BRAIN WAVES AND DEATH by Joseph J. Patchen

Is an obscure novel and the only novel to be written by Willard Rich, a pseudonym for William Rich published by Charles Scribner’s Son’s in 1940. The book was published posthumously following the author’s suicide.

Interesting back story to start but I know what you are saying. 1940? 1940!? Why would I be interested in a book older than my grandparents?

002Well you should be and here is why:

True, at first read what ones finds is a fairly standard pat murder mystery. Like the vast majority of murder mysteries the novel itself is flawed and the plot predictable following the standard and almost by law required contrived set-up.

In sealed room, while under constant observation a research scientist is murdered during an electroencephalography experiment. Then to no one’s surprise a second ‘murder’ of a research scientist occurs under similar circumstances as puzzling as the first. But fear not, a “practical” Boston detective named Inspector Noonan scrupulously solves these murders.

Ho-hum; please just wait…

Remember Richards committed suicide shortly after sending the novel out to a publisher. Rich or Richards was not a professional writer, in fact he worked for Alfred Lee Loomis a financier and researcher himself in all things military. Richards worked for Loomis at a facility forty miles north of Manhattan known as “Tuxedo Park”.

Tuxedo Park was the forerunner to Loomis’ MIT Rad Lab and another place he directed known as the Manhattan Project.

Legend further states that Loomis rounded up all the copies of this potboiler he could lay his hands on and burned them.

He missed a few copies. The book is rare and an interesting read only because of its history. If you find it in a used book store or flea market – buy it because true book dealers will charge you anywhere between $800.00 to $1,500.00.

In my mind this makes this tome a very important book.

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Joseph J. Patchen stories have appeared in print, on the web and in podcasts. He is the literary critic for www.lurid-lit.com and has own website his own josephjpatchen.weebly.com. He write horror and humor and sometimes doesn’t see the difference between the two.

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AMBROSE BIERCE AND THE WEIRD TALE BEFORE THERE WAS A ‘WEIRD TALES’ by Joseph J. Patchen

For those who embrace horror and the weird tale, there is so much about Ambrose Bierce that is intriguing. For those who write horror and the weird tale, there is so much about Ambrose Bierce to emulate.

Bierce was not an academic: his degree in letters came from the school of life. Born to poverty in a log cabin in 1842, the tenth of thirteen children, he left home at age fifteen to become an aptly titled ‘printer’s devil’ for a small newspaper in his home state of Ohio.

In 1861 he volunteered on the side of the Union and later saw action in the Battle of Rich Mountain where Bierce was cited for bravery under fire, Shiloh, and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. His initial enlistment ended in 1865. A short time later he re-enlisted to ride west with patrols and wagon trains across the Great Plains, straight to San Francisco and the rest is history.

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves and soldiers, mostly fools. This is Bierce’s quote from his 1906 book “The Devil’s Dictionary”, originally titled as “The Cynic’s Wordbook”.

But this history is not false or foolish. Next to Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Chambers and H. P. Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce is arguably one of the most important originators of the horror/weird tale genre. His intellect, his training as a newspaper man and his experience as a soldier forged the ground breaking collection of short stories titled Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. Ironically, this game changing collection of horror and psychological terror could not find a publisher. Only through the financial backing of a friendly San Francisco merchant, was Bierce able to self-publish it in 1891. Initially, the book proved itself a commercial flop. But fueled by Bierce’s other writings and his contentious celebrity as a critic and essayist, it slowly began to take on a cult status. Later editions saw additions and revisions but the overall impact and importance of the core stories was indelible.

Within this volume is perhaps one of the most anthologized and greatest short stories ever written. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “I consider anybody a twerp who hasn’t read the greatest American short story, which is ‘Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ by Ambrose Bierce.”

Owl Creek Bridge’ along with ‘A Horseman In The Sky’, ‘Chickamauga’, ‘A Watcher By The Dead’ and fifteen other tales capture all of the dark imagery of Poe but infuses it into the normal day to day. Many of Bierce’s darkest tales occur in the sunshine to common people in everyday circumstances. War was still fresh in the minds of the reading public, with raids and skirmishes continuing into the territories providing the news of the day. Bierce encapsulated the horror that was everyday life at that time.

