Tonight, On Ghost Discovery

200ghost-coverTitle: Tonight, On Ghost Discovery
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Genre: , , ,
Pages: 41

Do you believe in ghosts?

 

Walter wasn’t sure if he believed but he knew that the ghost hunters on the television show Ghost Discovery didn’t have a clue about anything.

His favorite pastime was watching them scream and run from every little sound while he berated them from the safety of his living room.

That is until he suddenly died and became a ghost himself. Intent on teaching the ghost hunters how scary a real ghost could be he travels to the famous Ghost Museum only to find that ghost hunting is much more terrifying in person than on the television.

With a ghost devouring demon in pursuit, Walter must learn how to access his powers as a ghost or be consumed and cease to exist.

This short story springs from Ed’s love of ghost hunting shows and his off-hand comment that if he ever came back as a ghost he’d have to show up at Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum in Las Vegas (which happens to be right down the street from him) just to mess with them.

“Tonight on a special live edition of Ghost Discovery, Nick Carter and his band of ghost hunters take you inside the famous Ghost Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The museum is home to many haunted and cursed artifacts which Nick has collected during his twenty-year career as a paranormal investigator. The museum is currently one of the most haunted attractions in the country. Nick and his crew will give you unrestricted access as they investigate the spirits lurking in the museum tonight on Ghost Discovery.”

The promo for Ghost Discovery was replaced by a commercial for deodorant. The jingle always made Walter Chindi want to throw something at the television. Resisting the urge, Walter levered his bulk off of the couch and waddled to the kitchen. Cold, deep-dish pizza left over from dinner and a couple of beers would be the perfect thing to eat while Nick and the boys acted like babies. On every show, they panicked and ran from each thump or disembodied voice.

Walter could not understand them or any of the myriad ghost hunting shows which proliferated on the Vacation Channel. How could they spend their lives hunting for ghosts yet every time there was any activity, they screamed and ran like frightened children? Wasn’t that the exact thing they wanted to happen?

He took a massive bite of pizza and then added a second slice onto the paper plate for good measure. He lumbered back to the well-worn, sagging couch with his plate of food and two ice cold beers. The couch groaned as he lowered himself onto it. He was just in time for the commercials to end and the splash screen for the Ghost Discovery show to appear. Walter gobbled his first slice as the theme music played and the ghost hunters were introduced.

Nick Carter, intrepid paranormal investigator, was the star. He was an overacting man-child in Walter’s opinion. His longtime sidekick Andy came next. Andy had to be the most easily frightened man in America. The camera crew, whose names were unimportant to Walter, would follow the duo as they searched for evidence of life after death.

As the show progressed, the investigators moved from room to room in the Ghost Museum. Each room contained supposedly haunted artifacts. They examined each item with their electromagnetic field detectors and digital recorders. The goal was to capture ghost voices. Cameras, many of their own design, attempted to capture supernatural evidence. They examined haunted dolls, cursed jewelry boxes and the cleaver once used by the most notorious serial killer in Kentucky.

“Nick, look,” Andy shrilled. “We’ve got orbs!”

The television camera focused on the screen of Andy’s camera. It showed small white blobs floating near a mirror which had once hung in the famous Myrtles Plantation.

“Don’t you know how to use a camera?” Walter screamed at the television, spraying pizza crumbs onto the coffee table. “It’s freaking dust catching your IR light. You idiots wouldn’t know a ghost if it bit you in the ass.”

Walter didn’t watch ghost hunting shows to broaden his mind about the possibilities of life after death. He liked watching the hosts make fools of themselves while he berated them from the safety of his living room.

The host, Nick, took center screen in front of a staircase leading up to the ceiling.

“This staircase began life in the famous Winchester Mystery House. It was reported that dark entities were often seen moving up and–”

His monologue abruptly ended as a loud ringing thump, like a hammer striking wood, echoed from somewhere behind him. Nick’s face displayed shock and his eyes almost bugged out of his head.

The host yelped and ran off camera screaming, “What the *bleep* was that?”

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The Light Within

200irinknight1-coverTitle: The Light Within
Series: Irin Knight #1
Release Date: February 14, 2019
Genre: , ,
Pages: 208

In a remote mountain town, a battle will be fought for the survival of the world.

Lawrence ‘Tagg’ Taggart is a young man who feels his life has no purpose. He is kidnapped by cultists and targeted for sacrifice. Instead, he is changed and is now connected to the alien, other-dimensional energies used by the cult.

Brenna is being trained by her uncle in the mountains of West Virginia to be an Irin Knight, a defender of humanity. No matter how hard she trains, she cannot access the Light, the mystical power which is the heart of the Irin. She wonders if the Council of Elders is right and that a woman can never be a Knight.

After Brenna saves Tagg’s life, drawing them together, they discover that the cult has been working under their noses all along.

The cult worships beings of the Outside, a dimension surrounding our own inhabited by creatures which desire to consume all realities. The cult has been secretly growing in strength for years and its powerful leader stands on the brink of opening a gateway for the horrors from the Outside.

Faced by fanatical cultists and their deadly mechanical constructs Tagg must embrace his newfound abilities and Brenna must awaken her link to the Light or the cult will succeed in opening the gateway and our universe will be consumed.

A fast-paced urban fantasy. Do you like fantastic adventures laced with magic and a touch of horror? This series combines the urban fantasy feel of the Dresden Files with a touch of the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft.

Chapter 1

I never knew what I wanted but I never would have chosen this. I had a normal life until I was thrust into the dark, literally, when a bag was pulled over my head.

I didn’t even know they were behind me. The bag over my head was my first clue that all was not right with my world. The blackness was disorienting. They didn’t waste time before I was being shoved roughly forward. After half a dozen staggering steps I was lifted like a rag doll and thrown into what I assumed was a truck. Someone yanked my hands behind my back as the truck accelerated. Cold plastic encircled my wrists, and then the zip ties clacked as they were cinched tight. That sound sealed the hopelessness of my situation.

