More Will Be Revealed: The Secret files of the dept.

How Prohibition made us more reliant on the income tax - Don't ...
After two disastrous attempts at creating mind-controlled combat slaves, the DEPT. temporarily abandoned the project and turned to more theoretical, not to mention political pursuits. Laboring in self-imposed exile and under a veil of secrecy to rival that of the Masons, the DEPT. embarked on its most ambitious undertaking–some would say overtaking–yet.  They were also about to make their biggest blunder to date, one that would come dangerously close to revealing their existence and agenda to the larger world.
 
In the 1920’s, the DEPT. managed to plant an inside man in the very home of the nation’s chief executive.  Neither a cabinet minister nor an adviser, the man who would come to pull the presidential strings with all the moxie of a latter-day Rasputin was none other than Dr. Cygnus Salem, the president’s analyst.  Salem, who had studied under Freud in Vienna, came to the administration with impeccable credentials.  Not until four generations had passed would it be revealed that Cygnus Salem was in fact the reincarnate embodiment of a sorcerer who had been burned at the stake in the Massachusetts town from which he apparently took his name nearly three centuries before.
The DEPT.’s plan was diabolically clever. Using methods that had been employed in Cuba, Dr. Salem and other agents hypnotized or drugged the President and key congressional leaders and used the power of suggestion to influence their respective opinions, and votes concerning the constitutional amendment that would outlaw the sale, purchase, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Evidently, the powers that be at the DEPT. felt that major resources of man-hours and mental energy were being waylaid and usurped by the demon alcohol.  They wanted to harness and channel the suppressed psychic faculties of some 150 million suddenly sober Americans. Inevitably, the rest of the world would bear awed witness to the undoubtedly positive changes taking place in the States and follow suit.
 
But it was not to be.
 
Prohibition, while an utter boon to the Mafia and other crime syndicates, was an abysmal failure for nearly every branch, faction and aspect of the Federal Govt., not least the DEPT. T. Magnus Reid, A Top Secret History of the United States (2nd Edition)

The CIA's Appalling Human Experiments With Mind Control | HISTORY
The DEPT. had scored a major victory for the forces of good over evil, not to mention for the interests of the US.  Their fearless and unflappable savvy in the face of the unknown and the unlikely did not go unnoticed in the invisible circles that constitute the true American govt.  While their methods and beliefs were still largely held suspect by the nation’s upper echelon, their carte blanche was extended, their access to intensely regulated information and heretofore off-limits facilities increased, their tireless efforts on behalf of the undiscovered nether regions coming due in increased influence and notoriety.  Unexpectedly, and tragically, years of suppression and isolation had caused fetishes, obsessions, and resentments to fester in the souls of the DEPT. agents Allowed a glimpse of daylight, these malignancies grew and spread in several of the members, manifesting in addictions to alcohol, narcotics, and other altering substances acquired from shaman, yogi, medicine men and quack pharmacists all over the globe, not to mention subversive behavior, sexual dysfunction, social retardation, and brutal, even murderous tendencies.  Dr. REDACTED, asst, deputy sub-director of the DEPT. from 1940 until 1963, (when he was quietly dismissed for his rather public presumption about who–or more precisely, what–really pulled the trigger on JFK, and later found dead of curare poisoning in a motel room in Galveston, Texas), would later claim that the afflicted DEPT. employees were under the influence of malevolent forces seeking retribution for the defeat they had suffered at the hands of the DEPT.’s spook troop during the War.  True or not, this was the first time any DEPT. member had openly claimed–at least as much as their secretive position would allow–that nonhuman powers beyond our control and comprehension could and did willfully direct the actions of those susceptible to such forces.  It was speculated that these extradimensional invaders had long sought an expansive enough access point to provide easy and unguarded passage between their world and ours.  Ironically, the DEPT. formed the ideal nexus at which such a gate way could be established.

