Ochre Sepulchre

Hraban Amsler came to the end of the forest path and continued apace. The sparse, charming wood thickening swiftly before him. Ochre and gold. Colors the harbingers of Fall.

He knew the route well and yet felt as if he’d taken a wrong turning. The feeling came unbidden into his mind, though the man knew he had taken the correct path, as he had countless times before.

After several minutes spent vainly attempting to recall his surroundings, he paused in a clearing and looked about, puzzled by the alien peculiarity of the place.

Skeletal branches scrapped the barren welkin as if in the throes of anguished fury and where once there had been stars there was now only ruts of deeper blackness, like scars upon shadow.

There was no wind; nor bird-song; nor cricket cry; nor the croaking of frogs; nor the gallop of deer; nor the skittering of skinks; nor the grunting of boar.

All about were bones and silence and nowhere was the path to Harrohane.

I swore I took the right path. And yet…

Amsler looked down at the watch strapped to his left wrist and muttered a curse. It was later than he expected, though the sun seemed not to have moved at all from when he left the well-worn path. If he didn’t arrive on time he was sure he’d be fired.

Amsler paused and rescanned the forest which seemed to be closing in about him. All about the trunks of the mangled wood were marks of wear, the bark torn and smoothed like deer-sign. He moved closer to the nearest tree, which bore no similarity to any species the man could recall, and bent to the smoothed area about its radius.

They were the marks of hands.

Human hands.

Hands moved by desperate, reptilian fear.

“What place is this?” Amsler wondered aloud, his breath coming cold before him, despite the oppressive heat of the vegetal enclosure. Again when he looked the trees had closed about him, the ground becoming thicker with snaking vines and grasping roots.

“Perhaps I’m dreaming.”

He felt his head as the sky became dark with the leafy canopy, the malevolent foliage drawing shadows upon the ground which danced as if in mockery and obscured the skittering insects which poured forth from flesh-sated soil and spilled like ocean waves against Amsler’s boots.

“Or hallucinating.”

The stalks of the ferns and trunks of the trees were now so thick about the man that the forty-by-forty clearing into which he had stumbled, had nearly disappeared, having now shrunk to the size of a living room.

“What I see, what I hear—this cannot be real, but rather some trickery—of my mind’s construction, or another’s. The marks upon the trees and the bones beneath them attests to the utility of panic. Even if this is some strange, new reality—which I do not believe—to react as my predecessors would prove fruitless. No, this is nothing more than a momentary fit of some kind. I know not its origins, but I know its solution.”

Steeled of mind, Amsler moved loquaciously forth, to a small stone mound in the middle of the clearing and there sat down upon it as branches reached out to him and insects flooded about his boots, exhuming the bones of the wood’s victims with their consumptive fervour.

He closed his eyes and inhaled as the stars, like arrows, fell from the welkin.

“I am unafraid of illusions, truthful though they be.”

When he opened his eyes the wood, and all within it, had gone. In place of the forest, a great sea of ash stretched out before him. The detritus began to shift, revealing a human form, skin cracked and glassy and breathless, and in its hand, a small bronze key, pristine amongst the flat, sandy expanse. Some fifty feet away from the ashen exhumation, a great manse stood out against the starless sky. Amsler observed the door of the house, which, like the key, was also of aged bronze. He bent to the curled corpse and trepidatiously reached towards the artifact.

Fiction Circular 3/8/19

§00. Editor’s note: links affixed to author/publisher’s name will redirect to author/publisher social media, links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to the site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses on lone individuals who publish their own literary work, ‘organizations’ section focuses upon independent presses, lit-mags, e-zines and other literary organizations who publish fictive work of multiple authors and ‘literary ephemera’ focuses on non-prose non-fiction literature, such as certain poems, news and art theory articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: a publication is considered ‘independent’ if it is self-contained and sustaining, that is to say, if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess or financial backing of large corporations, academies, governments or other large entrenched organizations. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will not be included on the list, not due to the quality or lack thereof of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent).


§. AUTHORS


¶From Glahn, Goats. The less that is said about Glahn’s absolutely fantastic tale of chanting stick-pointers, the better. Highly recommended (if, that is, it is still up, the author’s posts are removed at regular intervals).

*Best of the week.

