The Seers’ Table February 2023
Linda D. Addison, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
You can see any of “The Seers’ Table” posts since inception (March 2016) by going to the HWA main page and selecting menu item “Our Blogs/Diverse Works.”
Linda D. Addison introduces:
Johnny Compton (he/him) is a San Antonio-based author whose short stories have appeared in several publications since 2006, including Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and The No Sleep Podcast. His fascination with frightening fiction started when his kindergarten teacher played a record of the classic ghost story “The Golden Arm” for her class. The Spite House is his debut novel through Tor Nightfire.
Recommended Reading: The Spite House (February 2023)
The Masson House of Degener, Texas, was like the corpse of an old monster, too strange and feared for most to approach it, much less attempt to bury it. After all, it might be feigning death or dormant.
In the primary photograph of the full-page ad, the house’s rectangular windows reflected the sun. Behind the house, the treetops looked close enough to brush the walls of the second floor when the wind blew. It was gaunt and gray, old and sickly. Four stories tall and narrow enough to be mistaken for an optical illusion, like the photographer was one step to the left or right away from revealing the other half or two-thirds of the house they had skillfully hidden.
The second picture showed the house overlooking a shallow valley and three buildings that, according to the description beneath the photo, once comprised an orphanage, and before that a family estate.
Eric Ross could not find much more about the house online. A wiki of “The Most Haunted Places in Texas” stated, “If the Masson House came to life one night and climbed down the hill to destroy that old orphanage, no one in Degener would be quite as shocked as you’d think.”
Follow the author at http://johnnycompton.com/; Twitter: @ComptonWrites; Instagram: comptonwrites.
(Author photo credit: Louis Scott/Scott Photography, San Antonio)
Lauren Salerno recommends:
Jessica Johns is a Nehiyaw aunty and member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. She is an interdisciplinary artist and winner of the 2020 Writers’ Trust Journey Prize.
Recommended Reading: Bad Cree.
Before I look down, I know it’s there. The crow’s head I was clutching in my dream is now in bed with me. I woke up with the weight of it in my hands, held against my chest under the covers. I can still feel its beak and feathers on my palms. The smell of pine and the tang of blood sting my nose. My pillow feels for a second like the cold, frozen ground under my cheek. I yank off my blanket, heavy like I’m pulling it back from the past, and look down to my hands, now empty. A feeling of static pulses inside them like when a dead limb fills with blood again. They are clean and dry and trembling.
Shit. Not again.
I step gingerly out of bed, as though the world in front of me might break, and turn on the light, wait for my eyes to adjust. It illuminates my blanket on the floor, the grey sheet kicked into a clump. Every breath I take is laboured, and when I blink, my dream flashes onto the back of my eyelids. Running through the woods. The snow glistening in the clearing. The crows covering Sabrina’s body.
Heart thumping in my chest, I kneel next to the bed, how I imagine I might if I ever were to pray. “Come on,” I plead into the covers. “Where are you?”
I feel across the bedsheet for anything: blood, feathers, twig-small bones. My fingers shake and search by touch in between pillows, into every crease and wrinkle of the fitted sheet. I turn on the flashlight on my phone and use it to look into shadows, but I find nothing. My shirt, when I bring it up to my nose, smells like the outside in winter, like pine trees and sharp cold.
“You son of a bitch, come on.” I kick the blanket to the side and put my cheek to the floor, scanning underneath the bed and bedside table. Dust and crumbs sit forgotten in dry corners. An old plate, mould forming along the ridges, lies next to holey socks. I close my eyes. My awake mind is trying to fog the dream over, shake it away, but I hold onto it. I know it was there, in my hand. As real as the floor still against my cheek, I was holding a crow’s head when I woke up. I can still smell the blood in the bedroom air and feel where its beak pressed into my palm, right above my heart line. Throbbing and hot.
Find Jessica Johns online: Website: JessicaBJohns.com; Twitter: @jessicastellaaa; Instagram: @jessicastellaa
Kate Maruyama recommends:
E.F. Shraeder is the author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021), an Imadjinn Award finalist (2022). Schraeder is also the author of a story collection and two poetry chapbooks. Recent work has appeared in Lost Contact, Birthing Monsters, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Mystery Weekly Magazine, Lavender Review, and other journals and anthologies. Schraeder’s nonfiction has appeared in Vastarien: A Literary Journal; Radical Teacher; the American Library Assn.’s Intellectual Freedom blog, and elsewhere. Awarded first place in Crystal Lake Publishing’s 2021 Poetry Contest, E.F. Schraeder’s work also placed as a semi-finalist in Headmistress Press’ Charlotte Mew Contest (2019). Current creative projects include a monster’s coming-of-age novella and a full-length manuscript of poems. An ex-professor and youth librarian, Schraeder holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. and advanced degree in Library Science. An Active Member in the HWA, E.F. Schraeder believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs.
Recommended Reading (nonfiction): “Anne Rice and Visions from Home” from Dancing in the Shadows: A Tribute to Anne Rice (Yuriko Publishing LLC).
The title centered in glorious red, nearly bleeding from the stark white cover art. The images featured lots of lacy, luscious details in shades of white and gold including a top hat, cane, silky gloves, a carnation, an elegant brooch nested on a small cushion. Flipped over, I found what looked like an old-time family photograph of two men, neatly dressed in white tuxedos, one seated and one standing. The queer content nearly sizzled on the surface of that image, the longing, intense expressions on their faces. A small curly red-headed girl stood beside them, her eyes somehow brooding and angry.
You can learn more about E.F. Shraeder at http://www.efschraeder.com/resources/ or check out their upcoming chapbook at Finishing Line Press: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/judy-garland-is-not-a-sunrise-by-e-f-schraeder/.