A collective of absolute believers, even the most cynical and jaded amongst them were thoroughly convinced, whether by evidence or conviction, of the existence of uncharted dimensions of space and time, and that these regions, which could not be located on any map, were densely populated with beings both wondrous and horrific, beings whose ultimate intent might well be the subjugation of the human species, or even its utter destruction. T. Magnus Reid, A Top Secret History of the United States (2nd Edition)
MK-Ultra - HISTORY
In the late sixties, such bastions of yellow journalism as the New York Post reported on a series of incidents in which a self-described “freelance subatomic particle fetishist” appeared unannounced in a honeymoon suite at the MGM Grand in Vegas, the living room of a retired dentist in Seattle, Washington, a Dunkin’ Donuts employee bathroom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and in a passport photo booth at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The man, whose accent suggested an Eastern European origin, would give his name only as Satellite, and claimed that he had traveled from his homeland-, and from point to point, not by air, sea, or superhighway, but rather via a dimensional portal of his own design.  He turned up in Washington, DC, perched on Lincoln’s lap in the Memorial, and attempted to patent his invention, of which he would disclose only the blueprints and a blurry Polaroid of what he called the Transspatial Enabler, or Doormension, as Satellite was nothing if not consumer conscious.  The photo resembled nothing more than a black square, just the right size that a medium sized man could squeeze through with some small effort, provided that it wasn’t just a shiny square of acrylic tile adhered to the wall.

Satellite’s bold claims and grand entrances created a low-key buzz amongst a population hungry for light shows, parlor tricks, miracles, anything of entertainment value in the overwhelming midst of social upheaval, assassination aftermath, and the nightmare of jungle warfare.  Satellite sightings were almost as common a phenomenon as glimpses of undead superstar Elvis Presley would come to be a decade or so later.
 
Though the Enabler’s existence was neither proven true nor exposed as fraud, despite the best efforts of everyone from the DEPT. to their archnemeses, the infamous World Skeptic’s Society, Satellite ignored and refused all challenges to present hard evidence to support his boasted feats of dimensional daredevilry for public scrutiny, even when promised big bucks and endorsement possibilities.  Eventually, the public lost interest in the shamelessly self-promoting dimensional drifter and he vanished into the back pages of historical obscurity, the D.B. Cooper of quantum breaking-and-entering.
 
