Where is Delirium Corridor? You can’t find it with GPS. Try ten miles past the Twilight Zone, when you veer east after Barstow toward the hot, wind-blasted promise of Needles, CA. At some point, you can’t escape visiting a gas station restroom, and you struggle not to touch anything. Not because of any virus or contagion, but because you are in a gas station restroom in the vicinity of Needles. You try to see your reflection in the Black Mirror above the stained sink, but not even the frightening apparition of yourself under penetrating fluorescent light that shows veins through your skin appears. You struggle onward, ignoring the hallucinations at the periphery of vision, and the voices in your brain that sound like Dennis Hopper. Drive into Arizona and eventually end up in La Posada Hotel in Winslow, staring at the paintings of dead people in flat Kansas fields, a lone Victorian house rising behind them, upstairs in their Night Gallery. Stagger back to your car in the oppressive heat and head toward the distant rumor of the New Mexico border. That is when you’re approaching Delirium Corridor. Turn back west, or north or south? Everything looks the same and you are all alone. Don’t stop; no one will help you.
In 2018, I was determined to shop or publish a collection of my dark fiction: suspense, horror, sci-fi, noir crime, slipstream. Various other things distracted me. By 2019, I thought it might be cooler, more inclusive or communal to produce an anthology where I wrote the title story and final one, and the rest would be by other writers I respected. Unfortunately, I may have mentioned that aloud during a moment of public intoxication and Silver Webb’s steel-trap mind remembered, and reminded me, over and over, when I later tried to prevaricate and blame it on demon rum.
Anyway, it’s an honor to have such talented authors—some good friends, others, fine writers—involved in this project. The idea of Delirium Corridor was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock story anthologies and Ray Bradbury collections that I read as a kid. Add to those, horror/suspense/sci-fi anthology television series. Obviously, I didn’t expect to match such greatness, but to at least shoot for the stars and make a collection everyone involved could be proud of—today, and maybe even tomorrow.
“What the hell does ‘curated by’ mean?” more than one person asked me. I picked the theme, wrote the titular story, painted the covers, contacted writers who I thought would get it, and tried to impose a strict adherence to dark, odd, or surreal stories, whatever their genre. Did I edit the entire thing? That was the plan, but no. In the end, I co-edited Delirium Corridor with publisher Silver Webb. We have very different styles, hers being professional and meticulous, and mine being whatever the opposite of that is. So she deserves my profound thanks for that, and for her design work, akin to a rug that ties the whole room together. And somehow, we’re both still alive....
I also want to thank Stephen Vessels for allowing the use of several of his striking art pieces in this anthology, as well as Grace Rachow for use of her “The Flood.” Both are excellent artists and generous people I have long admired. I met several writers featured within this volume at Santa Barbara Writers Conference, and specifically at Matt Pallamary’s Phantastic Fiction workshop. He deserves gratitude for inspiring his attendees to be brave and bizarre. Is this anthology weird enough for Matt’s standards? Probably not, but we tried, and we’ll continue to keep trying.
People have said, “It must be great to be Editor, to be in control.” I would tell them first to walk a mile in my ballet slippers across Death Valley during August at high noon before making any assumptions. But in the greater scheme of things, this anthology was a relatively painless process, and I hope it connects in some indescribable way with you, the all-important reader.
"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
"Untitled" by Stephen T. Vessels