The woods here are nothing they once were

VI
Hazel and birch tree, oak and fir
Down in the wood of Murroa
Where roots burrow deep
Where leaves grow so thick
That no full moon ever shines.

In the dark wood of Murroa
Who knows what a man might find?
Shadows that speak
And beg for release
While the devil himself rides by

A gentleman walks out at midnight
A rope tied to a noose in his hand
At the end of his path
Is a door like a trap
For the unwary soul to fall in

So it was when I was a boy
When my grandfather told this tale
But time is a child
That burns all it finds
And now only his story remains

This grand old wood of Murroa
Cut down till the mountain is bare
Now the shadows are quiet
And the doors are shut tight
And the woods here are nothing they once were.

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks, or Barnes and Noble.

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A Crescent-shaped Scar

There is a quality, I have always felt, about the red colour of blood that makes it almost entirely unlike any substance I can think of. Even in small quantities – a tiny drop, a small smear – it is obvious and unmistakeable. It stands out from whichever surrounding it is found in, sharp and vicious. Something in that colour contains a depth of reality that is shocking and uncomfortable to look at. In truth, the amount of liquid that poured out of me that day was probably not all that great in itself, it was after all only a small cut.  And yet, smeared loosely, oily and slick around my hands and my clothes it seemed like a shocking amount to my eyes, achieving a surreal, dreamlike effect which was only heightened by my shortness of breath and the racing of my heart.

I have never, you might have guessed by now, much liked the sight of blood, least of all my own. As a boy I avoided butchers’ shops, I ran screaming at the slightest scrape of my knee or nick of a finger. Even now I shave with an electric razor, I have a distrust of blades that verges on mania.

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

haunting

‘The Shorecliff Horror’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

Missing Pages

“I don’t remember when I bought it,” he began. “You know what I’m like. I pick these things up all over the place. I couldn’t tell you precisely where or when I found half of them. Sometimes they can lie in a pile for years before I get around to actually reading them, so that in itself is not unusual.

Neither is it entirely unusual that, since reading it, I haven’t been able to find any other copies available for sale among any of the dealers I know of. A lot of these books are old and fragile. They were always ephemeral. They weren’t made to last and there may never have been all that many sold in the first place, so it’s not surprising that having found one copy it’s hard to locate another one.

These things are not so unusual in themselves and I want to be clear about that from the start. There have been plenty of strange things happen to me in the past few days, so it’s important not to dwell on matters which may be far simpler to explain. And yet, at the same time, it is true to say that this book which has troubled me so much is one which I do not recall ever seeing until five days ago and for which I cannot find another copy anywhere in the world.

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

haunting

‘A Report on a Haunting and other stories’ is Chapbook number four of four volumes published by the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

A Report on a Haunting at Number 11 Erskine Street, Aberdeen

I opened his door and switched on the light. Here is what I saw. Paul was standing in his pyjamas by the big bay window that stretched right across the far wall of his room. He had wrapped himself up in the great thick curtain that hung by the window and was thrashing and flapping his arms around as though wrestling with someone, shouting and roaring as he did so. When the light came on he stopped suddenly. He let the curtains drop and turned to look around him. The expression on his face was quite unlike anything I’d ever seen on him before. He seemed like a child, scared and lost. He looked over towards me. For a moment I though he was about to turn angry, to snap at me for coming into his room uninvited, but he never did.

“Did you see someone in here just now?” he said, his voice small and wobbling.

I shook my head. “No, Paul. There’s no-one here.”

“No. Of course not.” He said. “Of course not.”

“Are you alright, Paul?” I asked. “Can I do anything?”

“No,” he said. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

haunting

‘A Report on a Haunting and Other Stories’ is Chapbook number four of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

Notes on the weird – China Mieville

I don’t think you can distinguish science fiction, fantasy and horror with any rigour, as the writers around the magazine Weird Tales early in the last century (Lovecraft in particular) illustrated most sharply. So I use the term ‘weird fiction’ for all fantastic literature – fantasy, SF, horror and all the stuff that won’t fit neatly into slots.

China Mieville