The Collection

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When I began writing as a teenager I didn’t really have an end-goal, didn’t have an agenda, and didn’t see anything but the words as they spun out before me. The older I got the more ambitious I got and the wider my view became. The words and stories still seem like magic, like a spell woven by someone else, something else, and I am but a conduit for it. I love telling stories and love writing. I love dark stories because they dip into worlds of imagination where a simple shadow can hold untold things and hidden worlds. I feel like I can tell the same sorts of stories that the ‘literary fiction’ wants to tell but can add an element to heighten things, and to emphasize things. And really, I just like to wander into the shadows from time to time.

These books, different as they all are, have one thing in common and that is hope in the darkness. Light in the abyss. Not every story can have a happy ending but there’s something pure and revelatory even in the bleakest of tales.

Why do I write? Because I love to tell stories and occasionally it’s fun to creep people out…or maybe make them smile.

These books are my worlds and I promise to take you places and show you things you have never seen before. These books are doorways and you hold the keys.

Enter if you dare.

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Ringler/e/B00502P2DS

CEMETERY EARTH – a novel of the living dead

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There are a glut of zombie books out there. Zombies are the new vampires – everyone is doing them and everyone’s version is the best most original thing ever.

So why zombies?

I began this book in the early 2000s with the idea of writing a book about zombies. I have talked about what lead to this book before and don’t like boring people with repetition but it’s worth mentioning in passing. I began the book with a story that didn’t make the book and decided I wanted to explore the world of the dead but via short stories. In the course of this Hunter was born, my young hero. I didn’t get but a few stories in though and realized that by the time I would ever finish the book the world would be dead and sick of zombies and the last thing you want to be is the person putting work out about a subject people are sick of seeing. As soon as I found a way to get my books out I started thinking about my zombie book. My Cemetery Earth. I wasn’t sure I was ready to tackle it but I wanted to get back to it. When I decided it was time to finish up some projects I had begun and to wind down my publishing I realized it was time to finish the book.

This is a book about the end. An end that Man set in forth. An end that brings about a new age on the earth, the Dead Age. A world where two young people cling to one another and the hope that there is something left of the world they once new, the world of the living, and willing to kill to find that world once more.

https://www.createspace.com/4336448

Nights Of Black Hearts – a journey into the void

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After I had put a few books out I started to get a little mischievous. I loved putting books together with no notice, no fanfare, and no hints and to just release it and even if no one else cared it meant something to me because I loved the playfulness of it. the mystery. This is such a book. NOCHES DE CORAZONES NEGROS was meant to be my darkest book. A Valentine to the abyss which would showcase the darkest stories I had. Well, it is, and it isn’t. I found in putting it together that there were some stories I was still not willing to release to the world but there is much darkness here. Darkness because only by looking into the darkness can we start learn about what we are, who we are, and what we are capable of doing and becoming. These are stories cut from that darkness and put upon a human forge. Peer deeper if you dare.

https://www.createspace.com/3686595

Raising the Dead

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I have a crazy idea. Now, as with all crazy ideas I can’t really affect this or foster it. I am the idea man, and that’s it. Sorry. I wish I could do more. But I think it’s an idea that’s worth putting out there.

I am a horror fan, duh. Look at the books I write and stuff I write about and that becomes pretty clear. As the years have passed I haven’t lost my love of the genre or the people that make the movies but over the years some of the legends of horror have seen a decline in their output and quality. Which is not to speak ill of anyone but it’s clear that a lot of the bigger name directors who are known for their work in horror have not been doing a. a lot of work these days and b. memorable work.

So what happened?

I think it’s a couple of things – the industry changed and horror changed.

These high profile filmmakers who made a lot of money for the studios and made some of the scariest movies of all time were priced out I think. I am guessing that it became more economical to hire younger, ‘hungrier’ directors and to fund projects that would cost less money to make.

Another piece of the puzzle is that horror has changed. It’s always in motion but in this case the tropes and terrors that made these filmmakers famous went out of favor as people got used to them and needed things changed up. It wasn’t that scary went out of fashion so much as people got bored and these filmmakers paid the price for that. Sure, some of them maybe needed to expand their horizons and re-invent their approach or try new things but a lot of them didn’t get regular work so they didn’t get the opportunities to evolve their techniques.

