Friday, 1 December 2017

CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac is here!

This is the moment when both Shakes and I can sit back and breathe a collective sigh of relief - for a little while. Over the past couple of weeks we have been able to show you the author listing and the cover. Now, we have the completed product and are both really proud to present the second of our publications, CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac, to the world at large.

It contains sixteen stories by some very talented writers, their tales reaching into many of horror's darker corners. Some of these writers inhabited the pages of the inaugural Infernal Clock anthology, others are new additions, either way we hope you will enjoy their offerings and would love it if you got in touch with them to let them know what you thought of their stories. A contributors page at the rear of the book contains links to the writers. Get in touch and show them some love - they deserve it.




The book itself is available from Amazon in both Kindle and print formats.






UK PRINT VERSION

UK KINDLE VERSION

US KINDLE VERSION

The US BOOK LINK will follow

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cover Reveal


David Shakes and Setphanie Ellis extend their infernal thanks to artist Tim Youster for following in the footsteps of Tam Rogers and delivering an awesome cover for our second anthology. Release date to follow...

Monday, 6 November 2017

CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac TOC Reveal


The Infernal Clock is proud to announce that CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac is almost here. For the past few weeks I have been working with the anthology's contributors to craft the book into a product of which all can be proud - and I may be biased, but it does contain some rather wonderful stories. And who are these writers? Well, it's about time we let you into our little secret:

CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac

Table of Contents


The Hazing of Philip King – Christina Dalcher
The Presentation in the Temple – Ewan Smith
The Blessing of the Throats – Stephanie Ellis
The Wind of the Hurricane – Mark A. King
Last Laugh – Marie McKay
The Dance – Stephanie Ellis
Revels with the Devil – Sal Page
The Green Man’s Fete – Clive Tern
A Question of Lila No Name – Catherine Connolly
The Exile’s Harvest – Sian Brighal
Mabon – F. E. Clark
Punky Night – Craig Anderson
Crying the Neck – Chris Stanley
Soul Searching – AJ Walker
Neon Hearts – Chris Milam
The First Visitor – David Shakes

What next? The majority of the stories are now safely tucked up in the master draft of the anthology and I have just a tiny number of stories to finish editing in conjunction with their creators. I am also waiting on one submission. Once these are incorporated into the master, there’ll be another proof-read/edit to pick up any little glitches and it’s off to preparing the anthology for release into the digital and print worlds. Over to Shakes at that point.

Most bios have been submitted – if you haven’t sent in yours, could you please email one in (100 words max).

Art work? Well you’ve seen Shakes playing around with images on twitter and we do have someone working on the cover but you’ll have to wait and see for that.

Yes, timescale has been shunted slightly BUT not by much. Definitely in time for a few Christmas stockings!

Infernally Yours,


Steph

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Emerian Rich presents Dusk's Warriors

This week, The Infernal Clock is pleased to welcome Emerian Rich announcing her latest publication, Dusk's Warriors. Over to Emerian:

I’ve always been fascinated with libraries and research centers. If I knew more about them as a child, I probably would have ended up a research assistant!

In Dusk’s Warriors, one of my favorite parts is when Reidar gets to tour the Vampire Artifact Museum. It must be odd seeing your own items on display as museum items. Maybe one day people will be touring your home or your gravesite wondering how you lived and what you might think of them studying your life.

