Thursday, March 27, 2014

Event Review - Horrorhound Cincinnati 2014

I need to preface this review by stating that I only went on Sunday of the event.  The reason for this was simple.  Based on my previous experience with Horrorhound, Friday and Saturdays tend to be a chaotic mess.  I wish now that I had gone on the other two days as well, if for no other reason than to be able to really compare it to my previous experiences.  That being said, there was still a lot of improvement to the event itself that was clearly seen.  Part of this review will be about my overall opinion of the event and its organization, part will be about my personal experiences with the people I met, and part will be a preview of coming attractions for future blog reviews.

A person's experience at a convention is a highly subjective thing.  We all have different expectations of what we hope to experience and that can greatly affect our opinion on how well the convention was run.  That being said, I found that Horrorhound outdid themselves this year in many different ways.  The very first thing that impressed me was an issue that might have angered some.  That is the greater limit on ticket availability this year.  While the crowd was still large and movement space often limited, Horrorhound staff made it very clear that tickets would be limited based on the capacity of the venue and they ensured that they stuck to this.  Along with the control on how many people were in attendance at the event, the staff did an excellent job of setting up for the crowd they had.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lines seemed much more structured this year both inside and outside of the convention.  It was clear where people needed to go to get into the proper line and even those lines that were very long were handled smoothly and professionally.  Horrorhound demonstrated their years of experience  in running conventions.  Possibly the best improvement of all was a result of the collaboration between Horrorhound and one of their hosts, Samhain Publishing.

 Upon arriving at Horrorhound, attendees received their wrist bands and this very useful pamphlet.

Opening the pamphlet, you found this:

That's right, no more having to ask "can you tell me what you this celebrity is going to be in?"  It was all laid out right in the handout and easily color coded.  The only down side to this is that the rooms could be hard to locate at times for those of us who were direction-challenged!  Perhaps some further signs along the wall might have been helpful.  Once you found the right room, however, everything became easy.

Now, I did not experience the main draw, meeting Bruce Campbell, but I do know that Horrorhound utilized a ticket system to ensure that people did not have to stand in line all day. The lines utilized roped off ques and overflow areas, which made it run much smoother then in previous years where lines had to be continuously moved to avoid blocking key areas and creating fire hazards.  I met three of the attending celebrities and had great experiences with each one of them.  

The first celebrity I met was Alan Tudyk.  

Alan Tudyk was awesome. He was really impressed with my print, interacted with the kids (even talking to them in his King Candy voice), fist bumped Evie, and took another picture with Erin after we had already left his line and realized our first picture didn't turn out. Add to that this incredible autograph. I asked for his favorite quote to go with his signature and he said he had quotes from all the movies on the print. His solution? Put a quote from each one! "You can have your own movie guessing game," he told me as he frantically wrote the quotes down. If you can't read it all, it says "Ira, Gar, I did not murder him, who's flying this thing? I am a leaf on the wind, have some candy. It's called a lance hellloooooooo. Carrots, medicinal carrots...You exhaust me buddy. Thank you. You honor me...literally. Cheers, Alan Tudyk" This may have been my best experience at a con with a celebrity, right up there with when I met Robert Englund and the Holliston cast.

Also fun was meeting The Cryptkeeper, John Kassir.  He spoke in his Cryptkeeper voice and took the time to talk with his fans.  You could tell that he was really enjoying being there.

The final celebrity I took the time to meet was Sharni Vinson from You're Next.  

Sharni was a lot of fun to meet.  She was extremely nice and very sweet.  She seemed genuinely happy to meet her fans and took the time to talk about her role in the movie and other work she was doing.  We talked about the bad image horror has of negative female stereotypes and how ridiculous that was considering that most of the time the surviving character is a woman who takes charge of the situation, her character in You're Next being a great example.  While those were the only three celebrity guests I took the time to meet, I actually spent a lot more time meeting some amazing Samhain authors and independent film makers.

 Although I unfortunately missed meeting both Kristopher Rufty and Johnathan Janz, both who had such great success Friday and Saturday that they were sold out of novels and left early Sunday morning, I did get to meet four authors who all took the time to discuss not only their work, but the writing craft in general.  Each of these guys were very receptive to conversation and talking horror in general.  You can expect to see my reviews on their books on this blog shortly.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Hunter Shea, David Searls, Tim Waggoner and Mick Ridgewell.  With all of this intriguing horror writing to read, it is a good thing summer is coming up!  Each author suggested a great starting work of theirs to read and also wished me luck and talked trade with me regarding my current work at getting my own book published. 