“Merrily we walked out of the town in the opposite direction of the bridge. Out of the town. Grand, huh? to expel yourself, to follow the inclinations of self-exile! I had forgotten I was a single thing back there but now I felt my rugged old heart swell and spill-”

 

— Goats


¶From Julian Gallo (via Medium), An Ashcan Burns At The Feet Of Christ. An allegory, equal parts poetic and grim.

“In the back alleys of Jerusalem a prophet lies naked, drunk and covered in sick-”

— An Ashcan Burns At The Feet Of Christ


§. ORGANIZATIONS


¶From Cheap Pop, Hell, by Jennifer Wortman. A story of dogma and youthful social fracture.

“She’s a part of your world, like the buckeye tree at the edge of your yard and the cardinals and robins that land there, and the dandelions everywhere, and the fat worms shining on the sidewalk after it rains.”

 

— Hell


¶From Literally Stories, The Shroud of Tulsa, by John B. Mahaffie, a story of the ways in which the most mundane and miniscule details can be transmogrified into myth.

“So before too long, starting with Tina retelling the stories all that day, and forgetting details and substituting some of her own, we ended up with water turned into wine, a man walking on water, and what came to be called the Shroud of Tulsa, now Plexiglass-encased at the Free and Independent Church of the Almighty on Leedy Turnpike, out past the landfill. “Tulsa,” since “Shroud of Springdale” doesn’t sound like anything.”

 

— The Shroud of Tulsa


¶From STORGY, I Did Not Push My Wife Off A Cliff, by Steve Gergley.

“I was there. And let me just say that that game was a heck of a lot closer than fifty-eight to nothing would suggest to the layman—er, excuse me—laywoman—God forbid I offend anyone…”

 

— I Did Not Push My Wife Off A Cliff

From Terror House Magazine, Anfisa, by Serge Clause. A tale of longing set in Russia.

“As time went on, spring came and the frost stopped. My friends took out their iron horses, and we from Stars Town began to ride our motorcycles in Ulan-Ude.”

 

— Anfisa

¶From The Arcanist, Leave No Trace, by Gabrielle Bleu.

“The damage from the wildfire five months ago was extensive. The park still needed all hands to aid in its recovery. And there was that increase in poaching on protected lands, an abnormal thinning of elk and deer herds started shortly after the wildfire had subsided. Beth eyed her rifle case. Funny that, the way the two coincided.”

 

— Leave No Trace


¶From The Dark Netizen, Clouds. Ms. Jadeli (a commentator on Netizen’s site) had noted that, to her, it sounded like a “excellent beginning to a book.” I’d agree. Hopefully it will be expanded upon at a future-date.

“The villagers speculated that the boy was not right in his mind. They asked the other children to stay away from this child who seemingly suffered from poor mental health. However, the little boy did not mind being alone. He would hunt for food, bathe under the waterfall, and sleep on trees. He did not need anybody.”

 

— Clouds


¶From Surfaces, Terminal Lux, by Nick Greer, a peculiar, esoteric digression on simulation and class.

“:: dwell not on the epsilon beyond your binds.”

 

— Terminal Lux


¶From X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Whole Flow, by Angie McCullah, the story of motherhood, illness and the fluidity of emotion.

“It is now just the boy and me and boxes of a chemical his own body can’t supply and also the beta fish in a bowl I bought to cheer him up. We sit in a small rowboat, bobbing. If you were to pull back from the tiny craft, a sunset pink behind us and a whole gray ocean slippery with fish and other sealife below, we would look like two brightly colored scraps barely tethered by my outrage, which is better, at least, than liquefying and drowning.”

 

— The Whole Flow


§. LITERARY EPHEMERA

¶Nothing to report.


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Forging The Mappa Mundi | Part 1

Of the essentials of a story, characters, theme, style and setting, the latter is perhaps the most difficult for new or dilettante writers to manage. Take for example this first paragraph excerpt from the short story Family Gathering by Paul Beckman from Fictive Dream (a excellent site).

The laughers come first. They always arrive early and announce their early arrival to the hostess who isn’t ready yet for company. They think the hostess will laugh along with them but she won’t. She hasn’t finished cooking, dressing, or putting on makeup. She tells the laughers this and they respond with guffaws. Guffaws are infuriating to the hostess. Meanwhile the host has his first drink of many. The laughers are his wife’s family, not his, and drinking is how he tolerates them.