The bag was scratchy and my cheeks were being sandpapered as it rubbed against me each time I rolled on the hard floor. My breath soon made the inside of the bag a sauna, sweat poured down my face. Some of it was the heat inside the bag, the rest was the sheer terror of my situation.

“What do you want?”

No answer came except a kick to the stomach. I didn’t repeat the question. I could hear several people in the truck with me. The only sound anyone made was the occasional grunt as the vehicle cornered. An acrid stench permeated the truck. I once roomed with a total jock. He’d regularly come home from the gym stinking of sweat. He smelled sweet compared to the body odor I was getting from this group. It smelled like a dumpster in the confines of the truck.

We jerked to a halt and I heard the doors open and then I was alone in the back. I laid there for a few minutes straining to hear. The truck was silent, I was alone. I struggled to a sitting position. That’s damn hard when your hands are bound tightly behind you. I finally wiggled my butt under me. I had just about figured out how to get to my knees, when a fist the size of my head slammed into my face. My nose crumpled and hot wet blood poured down my face.

The puncher tisked at me like my grandmother used to when I stole a cookie and was caught. The son of a bitch had been sitting there quietly, watching me struggle. I was left weaving as fireworks went off in my head, but at least I was still sitting. The door opened and something heavy and hard slammed into me, knocking me against the metal wall. Even bigger fireworks went off and then everything was dark for a while.

I came to again, still in the dark and buried under several large heavy shapes. I tried to shift one off me and it groaned in pain. There were other people on top of me. The weight of the other - I guess they were victims - was too much to overcome. I was pinned in place and could only lie there listening to the sound of the engine, the roar of the tires, and the wet breathing of our captors. We didn’t stop again for a long time. The truck slowed at one point and I could hear moving water close outside. The truck rocked violently a few times and then the water sound receded. The truck slowed, I couldn’t hear the tires on tarmac sound that had become the totality of my world anymore. We were no longer on paved roads. The off-road portion of the drive didn’t last long. The truck rocked to a halt and the engine was switched off. The other victims were yanked off me, one by one until it was my turn. Strong hands grabbed my arms and dragged me from the truck. I was back on my feet and being herded roughly along. I could hear whimpers and sobs, some male, some female. Each time there was a sound I heard a meaty smack as one of the captors punished the one making the noise. We shuffled along what I thought was a dirt path, then I tripped over a solid lip and found myself standing on a hard floor.

“Wonderful my children,” a deep male voice boomed.

His voice echoed as if we were in a large room. Our captors made no response and I was soon yanked to a halt and forced to my knees. I heard grunts and assumed the others were being treated the same. I didn’t want to die like this. I’d seen enough movies to know that once the crazies brought you to their hideout and put you on your knees a bullet to the brain wasn’t far behind.

“Rejoice my friends,” Booming Voice said. “You are to be party to a great thing; a momentous event that will transform the world. We, the chosen, shall open the way to the coming of the true God of this universe.”

I didn’t feel honored. My tongue was frozen in my mouth, my heart raced like a greyhound and I desperately needed to piss. It was painful to maintain my bladder but I didn’t want to die on my knees and covered in my own piss.

“Brother Randy, light the candles. Brother Sean, fetch the dagger.”

I smelled piss. At least I wasn’t the only one terrified beyond my ability to cope. My only consolation was that the source of the smell wasn’t me.

Booming Voice started speaking in a sing-song rhythm but the words were foreign to me. I couldn’t even place the sound of the language. There were guttural clicks, croaking sounds, and combinations of consonants that should never occur in a language. Every so often he would pause and other voices would speak short phrases in the same weird language. I could hear both men and women chanting the phrases; there were a lot of people in this group.

I never would have thought that human throats could create such sounds. There were sibilants, guttural growls, and clicks in abundance.

"Vrr'kat hakht k'ta. K’ta q’prasst,” Booming Voice chanted.

“K’ta q'prasst,” responded the congregation.

The chanting went on for a long time. It had the effect of lulling me into a fugue state. I was disconnected from my body. The pain of my bruised body became distant and the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up like I was in an electrical storm.

Booming Voice shouted some word that sounded like he was yelling and vomiting at the same time and I heard a horrible squelching sound. That sound repeated half a dozen times and I smelled shit and piss and a tangy sour scent followed by a thud. I thought it must have been the sound of him killing one of the hostages. I should have screamed or tried to run, but I was frozen in place. His chanting resumed and came closer. After several minutes he shouted the same non-word again and the wet, slicing sounds were repeated.

The lights in the room must have been turned up, the inside of the bag was not as black as before. I could make out dim gray light leaking through it. Booming Voice repeated the cycle three more times, his voice grew closer after each repetition. With each death, the light level increased until it felt like a spotlight was focused on me. I needed to run but was still frozen.

An explosion ripped through the air. My ears popped as the shock wave passed over me. Distant shouts filled the room, dozens of voices shouting demands and orders.

“Police!”

“On the ground!”

“Freeze!”

Rapid fire yelling, and then the sound of a gun.

“Delay them,” Booming Voice said. “I must be allowed to finish.”

Incoherent shouts rang out from around me and I heard several of my captors rush away, presumably to confront the charging police.

Booming Voice resumed his chanting, shouting over the screams of his cult and the police. The room continued to become brighter through the cloth. He rushed through the words, no longer relying on his companions to respond. I heard him cry out again and heard the dagger plunge into flesh. It was so close I heard the blade slicing cloth and flesh, warm liquid—the blood of my neighbor—sprayed across me. I saw light shining through the bag. It must have been one of those security type lights because it punched through the bag like it wasn’t even there.

