Extracts from †3Dark Stories: ‘Bethesda’ & ‘Under Soil’

Extracts from †3Dark Stories: ‘Bethesda’ & ‘Under Soil’

Via the blog of Joseph Sale

Hello everyone,

We are on the homestretch of our Kickstarter Campaign, so, to thank all you AMAZING people out there who have backed us, we thought it was time to give you all a little taster of what’s coming. Here, below, we have two story extracts.

The first is from ‘Bethesda’, our Issue 1 story by Ross Jeffery. ‘Bethesda’ is a hopeful tale of religious experience, told with a unique and convincing narrative voice that becomes quietly, profoundly moving. ‘Bethesda’ is set in England.

The second, from ‘Under Soil’, by Tice Cin, is set in Cyprus. This dark fiction tale is woven from a Gothic style that slowly unveils a deeper meaning to it. Sensual and intense, this is as vivid as an acid trip, or else, a direct encounter with something beyond the shadow of our daily lives.

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Be†hesda – Issue I – Ross Jeffery

I’ve been watching him now for a while: the pale man, as he trudges back and forth from what I assume must be his car, or mini-van, parked at the foot of the hill, stopped from entering the promenade by the safety barrier. It was put in place to stop cars driving onto the beach to unload their cargo. There was a girl who I went to school with a few years back. Jessica was her name. She said that she saw an elderly man crushed to death by one of those cars; he’d been buried up to his neck by someone who’d gone off swimming, leaving him with just his head sticking out, encased in the heavy, wet sand. He didn’t see it coming. The driver didn’t see him either. The huge petrol-guzzling Range Rover drove over his head popping it like a tomato. She said that the blood sprayed out from under the car. But it wasn’t just the head, the Range Rover crushed his limbs beneath the sand. Dead on impact, she said. There was so much blood, it formed a tributary down to the sea. Apparently, it took a good few days for the tide to wash away the blood. It kept on coming back like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands. Gone one moment, back the next. Immediately after, the local authority met and decided there would be no more ‘incidents of this nature’ and so installed a barrier which put a stop to drivers bringing their cars down onto the beach. There were obviously complaints about it all, uproar in local neighbourhood partnership meetings, but in all honesty who can complain about the inconvenience of carrying your beach equipment a hundred yards after an elderly man has been crushed until he popped like a geyser.

X

The man just stands there now, looking out to sea. He raises his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun on the water. The light refracts off his large watch, sending a blinding beam across the beach in my direction. He lowers his hand and turns to his windbreaker. He reaches into the chest pocket of his jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I can’t make out the brand but catch a flash of red from the pack: Marlborough Reds, strong stuff. He lifts the pack up to his mouth, his lips reaching out and claiming one of the sticks, he slowly pulls the pack away revealing this cigarette hanging from his mouth. In one fluid motion he moves the pack down and into his pocket and when bringing his hand up, opens the zippo lighter with a flickering flame. He inhales, deeply, two jets of smoke pour from his nostrils. With a flick of his wrist the zippo is closed and he places it in the breast pocket of his shirt. He stands there staring out into the surf. He only moves to lift the cigarette to and from his mouth; he doesn’t even move to pick up a child’s red Frisbee that lands a foot away from him. He stares out to sea. He doesn’t move when the children shout at him to pass it back, call him a weirdo, a paedo and a bunch of other derogatory remarks. Just stands there in his backdrop of Jamaican merchandise. I watch intently as one of the boys, the youngest, slightest one is pushed by his friends in the direction of their fallen Frisbee; I see the boy stiffen with terror as he moves, well pushed, towards the Frisbee. What does this say about the boy’s home life if he thinks that interacting with a stranger could cause him to suffer? A dog yaps near me as it jumps over the groyne I’m sitting on, distracting me from my observations. The owner of the dog says hello and good afternoon to me, I reply by moving my mouth but not speaking the words, and add a little head nod for good measure; I’ve always found that odd, total strangers saying hello. I used to shrink into my coat every time my father would say hello to total strangers when we were on family walks in the country. After the stranger is gone. I look back to the man. He’s gone too. The kids are laughing and punching the runt in the arms; he seems to have successfully acquired the red Frisbee. But where is the man?

