HEXES: “Hell at Last,” Special Issue

Original image © Rick Blackwell

[INSIDE FRONT]

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LIMITED TIME!!

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A Very Fast Descent into Hell eBook / Kindle edition, Only 99¢

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SIX DAYS ONLY (on the 7th, you’re fucked)

NOW THROUGH APRIL 28

E n d – A d v e r t

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Welcome to a very special issue of HEXES, the monday spectra—HELL AT LAST! Collectors, save these webpages. They will be worth money! Download time-signatures for both html and screencaps will be verified, so act now!

(Oh, fuck that voice.)

HERE BE COLLECTED CERTAIN ARTIFACT AND RELICS pertaining to my first novel, which I first self-published 12 years ago and came THIS CLOSE to being made “legitimate” by publishers not once, not twice, but three times, comrades (Knopf, ROC, and Underland, respectively), is now finally available in eBook format. Ghouls and gravediggers will find what they seek here. Do not complain to the management if teeth are cracked when seeking sustenance from these meager twigs!

(Check VOICE please.)

The Table of Contents:

The Reviews

The Art

The Covers

The Deleted Scenes

Shall we?

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THE REVIEWS

(These reviews originally appeared both online and in print, and are not currently available via the internet.) 

From The Will of Instinct

This book was recommended to me by my buddy, Marc.  In fact, he loaned me his copy which I got around to reading this week.  AFDIH (I’m not typing the whole damned name) by Simon Drax is a horror fantasy set in the near apocalyptic future.  It tells the tale of a demon, Darius, remembering a shadowy past, a fallen priest, Phelan, searching for immortality in blood and desecration, the spirit of the earth, Ryder,  who has fallen in love with a human, Lucretia, who detests him and another women, Catherine, bent on destroying the hollow priest.  Sounds like a comedy, right?

errr…nooooooo.

This is a dark tale of the end of days without a happy ending (whodathunkit?).  It’s got gore and action and horror and disturbing sights galore.  It’s a very quick tale that rolls along at a rapid pace occasionally changing the point of view between Darius, Phelan and Catherine.  Drax’s writing is good, and he has a very keen use of description to really sell his gore.  For example, when he describes how Phelan first met and killed a demon, he lets it take the form of a human child.  As disturbing as the image of a child with a mouth that is an abyss of jagged teeth can be, Drax takes it one step further by detailing the black gore that drips from the pink genitals of the child.

Groooooossssssssss.

I agree.  That is a disturbing image that will likely haunt my nightmares for a while, but it’s also a testament to a writer who can provide those little details to separate his work from others in this genre.  Truly, the book is well written, though there were parts of it I wish I could have seen more.  The tale of the demons departure to another world where they can rape and pillage was intriguing, and I wish there was more of it.  The idea of a hollow priest who creates monsters of bio-engineering in the search for immortality was intriguing.  The story of an Archeon falling in love with a human who detests him is intriguing.  The main word here is “intriguing” and is quickly followed by “I wanted more.”

That, unfortunately, was my final feeling on this book.  Great idea……but where’s the rest of it.  Don’t tease me and then leave me wanting.  I just wish there had been more depth to the book.  Tack on another 300 pages of back story and further character development and I’d be happy.  Please note, that’s not a shot against the book.  It’s still worth reading as Drax’s stylistic descriptions border on poetry – diseased poetry – but still poetry none-the-less.

I liked the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a little horror now and then.  It’s a quick read and worth picking up if you can find it.

The Will of Instinct (Personal Website), (2002-3?)

This guy made designs for every book he read & reviewed.  Nice site!

I wrote & thanked him for running the review. Don’t think he ever wrote back.

From Scary Monsters Magazine 

A Very Fast Descent Into Hell is a very different kind of horror story. One unlike any other on book racks today. It is a remarkably simple, but beautiful parable. A story that is gritty, sharp, and pensive…

Laying down a tight plot and writing crisp, clean prose, its creator, Simon Drax, deftly propels the chilling narrative through the bleak landscape of mankind’s possible last days. Along the way, Drax offers us a prophetic vision of our best chance for survival. Like all good storytellers, Drax, as he is known to a growing number of fans, wastes no time diving into the action. He quickly introduces us to Robert Phelan, a hollow priest burned out by near immortality, a horrific bloodlust, and centuries of self-loathing. We first meet Phelan as he tries to ingratiate himself to Darius Kane, boasting to Kane about the depth of his evilness and the stupidity of his wretched disciples. Although his pathetic flock looks to Phelan for salvation, the deceitful priest offers little in the way of redemption, preferring to prey on his congregation’s useless prayers and fading dreams.

