Please welcome fellow Eternal Press author Ross Simon to my blog. Ross is the author of Red Dahlia, a horror novel.
When he retires from the First World War to a colonial Indian life of peace, Commodore Clifford Selickton RN is unaware of the blood about to be spilled through that which he unleashes. Selickton takes a beautiful young priestess, Virhynda, for a wife, and they bear a darling little child…a child who, horrifyingly, is prophesized to become the very incarnation of the dread Kali-Ma, East Indian goddess of blood sacrifice. The mind-bending examples they witness of random people receiving their doom are, in fact, only preludes to the hideous, demonic goal of the Blood-Mother: conquest of the earth, to cover it in a maelstrom of hellish flame and mangled flesh that will consume all mankind. Worst of all, Kali aims to achieve this by striking at the very heart of the civilized world…and it might take a miracle from the Hindu gods themselves to stop her once and for all.
Viry had actually taken the baby, and some supplies and food for her, and called for a motor-cab that took her to an inn at Gurgaon, the city about halfway between Delhi and the secret temple of the Kamatra. From there, she would plan to return to the temple, if only long enough to ask her aunt, Sri Virvhedi Sajangpur, for advice on what they should do about this whole mess that had Clifford half out of his mind.
Virhynda had a relatively decent night’s sleep with little Alise next to her in the bed, only having to wake up twice, once for a feeding of Alise, and again when the child’s diaper needed changing. She woke up the next morning assuming that she would carry on with the day as she had planned.
“Wake up, little Alise,” she purred to the baby, drawing the sheets off of her. “We have an early time to go from—”
Suddenly, she noticed how Alise was dressed. The night before, Virhynda could’ve testified that she’d put her into a thin cotton baby smock for sleeping. As it was, now—she was clad in a little union suit.
The same union suit that a year before, Viry had just finished and yet had to throw out—because it got a stain of blood on it, Viry’s own blood.
Yet, here it was. Alise was wearing it. Worst of all, the large, dark bloodstain was still there.
Alise was smiling at her mother, kicking her little legs.
Virhynda’s mind became electrified with terror. She drew back, not knowing what in Shiva’s name to make of this. The—
Horrified, her head spinning, Virhynda jumped out of bed and ran to the telephone. She started to hyperventilate as she dialed the operator, and only as calmly as she could then, asked for the British Ministry in Delhi.
Viry had to wait a minute before getting through to the Ministry. During that time, she looked back at her daughter, in that bloodstained little suit—she had to close her eyes and look away from that garment on little Alise. For some reason, the baby herself was just happy and cooing, wiggling her little limbs.
As soon as she got through, Viry said to the deputy minister who answered: “Hello…could you perhaps inform me as to where Commodore Clifford Selickton might be in the city of Delhi?”
“He was here yesterday evening, Miss,” said the deputy, “but he left quickly, and we haven’t seen him since. We couldn’t tell you where he may have gone.”
“Look,” suggested Virhynda, her patience starting to ebb, “could you have the Royal Constabulary look around for him? It is of the utmost importance that I see him on a certain matter.”
“Perhaps we could, Miss, but we do know he was looking for a local Swami named Gudhlash Dharvanu. We also don’t know where he is, although if you do, you could—”
“I do not know where Swami Dharvanu is either!” she began to shout. Viry looked back again at Alise, then back to the telephone. “The Royal Constabulary is going to have to—”
She suddenly did a double take, back at Alise. The baby had crawled over to the bedside, and taken from a vase on the nightstand one of a bouquet of dahlias, locally grown flowers—Alise had knocked over the vase onto its side, spilling the dahlias, though the vase hadn’t rolled onto the floor yet—and was clutching it in her little hands.
These dahlias were an ordinary shade of blue, as most were, but the one Alise was clutching, Viry thought for an instant—and then, looking again, knew—was slowly turning blood red.
Virhynda dropped the phone receiver.
Alise wasn’t bleeding at all, on the dahlia or otherwise. There was just a spontaneous shade of red, like blood, growing over the petals of the dahlia, spreading over it, until—just like the stain on little Alise’s suit—it was completely bright red.
Viry could only watch, shaking.
“Hello?” said the deputy minister, still on the phone. “Hello?”
As Virhynda watched, a red drop of color—like blood—dripped off of the dahlia and onto the bed.
Cowering away in sheer horror, Virhynda put her face in her hands, sobbing, hyperventilating. This can’t even be real—
Finally, from the nightstand, the vase rolled off onto the floor, and shattered with a pop and tinkling.
Viry slumped onto the floor, into a dead faint.
And little Alise, Shiva knew, just kept on smiling.
Buy it here:
ROSS S. SIMON, born Sam Ridings in La Cross, Wisconsin in 1979, spent the bulk of his childhood in Winona, Minnesota, before moving at age nine to Santa Cruz, California, where he still lives today. He graduated from Soquel High School in 1997, and from Cabrillo College in 2006, the latter with an Associated Arts degree in Basic Liberal Arts. Mr. Simon is the author of two previous horror works, The Snow, published by Eternal Press in 2012, and Red Dahlia, published by Damnation Books in 2013, as well as two self-published short stories, “Vein Transplant” and “By A Bloody Head.” His hobbies include pinball gaming, collecting pop memorabilia, and reading very interesting novels of various genres.
1. You are the first Horror/Dark Fantasy author I have featured here. Tell me about writing in that genre. Where do your ideas come from? Do you scare yourself sometimes?
Writing in the horror genre takes having been scared by life a good deal, though not so much that you can’t take one step further in life, of course. I’ve experienced some frightful elements in the media growing up; scary movies, TV shows, and even some frightening real-life events, such as the realization that when others taunt me about having no friends when I was growing up, they may well have been right. However, I doubt that last part. I don’t scare myself much, however; although if I come up with an idea similar on an invisible “fright scale” in my head (though it’s very abstract) to what I’ve experienced growing up in the media, I know I’ve got a winner.
2. What books or authors influenced you growing up and what led you to become a writer?
I knew in school and at home when I was young that I had a naturally good talent for weaving stories, and in all genres at that, not just horror. What motivated me in horror were the media exploits of Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and most of all, His Majesty. You know who I’m talking about here. The guy who originally Carried on.
3. Tell me about your writing process. Do you have a set time or word count goal for writing?
I write in occasional bouts most every day, and when I do, it’s in randomly decided quotas of either pages and lines, or bunches of lines, decided by either numbers on a calculator, or rolls of multi-sided role-gaming dice. I know…how geeky can you get?
4. What are you currently working on now? Do you have any other books coming out in the near future?
I’m continuing to exercise my writing talents by composing short horror stories, and loosely seeking here and there for potential publishing anthologies for them, until Damnation Books’ editors get back to me on my third horror opus: “Arthur O’ The Bower.” This is a thrilling fright-yarn set in Scotland, more or less in the modern day, about a wind-demon wreaking terror; it’s inspired by the archaic British-Isles children’s rime of the same subject.
5. What have you learned about the writing and publishing business that you wished you knew when you first started out?
The publishing grind has had few actually unpleasant surprises for me, considering; one thing I should’ve taken into account, at least, was that one has to promote their books online a good deal about their consignment in local bookstores. That I didn’t do that, resulted in no sales at my local print bookshops of print copies of my books.
6. For those reading this today, what would you say to them that might convince them to give your book a try?
All I can say in regard to “Red Dahlia,” my sophomore work, is that you can take my word for it: it’s a good and scary read. Also it’s by the author of “The Snow,” which is an even better and scarier read, some might say.
Follow Ross here: