If you look at the contrasts of the two artists (Bosch and Kubicki), you see many. One is black and white and one is color. There’s alot of movement in Bosch‘s The Harrowing of Hell as well as symbolism in this rendition of Hell. Do you hear the flames licking at the pleading souls? People are looking for an escape from the worst part only to find a new horror.
There is a different kind of horror in the Kubicki something akin to an inability to run. Look at the strands of hair; they closely resemble glass broken at a harsh angle. Is there a way out? No! Is the skin drying out (starting to melt) from a similar heat?
Symbolism in art is rich. As you look deeper you will see more even if you wish you had not delved into the dark.
“When the Birthday boy or girl doesn’t blow out all the candles in one breath, they get the Candle-Curse.”
“And the remaining flames act as a doorway from Hell where demons escape to exact their dark deeds upon the failed candle blower,” Barney explained, speaking in a campfire spook-story voice.”…
…Dustin dreamt of fire…
…A hot and hungry blaze tore through the house. He was upstairs at the table, watching. He stood motionless, petrified by the sight of demons leaping into his world through the flames. His spine froze and he shivered despite the rising heat around him…
… It reached out a hand, stopping the upturned fist inches from Dustin’s face. Slowly unraveling its fingers, the demon revealed a single candle, standing straight in the palm of its hand.
~Tyr Kieran is a regular writer for Pen of the Damned. His short story Anti-Wish can be read in its entirety here.
… the portrait you drew is beautiful. The careful way you have rendered each fine stroke of my eyelashes and hair. My eyes are large dark orbs, the light in them extinguished. The drawing stares back at me from the page, frail and petrified. It is as if I was really there before you as you drew me. You have captured it well, that is how I feel. But there are a few things about me you are yet to glimpse.
I have left it for you here, this is where we part for now. By the time you enter the warehouse I will be gone, slipping away into the dark maze of the city, far from you…
And then you will finally find her, over by the wall, bound to a chair with heavy tape. Will a scream, sharp as a razor, catch in your throat?…
…With a face lift and a short dark wig she looks just like me, don’t you think? My scent on her body now. I dressed her in the lingerie and dress I wore when you first saw me. I thought you would like that. The first time you singled me out from the crowd, the first time I felt the suffocating weight of your gaze. Yes, our time is coming soon. We are destined to meet, as both you and I know. But not tonight.
~ Magenta Nero is a regular horror writer for Pen of the Damned her story Black Widow is featured this week. Please check here for the entirety of the short story (Stalkers) that is excerpted above.
Blog: Magenta Nero – Dark Fiction Author
I’m looking at the art I selected for today and realizing minimal and horror works. The use of a few shapes, three or four colors, or primary colors can speak volumes as in these two pieces One by Polish artist Jarek Kubicki and the other by German painter Edvard Munch. If you think about cinematography, dark lightening heightens the senses and muted low musical tones creates an edginess.
Do you hear the woman gasping as she throws her bloodied face back? I think the bit from Craig McGray fills in her gurgling whispers. Her draping dripping necklace infers blood dripping off her nexk. It’s a great desperated effect that Kubicki has created. (
Munch’s painting “Two Women on the Shore” , do you feel the black figure prodding the girl forward into another world? Do you see innocence contrasted by death’s decay? The figure in white seems to be in a trance being pressed into death. The woodcut print was an excellent choice for preventing distraction from the theme.
Nina’s feathers are indeed black (and blood is flowing) in her chilling short story.
“You’ll not speak of my secret in life nor death. Of this, I’m sure.”
…In one hand, a large needle with wire tailing from the eyelet; in the other, a small vial of liquid gleamed in the glowing candlelight.
Beth strained against her bindings, but she was too weak to break free. Gloria removed the cloth from Beth’s mouth and grabbed her chin before tilting her head back, forcing the potion down her throat…
…Intermittent flashes of reality only offered hints as to Gloria’s purpose; the biting pain as her stepmother forced the wire through Beth’s lips made those intentions all too clear.
Darkness devoured every ounce of light.
Craig McGray is a regular writer for Pen of the Damned. You can read all of the short story (excerpt above) Kept Secrets here.
… “Did I frighten you?” I ask with mock patience, patience I have not felt in a decade or more.
She stares back true and steady for several heartbeats, licks her lips – a gesture of fear, or simply to moisten them? Her eyes say the latter. In a whispered voice that carries more strength than I would have imagined, she replies, “No, not frightened. Startled.”
“I don’t frighten you? I find that hard to believe. Please don’t tell me you are some ignorant field peasant the grovlings dragged in here because your curves will suit me.” Exasperation and a growing anger fill me as my fingernail draws blood from the soft hollow where it resides.
