Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights – A Book Review

Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights – Author Sonia Kilvington

Review by Ernest Russell

Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvington starts at the cover. Your eye is drawn ever deeper upon viewing the cover art by Craig Douglas. This book, like the fabled abyss, will stare back at you as Sonia Kilvington plumbs the essential nature of human relationships. For these stories are not uplifting, Chicken Soup for the Soul, no, these stories are much more Charles Addams style. You see, each of these stories strips away normal. To quote Charles Addams –“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

These are short stories at their finest, which are a different skill set than a novel. Novels have time to explore the full three-act structure.  In a short story, you often only have space to write a segment of the three-act structure, usually a portion leading to a significant, transformative event for the main character.

Good short stories will have an impact. They strike you and stick with you. Weird tales and horror stories can kick your adrenaline and hours, maybe days later, they still rattle around inside your head. In this style, Sonia Kilvington is a master.

From the title story Nightmare Asylum to the final story Winter Baby, this book will enthrall you. They are fast reads. We need to remember horror does not lurk solely in darkness, seclusion, and gore. Innocence, passion, greed, and yes, even beauty, can bring their horror. Only the lucky ones get out of this through death. For the unlucky, shredding sanity as madness takes its toll.

If you ever watched Scooby-Doo, you should know this lesson. The real monsters are people. Stroll through the pages of Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvington and meet the monsters. I wager you might even recognize a few.  

You can find Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvingston on Amazon. It is available in print and on Kindle.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ

One of my short stories – Starshine in Storyville just dropped!

‘All That Weird Jazz’ was an entertaining concept for an anthology. Jazz is such a rich musical tradition with volumes of intriguing lore and incredible sound. As one of the editors, it was a pleasure reading the various takes on the theme.
The story I contributed is set in a shared universe by other characters set in more anthologies coming from Pro Se Press.
I hope you enjoy reading this anthology as much as I enjoyed writing for it and editing ‘All That Weird Jazz.’

Weird Jazz

Jazz. A music of improvisation, of passion, of its very own kind of magic. Considered by many to be the only truly original American form of music, it has since its birth in a smoky room somewhere also been tied to the strange, wrapped up in the supernatural, associated with the occult, at least in hints and shadows. Pro Se Productions now brings together several of the most innovative writers in genre fiction today in ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ, telling the tales of the unusual between the notes, the magic behind the music.

From straight up pulp action to ghostly noir to a dragon who digs Jazz more than anyone else, ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ takes love for this unique musical styling to an all new level, complete with adventure, thrills, and even a chill or two.

With stories by Kimberly Richardson, MA Monnin, Ernest Russell, EW Farnsworth, James Hopwood, McCallum J. Morgan, Mark Barnard, Davide Mana, and Sharae Allen, ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ combines the fantastic and unusual with America’s own music for one of the most unique collections of stories ever. From Pro Se Productions.

Featuring a fascinating cover as well as logo design and print formatting by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ is available in print on Amazon for $9.99.

This singularly distinctive anthology is also available as an eBook formatted by lo Iacono and Marina for the Kindle for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to our website for open calls, submission guides and our catalogue. Like Pro Se on Facebook for the latest new and releases.

Thanks for reading,

Ernest

Introducing Tales of the Iron Dragons

Good evening,

Tonight I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my worlds. A planetary expedition force on the fringes of the galaxy with the goal of preparing the planet for colonization. You have been introduced to one of the characters already in “A Cultists Tale”. A piece of the story will be introduced each week. I hope you enjoy them.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Stories of the Iron Dragons – Discovery of Vhoorl

Administratum Planetary Surveys

 

Vhoorl Planetary Survey

Binary Star AL-Janubi

Segmentum Obscurus

 

Personal Log: Donovan Gilman, Lead Planetologist

 

Planet Vhoorl, strategically located on the edge of Segmentum Obscurus is an earth-like planet in many respects. Atmosphere composed primarily of Nitrogen and oxygen, slightly richer in oxygen than Terra with a gravity approx 4/5s that of Terra.

The planet is majority water with two primary land masses, a northern and southern continent. The ocean separating the continents is primarily salt water.

The Northern Continent has an extensive river system, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the ocean. Two of these basins account for more than half the total drainage area. The largest river system in the Northern Continent originates in a mountainous region and receives tributaries from a basin that covers 45.7% of the continent, principally the north and west. The main river system flows from west to east. Through this basin flows one-fifth of Vhoorls fresh water. This system provides a sufficient supply of potable water for the hive city, Astra Militarum garrison and cooling for the factories.

Although 90% of the continent is within the tropical zone, the climate varies considerably from the mostly tropical North to temperate zones below the 23°27′ S latitude. The Northern Continent has five climatic regions: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, and subtropical.