Although not with Samhain, I also had the enjoyment of catching up with Michael West, author of The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows, Spook House, and The Legacy of the Gods Series.  We chatted about his work and writing techniques and habits. 
While talking with Michael West, I also had the opportunity to pick up a paperback copy of The Wide Game to add to my collection (on which I have previously done a review) and some really cool illustrated cards from three of his novels.

My final task at Horrorhound was one I always make at any convention.  That was seeking out independent films that I might otherwise not know about.  This is actually how I initially discovered Dustin Wade Mills, Henrique Couto, and Tony Wash just to name a few independent film makers of whom I now consider myself a big fan.  This time, I walked away with several new films to check out and more great experiences with meeting really great people who seem to have a lot to offer the world of horror.  In the coming months, you can look for my reviews of each of these movies.  For now, I will just say that I am eagerly awaiting the chance to watch each one of them!


So, how can I sum up my experience at Horrorhound this year?  I have to say that overall, this review was much different then one I would have written if I was doing this blog last year.  I saw what I thought were many improvements in the overall running and organizing of the convention.  I was greatly impressed with the entire thing and eagerly await next year. 
There are only two big areas I could see room for improvement.  The first is the scheduling and planning of photo ops.  The schedule for the photo ops did not go up until after the pre-sale was over online.  This made it very difficult to plan what photo ops to do before hand when you were not attending all weekend.  The result was that I found myself having to hope that I would be able to get what I wanted once I got to the con.  Considering that doors did not open until 11:00 am on Sunday and the first photo op was at 12:00, that was cutting it very close.  The second area of improvement I would like to see if notifying people what celebrities will be charging for autographs and their photo policies at their tables.  I understand that Horrorhound, like many conventions, say that this is out of their hands because the celebrities and their managers set all of that.  However, Comic Con manages to do just this every year and when I attended Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, North Carolina, two years ago, they did the same thing.  I fail to understand how it could be such a difficulty to simply request this information on the celebrities attending so it can be posted in advance.
Aside from these two issues, I believe that Horrorhound has become one of the best conventions that I have had the pleasure of attending.  As they seem to improve with each year that passes, I can't wait to see what they do next year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review - "The Wide Game" by Michael West

Although this novel was released in 2011, I still find myself wanting to write about it.  The Wide Game serves in the first of a series of books, currently three, that all take place in the town of Harmony, Indiana, and share some reoccurring characters.  There is a common thread throughout the novels of an evil permeating the town that continuously brings harm and death to the residents and outsiders alike.  This is the same series that features the recent bestseller by Michael West Cinema of Shadows.  If you are a fan of horror fiction and have yet to read anything by Michael West, you couldn’t ask for a better starting point to see just what a master of the keyboard West really is.
The premise for the book is simple yet alluring:  “On the advice of his wife, Paul Rice is making plans to attend his 10th year High School reunion. Returning to his boyhood home of Harmony, Indiana, he finds that he is still haunted by memories of that time-memories of Deidra, his first love, and memories of the Wide Game. It was ten years ago that Paul and his friends watched their day of fun become a race for their lives, a fight for their very souls. Now, as he meets the survivors of that day once more, Paul makes a chilling discovery: the incomprehensible forces that toyed with them have yet to finish playing their own game.”  (
The novel grips you from page one and never lets go, but instead tightens its hold until you don’t feel like you retain the ability to put it down.  Michael West grabs us at the start and then moves in to establishing characters with enough depth that we are eager to follow them and see where their predicament will take them.  Immediately, in the prologue, we are presented with an enticing mystery that demands to be answered, namely, what is the wide game and why would it drive a person to the lengths that we find an unknown character going ten long years later?
Perhaps the best thing about reading this novel is Michael West’s amazing grasp of descriptive prose.  West gives us images in his text that we can easily see in our mind accompanied by metaphors and analogies that seem so simple, yet so visual in their presentation.  West is truly an artist who paints in words.
When all is said and done, Michael West proves himself to be an author that any and all horror fans should read.  His Harmony, Indiana series will have you thinking you have experienced true and raw evil.  Not since Stephen King’s Children of the Corn has something as mundane as corn been so terrifying!
And now, the Rage score breakdown!
Story Concept - 5/5
Story Execution - 5/5
Story Flow - 5/5
Character Development (give-a-damn factor) - 5/5
Gripping visuals/details - 5/5
Entertainment Value/Story Engagement - 5/5
Editing (including grammar and spelling) - 5/5

