666 Dark Drabbles: An anthology from Black Hare Press.

666 is the eleventh title of the Dark Drabbles series of books, published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia.* My magnificent contribution to this collection is a 100 word piece entitled “Azazel’s Heart,” which I came up with a couple of years ago. I recently rewrote the drabble to give it a more infernal flavor, what with the title of the book and all.

“Azazel’s Heart” is something of an epistolary** tale of sorcery and revenge set in the same vaguely post modern milieu I often use as a backdrop for some of my other stories.

I was casting around for a devil’s name to use and I came up with a few names, and then I thought of Azazel. Now, this devil is associated with various things, including the idea of a scapegoat and also forbidden knowledge, but in modern times this mighty fiend is perhaps best known as the dark patron of miniature painters, who ardently wish to both achieve a high output and excellent quality for their creations. So, Azazel it was!

I liked the cover when I first saw it, though my first reaction was, “Poor bunny!”***

Now I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly interested when I first heard of drabbles some years ago. A drabble is a type of flash fiction where one tells a story in exactly a hundred words. I had all sorts of objections, which I won’t go into here. Eventually I came around to where I put my objections aside and now enjoy both reading and writing in this form.

Reading, because I like to wind down with a book for about a half-hour each night before I go to sleep but sometimes I’m too tired to read that long or with much attention, so I go to one of the many books of drabbles I now have in my collection and read three or four selections before sliding into a hideous yet strangely restful dreamland.****

Also, it is fun to see how others paint a picture and tell a story within the limits of this form. To my thinking, a properly written drabble is not just a scene or a slice-of-life, it is a small story. That is where both the challenge and the fun lie.

Writing, for many reasons–too many to go into all of them here. A few are:

  • I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a story in exactly 100 words, which I think is the main attraction for many people.
  • I like exploring an idea by writing a drabble and then seeing if any longer work comes from it. Lately, I’ve been writing drabbles in the same “universe” or along the same theme with a longer story. The idea is the drabbles and the longer story stand together, while still being able to stand apart as a coherent whole.
  • I use drabbles as a way to catalogue ideas to take a look at them later, while still producing something that is (hopefully) interesting.
  • Drabbles are a nice way to have some fun with writing when one is busy. Too often I have gone long periods of time without writing because of some other large project or ongoing responsibility that is dominating my life at the time.

* Australia is one of those countries I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since I was a kid. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I hope to once travel becomes easier and I figure out a plan to deal with that ubiquitous terror of German backpackers all over the continent–the dreaded Brown-Legged Kidney Huntsman! (Be warned about the K.H. link, it is most definitely NSFW in so many ways, lol.) I’m sure Pat has had to dodge these monstrosities more than once in his travels!

** The story is taken, in part, from what might be a page in a diary.

*** Zeus, our infernal (note the sanguineous Evil Eye!) bunny from the early 2000s, whose great claim to fame was he was featured in a pet magazine–the name of which I can’t recall–with national distribution, isn’t sure what he thinks of the 666 cover. I really liked the art, as I said, but I can see why my favorite fiendish lagomorph has mixed feelings on the issue.

**** Certain others in my household like having physical, rather than electronic, books of drabbles laying around for “bathroom reading.”

Sloth: Anthology from “Seven Deadly Sins” series.

Sloth is the third title of an anthology of short stories and micro fiction published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia. The first two books in the series are Pride and Lust respectively.* I received a copy in the mail a fair time ago and I think that it is keeping with the theme of the anthology that I’m only posting this now. I’m sure the banana slugs from a few days ago would agree!

My small contribution to this colorful book was a quick, two page piece of micro fiction entitled, “I Want My Blanket,” where the denizens of the underworld gather upon the Plains of Paradox to witness a competition among imps with the prize being promotion to full devil and service with the Grand Devil itself. (Best not to dwell too much on the fates of the losers!)

The story came from a 2019 Halloween prompt where one was supposed to write a very short story that included a list of certain words such as “ominous” and the like.

I’m still reading Sloth and so far I would characterize some of the stories as straight Horror with shocking elements, exploration of the unknown or taboos and so on, while others seem more in the realm of dark fantasy or like the story I read last night, “The Last Stand” by Jo Mularczyk, dystopian science fiction. The tone of the stories varies, ranging from somewhat gritty to playful.

Now I don’t want to say too much more because this post isn’t meant to be a book review, since I don’t think it is seemly for me to review a book I have a piece of writing in. Even if it is only a two page curio touching upon the formalities of infernals. That said, my favorite stories so far have been “Death Care” by A.R. Dean and “One Hit Wonder” by A.L. King.

  • Publisher: Black Hare Press
  • Editors: Ben Thomas & D. Kershaw
  • Horror Short Story Anthology, released 2020
  • Available Formats: Hard Cover, Paperback, Kindle eBook
  • Hard Cover Pages: 447
  • Find Book on Amazon

* Book four, Envy, has also been released. As I understand, the next book in the seven book series will be Greed.