Wall of Fire ignites on Nov. 5, 2019

What would you walk through fire for…

Cover design: Aaron Bilawchuk & Emily Pratt

November 5, 2019

Terrace VII: Wall of Fire

By Robert Bose & Sarah L. Johnson

Welcome to the Seventh Terrace of Dante’s tower of Purgatory. Here, in darkness lit only by a wall of flame, we find souls enslaved by the sin of lust. Desire, curdled by madness and desperation. From a pair of crazy-in-love criminals on a scavenger hunt at the outskirts of Hell, to a lonely custodian working in a love doll brothel, to a sinister lingerie boutique hidden behind a red door. Lust is a great and terrible thing, and this collection of dark tales follows a mere handful of the many paths leading to the wall of fire.

Hot or Not?

We review books, music, trail races, deep sea creatures, colours on the visible spectrum, and whatever else we feel like, on a rating scale of one to five sin-purging flames.

2020: The Year We All Walked Through Fire


L: NOGGY!!!
N: Jesus, Lola…what?
L: It’s January 11, 2021.
N: Congratulations, you learned to read a calendar. Next, you’re going tell me it’s 6:43 p.m.
L: Shut up, I just meant eleven days is enough time to get some perspective on the most remarkable year in living memory.
N: Hate to break it to you, Silkysocks but I don’t even remember what happened last week.
L: Put the bottle down and let’s do this.
N: Fine, but let the record show I am aggrieved. Are we even allowed to talk about this stuff? People might get mad.
L: For that to happen they’d have to read our blog.
N: Which no one has. Ever.
L: So, let’s warm up with the good. We had two whole months that weren’t a pandemic.

The Good

  • Launched End of the Loop and Starseed by getting drunk on something blue called Sex in (on?) the Driveway and presenting the first and possibly last episode of Between Two Flames over Zoom. Poor Guy…
  • Attended Wordbridge in Little LA and got lost in a blizzard tryin’ to find Arby’s.
  • Celebrated Noggy’s b-day sucking the cream out of a bunch of cannoli.
  • Summer road trip to BC. Noggy, Lola, and Particle Man, running through the mountains, angering the gods, and capping it off riding Sturgeons in Revelstoke for Lola’s Birthday.
  • Bloody Offensive Literary Salon. A real boner of a good time.
  • Neither of us got fired/arrested/strip-searched or investigated for crimes against the living or dead. Or god(s).
  • Crashed a wedding. That sooo needed crashing.
  • Attended 80’s themed book launch in the most disgusting dive in the city on the coldest day in twenty years. Noggy really took a shine to his red metallic leggings. Cash bar. Bathrooms physically residing in Hell. But hey, great band!
  • Noggy & Lola’s alter egos saw their very first co-written story, about Grandpa’s freezer meat, purchased for actual money, and published in an actual book called Chew on This!
  • Road trip to Taber, complete with lunch at the Mexican-Ukrainian fusion restaurant and Lola desecrating Noggy’s grandfather’s grave (details redacted, but there were haunted soul holes and spiders. And owls.).
  • Wrote an epic poem for Particle Man’s birthday “The Many Deaths of Particle Man.”
  • Taylor Swift released two new amazing records!
  • Exotic cocktails with the Secret Saturday Night Quarantine Society.
  • Working from home.
  • First name basis at local liquor stores.
  • Picnics.
  • Full moon runs.
  • Jaja Ding Dong.

The Bad

  • Lola dropped her phone down a mountain trying to take a picture of a goat.
  • Virtual events. They suck. Good Merciful Gary, do they suck. Even ours. Especially ours.
  • Writer podcasts that are 1hr+ of aimless, unedited yammering – but we listened anyways, cause.
  • All races, literary events, festivals, and conventions cancelled. Although this is probably why we didn’t get fired or arrested.
  • Everyone deciding they need to get some fucking fresh air, dawdling about in enormous groups clogging entire paths.
  • Doing the summer scavenger hunt and Lola having to be nice to the path cloggers.
  • Doing the summer scavenger hunt and Noggy forbidding Lola from sticking her hiking pole in some idiot cyclist’s spokes.
  • Noggy forced to listen repeatedly to two new Taylor Swift records.
  • Perturbed skunks on a full moon run.
  • Sunday mornings.
  • Trying to work from home with your entire family up your ass.
  • Lola’s number one Spotify song: Jaja Ding Dong.

