It all started with one of those free subscriber ads in the back of FANGORIA magazine:
"C.F. Howell, amateur novelist, wishes epistolary discourse, however antediluvian; author of derivative fanzine, BLUE AND COLD CORPSE; 1011 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70001"
A reply came from Santa Rojo, California (scribbled hastily on a slip of yellow paper):
Hi cold corpses: Do you mind if we make a song from your name? Its soooo cooooool. Do you listen to THRASHMETAL?
In La where yu are it’s cool. We want to play there!
W. B. Soon Lance Ozone
Howell, amateur novelist wrote back:
"My Dear Skitzo,
Late of the Phantom Empire of Zoth: I would be glad to extend you the use of the title of my dreaded tome, CORPSE. I will take no denial, I found your letter virulently warm and genuine. The thought of my letterbox transom not being empty for the slightest nonce leaves me with rendering joy like lucid singing beltones throughout the aether. I have written a novel, Gershwin's Ghost, a most lengthy manuscript, which I have been unable to sell to the pitched publishers. It is most interesting that something of mine could be woven into the fabric of a song, but I am unfamiliar with that codicil term THRASHMETAL. Is that not the dies irae of a lost restless generation of motley youths with crack pipes, shivs, tire irons and GI Joe dolls?
I remain your oblig'd servant, C.F. Howell"
A letter came back from Santa Rojo, CA:
(with badly misspelled wordage...)
How the heck are ya? Lance here! Got your letter a few days ago. I am having fun corrosponding with you! I mean your letters real take the reality away from my mind! It's like a movie. and its actually someone I write to who makes all this up! That's great!! You are a Pro!! It keeps my interist! My mom read a few of your sentences and she reads quite a bit and she thinks you are a great writer. As Slim Pickens in "Blazing saddals" said"you use your toung prettier than a 20 dollar whore"!!
Well its a boring town here! We just got back from touring Texas!!! And WE WASTED OUR BASS PLAYERKELLY GILLIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I used to play with old GI joe dolls! I could never afford his vehicals from "Hazbro" so I made cardboard subs and got messed up in em. I think GI Joe has a happy adventurous life with me as its puppet master ha ha! too bad I didn't have Barbie for the lonely gi blues man! With a scar on his face! He was a tough doll!! I use to write stories for moviessomeday I'll make! I'm sorry I never had the patience to read a real book! My first book I ever read was "Dawn of the Dead" in 1980! I used that book for all my school book reports.
I read Fango and some comix. and I'm a die hard collector of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND mag! I did do a comix book of KISSmy favorite band in the world, and Alice Cooper.! Some various thrash bands too!! I'm spend 100's on my head doctor to fix me up! It's going ok! I feel like taking a rusty nife and slicing up pretty maddens! But you have to marry them first before you love em to death. And there fathers standing there with dobble barrel shot gun saying "you'll make my little girl real happy!!" (all that was bull, I just tried to make out a story. It was bad I know!! I was more or less copying your writting.)
Till next time, good luck Merry Christmas...
Your demented friend,
So C.F. Howell wrote back an amusing tome:
"My Dear Skitzo, late of the quivering moons of Mercury:
Did they teach you boys spelling in California? Just Kidding!!! Things are very good here in the crescent city, they are scurrying around through the rubble of the razed cemeteries, pillaging and making enlarged beastly pentagrams. I would like to hear more about your band. My tastes aren't exactly thrashmetal, more Sibelius and Rachmaninov. Enclosed is a tape of "Isle of the Dead", inspired by Arnold Bocklin's famous painting. You gutless wardheelers over there in sunny portocall bay area with your clubs and slam dancing and raping of the land, are sincerely demented no doubt. But I am engaged in the throes of this correspondence because here it is boring also.
I received your drawings. They were all bosh, like most modern art, quite obscene. but then I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the works of Larry Rivers, David Smith, Jackson Pollock. Out there, you probably read various bibliographical journals like Archie Bible Comix, Penthouse Deadmates and other necrophilic sources.