Flash forward to today and we have a lot of talented, innovative, classic filmmakers who are struggling to even get their films made and that is a shame. It’s not a new thing with Hollywood at all, which goes for the hot name or new name over the established one. Unless you are a legend you are nothing, and even these horror legends are seen as next to nothing. While a couple have definitely lost a step I still think they could all produce great work again if given the right circumstances. I think it’s a matter of their fighting for funding, fighting to get their stories out there, and fighting to even get their films released that has softened the edge these greats once had.

So what could be done?

A great but ill-used medium was MASTERS OF HORROR, which was wonderful at first but soon fell into mediocrity but it had the right idea. We need a way to get the greats back working again and regularly. We need to celebrate these people before we lose them. Some won’t be interested in the idea, some will want to just coast and retire, but some may dig it.

What we need is a small studio set up that funds these projects with budgets of $2million and under but which gives the filmmaker complete control to make their film. Keep the costs low, get folks that want to work and work with these filmmakers and who are willing to do it at lower fees and see what happens. Bring these filmmakers back to their roots where they had to be creative and had to be hungry but when they could see their films and their visions make it to the screen. A movie that comes to mind that had a similar approach was Rob Zombie’s LORDS OF SALEM, a film that isn’t great but which is all Zombie’s and really shows what he can do and what he wanted to do. It’s a fascinating film and a great template for how this could work. Now, these may not be films that make it to theaters but maybe an art-house run before showings at conventions, and then release on video on demand and a home release. Remind people who these filmmakers are and celebrate them. And if it doesn’t work then you fold up the tents and accept that maybe it wasn’t meant to be but I bet a few of these films turn out really well.

It drives me crazy to see the money poured into terrible movie ideas and terrible filmmakers. I want to see the people that helped re-create modern horror get another shot at scaring us, without the politics, without the studio delays, and without the fickle market dictating what they should make.

Maybe it works.

Maybe it doesn’t.

It be a heck of a fun thing to see happen though.

 - c

http://www.meepsheep.com

Red Dreams – book of terror

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When putting RED DREAMS together I wanted to set a tone and it began with the books cover. I wanted stories that would get under people’s skin and bother them. The stories in this book are born of blood and meant to infect you with darkness and to give you very dark, very red dreams.

Enjoy.

https://www.createspace.com/3532560

CHARLES BILKWATER – a story

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Recently I happened on a Twitter feed through a friend that purports to post horrific things. Eh, it comes and it goes. The feed is pretty lame but while digging through old tweets I did happen upon a few urban legends that they had posted. None were real, and most had ‘tells’ that gave them away but there was still an eeriness to it all and it made me think – I wonder if I could write an urban legend. A story that doesn’t necessarily deign to explain why something happened but tells you of the thing itself.  This is my attempt to do just that. It is too much of a story to work as an urban legend but I just feel it works much better as a whole and am not sure I would like it if I cut it up to make it a lead in then punch line.
Take this as it is…my urban legend.

Charles Bilkwater

  Mercy Hospital was small even by the standards of 1959. There were two doctors on staff, five nurses, and any food or drinks one might want during the day had to be brought in from home or the local diner. The single story hospital was three years old and the brainchild of a retired physician who had made his money with wise investments and a surgical invention and it was his vision that soon a highway would cut through the farmland that surrounded the town he called home for his entire life and when it came there would be people, and accidents, and sickness, and for something like this there needed to be a hospital. The doctor poured his time, money and sweat lived long enough to see the hospital built but not long enough to see the highway come. Instead of the mobile masses the hospital got sick little girls, lonely old people, and the occasional local who had hurt themselves working their land. Nothing exciting. Nothing remarkable. All of that changed on the day Charles Bilkwater came in. Not in their wildest nightmares could someone have imagined what he brought with him.

  It was noon and there was a full staff on hand to celebrate the twenty-fourth birthday of one of the nurses. The one patient the hospital had was Mrs. Calvina Gypsim, a widow who suffered from acute loneliness but who claimed a new illness every day the doctors came to check on her. She wasn’t a bother, and they liked having someone in a bed. The staff was standing at the nurse’s having cake when the young man stumbled through the double doors that stood at the front of the hospital. The man was clean cut and wearing a white button up shirt, tan slacks, but nothing on his feet. His hands were dirty but his face and clothes were clean. The man exploded through the doors and looked around first to the left, then to the right, but on seeing the five staff members his clouded face lit up and he hobbled towards them. The eldest of the five, Dr. Marshall Green put his plate and fork down and jogged up to the man and inquired if he needed anything. The man gave no answer and simply looked at the doctor with a furrowed brow. Dr. Green asked again if the man was all right and again got no reply though the man was looking at the doctor as he spoke. The doctor spoke louder and slower, in case the man was hard of hearing or deaf but still got no reply. Confused, Dr. Green turned back to his colleagues and shrugged but as soon as he did the man let out a terrible scream and fell to his knees. Dr. Green spun back around and when he did the man grabbed the doctor around the waist and whispered to him –

  “Please, please…get her out of me. Get. Her. OUT OF ME!”

