Sunday, February 21, 2016

Stalker of the Wild Wind

What you see above is a painting, by artist J. B. Lee, inspired by my World War I historical drama-slash-Lovecraftian (or perhaps Derlethian, if one must) horror tale, "Stalker of the Wild Wind," which appeared in the 1999 Chaosium anthology, The Ithaqua Cycle, edited by Robert M. Price. Mr. Lee posted the reproduction of the art on Facebook and graciously allowed me to share it here. I think it perfectly captures the spirit of the story, which — unlike much Lovecraftian fiction — is very much about the human characters, the monster being a catalyst for events rather than the focus of the events. I look forward to seeing more of Mr. Lee's work, wherever it appears.

"Stalker of the Wild Wind" was a precursor to my novel, Blue Devil Island, which takes both the war drama and the supernatural menace to a whole new level. (My short tales "Children of Burma" and "Epiphany: A Flying Tiger's Story" also belong to the same cycle.)

The Ithaqua Cycle is still available on for $15.95. Check it out here.

"Rainey's story ("Stalker of the Wild Wind") is, to me, a modern weird story classic that should be mandatory reading, and if it had published during the fifties it would be constantly in print. Derleth would have loved this story. I read this when it was first published, when it was republished in this anthology, and when I re-read it again for this review, and I've never forgotten it, and it never ceases to entertain."—Mark Louis Baumgart

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fears, Defibrillators, and Wankpuffins

Suntigres faces her fear. The lurking horror
behind the camera, perhaps?

For the old man and Suntigres (a.k.a. Bridget), the geocaching trail led us to numerous destinations in and around Raleigh on this gorgeous February Saturday. She needed to pick up several items from her son, who lives over that way; the Hibernian Irish Pub in downtown Raleigh was beckoning her like gold at the end of the rainbow; and the caching bug was biting with nasty great pointed teeth, so she ordered me along to navigate any unruly or otherwise challenging terrain we might chance to encounter. In the end, terrain challenges proved minor and relatively rare, but we did turn up several unique and exceedingly well-done hides. We started with a couple of caches in a series called "Face Your Fears," and face them we did, though we did not, in at least one particularly frustrating case, succeed in finding the frightening little bugger. We solved a couple of brain-challenging puzzles, discovered a comically macabre diorama underneath a lamp post skirt, and lost our marbles at a couple of expertly crafted cache containers courtesy of Motrin Man (a.k.a. Fred) and Blinky7 (a.k.a. Cindy). In one instance, what appeared to be a standard lamp post hide proved to be a bit of a shocker, damn near requiring a defibrillator at the end of it all. It wasn't a monster haul today — I think I logged 18 total — but after several difficult weeks, it was damn nice to get outdoors and get my moniker on a few new logs. Not to mention some kick-ass chicken wings at Hibernian.

A good day.

And on a completely unrelated note, I saw today, in reference to Donald Trump, the word "wankpuffin." A fine word this, a good woody-sounding word, not at all tinny. I quite like it.
Best light-pole cache I've ever found.
Old man needs defibrillator after being shocked by sneaky, springy, snaky thing.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Black Wings

Some high-flying horror here — my contributor copy of the paperback edition of S.T. Joshi's Black Wings of Cthulhu 4, which features "Contact," a slightly horrific SF tale I co-wrote with John Pelan some time back. And yes, that's a happy little cast-iron bat, which I got (along with some high-grade chocolate) from Ms. Brugger on Valentine's Day. He'll be going up on my living room wall somewhere; I just need to find a suitable spot for him. I think I'll name him Brumby.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Be My Frozen Valentine

Kimberly and I had our celebratory Valentine's dinner on Friday night, which was fortunate, since, at the moment, the weather has taken a rather icy turn. This was my weekend to go to Martinsville to help Mum, so Friday, on our way up, we had a fine, fine dinner at The Celtic Fringe in Reidsville, one of our favorite bistros in the area. Why, of course there was a cache to grab on the way; in fact, there we ran into our local caching legend, Mr. Tom "Night-hawk" Kidd himself. For Valentine's Day, Ms. B. presented me with one of her custom, handmade cards, which she enjoys creating (see above), along with a very cool cast iron bat — the critter, not the club — to hang on my wall. (Apparently, her dad picked it out and told her, "This is Mark." Nice one, Delmar.) After dinner, we headed on to Mom's, and after taking care of some business affairs, Kimberly and I settled in to enjoy a bit more wine and a few episodes of The Walking Dead.
"It's a trap!"

And since then, it's been a busy weekend. Yesterday, I spent the morning dealing with Mum's affairs, and then Kimberly and I headed out for Stonefield Cellars Winery in Stokesdale, where we met up with some friends to sample a few particularly enjoyable wines. Why, yes... funny you should ask... yes, I did stop for a cache, at Belews Lake. Then there were more friends, more refreshment, and, finally, the journey home, where I narrowly escaped being mauled (see accompanying photo).

This morning, I woke early to a telltale buzz from my phone, and in a sleepy haze I thought, "Well, that might be a new cache notification." For the next half eon, I lay there in the twilight zone, unwilling to reach beyond that two feet of void for the phone. Some passage of time later, I finally did this thing, and — sure enough — it's a new cache, practically right up the street. I struggled into my shoes, started down the stairs, and realized my attire was inadequate for stepping out of my front door. With some effort, I remedied the situation, and off I went, stopping along the way to grab some coffee at the nearest convenience store.