The Kaballa said once Lance writes, that Elizer of Worms is cautious, a man being can be created from the diabolism of Aliester Crowley, no other source admits this, except for Lovecraft's references to the NECRONOMICON, and the mad arab of the attributes and spatial gates...Well I am rambling but I do want to hear from those other urchins of untidy origin, your band buddies, you caustic guitar rendering fools of modern claptrap! Just joking! Now what's this about wasting your bass player? Come again???
Now for a shot of bourbon.
I remain your oblig'd servant, C.F. Howell"
Then C. F. Howell got a letter from another member of the band:
"Dear C.F.H. Hello sir.
This is Ozzy of the metal band Skitzo. Let me say, your letter was the most hardest, funniest, strangest on I ever received, and we receive quite a bit of mail. Your words you wrote were not clear to me but I understood them! I'm not too hip on big words so I had mom read your letter as well. She reads a lot of books like NECRONOMICON or any H.P Lovecraft but she wanted me to tell you. You write very good. Keep us up to date about your book when it will be reliest. You requested Lance's lirics find them enclose w free sticker again. Basically our lirics if you read them clearly and cleaver enough there is a good old documenty message on the songs! I would send the whole tape w/ music but its not ready yet. I write all music and lirics now that our guitarist Kelly Gillis is out of the band. We killed him. I rewrote all the music lirics stayed!! May I ask how old you are? From the letter you sent ups you made yourself sound like an old sientist that drinks cheap bourbon runs around in a giant gothack castle, and has women slaves or men slaves! (I don't even know if your male or female) chained up. Creating weird creatures in your lab!! Please take this as a compliment! The only writers I've really followed these days are Steve King, Debra Hill, NECRONOMICON and now you, C.F. Howell!!
Please send a copy of your fanzine along with the cost!! I watch many movies do you???
I've seen dawn of the Dead 153 times I've seen Maniac, Blood Feast, 2000 maniacs, Satan's cheerleaders, Driller Killer, Tool Box murders, Love Butcher, Laser Blast. Have you ever seen any of these?? Do you watching underground horror flicks? We really did kill Kelly Gillis, the Bass player, he couldn't play for crap!! I'd better let you get back to your Lab, HAHAHAHA! Just kid'n, except that Kelly Gillis is dead!!! I know my words are sloppy misspelled are some what boring, How can I catch a copy of your book??
Take care C.F.H. see ya pal, Ozzy Skitzo"
PS: any questions? comments? Obsen message??
call (707)599ROCK 12 midnight to 2:30 am Ozzy, Lance and Dirky
C.F. Howell was stunned so he did not call the number though a few nights he stayed up after trying to write more short shorts, "Rags to Riches to Jupiter", "May I present the Wizard of Gore, Mr. President", "I Married a Star slave", "Oozing Sebaceous Aliens from Venus", "The Dead Member of the Club" and drank much cut rate bourbon and thought about this subject of implied murder, and sat in his hovel. He knew he was thousands of miles away from Santa Rojo and was safe from these monsters. He stayed inside that rent house on Tchoupitoulas street. He picked up his novel once in a while and weighed it mentally and glanced through it thinking about a rewrite and was that assistant editor at TOR books was just being nice when she said he could send it back if rewritten? He couldn't write that second novel , but his epistolary discourse a la Lovecraft was amazingly aplenty. But should he write to these cretins anymore?
"Dear Skitzo, of Imperial Rome, 7th Death Pyre:
Thank you boys for being so prompt with your wicked preponderance of the dread monster murder which the muck meet its feet on, jealous and green with envy! I received a tape of your group. The words "hellishly pyrrhic" are in the fore as far as your accusation of murdering one Kelly Gillis. My tolerance for such raucous soporific schlock is ebbing. Your lyrics (lirics) are unusually sadistic, have you a meat cleaver at the ready for your parade of ghoulish fans and dreadlocked zombie groupies? Exactly how did you get rid of your bass player? I have had much trouble meeting a female rendition of Byronic beauty to whom I can quote Rimbaud. A vision of splendor is what your aged grandsire requires. Do you know of what I speak? Quivering bundles of nerves would be the term used to describe the coursing of my synaptical processes within the loblolly paddock of this mawkish existence. I have written two new short stories and am enclosing a fanzine, THE BLUE AND COLD CORPSE, as you requested. How it will quench that thirst for stench. California is truly a Gore Vidal dreamlike iridescent montage of mondo youths on the sly, juvenile delinquents and girls a plenty. Crimes rampant o'er hill and valley, the dreaded cemetery and boneorchard smell quaking in the morass of foggy banks, dead and dismembered ranks of your devoted fans and ex musicians of skitzo. Tell me, have you ever heard "Le Sacre Du Printemps"?
