Carl Hose, author of horror anthologies Dead Rising and Deadtown and Other Tales of Horror Set in the Old West, has brought together such prominent horror fiction authors as Deborah LeBlanc (The Wolven (Harlequin Nocturne)), Scott Nicholson (Liquid Fear), and British horror favorite Graham Masterton (Descendant) to compile the horror anthology Dark Light, from which all proceeds are to benefit Ronald McDonald House.
Here, in Carl’s own words, is his reason for spearheading this generous project:
My daughter Ireland Joy Hose was due to come into the world on March 3rd, 2012. Since my wife Marcee was going to have a C-section, her doctor scheduled her to deliver Ireland February 13th. It’s typical to schedule C-sections about two weeks before the actual due date, but in my wife’s case, the C-section was scheduled a little earlier because she had complete placenta previa, meaning her placenta was blocking the birth canal. This is normally not a problem unless the previa turns into accreta, which means the placenta attaches to body organs and actually begins to grow into them (pretty alien-like). This can result in severe hemorrhaging and may require a partial or even a complete hysterectomy.
All of this is beside the point. Ireland decided she wanted to show up on January 27th at 10:35 P.M. She was six weeks premature, 18 inches long, and weighed just 4 lbs. 13 oz.
Marcee had gone to the gynecologist that day. He told her she was having contractions. We went to the hospital, where they tried to stop her contractions. It didn’t happen. Marcee started bleeding, and while I write about blood all the time, seeing it pour from my wife’s body was pretty damn scary.
I was in the operating room when Ireland was delivered. She came out fine, although she would have her own struggles ahead of her in the coming weeks. Shortly after the nurses began cleaning Ireland up, one of the doctors said to another doctor that Marcee had accreta and would need a hysterectomy. I was caught between the joy of my daughter’s birth and my wife’s fragile situation.
The doctors began pumping my wife full of anesthesia and she was fading fast. All she wanted was to hear our baby girl cry, to know Ireland was all right. “Cry, baby girl,” she said, and when Ireland began to wail, Marcee drifted off.
I was ushered from the OR with Ireland in my arms. What followed was a two-and-a-half-hour wait while the doctors performed surgery on Marcee. There was a lot of blood loss, but in the end she came through the surgery alive and eager to see Ireland. Barely able to sit up, she insisted I wheel her to the nursery, where she held Ireland for the first time, a full four hours after Ireland was born.
Because Ireland was premature, she was going to be spending time in the NICU. She was moved to a different hospital—one that was further away from where we lived—the next night. Marcee and I agreed I should go with Ireland. There was really no discussion necessary. This, however, left Marcee alone to deal with the trauma of her experience without me or her newborn daughter to comfort her.
One of the memories that haunts me still is seeing an ambulance with the words Neonatal Transport Unit on the side and thinking, that’s a baby ambulance and it’s here for my baby.
I arrived at the hospital where my daughter was taken late that night. The blur begins here, so I don’t have the exact time. The NICU staff suggested I get a room at the Ronald McDonald House. I insisted I didn’t need one, that I would be staying at my daughter’s side day and night. They worked hard to convince me a room at the Ronald McDonald House made more sense—that it would be more comfortable than a chair in the NICU. If it had just been me, they probably wouldn’t have changed my mind, but since I knew Marcee was planning to join me as soon as she could strong arm the doctor’s into discharging her (which she did in record time), I relented and allowed one of the nurses to contact the Ronald McDonald House nearby to reserve us a spot.
It turns out no reservation was needed that night. Hospital security drove me to the Ronald McDonald House where we would be staying. It so happened I was the only guest at the time. The house was a quaint looking affair that reminded me of a bed and breakfast in the country—from the outside. Inside was a maze of stairways and narrow hallways that housed about thirty rooms. The security guard said I wouldn’t be able to get a key until morning, so once he left, I wouldn’t be able to get in and out. The doors lock automatically.
After the security guard left, I wandered around the house. It was beautiful. Hardwood floors, stocked library, fully-stocked kitchen (help yourself to anything you want), fireplace, and a playground outside for kids. It was amazing.
And a little creepy.
The house sat in a beautiful residential area with red brick streets and lots of gorgeous trees, but at night, alone as I was, still a little in shock over the premature birth of my daughter and the bloody mess that was Marcee’s surgery, my mind began working overtime. I imagined all sorts of creaking floors and shadows moving through the house—hell, maybe it wasn’t my imagination. In any case, sleep did not come easy that night. I’d seen far too many horror movies, written far too many horror stories myself, not to know what usually becomes of lone visitors in quaint country homes in the middle of the night. I called Marcee to let her know I was settled in and that I thought I had the company of ghosts, or maybe something much worse.
With no key, I used my overnight bag to prop the door open so I could step outside and have a cigarette.
It was a foggy night—isn’t it always?
One cigarette became two, two became three. I stood outside in the fog, looking through the chilly darkness, grateful to have a new daughter, but afraid for how fragile she seemed to be; happy Marcee came through the surgery alive, but sad she was alone at another hospital; missing our boys, who would end up seeing us very little over the next three weeks (although they were well taken care of, thanks to Marcee’s mom and dad).
It was 3:00 A.M when I finally went back inside and stretched out on the bed, fully clothed, lying on top of the covers.
Marcee arrived the next day. She shouldn’t have been walking at all, but she wouldn’t be denied her daughter. We spent the next three weeks living at the Ronald McDonald House (they moved us from the bed-and-breakfast model to one that resembled a fairly expensive hotel). Our days were filled with walking from the Ronald McDonald House to the hospital and back again. We would feed and change our daughter, hold her, and watch as she began to overcome the challenges of prematurity. She did those things like the little champ she is. I believe having us with her day and night helped contribute to her impressive adjustment to being thrust into the world so early. She is just over two months old at the time of this writing and healthy as can be. Marcee is doing great too.
The Ronald McDonald House played a big part in making this happen. They provided food, shelter, homemade gifts from volunteers, and even cards for Valentine’s Day. We didn’t need to do anything except be there for Ireland. If not for the Ronald McDonald House, Marcee and I would have had to travel every day to see Ireland, or we would have had to sleep in the NICU to be with her. We would have gladly done either, but the Ronald McDonald House made it so we didn’t need to.
The Ronald McDonald House does this for thousands of families every hour of every day of every year.
I came up with the idea for this anthology one night while Marcee and I were in our room at RMH. We wanted to give back to the organization not only for what it was doing for us, but what it has done for families since the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in 1974. The organization operates strictly on donations, and the best way I could think to give back was to use my talent with words.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone, however, so I called upon some of the best names in horror fiction to help out. The response was overwhelming. With very few exceptions, every author I contacted was willing to participate. I also received stories from writers who saw the call for submissions on Dark Markets. It wasn’t long before I had more stories than I could possibly use—enough to fill two volumes of Dark Light.
You can download a sampler of the first pages of some of the stories from Dark Light by clicking here:Dark Light Sampler – Carl Hose MARLvision Publishing
If you would like to purchase Dark Light and help out the Ronald McDonald house, click here.
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