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The Bleeding Edge Dark Barriers, Dark Frontiers

Edited by William F. Nolan and Jason V Brock


The Bleeding Edge Dark Barriers, Dark Frontiers

Dark Discoveries Publications


Foreword Copyright © 2009 by S.T. Joshi Introduction Copyright © 2009 by William F. Nolan and Jason V Brock Cover Art (Ode to Decadence [Detail]) and Titled Standalone Illustrations (Deluxe Edition Only) © 2009 by Kris Kuksi Illustrations from Omnivore [An Illustrated Screenplay Excerpt] © 2009 by Dan O’Bannon Author/Artist Photos © 2009 by the respective authors/artist unless otherwise noted; used by permission Photos on dust jacket and pages 20, 57, 103, 174, 210, 216, 274 © 2009 by Jason V Brock Photo on page 143 © 2009 by Marc Scott Zicree Book Design © 2009 by JaSunni Productions, LLC The works contained herein are all unpublished and/or original to this anthology: “‘Some of My Best Friends are Martians…’” © 2009 by Ray Bradbury “Just a Suggestion” © 2009 by John Shirley “Love & Magick” © 2009 by James Robert Smith “Madri-Gall” © 2009 by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson “Hope and the Maiden”© 2009 by Nancy Kilpatrick “The Death and Life of Caesar LaRue” © 2009 by Earl Hamner, Jr. “A Certain Disquieting Darkness” © 2009 by Gary A. Braunbeck “The Boy Who Became Invisible” © 2009 by Joe R. Lansdale “Getting Along Just Fine” © 2009 by William F. Nolan “The Grandfather Clock” © 2009 by George Clayton Johnson “The Part in Question”, “The Numbers” and “The Town Elders” © 2009 by Christopher Conlon “The Hand That Feeds” © 2009 by Kurt Newton “The Central Coast” © 2009 by Jason V Brock “Omnivore [An Illustrated Screenplay Excerpt]” © 2009 by Dan O’Bannon “De Mortuis” © 2009 by John Tomerlin “I, My Father and Weird Tales” © 2009 by Frank M. Robinson “Silk City” © 2009 by Lisa Morton “Red Light” © 2009 by Steve Rasnic Tem “How it Feels to Murder” © 2009 by Norman Corwin “At the Riding School” © 2009 by Cody Goodfellow All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction; any and all similarities otherwise are purely coincidental. Not to be reproduced in any format -- electronic, print or photographic -- without express written consent from the Publisher, except for brief excerpts (shorter than two paragraphs) used in reviews.


~CONTENTS~ ILLUSTRATION (DELUXE EDITION ONLY): ANTICS AND MECHANICAL FROLIC (DETAIL) FOREWORD by S.T. Joshi 9

WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE… by William F. Nolan and Jason V Brock 13

“Some of My Best Friends Are Martians…” by Ray Bradbury 17

Just a Suggestion by John Shirley 21

Love & Magick

by James Robert Smith 35

Madri-Gall (A Skit for the Stage)

by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson 45

ILLUSTRATION (DELUXE EDITION ONLY): A RELAXING EVENING WITH NAPOLEON AND PAULINA (DETAIL) Hope and the Maiden By Nancy Kilpatrick 59

The Death and Life of Caesar LaRue by Earl Hamner, Jr. 75

A Certain Disquieting Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck 83


The Boy Who Became Invisible by Joe R. Lansdale 95

Getting Along Just Fine by William F. Nolan 99

The Grandfather Clock (A Teleplay) by George Clayton Johnson 105

Triptych: Three Bon-Bons I: The Part in Question II: The Numbers III: The Town Elders by Christopher Conlon 145

The Hand That Feeds by Kurt Newton 153

ILLUSTRATION (DELUXE EDITION ONLY): PHANTASMA (DETAIL) The Central Coast by Jason V Brock 163

Omnivore (An Illustrated Screenplay Excerpt) by Dan O’Bannon 175

De Mortuis

by John Tomerlin 203

I, My Father and Weird Tales (Essay) by Frank M. Robinson 211

Silk City

by Lisa Morton 217


ILLUSTRATION (DELUXE EDITION ONLY): LIES AND PERSUASION (DETAIL) Red Light

by Steve Rasnic Tem 225

How it Feels to Murder (A Teleplay) by Norman Corwin 235

At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow 275

ILLUSTRATION (DELUXE EDITION ONLY) : THE BEAST OF BABYLON (DETAIL)

