About the Ghastling

Each time I bring an issue out I am amazed (and often disturbed) at what comes my way. It is very difficult to write a good horror story – it requires subtlety, a lightness of touch and restraint from stating the obvious. Very few writers can do this well, which makes the contributors of this magazine pretty special: they can.

Book Six explores the uncanny, the surreal, the dark reaches of the imagination and the space between the ordinary world and the folklore and superstition that hangs around in the peripheries of daily life. In the case of some of these tales, there is almost no difference, both worlds are one and the same.

In Carly Holmes’ ‘Heartwood’, a mother with branches for arms and bark for skin struggles to retain this strange affliction and is betrayed by her son in this dark story.

Phil Jones’ ‘An Eclipse of Moths’, a furniture maker discovers some peculiar fungi grown overnight on a cabinet he’s been making, perhaps it’s the stifling summer heat that causes their appearance? But then other things arrive…

On a family visit to the Philippines, Jill, a young expectant mother, becomes convinced she is being pursued by an Aswang – a witch whose long thin tongue will suck out her fetus in ‘Tik-Tik’, Neil Gravino’s contemporary portrayal of this terrifying Philippine folktale.

A family bring their mother home to die in Laura Maria Grierson’s story ‘At the Stroke’. The grandfather clock, stopped for a long time, suddenly begins to tick, but why?

In Gary McCrossan’s ‘The last Laugh’, enter the seedy world of The Golden Nugget, an amusement arcade at the end of Yorkshire’s Bridley Pier, where an automated laughing clown is linked to Louis the change operator’s disappearance…

Bernadette, minding some eerily quiet children, decides to liven things up with a game of hide and seek but in this small terraced house they are nowhere to be found. When eventually they do appear, exactly in the room the game started, everything is altered and she begins to question what she had seen before – and how many children were there, really? In Reggie Chamberlain-King’s uncanny story, ‘Five or Six Children’.

Louise Lloyd’s ‘The Dark Circle’, a young anxious widow steps out to attend a séance in the hopes of reaching her beloved husband but ‘the circle’ is less welcoming than she hoped…

Robert Davies’ story ‘The Caller’ tells the tale of Marlin James who lives alone on the top of Y Drws. A freezing cold night brings a needy traveller to his door, but should he let her in?

Old Sir Edward Culverin lives alone in a run-down stately home, woken by a large cracking noise, driven to find out what could have made such a ghastly sound he finds himself following an old passageway in a mausoleum which leads him down into the hot depths of the earth in Chip Limeburner’s tale, ‘The Folly’.

All of these stories will leave you with an eerie chill so draw the curtains and stick another log on the fire, but beware, it is not just winter’s icy fingers tapping on your window….

The Ghastling Cover 6

16118008_10158273736365389_1155601817_n

In this, the somewhat remarkable milestone of the fifth issue, I am happy to introduce the following stories to you:

In Bryan Marshall’s ‘the Grin Thief’, grief plants a black seed into the mind of a woman who loses her family to a terrible accident and so begins a ‘frightful scheme’…

Callum McAllister’s story ‘the Smog Geist’, a young girl loses her way home from school amidst a thick yellow fog, beware the stranger approaching…

Parineeta Singh’s ‘Crocuses in Spring, 1958’ tells of a nanny employed to take care of a troubled little boy whose imaginings become unnerving…

Enter the heady, strange Fairy Glen of Claire Savage’s story ‘the Flame Keepers’ where ghostly apparitions float in the woods at certain times of the year and people are spirited away, or are they taken?

In Joao Morais ‘Corpse Candle’, a young girl is sent to fetch the doctor for her gravely ill father, but her mother has filled her head with tales and warnings of a witch that may obstruct her route through the woods, ‘whatever you do, don’t look back and don’t stop walking. Get out of the woods as fast as you can.’…

Enter a Conjurer’s tupenny show where promises of raising the dead before the audience’s very eyes are made in Kristy Kerruish’s story, ‘the Conjurer’.

In Mark Blayney’s peculiar tale, ‘Sexistential’: ever wondered what it is like to actually be a ghost, to live eternally as you died? This story explores the complex relationships of ghosts who, ‘cannot get physically ill – but problems of the mind are frequent…’

Renee Anderson’s ‘Medium Black’ tells the story of a tragic death of a Victorian Medium. Ectoplasm, conjurer of spirits, or mistress of invention? But what killed her?

In Melanie Marshall’s sad story, ‘His Garden’, an academic mourns the end of a relationship, finds herself wandering the gardens of a large stately home, she meets an old woman and follows her along a dark path. A strange exile from her empty flat, her abandoned life, she wonders, is she ‘fated to be always out in the garden’…

Jennie Owen’s ‘Alternative Therapy’ brings a new meaning to ‘carrying your demons’…

Catrin Kean’s terrifying ghost story, ‘Blue’, a single mother, despairing, is offered a fresh start, a new home by the sea, when one day a stranger arrives, soaking wet, at her door…

Enjoy the latest edition!

