Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 7

Title sequence. The music is (if possible) a combination of twangy spaghetti Western music and spooky B-movie music. A wooden sign, as to an Old West saloon, is waving in the wind. The letters carved into the sign reads “A FISTFUL OF.” Bullet shots ring out and bullet holes appear in the sign. Blood drips out of the holes and the blood forms the word “ZOMBIES” in dripping red letters.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 6

Port is sitting on the bed with his wife, hand in hand with her. He strokes her hair gently.

I’ve missed you so much. I can’t live without you. You know I would damn my soul to Perdition just to see you again. Why don’t you talk?

Port’s wife doesn’t talk but she leans forward and they kiss. Suddenly, Port’s eyes get wide. She is biting his tongue. Port tries to scream and pull away, but when he does, she has bitten off his tongue. Port scrambles out of the bed and tries to scream, but, once again, no tongue. His wife lurches after him, her lips spattered with blood. He locks the door and hurries out into the mansion. He rushes into his room where there is a glass guncase. He fumbles for a key, but can’t find one, so he just shatters the glass and pulls a rifle out of the case. He hurries back to his wife’s room, but the door has been broken open. He looks around, and there is a bead of sweat rolling down his face. He tries to talk but, once again, no tongue. Suddenly he sees Boston, and he relaxes. He runs up to Boston and embraces him. Boston turns around and he is blind and brain-free. There is also a gaping hole in his chest where his heart was torn out. Port struggles to escape the zombie’s embrace. Boston (now Brainfree) staggers after him. Port sees the Bokor. The Bokor is holding something that looks like an apple. He polishes it against his shirt, and it leaves a bloody stain. It is actually Brainfree’s heart. The Bokor takes a big bite out of Brainfree’s heart and grins at Port. Port shoots the Bokor and Brainfree several times. It does little to them but he runs past them. Port leaps out of his house, and stumbles, then regains his footing and runs back to his stable. It is dark and so Port lights a lamp. Holding up the lamp he sees his horses, all eerily quiet. He goes to the stall of his favorite horse, but the horse has been gruesomely decapitated and the head is lying in a pile of horse blankets. Going into shock, Port turns around and sees that his wife, Brainfree, and the Bokor are all coming in the barn. He starts shooting them wildly, and although he hits them fairly often, it has not effect except to slow them down. He runs out of ammo. He backs up to the stall of his dead horse and kneels down. Suddenly, the decapitated horse kicks his head off and his head goes flying out of the roof of the barn. In the pile of blankets, the horse’s head grins. Port’s head flies through the air, through the window of his room, and lands in his bedpan. A cock crows and the sun goes down.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 5

Outside Port’s mansion. Boston is digging a hole. The body of the Bokor is lying nearby.

A shallow grave is the right place for you, my savage friend.

Boston continues digging. Unbeknownst to him, the corpse of the Bokor stands up and staggers forward. Boston hears it, then turns around. As soon as he does, the Bokor jabs his two fingers (which have been worn down to the bone) into Boston’s eyes and pulls them both out. Boston screams and staggers around, waving the shovel around wildly.

I’m blind! I’m blind!

The Bokor greedily gobbles up the two eyes. Then he grabs the shovel out of Boston’s hands and promptly knocks the top of Boston’s skull off. He walks over and begins gobbling Boston’s brains right out of his skull.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 4

Port’s mansion. The Bokor is pouring sparking dust out of a leather pouch in a circle around the bed.

One t’ing you remember before I start. I cast dis spell, it bring your woman back. But I gotta stop it. I don’t, and bad t’ings happen.

Are you threatening Mr. Port?

No. I just say, I don’t stop spell until I get paid.

Extortion is a rule in this business. Don’t worry, you’ll get your money. Now stop stalling and do it.

The Bokor grins ominously. He begins to do an arcane ritual. As he dances and chants, the storm clouds get worse and worse, and skulls and spirits begin to be seen in the clouds. When the Bokor stops, all three of them look at Port’s wife. Nothing happens. Port begins to turn purple.

He’s a fake! Kill him!


Boston pulls out a pistol.

No, no, patience!

Boston shoots the Bokor, and the Bokor falls to the ground. Suddenly, Port’s wife takes a deep breath, arches her back, and then sits up. She looks around, confused, unsure about her surroundings, sweaty and sickly. Port forgets about everything around him and walks up to his wife. He is disbelieving, until he takes her hand. Boston looks at the Bokor, who, though dead, is still grinning.

