With the release of Paul Tremblay’s new short story collection Growing Things And Other Stories on the horizon for 2019, we’re thrilled to be able to reveal the cover for the book, as well as an exclusive excerpt from short story The Thirteenth Temple (the ‘new’ A Head Full Of Ghosts story).
A mixture of some of Paul’s most acclaimed short fiction (most of which will be produced here for the UK market for the first time) and new stories set in the worlds of two of his popular novels, Growing Things And Other Stories is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination–a nerve-rending collection with much to offer Tremblay fans new and old.
In the metafictional novella Notes From The Dog Walkers, the blogger Karen Brissette (last seen in A Head Full of Ghosts) deconstructs the horror genre while also telling a story that serves as a prequel to Disappearance At Devil’s Rock. The Thirteenth Tower follows Merry from A Head Full Of Ghosts, who has published a tell-all memoir years after the events of the novel. And the title story, Growing Things, loosely related by one character to another in A Head Full Of Ghosts, is told here in full for the first time.
Here’s an exclusive look at the cover:
Read the exclusive excerpt from The Thirteenth Temple, the ‘new’ A Head Full Of Ghosts story, here:
All three planks of wood are the same size and weight. Mom cradles hers as though it’s a sleeping child. Dad carries his plank balanced on his left shoulder so the length of it trails behind him like a dumb, dangerous tail. Merry drags her plank. It’s as tall as she is. Merry makes this-is-sooo-heavy sounds and grumbles about the splinters she’s getting in her fingers and palms. She hates splinters. No one likes splinters, of course, but even her older sister, Marjorie, has to agree that Merry might hate them more than anyone else alive. Merry doesn’t let anyone pluck or dig them out. She cries, kicks, and screams (often doing so before tweezers or a sewing needle even makes bodily contact) until the would-be splinter-remover gives up and then her sister says something mocking like, “Fine, let it sink inside you, into the oblivion of your skin.” Her desperate parents once snuck into Merry’s bedroom and tried worrying out a nasty spike of wood lodged in the sole of her foot while she was asleep.
The village square isn’t a square and is instead a circle, which is a joke they are all in on. Nothing grows inside the circle and its soil is a rusty, organic shade of red that isn’t quite red. The other villagers stand at the perimeter of the circle, waiting for the three Barretts. No one talks. Merry waves a small finger at her friend Ken but he doesn’t wave back. She’s mad at him now and hopes he gets a nasty splinter later.
The Barretts enter the circle. Merry walks backward and makes a snake’s path in the red soil with her dragged plank. She wonders if she’ll be able to follow the path back to her house and then how long before the path is erased.
The circle’s center is not marked, but is easily found, or determined. Dad throws his plank to the ground, kicking up a dust cloud that settles and disappears quickly. He apologises, and Merry isn’t sure to whom he’s apologising.
Mom admonishes Merry to come closer and pay attention to what she is doing. The villagers are watching and Merry feels like she’s shrinking and shrivelling up. She wishes she could hide. Mom holds the plank upright, its base rooted to the ground. Dad and Merry do the same with their planks and become the other two vertices of the family triangle. Dad opens his mouth as though he’s going to say something but doesn’t. Merry wonders if he was supposed to speak. Maybe he forgets the words. Maybe he’s ruined everything.
Merry doesn’t know where her parents got the wood. She doesn’t think they got the planks from a neighbour or from the market. She worries her parents took boards out of the walls or from the ceiling or the floors or from some other really important area that needs those wooden planks to help keep their house from falling down.
On an unseen and unheard cue, the Barretts tilt the planks toward each other until all three intersect at their top ends. The Barretts let go and the planks form a free-standing tripod frame, the bare bones of a crude pyramid. Merry wants to sit inside and pretend this is meant for her to stay in forever.
Mom and Dad announce in unison, “This is the first temple.”
Merry remembers she was supposed to say the same thing. The villagers judge her silence, tsk-tsking their disapproval. She hopes she isn’t going to be in trouble later.
Everyone is still for a long time. Maybe the ceremony is over but no one realises it.
Mom lashes out with a foot and sweeps away one plank. Dad makes a noise Merry never wants to hear again. All three planks fall to the ground.
Mom and Dad each take one of Merry’s hands and they walk out of the circle. Merry drags her feet, wanting to create more snake paths to confuse anyone who might try to follow, but she can’t do that and keep up with her parents.
The villagers slowly enter the circle and commune at the small pile of rubble. They begin discussions that will continue until dark, discussions that will not be of any concern of the Barrett family. At least not yet.
As soon as she gets home, Merry runs upstairs to Marjorie’s bedroom and tells her all about the ceremony. Marjorie isn’t well and had to stay home, stuck in bed, huddled under the covers.
Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, The Cabin at the End of the World and The Little Sleep. He is currently a member of the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly.com, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family. www.paultremblay.net
Growing Things And Other Stories is out in 2019. Get all the latest fantasy news with every issue of SciFiNow.