Tales from the Dark…. 1

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The Field

Micheal Jones loved his wife. Loved his job. Loved the village he lived in. Loved his life. He often could not believe how lucky he was to find Mary. Or maybe she found him? After the death of his parents he had just lived in the big old house in Salford, commuting into Manchester everyday to his job as a manager in Asda. A boring life and boring existence. He only had a handful of friends, but no one close. He had always been a bit on an introvert, and was happy staying at home watching movies rather than going to the pub. Then, Elizabeth came into his life like a ray of sunshine and everything changed for the better.

She shopped every Wednesday at his store and she always said hello. They chatted and laughed at how they always seemed to be in the same place at the same time ( although, it was really his boss John who decided that) One day he was on his break and saw her in the cafe and chanced an offer to buy her a coffee. To his amazement she had accepted. 3 months later he was driving with her to her village to meet her Parents , Tom and Mary and the rest of the family for Christmas ( she had 3 sisters and 2 brothers). Within a year, she moved into the big house with him. Then, he asked her to Marry him and to his shock she said yes. Then, her Father offered him a job running the small Sports Store he owned in the village, on a great wage and gave them a house to live in. They got married,he sold the big house and said good bye to his old life and moved to Billsbridge for good.

The village was a fantastic place to live . He made new friends and even drank in the local pub. Everybody knew him ( his father in law was on the local council, governor, best village committee and many more serving the community) and he loved it, becoming part of the community helping with all the village events including the fantastic Hobbs Field Festival they held every year near the summer solstice. All day parades with people in costume, old fairground games like coconut shies, culminating in the Crowning of the King and Queen of the field. This year was going to be better than most. He and Elizabeth where having a baby and had been chosen as the festival king and queen. He couldn’t believe his luck. He was in heaven.

The village was only a small place and not many tourists visited. It was tucked away off a b road that most people by passed on the way to the lake district, or stumbled upon by wrong sat nav directions ( which lost its signal as soon as they hit the village). A friendly local would always be able to point them in the right direction, something Micheal had done himself many a time. The festival was a fairly private affair as they closed the main road off for the day of the festival. A couple of the local police man where always on hand to pint lost travellers the diversion. Micheal loved the fact that it was just the people he knew and he had lost touch with his few old friends and never felt the need to invite them.

He did wish his Mum and Dad could see how happy and well he had done for himself. That was his only regret. These thoughts came to him as he put on the traditional green suit of a soon to be crowned king. It fitted perfect, he thought, as he looked in the bedroom mirror. There was a knock at the door. “Micheal?” said Elizabeth. “Come in , you daft thing “ he said opening the door. His beautiful wife stood in the doorway, resplendent in her flowing green dress, with embroidered flowers. The small bump of the baby making her look a little off balance. He smiled at her. “ My Queen, you look wonderful” he said, beaming and still not believing his luck. She smiled back, gently rubbing her tummy. “ and so do you my handsome King” she outstretched her hand, which took and pulled her towards him, embracing her, then leaning down to kiss the bump. “ You OK in there? Been a busy day!” Elizabeth laughed. “ Ha ha you daft bugger!, c’mon, the tractor is here and ready to take us the the field.”

Villagers didn’t seem to know when the festival had started, it was just something that had passed on from generation to generation. A tradition that everyone loved with all there hearts, it seemed. The festivities had been on all day. Pubs had been busy as normal, the weather had been glorious. Micheal and Elizabeth had been to the Local Pub, Hobbs Head, for the traditional King and Queen meal and then headed the children’s parade, animal parade and finally the fancy dress parade, which Micheal had always found the most fascinating. Some dressed as celebrities, some dressed as light hearted digs at local dignitaries ( always one of Tom, Elizabeth’s Father!) but the main ones where the thirteen field spirits, that apparently harked back to before medieval times. These chaps dressed with weird paper-mache gargoyles or green painted faces with costumes made of straw and leather. They span around as the two drummers beat at various rhythms. The villagers lining the streets shouted and cheered as they came by , sometimes throwing beer at them or water at them. Now Micheal and Elizabeth headed the Parade to the rock at Hobbs Field, to be crowned and the big party to begin. The tent had been set up ( which neither Micheal or Elizabeth had been allowed to enter yet!!) and Micheal could see the chairs had been placed on the rock in the middle of the field. The rock had been there forever, no doubt dropped by some glacier millions of years ago, Micheal often thought. At some point someone ( no one knew who)had roughly carved steps into the side, to make it easier for the king and queen to climb on to it.

