Darker Days

“Wildly varied and always surprising, Darker Days is a fantastic collection of dark wonders. Cain is a gifted storyteller and a writer to watch.”  Jonathan Janz

“I’ve said before that the way to assess the health of a genre is to look at the number of excellent young writers it attracts. There is a new wave of excellent writers showing up in Horror. Kenneth W. Cain is one of these very good writers. His prose is precise, his plotting and pace move seamlessly and quickly, and his stories are compelling. Darker Days is a good example of some of his best work—highly recommended.” — Gene O’Neill, The White Plague Chronicles

“A feast for the senses no matter your tastes! Kenneth W. Cain does it again with Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction.” — Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

Darker Days, the latest collection of short stories by Kenneth W. Cain, delivers on its title’s promise. From the very first story readers are dragged into seemingly ordinary situations that serve as cover for dark secrets. Ranging from subtle horror to downright terror, from science fiction to weird fantasy, Cain demonstrates a breadth of styles that keeps you off balance as you move from one story to the next. There is something for everyone in this collection—as long as you don’t want to sleep at night!” — JG Faherty, author of The Cure, Carnival of Fear, and The Burning Time

Reviews for Embers:
“Kenneth Cain has the ability to bring up hard topics without driving them into the ground or beating you over the head with them.” — SciFi & Scary

Kenneth W. Cain is an exceptional writer. His stories never fail to provide the chills and thrills you want from a horror anthology. Highly recommended.” — Goodreads review

Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.

In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”

When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.

Includes the following stories:

  • “A Ring For His Own”
  • “Heirloom”
  • “Rust Colored Rain”
  • “Prey”
  • “Passing Time”
  • “What Mama Needs”
  • “My Brother Bit Your Honor Roll Student”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 1 – Henry Wentworth”
  • “The Sanguine Wars”
  • “The Hunted”
  • “Her Living Corals”
  • “Puppet Strings”
  • “The Trying of Master William”
  • “By The Crescent Moon”
  • “Mantid”
  • “The Underside of Time and Space”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 2 – Gemma Nyle”
  • “The Griffon”
  • “Adaptable”
  • “When They Come”
  • “The Reassignment Project”
  • “Presage”
  • “One Hopeless Night by a Clan Fire”
  • “Lenny’s New Eyes”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 3 – Anna Kilpatrick”
  • “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse”
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Tales From The Lake Volume 5

“If you’re a short story reader, this is an absolute must-read. Volume five is even better than the four preceding volumes, which is a very hard bar to hit. Go buy this!” — John R. Little, author of The Memory Tree, Miranda, and Soul Mates

Reviews for Tales from the Lake Volume 5:

“…not a “look under the bed for monsters” volume, but one that has a pensive chill. The stories are like a tap on the shoulder; a reminder that good days end and that no one is protected from anguish.” – Hellnotes

“Taken all together, Tales From The Lake – Volume 5 is an absolute triumph, a wonderfully inclusive celebration of the best that the Horror genre can produce, unhindered by the constraints of themes or specific topics. The individual stories within the collection are uniformly of a very high quality, and have been expertly brought together and edited by Kenneth W. Cain and Crystal Lake Publishing.” – Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

“edited by Kenneth Cain, one of the as yet unsung heroes of dark horror fiction–an author in his own right who deserves much more attention and spotlighting.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“This anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing is by far the best volume yet in the Tales from the Lake series!” – Amazon review

“The most terrifying thing in the world is not a vampire or zombie, it is mankind and what we are capable of doing to each other. This collection from editor Kenneth W. Cain will eat at you for a long time. Horrifying, haunting, and unforgettable!” – Goodreads review

“I’ve been a fan of the Tales From The Lake anthology since the first volume and it’s amazing to see how much it has evolved over the years. Volume 5 is quite possibly the best yet.” – Goodreads review

“Kenneth W. Cain did an excellent job of weaving the stories together and they flow from one to another leaving the reader on a journey of terror and entertainment.” – Goodreads review

“Over the years I’ve read enough anthologies, short story collections and fiction magazines to refine my expectations for what comprises a premium horror story. So when I declare that I thoroughly enjoyed two-thirds of the fiction in TALES FROM THE LAKE VOLUME 5 – – that says a lot about the high quality of the contents.” – Pop Culture Podium

“…this one has some seriously fantastic offerings.” – A.E. Siraki

The Legend Continues…

In the spirit of popular Dark Fiction and Horror anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and the best of Stephen King’s short fiction, comes Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from The Lake anthologies.