Overall – 5/5 – Why are you still here?  Go read Michael West’s The Wide Game right now!
You can find this work of horror genius at 
You can also get it direct from Seventh Star Press:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Movie Review - Kill That Bitch

There is so much I would like to say about this movie.  I must refrain from most of it due to a desire to not spoil a single thing about this movie for any potential viewers.  For that reason, I ask that any readers excuse me if this review seems very broad.  This must be said, however.  See this movie.  I will cut right to the chase on the summary of this review.  See this movie today.  Allow me to try to share with you why while avoiding revealing anything that would ruin the experience for you.

I have been a fan of Dustin Mills since a friend insisted I watch Puppet Monster Massacre.  As a fan that has followed his work ever since, I can say without hesitation that each film Dustin Mills makes shows his steady growth as a film maker.  His productions and his stories become more and more impressive with each successive film.  Kill That Bitch was no exception.

This may be Dustin Mills' most artistic horror film to date.  His use of carefully planned shots, lighting, music, and his use of time stretching at certain points are nothing short of amazing.  With these talents and the obvious hard work Mills put into this production, it is a demonstration of everything that independent horror can and should be.  As usual, Mills continues to surround himself with talented people and the results are evident.

Say what you will about independent actors and actresses, but I think those in this film were nothing short of professional caliber.  Brandon Salkil shows yet again why he is Mills' go-to lead actor.  Even though his face is hidden behind a mask for most of the film, his voice and mannerisms are unmistakable for any fan.  Salkil once again brings his A game to a project and holds nothing back.  This may have been a first acting credit for Jessica Cook, but you couldn't tell from the amazing performance she gave throughout the movie.  Her emotion drives the movie and never feels fake.  She is an actress we should hope to see a lot more of in coming features.  In all honesty, the same could be said for the rest of the cast.  Bloodcountess Bathory, Erin R. Ryan, Elysia S. Gibson, Haley Madison, Mandi Monroe, and Josh Eal all give one-hundred and ten percent in this film and show why they deserve to be acting in large budget films.  Each one of these actors can hold their own with any recent horror film star that brings in a much larger paycheck for the simple reason that Hollywood backs them.

Perhaps the thing that I found most impressive in this film was the effects.  When Dustin Mills set out to create Kill That Bitch, he did it with the goal of it being his first film that included one-hundred percent practical effects.  He was greatly successful in this goal and creates a film that will make you shudder at some of the violence.  There may be moments when things don't look perfectly real, but you have to consider that Dustin Mills is not working with some ridiculously high budget, but is making these effects on his own in addition to all of his other jobs in the production.  For me, the practical gore effects were reminiscent of Tom Savini's early work and I was ecstatic to see a return to practical effects, even if only for a single movie.

Without going into any spoilers, there is not a whole lot else I can say about this film.  So again, I would simply encourage any horror fan to check this movie out.  This is not a film that you should miss.  While you are at it, go check out the rest of Dustin Mills' movies.  If this film is any indication of the quality of his work in the future, he is sure to be a future big name in horror.

And now, on a scale of 1 - 5, the Rage Circus score of this movie as follows:
  Acting - 5/5
 Story - 5/5
 Effects - 4.5/5
 Camera Work/Production Skill - 5/5
 Overall Entertainment Value - 5/5
Kill That Bitch is available through any of the following links:
Dustin Mills Productions -

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review - "B Movie Reels" by Alan Spencer

