Archive for the Writing Category

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (4/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

IV

I stagger through the thick snow, following the vampire’s trail into the woods that run alongside Pipe Creek. My vision is blurred and I’m losing too much blood. I cast a quick spell, but it’s a mere band-aid. My whole world is pain. I set it aside and press on. The cruor geminus will not go far. It can’t. The smell of my blood will be too much for it to ignore. It will come for me and most likely finish me off, but not without a fight.

            My head is swimming now. I’m in someone’s backyard. I can hear the creek behind me, smell the pine of the woods. I don’t know how I got here. Everything’s coming and going in flashes. The bite on my arm isn’t deep, but it’s poisonous. The vampire’s foul venom is working its way through my system. I have to find it. Have to end this. A shadow ahead. I see a manger scene, the baby Jesus surrounded by its mother and father, animals and wisemen. The shadow is framed by a Christmas Angel hovering above the manger, its lights blinking in an eclectic rhythm. My heart thunders in time with those angel wings.

            “Landon.”

            The voice is coming from the angel.

            I stagger toward it, lumbering, limping against the pain in my ravaged knee, cane dragging along through the snow loosely, carving a snaking trail through the fresh powder. The shadow comes forward revealing a different angel.

            “Sarah,” I choke. I taste blood on my lips. “You shouldn’t… be here. Run, young one. Be safe.” I lose my footing and descend to the ground onto my hands and knees. “Run, damn it.”

            “No, Landon,” she says. She lowers herself to me, cups my face in her hands. “I’ll not abandon you, my dear sweet Doctor.” I’m lost in her eyes. In her youth… her beauty. She leans in toward me, lips parting, coming dangerously close to mine.

            This is how it ends for the occult detective? With a kiss from a fiery-haired angel, bled out in the snow with the failed dream of winter on my lips? I rise up on my knees as she lays my head to the side. Her lips brush mine on her way to my neck. I feel her hot breath on my cold flesh. Then she’s gone… an explosion erupts across the lawn and I see two Sarahs — one struggling up from the ground, a spray of blood across the virgin snow —  the other holding a smoking Ruger .357.

            “Get away from him, you monster!”

            The beast transforms before my eyes. Sarah no more as it assumes the shape of Edward and marches toward her. Sarah fires again, and once more, but the fiend shrugs them off. I reach deep down inside me and rise, raising my cane and swinging it with all my might. It connects with the back of the cruor geminus’ head. The beast spins about and I charge.

            With the cane before me like a knight’s lance, I drive the shaft home, straight through the vampire’s chest, piercing the foul thing’s heart and driving it back into the manger. The angel overhead comes crashing down and the cruor geminus becomes entangled in the wire frame and blinking lights. As the sun rises, the fiend dies before our eyes, its body bound by the illuminating lights of a Christmas Angel.

            “Huh,” Sarah says, “I guess sometimes vampires do sparkle.”

The End

Yuletide Spirits: Dreams of Winter (3/4)

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

III

Magick has its advantages. Case in point, I am standing in the corner of a fifteen year old girl’s bedroom, completely invisible to any who might look my way. No scent to detect, no heat signature to register, not even the sound of my breathing can be heard. On the bed, Sarah Jones, lies suggestively draped across the top of her pink and mauve comforter, dressed in a black tank top and skirt that makes her pale flesh seem like alabaster. As she clicks away on her laptop computer, I make the mental calculations necessary to ensure that she does not become victim number four.

            I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not some kind of pervert, though I might be scolded for placing such a young and vibrant child in mortal danger. Thing is, Sarah Jones is not your average fifteen year old. Imagine Nancy Drew, if you will, but with a bit more piss and vinegar. As Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had his Baker Street Irregulars, I too have allies that fall somewhat south of the legal drinking age. Sarah is a paranormal investigator, being an integral cog in the so-called Ghostwriters Society that are comprised of author Steven Parker’s sons Dale and Allen, and Sarah’s cousin Cassidy Martin. They have been tested by fire on more than one occasion. Still, I feel somewhat guilty for using the fiery-haired teen as my proverbial hare in a snare. She was, of course, willing enough. Quite eager even. But as a rock gently raps against her bedroom window, I pray that my confidence in hers and my ability is not found wanting.

            Sarah rolls off the bed and approaches the window. She steals a glance toward me and I grind my teeth in anticipation. It must be unnerving for her, trusting that, though she cannot see me, I am in fact there ready to spring into action. She grips the window and opens it cautiously, the bitter cold of winter racing into the room.

            “Hello, Bella,” I hear the cruor geminus say. Softly. Seductively. “May I come inside?”