Where are the real horrors? Whether they be a family member returning from the dead, exploring the depths of depression or the deterioration of the mind, you’ll find them here.

This anthology contains twenty-two tales and three poems to elicit unexpected emotions, to bring you into the story. Welcome to my lake, where dreams really do come true… As nightmares!

This fifth volume of speculative fiction contains:

Poetry:

  • “From the Mouths of Plague-Mongers” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – A wonderful look at our world and the cruel reality of it all.
  • “Malign and Chronic Recreation” by Bruce Boston – Where Internet addiction meets sexual addiction.
  • “Final Passage” by Bruce Boston – A breakdown of mental acuity as it leads to the inevitability of death.

Short stories:

  • “Always After Three” by Gemma Files – A young couple discovers that in a downtown condo you almost never know who your neighbours are, or what they might be doing.
  • “In the Family” by Lucy A. Snyder – A former child actress reveals dark family secrets to her long-lost niece.
  • “Voices Like Barbed Wire” by Tim Waggoner – Sometimes forgetting is more painful than remembering.
  • “The Flutter of Silent Wings” by Gene O’Neill – A heartbreaking tribute to a Shirley Jackson classic.
  • “Guardian” by Paul Michael Anderson – Even creatures beyond time and space need friendship.
  • “Farewell Valencia” by Craig Wallwork – When you’ve got no reason to live, there’s a hotel that can give you every reason to die. So book in, unpack, and prepare to be checked out, forever.
  • “A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” by Allison Pang – A lake mermaid with a penchant for eating children forms a tenuous friendship with an abused girl trying to escape her past.
  • “The Monster Told Me To” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – In order for Bria to deal with her past, she must confront the ghosts of her present.
  • “Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” by Michelle Ann King – If the universe won’t give her a miracle, Allie will make one for herself. But dark magic has a price, and paying it is going to hurt.
  • “The Boy” by Cory Cone – Grief-stricken from the sudden loss of her husband, a young woman fears she may lose her son as well, if she hasn’t already.
  • “Starve a Fever” by Jonah Buck – Fleeing down a bayou highway with a sick criminal in the backseat, a getaway driver must sate his passenger’s horrifying needs while evading the police.
  • “Umbilicus” by Lucy Taylor – A father becomes involved in a scheme to rescue a friend’s lost son—with terrifying results.
  • “Nonpareil” by Laura Blackwell – Maisie’s wedding cake business needs every client it can get—especially rich ones—but between the groom’s unpleasant family and the mysterious bride’s strange requests, Maisie has a tough job baking a cake that will please everyone.
  • “The Midland Hotel” by Marge Simon – If walls of a hotel could talk is one thing, but what if it happens to be a sentient collector of souls?
  • “The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” by Robert Stahl – Still reeling over the sudden death of his wife, Charlie stumbles across a mysterious object at a yard sale—a monkey’s paw, like the one in the legendary story. Despite the terrible events that befall that fictional family, he can’t help but want to give it a try.
  • “The Color of Loss and Love” by Jason Sizemore – A couple set out to rescue an unfamiliar couple, only to face an airborne disease that overtook the world.
  • “The Loudest Silence” by Meghan Arcuri – A woman is trapped by her worst enemy: her mind.
  • “The Followers” by Peter Mark May – The Followers are slow, but they never tire. Nor do they or have to stop to drink, eat or sleep like us living. They are on a relentless death march and we are only delaying the inevitable.
  • “A Bathtub at the End of the World” by Lane Waldman – A little girl plays with her toys in a locked bathroom. Everything is fine, except for the zombies outside.
  • “Twelve by Noon” by Joanna Parypinski – An old farmer goes about his routine tending to the nine scarecrows that preside over his field, when three college student show up and cause a strange disturbance.
  • “Hollow Skulls” by Samuel Marzioli – When Orson’s son is born, the memory of a tragedy creeps back into his life, threatening his very sanity.
  • “Maggie” by Andi Rawson – An intense, disturbing relationship between love and murder is exposed.

