way it had to be on every job. Couldn’t have too many chiefs and no goddamn Indians. That’s how the wrong motherfuckers got shot.
Trip tried to recover, held his hands up in mock surrender; his voice trembled like a tremolo violin. “Hey, man, chill…no reason to get pissed. You know? Hey, I ain’t got nothing against you, Bale. Right? Let’s just forget about it. Okay?”
Bale nodded. “Yeah.”
Silence quivered between them.
Bale glanced at his watch. It was time.
“Let’s go,” he said. “It’s time to do the job.”
The kid followed behind Bale as he paid the bill, and left a small, unmemorable tip, and exited the restaurant under the scrutiny of curious eyes.

Outside the day was warm and blue, the kind of day that vaguely reminded Bale of his days in Florida. A beach kind of sky. Without the water or screaming kids. But the stinking streets dispelled the precarious illusion of peaceful tropical days ahead. The collective stench of asphalt and trash, the constant caterwaul of noisy cabs and the ever-present jackhammer sounds of construction killed the sensation quickly.
One day he was going to get out of the city for good, go someplace where the beer was always cold, and the women were mostly wanton and liked older men.
Yeah, he thought glumly, wincing at the smell of garbage coming off Fifth, you’ve been telling yourself that for how many years now?
Trip kept to his right, a few inches behind him. He could tell the kid was still chagrined. Which was fine by him. Somebody like this drip needed an eye opener every once and awhile, a kind of reminder that the world wasn’t one philosophy or religion. He could share some hairy stories with Trip, but why bother? He was too young yet to get the meaning of a lot of things.
Bale, to his utter astonishment, had found in the last few years of his life that there was a subtlety that came with age. Past his forties, and a lot of shit that he thought was important had lost meaning and weight, and a lot of prosaic things had gained whole new ballast in his life. Being in your twenties meant that it was okay to be an erroneous prick and never having to be sorry for any of it. It wasn’t until long after that, when the memories of the selfish things you’d done to others to get ahead, it all came screaming up out of the void of memory, with flash-card poignancy.
During their walk Bale carefully checked the street ahead with the eye of a man who had been stupid before. It was a stolid habit, cultivated after being busted once, years ago. He’d never forgotten the feeling of nightmare surprise as the cuffs locked around his wrists, implacable and solid. Later in his cell, after forty-eight hours of tight-lipped silence in a hot small room, crowded with yelling, sweating cops, Bale’s lawyer had told him that the police had been waiting for him outside that hotel for hours. His overconfidence that nothing and nobody could touch him had cost him. Sitting in his grimly claustrophobic cell, listening to the real deal from the fat lawyer who smelled like fish, sour cream and Aqua-Velva made him realize how inexpertly he had been coasting along. When he lay down that night, with the stink of fear sweat inundating the gray walls, and the cloying stench of institutional antiseptic clogging his senses, he resolved never to live so easily again. He promised himself he would never do another stretch in a cell.
Checking the streets was just one of the habits he’d adopted for survival. He always kept a fully loaded piece on him at all times. Tucked in the waistband of his pants, and covered by the front of his loose crimson dress shirt, he wore a custom made Ruger Super Hawk, dull black, 16 shot, with muzzle repression (so that if he had to shoot at night, there would be no tell-tale flash to give him away).
He didn’t know what the kid had, but it was probably something obtrusive and flashy. A Taurus, or a gaudy Smith and Wesson model, and most likely in a shoulder holster with enough leather to coat a Caddy’s front seat.
Green, man. Granny-Smith green.
Next to him, the kid fumed silently against Bale’s slow pace. One glance and he could see his cheeks were rosy; he chewed nervously at his bottom lip. Another sign that the asshole was as green as a Granny-Smith.
Fuck you, kid, he thought sullenly. Wait until you get a few scars and breaks to make every day a test in endurance. He figured, with his attitude, Trip would probably never have to worry about getting that far along.
They had a six-block walk to the warehouse from the restaurant. Bale had parked his car there a few hours ago, long enough that it would blend in to the neighborhood if anyone saw it. The warehouse was in one of those tucked away places that every major cities have, where there was no real traffic to speak of, and hardly anyone to worry about seeing them. Supposedly pretty much empty at this time of day, it was the kind of place that did a lot of business at night.
