Experience Tom’s Vasectomy

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Excerpt from Lee Allen Howard’s Dark Sci-fi Thriller,
Available for Kindle

THE SIXTH SEED by Lee Allen Howard

THE SIXTH SEED, my dark paranormal novel that’s a mash-up of sci-fi, family drama, alien abduction, and suburban horror, is available for immediate purchase. Brace yourself for protagonist Tom Furst’s fateful vasectomy and then download for more.

Scroll to the end for purchase options…

Chapter 1

Tom Furst lay on his back on an examination table in Sterling Health Center, dreading the procedure he was about to undergo.

His mother-in-law had been delighted when he and Melanie were expecting their first child, happy with their second, concerned at their third, disappointed about their fourth, and disgusted when she deduced they were having a fifth. She cornered him alone in the kitchen of her suburban Pittsburgh home last Christmas before the family dinner.

“My Melanie is not a baby factory. Get fixed,” she said, snipping the poultry scissors at his crotch, “or I’ll fix you myself.”

Tom had always used condoms, unaware they weren’t entirely effective. The latest surprise compounded their financial pressures—they simply couldn’t afford any more children. So here he was, lying on an exam table, barely covered by a paper gown.

The door to the exam room clicked open, and a thin red-haired nurse stepped in.

“Mr. Furst? I’m sorry, there’s been a change in plans.”

Tom propped himself on his elbows and adjusted the blue paper over his groin.

“Dr. Lindquist was called away for an emergency. Another doctor is taking his place for the procedure. He’ll be with you in a moment.”

Before Tom could object, the nurse slipped out and shut the door. He swung his legs off the table and sat up.

It was bad enough that his healthcare plan forced him to use their medical facility, but when they switched doctors on him, they were going too far.

He considered dressing and rescheduling the procedure. But he had already arranged for time off work, announced the vasectomy to his mother-in-law, and shaved his crotch as Dr. Lindquist requested. No need to face all that again. Besides, if he left now he might never come back—the instruments on the rollaway cart were making him nervous.

He supposed one urologist was as good as another. Reluctantly, he lay back down.

The door opened, and a tall dark-complected man in a paper smock entered. He approached the table where Tom’s bare legs hung over. Tom leaned up on his elbows again.

“I apologize for the last-minute change.” The doctor’s swift speech flowed smoothly from behind the surgical mask. Over top of it, his eyes were two black marbles embedded in fading bruises.

“I am Dr. Prindar Krakhil. I will perform the procedure this morning.” Krakhil lifted the paper gown.

The doctor’s gaze darted about, and Tom grew uneasy. Had this guy never seen male organs before?

“Good,” Krakhil said and let the paper drop.

The nurse returned as Krakhil stepped to the sink. After washing and drying his hands, he plucked floppy examination gloves from a dispenser on a cabinet. He wriggled into them, snapping the milky material over his long, slender hands, which he finally flexed at arms’ length.

Krakhil rested his wrists on Tom’s knees. “We will start with a local anesthetic on the right side, make an incision, cauterize the right vas deferens, and then repeat the procedure on the left side. After that, I will suture the incisions.”

Krakhil folded back the gown. Tom flushed with embarrassment. Perhaps this was just another procedure for the doctor, but it was the utmost humiliation for Tom, especially with the nurse looking on. Yet, she was also a professional and had probably attended hundreds of vasectomies. If you’ve seen one guy’s bald junk, he supposed, you’ve seen them all.

Krakhil tore open an alcohol swatch. Tom spread his legs, resting his knees against the cold chrome stirrups. Krakhil scrubbed the cool patch in the crease of Tom’s thigh. The fierce antiseptic stung his shaved skin.

Krakhil reached for a hypodermic, poked the needle into a small glass bottle, and withdrew a measure of liquid. Holding the syringe before his dark eyes, he thumbed the plunger.

A few tiny drops arced from the needle, splattering Tom’s abdomen. A chill rushed through him.

“Just relax.” Krakhil’s voice was silken, but something about his manner disturbed Tom.

Krakhil sunk the needle into his groin.

Tom jerked, banging his knees against the stirrups. He gritted his teeth and gripped the table sides, silently praying for the searing pain to stop. His heart thrashed. Cold sweat formed on his forehead.

After a moment the doctor pulled the needle out and pressed gauze on the spot. “Sorry about that.”

Tom looked at the nurse. She was staring wide-eyed at Krakhil, her mouth ajar.

