Tag Archives: Horror

Through the Nethergate, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today, my special guest is a cute black doggie with the awful name of Hugh Bigod. He’s here to talk to us about a problem he has. Probably something to do with that name. “Welcome to the show, Hugh.”

“A cute black doggie! How dare you refer to Hugh Bigod, the First Earl of Norfolk and the most evil man who ever lived in Norfolk as a cute black doggie? I am the most powerful ghost in Bungay, master to all the other ghosts. I choose to take the form of a huge black dog with red eyes as it strikes fear into the heart of my victims.”

“You’re telling me, you’re not actually a dog, but a ghostly apparition of a man named Hugh Bigod?”

“Yes, you imbecilic machine. After King Henry I of England died, I betrayed his successor, Stephen of Blois, usurper of the crown, and allowed him to be captured and imprisoned by dissidents. I then formed a huge gang of bandits who roamed the countryside, spreading terror, burning villages and torturing people and holding them to ransom.

“When I died, I turned my back on Heaven’s White Light and stayed in the Overworld, the shadowy dimension between human life on earth and either heaven’s White Light or the Underworld. I became a poltergeist and haunted Bungay Castle and anything affiliated to it, including a local inn which shares a wall in its basement with the castle. I soon realized that a large number of wretched people were affiliated to the inn either as employees, guests or visitors to the pub or dining hall, and it became one of my primary hunting grounds for servants. It wasn’t difficult for me to infiltrate their depressed and hate filled thoughts and encouraged them in the direction of suicide or murder. I appeared at the deathbeds of these people who were dying badly of unnatural causes and incited them into following me. I soon discovered that my powers of persuasion worked on anyone associated with Bungay and my scope for new souls grew.

“People who chose to follow me were forced to acknowledge me as their master and I quickly became the lord of the Overworld in Bungay.”

“That’s awful. Why would you want to do something like that?”

“Because, my dear metal headed girl, I want power. I need slaves to demonstrate my power and keep growing my area of control. If a dying person chooses to turn away from the White Light and follows me, they are immediately subjugated to me and must obey my commands. It is so easy to play on the feelings of anger and resentment of people who have been murdered and lure them into my web of deceit by promising them revenge on the perpetrators of their deaths.”

“Maybe I can understand that part, but don’t some of them just want to move on? To see if there’s something better on the other side?”

“Yes, of course they soon realize their mistake and regret their choice, but it is already too late. They are beholden to me. They all want to escape my clutches, but they have never gathered and tried to formulate a plan to escape. That was until that interfering wench, Margaret, showed up at the inn with her power to reincarnate ghosts. If they are remorseful when they interact with Margaret, the outward signs of their terrible deaths reverse and they become kinder, nicer, reincarnates with ghostly powers housed in their previous human forms.

Margaret’s power attracted ghosts from outside of the inn. They have gathered around her and are making plans to use her to escape their fates of eternal servitude to me. Those dark reincarnates that have remained loyal to me, keep an eye on Margaret and they have seen a number of the other incarnates speaking and plotting with her.”

“People don’t like being controlled, Hugh. Maybe it’s time for everyone to move on.”

“Oh, we’ll move on, alright, I have a plan to make use of Margaret’s powers myself. The reincarnated ghost, including myself, are able to inflict bodily harm on people in a way that even poltergeists cannot due their lack of substance and no physical form. I have realized that Margaret’s power enhances my evil and I can transform into a giant of a man with enormous physical strength. With her under my control, I can replenish my power any time I want to and don’t need to return to Bungay Castle, as the centre of my strength, to recharge.

“I am ready to move up in this world and my new plan is to take over Hell from that overrated fallen angel, Lucifer. He is nothing! Defeated by the power of God in Heaven and cast out like a lowly dog. I am ready now to overthrow that has-been and take over as the leader of Hell. That is my destiny. Once I have achieved that power, all the occupants of Hell and the Overworld will be compelled to do my bidding and I will be able to exert my powers to induce negativity among humans to an even greater personal advantage. I will be invincible.”

“That’s deplorable. I always try to wish my guests some kind of success, but I’m on Margaret’s side on this one.”

“You, well what do you know anyway? I am tired of waiting for the dominant evil forces to take proper action and elevate me to the lofty leadership status I deserve. Margaret has been gifted to me and I can use her anyway I like. I will prevail and all of the creatures, people and ghost of this world will tremble before me.

“I don’t have any more time to waste on the likes of you. You have shown yourself to be a sympathetic fool. I am leaving, but know that you will be hearing a lot more about me in the future.”