Hmm. So he did tell the truth. Sir, the Bokor never broke the spell…

Shut up you idiot! Leave me alone with my wife. And take that thing with you.

Port gestures at the corpse of the Bokor. Boston silently grabs the corpse and leaves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 3

Butler and two of his men load boxes from Port’s stable onto their wagon. An eerie black cloud rolls up from the horizon. Butler looks up when they are done. The air is extremely threatening.

Come on, let’s get out of here.

Butler and his men drive off.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 2

***Sorry. Unannounced (but strangely far out planned) hiatus on Friday. To quote Silent Cal, "You lose."***

A room inside the mansion. PORT, a porcine capitalist in a pinstripe suit with a pencil-thin moustache is kneeling before a bed. There are candles all around, almost as though they are in mourning. Port is holding the hand of his wife, a ghostly beautiful woman who is hardly breathing at all.

My love, my love. Hold on just a little bit longer. Help is on the way.

Boston opens the curtains which serve as a door to the room. He enters.

Mr. Port? Colonel Butler is here, with the…gentleman you requested.

Butler bursts in and points his pistol at Port. Boston is stunned, but too cowardly to do anything.

Where are my guns, Port?

In the stable, round back.

Butler turns and leaves.

Sir, honestly, why did we have to employ that odious man’s services?

Boston, do you think you could get through Confederate lines, to Haiti, and bring someone back?

No, sir, unfortunately.

Where is this witch doctor that cost me so much anyway?

The Bokor enters. He is somewhat impressed with the room. He sniffs the air, and puts his palms against a wall. He runs his fingers through the flames of a candle. Port finally stands and looks at the Bokor. The Bokor cocks his head slightly and observes Port. We get the feeling that if Port didn’t speak, the Bokor would simply stand there all day observing.

Can you cure her?

The Bokor looks at Port’s wife, much in the same way he has observed everything else in the room. She is not a person, so much as an interesting toy or bauble to him.

She almost dead, boss. I not a medicine man.

PORT (growing red with fury)
You promised me…

The Bokor holds up a hand.

I no power over dis life. But she ain’t gone be dis life much longer. She crosses over, I bring her back.

You can bring back the dead?

Sir, you can’t believe this…

Shut up, Boston! Tell me, can you really bring back the dead?

The Bokor grins.

Bringing dem back, dat’s da easy part. But it ain’t dat simple.

What do you mean?

Sometimes dey come back good. Sometimes dey come back bad.

No earthly medicine can save her. But I can’t live without her. Do it. Do it now!

She not over da line yet. I can’t bring her back from where she ain’t been.

Port goes up to his wife, takes the pillow from under her head and suffocates her with it. He turns away from her body in disgust. The Bokor grins and walks up to Port’s wife.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 1

Texas. 1863. A long line of staggering, shambling figures are walking across the desert, the sun beating down on them. They are the walking wounded, Confederate soldiers brutally injured in the war. Missing eyes, arms, legs, and ears are commonplace. One of the soldiers finally collapses in exhaustion. His comrade, walking on a crutch, JAMES PATRIOT looks down at the dead man.

Lucky bastard.

Suddenly there is a great clattering. All the soldiers look up to see a covered wagon driving up along the side of the line. The soldiers try to get a glimpse of the passengers, but the wagon is completely sealed.

Who do you think that is?

I don’t know, but I’ll bet he’s rich.

The wagon clatters along and passes by the entire line of wounded. There are two passengers, one is the Confederate soldier COLONEL BUTLER. Butler is a typical Southerner, dedicated, loyal, a bit racist, with a leisurely drawl. The other passenger is extremely peculiar, especially in his surroundings. The second passenger is a BOKOR, a Haitian with doctor. He is a black man, dressed in outrageous ornaments, bones and a variety of colorful adornments. He is carrying a magic wand with feathers and a bird skull on it. The Bokor looks out the back of the covered wagon at the dying Confederates. The Bokor grins.

BOKOR (French)
Bon materiél.


BOKOR (French)
Il n’y a pas d’important.

Butler grunts, uninterested and unimpressed. The wagon clatters on down the path. They pass the line of Confederates and come to the mansion of a fat railroad baron. Waiting outside, his hands clasped in front of him, well dressed like an Easterner, is MR. BOSTON. Boston is wearing spectacles and his hair is greased back. He is little more than a glorified lackey, but he takes himself extremely seriously. As the wagon approaches, Boston walks up to the back, trying to peer in, but only Butler jumps out.