The Ugly

  • This is eerily mostly the same list as The Good.
  • Actually missing open mic poetry about rocks and streams and dead parents.
  • Noggy projectile vomiting 65km into our 80km self-directed urban ultra-marathon. That bush is dead now, the city bench melted. They should really replace the memorial plaque.
  • Lola setting her hair on fire doing witchcraft.
  • Running 420km in December + Eggnog + Herring Rollmops.
  • Homeschooling six (6) gremlins.
  • 11 p.m. Particle Man ukulele singalongs (the other hotel guests loved it).
  • The mall. Any malls. All malls.
  • IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH!

Bonus List: The Weird

  • Running at dusk and finding ourselves, no shit, surrounded by beavers.
  • Approached by an elfin teenaged boy after dark and offered a cookie.
  • Along the river finding many, many elaborate dwellings constructed from deadfall.
  • Elementals chasing us off Mount Okanagan.
  • Repeated sex dreams about all our friends.
  • The metallic pants, again. Noggy can’t get enough.
  • Onesies.
  • Lola’s cover girl debut…as a corpse.
  • And, as always, the weird wonderful constant in this topsy turvy world: Arby’s

In closing, there’s a lot more we could have added, but Legal has advised us to quit while we’re not in contravention of any number of municipal bylaws or provincial health orders. Suffice it to say, it’s been a trip. From the looks of it, 2021 is already asking 2020 to hold her beer, and you know what? We can’t wait.

Detonation #18: Living at Ludicrous Speed

Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield

Typically we use this space to yell at idiots, and rarely exclude ourselves from that classification. Today is no exception, except we’re excluding all of you. Feel free to self-include in this public castigation, but today we’ll largely direct our vitriol inward.

Forward thinking is good, mostly. You don’t want to see your best days trailing behind you, winking out like ancient stars. That’s never been my style. I’ve got my eye on the road ahead, on what dreams may come, and mostly it’s served me well. I guess because the alternative makes me sad to the point of illness. People who are like, “Ugh, 2020 is the shittiest year ever!” bother me, because you know they said the same thing about 2019, 2018, 2017, and so on. For that person, no matter what year it is, it’s shit. Every day is the worst day of their fucking life, and I don’t even wanna speculate what that must feel like.

I can be cynical when it comes to human nature, but when it comes to the arc of my own existence I am an incorrigible optimist. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am. Single days may vary in degree of suckage, but over time I believe each year will be better than the last and you know what? I haven’t been wrong yet. I went through a dark period in my thirties when I had young children and no personal identity outside of Chief Juice Pouring Technician, but even at my lowest point, I never wished to go back to some better time in the past. The future is unwritten, you know? You can fill it with all the good exciting stuff you want and so long as it remains in the future you can’t rule it out. It’s how I’ve learned to thrive in high stress environments, to keep cool in the cut, to be happy when there is objectively little to be happy about — because there is always something to look forward to.

And in this way, by rolling at a breakneck pace towards that brilliant light on the horizon, I cheat myself out of taking pleasure in where I’ve been and where I am.

A case study: Lola and Noggy are not ambitious in the traditional sense. They aren’t type A. They aren’t climbers out to prove how much better they are than anyone else. They’re more like those annoying kids that won’t sit still at carpet time. Most of the time they’re barely aware there IS anyone else. They’re just…busy.

Lola: I see you’ve made a spreadsheet of all our projects and tasks for the next few months.