“Well, that ends that. If you want to learn more about Margaret and her trials, please pick up the book, “Through the Nethergate,” by Roberta Eaton Cheadle. I’ll post all the details on the website after I go off the air.

“Using those sharing buttons might actually help Margaret in her conflict with Hugh Bigod. I’m sure Roberta would appreciate it, and would do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

About Robbie Eaton Cheadle

I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.

I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre as well as three short stories published in Death Among Us, a collection of murder mystery short stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Follow Roberta Cheadle Eaton at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle

Website: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s Books from:

https://tslbooks.uk/product/through-the-nethergate-roberta-eaton-cheadle/

http://www.lulu.com/shop/roberta-eaton-cheadle/through-the-nethergate/ebook/product-24208518.html

Blurb:

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

 

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Something fun for Halloween

Short and quick today. I’m participating in a Halloween Book Blast. Check it out for a bunch of Halloween themed reading. https://sites.google.com/a/myaddictionisreading.com/halloween-book-blast-2018/home

Lisa Burton

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The Idea Mill #31

It’s been a long time since we visited the Idea Mill, here on Entertaining Stories. I’ve kept my eyes open for articles, and they haven’t been all that good lately. In typical fashion, I  always wait until I  have three – but two good ones show up at the same time, leaving me with four.

If this is your first visit to the Idea Mill, I  have a category in the sidebar where you can check out the previous posts. I  use push feeds to send me news about things that might help my fiction. Think of them like Muse food. I  can’t possibly use them all, and maybe something will bring your own Muse to the table.

Our first article involves humans returning to the moon one day. Scientists have long speculated there might be underground lava tubes on the moon that would make a great location for a human colony. A team of Japanese and American scientists proved the theory, and they even identified a suitable location.

In speculative fiction, you can always change things up to suit yourself. Maybe you want Mars instead; shouldn’t be a huge leap of faith. Maybe you want some basis for a fantasy where one of your races lives in underground colonies. This could be a starting point for your research.

I really like the image in the article that shows a huge underground cell holding a city the size of Philadelphia with plenty of room to spare. If you think of Earth’s atmosphere as being similar to an ocean, then why couldn’t you fill the entire cell with oxygen and allow the inhabitants to moon-hop without space suits? I think I could sell that in a story. If you get plants to grow, they might even help with the oxygen. You can read the article here.

That giant cell where the people must live is also a perfect setting for horror of some kind. Help is a long way off, and you can’t just run away.

Our next one involves a new finding that the squirrel fur trade may have helped spread leprosy in medieval England. I think what amazes me the most is the idea there even was a squirrel fur trade. I mean squirrels never seemed to make much of an impact on the red carpet decades ago when fur was in fashion. Marilyn Monroe never posed snuggled inside a squirrel fur stole and nothing else. I can see trade like this spreading diseases way back then. They didn’t have some of the regulations, FDA, and other folks watching over them.

Need a fantasy character who hasn’t been done to death? Tired of burley woodsmen and handsome princes? How about a squirrel fur trader? How about a bunch of orphans who catch squirrels to survive? Could there be a fur trader’s guild in your fantasy city? Maybe even a guild war when opossum fur starts becoming more economical?

Learn about the spread of disease by squirrel fur trading at this site.

Our next article involves an idea that’s been floating around for a long time. Mosquitos carry a lot of diseases that are harmful to humans. They are also hard to control using current methods, because the old methods were so devastating to the environment. When I first read about this, the idea was to introduce a deadly mosquito venereal disease into the larger population in hopes that it would kill them all off. That idea never went away, it seems. Today it’s back with a new hair-brained basis. The FDA has approved a method of using sterile male mosquitos to introduce into the wild. In theory these would mate with the bad mosquitos (apparently the bad ones are always females) leaving all the eggs as duds.

Now, if this could actually happen, repeated treatments could lead to an extinction of the bad mosquitos. Their method cracks me up, though. They will produce these mosquitos in a lab, then hand separate the males from the females, before boxing them up to ship to areas where Zika and yellow fever are prominent.

If they’re going to use labor to hand separate the mosquitos, I almost think they’d be better off to send that same labor into the swamps with fly-swatters. Anyway, you can read the article here, then we’ll speculate about it.

Maybe you caught on to the term in the article about weaponized mosquitos. If they can manipulate the little buggers to this extent, it isn’t much of a leap to turn them into biological weapons to use against humans. Some of this might even play into my next novel that I’m going to call Grinders. (I need to give it some thought.) Maybe you write thrillers, and can pit the CDC against a terrorist cell utilizing weaponized mosquitos to carry out its evil plans. Maybe you want to project this out a few years and have the Endangered Species Act trying to protect the now-endangered bad mosquitos. It could be CDC vs the Endangered Species Act, while the terrorists are getting away.