Booming Voice gasped and I heard him say in a strangled voice, “God.” I thought that the police were winning and he realized he was running out of time.

Booming Voice stepped in front of me, it was now or never and I didn’t want to die. I finally found my voice.

“No! Help me!”

Several explosions shook the room. I heard the crack of pistols and machine guns. I was in a war zone waiting for a psycho to butcher me like a pig.

More light exploded around me. My hair rose on my scalp in spite of the heavy bag and then the bag was gone.

Lightning flashed. I wasn’t in a building but out in the open. Booming Voice was nowhere to be seen. There was nobody in sight, even the sounds of the battle were absent.

Lightning flashed again, but it was not lighting. It was lightning-like but made of vast black bolts streaking across a dead, gray sky. The clouds stretching from horizon to horizon were the color of rotting flesh. Another bolt flashed down from the corrupt sky and struck the ground. The hillside recoiled like a living thing from the pain of the strike. The soil, black and moist, was more like black paste than life giving loam. It rippled near the site of the strike. Bubbles journeyed from some deep place up to the surface where they stretched the plastic soil upward into boils which popped, spewing noxious fumes and pus-like yellow fluids. Fluttering shapes swooped from the darkness seeming to feed on the ejecta.

A structure stood atop the hill, it was tall yet somehow appeared squat and menacing. The angles of its walls shifted as the eye traversed its height as if it were fluctuating or attempting to escape its original form and become something else.

Moaning sounds from wind or possibly vast creatures suffering in unimaginable ways filled the air. Gusts of wind drove liquid from the surface upward to the clouds, not downward as rain. In the distance, things moved. The shapes undulated and crawled, they hopped and staggered across the ever shifting ground. Energies erupted from the distant hills, blue white flashes, the polar opposite of the black lightning. The flashes coalesced to form writhing tendrils which quested across the landscape, enveloping and consuming the things moving there. Lightning flashed again and one of the blue white tendrils streaked upward to intercept the lightning. It swallowed the darkness into itself and increased in size as it drank in the dark energy.

The tendrils turned and regarded me; I could feel their attention as if they were living things intent on stalking new prey. The tendrils flowed across the shifting ground, racing over everything in their path like Saint Elmo’s fire. The electric forms of the tendrils piled one upon another until they filled my view. The rose up, towering over me and then they flung themselves at me, half lightning, half tentacled beast.

I screamed. From the bottom of my chest, gut clenching, sphincter puckering screams which tore my throat; I screamed.

“You’re safe,” a man’s voice said.

A scratchy cloth was pulled across my face. Brilliant light replaced the dark world, banishing the energy tentacles and cursed landscape. Screams still tore their way through my abused throat but wound down to whimpers as I saw that I was in the center of a barn, still kneeling on a wooden floor. Dozens of armed men milled. The smell of gunpowder and blood filled the air. Bodies covered the floor, most in sackcloth robes but half a dozen in normal clothing—my fellow victims. They lay bound and hooded, surrounded by pools of their own blood.

The man in front of me looked hard but kind. His bulging black vest displayed the most wonderful word I had ever seen: POLICE.

He clutched the black sack which had covered my head. I blinked at him stupidly. Part of me wanted to scream some more, but the images were fading now that I saw hard reality all around me.

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The Z-Team

200zteam-coverTitle: The Z-Team
Release Date: January 26, 2019
Genre: , ,
Pages: 31

Meet the Z-Team.

A crack commando unit died in battle and was resurrected against orders by a necromancer. Today they are hunted by the government and survive as soldiers of fortune. No job is too dirty, no threat too great.

When a gang of outlaw demons takes over a small desert town,

The Z-Team must drive them off or else the townspeople will be forced to sell their souls and the town will be damned.

 

If you are in trouble and no one else can help, maybe you can hire the Z-Team

A short story of zombies, magic, and mercenaries.

“Larry’s gonna need some stitching up before our next gig.”

“Why do you do that?”

“What?”

“Use their names; they’re dead. They’ve been dead for over six years. Whatever made Larry Winslow that person fled when he died; he’s just Z-4 now.”

Harvey ‘Needles’ McGee finished from his inspection of the former Larry Winslow and walked to the bar where the necromancer, Macken Duvalier, perched on a stool.

The two men couldn’t have been more different. Needles was short and squat with a shock of pumpkin colored hair and skin so white he might be mistaken for a ghost. The Necromancer had skin as black as coal and when standing hovered a foot over the smaller man. He was thin, almost to the point of anorexia, but possessed a wiry strength.

“C’mon Mac, that was his name. Just because the boys are dead doesn’t mean I can’t address them proper.”

“When the body dies,” Mac said. “The person they were is no more.”

Mac’s voice gained a sing-song lilt as he spoke. His Haitian roots always emerged when he dropped into lecture mode, especially when lecturing about Necromancy and zombies.

“Those bodies there are nothing more than shells, vessels for the power which I summoned. You might as well call the troop vehicle Mary as address the dead by proper names. When I raise the dead I bind the merest grain of my soul to the power from the Greater Dark. This is what animates the team, not their souls but raw power which I control. They are no better than machines, hence Z-1 through Z-4.”

“Yeah, but I liked Larry.”

Mac shook his head in mock disgust. “You, my friend, are impossible.”

“Hey guys, we got a client.” Richie ‘Zoot’ Jimenez barged into the room waving a pad of paper.

Mac and Needles abandoned their disagreement over a zombie’s proper form of address and joined the excited man. Zoot got his nickname from the outrageous suits he wore when not in combat fatigues. The muscular Puerto Rican wore a bright yellow shirt and wide legged purple pants. The combination was painful to look at. He had abandoned the long jacket and wide brimmed hat while indoors. Even without the full ensemble he still looked like a refugee from a 1940’s jazz band.

Mac took the pad from Zoot’s hand and scanned the scribbled notes.

“Where the hell is Silverfield?”