Top fedgov officials, agents of both the NSA and the CIA, and other lifetimers in the inner sanctum, who paid scrupulous attention to such anomalies, however absurd or even comic, speculated that Satellite might have been nabbed by the boys at the Spookhouse, as they could not help but think of it. T. Magnus Reid, A Top Secret History of the United States (2nd Edition)
Why the Story Behind the Manson Family Murders Is Suddenly ...
Meanwhile, the DEPT. had their hands full with the Manson slayings, an orgiastic rampage of West Coast psychosis that had left a seemingly endless stretch of unsolved, unclaimed, and unidentified homicides.  And in Vietnam, after 75-some-odd years of trial-and-error experimentation, the DEPT. of Paranormal Affairs had, with a certainly qualified success, succeeded in fulfilling the legacy of their founder, Dr. REDACTED REDACTED. 
Dubbed the Suture Soldier Project, the foray into reanimation science involved reassembling and reviving the corpses of soldiers whose mangled bodies were deemed too toxic to be returned for burial in home soil.  The first Suture Soldier unit, which consisted of a dozen troops stitched together from the bodies of some 32 men blown to Heaven during a VC ambush on a convoy of armored personnel carriers.  Their lieutenant was a green and fresh-faced officer school type, very much alive.  He thoroughly expected to provide a fleshly feast before his troops even encountered action.  The zombies’ supposedly insatiable thirst for human blood, however, was only ever evidenced, and perhaps sated, in swift and decisive combat maneuvers in which the emotionless and rather single-minded undead units were almost invariably the victors. Their pain centers had all been detached; bullets chewed them up a bit but did little by way of slowing them down. The lieutenant, who received a Distinguished Service Cross at the end of his third tour, and subsequently the first and only military personnel ever to be elected to the DEPT., reported that his initial fears were soon abated when he discovered that most of the soldier’s in his charge were vegetarians. Only once did he witness one of the suture soldiers eat meat.  Powdered steak. The zombie spit it out.
He was so young. They all were': 'Picturing Nam' shows America's ...
The Suture Soldiers were an over-the-wire legend in the embattled cities and sinister jungles of Southeast Asia. As one GI pondered at the time: “If they got dead guys can fight this war as good or better’n me, then what the hell am I still doin’ out here?”
Why didn't we get a future where swimming pools have pinball tables?
While a nation turned its lonely eyes to NASA and Watergate, Patty Hearst and boogie fever, the DEPT., cocky and brash after a round of supersecret successes, turned their singular minds to ever-more ambitious attempts at traversing the dimensional boundary and gaining access to the NeoAtlantean continents of limitless unmapped reality planes. Professor Boston Faraday, DEPT. director since 1963, knew that the only greenlight for his proposed experiments would have to come directly from the American people.  He wanted desperately to go public, but endowed with a more pragmatic brand of wisdom than his departed predecessor, Dr. REDACTED REDACTED knew that widespread awareness and mainstream acceptance of his organization’s existence, and its radically sidereal agenda, could be achieved only by way of a meticulously planned, surreptitiously staged media event that would result in inevitable worldwide coverage and unquestionable exposure of the DEPT. and its eccentric staff of dimension-straddling ethereal pioneers.
The Culham Laboratory Open Days. Photograph by Retro Images Archive
Dr. Lucius Blakdragon first developed the Karmometer in the late 1950’s, in an effort to establish the validity of his theory of Karmatic Physics (now known as SupraQuantum Physics).  He foresaw his machine, a crude assemblage of jerry-rigged gauges, wires, voltage meters, tickertape machines, WW2-era computers, and an authentic witches’ cauldron (acquired from the estate of none other than the legendary Cygnus Salem), as a technological breakthrough that would eventually lead to the inevitable wedding of secular science and applied metaphysics. 
Retro Science Fiction
Dr. Blakdragon, in an address to the London Guild of Apprentice Sorcerers and the Oxford Academy of Science -‘In 1957, described his machine thusly: “The Karmometer, which I have developed almost solely at the expense of myself and a small number of key private investors, performs a rather quite simple task, irrespective of its daunting size (the Karmometer took up nearly the entire space of a two-story barn on the Doctor’s New England estate).  Its sole purpose is to measure the karmic weight, volume, and density of a particular object, and to determine the level of negative or positive karmionic energy emitted from said object.  This enables the owner or prospective owner of the given item in question to determine what type of power the object holds, with regards to whatever psychic baggage has been acquired in the time since its production, and whether or not the object’s influence serves or hinders the interested party.  While the Karmometer has yet to be tested on more advanced life forms, a series of successful experiments recently conducted by myself and my anonymous colleagues on several species of insects and small rodents suggests that my machine’s potential for enhancing the quality of terrestrial existence is not only tremendous, but quite possibly limitless.”
1953 ... emergency in space! | by x-ray delta one
While Blakdragon’s proposal garnered little attention from the “serious” scientific community, the metaphysicists curiosities were predictably peaked.  While celebrated theorists from Altvgeld to Einstein derided him as a “crackpot egoist” and a “20th century snake oil huckster”, Guild members and others in the occult community plotted in secret to wrest control of the Karmometer from the playboy superscientist, to what end one can only speculate.  Whether his pet project was a shameless scam, a profound discovery, or a noble failure, the world would wait 30-some-odd years to learn the truth; Blakdragon’s research came to an abrupt halt with the disappearance of the Doctor on October 31st of that same year, a date which the significance thereof was not lost on either schooled occultists or the simply superstitious.  While investigation into Karmatic theory did continue, it did so on a much smaller scale; Blakdragon’s associates, perhaps fearful of their own fates, or possessed of disturbing information regarding the mystery, went underground, and the scientific community, obsessed with cancer research and the space program, all but forgot the spectre of Lucius Blakdragon until the emergence of quantum theory.