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Foreword by S.T. Joshi

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his volume is a snapshot of the extraordinarily rich and varied modes of writing that have dominated weird fiction over the past fifty to seventy-five years. Without any intention of doing so, the twenty-plus contributions to this book make clear that the literature of terror and the supernatural can encompass the widest possible array of human emotions -- from sardonic humor to cosmic tragedy -- and do so by manipulating the widest possible diversity of styles, themes, and subject matter. In these days when “theme” anthologies all too often produce a monotonous sameness in motif and treatment, it is refreshing to come upon a volume as multifaceted as this. To gain a sense of the directions weird fiction has taken over the last half-century or so, a good place to start is Frank M. Robinson’s touching essay on his early readings of the pulp magazines, including Weird Tales. In the 1920s and 1930s, H. P. Lovecraft was the dominant writer for the magazine -- not only in his own right but by way of the many friends and colleagues who formed what came to be called the “Lovecraft Circle,” including such writers as Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry S. Whitehead, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, and many others. It is of course unjust to regard these writers as somehow dependent on Lovecraft, for many of them evolved distinctive styles and themes of their own, as witness Howard’s Conan and King Kull and Smith’s exotic tales of Zothique and Hyperborea. Indeed, it was not so much Lovecraft himself as some of his frankly less talented disciples -- of whom we are forced to number August Derleth, his chief advocate and champion after Lovecraft’s early death in 1937 -who, in their attempt to write homages to their lost mentor, unwittingly produced parodies of Lovecraft’s own work and manner. Accordingly, the generation that came to literary maturity after Lovecraft -- including such writers as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Charles Beaumont, and Ray Russell, several of whom are represented here with work both old, though unpublished, and new -- revolted from what they felt to be the now hackneyed “Lovecraftian” tale, the tale of some erudite professor battling cosmic monsters in obscure corners of the earth. That this was in reality a carica-


The Bleeding Edge

 by James Robert Smith

1

nervous giggle crept out. "I'm in trouble," he said. Outside, there were thirty deaths waiting for him. For now, they were not in the house where he intended to remain. But they would come. Nothing he thought of could stop them. "How much trouble?" Teresa asked, arching her back as she stretched, her breasts breaking from the starched sheet like a couple of glorious beasts breaching foam. It was just moments ago -- during that bit of sex magick -- that he had divined what was up. His lips had been firmly clamped around one of those great nipples (leaving tiny dark bruises where he'd bitten down). He couldn’t help it; it was quite a shock to know you were going to die at midnight. "Someone's after me. Someone's got nasty surprises waiting outside my door." He peeked under the sheet, making sure there were no spiders or such in the bed. "Who?" Teresa looked, too, but only because she did everything Vance did. He was her teacher; she his apprentice. His wife suspected nothing. "I don't know." He speared her with that look. "If I knew precisely, perhaps I could do something about it." "Who have you angered?" He thought. Truly, he didn't quite know what he was messing with. He read the books and consulted the odd practitioners here and there; but mainly he was doing things on his own. Magick. Black. White. Indifferent. It worked, and he was good at it and Life was now his in a big way. Money, new friends and possessions; lo and behold there were followers. And there was Teresa. He admired her beauty, and even knowing he was probably going to die in a few hours, he felt himself stirring with lusty ambitions so soon after satisfaction. Magick. "I don't know who I've alarmed. I didn't think anyone else dabbled in the areas that I did." He sat up. "I'm going to die here… You should leave." Teresa knew better than to disbelieve Vance. He didn't mind her questions -- in fact, he liked her inquisitive and challenging nature, so

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The Bleeding Edge

MADRI-GALL

(A Short Skit for the Stage)

by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson

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The Bleeding Edge

 by Nancy Kilpatrick

c 

ife didn’t seem as good as it once had been, but still, it wasn’t hopeless, was it? Faith had had dreams, shattered now, but that didn’t mean new dreams couldn’t take the place of old ones. At least she’d been trying to convince herself of this -- a daily mantra -- and it was something Sherry told her too, again and again. “Sweetie, you’ve got to get out! You’re not gonna meet Mr. Right Goth Boi couch-potatoing it. Come with me Saturday to Requiem. It’ll be cool. We’ll get drunk, maybe get laid, have fun, like we used to.” Faith had last been to a goth club five years before, when she was trolling. When she met Jerold. She’d been a regular at this one -- it used to be called The Sanctuary -- one of the two clubs in the city back then. The other club, Bella Donna, crashed and burned. Now, Requiem served the entire goth community, mainly a younger clientele, and Faith, five years older, several lifetimes wiser, wondered if at pushing forty she had outgrown goth, or it had outgrown her. The building looked the same, red brick, matte black door, up a couple of crumbly steps. The little brass gargoyle had been replaced by a small bat or dark moth or something, stencilled about eye level. Inside, the tiny coat check was still on the right, and a young thing with anorexic arms lifted a long velvet cape over the counter and handed the Marilyn Manson look-alike a ticket. Faith decided to keep her black leather jacket on. The club, if she remembered correctly, would be hot as hell -- no windows, little ventilation, lots of cigarette smoke and sweaty bodies -- all of which she needed protection from, even if she ended up perspiring like the proverbial Miss Piggy. Protection from what, she didn’t know. Maybe from the vulnerability screaming at the edges of her consciousness. Soul-piercing screams that, as the night wore on, and the alcohol rolled down her throat, with any luck would dissipate to a blunt-edged roar. Sherry checked her faux leopard coat, and they paid the cover and had the insides of their wrists stamped with a ‘Fuck You’ in black by a large red-headed guy wearing at least thirty rings in each ear, and one in his nose. Faith wondered if, like Jerold, he had one in his dick.