As Micheal and his wife entered the field, heading towards the rock, he felt a feeling of such complete and utter happiness. He looked at his wife and there soon to be born child, he looked around at his family and friends. As the sun began to set , he felt so overcome he could feel his chest heave and his eyes begin to well up. His life had never felt so perfect and he still could not believe his luck after so many years of loneliness. Everything was perfect.

Micheal approached the rock, with his wife’s arm in his. They turned around to face the field full of people. People cheered and raised there pints as the sun began to set behind them and the sparkling lights ,that had been set around the field, flickered into life. Tom stood next to the couple, with his pint in hand . “ Let the king and queen ascend the rock to behold the people and the field!” He shouted and raised his glass and everybody cheered. Micheal looked at his wife and she smiled back at him, hand resting on her pregnat bump. He climbed the first steps up, people aplauding as he did, then held out a hand to his wife to let her follow. They reached the top, Micheal looked across the crowd of people, smiling. He noticed the that the entrance into the filed seemd to have been coverd with high branches and logs obscuring the steel gate. Bloody hell, he thought , I hope they have another way out for this lot later. The amount of flowing beer could cause some problems unless we are sleeping in the field!!! He chuckled to himself as he sat down on his chair to the roar of the crowd.

“ Now fetch the mead of the field so the king can drink of it , and we can all be well!!” shouted his father in law. From out of the tent, one of the 13 spirits ( a large one , with a giant head and bulbous eyes) carried a tray with a large metal tankard, which Micheal presumed had the( no doubt ) very strong, thick beer. Not what he would normally drink, but it was a special occasion.

The spirit handed the tankard to Tom, who walked up the stairs and handed it to Micheal with 2 hands. “ Down in one lad” he winked with a smile on his face “ it’ll taste better that way.” Micheal smiled back, taking the tankard and raising it to the crowd. They cheered and threw hands in the air. He looked back at his wife who was beaming at him. He started to tilt the drink back. It tasted bitter, thick and like soil. But he did not care. A tear fell from his eye. Never so happy.

He managed to swallow the bad taste ale in one take , stood from his seat, raised the tankard and shouted. The crowd had gone very quiet, eyes towards the ground. He noticed the 13 spirits now lined up in front of the crowd, looking at him. He turned to his father in law, who was also looking at the ground. The silence was deafening. He turned to his wife, his head feeling light from the mead. She was smiling at him. The edges of his vision started to blur. His stomach felt hot and everything stared to move around him. She looked wonderful. He noticed she had something in her hand. A staff? A rock?A knife? “Thank you Micheal, “ she said “ thank you for everything” as she brought down the object on his head.

Micheal woke feeling groggy, confused and sick. A copperish taste filled his watering mouth. Had he had a terrible nightmare. He could not see anything , something was covering his eyes? He tried to move but his arms and legs seemed to be tied down. He felt cold, a draught running over his body. Was he naked?? He felt as if he was lying on top of a rocky beach, small pebbles digging in his back. What the hell was going on? Had he been kidnapped??? Had he fallen ad was in hospital?? He tried shout but his mouth seemed numb , something swelled in his mouth. Something missing? His tongue!?? Where the hell was his tongue??? No, that cant be right he thought. He could here a faint singing . Like a choir , but low, deep and mournful. WHAT WAS GOING ON his brain screamed , body twisting and jerking to move , but each time painful.

