Midnight Echo Issue 8 Preview – Jason Fischeron October 17, 2012 at 8:00 am
With the release of Midnight Echo Issue 8 coming up fast, the Midnight Goblins thought it would be fun to line up our contributors and let you have a taste of what’s in store.
Don’t forget, pre-orders are now being taken for what’s gonna be a wild issue. Just click here for details.
The first suspect in our line up is Jason Fischer, who sent us a story we couldn’t refuse. It was a new take on a popular topic, and one that just worked so damn well…
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Midnight Echo: What is your favourite short story and why?
Jason Fischer: That is a trick question, no-one can narrow it down to one story. Here, have three, it’s the best I can do!
“Wives” by Paul Haines – okay, it’s a novella, but brilliant all the same. The man came up with the most evocative Australian dystopia I’ve seen in ages. There is not a single likeable character in the piece, only oppressors and victims. Slavery, brutality, it’s got the works, but it’s all in there for a reason. Probably the closest thing to a perfectly realised dystopia, and one of Paul’s finest works.
“On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R Lansdale. Because it’s just so gonzo and brutal and fun. If it was ever filmed, it would push Tarantino to his limit (because no-one else could pull this off).
And everything in the Vance-themed anthology “Songs of the Dying Earth” (George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman etc etc). Because it is such a brilliant concept, and 99% of the authors pull it off with aplomb. So really, this is like my thirty or so favourite stories. My answer stands!
Midnight Echo: What was the inspiration behind Pigroot Flat?
Jason: I started off with a very conscious decision to write a reverse Wolf Creek. A protagonist who is actually quite evil, but understandable, maybe even an object of sympathy. Throw in an Aussie-flavoured zombie apocalypse as I am wont to do, and there is the backbone of the story.
However, the story changed in an interesting way, even as I wrote it. Dipping into a recent family experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder, my zombies were no longer the shambling menace of Romero lore. This time around, they were figures to be pitied, babbling simpletons with devolving language skills. Packs of rotting figures, approaching the world with the enthusiasm of children. Of course they will kill you with kindness, slobbering death all over you and pawing you with infected hands – but oh how they love you!
Midnight Echo: What scares Jason Fischer?
Jason: Icebergs scare the crap out of me. Not the tops of them, they’re like ice-cream cakes cruising through the ocean and are actually adorable. I mean that great dark hanging mass underneath the waves, extending deep, deep into the ocean. There’s something about all of that hidden mass that breaks me out into a cold sweat. Just the thought of being beneath a mountain of dark ice is awful (not to mention also being so far underwater that the pressure alone would pop your skull like a grape). Even just the knowledge that the bulk of the iceberg is underwater is enough to give me the willies, even if you don’t see the diagram/photo/whatever.
Also, krakens and giant squid. You’ll note I’ve not written about any of these things in my fiction. Zombies on the other hand, I love those rotten buggers. They’re just not that scary to me.
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By Jason Fischer
The flies should have given fair warning to Hazel. That, or Codger straining at his leash and barking like an idiot. But the dog was asleep, his feet twitching in a dream. Hazel was wool-gathering in the garden, turning pigshit into the red earth and wondering if anything would grow. A dozen flies became a hundred, then the tin-cans began to rattle.
Dropping the shovel, Hazel ran.
Swearing at the useless dog, she knocked him in the ribs with her boot. Codger barked then, barked for all he was worth. Hazel hauled him along by the collar, and the stupid mutt yipped excitedly, doing his best to wriggle out of her grip.
Hazel had done a turn or two as a roustabout, and years spent throwing sheep and feed gave her ropy arms strength. More cans rattled, and she dragged the pig-dog up the ladder, even as he yipped and gagged and choked on his collar.
Early on she’d spent a whole day on the roof, and nightfall saw her sunburnt and thirsty. She had a camp up there now, slept there most nights. A beach umbrella, food and water, a swag and some chairs. The old rifle and the CB, for all either were worth. Codger couldn’t be trusted not to fall off the bloody roof, and so he was tied to the TV antenna.
He barked enough to do himself an injury. Hazel sighed, and watched as her visitors ran around the yard, buggering everything up. Dozens of them today, tripping over the ankle-high fencing wire, rattling the tin cans and cowbells she’d attached every few feet.
They were in the garden now, knocking over stakes and squashing the seedlings. The sound of breaking glass came from the green-house, and they even tried the doors on the four-wheel drive, chattering excitedly as they pounded on the windows.
“Ba Ba Ba!” they shouted gleefully. HAZEL’S ECO TOURS, a dusty decal read on the driver’s side door. The tires were flat, the engine out and in pieces.
“Stupid bastards,” Hazel said, wincing as they clattered around on the porch, ran through the house underneath her. It got that it wasn’t even worth fixing up the doors and windows, so she just left everything open now. That way, they’d go through the house with a minimum of damage, and pour out into the backyard when they got bored.
Hazel had set up a playground to draw them out. Toys, bikes, footballs, even a swing-set. She’d visited the Halletts recently, her neighbours from ten clicks up the road. They’d had kids, probably all dead now. Their farm was silent, and she never cared to linger long.
The ladder scraped along the guttering, and Hazel swore. She dropped her half-rolled cigarette, and slid across the hot tiles, grabbing at the top rung. There was resistance at the other end, and she peered over the side. A rotten face stared up at her.
A woman, a few days on the wrong side of dead. She should have been so much rotten meat, but here she was, smiling up at Hazel, hauling on the ladder for all she was worth. The stink was enough to make Hazel gag, and almost every inch of the walking corpse was covered in flies.
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Biography – Jason Fischer
Jason Fischer lives near Adelaide, South Australia, with his wife and son. He has a passion for godawful puns, and is known to sing karaoke until the small hours. He is the author of over thirty short stories, with his first collection appearing soon from Ticonderoga Publications.
Jason attended the Clarion South writers workshop in 2007, and has been shortlisted in the Aurealis Awards, the Ditmar Awards, and the Australian Shadows Awards. He won the 2009 AHWA Short Story and the 2010 AHWA Flash Fiction Competitions, and is a winner of the Writers of the Future contest.