Here is an excerpt of Dusk’s Warriors that will inspire many questions. What items might be placed in a “you” museum? Your journal? Your hair brush? Your crushed soda can?
Behind a door with a sign that read, “Vampire Artifact Museum,” Reidar found himself staring at a large oil painting of himself. In the painting, Reidar stood atop a snowy mountain ridge, a bloodied corpse at his feet and wolves by his side. He looked quite Viking-ish with fur and leather covering him, a massive Mj√∂lnir in his hand and his mouth open, showing elongated canines. At first sight, Reidar chuckled.
“Painted by one of our scribes. Grandfather always wanted you to see this to tell him if it was an accurate depiction of events.”
“Not so dramatic, but yes, I suppose I might have appeared as grisly when emerging from battle.”
“He thought you may think it was over the top, but wondered if he got the amulet right.”
Reidar’s eyes fell to the left side of the painting where his twin clutched an amulet in his hand.
“My word, it’s spot on.” A sharp pain twinged in his heart.
“He would’ve been very proud to hear it.”
Taking a deep breath and swallowing hard, Reidar let the pain in his chest subside. Memories of his sister could still shake him to the core. It had been hundreds of years, but he still couldn’t let the pain of her passing go.
“Through here is the screening room with a video my grandfather made for new agents. NOSS agents and those recruited by our sister agencies all over the world who are assigned to Vampire Studies must complete his vampire course before they serve their first day as an agent. For years he trained students in New York, but in 1997 it was decided New York was too risky a place to keep our knowledge and we were moved here to Chicago.”
“When did Salvador pass on?”
“It’s been eight years now. He held on as long as he could. He worked right up until his ninety-first birthday. Three months later, he was gone. The work kept him going. I am sure if he could have still managed to walk these halls, he would still be writing away in his journals. His body gave out before his brain did.”
Remorse flooded over Reidar as he thought of Salvador. Reidar had never looked in on old Salvador, although they were friends for so long. He could have tended to him in his last days. He could have turned him. It was too late.
Matteo led Reidar into the next room which held an array of vampire artifacts under glass cases. Weapons, letters, jewelry, and a full suit of Victorian dress on a mannequin stood on display. Reidar gave due respect to each object. He found several of his own items he had left with Salvador and chuckled when he saw a bottle of ‘Real blood wine bottle from Reidar Per Hogberg’s collection’. His discarded bottle as an artifact was comical. Only did he take real pause when he saw a set of iridescent bejeweled peacock colored hair accessories labeled, ‘Hair combs, circa 1923. Commissioned by Severina Santos by local jewelry artist in Manhattan, 1923. These combs were never retrieved from the shop. The vampires left the area before completed.’
“Tell me about these,” Reidar said as he watched the glint of the jewels in the light and imagined them in Severina’s red wavy locks.
“Oh, yes, when our researchers went into the Manhattan apartments after the three, Severina, Julien, and Markham left the country, we found many things. One of them was a package addressed to Severina Titian. When we questioned the artist, he said Mrs. Titian was very kind and requested this design specifically. She’d paid in advance and called again and again at his shop to inquire about how they were coming along. He couldn’t believe she’d left the country without them. Our researchers found they were indeed Severina’s, although she was going by Titian at that time, we presume to match Julien’s assumed name. They were known as the ‘it’ couple back then in New York society, you know?”
“May I take them back to her?”
“Take them?” Matteo’s face showed concern and confusion. “I don’t know. I don’t have the authority to give away one of our artifacts.”
“They are hers. She paid for them.”
“True...” Matteo hesitated.
“What if I were to give you a piece of jewelry, older and with much more meaning?”
Matteo did not speak as Reidar pulled a leather pouch from his belt and produced the amulet from the painting at the museum entrance. Matteo’s breath caught in his throat.
“You don’t mean...”
Reidar nodded.
“But this means so much to you. I’ve read the recount of your sister’s tragedy in my grandfather’s journals. Are you sure you wish to part with it?”
“I am. For Severina’s combs.”
“I’m not sure I...” Matteo looked about ready to explode from excitement.
“A piece of jewelry owned by a vampire for years, cherished by his sister, dating back to the ninth century, in exchange for combs not even touched by vampire hands?”
“Uh…let me get the proper approval.” Matteo stood. “I’ll return as soon as I can. Feel free to look around.”




by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:
“All hail, the queen of Night's Knights has returned! Emerian Rich's unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith's Love

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won't be able to put down.”
~David Watson, The All Night Library

Praise for Night’s Knights: 
“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder




Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Tick, Tock - CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac

The summer has passed and the nights are drawing in, and now The Infernal Clock is swinging back into action. As the time nears the deadline for our CalenDark anthology call—30th September, hint, hint—we thought it would be a good idea to give out a little update on what we have received so far. Remember submissions will be accepted on quality rather than just because you were the only one to submit for that particular day.

CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac 
  • (Twelfth Night/Lord of Misrule - Christina Dalcher)
  • Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day/Candlemas – 1 submission
  • (Blessing of the Throats - Stephanie Ellis)
  • St. Valentine’s Day
  • April Fool’s Day
  • Ostara/Eostre/Vernal Equinox
  • Walpurgis Night
  • Beltane/May Day – 1 submission
  • Midsummer’s Day/St John’s Day/Summer Solstice
  • Lammas Day/Freyfest - 1 submission
  • Mabon/Autumnal Equinox
  • Punky Night - 1 submission
  • Samhain/Halloween
  • All Soul’s Day/Day of the Dead
  • Yule/Winter Solstice
  • (New Year’s Eve - David Shakes)

I hope this helps you decide which day you wish to write for. In addition, if we do not receive enough entries we may extend the deadline—but it would be great if we could produce it as planned.

Re length of story and editing. We have indicated 5000 words maximum, however if it is slightly over we won’t worry too much. There might be some editing involved which will remove some extra words or it may be that we accept as is. Minor edits, eg typos, will be carried out by ourselves, other edits that may be required will be worked on with the author of that story.

Now we'll leave you alone to get on with your writing.

Steph and Shakes

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Infernal Clock Submission Call: CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac

The Devil has claimed the face and hands of time but he also makes his presence felt day in, day out. He takes the days, the months, the seasons as they change. He follows the year according to his own dark calendar, his CalenDark. This, then, is the theme of our next anthology, to deliver dark tales for dark days. The days which we have chosen, and which we invite you to submit for, are:

(Twelfth Night/Lord of Misrule - Christina Dalcher)
Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day/Candlemas
(Blessing of the Throats - Stephanie Ellis)
St. Valentine’s Day
April Fool’s Day
Ostara/Eostre/Vernal Equinox
Walpurgis Night
Beltane/May Day
Midsummer’s Day/St John’s Day/Summer Solstice
Lammas Day/Freyfest
Mabon/Autumnal Equinox
Punky Night
Samhain/Halloween
All Soul’s Day/Day of the Dead
Yule/Winter Solstice
(New Year’s Eve - David Shakes)

These days are widely recognised around the world although some may be known by different names, please feel free to use the name traditionally associated with the day you have chosen.