He stiffened as he heard movement around him. Low humming voices filled the air. He felt hands on his body and he started to move, pushed along like a hospital trolley, bumping along. He tried to cry out, but his mouth had stopped working. A muffled noise emerging from the back of his throat. Cold fresh air hit his sweating body and he shivered . OHGOOHGODOHGOD. His brain could not fathom what was going on. He seemed to move for an eternity, in a circle?? In a corridor? Was he in a coma?? Oh God Help!! Someone Help!!

Suddenly he stopped. More hands on his body, he felt himself being lifted up , (on a stretcher??) and then lowered to the ground. The pain of his back cooled as he felt something cold and damp underneath him. The cut smell of grass and overturned soil filled his nostrils. They think I’m dead, he thought , they are burying me. No, I’m alive !!!I’M ALIVE he trued to shout to no avail.

He felt something then his eyes filled with on orange light, as whatever had been covering them was removed. His brain rattled with confusion, he saw his father in law, his work colleagues, Father Doyle, Jim Smith, Landlord of the Hobbs Inn, Pete the local bobby and all the other faces he knew so well from the village looking down on him. Plus John, his old boss?? They all seem to hold wooden spikes. He felt some hands on the side of his head and he looked up. My wife, my beautiful wife, he thought.

“Thank you Micheal, she said, to Your sacrifice for the village will not go forgotten. I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you, but you have to remember that I did love you for what you are going to do. But my true heart belongs to the village, and the lord of the field, as it has done for generations. I don’t expect you to understand, but we need the lost and lonely, who no one will miss, to fill there hearts with love and joy so that they can become one with the field and keep the gods happy and the crops bountiful. We send out the spirits, like John, and Every 10 years they find someone to fulfil the need. Your heart was so full, I cannot thank you enough. Be sure our child will continue the traditions. Thank you so much, your sacrifice will be wonderful. ALL HAIL THE KING OF THE FIELD!” The crowd roared its approval.

Micheal’s mind could not comprehend what was happening. It must be a nightmare, he’ll wake up soon. He must wake up soon. He tried to cry out to wake himself, but nothing happened. He looked frantically around himself, unable to move due to the straps binding him. His arms and legs had started to feel numb. His mouth seemed to be stuck together , his throat full of a bitter tasting fluid. His own blood? He was sure he could feel something scratching at his back, the cold dampness causing shivers as he sweated profusely. The sweat stung his eyes, mingling with his terrified tears as fear gripped him at the total uncomprehending horror he felt rising in his stomach.

He stated to feel sick and the bile started to rise . He could now taste the mead he had originally drunk and he wretched up whatever it was, chocking and coughing with pain as his throat seared with pain. The thick liquid filled his nose, burnt his eyes and splattered his heaving chest.

“HE IS READY!” cried out Mary.

The scratching on his back seemed to intensify. Gentle at first then more painful, like little pins prodding at his skin, causing him to wince at the ever increasing discomfort his whole body was feeling.

Micheal watched as the crowd parted either side of him to reveal the 13 spirits holding a rope,that was tied to something at Micheal feet. Behind them there seemed to be a large mound of soil , with flame lanterns either side, and a shallow hole, about the size of a man. Behind this, an old gnarled tree with dead branches, twisted and bent. He had never seen this tree before, though Micheal, rather pointlessly. His mind seemed to snap. He tried to scream , but his voice had been torn away. His eyes bulged as he realised everyone was pointing the wooden spears towards him.

Let the Parade BEGIN!! shouted his father in law.

On the command , the spirits started to drag Micheal towards the tree. As he passed the crowd ,each person stabbed him with the spikes, short ,quick and with a twist. Blood pored from each wound. Micheal howled silently in pain, veins bulging on his neck and forehead. Each twist of the spike puncturing his soft , torn flesh becoming more painful than the last. His back felt like a thousand tiny razor-blades criss- crossing his damaged skin. Blood soaked the grass he was slowly being dragged across, thick life fluids oozing from the many open , gaping woods “ Hail the king, we are thankful” Micheal heard the people mutter as they plunged the spike into his tattered body. He could feel muscle rip, bones crack as the punctured and twisted, digging into his broken body.