Many stodgy, literary snobs haven written him off as an unrealistic writer: a simple chronicler of the improbable. But Bierce created credibility for both the supernatural and ensuing psychological terror by placing the reader in a familiar context – in a very real, probable situation, germane to his life experiences – then enjoining the character’s thoughts and feelings to the reader. His version of horror never cedes to the melodramatic that was so popular in early 1900s writing. Bierce’s methodology was pure and precise: realism through trauma. Today, this is a staple of the genre, but it began with Bierce.

The essence of terror in an Ambrose Bierce story is realism and psychological horror.

Bierce, as a newspaper man, learned to deliver descriptions that were succinct and never overwhelmed the action. He allowed his reader the mental latitude to fill in the scene as a participant, a technique that became the hallmark of another news scribe, Earnest Hemingway.

Ambrose Bierce was also the first writer to understand the essence of and to perfect the short story for what it is: a frozen point in time. Again, his prime example is the perfectly constructed short story: ‘An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge’ where a mere few seconds are woven into a tale that spans time.

Bierce recognized that the foundation of a weird tale/horror story is the blurring of absolute time, where the real and possibly real meet, where the dimensions of past, present and future overlap and ‘at the sign post up ahead …’ You get the idea.

Can Such Things Be? Yes they can, when you consider that Bierce’s range touched novellas, poetry, fables, humor, criticism, journalism, editorials and even writing instruction. Ambrose Bierce is arguably one of the more important literary figures of any time period in any country.

For all these reasons I am grateful to the ‘Bitter’ master for not only shaping storytelling as an art form, but for making the language and themes of the weird tale understandable to us all by exposing that which lurks in the shadows of our hearts and minds.

Although he disappeared under mysterious circumstances over one hundred years ago, his legacy survives. If you are unaware of his work, ‘don’t be a twerp’: any collection of Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce should not only be required reading, but savored word by word.

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Joseph J. Patchen stories have appeared in print, on the web and in podcasts. He is the literary critic for www.lurid-lit.com and has own website his own josephjpatchen.weebly.com. He write horror and humor and sometimes doesn’t see the difference between the two.

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JUST A SWEET TRANSVESTITE FROM TRANSEXUAL, TRANSYLVANIA

 

So why don’t you stay for the night? Or maybe a bite?
I could show you my favourite obsession.
I’ve been making a man with blond hair and a tan
And he’s good for relieving my tension

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The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

The_Pervert's_Guide_to_Ideology_poster

 

A misguided title, but a must see for writers and other creative types, although weakly directed, the content is often profound—Slavoj Žižek seems to be reading off a teleprompter and has a thick accent, so keep the subtitles on.  Clearly this could not have been presented in any other medium as it refers to some classic movies as examples, using clips and voice overs to enhance to the presentation, but it’s really worth watching.

Netflix, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatos, IMDB

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FOUR DREADFUL LITTLE TALES by Bosley Gravel

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Four Dreadful Little Tales of Horror

Just in time for All Hollows’ Eve, Four Dreadful Little Tales of Horrors, in the style of Tales from the Crypt is a collection of full length short stories.

It includes:

Particular Tastes: Love, sex and death—just not in that order. Haunted by the ghost of her nagging mother, Sydney, a joyfully grim beauty school dropout, now a mortuary technician finds love in the most unlikely of places.

Recrudescence: Passive aggressive Joshua has a battle of wits with the ornery and dying Gramps. Who will have the last word, Gramps, Joshua or will it be the Grim Reaper?

Skin Deep: A Texas barfly meets a brutal end, only to return from the grave with another wronged soul and seek a ruthless revenge.

The Amalgam: A supernatural cult known as the Brood, lead by Holly, a bitter and disfigured pyrokinetic, looks to bring about the end of the world by summoning a secret horror

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SOUTHERN ROAD by N. L. Sakks

Don’t take the road south. Here, where the air is cooler and there are few, it is safe. Travel there and you begin to see what led to our demise.

Where it is warmer and the air is set with dust and the sound of a child screaming is rare indeed. For now, there are but few children. And the people do not heed each other. It matters not, that a man’s bread is his own, that he built up a structure and called it his home. For these are but things, and things can be taken away from a man.

There, keep away from others and want not for their company. For nothing ranks so highly for a man than the food in his belly. And when a man is put upon by hunger, he will claim no power over his actions, and he will lay you low, if only to ease the ache in his belly.

Travel south, and you will get lost in the many masses of people. Dried out and spent up and filthy as the dirt they lay in.

And the stink.

Travel to the South and you will know it, when it comes up into your nostrils like so many unwashed and unbred, all their essence wafting in, so that you feel like something has entered you and you want to get it out.

