First Breath by Nicole J. LeBoeuf

“First Breath” is the first of several Colorado-based short stories written by local authors we’ll be publishing on the Denver Horror Collective website and in The Epitaph newsletter, as a lead-up to the fall release of Terror at 5280′, our local horror fiction anthology.

First Breath
by Nicole J. LeBoeuf

[Author’s note: The setting of ‘First Breath’ is loosely based on the cafe and bar Loaded Joes in Avon, a favorite place to write (and sing karaoke) when I’m in the neighborhood.]

bloody-lip_lisa-young

Photo: Lisa Young

It was time I went in search of myself. Everyone has to do it once in their lives. Each of my parents had, years before, and now I felt the pull that said it was my turn. Time to make my own pilgrimage.

They saw me off, standing in front of the house and watching me drift down the road. “Remember what we taught you,” my mother said. “One foot in front of the other. You’ll do fine.”

“Hurry home as soon as you can,” said my father, a wry smile hiding the sadness of parting. “You’ll want to be here when the baby arrives.”

I could only nod, looking first from face to face then down at the place where my unborn sibling waited to be breathed into life. I wanted to take their hands. I wanted to hold them and never let go.

But I couldn’t touch them. I could not even speak. Not yet.

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6(66) Questions with Jeamus Wilkes

– Interview by Linnea Linton

jeamusJeamus Wilkes is a Denver Horror Collective member, host of Jeamus After Midnight Podcast, and editor of The Epitaph.

1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they help you become a better writer?

Peter Straub. Straub helps me become a better writer because of his beautiful use of language blended with professional execution of creating dread and scenes of absolute terror. His work is un-commercial in the best possible way, yet utterly accessible in readability and makes my imagination’s flesh crawl like no other writer. It helps me become a better writer in knowing that I can aim for the story first, and cut the commercial crap right out. His novel Shadowland is probably my favorite book I’ve ever read, and I read it at least once a year.

2. What author did you dislike at first but grew into?

H.P. Lovecraft. I think I associated his name too much with gaming and protracted paragraphs (that sounds like a swipe at gaming culture when it really isn’t; at one time I just felt like Lovecraft’s world was over-appropriated in it), but when I revisited his work a few years ago I came to appreciate it on my own terms and made my own discoveries in his work. He’s a controversial figure, but—at this point, at least—I’ve decided to appreciate the artist. Chew on the meat and spit out the bones, to use a blunt horror metaphor.

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