Though the prose is good, never once does one get a sense of place — one understands that ‘the laughers’ and ‘the hostess’ abide in a house, but we have no idea what the structure is like in anywise. We are not told whether the house is big, small, old new, black, white, brown or purple, classical, neoclassical, modern or experimental; nor do we know what rooms are where nor how they are laid out. All that we know is that some people arrived at a house. The rest of the text is similarly vague as pertains to spatiality. It should be noted that carto-spatial descriptions within a text are not intrinsically necessary; for example, in a poem, wherein the chief aim is to stir some specific passion or passions, one need not delve into particularities of geography; the same goes for something like a hallucinatory scene or dream sequence wherein reality is “off.” However, in a story, particularly in a longform story with a specific setting, it is absolutely pertinent to establish some kind of definitive geographic layout otherwise all movements will be rendered indecipherable.

Compare the previous paragraph to the flash composition The Crossing by Philip Scholz:

“Buenas tardes,” the guard said.

“Hello,” he replied, not ready to try his Spanish. Which greeting was the guard using?

“What is your business?” the guard asked.

“Vacation.” He had no intention to return.

“Your passport, please,” the guard said, holding out his hand.

He handed over the fake one, hoping his shaking hand wasn’t noticed. This was the test. He had to stay calm.

The guard reviewed the passport without a word. Finally, he flipped it closed.

“Welcome to Mexico.”

Exhaling, he took back the passport and kept driving, now a country away from the wife whose throat he’d slit.

Whilst this piece is far shorter, is establishes geography far more quickly and decisively and, most importantly, without going out of its way to do so, by which I mean, at no point in the text does the narrative flow stop for geographic descriptors, rather, they are woven into the narrative in such a way as to maintain it and drive it forward to its terminus. In the latter piece, the author accomplishes placeness through “passport” and “guard,” as well as “Welcome to Mexico” all without ever saying “airport” — which is a testament to the fact that the general cartospatial shape of things is all that is fundamentally needed (in conjunction with some slight induction and deduction from the reader) to establish the mappa mundi — the map of the world.

Fiction Circular 1/21/19

Circular Notes: Fiction Circular is focused on unearthing, presenting, congratulating and critiquing the best in new, independent fiction. By independent, we mean small presses, litmags and e-zines (with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on American works). Work is separated into three categories: Independent Authors (which covers self-published prose-works), Independent Publishers (which covers work from self-sufficient sites that feature the work of independent authors) and Literary Ephemera (which covers everything that isn’t prose-fiction, ie. poetry, experimental works, literary reviews, news, etc). If you know a piece, author or site of literature that you think we should include in our circular, do let us know, either through our email (logosliterature@yandex.com) or via the social media account of our admin (Kaiter Enless).

INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Nothing to report.

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

X-R-A-Y published LAND SPEED by Alex Evans.

“On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded 760 miles per hour.” — LAND SPEED, A. Evans.

From Terror House Magazine, Cannae (2019) by Proteus Juvenalis, a gripping and emotional tale of an unhappy and unfulfilled life and a fantastical flight from it. Mr. Juvenalis displays a unique prose style which mixes crisp minimalism with biting social commentary. He follows one of the best rules for short stories: omit needless words, as a consequence, we’d highly recommend his work.

“College-degreed, underemployed, on the wrong side of thirty. The scorn of my fellow American. Yeah, fuck you too.” — Cannae, P. Juvenalis.

North-Californian literary journal, Jokes Review has released Issue 5, featuring both prose-fiction and poetry.

“It’s my ritual,” he told Kurt the night he set fire to his first Applebee’s. “It helps me really hear the record.” — Thomas Burned Down The Applebees But The New Record Sounds Amazing, Kevin Sterne.

LITERARY EPHEMERA

Avani Singh of Blogggedit published a collection of her horror stories in the Kindle-available volume, Existence: They Do Exist (2019). I’m not really sure what to make of the name. Those who wish to support independent horror authors you can pick up a copy of her book through Amazon Kindle.

Alina Hansen announces work has begun on her first novel and promises future updates on the process.

Seasoned horror writer Laird Barron announces the definitive release date of book two of the Coleridge Series, Black Mountain.

Thanks for reading.

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If there are any authors or publications you think should be included in the next circular, feel free to let us know in the comments.

