“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.
Here at Denver Horror Collective—our frighteningly talented group of horror writers and artists in and around the Mile High City—we believe in the motto: write locally, scare globally.
Which is why we’re all shivers to announce our Indiegogo fundraiser for Terror at 5280’, our horror fiction anthology due out this fall, with stories set around the greater Denver metroplex and Front Range Rocky Mountain communities, all penned by Colorado authors!
What authors, you may ask? Well, how about:
Bram Stoker Award-winning horror master, Stephen Graham Jones
USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson
Hex Publishers owner, editor, and author Josh Viola
Foreword by John Palisano, author and President of Horror Writers Association
Various Denver Horror Collective members
Other Colorado-based horror fiction writers
The print and e-book anthology will run about 250 pages and include roughly 20 stories (the editorial team has already made its selections and is currently editing). Some tales 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.
As with everything at Denver Horror Collective, Terror at 5280’ is a group effort. So, if you love horror fiction, indie publishing, and/or local arts, will you make a contribution to our Indiegogo fundraiser today!
In “Dark Wisdom,” we seek writing and/or publishing advice from the horror fiction masters making up Denver Horror Collective’s Advisory Council.
For this installment, we grill Dean Wyant, co-founder and acquisitions editor at Hex Publishers.
What’s the future of small press publishers?
DEAN WYANT: May I have an easier question, please? How I wish I had a crystal ball for this one. There are some things I do understand as far as current publishing goes which I think will continue to influence small publishers as the book business progresses.
Large publishers want that next Harry Potter, Longmire mystery series or a guaranteed big selling author such as Stephen King. Quantity is equally as important, if not more so, than quality. Anyone who has attempted to break into the world of big time publishing knows how challenging it can be. You need an agent–good luck with that–and you need to have a manuscript that will sell. If you’re lucky enough to get published and it doesn’t sell well, you’re dumped. Ouch.
“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.
[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.]
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.
Denver Horror Collective is a sponsor of this recurring event at Bookbar hosted by our very own Tom Mavroudis, pairing horror and thriller readings with flights of beer & wine.
On Sunday, July 28 @ 6 pm we feature Carter Wilson reading from his new book The Dead Girl in 2A. RSVP here!
Jake Buchannan knows the woman sitting next to him on his business flight to Denver—he just can’t figure out how he knows her. Clara Stowe isn’t in Jake’s line of work and didn’t go to college with him. They have nearly nothing in common apart from a deep and shared certainty that they’ve met before. Despite their best efforts over a probing conversation, both struggle to figure out what circumstances could possibly have brought them together. Then, in a revelation that sends Jake reeling, Clara admits she’s traveling to the Colorado mountains to kill herself, and disappears into the crowded airport immediately after landing.
The Dead Girl in 2A is the story of what happens to Jake and Clara after they get off that plane, and the manipulative figure who has brought them together decades after they first met.
Carter Wilson is the award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of Mister Tender’s Girl. He lives outside of Boulder, Colorado, with his two children.
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.