END OF THE YEAR ANTHOLOGY SALE!

Thank you for another great year! To celebrate, Written Backwards is offering a discount on eBooks December 10th through the 17th, simultaneously in the United States and United Kingdom. Most anthologies are on sale for only $1.99 / £1.99, and a few books are absolutely free! (*December 10th through the 14th only).

$1.99 Sale FB ad

$1.99: for a limited time, stock your digital readers with some of the best anthologies Written Backwards has to offer, including Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations, the illustrated Chiral Mad 3, as well as Chiral Mad 2, the original Chiral Mad, the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Library of the Dead, and the critically-acclaimed dark science fiction anthologies Adam’s Ladder and You, Human. All for under 2 bucks.

Free: as a personal thank you, editor Michael Bailey is offering his standalone novelette, Our Children, Our Teachers, absolutely free, as well as Pellucid Lunacy, the first anthology ever published by Written Backwards. Get ’em while you can. 4 days only.

Scroll for direct links to each title:

CM4 - COVER (9X6)

4 short stories, 4 novelettes, 4 novellas, and 4 graphic adaptations make up this mammoth book of wonders, but here’s the catch: every single story in this anthology is a collaboration. Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder even collaborated on the co-editing to bring you an incredibly diverse and entirely collaborative dark fiction experience!

9780999575444 CM3 CS_Cover (2nd Edition)

The third act in the critically-acclaimed series contains 45 illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, over 20 stories by the likes of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Gary A. Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Josh Malerman, Scott Edelman, Richard Thomas, Richard Chizmar and Gene O’Neill, and with 20 intertwined poems by the likes of Elizabeth Massie, Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Erik T. Johnson, Stephanie M. Wytovich.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of David Morrell, Mort Castle, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Ann K. Boyer, John Skipp, Gary McMahon, Lucy A. Snyder, Thomas F. Monteleone, and many others, with an intro and outro by Michael Bailey. Also features the Bram Stoker Award winning novelette by Gary A. Braunbeck.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of Gord Rollo, Monica J. O’Rourke, Jon Michael Kelly, Meghan Arcuri, Christian A. Larsen, Jeff Strand, Gary McMahon, John Palisano, Jack Ketchum, and many others, with an introduction by Thomas F. Monteleone.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

An anthology of literary fiction inspired by Chapel of the Chimes, a crematory and columbarium founded in 1909 in Oakland, California, and one of the area’s most beautiful historic buildings. Thousands are entombed in golden books (urns) shelved from floor to ceiling in a glowing labyrinth of nearly countless rooms.

Adam's Ladder - Cover

The future of humankind as an ever-changing organism is a subject of much debate. Where is our evolutionary path leading? Will the next rung take the form of mental transcendence, will it set humankind on a course toward divinity, or will this uncertain path involve a dark and terrible reversion? Co-editors Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle present eighteen tales that explore the course of evolution, written by some of the best literary minds in the fields of science fiction and horror.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00018]

Bram Stoker Award winning editor Michael Bailey brings you a genre-bending anthology of dark science fiction and poetry, with fiction illustrated beautifully throughout by world-renowned artist L.A. Spooner, poetry and spot illustrations by the always-impressive Orion Zangara, and an incredible introduction on humanness by New York Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson.

Absolutely free:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]

Children are often our greatest teachers, but what happens if the lesson is too heavy to hold? In Our Children, Our Teachers, a standalone novelette by Michael Bailey, a high school in rural Brenden, Washington is taken hostage by a gathering of unlikely students trying to teach the world a new lesson … a foreshadowing, perhaps, to darker times ahead for the American education system, if gun control is not addressed properly.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty short stories by unknown and established authors around the world, including Kristine Ong Muslim, Amanda Larson, Lee Clark Zumpe, Amanda Pillar, Aaron J. French, and more. The first anthology ever published by Written Backwards.

WHO’S WHO / THE LIST

Written Backwards has survived over the years publishing a wide array of creativity: short stories, novelettes, novellas, poetry, illustrations and, most recently, graphic adaptations. Most of the work appears in original anthologies, but a few select novels, debut fiction collections, and other strange projects have popped up over the years.

The goal: to seek diverse work, to push literary boundaries, to create the most beautiful books imaginable (and to provide professional-rate payments to contributors when at all possible). The result: a who’s who list of writers and artists. Millions of words. Hundreds of illustrations. Familiarize yourself with these wonderful people.

So, just who has Written Backwards published over the years, and where? Here’s a start, alphabetically by last name. All are short stories (unless specified, like this).

Addison, Linda D.

  • “Things That the Earth No Longer Bears” (poem) and “Life Poems” (a series of haiku) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Alfrey, Aeron

  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Anderson, Paul Michael

Arcuri, Meghan

  • “Inevitable” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Watch Me” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – The Near Future © 2017
  • “What’s in a Mentor” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Arnzen, Michael

  • “Why the Bram Soker Award Matters” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Bahr, Laura Lee

Bailey, Michael

Baldwin, Ben

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Balog, Jonathan

  • “Fail-Safe” and “Insomnia in Reverse” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Barron, Laird

  • “Swift to Chase” (novelette) – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Loveliest Form of the Dark Side” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Batson, Michael Ian

Bear, Elizabeth

  • The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” (novelette, with Sarah Monette) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018 

Biggs, John

Blackthorn, Rose

  • “Prescience” and “Arbitration” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Bodner, Hal

  • “A Rift in Reflection” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Keepsakes” – You, Human © 2016

Booth III, Max

  • “Flowers Blooming in the Season of Atrophy” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Neighborhood Has a Barbeque” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Blood Dust” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Big Question” (Guest of Honor Interview of Victor LaValle) and “The Importance of First Novels” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Boston, Bruce

  • “Reflecting on Reflections” and “Beyond Symmetry” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Carnival of Ghosts” (poem, with Marge Simon) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Boyer, Ann K.