Note: those in brackets will be included but have already been assigned.

Submission Guidelines:
Stories should be in the region of 5000 words. Manuscripts should be submitted in double-spaced, Times-Roman 12pt, contain your contact details on the first page (name, address, email) and generally following the layout as described here.

Content: whilst this is indeed a horror anthology, we do not accept gratuitous sex or violence and definitely no child abuse.

No reprints allowed. Stories must be original and previously unpublished.

You may send more than one story, however only one story per author will be selected.

Send your completed manuscript to: theinfernalclock at gmail dot com. In the subject line, please put: SUBMISSION: CalenDark, name of story, surname

Deadline: September 30th

Intended Publication Date: November

Payment:
 As a fledgling operation we are currently unable to offer payment although this is something we hope to address as The Infernal Clock grows; however,  all authors will receive a copy of the ebook and retain all rights to their stories.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Infernal Flash Competition - Winner!

Here we are at last. The hourglass is empty and it is time to reveal the winner of our inaugural Flash Fiction Competition. Many thanks once again to all those who entered, we both thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and Shakes admitted to it being a really close call. As mentioned in the original blogpost for this competition, the winner receives a print copy of The Infernal Clock (we will be in touch to arrange its delivery) and consideration for a place in our next anthology. So who is this lucky person?

Let's wait just a moment longer and read Shakes's comments:

What a great opening with little flourishes and touches that really make the writing sing - the alliteration in the name of the park, the momentum of the journey as we're pulled in to the story alongside our narrator with that small caveat hanging on the end of the paragraph: '...like it or not.'

It's the narrator's (and therefore our writer's) eye for detail that marked this story out in my first readings and subsequent selections. So much is told in such a small word limit and that is the mark of great flash fiction and very short stories.

We get setting, character and back-story all in the first third of the tale. As the narrator continues we start to question his reliability although he is quick to admit his own shortcomings as a younger man.
There are some great phrases at play - I loved 'crap-ton' and the stomach churning 'wrongly asymmetrical'.

I can't say much more without spoiling the story. I wish I could write this well. Read it and you'll know why it won. It stayed with me a long time. A very long time. There's gravity here and it pulls you in deep...

Brilliant.


And the name of our Winner and the author of The Barker is ...

... Christina Dalcher. Congratulations, Christina, a thoroughly deserved win.

Enjoy her story.


The Barker

I stride through the gates of Palisades Park, past the hootenanny thundering its dance beat, past the girls lined up at the fortune teller’s booth, and into the heart of the action. There’s gravity here; it pulls you in deep, like it or not.

Over at the Helter Skelter slide, Joey stops his routine and points a finger in my direction, crooking it, calling me over. He’s so young, like teenage young.

The barker and me, we go back a while, all the way to short pants and tugging Mary Malone’s red pigtails in third-grade social studies. Year after that, we tried to be blood brothers, but Joey’s always been kind of sensitive—second he saw the bubble of red on my thumb, he passed out. I told some of the other kids about Joey going all sweaty and paste-colored. He didn’t mind too much; said he’d get even one day and slugged my shoulder. That’s the way it is with best friends.

Joey put up with a crap-ton of my antics over the years. Like the time I raided his dad’s liquor cabinet and used the bottles to make Molotov cocktails in his backyard—what an infernal mess that was. Or that one day I asked his little sister out on a date. “Psych!” I said when she agreed. “April Fools!”
Okay. Maybe I was a bit of a shit.

Katie eventually grew out of her buck teeth and braces. I took her to prom and out to the diner afterward, tried to get her to smoke a little weed with me, but that didn’t work. She always wanted to go Palisades Park and slide down the Helter Skelter, the very one Joey barks at now, yelling his spiel, getting customers to fork over their dough for one short ride down and around. So I took her.

“It’s more fun if you’re high,” I said. What I meant was, it’s only fun if you’re high. The Helter Skelter had to be the lamest ride ever. Unexciting, over too soon. Maybe that’s why they tore it down along with the rest of Palisades Park back when the peanut farmer president reigned.

Joey’s standing at his post. He points at me, says he’ll give me a free go if I want. Neither one of us looks at the scarred earth below the slide. If we did, we might see Katie, limp as a kewpie doll, head tilted in an impossible angle. Wrongly asymmetrical, like the Helter Skelter she tried to ride standing up.

I’d told her not to pull so deep on the joint. Joey hands me a paper ticket, the kind with a notch on each side. Admit One, it says. An invitation. His fingernails, gray and cold, graze my hand.

I climb.

The slide is way longer than I remember. It goes around and down, down and around. And it never stops.