I thinke not. Just kidding. I don't mean to be philistine or patronizing my dear Skitzo. If you guys ever tour over here don't come and visit me in the Big Easy! You supposedly waste inefficient musicians and all I know how to play is Ragtime. Mardi Gras is the time for carnal lusts and the seven deadly sins, but not any new ones, like MURDER!!!! I myself have had to lock up my Aunt Sadie because of this!! I remain your most obedient servant, Quid Dulcius on the backside!
C.F. Howell And another misspelled response from the hellishness of Santa Rojo, California: Yo Howell!! Lance Here! Whutzup! Nothing here but hellish hicks from hades, sissor happy bastards!! Oh well, hey you said you went to Mardi Grawsdid you like it? I saw movie called EASY RIDER and the Mardi Graw was filmed! You asked about SKITZO's touring??Well we played about 50 to 60 concerts in past 10 yearsnot much but we went threw a lot of musicians. We were set to play in CANADA Dec 29th but the customs bullshit would cost $2000 buxI didn't have!! So in the summer we are set to play San Francisco, Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas (San Antonio)! Oh this girl in TX I gave yo address to !! She is different yet so cool!! (Yes foxy she is) but she not air headed!! Anyway we are trying to come to New Orleans and Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Jackson, MISS! We play SF Oakland quite a bit! And High Schools! It's funny cause when we'd play high schools I'd throw up the school's colors to show we have spirit (happy face drawn!) I'm seriously involved in FX. I got in touch w Berman studios and several others they are very interested. I'm making a demo video for me regurgitating with control. What I mean by control is I can force the vomit out in one big heave or I can ooze is slowly and wave my toung around and the vomit spews all over. (enclosed was a polaroid of a twentyish long haired youth holding a guitar with gobs of blue jellylike fake vomit spewing out of his mouth with a wicked expression, a countenance of sheer maniacal horror a la Manson). Hey pal don't get sick on mecause you asked!! When I was born I was meant to be famouscult following or even major publicity would mean bux!!!! How's Aunt Sadie doing in her basement, she's not too tied up these days is she? Give her my love, hee hee . Hey I'm sorry about the lushus babes not writting yet. What I'll do is next time I meat them in person is ill play out the movie "Bloodsucking Freaks" and if you saw it about the girl who wouldn't dance for master!! Same thing with writting for master, I'll have to cut off her hands on stage, and my little slave midgit is a sadistic son of a gun. You don't even want to know what he does!! Don't get pissed off, I will get you free backstage pass let me know when we play Louisiana. You can make fun of us being not educated. PS: I'm a fan of ELVIRA, are you??? Friends and Chainsaws Lance from SKITZO”
Now a response from that Lovecraftian scholarfake from Tchoupitoulas Street, C. F. Howell, who kept putting off that second novel for stupid little first drafty short shorts about aliens landing at science fiction conventions, and comics who do friars conventions in outer space, with the lovecraftian endings "ARGGHHH, Chaos Ngarlathotep, and Yog Suthoth, the goat of a thousand young..." Too much blase' correspondence from a person who thought he was Norman Mailer and Faulkner rolled up in one... Maybe it's because he felt superior to his correspondents...like SKITZO... He thought he would give them a sample of his horror craft in this one: My Dear Skitzo, Malik Sultan: I received your letter. Now the previous letters from you and Ozzy indicate ambivalence about whether you guys are putting me on. What is all this about killing your Bass player? Why would you do that?
