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Hear Venice Burn

My short story, Venice Burning, which originally appeared in the wonderful Future Lovecraft anthology from Innsmouth Free Press, has been recorded by the good folks at Pseudopod, and is now available for your listening pleasure.

I’m rather fond of this story, and it has the added benefit of having been written in Venice, where, as the title implies, the story is set. When Silvia Moreno-Garcia first posted the cover for Future Lovecraft along with the call for submissions, I was hooked. I desperately wanted to write a story good enough to appear wrapped in this gorgeous and unsettling piece of artwork. Of course, my mind stubbornly drew a blank. Until I got to Venice. Crossing in the water taxi from the train station to the city proper, the first tendrils of the story grabbed hold. Throughout the rest of the day while walking the streets and bridges of Venice, the story dug deeper, it got under my skin and coiled around my brain and would not let go. When we were done touring for the day, I proceeded to drink a lot of very good Italian wine, and feverishly bang out the story.

And now you can listen to the results. Enjoy!

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Bucklin Mills, Bury Me

The following is an excerpt from the un-aired documentary, Searching for Carrie Linden: The Jackson Mortar Story. This segment, an interview between documentarian Sid Nein, and self-proclaimed Kaleidoscope scholar Lorn Ellis, was filmed, but purportedly cut from the final version of the documentary. All existing copies of the documentary, originally scheduled for limited theater release, have vanished. Transcripts of the interviews have been recovered, but it is unclear whether the collected documents represent every interview filmed, or whether some of the transcripts have been lost, or altered, as well.

Sid Nein: I want to talk about an aspect of Kaleidoscope lore you haven’t touched on yet, the Bucklin Mills case.

Lorn Ellis:
It’s really tangential…

SN: In what way?

LE: The connection to the film is so tenuous, y’know? Most people think it doesn’t even exist. It’s almost an urban legend. It would be like including the story of the woman who bought a rat, thinking it was a Chihuahua in travel guide for Mexico.

[Nervous laughter.]

SN: Except the Bucklin Mills case is real, and there are verifiable police records.

LE: Right…

SN: For the viewers who may not be familiar with the case, would you care to outline it?

[Long pause. Ellis appears reluctant to answer the question, and sighs audibly.]

LE: It was in all the papers. Summer, quite a few years back now. Some kids found a dead body – a woman – in an abandoned parking lot. It was one of those dirt and gravel jobs, with a chain link fence. Of course, you know kids…they’ll climb anything. They went there to drink, smoke, fuck around…whatever.

[Another pause, shorter this time.]

LE: After the kids found the body, the lot was condemned. The city boarded it up completely, but people still got in, of course. Everyone wanted to see the site where, well…you know. And of course there were the stories…

SN: Why did people connect the dead woman with Kaleidoscope?

LE: They shouldn’t have. But…okay, I’m not saying there is a connection, let’s just get that straight but, the woman…her body, and the things they found with her made people think…

SN: What things?

LE: In the dirt, beside the body, there was a driver’s license, and a page from a notebook. There was a card in her hand.

SN: And you mentioned something about her body itself?

[Ellis grows visible uncomfortable again, shifting in his seat, looking away from the camera. When he first speaks again, it’s barely audible.]

LE: Yeah…. There was writing on her skin. On the back of both hands, and the soles of her feet. Two words, one word for each foot and hand.

SN: And those were?

LE:
Bury. Me.

SN: The children who found the body – is it possible they wrote the words?

LE:
No. I don’t… From everything I learned in my research, the police believed the body to be in its original condition when they arrived. Her…the woman’s hands were over her eyes. Bury. Me.

[Ellis is visibly shaken. He passes a hand over his face, and for a moment, he looks to be on the verge of tears before he takes a deep breath and composes himself.]

LE:
There were words on her stomach, too, written above and below her belly button, forming a circle. Bucklin Mills.

SN:
The name of the town where she was found?

LE: Yes.

SN: And…?

LE: And, it’s one of the locations where they supposedly filmed part of Kaleidoscope. Look. For a while, every small town in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere claimed part of the movie had been filmed there. Bucklin Mills…it’s supposed to be where the carnival scene was filmed, outside the funhouse.

SN: As you said, tenuous as connections go, but there’s more, isn’t there? The dead woman’s name…

LE:
Alleged name. It was on the driver’s license they found with the body, but they never proved it was hers. The picture, it was hard to tell. The license was out of date by several years.

SN: The name on the driver’s license was Mary Short, correct?

LE: It’s not an uncommon name.

SN: Mary Short is the name of one of the characters in Kaleidoscope, is it not? Character, and actor?

[There is a long pause.]

LE:
Yes… Mary Short disappears partway through the film. It’s never explained. Some people….

SN: Some people made the connection between the character and the dead woman?

LE:
Some people are fucking idiots.

SN:
But there is a resemblance?

LE: A lot of women are five-one with blue eyes and long brown hair.

SN:
What about the notebook page. Can you tell us about that?

LE: Mostly it was nonsense. Scribbling.

SN:
But the handwriting matches?

LE: Yes, but… Look, a pen isn’t the same as a marker. Writing on paper isn’t the same as writing on skin.

SN: Indeed. In your upcoming book, you include quotes from the page – can you paraphrase any of it for us now?

[Nein leans forward. Ellis slumps, takes a deep breath, and quotes from memory.]

