Release the Kraken! My short story collection, Staring Into the Abyss, will be out later this year.

That’s right, my second short story collection, Staring Into the Abyss, will be out later this year from Kraken Press. It’s a collection of 20 dark stories, neo-noir leaning towards horror, and some of my best work to date. Want to know more? Head over to their website or just keep reading. We’re targeting March, but definitely the first half of 2013. And it looks like it will be a book club selection over at LitReactor as well, probably July or August. More information to come.

FROM THE  JACKET: As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” In this collection of short stories Richard Thomas shows us in dark, layered prose the human condition in all of its beauty and dysfunction. A man sits in a high tower making tiny, mechanical birds, longing for the day when he might see the sky again. A couple spends an evening in an underground sex club where jealousy and possession are the means of barter. A woman is victimized as a child, and turns that rage and vengeance into a lifelong mission, only to self-destruct, and become exactly what she battled against. A couple hears the echo of the many reasons they’ve stayed together, and the one reason the finally have to part. And a boy deals with a beast that visits him on a nightly basis, not so much a shadow, as a fixture in his home. These 20 stories will take you into the darkness, and sometimes bring you back. But now and then there is no getting out, the lights have faded, the pitch black wrapping around you like a festering blanket of lies. What will you do now? It’s eat or be eaten—so bring a strong stomach and a hearty appetite.

It includes my contest winning “Maker of Flight,” my longest short story to date, “Victimized,” a Pushcart nominee in “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave,” and much more. Full TOC below. I hope you’ll pick it up when it comes out. It’s a little over 130 pages, about 32,000 words.

Special thanks have to go out George Cotronis for his amazing cover design. That’s part of the reason I signed up with him, he’s a globally recognized illustrator and artist, and his work is just fantastic.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Maker of Flight 14
Steel-Toed Boots 18
Freedom 22
Committed 30
Splintered 34
Fallible 40
Stillness 42
Fringe 48
Underground Wonder Bound 52
Amazement 58
Victimized 62
Twenty-Dollar Bill 80
Interview 86
Paying Up 94
Ten Steps 98
Honor 106
Stephen King Ate My Brain 112
Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave 116
Transmogrify 120
Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears 130

New Storyville Column is Live – Dissecting “Maker of Flight”

My new Storyville column is now up, and in this column, I dissect one of my favorite bits of short fiction, “Maker of Flight.” Why do I love this story? Partly because it has a sweetness at its center—it’s one of the few stories of mine I can actually read to my children. Every once in awhile they’ll quote the last line, “I wonder if the sky is still blue?” back to me and it just melts my heart. I also love it because it was the winner of the 2009 “Enter the world of Filaria” contest over at ChiZine. The contest asked you to write a flash story (under 1,000 words) that was based in the world of one of their titles, Filaria, by Brent Hayward. It’s a fantastic book, and I really enjoyed this challenge. I hope you get something out of the dissection. And pick up some ChiZine titles, they do great work over there. I also loved In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay and Sarah Court by Craig Davidson.

Third Storyville Column at Lit Reactor: The Journey of “Rudy Jenkins”

My third column went up at Lit Reactor last month (December 2011) and I totally forgot to come back here and post up about it. This column talks about the journey of one of my problem children, “Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears” and shows you what you have to go through sometimes in order to get published. Don’t worry, the story ends well.

“Ten Steps” is now live at ChiZine (The Chiaroscuro)

"Ten Steps"

My story “Ten Steps” is now up at ChiZine (Chiaroscuro) as part of their major new relaunch. I wrote this at the Jack Ketchum intensive at The Cult. So many other great voices here, in the previous, and coming weeks, I can’t possibly list them all but let me shout out at least a few names that I’ve seen up already, or have novels published at ChiZine, or may be part of this launch in the upcoming weeks.

First, I won a contest here at ChiZine back in 2009, the “Enter the World of Filaria” contest with my story “Maker of Flight”. It was quite an honor. My story was selected by the author of Filaria, Brent Hayward, and the Stoker winning man that runs ChiZine, Brett Alexander Savory.