Like I said, I hold some of these articles for months, then always seem to get two at the last moment. This time is no exception, so we have one more. Where the mosquito article bordered on mad science, this one moves right in and sets up shop. Scientists have been merging human and rat brains in a laboratory. They even have a cute name for the human parts called organoids.

This one plays right into my Grinders novel, and I already have rats involved. The article explores the idea of ethics and rights if the animals are part human, and questions what kind of consciousness they might have. I’ve got news for them, all animals are conscious to a degree. They all protect their babies, understand the need for food and water, and many are much more incredible.

Writing a courtroom type story that’s reflective of the Scopes Monkey Trials, one where eventually a rat testifies, seems like low hanging fruit to me. It could be good, but it’s just not what I write. I can see a plague of intelligent rats causing all kinds of problems. Maybe they set up street gangs and start taking lunches from school children. They form organized raids on restaurants and bakeries. Maybe they even fight back by using swarms of biting rats to kill those who oppose them.

It wouldn’t take much of a stretch to use other species if you have the science behind this project. You could go all Michael Chichton on the story. Read the article right here.

One of the fun parts, and it gets harder with four articles, is to rough out a story using all the articles. I have space, a medieval fur trade, and two modified animals to deal with…

A colony of humans is living on the moon in a fully functional underground city. They are dependent upon Earth for many of the things they need for survival. These people are dependent upon a line of super intelligent rats to help them delve deeper into the lava tubes. The rats can explore places we cannot go, and assess whether it’s worth digging through to the next area.

It’s cold on the moon, and the rats want something warmer than their natural fur. A shipment of squirrel fur arrives from Earth, and a cottage industry is born – making fur coats for rats. The fur is infected with a virus that is deadly to humans. The best hope is in the form of modified mosquitos that will transmit a cure for the disease. However, the cure is deadly for the rats.

While the ship carrying the cure is on its way, the rats rise up to destroy the humans before they can destroy the rats.

That’s it, some ideas to kick your Muse in the pants; check. A corny outline to have some fun with; check.

I’ve got to say the last two have me thinking, and I think the Research Sirens are on their way to the writing cabin.

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Order up! Macabre Macaroni

Lisa BurtonLisa Burton here with another serving of Macabre Macaroni. I try to avoid the dark side of technology, being a robot myself. Even I have to admit it can be misused.

Technology is wonderful, but it should be used with caution. This week, Craig takes kind of an extreme approach to some future advancements in the medical field… or are they already here?

***

Monitors

Mrs. Levine sat beside the hospital bed and held her husband’s hand. It had been three days this time, and only a few lucid moments passed between them.

She held on to something through her faith, but another part of her explored the value of their home, what might be left of their finances, and even the possibility of going back to work. One day per week at the library was all she’d found, so far.

They both knew one or the other would go first. After fifty-seven years of marriage, it was inevitable.

The doctor came into the room and placed a hand on her shoulder. “How’s he doing today?”

“About the same. He’s been pretty quiet.”

“Why don’t I have Nurse Silvio take you to the cafeteria for a nice cup of coffee? I want to check his vitals, and get someone to change the bedding today.”

“You’re too good to me doctor. You need to get some rest too.”

“I’ll be fine, don’t you worry. I have an intern helping today. She can do the heavy lifting.”

The doctor walked her to the nurse’s station and handed her off to Nurse Silvio before returning to his patient.

***

He waited for the intern, then closed the door. “Take some notes, Parkins. The Accounting Office needs this data.” He lifted the face off the patient monitor. The false data kept reporting even as he set the cover aside.

The real monitor revealed different data. “Looks like he has about two-hundred thousand, eight-hundred heartbeats left,” he said.

Parkins asked, “What’s that put it at, Tuesday morning?”

“Seems about right. I’ll be in surgery that day. The old woman is all yours.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“It’s part of the job. You’ll have to get used to it.”

“Isn’t there anything else we can do for him?”

“Look at this number. His bank account will run out just about the time his heart fails.”

“The third graph shows his insurance is still strong.”

“Doesn’t matter. If he can’t pay his deductible, the hospital gets stung for that part. Accounting keeps this hospital in the black and I, for one, want it to stay that way. Our new monitors are really helping. They allow us to do everything possible while the patient can afford it. This bed needs to go to someone who can pay.”

“I don’t know, I mean it isn’t like Accounting has to talk to the grieving widow.”

“The accountants are in charge, no doubt. I think they may be a bit more generous in the wage department this year. The new monitors are allowing us to detect all kinds of surgical options. Just the other day, insurance authorized the removal of a gall bladder for a patient who’d had a motorcycle accident. Insurance paid full price for the surgery even though we already had her open to treat internal bleeding.”

