“Hazards” will appear in the debut issue of Arcane, a new venture between publisher Sandy Petersen (creator of the original Call of Cthulu role-playing game and lots more besides) and editor Nathan Shumate.
This story is a paranoid little piece inspired by the time my wife and I were driving on the highway late at night and the car got a flat tire. I put the hazards on, and somebody pulled over behind me. Not a cop or a tow truck. So it’s late and it’s dark and you’re stuck between towns, and here comes this silhouette against the headlights walking up to meet you…well, that’s a bit of spooky situation, right? Of course, he turned out to be just a nice fellow checking to make sure nobody was hurt, just as you’d expect, and not at all some sort of horrible ghoul prowling for defenseless victims on the roadside, but we couldn’t really be certain of that until we rolled down the window to talk to him, could we? Only later did I stop to wonder if he’d felt the same way about us. Who knows what he could have found in that car?
Nathan Shumate read this when he was the editor at a different magazine, and he told me he dug it. Then the magazine folded, and I thought, “Well, that’s the end of that.” A bit glum, you might well suspect. So I was pretty surprised that when he was collecting stories for the debut of Arcane, he thought of “Hazards” and of me and dropped me a line to ask if I’d be interested in being involved. That Nathan — one swell dude, and I don’t mind telling you. Look for Arcane at its website; the magazine should be out soon in print and electronic formats.
“The Hairdresser in the Mirror” will appear in Volume 2 of the Dark Highlands Anthology, a semi-annual publication featuring stories, art, and poems in the supernatural horror/dark fantasy vein. (The cover at left is actually Volume 1.) I don’t have a harrowing tale of publication like I do for the last one — I submitted it, the good people at Dark Highlands liked it, and there you have it.
This story was born out of how uncomfortable I often find it to make small talk when I’m getting my hair cut. I’m an awkward dude, it has to be said, so even so simple a line of questioning as “So, how’s your day going?” can be pretty harrowing. Oh jeez, well, what level of detail is required in an answer here? I’ve got a bit of a toothache, but when people ask “How’s it going?” they’re not actually looking for that sort of answer. Man, it really does hurt. I wonder if I should make a dentist appointment. I’ve never had a cavity before, though; why would I have one now? Oh crap, I haven’t actually answered the question yet. I don’t want her to think I’m a jerk or anything. Maybe I should just tell her what I’ve got planned for later today. Hm…actually, I was just gonna go home and eat chips and read some Doom Patrol comics I got from the library after this. That’s not very interesting. Should I make something up? Yesterday I went to visit my parents with my wife and son — should I say I’m doing that today? I don’t want to get caught up in a lie; that would be pretty embarrassing for both of us.
The result is usually a feeble, “Oh…I’m doing good. Not much going on today,” and then a horrible, lingering silence. If you have ever cut my hair, I am so sorry about this, but I did get an idea for a story out of it.
Dark Highlands Anthology should be out in late April.
These are my first two paying publications, so I’m pretty excited about both of them. I’ll pass along an update when each one is released, if you could be persuaded to return here at a later date.