the dept.

nazi rocketeer 3 by IOEFXPROCPP2323 on DeviantArt
It has been widely known for some time that Hitler had agents scouring the globe for legendary objects reputed to possess tremendous supernatural power, ranging from the Holy Grail to the Monolith of Io. During this period the DEPT. established a tenuous camaraderie with the covert limb of the US Armed Forces operations in the European theater. Setting out from the neutral territory of Switzerland, DEPT. agents followed the lead of the SS, seeking the same objects and power sources as the Nazis, hoping, if not to beat them to the coveted items and sacred locales, then at least to prevent their misusing these potentially terrible weapons in their heady grab for world domination.

Thanks to the expedient evolution of technology which entered full swing during the Big One, the once-sequestered unofficial records of the DEPT.’s movements and motives begins to be more consistently documented during this period.  Extensive tapes, photos, and file footage have been uncovered, revealing some extremely shocking occurrences that popular history ignored, or missed completely. Horrors so profound they could almost make the death camps seem like playgrounds…

REDACTED

Perhaps the greatest act of selflessness and heroism to which any of the DEPT.’s agents could ever lay claim occurred on August 3rd, 1944, more than half a year before Hitler’s suicide and the Germans unconditional surrender. Despite the shroud of mystery and the vows of silence that kept it from becoming even a footnote to the struggle until now, the Battle of the Hollow Earth was instrumental in deciding not only the course of the war, but quite probably the fate of humanity.  For the time being.
 
According to sources, members of the DEPT. had utilized their vaudevillian mind control techniques on a number of grunts, selecting the malcontent, the indifferent, and the agnostic to make up their ragtag platoon of supersecret footsoldiers. In late summer of 1944, this motley assemblage of soldiers scientists, and DEPT. operatives encountered one of Hitler’s occult teams at the mouth of the tunnel that led into the core of the planet. Rumor and legend had it that the hollow interior was home to a race of extraterrestrial superhominids who had become stranded on Earth sometime dating back at least as far as the Egyptian empire. The opposing factions, equally determined in their respective goals, clashed at the site, and by chance, an explosion and subsequent avalanche sealed the tunnel entrance, and the Nazis were foiled.

Corroborated testimony from the debriefings suggests quite strongly that the DEPT. had finally succeeded in engaging the services of an actual combat zombie, a prototype at the very least, which was destroyed in the conflagration.  Thus, it can be said that one of the unsung heroes of the Second World War was in fact an Undead Soldier. Yet there is no gravemarker nor plaque to commemorate the selfless, and quite likely mindless, deeds of this khaki-clad Frankenstein’s monster.

T. Magnus Reid
A Top Secret History of the United States
White space shuttle illustration, science fiction, artwork, retro ...
You have to understand, the very nature of their work, work so abstract, so intangible, so bizarre that it placed them beneath legislative consideration. Most of their funding came from private citizens, perversely wealthy eccentrics who had traveled and studied extensively yet never been able to draw their own conclusions about a blessed thing.  This caused resentment, even hostility, towards the DEPT. from under-funded federal agencies whose work, in a societal sense, was far more practical, if not important.  But the boys at the DEPT. were crafty and sly, and had methods at their disposal of which most of us can at best hope to dream.
 
T. Magnus Reid,
A Top Secret History of the United States
Higher dimensional beings -FreeBeats- - YouTube
“I don’t know what’s over there, but it’d sure be a trip to fuck one.”

Baba “Doc” Octagon
Practicing Herbal Shockhealer

Berkeley
7 Strange Cases of Interdimensional Travel (With images ...
“Wild rumors have been circulating regarding these regions. That we have encountered hostility, that we are or will be at war with these…foreigners. Such rumors should, I think, be disregarded, no more true than the outlandish and absurd claims made by less ethereal conspiracy theorists. All contact, albeit limited, has to this date been utterly peaceable, and we have no more reason, save understandable caution in the face of the unknown, to doubt their intentions than they do ours.”