 

Ghastling4_7x10(layout8)

Book Four

This issue is, I warn, far more gruesome than the previous three – far more ‘Grimmsian’ where the family unit is troubling, unsettling, terrifying even, and far from the bosom nest of comfort and love. These stories cut close to the bone of life: our internal conflicts, our demons, our dark sides; that little bit of wickedness that most of us, thankfully, are able to keep a lid on… These stories are a sequence of nightmares that are sure to delight your ghoulish minds:

Carly Holmes’ macabre tale, Dropped Stitches, resonates with Grimms’ about a girl born with an extra two fingers on each hand…

Mordechai Lazarus’ Butcher’s Stump is a horrifying tale of religious piety, folkloric in narrative, the story of a Butcher and his son that uncovers the chilling consequences of rebelling against your parent’s wishes – and being caught out…

Subashini Navaratnam’s disturbing tale of motherhood nods to far Eastern mythologies and folklore – beware of those assuming the female form, the shapeshifters we must be careful of around these parts. Horror at its best.

Nigel Jarrett’s ghost story tells of ‘bringing back’ more than you find as strange occurrences unfold during an archaeological dig. Something else wanted to be found…

Kirstin Mckenzie Berge’s story of a statue at the centre of a child’s game. Those stories that are passed down through generations – those dares we set with the things we are told to fear – by what, or whom- we don’t know, that’s just the way it’s always been and we’ve all been that child afraid to look, afraid to turn around…

Drew Buxton’s Bat Boy set on a remote farm in America will have you suspended in a state of tension to the very end. Beware of bats falling from the sky…

Matt Milone’s The Bereaved is a highly evocative and deeply moving tale of a future where the dead aren’t necessarily buried…

Louise Lloyd’s Mortus Sum where a young boy playing alone near a mausoleum by his house loses his ball. When he retrieves it, he finds more than just the ball, a spectre pursues…

A.S. Ford’s Burking explores the grubby gruesome world of Victorian graverobbers.

Chris Lambert’s peculiar and clever story, The Patient, where a husband believes his wife might actually be a ghost. Tip: paying attention has never been so important…

E.M. Edwards House on Sea Street tells the tale of an old sea captain’s haunting…

All of these stories will delight you, and some will likely keep you awake at night and perhaps we might consider, there are far more horrors, far more to fear in the living than the dead…

and it doesn’t do to ignore your nightmares…

Enjoy?

 

 

Ghastling3_1_cover-04

 

Ghastling3_header

Ghastling3_contributors

 

This is the long anticipated, eagerly awaited third issue. The tales in this collection hang between the living and the dead. Stories that ask questions about ‘mortality’ and a surreptitious theme of the ‘curse’ runs its cloying thread throughout; explores thresholds, interior hauntings and relationships with the inanimate. This time of year sees the release of the ‘darker things’ we so enjoy reading and watching during winter. The time of year that brings shadows, short days and long nights. So what do we have for you? Well, come closer and I shall tell you.

Calling the Dead explores the unfinished business of the ‘recently departed’, and is a cautionary tale for the living: do not play with the dead, else they will play with you. In The Woodchester Happening, an encounter with a seemingly mute boy leads to a strange and disturbing sequence of events. A Precious Possession is a peculiar tale of a box recently inherited, opened, when frankly, it was best left closed… In The Tower, a traveller finds himself amongst the ruins of an ancient and foreboding place in rural Eighteenth Century France, beware, reader, of the one who tells the tale… A film crew arrive in rural Spain to observe the rituals of a macabre festival at the site of a drowned village, unaware that they will become a little more than just spectators in The Village Below. Tight-Lipped is a chilling tale of what happens when a Ventriloquist dies and the grieving are faced with the, now detached, extended entity of the recently deceased. Having lost the extension which gave it life, character, a voice… Sacrilege then surely, to interfere with the ventriloquists’ belief to treat the dummy as though it were, in fact, living… Moth tells the tale of a young homeless man, recently out of gaol, seeking safety and solitude in a city cemetery but finds himself in unsettling company: the company of a soul collector to be precise…

This collection is not only made to chill the spine but is thought-provoking too. Our ability as humans to believe in the potential of ‘otherness’ in every living and created thing is one of the best things about being human. To believe that curses fall upon us like an illness and can be passed along by ‘carriers’- living or otherwise – makes us wary of the ‘something’ we don’t want to mess with. Our superstition can either plague us or save us… So, once again, dear and precious reader, I advise you to proceed with caution. And if you do find yourself suddenly ‘bequeathed’, take care.

Enjoy the coming darkness,

Rebecca Parfitt, Editor

***

A magazine of ghosts, the macabre and the oh-so peculiar. We are looking for literary fiction, illustration that chills, shivers, surprises and horrifies.

Who do we like?

 M.R. James, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Susan Hill, Walter de la Mare, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Edgar Allen Poe, Wilkie Collins, Jeannette Winterson, Sarah Waters, E. Nesbit, Helen Dunmore, E.F. Benson and Shirley Jackson.

Topics we like:

tales of the occult, black magic, superstition, folklore terrors and circus sideshows. 

We don’t like:

Twilight or any associated texts e.g: Dark Romance, and terrible clichés of any of the above! No gore please, we favour the psychological rattling of our brains…

Editor: Rebecca Parfitt

Contact her: editor@theghastling.com

 

Advertisements