Temperatures along the equator are high, averaging above 25 °C (77 °F), but not reaching the summer extremes of up to 40 °C (104 °F) in the temperate zones. There is little seasonal variation near the equator. At the country’s other extreme, there are frosts south of the 23°27′ S latitude during the winter and there is snow in the mountainous areas. Temperatures outside the Hive City are moderate (usually between 15 and 30 °C or 59 and 86 °F), despite their relatively low latitude, because of their elevation of approximately 1,000 meters (3,281 ft). The coast has warm climates, with average temperatures ranging from 23 to 27 °C (73.4 to 80.6 °F), but enjoys constant winds. The southern coast has a subtropical climate and temperatures can fall below freezing in winter.

Precipitation levels vary widely. The Northern Continent has moderate rainfall of between 1,000 and 1,500 millimetres (39.4 and 59.1 in) a year, with most of the rain falling in the summer south of the Equator. The region is notoriously humid, with rainfall generally more than 2,000 millimetres (78.7 in) per year and reaching as high as 3,000 millimetres (118.1 in) in parts of the western side of the continent. Despite high annual precipitation, the rain forest can have a three- to five-month dry season, the timing of which varies according to location north or south of the equator.

In contrast to the Southern Continent which rose to elevations of nearly 17,000 meters (55774.3 ft) in a relatively recent epoch and inverted the river flows direction of flow from westward to eastward, the Northern continent geological formation is very old. Crystalline shields cover 36% of the territory, especially its central area. The dramatic granite sugarloaf mountains are an example of the terrain of the shield regions, where continental basement rock has been sculpted into towering domes and columns by tens of millions of years of erosion, untouched by mountain-building events.

The principal mountain ranges average elevations just under 3,500 meters (11482.9 ft). The Murum Mar range hugs the eastern coast, and the Murrum Medius Range, the largest in area, extends through the south-central part of the continent. The highest mountains are in this range, others traverse the northern border.

In addition to mountain ranges (about 0.5% of the country is above 1,200 m or 3,937 ft), the Northern Central Highlands include a vast central plateau (Planalto Central). The plateau’s uneven terrain has an average elevation of 1,000 meters (3,281 ft). The rest of the territory is made up primarily of sedimentary basins.

The Southern Continents  main structural lines show both the east-to-west direction characteristic, at least in the eastern hemisphere, of the more northern parts of the world, and the north-to-south direction seen in the southern peninsulas. The Southern Continent is thus mainly composed of two segments at right angles, the northern running from east to west, and the southern from north to south.

With a heavily grown rainforest and has not been extensively explored at this time. Orbital surveys have shown extremely high mountain ranges circling the central portion of the continent, pictures of which provide the suggestion of jagged teeth biting their way through the planet. The forest canopy prevents the penetration of any light creating a perpetual twilight gloom.

Mean monthly temperatures exceed 18 °C (64 °F) during all months of the year.[5] Average annual rainfall is no less than 168 cm (66 in) and can exceed 1,000 cm (390 in) although it typically lies between 175 cm (69 in) and 200 cm (79 in).[6]

The highest of these peaks reaches nearly 17,000 meters (55774.3 ft). Mons Imperalis as it has been deemed is about two thirds the height of Olympus Mons on Mars.

Inside the ring of mountains, appear the outlines of an ancient city. Preliminary review and exploration by the planetary geologist assigned to the colonization and establishment of munitoriums on Vhoorl indicate the city appears intact and is made of a black rock which may not be native to the planet.

A xeno-archeologist has been requested for further review. All exploration of the Southern Continent has been placed on hold pending his arrival. As a footnote the geologist came down with a strange malady after the visit to the Southern Continent. In his delirium he even decried his faith in the Emperor and was exterminated before further contamination could occur.

 

 

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Flash Friday – Defender

Defend the innocent; protect it from those who feed on it. To be best friend and confidant, to nurture imagination, this is my duty. When innocence is taken for naught and is lost unnaturally then the pact is to avenge.

Today, I became a part of the pact. I was chosen by a vessel of innocence. By my wards choice, I am always by his side.  By day we play games, act out adventures and explore our world. By night I stand vigilant watch.  Until the fateful night came to pass and the chosen victim is my child.

It’s out there, just beyond the ring of light. I can sense it in the deepest shadows of the room. As long it stays out there, vigilance is my only defense. According to the lore they feed on innocence. The very innocence I am here to protect. It has to make contact. As long as I can keep it from reaching the child before daylight innocence will survive.

There, making its move, showing itself. The Nightmare is a creature of the aether bringing bad dreams, sustaining itself off the fear generated. Charging me, I barely manage to deflect blows from those silver hooves. We sparred, each blocked blow a drain, my strikes making no mark.  My strength alone will not be enough. My hope and goal is to distract him until daylight.