Noggy: Launch two books, finish our novel drafts, edit forthcoming publishing projects, and make more spreadsheets. Think we can handle it?

Lola: What’s the worst that could happen?

Noggy: We’ve spent the length of a pregnancy working on these two new releases for The Seventh Terrace, it’s so cool to see them birthed out into the world.

Lola: That was yesterday, Nog. We got drunk on zoom, ensured both authors will never work with us again, what’s next?

Noggy: NaNoWriMo!

Lola: Wow, did we really just launch two books and do NaNo?

Noggy: That was yesterday Silkysocks, shouldn’t you be editing our next book for TST?

Lola: And then we have to work on that new Purgatorio book

Noggy: And then we’re going to run every single day in December

Lola: And then I’m going to get back to my novel

Noggy: And we have the winter running scavenger hunt

Lola: And then we should co-write another story, and it’ll be race season again!

Noggy: And then I’ll make more spreadsheets!

And then

And then

And then…

If you ever wanted to see goblins on Adderall, this is it. These two are fucking exhausting, and the problem becomes evident.

There’s nothing wrong with having goals and a plan for the future, but at a certain point I find I’m moving too fast to take any real satisfaction in what I’ve accomplished. Maybe I’m even more afraid of getting stuck in the present than I am in the past.

I don’t do resolutions, but this is more about evolution. I still believe my best days are ahead of me, but I’d like to develop the skill of being still, to lose the fear of losing momentum, to hang out unhurried, look back and be like “Wow, we really did some cool shit, didn’t we?”

Unnerving Magazine Issue #14 – Eddie Generous

It’s always a grand day at The Seventh Terrace when we get a new issue of Unnerving. And a Stephen King inspired issue at that. While Sarah is undoubtably more deeply read in King than myself, I do love a lot of his work, especially his weirder short stories and novellas.

The issue was a treat, as usual, so track down a copy if you haven’t already!

– Rob

Danger’s Failed Film Pitches: One of the best bits of the last few issues has been Danger Slater pitching somewhat… questionable movies to A-List creative types. Brilliant and entertaining. And yes I’d definitely go see It: Part III and Reverse Thinner.

First Encounters: Robert Sawyer dishes on watching his first Stephen King movie. Samantha M. Bailey barely survives a King title marathon. Andrew Pyper recalls being wrecked by a King novel.

Non-Fiction Features: Richard Chizmar talks Stephen King in the slush pile. Cassie Daley discusses various aspects of The Dark Half brought to life in prose, film, and game. Charles Ardai gives his thoughts on the Hard Case crime stories of Stephen King. Tracy Robinson considers The Stand and how King’s stories changed for her from first teen readings to current adult experience.

Too Stubborn to Quit: Eddie talks about the little touches that make writing pop, using some great King examples.

Reviews: Eddie, Ben Walker, and Valerie Lester review the erotic cosmic horror steeped Starseed by Stephen Guy, The Seventh Terrace (Near and dear to our hearts), the haunted house tale Defying the Ghosts by Joan Marie Verba, FTL Publications, the Jack the Ripper poem collection Whitechapel Rhapsody by Alessandro Manzetti, Independent Legions, the eerie Lovecraftian portal story The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher, Saga Press (which we were lucky enough to get an ARC of and absolutely loved), the cosmic horror monster feature The Worm and his Kings by Hailey Piper, Off Limits Press (which we’re desperately waiting for), and the YA murderfest Clown in the Cornfield by Adam Cesare, HarperTeen.

Poetry: “Figures in an Unimportant Landscape” – A cool black-out poem by the awesome Jessica McHugh. “Hotel” – by the always excellent Donna Lynch.


And some great fiction, of course. Here are some two sentence thoughts:

The Spindly Man” by Stephen Graham Jones

When meeting the devil, you so need to bring back proof. And a story.

“Special Delivery” by Bev Vincent

Not all ideas come from within, but when they get delivered – don’t answer the door.

Finding the Path” by Kaaron Warren

The road to summer camp hell is paved with adverbs… and tombstones.

Black Brothel Part III: ” by Renee Miller

Where in Mary takes in an unexpected associate. (Oh my, this story is getting disturbingly juicy!)

“Home is Where You Sink Your Teeth” by Anne Gresham

No one can ever really leave Citadel Bluff.

“Don’t Let The Dark Stop You Shining” by William Meikle

Undealt with grief can take you full circle.


An all around excellent issue, well worth picking up a subscription for. And while you’re at it, check out the Unnerving Podcast and Unnerving’s fabulous fiction offerings, especially the new Rewind and Die series..

Verdict? Hot!


About the Editor: Eddie Generous

Eddie Generous is the author of a great many books, including What Lurks Beneath, Savage Beasts of the Arctic Circle, Rawr, Radio Run, Great Big Teeth, and Trouble at Camp Still Waters from Severed Press, Plantation Pan from Omnium Gatherum Books, and numerous story collections. He is the founder/editor/publisher/artist behind Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine, and the host of the Unnerving and Books North Podcasts. He was born in Ontario, Canada and now lives on the Pacific Coast of Canada with his wife and their cat overlords.

#17 – Don’t Bend Over and Take that Advice

Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield

I’m not in the habit of taking advice. Of any sort. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot of advice is wonderful, applicable in a variety of circumstances, and sincerely helpful. And it’s not even that I don’t think it applies to me, or I know better. Cause I damn well don’t. I just choose not to take it. Why? I’ve a stubborn streak a mile wide and I grew up telling myself I’d never let anyone tell me what to do, or how to do it. I’d find my own way – good or bad, hard or easy. My boss of the last twenty years used to growl that he may run the company, but he didn’t run me. I think he’s dead now, but it’s not my fault. I don’t listen to my wife’s advice either, though some consideration must be made to prevent marital Armageddon and all out thermonuclear war. Friends? Colleagues? Authority figures? Smile and wave boys, smile and wave. Of course, you can only pull it off with an excessive level of insanity, be willing to ignore any and all dire consequences, and have a cavalry worth of horseshoes up your ass. Your own results may vary.

But I’ll come right out and say that everything amazing comes from not listening to advice. Cases in point:

“Don’t eat a hotdog from the back alley food cart in Mazatlán at 2 a.m..”
“Don’t drink behind, under, on top of, or in that burning dumpster.”
“Don’t run a hundred miles in eyeball melting heat without pickle juice.”
“Don’t pet that beaver. Even if it’s a porcupine. Especially if it’s a porcupine.”
“Don’t stick your arm in that hole.”
“Don’t start that publishing company.”
“Um, you should see a doctor about that.”

Advice given. Advice not taken. Stories for the ages.


That’s life though, and we’re here to trash talk and throw shade on more literary pursuits. Now you’re probably thinking “But Noggy, we already know better than to become a poet-musician.” And you’d be right. But that’s just common sense.

I’m way more interested in thrashing the pile of advice you’ll find spouted from many a famous author and quoted from many a writing craft tome and lapped up by the desperate and sycophantic masses.

And I understand the irony of providing advice about ignoring advice. Please ignore everything I’m about to say. Trust me, it’s for the best.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Adverbs: Sure, sure, adverbs can be lazy crutches used to hobble through flowery prose where stronger words, built up through years of soul sucking thesaurus drudgery, might be considered better. But if adverbs weren’t useful, they wouldn’t exist. There’s what, literally a thousand adverbs in the English language? So, if you feel like using a fucking adverb, use a fucking adverb. If you use too many? Well, then you’re probably a poet, in which case all bets are off anyways. Besides, you need to give your editor something to bitch about.