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The Bleeding Edge

 by William F. Nolan

gin

aster morning in Bend, Oregon, almost four weeks into spring. It was snowing outside his apartment again. November, December, January, February, March, and now midApril. Five and a half months of rain, wind and snow. Frank hated rain, wind and snow. He felt sorry for himself, secluded here -- trapped in his living room -- with his wife, Elizabeth, back in California; they had been married over thirty years -- still on fine terms, still cared about each other, would never get divorced -- but would never live together again, either. Success as an artist (which he excelled in) hadn’t been enough; they found out the hard way that quality did not necessarily translate into riches, especially once one grew older, and the opportunities dried up like a puddle in the desert. Twelve consecutive years of heavy debt had stressed her to the point of near collapse. She needed her personal space. So, he had volunteered to get out of her life; he left sunny California and moved to this dark two-bedroom apartment in the Pacific Northwest because he had a good friend here -- Bill Singer -- who collected his work. Bill had over a thousand pieces. Soon, however, he discovered that Singer was almost always on the road, and they saw each other only infrequently. True, he’d been over to Bill’s house for dinner a couple of times over the last year and a half (his wife was sweet) but their interaction was far less than Frank had originally hoped for. Not Bill’s fault. Just the way the cookie crumbled. At his age, it wasn’t easy making new friends. Frank had lived in various parts of Greater Los Angeles for more than fifty years, and, although he wasn’t a native, he felt that it was his true home. Not Missouri where he’d been born and raised, and certainly not Oregon where people liked to ski and hike and fish and climb mountains. He did none of these things. In Bend, he passed the time reading (classics he’d missed when younger, plus a hundred Max Brand Westerns), painting, watching television (reality shows, mainly) and sleeping -- a lot: nine hours a night, plus another hour each afternoon. Sure, he’d made a couple of new friends (both much younger) during his exile in Oregon, but they lived in Vancouver, Washington, a good distance from lonely, cold Bend. There are always the pen pals, he supposed. Sometimes he just liked to whine; truth be known, the complaining made the solitude more bearable. Although Central Oregon was beautiful -- ringed by the whitecapped Cascade mountain range and thicketed with endless conifer

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The Bleeding Edge

The Twilight Zone

THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK (A Teleplay)

Written by George Clayton Johnson

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The Bleeding Edge

 by Jason V Brock

w 

lex was cold. Wistfully observing the now silent ambulances and police cars pull away into the darkness, red and blue lights painting the black grass with glowing streaks, he thought: Man, I hate that yellow crime scene tape… He swallowed hard, head buzzing, and turned around. A warm breeze caused the palm trees to rustle, but it did little to change the icy mercury of dread creeping up his back as he stood on the sidewalk facing his house. Staring ahead, blood crusting on his shirt, sticky on his hands, his thoughts were confused, jangled. He felt removed from life: a dreamless somnambulant. Entering the living room, Alex paused in the shattered doorway, a strange metallic aftertaste on his tongue. At the edge of his awareness, he heard women quietly weeping: some of the last remaining guests, they looked up at him from blood-drenched seats, coated with gore and bile themselves. As he surveyed the demolished remnants of his home, Alex regarded his visitors, still mute with astonishment; slowly shaking his head, he shrugged imperceptibly, at a loss as to what to say. Hell of a party… he mused. Damn Crime Lab left the place more of a wreck than before they arrived… And those police interviews… Those really killed the mood… The migraine pulsing in the center of his cranium made him grimace. Stumbling toward the kitchen, he contemplated what he should tell the survivors. Maybe ‘Thanks for coming -- I’m relieved the rest of you are going home in one piece…’ He paused near the threshold of the closed kitchen door, head pounding, face warm. No, too direct… Mentally bracing himself, he slowly pushed on the door. His breath was shallow: he was afraid of what might still be on the other side. Perhaps, ‘Glad you could make it -- that was quite the dessert course...’ He shut his eyes as he inched the door open. That’s no good, he

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The Bleeding Edge

OMNIVORE (Formerly titled They Bite)

(An Illustrated Screenplay Excerpt)

by Dan O'Bannon

Registered: WGA West. 1975

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The Bleeding Edge