 

 

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Under Soil – Issue II – Tice Cin

Her body is dead earth. It has the soft mulch of being left outside for too long and being rained on. The rain never stops. Flesh quivering, the panting of her breath moves hair that has fallen across her collarbone. Small needle marks blemish her skin and raise blood to its surface. Shooting over her legs, threads of blood meet each other as they flow from head to toe. The interlacing of red is divinely timed. Her colour is renewed and replaced interchangeably by the rain, then the blood, and back again. This skin is lace that embroiders the ground. This was the call and now was the time to answer. Standing up, her feet sink in soot, cleaving it free from the gravel beneath. Divinely timed. Heading for the hills, her footprints suck in blackness, leaving traces of her body in their trail. Bound between sky and earth she is the first of her kind. Sent to shake life from her skin, she moves through the heat of the day. As the sun pinches her cheeks she walks with it roasting and drying her offerings, liquid intermingling to infuse gravel with metallic clay. She stops. Knees hitting the ground, she pulls at her ribcage. First she becomes aware of the pressure on her thumbs as they grip skin and bone. Then that pain is nothing. The sound of skin peeling sends white noise crackling into reverb around her and when it stops she holds two ribs in her hands. An un-stringed cello, she buries them in the ground. Piled over bone, the slow erosion of hot rock here blends with soot, marbling and intertwining body with earth. The first death will be here. Fire the reward of the wrongdoer. Volcanic ash and hot sand carried the stench of carrion as brother buried brother out of sight. This palpable toil. The men warred so quickly yet with so much fire that their bodies were swallowed in dirt before they ever had the chance to make surrendering moves. The walking prayer. When making something level again is no longer a crime, then she will come. Balance hums into being. Her fingers are like wings that drag along the floor as she walks and her hair gestures forwards sensing each step that she needs to take. Marking the area of this sin was all she has to do. She is here to give to an earth that is dead. Her lips part, lower lip hanging like a corpse’s dislocated jaw. Out from her mouth rolls a shard of flame that lingers at her feet before rippling with open arms over the dry hill, leaving nothing but green behind.

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We hope you enjoyed those extracts and that it demonstrates what we intend to do with †3Dark. If you did enjoy them, please help us make this project come alive by offering a back or telling your friends about us:

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We have TONS of incredible rewards to offer you, but more than that, you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are a true patron of the arts, have supported the work of aspiring authors, and are making a vision live.

Please note: Our incentive offer is still valid: if you can get a friend to back this campaign and then confirm it to our Facebook page, Twitter, or in the comments section of this KS, we will send you a FREE eBook from Dark Prophets Press!

Well, that’s enough from me. I hope you enjoyed reading this fine work. Onwards and upwards †3Dark.

Until next time!

Joe Sale

Project Lead, †3Dark

Visit the Campaign

Visit the 13 Dark Kickstarter page

to view the full details about the project.

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Are you ready for a journey into the dark?

Are you ready for a journey into the dark?

I told you all I had cool news for you. Here it is!

Project 13Dark has launched its Kickstarter Campaign. Tired of the same ol’ mainstream fiction? Find out all about this unique project that will showcase both dark fiction and art. Become part of movement that demands quality but also insists on paying the artists who create it. Watch the video and read on to find out how.

Lose yourself in a unique, epic world that will be created over 13 months. 

†3Dark is a unique project created by Joseph Sale that will showcase both the written and visual artwork of some of this century’s greatest creatives including Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Eden Royce, Veronica Magenta Nero, Christa Wojciechowski as well as newer voices such as Matthew Blackwell, Andy Cashmore, Samuel Parr, Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, Ross Jeffery, Jamie Parry-Bruce and Tice Cin.

All of their work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic. 

The aim is to release 13 unique never-before-seen short stories, monthly, in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world. Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by me. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal. 

Visit the Campaign

Visit the 13 Dark Kickstarter page

to view the full details about the project.

Go!

For 13 Dark Backers 

Readers will be interested in…

In addition to 13 beautiful editions of short fiction with YOUR NAME in the ‘Thank You’ section, †3Dark will provide opportunities to receive limited edition signed copies of Dark Prophets Press titles, specially discounted subscriptions to Gamut Magazine (the prestigious neo-noir magazine created by Richard Thomas of Dark House Press) and much, much more!  

Writers will be interested in…

If you have a group of short stories or a novel coming out and need in-depth analysis, coaching, and intensive editing, you will want to snatch one of the top reward spots! The cost of the the pledge is far cheaper than you would ever have to pay for a writing coach and editor, plus you get all the free goodies listed above (and a T-shirt!)

We hope you’ll join us on this descent into the heart of the divine… and the dark. 

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Why I Quit My Job: Project 13 Dark

Why I Quit My Job: Project 13 Dark

Originally posted on Joseph Sale: Graphic Horror Writer

Yesterday, at roughly 9:30am, I quit my job.

