Recently, Sirens Call Publications released its sixteenth anthology titled Voices from the Gloom – Volume 2. With ten stories contained within, none of them specific to any theme other than exceptional horror, we wanted to know what inspiration these authors were met with in writing their tales. Up first, we have Maynard Blackoak, but why don’t we get to know him a little better before we find out what’s behind his story Shadows in the Wind…
Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.
So without further ado, we turn you over to Maynard…
Inspiration Behind Shadows in the Wind
Though there were several factors behind my writing Shadows in the Wind, the most prominent of them was an actor from the 1930’s and 40’s. Rondo Hatton was best known for his brutish features that came about due to his affliction of acromegaly, a pituitary disorder that causes pronounced cheekbones, forehead bulges, enlarged jaws and prominent facial lines. Unfairly, because of this affliction, he was cast as a villain in many of his films. As in years past, there exists today a stereotypical view that evil is ugly and good is beautiful. I decided to break that mold with this story. I modeled a seemingly roguish character after Rondo Hatton, complete with acromegaly. In the end, I attempted to show that ugly is not necessarily evil and consequently, beauty is not always filled with good intentions.
To a lesser degree, one of the other factors that inspired my tale was an old and dilapidated cemetery situated on a seldom used dirt road in a heavily wooded area of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. It’s the final resting place of many settlers who first inhabited this part of the state. Its state of neglect and the dozens of headstones marking the resting place of babies made it the perfect living quarters for someone wishing to hide from the mocking stares and taunting barbs of thoughtless people. Again, where most would only see ruin and tragedy, I see a sanctuary for someone discarded by society. In the decrepit confines of unkempt graves and heartrending reminders of lives that were taken before being granted an opportunity to live, I see both a beauty and a grace that refuses to allow neglect to taint the afterlife.
Lastly, I drew inspiration from the tall black oak and native elm trees whose twisted branches create a myriad of bizarre shadows that dance macabre on the walls during those nights when the moon illuminates the darkness and the wind rifles through them. I have spent hours watching them sway to and fro, imagining many ghoulish creatures, both great and small of all shapes and sizes, prowling outside my home, seeking a means of entrance. On those especially dark and stormy nights, the shadows dance more vividly and the shapes become more eerie.
Placing all these elements in the blender of my mind, I devised a tale that I hope will change the perception of good and evil as well as entertain. If my words bring pleasure and enlightenment to only a singular soul, then I will consider my effort a success.
Thank you Maynard. Now let’s take a look at Voices from the Gloom – Volume 2:
Our Voices from the Gloom series is an eclectic collection of tales that will echo in your mind, making you question what is real and what isn’t.
In this second volume, you’ll encounter ten stories that will send icy shivers down your spine. It includes tales of two brothers who find an opening into another world behind their grandparent’s home; a reporter sent to investigate a haunted house only to find out it holds a more nefarious secret; and the story of a woman searching for her lover but when she doesn’t find him, the tale takes a demented twist.
Get lost in the different voices, let their horrific nature speak to you from the spaces between the shadows. Allow them to get into your head and wring the marrow from your soul…
Maynard Blackoak, Carson Buckingham, Alex Clarke, Kevin Holton, DW Gillespie, Erik Gustafson, Jacob Lambert, Patrick O’Neill, Hannah Sears, and J.T. Seate
Available for purchase at:
And here is a short excerpt from Shadows in the Wind…
Having just finished eating her dinner, Lacy sat in her favorite chair flipping through the channels on the television. Her husband, Barry, had left for a business trip hours earlier, leaving her to spend the night alone. It was to be the first time she would be alone in their new house since they had purchased it.
In the past, spending the night alone had not bothered her. There had been many instances where she had spent several nights alone while Barry had been sent across the country on business. In fact, Lacy took pride in the fact that she was a woman who was fully capable of taking care of herself. Nevertheless, there were aspects of this house and its surroundings that plagued her thoughts with fear, which in turn caused her mind to conjure inexplicable shadows dancing macabre on the walls while unnerving sounds plagued her ears.
There was the old, dilapidated cemetery sitting in an ominous state of neglect, located not even a football field’s length from where she sat. Weeds had long since taken over its grounds, obscuring the graves with their creepy tendrils of dried leaves and dead stems. What few headstones that remained intact and visible were covered with spindly vines and splotches of a blackish, green moss. Every time her mind wandered to those graves, she pictured a pair of putrefied hands, reaching up through the dirt.
Most foreboding of all was the massive elm that sat in the middle of the small cemetery. Its sagging, misshapen limbs hung over the grounds, casting ominous shadows that provoked thoughts of nightmarish creatures lurking among the unkempt graves.
Then there were the tall, dark, twisted oaks that stood on each side of her house. Their limbs and branches cast silhouettes in the night, prompting her mind to manufacture visions of tortured souls entering her home through every window. When the winds whipped through the low hanging branches, it created a chorus of struggling spirits. Each one lamented their desire to be set free from their hellish plight.
Finally, there were the ethereal shadows and piteous calls of the nocturnal wildlife. Distant cries in the night, sounded to her overactive imagination like a person screaming in terror. Even the misshapen silhouettes cast by a harmless armadillo turned into a flesh eating ghoul, scurrying along the ground, seeking a means by which it could get at her.
All these things came together, filling her imaginings with hallucinations of loathsome monsters, depraved murderers, and foul beasts lurking outside the walls of her home. Each one of them had a single minded purpose; to have their brutal way with her…