Dust to Dust

Some authors wait their entire careers for a book review from a reviewer who really gets what they were trying to do. I finally got mine after waiting twenty years — Blu Gilliand on WHERE WE LIVE AND DIE for Cemetery Dance online.

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A reminder that next weekend, I’ll be speaking and signing books at the 2015 Albatwitch Festival in Columbia, PA. The current schedule has me speaking at 3pm, but I have to leave the festival at 1:30pm to officiate a wedding. Therefore, I’ll be speaking at 12 noon. Also, I’ll be signing until then just below the intersection of 3rd & Locust Street.

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Some friends and I took an early birthday expedition to Centralia this past weekend. If you’re not familiar with the name, it’s a ghost town in Pennsylvania, site of an underground mine fire that’s been burning for decades, and the inspiration for a number of horror stories, including Silent Hill. (It will also feature in the final Levi Stoltzfus novel, BAD GROUND, which I intend to start early next year, after I finish the penultimate novel in his saga, INVISIBLE MONSTERS).

This was my fourth trip to Centralia in five years, and what’s remarkable is how quickly the place is changing. Trails I hiked on previous trips have vanished. Ruins that were there on earlier visits are gone, reclaimed by the wild. The place very much feels like it’s winding down. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust — which is perhaps an apt sentiment for a town that was killed by a mine fire. In a decade, I strongly suspect all traces of it will be gone.

Some examples:

I took a photo of this wall in 2013.

This is how it looks now.

This photo of author Michael T. Huyck Jr. inspecting some Cthulhu graffiti was taken in 2010.

Here’s what that same graffiti looks like now. It’s been added to, morphed, faded, and added to again. It’s also interesting to note how the road around it has changed, as well.

And then there are things that have been reclaimed by the wild or swallowed up by the ground, and exist now only in pictures.

This picture of Michael T. Huyck and Coop on this this hillside cliff was taken in 2010. You can see smoke from the fire drifting out of the ground around them.

That entire hillside is now gone. All that exists is a sinkhole. And the fire has moved on from that location. Indeed, the topography had changed so much, that I had to use GPS and a compass just to make sure I was in the same location.

This picture of me posing amidst a highway full of penis graffiti (which has delighted my friends) was taken in 2013.

Now, two years later, all of those penises are gone, and exist only in photographs.

In the past year, three of my best friends have died. Two of them were 50. Another was a few years younger than me. I turn 48 this week.

Soon, Centralia will turn to dust, existing only in photographs. And sooner or later, so will I -existing only in this picture of me and 100 penises that no longer exist, spray-painted on an abandoned highway that no longer exists in a town that no longer exists.

Enjoy your week…

4 thoughts on “Dust to Dust

  1. What an excellent post and thank you for sharing that with us, Brian! The penis pic is priceless. I only discovered your books about a year ago and have read everything of yours that I can get my hands on. I just reread Lost Level and it was even better the 2nd time. Can’t wait for the next book in that series and Levi Stoltzfus’s next adventure!!
    You keep writing them and we will keep reading them!
    Oh, and Happy Birthday!

    Paige Bramlett
    Little Rock, Arkansas

  2. These pictures and the memories you’ve shared about the area are wonderful. I’m on #29 of the podcast. I promised myself I would not skip ahead to the Edward Lee interview no matter how much it pains me. I have an elderly friend who was totally fucked by Dorchester. If you haven’t gone there, we would love to hear how you helped “take them down” on the podcast, if you haven’t discussed this already. Looks like your birthday is an hour or so away so Happy Birthday. Tell “Phoebe” it’s only a movie, PETA is all over that shit. My mom buys way too much whiskey for colds and I’m holding you to you giving all of us your version of “A Writer’s Tale”. Happy Fucking Birthday Brian Keene! Stick around, the horror world needs you!

  3. I’m less curious about Penis Road than I am about that one penis that seems to be swimming upstream, against all of the other ones.

    Go, Hero Penis, You Can Do It!!!

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