“Kudzu” is an invasive story from A Darke Phantastique contributor Lucy A. Snyder. It begins: Your cell chimes just after you fall asleep. Swearing, you fumble for it on the nightstand. Certain you set the thing to vibrate, you stare at it blearily, wondering if you should just let it go to voicemail. LaRonda stirs sleepily beside you. “You… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Lucy A. Snyder
Our next spotlight author, Marge Simon graces A Darke Phantastique with “Selected Poems: Spider Poem, The Little Man, Dream the Titanic”. Here is a snippet: Needing neither sun nor moon, my mistress spins her webs. Long of leg, with umber hair drawn to fine designs with clip and braid the bright black eyes, the… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Marge Simon
Joe R. Lansdale. Yep, he’s the next author in the spotlight for our series focusing on contributors to A Darke Phantastique. He sets up his story: We were at the club’s Christmas Eve party. In the past, the organization had been all male, but though we had changed with the times, few women came to our meetings, perhaps finding… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Joe R. Lansdale
A Darke Phantastique is still the focus of our Author Spotlight series, and our next honored contributor is Gary A. Braunbeck. His story “Redaction” begins: In college he wrote a paper for a Philosophy 101 class entitled “The Lie of the ‘I,’ the Deception of All Nouns.” It was intended as a joke, a swipe… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Gary A. Braunbeck
“People always say, ‘When the time is right, you’ll know it.’ It doesn’t matter if they’re referring to falling in love, changing the path of your life, or preparing to die.
Or all of the above.
Fifteen stories below, your prospective paramours begin to notice you. Someone glances up, perhaps just to follow the flight of a bird, perhaps because they’ve caught movement out of the corner of their eye, movement where none should be.
People gasp, point and shout, drawing the attention of others. Then comes the inevitable finger pointing: Look! Up there! Is he going to jump?
And with that, the frenzy begins.”
“First, We Have the Woods
They are, in the words of poet Robert Frost, silent, dark and deep. Full of fanged thorns, twisting roots and scaly bark—with leaves the color of dead souls. The trees are gnarled and bent with time; their skeletal branches, like clutching fingers, claw at the sky. The woods harbor wise owls and stupid mice, gaunt-hungry wolves and devil-tailed scorpions and apprehensive deer with soft black eyes. Here are sexually active
rabbits, fierce-eyed toads, curly earthworms, and, in thorned shadow, wily spiders and fat, sleepy snakes aglitter in diamond scales. Plus plenty of other good-looking and not-sogood-looking creatures.”
Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls
By Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca
$17.00; 156 pages; February, 2012
Elektrik Milk Bath Press
It’s not very often that I judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls, it’s hard not to. Draped in a colorful palette of reds, grays, and blues, DeLuca wraps both the cover and the spine in a woman’s hair, concocting a gentle, yet vicious maelstrom of curls. The female looks off into in the distance, refusing the viewer’s eyes in a seductive glance, eyes wide open, piercing blue, lost in focus. The brushstrokes lead the viewer in, and then push them away, much like Simon’s women between the pages. In a stunning marriage between poetry and art, the two artists not only call to the definition of the feminine, but question its innocence and ferocity. Are these women misunderstood angels? Devils? Or perhaps maybe they are something much, much worse.
What’s most beautiful about this collection is the way that Simon and DeLuca feed off each other’s muse, off each other’s interpretation of the lifeline of their characters. The vampires, the zombies, the wanton souls… Simon and DeLuca don’t just write and paint them. They become them. They devour the girl’s stories, their heartbreaks, their sins, and then they retell their deaths and rebirths with ink and color, metaphor and line.
And it’s frightful what these women have done.
Simon tells the story of the seductress, the victim, the murderer, and DeLuca paints the blood on her face and the circles under her eyes. If you flip through the collection, you’ll meet a flash of color—bright and dull, absent and vibrant—and catch the stares of many a woman wronged, not to mention the wrath of a woman scorned. Simon speaks of love taken to the edge of a cliff, of back-alley sex after the stars go blank. DeLuca siphons souls with the curves and strokes of her girls, hypnotizes men with the full pout of luscious lips. It’s hard to imagine who’s deadlier: the ladies on the page, or the ladies creating them?
Take this collection as a cup of tea, but one mixed with rose petals and poison. There is great beauty here—women who have survived, conquered, thrived—but there is also death, destruction, power. It’s easy to be attracted to danger, especially when she bats her eyes at you, and whispers promises in your ear. It’s hard to walk away from fate, to push past the desire, the need to explore and sate your curiosity. But sometimes the people we want the most, the people we yearn for the deepest, are devils masked in the moonlight, sirens walking the earth. This collection is a warning as much as it is a celebration.
Readers and viewers beware: beauty can kill you, but it can also bring you back.
But as something different. Something darker.
Something with fangs. With cravings.
Something without a soul.
—Stephanie M. Wytovich