  The man collapsed on the floor and a pool of blood started to form beneath him. Panicked, Drs. Green and O’Leary bent down and each took and arm and they picked the man up and hurried him towards the closest room with the nurses rushing to get bandages and instruments to examine him. One of the nurses stopped in to see Mrs. Gypsim and to make sure the man’s screams hadn’t alarmed her. When she went into the room though the nurse found Mrs. Gypsim curled in a ball under her bed covers and crying. When the nurse asked what was wrong the older woman looked up from her knees and asked –

  “Why is that little girl crying? Please make her stop. Please make her stop crying.”

  The man was still unconscious when the doctors placed him in the bed so they could not inquire as to what had happened to him. Whatever had happened to the stranger he had been severely injured and needed help immediately. The first thing that needed to be handled was the bleeding – his shirt was soaked through with blood and the pool beneath him was spreading and soaking through the bedding and the staff needed to stop the bleeding. The nurses began carefully unbuttoning the man’s shirt but were pushed aside by Dr. O’Leary who began to cut the shirt away with a pair of scissors. A nurse gave Dr. Green a wet cloth to gently wipe the blood away and when he was finished there was no sign of wound on his stomach, chest, or throat, though the blood still continued to bubble up and pool on his skin, coming up through the pores. The doctors carefully rolled the man over and cleaned his back and again found no wound but within a moment of being cleaned the blood returned and covered him once more. The doctors rolled the man over onto his back again and looked at one another with pursed lips. The five staff members stepped back from the unconscious man to talk amongst themselves. Something needed to be done or he would bleed out. There was no telling how much blood he had already lost but there was no doubt he was running out of time. Perhaps he had sustained a massive internal trauma and that was where the blood was coming from but there was no way to know for sure without opening him up. Drs. O’Leary and Green both had performed surgeries but it was Dr. O’Leary who had the steadier hand so it was he that would perform the surgery. They didn’t know if the many would survive the move and time it would take to set up the operating room so they decided to perform the surgery on the bed where he was and so the nurses rushed off to get the instruments and gas. Dr. O’Leary left his colleague to go wash up quickly and Dr. Green remained to watch the man. There was an eerie silence that hung in the room and it unnerved the doctor even further so Dr. Green let his attention slip from the man for a moment and out the window towards where the man had come from where there were only miles and miles of woodland. Where had this man come from? Where had he been going?

From behind the Doctor came a young girl’s voice.

  “Mommy? Daddy? Why is it so dark? Why is it so dark here?”

Dr. Green turned around to see who this girl was and to get her out of the room but saw only the man, who was still unconscious and breathing shallowly. Again there came the voice.

  “Daddy? Daddy? Where am I? Why is it so dark? Daddy I can’t feel anything. Daddy? Mommy? MOMMY? DADDY? WHERE ARE YOU?”

  “Where, where are you? Little girl where are you?” Asked the doctor.

  “Inside…INSIDE!”

The little girl was screaming now and as Dr. O’Leary and the three nurses returned Dr. Green was visibly upset by the turn of events. The screaming stopped as soon as the other arrived but everyone had heard the girl and the nurses looked around the room and found no one and Dr. O’Leary turned the man’s pockets out and found no radio. All of them were shaken now and the girl didn’t speak after that but her sobbing remained and sent shivers of ice through all of them and it was Dr. Green that realized with dawning horror that the crying was coming from the unconscious man, whose mouth was still closed.

The man suddenly sat up, covered again in blood, and screamed once more –

  “Please, get her out of me. Pleeeeeeeease! Sweet Christ I can feel her, I can feel her tearing at me.”

The man let out a blood curdling yell and then fell back onto the bed and was still, his body turning white as more blood oozed out of his pores. One of the nurses fainted but no one noticed as Dr. Green slowly stepped up to the man and checked his pulse. Dr. Green nodded slowly. The man was gone. Dr. O’Leary stepped forward holding a towel and draped it over the man’s face. There was an eerie silence as the four staff members looked at one another, unsure what to do. Then, as if from a distance.

