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 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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Gray Walkers

200gray-coverTitle: Gray Walkers
Release Date: March 27, 2015
Genre: , , ,
Pages: 21

A short story of the Geriatric Apocalypse.

You’ll never look at grandma the same way after reading this new short story

You’ve heard of the zombie apocalypse – forget all that. This is a strange new take on this existing genre. Aimed at both the horror fan and the young adult horror fan this short story follows young Billy Cope a normal boy who’s grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

One day she turns violent. She believes her family has stolen her memories. Soon everyone around Billy is turning old, even the little kid next door.

Billy must survive this geriatric apocalypse and reach his girlfriend before she loses her youth to the spreading evil.

It’s quirky, sometimes frightening, sometimes humorous. You’ll never pass a home for the elderly and feel safe again.

"Alzheimer's disease (AD), is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. As the disease advances, symptoms can include: problems with language, disorientation, mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioral issues including violence.

“As a person's condition declines, she or he often withdraws from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death."

Billy looked up from his tablet to stare across the room at Phyllis Cope, his paternal grandmother. He couldn’t picture life without the steel-haired old woman but that’s what the wiki entry said would be the eventual result of her Alzheimer’s disease.

Dad had brought Phyllis to live with them five years ago when Billy had turned 12. In the beginning, she had been forgetful and occasionally called the boy David, his father’s name but Billy had just assumed that it was a side effect of being old.

As the years crawled on and Phyllis became more confused and withdrawn, Billy learned the name for her disease. Now he, like his father, was marking time until the old woman either died or became too much of a burden for the two men to handle. Since Billy’s mother had died when he was a toddler David and Billy Cope had been alone in the world. As a single father, David had taken to ruling the house in a regimental manner; no breach of discipline was permitted for the young Billy. The sudden arrival of David’s mother had shown that the man was capable of compassion, something Billy had never seen.

More often than not, Billy was assigned nurse detail. He would keep an eye on the old woman and fetch whatever she needed to be comfortable. It wasn’t a hard job but it did cut into his social life. Billy would spend most of his time at home reading and gaming on his tablet while occasionally checking on his grandmother who was usually staring blankly, mumbling about some past event as if it were happing in the here and now, or sleeping like she was right now.

Billy did a double take. She was sleeping, wasn’t she?

“Gran,” Billy said in a quiet voice.

“Grandma,” he said loudly when the old woman didn’t respond at all.

He realized that he had not heard a sound from Phyllis in quite some time. He wasn’t even sure she was breathing.

“Dad!”

David Cope rushed down the stairs from his home office, impelled by the raw sound of fear in his son’s voice. He skidded into the room and looked around wildly for the source of danger.

“Dad, I think Gran may have died,” Billy said in a near whisper.

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Seat of Destiny

Seat of DestinyTitle: Seat of Destiny
Release Date: July 6, 2013
Genre:
Pages: 28

I had this crazy idea - why wouldn't there be some surviving artifact of Jesus Christ in the modern world. What form would it take? 

He was a carpenter after all so it stood to reason that some hand made wooden artifact would have existed and, since he was God, been imbued with his aura.

I thought about some of the things I've built for my Society for Creative Anachronism events and - poof - a concept was born and this story flew from my keyboard.

Down through the ages legends persist of an artifact of Divine power that has the power to heal, raise men to greatness or cast them down. Some call it the Grail, others believe it is something completely different.

Legends say that Roman Emperors have been brought to see the light or cast from power by its mere presence.

The secretive and powerful Templars were reputed to have worshiped this artifact but it could not protect them.

One man’s quest will take him to the edge of the world where he will discover his life’s meaning and come face to face with the power of the Almighty.

29 AD

The carpenter rubbed the stone in smaller and smaller circles, smoothing the arm of the sella to the consistency of fine cloth. He knew that the details were what made a good chair; his father Ioseph had told him this many times when he was a mere apprentice.  The sella curule he was creating would serve as the travel chair for a powerful Roman and the details would make all the difference.

The other men in Nazareth did not appreciate the fact that Yeshua was willing to create furniture for the Romans like his father had before him. To them, he and his father were traitors, working for the occupying Romans. He understood now what his father had taught, that the only way to avoid the claws of the eagle was to appear small and weak, yet of benefit to the eagle.  A wise man did not dare the giant to step upon his head unless he was strong enough and cunning enough to cause the giant to topple through its action. Yeshua was a wise man, he knew his time was coming; he would go forth from his village and change the world, but not yet. Today his mission was to finish carving the beast faces on the legs and smooth the arms of the sella curule that the Roman Publius had commissioned for his patron in Rome.

He bent close over the lamb’s face he was carving. The individual hairs could be discerned so precise was his carving skill. Moishe had once said that Yeshua’s carvings were so lifelike that you could see them moving from the corner of your eye. Yeshua had once become so enamored of one of his carvings that he had breathed life into it. The wooden horse had whinnied and tossed its head on the plaque until Yeshua’s mother had discovered his conceit and chastised him soundly, reminding him of his place in the world. The only life his carvings exhibited now was that provided by the viewer’s imagination.

This was to be his last commission before he left home. Mother had wept and torn her hair when he announced the planned beginning of his ministry after the harvest but he would not be dissuaded. He was a grown man, home long beyond the time he should have gone forth into the world to find his fortune. His mother feared for his safety, knowing that he must go forth to preach among nonbelievers and foreign infidels; he knew that he must be about his life’s work.

The carving was complete and Yeshua once again took up the stones and began to polish the wood. Over and over he stroked the grain, taming it, making it smooth and pleasing to the touch. The chair seemed to glow with an inner light, so beautifully did he finish the surface. The final touch was the leather seat and flexible leather back.

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