This is not the distraction I hoped for; yet another useless mongrel, I look away. Just as I am ready to release her from the burden of breathing, her hand gently wraps around mine, forcing my nail in deeper. I turn back, ready to dispatch the second disrespectful whelp of the day. “No, I was not dragged here by those hideous little creatures. I came of my own accord.” Staring directly into my eyes, she continues, “I have seen you, in the glade. Warming yourself in the sunlight, I have seen you soar above the cliffs that house this cave. I have seen you caress your lover to death near the water’s edge. I have watched you for some time now, and I wish to be like you. To…”
Nina D’Archangyal is the co-founder of Pen of the Damned and a regular writer. You can read all of her short story Feathers- here. Nina is also co-owner of the Siren’s Call E-zine.
Jarek Kubicki has given me permission to use his art this week to make the horror writing more tangible. Please have a look at his gallery this piece today is from his numbers collection and the negative of his black feathers (from Rumors about Angels collection) was an awesome addition for the end of Nina’s Feathers. In six days he has his own book release coming out in 6 days!!!
Looking for some good horror to read? Check out the Coffin Hop that runs through the end of this week. 50 authors are doing the hop with lots of free and discounted horror to keep your blood at the perfect chilled level. Nina is one of the participants and she is giving stuff away every 8 hours here – I think she will be a Zombie by the end of the 8 day HOP.
And… Craig and Nina have recent releases. Please enjoy their work- they are both are exceptional horror writers.
This week is set aside for the darker edge of life. Why not combine the two disciplines of art and writing to see what gets dug up!!!
What is horror for writers and artists? Darkness is in the air, it suspends one against its will, it hides in the shadows, but it doesn’t stay there. Darkness awakens the sleeper casting him into a delusional dream or awakens the dreamer into a place he tries to claw away from.
Why write it? why paint it? I ask this question often. There are too many answers and none the same (and some darker than others.)
Is horror just about Monsters?
“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.”
― Clive Barker
“Tired. So tired… Confusion and disorientation numbed his mind like cotton wrapped hands. Thoughts felt like a jumble of dusty moths bumped plaintively against a dim light bulb. He couldn’t grasp where he was – what he was doing. His limbs felt stiff and unused.
The stony grip of anxiety seized his mind and burned in his lungs. A deep breath was impossible. Thin air pulled slowly through his nose, bringing with it the smell of fresh clothing and an acrid smell that reminded him of a dissected frog. His anxiety doubled when he realized his mouth wouldn’t open. A hand finally responded to his slow mind. It moved sluggishly, fumbled around haphazardly until it found his lips. Glue. Somebody had glued his lips shut while he slept. Anger and the inability to get a full breath drove his fingers to tear at his lips with a horrible frenzy.”
Zack Kullis is a published author and writes regularly for Pen of the Damned.
The excerpt above is from the short story “The Manipulator.” The story can be read here.
” He did not leave, that night on New Year’s Eve, because there was nowhere else for him to go. There is nowhere else when he hears every ragged wheeze, wherever he is; the shuddering breaths of a world on the brink of expiration. As best he can remember he has always heard these sounds. He did not always know what they were, or what it meant to hear the death-rattle of the stones and the trees and the earth, but he felt them all the same, and stood slightly apart from everyone else because of this, while the others ran laughing after one another, or played hopscotch, or made daisy-chains in the grass, oblivious…
… “On paper, darkness shines. Words convey savagery with the finesse of bright bouquets. Language illuminates the broken back of the world, its atrophied limbs, its eyeless face: a rotten leviathan floating in space, quivering with parasites while it sings its last whale-song through an ocean of distant stars, almost inscrutable except by those who dare to pause in their furious lives and, for a moment, listen.”
Thomas Brown is a published author and regular writer for Pen of the Damned. Hope you enjoyed the except from the short story “All These Voices.” It can be read in its entirety here.
This wonderfully depictive work of art is by contemporary artist( from Bucharest) Oana Cambrea
It became my ghost, that lullaby—its virulent strain infecting not only the cloaked woods that surrounded us, but also the ears upon which it fell. It haunted us all, wormed its way into our brains and cored our frightened eyes to hollowed orbs. Unlike the other girls, who mewled in dread as those tinny chords crackled out from the absolute darkness, I sought to discover its origin…
…The creature sniffed my body. I gagged upon its putrid breath. Its moist snout moved slowly along my neck as a sharp talon grazed the top of my shoulder. Feeling. Touching. Pinpricks of white twinkled in one eye—the starlight reflected back from within its inky, remorseless orb. It peered upward, measuring my response. Urine trickled along my legs and I dropped the knife to the ground.
All those same people who scold you, what they’d give just for the right to hold you
Joseph Pinto is the Co-founder and writes regularly for Pen of the Damned. The short story “Lullaby”(excerpt above) can be read here.
The mindset in postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. But in post-truth, the person believes that objective truth exists, but they subordinate truth to their preferences, or their comfort. In other words, one doesn’t care that truth exists or what the truth is if it doesn’t line up with one’s preferences. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" - George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. The truth of the matter is “no one comes to the Father but by [Jesus].” This blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell