{Guest Post} In Darkness, Delight: Fear The Future – Sheldon Higdon Discusses The Unannounced Character In His Short ‘And the Winner is….’

Corpus Press Anthology In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future

The Unannounced Character in ‘And the Winner is….’

By Sheldon Higdon

Tomorrow is coming whether you’re ready or not.

In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future delivers twenty-two strikingly original tales of terror from Bram Stoker Award®-winners, bestselling authors, genre stalwarts and rising stars.

Includes Emmy-winning, New York Times bestselling author and world-famous magician Penn Jillette’s delightfully wicked short story “The Pain Addict,” which was adapted for a hit sci-fi anthology television series and is available here exclusively for the first time in book format.

Be warned: these are not science fiction stories with a dash of dread. These are visions of the horrifying futures that await us all.

You can buy Fear The Future HERE

Themes are unseen characters. Almost coy. They’re sneaky. Often unannounced. They slip into a work of fiction without notice through the keyhole of the back door or through a small crack in the side window. They hide in plain sight. And that’s what makes them special.

Can they show up by kicking in the front door, with a drink in hand, and a lampshade on their head? Sure. Although, subtlety can go a long way.

They are best when they are free to be birthed from the subconscious. The heart. They like to reveal themselves over time. A slow burn, because it’s better to settle in your brain and linger there until after the novel or story has long been finished.

Themes are modest characters, and they have a voice with a message.

For my story, “And the Winner is…,” I didn’t set out to create the theme that lies between the words, nestled in those tiny spaces of sentences and paragraphs. It came forward after I finished telling the story of a bleak life, and bleaker future, for a young girl.

Decisions. That’s the theme. (Although there is a secondary theme that’s hiding in those tiny spaces as well. A personal theme that shows up in nearly everything I write. A character I never realized was there until many years later. But that’s another article.)

In the film The Matrix, Neo is given a choice between a red and blue pill by Morpheus. One pill was to learn an unsettling truth while the other was to remain in ignorance. Neo must decide. But his decision was his and his alone, and his to own.

In my story, the initial decision in question lies with Darlene’s mother. One she made many years before Darlene would ever have the right, or be old enough, to make for herself. That decision affected others as well. Not just Darlene or her mother. If you’re a parent like me then you know we make decisions for our children every day. We do our best with the best intentions. But sometimes what we parents think is right—can be wrong.

Several times throughout the story, Darlene’s mother makes decisions on her daughter’s behalf. She’s a parent. It’s what parents do. But the worse kind of decision making is when they are made under emotional stress. Darlene and her mother are living in irrational, scary times, which can cause desperate thinking. And for Darlene’s mother, she floors the gas pedal of her emotions, and without considering the safety of the passengers or reading the road signs, she speeds down the highway of helplessness. Her fuel is a mix of Fear, Desperation, and Love, and she’s running on all cylinders.

She means well. At the heart of it all, she’s trying to protect Darlene as best as she can even though she’s creating more problems for herself, and for Darlene. Problems that come with a cost.

As the writer of this story, I, in a way, am Darlene’s mother, and Darlene, too. How would I react to the situation? If pressed against the wall? Put into a corner? Would I claw and fight my way out? Hell, yeah, I would. But how? With what? However, I wouldn’t choose the choice that Darlene’s mother decided upon. A choice she had made in her head a long time ago in case she were put into such a position. And she’s put into that position. I wonder what decision Darlene would have made if given the chance. Would she press the pedal to the metal, or would she have run through the algorithms in her head and come up with a better solution with a better outcome? Who knows?

At first Darlene wasn’t okay with her mother’s frightening decision, but as kids do, she believed her mother had made the right one. But the sad realization of that decision proves otherwise.

As I mentioned before, themes are best when they come from the subconscious. From the heart. Because when they show up unannounced, they’re honest.

As a parent of a child who is going to become a teenager in the next year, the theme came from a parent who is happy, but scared of letting go, nervous of letting the child make choices of their own. Because parents want what’s best for their children. We want them to be more successful than us. To achieve more. To be better than us. To make less mistakes. To be happier. But we need to let them make mistakes. To let them carve out their futures. Our kids are smarter than we realize. And much stronger, too.

Sometimes the toughest decisions are made at the request of the ugliest choices.

But when the time comes, we have to let them decide between the red and blue pill.

Sheldon Higdon

Sheldon Higdon’s story “And the Winner Is…” is in In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future, an anthology from Corpus Press. With over forty publications to his name, SHELDON HIGDON has been featured in publications such as Rue Morgue, The Portland Monthly, Tales from the Lake Volume 4, Anthology Year Three: Distant Dying Ember, Writers on Writing Volume 4, and the anthology Madhouse, to name a few. He is also an award-winning screenwriter for his short script “Conundrum”, which won the Best Short Screenplay category at the Eerie Horror Film Festival in 2009. In 2013, he completed his MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Follow Sheldon on Twitter @HigdonSheldon

Corpus Press Anthology In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future

In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future, edited by Andrew Lennon and Evans Light, and a cover by Mikio Murakami, delivers twenty-two strikingly original tales of terror from Bram Stoker Award® winners, best-selling authors, and rising talent in the genre – even a world-renowned celebrity is part of the lineup – in the third volume of its ongoing In Darkness, Delight horror anthology series.