It is often stated that one of the best compliments you can pay a book is to say that you could not put it down.  I would alter that idea slightly.  B Movie Reels by Alan Spencer proves that sometimes a great book is one that has so much going on it that you have to put it down every once in a while to allow your brain to process all of the visuals that are being laid out for you on the page.  The key is that you are eager to pick it right back up again the second your brain permits you to go on. gives the synopsis for B Movie Reels as: 
Andy Ryerson, a film school graduate, has been hired to write commentary on two dozen cheap, b-horror movies. It seems harmless enough, and he might even enjoy it. But the people in the town around him won’t enjoy it at all when one by one, the films he watches come to life. Andy chose the wrong projector to screen his movies. This one is out for blood. While Andy grumbles about low budgets and poor production values, a hungry butcher, a plague of rotting zombies, demonic vampires, a mallet-toting killer, flesh-eating locusts, and many other terrors descend on the unsuspecting innocent. By the time he realizes what he’s done, the town is teeming with evil, and it’s up to Andy and the few survivors left to stop the celluloid horror he’s unleashed.

This may seem like the set-up for a b movie itself, but Alan Spencer takes the time to set up a story that will leaving you hungering for more story like the undead hunger for brains.  We are immediately drawn into the story with the tale of a magic show gone horribly wrong and the magicians desperate, yet at the time unexplained, desire to destroy everything involved in the show.  From the very beginning, the story is original.  With the mystery laid out before us, we are introduced to Any Ryerson, our lead protagonist, and it doesn't take long for the action and horror to start. 

Between the terrors that swarm throughout the pages of the story, Spencer takes time to let us get to know our characters enough to care about them somewhat.  While I would have liked a little more back story on the sheriff, Andy and his Uncle Ned are given fairly rich backgrounds and all of the characters show, and stay consistent to, their true colors in both action and word throughout the story.  We are quickly drawn in to caring about the characters which makes the story more compelling overall.  Spencer's attention to his main characters does not stop him from provided PLENTY of victims throughout the book.  Once the blood starts flowing, it doesn't stop.

Alan Spencer creates amazing visual imagery in his story that will have your imagination in overdrive.  Even as an avid horror reader, I found myself having to put my reader down multiple times throughout the book just to allow myself to fully process a scene that had just occurred.  If the picture was any clearer, it would have to be on a television screen!  Gore is provided in ample amounts to satisfy any horror fan without sacrificing the story.

While I have not read any of Spencer's other books (yet) to provide a basis of comparison, I would say that B Movie Reels proves him to be a master of the pen (or word processing program) worthy of a look by any horror fan.  Aside from some minor and  infrequent typographical errors, I can find little to complain about in this book.  I can definitely say that his other works, B Movie Reels being his sixth novel, have gone right to the top of my reading list.  If you have yet to read anything by Alan Spencer, this is a great start!

So, let’s take a look at the Rage Circus breakdown:

Story Concept - 5/5
Story Execution - 5/5
Story Flow - 5/5
Character Development (give-a-damn factor) -4.5/5
Gripping visuals/details - 5/5
Entertainment Value/Story Engagement - 5/5
Editing (including grammar and spelling) - 4.5/5

Overall – 4.85/5 – READ THIS BOOK NOW!!!!
You can find B Movie Reels by Alan Spencer directly from the publisher at
The book is also available on

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Original Fiction - U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Chief Necromancer

            “Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, I am here at the request of the president to try to help sort out this matter.  We are facing a crisis of a type and magnitude that this country, nor any other country has ever faced before.  In order to truly appreciate what we are dealing with and figure out how we might stop it, I think it would be best if we went back to the beginning and examined the circumstances that led to the demonic outbreak that we now face.  It all started with an upset public and a single election.

            “In typical American form, the Democrats blamed the Republicans and the Republicans heaped the blame on the Democrats.  In truth, the blame was uniformly distributed among both parties and the general aggravation the American people had come to feel with their two-party system.  After each party had made it clear in both action and word that the country was being held hostage in their attempt to undermine the other side, Americans turned out in record numbers to vote in the 2016 elections.  In the end, the division of the parties brought the greatest unity of Americans in history.  Every available office was emptied and replaced by independents.

            “Following his election, President Omar Wells encouraged the American people to keep up the momentum and unity.  Two years later, the remaining Republicans and Democrats were voted out of office and the government was being run one-hundred percent by independents.  President Wells congratulated the country on having spoken so clearly.  Within Wells’ first term, the deficit was cut in half, unemployment was at a record low, and America was again an economic giant.  With such raging success and approval, it was no surprise when Wells ran unopposed for his second term.  That was when the true, radical nature of the new government came to light, although, still with the approval of the American public.

