I’m the new horror photography Community Volunteer on DeviantArt

I’ve been a Community Volunteer with DeviantArt on and off for the last nine years, most recently looking after a variety of different photography galleries under the umbrella of general photography.

As of 26th September, I’m specifically looking after the horror and macabre photography gallery and I couldn’t be happier!

My first term as a Community Volunteer (2008-2010) was with horror photography, so it feels like a return home and I’m super excited about diving back into a specialist focus again, especially one so close to my heart.

It seemed fitting to include the photo above with this news. If you’re interested in how I created it, materials are listed below. I used one studio strobe with a softbox positioned to the left of the shot and a reflector to the right.

Fake blood is Grimas Filmblood A.
Keys are on a 1970-something Yamaha organ (it still works, I love it)
Smoke is delicious aniseed, menthol and mixed fruit vape.
Hand is mine


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Red Hand

This poem has been living in a works-in-progress folder on my computer for quite a while because I wanted to wait until I no longer felt the way it described before I posted it. Sometimes when you leave a place, it takes a long time and a lot of work before the place leaves you.

 

Red Hand

you did this to me and i
couldn’t even hurt you back
all i could do was leave

i don’t know why it took
more than a decade to understand
you didn’t take anything from me
but instead shaped a part of myself
that i still can’t look in the eye

your name is the hollow vibration
of a bomb detonating

they say
it’s not like that now
it doesn’t matter
it was like that then

and i’m like this now

 


Visit my Patreon to find out about the rewards you can get when you become one of my Patrons. If you’d like to make a one-off payment without a monthly commitment, or add a bonus on top of your existing monthly Patreon pledge, you can do that simply and securely through PayPal. Or show your support by buying me a coffee!

Teeth

the dream, it began
with one of my teeth falling out
and the others were bent like gravestones
toppled and tilting in the weak mush soil
of bleeding gums

the room had blue tiles
half-bleached white in an
aching permanent noon
like a bathroom
in an asylum
in a film
(in a dream)

the mirror was cracked and hanging at odds
my hands were burned and blistered
and my fingers twisted, broken and set
trees and branches, rusted nails

i touched my face and the skin melted and dripped from it
like paint that takes three attempts to open the tin
(with fingernails, with a knife, with a chisel)
something festering and silently toxic

one by one, the remaining teeth came loose
my tongue agitated the rotten stumps
but there was no familiar pleasure
in the final twisting free

i laid my broken teeth
with their blackened roots
to rest in a red velvet pouch

and knew that i was no longer
beautiful.

It Began By The Sea As It Usually Does

Just a dream I had…

It began by the sea as it usually does. This time there was no tidal wave but a crashing eternity of raging white horses. The water was warm. I walked in until it was up to my waist and then let myself fall back into it and under. I felt euphoric.

Then there was an obstacle course built inside a barn that was old, badly repaired and barely held together by rotting wood and wishful thinking. I made my way through it from the end to the beginning until I reached a platform with a man loading a gun. People were dancing on the floor below us. He handed me the gun and I fired a shot but the dancers didn’t seem to notice. As one fell, his partner carried on dancing, arms outstretched.

A line of people shuffled into the room, staring blankly at their feet as they moved. One of them looked up at me and we recognised each other. I asked him, “Last time, were you with me when I killed someone?”. He replied “No. Last time, you killed me”, turned his eyes down again and walked away, following the line.

I was climbing a metal ladder that was anchored to the ground but not held in place any higher. It swayed as I climbed and I should have been frightened but all I could think about was the dancer, soaked in her partner’s blood, elegantly gliding across the floor with empty arms.

Four Truths, One Lie and One Unspoken Secret, Part 2 (Flash Fiction Prompt: Love Lies/Numbered)

Flash fiction prompt 29 (Love Lies) and 30 (Numbered), part 2. You can read part 1 from yesterday here. Because tomorrow’s post will be a recap of the month rather than a fiction piece, today is my final flash fiction prompt January post!

If you haven’t read the previous parts of this collection, it’ll make more sense if you read them in the order they happened rather than the order I wrote them – Push, Near-Death Wish, Drowning, Drowning Part 2 and Four Truths, One Lie and One Unspoken Secret, Part 1. Today’s piece is from Noah’s point of view. Brett’s was posted yesterday.