            Does her skin crawl? No. I see her sway, sense her body’s relaxing shift from heightened awareness to that of wanton desire. Can the creature’s powers be so overwhelming? She backs away from the window and calls to him.

            “Come to me, my love.”

            She is entranced. There is no mistake. My plan is unraveling before me. I prepare a counter spell, but already it’s too late. The creature is inside the room in an instant. She and I see it as it wishes to be seen, as a handsome young man with powder white flesh and full, pouting lips. It’s hair in a mock pompadour, flashing pearly white teeth behind golden eyes. The illusion is intoxicating, even for me. It leans in toward Sarah, its lips parted, moist and hungry.

            Leaping forward from my concealing spell, the head of my cane flares to life, bright and as radiant as the sun. It is enough to give the beast pause. What I didn’t expect was for Sarah to turn on me, grabbing a pair of scissors from her nightstand, and charging at me like a thing possessed. Yes, possessed — enthralled — and filled with lustful desire for her faux-Edward.

            I raise my cane too late as the scissors find the back of my hand. As I push her aside, I am met by the creature’s full force as it barrels into me, knocking me into the girl’s closet, splintering the bi-fold doors. I collapse to the floor, clothes falling from the rack overhead, blinding me as a rain of furious blows connect with my ribs, arm, and face. It’s fangs find bare flesh. It burns like fire. The smell and taste of my blood has the beast in a ravenous frenzy. It is by sheer willpower that I am able to conjure a magical counter to its devastating assault.

            A blast of eldritch energy explodes from my left hand hurling the cruor geminus into the far wall. I struggle to my feet, telekinetically call my cane back into my bleeding right hand, and approach the foul creature wearing a heartthrob’s face. Bearing its fangs, I grimace as I meet its aggression by swinging the cane like a bat, striking the beast full in the face. The cruor geminus falls back and through the window amidst a crash of broken glass. I approach cautiously but caught unprepared as Sarah buries the scissors into my right shoulder. I scream in agony, but am able to turn and grab the girl by her face.

            “Quiesco,” I say, softly, and Sarah Jones crumbles to the ground.

            The pain is exquisite. It sets my mind afire and it’s all I can do to jerk the instrument free. I stumble forward, to the window, and climb out, bleeding profusely from hand and shoulder. I can feel my ribs grinding in my chest and I’m all but certain that I’ve a fractured forearm.

            This is not how I’d planned tonight’s operation.

Yuletude Spirits: Dreams of Winter (1/4)

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing, Yuletide on December 2, 2021 by Occult Detective

Dreams of Winter
(originally published in Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

I

A line from Longfellow comes to me as I stare at the pale, lifeless child at my feet. ‘The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark.’ The Dark, capital ‘D’, if you don’t mind, has been of particularly nagging interest to me of late. As for mournful rustlings, well I’ve been knee-deep in those too. And it’s starting to piss me off.

            Surrounded by the girl’s belongings, it’s not hard to fathom how Megan Gamble’s mind worked. There’s a poster of a shirtless Alexander Skarsgard on the back of her door. Bookshelves overflow with Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris urban fantasies, a well-read copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight rests on the nightstand. Evanescence, Pretty Reckless, and Nightwish CDs are scattered on the floor beside an old school jam-box. The clothes in her closet? All black and lots of lace and frills, plunging necklines and short skirts.

            I crack a window, light a cigarette, and watch the snow fall. Dreams of winter, I muse. No more dreams for her. I’ve got the itch for a drink, but I let the nicotine placate my self-destructive tendencies for now. I do my best to ignore the sounds of the cops behind me, grumbling about their business and their distaste for my presence. The feeling’s mutual. Grim thoughts give way to grim tidings and I’m on the verge of giving myself over to them, but there’s work to get to. Dark work.

            I flick the spent cowboy killer into the night air and ask the crime scene unit to give me a few minutes alone with the corpse. They look to the homicide detective at the door, my old pal Ellis DeTripp, and grouse at his nod of approval. They file past the hulk of a man — DeTripp stands an easy  six feet-four inches and tips the scales at more than twenty-two stone — and he closes the door behind them.

            “You too, Ellis,” I say, removing my coat and hat and laying them on the girl’s bed.

            “In your dreams, Connors. No freaking way I’m leaving you in here unsupervised.”

            “What’s the matter, Detective,” I scowl, “afraid I’ll lift something?”

            “Nah.” He kneels down awkwardly beside the girl’s body. “We already searched the room for drugs.”

            “She’s got the latest Dresden Files.”

