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Nightmare Presents: The Zodiac Walks on the Moon by Will Ludwigsen

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It’s hard to believe it’s already November, but here we are… Halloween may be over, but the scares haven’t ended yet as it’s time for another installment of brand new horror fiction from Nightmare Magazine. Once a month, we feature a story from Nightmare’s current issue; and our November selection is “The Zodiac Walks on the Moon” by Will Ludwigsen. If you prefer, you can also listen to the podcast version instead.

We hope you enjoy it!

THE ZODIAC WALKS ON THE MOON
by
Will Ludwigsen

Dear Editor:

This is the murderer of the two teenagers last Christmass on Lake Herman Road and the girl a few weeks ago in Vallejo. I phoned a lady dispatcher at the Vallejo Police Department, but she didn’t take me seriously. So as not to risk that now, I shall reveal the following details not available to the public:

  1. The brand name of the ammunition for the Christmass killing was Super X. I fired ten shots, leaving the boy on his back with his feet to the car and the girl on her right side and her feet to the west.
  2. For the more recent killing, the girl was wearing patterned slacks and I used Western ammunition. The boy was shot in the knee.

I hadn’t planned to write my first letter until I’d developed the proper voice and taken at least twelve or thirteen victims, but I saw something extraordinary tonight and it has me thinking big things.

A man just—walked—on the Moon.

I saw it right here on my mother’s awful television, as cloudy and grey as her left eye. A little man in a heavy white suit went down a ladder and he said that he was taking a small step for a man but a giant one for mankind. The news people helpfully put LIVE FROM THE MOON on the screen. I think they should have put GODDAM MOON there for good measure.

Like the rest of my neighborhood, I went outside afterward. Some kids down the street set off firecrackers and there’s a little boy marching around in long slow strides with a bucket on his head. Their parents are sitting out in lawn chairs with beer bottles heaped at their feet, staring up into space like there’s any hope of seeing the glint of that tiny lander.

I understand the impulse to look up, though. To wonder.

I wonder if there will be women on the Moon someday. They’ll have to be thin and pretty of course with all of that training, the kind who don’t look twice at the wrong men. What will they wear under their suits? Will their boots have heels? Will you see their flowing hair in their helmets or the curves of their breasts under the silver fabric like in all the movies?

I wonder who will be the first to kill one. Will it be the timid geologist who only wanted her soft warmth on his narrow metal bunk? Will it be the strapping Mission Commander whose heroic seed cannot be wasted lest it blast a hole in the Lunar Module? Or maybe it will be the man no one ever sees with the wrench in his hand and the grease under his nails.

I wonder how he will do it. There must be lots of ways. He can pull an air hose and let her life hiss away to a sleeping silence. He can drill a hole in the side of her helmet and let the plume of her decompressing blood and brains spray in a graceful arc to the soil. If he doesn’t want to fiddle around with that, he could simply shoot her; the bullet would go a lot farther if he missed the first time. Maybe she’d be watching it with awe and disgust when the second one got her in the lady parts. That is where he’d have to aim, with all the junk wrapped around her chest where the heart hides.

And then she’ll be there. She’ll be there forever, and as the Moon sweeps over our heads, we will know that she’s there, that there is a dead woman on the Moon, and the whole thing is nothing more than a giant glowing tombstone.

They’ll probably catch the man who does it. Maybe they’ll have a trial for him on the Moon, make a little courtroom on the Mare Crisium, the sea of crises. If he’s smart, he’ll ask for a death by hanging, but they could just as easily put him outside to pound frantically on the reinforced portholes until he totters like a felled tree into the dust.

We will know his name, though, and we will talk forever about why he did it.

I used to think the perfect crime was not getting caught. I was careful with those teenagers and they didn’t even see my face, blinded as they were by my lights. I came up on them quickly and they still had their hands deep in each other’s pants and skirts, having a ball; I had a ball, too. The ones who ran didn’t get far, going down where the bullets told them to. They screamed and thrashed and moaned a little, but no one heard.

The blue meannies will never catch me, and it wasn’t even hard. The ammunition is too common and the tire tracks too bald and smeared, and the guns I used are now broken into pieces and spread hither and yon. I didn’t know the victims. I live quietly in a distant neighborhood where the little old ladies invite me in for iced tea after I clean their gutters or patch up the front steps.

I used to think the perfect crime was not getting caught, but watching those men tonight changed my mind.

