Tag Archives: apocalyptic fiction

The Scent of Sin and Punishment

by J.P. Cianci

warmth by Kris VargaI drink deeply from my half-filled chalice, admiring the way the indelibly perfect, golden idol of Molech reflects the sunlight. I raise my goblet to Molech, my jewel-encrusted cup catching the brilliant rays of the sun, then I take another insatiable drink. I turn around to refill my cup when gentle fingertips run up and down my back.

“Adaron, how would you like to receive Molech’s blessing?” Sahar whispers seductively.

I smile, reveling in her touch, and close my eyes. I imagine all the delicious ways in which her body could satisfy the pressing fleshly urges her contact has aroused. “I would love to receive Molech’s blessing, but I cannot afford such a sanction,” I say, opening my eyes. I cup the temple prostitute’s breast and forcefully bring her in for a kiss.

She smacks me, but I laugh and grab her wrist.

“Come now, Sahar. I worship in here every day. I’m entirely devoted. Are you sure Molech wouldn’t want to bless a follower such as myself?”

“If you need money to afford his blessing, I know someone who would pay handsomely for the company of your daughter,” Sahar suggests.

I smack her quick and hard across the face, holding a finger to her—warning her—but I say nothing.

She slinks off to find another, no doubt richer, follower to seduce.

Incense wafts from silver plates beneath the idol and I try to forget Sahar and her remarks. I don’t need to pay to satisfy my desires. Many women, and even men, are happily drawn in by my sexual prowess.

I walk drunkenly back to the idol that is gloriously exposed to the sun by the open rooftop of the temple and fall to my knees in prayer. I slur my pleas and wishes for a few moments before my head bobs heavily from the wine. After an hour, I close my eyes to rest at the foot of Molech, basking in the afternoon sun.

“It’s too early to be this dark,” someone remarks a few minutes later.

“Quiet!” I bark. My eyes are still closed, but I do notice the almost imperceptible shift in light behind my eyelids. “It’s merely clouds passing in the sky.”

“What is that? A sandstorm?” someone else asks. The presence of a crowd gathering around me causes me to finally open my eyes.

“Gawk outside! Do not waste Molech’s temple for slack-jawed gaping!” I yell, but no one listens. I raise my head to the sky, which is shrouded in darkness. Plumes of smoke billow downward in waves, obscuring the sun.

“Sandstorms don’t move like that,” I say, shifting uneasily. People murmur excitedly all around me.

“It’s all right! I see light!”

“Yes! I see it too! It looks like the sun is coming toward us!”

“That’s not light, that’s fire! Run!”

“No! This is a sacred temple. We are safe here,” I assure them, but people take off to the streets. I kneel a few feet back from Molech and begin fervently praying. As the smoke surges closer, I cover my mouth and nose in disgust, but only for a moment. A ball of fire collides directly with my sacred idol. A stream of melted gold sprays in my direction, blinding me in one eye and cooling rapidly to my skin so that it’s encased in a painful, golden mask.

I moan in agony, turning to flee. “Oh Molech, Oh Molech. Why? Why?” I’m almost to the entrance of the temple when it collapses on top of me.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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How Post-Apocalyptic Can Sodom Be?

fire and brimstoneCongratulations to the following authors who have received acceptances for the upcoming Biblical Legends anthology, “Sulfurings”:

  • John Vicary
  • Guy & Tonya De Marco
  • Melchior Zimmerman
  • Rie Sheridan Rose
  • David Anderson
  • Meg Eden
  • Nicholas Paschall
  • AmyBeth Inverness

Readers of the “Garden of Eden” anthology will recognize some of these names from the genesis of what we hope will become a popular anthology series. While a few more authors were unfortunate enough to receive rejections, about the same number are being held as potential inclusions.

In what we hope will not be precedent-setting, the garden gnomes have decided to extend the deadline for submissions until we believe we have a sufficient number to go to press. We hope you’ll consider submitting your work for this anthology.

What Kind Of Manuscripts Are Appropriate For ‘Sulfurings’?

We’re referring to “Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah” as apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature for what we hope are obvious reasons. The cities were literally wiped off the face of the earth. “Literally,” as in, we’re not shittin’ ya.

We don’t care if you consider the tale an untrue myth. We don’t care if you take it literally or metaphorically. We don’t care if you call bullshit on the story, its author, and everyone who believes it literally. Consequently, we don’t care if you are a Biblical literalist. What we do care about are great stories set in these two legendary cities that depict a struggle for survival among those who were there or a strong reaction among those who discover it in its aftermath.

So what does that mean exactly?