Show Don’t Tell: Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Sometimes it’s just the moon. And it’s shining. This is the reason people write two hundred and fifty-thousand-word fantasy novels where absolutely nothing happens. They’re too busy showing you every god damn thing. Yes, yes, a story that’s all telling reads like a Pontiac Aztek repair manual, but when your character walks out of the house into the rain, you can just say “Jesus, it’s fucking raining again, where’s the damn umbrella? I’m going to chug a gallon of whisky and call in sick.” instead of “The splash of God’s tears washed away my anxiety and fear, leaving me cleansed and refreshed as I made my way to the bus stop to be whisked away to my dream job as a Walmart greeter.”

Kill Your Darlings: Why? I swear this advice is half the reason most writing is so wretchedly dull. Yeah, kill all the cool little bits that you love and may or may not need to be in the story just because some rich, famous mansion dwelling uber-author tells you to. Then again, my definition of darling may vary from the norm. Cause honestly, if something great in your story really needs to go for the good of the entire story, then it’s probably not that that darling to begin with.

Write What You Know: If everyone wrote only what they knew, all writing would be memoirs and grocery lists. All literary – all the time. How many writers have been to a galaxy far, far away, or Faerie, or belong to some super-secret spy organization that regularly assassinates brutal dictators with weapons that can’t possibly exist? Sure though, if you have some cool personal experience or skill or knowledge you can transfer directly to your story to make your Arby’s meatcraft salesman more authentic, by all means give him that Hentai tentacle fetish. And be specific. Most writers like to think they’ve had an extraordinarily cool life they can draw upon. ROFL. Pulease. So, write whatever the hell you want as long as you’re mindful of your subject. Expropriate and die. Simple as that.

Write Every Day: Nice thought. And yes, actually decent advice. I’d love to be able to write every day. And I do when I can. But I’m not going to beat myself silly trying to make it the #1 priority that trumps all others. I got a bloody life that’s full of frankly other priorities, some of which I’ll write a book a book about when I’m dead.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober: While this quote is attributed to Hemmingway, I think it was Faulkner who actually subscribed to it. Good ole Faulkner. A legend really, I’d call him a demi-god if he hadn’t dabbled in poetry, but nobody’s perfect. Could have went further though. Write Drunk, Edit Drunker, Publish Drunkest. Best to dull the pain at every step. And writing is pain. A good bottle of Blanton’s or Hibiki 17 or Oban is medicinal, take that from Dr. Noggy. Look, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with being sober. I’ve heard stories about sober people being healthier and happier and such. I’ve also heard similar stories about Cryptids. Can’t believe everything you read.


So, yeah, whatever. Just remember this isn’t advice. This is opinion, written for promises of ice cream and beaver petting. It’s all about the priorities, man.


Detonation #16: What to do when you feel like shit and nothing is fun anymore.

Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield

Like many a nitwit in quarantine, I was at first optimistic about my productivity. I suddenly had no plans. Obligations evaporated. My social calendar emptied out.  I’d get so much done. Life would finally slow down and I’d have time for everything I’d wanted to focus on but was too busy.

Then I had to homeschool three gremlins.

Then I was working in a bookstore pivoting to a phones-ringing-off-the-hook fulfilment center so fast it gave me whiplash.

Then, far from being isolated, I never had a single conscious moment to myself.

What a little idiot I was. What hubris. But it wasn’t as simple as being busy or mentally paralyzed because teaching me a hard life lesson is never that straightforward. I keep thinking I didn’t write at all over the last six months. I keep thinking I was totally unproductive and uncreative. I keep thinking I had a great summer, camping, swimming, and shaking the absolute shit out of fancy craft cocktails. I keep thinking that overall it hasn’t been so bad, that I’ve been okay.

Yet I did write two short stories, a novella, and query a publisher

Yet I did edit two books

Yet my buoyant moods are fragile, I’m latching hard onto anything I can hold up as proof of my uselessness, and I drink soooo much.