Stay here son. Stay here.”

This is what Hadar Gromsbely tells me each night, when he sees me sit by the fire and he sees I have the look in my eye. That hint of wanderlust. And he comes to sit by me, he lowers himself gently into the seat. He leans in close, and he begs of me to stay. He is old Hadar. His skin is folded over with the many wrinkles that show a man’s age. He is old, but he is sharp. His grey eyes latch onto you, and make you think the man can read your very thoughts.

When he tells me this I nod and I pat his hand and I tell him that I will do as he says. But I know that he knows that I am not really listening. And he looks troubled, and then ceases his speak. And we sit quietly for a while, until he leaves off.

And I stay here, after he has gone. After everyone has gone. I am the only one here without family. Growing up in the Northlands, where every child is cared for, I could have mistaken anyone for my father. But my own image tells the lie. Everyone here is black haired, and brown eyed, thin and tall. And I am thick of build, with pale blond hair and blue eyes, almost as light as Hadar’s. And I sit here, by the fire. I stare right into its center. Curls of red and blood orange bringing me the heat and I sit there after it has faded and the dark turns inky and until it nears the passage of morning light. And when I feel it, that urgency–that won’t let me close my eyes, makes me stare out, past the stone huts and dirt paths that are my home, past the hills on the pathway south–is faded from me and I only wish for sleep, only then can I leave.

The south calls for me. I have seen pictures of it in its glory. Here, all around me, everything seems flat and dull, all grey and brown. And in winter, the palest white.

And the cold does not leave me. It settles into me. Set in my bones. It saps me of all my energy. I do not want to be here. And I think on that land. At the end of Southern Road. Where it is green, and there is laughter, and there is fruit, just like in the pictures. Where we need not forage and stock up on dried meats, to last us through many winter months. And I know. I know in my bones, that Hadar Gromsbely must be wrong.

And one night, when we’ve all sat around the fire. I look over at Hadar. He does not look back at me. So that I know that he knows. And when all leave, I see them go and I hold back. This time, I do not stay though. I gather up my things and take up my pack and I head for Southern Road. It is time for me to see it for myself.

THE END

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nlN. L. Sakks is a PhD student in biology.  While her daily activities are firmly rooted in fact, she is especially partial to the world of fiction.  She previously won a short story contest for her piece titled Dreaming, and her work is set to appear in Bete Noire Magazine.

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GOING VIRAL (A POP CULTURE APOCALYPSE) by Bosley Gravel

Grab a copy of Infernal Ink Magazine (vol. 3 issue 1 for January 2014) which contains my short story “Going Viral (Pop Culture Apocalypse).

 “Going Viral (Pop Culture Apocalypse)” by Bosley Gravel: After the zombie plague, late-night television looks a little different, though just as cut-throat. Funny if you like your jokes gross.

… and who doesn’t?! Lots of other cool stuff in this issue.

20898595

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I’LL BE SURE TO HELP HIM by Kyle Newton

My son took his first steps today. With proper guidance, I’ll have him walking to his grave in no time.

THE END

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b6c42b_888fa8ede93444f0933caae8b47cc2d1.png_srz_p_263_272_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzGrowing up in New England, Kyle Newton has found a taste for writing about the fantastical, often merging it with key moments in history. However, recently he has gained a growing taste for horror and the macabre. His personal site is located here.

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WHEN GOOD BOOBIES GO BAD by Bosley Gravel

October is breast cancer awareness month, which always leaves me wondering who is not aware of this disease.  I suppose it’s about the raising the money, I suppose it’s about a reminder and revisiting the grief that many of us have experienced—including myself.  I was lucky enough to be a part-time caretaker for my mother as she slowly transitioned into death.  The final stages are not pretty.  Water weight gain was so drastic, I could barely help her walk across the room, then in few days she would drop 50 lbs. I could carry her without effort.

I remember I never saw her without her wig during chemotherapy, but once she offered to show me her mastectomy scar, being fascinated with all things macabre, I took her up on the offer.  Where I’d once nursed was nothing but a thickened white scar. Weird.

Juarez Mexico, Tulsa, Albuquerque, El Paso, Las Cruces … if I was needed, I was there.  There is  certainly a lot I don’t remember too.  It became a blur after awhile, the appointments, the planes and the multi-hour drives…I do it again, unquestionably.