  “Mommy…daddy…I made the bad man let me go…made the man…let…me…go…”

It took three hours for the county coroner and police to make their way out to Mercy Hospital and by that time it was only Dr. O’Leary and Nurse Smith left on duty. Dr. O’Leary told the State Troopers who had come out that they could get statements later if they were needed; the staff had been through a lot. Seeing the state of the body and the thick pool of blood that had soaked the bed the two officers offered no arguments. Whatever had happened here had been horrific. As soon as it was all over the nurses had been ushered out of the room and down to the lounge and the authorities had been contacted Dr. Green patted his colleague on the shoulder and told him he had something he wanted to check on and with that he left and Dr. O’Leary watched as the older man made his way out of the hospital and across the parking lot and off into the field and back the way the man had come.

Dr. Green heard the cries of the approaching ambulance and then the police car but was deep within the woods by then and too focused on the forest floor, looking for signs of the man’s trail. As he got further and further from the hospital the trail became easier and easier to follow as footprints gave way to bits of clothing dropped here and there along the way. Pieces of a dress by the look. Deeper and deeper and deeper he went into the forest until he reached a place where the trail died off with first one then the other shoe and then marshland took over. Dr. Green searched everywhere but could find nothing more of the trail of the man. As the doctor was searching though he saw a small mound in the heart of the marsh and three small crosses planted within it. Dr. Green waded into the marsh and made his way slowly to the mound, the water rising from feet to ankles to knees, and up to his thighs by the time he got there. He got to the small island and climbed out of the marsh and walked towards the crosses.

They were graves.

Three graves.

Robert Tralay – 1838 – 1866

Madeline Tralay – 1844-1866

Angela Tralay – 1860-1866.

Three graves.

The last, the little girl’s grave had been dug up, seemingly by hand from the look of it, and her casket was broken open and to the doctor’s horror there was nothing inside it but a broken doll. Lying beside the grave was a wallet with an ID that belonged to the stranger whose name Dr. Green now knew – Charles Bilkwater.

The grave was empty.

The grave was empty.

The grave was empty.

The doctor turned and looked back the way he had come and shuddered.

I write books once in a while. Curious?

www.meepsheep.com

My First Novel – A SHADOW OVER EVER

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Once upon a time I was a young guy making ‘zines with my friends. We didn’t know what we wanted to do with our lives we just knew we loved movies and weird stuff and hanging out together. It was during this time that I wrote a weird little short story called Night’s Dancer about an angry man bent on having his mad revenge on the town that had mocked and judged him for so many years. What had begun as a strange little story became an infection in me that refused to go away and inch by inch the world of Pete Anders, pumpkin headed madman, grew into something much bigger than I ever could have imagined. The book took me ten years to finally get out to the world and I couldn’t be happier. I put it all out there, let the story go where it needed to go, and let Pete Anders, notorious bastard, grow into something far different than what he began as.

A SHADOW OVER EVER is the book I am proudest of because it was the one I never thought would make it out. It took so long, and was so weird that I wasn’t sure it would make it. I am glad it did. It’s the story of the beginning of everything and the beginning of the end of all things. It’s a book that begins in a small town with small town people and ends in a great war with the first children of Eden, angels, devils, and things far greater and far more dangerous. It’s a dark book but one with a sly grin that lives within that pumpkined head of Pete.

If you have wanted to read something weird, epic, freaky, funny, and starring an angry old killbilly well friend, look no further.

https://www.createspace.com/3942067

This Beautiful Darkness

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When I published my first book BACK FROM NOTHING I didn’t know whether or not there would BE a second book, let alone any other ones. After ten years of working on new stories and books and looking for a publisher I learned that self publishing had come a LONG way since people started talking about it seriously and I began to look into it and within a matter of months I had collected and edited the stories that would become my second book. THIS BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS. This book is a collection of dark, sometimes pitch black stories that never forget that even in the darkest shadows there can still be a light to lead you.

Check it out here – https://www.createspace.com/3386414

Saving FRIDAY

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I love the FRIDAY THE 13th films. Heaven help me I really do. Of all the slasher franchises those and the HALLOWEEN films have always been the ones I liked best. Not that these are groundbreaking films in what they do or anything but they are fun and they have definitely added new elements along the way. With 8 it felt so silly – which is saying a LOT for a franchise known less for the actors and directors and more for the kills – but even the bad ones were fun in their way. The thing is…that there’s a point where you can tell everyone is mailing it in. There are moments where that’s not the case, actors and directors that took things more seriously, or at least had fun with it, but you can tell that a lot of the folks involved felt like they were slumming and acted like it. And I get that, the movies are what they are – popcorn fodder – but it’s funny that I have read over and over again how few of the folks in the films really wanted to do them, they just needed the money and most are not fans of the genre. Which makes me laugh because everyone wants to be in Oscar fare and droning dramas that no one sees but being in something as puerile as a horror film, well sir, good day!