In a world where we have landed a flying Volkswagen on the Moon, I think we can expect more from people who die than merely crumpling in a heap, don’t you? I think we can expect more from their hunters, too.

I am not going to the Moon. You are not going to the Moon. None of the kids I killed are going to the Moon. But now other people have and we look like a bunch of assholes, missing the toilet with our piss or forgetting to take out the trash, bussing tables at a diner or running numbers in an office.

I will never walk on the Moon. When I am dead, my footprints will be gone.

I used to think the perfect crime was not getting caught and killing as many people as you can, but I’ll never reach the heights of Hitler or Stalin, Johnson or Nixon. I’d hoped to be known for the quality of my hunt—the drama and beauty, not to mention my own untouchable safety—instead of the quantity.

But right now, every wakeful eye on Earth is pointed in the same direction, toward the silver island in the dark, and what I’m learning is that an achievement is not an achievement if no one sees it.

The perfect crime is being seen going 240,000 miles farther than anyone else ever has.

This is my Moon. I shall walk in ways men have never walked and kill in ways they have never killed, and I shall tell you all about it so you can tell the world what heights we have finally reached.

I shall strike with such terror that my victoms will only fully know life at the very end, not just teenagers but adults and maybe some kiddies, too. I shall build death machines in an antiseptic room for my mission, flashlight gun sights and remote-trigger bombs, a black hooded spacesuit to recycle the tang of my own breath. I shall write ciphers that only computers can decode. I was going to write beautiful eloquent letters like a gentleman hunter, but now my words will froth on the page in ways that are not exactly mine.

I shall take my name from the eternally watching heavens, but I will not give it to you yet.

This is my Moon landing, and it will take your own room full of men in narrow black ties and horn-rimmed glasses to catch me. I will shift and wobble in parallax with the stars, not quite myself when I kill or when I write. And even if you do, it is enough to get to the Moon; coming back can only be disappointing.

This isn’t the right letter to send first, I see that now. There is too much of me in it, too much truth, and that’s no way to start a mystery. Much better for you to think that I’m insane, barely in control, my letters slashed on the page like knife strokes instead of neatly typed through three layers of carbon.

What I shall do instead is fold this neatly into a sealed black metal box and bury it so deep that only the ones who come after us can find it. They will live in the world we make, one that much more vivid and artistic, and they’ll want to know who to thank when they send back an expedition from their gleaming bubbled cities in space.

We are now the kind of people who can walk on the Moon, but I am the kind who can kill there. All it takes is one small step.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Ludwigsen’s stories of weird mystery have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and many other places including his Shirley Jackson Award-nominated collection In Search Of and Others. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his partner, writer Aimee Payne, as well as three cats and a dog who might also be writers of some sort. He blogs at will-ludwigsen.com and tweets as @will_ludwigsen.

ABOUT NIGHTMARE
Nightmare Magazine is edited by bestselling anthology editor John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy). This month’s issue also contains fiction from Molly Tanzer, Karin Lowachee, and Jayaprakash Satyamurthy. We have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” and of course we’ll have author spotlights with our authors, plus the latest installment of our book review column by Terence Taylor. You can wait for (most of) the rest of this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient eBook format for just $2.99. You can also subscribe and get each issue delivered to you automatically every month for the discounted price of just $1.99 per issue. This month’s issue is a great one, so be sure to check it out. And while you’re at it, tell a friend about Nightmare!

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Spoilers: Which Major Walking Dead Actor Might Leave the Series After This Season?

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*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Like many of you out there, I gave up on AMC’s The Walking Dead a long time ago. In fact, I gave up after they fired Frank Darabont following the horrendous second season.

That said, I’m not bitter towards the series, and hell, even I watched the season premiere where Negan beat the brains off Big Red and the dude from Mayhem.

Also, I’m aware there has been some controversy surrounding the “death” (yeah, right) of Chandler Rigg’s character. I have no opinion on the matter.

Speaking of character deaths, we might want to expect another this season as it looks like Lauren Cohan, aka Maggie, has taken another job on the ABC pilot “Whiskey Cavalier.”

While this doesn’t immediately mean Cohan’s Maggie character will kick the big old zombie-bucket… it pretty much means that.

Variety reports that Cohan has been in negotiations with AMC for months over her return, but she does not currently have a contract for the ninth season and will instead take the lead in the new ABC pilot.