Eventually the 13 spirits dragged Micheal past the crowd and the pain, mercifully stopped for a moment . Micheal was fading in and out of consciousness, as the loss of blood began to take its toll. He could not cry out, or move. Weakness enveloped his body. He felt himself dragged over something rough and sharp, voices shouted, but his ears were full of blood from the stabs to his face. He felt the soft loam under his body. This mus t be the hole , he thought, welcoming the end of his tortures. He turned his head to be faced with several , soil encrusted skulls, all with small wooden branches stuck in there eyes . His mind was to far gone to care now., though. He realised his fate and just wanted it to be over.

His wife stood over him. He could see the tree behind her. It looked almost alive. Like an fragile old mans unsteady movements. She knelt down with what seemed like two wooden sharpened sticks , like rough pencils in her hands. She whispered in his “ Thank you for everything now, and in the future” she said.

In a moment of clarity Micheal tried to scream again as he realised what he had just seen.

Mary pushed the sticks into Micheal’s eyes. His head jerked as she did, eyes popping like like a egg yolk, clear fluids mixed with black blood.

All Hail the Field!!! she stood up and shouted.

Micheal was in to much agonising pain to feel the thick branches moving under him. They slowly wrapped around his body in a jerky, stiff motion. Thick soil encrusted tentacles slowly reached and twisted around his neck. His body began to shudder and spasm as the sharp ends of the branches dug into the open wounds in his body, burrowing under his skin, entering his mouth, and eye sockets, wrapping and and squeezing at organs, tearing a popping them in an explosions of entrails and thick, dark blood. His body cracked and snapped as the ancient darkness of the land dragged him into the soil.

ALL HAIL THE FIELD! The crowd chanted as Micheal’s body was pulled slowly into the dark, moist earth.

The ancient tree moved slowly and gently, even though there was no breeze, The branches looked younger.

Kit bag of Terror.

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Essential Tools for creating nightmare. (I’ve pretty much had to pack these away for the time being.) The glasses are a new addition and a bloody nightmare

I’ll be the first to admit I’m addicted to stationary. I cant walk past any place that has a whiff of ink and paper and not head in , even though I don’t need anything. I recently bought another three sketchbooks to add to the box full of blank ones I already have. There is just something about them though. A terrifying thrill as you open the blank pages, pen at the ready, hoping to all things holy and unholy your not going to make a total crap hole out of it. Nothing worse than a ruined sketchbook. I’ve thrown them away because the first image was so bad. What an Idiot!!

I have an old art paper storage cupboard that I retrieved from a skip in my wife’s school that has an entire drawer dedicated to old sketchbooks. Many evenings, if I’m struggling for inspiration I’ll look through them. Ideas that I’ve never finished, never followed through, old shopping notes, films to watch or books I’ve read. It’s like a time machine I suppose. I’ve actually thrown away more that I can remember and now that I’m moving house, I’m having to decide what to do with them again. It’s a hard choice. Worst of all, I dread to think what the binman would think if he actually glanced upon the contents!! I’d probably end up with the police on my doorstep thinking I was a crazed serial killer or something!!!

If you check out my instagram , you’ll see I’ve started a small sketchbook with skulls for April. I keep drawing them in my normal sketchbook , but just wanted to challenge myself from a Inktober point of view, which I usually fail. Due to the fact we are immanently about to move house, I’m having to pack away a lot of my art kit bag so I’ve had to reduce whats on hand. The small sketchbooks and 4 pens at hand are a great way to keep me drawing. I find if i stop, it takes me a while to get back into the flow of things. Plus, if I have to keep unpacking bloody boxes , the very thought will put me off and I go watch some crappy TV instead. Deadly!!!!

So, now I carry my little sketchbook ( and bloody glasses now ) with me everywhere. I’ve actually found that by limiting my tools I’m actually taking my time and developing dome great ideas and refining my skills. Well, hopefully. Check out my Instagram page and let me know what you think?

On another note, I watched Jordan Peeles Us this week. Please go see it. Creepy, horrific, terrifying and brilliant. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s great. Plus re-watching some classics, Halloween and Alien so far. I’ve not watched either for a long time. Halloween still hold up after all these years, even though it’s been copied now a million times over. Alien, it’s attention to detail and slow build up of dread is still as nail biting as it ever was. Fantastic stuff.