Butler absent-mindedly tips his hat.

Where are the guns? I don’t see any guns.

Mr. Port will deliver the weapons to your troops as soon as you hold up your end of the bargain. Is he…here?

Yeah, he’s with me. Hey, you. Come on. Allez, allez.

The Bokor emerges from the shadows and makes Boston jump. Boston quickly recovers his composure.

Well, if this man is everything you’ve promised, you’ll have your weapons by the end of the day, colonel.

The end of the day! I need them now. Don’t you understand my men are out there dying, fighting for their freedom this very instant! Every second they don’t have those guns means another life!

Mr. Port is interested in only one life, that of his wife. If this…witch doctor…really can heal her, then you’ll have your arsenal. If not, you’ve wasted your time.

Boston turns to leave. Butler growls, and draws his pistol to point it at the back of Boston’s head.

You’d shoot an unarmed man?

No, but I’ve got no problem putting down a mangy dog. My men are dying!

And you want weapons so they can kill more men. Perhaps you should concern yourself with getting medicine to save the wounded.

Butler cocks his pistol.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get you your supplies even if I wanted to. Only Mr. Port knows where they are. Now I can take you to him, or you can shoot me.

Butler reluctantly holsters his pistol.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Intro Post: A Fistful of Zombies

Howdy, blogateers. Hey, I just made that word up. Coined a new phrase, you might say. Sudden new contest idea: come up with a term for fans of Manuscripts Burn. (Potential correct answer: no one. But I'm sure you can do better.)

Anyway, time to quite the fussin' and a-feudin' and put a real manuscript back on the chopping block. This one, and it's sister project, are quite similar, and, truth be told, all three are quite similar to The Neighbors Are Zombies. I'll be frank: I'm not very original. HELL AND BLOOD was a different animal altogether, but, hey, let us never mention that again. Dead and buried.

Much like the subjects of our next manuscript. (Brilliant segue!) To nippilate your tipples and scrantalize your totums, I will leave you with a list of brilliant but failed alternate titles for the forthcoming EPIC...A FISTFUL OF ZOMBIES. Posts begin in earnest on Wednesday. And no complaining about the obvious similarities between concepts. Unless you want more undergrad philosophy posts.

For a Few Zombies More
The Good, the Bad, and the Zombie
The Good, the Bad, and the Dead
High Plains Zombie
Pale Zombie
Dead Rider
Undead Rider
High Noon…For Zombies!
Undead Noon
The Outlaw Zombie Wails
The Undead Outlaws
Bronco Zombie
Paint Your Zombie Dead
Rio Zombie
El Zombie
Dead West
How the West Was Dead
How the West Was…Zombie!
Dances With Zombies
Zombies of the Purple Sage
Zombies Ride Again
She Wore a Yellow Zombie
Undead and Unforgiven

Friday, July 9, 2010

Avoiding Stupid Advice

There's a whole metric asston of writing advice floating out there in the interwebs. So much so, in fact, that I don't think I have a whole lot to add. I mean, I COULD tell you my writing philosophy and etc. but as a non-published motherfucker, why would you take my advice over, say, Stephen King's? Go read On Writing, not my shitty blog.

(SPOILER ALERT: There were three cursewords in the previous sentence. Ask the little ones to leave the room before you read this blog post out loud.)

So, here's my idea to better the writing community as a whole. Instead of giving you positive, helpful, upbeat advice, I will tell you what I find to be shitty advice that you should ignore. This may be a recurring segment, if I find a whole lot of shitty things out there, but maybe not. Also based on participation. So here are two old warhorses that need to be put down.

1.) "Write what you know!"

God damn. This is the ultimate writing advice. And not just the ultimate, pop-psych bullshit, but also the tritest, tweest nonsense ever promulgated by middle school English teachers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand what the idea is behind this little chestnut, and that idea is not bad. Probably better advice, probably what originally sparked this terrible little sentence would be better expressed as, "Write what rings true." Because you should. You should find the emotional core of your characters, and express that. And if their actions seem like something that real humans wouldn't do, then it will ring false, and be shitty writing. Or, at the very least, pulp.

