“The First Order of Whaleyville’s Divine Basilisk Handlers”—A Horror Story by Eric J. Guignard

I don’t have too many favorite writers in horror and the like…but Eric J. Guignard is one of them. He is NOT a writer to miss! Link to this book is below.

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Cover art by Christine M. Scott.

The First Order of Whaleyville’s Divine Basilisk Handlers

Eric J. Guignard, 2018

Originally appeared in The Fiend in the Furrows, An Anthology of Folk Horror, ed. by David T. Neal & Christine M. Scott, Nosetouch Press, 2018.

I never heard of basilisks ‘til the night of Murrell’s barn dance, but that was the night I met Rosalie, so the basilisks sorta took a back seat in my thoughts. I think it was Ronny Loom who told me, though his brother, Carter, was there too, and they’re one ’n the same, being just a year apart and closer than spittin’ twins.

“Poppa told me basilisks are crossing the Nolichucky River,” Ronny said. “Heard Lilac and some men from Kingsport bagged half a dozen already, but more keep showing up. Lilac says they’re worth more’n cougar pelts.”

“That old trapper’s still around?” I asked, more interested in hearing ’bout him than gabbing on new mountain game. Legend was, Lilac Zollinger had once been engaged to my great-granny Lizbeth, but Great-Grandpa Micajah dueled him for her hand and won, leaving Lilac with a bullet in the shoulder.

He healed, except for his pride, which supposing got wounded the most. “Heard Lilac caught the scythe two summers ago by way of momma grizzly.”

“He survived that,” Carter said. “Thought everyone knew.”

Me and the Looms passed under the banner for Murrell’s dance and into his barn. Its double red doors were shuttered open and breathing yellow light like a hell cat, silhouetting straw-hatted farmers and their bonnet-hatted wives.

“Harv Ridout says Lilac won’t sleep under a roof, but rather beds down amongst the trees each night so he won’t soften up like us townies,” Ronny said.

Carter added, “Harv Ridout says Lilac punched a wolf that was fightin’ him over a cottontail.”

I rolled my eyes. “Harv Ridout’s got less sense—”

The sudden scream of fiddle severed my words, then the clang of guitar followed, and soon a gaggle of folks lined the varnished floor kickin’ up their legs like a train of asses. I never cared much for dancing and don’t know what others see in it. It’s not like kissin’ or anything, not even a little, and I should know ‘cause I done both. Dancing, you’re not even allowed to touch girls ‘cept on their hands, or Pastor Wright’ll whip your bottom scorched as Hell’s eternal fury for such a sin.

That’s when a girl I never seen before swung from the dance line, twirling delicate as a marigold bloom. Right away, my insides turned light and fizzy, like if ever I thought to float on moonlit mist, now would be the moment. She was tall and skinny, like me, but her hair went dark, and her eyes shone like copper pennies set in fire ‘til they glowed and sizzled. She wore a dress pretty as first snow, and it clung to her in the middle and billowed out everywhere else as she moved.

Truth was, I never felt that way looking at a girl before, not even when kissing Aimee Greenwood last Harvest Day. I only kissed Aimee ‘cause she started it, but I liked it too, though how it felt didn’t compare a blue belle to how seeing this new girl weave and bow to each man in line did. Suddenly I felt dancing would be the greatest thing in the world, especially if with her.

“New girl in town,” Ronny and Carter said together. “Heard her name is Rosalie Jacobs.”

“Rosalie,” I repeated, and I wondered where she came from. In Whaleyville, everyone knew everyone—even new folks—but she was a puzzler.

Murrell’s barn was stuffy hot that night, and the back of my neck stuck to the shirt collar with sweat. I ran a checkered sleeve across my forehead and it came away damp and grimy, though I still felt my best in over two years, since that terrible day at the revival.

“I’m gonna ask her to dance,” I vowed. But no sooner had the words been spoke did that vow fall to bitter ash when I saw Rosalie link arms with Luke Holder.

Ronny and Carter shook their heads somber as grave diggers. Luke Holder was older’n us, sized the three of us together, and meaner than a pecker full of sin. It was the cruel joke of the county that he was good looking too, with a big, perfect smile that made gals do funny things, and with eyes blue as winter quartz: cold and hard and sharp enough to cut, should you fall on ‘em the wrong way.

“Hellfire,” I muttered.

Click here to read the remainder of this great story and support this Anthology by picking up a copy…very affordable and worth it…

Google’s Non-profit “Arm” Has Funded Deployment of Sea-Star-Murdering Robots to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Crown of Thorns Starfish, Indonesia

Crown-of-thorns starfish eating coral. Photo by Juerg Wuelser (Taucher.net).