“It’s a small town north of Vegas,” Zoot said. “Small population, damn near a ghost town.”

“And these people can afford us?”

“She says they can. She wants to have the meet at some diner outside of town.”

“Biker gang took over the town,” Mac read from the notes. “Seems a bit low threat for us but if the lady is willing to pay, who am I to say no to a damsel in distress.”

Mac pulled a cigar from his pocket and set about readying it to smoke while he considered the offer at hand. The team had once been soldiers, a crack unit tasked with the hardest jobs the military could find. Half the squad had died in a poorly conceived attack on a terrorist stronghold. Necromancer Sergeant Duvalier had resurrected his teammates against direct orders. Fleeing his court martial with the aid of his squad they were branded outlaws and had been on the run ever since.

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The Tell-Tale Zombie

200telltale_coverTitle: The Tell-Tale Zombie
Release Date: June 18, 2018
Genre: , , ,
Pages: 39

The zombies were dead - really dead this time.

It is one year since the last zombie was reported to be destroyed and the world is slowly recovering.

Demi is a survivor who harbors a dark secret. She lost her husband to the undead and will do anything to protect her young daughter.

Neighbors and friends pry into her life, trying to learn her secret. To protect her secret and her daughter she will do the unthinkable.

The Tell-Tale Zombie is a short story of survival in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. This isn't your normal zombie story with rugged survivors battling hordes of undead in the streets. This story examines the human toll in a world where the line between life and death has become blurred.

The zombies were all dead - really dead this time. Less than a year ago the five mile hike to the neighboring enclave was life endangering. Today she strolled without fear toward her home after trading two dozen fresh eggs for three pairs of new pants.

Old habits die hard. She scanned every rusting car, and every crumbling doorway in each burned out building. Every shadow was a hiding place for one of the dead. Her belt held the well-used tomahawk and the pistol she had taken from a dead cop so many years before. The grips of both weapons were worn smooth from constant use during The Troubles.

She chuckled as the newly minted name describing the prior nine years sprang to mind. Humans are a resilient bunch. It had always been the way of the world to remember the past in a better light. The horrors are minimized and the good times amplified in memory. If there were only bad times, people referred to the past in a less disturbing way. What had once been the Zombie Apocalypse became the less horrifying The Troubles.

The last of the dead were officially destroyed just over eleven months ago. Everyone Demi knew still kept watch and started at shadows. The world still carried the reek of corruption. The smell of the dead, burned buildings, decay, and rot would cover the world for years to come. The world was a corpse.  New life now sprang from its soil but it would never feel alive again for those who lived through The Troubles. The scent of death drifted on every stray breeze. Every shattered building was a reminder of death. Demi's hand dropped to a weapon with each new smell, each shift of rubble. Every moan of the wind moving over broken pipes and through desiccated trees caused her to look for a shambling figure. Those threats were finally gone, or so they said.

Demi hitched her backpack higher and shook off her dark thoughts. The sun was shining, a bird - an actual live bird - was singing. Life was returning to the world. It was almost a pleasant hike back to Sunset Acres, her enclave.

Some walled communities had been built as havens for residents to feel elite and separate from the common man. Other walled communities were built to defend against the criminal elements of society. It was ironic that they would be turned into fortresses to protect the surviving members of the human race.

She always hated the name Sunset Acres but it was on the sign which had graced the gated community. Nobody was going to waste time worrying about a stupid sign when the dead were attempting to kill them on a daily basis. Now the dead were finally at rest, but no one could spare time from rebuilding. The name remained even though it made Demi feel that she was living in a retirement community.

A new scent drifted to her - smoke. Demi stopped and raised a hand to shade her eyes as she scanned the horizon. There, to the north, a column of thick black smoke; someone was having a funeral. Cremation was the final solution to keeping the recently departed in their graves. The first few months after the last zombie horde was put down, the sky was black with the smoke of mass cremations. Every body had to be burned to ash and the bones ground to dust to guarantee there would never again be a rising.

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Mind of the Zombie

200mindcoverTitle: Mind of the Zombie
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Genre: , , ,
Pages: 29

It's the zombie apocalypse like you've never seen it.

Jackson has a problem.

First, he was being attacked by unending hordes of zombies who have destroyed his world.

Next, he found himself trapped by unknown assailants and tortured with views of the outside world where zombies kill and maim before his eyes.

Can he escape? Who has imprisoned him?

It's a zombie story unlike any other. You've seen shamblers, you've felt the terror of sprinters and rage zombies. Now, look into the mind of the zombie.

Jackson tripped over the half eaten corpse of a woman in a yellow sun dress.

He could hear the uneven shuffling of the zombie pursuing him. He tried to leap to his feet and continue his flight but a stabbing pain in his ankle threw him back to the litter strewn pavement with a scream. A cliché; he was going to die as the worst zombie movie cliché ever. He began to crawl, cursing himself the entire way. Why didn't he watch where he was going? If he hadn't turned at the last moment to see how far ahead he was he could have hurdled that woman's corpse and been half way to his shelter by now.

Zombies weren't fast. One on one, Jackson could outdistance any zombie within a couple blocks but at a crawling pace the undead creature was gaining ground like a sprinter chasing a snail. The smell of mold and rotting meat enfolded Jackson as the zombie caught up to him. He rolled onto his back to face his attacker and grabbed the hammer hanging from his belt. The creature had been a man once. It wore a blue sport coat crusted with blood. The fabric was shredded in places and the left sleeve was missing. Its eyes were a bilious yellow color with irises the color of blood. The zombie's skin was a waxy gray with gaping wounds, probably received when it was killed and turned into an unnatural creature by others of its tribe.  Drool flew from its gaping mouth as it dove onto Jackson, clawing and snapping like a rabid animal.