“That’s a blessing, I suppose. My parents bought me a Camaro before I headed for college. That was nine years ago, and I’m still driving it. The passenger window is held up by duct tape now.”

“Tell you what, I’ll let you notify the mortuary. They pay a nice referral fee and you can keep it. It won’t replace your car, but it might let you fix the window.”

“I really appreciate it.”

“If the widow gives you a hard time, hook her up to a monitor. Maybe she has something insurance will cover in full.”

“Hope so, we already know she doesn’t have anything for the deductible.”

“You’re going to make a fine doctor one day, Parkins.”

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Is a tragedy acceptable today?

I stayed up until midnight playing video games with my son. I knew I'd pay for it today, but did it anyway.

Frankie, the alarm dog, got me up at 4:30. I should be overjoyed that she gave me twenty minutes longer than my alarm clock usually does. It's a flex day, so maybe I'll grab a nap this after noon.

I hacked out another micro-fiction while the dogs managed to go back to sleep. Then I grabbed a fresh coffee and sat beside the footboard of my bed.

A slurping noise moved from the darkness to just the other side of the footboard. A black tentacle slid a Nylabone out on the floor beside me.

“Black is a new look for you, isn't it?”

“Oh, you know me. Always trying something new. I think it makes me scarier in the dark.”

“You could be onto something. Things you can't quite see are more frightening. What's with the dog toy?”

“Oh, Frankie and Otto were tugging at it yesterday and it flew under the bed. I thought she might need it back.”

“Not for much longer. I think her puppy teeth are almost all gone now.”

“Good thing too. Those babies are sharp. I had to steal a Bandaid while you guys were sleeping.”

“No problem, that's why they're there.”

“So what brings you to talk to the old under-the-bed monster today?”

“Tragedy.”

“You're going to have to be more specific.”

“Okay, tragedy is a time honored kind of story. When done well, it produces a powerful emotional experience for the reader–“

“Right a PEE, I read your blog. Too funny.”

“As I was going to say, it seems to be out of favor today.”

“Times change and all that.”

“Maybe they do, but maybe they shouldn't. Not everyone gets a happily-ever-after in real life. Fiction should reflect real life.”

“Riiiight. You write stories about spacemen, witches, and dwarves.”

“Okay, but I try to get real human emotions into them.”

“You still haven't told me what specifically brings you here today.”

“I nearly wrote a Greek tragedy a few years ago with The Cock of the South. I chickened out, and didn't completely go that route. Well, I've gone and done it again.”

“And you're worried it will make people mad. You're looking at it from the wrong side of the mirror. For every one of those happy endings, a monster dies somewhere. Do you know how many of my friends are hanging around the Union Hall just waiting for another story?”

“How many?”

“All of em, and they aren't going to get another story because the author killed them off.”

“Don't you guys always manage to stick a hand out of the grave right at the end, or open your eyes suddenly?”

“Only in horror. Not every monster story is technically a horror story.”

“That's all great, and I appreciate that monsters would understand, but they don't buy many books these days.”

“So it's a commercial thing?”

“Not exactly, it's a story for my blog.”

“Now you're just being stupid. Those things have the lifespan of a gnat. Eight hours later the readership forgets all about them.”

“Maybe they do, and maybe they don't. They don't swarm back and re-read the posts, but the story might stick with them.”

“Yeah, that's a good point. Is this for your macaroni thing?”

“It's called Macabre Macaroni, and yeah.”

“Maybe you can bracket it with something happy on either side. End with one that isn't a tragedy. They always remember the last one.”

“So bury it in the middle somewhere?”

“That's my opinion.”

“Thanks Under-The-Bed Monster, I owe you one.”

“You owe me several, but who's counting.”

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Weeds

My wife has a thing for weeds. Maybe I've written about this before, but she buys them and decorates the house with them. I'm not a fan, but I don't hate them either. Maybe indifferent is the right word here.

Saturday night she was visiting family in Nevada. I was home watching puppies and taking care of Otto. My son and I stayed up late playing Diablo III because it has a new expansion pack.

Otto stirred in the middle of the night. He's been doing this due to pain, and sometimes he needs to go outside. He wasn't grumbling about the pain, and he had a pretty good weekend. At this pace, he'll be back to his old shenanigans in a couple of months.

This time he was upset about something. He didn't bark, like he would if a neighbor dog barked or someone was in the park next door, but something had him shook up. I walked over to him and put a hand on his head.