Bale stopped at the high wire fence surrounding the property, but the gate had been left opened, just as promised. At forty-eight, Bale didn’t climb fences any longer. It was just too much of a hassle. Nowadays he’d shoot the lock off before he’d climb a fence.
No one was in sight as they crossed the cracked asphalt lot and made their way out of the sun and inside the dark of the cavernous building. Inside, the overhead lights had been dimmed so the place was dark. Walking through the vast dimness of the near empty building felt like strolling inside of a whale carcass.
Along the walls there sat a few haphazardly stacked boxes, but the place was far from full. Which told Bale there had been a lot of business lately. Product was flying out the door. Mickey Bean had told him that much, and he’d been right again.
At the back of the warehouse, like unseen spirits, could be heard voices, coming from a lighted and enclosed office hunkered down in all the inkiness. As they moved forward silently, an occasional eruption of raucous laughter broke the vague monotonous tones.
Bale wasn’t much into porn, but he supposed it was one of the few businesses that any enterprising person could make a lot of money with very little investment- that and prostitution- and for pretty much the same reasons. A lot of men wanted to believe the Penthouse forum letters; that the next mind-blowing fuck was just around the corner, with no emotional attachment and no consequences. Nothing wrong with dreaming. People bought the stuff, left and right, so there had to be a reason why it sold so well. Not everyone was 700 Club material.
These guys were into stuff a lot kinkier than the average Adam and Eve catalogue crowd. They were into the hardcore shit. Kiddie shit, bondage shit, dwarves, grannies, gangbangs, animal shit, snuff films, cannibal shit, shit shit…you name it, these guys could get it for you. For a price. The more grotesque, the more illegal and higher the risk, the higher that price. That was why Mickey Bean had sent Bale (and his fucking dink of a rookie gun boy) on this job. Seems there was some serious dough being made here, and too little of it was being routed to the people it should. Mickey Bean had discovered that most of the profits from this little skin venture he’d helped to finance a few years ago were being funneled into bank accounts that didn’t belong to the moneymen. The accounts belonged to the assholes in the lighted office ahead. And if there was one unforgivable sin in the commandments of the underworld, taking money from the moneymen was the worst. A deadly sin.
But as if that weren’t bad enough, even if these shits hadn’t been stealing money from his bosses, they had become too unprofessional to hold the reigns on something so lucrative. They had been running it too loose and easy for too long and that was making some big men sweat. Mickey Bean figured one of these guys was going to run his mouth to the wrong set of ears and start shooting off about men who should never be mentioned by name. Guys so big even Bale didn’t know their real names. It was like that old Stones tune about the devil telling you about the bad shit he’s done, that kind of big.
Just before he and Trip were within eyesight of the office windows, he guided the kid back into the shadows of a stack of boxes. “Listen,” he said, pulling his piece from the waistband of his pants, “don’t pull the trigger until I say it’s okay. There’s some shit we need to know first, some names and numbers. They got to think they’re gonna make it out if they give us the information. You hearing what I’m saying to you, junior?”
Trip’s eyes and mouth narrowed into angry little lines again at the name ‘junior’. “Lay off the fucking pep-talk, okay? I know what I’m doing here.”
Bale let go of the kid’s arm and nodded amiably. He had his own ideas about what the kid did and didn’t know, but he’d let it go for now.
He checked the load of his gun, even though he already knew it was full, and held it down by his side.
The kid managed to pull his gun out of a shiny new black leather shoulder holster (oh, why were they always so goddamned predictable?) without blowing a hole in his dick: a long barreled bastard of a Colt .357 that looked like a cannon.
Bale rolled his eyes. Jesus, if the fucking shot didn’t do the trick, he could pistol-whip a fucking hippo with the thing.
Trip licked his lips and smiled nervously at Bale. The gun shook visibly in his hands.
Bale nodded him forward, let him take the lead this time; the long pistol swung at the kid’s side like a nightstick.
The light reflecting against the grimy office windows allowed the two killers to slip past the open doorway without being seen until they were inside. The three men were so taken with whatever they were watching on the television sitting in the middle of the cluttered and dirty desk it took them a few seconds to register someone had walked in on them. By then it was too late for any of them to do anything about the surprise invasion.
The office was cramped and stank like body odor, stale cigarette smoke, and the plastic wrappers of the numerous stacks of the VHS tapes and DVDs against the dusty walls. The animal grunts of someone being fucked roughly that Bale couldn’t see was too loud in the small office. The desk separated he and Trip from the three men, but he didn’t figure it for much a problem.