  • “In the Eyes of the Beholder” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013

Braoddus, Maurice

  • “Wolf at the Door” (with Anthony R. Cardno) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Braunbeck, Gary A.

  • “Need” – Chiral Mad © 2005, 2012 (reprint)
  • “The Great Pity” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013 (Bram Stoker Award winner)
  • “No Fixed Address” (novelette) – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Tales the Ashes Tell” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “Silver Thread, Hammer Ring” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Falling Faces by the Wayside” – You, Human © 2001, 2016 (reprint)
  • “Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction, with Janet Harriett) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Brenchley, Chad

  • “Ch-Ch-Changes” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Brittany, Michele

  • “Furthers Horror Studies Scholarship for Second Year” (essay on the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, with Nicholas Diak) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Brock, Jason V

  • “Simulacrum” – Qualia Nous © 2013, 2014 (reprint)
  • “Windows, Mirrors, Doors” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Unity of Affect” – You, Human © 2016
  • “When Horror Gets Real” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Brozek, Jennifer

  • “Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” (with Seanan McGuire) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Bulkin, Nadia

  • “A Luta Continua” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Bundschuh, Mason Ian

Burke, Chesya

  • “Peregrination” (novelette, with LH Moore) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Burge, Weldon

Burke, Kealan Patrick

Cabeen, Bob

  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Cardno, Anthony R.

  • “Wolf at the Door” (with Maurice Broaddus) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Caruso, Santiago

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Castle, Mort

  • “The Counselor” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2011, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Prayer” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Robot” – You, Human © 2016
  • “Hey, Kids! Comix! You Can Play, Too!” (nonfiction) – Mort Castle

Campbell, Ramsey

  • “The Word” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 1997, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Know Your Code” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “How He Helped” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Way of the Worm” (novel excerpt) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Cantella, Julian

Cataneo, Emily B.

  • “A Guide to Etiquette and Comportment for the Sisters of Henley House” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “The Black Crow of Boddinstraße” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (novella, with Gwendolyn Kiste) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Catronis, George C.

Chadbourne, Glenn

  • Illustrations – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)
  • “Firedance” (graphic adaptation, with Jack Ketchum) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Chambers, James

  • “Mnemonicide” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Price of Faces” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Why Graphic Novels Matter in Horror” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Chapman, Greg

  • Cover artwork – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)

Chizmar, Richard

Christian, Autumn

Clark, G.O.

  • “Her Apparition Walked Right Through Him” (poem) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Clasen, Dr. Mathias

  • “The Science of Horror: Why Dark Horror Seduces” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Cockburn, D.J.

  • “Peppermint Tea in Electronic Limbo” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Conquest, Lawrence

DeMeester, Kristi

  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Derwin, Theresa

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Sam Weller) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Diak, Nicholas

  • “Furthers Horror Studies Scholarship for Second Year” (essay on the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, with Michele Brittany) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Di Filippo, Paul

  • “Fifty Super-Sad Mad Dog Sui-Homicidal Self-Sibs, All in a Leaky Tin Can Head” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Dioses, Ashley

  • “The Ocean Queen” (poem, with K.A. Opperman) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Dixon, John

  • “The Fundamental Importance of YA Books” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Edelman, Scott

  • “That Perilous Stuff” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “100 Things to Do Before You’re Downloaded” (novelette) – You, Human © 2016
  • “Only Humans Can Lie” (novelette) – Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them © 2017
  • “Faking it Until Forever Comes (novelette) – Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them © 2017 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – The Far Future © 2017
  • “Pity This Busy Monster Not” (novelette) – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Words + Pictures = Our First Nightmares” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “I Shall But Love Thee Better” (novelette) – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Ehmann, Jim

Evenson, Brian

  • “Nameless Citizen” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Shimmering Wall” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Everson, John

Fallon, Amber

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Ciatlín R. Kiernan) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Fenn, J. Lincoln

  • “The Secrets of My Prison House” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Freivald, Patrick

French, Aaron J.

Gak

Garrison, A.A.

Gilberts, Steve

  • Illustration – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprint)

Golden, Christopher

Goldsmith, P. Gardner

Goodfellow, Cody

Gonzalez, J.F.

Guignard, Eric J.

  • “Experiments in an Isolation Tank” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Those Who Watch from on High” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Hagelslag, Peter

  • “Lead Me to Multiplicity” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Harriett, Janet

  • “What Goes Up Must Come Down” – You, Human © 2016
  • “Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction, with Gary A. Braunbeck) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Hayden, S.C.

Hearn, David

  • “Brighter Her Aura Grows” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Hertz, Chris

Hodson, Brad

  • “Opening Script” and “Closing Script” (screenplays) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Hook, Andrew

Jacobs, John Hornor

Jeffery, Dave

  • “Guest of Honor Interview” (of Craig Engler) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Johnson, Eugene

  • “Lifetime Achievement Award Interview” (of Linda D. Addison) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Johnson, Erik T.

  • “The Inconsolable Key Company” – Pellucid Lunacy © 2010
  • “The Apologies” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Welcome Home, All You Uninvited” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Angel Chaser” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Whisper #1 (a Warning)” and “Whisper #2 (a Prophecy)” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Immigrants” – You, Human © 2016
  • Yes Trespassing (fiction collection) © 2017
  • “I Was Not There,” “Circle,” “The Lay of Aldrian,” and “Vespertine” (poems) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Science of Modern Horror Cinema” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Ghost Drawl” (with J. Daniel Stone) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Jordan, David

  • “The Truth Box” – Pellucid Lunacy © 2010

Kaplan, Barry Jay

Keene, Brian

Kelley, Jon Michael

  • “The Persistence of Vision” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “The Tended Field of Eido Yamata” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Effigies of Tamber Square” – Qualia Nous © 2014

Kemper, Erinn L.