Jackson swung the hammer with frantic strength. He missed the head and hit the zombie in its shoulder. He might as well have hit a brick wall. The creature tore at his skin, unfazed by the repeated blows Jackson rained down on it.  Jackson screamed and redoubled his efforts when the monster locked his head with a grip like iron and pulled itself up until its mouth was above Jackson's forehead. The pain as the teeth ripped into the flesh of his scalp was worse than the time he had cut his palm to the bone with a fillet knife, worse than the burns from the exploding firework on his thigh when he was a teenager, worse than the boiling radiator water that had hit him in the face on a road trip during Sophomore year in college. He screamed so loud that his voice cracked and ceased to provide sound to accompany his agony. He felt and heard a grinding crunch as the zombie's undead jaws cracked the bones of his skull. The world contracted to a small circle of pain and blinding light surrounded by encroaching darkness. The pain stopped; everything went black.

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Krampus Unchained

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-horn-monster-eps-illustration-design-image47878854Title: Krampus Unchained
Release Date: May 27, 2015
Genre: ,
Pages: 104

A horror novella of retribution and redemption.

Krampus vs. Santa in a battle to the death!

Krampus, also known as the Christmas Demon and punisher of wicked children, has been entombed for 1,000 years.

A man who feels the world is against him frees the monster who promptly goes on a killing spree.

Santa is Krampus' opposite.

It is up to Santa and a young girl who is an unlikely hero to stop the rampage before more innocents die.

A novella of terror for a season usually committed to joy.

 

What reviewers are saying:

  • "A combination of forgotten myths, faltering beliefs and cycles of rediscovery and redemption. " - Christopher A.
  •  "A great story that held my attention from beginning to end. I never put it down!" - Annette B.
  • "What if fairy tales are actually based on something real? Real and more horrible than you can even imagine..." - Diana C.
  • "..a story of sin, violence and redemption and the clash of two ancient powers..." - Dave M.
  • "A rollicking story. One where the gods themselves appear to reinforce in humanity the consequence of naughty vs. nice." - Tim T

Chapter 1

 

In the unbroken darkness of the cave a beast breathes. Metallic clicks accompany each slow, ragged inhalation and exhalation. The mountain of chains, each link made of metal as thick as a man's arm, shifts with each breath.

The chain almost fills the space of the cave. It wraps around the beast hundreds of times until the creature is invisible within the pile of dull gray metal. Its imprisonment has lasted so long it almost does not remember what it is; but it is eternal as is its memory. It remembers that it is Krampus.

One thousand years the beast has lain trapped in the dwarf forged metal. Belief in the crucified man weakened Krampus making him too feeble to defend himself against the white-bearded god. Belief and fear of the ancient powers had once made Krampus godlike in his own right. He had brought justice to the world, punishing the wicked. Humans feared and respected him until the new god came.  The crucified man's followers preached love and forgiveness. They did not teach their children to fear the horned beast, the avenger of wrongs. As human belief waned, so too did Krampus strength.

When the white-bearded one came he was too weak to resist. The bearded man was an old god who now hid within the new myths to keep part of his power. He struck at Krampus. The god's spear drew immortal blood.  Krampus' essence weakened until the great beast of the dark, the righter of wrongs, fell. The old one summoned dwarven smiths who crafted a chain to imprison that which could not be imprisoned. He then hid Krampus in the deepest pit in the land and sealed him away from the light.

Hundreds of winters passed as Krampus lay, bound and weakening. Every generation remembered him less as belief in the crucified man grew. Krampus felt his mind becoming thin, his form withering as his essence began to fade. Krampus slept, unable to struggle against his prison. Krampus dreamed.

In his mind, Krampus saw the world as if through a sheet of ice. Humans toiled in the soil growing crops. Armies of other humans trampled the fields and fertilized the soil with blood. He saw great empires grow and crumble. He watched art created and then burned. In his mind he could sense the growing darkness in the world of men. While they preached of love in their golden temples, they became more voracious in their greed and hatred. Anger and the need to punish kept Krampus alive.

In the far north where once Krampus had reigned he felt a stirring of the ancient belief. He dreamed of young men, drunk and lecherous, dressing themselves in furs and masks. The mummers aped at being the noble Krampus. They chased young women through the streets. They whipped them with switches and then rutted with them in darkened corners. In his mind, Krampus roared in rage. Their festival reminded humans of his existence, but the perversion of his deeds made his thinning blood boil.

More wars invaded Krampus' dreams. Vast machines ground the earth to mud. Chemical fire and strange magic spears struck down humans in numbers vast beyond the visions of the ancients. Humans flew through the air as gods and harnessed the lightning. Wickedness flourished. The young turned on their elders and even the church of the crucified man began to lose its grip on men's souls.

One day, a thousand years after his imprisonment began, Krampus feels a change. People once again think of him. It is not with the near-religious fervor of olden days but instead with wistful joy. Krampus feels a trickle of life return to his withered husk. The visions of the outer world become clearer. Krampus again witnesses the depravity of man in this strange world beyond his prison. He can feel the foulness of humans of every age. He aches to punish the wicked but the chains crush him into quiescence. Krampus' body is still bound and weak but his mind can reach outward. In his eternal dream, Krampus reaches outward for a mind crying out for wickedness to be punished.

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Flashes of Darkness Year 1

200flashescoverTitle: Flashes of Darkness Year 1
Series: Flashes of Darkness #1
Release Date: September 24, 2017
Genre: ,
Pages: 204

Bite-size stories of the strange and horrific

Ghosts, ghouls, demons, aliens, monsters, and things that go bump in the night fill the pages of this volume. Each flash fiction or micro-fiction story is the perfect prescription to fulfill your daily recommended quota for the strange and macabre.

If you’re in a rush, waiting in the doctor’s office, ten minutes from the next train station; this is the collection for you. Each story was written to be read in a matter of minutes, the perfect bite-size stories for our hectic, always moving world.

