“Hard Truth” my 100-word story at HellNotes

“Hard Truth,” my 100-word “quiet horror” tale just went live at HellNotes. No zombies; no guts–just the screaming terror of contemporary life. If you don’t know the site, HellNotes is a great resource for fans of literary horror featuring profiles, interviews and reviews. Recently, though, HellNotes has started a series of “Horror in a Hundred”┬áposts that highlight works of sudden horror.

Meet P0L – my Puppet (Head)

After I played with Kathe Koja’s Nerve puppets (read all about it here) I realized I needed a mechanical boy of my own. These are photos of the process so far. I bought a huge box of a balsa wood many years ago at a warehouse sale but if you don’t have such an embarrassment of riches, you could use the slats from a clementine box. The plan is to cut out cross sections then glue them together into a blank. This process will avoid most actual carving.


I sketched the shape of the head on 3×5 cards both front and side views. I am not showing all the erasures. I traced it on to the top piece then used a scroll saw to cut it out. I clamped the pieces together with a bull clamp paper clip. The pieces jiggled a bit so the cuts weren’t exact but I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. Here’s a shot of the test assembly.


I drilled holes just large enough for marbles for the eyes. Then I drilled a smaller bore hole into the face so the eyes could peek out but not fall out. The balas proved too brittle and the upper brows chipped out on both sides. I hope to remedy this problem with eyebrows.


I started laminating the layers together with white glue. I’d glue up one set and let it cure over night, then I glued up the next layers and let them dry while I was at work. After work tonight I cranked out the random orbital hand sander and smoothed down the jagged edges. Once I had the form roughed in, I switched to a foam abrasive pad.

IMG_4219I’ve got something really clever planned for the neck movement which I’ll explain when I get to making the body.

During the intimate time spent sanding tonight, I learned that this puppet is named P0L, which I think has to do with the huge gaudy orange Paul Klee poster I had in my dorm room as a freshman, though I suspect he’s got a political agenda to act out. Those damned puppets. You pull their strings and still they do whatever they please.