Do you think this means Maggie is done for? Let us know below!

“The Walking Dead” returns on Sunday, February 25th.

Season 8B Synopsis:
All-out war has had a devastating impact on every person involved. The communities themselves are fractured. Alexandria has been destroyed, the people at Hilltop finds themselves pinned, and the Kingdom is shattered — half of them dead, the other half controlled by the Saviors.

At the very center — Rick, having been distracted by the conflict, has just returned home to learn that Carl, who heroically shepherded the Alexandrians to safety during Negan’s attack, has been bitten by a walker. Once his sole motivation in this otherwise stark existence, Rick is forced to deal with this reality. Carl has always been a beacon of hope, a symbol for the remaining thread of humanity — lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward.

But Rick isn’t the only person who’s living in peril. Aaron and Enid are in a dire situation at Oceanside — unclear if they’re in friendly territory, or if they’ve just made new enemies. Father Gabriel will do his part in attempting to smuggle Dr. Carson safely back to the Hilltop, and a pregnant Maggie is wrestling with the many moral gray areas that come with leadership during war. In a standoff with the Saviors, she must decide how to proceed with the dozens of POW lives she’s currently in control of, as well as new complications that come with being a leader.

In addition to the war, Negan continues to deal with struggles within his ranks as workers, traitors, and others’ thirst for power cause conflict at the Sanctuary. Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves.

As all-out war consumes us, the line between good and evil continues to blur. People fighting for what they believe in. Everybody working together for something bigger — to feel safe and have a world worth living in.

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Filthy and Fine! The Best Shots of Ash vs. Evil Dead

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The Evil Dead franchise is my all time favorite horror series, which evolves its mythos with each entry. Of course, the original Evil Dead has been just a straight-up horror film, but thanks to the fateful meeting of filmmaker Scott Spiegel, director Sam Raimi took the franchise into a strange comedic territory, using slapstick while still keeping the tones of sheer terror. What makes this terror stay with the franchise even with Ash’s loudmouth persona is it’s influential and inspiring camera work that Sam Raimi makes a legend behind the camera.

After years of waiting for the master of horror to return to the Evil Dead franchise, our palates were satiated with “Ash Vs Evil Dead” which continued the inspiring cinematography. With two seasons of a television show under Raimi’s watchful eye and a third season on the way, I took a look at every episode in the series to see if each director on board the project kept that eye for cinematography and shooting style. The series was notorious for it’s over the top gore and gags and I could’ve sat here and just gushed over the geysers of blood emitting from every orifice in the show, but, what I found in each episode brought more and more to the table. There are still horrifying shots to balance out the comedy of the show, but there are also amazing character moments within that foreshadow and evolve each character.

Think about it, other than Ash we’ve never had a cast of characters that survived more than two minutes but now there’s a crew of Ghostbeaters! Don’t worry as we still have randoms coming in and out that leave you to ponder, “How long can this poor Shemp live?” as they burst into blood and viscera. There are shots that revel in the grotesque, but there are also shots that revel in who our heroes are and delve into their psyches, the specialty of the Deadites! For those who’d like to follow along with the shots in the show, I’ve given you the time these shots show up if you’re watching the show on Netflix skipping the recaps.

To see the images in their full-size glory, give them a groovy little click!


S1E1: “El Jefe”
Directed By Sam Raimi
12:53
The flashlight twirling on the ground illuminating the scene as it spins on the two detectives faces gives way to one of the best sequences in the series. As Amanda’s deadite partner attacks her, the light spins furiously with the actions of the scene as she tries to retrieve her gun. When she retrieves the gun and aims it at the deadite the audience member would get a sigh of relief that she would triumph but is then tricked into terror. The flashlight spinning becomes slower and slower on both their faces as the man cries in pain pleading to his partner. The light illuminates his transformation back into a deadite horrifyingly for a slow dread filled shot. This shot and sequence show Sam still has it and sets up the series for what’s to come.



S1E2: “Bait”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
12:30
As Ash brings down the cross upon the ground the camera pans to Pablo and Kelly with a bright sunrise upon them. While the horrors of the night are over it is this sunrise the signifies the dawning of Kelley’s new life and her dialogue over this shot swears her vengeance.


S1E3: “Books From Beyond”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
2:38
Up until this point, Ruby has remained a mystery and not given us a sense of danger. Against the howl of the windmill in the background bathing in the moonlight we see her unleash the Kandarian dagger upon the already impaled deadite with a smirk on her face. This shot unravels her mystery bit by bit hauntingly as the first person besides Ash to stare down a Deadite with no fear.