With an introduction by editor Kenneth W. Cain. Cover art by Ben Baldwin. Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from The Darkest Depths.

Embers

“Not a squall, not a blizzard … It’s a pulp horror AVALANCHE! That’s Kenneth W. Cain’s new collection, Embers.” — Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award® winner

Reviews for Embers:
“I think I can safely say that this collection is one of my all-time favourites.” — Confessions of a reviewer

“Cain’s characters are anything but black and white. They are as multi-faceted as any real person you know. They are presented with difficult decisions and even worse situations, and they do the best that they can. Monster and man both are tested relentlessly, Cain never taking the easy way out. Some of the stories are predominately scary, some are predominately sad. All of them will evoke a range of emotions while you read and long after you’ve finished.” — Charnel House Reviews

“Prepare for the stretching of your mind and the expansion of your imagination as Kenneth W. Cain boldly goes into unexplored territory, sometimes speculative, other times horrific, but always enlightening.” — Mallory Heart Reviews

“Some of these tales take on a poe-esque quality, while others a more Lovecraftian tone, and then we find those that bestow upon us the moral musings of Rod Serling. Yeah, these stories are good!” — Horror Novel Reviews

“If you enjoy your horror with a touch of Lovecraft, I believe you’ll appreciate this body of work from Kenneth W. Cain more than you would otherwise.” — Cemetery Dance (Frank Michaels Errington)

“The market is flooded with short story collections and I sincerely hope that Cain’s Embers finds an audience as he has a strong voice and an obvious writing ability. A really good collection overall” — The Grim Reader

“Each story is connected by a little thread to the next one. Kenneth created a web of weird, sometimes gory, sometimes psychological and always scary threads.” — Banshee Irish Horror Blog

Embers is a collection that strolls into every corner of horror to gather bits before running them through the spin cycle, dial set to dread.” — Unnerving Magazine

“…from page 1 I enjoyed reading each and every word.” — Terror-Tree

“Books like Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark were always a fun read as a child right before bed. Cain’s Embers is like an adult version of those novels.” — The Horrific Network

“What makes his work scary is that he takes normal everyday situations with characters just like you and me and twists them into something horrific. These are tales that really could happen to anyone.” — S.J. Budd

“Overall, Embers is a well-constructed and put together collection of horror stories from Kenneth W. Cain that marks another quality release from Crystal Lake Publishing.” — A.E. Siraki

“I thought it was a great collection.” — Sci-Fi and Scary

From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing. There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain’s soul.

In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, “The Chamber” focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. “Valerie’s Window” visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. “The Benefit of Being Weighty” has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity to read the book.

When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.

Includes the following stories:

  • “The Chamber”
  • “Valerie’s Window”
  • “A Window to Dream By”
  • “Each New Day Unknown”
  • “Gone”
  • “Under the Drift of Snow is Another World”
  • “Blackbird’s Breath”
  • “Desolate”
  • “Lost in the Woods”
  • “Final Breaths”
  • “Closer”
  • “Flocking Birds”
  • “Pirouette”
  • “To Save One Life”
  • “Of Both Worlds”
  • “Breathing Cave”
  • “Soul Tapped”
  • “The Water People”
  • “Water Snake”
  • “Evolved”
  • “Buried Beneath the Old Chicago Swamps”
  • “The Bad Men”
  • “Parasite”
  • “Strip Poker, Crabs, and Blue Women”
  • “The Benefit of Being Weighty”

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Listen to “Perfect Little Hands” for FREE

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You can listen to my story “Perfect Little Hands” from my collection Fresh Cut Tales for FREE by clicking the link below.

CLICK HERE

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Fresh Cut Tales

“Solid combination from a writer to watch.” — Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award winning author of New Moon on the Water

From the author of the short story collection These Old Tales comes Fresh Cut Tales: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing. There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These sixteen short speculative stories are a winding road of pain where each curve may not be seen. These are the freshest cuts from Cain’s mind.