Why Some Manuscripts Were Rejected On The First Round

manuscripts rejectedThe editor of the Biblical Legends Anthology Series, yours truly, is concerned about three sets of values with regard to inclusions in any of the anthologies in the series:

  1. Quality. Obviously, sub-par submissions won’t be accepted. That means quality in terms of writing as well as in storytelling. We want well told stories. Period.
  2. Diversity. The kind of diversity that we are seeking is not some affirmative action type of diversity where minorities are given precedence over white guys because we believe that somehow all people of earth should be represented in our pages. This isn’t college. The kind of diversity we’re interested in is diversity in literary voices, tone, and style. In other words, we don’t want all the stories in any anthology to represent a single genre or subgenre of literature, nor do we want them all to convey the same biases or express the same tones and styles of writing. We realize we’ll never achieve this goal in its perfect complexity, but we do strive to put together a broad representation of weird literature that addresses the theme in each of our anthologies based on the submissions that we receive.
  3. Stated Parameters. Each of our anthologies is based on a particular Biblical theme. This is by design. As previously stated, we’re not interested in hermeneutical preferences. We ARE interested in quality writing within the context of well-told stories and diversity in expression within the stated parameters.

Most of our rejections are due to one or more of these values. If the writing isn’t tight or the story doesn’t meet our expectations on quality, then we’ll toss it aside. If we receive several submissions that express the same style or possess the same tone, especially if it falls outside the purview of the genre we are seeking – in this case, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature – then some or all of those manuscripts will be rejected. Finally, stories that don’t address the theme or that don’t fall within the stated parameters of the anthology as stated in our guidelines will also be rejected.

Multiple infractions will most definitely be rejected out of hand.

While we do not wish to be harsh, we must draw a line somewhere on each of these values that we hold dear. Sometimes, a story just might not gel with us. We might not even know why. Alas, we may be gnomes, but we are human.

Even Garden Gnomes Have A Little Grace

garden gnomes have graceWe don’t believe in trashing projects. We’re too tenacious for that. So we’ve decided instead to put out another call for submissions in hopes that we’ll get the kind of material we are looking for. After all, we believe strongly in “Sulfurings” and just as strongly in the series.

This round of submissions is open to everyone – previous submitters and new submitters alike. We’ve already received at least one submission and will keep the submission process open until we are confident that we have enough material to go to press.

In the way of clarification, here’s what we are looking for:

  • Apocalyptic horror – Imagine what it would be like to live in Sodom or Gomorrah and to see fire raining down upon you from on high. What would you do? Better yet, invent a character and tell us what he or she would do. Your character does not have to be human.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Literature – After the cities have been destroyed, what happens? Are there lingering survivors? What are they doing? How are they coping with what has happened? What about travelers? Are there creatures who discover the cities in their destroyed state? What do they do about their discovery?
  • Weird Tales – We love weird tales. Feel free to get creative. Your story does not have to adhere to all the facts of the story in its entirety. We reward those who employ creative license effectively. One of the things we have noticed about our current slate of submissions is an overwhelming number of stories where the author has tried too hard to ensure the story remains entirely accurate in its Biblical portrayal. Hence, many of the stories allude to Lot and his family or “Lot’s God” unnecessarily. The question to ask your narrator is this: Would this character living on the other side of town know who Lot is or understand that the city is being destroyed because Lot’s God commanded it, or would they just unexpectedly find themselves being pummeled by sulfurous rock, briny brimstone, and molten lava?
  • Absurdities – Modern life is full of absurdities. We gnomes don’t believe that this is anything new. It is probable that life has always been full of absurdities. We encourage you to note them.
  • Leave Lot, his family, and his God out of it – Not strictly. As noted, we want diversity. If allusions to these characters are necessary for the development of your story, then by all means, include them. But know that we will look at them with a suspicious eye. If there is a way you can tell a great story honoring the three values that we care about without alluding to the Biblical characters, then you’ll impress us much more.

Our number one goal is to publish a great anthology that readers will love and tell their friends about. We want it to receive the widest distribution possible, because we want to be known as publishers of great literature and because we want you to be able to say that you are a widely read author with a strong following. Many great writing careers have begun with anthologies.

How Horrific Do Want Your Sulfurings?

horrific enough?One question we’ve been asked a few times is some variation of “how horrific do you want your stories?”

We’ve been asked about swear words: “Is it okay if characters drop the fucking F-bomb every two sentences?”

We’ve been asked about the degree of horror within the horror: “Is splatterpunk allowed or is that too grotesque?”

We’ve even been asked how bizarre should our weird be and how weird should the bizarre aspire to: “Is bizarro too extreme?”

Our standard response is … Send it and we’ll work it out in the wash.

Truthfully, we won’t know if we like it until we’ve read it. In general, we don’t mind grotesqueness as long as it’s pertinent to the story. Weird for the sake of the weird or grotesquery for the sake of grotesquery might be sent packing. On the other hand, we’ve read bizarro and splatterpunk. We’ve written it. But our first priority is a good story that fits the theme of the anthology.

Having run the risk of being sufficiently vague, we invite you to send us your best stories. Our current needs are flash fiction and short stories. Word counts and other information can be found on our BLAS submissions guidelines page.

We’re good on poetry and nonfiction for now, but if you want to take a gander at it, feel free. Chances are, we’ll say we’ve read enough, but we’re open-minded.

Please send your submission according to these general guidelines. Send them to submissions @ gardengnomepubs dot com. And feel free to ask your questions to editor @ gardengnomepubs dot com.

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