On Dialogic Consistency In Fiction

If, in your fiction writing, you can describe something in but a single word, sentence or paragraph, but choose instead to write in excess of the requisite amount for the task-to-hand, pause to consider precisely why. There are, sometimes, good reasons for writing in excess of the amount for the task-to-hand, but if due consideration of the reason(s) for the length of one’s writing is not paid, one places oneself in danger of waxing unduly wordy and this, in turn, can entail a whole host of additional problems (such as the inducement of bordem to the reader through repition, given that the more you describe a single, discrete thing, the more likely you are to repeat yourself and at a certain point this becomes superfluous; for instance, there are only so many ways to describe the roundness of a ball and, generally speaking, a limited need to do so).

One example of such a exception would be what I term dialogic consistency, by which I mean: writing in keeping with the verbal style of a particular character (such as a loquacious individual). The principal of dialogic consistency can best be described by an illustration; let us turn our attention to the cover image, which contains two figures, from left to right: a chic woman and a suave man, respectively. Let us call them Stacy and Sven and let us further flesh out the characters by attributing to Stacy a extremely loquacious, easily-distracted and gossipy turn and to Sven, let us attribute the faculties of precision and focus in combination with an extreme stoicism. In this example, when writing both of these characters in conversation, from the above descriptions alone, one would write Stacy in a far more wordy and talkative way (because Sven is by nature, reserved).

The best test of a writer’s dialogic consistency can be found in whether or not the reader can differentiate characters in conversation by their dialogue alone (without the writer telling the reader who is speaking, either directly or indirectly). Let us use Stacy and Sven to illustrate.

“Oh, hey, hey, come here – I almost forgot to tell you. Kelly is pregnant. I know right. Totally out of the blue. But Joey doesn’t know so… don’t tell him or anything. Ok?”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Ok, good, so anyways… Why do you look so glum?”

“I don’t like keeping secrets.”

Now from this brisk exchange alone, after some comparative study, we must determine whether or not the most average of readers would be able to pick out which speaker is Stacy and which is Sven. As you likely were able to tell, the first speaker is Stacy and the second is Sven; this process will, of course, be made easier on less discerning readers in a lengthier text where the speakers are referred to (at least once) before speaking, in some variation of the form: Stacy, whirled around around the corner, squealing with glee, “Oh, hey, hey… etc”.

Writing Prompt 9/22/18 – Obsession

#1

No matter the time of day, his thoughts turned ever to the case, to that fragile, crumpled body lying at the base of the willow…


#2

Her idee fixe compelled her to follow him, despite the racing of her heart, rattling in her chest like the war drums of some agued god…


#3

“You’re obsessed with the damned things… sometimes… sometimes I think you like your trinkets more than us!”


If you used our prompts to write a story (of whatever length) give us a message on twitter at @KaiterEnless

Writing Prompts 9/6/18

Writing prompts – a word or sentence meant to act as the catalyst to a piece of prose or poetry – is a very useful tool for generating ideas, producing more motivation and increasing one’s writing output generally. Most writing prompts, however, are just a single word, and usually, a word that can be used extremely broadly like “love” or “fight” or “sexy.” That is, of course, fine, but it doesn’t really give a struggling writer much in the way of a template. So, on the regular, Logos will be putting out some writing prompts which will be far more detailed and specific (and thus more challenging but, we hope, fruitful) than the standard fair. If you use our prompts tag our admin on twitter at @KaiterEnless and include the writing prompt as a hashtag and we’ll repost your story and if its really good we might just promote in on our site itself before our weekly prompts themselves.

The rules (to have your story re-posted): Use the premise (you don’t have to use all of the words given precisely) as the basis for a fiction story. Can be no shorter than 100 words. There is no maximum (if longer than the 280 twitter character limit, just thread it with sequential numbers). The story must have a beginning, middle and end (it doesn’t need to be conclusive, could be a cliffhanger, but it should wrap up at least some of the building action). Best of luck.


Theme: Speculative extraterrestrial endeavors (so look up your planets)


Prompt #1

Galilean moon expedition. Permanent Evropa colony, Minos One.

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Prompt #2

Advanced aerial warfare above Jupiter gas-harvesting station.

jupiter_assault_by_pangeawizard-d4sfjfw.jpg


Prompt #3

Mineral magnates of the Martian Mining Federation (MMF) convene over looming threat of rogue Cytek ore harvester.

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