Friday 29 March 2024

Supernatural Tales 55 is now available to order in print form

 




New stories by Mark Falkin, Carole Tyrrell, Cliff McNish, Tom Johnstone, Reggie Chamberlain-King, and Timothy Granville


Cover art by Sam Dawson


Go here to order from Lulu.com

Wednesday 20 March 2024

LET YOUR HINGED JAW DO THE TALKING by Tom Johnstone (Alchemy Press)

ST 55 features a tale by Brighton's finest purveyor of contemporary horror, Tom Johnstone. And it just so happens that Alchemy Press is about to issue a new edition of a cracking collection of stories by the selfsame chap. It seems only reassonable, therefore, to offer readers of this blog (hello Derek!) the rundown on this fine tome. (NB I received a pdf copy from the author.)



The title story focuses on that horror-friendly form of entertainment, ventriloquism. Anyone who has seen Dead of Night knows the potential in 'the voice from the belly', and the creation of an alternate personality attached to a doll. In this story, the narrator is haunted by the first vent act she saw:

'The manikin sat on the man’s knee, like a child, but its dapper tweed jacket and silk cravat and barbed insults suggested an urbane man-about-town. If this was a child it was a creepily precocious one...'

There's more to it than creepiness, of course. The narrator's father is an apparently normal businessman but his warehouse conceals a horrific secret. This revelation is neatly handled, with just enough ambiguity to give it an old-school feel, while the overall tone is modern to the point of grittiness.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

ST 55 - Opening 6



Fathoming the Pyramid

Timothy Granville


Robin raised his eyes to the encrusted ceiling. In the gloom it took him half a second to realise what he was staring at.

“Bit OTT?” asked Georgie.

“I like it. I think.”

“Good. I think I like it too.”

They were standing at one end of a small room with a red and white chessboard floor. The light filtering through the narrow windows overhead revealed the walls and domed ceiling were covered in shells, masses of bivalves foaming around huge conches and cones.

“It could be awful, couldn’t it?” said Georgie. “Like some monstrous suburban garden feature. But actually…”

Monday 18 March 2024

ST 55 - Opening 5


The Invisible Boy

Reggie Chamberlain-King

They’re playing The Invisible Boy again. It’s obvious from their keen attention. They’re too quiet. They’re not listening to me, but for the tell-tale noise that will give him away: a scuff, a shuffle, a sneeze... a sneeze would do for him. I can see it in their bastarding little faces, their eyes fixed on me as though they’re listening, but their ears are cocked, alert to something else... a pin drops. I could follow the twitch of Quinn’s red, flexed lobe or the subtle twist of McKiernan’s neck and I could sniff out The Invisible Boy. But I don’t.

Sunday 17 March 2024

ST55 - Opening 4


The Lord is my Shepherd

Tom Johnstone



‘CARNIVOROUS’. That was all it said. At the time, Sarah Dyson didn’t connect it with the Grey Lady or the River Wellsbourne. Just now, her preoccupations were more mundane: finding some way of removing the graffito from the sign outside the church near Preston Manor. The gardeners would have a solution for removing it. There was one of them who was always flirting with her. Bernard, his name was. Once, he complimented the coat that matched her orange-red lipstick. He wasn’t the only one. Her manager Geoff had the tiresome habit of saying, “You look like vermilion dollars,” in a mock-gumshoe voice, whenever she wore it.

Saturday 16 March 2024

ST 55 - Opening 3


Mrs Crace

Cliff McNish

In Memoriam: Robert Aickman


“When a garden flower is crushed it cannot simply be put back together; why do you never grasp such matters?”

Such was Father’s typically irritated response to a minor breakage by his own small, motherless children. Gilly and I learned to make a show of listening attentively whenever Father lectured us. He was very much a man to enlarge upon our innocent faults during this period.

“Can you repair the stem, mm? Will the tulip’s stamen miraculously return to life?”

“No, Father.” Our faces duly bowed.

This was during the worst of the austerity era following the war, 1946–47. Scarcity was a watchword everywhere, even in a well-to-do family such as ours with its own servants and grounds.

Friday 15 March 2024

ST 55 - Opening 2


Porcupines

Carole Tyrrell 

I needed a pen and stationery cupboards aren’t what they used to be. First day as Head of Finance and Brewsters wanted figures quickly. But the laptop wasn’t ready yet according to IT. So, I had to enter the sarcophagus-like silence of Head Office. I collected a temporary ID at the front desk from a security guard and took the lift to the fifth floor. The lift doors automatically opened and ahead of me were two double doors. A sign attached to the wall beside one of them helpfully announced that this was the Finance Department. I pushed one of the doors open and emerged into a room devoid of life. Instead, it was tenanted by desks, chairs, coat stands and on top of a low filing cabinet was a dusty coffee machine surrounded by a cluster of ill-assorted mugs. But no people, just flashing lights indicating long unanswered voicemails on the desk phones.

Thursday 14 March 2024

ST 55 - Opening 1

The Rock Statue

Mark Falkin

“What does any individual, terrestrial life or death matter when seen from a galactic perspective? Yet, we still throb.” —Marilyn Nelson

On the way there, they each notice the hawks perched on the expressway lights. Sabrina thinks they look like finials. She wrist-drives as she talks to her mother loudly on hands-free. Morgan is at ten and two listening to an audiobook with an annoying narrator. Janice steers with her right hand low on the wheel, left hand out the window ruddering her car’s wake. Karen grips the steering wheel’s middle bar and listens to NPR. War in Eastern Europe. The latest virus variant making its move across oceans. The signal is lost once beyond the exurbs.

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...