Grave Beginnings: 21

Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt. If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead.

Let’s say you have an ax. Just a cheap one, from Home Depot. On one bitter winter day, you use said ax to behead a man. Don’t worry, the man was already dead. Or maybe you should worry, because you’re the one who shot him.

He had been a big, twitchy guy with veiny skin stretched over swollen biceps, a tattoo of a swastika on his tongue. Teeth filed into razor-sharp fangs, you know the type. And you’re chopping off his head because, even with eight bullet holes in him, you’re pretty sure he’s about to spring back to his feet and eat the look of terror right off your face. On the fol ow-through of the last swing, though, the handle of the ax snaps in a spray of splinters. You now have a broken ax. So, after a long night of looking for a place to dump the man and his head, you take a trip into town with your ax. You go to the hardware store, explaining away the dark reddish stains on the broken handle as barbecue sauce. You walk out with a brand new handle for your ax.

The repaired ax sits undisturbed in your garage until the next spring when, on one rainy morning, you find in your kitchen a creature that appears to be a foot-long slug with a bulging egg sac on its tail. Its jaws bite one of your forks in half with what seems like very little effort. You grab your trusty ax and chop the thing into several pieces. On the last blow, however, the ax strikes a metal leg of the overturned kitchen table and chips out a notch right in the middle of the blade.

Of course, a chipped head means yet another trip to the hardware store. They sell you a brand new head for your ax. As soon as you get home with your newly-headed ax, though, you meet the reanimated body of the guy you beheaded last year. He’s also got a new head, stitched on with what looks like plastic weed trimmer line, and it’s wearing that unique expression of “you’re the man who kil ed me last winter” resentment that one so rarely encounters in everyday life.

You brandish your ax. The guy takes a long look at the weapon with his squishy, rotting eyes and in a gargly voice he screams, “That’s the same ax that slayed me!”

Is he right?

Opening paragraphs from John Dies at the End
by David Wong
Art by bonnynotion

Grave Beginnings: 20

Posted: October 20th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


Cthulhu, they call me. Great Cthulhu.

Nobody can pronounce it right.

Are you writing this down? Every word? Good. Where shall I start — mm?

Very well, then. The beginning. Write this down, Whateley.

I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa’yngnaiih (no, of course I don’t know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn’t the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.

Those were the days.

Opening paragraphs from I Cthulhu
by Neil Gaiman
Art by Brian Elig

Grave Beginnings:19

Posted: October 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.

Ullman stood five-five, and when he moved, it was with the prissy speed that seems to be the exclusive domain of all small plump men. The part in his hair was exact, and his dark suit was sober but comforting. I am a man you can bring your problems to, that suit said to the paying customer. To the hired help it spoke more curtly: This had better be good, you. There was a red carnation in the lapel, perhaps so that no one on the street would mistake Stuart Ullman for the local undertaker.

As he listened to Ullman speak, Jack admitted to himself that he probably could not have liked any man on that side of the desk — under the circumstances.

Ullman had asked a question he hadn’t caught. That was bad; Ullman was the type of man who would file such lapses away in a mental Rolodex for later consideration.

“I’m sorry?”

“I asked if your wife fully understood what you would be taking on here. And there’s your son, of course.” He glanced down at the application in front of him. “Daniel. Your wife isn’t a bit intimidated by the idea?”

“Wendy is an extraordinary woman.”

“And your son is also extraordinary?”

Jack smiled, a big wide PR smile. “We like to think so, I suppose. He’s quite self-reliant for a five-year-old.”

Opening paragraphs from The Shining
by Stephen King
Art by Vincent Chong

Grave Beginnings: 18

Posted: October 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


At first, Negroes thought it funny. A disease that could make a Haitian blacker? It was the joke of the year. Everybody in our sector accusing everybody else of having it. You couldn’t display a blemish or catch some sun on the street without the jokes starting. Someone would point to a spot on your arm and say, Diablo, haitiano, que te pasó?

Le Negrura they called it.

The Darkness.


These days everybody wants to know what you were doing when the world came to an end. Fools make up all sorts of vainglorious self-serving plep — but me, I tell the truth.

I was chasing a girl.

I was one of the idiots who didn’t heed any of the initial reports, who got caught way out there. What can I tell you? My head just wasn’t into any mysterious disease — not with my mom sick and all. Not with Mysty.

Motherfuckers used to say culo would be the end of us. Well, for me it really was.


In the beginning the doctor types couldn’t wrap their brains around it, either.

The infection showed up on a small boy in the relocation camps outside Port-au-Prince, in the hottest March in recorded history. The index case was only four years old, and by the time his uncle brought him in his arm looked like an enormous black pustule, so huge it had turned the boy into an appendage of the arm. In the glypts he looked terrified.

Opening paragraphs from Monstro
by Junot Díaz


Art by John Kenn Mortensen

Grave Beginnings: 17

Posted: October 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment »



It was a dark and stormy night.

In her attic bedroom Margaret Murray, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground.

The house shook.

Wrapped in her quilt, Meg shook.