Weary of the wasteland earth has become, Kane is cooly unimpressed with Phelan. Even though Kane is earth’s last remaining demon, he is fast losing his taste for the sufferings of mankind. Soon after meeting Phelan, Kane begins questioning his own demonic existence and attempts to find his true place in the world. Although Darius Kane is a spawn from the deepest corridors of Hell, it’s hard not to think of him as truly a man instead. Drax’s sympathetic portrayal of Kane’s personal growth and indomitable human spirit is one of the most compelling reasons to read this book. While Phelan’s story is one of eternal damnation, Kane’s is one of eventual liberation.

Phelan and Kane both play a pivotal role in the world’s fate, but the true destiny of humanity actually rests with the mysterious, white-haired man known simply as Ryder. Kane and Phelan both owe allegiance to Ryder, but for two entirely different reasons. Kane reluctantly looks to Ryder for enlightenment about the mortal inhabitants of earth, but Phelan eagerly seeks Ryder’s favor because of his personal quest for raw, dark power. The endgame these three play at the edge of the world will eventually decide the ultimate judgement of mankind.

Drax’s short fiction has appeared in several small horror magazines, including Fever, Bonesaw, After Hours, and Midnight Zoo. Besides writing fiction, Drax is a regular film reviewer for VideoScope and his love of movies is apparent in his first book. In some ways, reading A Very Fast Descent Into Hell is like watching a great horror movie. The vivid mind pictures Drax paints are often more colorful than the sharpest celluloid images found on the big screen. Like the unwinding frames of a film masterpiece, the inhabitants of A Very Fast Descent Into Hell will become more and more alive as you turn each page. A dry wind will blow across a desolate land… Yellow dust will fall from the thick desert air… The acrid smell of spilt blood will sting your nostrils…

As you can see, the book’s intense scenes and penetrating characters still burn brilliantly in my mind, weeks after I have finished the last page. And I wonder if Darius Kane has…

Well, that would spoil the story for you, wouldn’t it? Let’s just say that horror is exciting again — and imaginative and creative. The way it should be. As Drax would say, “rock on!”

— Joseph C. Romano, Scary Monsters Magazine 

From Fandom.com

An interesting combination of splatterpunk and dark fantasy
It`s the end of the world (yes, again) and things are pretty rotten. In fact, since the world`s already gone to Hell, Theron Skoth, father of all demons, has gathered his vast brood upon an abandoned aircraft carrier to find a new home out among the stars. Only the demon Darius Kane is staying behind, because he made a promise to Ryder, the Grim One. Normally, Darius would think nothing of breaking a promise. He`s a demon, after all! Yet, Darius is troubled by visions of his dead sister, Armida. Also, he wants to see just what sort of vengeance Ryder will extract from Father Phelan, the Hollow Priest. 
 
As the world continues to crumble and the Wasted Lands expand in the aftermath of The Last War, Darius Kane stumbles upon Phelan, an immortal man with an immoral heart who just may be at the root of Earth`s destruction. After all, his experiments into finding the secret of immortality were at the behest of Ryder, a being whole and complete when the Earth was still a cooling cinder. Ryder`s love for the child Lucretia lead the Archeon to seek out Phelan, a man born immortal and with the power to sway believers with the most outrageous of lies. He commissioned Phelan to make Lucretia immortal, so he might not exist in loneliness anymore, shunned by mankind as he is. From this seemingly impossible task spring the actions and events that will ultimately see the death of our world—or will it? For, as long as there is hope and spirit, can a world truly die? 
 
Drax, a film journalist best known for his contributions to The Phantom of the Movies’ VIDEOSCOPE magazine (www.videoscopemag.com), has crafted an interesting combination of splatterpunk and dark fantasy with his debut novel. There are scenes of visceral violence and extreme gore, as well as scenes of intense emotion, pain, and insanity. Darius Kane is a fascinating creation, a character full of pain, doubt, and false confidence. Father Phelan, the immortal Hollow Priest, allows Drax to take all sorts of stabs at religion and faith, but they aren`t just pot-shots. Many of the questions and doubts he raises are surely things readers have asked or felt themselves. Then, there is Ryder, a godlike being, a titan, who has roamed the Earth for endless millennia in search of a companion. His longings are torturous, but his solutions are ultimately self-destructive. Catherine, the lone human in our tale, starts out as one of Phelan`s followers, but she recognizes the false priest for what he truly is, so he condemns her as a witch and sentences her to burn at the stake. Although he has no love for humans, Darius decides it will be “fun” to free her. He later comes to understand her true nature and purpose, and will ultimately pit his life against her survival on more than one occasion. 
 