  • “Versions” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Night Guard” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Phantom on the Ice” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “A Flash of Red” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Gumi-Bear” – You, Human © 2016
  • “A Laughing Matter” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The HWA Needs You” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • The Long and the Short of It (novella, with F. Paul Wilson) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018
  • “There is Nothing Lost” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Ketchum, Jack

  • “Amid the Walking Wounded” – Chiral Mad © 1998, 2012 (reprint)
  • “The Right Thing” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Seconds” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “On Readings” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Firedance” (graphic adaptation, with Glenn Chadbourne) – Chiral Mad 4 © 1998, 2018 (reprint of text only)

Kiera, Mackenzie

  • “Conjuring the Uncanny” (Guest of Honor Interview of Ramsey Campbell) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Kiernan, Ciatlín R.

  • “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” (novelette) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2014, 2017 (reprint)

King, Stephen

  • “The Jaunt” – Qualia Nous © 1981, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Last Rung of the Ladder” – Chiral Mad 3 © 1978, 2016 (reprint)
  • “I Am the Doorway” – You, Human © 1976, 2016 (reprint)

Kiste, Gwendolyn

  • In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire (novella, with Emily B. Cataneo) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Krisch, Glen

  • “Sudden Sanctuary” (graphic adaptation, with Orion Zangara & Matt Stockwell) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Lacey, Patrick

Langan, John

Lannes, Roberta

  • “A Raven in the Dove’s Nest” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • “Painting the Burning Fence” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Girl with Black Fingers” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Larsen, Christian A.

Larson, Amanda

LaValle, Victor

  • “Spectral Evidence” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

LaValley, Dustin

Lebbon, Tim

Leigh, Sydney

Levinthal, Marc

Lin, Jessica May

  • “Red Runner vs. the Surgeon, Issue 18” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Little, John R.

Lucia, Kevin

Macae, Frisco

Macleod, Bracken

  • “A Sense of Dread” (nonfiction, with Douglas Wynne) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Afterword” (nonfiction) – Bones Are Made to Be Broken © 2018
  • How We Broke (novella, with Bracken MacLeod) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

MacLeod, Jay

Malerman, Josh

  • “The Bigger Bedroom” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Jupiter Drop” (novelette) – You, Human © 2016 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “The Challenge” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Malik, Usman T.

  • “Blood Women” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” – Qualia Nous © 2014 (Bram Stoker Award winner, Nebula Award nominee)

Marcley, Valerie

  • “Detritus Girl” (novelette, with P. Gardner Goldsmith) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Marrs, Chris

Mason, Rena

Massie, Elizabeth

  • “18P37-C, After Andrea Was Arrested” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Black River #1” and “Black River #2” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Down and Out on Poplar Street” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The House at Wydham Street” (novel excerpt) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Substance of Belief” (with Marge Simon) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

McBride, Michael

McGuire, Seanan

  • “Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” (with Jennifer Brozek) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

McMahon, Gary

McQuiston, Rick

Meloy, Paul

  • “The Serile” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “The Gearbox” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Michelle, Lori

Miller, Eric

  • “Yes, Horror Films Are Important” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Mills, Christopher

  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with James Chambers & Jason Whitley) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Monette, Sarah

  • The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” (novelette, with Elizabeth Bear) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2012, 2018 (previously audio only)

Monteleone, Thomas F.

  • “Fun with Your New Asymmetric Head” (introduction) – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “When I Was” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “Good and Faithful Servant” – Qualia Nous © 1976, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Star-Filled Sea is Smooth Tonight” – You, Human © 1977, 2016 (reprint)
  • “Are You Sure You Really Want to Do This?” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Moore, LH

  • “Peregrination” (novelette, with Chesya Burke) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Morrell, David

  • “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” (novelette) – Chiral Mad 2 © 1988, 2013 (reprint)

Morris, Mark

Morton, Lisa

  • “Introduction” (nonfiction)- The Burden of Indigo © 2016
  • “Eyes of the Beholders” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Afterword” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Muslim, Kristine Ong

Mynhardt, Joe

  • “Illustrations and the Horror Genre” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Navarro, Yvonne

Nolan, William F.

Ochse, Weston

O’Neill, Gene

  • “The White Quetzal” – Chiral Mad © 1985, 2012 (reprint)
  • “Tight Partners” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Shaking Man” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Broken Lady” – The Library of the Dead © 2015
  • At the Laxy K (novella, Allevon #1) © 2015
  • “3-Dot People” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • The Confessions of St. Zach (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #1) © 2016
  • The Burden of Indigo (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #2) © 2016
  • The Near Future (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #3) © 2017
  • The Far Future (composite novel, The Cal Wild Chronicles #4) © 2017
  • “Spirits” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “Some Thoughts on Short Story Collections” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “Existentialism, Progressive Jazz, and the Blues” (introduction) – Artifacts © 2018

O’Neill, Patrick

Opperman, K.A.

  • “The Ocean Queen” (poem, with Ashley Dioses) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

O’Rourke, Monica J.