Be warned: these are not science fiction stories with a dash of dread. These are visions of the horrifying futures that may await us all.

Fans of television’s Black Mirror are sure to enjoy Emmy winning and New York Times best-selling author Penn Jillette’s (of Penn & Teller fame) delightfully wicked short story “The Pain Doctor,” which was adapted for the Netflix hit series and is available here exclusively for the first time in book format.

Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award® winner, gets things off to a strong start with the chilling “Airborne,” while Max Booth III (whose film We Need to Do Something is set for theatrical release later this year) shines a light on the madness of modern technology with the ever-escalating “Noise.” Two-time Bram Stoker Award® winner Eric J. Guignard creates magic of his own with shimmering prose in the dreamlike “If I Drive Before I Wake.”

Michael Laimo, author of the bestsellers Deep in the Darkness and Lost Souls, turns the wonders of childbirth inside-out with the grotesque “Err.” Joanna Koch, Shirley Jackson Award finalist and rising star of all things bizarre, delivers the goods in their unique style with “Schroedinger’s Head.” Stories by Tim Curran and William Miekle show the genre favorites at the top of their game, and the list goes on, even including some first-publication authors so talented you won’t be able to pick them out from the more established.

These stories have been selected by the editors from over two million words worth of prose submitted from authors all over the world, enough stories to fill twenty-five volumes. These tales were specifically chosen for inclusion because, together, they offer a perfectly balanced blend of style, substance and diversity of themes. In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future is a collection you don’t want to miss.

In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future Info –

Humankind’s greatest fear is and will always be the unknown, dreading whatever gruesome horrors tomorrow may bring. The pain of the past is nothing when the worst is yet to come. The only thing that’s certain: it’s going to end badly.

In Darkness, Delight is an original anthology series revealing the many facets of modern horror —shocking and quiet, pulp and literary, cold-hearted and heart-felt, weird tales of spiraling madness alongside full-throttle thrillers. Open these pages and unleash all-new terrors that consume from without and within.

In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future is available now (Sept 14, 2021) with worldwide release and available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover editions.

Order your copy of Fear The Future HERE

Table of Contents –

Airborne,” by Lisa Morton

Err,” by Michael Laimo

Daddy’s Girl,” by Ben Eads

Husk,” by Marshall J Moore

We Have Names, Too,” by Michelle Muenzler

The Haunting of Asteroid H111,” by Van Aaron Hughes

Shoulda Read the Fine Print,” Blanche by Ben Lawrence

Transference,” by Jenn Hopkins

Game Over,” by Andrew Lennon

Schroedinger’s Head,” by Joanna Koch

Locusts,” by Dominick Cancilla

Pain Addict,” by Penn Jillette

The Sluggie Rebellion,” by William Meikle

Noise,” by Max Booth III

They Mattered,” by Evans Light

Billy Campbell’s Bones,” by Jason Washer

Survival is an Act of Selflessness,” by Frank Oreto

Boxed In,” by CS Mergo

What It Takes,” by Phil Sloman

Neuroworm,” by Tim Curran

And the Winner is…,” by Sheldon Higdon

If I Drive Before I Wake,” by Eric J Guignard

About the Authors –

Max Booth III doesn’t exist. If you spot him in public, call your local authorities immediately, but let’s be honest: by then it’s probably too late.

Dominick Cancilla lives in Santa Monica, California, with author Deborah Markus, their lizards, and a deep bitterness for a universe that would allow Disneyland to be closed for so long. His short fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, and he’s very proud of his most recent novel – Tomorrow’s Journal – but right now he’s mostly just pissed off about the Disneyland thing.

Tim Curran is the author of Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, Resurrection, The Devil Next Door, Dead Sea Chronicles, Clownflesh, and Biohazard. His short stories have been collected in Bone Marrow Stew and Zombie Pulp. His novellas include The Underdwelling, The Corpse King, Puppet Graveyard, Worm, and Blackout. His fiction has been translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian.

Ben Eads’ short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies published by Crystal Lake Publishing, Shroud Magazine and Seventh Star Press. His first novella, Cracked Sky, was published in 2015 by the Bram Stoker Award® Winning press Omnium Gatherum. His latest book, Hollow Heart, is now available.

Eric J. Guignard is a writer and anthologist of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles. He’s twice won the Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award, and is a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize. Latest books include his novel Doorways to the Deadeye, novella Last Case at a Baggage Auction, and short story collection That Which Grows Wild (Cemetery Dance), as well as an ongoing series of author primers championing modern masters Exploring Dark Short Fiction, through his press Dark Moon Books. Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

With over forty publications to his name, Sheldon Higdon has been featured in publications such as Rue Morgue, The Portland Monthly, Tales from the Lake Volume 4, Anthology Year Three: Distant Dying Ember, Writers on Writing Volume 4, and the anthology Madhouse, to name a few. He is also an award-winning screenwriter for his short script “Conundrum”, which won the Best Short Screenplay category at the Eerie Horror Film Festival in 2009. In 2013, he completed his MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Jennifer Hopkins was raised in the stormy Pacific Northwest where the clouds roll in at noon and the sun goes down at four in the afternoon, transforming everything to midnight. It’s a setting that has inspired much of her dark fantasy and horror fiction. A lover of nature and well-baked treats, Jen lives in Seattle with both the rain and her lucky black cat. She has seven magazine publications and a long-running blog. She earned an Honorary Mention by the Richard Hugo House’s Quattro Spec Fiction contest for her story “Earthbound” and by Scriptapalooza for her script “Supernatural: Green-eyed Monster”.

