Shadowridge Press titles in detail...

Dennis Etchison
THE BLOOD KISS
Trade paperback / 6 x 9 / 274 pages / Publication date / Feb 2017
SORRY! THIS TITLE IS OUT OF PRINT

Following his first two acclaimed collections, The Dark Country and Red Dreams, Dennis Etchison's much-anticipated third volume of wildly original stories continues to redefine modern horror. From the freeway off-ramps of Los Angeles to the darkest passages of the human heart, these are the visions of a writer whose courage and imagination know no boundaries. Originally published as a limited-edition hardcover in 1988, this acclaimed collection of dark fantasy tales is at last available in a definitive new edition.

 

The Stories- A Nice, Shady Place / The Woman in Black / A Walk in the Wet / The Night of the Eye / The Spot / The Soft Wall / Somebody Like You / Bloodgame / Deadspace / Home Call / The Olympic Runner / Call 666 / Time Killer  / The Blood Kiss 

HERE'S A PREVIEW FROM THE BLOOD KISS

A NICE, SHADY PLACE

"Aw, what d'you mean you put 'em in the glove compartment?" 
She rummaged through squashed Kleenex box, pad and pencils, miniature wrench set, green and blue savings stamps.
"Darn it," she muttered under her breath. "If we left 'em home —" She ran a quick hand over her short, sun-warmed red hair and peered in deeper.
"Take it easy, Care. They're probably in your p—"
"I looked in my purse."
"Well." The boy at the wheel took his eyes from the road long enough to push in the lighter. "I think you'll live," he added quietly, fingering an unfiltered cigarette from his shirt pocket, "without shades this once."
Grudgingly she rearranged the glove compartment. "Forget it, Tad." She extended a hand sideways and he dropped the pack in her palm.
"Hey," she said around the cigarette in her orange lips, "what's the time?" She disregarded the dash clock's perpetual 8:54.
He reached for the heated lighter as it popped back, and when he was finished she caught his arm for her own light. She turned his wrist to read the watch.
"Oh, it's early. Not even one yet. We should make it to the camp before dark, shouldn't we?" Her arm came to rest on the metal of the convertible's door, and she snatched it away with a sharp intake of breath and placed her hands in her lap, over the lightly freckled golden tan of her thighs.
"I figure early this evening."
The highway had been heading up gradually for the last hour, and now it seemed steeper with every turn. The chiseled blue-black mountains were still deceptively far away. Tad pulled the car over to the gravel margin of the road. He pressed a button that raised the convertible top.
The girl parted her lips to speak; she adjusted a pearl button at the front of her blouse with the almost childlike fingers of her right hand. When she saw him removing his short-sleeved shirt, she reached without deliberation to pull his T-shirt down over his belly, as if long accustomed to making such minor adjustments.
She stretched to align herself with the rearview mirror, fingering the sides of her nose. "Am I peeling again?" she grimaced. She produced a comb and pulled it reflexly through her coarse red hair, chanting, "Oh Carrie, you're such a beaut." Then, taking advantage of the stop, she twisted over the back of the seat for a tube of cream, a white dab of which she stroked over her straight, lightly freckled nose.
"I just hope we make it by dark. I can't stand it out here at night." She shivered.
The boy smiled a wide, flat, peculiar kind of smile.
"Well," she challenged. Recapping the tube, she leaned over the seat to toss it back, but stopped in mid-turn when her eye caught a strip of white plastic protruding from under an edge of the Indian blanket.
"Well joy to the world," she exclaimed, and put on the glasses.

 