“Enthralling, eclectic collection of unputdownable speculative fiction.” — Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Black & Orange and Bottled Abyss

  • Of Shadows – Somewhere beyond this world are places where the innocent are tested. This story is about such a place. Can Ellen escape her reality?
  • Avenged – Life doesn’t matter when it comes to avenging death. Cole Stryder tries to account for the murder of his men, but matters unfold unexpectedly.
  • Ordering Out – A troubled bloodsucker has difficulty obtaining sustenance.
  • Perfect Little Hands – Dallas faces the truth about his relationship to his stepdaughter at her funeral.
  • Inside Out – Richie Harden tells his story to a local reporter, detailing facts about a handicapped boy who isn’t as bad off as he seems.

“Expect the unexpected in this macabre and thoroughly entertaining collection.” — Mike Davis, The Lovecraft Ezine

  • Shards – Gerald, a man who has long avoided children, must now face the reality of his demented nature.
  • Twist of Pain – A short, troubling journey home is enough to break young Sarah.
  • Old Habits – A man and wife find their marriage split by an undead situation.
  • In the Shadow of the Equine – Finding themselves trapped on a scenic island with a mob of mind~controlled zealots, a man desperately tries to protect his son.
  • Split Ends – A bizarre hair disease follows a woman’s family history, but can her daughter escape the infliction?

“Twisted tales that are guaranteed to keep you up at night.” — Michael McCarty, author of I Kissed a Ghoul

  • Spaceship Earth – A hiking trip reveals unexplained mysteries that endanger Earth. Some places aren’t meant to be discovered.
  • Warmth Within They Depths – In the vast unwater world, exploration reveals unexpected horrors.
  • Never Free – Small towns fables are often shared among children, but none so harrowing as that of the Easton Park Statue.
  • Ahote’s Spirit – A Native~American discovers a creature unlike any other.
  • Rebirth – A scientist attempts to soothe his daughter about the loss of her mother.
  • Redpath, Stu – A classic themed horror story finds Steven in an isolated diner, enjoying the company of old~timers.

Draw up the covers and turn on the lights. Prepare for a journey into the weird, wild, and creepy in this collection of dark fiction stories.

Reviews for FRESH CUT TALES:

 

 

2012 Coffin Hop Post

LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST FOR A CHANCE AT
A FREE COPY OF MY DARK FICTION COLLECTION
THESE OLD TALES!

When I was young, far too young to know the harm I could do to myself by watching terrifying movies, I permanently damaged something inside of me. You see, I was not the sort of child who ate well at dinnertime. I am reminded of this daily as I struggle to get my own children to eat their dinners. However, back then, I had a secret agenda.

While other children played Asteroids or with Lincoln Logs before going to bed, I stretched out dinner as long as I could manage. And for good reason. My mother made me sit at the dining room table until I finished everything that was on my plate, knowing I never would. Still she tried. But I waited because I knew at some point my mother would turn the television to the shows I wanted to see. My seat at the table had a direct view of the television.

From the dinner table I watched full episodes of The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, One Step Beyond, and many more. At the mere age of four I watched The Omen in its entirety. I filled my curiosity of the things that haunted me to my heart’s delight. And then something broke. One night my mother turned on Psycho and life for me would never be the same.

I know what you’re thinking; “I’ve seen that movie. It’s not that bad.” Well I assure you at 4 or 5 years old it is quite terrifying. In fact, I have never looked at taking a shower the same way. I am thankful for my clear shower stall, no curtain needed to hide the things that might be waiting to stab me. It was such a defining moment in my creepy little life.

You see, it is this emotion I feel when taking a shower that I have become obsessed with. I think all children feel it, and although kids now seem a bit desensitized to it all, it is still there. It hides under their beds or sleeps right outside the window waiting to get in. It’s in their closet calling out their name or in the basement. True horror is always there whether we choose to admit it or not. It waits for us, always there in that brief second where the realization that it does exist finds us. It is then it leaps out, causing us to jump out of our skin.

So why the obsession you ask? Why does one obsess so over lack of sleep? Is it because we desire it so or because we loathe the knowing that we will not find rest? My fascination with horror exists simply because I cannot get these images out of my head. These fears have long haunted me, always waiting around one corner or the next, always terrifying. So it is this constant fear that I examine in my stories, trying to discover the truth behind each horror I have encountered.

