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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Nightmare War: Initiate

200dreamwarriorcover2Title: Nightmare War: Initiate
Release Date: December 14, 2013
Genre: , ,
Pages: 205

Is it a dream?

Is it reality?

Death is real either way.

It starts with a nightmare more terrifying than anything he's ever had.

Soon, the monsters from his dreams are showing up in Alex Black's waking world.

He's just an average teen caught up with avoiding bullies and finding a girlfriend. Is he going insane?

When a car runs him down, Alex is propelled into a world he never knew existed.

Trapped in the dream world, he must defeat powerful creatures of nightmare, protect those he loves and try to keep ancient monsters from destroying his body before he can figure out how to wake up.

If you're a fan of the movies Dreamscape or The Cell or followed the Nightmare on Elm Street movies you'll love this book that blurs the barriers between the dream world and reality

Chapter 1

Alex Black heard furtive rustling in the grass as he relaxed beside the creek. Glancing over his shoulder, nothing was visible. Shrugging with the utter lack of worry that only a teenager secure in his invulnerability can muster, he turned back to watch the sun dance on the water.

A crack prompted him to begin to look once more when a small form rocketed into him.

Alex was slammed into the ground, eighty pounds of muscle pinning him. Struggling he twisted far enough to see a blue-furred arm pressed against his shoulder.

“Blue!” he laughed.

The lazy, unconnected feeling fled; I’m dreaming, he realized and quickly twisted around to wrestle with the blue-furred mandrill.

The boy and the stocky blue monkey rolled across the grass, black hair and blue fur flying as they wrestled. When he was small, Alex never gave the creature much of a fight, but since he had achieved his full growth he was now a good match for the mandrill. Even though it was only half his height and weight, the animal’s strength far outstripped its size. The pair rolled across the grass, grunting and straining until they rolled to a stop beside the glittering creek.

Alex’s laugh rang out across the creek as he and monkey both collapsed on their backs grinning with shared joy.

"That was fun Blue. I love it when you show up in my dreams." Alex lifted himself on an elbow and stared at the simian form lying beside him, so human but so alien.

Alex’s brow furrowed in consternation.

"Why are you still in my dreams?" he asked. "I'm not exactly a kid anymore, I’m almost seventeen not seven, but here you are."

The mandrill curled its snout in a simian grin as if to say: "Why ask me?"

Blue had been Alex’s companion for as long as he could remember. The mandrill had been the one who played soldier with him and hide and seek when Alex had no other friends to play with. When he had been eight, Alex had gone to the school library and between the many books and judicious use of internet searches he had learned that the weird blue creature in his dreams was called a mandrill. He had thought it was the funniest name for an animal ever at that age. He did think it was a bit weird that he could have an animal as his constant companion in his dreams which he didn’t even know existed. He had told his mother about his simian companion and she had told him that he had probably seen the animal on the television when he was younger and his subconscious remembered it. Alex had never questioned Blue’s existence after that; Blue was simply the perfect companion for a boy to rough house and laze about beside a stream with.

It had never bothered him that Blue couldn’t speak, after all he was an animal and Alex had outgrown talking animal stories very early in his life. It would be nice though if the creature could answer his questions. Alex often wondered if there was something wrong with him that he still had what amounted to an imaginary friend when he was within two months of turning seventeen.

“If only you could talk Blue,” Alex said.

“Wait, why can’t you talk? This is a dream; you should be able to do anything I want.”

The mandrill rolled to its feet and opened its fanged jaws, panting.

“Alex.”

“Holy crap! You talked,” Alex gasped.

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