I’ve been a long time fan of Paul Tremblay who has In the Mean Time at ChiZine, as well as Craig Davidson, who has Sarah Court there as well (I reviewed both of these at The Nervous Breakdown, too). These guys are two of my favorite authors there. I’d expect them to have a story up here as a part of this. Also, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had stories by Stewart O’Nan, Tom Piccirilli, and Neil Gaiman.

So head over and check out my story, but also stay awhile, peep the other stories, and pick up a book or two. Exceptional artwork by Erik Mohr as well. I’ve never read a bad book from ChiZine. Donate some $$$ if you have it, every dollar helps. These are some of the good guys, putting out excellent work, supporting unknown authors like myself, and really on the cutting edge of literary dark fiction.

Complete List of Online Stories

This is a Table of Contents for all of my current, LIVE fiction that is available online for FREE. Below are each of the stories, a brief synopsis, and a link to the site that hosts them. They are in reverse chronological order.

What do all of these stories have in common? I tend to write about the darker aspects of life, and am fascinated by what happens when things fall apart, how we handle life when it throws us a curve ball, the dysfunction in everyday life, how we rebel against the rules of society, and what goes on in the middle of the night.

Last Updated: April 2, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

“Tinkering With the Moon”
GOREYESQUE
SYNOPSIS: When a little boy misses his father, he’d do anything to reunite with him.
TINKERING WITH THE MOON

“Bury Me Deep”
THE BIG ADIOS
SYNOPSIS: Out in the wild west, there lurk shadows and dark deeds, all done under the blazing sun for God and all to witness.
BURY ME DEEP

“Love Letters”
CEASE, COWS
SYNOPSIS: The things we do for love are often very destructive.
LOVE LETTERS

“Wicker Park Pause
REVOLT DAILY
SYNOPSIS: What exactly is her mother doing at night, the scratch marks at the back door provide a clue.
WICKER PARK PAUSE

“Flowers for Jessica”
MAYDAY MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: How far would you go to bring your loved one back from the dead?
FLOWERS FOR JESSICA

“Vision Quest”
PARABLE PRESS
SYNOPSIS: When a violent car accident takes his family, one man starts having visions.
VISION QUEST

“Divining”
REVOLT DAILY
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes, no matter how much our alarm bells go off, we still pursue somebody that we know is bad for us.
DIVINING

“Fix-It Man”
BLACK HEART MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: When a man falls apart, disconnects from his wife and son, what gesture can he make as he disintegrates?
FIX-IT MAN

“Kiss Off”
PARABLE PRESS
SYNOPSIS: Based on a Violent Femmes song of the same name, a man falls apart in ten fractured moments.
KISS OFF

“Ten Steps”
THE DYING GOOSE
SYNOPSIS: How many steps does it take to turn an innocent soul into a serial killer? For some, it takes ten steps.
TEN STEPS

“Something’s Broken”
FLYWHEEL MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: You fix it if you can, whatever’s broken. Because once somebody else picks the pieces up, once somebody else fixes it—it’s no longer yours.
SOMETHING’S BROKEN

“On a Bent Nail Head”
NOVA PARADE (anthology from Solarcide)
SYNOPSIS: A husband and wife trying to have a baby make a deal—no matter what happens when they die, they will stay together.
ON A BENT NAIL HEAD

“Bringing In the Sheaves”
BEAT THE DUST
SYNOPSIS: Are we born flawed, sinners in our hearts, or does the world just beat us into submission?
BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES 

“Vision Quest”
SURREAL GROTESQUE
SYNOPSIS: When a violent car accident takes his family, one man starts having visions.
VISION QUEST (ISSUU direct)

“Charlotte Sometimes”
ZOUCH
SYNOPSIS: Charlotte needs to escape sometimes.
CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES
[Sixth place winner of the Zouch Lit Bits Fiction contest]

“Dyer”
BEAT TO A PULP
SYNOPSIS: Four perspectives on the same evening, truth and lies mingling in the shadows.
DYER

“Jimmy Five Ways”
PUNCHNEL’S
SYNOPSIS: A wife, a son, a mistress, a partner and a man named Jimmy—five ways.
JIMMY FIVE WAYS
[One of the five winners of the Punchnel's Hard-Boiled Down Noir Fiction contest]