I’m a runner, right?  It’s my medicine, meditation, religion, and all my goddamned races got cancelled. Adventures in the mountains bursting with mud, suffering, exhaustion, and camaraderie by the light of my dim junky headlamp. I’ve been running, of course. What the fuck else is there to do besides attend some shitty virtual hangout where everyone is awkward and looks like garbage and I’m so self-conscious I spend most of the time staring at myself on camera wondering if I’ve always been this ugly. So I run. I signed up for virtual challenges and did a self-directed urban ultra-marathon. I’ve been running more than ever.

But I don’t feel fit.

But I feel worn out.

But I feel sick sometimes and hate my face.

Anger? Is anger the right response? It feels better than despair. How many nuanced emotions are realistically available under these circumstances? Anger is the spearhead. It drives forward with purpose and a message. Aren’t these detonations nothing more than angry little letters to a disappointing world full of assholes? I guess this one is for me. I did not lose my job. My family is safe and healthy. What do I have to complain about? Suck it up, there are people with REAL problems out there.

I guess what I am is sad and bored.

I guess it’s harder to find happiness in the dark.

I guess the heading to this post should’ve had a question mark because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing or what the fuck to do.

I guess…I need a better damn headlamp.

Arby’s Orange Cream Milkshake

It begins, as so many things do, with Lola and Noggy’s inability to take even the smallest action without turning it into a quest, a quest inevitably deteriorating into a comedy of errors. And if you’re worried, you should be, but know that this boondoggle ends happily.

In all fairness this particular quest wasn’t their idea, but rather part of a summer scavenger hunt put on by some fun-loving race organizers after covid-19 forced a blanket cancellation of all the season’s ultra-running events. Thirty or so running challenges, and a badge for each one completed. Fun stuff like 2000 stairs, a sunrise run, running in loops, and saying something nice to every goddamned menace on a bike you see during your run. That kind of thing.

(By the way, this review is a TL:DR internet recipe. Scroll to the end if what we thought of the fucking milkshake means that much to you.)

Anyway, on this day Lola and Noggy had their sights set on the “Run for Food” badge. Basically what it sounds like. You run directly to obtain food. Their choice of sustenance was, no surprise, the much-maligned Arby’s.

But first, the run. Here’s the thing about these knuckleheads, they can never just “go to Arby’s”. No, those beef ‘n cheddars must be paid for in suffering. It has to be “get lost in a blizzard, wandering until Arby’s reveals itself like a celestial mirage” or “run 50km in February and stagger into the fancy Arby’s like smelly arctic explorers” or in this case “an easy 10km and then dive face first into the horsey sauce.” Simple, right?

You know where this is going…

Lola: I found a new trail!

(wading through waist high wet grass)

Noggy: This isn’t a trail and my feet are soaked.

Lola: You said you wanted an adventure. It’s the trail less traveled.

Noggy: Again, not a trail

(wading through waist high wet thistles)

Lola: Hmm, I’m sure this connects with the main path somewhere.

Noggy: How, genius? In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re on the wrong side of the creek.

Lola: Right…no problem, we can just crawl over these boulders and…Nog?

Noggy: …

Lola: Ouch, that is some blood.

Noggy: I hate you.

(several kilometres later)

Lola: [rips off her sunglasses, screaming]

Noggy: Jesus, what?

Lola: [incoherently babbles, clutching the side of her face]

Noggy: Use your words, Silkysocks.

Lola: A wasp stung me twice in the brain. Am I going to die?

Noggy: [inspects Lola’s swelling temple] Definitely scarred for life. Come on, let’s get some curly fries.

Our intrepid dimwits, with their fancy gps watches, cannot navigate themselves out of a wet paper bag and end up running closer to 16km before the semi-iconic ten-gallon Arby’s hat comes into view. They stagger into the parking lot, scraped and inflamed, spirits buoyed by visions of meatcraft, and in this way their “Run for Food” attempt is foiled, ironically, by three Corona-fuelled words…

Drive Thru Only

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Anyway, the Arby’s orange milkshake is not at all terrible. You should try it.

4/5