Posted on December 3, 2013
! Exclusive Excerpt !
Legends and Lives
The black ship groaned upon the waves, yet its sturdy shape was as reliable as standing upon the ground itself. The crew were veterans of the sea, most heaving on oars whilst others altered the sail this way and that to catch the wild wind in a manner few could master. The sea barbarians were fierce invaders, often called looters for their habit of taking all they could on their routes, if they saw it as earned in blood and hardship. But most of all they were voyagers. Only they could take the brothers to the icy shores of their cousin's homeland.
Gerant, a broad man with gnarled hands that rested on his knees as he sat in his simple throne of elm, surveyed his guests; settled on the deck and ignoring what water sprayed over the sides. He was a king at sea; here was his court, which was why visitors were rare. While clearly not men of the sea, the brothers took the ordeal as they did all others, and it reminded Gerant of their father. When he had been held prisoner he had felt sure his time of adventure was at an end, and he knew it was due to the sombre warrior and his unmatchable sons. Yet he, invader, had been freed, able to rebuild his power, and he knew why.
"Return, sea king, and we will defeat you once more."
Words spoken with honest strength. Gerant knew then he was no match for this family and had sought ties since, not conflict. He had gladly accepted their call, posted some time back by his daughter, HiggaltÃ�ï¿½Ã�Â¢'s wife.
"King Eperam will not long rule, I suspect," Gerant muttered to himself, and the thought pleased him. Not so much for any hatred for the ruler, if his tendency to bullying made enemies with ease. No, Gerant was pleased for the brothers, for their family and honour. This would be when the whole world realises the truth he had long known.
Gerant's thoughts shattered as men cried out in warning. A giant head slowly loomed over the ship's side, then rose higher, the thick neck glistening as scales rippled.
The sea serpent glared down at the ship as Gerant burst from his throne and hollered orders to his crew, most in awe at this dreaded apparition. The creature watched as beings scurried below, and then it tilted its head up and screeched.
Gerant looked aghast as several more heads rose around his ship. Smaller heads, true, but even these young serpents were monstrous beings and they leaned over his black craft with eager looks on their silver faces, while the parent oversaw from above. The sea king recognised this scene instantly; he and his crew were being served to the young, and this gave him a dangerous conundrum.
He hesitated as his men recoiled and the serpents neared, for to allow them some meals could see them leave without further issue, whereas resistance would surely enrage the giant creature to smash his ship and leave them all stranded in the sea. Twice in his momentous life Gerant had faced the sea serpent; once to escape and once to see his ship obliterated. It was only his resourcefulness that had enabled him and others to survive on a raft. He had never seen young, and as sleek heads darted and snatched three of his men into the air with wild cries, Gerant was still uncertain and, therefore, so were his crew.
A terrific wail sounded and Gerant turned to see a young serpent twist away, a streak of red on one side of its gleaming face, and then it lunged again at the four brothers. Higgalt ducked under it, moving forward as the others separated, and drove his sword up into the chin, before Hoenir swung his long-handled axe to help ensnare it. Halden came in and plunged his sword into an eye just as Hestenn carved into the exposed throat, and then the brothers broke off. The young creature let out a much weaker cry as it fell away from the side with blood washing over wood.
is available at Amazon
Posted on November 20, 2013
When a demon lord picks a young woman as a sex slave, he has no idea what kind of trouble he is getting into, because, honey, this kitten has claws...
Cover Art by Kirsten Maloney
How do you love a demon? Find out what happens in this erotic paranormal romance, which is available at Smashwords:
#TheDevilsKitten #paranormalerotica #bdsm #romance #demon #fiction
Posted on October 31, 2013
Feared by all, Anksha's evil knows no bounds as depicted in the poem, Bloody Anksha. We're sure her slaves would testify to this, as well - if they lived long enough to. We then move onto a dream of Merissa's, about her lover, Isranon, which quickly morphs into a nightmare at the hands of Troyes, a vicious sa'necari. Both are excerpts from the first book in the Dark Brothers of the Light Series, Blood Rites.
Excerpts of Blood Rites
Blow softly ill wind of omen
I smell her scent, not born of woman
The Beast's scent is on the breeze
Through darkling woods she stalks
Through halls no sane mon walks
Her glance, her scent will make you freeze
A rush of lust brings you to your knees
She listens not to all your pleas
Anksha, Bloody Anksha stalks the night.
She'll take your body, soul, and blood,
leave your corpse lying in the mud.
Anksha, Bloody Anksha stalks the night.
Those slain not become her slaves
Her dominance-link the soul depraves
In madness longing for her fangs.
Children listen, adults heed well
She is pretty, but she is fell,
Anksha, Bloody Anksha stalks the night.
If underneath the moonlight bright
You should glimpse her in the night
Flee before she nears you, mon
You have not strength to fight her
And no magic will affright her,
Anksha, Bloody Anksha stalks the night.
Haunted by the knowledge that her lover was doomed, Merissa's dreams became a series of nightmare memories.
Merissa woke at the tug on her wrists. She had fallen asleep, spooned around Troyes. They had camped far into the hills. Her father would be angry at their running away together, but he would never catch them. She would have fine clothes and a high place as the mate of a sa'necari. She would become powerful in her own right.
"Troyes?" She blinked sleepily, her eyes widened at what he was doing. She screamed. Two slender strands of spellcord - ropes woven of enchantary fibers, puce, ebony, cerulean, and gold - banded her wrists like deadly bracelets, preventing her shifting. She twisted, pummeling and kicking the large sa'necari. Troyes shrugged off her blows, striking with a word. Merissa's screams of terror turned to a shriek of pain and then to whimpering anguish. She curled up, pressing her folded arms across her abdomen, and drew her knees in.
