Sample of "Maiden of the Underworld"
A Villain's Story
Horror & Mythology
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Tantalizingly bloody tales featuring human pitted against beast and gods, with the true majesty and horrors of the afterlife, with love and death and desire…
Eight writers modernize ancient mythologies in DISTORTED, proving that not every story has been told.
Excerpt from “Bullman” by Anthony S. Buoni
“I’m still not sure it’s a good idea,” Cassandra said, adjusting the top of her black corset. Dressed like a cyber goth club kid, multicolored glow sticks dangled from the zippers and belt on her baggy black pants matched her glowing bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. She scratched her short, spiky black hair with hot pink tips from her eyes before crossing her arms.
Theo wasn’t sure why Icky wanted Europe so bad—Cassandra’s green gaze and hourglass figure made her the prettier of the two. Other than a hint of social awkwardness and her taste for illegal intoxicants, Cassandra was a catch.
“Chicken,” Icky said, clucking.
“Well, what is it?” Ariadne asked. “Going to sit around with your fingers in a bowl of peeled grapes and tell each other stories about vanishing hitchhikers and perverts with hooks for hands attacking Lovers’ Lane?”
“No,” Icky said. “Something way better. We’re driving to Hamilton Heights and looking for the Bullman.”
“The Bullman?” Theo asked conscious of his date’s aggravation. The tale stemmed from a dark page in her family’s history, so he tried downplaying it. “There’s no such thing.”
Everyone knew the town’s most famous urban legend.
Before Ariadne was born, her parents’ first child came into the world stillborn. Refusing any public response or funeral, the prominent family ignored the tragedy, and, as will often happen when scandal rubs elbows with the rich, their terse reaction prompted immediate gossip.
Stories claiming that the child survived began circulating the community. The myth grew, taking on an insidious nature.
The most common account had Ariadne’s mom falling in love and fornicating with their prize winning snow-white bull, resulting in the birth of a ferocious monster. Fearing disgrace, Judge Hamilton ordered the creature destroyed. Their doctor, taken by the genetic anomaly and unable to terminate the atrocity, gave the creature to hobos living in scattered shacks dotting the dense woods outside of town so he could study it in secret.
According to rumors, the creature matured and now lurked the forest near Cretan Road andHamilton Heights, a sprawling park on the lake bordering the state’s thick wilderness. Campers and hikers would return from the forest with stories of a hairy, malformed creature stealing food and gear from their campsites before scurrying off into the brush. Once in a while, someone would vanish in the woods, and parents told their kids that the Bullman roamed the neighborhood streets after sunset, stealing and devouring misbehaving children.
No one ever managed to photograph the thing.
No footprints emerged in the rich, dark soil or red clay hills surrounding Hamilton Heights.
Despite a lack of hard evidence, the stories lingered on the public tongue, whispers spoken around crackling campfires and in tight alleyways.
The Hamilton family did not appreciate the yarn and ignored the accounts, debunking them whenever the newspaper reported sightings or ran spotlights for their Halloween editions.
Of all the embarrassing things that could go wrong on a first date with Ariadne Hamilton, Theo couldn’t think of anything worse than Icky seeking out her fabled brother.