Ottino, Amanda

  • “Enchanted Combustion” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Palahniuk, Chuck

  • “Observations on Horror Burnout” (introduction) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Palisano, John

  • “Gaia Ungaia” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “The Geminis” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)
  • “Welcome to Our Show” (foreword) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Parkes, Ciarán

  • “The Speed of Sound” and “Recognizing Trees” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016

Partridge, Norman

  • “Special Collections” (introduction / novelette) – The Library of the Dead © 2015 (Bram Stoker Award nominee)

Payne, R.B.

  • “Cubicle Farm” – Chiral Mad © 2012

Perron, Philip C.

Pillar, Amanda

Piorkowski, Dan

Quigley, Lisa

  • “Emcee Interview” (of Jeff Strand) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Rollo, Gord

  • “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” – Chiral Mad © 2005, 2012 (reprint)

Rucker, Lynda

  • “Encore for an Empty Sky” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Samuels, Mark

SanGiovanni, Mary

Scheuerman, Ashlee

Scully, B.E.

  • “Dog at the Look” – You, Human © 2016
  • “The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone” – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • “We Come in Threes” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Serra, Daniele

Shoebridge, Ian

Simon, Marge

  • “Shutdown” (Rhysling Award winner) and “Tomorrow’s Femme” (poems) – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • “Mirror Image” and “Reflections Through the Raven’s Eye” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “The Fourth Law” – You, Human © 2016
  • “In Accordance with the Laws,” “Less than Human” and “Future Imperfect: Broken Laws” (poems) – You, Human © 2016
  • “Carnival of Ghosts” (poem, with Bruce Boston) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Importance of Poetry in the Genre” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • “The Substance of Belief” (with Elizabeth Massie) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Skipp, John

  • “Empathy” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2011, 2013 (reprint)
  • “Other Music, Indeed!” (introduction) – Other Music © 2016, 2018
  • “Hopium Den” – You, Human © 2016

Smith, Michael Marshall

  • “The Motel Business” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Snyder, Lucy A.

Speegle, Darren

  • “The Cosmic Fair” – You, Human © 2016
  • Co-editor – Adam’s Ladder © 2017
  • Artifacts (novel, Allevon #3) © 2018
  • Co-editor – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Spooner, L.A.

  • Illustrations – At the Lazy K © 2015
  • Illustrations – Ensō © 2017
  • Illustrations – You, Human © 2016
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017 (reprints)
  • Illustrations – Artifacts © 2018

Spratford, Becky

  • “Librarians’ Day” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Steiner, Pat R.

  • “The Shoe Tree” – Chiral Mad © 2011, 2012 (reprint)
  • “Kilroy Wasn’t There” – Qualia Nous © 2014
  • Illustrations – Qualia Nous Illustrated © 2014  (personal project)
  • Illustrations – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017
  • Illustrations – Bones Are Made to Be Broken © 2018

Stipes, Julie

Stockwell, Matt

  • “Sudden Sanctuary” (graphic adaptation, with Glen Krisch & Orion Zangara) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Stone, J. Daniel

  • “Ghost Drawl” (with Erik T. Johnson) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Storm, Kia

Strand, Jeff

  • “A Flawed Fantasy” – Chiral Mad © 2012
  • “Kind of an Introduction” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Stroup, Chad

  • “Asperitas” (novelette, with Kristopher Triana) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Taborska, Anna

  • “Daylight Robbery” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Taff, John F.D.

Thomas, Jeffrey

Thomas, Richard

  • “Playing with Fire” – Chiral Mad 2 © 2013
  • “The Jenny Store” – Qualia Nous © 2011, 2014 (reprint)
  • “The Offering on the Hill” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018
  • “Saudade” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Tlotlo Tsamaase

  • “District to Cervix: The Time Before We Were Born” (novelette) – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Triana, Kristopher

  • “Asperitas” (novelette, with Chad Stroup) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Waggoner, Tim

  • “Where No Horror Writer Has Gone Before” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Walters, Damien Angelica

Watson, Ian

  • “The Birth of Venus” – Prisms © 2019 (PS Publishing)

Wehunt, Michael

  • “Golden Sun” (novelette, with Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas & Damien Angelica Walters) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Weller, Sam

  • “Böse” – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Wetmore, Jr., Kevin

  • “The Human Emotion within the Frightening Stories” (Guest of Honor Interview of Elizabeth Massie) and “Writing Nonfiction & Fiction for Beginners” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Whitley, Jason

  • “The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” (graphic adaptation, with James Chambers & Christopher Mills) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Wilk, Dyer

  • “It Can Walk and Talk, and You’ll Never Have to Worry About Housework Again” – You, Human © 2016

Wilson, F. Paul

  • “Introduction” (nonfiction) – You, Human © 2016
  • The Long and the Short of It (novella, with Erinn L. Kemper) – Chiral Mad 4 © 2018

Winter, Douglas E.

Witherspoon, Cynthia

Wynne, Douglas

  • “A Sense of Dread” (nonfiction, with Bracken MacLeod) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Wytovich, Stephanie M.

  • “Welcome Home, Darling” and “Put Me to Dream” (poems) – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Final Frame Film Competition” (nonfiction), “The Color White,” “The Girl Who Slept with Monsters” and “Dare I Keep the Body” (poems) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2014, 2017 (reprints)

Yardley, Mercedes M.

  • “The Dead Collection” – Chiral Mad 3 © 2016
  • “Magic in Minutes” (nonfiction) – Stokercon 2018 Anthology © 2017

Zangara, Orion

Zumpe, Lee Clark

Fun fact: Gary A. Braunbeck, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Erik T. Johnson, and Jack Ketchum have appeared in all four volumes of Chiral Mad.

