Monday, December 7, 2015
Flowers in a Dumpster by Mark Allan Gunnells
Release date: December 4, 2015
Subgenre: Horror, short story collection
Seventeen Tales to Frighten and Enlighten
The world is full of beauty and mystery. In these 17 tales, Gunnells will take you on a journey through landscapes of light and darkness, rapture and agony, hope and fear.
A post-apocalyptic landscape where it is safer to forget who you once were... An unusual support group comprised of cities dying of a common illness... A porn star that has opened himself up to demonic forces... Two men battling each other to the death who discover they have much in common... A woman whose masochistic tendencies may be her boyfriend's ruin... A writer whose new friendship proves a danger to his marriage and his sanity.
Let Gunnells guide you through these landscapes where magnificence and decay co-exist side by side.
“…hilarious and horrifying, as all great satire must be. An interpretation so left of field that its concept alone must be celebrated.” – Clive Barker
“Mark Allan Gunnells' imagination is as vivid and varied as his characters, and the shocks his tales deliver are all the stronger for the restraint of his storytelling. A collection of considerable range and depth, Flowers in a Dumpster showcases an eloquent new voice in horror.” – Ramsey Campbell
"What I love about Mark Allan Gunnells’ stories isn’t just the chill factor, or the wit, or the dramatic turns – although those things are all present – but the compassion inherent in the storytelling. Whether it’s a couple touching hands as they approach an ominous house or a gruff husband giving in to his wife’s kindness, the rich humanity is what makes these stories so effective and memorable." – Lisa Morton, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of GHOSTS: A HAUNTED HISTORY.
“Gunnells’ work is brave, bold, and surprising, and as far as I’m concerned, “The Support Group” is worth the price of admission alone. If, like me, you adore short story collections, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one. The breadth and scope of horror on display here is delightful, and marks Gunnells as one of the bright stars in the dark sky of our genre.” – Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award winning author of The Turtle Boy, Kin, and Sour Candy
“Flowers in the Dumpster is filled with solid stories from an author who knows his craft. I was thrilled to find surprising gems sprinkled throughout. Highly recommended.” – Kate Jonez, Bram Stoker (R) and Shirley Jackson Award nominated author of Ceremony of Flies and Candy House.
What the hell is that?” Kinsley said, sidling up behind Cane to grip his elbow.
Cane took a moment to thrill at her touch – when he’d first met her at school he had harbored a major crush, but once she joined the group he had put such thoughts out of his mind.
The sound of cables snapping intensified…
…then stopped altogether.
A silence, so profound it felt like going deaf, replaced the noise. The trio stood perfectly still. Cane, intending to break the silence, was cut off when a new noise arose. This softer sound was somehow more ominous. Scrambling and scratching, like something clawing its way along the ground and pavement. Several somethings, actually. Perhaps dozens. It came from everywhere, surrounding them.
“I think we should go,” Kinsley said, an unmistakable tremor in her voice.
Topher, his usual prankster persona discarded like an old sock, nodded mutely.
“Are you guys insane?” Cane asked. “This is what we came here for. Finally something is happening. Get your equipment ready and let’s investigate.”
Kinsley gripped his elbow tighter. “This isn’t like the others. This isn’t ghost lights or creaking floorboards. Listen to that…something is out there.”
“Yeah, and I’m going to find out what.” Cane raised the camera and scanned the cemetery around him. He didn’t focus on any one area since the sound was everywhere. He stared intensely at the display screen, his surroundings becoming a green and black otherworld. At first he saw nothing, but then an object zipped across the screen, low to the ground like an animal. It moved so quickly any real details were indiscernible.
“There,” he said, pointing. “Something darted between the grave markers about twenty yards that way.”
Topher started to speak, but his voice cracked. He cleared his throat and tried again. “What kind of something?”
“I’m not sure, maybe an – oh shit! There went another one! And another!”
“What are they?” Kinsley asked. The tremor of her voice replaced with an edge of hysteria.
“I can’t say for sure. Topher, are you getting anything on the EMF?”
When Topher didn’t respond, Cane tore his gaze away from the camera’s display to look at the other man. Topher’s face resembled little Gracie’s statue, pale contrasting against the darkness. The EMF reader hung at his side, forgotten as the chaos escalated. Cane repeated his question louder, making Topher jump into action. “Um, no, there’s nothing. Nothing at all.”
“Are you sure that thing’s batteries aren’t also dead?”
“I’m sure. Look, maybe we should get out of here. Whatever this is, it doesn’t sound supernatural.”
“It’s certainly not natural,” Cane said softly, turning back to the camera. The things seemed to swarm around them, surrounding them. From what he could see on the display they looked similar to scorpions, complete with stinger-tipped tail raised above them. They were far too big to be scorpions, though. About the size of a full-grown bulldog.
“Let’s just go,” Kinsley said, grabbing Topher’s elbow. “Cane can stay if he wants.”
“Dude, come with us,” Topher said. “Sounds like whatever it is, is getting closer.”
Cane heard them but didn’t respond. He slowly turned full circle, watching the night through the camera display. Yes, Topher was right. Those things swarmed around them in a constricting circle that tightened like a noose. Still, he couldn’t force himself to leave.
Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He has been lucky enough to work with some wonderful publishers. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his fiance Craig A. Metcalf.