            “Cute, but I know you don’t read that shit.” DeTripp casually traces the outline of the girl’s jawline with his fat forefinger, lingering near the gaping but bloodless wound at her throat. “You live it.”

            “What? You never climb inside a Michael Connelly novel?” I join him on the floor, just as awkwardly, my ruined knee groaning in protest. Without the support of my cane, an heirloom from late father’s collection, I’d be all but worthless in situations like these. Dead bodies require an up close and personal touch.

            “That’s different. Harry Bosch is the real deal.”

            I brush the big man’s hand away from the girl and examine the throat wound more closely. “And Harry Dresden isn’t?” I frown at the lack of blood, on the body or anywhere in the  room for that matter.

            “You know I don’t cater to all that magic mumbo-jumbo crap.”

            “And yet,” I say as I allow my hand to hover above the victim’s head, the telltale glow of magical energy sparking between my fingertips, “here I am.”

            “Again — different.”

            “Do tell?”

            “Meh,” he barks, groaning as he rises up from the floor, “just give me your goddamn theory so I can catch whoever did this before my ass is in a sling.”

            “Well, she was definitely killed here.”

            “Bull shit. No blood.”

            “Of course not.” I struggle to my feet, leaning heavily on father’s cane. “The killer took it with him.”

            “Landon Connors, I swear on my mother’s grave…”

            “Your mother’s alive. I had dinner with her last week.”

            “Just don’t freaking say what I know damn good and well you’re going to say.”

            “Fine.”

            We stare at each other uncomfortably long — he with a scowl, me with bemused acceptance. I know what’s coming next. I light a cigarette and wait for him to break.

            “Alright,” he barks, “…alright. Go ahead and say it.”

            “If you insist.” I exhale slowly. “Detective DeTripp, your killer is, without a doubt, a bloodsucking creature of the night.”

            “God damn it, I knew you were going to pull that shit on me.”

            The detective turns toward the door and throws it open in a huff, storming into the hall and past the awaiting crime scene investigators.

            “Would you have preferred that I used the word vampire?” I yell after him.

            He is not amused.

A Man Grown

Posted in Current Events, Writing on October 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

Today, my son Connor celebrates his 18th Birthday. I am staggered by this. The boy becomes a man…

The truth is, he’s been a man for some time. Mature beyond his years, he has always possessed a rapier sharp intellect and an understanding of human behavior.

As a writer, he has grown immeasurably, producing wonderful, fantastical tales prolifically. He has a bright future ahead of him.

As a father, I couldn’t be more proud of him. I will miss the boy he was, but I embrace and cherish the man he is.

Happy Birthday, Connor. I love you beyond words.

All Things Must Pass

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Tarot, Writing on June 29, 2021 by Occult Detective

Soon, the Cainwood Manor series (Shadows Over Somerset / Keepers of the Dead) and the Liber Monstrorum series (First Born / Descendant) will be reissued in trade paperback and hardcover editions. Their covers will be adorned with selections from the limited edition Landon Connors: Occult Detective Tarot. These releases will be followed by Born Again, a collection that will bring both series to conclusion.

The Moon — Shadows Over Somerset
Deception. Illusion. Imagination. Things around you are not what they appear to be.

High Priestess — Keepers of the Dead
Mystery. Reflection. A time for retreat. Things around you are not what they appear to be.

The Magician — First Born
Skill. Creativity. Desire. Manifestation. The need to take deliberate action is called for.

Justice — Descendant
Truth. Fairness. Law and order. A time for hard decisions to be made.

Judgement — Born Again
Awakening. Transition. Renewal. It is the bitter end, but also a dynamic new beginning.

Raising a Horn to Robert E Howard

Posted in Writing on June 11, 2021 by Occult Detective

This morning I posted on twitter:

On a Thursday morning, June 11, 1936, the greatest yarnspinner who ever lived, #RobertEHoward, left this world for the next, leaving behind an enduring legacy. His words & characters live on & I suspect shall do so until the last Man draws breath & joins him in the great beyond.

Howard has been gone now for 85 years. Much has been written about the man, by myself and others. That he, in such a short time, was able to create such vivid and visceral tales, that have endured and thrived is a testament not only to his mastery of the pulp yarn, but to the men and women who came after, keeping his legacy alive and in the public eye.

I discovered Howard as a young boy, through his Conan stories with the provocative Frazetta and Boris covers and Marvel’s comic book adaptation. Conan led me to Solomon Kane, Steve Harrison, Bran Mak Morn, Dark Agnes, John Kirowan, and so many others.