It gets hotter, but it never, ever stops.


Bio

Christina Dalcher is a theoretical linguist living in the American South. Recognitions include Bath Flash Award’s Short List, nominations for Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions, and second place in Bartleby Snopes 2016 Dialogue-Only Contest. Laura Bradford represents Christina’s novels, which feature a sassy and stubborn phonetician with anger management issues. When she’s not writing, Christina teaches flash fiction at The Muse Writer’s Center in Norfolk Virginia. Find her on Twitter @CVDalcher or read additional short work at christinadalcher.com.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Infernal Flash Competition - Second Place

Pain can be inflicted in many ways but sometimes it can be delivered in a somewhat more subtle manner. Our gift to you is the continuing torture of the slow reveal of our winning stories ... but it is an exquisite torture. Should I make you wait any longer? No? Well perhaps just this once I might give in, after all HIM isn't known for his patience either ...

Here are the comments on our Second Place winner from Shakes, the Demon Headmaster himself:

The imagery in the opening paragraph is brilliantly arresting and the final line of that opener tells us so much in just six short words. In a classic flash style, we're then taken sideways to view the devastating outcome of one father's momentary lapse of concentration and fallibility.
The use of language throughout this piece is commendable, especially in the carefully constructed personification of the helter-skelter. 

The story is uncompromising and its author understands the true meaning of 'horror' - there may be some classic tropes at play but they are used to precise effect here. 

In my judging there has been little between third, second and first place - it's all subjective when the writing is this good, but why this story came so close is because its author gave me genuine chills and isn't that why we read the genre? 




And the name of our Second Place winner and author of Ride Over is

... Sian Brighal. Congratulations, Sian. An ebook copy The Infernal Clock will be winging its way to you shortly.

Enjoy her story ...



Ride Over
               
The screams were coming thick and fast; almost as fast as the smoke billowing out like the toxic exhale of some foul demon. The flames writhing inside the tower tinged the gusts a bilious yellow. The thing really did look like some mouth to hell. People were running around it with buckets, but it was too late. The accelerant was doing its job.

He was deaf to them. All he heard were the words that had echoed in his skull for the last eleven years.

Just one more go…Daddy!

He remembers her scampering off, white sandals slapping against the grass, pigtails whipping the air, and that’s the last. He didn’t tell his wife—didn’t tell anyone—that some woman at the fair had held his interest as his daughter had run to the helter-skelter. He’d swear on his life that it was only for a moment, but…isn’t that what they say? The vicious consolation and underhanded accusation.

He’d lingered, staring at the tower’s mouth as though it would spit her out at any moment like a pip that had caught in its teeth, and she’d come skipping over, all giggles. He’d even ran his palms over its fabric skin, whispering prayers, begging it to let her go.

Give her back…for chrissakes! Give her back!

It had her. Somehow he knew she’d climbed up, slid down but not come out. She was in there….stuck somewhere, somehow. She had to be! With his ear pressed up against the cold cloth, he swore he heard her, caught her voice in each snap of rippling fabric and creak of wooden frame.

Please, Daddy! Please, Daddy! Please, Daddy!

Eleven years lost, and he’d had to lie, call himself mad to prove he was cured to get out. But he was out, and he was getting her out now. Just one more thing to do…

Hands grabbed at him, pulling him back, but he was resolute. The smoke stabbed his eyes and wound about his throat; the infernal heat pushed him back. He knew it would fight…resist…keep hold of her. His baking lips cracked into a smile, spewing blood: we burn for our sins.

The fire pierced the helter-skelter’s fabric skin, its many tongues licking the air. In his periphery, burning, screaming shooting stars fell from the slide to earth, but they were harbingers of salvation not doom. Arms raised, skin blistering and blackening from the heat, he stepped inside, and the beast swallowed him whole.


After the inquiry, several members of the investigative team resigned, and one went mad. Three children were tragically burnt in the fire, but thankfully there were no fatalities, save for the arsonist. But, not disclosed to the public, within the ashes, they found delicate charred phalanges, time-smoothed heads of femurs, melted necklaces and watches, twisted metal debris from mobile phones and surgical implants not used since before the Great War, and hundreds of teeth! And in the arsonist’s devoured stumps of charred fingers, there rested a disturbingly pristine white shoe.


Bio:

Sian Brighal was a chemistry teacher who now experiments with writing and drawing and is finding the experience just as wonderful and unpredictable. She lives in Germany with her family, where she bakes and thinks about gardening. She can be found at @sian_ink on Twitter.

Check out her website https://sianinkblog.wordpress.com/

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Infernal Flash Competition - Third Place

Welcome back to our Infernal Countdown. The hands crawl across the face of time, the slightest movement, always in one direction, never to go back. And why would you want to go back when we have such stories for you? Stay a while and read our Third Place winner who is ...

Oh, but not yet. First we must hear what our judge Shakes has to say:

"I like the idea that the Helter Skelter is a dwelling here, an abandoned fairground the perfect stomping ground for the mysterious wand maker. There are shades of Doctor Who in our aging magician, including his ‘bigger on the inside’ display room – although his method for longevity is a little more diabolical than the Doctor’s regeneration.