So what's wrong with the actual "write with you know" business? Well, let me put it like this. You know when you go to a party and you get stuck in a corner chatting with that guy you don't really know and just to make small talk you ask what he does for a living? Then you spend the next hour hearing about all the vagaries and vicissitudes of financial planning and you finally just mention casually that you need to go get a beer and then never come back? Well, imagine reading a book by that guy.

Writing what you're passionate about is boring. You're boring everybody. Stop boring everybody! But do take the kernel of truth in this old maxim and write what's true to life.

2.) Actually, I had a number 2 planned for this, but I'm too exhausted to write it right now. Also, I wasn't really happy with how number 1 turned out, so I think I may need to do this at a different time. So, depending on audience interest and participation, this column may recur. At least once. The end.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You know, the usual subjects of small talk: the weather, Immanuel Kant

***You demanded it. Well, not really. You asked for it. Well, that's not really true either. Silence is consent, how about that? Here's something that combines my signature sardonic wit, which you know about, and my middling knowledge of Kant, which you didn't know about until last Friday. I gather that the assignment was a series of questions posed at a cocktail party regarding Kant. Which is, you know, just common cocktail party talk. Enjoy. Or, more likely, don't.***

Judy: Kant. He was from the 18th Century, right? So was he an empiricist or a rationalist? After all, those were the two main epistemological theories of the Enlightenment?

Etienne: Well, Judy, I am most impressed to hear a lay scholar such as yourself use vocabulary like “epistemological.” Yes, you are correct that empiricism and rationalism are the two main theories of the Enlightenment, however, Kant actually belonged to neither. The empiricists believed that all knowledge is gained through experience. Locke, Berkeley, and Hume formed the so-called “Empiricist Triad” and although Kant admitted that he owed a lot to Hume, he was not strictly empiricist. The rationalists believed essentially the opposite, that all knowledge is gained through the faculty of reason. The great rationalists were DesCartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza.

George: Spinozaaaaaaaa!

Etienne: Yes. Well. Kant didn’t fit neatly into either of these categories. He did not believe that either of these explanations could explain everything in the world. He believed that certain a priori knowledge, namely ideal space and time, was necessary to have experiences. He basically tried to bridge the gap between empiricism and rationalism.

Judy: So what was he?

Etienne: He was a Kantian.

Elroy: So Kant had this whole theory about the structure of the mind going? What were the main parts of the mind that he talked about?

Etienne: Well, Kant believed in three main faculties of the mind: sensibility, understanding, and reason. Sensibility is the faculty through which we receive sensations, or intuitions (Anschauungen) as Kant called them.

Judy: Wow, your knowledge of German never fails to impress.

Etienne: Thank you. The understanding judges sensations, thus making a cohesive whole out of what would otherwise be disjointed Anschauungen. And the reason regulates the understanding. Kant liked charts and graphs so let me draw it on this cocktail napkin for you:

Faculty Operation Form of Operation
Sensibility Intuition Space, time
Understanding Judgment 12 forms of judgment
Reason Inference 3 forms of inference

George: Oops, sorry I spilled that bourbon on it.

Etienne: That’s ok.

Judy: Now let me get this straight. Kant thought that information does come in through the senses, but that in addition to what was coming in, sensations (intuitions) had features that were due to the “form of our sensibility itself”? What are the forms of sensibility?

Etienne: Well, Judy, I’m glad you asked. I actually wrote a WHOLE PAPER in my class on this subject, so if you guys are really interested, you can go back and read the paper I ALREADY WROTE on the subject. But for now, let me summarize it. I mentioned before that Kant believed that ideal space and time were a priori concepts necessary for sensibility. These are the forms of sensibility. Time and space to Kant are not things out there in the real world, but they are created by the mind for the purpose of being able to comprehend sensations. Since space and time are created by the mind, they are necessarily ideal. Synthetic a priori knowledge is grounded in the ideality of space and time – like mathematics. Without a conception of time, we would have no linear number system. And without ideal space, how could we have geometry?

George: Wow! This Kant sounds like a real “spacey” guy.

Jane: Oh shut up, George! Go and get us some drinks, or a snack or something. So how does the understanding get into the picture? What is its job?

Etienne: Well the operation of the understanding is to synthesize the intuitions. The sensibility gathers random intuitions and the understanding synthesizes them into a cohesive whole, through the use of Kant’s twelve categories of the understanding.

Jane: Wow, Steve, you really are brilliant. I don’t think we need to ask you any more questions, and I’m certain that Professor Ward will give you an A for your class.

