Dumpster Fire Press is proud to release Johann Van Der Walt’s modern horror novella THE CROWS WILL NEVER TELL a striking tale of what lies within the forest, a gothic exploration of the horror of being divine, in the tradition of STAND BY ME and Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS. Several young boys explore what it is to be man as a mysterious figure with his own vile intent goes on a quest seeking out what is divine to quell the killer inside. New and old gods collide in a twisted tale of divine rites and romance in which the crows will never tell.

Cover image by Dillinger

Johann Van Der Walt is an author residing in South Africa who has recently contributed to DFP’s first anthology DEATH BY PUNK and most recently to the third volume of VOICESF FROM THE FIRE and I hope to showcase more of his work as well as engage in more collaborative feats.

Johann Van Der Walt

This is by far the most stellar read by solo prose writer, Dumpster Fire Press has put out this year and will be hard to top, if one even wants to top it….a tight plot, on the nose dialogue, you’ll be dismayed the author isn’t American even with the deep echoes of Stephen King with some of that Gaiman magic…Van Der Walt pulls the roots of the old gods straight from the earth itself to call out the new gods of a dying world populated with the divine bordering on stagnation and what shall either be all out war or slowly suffering self eradication.

It all starts out with several young men or rather teenage boys on the quest to attain manhood in the most vulgar of ways and from there it’s like an acid trip to the secret universe underneath our feet, an erotic bloody Alice in Wonderful as a serial killer miles away seeks something like god far away possibly in another time or is it all happening at once?

Funny thing, time…divinity and the infinite horror of it all, leaving you wonder if it ever really does end…
If there’s an answer the author ain’t telling and as for the crows….

the crows will never tell

Donnie could tell from the look on Sam’s face that he was not going to let go of it. Albeit a rumor, it was a rumor about sex, and anything even remotely sex-orientated made Sam all the more desperate to fulfil what he believed was his destiny. Having sex all the time. Donnie on the other hand, wanted more from childhood, having witnessed his parents ugly divorce, understood the importance of enjoying their young and carefree years.

“Well now,” Sam sighed and slapped his hands against his knees. His disdain, like so many times recently, sprout from what he dubbed, the banality of life.  “We always sit down here in this musty basement and talk about it?”

He kicked the bottom of the reclining chair in an upright position in an overly dramatic fashion. “What if we could find out for real? This is our opportunity…think about it guys.”

Donnie and Sam’s other friend, Ralph snickered, “We are fifteen years old, living in rural Vermont, what else is there to do except talk about it?”

“To start fucking doing it,” Sam cried. His face flushed in a quick wave of anger.

Ralph pressed his lips together, absorbing Sam’s rant. It wasn’t like the three of them weren’t on the same frequency when it came to the disproportion of youth induced frustration in a small town as opposed to kids living in the big city. It was a harsh truth that wasn’t going to change anytime soon.

Small towns didn’t have a lot to offer bored children. Especially not a place like Greenwood. Their school barely had one hundred kids for starters, and that was counting both grade school, middle school, and high school. They were all just meshed together in one big building at the foot of Green Hill, the relatively large mountain that overlooked the sleepy town. A sleepy town on the verge of being forgotten. Greenwood was a typical rural town, with its days served hot in summer and cold in winter, and for dessert either nice shades of Autumnal cinnamon and orange, and a sweet and juicy floral decadence in Spring. It was a picturesque town, with the Star-Spangled Banner lazily fluttering about on almost every lamppost. A proud and patriotic town to most, but to most kids it was just another place in America they couldn’t wait to escape from. 

Donnie didn’t really believe Sam’s story. In Vermont- if you look at it just the right way- things were already as good as it was going to get, so when something sounds too good to be true, it often is just that. Especially if it had anything to do with sex. Not for lack of trying, but they all had their fair share of fuck ups when it came to getting laid, or in their case, trying to get laid. “What if it is all horseshit?” Donnie frowned.