Love is, indeed, an infernal business. I liked the playful twist in the once only spell and the careful description of how the wand always comes to work upon its wielder.

The delicious moment the recipient of Arthur’s affections prevents him from breaking the spell had me grinning from ear to ear.

The story is dotted with nice phrasing and detail and its lighter tone helped to distinguish it from the darker entries.

Well done to the author."


And the name of our Third Place winner and the author of The Wand Maker is ...

... Chris Stanley. Congratulations, Chris.

Enjoy his story.

The Wand Maker

For two hundred years, they’ve been knocking on his door. From Cape Town to Cardiff he’s listened to stories of lecherous bosses and lacklustre wives. His customers all want the same thing, a chance of happiness. But finding or fashioning a suitable wand is a tricky business. It’s why he keeps moving.

“I thought you’d come down the slide,” says the boy at his front door. He has the narrow shoulders and bowl cut of a lonely twelve-year-old. The corner of his schoolbag reads “Arthur” in a mother’s hurried scrawl.

“Why would I do that?” asks the old man. “You never know which way you’re facing and the only way is down.”

He’s lived in the Helter Skelter since the fairground was abandoned. It suits him perfectly. The peeling paintwork and rickety slide make visitors uncomfortable. People see the word “Condemned” and stay away.

But not this boy.

The old man leads Arthur through a short hallway to a storeroom, where the walls are lined with rows of wands, hung by hoops of leather. One spell per wand, one casting per spell. The room is impossibly large given the exterior dimensions of the ride. Between the wands, a grandfather clock ticks backwards. It’s eight in the morning but the clock says half six. Arthur fidgets in the doorway.

“What are you after?” asks the old man.

“There’s a girl.”

The old man rolls his eyes. Love is an infernal business.

“You know the price?”

“One year per wand.”

The old man climbs a stepladder and selects a mahogany “Fairy Finger” gilded with gold-leaf lettering.

“And no refunds.”

He gives the wand to Arthur and a spark of electricity passes between them. The clock hands unwind to half-past seven.

#

The old man follows Arthur at a distance. Wands are impatient things, demanding to be used immediately. As expected, the boy heads straight to school and waits in the playground. The old man remains outside, watching the other children as they arrive. He studies them all, his eyes asking questions of every girl who passes. And then he sees her and knows everything.

Hand shaking, Arthur points the wand and reads the inscription on its shaft. There’s a flash and he doubles over, falling forwards and landing hard on his shoulder. His body contorts as he transforms.

Over the years, the old man’s learned it’s safer to change his customers than the world around them. Breaking the wand breaks the spell, so they can always undo what they’ve done. His careful design means no one ever asks which end of the wand to point.

Arthur pulls himself up using a window ledge and studies his reflection in the glass. His delicate chin and long, blonde hair. His newly acquired breasts. He reaches for the wand to break it but the girl stops him, smiling shyly. She touches his arm and asks if he’s okay.

The old man returns to the Helter Skelter and awaits his next customer.

Bio:

Christopher Stanley lives on a hill in England with three sons who share a birthday but aren't triplets. In the past year, his stories have won prizes and been published by Raging Aardvark, Retreat West, ZeroFlash, Corvus Review and The Molotov Cocktail, as well as being included in the 2015 and 2016 National Flash Fiction Day anthologies. Follow him on Twitter @allthosestrings and check him out at https://whenonlywordsareleft.wordpress.com/

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Infernal Flash Competition - Fourth Place

So here we have it, the first of our final placings for our inaugural Infernal Flash Competition and I would like to say, on behalf of my infernal partner, David Shakes and myself, how delighted and humbled we are that in these ever-busy days, people would take the time to write and submit to our contest. Thank you to everyone who entered and if you didn't make the podium this time, then perhaps another. The Clock, after all, never stops ticking.

Note: all identification was stripped from the manuscripts to ensure fair judging.

And now without further ado and amid much procrastination (he really did have a tough time judging, you know), here are the comments from HIM Mr Shakes:



'In 4th place is The Infernal Clock - I am Twitter friends with Jennifer Handorf who produced 'The Borderlands' - the movie reminiscent of the end of this dark tale. The personfication of the ride, its horrific, organic nature is what swung it. I liked the amibiguity coupled with the sense of urgency. My good friend Dom D thought it could be the most atmospheric of the submissions. We both liked the claustrophobia that builds - and the tight narrative. Well done.'


And the name of our Fourth Place and the author of the Infernal Clock is 

... Mark Morris. Congratulations. 

Enjoy his story ...