Ronald “Rusty” Mudbathe
2nd Dept Undersecretary
DEPT. of Dimensional Transport
Pin auf deep dream instagram collect
“Take us to your dealer.”

Dubious missive reportedly
received by Dimensional
Communications Faxline
DDT (origin unknown)
Steampunk'D — spacetalin: American Bombers in England, WW2
“I’m really sick and fuckin tired of all these limp-wrist, soft-shoe, ball-less, gutless, namby-pamby pussyfoot mama’s prodigal college boys wasting perfectly good air time and column space for free forum bitchfests. To hear them tell it, every civil servant in this country would mortgage his Grandma’s house to pay his gambling debts. Well, sometimes these things have to be done. It’s a wild kingdom out there, and somebody’s gotta pay the zookeeper.”

Lt. Cmdr. Hunt Rheingolden
Global Armed Services

Billboard for Pepsi Cola Modern (1970's to Present)

“I hear Pepsi’s in contact with their man over there.  Apparently, these…beings…are crazy about the stuff.  Not so much as a beverage as an apparent fuel source.”

Barney Actman
American Association
of Convenience Store Operatives
Forget Mad Men | Used cubicles
“I believe the possibilities for growth and expansion in the extradimensional marketplace have yet to be fully explored.”

Farley Weege
Chairman
Global Cartels Board
File:Industrial High School, Science Class, Demonstration of an ...

  “The problem, as I see it, is that you have a number, a growing number, of  shockingly ordinary individuals, men and women quite limited in capacity when it comes to matters involving practices, rituals, involving very ancient, even sacred, arts. What more attuned, less ‘civilized’ societies have been achieving through real magic, without benefit of quantum theory or sophisticated technology, since time immemorial. The intrinsic difference being that these pre-cultures have developed tremendous respect and profound understanding of the realms of transcendence, and that access granted, whatever the limitations, is a gift from the Gods, an opportunity for acquiring knowledge, not for exploiting this rich resource, as we so-called advanced societies seem hell-bent on doing.”
 
Dr. Small Ajax
Extradimensional Research Team
Harvard University
Cold War espionage paid off—until it backfired, East German spy ...
“Of course the administration was aware of the DEPT. Everyone who was anyone in Washington’s real inner circle knew about it. They were the subject of gossip, the butt of jokes, considered crazier and more dangerous than most CIA field ops. But it wasn’t kosher to admit that you believed any such nonsense. Paranormal phenomena were outré in that realm. And the boys from the DEPT. were persona non grata, except of course for that brief, triumphant period at the end of the Second World War, when the DEPT. was instrumental in stopping the Nazis from gaining access to the Hollow Earth.”

T. Magnus Reid
A Top Secret History of the United States
gif portal light Black and White creepy MY EDIT b&w clouds tornado ...


“Ladies and gentlemen, congressmen and senators, Mr. and Mrs. President, and all the ships in orbit…everything we feared, everything we imagined, everything we disbelieved, is true. We have evidence that certain…we’ll call them… entities are entering and leaving our dimension and acquiring various goods and returning with them to…the other side. We have reason to believe that these entities have nuclear capability, that they have indeed stolen, or perhaps even purchased, nuclear weapons from this dimension. We have no idea at this time what the effects or outcome of a trans or even multi-dimensional nuclear conflict might be, so we want to be certain that we test it first.
 
We feel that there would most likely be losses, acceptable losses, mind you, though we don’t know exactly whose losses, nor to what extent. Due to our inability to as yet enter the gate between our world and the next, it is apparent that a toll may well have to be paid. A taxable toll. And that tax might well come due in human lives. In the name of the human future, we’re prepared to meet that cost.
 