Opening paragraphs from A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
Art by Laura Birdsall

Note: Look, I know this isn’t really a horror story in the traditional sense, but when I read this Young Adult classic the first time, it scared the hell out of me. The loss of identity, the loss of self, the danger of intellect without humanity, all of it made for heady stuff that has stayed with me ever since. Because of this book, for me true horror is a street lined with identical houses, filled with identical people, doing identical things.

Grave Beginnings: 16

Posted: October 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »



Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all. It was difficult to judge.

The house was a rental. Brooding. Tight. A brick colonial gripped by ivy in the Georgetown section of Washington, D. C. Across the street was a fringe of campus belonging to Georgetown University; to the rear, a sheer embankment plummeting steep to busy M Street and, beyond, the muddy Potomac. Early on the morning of April 1, the house was quiet. Chris MacNeil was propped in bed, going over her lines for the neat day’s filming; Regan, her daughter, was sleeping down the hall; and asleep downstairs in a room off the pantry were the middle-aged housekeepers, Willie and Karl. At approximately 12: 25 A. M., Chris glanced from her script with a frown of puzzlement. She heard rapping sounds. They were odd. Muffed. Profound. Rhythmically clustered. Alien code tapped out by a dead man.


Opening paragraphs from The Exorcist
by William Peter Blatty

Art by Michael Tomes

Grave Beginnings: 15

Posted: October 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


Her entire honeymoon gave her hot and cold shivers. A blond, angelic, and timid young girl, the childhood fancies she had dreamed about being a bride had been chilled by her husband’s rough character. She loved him very much, nonetheless, although sometimes she gave a light shudder when, as they returned home through the streets together at night, she cast furtive glances at the impressive stature of her Jordan, who had been silent for an hour. He, for his part, loved her profoundly but never let it be seen.

For three months – they had been married in April – they lived in a special kind of bliss. Doubtless she would have wished less severity in the rigorous sky of love, more expansive and less cautious tenderness, but her husband’s impassive manner always restrained her.

The house in which they lived influenced her chills and shuddering to no small degree. The whiteness of the silent patio – friezes, columns, and marble statues – produced the wintry impression of an enchanted palace. Inside, the glacial brilliance of stucco, the completely bare walls, affirmed the sensation of unpleasant coldness. As one crossed from one room to another, the echo of his steps reverberated throughout the house, as if long abandonment had sensitized its resonance.

Opening paragraphs from El Almohadón de Plumas (The Feather Pillow)
by Horacio Quiroga
Art by Marianela Frank C.

Note: If you’ve never had the chance to read Quiroga’s work, I’d highly recommend the disquieting, Gothic brand of horror that earned the author the title, “the Poe of Latin America.”

Grave Beginnings: 14

Posted: October 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »



Yoshi awoke knowing that sometime in his sleep, he had made the decision to kill.

His eyes opened to the flickering yellow light of the half-melted candle in the hurricane lamp, and after a second of disorientation in which he feared he had awakened to the wrong century, he rememberd he was in Lara’s quarters. His jaw ached. He had been sleeping sitting up, with one side of his face flattened against the hard lap of the rolltop desk.

He had not been able to bring himself to sleep in her bed.

His tongue seemed fashioned of dry wool. It stuck to the inside of his cheek, and he winced as he tugged it away; bits of soft, membranous skin clung to it.

Opening paragraphs from Star Trek: Bloodthirst
by J.M. Dillard
Cover art by Enric Torres-Pratt

Grave Beginnings: 13

Posted: October 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


Norman Bates heard the noise and a shock went through him.

It sounded as though somebody was tapping on the windowpane.

He looked up, hastily, half prepared to rise, and the book slid from his hands to his ample lap. Then he realized that the sound was merely rain. Late afternoon rain, striking the parlor window.

Norman hadn’t noticed the coming of the rain, nor the twilight. But it was quite dim here in the parlor now, and he reached over to switch on the lamp before resuming his reading.

It was one of those old-fashioned table lamps, the kind with the ornate glass shade and the crystal fringe. Mother had had it ever since he could remember, and she refused to get rid of it. Norman didn’t really object; he had lived in this house for all of the forty years of his life, and there was something quite pleasant and reassuring about being surrounded by familiar things.

Opening paragraphs from Psycho
by Robert Bloch
Art by Tomer Hanuka

Grave Beginnings: 12

Posted: October 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »


On February 5, 1976, the Ten O’Clock News on New York ‘s Channel Five announced it was doing a series on people who claimed to have extrasensory powers. The program cut to reporter Steve Bauman investigating an allegedly haunted house in Amityville, Long Island .

Bauman said that on November 13, 1974, a large colonial house at 112 Ocean Avenue had been the scene of a mass murder. Twenty-four-year-old Ronald DeFeo had taken a high-powered rifle and methodically shot to death his parents, two brothers, and two sisters. DeFeo had subsequently been sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Two months ago,” the report continued, “the house was sold for $80,000 to a couple named George and Kathleen Lutz.” The Lutzes had been aware of the killings, but not being superstitious, they had felt the house would be perfect for themselves and their three children. They moved in on December 23. Shortly thereafter, Bauman said, they had become aware that the place was inhabited by some psychic force and that they feared for their lives. “They talked of feeling the presence of some energy inside, some unnatural evil that grew stronger each day they remained.”

Opening paragraphs from The Amityville Horror
by Jay Anson
Art by N.E.