Sigh.

Let’s face it, the era of the slasher film is gone, not forever, but gone for now. All things are cyclical and that cycle passed, or was run into the ground. It’s happening with supernatural films and happened with vampire films and that’s how it is. If it is popular it will be exploited then worn out and made ragged until we move on. The thing is though that FRIDAY THE 13th isn’t JUST a slasher franchise anymore it’s iconic, and the fact that the stupid suits that control the franchise don’t appreciate that is a drag. For modern horror fans Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface and Chucky are our modern icons. There are others but those are the ones that have stood the test of time and are still popular. Heck, the CHILD’S PLAY franchise is still solid and shows what can be done if you have a creator who likes the franchise and wants to stay involved and you are willing to play with the films and take risks. It works! All horror fans want is for their beloved characters to be treated with care and treated seriously, outside of that you can take some chances. The thing though is that no one wants to take and have ownership of these franchises longterm. They want the quick check and then want to bail. The only person that really loved and was part of FRIDAY was Kane Hodder and they fired him. I get the studios wanting new blood in the role, and the other two guys who have portrayed Jason have been fine but Kane freaking LOVED the part and was ditched with no honor or ceremony, and that’s a problem.

The studios just don’t care about these films.

Sure, they CARE in that they are money makers and they love that, and the merch on them HAS to be incredible, but as far as making sure good films are made it’s not part of the equation. Cheap is what they want and cheap is what they tend to get. And it shows. I don’t in any way think that any of these films are high art, and they shouldn’t have huge budgets but they should be taken seriously and have people involved with making them that get what they are and get what can be done with them. Chasing whatever new fad is going around and shoe-horn it into the film (looking at you HALLOWEEN with your stupid webcam episode, come ON!). Give the movies to exciting, talented young filmmakers, give them a tight budget, get them someone who WANTS to write the film and who understands the franchise and let them take risks and expand the story. Sure, these young guns (or older established filmmakers looking for a challenge) won’t always succeed but if the film is fun, is sincere, and is different and interesting it will reach its audience and if made for a reasonable and aggressive budget you can make money on it. Ya don’t want to wear your welcome out with a movie every year – that’s a bit much – but you also don’t want to let people forget about the franchise. I think Jason NEEDS to lose sometimes, AND to win and change it up. Heck, I LIKED FRIDAY 5 because it took a chance and did a sort of side story, just like I love HALLOWEEN III for the same reason. I know you’d never get away with it these days but it’s interesting that both HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY franchises were eyed as seasonal horror stories before their main villains took the fore.

There is a LOT of money to be made in the horror genre if the filmmakers and producers take the genre seriously. If you pander to the fans and treat their films like trash then they will stop caring and stop buying tickets, and home releases, and merch. Horror and comedy draw the crowds to the theater (with fantasy and sci-fi FINALLY getting some box office traction too these past few years) and that needs to be taken seriously. Sure, do the stupid horror and stupid comedy – some folks love that stuff – but you also need to respect the franchises and respect the fans. Respect the fans and you will always make money.

With talk of another reboot of the FRIDAY franchise I am just…curious. I don’ t like the rumors I have seen but I am willing to keep an open mind…so long as the filmmakers treat the film with care. The last thing it should be is another reboot. At this point we KNOW who Jason is and if we don’t then we don’t care. He isn’t a character that we need a lot of deep probing into. We know him, it’s the WHYs and WHEREs and WHOs that we care about and in that the HOWs. The remake was fun, was well made, and while it pandered some it wasn’t awful. And the filmmakers did a nice job with the movie and it was a nice way to re-introduce the character. Why they don’t build from that I can’t say. I LOVED what they did with the two new HALLOWEEN films and while I do hope they make more, I LIKED that those two films were their own story. I think when they reboot it again you just skip to Michael as an adult and doing his thing and build it out from there. Stop ret-conning everything, darn it!

I am hope, hope, hoping for a day when the horror franchises are treated with the same care that we at least treat films in other genres. I want to see them get good, bonus rich home releases, and to get the film treatment they deserve. Sure, they’ll never win Oscars, and they’ll never be for everyone but for those of us that love them they are something special, and all we want is for someone to take that seriously.

…c…

http://www.meepsheep.com