Then I heard something like the sound of water being poured on a hard floor. That's the best way to describe it. It had to have been about three AM, and I also thought of a rattlesnake, but that would be completely absurd.

I opened the bedroom door to peek into the kitchen. It's the only hard surface we have right now. Then I heard it again. It was behind me.

I walked to my nightstand and turned on the lights, and it sounded from my wife's jar of weeds. Now the windows are closed and they are away from the air conditioning vent too. I glanced left and right of them; nothing.

It sounded again. This time the weeds toward the middle were vibrating. The megaphone shaped arrangement seemed to be causing a mild amplification to the noise.

My first thought was mouse, but we haven't had a mouse ever since we moved to Idaho.

It sounded again, and I picked up on the rhythm of the noise. I shook the vase, but couldn't get it to sound again. I am certain that a moth fluttered in there and got stuck.

At this point the puppies were thoroughly interested too, so I forced them all to go outside and go potty… Otto too. When they finished, I went back to sleep and never gave it a second thought.

As an author, you can bet I chalked it up. I may never use it, but it could enhance a story or turn into a Macabre Macaroni type story at some time.

Has anything like this ever happened to you in the middle of the night?

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The Idea Mill #29

We haven't visited the old Idea Mill for some time. To be honest, I've been busy, and the articles haven't really caught the attention of my Muse. I finally have three, so it's time to truck them out again.

For my new readers, I use push feeds to get the kind of news I want to read. This pushes archeology, cutting edge science, and even a few creepy feeds directly to me. I bookmark those that have some merit and share them here. There is an Idea Mill category in my sidebar if you want to skim the old ones.

Our first article is about a ship called the SS Baychimo. In 1931 she got stuck in the ice. This was the last time she had a crew. That didn't stop her from sailing the arctic without a crew. She was spotted for years, and there were several attempts to salvage her, but she was having none of it. She was last seen in 1969. I'll let the article do the math, and it says 38 years. You can read more here.

I like this, because it happened. It isn't some fantasy idea concocted by an author, and it lends real credibility to any ghost ship fiction you might want to write. You could give her a personality and write a kids book about her finishing her mission without a crew. You could also haunt the crap out of her and it's a perfect setting for a horror story. Isolation is a must for a good horror story, and hundreds of miles at sea is pretty isolated.

This one almost didn't make the list, but I decided to add it at the last minute. It's about gene splicing and designer babies. For you deep researchers out there, there are some great scientific terms that would be a great place to start your research. Read all about it here.

Let's face it, superheroes and their supervillains are all the rage right now. This seems like a great backstory for those characters. Maybe you prefer a different spin and develop a world where everyone is tall and attractive. Messing with nature could lead to unintended consequences. I have a bulldog for crying out loud. They are famous for the health issues associated with overbreeding. Take this to a human level, and perfect specimens might be more susceptible to health issues from pollution, or the common cold, or can't process sunlight into vitamins.

Finally, this one is more of a story element than something that would drive a whole plot. (In my mind. Your mind might be better.) There is a liquid that people can breathe in. It sounds pretty high tech, but it's called perfluorocarbon. I did a bit of digging, and found out it's also used in makeup and as a potential artificial blood. Read all about it here. Apparently it carries oxygen really well.

The first thing that comes to my mind is Mr. Freeze's wife in her liquid filled tube to preserve her life. Luke Skywalker went through some of this too. I have a need in a future story for a situation like this, and may have to use the word to explain how it's done. Thank God, I have it saved forever in The Idea Mill. Maybe it would make a great preservative for those deep space journeys to another planet. You know, the ones that take twenty years.

So part of these posts involves me outlining a corny story using all three. Let's see where this goes.

In a planet filled with designer perfect people, someone discovers the SS Baychimo. By now it is an archeological treasure to be explored and preserved. Unfortunately the researchers catch some ancient disease like Measles from the wreck. Their immune systems are compromised and any of the ancient vaccines aren't going to work. Make sure to make a political statement one way or the other about vaccinations. Doesn't matter to me which way, but this kind of story should make a hot-button point.

With a looming shortage of perfluorocarbon to preserve the dying, someone needs to act fast. This is where the second class citizens, produced the old fashioned way, will come into play. They are heartier and can work around the sick and dying with less risk. They are on the verge of a vaccine that will save the day. They've been treated like second class citizens for centuries, and there is some doubt about whether they will act, or simply let nature take it's course and rid them of the designer population.

How about it, you guys. Do any of these kick your Muse in the rear? Maybe you prefer a vat of designer babies, preserved in perfluorocarbon, being shipped to a distant planet. Their spaceship is called the SS Baychimo. Someone discovers them a thousand years later, and they're all still alive. What would you write based upon one of these?

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