I do remember after about three days of no sleep, and her in the depths of a morphine stupor, had me convinced (momentarily) that she’d dropped an ornamental tassel and it had somehow fallen through the mattress.  She had me crawling under the bed to try to find it for her.  Of course, I obliged; you do that sort of thing for a dying loved one.

I remember holding her hand as I lie next to her as she tried to sleep.  I remember she’d sometimes call me by my pen name; I don’t know if she was confused or teasing me.  She said, at one point, “I admire you for writing, no matter how bad it was you just kept on trying.” She was my biggest fan, my inspiration and my encouragement.

I remember her eyes in the last few minutes before she died, the saline drops did nothing, the lenses of her eyes were as dry as a cycada’s wings.  The final moments were in most ways, horrifyingly beautiful.  She wasn’t ready, but if all truths be told, the rest of us were.  She was suffering badly, the worst I’ve seen a human endure.  She wasn’t ready, but it’s what needed to hDSC01620appen.  There is something glorious about it, make no mistake.

Of course, there was Luke, my son, like the old cliche postulates, they were just two ships passing in the night.  Luke, who came into the world just about the time he was leaving.  They shared many a moment though, and I think that’s what’s important.  She got to see something of her legacy, untainted and perfect.  He also enjoyed wearing grandma’s wigs, or at least we enjoyed 1292385834120putting them on him.  He was a little skeptical.  Then, tragedy struck again a few of months later after my mother finally found her peace.

My youngest sister, who had struggled with with mental health issues most of her life, eight months pregnant, found her own final peace for her and her unborn.  She was as brilliant as any celestial star, beautiful, a semi-pro model, intelligent, and wonderful.  I see her face in my daughter’s, I see her unborn child in the endless New Mexico clouds, floating among all that is ephemeral and ever changing, and I feel them both in the chilly winds of October.  I’m not one for tracking dates, but I believe it was early November when we ran her through the kiln along with her unborn.  This is the last picture of her and myself together, celebrating something or other, I f10200714259603253orget what, something at a gay bar, I’m not even sure how she got in. She was doing well then, dealing with life as best she could. She was born  on the Fourth of July, and believed as a child, that the fireworks were just birthday, and later, she would perennially light, drop and then accidentally step on a sparkler.

What does she have to do with boobies? Regretfully, she ultimately could not deal with both her own mental health and my mother’s death simultaneously; we lost her and her unborn because she lost her anchor to the world, my lovely mother who fought hard, who did not want to die, and left us far too soon. She lost everything a good mother does for her children, we all did.

At the time I wrote the following reflections on the loss, the pain, the beauty of coming together to watch over her, to provide and to love:

Wandering the Elysian Fields

The touch of a loved one’s hand can be more powerful than the most potent morphine.

1454471926171Despite disease, old age, and debilitation a woman can be beautiful.

Loyalty and love can’t fix everything, but that should never stop you from trying.

There is nothing disrespectful about laughter, loud children and humor to the dying, these are the things they live for.

Human sentience and the will to live is the most powerful and mysterious thing in all the vast universe.

The little girl in the picture is my daughter hugging her grandma’s urn.  This is what we should be aware of when we talk about breast cancer awareness.  Loss, in a word, grief in another, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to toss a few bones towards research.  Science is cool and they need money.  So give carefully, give generously, and give for the right reasons, and as the article says, #ThinkBeforeYouPink.

As author of fiction, I processed these horrors through my stories.  My short story Hunger: A Prayer can be read on this site for free. It can be purchased on Amazon for a nominal fee (proceeds will be donated accordingly).  My story I Am Mercy also deals with my mother’s death, and the inevitable day the reaper will come tapping on my door, and I will have to answer that call whether I am ready or not.

‘Nuff said,  so I leave you with words that I am not clever enough to write myself…the shoulders of giants and all that jazz…

Because I could not stop for Death
Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes …

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes …

I’ve abandoned Facebook for a number of reasons, thus, the Cavalcade of Terror will be seeing more personal blogging, but I will continue to collect original fictionreviews, artwork and other tidbits, such as fiction markets and links to contributors other creative works .  If you’re looking for me (Bosley), my email address, IM and Twitter moniker is buried somewhere in the depths of these pages.  I have yet to go through the guidelines, mission statement, and masthead to reflect the new format.  Please continue to submit your stories, give me a couple of weeks to update the pages.  Naively, this will result in more content of interest to the intended audience.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through — David Bowie

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