Infernal Clock


The dark-mannered child took his hand, leading him forward. A series of steps appeared, painted gaily and fashioned from wood. Each of the risers was emblazoned with a word written in a thick black copperplate. ‘Fun!’ proclaimed the first. ‘Enjoy!’ exclaimed the second. The third and the fourth ones were obscured by gloom but Dean knew already they’d be labelled in the same elaborate script.
His companion urged him on, his bare feet shuffling on the first step. His face turned upward. ‘Come,’ he mouthed, the word a silent cloud that hung between them. “Come.” The boy’s hand was icy-cold as it closed onto his own, immediately tugging at it, the child insistent that they move. 
The steps soon began to narrow. They’d only climbed a half a dozen more before the walls drew in closer, the wine-dark canvas cold and damp against their shoulders. The child had surged up and ahead, towing him now, his hand gripping onto his more tightly, his back and shoulders pale and now in line with Dean’s face. His other hand snaked further forward into the dark, gripping onto the spiral of the handrail, its knuckles white as he towed them upward. Dean hesitated, stumbling for a moment, his toe catching against the overhanging lip of one of the treads. The boy looked quickly back, his face a dim white oval.
“Come,” he urged once more. “Come. We must hurry.”
Dean’s feet stuttered as he recovered his balance, his other hand weighted by the slide-sack he was carrying. They were moving at speed now, his toes alternatively scuffling and skipping over the edges of the steps as they raced toward the top. The walls began to quiver, now an infernal ox-blood red, both sides dragging across their bodies as they slid between them. He turned his head about to see back the way they’d been but there was nothing; no steps, no light, just a slick mahogany darkness and a low ululating moan. Their pace increased yet further and he snapped his head back to face the boy, his form now glowing a pale gem-like turquoise.
“No,” Dean said, trying to hook his feet between the steps. “Enough now.”
The child looked back, shaking his head, his clasp becoming vice-like, his small fingerbones grinding sharply against Dean’s. “No,” he replied, looking severe. “There can be no ‘no’. Only forward.”
Then the walls closed in on them and everything went black.

Bio:

Mark Morris is a mature born-again writer who discovered his Muse the second time around. In previous incarnations, he's been a star student, a minor athlete and an obsessive hobbyist but he's lately begun to find a modicum of writing ability and now specialises in writing flash fiction. He's currently working on a handful of novels but is striving to limit this to no more than two or three at once. One of these is a Noir-styled dieselpunk thriller which he hopes will be snapped up by a literary agent next year and then immediately become a worldwide genre bestseller.




Check back next week to discover our Third Place winner.

Monday, 22 May 2017

HorrorAddicts.net Press presents ... Clockwork Wonderland

Today, The Infernal Clock hosts HorrorAddicts.net and their latest release Clockwork Wonderland, an anthology in which I am very lucky to appear. This is not your childhood Wonderland, this is somewhere much darker. Diving down this particular rabbit hole will take you places you never thought imaginable, including the dungeons where my own tale is set; you will find a short extract from my story, Hands of Time, at the end of this post. Want to read more? The book is available at amazon, link below.



Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty Jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.



Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Featuring authors:
Trinity Adler
Ezra Barany
Jaap Boekestein
Dustin Coffman
Stephanie Ellis
Jonathan Fortin
Laurel Anne Hill
N. McGuire
Jeremy Megargee
James Pyne
Michele Roger
H.E. Roulo
Sumiko Saulson
K.L. Wallis
With Foreword by David Watson