A VERY FAST DESCENT INTO HELL might not be every fantasy or horror fan’s cup of blood, but it does pack a nice, juicy punch for those tired of the same old D&D or VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE rehashes. 
— Dan Cziraky, Fandom.com
 (This reviewer also penned a similar text which appeared in VideoScope)

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THE ART

DESCENT character studies by Brian Dow

 Phelan

 Lucretia

 Two faces of Darius  

Ryder and Phelan

Brian Dow is an illustrator par excellence and an old friend.

Visit him at  briandowstudio.com

DESCENT’s Dramatis Personea by Victor Ramon Mojica

 — Victor Ramon Mojica

and behold, King Unicorn | EC Steiner

Saint Catherine and foes, lovingly rendered by

EC Steiner | King Unicorn

[and there is one missing piece by GF Studio]

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THE COVERS

Brian Boucher

12E Design

Paul DiNovo

The final variations based on Paul’s original elements

 •

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THE DELETED SCENE(S)

These scenes were meant to fatten Darius’s crossing of the Wasted Lands (Chapter 4 in the current edition, “His Beloved Lands of Dust”) and at the same time dramatize the plight of desperate human survivors in the face of unstoppable apocalypse. Contained also in these scenes is the fate of The Judge, first introduced in these pages here. But none of that, and none of what follows below, appears in the current eBook edition.

In the morning the humans couldn’t rouse the man with terrible burns. They splashed precious water on his face, they poked and prodded, they said the man’s name again and again. Finally Darius couldn’t stand it anymore. “He’s dead, you idiots.”

“How can you be sure? We thought he was dead once before, but…”

“He’s dead.” Darius rose from the spot he had sat all night. He faced the ragged pack of humans. “I listened to his death rattle less than an hour ago.”

“And you didn’t help him—?!”

“Oh, Skoth…”

“We should bury him. Poor Marcus.”

“Oh Skoth! Let’s find this priest person and be done with it!” It galled Darius to depend on this pitiful band, but until Darius determined the length—and limits—of his powers in this place, the humans seemed the only ones with any sense of direction. “Just leave him,” Darius said.

“Yes, leave him,” echoed The Judge, slipping out of the plane wreck to stand tall and cruel in the glare of the crimson sun. “Leave him to rot. Let his carcass mark the trail of dead I have passed through these lands, for I am The Judge, and I will never die.”

“Whoa-huh-ho,” Darius mocked, but if The Judge heard, he gave no notice. “Let’s go,” Darius commanded the humans.

So they left the man with terrible burns unburied where he lay. They went west,  heads down, the sun at their backs. And it wasn’t long before the boy with no eyes fell into pace beside Darius.

“What is it now?” Darius grumbled.

“You… you know what we’re looking for,” the boy haltingly began. “But why are you here? Really.”

“I told you, socket-face. I seek the priest, too.”

“He calls you, but you don’t heed his call. There is something cold and dark inside of you.”

Darius grunted. “You have no idea.”

“I fear you carry something very bad to the priest.”

Tell him, Darius, Ryder had said. Tell the priest I am coming to suck the marrow from his bones, coming to feast on his foul heart. Tell him Darius, or share his fate.

“Just a message from a friend,” Darius said to the boy. “Nothing more.”

“And then?”

“And then…” Darius actually thought about it. He thought of his father. “I inherit a planet of dust.”

“Oh, not dust!” the boy with no eyes said. “Not yet!”

Darius wanted to say Look around fool, but said instead, “Trust me, it’s dust. Everything’s dead.”

“Really? Then what’s that smell?”

“What smell?”

“That way.” And the boy pointed.

Darius puzzled first at the boy, then in the direction he pointed. “There’s nothing…”

Darius looked again.

Pale fingers of smoke rose on the distant horizon.

“The others,” the boy said.