Van Aaron Hughes has published stories in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionWriters of the Future Vol. 27Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several other magazines and anthologies. IRL he is a commercial lawyer practicing in Denver and has argued before the United States Supreme Court. His wife, his three children, and his dog are all much cooler than he is.

Penn Jillette is an American magician, actor, musician, inventor, television presenter, and author, best known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller. The duo has been featured in numerous stage and television shows, such as Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and is currently headlining in Las Vegas at The Rio. Jillette has published eight books, including the New York Times Bestseller, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales. His story in this book was adapted for the hit television series Black Mirror.

Joanna Koch (Joe) writes literary horror and surrealist trash. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist and author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, their short fiction appears in anthologies such as Not All Monsters, The Big Book of Blasphemy, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 5: Going Global.

Michael Laimo is the author of seven novels and over 100 short stories, most of which have been published in four collections. His novels Deep in the Darkness and Dead Souls have been made into feature films and are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. He is currently at work on a new novel, an erotic thriller titled Missed Connection.

In his mind, Ben Lawrence is a best-selling author ranking alongside the very best horror masters, but in truth this is his first time having a story published and he has bloody loved every moment of it. Ben wishes he wrote on a haunted old typewriter atop a wind-swept hill studded with tombstones, but he really lives in a one-bed apartment in London with his better half and their over-weight Frenchie ‘Peggy Olson’. If his work is well received, Ben intends to write more revolting shenanigans.

Andrew Lennon is the author of Every Twisted Thought along with many other novels, collections and short fiction. His work has been featured in anthologies alongside horror royalty such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Richard Chizmar and Clive Barker, and he is fast becoming a recognized name in the genre himself. Andrew is happily married, living in the Northwest of England with his wife Hazel and their children.

Evans Light lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, surrounded by thousands of vintage horror paperbacks. He is author of Screamscapes: Tales of Terror, the upcoming I Am Halloween, and more. He is editor of Doorbells at Dusk and the In Darkness, Delight horror anthology series, and is co-creator of Bad Apples: Halloween Horrors and Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love.

C.S. Mergo writes stories about long lost pasts and broken futures.

William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with over thirty novels published in the genre press and more than 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press and Severed Press and his work has appeared in a large number of professional anthologies and magazines. He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company. When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Marshall J. Moore is a writer, filmmaker, and martial artist who was born and raised on Kwajalein, a tiny Pacific island. He has traveled to nearly thirty countries, once sold a thousand dollars’ worth of teapots to Jackie Chan, and on one occasion was tracked down by a bounty hunter for owing $300 in overdue fees to the Los Angeles Public Library. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Megan and their two cats.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening.” She is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, the author of four novels and over 150 short stories, and a world-class Halloween expert. Her most recent release is the collection Night Terrors & Other Tales; she also writes weekly new fiction for the Spine Tinglers podcast. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at lisamorton.com.

Michelle Muenzler, author of the weird and sometimes poet, writes words both dark and strange to counterbalance the sweetness of her baking. Check out her website for links to more of her work (and cookie recipes!), or say hello on Facebook where she often lurks.

Frank Oreto is a writer of weird fiction living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His stories have appeared or are upcoming in Unnerving, The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, and Pseudopod. When not telling stories he spends his time creating elaborate meals for his wife and many hungry children.

Phil Sloman is a writer of dark psychological fiction. His first story was published in 2014 and he has been writing ever since, with his work making regular appearances on “Year’s Best” lists. In 2017 his novella Becoming David was shortlisted for British Fantasy “Best Newcomer” Award, and was a contributor to Imposter Syndrome (Dark Minds Press) which was nominated for the British Fantasy “Best Anthology” Award in 2018. In 2020, he edited The Woods, which was also nominated for the British Fantasy “Best Anthology” Award.

Jason Washer lives in rural New Hampshire and divides his time between caring for his three young children, running a small business, and writing late into the night at his kitchen table.

About Corpus Press –

Corpus Press is a publisher of horror and weird fiction, specializing in modern pulp that emphasizes plot over gore. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the press has garnered praise from SCREAM MagazineCemetery DanceHorror Novel ReviewsHellnotes and others for its Bad Apples: Slices of Halloween Horror series, the anthology Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love, and for its short story collections and novellas.

Follow Corpus Press for news on the In Darkness, Delight anthology series and much more:


How do I get a review copy or request an interview or feature?

Review copies are currently available upon request, as well as scheduling is open with *select* contributing authors and editors, by contacting Erin Al-Mehairi, PR professional, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

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