“Hello, fellas,” Bale said. He made sure the gun stayed at his side, visible, but not yet pointed in menace at anyone. That would come in a few minutes. Right now he needed them to think that this was just a social checkup call.
Out of the corner of his eye, Bale was glad to see that the kid wasn’t swinging the Colt around. He had it steady by his side, slightly tapping with it at his leg. He silently willed him to move about two feet to the right for perfect coverage of the area. Bale couldn’t see the hands of the little guy at the end of the desk, and that should be what the kid was looking for instead of him. A veteran would have known that.
When they realized that they had unexpected visitors in their midst, the three men stopped looking at the television. Bale had their full attention. No one laughed any longer. No one watched the television. There was a lot of uncertainty in their wide eyes. Nervous, but not scared enough yet.
That was good.
One had to work in degrees for a certain response. Sometimes blundering in with guns blazing was the wrong way of getting things done. If the kid didn’t fuck this up, the whole thing might just go down like a script.
No one spoke yet, so he took a casual seat on the edge of the desk, and placed the Hawk in his lap. He held it loose and easy, but he was willing to bet that it looked like a cannon to these assholes right now. “I guess you guys know whom I work for,” he said. It wasn’t a question. They only had one boss.
The big man in the middle of the trio was fat and sloppy looking, greasy beard and hair, gray interwoven like dust. He looked from the gun back to Bale, again and again. One of the others gave Trip and his gun a quick glance, but stayed silent. Fatso leaned back in his chair with a creak. It was obvious who the big man was here.
Bale continued: “The man whom I work for has a few questions he needs answered.” He eyed each of them, looking for any body language that someone might go for a piece. No one moved, except for Fatso; he acted as cool as a cucumber. “He sent me and my partner, here,” he nodded at Trip, “to ask the questions for him.”
Bale let the silent moment spread like an oil spill. The t.v. noise still reverberated in the room, that same chick moaning and groaning. “Why don’t we shut that shit off, so we can talk, huh?” He motioned slightly at the television with his gun.
Fat boy creaked forward in his chair, switched it off, and then leaned back in his chair again, as placid and easy as can be. He folded his hands across his ample belly and waited, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Nope, no problems here…
Now the office was dead quiet.
The other two men stayed close to the fat man, and Bale kept hoping that the kid would see the space and scoot his ass over just a little to the right. He still couldn’t see both hands of the guy on the left, and it made him nervous. Like an itch he couldn’t scratch.
Fatso spoke: “So what’s he need to know?”
“Business been good?” Bale asked, taking the conversation off in a different direction.
The man’s beady pig-eyes narrowed. He gave a non-committal shrug. “It’s okay, I guess.”
Bale nodded, tried a different tact: “Lots of empty space out there.” He motioned with his gun at the black, empty space beyond the office. Worried eyes followed the gun’s movement. “Looks like business has been good.”
He heard the kid give a frustrated sigh, unhappy with his pace again. Bale ignored him, kept that easy smile plastered on his doughy face. “See my boss needs to know where his cut is. He needs to know if you’re doing such a brisk trade, why he isn’t seeing no better money.”
And now it was out, the reason for the social call. Fatso looked plenty worried. Bale could see the multitudes of lies forming behind his skittering eyes, something that would sound believable enough so that he could stall and get the fuck out of town.
The big man chose one: “We’re waiting on some returns from our distributors, my man,” he said. The greasy smile didn’t fool Bale one bit. “The boss outta know by now that we can’t be running them down if they’re a little bit late here and there. It ain’t like this is the kind of business that’s got offices and secretaries and 401Ks and shit like that. Takes a little time sometimes to get the money into the right accounts.”
A tense silence stretched along until Bale snickered at the fat man and shook his head. He got off the desk and fixed him with a hard glare. “This is how it’s going to go down, you fat, greasy fuck,” he said. A flash of anger burned across the other man’s slit gaze; he wasn’t used to anyone talking to him that way. But Bale waved the gun around a little to remind him who was in charge.
“You got the money in some other accounts, under false names. My boss already knows that much. He wants the names and numbers.” He leaned on the desk and smiled. “You do that, fat boy, and you walk away from this shit with nothing but empty pockets. That sounds like a win-win deal to me.”