See, Howard created authentic, vibrant worlds and populated them with unforgettable characters who lived and breathed as surely as we do ourselves. Too often overlooked are Howard’s occult stories. He was a master of the horror genre, as surely as he was adept at historical fiction, westerns, and the genre he gave birth to — sword & sorcery.

Later this year, I plan to review the Occult Detective fiction Howard left us, in as much detail as I can muster. Hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.

But today, we raise a horn to honor the man who gave us so much in so little time.

Three for Thursday: Storytellers

Posted in Writing on April 22, 2021 by Occult Detective

I had no time today to settle in and devote a little TLC to Thursday’s calling, so here I sit, posting on my phone after wolfing down some post-hike eggs.

So how about something easy, like my three favorite storytellers.

Number Three is Katherine Kurtz, author of The Adept series (with Deborah Turner Harris), and the Deryni fantasy novels, among others. Just a wonderful storyteller who has never failed to sweep me off my feet.

Number Two is Neil Gaiman, who transcended comics to become a brilliant myth-spinner. Obviously, Sandman was amazing, but as a novelist and short story teller he has become a consummate storyteller.

Number One should come as no surprise — Robert E. Howard encapsulates my life philosophy in his thunderous and effortless prose. While his sword and sorcery tales of Conan are my favorites, he could write masterfully in any genre.

Wish I had more time to chew the fat on this. If you’ve not read any of the above, now seems about right to rectify that.

Haunted Heathenry

Posted in Current Events, Writing on March 19, 2021 by Occult Detective

I imagine the majority of people who follow this blog know me primarily as a writer of novels and short stories, particularly in the horror genre, or more specifically the occult detective sub-genre. It was a pursuit I took on in October of 2000. I published several short stories quickly and my first novel, Shadows Over Somerset, was released in 2004 by a small press publisher, Black Death Books.

It was a whirlwind of excitement, with book signings and convention appearances, but it was also filled with stress and disillusionment. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say, I became disenchanted with the writing community, by and large. It’s a cutthroat business, and deceitful peers and bad publishing experiences turned me off of the industry, but I am now and always have been a storyteller.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my storytelling journey of late. I suppose it started when I was a child and, along with my little brother, I created elaborate productions with action figures and set pieces. It was also when I began to write comics, often rewriting captions and dialogue from books like The Mighty Thor and Doctor Strange to tell new tales, even using a cut and paste method of redirecting scenes. Later I was given the opportunity to write plays that my sixth grade class performed for our elementary school, my favorite being a battle between the Greek and Roman Gods that was ultimately settled once the Norse Pantheon took the field.

Of course, a large part of my talents for telling stories were honed through adjudicating roleplaying games. It scratched that itch for genre yarn spinning that was cultivated from reading Howard, Lovecraft, Wellman, Burroughs, and Wheatley as a boy, but it soon became music and magic that fueled my artistic endeavors.

As I said, I started writing horror in 2000, at the age of 34, prior to that I was writing (mostly) super hero comics (something I pulled the plug on in 2006), but my primary focus, particularly from age 16 – 30, was writing songs and poetry. That was where I felt most fulfilled, where I explored my thoughts on religion, philosophy, spirituality, and the paranormal.

Of late, as I became more and more frustrated and dissatisfied with the writing industry, from stem to stern, I found myself picking up the guitar more and songs began to fall out of it again. As I continued to explore my heathen faith, which has been a cornerstone of my beliefs for more than four decades, I found I was writing poetry and verse that expressed those themes more than ever before, that the old voice I had shelved was hungry and eager to assert itself.

This is not to say that I am done with writing horror and occult detective fiction, but just that a large part of my creative self has been neglected for far too long, that the storyteller I imagined myself becoming got distracted along the way. I guess this is a roundabout way of saying you will see a bit more of me moving forward.

I hope to reawaken that part of me that embarked on a shamanic journey long ago but lost the path somewhere along the way. I am eager to explore a hybrid of horror and heathenry, if you will, to realign myself to where I was in the beginning, coupled with the years of wisdom acquired along the way, and to become a more expressive voice in the communities in which I am active.

I leave you with a couple of verses from the first “real” song I wrote, back in 1986 or so…

Shadows are reality
Creeping through my sanity
Everything in darkness
Everything in black
I was born with vision
Mystic intuition
Trip my way through daylight
And never coming back

Flowing through the motions
Drinking magick potions
My mind is now electric
Everything surreal
Trading all my sanity
For a little sanctity
I’m living just for dying
But dying isn’t real

Wyrdtails: A Landon Connors Supernatural Thriller

Posted in All Hallows Read, Occult Detectives, Writing on October 11, 2020 by Occult Detective

Wyrdtails, for you reading pleasure. This one fits the season and is one of my favorites.

occultdetective.com

wyrd2

.:.