I know my last letter could probably be ascertained as the weirdest mondo one of the bunch, we may be literally repelling each other, especially me to you guys stalking the closed McDonalds in Santa Rojo. I am really not so much interested in blue vomit coursing through your esophagus. Seriously, what is going on in that state of mind called Cal. It is superb that you are getting involved in F/X. I saw "Toxic Avenger," it was good cheap punk fodder. Now: You see, I was walking through the crisp autumnal air, the cool air of tombs vaporizing the dew on the freshly manicured graveyard, a double matrix of dead bodies. It was after midnight, all soul's hour, and there was a large looming beastcat in the road howling in a voice that seemed to me the essence of satanic witchcraft itself, which any mortal man would fear. The cat howled near the reeking sewage ditches aligning the road that split the graveyard into two architectural sections.
When I came upon it I noticed a longhaired spindly creature hobbling through a back section of the graves, a mottled countenance that almost made me shriek out loud with horror, I could hear the eerie dissonant chords of the Magic Pipe of Erich Zann harmonizing in the very aether itself. Suddenly the ominous figure came forward in the blackness, it had a strange mechanism around it's bulbous suppurating death's head skull, and wore a cloak of night that swaddled the horrendous torso, as it came forward still more.
My heart started beating, I had heard something to the effect that there was a nightstalker at large. An escapee from the Hammond State school, a man with no conscience, who had already mutilated twenty coeds after killing them, munching hungrily upon their flesh, as if he were in a nightmarish geek house of the damned. I shuddered with a cry of helplessness as the grotesque figure in the darkness came upon me, then ten yards away. I would probably now be throttled about the neck, until dead, a limp corpse who could breathe no more. In my head, I delineated nothing but fear in the foggy night.
The misfit's voice tuned up and cackled:
"Hi dude, I'm Lance Skitzo. I'm just listening to some tunes, have you ever heard the "Night of the Living Dead" soundtrack whilst walking through a boneorchard?" You see, it was you, with a silly walkman bejeweling your skull. I breathed a sigh of relief and walked homeward, only to be hit in the lungs with a gardening tool by my vicious Aunt Sadie who was just released from the snakepit sanitarium...
Enough of that weirdness, unless you want more,
I remain your oblig'd servant,
C.F. Howell And a response:
Dear C.F. Howell:
I'm going to trust you for not telling on us. We did kill Kelly Gillis that last time we were in Texas. He was talking bad really heavy, and Ozzy starting hitting him. We were so messed up on crystal meth (we took too many ones,) and that he was crying and screaming and we didn't know better. We were camping in the dessert and when Kelly was lying there, Ozzy and Dirky started stabbing him. I guess they had scene ED GINE films too much. Kelly was just a hope to die coke and alcohol and pothead but we like him. But he didn't like us, he was evil, and then Ozzy said what do we do now? They were cutting his body up with a big cleaver, and machete. We put his body parts in a bloody heap. You have to promise not to tell anybody or we will be real mad. He wasn't the first one we got rid of, we have been threw a lot of musicians. We want to be like MOTORHEAD, Millie of CREATOR, and from Canada, VOIVOID and EXCITER and VENOM and MERCYFUL FATE from Denmark, there is quite a bit of big underground bands that I met and KNow. I dought you even hear of half these bands huh? Texas is near Louisiana. Don't mind me, "OK I'm just getting worried!!!
HA HA. I will send you a new tape with our new guitarist (Timmy Crowhurst), its much more cleaver than that last tape. Oh same songs but few different rhythms and much tighter sounding. I'll send it as soon as it's done? Well take care. C.F. Send another zine they are god!
PS; call (707)599ROCK 12 mid to 2:30 am Ozzy, Lance, Dirk, bye your friends Lance and SKITZO!!!!!!
A frantic reply from CF Howell:
Dear Lance, Late of Skitzo, Wipeout Guitarist:
Okay... you are kidding right? I really can't tell. As for me, I am a sentient creature resembling Jello who dines on the mutilated torsos of kids found at the mall, with four appendages of murky stench unparalleled since the days of charnel houses and glue factories and dog mulch. I have a slight birthmark running from my harelip to the amazing flat subordinal ridge near the vigamatic arches of my little eyeballs, and I lost my legs in an alligator attack whilst swimming for plankton in the cesspool in Amite. My face is offset by my webbed feet and instead of arms I have two little appendages that stick right out of my armpits. I used to be a geek in a freak show tent revival, I used to tour the states selling adrenalin snake oil from ripped out spleens of small boys. And yes, I used to eat glands myself.
