Nationally-renowned horror author and Boulder resident Stephen Graham Jones snagged a spot in the Best Horror of the Year: Volume 12 edited by Ellen Datlow, the popular editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
“This Was Always Going to Happen,” first published in Denver Horror Collective’s Terror at 5280’ local horror fiction anthology in November, tells the tale of an anxious motorist stranded on the side of a mountain road.
Terror at 5280’, Denver Horror Collective’s horror fiction anthology published in November, earned the #2 slot on Denver Post’s local bestseller list for paperback fiction for the week ending January 26, 2020.
Terror at 5280’ editors include Denver Horror Collective members Josh Schlossberg, Gary Robbe, Melinda Bezdek, Lisa Mavroudis, Thomas C. Mavroudis, Desi D, Bobby Crew, and Jeamus Wilkes.
All 22 Terror at 5280’ stories are penned by Colorado authors, including Bram Stoker Award® winning horror master Stephen Graham Jones, USA Today bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson, as well as the following Denver Horror Collective members and Colorado-based horror fiction writers: Matthew Lyons, Lindsay King-Miller, Rebecca S.W. Bates, Carina Bissett, Joshua Viola, Joy Yehle, Gary Robbe, Cindra Spencer, Thomas C. Mavroudis, Melinda Bezdek, Henry Snider, Josh Schlossberg, Angela Sylvaine, Grace Horton, Jay Seate, Desi D, Sean Murphy, Bobby Crew, P.L. McMillan, Travis Heermann, Jeamus Wilkes.
The anthology’s cover art was created by The Rïpröck and its layout by Henry Snider (both Denver Horror Collective members), with a foreword by Horror Writers Association President John Palisano and an afterward by HWA Colorado’s Larry Berry.
Terror at 5280’ is available at a variety of Denver bookstores including Tattered Cover, Mutiny Information Café, Tennyson St. Coffee and Books, Bookbar, Broadway Book Mall, West Side Books, and Barnes and Noble; 2nd and Charles in Broomfield, Aurora, and Littleton; and in Boulder at the Boulder Bookstore, Trident Café, Bookworm, and Barnes and Noble.
The anthology is also available online via Indiebound.org, Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook), Powell’s, and Amazon (paperback and Kindle).
Watching from the moon night shadows, his dementia distorted her, remade her, morphed her into Dream Girl. Standing in the small clearing, she was radiant and stunning, a vision of love and adoration; a delusion of lust and wanton possession. The silky skirt molded around her, clinging to her thighs, and the sweater hugged her body, amplifying her plentiful breasts.
Seemingly unconcerned and unaware of her admirer, her stalker, shadowing her as she meandered without a care in the world, Dream Girl stepped off the sidewalk. She started strolling across the grass, snaking her way among Denver City Park’s multitude of trees. The zoo and museum were closed. There were no late night joggers or strolling lovers. It was after midnight and the empty park was illuminated by June’s bright full moon. The Strawberry Moon.
Strawberries, her admirer thought, the color of blood. Would her blood taste as sweet?
As her stalker moved with the stealthy grace of a puma, Dream Girl paused, her head turning so her beautiful, moon-washed features stood out in the darkness. Her expression grew curious and for a fleeting moment, the hint of a frown touched her exquisite mouth.
He knew that Dream Girl sensed him. He was predator, she was prey. His smile was feral. Yet, as he watched, her frown vanished and her expression grew impassive. That annoyed him. Soon she would comprehend the danger and like all prey, her blood would turn cold, her gut would clench and she would run. Run for her life. Run to her death.
The stalker sighed at the thought. The chase. The inevitable capture. The consummation of his desires and his lust.
Dream Girl paused for only a few scant seconds and then resumed walking among the trees. If she was worried, it did not show. Her stride was leisurely, her exquisite body relaxed. Moving effortlessly, she exuded the easy confidence of one unconcerned about the night and the moonlit darkness and what might lurk in it. Her naiveté heightened her stalker’s hunger. At the end, innocent prey was so gratifying. The struggling. The screaming. The begging.
“The Stigmata of Miramont Castle” is the third 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.
Photo: Pikes Peak Library District
The Stigmata of Miramont Castle
by Matthew Amorebello
The octagonal room boomed with unseen forces. It reeked of rotten wood and stale incense. The wallpaper was a light blue Fleur-de-lis pattern and had gone untouched since the castle had been built in the late 19th century. Rust lined the metal light fixtures. The pulpit was uneven and inappropriately small. A statue of Christ adorned the southern wall with first light beaming across his cheek. The chapel was the highlight of Miramont Castle.
“The East Wing was completed in 1897,” began Lucinda.
Lucinda was Miramont’s tour guide. She was an older woman, with thick dyed black hair. Her voice was nasal, with a condescending tone. She spoke slowly and deliberately to the sole attendant of that morning’s tour.
“The room was Father Francolon’s dining hall,” she continued. “It was converted to a chapel by the Sisters of Mercy, who assumed control of the estate, after his return to France. They renamed the site ‘Montcalme’.”
“And what does that mean?” asked the elderly guest.
“Calm of the mountain,” answered Lucinda.
Lucinda excused herself from the room, as the elderly woman continued to admire the fine woodwork. She circled about the chapel, imagining herself back in time. She breathed in deeply, and the smell of the room overwhelmed her. She grabbed the pew to steady herself.
It was at this moment she became witness to the miracle. The statue of Christ came alive. The hands, feet, and chest oozed blood, pouring out the plaster statue and onto the wooden floor. The face turned to the elderly woman and smiled. Blood began to pour from his thorny crown.
The elderly woman approached the statue. She blessed herself and thanked God for bestowing this honor upon her. Emotion overwhelmed her and she nearly fainted, limping casually backwards into the chapel wall, scratching the blue wallpaper with her hand.
“Lucinda!” yelled the woman.
Lucinda rushed into the room and witnessed the stigmata. She took out her phone and snapped a few photos of the miracle at hand. She turned her attention to the elderly guest, who was on the verge of passing out.
“Are you OK, ma’am?” asked Lucinda.
The elderly woman cupped her face in her hands, rubbing her temples, then her eyes. Tears streamed down her face. She regained her posture and embraced the moment.
“I’ve waited my whole life for a miracle,” she said. “I can now die in peace.”
At that moment, the elderly woman went limp. She fell to the ground like an anvil, striking the creaky floor below. She was noted to be lifeless upon impact. Lucinda called for help, and by the time first responders arrived, the old woman was dead.
Denver Horror Collective, a group of horror writers and artists, has raised $1,150 through its Indiegogo fundraiser to purchase stories from twenty-seven Colorado authors to publish in Terror at 5280’, a local horror fiction anthology due out this fall.
The twenty-one dark tales chosen for the print and e-book anthology (and six more in The Epitaph newsletter and on DenverHorror.com) are set around the greater Denver metroplex and Front Range Rocky Mountain communities. Some stories are based on local folklore and urban legends, while others touch on social and environmental themes relevant to the area, such as gentrification, substance abuse, and zombie deer (aka chronic wasting disease).
All stories are penned by Colorado authors, including: Bram Stoker Award® winning horror master Stephen Graham Jones, USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson, various Denver Horror Collective members, and other Colorado-based horror fiction writers including Carina Bissett, Lindsay King-Miller, and Joy Yehle, with a foreword by Horror Writers Association President John Palisano.