S1E4: “Brujo”
Directed By David Frazee
22:40
The Brujo’s entire set up is pretty creepy with all sorts of totems that he utilizes for good but look haunting. When Kelly steps into the barn possessed by Eligos the totems come to life and react to the evil stepping before them. The best one though is the face that quickly begins to disappear bit by bit as Kelly approaches. It utters the word Mentirosa, Spanish for a liar, as she steps forth, giving way to a visually striking and terrifying warning.


S1E5: “The Host”
Directed By: David Frazee
21:26
Pablo bids farewell to his youth and tutelage under the Brujo while stepping into a new life with Ash that is more in tune with his family’s spiritual upbringing. With each totem lighting up as Pablo walks by the shots build Pablo’s feelings of loss toward a teacher as Pablo emerges a warrior that foreshadows his importance later to come as the first magical force of good in a fight that’s only ever cast spells of evil.


S1E6: “The Killer of Killers”
Directed By Michael Hurst
20:24
This is one of the most hilarious yet meaningful shots of the episode. Amanda’s boss has become a deadite ready to kill her. Ash shoots Amanda’s boss in the head, making her question the authority she had adhered to so much. Her idea of Ash as a villain changed with that charming Smile and look to Amanda in a gory pose over the lower jaw of her former boss. Ash looks to her like Uncle Sam simply saying join us! Blood and viscera flowing around him like a fountain. Dangling legs in the background as an added bonus!


S1E7: “Fire In The Hole”
Directed By Michael Hurst
19:25
Actions in combat can tell a story just like any dance. The compatibility between our heroes is evocative of Ash and Amanda’s budding romance during the entire sequence. However, it is this one masterful shot of the two working in unison dodging hellfire that tells the story of warrior’s love lit by demon fire!


S1E8: “Ashes to Ashes”
Directed By Tony Tilse
18:21
Ash can never escape the past it seems as the series goes on. He is hesitant to trust Pablo and Kelly as friends in his adventure for fear of losing them like he has lost so many others. This infamous shot from Evil Dead 2 is one of the few things that could make him question his machismo. This time he doesn’t even bring the chainsaw down on his beloved Linda but is forced to watch as an invisible chainsaw comes down upon her head forcing him to be reminded of what he did. This plays heavily into his decision making near the end of the season.



S1E9: “Bound In Flesh”
Directed By Tony Tilse
25:20
We finally get to see the book speak and beg Ash to not destroy it. This is something we’ve become accustomed to in the comic series, but have never been treated to the book itself speaking to Ash otherwise. We as the audience become the eye of the book and in true Evil Dead fashion watch, Pablo scream as the camera rushes toward him and he fuses with the book. This moment is the change in Pablo that clashes with his new direction discovered in the shot in Episode 5, which then tortures him internally until the end of season 2 where he is constantly being pulled by the necklace of the Brujo and the evil of the books spells.


S1E10: “The Dark One”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:06
A dreary moonlight shot of blues against the cabin looking ominous as Kelly stares on drenched in blood and anger. It’s a hauntingly beautiful shot. Kelly has fully embraced herself as a ghost beater and is done being tormented ready to start saving her boys. For a lot of characters, this could easily be a breaking point, but this shot affirms Dana Delorenzo as Kelly among some of the most powerful and able Final Girls on the rise.


S2E1: “Home”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
27:31
This shot is very telling of Ruby’s betrayal to evil. As her children surround and attack her, she is obscured by darkness and where she lies in terror a bright light emanates from behind her illuminating the scene as if to show her becoming a hero against evil.


S2E2: “The Morgue”
Directed By Tony Tilse
16:41
When this episode aired it was one of the most talked about and disgustingly depraved things to see. A simple Camera rig in front of Ash as he struggles to get out of a corpse, pubic hairs and dick swinging in his face. If Dead Alive wanted to take Evil Dead’s title of biggest gross-out scenes, then “Ash Vs Evil Dead” took the title back with excrement and body fluids all over our hero.