I was dressed, after a fashion, as how I thought the deceased would best recognize me — black t-shirt and blue jeans, scruffy jogging shoes, and a red bandana sticking out of my back pocket. I hadn’t really planned it, though it made sense to me after the fact. I just couldn’t be bothered with climbing into a suit. It felt unnatural and pretentious. The day was difficult enough without putting on the accepted uniform of grief. I was confident most of the people in the chapel considered my attire disrespectful, but I was pretty damn sure the deceased didn’t mind.

There was that word again. I mulled it over and rolled it on my tongue. Deceased. As in no longer with us. It had an improper finality to it, I thought. An improper word for an improper occurrence. An improper, and improbable occurrence of a finality. As these…

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Falling Up Under Down

Posted in Current Events, Writing on April 27, 2020 by Occult Detective

PANDEMIC

It’s been a little over a month since I last blogged. If you scoured my social media you’d find a lot less of me there too. It’s weird. As we have become more isolated, physically, due to the pandemic, I have pulled further away from online interactions.

I find the misinformation and political maneuvering troubling.

Here’s what I believe:

1. We are in the midst of a pandemic.
2. It is easily transmitted from person to person.
3. The death rate is slightly higher than that of the flu.
4. It is very dangerous for people with auto-immune issues.
5. People lack the common sense to act responsibly.
6. The media is doubling-down on fearmongering.
7. America looks weak and Americans look stupid.
8. Governments will use this pandemic to eliminate paper currency, require tracking and vaccinations, and to infringe on our so-called civil liberties.
9. Freedom, like legal tender, is an illusion — an accepted delusion we humans take part in so that urban society continues to function.
10. The only thing that has value is food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment.

This has all been a horrible, awful mess and my heart goes out to each and every one that has lost someone to this terrible illness. I feel sorrow for those who have struggled to recover from its effects.

I am truly sorry for all the small business owners who have had to endure the government implemented shutdown of the majority of our economy.

People really gave the government very little choice. By not utilizing common sense, governments, both local and federal, stepped in to play parent, because people were acting like children.

I get it.

We, the People of the United States of America, willfully surrendered ourselves to the government, looking up and asking them to save us, to give us money and food and medicine, when the power to save ourselves was in our own hands.

We have grown soft. Too few people understand true hardship, true sacrifice and struggle. Collectively, the vast majority of Americans live like kings and queens. Even the ones who bemoan their poverty do so while eating carry-out, watching Netflix on giant tv screens, and surfing the internet on their mobile phones. We are becoming pathetic and it saddens me.

Of course, there are people who really are suffering. People who have fallen through the cracks, who are homeless, who go to bed hungry… But theirs aren’t the voices we’re hearing.

icyrune

Alright, I’ll step down off my soap box.

WATCHING: The Musketeers
READING: The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Palmer Hall; Amiculus: A Secret History by Horseman & Caracuzzo
LISTENING: Charming Disaster — Spells + Rituals
PLAYING: A Song of Ice & Fire Miniatures Game; Dungeons & Dragons on Roll20

How about some of that entertainment I was heralding as one of the four things that have true value?

I share with you now a song I wrote, to whom it may concern.

Little Lies (Down)

I hear One Eye’s ravens calling
He’s got the old gods out there stalling
All the while the sky keeps falling down
A little slice of heaven’s waiting
But the Norns won’t stop debating
Find it so exasperating now
Falling up under
Down
Sound and fury
Just another hangman’s jury
Little lies we like to tell ourselves

Magic words as loud as thunder
Lift us from the spell we’re under
Leaving us to all just wonder how
The mystery has come unraveled
Shed your skin and astral travel
One last chance to take a final bow
Falling up under
Down
What’s the hurry
Gone so fast it’s too damn blurry
Little lies we take down off the shelf

(♫)
Falling up under
Down
No need to worry
Falling back the shadows scurry
Little lies I like to tell myself

There’s a rune carved on your spirit
That won’t let the trolls draw near it
There’s no time for you to be fearing drow
If the sigil’s true then wear it
Let no man nor beast forebear it
Something only the brave would dare avow
Falling up under
Down
Shall we complete the story?
One last verse in all its glory
Little lies we sing softly to dark elves.

(♫)
Falling up under
Down
Hoarfrost and flurry
Ymir’s breath is so damn surly
Little lies meant for someone else

©2020 Bob Freeman Music

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