While Tom waited for the mercy of the anesthetic to manifest, the nurse pressed a rectangular gray patch onto his left side. An insulated wire connected it to the table.

“This grounds you for the cauterization,” she said. Her eyes were a creamy blue, the color of the star sapphire on her neck chain.

Krakhil busily swabbed Tom’s privates with Betadine. The feeling faded away. When the doctor finished, he reached a gloved hand between Tom’s legs. “Can you feel this?”

“No,” Tom said, wondering what the doctor was doing. Wringing his scrotum like a dishrag? On second thought, he didn’t want to know.

“I will make the first incision.”

Tom concentrated on breathing slower.

“Do not move.”

Tom laid his head on the padded rest and willed his legs to stop trembling.

Leaning forward, the doctor stared intently below the rumple of paper gown over Tom’s stomach.

He poised the scalpel for the first cut.

 

Purchase options:

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Kindle (.mobi) Amazon
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What writers are saying:

“Lee Howard stitches together a story where the suspense never lets up.” –Ron Edison

“THE SIXTH SEED abducted my imagination and unsettled me with its pitch-perfect blend of science fiction, body horror and domestic terror. What a weird read!” –Michael A. Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Proverbs for Monsters

“Lee Allen Howard is an imaginative writer with slick, vivid prose and high octane pacing. He writes like no one else, and I mean this in a very good way.” –Trent Zelazny, author of Fractal Despondency

“Howard brings alien invasion up close and personal… buckle up for a thrill ride.” –Scott Nicholson, author of Liquid Fear


“Howard’s Bookshelf” at Midwest Book Review

Hey, I got my own “bookshelf” at Midwest Book Review’s website this month.

Check out my reviews of Barbie Wilde’s THE VENUS COMPLEX and Carlton Mellick III’s QUICKSAND HOUSE. Here’s the link:

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/oct_13.htm#howard

Also, search the site from the home page for “Michael A. Arnzen” to read my review of PLAY DEAD.

I hope to write more reviews for MBR. Let me know what you think.


The Creepier, the Better

I’ve been wanting to post this for months, but I’m just getting around to it.

My motto for 2013 is this:

THE CREEPIER, THE BETTER

Instead of being ashamed that I’m creepy (and I’ve been creepy since a very young age), since writing my Arnzstigation, I’ve decided to exult in my creepiness! It’s something that contributes to my uniqueness, and I’m going to capitalize on it. (Thank you to Mike Arnzen for setting me free.) And thanks to John Edward Lawson, I got this great graphic:

The Creepier, the Better

I’ve been buying creepy art for my home:

Creepy Art

And I’ve started to wear creepy jewelry:

Skull Ring

In the first quarter of this year, I wrote the creepiest and most disturbing novel I’ve ever written. Read more about THE BEDWETTER here.

What is the result of all this creepiness? I’M REALLY FREAKING HAPPY! It’s good to be creepy; it’s good to be me!

I just watched this nine-minute video about the nature of creepiness and loved it:

In the latest installment of VSauce, Michael Stevens takes a fascinating look at the subtler qualities of “scary stuff,” with a special emphasis on terror and creepiness – feelings he argues stem primarily from a sense of ambiguity:

Creepy things are kind of an ambiguity but they’re also kind of not, so our brains don’t know what to do. Some parts respond with fear, while other parts don’t, and they don’t know why. So instead of achieving a typical fear response – horror – we simply feel uneasy. Terror. Creeped out. Between the mountains of safety and danger there is a valley of creepiness, where the limits of our trust and knowledge and security aren’t very clear.

Watch “What Makes Creepy Things Creepy.”

Like my Facebook author page, and you’ll get a 9:00 a.m. #creepyphotos post every day.

Are you creeped out yet? If so, my work is done.

Now I’m going to go read a scholarly study titled, “On the Nature of Creepiness,” by Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke, Knox College, 2013. Because I’m not just creepy, I’m seriously creepy!

“Creepy people are unable to change, but they do not necessarily have bad intentions.”
–McAndrew & Koehnke

So, I can’t help myself. And exactly what my intentions are remains to be seen…


Coming Soon: HYSTERIA by Stephanie M. Wytovich

HYSTERIA by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Asylums once used to confine those deemed mentally unfit to linger, forgotten behind trees or urban development, beautiful yet desolate in their decay. Within them festers something far more unnerving than unlit corners or unexplained noises: the case files left to moulder out of sight, out of conscience.