“The Handyman”
CONJECTURAL FIGMENTS
SYNOPSIS: What makes us human and what makes us inhuman?
THE HANDYMAN

“Misty”
MANARCHY
SYNOPSIS: The woman that shows up at my apartment door is not everything that she seems. She is less, and more.
MISTY

“Death Knell”
THUNDERDOME
SYNOPSIS: A companion piece to “Say Yes to Pleasure” which was in the Warmed and Bound anthology, this story shows the opposite side of the coin, the POV of the victim, and how she dealt with the tragedy that descended upon her.
DEATH KNELL

“Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave”
METAZEN
SYNOPSIS: When something tragic happens, do you stay or do you leave? Sometimes you stay for a long time, only to realize that leaving would be less cruel.
TWENTY REASONS TO LEAVE AND ONE TO STAY
[Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.]

“Love Letters”
CANNOLI PIE
EXCERPT: “It started with the paper, tearing it apart into little pieces, pressing it into tiny balls and popping the crumpled words into her mouth.”
LOVE LETTERS

“Seeing Red”
CRIME FACTORY
SYNOPSIS: When you drive around town like the world owes you, sometimes that payment comes home to rest. When you see red, that’s blood my friend.
SEEING RED

“Daybreak”
STEPAWAY MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes you walk away from it all. Or maybe you’re walking towards something. Either way, be complete in your transformation.
DAYBREAK

“After She Has Gone”
SHOTGUN HONEY
SYNOPSIS: When she takes it all, and you’re left with nothing but despair, what do you do? Suicide is an option—and as you wander the woods in search of a tomb, the darkness speaks to you the truth.
AFTER SHE HAS GONE

“Ten Steps”
CHIZINE (THE CHIAROSCURO)
SYNOPSIS: How many steps does it take to turn an innocent soul into a serial killer? For some, it takes ten steps.
[TEMPORARY/GONE]

“Victimized”
Amazon and Smashwords (.99 cents)
SYNOPSIS: IIn the near future, Annabelle lives a fractured life, haunted by the shadows of her past, dark moments of abuse and freedom at the hands of her own kin. She has the opportunity to get into a boxing ring and fight her oppressor, to face the man that altered her, to beat him down with all of her rage. This is the way things are now, society given the chance to take on the murderers, the rapists, those that have tainted their lives, hurt their family, destroyed what was innocent and pure. Preparing to go to battle, Belle taps into her true identity, and changes, a warrior entering battle, unwilling to hesitate, ready to kill.
To buy at the Amazon Kindle Store, click here.
To buy at Smashwords, click here (Nook and all other formats).

“Splintered”
PANK
SYNOPSIS: In real life, there are paths to take, sometimes you have a choice, some times you do not. In this adult “choose-your-own” ending adventure it’s up to you whether or not to be parnoid or to trust, to be innocent, or just a fool.
SPLINTERED

“Released”
OUTSIDER WRITERS COLLECTIVE
SYNOPSIS: We often question who we are, and in our minds, we are many people. We are fathers, sons, and brothers, we are friends, lovers and enemies, we are farmers, pastors, and teachers. Sometimes it gets a bit crowded in there.
RELEASED

“Stephen King Ate My Brain”
NEFARIOUS MUSE
SYNOPSIS: I was out east in Bangor, Maine when I ran into the King. No, not Elvis, Stephen King. He offered me a deal, a once in a lifetime deal. So I took it.
STEPHEN KING ATE MY BRAIN

“Everything is Beautiful” – Part Two
TROUBADOUR 21
SYNOPSIS: We continue, stepping off the bus at a small house. Everything is beautiful, normal, except for the dome. People are beaming across the universe, and they don’t always get there.
EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL – Part Two

“Condemned”
CHERRY BLEEDS – JAN/FEB 2010
SYNOPSIS: Two souls continue to seek each other out over time regardless of the tragic outcome of each encounter.
CONDEMNED

“Honor”
COLORED CHALK #10 – Ten Commandments
SYNOPSIS: When you think of honoring thy mother and father I’m sure this isn’t what comes to mind.
HONOR