            “President Wells set his sights on crime and morality.  He argued that what he was seeking was not a Christian moral to run the country, but a general set of rights and wrongs that any logical and civic-minded person could abide by.  In order to enforce this morality, he pointed to countries with low crime rates such as China and India.  He argued that the reason that they held such low crime rates was the severity of their penal system.  He further argued that by stiffening all penalties and eliminating the majority of prison sentences, Americans could shut down three-fourths of the prisons in the country and further boost other areas of public welfare instead of coddling those who would seek to undermine the peace and tranquility of American life.  Thus, the Code of Wells was established, much like the Code of Hammurabi in previous centuries.

            “Penalties were strict and swift, following a similar philosophy of times past of an eye for an eye.  Thieves had their hand cut off.  Murderers were put to death.  Rapists and child molesters were operated upon to make any sex impossible in the future.  Repeated offenders faced harsher penalties and committing a crime for a third time almost always resulted in death.  Crime rates plummeted and the country continued to prosper and flourish.  Then came the last major occurrences that allowed for the system in place today.

            “The American people loved their president.  In his seventh year in office, petitions began to flood the capital and calls and letters were sent in record numbers to representatives.  The American people wanted to be able to keep the leader that had turned the country around.  Thus, the Twenty-Eighth Amendment was passed, abolishing term limits on a person in the office of the president.  In return, the candidate would have to obtain 80% of the popular vote in order to remain in office past two terms.  A long series of guidelines was put in place to address the fine print, but, in the end, none of the extra rules mattered.  Wells received 92 percent of the popular vote and remained in office for his third term.  With this unprecedentedly high approval, Wells introduced and pushed through the most extreme attempt to eliminate crime that had ever been seen.

            “The logic was that if harsh penalties, including extensive use of the death penalty, were not completely providing a deterrent for all violent crime, perhaps a more unconventional method of execution was called for in order to scare off possible offenders.  The idea was supported by the public and other politicians.  This just left the challenge of determining what would work when the threat of death was not sufficient.  The solution seemed to come out of nowhere.

            “I received my first phone call from the president at 11 pm on December 17th, 2023.  To say that I was surprised at the call was an understatement.  I had no political connections at the time nor had I ever sought out any kind of position within the government.  I simply wanted to proceed with my own business and stay as far under the radar as possible.  The president and his followers may have claimed to not follow any particular creed, but history had shown that those who sought a widespread code of morality often frowned upon people such as myself and the business which I conducted.  My business was simple, I contacted the dead.

            “You could call me a psychic or a medium, it doesn’t really matter to me.  My trade is an ancient branch of alchemy that allowed me to make contact with beings in other spiritual dimensions.  My work is a science and I am an expert in utilizing that science.  Even as an expert, however, things would sometimes get out of hand and I had some close brushes with things that were likely never human.  Apparently, this was what had drawn the attention of the president.

            “’Is this Jacob Swift?’ a deep voice asked from across the phone lines.

            “’That depends on who is asking,’ I replied.  One of the biggest problems I ran into in my line of business was the people who had seen too many movies and thought that I was someone who could easily make dead relatives spill the secrets of where they had left their buried valuables or provide some kind of other world knowledge.  The truth was that I guided disembodied spirits into new vessels from which they could sometimes communicate or act using the body of the host if they so choose.

            “I see your looks of skepticism at this last part.  Some of you even seemed horrified at the idea that I am presenting.  Let me assure you that I am not talking about facilitating possessions.  I never used humans as hosts.  I always used animals and even then major precautions were taken to ensure that the spirit was not given too much power or the chance to transfer bodies.

            “I followed certain self-imposed guidelines, because it is nothing like the movies.  If the receiving host is a higher-order being, such as a human, they must be willing.  They must open themselves to the spirit in order to become the new host.  Also, there are certain words and phrases that must be spoken precisely.  So, as you can see, there were multiple layers of protection and caution applied to my trade.  Often, the people I worked with had no interest in talking to the spirits, but wanted their help in some way.  Some even wanted to extract a revenge of sorts.