Flash fiction is extremely short fiction. It stands out for its brevity, often as little as a few words to as many as 1,000 words or so.

Micro-fiction is any story told in 300 words or less, and could even be as short as a few words.

 


Also in this series:

The Artifact

 Doctor Alan Quatrain's pick slammed into the rock for what must have been the thousandth time. Sweat poured down his body as he hacked at the wall of the ancient mine.

All his research, translations, clues, everything led to this ancient mine deep in the Chilean jungle.

He pulled back the pick once more and swung with fading strength. The point bit into the rock and then, instead of rebounding as it had a thousand times before the point punched through the surface and the pick sank deep into the stone.

Alan almost impaled himself as the lack of resistance threw him off balance. He wiggled the pick free and shined a light into the hole he had just punched.

It was there, the legends were true, a large space behind this wall that could only be the cavern of the lost temple of Xichulkata.

Alan giggled and attacked the wall with renewed strength. By the time the hole and expanded to a size sufficient for a man to pass he was shaking with exhaustion and could barely lift the pick. It was worth it. It was all worth it. He would be immortalized for this find. His peers, those doubters, would come to him, hat in hand, to beg for his forgiveness and a chance to assist in what would be a historical archeological find.

The pick clattered to the stone, already forgotten and he stepped through the opening. His helmet light sent a dim spear of light, speckled with floating rock dust, into the cavern. The ground in front of him was smooth, almost like concrete. This would be a game changer in the understanding of pre-Columbian construction. Alan reached back through the hole and retrieved his lantern. He adjusted the flow and ignited the quad mantles. Brilliant light, as bright as a searchlight, erupted from the lantern and chased away the darkness.

The cavern was enormous. His light, for all its brilliance, failed to reach the ceiling or distant walls. The smooth floor continued in every direction. He could just make out a shape at the extreme edge of his light. It must be the temple itself.

Alan walked toward it. The shape emerged from the darkness and revealed itself to be an enormous cube. He staggered to a halt as the cube was revealed. This was nothing like any other pre-Columbian construct. Where were the frescoes? The builders of Xichulkata's time built step pyramids for their temples. This plain cube was nothing like one of their buildings.

He looked left and right but the cavern appeared empty of any other artifact save the cube. He continued forward. The cube's size became more evident as he approached. It was at least one hundred feet across and just as tall. It must have been carved from some titanic boulder. There was no way the Xichulkatan civilization could have built a structure this large and have it remain stable.

Alan reached the side of the cube and set his lantern down. The surface of the stone was perfectly smooth. No seams or joints were evident. It must have been carved, he thought.

He reached out and touched the stone. It was strangely warm and he sensed a vibration running through the rock. The vibration increased as he stood staring at the mute surface.

He yelped and yanked his hand away. The vibrations had become so intense that it felt like one of those joy buzzers his older brother had used to zap him with when he was a kid. Alan backed away from the cube.

As he watched, a thin seam appeared in the stone where none had been before. The line ran from floor to the top of the stone structure. The line deepened and began to spread to the sides. The seam  flowed as if the rock were being dissolved rather than sliding like a door. A brilliant light erupted through the seam which opened wider than his body.

"Welcome my child, we have been awaiting you," said an ethereal voice from the light.

Alan felt terror and joy flood his body. This was truly the greatest find of his life.

He stepped into the light.

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Flashes of Darkness Year 2

200flashescover2Title: Flashes of Darkness Year 2
Series: Flashes of Darkness #2
Release Date: December 31, 2018
Genre: ,
Pages: 184

No time to read? Bite-sized flash fiction is the prescription.

Year 2 of this collection brings you even more horrors and strange events to haunt your dreams.

Ghosts, ghouls, demons, aliens, monsters, and things that go bump in the night fill the pages of this volume. Each flash fiction story is the perfect prescription to fulfill your daily recommended quota for the strange and macabre.

If you’re in a rush, waiting in the doctor’s office, ten minutes from the next train station; this is the collection for you. Each story was written to be read in a matter of minutes, the perfect bite-size stories for our hectic, always moving world.

Flash fiction is extremely short fiction. It stands out for its brevity, often as little as a few words to as many as 1,000 words or so


Also in this series:

Temple of the Gods

Frank woke from a bizarre dream. It was the same dream again, the same dream that had haunted his nights since he turned 16. A full moon lit strange reddish brown columns of stone stretching into the distance. He wandered between the columns until a booming voice from above said, “Temple of the Gods.”

He always woke up after the voice spoke, covered in sweat and terrified. After almost two years of this nightmare, he was tired of its presence in his life; he was also sure that it was more than a dream.

“Dreaming again?” Buddy Wilson spoke from the other bed in the small room.

“Yeah, I’m really getting sick of it.”

“Look it sucks, OK, but think about this; today is your birthday. You’re eighteen man, you’re finally escaping this place.”

Frank used to dream about escaping the Burlew Ridge Orphanage with a forever family. That dream faded as he aged and now he was destined to finally leave the orphanage as an adult, rootless, without prospects, and hag ridden by a dream which he could not understand but knew he had to.

“Big whoop. All that means is I lose the roof over my head and steady meals.”

“Oh come on man, it won’t be that bad. You get to move to the halfway house in the Ridge until you get set up. Tommy said that the recruiting firm they set him up with found him a good job in no time.”

“Great, I can be another factory puke living in the Ridge until I become a toothless moron like the rest of the people stuck here.”

Buddy threw his pillow across the room smacking Frank in the face.

“Get up loser, it’s gonna be great.”

The two boys, one aged 17 and the other now officially a man at 18, got ready and ran down for breakfast and one more day in the orphanage.

At lunch, the staff and children performed the normal ceremony for a resident who was aging out. They gathered in the cafeteria, sang an off key rendition of Happy Birthday, ate sheet cake and then wished their departing member the best with a forced cheer.