INKBLOTS AND BLOOD SPOTS

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]

Previously published through Villipede Publications, Inkblots and Blood Spots, a collection of stories and poems by Michael Bailey, is now available from Written Backwards in trade paperback for only $12.95 (new 8×5″ format), and in eBook for only $4.95 The book is illustrated throughout by Daniele Serra, and features an introduction by Douglas E. Winter.

dani_samples

Stories include the Bram Stoker Award-nominated “Fireman / Primal Tongue,” which also received an Honorable Mention for Year’s Best Horror; “Dandelion Clocks,” a haunting, melodic tribute novelette to the tragedy of 9/11; “I Wanted Black,” where a young boy’s birthday is anything but cause to celebrate; “Mum,” a tale of two sisters unfolding like the bandages on their mother’s badly burned body.

Take a surreal stroll through a carnival in “Underwater Ferris Wheel,” where the biggest attraction may be your last ride; witness a pregnant woman’s harrowing encounter with soul-stealing faerie in “Not the Child”; and find out why it gets cold in a little girl’s room at night when she sees “A Light in the Closet.”

Praise for Inkblots and Blood Spots

“A writer willing to bypass all the familiar territories and stake out a new narrative landscape all his own. With this collection of dynamic stories and poems, he will show you as well.” – Thomas F. Monteleone

“A smart collection of stories that evoke real fear, because they’re grounded in emotional truth. Michael Bailey has that rare ability to terrify readers and break their hearts—often in the same paragraph.” – Norman Prentiss, author of Invisible Fences

“A dazzling assortment of stories and poems. They bleed into our souls like knives and leave us breathless.” – John R. Little, author of DarkNet and Miranda

“Artfully executed. A unique and powerful contribution to speculative literature.” – Tim Deal, Shroud Quarterly

“A cornucopia of dark, diverse treasures. Michael Bailey delivers the kind of startlingly original, beautifully imagined, and deeply affecting stories that linger long in the mind, and even longer in the psyche.” – B.E. Scully, author of Verland: The Transformation

“Both haunting and poignant. Filled with love and loss, the weight of these resolutions echoes out into the darkness with a heartbreaking permanence.” – Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration

“Michael Bailey continues to amaze. He is on track to becoming his generation’s Ray Bradbury.” – F. Paul Wilson

HALLOWEEN E-BOOK SALE

$1.99 Sale

For a limited time, Written Backwards is running a $1.99 / £1.99 eBook sale on three titles in the US and UK. Now through November 5th, you can get Yes Trespassingthe debut fiction collection by Erik T. Johnson, Qualia Nousa  dark fiction anthology featuring two Bram Stoker Award winning short stories, and Inkblots and Blood Spotsthe second fiction & poetry collection by Michael Bailey,  illustrated throughout by Daniele Serra. See below for direct links.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

Twenty-five, or maybe twenty-six or -seven or perhaps twenty-eight (let’s say it’s twenty-eight) individual works by Erik T. Johnson, some previously-published, some appearing in this book for the first time, stories like “The Leaf” and “Krug’s Pen,” “The Depopulation Syndrome,” “The Invention of the Mask” (which you can find on the front cover), “The Depopulation Syndrome” and the novella Scissors Seldom Come. Trespass. Read the horror, the wonder, the mindscrewing. This book will change you.

US: https://goo.gl/sedet4
UK: https://goo.gl/z1Xz1q

QN Cover (2nd edition).jpg

A literary blend of science fiction and horror, Qualia Nous contains short stories, novelettes, and poetry from established authors and newcomers from around the world. Features Bram Stoker Award winning stories by Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason, as well as fiction by Stephen King, Emily B. Cataneo, Erinn L. Kemper, Patrick Freivald, William F. Nolan, John Everson, Elizabeth Massie, John R. Little, Richard Thomas, Gary A. Braunbeck, and many others. Recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award.

* Please note that because of contractual obligations, the eBook edition of Qualia Nous does not contain “The Jaunt” by Stephen King.

US: https://goo.gl/LyMvww
UK: https://goo.gl/Pp1Q6N

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]

From the mind of award-winning author and editor Michael Bailey comes Inkblots and Blood Spots, a painfully beautiful collection of short stories and poetry that reaches deep into the imagination, breaking hearts and boundaries along the way. Features an introduction by Douglas E. Winter, and illustrations throughout by Daniele Serra.

US: https://goo.gl/1X7EBu
UK: https://goo.gl/fsaS1K

Each book is under two bucks, or free with Amazon Unlimited (or if you’ve previously purchased a trade paperback edition through Amazon).

CHIRAL MAD 4: An Anthology of Collaborations is now available!

CM4 - COVER (9X6)

Today is the official release date of Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations, now available around the world in hardcover, trade paperback, and eBook. This is perhaps the most ambitious project ever imagined by Written Backwards. The entire book is one giant collaboration: co-editing by Michael Bailey & Lucy A. Snyder, a co-introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck & Janet Harriet, and 16 original works by 36 different contributors, all collaborations. 424 pages!

20,000-word novellas by Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson, F. Paul Wilson & Erinn L. Kemper, Emily B. Cataneo & Gwendolyn Kiste, Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear.

10,000-word novelettes by Chesya Burke & LH Moore, P. Gardner Goldsmith & Valerie Marcley, Kristopher Triana & Chad Stroup, and a four-way collaboration by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt.

5,000-word short stories by Elizabeth Massie & Marge Simon, Maurice Broaddus & Anthony R. Cardno, Erik T. Johnson & J Daniel Stone, Seanan McGuire & Jennifer Brozek.

And 52 pages of graphic adaptions, including drool-enticing work by Daniele Serra & Brian Keene, Orion Zangara, Glen Krisch & Matt Stockwell, James Chambers, Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills, and a bitter-sweet first and final collaboration of “Firedance” between longtime friends Glenn Chadbourne & Jack Ketchum that spans over 26 pages.

