Exclusively on Amazon.com (free on Kindle Unlimited) the ebook STYGIAN DOORWAYS is available for download. Stygian Doorways is a collection of three short stories, SWINE CITY, THE CENTURY COVEN, and DEVIL MUSIC along with a bonus flash fiction story HER SPIRAL CITY. These weird, horror tales are three of the first that I had ever written. Returning to revise/edit these a number of times during the last year, I have uncovered and honed their uncomfortable hearts long after I first conceived them.
While the three stories were imagined separately and have different voices, there is a commonality, however inadvertent, I noticed during the numerous edits and revisions to the plots and themes. I symbolized these similarities in the title: doors leading to uneasy places where it is necessary in one way or another to reconcile mortality, choice, scarcity, and the other existential limitations of our imperfect humanity. The adjective Stygian suggests the approach to these philosophic concepts in what I would image the shores of the river Styx to be: bleak, unyielding, uncompromising, but exciting too in its lack of pretense that constantly bombards us. Additionally, like death, once these doors are passed there is no going back. What is learned cannot be unlearned; as Sartre would say- there are No Exits. Without conscious effort the three stories explore this common ground not professing any revelations except those of dispelling some trite platitudes, spitting on idols, and an admission of what is not (and can never be) known.
Here is the back cover book description:
There are well-lit doors we pass through every day, ordinary entrances and exits leading to and from the mundane. So too, are there hidden, secret doors shrouded in hazy smoke and fire to odd places not on any map. Some lead to abstract, slippery worlds, others to rigid and cruel alcoves. These Stygian doorways, much like the namesake river of the dead, are only entrances. Like death, once they are passed there is no going back, any change permanent and merciless. These are the stories of three such doors.
SWINE CITY – Las Vegas, a city unlike any other, has many doors. Its barrage of lights, games, money, and noise distract and cover its terrible, deserted areas. Get lost in the flashing fury by forgetting what in our lives is most important and what grounds us, can lead to one of these doors where the desert bedrock crumbles into the dark, hungry heart of the city.
THE CENTURY COVEN – Some rooms have many entrances, others only one, kept hidden for special circumstance. Once a century on Halloween night, a morose coven opens a portal inviting the town’s children to enter. The witches commence a game with many rules and theatrics, but the tradition has grown stale. One crone plays a game within a game, reminding her sisters of the true spirit rotting behind this door.
DEVIL MUSIC – Music has curative powers for both body and soul, but for one man, they evoke profound feelings of dread. A curious event from youth may hold the key for a remedy, but memories can be capricious. Synapse and nerve create an elusive library of millions of revolving doors. Which to choose? What to believe? In a world filled with background music, his despair pushes him to the breaking point.
Also included, HER SPIRAL CITY: bonus weird, existential short. When there are no doors, unfortunately, one can always be made.
For those who have read Stygian Doorways, thank you. I hope it delivered a disquieting excursion into the land of Hell is other people. -S.E. Casey