Podcast recommendation would be Shadows at the Door. It’s a great combination of original and classic macabre story, but the creators have a conversation afterwards about the story ,the influences and general themes surrounding a particular type of tale. Well worth a listen.

Thanks for reading, sorry for the delay!! Once I’ve moved this should be more regular!!!!

Don’t forget to check out Instagram and twitter , plus take a read of my stories over at Bloody Pens .

Keep checking under the bed!

Dan(smonsters)

Creating Horrors!!!

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I get asked a lot where my inspiration comes from. Its hard to say to be truthful. Films (I watched Hereditary recently…wow!) TV (I started watching Night Flyers on Netflix, like it so far!) Books (Robert Aickman’s The Wine Dark Sea) music ( I’m writing this listening to John Carpenter Anthology) the usual offenders. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days, Lore and Shadows at the Door are two of my favourites at the moment.

INSPIRATION!!!


I draw everyday. Even if I’m not in the mood, especially if you have a ton of other ” life” jobs to do first! The brain is a muscle , and it need warming up.
I’ve filled so many sketchbooks now, I’m running out of room to store them That’s why I at least try to draw a skull as soon as I get up. Kettle on, tea made and sketchbook out. A five minute doodle is better than nothing at all!!

SKETCHBOOKS of DARK THOUGHTS!

Once I have an idea or two, I’ll try and steal a couple of hours in the studio. That’s a lot grander than it sounds, believe me. Its actually an old outhouse at the back of my home. I ripped all the crap out, put in a new ceiling , door and electricity. Its damp in winter and too hot in summer. Plus the occasional mouse, slug and a lot of spiders. Yet I can make as much mess as I like!

As much mess as I like!!

I start with a pencil drawing , figuring out shapes,sharp teeth and how the image is going to fit on the paper. Although I use a LOT of black ink, its amazing how important that pencil sketch can be. I’ll then transfer the image to some illustration board using my trusty light box. I purchased this about 10 years ago from a closing down sale in a craft shop for a fiver!! Best deal I have ever had! Art is an expensive mistress, especially when you use as much as I do.

THE INFAMOUS LIGHTBOX!

I normally transfer onto Bristol Board. But, I’ve discovered some mixed media pads from Daler Rowney that are fantastic!

  • Then, it’s on to the INK! My main tools are:
  • Parallel Pen, 0.2 and 0.3,
  • Pentel Brush Pen
  • Kuratake Zig Cartoonist pen
  • Tooth brush
  • Acrylic Markers
  • and, of course, BLACK INK! ( with occasional white and red)

To be honest, I’ll use anything I can get hold of. I’ve several ruined brushes that I keep using.

Once my hands full of ink, I know I’ve finished! So it’s posting on Instagram, then loading up on Etsy.

So, there you go. That’s how I create!! Next time I will go a bit deeper into some of my artistic influences. Let me know what you think? Feel free to subscribe to the blog so you can keep updated (click the triangle at the bottom of the page) . Don’t forget to check out my Instagram and Twitter. You can my Dark Tales here and the web comic Deth Metal by myself and good guy Silent Mark.

Thanks again!

Dansmonsters

Oh god, You like horror? Your obviously some kind of weirdo!

Horror Art, Horror Influences

Horror provides us with insights into ourselves and into the dark corners of the world, and it lets us develop and refine coping skills that may be critical later in life.”  Mathius Klansen

I’m sat here listening to the soundtrack for Horizon Zero Dawn ( which I can thoroughly recommend for listening to while writing, plus the game is pretty damn good) wondering how the hell do you write a blog? I’ve never don it before, but I’ve trawled through the many websites looking for advice ( blogs are dead seemed to be the main advice, unless you want to pay someone to give you advice, of course). I should have started about 3 months ago, but just couldn’t think how to start, plus I seemed to have so many other things to do ( day job, kids, life in general, setting up shop, drawing, creating website……) it kept being put on the back burner. Finally, I’ve sat my ass down and started.