Now available around the world:

US: https://goo.gl/KAw84x
UK: https://goo.gl/dT2tgH
CAN: https://goo.gl/4uznY9
IT: https://goo.gl/hGFfmA
AUS: https://goo.gl/DcwgWm
JP: https://goo.gl/wtzK25
DE: https://goo.gl/gnauxY

Need to catch up on past volumes? Chiral MadChiral Mad 2, and Chiral Mad 3 are also available. Simply click the images below to get started.

9780999575444 CM3 CS_Cover (2nd Edition)

Chiral Mad 3, an anthology of psychological horror nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in an Anthology, is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction/poetry; 361 pages; 9×6 format; illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne; introduction by Chuck Palahniuk.

The third act in the critically-acclaimed series contains 45 illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, over 20 stories by the likes of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Gary A. Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Josh Malerman, Scott Edelman, Richard Thomas, Richard Chizmar and Gene O’Neill, and with 20 intertwined poems by the likes of Elizabeth Massie, Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Erik T. Johnson, Stephanie M. Wytovich.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

Chiral Mad 2 is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 424 pages; 9×6 format.

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of David Morrell, Mort Castle, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Ann K. Boyer, John Skipp, Gary McMahon, Lucy A. Snyder, Thomas F. Monteleone, and many others, with an intro and outro by Michael Bailey. Also features the Bram Stoker Award winning novelette by Gary A. Braunbeck.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

Chiral Mad is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 374 pages; 9×6 format.

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of Gord Rollo, Monica J. O’Rourke, Jon Michael Kelly, Meghan Arcuri, Christian A. Larsen, Jeff Strand, Gary McMahon, John Palisano, Jack Ketchum, and many others, with an introduction by Thomas F. Monteleone.

CHIRAL M4D!

The fourth volume in the critically-acclaimed and ever-evolving Chiral Mad Series is finally here, and quite different than its predecessors. Available now!

$34.95 / hardback
$19.95 / trade paperback
$9.95 / eBook

CM4 - COVER (9X6).jpg

Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations includes 4 novella, 4 novelettes, 4 short stories, and 4 graphic adaptations. 424 pages! But here’s the catch: Every single story in this anthology is a collaboration. Bram Stoker Award winners Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder even co-edited the anthology to bring you an incredibly diverse and entirely collaborative dark fiction experience, including a co-introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck and Janet Harriett, and a few other surprises.

01.jpg

The original Chiral Mad was meant to be an only child, and featured mostly short fiction, a few novelettes, and an introduction by Thomas F. Monteleone. The book was a charity project, and raised over $5,000 for Down syndrome awareness ($3,000 of that going to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance). But soon after publication, there was already high demand for a Chiral Mad 2. The second volume contained a few novellas, and an introduction by the book itself. And then Gary A. Braunbeck went and won himself a Bram Stoker Award for his long fiction piece “The Great Pity,” sparking even higher demand for a Chiral Mad 3. Always evolving, the third volume included poetry, illustrations throughout by Glenn Chadbourne, and an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. And for the first time, the series was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology, with Scott Edelman’s “That Perilous Stuff” nominated for Long Fiction, and Hal Bodner’s “A Rift in Reflection” nominated for Short Fiction, thus sparking an insane amount of demand for a Chiral Mad 4.

And so again, the series evolved.

Sudden Sanctuary page 1 (mb).jpg

The idea for collaborations originated during a bad time for both the horror and science fiction writing communities. Everyone pointing fingers, not really getting along. Everyone seemingly mad at each other and unfriending each other and taking jabs whenever possible. Chiral Mad, perhaps it could help bring people together …

Chiral Mad 4, you want it to happen? Then fucking start holding hands and start singing “Kumbaya” and get along already. Something like that. And since the series is one to ever-evolve, more insane ideas took shape. Why not make the entire anthology a collaborative effort? Why not havea co-editor? And since it’s #4 in the series, why not have 4 different forms of storytelling, with 4 collaborations of each? Why not include graphic adaptations this time, along with novellas, novelettes, and short stories? Why not have a co-introduction? Every single part of the book collaborative … why not?

STORM_01.jpg

The book, it’s huge in both scope and in physical form. 52 pages of graphic adaptations. Something like 120,000 words of new fiction. It’s a tome. So, what can you expect with the fourth (and perhaps final) volume of Chiral Mad? A little bigger price tag, unfortunately: $19.95 for the trade paperback, $9.95 for the eBook, and at some point there will be a hardback edition available for $29.95. It’s worth it. That much is promised. The full insanity? Here’s the final Table of Contents:

“Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction) – Gary A. Braunbeck & Janet Harriett

[ part one ]

“How We Broke” – Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson
“Fade to Null” – Brian Keene & Daniele Serra
“Asperitas” – Kristopher Triana & Chad Stroup
“Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” – Seanan McGuire & Jennifer Brozek
“Golden Sun” – Richard Thomas, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt
“The Substance of Belief” – Elizabeth Massie & Marge Simon
“The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” – James Chambers, Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills
“The Long and the Short of It” – Erinn L. Kemper & F. Paul Wilson

[ part two ]

“The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” – Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
“Sudden Sanctuary” – Glen Krisch, Orion Zangara & Matt Stockwell
“Peregrination” – Chesya Burke & LH Moore
“Ghost Drawl” – Erik T. Johnson & J. Daniel Stone
“Detritus Girl” – P. Gardner Goldsmith & Valerie Marcley
“Wolf at the Door” – Anthony R. Cardno & Maurice Broaddus
“Firedance” – Jack Ketchum & Glenn Chadbourne
“In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire” – Emily B. Cataneo & Gwendolyn Kiste

JKGC_00a.jpg

Quite the line-up, no? And, as you can see from the above image, Chiral Mad 4 includes a final collaboration with long-time friend Dallas Mayr / Jack Ketchum. The adaptation of “Firedance” is worth the price of admission alone, and runs 26 pages. Dallas, Glenn and yours truly worked our fingers to the bones to bring you something special, something to remember him by.

