Three Family Portraits by Matt Henshaw

Matt Henshaw provides us with a rather unique series of snapshots, showcasing a dysfunctional family at three different stages. The parents are awful, disgusting, and happier apart. As it turns out, they receive a child that almost perfectly resembles the state of their relationship and the household he’ll soon be joining.
We begin with the premature birth of Mother and Father’s new son, as labor begins during Mother’s shift waitressing at the diner. Father, unfaithful and almost certain the child isn’t his, finally arrives in the delivery room to witness the excruciating birth of a child neither parent could have anticipated.
We skip forward eighteen months for our next glimpse of the family trio, witnessing further descent into chaos. While they’ve been blessed with something that is not the child they expected, Mother insists on struggling to do her best while Father distances himself to a greater extent.
Skipping forward one final time, we are treated to something repulsive and insane, a household fully descended into madness, filth, and decay. You’ll have to read it for yourself if you want to know more. I can’t tell you anything else because sharing any further details would spoil the whole experience.
Henshaw hits us with a raw and visceral nightmare of parenthood. Tapping into something I think might be more common than a lot of people think, he paints us a textual portrait of the fears and terrors that plague all new parents as they await the birth of their first child, or maybe every child, taken to an extreme that leaves the reader repulsed.

This title is part of the http://www.godless.com 31 Days of Godless event, released on October 24th, 2021. You can obtain it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Curse of the Ratman by Jay Wilburn

To set the stage for this story, the best I can think to suggest is that it’s a twisted abomination crafted by combining Willard (either the 1971 classic or the superior 2003 remake) with the Clive Barker story, “In the Hills, the Cities.” That doesn’t truly capture the sheer giant monster lunacy of what Wilburn’s created here, but it’ll whet the appetite and prepare the reader as best one can.
A family curse comes on with a vengeance, rampaging across the southeast, leaving a swath of devastation that can only be explained as a natural disaster. To call it an act of God would be to beg the question of what sort of God would allow such a monstrosity to exist.
The intense pacing of Wilburn’s tale propels us forward even as we want to turn back, knowing that nothing good can come of what he’s racing us toward.
If he’d written a novel, including more of the family history and details of the events in the distant past, I’d have gleefully settled in to read the whole thing. As captivating as the story gets, with the expanding threat thundering its way across the landscape, I would love to dive into the origins of the curse in greater detail. There’s a thoroughly fascinating story to be told, and maybe if we beg Wilburn enough–in the form of spreading the word of the Ratman–he’ll find himself compelled to share that part of the tale with us in similar detail.

This novella was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com and you can pick it up for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app. The link is below:

Curse of the Ratman by Jay Wilburn

Thinking About the Future

I have spent a little while deliberating with myself…trying to determine the best way that I can manage to frame a proposal…proposal for marriage, that is.
Something romantic, something sweet, something that might even bring tears to her eyes.
I want to do this right. I want to make it something that she will treasure and look back upon with unparalleled fondness for the rest of her life.
I have plenty of time left to think about this particular subject…there won’t be an engagement until she and I both have finalized divorces, and I still won’t be able to afford the ring that she deserves until some time after that, I’m sure…not without some major changes in my financial status.
I keep wishing that I could do something worthwhile to change my life in a fairly expedient manner, something to make me feel more worthy of her choosing to spend her life with me. I know that she is happy with me just the way that I am, and I can’t begin to express the gratitude that I feel for that…but I want to give her the life that I know she deserves, and to be able to provide the degree of comfort and happiness that I want us to all share as a family. I really need to get more writing done, and it needs to be fucking spectacular…because there is no other way that I could conceive of that I might be able to build the sort of life that I want for us. It won’t matter when people don’t even read what I’ve already written…I wish that I could be taken seriously as an author, but it doesn’t feel like that is happening.
I’ve gotten off track though.
I want to be in a position to give her the wedding that she deserves. I want us to have a lovely little vacation for our honeymoon. I want to be able to take actual vacations as a family…to places outside of South Dakota. I really want to have a better life than the one I have been living, to provide my children and my future wife (and her children as well) with a better life than I had…and so far I have been doing a less than stellar job of that.
It’s a moot point though, I can want in one hand and shit in the other…and we know which one will fill up first. I am putting the cart before the horse anyhow…I need to figure out how to propose to her before I worry about putting together the right wedding for us…or any sort of honeymoon.
Anyone who has any suggestions…I am happy to hear them.