I arrived at the specified parking coordinates and noticed the temperature on my car dash read 15 freakin' degrees. Now I'm thinking this is one of those times when I might not be quite right in my head. Then, just as I start making my way to the trail head, a vehicle pulls up, and — looky — it's Mr. Feathered Friends. With some grumbles about the temperature, we headed for ground zero, about a quarter mile down this very nice, very frozen trail. Once there, a particular spot caught my eye, and I gave it a cursory examination, only to find nothing. I checked a couple of other places, but the GPS kept bringing me back to my original search site. I looked again and — ah, but yes! — the cache is there after all, very well-concealed. Opened the container and, with near-frozen fingers, fumbled my way into the log. Blank! So, Feathered Friends and I dirtied it up, snagging a nice co-first-to-find at 8:15 AM. A nice, if frigid way to start the day.
T'ain't a fit night out for man nor beast!

And tonight, here comes the snow. It wasn't supposed to begin till after midnight, but about 7:15, I paused War of the Gargantuas, glanced outside, and saw white. Now, I gotta tell you, Greensboro has a lousy track record for keeping the power on in even mildly adverse weather. Since the forecast calls for some freezing rain tomorrow, I figured I might ought to run up to the store and grab some fire logs. So I drove to Harris Teeter, which was, quite naturally, very crowded; I grabbed some fire logs and a few other items, and came out to find the snow coming down in earnest, along with a rather significant amount of accumulation. I could tell right away this was going to be a slippery one, and — oh, lord — it came so close to being a repeat of that fateful storm almost exactly two years ago (see "The Great White Beast," February 12, 2014) that I damn near kissed the snowy ground when I got back into my driveway. And when I say I barely made it, I exaggerate not even a smidgen. There were cars sliding all over the hill down the road from my house, and at least one went into the adjacent ditch. The driver did manage to get out of there, but once I arrived safely home (fifty feet from my driveway, I still had doubts), I walked down the street and watched as one car after another narrowly escaped disaster. For all I know, there may be a disaster — or one brewing — down there right now.

Me, I'm just hoping the power stays on. I already went through several days of icy temperatures in my own house a couple of weeks back, and I'd like to not go through it again, thank you very much.

Do be safe.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Now Featured at Dark Regions

I am, for the moment, the featured author at Dark Regions Press, publisher of my short fiction collections Other Gods (2008) and The Gaki (2012) as well as the anthologies Christmas Horror, World War Cthulhu, and Discoveries: Best of Horror and Dark Fantasy, which feature my stories "Red Rage," "The Game Changers," and "Megan," respectively. All are available in trade paperback editions, some as hardbacks and e-books. Look at those covers right there. Just look at them! I'm telling you, hie thee over yonder to Dark Regions right now, take a look, and treat yourself to a perfectly frightful smorgasbord. I know you need one. Don't we all?

Visit here: Stephen Mark Rainey at Dark Regions Press

"I finished the book feeling as if I had been processed through the kaleidoscopic imagination of a born storyteller. Other Gods is a superb example of what this sort of long-term collection is good for: It plainly highlights the author's long-running thematic obsessions and shows him circling back to revisit and reshape the concepts, tropes, and emotions that inspire him."
—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings #4

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ken's Law, Sunsets, and I Really am an Idiot

An intriguing Chapel Hill sky
Yes, I sometimes do hold a grudge against a mean old geocache. Yesterday, Ms. B. and I made one of our enjoyable pilgrimages to Chapel Hill, whereupon I met and finally overcame one tough little bastard that has vexed me on at least two prior occasions. The cache is "Ken's Law" (GC106B9), located along one of Chapel Hill's ubiquitous woodland trails, placed by the nefarious "Maingray," who — to his credit — has also placed an impressive number of caches bearing Lovecraftian themes. "Ken's Law" refers to a certain geocaching hypothesis put forth by Ken "The Alethiometrist" McDonald, and goes as follows: "The difficulty in finding a cache is directly proportional to its size." Our redoubtable Maingray decided to test this hypothesis by hiding three decoy containers — two micros and a small — within ten feet of the the actual cache, which is large enough to hold a fair quantity of swag, in a target-rich environment just off the Red Trail near Charles Herman Wilson Park. Maingray's contention is that in this case, perhaps contrary to the usual expectation, your average geocacher will find the two micros and small container before finding the largest one.

Well, on both of my previous hunts, I did indeed turn up the micros and the small box, but never the actual cache, which contains the log sheet that must be signed in order to claim the find. Yesterday, Ms. B. helped me hunt for a good while, and finally — just when I was afraid we might have to give it up yet again — a light bulb came on in my head. I undertook the necessary task to prove that my light bulb was of sufficient candlepower, and — hell yes! — there it is! The cache! Log signed! Grudge match won! Clearly, in this case, Maingray's contention proved spot-on. I suppose this is well, since, if it hadn't, the balance of the world might have been upset and there would at this moment be shoggoths, elder things, and fungi from Yuggoth crawling and clambering all over the face of the earth.
Keep pounding

From there, Kimberly and I made our way to another of my target caches, located on the nature trail at Chapel Hill's Public Library on Estes Road. This one was "Bookworm Cache Redux" (GC4HMXX), which is itself a little library — an ammo box that finders can use as a book exchange. I had intended to leave a copy of The Monarchs in the container, and I had even made sure to put one in my car before we left Greensboro. However, at the last minute, we ended up taking Kimberly's car, and where did I leave that book? Yep. What a dimwit. Still, a nice cache, this one, and perhaps on a future visit, I'll just stop by and drop off a book.

All things considered, beating Ken's Law was good for a little celebration with some wine at the Weathervane restaurant and dinner at Thai Palace (whose Crying Tiger may be the best I've ever had). In addition, we were treated to a spectacular sunset (see above), and I did get to grab another cache before heading back home. Today, Sunday, has been a big writing day for me, as I have a couple of tight deadlines looming. And no, I've not taken a break to watch the Super Bowl, never mind the Panthers.

At least one of us is keeping pounding, I can tell you.