If you drop by here on occasion, you know that my collection Looking at the World With Broken Glass in My Eye is now available to be ordered (Just $13.95 if you order now.)
My publisher asked for a piece for their newsletter that included an excerpt from one of the stories. Here's what I gave them.
Is It Okay To Laugh When a Man is Chewing His Way Through Another Man’s Entrails?
By Mark Justice
Let’s start with a confession. Maybe it will be good for my soul. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.
I love horror. I love writing horror. But, sometimes, humor wants to creep in.
Case in point: “Deadnecks”. I wanted to write a story about a few good ol’ boys in a small town being turned into zombies. After all, we’ve all seen the zombies at the mall and shambling through the streets of a big city. How would zombies shamble through the hollow (or, as we call it back home, the holler)?
Little did I know when I typed the first sentence that my zombies would still want to drink beer, watch NASCAR and hang out at the neighborhood watering hole long after they got the craving for flesh. Sure, there’s plenty of gore in “Deadnecks” and its sequel, “Deadneck Reckoning” but there are some chuckles, too. The first story was published in Dark Discoveries magazine, and both tales ended up in a beautiful chapbook from Novello publishers, which quickly went out of print. Now the stories bookend my collection, Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye.
Those beer-swilling dead guys weren’t originally part of the book. As submitted to another publisher, the book was a leaner collection of an original novella—Deadtown (notice a theme in my titles?)—and a few of my short stories. When the first publisher trimmed his line, he dropped the book, and I was free to shop it around. By the time it landed at Graveside Tales, it had “swole up like a poisoned dog”, as pappy used to say. I added several more stories—some straight horror, others my peculiar horror-humor combo. I also decided enough time had passed that the Deadneck stories would rise again.
(Also, the other publisher wanted to change my weird, long title. But, hey, it’s my weird, long title and I look it, so it’s back on the book.)
(And pardon another brief digression, there are other Deadneck stories, and since I am occasionally asked about this: yes, there will one day be a Deadnecks novel. Keep watching the skies. I mean, the bar that’s showing the race.)
So now you get over 100,000 words of horror. And much of it is straight-ahead, full-tilt, eyeball-clawing scary fiction. All for such a low price, you could probably find enough change in the floorboard of your Ford Falcon to cover it.
To tempt you into placing an order, here’s a teaser, the beginning of a story called “Nursing Home of the Gods”. Enjoy.
Anubis settled onto the cracked linoleum of the rec room couch, sighing when he found a spot that didn’t poke the frayed fabric of his robe. The television was on, as always, blaring some insipid game show. Anubis had requested The History Channel but the others had overruled him. In the corner, Mammu played checkers with a large coyote, probably one of the Native American deities.
While the annoying game show host blathered on about phrasing answers in the form of a question, Bastet came in curled up in a chair opposite Anubis. They had never been overly fond of each other, but Anubis found her to be less irritating than some of the others in his pantheon.
“What’s up, Nooby,” she said.
“Please don’t call me that.” Nicknames were demeaning, robbing one of one’s dignity. And Gods knew dignity was in short supply at this place.
Bastet laughed and lit a cigarette. With her free hand she stroked her whiskers, smiling at him through the cloud of smoke.
“You hear about Zeus?” she said.
Bastet drew a long nail across her neck. “Last night.”
Inwardly, Anubis shuddered. Another one gone.
At least Zeus didn’t have to sit on this couch and watch game shows anymore.
A clockwork nurse clicked and whirred to the couch. She offered Anubis a cup of pills.
“Do you have one that can make me young?” he said.
The eyes of the nurse shuttered open and closed until he took the pills and swallowed them down. He hoped one of them was a laxative. Anubis felt like he’d been backed up since The Exodus.
The nurse handed Bastet her pills, then clacked away, only to be replaced by the rolling roar of another resident.
“Ho, dogface!” the newcomer bellowed.
“Thor,” Anubis said, less than enthusiastically. He’d given up trying to explain the difference between a dog and a jackal to the senile warrior.
The wheelchair bound god rolled up close to Bastet. Anubius thought he smelled like urine.
“Ah, cat head. How fare thee?”
“Okey-doke,” Bastet said.
“Tis my birthday,” Thor proclaimed. “Can thou guess mine age?”
“Hmmm,” Bastet said. She dropped her cigarette to the floor and crushed it out with one slippered foot. “I think I can, but I’m going to have to see your hammer.”
Thor reached for the stone mallet that always hung from his belt.
“Not that hammer,” Bastet said.
It took a moment, but realization slowly dawned on the Norse god’s bearded face. He raised his loincloth to display the largest penis Anubis had ever seen.
Bastet lifted the organ with both hands, stroking it to rigidity, a process that took several minutes. Finally she said, “You’re three thousand seven hundred thirty-seven.”
Thor gazed at her in open-mouthed wonder. “How didst thou know?”
Bastet turned loose of the organ and smiled. “You told me yesterday.”
To be continued…