He took in all three of the pale shaking men, his eyes black and cold now, voice rimmed with some of that ice. “But if you get all Charlie Bronson on me, then you won’t have a chance to worry about empty fucking pockets. You got me?”
He nodded at Trip.
“And I’ll have junior here shoot your fucking toes off one by one until you feel like talking.”
He heard Trip mutter something nasty about his mother, but the kid held his position. Bale could feel the familiar violent electricity in the air; he sensed the empty space of the warehouse beyond him, empty has he felt inside, even now, when he was about to take a life.
Fatso tried to chuckle in response to Bale’s quiet laughter, even tried to slip on another of his greasy smiles, but it was obvious that he knew the moment of truth was coming. He knew how deep he was in the fryer, even if his two companions still had no idea how bad it was about to get for them. But he tried to scoot out of it anyway, even now when the truth stared at him from the hard, black eye of a gun: “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, my man,” he said. “There ain’t no such accounts.”
Bale gave a tired sigh and nodded. “Yeah, I figured you for this kind of shit. You’re the big dumb type.” He turned to Trip, nodded at the guy on the left. “This fat fuck needs a lesson. Shoot that asshole.”
He had to give junior points for promptness. Trip didn’t hesitate at all; he just pulled the trigger. The man’s head warped, kicked back half a foot, and his brains painted the glass and walls behind him in a gory display. The room blossomed with the stink of hot blood, ruined gray matter, burned gunpowder, and singed flesh. The dead man collapsed like a hunk of rotten fruit; his bowels released, adding a definite unwanted perfume to the air as well.
Bale looked calmly at the dead man, then turned his gaze on Fatso. His face had gone pale. Fatso surviving partner stumbled back from the desk, his hands flying before him like scatter-shot birds, his eyes two huge holes of terror and disbelief. He tried to spit his words out so fast that they tangled into an unintelligible gibberish. Bale kept his attention on Fatman. His porcine face twitched uncontrollably. Bits of brain and blood slid down his forehead and cheeks, some of it stuck in his lanky hair and beard. He had a hopeless look in his eyes that said he knew he was finished and that there was no way out of this mess. This was the final curtain call, my man.
Bale kept the Hawk pointed at his face, waiting for him to come to a decision. The money would disappear with this fat fuck if he were forced to blow him away. There were ways to make him talk, of course, but torture could sometimes do more harm than good in the long run. It might get this guy to say anything at all just to stop the pain; and they didn’t need false information, they needed the money. Besides, Mickey Bean hadn’t said shit about torture to get to the money, so Bale figured it hadn’t been a great deal of money to begin with. This here was more an example being set than an actual retrieval.
The grease ball on the right still gibbered away, trying to make his words come out right, and Bale begun to suspect that the boy might actually know something. He caught a couple of words, names and some numbers. And Fatso must have heard them too, because he tried to cold cock the other man with his ham fist. Terror blazed in his eyes. The smaller man ducked under Fat man’s fists, blubbering and spewing snot and spit every which way, his voice strident and almost impossible to make out under the savage attack of his boss. “Please…don’t…don’t…don’t fuckin’ kill me…It was Leroy did it all…Leroy…Leroy…fuckin did it…took the money man.”
Bale leaned forward and smacked Leroy in the side if his fat head. He stumbled back in pain, left off hitting his partner, blood already rising from a nasty hit to the temple; his eyes wobbled like marbles in his disconnected face.
“Where is it?” Bale asked the crying man, putting himself between him and Fatso.
“I’ll tell…you…just …don’t kill…me please,” the man pleaded.
And Bale could see it in the shaking eyes of the fat man: Leroy knew the man knew where the money was and how to get to it. The boss had fucked up, had shown some paperwork around that he shouldn’t have, maybe bragged about the stunt in detail how he was going to be a rich man and those Mafia fucks couldn’t do shit to stop him, cause they were too fucking stupid to know any better. It was all right there in his fallen face, blood running a thick stream from his face, the dead man’s smile on his lips.
Bale nodded. “Yeah, you fucked up, didn’t you?” he said.
And then he pulled the trigger.
The job was done.

From the backcover:
When cold blooded hit man Miles Bale discovers a forgotten artifact that calls forth the outcast angels known as The Grigori, he finds himself in the middle of an eons long secret war. Now he must survive long enough to destroy The Grigori before mankind faces the prophesied final darkness.

To purchase a copy of BALEFUL EYE, see the B and N
or Border's web sites

--Nickolas Cook