S2E3: “Last Call”
Directed By Tony Tilse
23:08
There are a ton of great shots of the evil Delta but perhaps the best one is this single frame of Lacey telling her boyfriend she loves him as he is splattered across the windshield. Blood and glass between them as they try for one last kiss against the fire and demonic lighting coming from the Delta and then splat! It’s a small touching moment that makes Lacey’s character a bit more sympathetic as the show goes on. As for her boyfriend? Well, I told you there would be plenty of Shemps to kill off.


S2E4: “DUI”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
1:45
After splattering Ash’s dad across the street, The Delta pulls up with a camera spin into the grill revealing an eye stuck in it. Ash’s one true love, his car, that’s survived everything has turned against him and killed his father just as they had reconnected. A perfect role reversal as Brock William’s severed eye is now staring down Ash through the grill of the car. No longer a window into Brock’s soul, but a sick vision of Ash’s love turned enemy.


S2E5: “Confinement”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
17:46
Flashing between light and darkness as the skin is ripped and blood is splattered gives us a horrifying look for the first time at the main antagonist of the season. Baal emerges from the flesh of humanity showing how we are all merely tools for his psychological deceptions.


S2E6: “Trapped Inside”
Directed By Mark Beesley
11:37
The moon reflects an eerie light upon Cheryl’s picture as it begins to bleed like the statue of Mary. The innocence of Ash’s sister was never saved and her soul weeps as the flesh is resurrected for evil’s bidding.


S2E7: “Delusion”
Directed By Mark Beesley
23:59
This entire episode is about breaking down Ash’s spirit and character, making him think he’s truly insane. As he’s at the breaking point he sees his friends and his love for them saves him. It’s a really simple shot that’s amplified by Bruce’s performance, but that disturbed look against the shadowy bars across his face in the dreary room give him his eureka moment where he comes down from his insanity and understands what he has to do to win.


S2E8: “Ashy Slashy”
Directed By Tony Tilse
14:13
Throughout the season the town builds up a boogeyman mythos in Ashy Slashy that we know as an audience member isn’t true but this shot brings Ashy Slashy to life. That boogeyman becomes real as the straight jacket becomes Ashy Slashy’s costume and the fire created by the chainsaw shows a side of Ash we’ve never seen. In this shot, we are convinced he had become a mindless killer.


S2E9: “Home Again”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:51
We’ve only ever heard his voice and seen his ghost save for a few shots of him discovering the Necronomicon in Evil Dead 2. Professor Knowby watches his student, Tanya, bleed out on the floor. She looks up at her mentor with horror as light swings back and forth casting shadows on his face. He is almost serial killer in nature and the shot reflects how his quest for knowledge outweighs his humanity. We see Professor Knowby and his daughter Ruby are not too dissimilar.


S2E10: “Second Coming”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
26:12
The finale brings Ash back to the cabin having to completely confront his past to change the future. With Pablo dead, because of Ash’s own follies, it is in the ashes of Ash’s dark past that Pablo is reborn, no longer tormented by the Necronomicon he takes his first breath as a new human. The evil within him gone and his life ready to begin anew.


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McKenna Grace Snags Lead in Rob Lowe’s Remake of The Bad Seed

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Okay so, evidently Rob Lowe is remaking The Bad Seed. Meh, I’m interested. But wait, evidently it will be a Lifetime original film. Urgh, interest is waning.

All jokes aside, I’m intrigued by this remake. Not only is it set to star Rob Lowe, but the man will be directing and executive producing as well.

Another interesting variation is that this film will follow Lowe’s father figure dealing with the evil child, instead of the original film’s mother character played by Nancy Kelly.

And on top of that, today we have news via Deadline that McKenna Grace (Amityville: The Awakening) has been cast as the titular bad seed, Emma, and Patty McCormack – who played the evil little girl in the original, and received an Oscar nomination for performance – will co-star as the psychiatrist who treats Emma.

Grace will next be seen in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House from director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Gerald’s Game).

The Lifetime remake is directed and executive produced by Rob Lowe from a script by Barbara Marshall. Lowe as executive produces with Mark Wolper and Elizabeth Stephen and stars alongside Patty McCormack and McKenna Grace.

Synopsis:

Lowe plays a single father who seems to have everything under control. But when there is a terrible tragedy takes place at his daughter Emma’s (Grace) school, he is forced to question everything he thought he knew about his beloved daughter. He slowly begins to question if Emma’s exemplary behavior is just a façade and she played a role in the horrific incident. When more strange things begin to happen, he’s faced with keeping a terrible secret to protect Emma, but ultimately must stop her from striking again.

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