Four Truths, One Lie and One Unspoken Secret, Part 2

1. I love you.

2. When you’re holding a mug of coffee first thing in the morning and you’re still half asleep, I want to freeze time so I can stare at you forever. In those quiet moments, before you construct your mask and awaken your bravado, I feel like I’m seeing something meant only for me. I thought that feeling would lessen over time, but it hasn’t. I will always make coffee for you without asking if you want it, just so I can watch you drink it.

3. That first night, I almost asked you to come home with me. You saw exactly the same thing in me that everyone else does, but while other people walk away, you walked right into it, right into me, and it instantly made you the most fascinating person I had ever met. You are still the most fascinating person I have ever met and I can’t see that changing any time soon. Or ever.

4. The night I walked out, I drove for miles in the dark but I wanted nothing more than to come home to you, to climb into bed beside you and tell you everything. It scared me that I could miss someone so much after only a few hours and I didn’t know how to handle that intensity of feeling. I’m learning though and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

1. A few times but only in self-defence. I hated it and I hated myself for doing it. I only did it because I had to. I had no other option and I felt like shit afterwards. I will never do it again.

1. I would though, if you wanted me to. I would, with you.


About the photo
Another heart drawn in blood, more love and violence. A fitting final picture for the month!

Index of January 2017 flash fiction prompts.

Four Truths, One Lie and One Unspoken Secret, Part 1 (Flash Fiction Prompt: Love Lies/Numbered)

Flash fiction prompt 29 (Love Lies) and 30 (Numbered), because I couldn’t resist doing a list instead of a straight-up story.  This piece is split into two parts, with the second part to be posted tomorrow. Now that the characters who have taken up residence in my head over the last few days have told me their names, I wanted to give them one more chance to speak to each other before prompt month ends.

If you haven’t read the previous parts of this strange little collection, it’ll make more sense if you read them in the order they happened rather than the order I wrote them – Push, Near-Death Wish, Drowning and Drowning Part 2. Today’s piece is from Brett’s point of view. Noah’s will be posted tomorrow.

four truths one lie and one unspoken secret part 1

1. I love you.

2. When you’re getting dressed, I look at you the way most people look at someone getting undressed. You’re beautiful as you are, but watching you put on clothes is like watching you put on armour to do battle with the world. Sometimes I wish I could tear down your walls, but right now it’s enough to know that you’ve built some of those walls around both of us and I have never felt safer.

3. That first night, I would have let you do anything and I would have done anything for you. I would have let you kill me if you’d wanted to and I would have gone anywhere with you if you’d asked. The following night, I almost didn’t go back to meet you because I was scared of what would happen. I wasn’t scared of what you might want. I was scared of what I already wanted.

4. The night you walked out, I lay awake until it got light outside and imagined you coming home to me. I thought it was a fight. I thought you’d assume you’d won. Now I know better and I know you don’t see the world in such simple terms. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll stand in front of the door and refuse to move until you tell me all the things you’re scared to say. I’ll listen and even if I don’t understand, I’ll accept everything, all of it, all of you. Then I’ll move aside so you can leave if you want to but I know you won’t.

1. Never, and I don’t think I could. I don’t think I have it in me. I’ve spent my life pushing boundaries, testing limits, and I’ve found the darkest and brightest parts of myself in those experiences. But that feels like a line I couldn’t cross.

1. I would though, if you wanted me to. I would, with you.


About the photo
I wanted an image that suggested love and violence, since it’s fairly obvious from the ‘lie’ and the ‘unspoken secret’ that there might be a bit more of both in these guys’ shared future. Weirdly, or not that weirdly if you know me, I have two very similar heart-drawn-in-blood photos in my archives, taken a few years apart.

Index of January 2017 flash fiction prompts.

Near-Death Wish [Flash Fiction Prompt: Tomorrow]

Flash fiction prompt 28 and the guys from yesterday’s story are back. This takes place the day after Push, told from the perspective of the other person, and long before Drowning and Drowning, Part 2.

Apart from vague mentions of violent ideation in the first paragraph, this is pretty much content warning free. For a change.

Near-Death Wish

“So”, he said, past a split lip and blood-soaked teeth, “Same time next week?”. At that point, it could have gone one of three ways. An agreement, wait a week and see what happened next time. One more blow to the face, shattering the back of his skull against the wall, knowing in that moment he would have let me. And then there was the way I chose.