So, once again, crack the spine, dig your claws deep into these pages, sit back, and enjoy a new kind of chirality.

THE FIRE

Some anniversaries suck …

It’s been a year since the night of the fire, so I thought I’d finally share a few of the details from that night / morning, at least in the form of an incredibly long series of haiku (about 1,500 words total, which I wrote a few months ago just to get it out of me). A few of the hours of the stuff that happened, anyway. National poetry day, or month, or something.

I may use this poem as part of the memoir I’m writing about the California wildfires,  Seven Minutes, but I’m not entirely sure. I’ve written close to 75,000 words about the fire in a matter of two weeks. “Seven minutes” is all the time we had to escape (no evacuation given, other than flames). Those seven minutes are summarized in the poem below, and marked in bold.

HOUSE 8

[ the night of / 10:00 p.m. ]

Power flickers out

Candlelight, dancing shadows

The night is silent

“Is that smoke?” you say

But I can’t smell it just yet

Muted sirens wail

[ 10:30 p.m. ]

Outside the air’s thick

The animals unsettled

Eerily quiet

“Seems closer,” I say

We decide to stay awake

The children, sleeping

[ 11:00 p.m. ]

Distant mountains glow

Soft orange, miles away

Should we be worried?

“Let me check,” you say

The internet or the news

Fire, far away

[ 11:30 p.m. ]

The light is intense

A disturbance of neighbors

Everyone’s awake

“Pack a bag,” I say

Haven’t we done this before?

The firetrucks scream

[ 12:00 a.m. ]

Just a precaution

And then we hear the crackle

Black leaves flutter down

“Should be fine,” he says

When you call someone for help

No, nothing urgent

[ 12:30 a.m. ]

The wind is brutal

An ash-swirling tornado

Throats scratchy and sore

“Stay inside,” I say

Frightened, the kids want to see

Flashlights cut the night

[ 1:00 a.m. ]

This is serious

Red embers like cigarettes

Tumbling firebugs

“It’s so close,” I say

Shouldn’t we expect a call?

Sheriff or police?

HOUSE - 1

[ 1:30 a.m. ]

Evacuation

We aren’t given a warning

The yard is on fire

“In the car!” you say

We make a pass through the house

Grabbing what we can

[ 1:31 a.m. ]

All we need is us

The kids first, and then ourselves

We will be okay …

“What about—” we say

Instantly understanding

The children have pets

[ 1:32 a.m. ]

Other lives to save

I grab the cat by her scruff

Throw her in the car

“Hold her tight,” I say

The boy pulls her close, eyes wide

“Stay inside the car!”

[ 1:33 a.m. ]

The garage opens

Cat number two runs out, scared

Toward the fire

“I’ve got her,” you say

Meaning the girl, hugging her

She follows your lead

[ 1:34 a.m. ]

We stand there, confused

Contemplating the horses

The chickens, bunny

“What should we—” I say

There is nothing left to do

Flip open the coop

[ 1:35 a.m. ]

Surrounded by dirt

The pasture just might save them

In chaos, they’ll die

“I can’t breathe,” you say

Visibility, ten feet

It’s now or never

[ 1:36 a.m. ]

Just once more inside

One final pass through the house

To blow out candles

“They need us,” you say

And I know you mean the kids

So we go to them

[ 1:37 a.m. ]

A last kiss goodbye

You take the truck, me the car

We each have a child

“I love you,” we say

Will we make it out of this?

The fire rages

HOUSE 7.jpg

[ 1:38 a.m. ]

Looking at my watch

A seven clicks to an eight

Time waits for no one

“You all right?” I ask

Behind us, a firestorm

The boy nods, unsure

[ 1:39 a.m. ]

Firetrucks pass us

Sixty miles per hour

Down the windy road

“That was close,” I say

You follow us no longer

Drive over debris

[ 1:40 a.m. ]

Swerve around branches

Fallen limbs, things afire

Horns blare, tanks explode

“Where are they?” I say

Ahead of us are new flames

Crashed trucks block the way

[ 1:41 a.m. ]

The shoulder, the road

We wait, but you’re not coming

Sixty seconds tick

“See you there,” I say

My call, it doesn’t go through

So I try again …

[ 1:42 a.m. ]

Again, and again

Until we get to the store

Where we planned to meet

“I am here,” I say

You’re a few miles away

They turned you around

[ 1:43 a.m. ]

Back through the fire

I can’t even imagine

Returning that way

“Be there soon,” you say

Time decides to take itself

The longest minute

[ 1:44 a.m. ]

Patiently, we wait

And we wait and wait and wait

Biting fingernails

“My lungs burn,” I say

I wonder about the boy

And long-term effects

[ 1:45 a.m. ]

The line rings busy

We want to hear your voices

To know you’re okay

“Where are they?” he says

The boy, finally awake

Taking it all in

[ 1:46 a.m. ]

It’s coming closer

The raging fire pursues

Fast down the mountain

“Almost there,” you say

This time, I won’t let you go

Until you are here

[ 1:47 a.m. ]

Forever, it seems

Will this madness ever end?

Where did it begin?

“We’re alive,” you say

Through choked breath, your voice so hoarse

At last, you are here!