LE:  Bucklin Mills. Bury me. Hide me deep. Hide me where the sky can’t see me. Where they can’t see me in the sky. I…

[Ellis’ tone changes.]

LE:
She wrote can’t, and crossed it out, and wrote won’t be the Standing Woman. She capitalized that part, underlined it. Bury me deep where they can’t hear my dreams. Where they can’t hear me. Inside, they can always hear. Inside, I got lost. Lost. They told me the future. I never found my way out. I can’t be her. Won’t. Won’t. But she is always me, and I am. It ends there.

SN:
Thank you.

[Nein takes in a deep breath, closes his eyes for a moment, and exhales.]

SN: Now. I want to ask you about the card found in Mary Short’s hand.

LE: It was…

[Off camera, something is knocked over.]

LE: Fucking….

[Visibly trembling, Ellis starts again, gripping the arms of his chair.]

LE: The card. It was one of the fucking tarot cards, okay?

SN: That would be the fabled Kaleidoscope deck?

LE:
Yes. The fucking cards that correspond to the film. Movie stills. Pictures of pictures. Reproductions. Fan art. Group think. It’s all fucking there. Carrie, Mary, Lance, they’re all in the Major Arcana. The Wheel…

SN:
In an article for Fangoria some years ago, you explicitly denied the existence of the Kaleidoscope Deck.

[Here, the film jumps as if damaged, or cut. This transcript picks up where the film does.]

LE: …police were never fucking able to make a determination regarding the corpse’s identity.

SN:
The body disappeared during the course of the investigation, correct?

LE: Yes. Fuck. Yes. The Bucklin Mills body was in police custody for three days, then it vanished.

[The recording skips again, another portion of the interview is lost.]

LE:
…a body at the Bucklin Mills site buried standing up. I… People who’ve gone there since, I mean, there are accounts of a hole. It’s just an urban legend, y’know? But people say there’s a hole straight down, about four and half feet. The body is standing in it, slumped, but also stiff, like rigor mortis has set in, or…like a mummy. Sometimes her eyes are open, and sometimes they’re closed. Sometimes her hands are covering her eyes. Even standing up. Even dead. It’s impossible…

SN:
The legend of the Standing Woman…

LE:
Yes, but…

SN: It’s referenced in the notebook pages found with the body…

LE: It’s all bullshit! Urban legends. Pattern matching. People want to make sense of the world, so they make connections, they draw invisible lines and the real world gets tangled up in them. Someone makes a film, thirty, forty, years ago. An actress disappears. Some kids find a body twenty years later, and the woman has the same name as the girl in the film. The body disappears. So it must be connected, right?

[Ellis wipes his mouth. His hand is shaking.]

LE: Look, the Kaleidoscope deck, it shouldn’t… The cards tell you when you’re going to die. Like saying Bloody Mary three times in a mirror. People say you can cheat, change the rules. But you can’t. In the end it’s always the same. People, real people, people you love die. And Carrie Fucking Linden always survives.

SN: Carrie Linden is a real person, too.

EL: That’s what I’m saying. No one asks for the role they’re assigned. People want to make it into a fucking myth, but it isn’t. It’s…

[Ellis stands.]

LE: You know what? Fuck this. I’m done.

[The segment ends with Ellis’ hand approaching the camera. The camera tilts, falls, and the feed cuts out in a static blur.]

–Transcript Ends–

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No Time to Say Hello, Goodbye!

It’s time for another post drenched in ketchup. Or catsup, if you prefer.

First, we’re getting close to making our final decision for Issue 2 of the Journal of Unlikely Entomology. If you want your story considered, send it to us before September 1st. On the other hand, don’t feel the need to rush, because we’ll immediately start reading for Issue 3, and we don’t plan to close for submissions any time soon. We’ll also be accepting submissions for our first mini-issue, which is an ExcitingThing! Issue 2.5 will be an all flash issue, due out in February, and appropriate to the month, we’re looking for Valentine-themed stories. So, anything that combines bugs with beheading, martyrdom, arrow-wielding baby-like creatures with inexplicable wings, or, I suppose, love and pink hearts and chocolate covered flowers, if you’re into that kind of thing. More details can be found here. Our regular guidelines, as always, are here.

Second, because (oh-holy-hell-how-did-that-happen?) it’s almost September, now is probably a good time to mention that on Saturday, September 10th there will be a launch party for In an Iron Cage: the Magic of Steampunk at Dorian’s Parlor at the Doubletree in Center City Philadelphia. There will be author readings, you can win cool stuff, I’ll be wearing a corset. You know you wanna be there!

The following weekend, Saturday, September 17th, Lucas Mangum will be holding his third Awesome Reading Fest at the Doylestown Bookstore. Barring disaster, I plan to be there, reading an excerpt from The Many Ghosts of Annie Orens, which is currently available in Shock Totem #4. There will be less corsets involved, but the last event was a blast, and it’s a great opportunity to hear work by a lot of wonderful local authors. Plus, it’s being held in a bookstore. Come on! What more could you possibly want?

Man, I’m exhausted just thinking about all this stuff, and I’m sure there are many more things I meant to talk about. But I’m sure you have better things to do, so I’ll leave you with one last bit of good (for me) news. Final Girl Theory, which appeared in ChiZine’s Alumni Mega Issue has been picked up by PseudoPod for their podcast series! So if you missed reading it, you’ll have a chance to listen to it soon. Links and whatnot will be forthcoming once it’s available.

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