“Well this is our chance not to talk about it, but get down to doing it,” Sam said, his eyes even more pressing. “If Kyle did in fact do what Tommy said he had done, then this is as legit as the swelling of my nipple on my left tit.” He moved his palms in a comical fashion while he spoke, circling his nipples.

“I went to the Greenwood Library again,” Donnie said and offered a subtle grin as consolation for Sam’s evident grievance given his friends’ lack of enthusiasm. The alternative shift in conversation was not well received.

“Here we go again,” Sam said and rolled his eyes theatrically. Donnie was a mood-changer, a kid too responsible in the eyes of his peers.

“We either daydream about sex or discuss a few disappearances hidden in this shithole’s history. We sound like Scooby fucking Doo and his silly gang.”

“Did Scooby and the gang solve mysteries and think about sex?” Ralph scowled. Not always the brightest amongst the bunch, but highly loyal and easily influenced. In other words, Sam’s type of guy. A yes-I’ll-do-anything type of kid.

Sam sighed again. “Daphne is a hot piece of ass and Velma, well, you know, she’s good for a few things.”

“They are cartoon characters,” Donnie intervened. In his mind anything that did not take up physical matter in the world wasn’t tangible enough to debate with human attributes. He was a very realistic guy, often reigning his two friends in from going all out crazy. Donnie was definitely the needed equilibrium of the group. “Once again you attribute what you see on the internet to all women, and this time they are not even real.”

“I’m just saying that Fred and Velma and Daphne always split up and search for clues on their own. You gotta have thought about them having a threesome at least once?”

“It’s always about sex with you,” Donnie cried out, and instantly regretted it. With good reason too. He knew how Sam hated it when he challenged his views, especially in front of Ralph.

Sam jumped out of the chair; his face suddenly flushed. “I sense another speech about feminism about to come along… And what’s this ‘always with the sex’ suddenly?” His voice squeaked and he combed his hair behind his ears. “Maybe you guys are content with being here in this basement discussing murder mysteries and jacking off to porn every once in a while, but I am not. Perhaps I am with the wrong friends? I mean, come to think of it, you guys are pretty chill with this town. When is the last time we actually talked about busting our nuts to New York as soon as we graduate?”

“You know we are with you on that,” Donnie answered quickly and diplomatically. “Nobody said that we like this town or that we intend on living here a second longer than absolutely necessary.”

“Really Don? Because you invest a lot of time in the disappearances around here, newsflash, this is America. People leave town, people run away. How many times have we investigated a missing case and hit a wall? The American dream does not exist in fucktown, Vermont. It’s out there.” He nudged his head toward the small window for emphasized effect.

“People get murdered…” Donnie offered. “They can’t all just have up and left one day? Most of them were school kids.”

“All of them are…were… school kids,” Ralph chirped. An observation that made both Sam and Donnie frown briefly. “Whatever…I mean they were mostly our age.”

“You have to admit Sam, it is very alarming that kids our age and even some that are younger skip town?”

Sam’s breathing calmed down and he searched Donnie’s eyes. Somewhere caught up in this distressed and depressed kid, still suffering from the aftermath of a divorce, lived the reckless Donnie he once knew.

 “Maybe they were as tired as I was,” Sam said, and wiped flecks of spit collected in the corners of his mouth. “Maybe they were as tired of discussing stuff like that too. They were probably virgins too, just like us. Fifteen-year-old virgins.”

“Most kids around here are still virgins,” Ralph sighed. His tone carried his words like an insult, mostly aimed at himself, as if he had to realize yet again that in order to get laid, he had to take initiative and get off the couch.”

Published by Mike Zone

Mike Zone is the former Editor in Chief of Dumpster Fire Press and managing editor of Concrete Mist Press. The author of Screaming in the End: Poems and Stories, Fuck You: A Fucking Poetry Chap, Shedding Dark Places (almost), One Hell of a Muse , as well as coauthor of The Grind and Razorville. A frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Black Shamrock Magazine, Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, and Cult Culture magazine.

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