Frank was driven to his new home, a halfway house operated by the local government which would house him for up to one year while he got a job, saved money, and finally moved out into the world.

“Temple of the Gods.”

Frank sat up in his new room; the three snoring roommates in the bunk beds around him were oblivious to his distress.

Unlike the orphanage he was free to come and go as he pleased so he dressed and slipped from the building to walk the streets of Burlew Ridge and clear his mind.

Burlew Ridge, or the Ridge as residents called it, was a mountain town nestled between four peaks. There was only one road in or out and the locals preferred to live simply; that meant most nights were pitch black without the presence of street lights which the locals were loathe to install, unlike their big city brethren. One or two random house lights lit the sidewalk allowing him to see. A few blocks from the halfway house the night became as bright as day. Frank looked up to see the lone cloud in the sky move away from the full moon which shone like the sun through the darkness. He shuddered; it reminded him too much of the dream he had just escaped.

He increased his pace and in a matter of a few minutes he found himself at the edge of town facing one of the many trails leading into the mountains.

“What the hell, why not,” he said and started up the dirt path.

He knew that hiking into the mountains in the dark was potentially suicidal. Hikers fell off cliffs or were injured by rock slides even during the day, at night he would never see danger coming. The night was so bright though, he knew he was smarter than those hikers; he’d be fine. Besides, he felt an urge to climb, like he was being pulled by a magnet. Any time he looked back toward the receding town he felt a tug, deep in his gut, telling him he needed to press onward.

The moon was high overhead, it must have been near midnight and Frank had turned so many times and climbed over so many peaks that he no longer knew where he was in relation to the Ridge.

“Great, eighteen years, and on my first day out I get lost in the mountains. Way to go butt head, you’re gonna die as a statistic.”

Still the urge to press on pulled him. Just one more peak, maybe then he’d be able to see one of the roads running past the town.

Frank came over a ridgeline and froze. Below him was a small hollow, shaped like a bowl in the center of the towering mountain tops. In the center of this area stood dozens of stones. They weren’t just stones, they were columns. Two rows of them, stretching almost the width of the bowl valley. They appeared the color of dried blood in the moonlight but Frank knew they would be a rusty brown. He was shocked to find that he was moving forward again, almost running downhill to reach the columns.

“This can’t be real. This can’t be real.” He chanted it like a mantra as he moved.

The columns were very real. He touched each as he walked among them. The stone was warm and he swore he could feel a vibration in each as if it were a tuning fork vibrating a note he could not hear.

Frank pinched himself, hard. The pain and line of blood now trickling down his arm assured him that he was actually awake.

“Welcome to the Temple of the Gods.”

A voice boomed above him. Frank yelped and spun in circles looking for the source of the voice but he was alone in the valley.

“Who are you?”

“We are the Gods. We are your family.”

Frank’s knees buckled and he landed hard on his ass.

“Say what? I have no family; my mother died when I was born.”

A glowing shape appeared above the columns. It shifted and changed as Frank watched. It was like a cloud caught in conflicting winds which tried to give it form and then pulled it apart again. Frank was uneasily reminded of a writhing pile of worms.

“When the forces of the multiverse are aligned, one of us may enter your realm and cause a female to be with child. It is how we reproduce. The females never live beyond the birth of our child as the energies of the Outside are more than their bodies can withstand. Now, you are matured in your human form and it is time to embrace your true self.”

Frank wanted a family; had dreamed of it all his life, but this was too much. This writhing light in the sky was too terrifying, too alien to comprehend.

“No, I want to go home.”

“You are home,” a chorus of voices echoed among the columns.

A thread of light lashed out from the writhing mass above him and penetrated Frank from head to toe. He screamed in pain and ecstasy as every emotion, every sensation, every stimulus he had ever experienced recurred at once, amplified a thousand fold. His body glowed. He stared at his hand in wonder and then cried out when it became transparent. His entire body became ethereal and then stretched out until it became a tendril of light like those above.

Frank felt everything in the world. He could feel the children at the Orphanage. He felt the lives of adults in the Ridge and even the city far beyond. He knew the feelings of the burrowing animals throughout the mountains. The magnetic field of the Earth was a caressing wind and cosmic rays racing through space tickled his mind. He was one of the Gods. He laughed with his power. He knew his destiny. His destiny to make more like himself until the Gods were so numerous and powerful that they could finally rip through the barrier between their Outside universe and this one and consume it, making all reality part of themselves until they alone existed in bliss and harmony. Frank laughed with the other Gods as the light faded from the sky and darkness reclaimed the mountainside.

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Hell Ascendant – Episode 1

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-cemetery-hellfire-sky-scary-trees-image25123844Title: Hell Ascendant - Episode 1
Series: Hell Ascendant #1
Release Date: January 3, 2016
Genre: ,
Pages: 60

A tale of the apocalypse.

Would you betray one of your friends to save the lives of all the rest?

Jealousy, greed, hubris, lust; all these things have always plagued mankind. It is no different when Hell comes to Earth

The apocalypse arrived without fanfare and with the dawn on April 1st.

It sounds like a joke, but when Satan himself shouts April Fools it's pretty serious.

According to legend, there are in each generation a few righteous humans who prevent the rest of us from being destroyed. Through their good deeds and their loving spirit, they save the world over and over again. They're not famous saints. They go about their business anonymously, and no one knows how crucial they are to our well-being.

When the apocalypse comes and Hell ascends to the Earth, they might just be the most important people alive.

Episode 1 of this sprawling saga of Hell come to Earth follows Lucas Devereaux. Former soldier turned auto mechanic, turned apocalypse survivor, he leads a band of frightened men and women through Hell on Earth trying to stay alive in the changed world. He just has to survive hell hounds, demons, and the hatreds that humans still carry even after the world ends.