Have you ever been circumcised with a McCullough chainsaw? I am dwelling into the Kaballa and the dreaded NECRONOMICON that the mad arab gleaned from centuries of ancient lineage and beyond, back before Jesus was playing street ball and Julius Caesar was slamdancejerking down at the vomitorium. Et Tu Brute? I've really got to go, write soon. Tell those babes to write your aged grandsire!
I showed your letter to some friends of mine. Just for laughs. I know I am out of it, but you guys have the weirdest stories. They saw it and laughed. I really like you guys, I like your music tape you sent after I got the letter. Please say you are kidding about that mutilated corpse, KELLY GILLIS. And any other ineffective musicians. That is really a bad way to get a good band together, don't you think? HA HA.
I remain your obliged servant, C.F. Howell
Before he got a reply from SKITZO, he went to the college library and did some research on newspapers from the Texas area. He saw something that made him want to retch immediately... small articles...
"The mutilated remains of a teenager were fou nd on Highway 36 near Brownsville, repeatedly stabbed. Authorities identify the victim, a caucasian, Kelly M. Gillis of Santa Rojo, CAL." What C.F. Howell found in his mailbox two weeks later made his heart lurch. It was a letter from Skitzo: Lance, Ozzy Dirk and Timmy.
He opened it up:
There were old photos, polaroids of some entrails, arms, legs cleaved and hewed to the bone, separated. A highway, with Lance Ozone (he recognized him from the blue vomit photo) smiling, and two other long haired freaks, holding machetes and bloody knives.
THE POSTMARK WAS FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS!! All the letter said was this:
Dear dead one, C.F., late of Tchoupitoulas street, New Orleans: We told you not to tell anybody! We are touring now, heading east since last tuesday. We are coming threw texas, then Louisiana, playing clubs. We know where you live!!!!
This is what I have to say for you, C.F . Howell:
These are our lyrics for BLUE AND COLD CORPSE:
THEE I INVOKE, SERPENT OF THE DEEP IN THE NAME OF OUR FATHER ENKI, BEFORE THE FLIGHT, LORD AND MASTER, OPEN THE GATE, LEST I ATTACK IT LEST I LEAP OVER IT BY FORCE PLUMED SERPENT OF THE DEEP, NINNGHIZZHIDA, LORD NEBO, WHO DOES NOT KNOW OF THY MAGICK? WHAT SPIRIT IS NOT COMPELLED BY THE MAGICK OF THY SPELLS?
OPEN THE GATE TO THE SPHERE OF THY SPIRIT NEBO KURIOS OPEN THE GATE TO THE SPHERE OF THY WORKINGS OPEN TO ME? IA ATHZUL IA I BOL IA GAKU! MARZ ZI FOAS KAN! NEB ANATOS KPA! IA GAS! IA GAH! IA KAKOMANI! IA MAAI!
(Preliminary invocation of the calling of the spirits of the dead who dwell in Cutha, of the Lost, the Book of Calling.) He had his copy of the NECRONOMICON that he bought in B. Dalton; these kids' newest song was rife with the stuff.
The letter continued...
We are going to get you...You shuuda shut up! We've been threw a lot of musicians this way, and now you, C.f. Howell! We are gonna get rusty nife and slice off your hands and yure feet and yure head! And maybe we are gonna eat your mutilated FLESH!!!!!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's what it said. He knew it had been a big mistake all along. Why had he bothered to keep writing? They were on their way, they were probably in Louisiana! Darn! There would be a knock on the door soon. He would pack and leave, go over to his comic book buddy's apartment. Yeah! These grisly punks were supernatural, he thought. He heard a knock on the door, followed by more. He freaked. There was banging and hammering with fists, and yells and screams of a stygian nature.
"Lance here, you COLD CORPSE C.F. HOWELL!"
He knew they had heard his stereo, Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead" had been blasting away. Rotten luck...the door was giving way.
SKITZO had arrived, as timely as their letters.
A short story “The Strange Case of the Lovecraft Café” cowritten with DF Lewis and Jeff VanderMeer was mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Twenty First Annual Edition.
His twelfth novel, CREATURE FEATURE February 2010, co-written with David Mathew of Britain.