I’m an extradimensional engineer for Biocorp.  I design portals, entryways, into different…ah, I’m not sure what the company’s calling them these days.  A rival research organization has already copyrighted the term Dimension. In fact, I’ll probably get sued just for saying it then.  We’ll call them territories, if you will.  Paranormal territories.  Subreal regions of as-yet-undetermined space, mass, and volume which we feel could be…I hesitate to use the word exploited.  No, I don’t, actually.  Exploited to our gain.  We feel that these dimensions are already being exploited but not by the right groups.  You see everything is available to be exploited, it merely depends on who is doing the exploiting and we know when we are doing it, the end result and ultimate goal is for the good of us all.  Not just on a national, but a global, perhaps even universal level.
 
I’m working on a portal right now that is triggered by a chant, a very primitive chant that I’ve recorded from people’s indigenous to the region that was once the Brazilian rain forest.

There are many indigenous peoples who are traveling in and out of these dimensions, I’m sorry, territories.  Illegally in my opinion. Indigenous and non-indigenous. Non-indigenous beings who have followed the indigenous footsteps, creating a transindigenous superhighway between this plane and others.  We at the facility refer to this as “The Gypsy Flyway”. And that is a licensed trademark of Biocorp, for the record
 
We’re talking about losses of billions of trillions of dollars in revenue due to this virtually unfettered intradimensional travel.  We’re talking about gypsies from another dimension, stealing our nukes, stealing our jobs, stealing our children.
  
The DEPT. of Paranormal Affairs, really, is about jobs. We’re for jobs. The more jobs we’re able to provide, extradimensional engineers, plasmonauts, inner space cadets, alternate reality clerks, subatomic regional managers, commissioners of entity affairs, the better service we do for this country and the species as a whole, and the more this DEPT. has proven its worth in the eyes of the American People.”

Prof. Arvin Schock
Address to the Senate Subcommittee on Historical Revisionism
1952
Famous Private Detectives in Novels, Movies, and TV
“I didn’t useta believe in any a this stuff.  Wolfmen, vampires, ghosts, the walkin’ dead, creatures from deep space. I thought that was all just midnight movies and funny books and tabloid hoohah.  A bonafide skeptic.  But all that changes when ya see yer partner devoured by an unnameable thing while you stand there screamin and soilin yer Bugle Boys. When ya see the people ya love still livin, but not in human form.  That tends to shift the ol’ reality plane a few centimeters to the side.  Some go insane.  That’s cost us a lot.  We lost a lotta good people to the madness. We’re often forced to institutionalize them. Then ya don’t wanna see em again cause, y’know, well, it’s embarassin. And of course it’s top secret.”
 
Damon Ross
DEPT. agent (unspecified)

Ronald Raygun by Jason Rutledge on Dribbble
“I met the Reagans in 1954, debriefing them after their first UFO encounter. I recommended their astrologer.  In fact, I did Nancy’s first star chart, and after that she was sold. Darlings of the White Wing, and New Agers to boot. Whoda thunk it?”
                                                                                                 
Batheson Greeley
Former Director
DEPT.
(1942-1963)

The Good Fight 4: Homefront Out Today!

The Good Fight 4

Happy May Day, people! In honor of the occasion, why not go and get yourself a copy of The Good Fight 4: Homefront and check out Love Vigilantes, my latest addition to the ongoing saga of Duke “HandCannon” LaRue. This one’s the wild, raucous tale of his whirlwind romance, railgun wedding, domestic disasters, and unfathomable fallout with the love of his life and one-time partner-in-crime Liza Fate. Lots of other great tales of superheroic domesticity between these covers (be they paperback or digital). If you prefer, you can always hold out for a hard copy from me, once I’ve got my order in. Thank you for your continued patronage. Both of you!

Last Dance: The Tall Tale TV Audio Edition

Chris Herron at Tall Tale TV has done an audio version of my HandCannon short story, “Last Dance.” Chris himself has a great personal story, having turned on to audiobooks when he was suffering from temporary legal blindness in 2015. He’s since recovered, but launched this project both as a way to give back to folks who can’t experience stories the traditional way, and to give authors like me a promotional boost without having to shell out for the expense of creating an audiobook on our own. I think he’s done a terrific job and his project deserves more eyeballs and earholes, so how about you give this, and other Tall Tale TV stories, a listen?