Darius scowled. “Probably just another plane crash…” But the old man and the woman with the dead baby had spotted the smoke too; the old man threw his arms up and out, releasing a soft cloud of bugs from his chest as he proclaimed to the sky, “THE OTHERS! THE OTHERS!” and even the woman with the dead baby smiled, and the boy breathed again with quiet victory, “The others.”

 “THE OTHERS!” the old man bellowed.

“Evol, kill me me now,” Darius winced, and he shot a glance at The Judge. The tall man merely frowned, impenetrable. Darius shrugged and quickened his pace, because weak as they were, the crazy fucking humans scampered ahead and limped with unexpected speed toward the grey pillars of smoke. “THE OTHERS!”

“Come on, gruesome,” Darius said over his shoulder to The Judge. “Let’s go see the others.”

Even Darius was fairly amazed by what they found.

It more than a village, less than a city. It was walled and fairly clean, an orderly compound of tents and little buildings. At the center of town machines chugged and issued soft plumes of steam. Humans moved peacefully through the modest paths and streets. The people weren’t without dirt but they weren’t filthy; their faces were serious with the strain of their exertions but they did not wear grimaces of pain. There were whispers of electronic chatter, tinny music, even laughter. Darius and the pathetic travelers moved through the little streets as if in a daze.

The Judge looked upon it all and frowned, very grim. “This is not right.”

“It’s amazing,” breathed the boy with no eyes, and he poked Darius excitedly. “See, see?! Not dust, not yet!”

“It is something,” admitted the woman with the dead baby.

“Something wrong,” spoke The Judge.

“Brothers! Sisters!” the old man boomed to all he passed. “Have you heard the good news?!”

“Hey, is there one among you called the priest?” Darius asked sharply. “Hey, you! Towel head! Yes, you. Looking for a priest. Hollow guy. Real Holy Roller. Seen him?”

“Who?” a few people asked.

“The priest,” the old man said. “The one who calls us, the one who will save us!”

“No priest here,” said a woman who paused to study the pathetic little band. She had a dusty cybernetic arm, and wires coiled from her ear that ended in a plug at the back of her neck. “No priests. We’re scientists, craftsmen, farmers. People who haven’t given up. Maybe it would be best if you and your friends kept moving.”

“But the priest can remake the world, only if we believe!” the old man cried. “Only if we listen to the word!”

“We’ve had enough of holy words remaking the world,” said a burly man as he set down a basket of freshly baked bread. “Maybe you should take our advice. Move on.”

By now a little crowd of curious onlookers had gathered.

“Our one hope of salvation lies with the priest!” the old man cried.

The onlookers shook their heads and began to mutter threatening sounds. The Judge stood aloof and glowering.

“They’re not listening, Jonathan,” hushed the woman with the dead baby. “Maybe we should go…”

“You should eat something,” one of the villagers said. “At least take some food for the rest of your journey.”

“I do not eat,” said The Judge, “and I do not like any of this.”

“Let them eat, come on,” said the boy with no eyes to Darius, and excitedly he pulled Darius down a path.

“Shaa!” Darius complained. “What, where are we going?”

“You see?” the boy said. “They’re still living. They’re still fighting! They’re planting and harvesting food, they have water! Even if they choose to not follow the priest, a piece of the world still lives!”

“But for how much longer?” Darius said.

“What matters is that—” The boy stopped short, cocking his ear to one side, listening intently. They had stopped before a tent from which issued the artificial sounds of music and voices. “It can’t be…” the boy whispered.

He slipped inside the tent, and after a moment Darius followed.

More than a dozen children sat huddled around an ancient video monitor hooked to a massive battery. The video screen displayed a garish blur of color and noise, explosions, stylized cartoon humans screaming at each other, “Fire the missiles!”

 “Oh my god,” the boy said. “Doomtroopers. I haven’t seen it since… Since I could see. I used to love this cartoon.”

Darius snickered. “You can’t see it now!”

“I can hear it,” the boy said. “It’s almost as good.”

“THIS is the crap you think is worth preserving, this foul ugly cartoon is part of the world you wish to save?!”

“This is worth saving,” the boy said, and he thumped his palm on his chest. “If it quickens my heart—and these children’s hearts—then it’s worth saving.”

Darius thought it would be truly wicked if he blew up the monitor and reduced all the human brats to tears. He raised his hand to make it happen…

…when an ear-piecing scream ripped from beyond the tent.

