Christopher Powers in Shotgun! Webzine (Spotlight)
Deadlights Horror Fiction Magazine has a free online webzine called Shotgun. Overall, both publications are great places to get your horror fix. I took a close look at Shotgun and found the stories to be carefully selected and exceptionally edited. The fact that it can be read for free is also really exciting for both authors and readers alike. Shotgun is also aesthetically appealing in terms of the covers and the interior layout.
My only critique is that the print is a bit small. I read it on my laptop and still had to train my eyes to read such tiny print. If my wish comes true, they will figure out a way to enlarge the text to make it easier on readers. Nonetheless, if you haven’t given this publication a read, I highly recommend it.
I wanted to spotlight a particular up and coming dark fiction writer, Christopher Powers, so I sought out three Shotgun issues to find his work.
My Thoughts on the Three Stories:
Powers’ “The Red Door” is featured in the 2016 Halloween issue. In it the protagonist keeps having a bad dream about a storage room behind a local diner’s counter. The nightmares are so bad that he ends up losing his fiancé and his mind. His therapist encourages him to face his fears and actually go into the closet. That’s all I will tell you, since you absolutely need to read what happens. Of course this is a metaphor for the boogeyman, or our shadow selves that we can’t really bring ourselves to face. And, the question is this: is therapy and facing our greatest fears really something that makes us feel better? Well, Powers has his own spin on that. Everything isn’t answered in the tale, but the author really gets you thinking. And that’s something that I always enjoy.
“The Bungee Jump” appears in the November 2016 issue. This is my absolute favorite of the Powers trio. He has a wonderful sense of story pacing, and he somehow gets you to care about the characters with very few clues. And, Powers’ sentences and descriptions are extremely polished. This story is really short, only two pages, yet it packs a Powers-ful punch (see what I did there?). Powers takes a simple idea of leaping for the sake of a thrill and turns it into something extremely dark. For me, the story had this “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” feel to it. The piece is so artfully done that I had to go back and read it a few more times. Just one of the amazing sentences: “He drops through the air like a giant crucifix, twisting and twirling, the wind whipping by like a thousand ghost kisses.” And, there’s more where that came from…
“Ghosts of the Artic North” is included in the 2016 Christmas issue. Again, Powers sets up the story, not wasting any time. He spends a little bit of the page getting us emotionally attached to a group of men who brave the North Pole for work. One of the men has taken a letter from his young daughter so that he can give it to Santa for her. Meanwhile, the men keep noticing that they are not alone out there. Much like in the classic horror movie The Thing, we are wondering what could possibly be lurking out in the cold. Unlike the cheesy ‘80s special effects in the movie, Powers has something else in store for these characters. You will have to read to find out what the heck it is that they fear. Is it real or imagined and will the men make it out alive?
Overall, I say give Deadlights a gander, both their primary magazine and the free webzine. They are putting out some excellent fiction. And, be sure to watch out for anything else Christopher Powers writes. I’m sure that his dark imagination has lots in store for horror readers everywhere.