The Good Fight Vol. 3 For Sale March 21st

March 21st! That’s tomorrow! And by the time some of you read this it’ll be today, or yesterday, or sometime last year when you’ll really wish you’d known about it before all the shit went down. It’s bound to be a wildly entertaining anthology with something for everybody who likes superheroes, funnybooks, movies based on funnybooks about superheroes, TV shows spun off from movies based on funnybooks, or just enjoys slowing their roll long enough in this era of endless infotainment deluge to read crazy genre stuff on the printed and/or digital page.

tgf3ebookcover

Free to Be You & Me, but Mostly Free to You: The Devil’s Right Hand

As I further contemplate the turning of the screw that is achieving a half century of life, I find myself wanting to give away my earthly possessions–well, some of them anyway; definitely not the ones I use daily, like my car or any of my flatscreens or personal electronics–so I figure it’s a fine time to keep it rolling with a digital giveaway of the HandCannon origin story, The Devil’s Right HandSo let your keyboarding fingers do the walking over to Amazon where, from February 15th to the 19th, you can get yourself familiar with the life and times of Duke “HandCannon” LaRue.

And if you happen by today, the book that started it all, The Villain’s Sidekickis available for that same non-price for a few more hours. Makes a great Valentine’s Day gift (for lonely types who like their book-readin’ anyhow).

from the author of -The villain's sidekick-' (1) copy

Blood, Guts and Brains

diedogbanner

“Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet” first came to my attention thanks to “States of Terror” editor/publisher Matt Lewis. Considering I wrote a story about the Florida skunk ape for volume two of that collection, I was instantly intrigued to hear about Adam Howe’s “Damn Dirty Apes,” the first of three novellas in this book. It’s a twisted, pulpy Southern gothic adventure tale peopled with backwoods pornographers, ape-centric biker gangs, cryptid-hunting eccentrics, and a damaged-but-unbroken ex-prizefighter at the center of it all. It caroms from grim brutality to cartoonish otherworldly violence while rarely pausing for breath, and there’s a strong sense that Howe’s introducing one of those gruffly likable protagonist who could keep on having these kinds of reluctant adventures for years to come (and since there’s a sequel novel on the way, I may not be too far off in that guess).

The shortest of the three, “Gator Bait,” is a horror noir that’s equal parts James M. Cain and Stephen King in its Prohibition-era tale of a piano-playing ladies’ man forced to go on the lam after getting the drop on a cuckold bent on ending his adulterous days. Of course, stumbling into a new gig at a swampy roadside honkytonk run by a dangerous bootlegger with a gorgeous battered wife can only lead one way for the hapless ivory-tickler, no matter how often he claims to have sworn off the dames. Especially if the alligator in the pond out back has a say in the matter.

Throughout both of these Southern-fried tales, so steeped in the language and specifics of 20th-century hardboiled Americana, it’s easy to forget that Howe’s a Brit by birth. The stories read quick, funny and fun, with that enviable combination of smart satisfying wordplay and evocative imagery, yet with nary a wasted or extraneous word.

But the one that really grabbed me by the nards and wouldn’t let go is the one that gives the book its title. Unlike the other two tales, which are occasionally crude or violent but essentially accessible, “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet” is one I would not recommend to the even vaguely squeamish. Easily the best horror movie I’ve read in ages, the less I say about its hardcore horror conceit the better, as I don’t want to spoil the immensely satisfying twists and turns it takes with its simple but brilliant “dammit why didn’t I think a that?!” premise.

Suffice to say, fans of old school pulp with a postmodern twist, over-the-top action-adventure lovers, and sick fucks who enjoy stories with as much brains as blood and guts will all find something to love inside Howe’s twisted little worlds.