Darius and the boy slipped outside. Humans ran past, their faces streaked with fear. More screams mingled with the din of violence. And then the woman with the dead baby was there, yelling.

“It’s The Judge!” she cried. “He killed Jonathan, he’s killing them all!”

“What…” Darius began, not really caring.

“Stop him!” the woman begged. “He’s killing everybody!”

Darius sighed, pushed through the avalanche of fleeing humans and strode back to the square.

Bedlam.

The Judge stood over a pile of corpses, his arms flailing, his big hands swatting away all who rushed in to subdue him. “DEAD!” The Judge roared, striking down all who came within his reach. “This is the former world! It has passed away! I judge it DEAD!”

Peel of gunshots. The bullets pounded holes through The Judge’s flesh but impaired him not. He reached down and ripped out a man’s rib cage in a spectacular shower of gore. And then The Judge’s eyes fell upon Darius.

“And YOU!” he bellowed, ripping through the pathetic humans to stomp a path of blood to Darius. “I know your name! And your name is GUILTY!”

The Judge’s massive hands fell upon Darius’s head and wrenched him aloft. Darius grimaced but he couldn’t break free. “GUILTY,” The Judge said, his teeth white, his eyes blank and separate hells that seemed to draw Darius closer, closer. Darius strained to break free, his own eyes squeezing shut…

“GUILTY!”

…and Darius was somewhere else.

A memory. Her mouth was red, swollen, still moving, still forming his name—but she was dead. Darius, her dead lips spoke, Darius. Her heart had been ripped from her breast. Blood and white lace. The blood trickled to the black earth. The wind spoke like soft laughter. Above, a skeletal canopy of winter trees and darkening sky. She jutted from the earth like a weird flower; she’d been buried in the ground to her waist. And still her dead lips moved. Darius…

“Well done,” his father had told him.

Darius opened his eyes to The Judge and screamed.

The scream was a shockwave, a violent pulse of destructive force that ripped through The Judge, peeling his face away in layers and shreds, revealing the dull white of the skull beneath. And then The Judge exploded.

But Darius screamed still. The sound ripped the entire section of the village asunder and heaved rock and earth and dust into the sky. His pupils contracted, disappeared; his black hair flowed like kelp. He howled with a fury he had never vented, a pain he had never acknowledged. The ground of the village cracked and splintered, spewed vents of noxious gas. Darius screamed until he could scream no more, and with a strangled growl he lowered his face to his claws. The earthen rubble he had sent hurling into the sky fell crashing about him. He crouched in the center of the crater he’d made as the sky rained rocks. He sat for long seconds, listening to the crackle of fire and pain-wracked voices.

Finally Darius lifted his head.

The village was in flames, the dead too many to count.

“Look at what you brought us.” It was the woman with the cybernetic arm. “Look at what your words of a savior has delivered. Death and pain!”

“I didn’t…” Darius began weakly.

“Be gone,” the villagers who were still alive howled. “Be gone!” And a rock was hurled. Seconds later, another rock. Then many.

“Come on,” the woman with the dead baby hissed, tugging Darius up.

“But the boy…”

“Dead,” the woman told him. “Your explosion sheared him in half. Let’s go!”

And Darius and the woman (and her dead child) stumbled out of the burning village, pelted by rocks. But there was something strange in Darius’s head. Not just the memory, something else. A voice calling Come, Come. They fled the village.

Come, the voice called.

Darius thought of the boy with no eyes. He had finally heard the voice of the priest.

© Simon Drax | Yes I claim ownership | dreadful though it be

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[INSIDE BACK]

A  d  v  e  r  t

DID JESUS REALLY DESCEND INTO HELL? by Rev. Anthony R. Locke Jesus descended into the full experience of our Hell while hanging on the cross. Surprisingly, many Christians don’t understand this.

Click to download a PDF of the first 24 pages of In Defense of the Descent by Rev. Daniel R. Hyde.

When did Jesus suffer the full misery of our sin, the full measure of the pains of death, and the full cup of the wrath of God? Thomas couldn’t believe what he couldn’t see. Will you believe Jesus descended into Hell if you never get to see it?

E  n  d     A  d  v  e  r  t

Ω

3 Comments

  1. Very. Freakin. Cool. You go on with your bad self, young man.

    • Aww! Thank you, Sama.

  2. MONDAY Spectra? The mind crumbles…

    “Diseased poetry.” Classic, and yet so apt.

    What a wonderful wealth of stuff, my friend.


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