It was a good job, in many respects. It paid decent wages. There was a great team of people there who I shared laughs with. I enjoyed my time there. But, unfortunately, I had come to a realisation, a reality I had to face, which was that I was being called by my true vocation: writing. That’s the thing. Something we must all bear in mind: there’s a difference between a career, a job and a vocation, a ‘calling’ we feel deep down, that drives us, that makes us who we are. It’s folly to ignore that calling.

Joseph Sale, creator of Project 13 Dark

This is me. I’m completely normal. Completely. Don’t worry about those things I wrote. Shhhh.

For a long time, I’d convinced myself I could go on doing the 40 hours a week and write here and there in between, but now I’ve realised it’s just not in me. Kudos to those who can do it; it’s impressive. But I need to give all of myself to the world of creativity. So, here I am, throwing caution to the wind. Melodramatic as it sounds, I really would rather die than give up on doing what I believe I was always meant to do.

It’s not just about writing my own work, however. That’s only one small thing. I’m a passionate reader and bibliophile. I’ve been following various authors for a number of years and wanted, for a long time, to bring their work to a wider audience. From this desire, †3Dark was born.

So, I’ve quit my job to work full time on a unique publishing venture, a dream I’ve had for a long time I finally feel could become reality. So, what’s it all about? Read on…

Originally posted on Joseph Sale: Graphic Horror Writer

†3 DARK – Author Spotlight: Christa Wojciechowski & Mental Illness in Horror Fiction

†3 DARK – Author Spotlight: Christa Wojciechowski & Mental Illness in Horror Fiction

Hello all! I’m ecstatic to have been signed on by the †3 DARK Project. I know it’s still a mystery to most of you. I will post all the details very soon. In the meantime, follow †3 DARK on Facebook and Twitter.

There is nothing more validating for a writer than to be recognized by another writer whom they greatly admire. Enjoy this spotlight Joseph Sale has written about The Sick Series and grab the first two books – they’re free for a few more hours.


Originally posted by Joseph Sale †3 DARK – Author Spotlight: Christa Wojciechowski & Mental Illness in Horror Fiction

Today we’re going to be beaming the spotlight down on another one of our incredible †3Dark authors: Christa Wojciechowski.

It’s an honour to have Christa involved in the project. I’ve been a fan of her fiction for while, ever since I read the first book of her Sick series of novellas.

SICK PART I med Mental Illness in Horror Fiction

Here’s an extract of a review I wrote for Sick:

‘Sick is a brilliant novella that explores the nature of human dependency and self-deception. The voice of the protagonist, Susan, is crystal clear and never wavers throughout, drawing you completely into her world and her way of thinking. This voice also generates a fantastic sense of dramatic irony, leading to a genuine tension. We want our heroine to realise the truth but her antagonist is convincingly devious. Normally, novels in which there is a truth evident to the reader but not the characters can be frustrating, but Sick manages to remain compelling and true to its characters throughout. Most importantly of all, however, this novella triumphs because it is so psychologically insightful.’

What’s unique about her approach to horror is the genuinely in-depth explorations of mental illness, addiction and relationships. While so many horror authors pander to the stereotypes of mental illness or psychosis as something to be feared and abhorred, Christa is more empathetic, getting to the roots of it, and exploring it in a nuanced way. As such, her characters are frighteningly three-dimensional, to the extent that we feel we can inhabit them.

And that’s where the real horror comes in.

SICK PART II med Mental Illness in Horror Fiction

In two ways, really.

Firstly, we feel empathy for their fear, their uncertainty. We feel we can relate to it at a primal level.

Secondly, and even more powerfully, it challenges the binary perception of mental illness as something some people have and some don’t. We’re all susceptible to moments of aberrant behaviour, irrational thought or delusion, and Sick really made me feel how fragile the self-constructed perception of my well-being was, and how easily I could fall into the addicted trap of her protagonist Susan. Some writers create aesthetically sensational larger-than-life characters, but Christa’s work is much in the vein of Stephen King: the extraordinary – in both the good and bad sense – can be found in the most ordinary, real people.

As a generous offer to followers and supporters of †3Dark Christa has put Sick Part I and Part II for FREE on Amazon today! 

Christa is currently working on a new series The Sculptor of New Hope, partly inspired by the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (The Rape of Proserpina). She describes it as: ‘a dark, gothic romance that begins in New England and ends up right here in Panama.’ Bernini’s work happens to include many of my favourite sculptures, capturing the impossible sensuality of flesh in marble. The Rape of Proserpina, harrowing as that title is, is one of the most astonishing pieces of art you’ll ever see.

If you want to find out more about Christa and her work, you can read the incredible interview she did with Storgy magazine. Christa’s †3Dark story will feature in our July slot. I just can’t wait to see what dark wonders she unleashes on us.

Adieu for now

@josephwordsmith