© The Horror Zine
Witch Hazel, a short horror story that I wrote under the pseudonym Jim Mountfield, is now available to read in the online February 2020 edition of The Horror Zine. I understand it will also appear in a forthcoming print edition of The Horror Zine for spring 2020, so I will announce details of that when I know them.
Witch Hazel is inspired by a recurrent experience I’ve had in my life – though only recently did it occur to me that I could turn it into a story. For decades, whenever I was staying at my parent’s farm in Scotland, I would make expeditions into Edinburgh, 21 miles to the north. This meant taking a bus up the A703 road to the city and then taking another bus back, usually after dark. As my parents’ farm is actually located three-quarters of a mile along a side-road from the A703, the journey back necessitated me getting off at a country bus-stop and then then walking for 10 or 15 minutes along that side-road – usually through pitch darkness and frequently through the worst that the Scottish climate could chuck at me: rain, wind, hail, snow. So those night-time trudges form the basis for what happens in Witch Hazel.
It also, indirectly, pays homage to a famous verse in Coleridge’s epic 1834 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The verse goes: “Like one, that on a lonesome road / Doth walk in fear and dread / And, having once turned round, walks on / And turns no more his head / Because he knows a frightful fiend / Doth close behind him tread…”
The publication of Witch Hazel represents a triple whammy for Jim Mountfield – for three of his / my stories are featured in the current editions of three different webzines, today at least and hopefully for a few days more. The Christmas story The Lights is still accessible in the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Aphelion, here. As I mentioned in my previous post, the story The Path is accessible in this week’s edition of Schlock! Webzine, here. And for the next month, you can read Witch Hazel in The Horror Zine here.