“Same time tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow?”. He spat blood onto the pavement, cracked his jaw, wiped his mouth on his sleeve and looked at me like he was wishing I’d said “Now”.

“Tomorrow. Same time, same place, no-one tries to kill anyone. We get a beer and we talk. Alright?”.

“Sure. But I don’t drink beer”.

“OK then, drink whatever you drink. And leave that knife behind”.

“How did you . . ?”

“Look, I don’t know how often you do whatever this is but you picked the wrong person this time”.

“Oh, no, I really didn’t”. A pause. “See you tomorrow then. And you can frisk me for weapons if you want”.

And with that he was on his way, limping slightly. Once he’d put a few feet of distance between us, he pulled the knife from his waistband and tossed it in the air with a flick of his wrist that made it spin. He caught it expertly by the blade, flashed me one last red smile over his shoulder that made my breath catch in my throat, and turned the corner out of view.

I lay awake for most of the night wondering how the hell this had happened. Sure, people tended to recognise me for at least part of what I was, but it mostly made them keep their distance, cross the road, walk a wide arc around me. Occasionally a random drunk would try to pick a fight but one solid punch would put an end to it before it even started. This one I couldn’t figure out at all. I got the feeling he wasn’t drunk and he was anything but random. I’d never met anyone who could take an impact like that and stay standing. For a brief moment I wondered if I’d finally met my match, then I shook the feeling away. I’d never been that lucky before, but I was curious. I didn’t understand any of this, but I wanted to.

The following night, I got there early, by accident but also not. With no idea whether or not he was going to show, I craved a cigarette. The last time I had a smoke was the night I quit my job and I swore off both tobacco and my previous profession for life. I quit cold turkey, smoking and killing, and it was all fine for over a year until I felt a vicious desire for both in the space of twenty-four hours. Because of him. And he looked . . . well, he looked good. I’d kind of sworn off that as well but maybe the general feeling of want was just finding its way around everything I told myself I wasn’t going to do.

My contemplation of self-imposed restrictions was interrupted by his arrival.

“You want to check me for knives?”,

“I want to trust you. Let’s play that game and see how it goes”.

“OK. You going to tell me your name?”.

“I said I want to trust you, not that I already do. Let’s go and get whatever you drink”.

It was a double vodka, straight, no ice. He didn’t even knock it back in one go. He sipped it slowly, actually enjoying the taste of the cheap spirit. I knew it was cheap because this particular bar didn’t have anything else, which was fair enough since its unique selling point was that it was open all night even though it probably shouldn’t have been. Plus, the staff were well versed in the art of turning a blind eye. We watched each other in silence across a table that had been decorated over the years by stabs and scores from countless pocket knives. I took a drink of my beer, slowly, amused that he seemed to think he could unnerve me by looking at me like that. Like that. I was not so easy to unnerve.

“So”, I said, “Tell me about that death wish of yours”.

“It’s not a death wish. It’s a near-death wish”. He smirked.

“And you saw me and thought I looked like the type to stop at near?”.

He shrugged. “I saw you and didn’t know. I still don’t. That’s why I’m here”.

“Because you want to find out?”.

“Because I like not knowing”.

And so the conversation continued. I had another beer. He had three more double vodkas and became sharper with each one. He told me he did things with computers. I told him I worked in security. Neither of us entirely believed the other, although no doubt there was a little bit of truth in each of our words. 5am arrived and I said it was time I got going.

“Why?”, he asked. “Don’t want to be late for church?”.

“Something like that”.

“So, same time tomorrow?”.

God, he looked so . . . the way he looked.  Throwing caution to the wind and every other element, I suggested, “Or now. Now would work”.

He grinned—a dangerous, enticing thing—as I stood up and walked towards the door. He followed, barely a pace behind. When we got outside, I stopped and turned to face him.

“I still don’t trust you but what the hell. I’m Noah”.

“I’m Brett”.

And as the world shifted from deep black to a rain-drenched silvery suggestion of a dawn yet to arrive, we walked away from the bar, together, and I wondered, not for the first time, what I was getting myself into.


About the photo
I needed “a rain-drenched silvery suggestion of a dawn yet to arrive”, so…

Index of January 2017 flash fiction prompts.