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Posts Tagged ‘The Return of Gunnar Kettilson’

The 2nd annual HallowRead will be held October 24th and 25th in Ellicott City, Maryland. On Saturday, Oct. 25th, I’ll be participating on a couple of panels, visiting with fans of urban fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, steampunk, ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc., and, of course, signing my books.

Leading up to this darkly wonderful con, I thought I’d share a few appropriate links, an excerpt from one of my stories, and other HallowReadish odds & ends.

As a fan of “The Walking Dead,” I couldn’t resist making my 1st themed post about zombies. Though I must admit, this season of the television show so far has creeped me out. The whole hunter or prey vibe, while it fits the Zombie Apocalypse, is more disturbing than last year’s Governor and crew.

To survive a Zombie Apocalypse, you might need a fortress like the one in this link.

If you’re thinking of making a zombie video, you’ll need to know about movie make-up and fake blood.

hallowread_red And here’s an excerpt of my zombie love story, “The Return of Gunner Kettilson,” 1st published in an issue of Cemetery Moon, then in the Elektrik Milk Bath Press charity anthology, Zombies for a Cure, and lastly, in my dark fantasy story collection, The Greener Forest.

If you’re interested in reading the whole tale, I’ll have copies of The Greener Forest, plus 1 copy of Zombies for a Cure, with me at HallowRead for purchase. Or, you can always go to Amazon and grab a copy.

The Return of Gunnar Kettilson (an excerpt)

‘Celia sat straight-backed on an oak bench in her moonlit kitchen with the long-handled ax stretched across her lap. She listened for the shambling footsteps of her husband, Gunnar Kettilson, comforted in small measure by the presence of her great aunt beside her on the bench.

“Do you think he will come?” Celia whispered as she rubbed the wooden ax handle with her thumb and wondered if there’d be maggots.

“We should light the welcome candle,” said Rona.

The white-haired woman set the butcher knife she’d been holding in her right hand on the floor, stood, propped the fire poker from her left hand against the bench, and walked to the fireplace. She withdrew a blazing splinter of wood from the fire.

 Cemetery Moon “This night, one night, by full moon’s light,

we call you, Gunnar Kettilson.

Come home, cruel draugr.

Come home, bitter revenant,” chanted Rona as she lit a solitary white candle balanced in a silver candlestick, and placed it on the windowsill.

The elderly woman extinguished the splinter, returned to the bench, and patted Celia’s forearm before picking the butcher knife back up. “We should know before long if we sealed him in the grave or if he’ll return.”

“What more could we have done?”

Celia’s aunt answered her with a tilt of her head and a flutter of her heavily-veined hands.

As they sat in silence listening to the seawind in the trees, Celia recalled the somber funeral procession that carried Gunnar up the hill to the cemetery. She’d followed closely behind the casket beside Rona and Gunnar’s father, Lars. The whole village had marched after them. The whole village had to attend, because Lars owned the fish factory, cannery, and most of the fishing ships where the villagers worked. And Lars retaliated against anyone he suspected of not showing sufficient respect to the Kettilson family.

“Lift your chin up, woman,” Lars had growled as they’d followed the casket. “Be proud you were married to a Kettilson.” Then, he’d grabbed her upper arm, squeezed it hard, glared at her with his cold blue eyes. “And unless you’re carrying his child, I’ll have you out on the street within a year. And if you carry a babe…” He’d scowled, and added, “He’ll be mine at birth. You were never in love with my son, only interested in the Kettilson money.”

 zombies for a cure Celia had opened her mouth to argue, but before she could utter a word in her defense, Aunt Rona had stared the hulking patriarch of the Kettilson family in his pale, mean eyes, and hissed, “Shame on you, Lars. She’s lost a husband, and he’s not yet beneath the ground. The spirits of the dead remember such slander.”

Lars had pressed his thin lips together so tightly that they’d turned white, but he hadn’t argued with Rona – for Rona was Fae-Blessed. The old woman was known for her rune-reading, healing herbs, and blessing spells. And Lars would naturally suspect she knew darker magics, too.

Celia watched the welcome candle’s flame flicker. She wondered if Gunnar saw its light from the graveyard…’

And lastly, here’s the link to a post which discusses zombies from different world cultures. Enjoy!

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A month ago, I spoke at the Library of Congress along with Katie Hartlove, editor at Cold Moon Press, and Michelle D. Sonnier, a fellow Cold Moon Press author. Wow, is the only word I have for the marvelous building, helpful staff, and receptive audience. For those who’ve never taken a tour of the building, I highly recommend it.

The title of our presentation was: Zombies & Angels & Boogeymen, Oh my! Though I’ve used all 3 characters in my stories, my area of presentation was Zombies. I did a bit of research to show that the idea of the re-animated dead is shared by many cultures. Here are a few of the tidbits I unearthed:

Africa: The word zombie comes from the Kongo zumbi or zombi [Matthews, p.641] which means an enslaved spirit.

Caribbean: Priests in the Haitian voodoo religion sometimes use a nerve toxin to simulate death for up to 2 days. Haitian lore says that people who are dug up after being buried can no longer think for themselves because of oxygen deprivation, and therefore become slaves to another’s will. Feeding a zombie salt will return it to the grave.

Wales: In the story of Branwen, dead warriors are put in a cauldron and returned to life. These re-animated dead warriors are then placed back into battle.

Ireland: The Well of Slaine is used by the Tuatha de Danaan to re-animate warriors who’ve died in the fight against the Fir Bolg. Though they can fight, these re-animated soldiers are unable to speak because they’ve seen what exists after death.

Iceland, Norway, etc.: Draugr (plural Draugar, pronounced: droo-GORE) are dead Vikings who not only drive mad anyone who comes near their grave, but crawl from their burial sites and visit the living. They are very strong, smell like decay, and sometimes have magical abilities like shape-shifting. (This is the zombie of my love story, “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson”).

Tibet: (Just stumbled on this info, so more research needs to be done). Ro-langs are ro (corpse) + langs (rise-up). They cannot speak, so they communicate by wagging their tongues. Lore says that they can’t bend either, which is why it’s best to have a low entranceway into your home — to keep out the ro-langs.

Where in the world do I find interesting tidbits like these? Many places, but some of my favorite research books: The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creaturesby John & Caitlin Matthews, Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, And People by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, The Enchanted World series of books from Time-Life Books, and An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and other Supernatural Creatures by Katherine Briggs.

So have a great day, and remember to carry a bag of pretzels to feed to the re-animated dead in the case of a zombie attack (see Africa above).

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