Drawing on an arsenal of innocence and heroic imagination, bring forth our x-wing. My goal to distract him until daylight began zooming around the Nightmare, as horsefly does a horse. The blasters leave marks across the flank. The first effective offensive move I have landed. Whinnying in pain The Nightmare strikes back. Continue dodging and shooting until a lucky tail strike and the x-wing disintegrates. Safely ejecting, landing in a three-point Ironman style leaves me in a bad position.

Reaching deep into the child’s most heroic image, I draw on all of his innocence to defeat The Nightmare. A shimmering as my armor forms, a paladin with sword and shield. As I draw my sword of truth, the shield emblazoned with the trident on my arm, I face off with my foe. As I change so does the Nightmare. Now a Charger from a joust, mocking me, it paws at the floor.  Trying to scare me, play me out. Rising onto its rear legs, the charge begins. This deadly game of chicken can have only one ending. Sinking to one knee as it passes, my sword of truth slices through its body of lies. Slowly fading back into the aether, I return to my place by my child.

For I am Bear; Teddy Bear, protector of innocence.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Flash Friday – The Cultist’s Tale

My name was Staff Sgt. Robert Carter and this is my tale. I began my career in the guard on Delorosa Coil. It was less than stellar, like everyone else in the AC, good soldiers don’t end up in the Arkham Confederates.

Once Innsmouth Base was established, I was part of a group sent to explore the Southern Continent of Vhoorl in the unit Valkyrie. Reaching the continent, as we passed over the coast, a violent storm erupted. Only time had ever seen lightning close to this magnitude it was being hurled from a Primaris Psyker squad in combat. Our report back to base

“On the wing. After storm, have spied mountain range ahead higher than any hitherto seen. May equal Olympus Mons, allowing for height of plateau. Probable Latitude 76° 15’, Longitude 113° 10’ E. Reaches far as can see to right and left. Suspicious of two smoking cones. All peaks black and bare of snow. EMP from storm & gale blowing off them impedes navigation. Possible engine damage. Scouting LZ to make repairs”

We had to land for repairs. We received instruction from Innsmouth base to recon the area while repairs took place. After landing, the Imperial geologist, myself and 5 of the guardsmen not needed for repair work loaded up and, at the geologist’s suggestion, headed toward the smoking cones as they did not seem too distant.

Topping a nearby ridge in the direction of the smoking peaks we saw a city that I just don’t have the words to describe. For some idea of mind numbing scale and oddness I give you this description from the geologists report.

“…a cyclopean city of no architecture created by man or his imagination. The nearly impossible construction formed of night-black masonry. The angles are uses consist monstrous perversions of geometrical laws even the most insane architect could conceive. There were truncated cones, some terraced or fluted, surmounted by tall cylindrical shafts here and there bulbously enlarged and often capped with tiers of thin scalloped disks. A strange honeycomb-like construction suggested piles of multitudinous hexagonal slabs, circular plates, and five-pointed stars with each one overlapping the one beneath. There were composite cones and pyramids either alone or atop cylinders and cubes. These were flatter truncated cones and pyramids, and occasional needle-like spires in curious clusters of five. All of these structures knitted together by tubular bridges connecting each structure in vast webbing, often at dizzying heights. The sheer scale of gigantism was terrifying. At this time those dark, mountain peaks soaring ahead, peaks whose shadows cast a pall of probable disaster devouring the greater part of our expedition. We found in it all a taint of latent malignity and infinitely evil portent.”

There were geometrical forms for which Euclid would scarcely find a name – cones of all degrees of irregularity and truncation, terraces of every sort of provocative disproportion, shafts with odd bulbous enlargements, broken columns in curious groups, and five-pointed or five-ridged arrangements of mad grotesqueness. As we drew nearer we could see and detect some of the tubular stone bridges that connected the crazily sprinkled structures at various heights. Of orderly streets there seemed to be none, the only broad open swath being a mile to the left, where the ancient river had doubtless flowed through the town into the mountains.”

All this oddness left the geologist amazed, the miasma of the place, at once dead yet, strangely alive, left the rest of us feeling like we were being watched. Last time had this feeling was when ‘nids invaded the Pandora Sector. The Vox caster squawked inspection and repairs done, we were glad to high tail it back.

But the dreams started after we returned to Innsmouth Base. You just don’t talk about dreams like these, too easy to get burned as a heretic.

Those of us in the squad started to notice, the little tics, like we had all been knee deep in bugs for a week. We were all dreaming of that city.

Then, the really scary thing happened. One by one each of us were called to the Ministorum Priests Akeley’s office.

He spoke of my dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with terrible vividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone – whose geometry, he oddly said, was all wrong – and hear with frightened expectancy the ceaseless, half-mental calling from underground: “Cthulhu fhtagn”, “Cthulhu fhtagn.”