Excerpt from

by Stephanie Ellis

The Apprentices stood up, fixing their eyes on the opposite wall, refusing to look at each other. On the long table in front of them, blade and razor, steel and skewer, cleaver and needle shone brightly, like an earth-bound heaven of fallen stars twinkling viciously. The Executioner approached, scanning the tools of his trade and then those who served him. Even down in the gloom of the dungeons, he wore his Death Mask, a leathern covering, roughly stitched with mere gashes for eyes and mouth. His huge frame towered over them.
“Hands,” he barked.
The five young men raised their arms toward him, hands extended over the savage blades that claimed their reflections. The Executioner examined each arm carefully, holding their too-soft flesh between his own heavy leather gloves.
Rab had never seen the man’s hands in the two months he had lived beneath the Castle nor an inch of skin to indicate he was a mortal like them. The Executioner’s hands held his own and he could feel the power and strength that lay within emphasizing how puny, how feeble, he was in comparison. He felt ashamed, a feeling made even worse by the strange tinge visibly creeping across his palms and knuckles, something he attributed to the metal which he had to burnish day and night—a never-ending supply of blood-stained steel.
One look at his handiwork returned a smile to Rab’s face. He enjoyed the ritual cleansing, felt in it a sense of purification. He knew his work was better than the others, their distaste obvious as they scraped off the congealed blood and gore. They did as much as they had to, but no more.
The Executioner stepped back and surveyed his small team. Behind him the fire spat and crackled merrily in the old fireplace. Above it hung the clock, their clock, a clock they avoided looking at if they could help it.
“Tonight, gentlemen,” said the Executioner, “the TimeKeeper will be visiting us.”
“Never heard of him,” muttered one of the apprentices.
“No, you wouldn’t have,” said the Executioner. “Not up there at least.” He jerked his head up, indicating their old world. “He’s a little secret we keep all to ourselves.”
“And why is that?” asked the Apprentice who had just spoken.
The Executioner winked and tapped the side of his nose. “You’ll find out,” he said and continued his inspection, slowly, methodically, silently.
Movement at the far end of the room caught the Apprentices’ attention and turned their thoughts away from the monster before them. All watched in fascination as a single flame drifted through the dimly-lit chamber, closing in on them as a spider to a fly. Hypnotized by the orb’s movement, they failed to notice the creature who carried it in his hand until the man, for want of a better word, stood right in front of them. A solid pulse throbbed beneath his feet, a steady rhythm, ticking and tocking making the air shimmer and sway. Rab could not look away as pendulum eyes held him prisoner.
“Good evening, TimeKeeper,” said the Executioner. “I take it you need new hands?”
“Always.” The TimeKeeper laughed. “The Queen of Hearts wants the clocks changed and the hands moved. Or the clocks moved and the hands changed. I forget which.”
“Forward or back?” asked the Executioner.
“Back again,” said the TimeKeeper. “But the old hands are worn out from this constant tinkering and I need new ones. I heard you had a few to spare.”
“Be my guest,” said the Executioner. They shared a laugh.
At mention of the TimeKeeper’s task, Rab turned his gaze to their clock, noticing for the first time the ivory trelliswork, how it had been crafted from bone. Limbs interwoven in a manner as masterful in its construction as any Carollian carving, perfect slivers of finger interlocked to hold the clock in place. And the hands…they brought back memories of his father’s textbooks with their pen and ink drawings of the human skeleton. He recognized what those hands contorted to track time really were, what he had avoided seeing ever since he’d arrived. Carpal bones and fingers twisted horrifically together, culminated in the deathly point dancing to the TimeKeeper’s tune. How anyone could see beauty in such a monstrosity was beyond him. He averted his eyes, unable to bear the sight of it any longer.
“That is my original clock,” the TimeKeeper said as he came up behind Rab. “The one on which all others are modeled. The Queen is very taken with this design. Now, show me your hands.”
Rab offered his greying hands for inspection. The TimeKeeper said nothing. He moved on and examined the hands of the others.
“We are in agreement?” the TimeKeeper asked.
The Executioner nodded.
“You four,” the TimeKeeper said to Rab’s companions, “swore the apprentice’s oath giving your hands to your Master, for him to do with as he would. And now that time has come. I will take them…” He turned to the Executioner. “You will prepare this young man for the task. No time like the present, eh?”
The ticking rhythm grew loud in Rab’s ears and his mind dulled. He could focus on nothing except the movement of the clock, the march of time. When he roused from his stupor, he was alone with the Executioner.
“Where have they gone?” Rab asked.
“The TimeKeeper will make better use of them than I ever can. You will be taken to them shortly, though. There is a job for you to do.”

To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Infernal Flash Fiction Competition

The past month has seen The Infernal Clock performing strongly on Amazon, sharing shelf space with some amazing authors, and has had some wonderful reviews. To celebrate this, we are offering you the chance to win a print copy of the book AND have your story published on this site. In addition we will publish those stories placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th on this website over successive weeks in our countdown to announce the winner. The 2nd place runner up will also receive an ebook version of The Infernal Clock.

All we ask is that you use the following photo prompt for your horror story and include the word ‘infernal’.



Maximum word length: 500 words
  

Closing date: 03/06/2017


Announcement Schedule 
17th June 2017: 4th place story published on The Infernal Clock blog
24th June 2017: 3rd place published
1st July 2017:    2nd place published

8th July: Winner published.

 Please send your entries (as a .doc or .docx attachment) to theinfernalclock@gmail.com and include a short 100 word bio together with any twitter or website links in the body of your email.

Judges: Steph Ellis, David Shakes


Good luck, we look forward to reading your entries.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Ticking Along

Well it seems as though The Infernal Clock is a brand that is here to stay. It has a twitter account @infernal_clock, an email address theinfernalclock@gmail.com and of course this blog spot. There have been tweets aplenty posted by its talented contributors, although arguably @TheShakes72 is out there in the lead and some very pleasing early reviews which can be read here at amazon. 

We even had a number one position in the Kindle chart for a few heady hours.

What was an even bigger kick however, was checking to see who was on the bookshelf with us, I mean Shirley Jackson AND Stephen King.



So what next?

The focus is still at present on The Infernal Clock. We are working behind the scenes to gather more reviews, today we sent a copy of the book to the British Fantasy Society and will be approaching others. These sites and organisations have said they have quite a pile of material to review so it may be some time before they get to ours – there are no guarantees. But if we don’t ask we don’t get and that is something we are having to learn fast, to put ourselves ‘out there’ even if it means a knockback. It may even be that the reviews are not what were hoped for but that is the nature of the industry, a world based on the subjectivity of the reader.

We are looking at different platforms and different methods of presenting The Infernal Clock but this will take time. There is also a competition in the pipeline, again to draw traffic to this site and the book. And if that isn’t enough, yes there will be another anthology.