            “Now, you can look at me like that all you want.  I see some of you are even consulting each other and perhaps you are discussing if I should be punished for my prior crimes.  You can be appalled by me and you can wish for retribution on behalf of my ‘victims’ all you want.  One of the first things I made sure were in the agreement between the president and myself was that I was to be exonerated of all previous crimes that may come to light in the course of my working for the government as the new head necromancer. 

            “Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will get back to the story at hand.  So, to cut to the chase, the president convinced me that he was who he claimed to be and he asked me to come to the White House to speak with him.  He told me that he was aware of my line of work and might have some need for my services.  He also assured me on the spot that I would be exonerated of all potential crimes related to my business simply for meeting with him.  How could I refuse?

            “I arrived at the White House and was escorted in after passing through a number of security checks.  I entered the office a little tentatively.  I have never really been one to get all starry eyed at the idea of meeting someone famous, but I had a lot of respect for President Wells and the work he had been doing for this country.  I’m sure that men and women in your positions have been in the same room as the president.  You know that he is a large and imposing man.  He exudes the essence of power and strength.  It’s no wonder he has stayed in power as long as he has.   I wasn’t sure what to say or what kind of proposal he could possibly have for me, but the man did not allow dust to settle in the room before getting right to the point.

            “The president quickly stood up when he saw me enter the room.  His 6’4”, large frame seemed to tower above me as he took his large strides to where I stood and engulfed my hand in his. 

            “’Thank you for coming on such short notice, Mr. Swift,’ President Wells sounded like he truly did appreciate my presence. 

            “’Well, you did make me an offer that would be hard to turn down,’ I had a small grin on my face as I spoke.  I think I was still in the process of fully taking in and appreciating his stature. 

            “’I don’t allow the office to go to my head,’ he said as if he owed me an explanation.  ‘I would never expect people to come running just because of my position.  If I want something from someone, I try to make sure that the deal is always very two-sided.’  He took a folded piece of paper out of his inner jacket pocket and handed it to me.  ‘Just as promised.  This pardons you from any crimes that may have been committed in the discharge of your business.  That includes crimes that are not currently recognized by our legal system, but could be if the nature of your profession were to come to light.’

            “I looked over the paper and was amazed at how air tight it appeared.  I am not a lawyer  but it seemed pretty solid.  I carefully folded the paper and placed it in my own jacket pocket.  ‘What can I do for you, sir?’

            “The president walked over to his desk and pulled two chairs in across from each other.  He motioned for me to take a seat as he sat down himself.  I sat down and waited to hear the proposal that would change my life and ultimately lead us to where we are today.  The president crossed his leg and leaned over as if he were about to share some huge secret with me. 

            “’Mr. Swift, how familiar are you with my new initiatives on crime?’

            “’I know as much as any other citizen,’ I searched my mind for everything I knew about the president and his initiatives.  I laid out what I knew and he shook his head as I spoke, acknowledging that I had the general ideas right at least.  I followed up with the question that probably was on most American’s minds every time the president spoke of harsher determents.  ‘What kind of punishments could possibly be put in place that would be any greater of a threat to potential criminals then what you have already enacted?’

            “’That’s where you come in, Mr. Swift.’  The president sat back and considered his words carefully.  ‘Many of my opponents on this matter have stated that they don’t see any earthly punishment that could serve as a bigger crime deterrent then those we already use.  What I want is a punishment not of this Earth.’

            “I stared at him incredulously for a moment.  I couldn’t believe that he could possibly be suggesting what it sounded like.  ‘Are you saying, you want to use spirits to somehow punish convicted criminals?’

            There was a spark in his eyes as he looked at me and I quickly realized this was exactly what he had in mind in some manner.  ‘Close, but not quite, Mr. Swift.  I want the souls of the victims to be able to exact their own revenge.’

            “’Mr. President, are you sure this could ever be something America would embrace?’

            “’I think at this point, America will embrace anything that makes them safer.  We are getting very close to living in a country where people no longer have the need to lock their doors at night.  I believe we are almost there, but we have exhausted all traditional methods to reach this goal.  I think the answer is to accept what would have been previously considered unspeakable.’