Stephanie M. Wytovich forces your hands upon these crumbling, warped binders and exposes your mind to every taboo misfortune experienced by the outcast, exiled, misbegotten monsters and victims who have walked among us. The poetry contained in Hysteria performs internal body modification on its readers in an unrelenting fashion, employing broad-spectrum brutality treatment that spans the physical to the societal, as noted in Stoker Award winner Michael A. Arnzen’s incisive introduction.

HYSTERIA: A Collection of Madness by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Introduction by Michael A. Arnzen

Cover art by Steven Archer.

Collection of horror poetry coming in paperback from Raw Dog Screaming Press this summer

Raw Dog Screaming Press


Book Review: INSTIGATION by Michael A. Arnzen

INSTIGATION: Writing Prompts on the Dark Side by Michael A. Arnzen from Mastication Publications

“Where do you get your ideas?” Since it’s not cool to say, “From fantasizing about strangling the living shit out of you,” I’m telling everyone, “From Mike Arnzen’s Instigation: Writing Prompts on the Dark Side.”

Michael A. Arnzen, PhD, is an award-winning author of horror fiction (four Bram Stoker awards), an English professor at Seton Hill University, and a mentor in their Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, of which I’m an alum (with an MA).

INSTIGATION: Writing Prompts on the Dark Side by Michael A. Arnzen

INSTIGATION by Michael A. Arnzen,
from Mastication Publications

Over a decade ago, he began writing a column for Hellnotes journal called “Instigation,” which provided not only creative—but darkly creative—writing prompts for writers. He continued this tradition at Gorelets.com and in his Goreletter (totally worth subscribing to). Arnzen has expanded his original collection of prompts and revised, updated, organized, and supplemented it into a terrific resource for creative writers on the dark side.

I recently downloaded INSTIGATION and gave it a spin. I’m so glad I did.

In “Here Comes the Fork: An Introduction,” Arnzen discusses writer’s block and creative desiccation, and how writing prompts can get the imaginative juices seeping again.

One trick to getting started is to sidestep the burden of coming up with ideas or a plot first. That’s what a prompt does — it challenges the writer to respond without having to worry too much about premise or plot. It hands you a deck of cards and maybe even the rules too and encourages you to simply start dealing them out.

Yet for the writer of dark fiction, most writing prompts fall short, providing only inspiration. “Rarely,” he says, “do they push you to do something truly weird, taboo, goofy or unthinkable (ergo, original).” Sure, your plot and writing may follow typical form, but Arnzen believes that “the best genre fiction always marries convention with invention.” And that’s where his envelope-pushing prompts slither in.

Arnzen suggests successful usage in “How to Use This Book,” while advising that, when writing, the best counsel is, “Do whatever works.” This may involve journaling or freewriting.

“365 Sick Scenarios” lists a story starter for every night of the year, with prompts like: “Create a numbered list: ‘Rules for Human Hunting'” and “Clot a wound or make a tourniquet with an unexpected object.”

“Spurs: 31 Turns for the Worst” includes prompts for works in progress—when you need a jab in the flank by your demon rider to “take things in an unexpected direction.” Like “Torment with temperature” (a creative way of saying turn up the heat on your character).

“Resurrections” are prompts that will help bring your story “back from the dead” during revision. This will come in handy for me soon.

“Memoir Mayhem” is a collection of journal prompts to inspire you beyond the realm of dark fiction.

The D.I.Y. section, “The Devil Made You Do It Yourself,” enables you to customize his prompts or come up with your own writing exercises. I particularly like “The Monster Mash” and “Weird Sins.”

All these sections are numbered with a scheme so that you can do a random search to pick a prompt out of the skull cap.

INSTIGATION concludes with a few short articles to help you overcome writer’s block. (Which makes me think of a chopping block. “Stick your neck out and write, or just stick your neck out.” How’s that for inspiration and encouragement? You only have me to blame for this prompt, I’m afraid.)

Arnzen encourages INSTIGATION users to write their own material and drop him a line to get a link to their work posted in his “Instigation Showcase.”

My favorite phrase from the book: “sloshing, galumphing breasts.” To find out what that’s all about, writer, get your copy of INSTIGATION: Writing Prompts on the Dark Side by Mastication Publications, providing “Unusual Ideas to Chew On.” Ebook formats include Kindle (.mobi), Nook (.epub), and PDF. Only $3.99.

Subscribe to the Mastication newsletter, and get a 25% off discount code!

