Dark Divinations – read an excerpt

HorrorAddicts.net Press Presents:

Dark Divinations edited by Naching T. Kassa

It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The séance has begun.

Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown.

Choose your fate.



An excerpt: 

Damnation in Venice

Joe L. Murr

Venice, 1890

Children shied away from Percy Ashcreek as he limped past in his white suit, cane tapping on the pavement. Perhaps they could see the mold-green aura of malaise that roiled around the ageing dandy. Many children had the gift, that openness to the world-behind-the-world, until the crucible of reality dulled their senses.

Trailing Ashcreek through the afternoon crowds, Thomas Homme couldn’t help but wonder, as he often did, what the world would look like to him if he, too, had outgrown that gift. He would feel safer, certainly he would, if he could no longer see disease in the wind and demons on the rooftops.

False security be damned. Without the gift, he would have to break his body in manual labor for a handful of coins. Clients paid him handsomely for his talents—if they could be persuaded of the need for assistance.

Ashcreek might be persuaded. He was a man in trouble, his soul rotting like Venice with its peeling walls, decaying rooftops, and ever-present canal stench.

Thomas had found Ashcreek that morning. The dandy had been reading newspapers in the lobby of one of the luxurious hotels where Thomas scouted for business. Making discreet enquiries at the cost of a few lira, he learned Ashcreek was an English writer of some repute and no small fortune, in Venice for his health. Each afternoon, Ashcreek went out for a constitutional through the labyrinthine streets of the city. Thomas was observing him to discover the facts of behavior that the man’s aura could not reveal. Only once he had learned enough, would he approach his prospective client.

Ashcreek made his way along the narrow canal on Fondamenta San Severo. Thomas kept his distance, even though he wasn’t concerned Ashcreek would pay him any attention. The writer had weak eyes—like muddied ice—behind his pince-nez.

The writer froze, focused on some point ahead, his aura suddenly pulsing crimson. Thomas followed his gaze. A woman and girl stood on a footbridge ahead. They were mother and daughter, most likely—with the same handsome features and obvious wealth—clothed in the latest style. The girl was perhaps fifteen. Golden hair curled from under her hat.

Ashcreek gave them a hesitant wave. The girl watched him with a hint of amusement. Her mother either didn’t notice the writer’s gesture or refused to acknowledge it, instead turning away and leading her daughter onward.

Ashcreek hurried after them, cane tapping. He halted on the bridge, reflected in the rippled canal like a fragmented ghost, and leaned down to press his cheek against the parapet the girl had touched. The air around him flowed red as the gutters of an abattoir.

Thomas had learned what he needed.
To read more, go to: Amazon.com or order the special edition, signed copy with hand-painted tarot cards at HorrorAddicts.net


Helsinki Noir

Helsinki Noir, a collection of crime stories set in Helsinki, is available in both English (Akashic Books) and Finnish (Like).

My contribution is “The Silent Woman”, a satirical tale that takes the most prototypical noir storyline imaginable (a femme fatale, a fall-guy loser and murder for money) and transplants it to Helsinki. I wanted to see what would happen if you were to play out that age-old story in the Finnish social environment. It’s mainly an excuse for dark culture-clash comedy, as the narrator is a self-absorbed, self-pitying Brit. The reviews are all over the place, as could be expected, with one newspaper reviewer selecting it as one of the best of the collection and another singling it out as one of the worst.

I’ve been slow to post about Helsinki Noir due to the death of the editor, James Thompson. RIP, good buddy.