            “’You realize that what I do comes with risks, Mr. President?’  I wasn’t sure that the President realized exactly what he was asking of me.  ‘I can’t always guarantee that the spirit I want is the one that comes.  Not to mention the fact that sometimes the things that show up were never human to begin with.   Most people would refer to these spirits as demons and they can be very difficult to handle without the proper precautions.’

            “’But you currently do just that, don’t you?’

            “’Yes, but I do it so infrequently that the risk is minimized.  I believe that the more my skills are used the more likely for something to go wrong.’

            “’I trust that you could put the proper precautions in place.  You also need to realize that this is to serve as a deterrent.  If my plan is effective, we won’t be using it that much.  Your skills could also be used to help us solve crimes that are unable to be resolved through traditional means.  This could be the final nail in the coffin of the criminal element in this country.  You could be a part of history, Mr. Swift.’

            “I thought about it.  I should have thought longer and more critically.  I respected President Wells and allowed that to cloud my judgment.  I justified my decision to myself by rationalizing that he would have to get this plan approved by Congress as well so it was not my decision alone that would put this into motion.  In truth, the idea of having my previously hidden talents not only legitimized, but put into a high ranking government office was all that really mattered to me.  The rest, as you know, is history.

            “The president was easily able to get the bill passed through Congress and with a swiftness that surprised even his greatest supporters, the Division of the Necromancer was developed and placed within the structure of the Department of Justice.  I was named the first Chief Necromancer by the president.  My first task was to recruit and train additional necromancers.  The job proved easier than I had expected.  It turned out that there were quite a few people around the country that had been trying to make a living with our unusual brand of science and they were more than eager to have a paid, government position within which to ply their trade.

            “I worked out a strict set of procedures and policies under which all necromancers were to always act and perform their duties.  I put in place every safeguard I could conceive while allowing the flexibility I needed to adjust those precautions as the necessity arose.  My people were trained extensively on how to distinguish desired spirits from unintentional other-world specters.  These “demons” to use the popular term, were coined UOWS and a single misidentification could be enough to cost a necromancer his or her position.  In addition, before utilizing any host, we always removed the animal’s tongue to ensure that it was unable to speak should a UOWS be summoned.  After all, what person would be more willing to be host to a spirit then someone sentenced to a gruesome death?

            “The first criminal to receive the new death penalty was Torrance Floyd.  Floyd, you might remember, murdered a family of six in the most brutal of fashions, dismembering each of the children while the parents watched and then hanging the parents over the pile of their children’s remains.  Part of the penalty was that the nearest living relative of the victim or victims would be given the choice of what animal they wanted to be used as a host and carry out the execution.  The grandmother of the children was a most unforgiving type and chose sharks.  A huge tank was constructed and filled with water.  I saw to that summoning directly.  One tiger shark was used for each of the victims and the killer was torn limb from limb, experiencing a most excruciating death.  The president could not have been more pleased.

            “All was going well.  As Chief Necromancer, I had a lot of duties to see to, including collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that requested our services.  As such, I found myself delegating more and more of the work to my necromancers.  After two years, our work was becoming routine.  As you may know, when things become routine, they lose the sense of fear and urgency when it comes to the cautious discharge of the procedure.  To put it simply, people get sloppy. 

            “Our current situation was due to the execution of a man named James Worth.  He had kidnapped, raped, and murdered the wife of a prominent local businessman.  The crime was all that appeared in the news for months.  Such a brutal crime had not been seen in many years.  Three necromancers were helping the local police to try to identify the perpetrator.  Right as I was about to get directly involved, they finally identified, located, and arrested Worth.  I assigned a necromancer to the execution and considered the issue resolved.  I wish I had paid more personal attention to the case.  Perhaps if I had, none of this would have ever happened.

            “The businessman selected for Worth to be executed by a wolf.  I won’t reveal the necromancer’s name except by direct order of the president.  You can argue all you want, anonymity has always been the right of a U.S. Necromancer.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call her Kathy.  Kathy filled out her paperwork per regulation.  She made the proper preparations right up to the point where she was supposed to either remove the animal’s vocal chords or cut out its tongue.  Somehow, she neglected this part and that is where the trouble began.

            “Worth was chained to a cell wall and Kathy led the wolf in and started the ritual.  From what I understand, it was a beauty of a creature.  It was large and intimidating, of great strength and health.  Kathy performed the ritual flawlessly and then made her second fatal mistake, she forgot to check the eyes.

