With the release of our seventeenth anthology, we at Sirens Call Publications decided not to break tradition and asked all of the contributing authors in FEAR: Of the Dark to share the inspiration for their stories. Out of the nine authors whose tales lurk between the covers waiting to terrify you, seven took up the challenge of putting their fears into words. Next up we have Rose Blackthorn, author of In the Dark. But before we delve into what horrors hide in dark of her mind, let’s take a moment for everyone to get acquainted just a little more…
Rose Blackthorn lives in the high mountain desert of Eastern Utah with her boyfriend and two dogs, an Australian Shepherd mix called Boo and a Yorkie named Shadow. She spends her time writing, reading, being crafty, and photographing the surrounding wilderness. An only child, she was lucky enough to have a mother who loved books, and has been surrounded by them her entire life. Thus instead of squabbling with siblings, she learned to be friends with her imagination and the voices in her head are still very much present.
She is a member of the HWA and has been published online and in print with Necon E-Books, Stupefying Stories, Cast of Wonders, Buzzy Mag and the anthologies The Ghost IS the Machine, A Quick Bite of Flesh, Fear the Abyss, From Beyond the Grave, Horrific History, Eulogies II: Tales from the Cellar, Blood and Roses, O Little Town of Deathlehem and The Best of the Horror Society 2013, among others. You can find her on Twitter at @Rose_Blackthorn or on her blog.
So without further ado, we turn you over to Rose…
How To Freak Yourself Out When You’re Home Alone…
So, the wonderful ladies at Sirens Call Publications asked if I’d like to do a guest post about the inspiration for my story In the Dark which has just been published in FEAR: Of the Dark. Since this particular tale actually has kind of an interesting back story, I was happy to participate.
First, like the characters in the story, I have two dogs. I also live in a rural area about five miles from the outskirts of the nearest (small) town. The house where I live is surrounded for the most part by empty fields and the occasional stand of trees. It’s very quiet here, and I enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle. The original inspiration of this story actually happened to me, at my house, on an evening when I was home alone except for my dogs. As the sun dropped behind the horizon, the wind came up as it often does. My dogs, sweet little cuddlers that they are, were playing in the backyard. And then they weren’t playing anymore. They were standing at the back fence, staring into the darkening field behind our house where nobody lives. And they were growling. Their hackles were up. They began to bark, and dash back and forth along the fence line, snarling and baring their teeth. They would not listen to me as I tried to call them back into the house. There was something out there in the closest little outcropping of Russian olive trees, they were sure of it. Whatever it was, they didn’t like it, and they were doing their best to warn it off. And for the first time since I’ve lived in this house, in this quiet sparsely populated area, I was scared.
Keep in mind, I have worked Haunted House attractions, and I’ve watched horror movies and read horror novels for most of my life. It takes a lot to scare me anymore. But at that moment, with my dogs doing their best to warn off whatever was out there, knowing I was pretty much on my own, I got chills and the hair stood up on my arms. I couldn’t see anything in the trees, but it was getting pretty dark and the wind was blowing so everything was moving. Fear of the unknown may be humankind’s first and most lasting fear. No matter how civilized or advanced we become, the unknown still has the ability to frighten.
Secondly, in the area where I now live, there is an ongoing legend about a strange piece of property. You can check it out online; I did. The place is popularly known as Skinwalker Ranch, and it has a long history of odd occurrences. Unexplained lights in the sky, sightings of unclassified animals (bigfoot? werewolves?), livestock disappearances and cattle mutilations, the list goes on. Conspiracy theorists have stated there are UFO landings, portals to other dimensions, and that the Department of Defense and National Institute for the Discovery of Science have at different times funded or performed scientific inquiry into the strange happenings at the ranch. The local Ute Indian Tribe apparently has legends concerning a Skinwalker or shapeshifter, which is supposedly responsible for much of the bizarre activity in the area.
So, was there a skinwalker wandering around in my back field, antagonizing my dogs? I’m about seventeen miles from the ranch, but I suppose that’s not too far for a shapeshifter to wander. As for me? I keep my doors locked and make sure my dogs come in before dark.
Thank you Rose! Now let’s take a look at FEAR: Of the Dark…
What makes your skin tingle? What makes you look over your shoulder sure that something is lurking there? What ratchets your tension level up so high that nothing matters more than what comes next on the page?
The answers to those questions are the ones we sought when we put together this collection of nine stories. Inside these pages you’ll find fear that engages, fear that provokes, fear that drives you to the brink of… Well, everyone has a different precipice when it comes to fear, but the stories selected for FEAR: Of the Dark certainly held our attention.
If you truly enjoy a well written story that engages the senses and prompts anxiety and paranoia, FEAR: Of the Dark may be the perfect collection of short stories for you. And in case you were wondering, it is waiting for you, out there – somewhere; you just don’t know it yet.
Rose Blackthorn, Juan J. Gutiérrez, Jovan Jones, Lars Kramhøft, Lisamarie Lamb, Jon Olson, Zachary O’Shea, Jon Steinhagen, and Alex Woolf
Available for Purchase at:
And here’s an excerpt from In the Dark…
The sun had set and in a remarkably short time the ambient light in the sky had faded. As soon as it really got dark, that’s when the ruckus started. The two dogs ran back and forth along the back fence, barking–barking–barking. They lived in a rural area, and there were no houses to be seen beyond the back fence; just fields with weeds and trees, and eventually another fence off in the distance.
“What do you think is out there?” Tristan asked. She tried to sound nonchalant and slightly disinterested, but there was a low current of unease in her voice. They’d only lived here for a month, and she wasn’t used to the quiet or the lack of other people.
“Could be a lot of things,” her father Jim replied as he put the last of the washed and dried dinner dishes away in the cupboard. “Rabbits or raccoons. Even birds.” He closed the cabinet door and cocked his head, listening to the ongoing barrage of sound. “Although, it could be coyotes, too. Maybe we should call them back in here.”
Tristan nodded and went to the back screen door. There was a light switch on the wall beside it, and she flipped it on. The bulb outside wasn’t very bright, so the light didn’t quite reach all the way to the fence. “Blue!” she called through the screen, then, “Brutus! Come on, you two. Time for bed.”
The dogs must have looked back at the house to where she stood silhouetted in the doorway, because she saw eerie reflections from their eyes. Blue was bigger, so her eyes were higher and a little farther apart. Brutus was a terrier mix, only ten or twelve pounds, but his eye-shine was almost as high as the bitch’s because he was standing on his back feet, front paws braced on the chain-link fence.
“Come on, time to come in!” she called again, and clapped her hands together sharply, making her palms sting. But they just turned away from her and went on with their barking, dashing back and forth along the length of the fence as though looking for a way through to the dark fields beyond.
“Stubborn little shits,” Jim said, but he was smiling. He went to the little hidden closet tucked inside the laundry room just off the kitchen, and came back with a BB gun. He had put the gun there, making sure it was loaded, just in case they had any problems with wild animals getting inside the fence. Now he pumped it a couple of times, and told Tristan, “Open the door, T.”
When she did, he stepped out on the patio and whistled, a sharp piercing sound that silenced the dogs. “Come on, dogs. Now,” he called, and the authoritative tone in his voice did the trick. Reluctantly, they left the fence and trotted across the yard. “Get in the house,” he added when they hesitated at the edge of the patio. Blue tucked her tail, and scooted through the open door. Brutus, true to his feisty nature, yipped once in canine defiance, then raced into the house. “Shut the door. I’m going to go take a look.”