When a demon demands a sacrifice of the survivors, will they betray one of their own or die?


Also in this series:

The apocalypse arrived without fanfare and with the dawn on April 1st.

It sounds like a joke, but when Satan himself shouts April Fools it's pretty serious.

Anyone who has ever lived near the sea has heard the old adage: red sky at morning, sailor take warning. On April 1st the sky certainly turned red. Blood appeared to be flowing up the shafts of sunlight. The blood spread over the horizon until the entire sky was a wavering red color. The sun dimmed behind the bloody pall. In the end it appeared to be nothing more than a dull cinder. It barely shed enough light, even at noon, to give the appearance of deep twilight. That's when the gates of Hell opened on the Earth.

Lucas Devereaux flashed back to the exact moment the world ended. The ground had shaken exactly as it was shaking now.

He had been on Route 7, westbound through Virginia from the District of Columbia in his tow truck. He had slept off the evening’s excesses in the cabin of the grease stained vehicle. He was racing the coming dawn back to Purcellville. He hoped  his boss didn't notice that the truck had never returned from its late night tow. The sun had crested the horizon and the ground began to shake. It reminded Lucas of an earthquake from a few years earlier. This one was longer and stronger than the one that had cracked the back wall of the garage. The few westbound vehicles skidded across the blacktop as the road heaved. His truck had stalled and rolled to a stop as the blood began to fill the sky. His attempts to restart the engine did not elicit even a click from the starter. Every car in sight ha died at the same time. This temblor was not as violent but he knew it was equally portentous.

“Oh God, now what?” Veronica Chin screamed from further down the slope.

The former secretary whipped her head from side to side searching for danger. Her eyes were wide, on the edge of panic. Every time the ground shook in this new Hell transformed world something horrible happened. Some beast was sure to spring from the pit to try to kill any human within sight.

“Shut up, or you’ll draw whatever it is to us,” Scott Bath shouted at the panic stricken woman.

Scott’s face was bright red from the exertion of the climb up the mountain slope. His job as an executive at a Fortune 500 company had not prepared him for running for his life.

“Scott, calm down. She’s just afraid and screaming won’t help anyone,” Jessie Bertram said. At seventeen the blonde high school girl was the youngest of the group. Lucas had found her beset by an  animated skeleton outside of Winchester

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Hell Ascendant Episode 2

200hell2Title: Hell Ascendant Episode 2
Series: Hell Ascendant #2
Release Date: December 26, 2016
Genre: ,
Pages: 112

Can someone overcome a lifetime of fear and failure to finally become a hero when Hell comes to Earth?

Hell has frozen over.

 

Episode 2 takes us to Sin City, Las Vegas. Eternal snow blankets the city. Glaciers race across the landscape destroying everything in their path and monsters prowl the winter wasteland in search of human prey.

A group of loners and misfits are drawn together in an effort to survive. They are pursued by monsters and demons at every turn. When a Prince of Hell demands a sacrifice they are faced with a choice between saving the world or their new friends.


Also in this series:

1

I remember someone once told me that a glacier moves about three feet a day; that guy never saw Las Vegas glacier. Vegas glaciers are like crazed horses. They race along, grinding everything in front of them to paste. You know when they’re approaching. They're audible even over the roar of the blizzards that haven’t stopped since the day the sky turned to blood. First you feel it deep in your chest. A subsonic rumble rattles everything for two blocks. Next, a sound like a wood chipper trying to digest concrete blocks tries to draw blood from your ears. Within seconds of this shock and awe sonic assault the actual glacier gallops into view. They lurch and buck like living things. It’s a wall of gray ice defaced with the black smears of pollution and the shards of shattered civilization. Every once in a while a splash of red decorates the ice where some poor soul who was too slow or stupid to flee got ground to paste. Not a lot of people get run over though; most humans caught in the open by a glacier become fodder for the creatures riding on top, the yeti. I call them yeti, God alone knows what they really are. They’re built like eight foot tall silverback gorillas covered in white fur. They have these enormous fangs and glowing red eyes. Whatever part of Hell they came from, it wasn’t one of the parts with fire and brimstone.

I could hear a glacier approaching up Las Vegas Boulevard even from twelve stories up. There wasn’t a lot left of the Tropicana hotel but I called it home. The interior of floors nine through nineteen was exposed to the outside by a crescent shaped hole that looked like the bite of some titanic creature. The room where I lived was on the far side of the building from the bite. Every day I had to climb up shattered concrete to get from the ninth floor to the twelfth. The inaccessibility kept me safe from the roving creatures who hunted in the snow.

A shout drew my attention from watching for the glacier. I leaned against the window to see to the street below. A figure in a tattered blue parka balanced atop a snow covered bus. He was waving toward the shattered facade of New York New York. The faux cityscape looked like Godzilla and King Kong had brawled through it. The remains were then buried in snowdrifts thirty feet high. The figure knelt and began to sweep snow away from the windows of the bus which rested on its side. The figure waved again and another shout rang out. I couldn’t make out the words but the voice sounded male. Six figures crept from beneath the skirts of the headless Statue of Liberty. They trudged through the waist deep snow covering the boulevard toward the bus.

Couldn’t they hear the glacier coming?

The man on the bus stopped his clearing motions and stomped twice. He staggered forward. He must have kicked in one of the windows. He waved once more and then disappeared into the corpse of the bus. The other six people were bundled in ski jackets and layers of blankets, anything to protect against the cold. They reached the bus and two more clambered aboard. Several minutes passed, my forehead was growing numb where it pressed against the window. One of the figures within the bus emerged and tossed a bag to one of the four on the street. An assembly line of bags, coats and other goods found their way out of the bus into the waiting arms of the street crew. That’s when the glacier galloped around the corner ridden by half a dozen howling yeti.

“Run.”

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