            “When an animal is taken as a host by a formerly human spirit, it maintains its eye color.  Animals who have been overtaken by a UOWS will periodically have a flash come over their eyes.  It always happens at least once in the first five minutes of the host-spirit bonding, but can easily be missed if one is not looking for it specifically.  A necromancer is supposed to watch the animal’s eyes for at least five minutes without breaking contact to ensure they don’t observe this phenomenon.  If they do, they instantly perform a counter binding, expel the spirit and kill the animal.  Kathy failed to watch for this and so she didn’t see the flash that must have passed over the creature’s eyes.  She left the room, sealed it behind her, and walked away.  Strike three.  You never leave the area until the criminal is confirmed dead by life-detecting sensors in the room.

            “From what we can gather from video taken in the room, the interaction began quickly.  Worth waited for the wolf to come for him.  He was resigned to his fate and was going to go out with dignity.  I imagine the minutes must have drawn out and seemed to last forever.  Finally, he addressed the wolf.

            “’Are you going to kill me or what?’  Worth asked with a hint of humor in his voice.  His smirk quickly changed to a look of shock when the wolf responded.

            “’I wasn’t really planning on it.’  The wolf spoke.  More accurately, the UOWS inside the wolf spoke.  ‘In fact, I think we can help each other.’

            “If Worth was shocked that he was having a conversation with an animal hosting a spirit, his surprise didn’t last long.  Worth was an opportunist, and he saw a situation had begun to unfold that he could use to his advantage.

            “’What do you want from me?’

            “’I want a new host.’  The creature responded.  ‘I want to stay here and live out my existence.  Just like you.’

            “’So, why not stay in the wolf?  You could attack anyone who comes through that door, couldn’t you?’

            “’I’d rather not exist in such a primitive form.  You would be a good host.  We could do much together.  I can see into your mind and soul.  There is a darkness in you that would fit well with my desires.’

            “’What does it matter?  They’ll just kill us both the moment they realize what is going on.’

            “’The humans are distracted.  If you allow me, I can enter you and we can break out before they know what happened.’

            “Worth considered the offer for a moment.  There was no real precedent for this kind of situation, so he didn’t really know what it would be like to be a host.  In the end, he must have seen no alternative.

            “’Do it.’  That was all the creature needed.  There was a bright flash and a surge that permeated the air as if a lightning bolt had struck directly in the room.  A moment later, Worth snapped his chains, stood up, and flung a piece at the camera, knocking out our video feed.  The rest is tragic history.

            “As you are aware, Worth got out of the facility, slaughtering everyone in his path.  Not a single person, including my necromancer survived.   Over the next week, Worth went underground.  He could not be found anywhere.  The only sign of him was the trail of bodies he left in his wake.  More disturbing, however, was the huge spike in the number of disappearances in the area. 

“We believe that Worth, via the thing that had taken control of him, began to channel more UOWS into the world and into hosts.  We don’t know how he convinces people to agree to be a host, but we have seen a rash of brutal murders spread throughout the country in the last two weeks.  That is what brings me here.  The president believes that a full-scale mobilization of the military, aided by every necromancer in the government’s employ, must be dispatched immediately to deal with this threat.  We believe that if this is not stopped, it could spread outside of our borders and become a threat to humanity as a whole.  In short, gentlemen, we could be looking at an extinction event if we do not take action now.”


The Chief Necromancer sat back into his seat and took a deep breath.  He felt he had explained the severity of the situation to the point where they would have to take him seriously and approve the action the president was recommending.  The Speaker of the House leaned forward.

“Thank you, Mr. Swift,” the old man spoke clearly so not a syllable was missed.  “We will take your thoughts and the desires of the president in mind as we deliberate what to do.”

“I don’t think you understand,” Swift insisted vehemently.  “There is no time to waste.  We have to act now!”

“Thank you, Mr. Swift.  We will be as quick, yet thorough in our deliberations as we can.”  As the speaker of the house leaned back into his chair, Swift caught a glance of something that told him everything he needed to know about the situation.

He knew that no matter what they did, it was already too late.  The outbreak would continue until humanity fell.  He could see that in the speaker’s eyes.  The eyes that flashed.