This is a long game, so if things look as though they have gone quiet the Clock hasn’t stopped, it’s just ticking along nicely (and @theShakes72 is probably in the pub, except on a school night).



Thursday, 20 April 2017

Quality Time by David Shakes

Steph and I are in discussions about an Infernal Clock competition of some sort. Writing to tie in to the whole IC theme. Going back through my own archives, I thought this piece was a nice example of something that may exist in the IC world:


The clock on the mantle wheezes each interminable second.

The kitchen tap drips infrequently.

There's no rhythm here.

Everything's shrouded, not just you – the familiar coverings of dust and doilies.

Echoes of my last visit, only it's me who’s now sat motionless in the armchair.

Across the room your sightless stare takes in the patterns on the nicotine stained ceiling.

Outside, in the first rays of dawn, I hear the clink of milk bottles on the doorstep.

Such a small sound, yet there's been no milk round here for years.

You whisper, 'Go home now.' 

I can't go yet.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Infernal Art

We've a few hashtags on Twitter, including #InfernalArt - here's a selection













Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Infernal Exit Interview



David Shakes talks to co-curator and esteemed horror writer Stephanie 'Steph' Ellis about how she wound up involved in the project.








1)  So, Stephanie, you went from having to enter a competition to get a timeslot in the book,  to becoming co-curator and linchpin of the project. How the hell did that happen?
Right, first it’s Steph in conversation, not Stephanie. I’ve reserved my ‘proper’ name for written author bylines only. When I was small, the only time my Dad would use my proper name was when I was in trouble (otherwise they called me Stevie but that’s parents/sisters & their children only, although twitter seems to have got in on the act) – to everyone else it’s Steph.
Now back to the book. Fate? Not in my right mind? Sod’s Law? Haven’t the faintest, it just sort of crept up on me.  I had heard ideas for the anthology being mooted but not necessarily being on twitter at the right time I managed to miss the boat. I was a bit miffed at that. However I knew how much my co-curator Shakes and the successful contributors wanted to get this done so I offered my services to help pull it together. Things went a bit quiet but I kept an eye on the messages about The Infernal Clock and saw a slot had opened up subject to competition so I thought I’d give that a go. Thing was, nobody else entered – to this day I’m convinced everyone felt sorry for me and ‘let’ me have 3 a.m. Then again, things went quiet, until a message from Shakes asking if I’d help pull it together and if I had another story; his own work pressures had pretty much delayed things. But life does have an unfortunate habit of getting in the way so no one should ever feel guilty about that.


2) Your horror writing has won many admirers, me included, why do you think your work appeals to so many readers?

Truly, I really don’t know. I never, ever thought I’d end up writing what I do, and believe me I still don’t know how I do it. It may be the imagery I develop – I love that, trying to build pictures that just hint at something until the whole scene is suddenly there in your head and you’ve creeped yourself out in the process. I wrote a short flash piece recently for The Angry Hourglass in which a character initially appears as some sort of mad murderer (explicit) but reading between the lines you discover he actually mutilates humans and keeps them as ‘pets’. I also like to catch people out when I add an element of what I call matter-of-factness to my writing which contrasts and then heightens any madness in the characters.  So perhaps that’s it, show don’t tell – with a dash of psychosis.


3) Once a book is in the wild, the 'business' of marketing it begins - what do you make of the whole thing?

Scarier than writing and very much a learning curve. There are things I’m looking at via this self-publishing course I won a while back which focuses on marketing and selling. I just haven’t had a chance to look at it all properly yet; there’s audiobooks, translations, book trailers and have you seen the world of book vloggers? I asked my daughter to send me links to her favourite vloggers recently so I could check them out, it’s a whole different world out there. And there’s conventions, going on a panel, the thought frightens the life out of me but if I really had to do it, I would. Once upon a time you could write something and leave it to the publishers to push the final product. Now it’s the poor old author who has to put on a very public face and sell themselves in a very saturated market.
I also believe that it’s a long haul process so there will be peaks and troughs and you just have to accept it.
Can I go back to writing now please?


4) Which book, horror or otherwise, do you wish you'd written yourself and why?

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. One of my favourite novels and one which I return to every so often. What stays with me from this book is the whole sense of atmosphere. Right from the start you know something dark and evil is approaching, eventually to be revealed in the shape of the nightmare Carnival. Even when I can’t remember a character’s name or a bit of the plot, the book with its oppressive and dark imagery continues to haunt me. To be able to haunt someone with imagery drawn from your words is a skill indeed.


5) If you were character from the world of horror and the fantastique, who would you be and why?

Me? I’m a nice person. Actually it’s not really horror but I wouldn’t mind being Terry Pratchett’s DEATH. He has some wonderful one-liners and he’s quite fond of humans, plus he has a horse called Binky.
“DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” 


6) Fancy doing this again?

Of course, always a glutton for punishment and as the genius that was Terry Pratchett says “Insanity is catching.” 

CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac is here!

This is the moment when both Shakes and I can sit back and breathe a collective sigh of relief - for a little while. Over the past couple of...