[ 1:48 a.m. ]

We sound like strangers

Chain-smokers for years, coughing

Holding each other

A family hug

Rapid, adrenaline rush

Death swirling round us

[ 1:49 a.m. ]

We both look around

Hot wind whipping wet faces

A blizzard of ash

“Come here,” a friend says

She heard about the fire

And thought of us first

[ 1:50 a.m. ]

Orange-red-orange

Flames stretch across the highway

Nowhere else to go

“Thanks,” you say in tears

A place to stay for the night

But will it be safe?

[ 1:51 a.m. ]

We can’t stay here long

Emergency vehicles

Cry into the night

“I love you,” we say

Once again separating

Hands trembling, quaking

[ 1:52 a.m. ]

The glow is endless

We cross the bridge, see it all

Flames licking the stars

“Look at that,” I say

Pointing to the mountainside

Everything, gone

[ 1:53 a.m. ]

It rolls like magma

Lava, flowing volcanic

A beautiful sight

“Thirsty?” I ask him

The boy stares out the window

I’ve nothing to drink

[ 1:54 a.m. ]

Roads close behind us

Probably the last ones through

Dodging power lines

“This is nuts,” I say

People driving erratic

Bumper to bumper

[ 1:55 a.m. ]

I follow this time

Run through stop signs and dead lights

Nearly crash; once, twice

“Almost there?” he asks

The roads lost in embers, ash

I am forced to lie

[ 1:56 a.m. ]

Roads become foreign

Disguised by insanity

Anxiety, shock

“It’s all gone,” I say

Under a breath, to myself

Hope, now a mirage

[ 1:57 a.m. ]

We follow red eyes

Taillights guiding through a gray

Much thicker than smog

“Is that home?” he says

‘It was,’ I want to explain

The verb turned past tense

[ 1:58 a.m. ]

We run over limbs

Fiery fingers, curled hands

Crushed under tire

“What was that?” he says

A branch, a head-sized ember

Things fallen aground

[ 1:59 a.m. ]

My heart palpitates

White knuckles grasping the wheel

A harrowing drive

“We made it,” I say

Even surprising myself

A held breath lets out

[ 2:00 a.m. ]

Again we embrace

The four of us, still in shock

Wondering what’s lost

“It’s just stuff,” we say

Replaceable memories

What matters is us

HOUSE 2

[ 2:30 a.m. ]

Radio scanners

Texts, social media tweets

Friends plague-spreading news

“We are safe,” we say

A broadcast message to all

Phones endlessly buzz

[ 3:00 a.m. ]

Middle of the night

Early morning, whatever

It doesn’t matter

Sleep, will it bring death?

Did you hear did you hear did

“You okay?” they say

[ 3:30 a.m. ]

How many homes lost?

How many buildings have burned?

How can we ever—?

“You should sleep,” we say

Impossibly-flat smiles

There’s no way in hell

[ 4:00 a.m. ]

Curled under blankets

We sit outside, breathing smoke

Inhaling the dead

“Think it’s there?” you ask

Meaning the house, rhetoric

‘Gone,’ I cannot say

[ 4:30 a.m. ]

The boy, he gets sick

Curled around the toilet, pale

One cat is with him

“It’s okay,” you say

Rubbing the back of his head

The girl rubs her eyes

[ 5:00 a.m. ]

She stays up with us

Unable to sleep, to cry

Her eyes dry, bloodshot

“Are we safe?” she asks

How can we lie to children?

We somehow manage

HOUSE 3 - TABLE

[ the day after ]

Fallen power poles

Our past, our town, a war zone

A nuclear blast

Chimneys pierce the haze

The only things left, unfazed

Home tombstones, relics

Flat charred skeletons

Metal melted to the ground

Cars still smoldering

We break through roadblocks

Some wave us through, most routes closed

Past devastation

Everything black

Everything smoking. burnt

Everything trashed

A lunar landscape

Ruin, annihilation

Utter destruction

Then we find our street

Drive over downed power lines

Hop out of the car

Shoes melt underfoot

Where did it—? Where has it gone?

A campfire stench

Our two-story home

Reduced to a foundation

Walls nothing but dust

We knew what we’d lost

Nothing could have prepared us

For what we’d then find

We couldn’t save them

Reduced to outlines, morbid

Farm animals, gone

Mummified corpses

Some lay peaceful, some mid-stride

Others simply bone

The pastures, empty

The coop, reduced to ghost frames

The horses, where did—?

“The horses!” you say

How did they ever survive?

Burnt, singed, but alive

We find them on grass

An untouched patch of once-green

Their eyes give us hope

We call for our cat

Lost, the one we couldn’t save

Could he be alive?

INKY - SINGED

Thanks for reading. It’s rough, I know, and incredibly condensed, but some words need to be written. And yes, we eventually found our second cat. After twenty-three days on his own, running from the fire, and through sheer determination and a lot of luck, we found him (pictured left). He is now reunited with his sister (pictured right).

CATS - TOGETHER.jpg

WOR(L)DS DISSOLVE

With a length of aluminum

Melted tire rim

Resolidified

You prod a block

Flash-fired

Thousands of degrees

Books alongside books

Once trapped in a box

Unsold novels, collections

Wherein seemingly nothing’s written

The metal pushes through

Softly separates the mass

One side falls away, crumbles

Type still there

Sentences

Paragraphs

Characters

Imaginary people

Autobiographical plot

You are a god

And you read the words

Recognize passages

“I wrote that,” you say

“I gave that story life

“I created—”

The words dissolve

As you touch them, gloved

Pages turn to powder

Worlds ruined

Stardust

The aluminum snaps

Brittle, like hard candy

You toss it away

Put your boot through the past