Elroy: Wait, mom. Does Kant have anything like innate ideas?

Etienne: Yes. Kant believes that we all have these twelve innate ideas, or pure concepts of the understanding. Luckily I committed them to memory for Dr. Ward’s class. They are broken down into four sets of three: Quantity, which consists of unity, plurality, and totality; Quality, which consists of reality, negation, and limitation; Relation, which consists of inherence, cause/effect, and reciprocity; and Modality, which consists of possibility, existence, and necessity. Using these twelve categories, the understanding catalogues and codifies experience.

Judy: It sounds like he is an idealist – all there really is is thoughts and mental images. We are all just aware of our own subjective “inner world.”

Etienne: That’s a negative, good buddy. The truth is that Kant believed that there were real objects in the world, called noumena. However, when the world is filtered through our perception, we don’t see things as they are (noumena), rather we see things as we perceive them, or phenomena. Kant believed that there was no way to pierce through the divide between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds, making knowledge about the noumenal world impossible to attain. However, he did not deny that there were objects out there. So he is not an idealist in the Berkelean sense.

George: What did I miss?

Jane: Everything, George! As usual.

George: So give it to me real simple. How would you sum up Kant’s basic contribution to the history of philosophy vis-à-vis metaphysics and epistemology in a sentence or two?

Etienne: “The understanding does not derive its laws (a priori) from, but prescribes them to, nature.”

Jane: That’s neat. Boy you sure are smart. We’d love to keep talking to you about Kant and all. But we have to go home to study for our Chaucer midterm. George! Get up off the floor!

George: Leave me alone! I was just analyzing the ground for the possibility of my experience.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Twilight: Morning Wood

***Did we get a consensus on the Kant? Hits are back up, but I feel kind of cheap passing off schoolwork as art. Oh, well. I guess I'll decide on Monday. In the meantime, in "honor" of the biggest midnight opening in history (or something) I went to some trouble to contact a certain Ms. Stephanie Meyer so she could help me with this blog post. To quote Ms. Meyer, "Sure, Redleg, I'll help you out with your blog. You're so handsome and smart and much more talented than me." Ms. Meyer was nice enough to send me a rather lengthy excerpt from the upcoming Twilight: Morning Wood. It actually goes on. For a while. Like this. So I cut it for brevity's sake. Enjoy.***

"Oh, Edward," Bella said lustingly, "I want you in me so badly. I mean your love. In my love. And yet we never can be."

"True," Edward replied, ripping his shirt open to reveal his sparkling, manly areola, "How ironic."

"Ironic, indeed," Bella replied, referring to her own situation, "And yet, in a way, your 106 year old love for me consitutes statutory rape in any civilized country."

"Civilization," Taylor Lautner said with a snarl, "Who needs it?"

"Indeed," Edward agreed with his rival-cum-wolf and his fleshy lover, "What irony."

"I don't need civilization," Taylor Lautner continued, rubbing creamy brown muscle oil onto his well-oiled musculature, "All I need is the wind at my back, some Pacific Northwest scenery, and a 16-year old child to kidnap and attempt what amounts to bestiality with. I mean, love. Pure, chaste love."

"I, too, was referring to love," Edward was quick to pipe in, as he stared endlessly at Bella's perfect neck, because he loved her, and not because of any desire to actually do anything about the aforementioned love.

"Love," mentioned Bella.

There was nodding all around.


It was a dark and stormy night when Taylor Lautner took his shirt off. His shirt had been off since he had been in wolf form right up until the very moment when he turned back into a human with just his tight jeans and shirtless. And then, since it was raining out, he was also glistening with rain. And also sweat. Because he sweated through the rain because of his fur.

"Bella," Taylor Lautner said, "I need you to rub me down with this anti-vampire lotion. I need it to, uh, ward off vampires."

Bella turned to look at Edward for guidance. (Edward, incidentally, was also shirtless, and applying his anti-werewolf lotion.)

"I'm so tormented," Edward said, "Dark and tormented. But I will always do what is best for you, Bella, because of my insatiable (yet chaste) lust for you. Do it, if you must. Taylor Lautner must have his anti-vampire lotion rubbed all over his manly, steaming body."

And so Bella began to rub down Taylor Lautner with the glistening body oil, in full view of her actual boyfriend, which was kind of creepy and voyeuristic when you think about it, which they didn't.
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