A peace washed over me for the first time since we returned. Priest Akeley explained these dreams were not heretical. For they whisper back to a time when the Great Old Ones ruled the universe before the emperor, before chaos, before the oldest of the races. How in a treacherous war with the C’tan the last of the Great Old Ones, Cthulhu, was flung into another Dimension, R’lyeh. I and others like me, those who heard the call through our dreams, could help to free him. Through Shub-Niggurath, guardian of the portal, The Black Goat with a 1000 young, we would free Cthulhu.

Over the weeks, until the Inquisitor arrived, we sought out others who were dreaming and introduced them to High Priest Akeley.

On the dark of the twin moons, the High Priest brought me to a charge. I could become a Champion for Shub-Niggaruth if my faith were strong.

To the Altar I walked proudly, like a Champion should and upon the great rock I lay.

“The sun has entereth the Sign of the Ram and the time of night is upon us. Akeley turned to the North wind and spoke aloud:

Iah ! SHUB-NIGGURATH ! Great Black Goat of the.Woods, I Call Thee forth

 ZARIATNATMIX, JANNA, ETITNAMUS,

HAYRAS, FABELLERON, FUBENTRONTY,

BRAZO, TABRASOL, NISA,

VARF-SHUB-NIGGURATH ! GABOTS MEMBROT !

And then the Black one came forth and the thousand Horned Ones who howl shall rise up from the Earth. And thou shalt hold before them the talisman of Yhe upon which they shall bow to thy power and answer thy demands.

 And before all did indeed appear Shub-Niggurath. The Black Goat with a 1000 Young, standing there, legs astride the altar looking down at me.

“This one is a worthy supplicant. I accept him and he shall go forth to spread the truth.”

As he spoke, the mighty form of the Shub-Niggurath leaned forward and swallowed me.

Into the warm darkness I slid, the tight slickness of my new Master enveloping me. Yet, there was no panic, all was calm. Indeed, could feel changes in my being, stronger, bolder, until finally there was a great spasm. I hurled with fantastic speed then the stone floor of the chapel was beneath me.

Shub-Niggurath spoke.

“This one has been reborn, he will lead my fight. More of you must come forward, in many there is power. He is the first of many. There is another you must awaken and your time grows short. Take this image of the last Old One and go now, do as it is foretold.”

 Through many battles I have led Shub-Nigguraths followers fighting to free the Great old One.

Now, this last time, I go to HIS Altar. For to open even the tiniest portal to the realm of R’lyeh; sacrifices must be made.

To grant my brothers in arms the power needed; I peacefully listen to final words I will hear on this mortal plane.

Ia!! Ia!! Cthulu Phatagn! Ia!! Ia!! Cthulu Phatagn! Ia!! Ia!! Cthulu Phatagn!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh Wgah’nagl fhtan.

‘In His House at R’lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Universe.”

Excerpt from “Birds of a Feather”

Zeke scanned the area as he took a pull from the canteen. “Well, Maude, that ol’ mine town should be jest ahead. Hopin’ we find a few nuggets, least ‘nuff dust to buy us some supplies, else I’ll be fightin’ ya fer some o’ that wattle. Course, I know ya don’t mind the lighter pack, do ya, girl?” Maude nuzzled against his hand as he scratched behind the pack mule’s ear and led her away from the silver wattle, having used the pause for an opportunistic nibble.

As the afternoon wore on, Zeke could see Widdershins on the rise of the gorge. Below him was a river, little more than a stream in this dry season, and several ponds with a flock of birds going in and out of the rushes around the largest of them.

“Looks in pretty good shape, way better’n some places we been, eh, Maude? Might even be some fish in them ponds. Must be sumpin’ to draw all them birds.” As they approached the town, Zeke heard sounds like distant conversation. “Might have company, Maude, sure sound like folk chattin’ up a storm.”

The travel-worn pair arrived in town a bit before sunset. For an abandoned town it did look well preserved. Zeke peered into a few houses on the edge of town. When he stepped into some of the clapboard houses, Zeke realized they were still stocked. Yet, the thick dust blanket was undisturbed – mute testimony to the town’s desertion. Hitching Maude near some of that silver wattle she liked so much and getting her some water, Zeke set about unloading their gear into one of the houses. Making a meal out of the last of his bacon and potatoes with some coffee, Zeke surveyed his surroundings by the light of the moon. Hanging gibbous, it would be full in the next day or two. By its wan, yellow light, he could see the bony structure of the town’s long tom. It leaned crookedly against its sluice, likely the victim of a flash flood during one of the monsoons.

Zeke was surprised to see swans apparently still swimming down in one of the ponds. He would have expected them to be nested in by now. The thought of nesting in sounded like a good idea; it would be nice to sleep in a bed. After beating the old mattress to chase out any spiders or centipedes might have had the same idea, Zeke settled in for a deep sleep.