Then incise an artery and start writing.

Mike Arnzen is also the creator of “The Refrigerator of the Damned” magnetic poetry kit. Take down your kids’ drawings and post a horrific poem about how they cried. Get your kit at Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Search for #TFOTD on Twitter. Follow @MikeArnzen and Like his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/gorelets.

I describe how Mike Arzen has inspired me in How Arnzstigation Set Me Free.


How Arnzstigation Set Me Free


 
Arnzstigation Days


When I was earning my master’s in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, professor of dark literature extraordinaire Michael A. Arnzen was my mentor while I wrote my thesis novel, DEATH PERCEPTION.

Besides being a terrific teacher with a great sense of humor, Mike is super creative in supporting the careers of fledgling writers. In his critique of DEATH PERCEPTION, I’ll never forget one suggestion he made about protagonist Kennet Singleton. Mike pointed out that he could get revenge through fire, which, as a crematory operator, is Kennet’s element. My book is so much better for his input.

So is my career. As I’ve struggled to honor the ideas that come to me, however twisted, Arnzen taught me that it’s okay to be dark, and that I must go there without flinching. In the past my darkness has gotten the better of me and laid me low more times than I can count. But since I posted a Facebook status about a month ago, all Arnzen’s past advice seemed to jell like clotting blood. “I exult in my creepiness!”

Arnzstigation set me free. I’m now working on the darkest story I’ve ever written, and it’s sharp as a scalpel.

I post this with gratitude for Dr. Arnzen’s influence and support. And I want to tell you about a brilliant project he’s got going…

You know those magnetic poetry kits you can assemble into verses on your refrigerator door? Arnzen has created one for the darkly inspired, with words like headshot, grotesque, and embalmed. Here’s a sample that also showcases his photographic talents.

The project is called Fridge of the Damned. Although phase 1 is fully funded, providing the capital to produce the magnets, there’s still a push to complete phase 2 of funding so that the magnets can be packaged in custom tin boxes. (Phase 2 goal is $2700.) I’d much rather have a tin box than a plastic bag, wouldn’t you? (Especially if it contains something severed and dripping.)

There are plenty of support levels, and every bit helps. You get the coolest premiums! I know I want at least one set of magnets—packaged in custom tins, (un)naturally. E-books, too. Did I mention Mike is an award-winning poet and micro fiction writer?

If you are a lover of horror, you must get his stuff, and supporting Fridge of the Damned is a great way to kill two birds with one donation.

There’s only a week left. Please support now, and support big. This project and its creator are worth it. Besides enabling this creative dark poetry kit to be packaged in style, you’ll be able to damn your refrigerator—as if the tender parts packaged inside weren’t enough.

Support Fridge of the Damned Magnetic Poetry Kit Kickstarter Project Now

I Survived the Arnzstigation
Thank you. I’m all about making someone’s nightmare come true.

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads. –Erica Jong

Who else is behind the project:

Connect with Michael A. Arnzen at gorelets.com.


Hazard Yet Forward for Donna Munro

Ginormous Multi-author Genre Anthology to Benefit Seton Hill University Alum

Hazard Yet ForwardSeventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program contributed to a multi-genre anthology, HAZARD YET FORWARD. All proceeds from this project benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program. Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. An active member of the SHU WPF alumni committee, Munro helps organize the school’s annual writing conference, In Your Write Mind.

To aid Munro and her family, faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the Writing Popular Fiction program immediately responded to compile this massive anthology. The book features flash fiction, short stories and a full-length novella. There are 75 works total from various genres—literally, something for everyone—ranging from horror to romance to mystery, and everything in between.

Notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominee Lawrence C. Connolly, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Readers’ Award winner Timons Esaias and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.

HAZARD YET FORWARD co-compiler Matt Duvall says, “It’s an unprecedented collection of stories from every genre imaginable.” This large volume is an electronic book for the popular Kindle platform and is available for purchase through Amazon, reasonably priced at $9.99.

When I heard about the project, I quickly responded by contributing my story “Mixed Breed, Loves Kids.” Donna was my sponsor when I entered the program in 2004, and she does so much for the WPF program. She’s an all-around fantastic person; I want to support her while she conquers breast cancer.

You can order HAZARD YET FORWARD here.

You can find more information about the anthology at http://hazardyetforward.wordpress.com. To learn about the unique and exciting Writing Popular Fiction program, visit http://www.setonhill.edu/academics/fiction/.