“Everything is Beautiful” – Part One
TROUBADOUR 21
SYNOPSIS: Revenge is a dish best served cold. At the end of the universe some strange things are happening. In the shadow of a mysterious tower John Harrison tries to figure out a riddle, but he has help.
EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL – Part One

“Interview”
TROUBADOUR 21
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes living in the suburbs you find yourself neglected, bored and in search of a new hobby. When one man discovers that his wife is no longer interested in him, he turns his eye towards the nearby high school. Is he just gardening or is something more sinister happening to the babysitters?
INTERVIEW

“Your Enemies Will Devour You”
THE ODDVILLE PRESS
SYNOPSIS: Based on the seven deadly sins, and more specifically the sins of the father, we see how one man deals with a variety of challenges.
YOUR ENEMIES WILL DEVOUR YOU

“Paying Up”
COLORED CHALK #8 – Broken Clocks
SYNOPSIS: Visiting a strip club a man has a hard time dealing with guilt and the moment. In the end, we see why.
PAYING UP

“A Bird in the Hand”
3:AM MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: You know the old saying – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Well, that can mean a lot of things, and when his mistress comes knocking, ohw does one man deal with this intrusion?
A BIRD IN THE HAND

“Three Mistakes”
WORD RIOT
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes that’s all it takes, three mistakes to fall from grace, to lose it all, and maybe realize too late, that you had a pretty good life.
THREE MISTAKES

“Maker of Flight”
CHIZINE
WINNER of the 2009 “Enter the World of Filaria” contest
SYNOPSIS: In this contest, we were given the challenge of adding to the vivid and futuristic world that Brent Hayward created. In 1000 words, you were to find a way to insert a short piece of fiction that could stand alone, and also add to the world of Filaria. In Brent’s words:“That was a really nice piece you wrote, and in my head now it’s somehow forever tangled up in Filaria.”
MAKER OF FLIGHT

“Twenty Dollar Bill”
COLORED CHALK #7 – MacGuffins for Hire
SYNOPSIS: I’ve been fascinated by the idea of following something to see where it goes, how it effects those it comes in contact with, such as a kiss, money, a disease, an act of random kindness. A bit of an homage to the movie TWENTY BUCKS, we see where a twenty dollar bill goes when it changes hands.
TWENTY DOLLAR BILL

“Freedom”
NEFARIOUS MUSE
SYNOPSIS: This was a contest and I came in second place. Didn’t have enough resources I guess! :-) What is that line? “Freedom’s just another word for, nothing left to lose.” I think that was Janis wasn’t it?
FREEDOM

“Unzipped”
DOGMATIKA
SYNOPSIS: What happens when you find a girl that lives up to all of your sexual fantasies? Good times, right? Maybe for awhile. In the end, if that’s all there is, what was once a depraved heaven quickly descends into a tortuous hell.
UNZIPPED

“Amazement” -
COLORED CHALK #5 – Sins of the Father
SYNOPSIS: They are often visited on the son.
AMAZEMENT

“Fringe”
COLORED CHALK #4 – Big Brother in My Pocket
SYNOPSIS: It’s only paranoia if it isn’t true.
FRINGE

“Fallible” -
COLORED CHALK #3 – After the Fire
SYNOPSIS: Fire, in the right hands it can do wonders. But in the wrong hands, of an irresponsible and lazy man, sometimes the worst possible thing can happen.
FALLIBLE

“Committed”
COLORED CHALK #2 – Cockroaches Ate the Ending
SYNOPSIS: You don’t always have to wrap a story up in a bow and end it. Sometimes you can lead the audience right up to the edge and walk away. Committed can mean several things – it can mean you are focused on doing something, your chipc are all in, or it can also mean you have been put away due to mental illness. Why not both?
COMMITTED

“Steel-Toed Boots”
COLORED CHALK #1 – Two Guys Enter a Bar, One Leaves
SYNOPSIS: The theme of the debut issue of CC kind of says it all.
STEEL-TOED BOOTS

“Animal Magnetism”
OPIUM MAGAZINE
SYNOPSIS: My first published short story. I don’t often try my hand at bizarro, but this was a fun story to write. So, you have a small penis and want something bigger and better to satisfy your girlfriend with. An elephant dick sounds like the solution? But why stop there?
ANIMAL MAGNETISM