Monday, May 28, 2012

Sirens Call Publications releases their first Anthology titled

“Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed”

Twelve tales of nightmares. Twelve talented authors. One book – Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed. Delve into the remembered horrors of a child’s mind; where teddy’s morph into monsters and the small sliver of light is enough to reassure you. Just don’t blame us if your forgotten fears well back up to the surface…

Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.

We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?

Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again...

Tell us, who is Under the Bed?

Contributing Authors:  Colin F. Barnes, Nina D'Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller,

Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott,

Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen

Explore a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format available at:

       (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)


Peruse excerpts of selected stories that have haunted us since reading Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed:

‘The Confession of a Confirmed Has-Been’ - John McIlveen

“I behaved for the first three months. I simply observed the Hansons’ way of life, as I had with the two previous families. In my condition I witness traits and habits often unnoticed by people in a more physical state, like Scott's insistent nose picking and compulsion to wipe his findings on my fireplace, or Bruce’s fixation with himself. If he spent any more time flexing in front of a mirror, I fear he'd get himself pregnant.

I do grant people the privacy of their bedrooms and the facilities, I’m not immoral - though discovering that Karen roams the house in nature's garb when alone was pleasing. I may be dead, but I’m still a man.

My condition is also what allows me to view Kimberly with utmost anonymity. In my spectral cloak, I track Kimberly about the house, watching as she involved herself in childhood fantasies, oblivious to all else. I walked with her through the garden, rejoiced with her, celebrating each discovery with open-eyed wonder. I wallowed in that beautiful youthfulness that fades as we become involved in the trivialities of adulthood…”

‘Excess Baggage’ - Lisamarie Lamb

“And now Nigel could see someone. A small, round man in a pair of white trousers and a deep blue shirt, sweat circles staining his underarms, his stomach straining the buttons running down his chest, down his stomach. The man’s curly dark hair rippled in the sunlight as he bobbed his head up and down. He was peering out of a small gap between two houses. He was smiling, beckoning to Nigel; and when Nigel moved towards him his smile began a grin, all teeth and harmless joviality.

Nigel went to the man against his better judgment. He went against his worst judgment, feeling strangely calm about it all, despite thinking he had wandered far too far, into a bad area. Into the sort of area a tourist shouldn’t go. And he had been caught. He felt rather stupid about the whole thing, and rather sad about leaving Maggie and Bob. But there was a certain inevitability about it all.

Even if Nigel couldn’t quite remember why…”

‘Timothy’ - Joshua Skye

Quivering from fear, her teeth rattling in her little head, hands trembling, she stared into the deep darkness to catch any movement; the twinkling of an eye perhaps. Anything to let her know where he was, out there in the darkness. There was nothing for a long time.

“Where are you?” she muttered in a squeaky voice. Something moved in her peripheral vision. She turned. Fast, but not fast enough. Perhaps it was nothing more than a shadow that had just blended with the dark. “Timothy, you stop it. You stop it right now.” She tried to sound like her mother, to mimic her authoritative tone, but it hadn’t worked. Her voice had cracked and it trembled with her apprehension. “I know it’s you,” she whispered, more to herself than to him.

She started to cry, she couldn’t help it. Her tears streamed down her tiny face and there was a lump forming in her throat. She had to fight to swallow; she had to fight to breathe.

Timothy began to mock her. “Timothy, please. Stop it, Timothy! Go away, Timothy.” The sinister, scratchy voice seemed to come from everywhere, the shadows, the darkness, under the desk, from behind the stuffed animals, under the bed…”

Wait more? Please visit the Sirens Call Publications web site for an extended preview available for download.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Zombie: Undead vs. Contagion


The classic George Romero film “Night of the Living Dead” breathed life into our understanding of what a zombie is. Romero captured all of the basic human elements of fear. His monsters were the embodiment of that which we fear the most. The fact that we see the zombies literally rising from the grave in a cemetery, not just figuratively, reflects our mortality. When I watched this film as a kid it struck the same chord for me as the proverbial things that go bump in the night.
The feeling of hopelessness, being outnumbered, and overwhelmed combined with the threat of becoming one of the monsters after death cultivated our heightened sense of being the prey (or simply…made us consider what it would be like to be the prey, for a change). We are so far up on the food chain and so disconnected from the natural order of things that we have no real connection with being the hunter or the hunted anymore. Romero was able to tap in to our primal fears, capture our imagination, and allow us to put ourselves in the place of the characters.
A thick fog of desensitization fell upon our society in the years after Romero’s work of art. Films were colorized. Stunts, visual effects, and computer generated graphics caved in our imaginations and left the work up to our eyes and ears rather than our minds. We became unafraid of the proverbial boogeyman. This was a gradual process at first, but with the explosion of technological advancements, the film industry’s ability to illustrate demons and ghouls in vivid detail ruined the public’s ability to be entertained by a good story if it lacked the new enhancements of the digital age.
I don’t mean to say that none of the movies made with these elements are good, although I do personally enjoy classic films over most of the flashy modern versions. What I will point out is that if you took away the glamorous high definition gore and graphics and compared them side by side to the classics, many of them would not stand a chance. The technological advancements in the film industry are more often used as a crutch than they are an augmentation to a well developed story.
Where did we go from there? In reverse, I believe. The zombies of our past were turned into something people could finally be afraid of again. They were given life. We saw the birth of the contagion zombie. Society became too smart and desensitized to fear something that they couldn’t believe in, such as corpses rising from their graves to walk the earth and devour the living. The nightly news was filled with more terrifying stories than our theatres, until someone had the idea to combine the two. With pandemic after pandemic being broadcasted over the airwaves by credible government agencies, threats such as H1N1, bird-flu, and SARS became the new monster under the bed. It scared us, because we became able to place ourselves in the role of the victim. Once again, our good friend the zombie, albeit in a much different form, came back to haunt us.
Where are we headed, now that this virus-infected zombie format appears to be the norm? Are we doomed to watch this storyline be regurgitated and enhanced by computers until it no longer registers on our fear meters? I hope not. I don’t think history is repeating itself in this way. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite. It has been a pleasure to watch the excellent writers behind the Walking Dead series bridge the gap between these two opposing characteristics. By going back to the age-old “undead” zombie, yet utilizing the raw talent of make-up artists and filming techniques, we have been able to witness a new hybrid. This is, first and foremost, a good story with a well developed plot and a strong set of characters. The special effects teams and film crew do a fantastic job of augmenting a great story, without stealing the show. When the two come together, it becomes a best of both worlds scenario.
Another unsung set of heroes who are bringing us back to our roots are the independent film makers. Many of these films are made with a low-budget or, at times, practically no budget at all. Revenue is generated for filming through campaigning with various social media outlets and good old-fashioned fundraising efforts. I like to think that it’s the hard work, dedication, and the fact that this is a labor of love for these folks that are the reasons why many of these films are so great. By having limited resources, we see creativity at is best. I can only imagine that George is proud of these efforts to take us back to a place that could have been so easily lost.