The “RangerBot” is a new line of defense against coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish

This article Originally appeared in Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.


Australia’s Great Barrier Reef can’t catch a break: on top of contending with pollution, hurricanes, and back-to-back-to-back bouts of coral bleaching, the world’s most iconic reef is being eaten alive by millions of prickly, venomous sea stars known as crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS). But in a matchup befitting a sci-fi movie, scientists have developed a new robot to hunt and kill these sea stars—a murderous, autonomous underwater vehicle called RangerBot.

Since 2010, the population of native, coral-eating COTS has been booming, and the outbreak is plaguing the 2,300-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef. RangerBot is being introduced to the reef—and to sea star nightmares—this week, in part to help with ongoing efforts to control COTS. This autonomous bounty hunter is the result of more than a decade’s worth of research and development by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) roboticist Matthew Dunbabin, backed by a US $750,000 grant from Google’s nonprofit arm.

COTS outbreaks have been a major cause of coral death for the struggling Great Barrier Reef. The booms appear to be caused by multiple factors: the sea stars are prolific and fast growing, agricultural runoff boosts food for their larvae, and humans have overfished the few predators willing to eat the venomous pincushions. Research suggests that getting this sea star explosion under control and preventing future spikes could help reverse coral declines on the Great Barrier Reef.

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“Night-Gaunts”—A Creepy Sonnet by H. P. Lovecraft—He Really Dreamed of These Things!

Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell,
But every night I see the rubbery things,
Black, horned, and slender, with membranous wings,
They come in legions on the north wind’s swell
With obscene clutch that titillates and stings,
Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings
To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare’s well.

Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep,
Heedless of all the cries I try to make,
And down the nether pits to that foul lake
Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep.
But ho! If only they would make some sound,
Or wear a face where faces should be found!

H. P. Lovecraft

Above, left: “Night-Gaunts” by artist Les Edwards inspired by the HPL poem. Above, right: Another HPL-inspired illustration of the creatures, artist unknown.

The Ouija Board Bigfoot—A True Story by Nick Redfern w/Links…

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Charles Ford Photography.

Laura Carter was thirty-six, lived in New York, and was employed by the Post Office when I interviewed her in 2007. She related to me the details of a distinctly odd and unsettling series of occurrences that took place back in mid-1985. On one particularly warm summer’s night, Laura said, three of her friends had come over to visit. Her parents were out of town, and so the girls planned to have an evening hanging out, playing music, drinking, and and generally having a fun time.

At some point during the night, the discussion turned to horror-movies, ghosts, spooks and specters, and the four girls decided to experiment with an old Ouija Board. As Laura admitted to me, none of them were seriously frightened by the board or the possible implications of what might transpire – in fact, they had no real idea at all how to even use the board, apart from “what we had seen in horror movies,” added Laura. But, like teenagers everywhere, they found the idea of “playing with the Ouija Board while my mom and dad were out” to be great fun and immensely exciting. However, what initially started out as nothing more than a bit of late-night joking around quickly changed into something far darker and much more disturbing.

Largely improvising, as a result of their lack of any real knowledge of how to use a Ouija Board, the four did their best: relying on familiar Hollywood imagery, they pulled a wine-glass from a kitchen-cupboard, placed the index-fingers of their right hands atop it, and were soon immersed in their planned bit of fun. Questions about boys, when they would marry, and attempts to contact dead relatives followed – all to no avail, perhaps inevitably. However, said Laura, something decidedly odd did occur: on two occasions, the electricity went off – which scared the living daylights out of the four friends. Not surprisingly, one might argue, taking into consideration their actions with the Ouija Board.

Laura explained further that everyone got a weird vibe when the power failed. And even though nothing else of an untoward nature occurred that night, it was all too late, the damage was done, and a doorway was unwittingly, and ominously, opened. For reasons that, Laura admits, to this day she cannot really explain nor understand, a feeling of fear and apprehension came over as the next day progressed, and afternoon became early evening – and after her friends had all returned to their respective homes. Once again the electricity failed – around 6.00 p.m. – and the dark, foreboding feelings began to take an ever-stronger hold on Laura’s mind. And so, after eating a hastily-made sandwich, she decided to retire to the comfort and (so she thought, at least) safety of her bedroom.

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Sasquatch Ouija Board.

Later that night, however, Laura was woken from a deep sleep in the early hours, and heard what sounded very much like a loud, yet disturbing, animal-like “scream” emanating from the vicinity of a small, but densely-packed, area of woodland that was situated at the rear of the family home.

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