So, what will you get if you want to follow this? Well, a chance to see my creative process, my tools of the trade, thoughts on my art, things that have influenced me , books I’ve read and films I’ve seen. Art is strange mistress , and even stranger when you draw the things I do!! So let me give you a quick introduction to my life with horror.

As you can probably tell, I love the horror genre. In all its incarnations. Books , films, art, music, the good and more importantly the bad. Monsters have always been a favourite. I remember seeing the Ray Harryhausen classic 20 million miles to earth as a kid on Sunday Afternoon on BBC2 and being blown away. Then, one Friday night, when my parents put the black and white portable TV in our room to watch the horror double bill, Night of the Demon enthralled and terrified me (a long with all the Hammer and Amicus movies, but NOTD just seemed to drag me in) and that was it. Horror was my game and I wanted more. Luckily, having an family who love Horror movies as well helped, especially as we where about to enter the age of the home video. My world exploded in a terrified sweat as I sat , at a wonderfully far to young age, watching Italian Giallo movies like  Zombie Flesh Eaters and Alien Contamination, American Horrors like Dawn of the Dead, C.H.U.D, Evil Speak, The Warning and on and on. However, the one that especially stuck with me was The Evil Dead, still my favourite of all. Whats not to like when you have such a fantastic mixture of outlandish gore, insane camera angles, hilarious set pieces and amazing stop motion Plasticine zombies. Plasticine???? I thought, well if they can use that, then I can make horror stuff as well. So, my strange journey of Fangoria, Rick Baker, Dick Smith, Rob Bottin and Tom Savini ‘s Grande illusions began. Including soaking the front row of my English class in fake blood, but that’s another story.

Horror has always been at the forefront of the genres for me. A little bit of fantasy and a smattering of science fiction, but always back to horror. Books, movies, comics ( I was gutted when Scream finished) and drawing the stuff!! But, then I took a break from the art stuff for a long time. Life took over , like it does, and it wasn’t paying the bills ( still no change ) .

I suppose, the internet started introducing me again to this wonderful genre, and a community I didn’t really know existed that had as much love for it as me.  I didn’t really know there was a horror art community until  Instagram appeared. The amount of great Dark Artists and independent genre authors and publishers out there , it blew my mind. My eyes became overloaded by all these different styles and idea and I knew I wanted to be involved. Comics had always been a big influence on me, popular culture art wise, and I could never manage to draw like Jim lee!!! I saw artists throw away the rule book, and make art the way they wanted too.

So I started again. Drawing skulls by the dozen. Filling sketchbooks and showing the results online to much praise. Taking some of those sketches and creating dark illustrations of things hiding in shadows, ancient evils and razor sharp teethed monsters. Splattering paint and ink around and staining my fingers and clothing and possibly even drinking the stuff when it inadvertently ended up in my cup of tea. Creating the art I wanted, not concerned if people liked it or not. The most amazing thing is the positivity I found in the horror community. Something that was totally unexpected. I always found the Social Media side a bit vacuous and just full of people shouting in the echo chamber. However, within horror and comics, I found people willing to share ideas, advice and help . People I have never met, but would willingly buy them a beer and call them a friend. I’m amazed folk take the time to even comment and each one is so appreciated it’s hard to explain. I love drawing this stuff, so the fact people actually want to even notice it is humbling. So, if you are one of those people, who have liked, commented or even purchased my work thank you from the very bottom of my very dark heart!!!

So, there you go. I could go on about my wonder of the horror community and why I fricken love it so much, but I’m pretty sure I’ll just bore you to death. Next time I’ll let you into the secrets of how I come up with ideas for these darkworks and what techniques I use. It involves a lot of black ink.

Thanks for reading, please let me know what you think. If you want to keep updated, click the little triangle with the plus sign below and please subscribe, it’s free! Plus you follow me on Twitter and mainly Instagram 

You can read my (incerdibly late) on going horror science fiction horror comic I created with good friend Silent Mark at dethmetalcomic.com