Letter to the Mausoleum – Summer 2024

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Wel­come to the mau­soleum! It’s so great to be back for this, our sec­ond issue. I’m sure you’re quite busy and want to get on with the sto­ries, but I’d like you to bear with me for a few thoughts.

Every­one knows about the life­cy­cle. Late one night, your par­ents get a lit­tle too famil­iar some­where pri­vate (up in the attic, per­haps, or down in the base­ment), and your dad repris­es his role as Vlad the Impaler. There’s a sig­nif­i­cant amount of body hor­ror for nine sleep­less months, and then, in one final burst of gore, you are born.

Have you ever poked a baby’s head. You can feel its brain. For years, you cry and spit peas at the floor, and you seem com­plete­ly unaware as the bones of your skull fuse slow­ly togeth­er. Now, you*re just as hard-head­ed as your mother.

You com­plain about the shows you want to watch, com­plain about the gen­der you even­tu­al­ly fall in love with, com­plain about the oth­er gen­der as well. The com­plaints nev­er cease. And even­tu­al­ly, you’re old enough to set out on your own, and your par­ents are ever-so-grate­ful the night­mare is over.

Even­tu­al­ly, you decide to take on the role of Vlad the Impaler or one of his many vic­tims, and you cre­ate lit­tle com­plain­ers of your own. Your chil­dren hate you, but they love you for it. They love you and hate you for that.

The years go on like this, from child­hood through the end. You don’t know whether to com­plain about how quick­ly the years passed or about how ago­niz­ing­ly long they were. And when that end comes, you are buried beneath turf or burned and then chucked off a boat, only to be blown back and inhaled by those who’ve gath­ered to watch.

That is the gist of the lifecycle.

But what about the death­cy­cle? Have you con­sid­ered that?

You are buried deep in the ground, food for gen­er­a­tions of worms and grass­es. But before the worms can get to you, some­thing else comes along (a car­rion-feed­ing microor­gan­ism or mush­rooms, per­haps) and creeps into your cav­i­ties. It roots there, spread­ing its ten­drils down through your organs to acti­vate them one-by-one. And then it gets into your brain, pokes at it like a par­ent pok­ing at their baby’s soft spot. All at once, the activ­i­ty that once passed flu­ent­ly through your brain begins to move once again. Neu­rons stum­ble around like drunkards.

It starts with a slight twitch­ing of the shoul­ders, but rapid­ly advances until entire limbs are able to move.

And for all you’re worth, you begin to scratch at the cof­fin around you. You feel con­fined, you want to rise and stretch your legs. You refuse to stay buried. So, you break your nails dig­ging your­self out.

What*s one to do once they’ve been rean­i­mat­ed? You pro­ceed to vis­it the places you once knew so well. They are but whisps of mem­o­ries buried deep in the brain, near­ly inac­ces­si­ble by the few neu­rons fir­ing between synapses.

And then you see the ones you loved, and you loved food also, and so, maybe, just maybe, those two are one and the same.

What am I get­ting at with all this? Well, sto­ries, ah yes, sto­ries is what it’s all about.

Sto­ries pass through both cycles. Let me explain.

They are birthed … some­how. I don’t know the how of it. We just birth them in our minds. They live with­in us before the writ­ing process, beg­ging to be seen, to be heard. And as we write those sto­ries down, we feel pure ecsta­sy. This is life made con­crete. These are our long years.

And then comes the qui­et time as we seek pub­li­ca­tion. Our sto­ries are effec­tive­ly dead for a time. And they remain that way for months, some­times years. We bury them beneath a pile of dirt (rejec­tions), and some­times, we cast them aside (cre­ma­tion).

But ulti­mate­ly, the death­cy­cle calls. Those vivid images we’ve drawn are dragged up from those qui­et, invis­i­ble depths, and they are giv­en life once more. But this time they are pre­sent­ed to oth­er brains. That’s where you, the read­er, comes in. You pro­vide these sto­ries their sub­stance in this, their sec­ond life.

What’s scarier than short horror fiction?

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Care­tak­er at // mail@maxblood.pub // Author Web­page // Oth­er Sto­ries

When he’s not home­school­ing and par­ent­ing, Max Blood spends his days spin­ning hor­ror tales for online audi­ences. He spe­cial­izes in the weird, the cos­mic, and the mon­strous. With a pas­sion for turn­ing cryp­tid sto­ries into pos­i­tive­ly hor­rif­ic mon­sters, he has cre­at­ed many tales of mon­ster hor­ror. He has also dab­bled in ghost sto­ries and body horror.

He cur­rent­ly lives in Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia where he writes his nov­els and short sto­ries, and in 2023, he launched Max Blood­’s Mau­soleum, a mag­a­zine of orig­i­nal hor­ror stories.

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