Does it work? Some, but not much. I sleep lightly, waking often throughout the night. When we stay at hotels I still peek out around the shower curtain expecting to find Norman Bates, or maybe something worse. I know the Boogeyman rests under my bed, waiting for my eyes to close before he makes himself seen. Ghosts sit at the edge of my bed, hoping I will not wake as they study me. These horrors are part of me and likely always will be. And this is why I write.

Please make sure to click on the banner above and visit all the coffin hoppers. Many of them are giving away prizes including FREE books. If you would like to win a digital copy of my dark fiction collection These Old Tales please leave a comment here on this post. I will randomly select 5 winners and reply to your post for you to email me your contact information if you win. Also, feel free to follow my blog and keep up with future releases.

Thank you for stopping by my website.

                        

11/06/2012 RELEASE!                                         05/05/2013 RELEASE

~Kenneth W. Cain

These Old Tales

“Cain’s unique eye for the macabre makes this collection more than worth it!” — To The Bone Reviews

2014 Nominee for Best Short Story Collection at eFestival of Words.

In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now he seeks the same dark overtones in his writing. There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 30 short speculative stories represent a time when a discouraged Cain asked his wife what he should do with “these old tales.” Within these pages are those heartbreaks he could not escape.

  • The Patrol – A soldier dreads the solitude of a foxhole when a peculiar visitor surprises him.
  • Molt – While on a business trip, Kyle’s bad day leads to a poor choice.
  • Satisfied – A doctor struggles with playing god.
  • Gladiator David – After the zombie apocalypse our world is reborn in an old familiar place where humans celebrate their revenge.
  • After the Ocolitz – A young girl discovers her father’s fate after the apocalypse.
  • The Necessary Bits – Albi reminisces over his deceased love’s death.
  • Nocturnal – Darkness surrounds George who must battle fear if he means to escape alive.
  • An Eye Remembered – Harry suspects his boss of something terrible and decides to take matters into his own hands.
  • Pieces – A quick story about drowning.
  • The Lucky Shrimp – The grass is always greener, but one who plays with the fates should beware of consequences.

“Cain’s skill as a writer is his ability to take mundane things most of us would never notice and turn them into true terror.” — DarkMedia

 

  • Empty Spaces – Dr. Donald Tomlinson helps a desperate boy reconnect to a grim past where he unwillingly killed his mother.
  • Visitors – A son struggles to convey that his father must leave the nursing home, but his father has made other plans.
  • Working From Home – Sometimes the worst jobs are those you do from home. Such is the case on this dark and stormy night.
  • What’s This Line For? – Abel finds himself standing in line, but can’t remember why.
  • The Evil Within – When the evil becomes too much, Derrick turns to his blade and seeks help at a local church.
  • Meeting Roger – Roger Digsby sounds like a heck of a guy. Unfortunately, Roger’s been murdered and Nick must now interrogate the suspect.
  • The Daily News – Sometimes the news isn’t what you expect. Other times it’s outright maddening.
  • Moving On – A man is forced to acknowledge his past, present, and future.
  • Silt – Tommy and his friends happen upon an atrocity in a local pond.
  • Limbs – Neighbors squabble over the bushes that separate their properties.

“The author deftly inhabits the minds of his protagonists, turning each piece into a sharp characterization that resonates long after it’s (usually) morbid conclusion.” — Goodreads Review

 

  • New Life – Creation has its consequences.
  • Dark Reflections – Eli lost his friends, family, and others to a strange force buried in the junkyard. Now he must try to save them.
  • Fragments – Caleb’s hunger outweighs all other needs. But in his pursuit he encounters someone he hadn’t expected.
  • Edgar’s Church – Edgar troubled past and present is the result of witnessing his father’s death.
  • Anger, Hurt, Pain – A dismal story of suicide.
  • Branded – In this weird western, two men stand off, but a lot can happen while counting to ten.
  • The Regrettable – An old doctor finds himself stranded in his childhood home, faced with an opportunity for redemption.
  • The Way Out – A younger brother escapes his older brother’s wrath.
  • Determination – Tuesday is different, but in this futuristic society, anything but different is expected.
  • Harvest – Even the Amish have horror stories. Discover what this local farmer’s been up to.

Draw up the covers and turn on the lights. Prepare for a journey into the weird, wild, and creepy in this collection of dark fiction stories.

Reviews for THESE OLD TALES:

The Grim Reaper Stalks a Cemetery