By three o'clock the sun had moved to slant less severely through the trees; the highway became an endless series of serpentine turns, walled along the left by stiff thrusting redwood arms that clutched great fistfuls of dark greenery. And around each swerve a breeze ran like a forest stream through the open car, fluttering the girl's hair again and again, mothlike, over her forehead, fluffing the ends of her strawberry-blond lashes.
Her hand slipped like a pink fish between his arm and body.
Eyes unblinking on the road, he kissed her forehead.
"Mmm. How many more miles?"
The sun splashed like silverfish through the trees.
"There's a sign pretty soon. Thirty or so." He shifted. "Why?"
"Oh." She blinked. "But I thought this would be an adventure for you, too."
"Huh?"
"I mean I guess that wasn't all bull, then, what you fed Mother about how sure you were it'd be a safe weekend for me and all." A quick break in the trees and she caught a glimpse of the valley they had left far below. "I just mean," she sighed, "I wish you'd let me know you'd been here before. I mean that's the deal, isn't it, sharing something new every weekend?"
"What do you think we're doing?" He wet his lips.
She scratched the crook of her arm with short, clear-polished nails. "Uh, you mean t' tell me—" She studied Tad's sun-reddened ears. "Well, all I can say is, you're doing a good job, for a first time, without a roadmap or anything."
"Hey, I thought we swore off arguments."
They drove.
Tad cleared his throat. "Look, may I ask what made you pick your brother's camp for today?"
"Oh nothin'," she said. "I just thought it'd make a nice trip for us, and—"
His hand tightened on the wheel. "And?"
"Nothin'."
The flesh of his arms tightened.
"Aw, you'd think it's silly."
He measured each syllable. "Carrie, I'm asking. What is it about the camp?"
"Promise not t' laugh?"
He stared unblinking past the gold coin pattern washing over the hood of the car.
"Well. There's something about the mountains I always—" She spread her hands in her lap, studying the very light scattering of freckles on the backs. "All right, I'll cop out ...I remember a couple of weeks ago, Dickie started telling me in his letters about this—this place he discovered. An old mill, you know, out in the woods somewhere? He followed the river one afternoon, he had to cross a creaky wooden bridge —
"Anyway, there inside this old waterwheel—mill—he discovered zillions of those little wet lizards, whadayou call 'em?" 
"Salamanders."
"Mm-hm. So he brought a couple of 'em back in his pocket, you know—to show the counselor. But get this: when the guy saw 'em—well, Dick said he flew off his nut, made up some oddball punishment, I can't remember..."
A sportscar swished by, stirring warm air that smelled of matted leaves into their faces.
"Carrie—"
"Wait, that's not all. We were about to call up long distance to get the whole story, when—" 
The glove compartment popped open again and she fished out an envelope and shook it open like a dust rag. In the corner was embossed the piney GREENWORTH FOR BOYS emblem.
" —When this came. 'Dear Parent,'" she read satirically.  "'It is with a genuine sense of gratification that we report that your son Richard is both relishing his summer stay here at Greenworth and establishing a sense of values...' blah, 'a deep and abiding sense of oneness with nature,' blah blah..."
"So where's the mystery?" He wet his lips.
"Wait, the last part: '...and so, during these final weeks, I am afraid we can expect that the area's many natural wonders will command the boys' full energies and attentions. Consequently, we trust you will not be distressed if your son, in the pursuit of these final golden weeks,' wow, 'is forced to neglect concerns of the outside world (letter-writing, etc.). Soon he will be re-entering your home with a new sense of purpose...' et cetera, signed 'Ray Newtson, Head Counselor.'"
"So?"
"So, isn't that the nuttiest thing you ever—"
"I'll agree it sounds pretentious."
"But Tad, have you ever heard of a summer camp encouraging kids not to write home? Why on earth would they want to do that?"
Tad stared over the wheel, unblinking.
"Unless, oh, I warned you this is crazy—unless this Newtson character is punishing Dickie in some way by preventing him from writing home."
"But it's a formality. Every parent probably gets the same letter."
"Is it? Then why is this typed personally instead of mimeographed? Aw, anyway, here's the rest.
"Mother called Dick's best buddy's mom, here—" She unsnapped her wallet to a color photo of two boys, the one with fixed black eyes snaking an arm about the smaller's shoulders. "Honey, Mrs. McCoid got no such letter about her son. Why, her Andy's the one who softsoaped Mother into finally letting Dick go this time; and the way Mrs. McCoid swore her son was a different person after last summer..."
Tad chuckled. He wet his lips.
"Aw, you're just like Mother. She couldn't see that they're pieces of a jigsaw, either. Can't you just feel something strange going on?"
Tad drove.
"Well, it must've helped persuade Mother to let me go, anyway. I gotta admit I can't make the connections yet. But it adds so much, having a real live mystery on your hands." She fingered her lobster nose. "Not that it isn't enough," she said, squeezing his arm, "getting to spend a whole weekend stranded in a cabin with my guy."

CAMP GREEN WORTH 25 mi.
U.S. GOV'T ATOMIC POWER PLANT 17 mi.

"My gosh, I didn't realize Dick was so close to the turbines—must be on the same river and everything. Got your Geiger counter? Hey, d'you know a nice shady place along here where we can stop for lunch?"
Tad wet his lips. "I told you I've never been here before."
"All right, all right, forget it." She took the picnic basket into her lap. "I thought we swore off arguments!"