Saturday, May 28, 2016

Excerpt from "Forlorn" by Bret Carter

This week's story is "Forlorn" by Bret Carter. In an abandoned house, Keith learns something about the empty places of the world.
Keith forced his eyes back to the flashlight. "But Marcus said it wasn’t the houses themselves that are frightening. He said it’s something else." 
"What?" 
"The emptiness. Marcus said it’s the emptiness around the houses. And inside too. That’s what makes us uneasy. And I have to admit, Mother, that at least for me—he was right." 
Saying it out loud made Keith feel a little stronger. "In my philosophy class we were debating whether or not God created evil. Since He created everything, then He must have created evil. But Dr. Edding said the flaw in that argument is assuming evil to be something. Evil is not something. It is the absence of good. Even Satan was created with free will, but he chose the emptiness. That’s why we’re afraid of wastelands. Why we feel uneasy when we learn that atoms are mostly empty space. We’re made of tiny desolations, and that makes us uneasy. It’s the nothing that we fear. Because that’s what evil is. Nothing." 
She frowned. 
Keith kept going. "People always talk about how those long stretches of Nebraska and Kansas are boring. But Marcus said people are actually sensing something along these stretches that strikes a dark chord in all of us. He called it uncanny emptiness. He said it’s not so much boredom as fear. It’s a reminder the universe is mostly void. The spaces between the stars. The spaces between our brain cells. All our thoughts are leaps across the void."
As her eyes wandered again, her mouth drew downward. 
Keith used the pencil’s eraser to tap on the table. She didn’t look at the pencil. She looked at him. He forced himself to stare back. "I say all that because of what Marcus found out about the Millwood House."
Bret Carter lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, Colorado. He teaches Bible and English at Hyland Christian School and he preaches at the Miller Street Church of Christ. His fiction has appeared in Perihelion MagazineBoston Literary Magazine, and CrossTIME Science Fiction Anthology. His book God’s Words is currently available on Amazon. Two more of his books will be available Fall of 2016: Life Among the Married People and Paper Bullets: Point-Blank Notions on Writing. And just like every third person you pass on the street, he is currently working on a novel.

You can order your copy of Mysterion here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Excerpt from "When I Was Dead" by Stephen Case

This week's story is "When I was Dead" by Stephen Case. Stephen had multiple cancers as a teenager, and spent a lot of time thinking about what might come after death.
When I was dead one of the first things I did was to try to find Jacob. He should have been there before me. So in my first few months (as they measured time in the villages) I would find myself glancing at every shadow or pool of light under the trees, thinking I saw him stepping out from behind branches or around a low hedge into the road. 
You are not supposed to be able to lie there. If you stay long enough they say you forget how. But that doesn’t mean you have to answer every question anyone asks, so for a long time I didn’t know he wasn’t there. 
Then one day I saw him, just as I hoped, walking toward me between rows of poplars, down a slight rise in the road. 
"You were the missing piece," I told him. 
He smiled. If anyone tells you that you cannot be frightened there, they’re wrong. There was emptiness in the smile. 
"I know," he said. 
It wasn’t Jacob. 
They would say later that it really was him in a sense. He was an echo, a memory. Everything still exists in the mind of God, they would tell me. We never have the freedom of being truly forgotten. 
When they said this I wondered if it was supposed to be a comfort. Maybe they were really saying I should have let him be forgotten. It was, after all, my desire to seek him and talk with him again that had stirred his form from shadows under the trees.
Stephen Case teaches astronomy at a Christian liberal arts university by day and by night (when it’s cloudy) writes stories, some of which have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Shimmer. His novel, First Fleet, is a science fiction horror epic (think H. P. Lovecraft meets Battlestar Galactica) published by Axiomatic Publishing and available on Amazon. Stephen holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and will talk for inordinate amounts of time about nineteenth-century British astronomy. Follow him on Twitter @BoldSaintCroix or at stephenrcase.wordpress.com.

You can order your copy of Mysterion here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Excerpt from "The Monastic" by Daniel Southwell

In the lead-up to the publication of the anthology and beyond, we'll be posting an excerpt from one of the stories each week. 

This week's story is "The Monastic" by Daniel Southwell. After a rough experience as a parish priest, Father Kyle retreats to a hermitage on an island in Lake Superior. He slowly begins to realize that he is not the only one on the island . . .
It was completely dark. His eyes wouldn't stay open. The sound of the waves never stopped. He shook himself awake and leaned forward to find his lantern. He cranked the propane valve to its lowest setting and the center of the cabin filled with humming blue-tinged light. The corners still hovered in darkness.
It was easier to stay awake with the light on. He hoped it wouldn't scare away whatever was out there on the island.
Father Kyle sat on the edge of his cot. Its titanium frame cut into his thighs but he didn't move. The rifle was across his knees. It was loaded. 
He didn't know what time it was, but it didn't matter. There weren't alarm clocks on the island and there weren't appointments. His only job was praying, and right now, he realized, he was praying that nothing horrifying was out there. He still couldn't shake the shrill feeling that had run up and down his limbs after he fired the rifle. He couldn't help thinking he had disturbed . . . something
After he stopped thinking and looking around, waiting was easier. He stared at the wall and only thought about breathing.
Sometime after Father Kyle's mind cleared, he focused on the sound of scuffling feet outside. He wasn't sure how long it had been going on. His heart immediately accelerated and he stood up slowly. The cot creaked and he winced. The footsteps didn't stop. 
The latch rattled and the door opened a crack. 
Father Kyle backed up until he could feel the rock wall against his shoulder blades. 
The door opened.
Daniel Southwell is a script writer for a video production company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife, Claire, and their son, John. Daniel grew up in northern Michigan, swimming in the Great Lakes and hearing the stories of what lived there.

You can order your copy of Mysterion here.