Troyes' fangs extended fully as he stroked her hair. "Foolish Merissa. I only wanted you because Isranon loves you. I rited his little nibari, his beloved Rose. Oh, how she screamed!"
She tried to speak, but her mouth would not form words.
"Your remains will never be found because there will be none. I will consume all of you. I cannot begin to tell you how hungry I have been for a death like yours. You will make a fine death. I am tired of lesser humans and dared not take a Sharani."
He carried her through the trees to the far side of a little copse. As they broke through, she could see the tables: a large mon shaped one with spouts and basins poised to catch the blood that would flow through the grooves; and a smaller one on which he would lay his tools.
There were many versions of the rite: from a brief one that required only spoken words before his cock and the blade entered her to the full rite which could take nearly her entire soul, requiring him to carve and write arcane symbols upon her body before plunging flesh and steel inside her. He might even begin to drink her blood and eat her flesh while he rode if he was one of those who were slow to climax. Those were the kind who usually chose shifters for the rites because shifters - like sa'necari - died hard. Troyes was one of those. She always had to be patient with him.
He stripped Merissa, secured her to the bleeding-table, and drank the fear in her eyes. "It was only a matter of time, Merissa, before one of us ate you. You were always so inviting. Your blood is so rich and strong."
Troyes laid his black blades on the table beside her, considering them. He took one and sliced her leg open from hip to knee with languid slowness, regarding the welling blood reflectively. The spell loosened, allowing her to scream. Hoof beats sounded and then Troyes skidded across her, spinning into the dirt beyond with Isranon on top of him. Isranon's horse bolted off into the woods. She watched them struggle for a moment. Then Isranon hurled Troyes into the trees, pivoted and trudged back, staggering slowly. She could not understand why he had so much trouble moving. Then he faltered and almost fell, grabbing at the table and she saw why: Troyes' death-runed blade was shoved to the quillons in his ribs. Isranon straightened, mastered his body, and stood swaying. He drew a knife from the sheath at his hip and cut her wrist free, placing the hilt in her hand, folding her fingers over it. "Get loose and flee... I can't... hold him long."
Merissa set to cutting her bonds as Isranon turned to face the returning Troyes. That one was truly a monster. How could she have been so foolish as to think she had loved Troyes! Sa'necari were hard to kill, but the match had been decided already: Isranon was dying from the runes on the blade. While their other victims who fell to such blades would rise undead slaves, their own kind would simply perish. Merissa slid the knife under the spellcord on her wrists, slicing it away. Instead of bending to her ankles, she simply changed and tore free.
Merissa bounded from the table to crouch in the shadows as they grappled. Her hind leg hurt. She could deal with it because she had to. The struggle ended quickly. Forcing Isranon's sword from his hand, Troyes sent it spinning into the trees. He pulled his bane-blade from Isranon's body, shoving it in again repeatedly. Isranon jerked and twisted, his legs gave, and he sank to the ground. Merissa sprang onto Troyes' back snarling and biting. He caught her by the throat and slammed her into the table, stunning her. Isranon staggered to his feet, drew his last blade and stabbed Troyes in the back.
Troyes laughed at them. "I have taken a hundred times a hundred mortgiefan. I am not an easy kill." He turned on Isranon with a word of power, summoning a net of death, striking him. Isranon screamed in anguish and fell to lie unmoving at Troyes' feet. Troyes shoved Isranon onto his belly, tore his pants open, and mounted him.
"I killed your little Rose," Troyes growled. "I rode her into death as I ride you." He shoved the blade in again and bent to drink the rising flow, preparing to swallow as many fragments of Isranon's soul as he could when it shattered at the moment of Isranon's death. Even with his immature powers, Isranon was still sa'necari: it would take longer for him to die than it would a human.
Merissa fled into the trees. There she slunk through the forest on her belly, watching Troyes riding Isranon, taking the rite, and feeding. Merissa tried to look away and could not, she had to see it in order to scan the clearing as she tried to find Isranon's sword. She dared not make any more heedless rushes at Troyes. He would kill her; her wolf form was no match for him. But with the sword - with the sword she could break his spine, swinging it in her hybrid form when her strength and power was greatest. There. She saw it. Merissa crept up. Troyes was totally oblivious. He must be close to completion of the act. Shame and rage filled her. Her heart was breaking as she realized it had been Isranon she loved all along. She changed, seized the weapon, and reared up as she swung. The blow caught Troyes below his neck and she heard bone snap. Troyes stiffened, his eyes strange, and toppled to the side. His blade fell from his hand and his seed fountained over them both. She had saved Isranon's soul, if not his life.
"Bitch!" Troyes' lips twisted as if to speak a spell and Merissa drew back, circling cautiously. She spied strips of spell cord in his belt. Shifting the sword to one hand, she knelt and snatched them free. She banded his hands in them. His broken spine had paralyzed him. Blood could heal almost anything, but Troyes would get no more blood.
She turned Isranon over, feeling for a pulse. And found it. Merissa shouldered his arm, dragging him to the table where she laid him beside it. Then she went back for Troyes. Merissa kicked him in the side of the head twice before dragging him to the table. He was much larger and, even in her hybrid form, harder to manage. She threw him across the table on his stomach - the position for a male intended for mortgiefan - and fastened him in place. The expression of terror on his face pleased her.
"You always thought you'd be the taker, not the taken!"
Merissa crouched by Isranon, opened the vein in her wrist with her claw, and put it to his mouth. She knew her blood would not be strong enough to save him, but it might be enough to waken him. Her blood filled his mouth, dribbling down the corners, getting no response. A sob formed in her throat as her chest tightened, but before she could release it Merissa saw him swallow and felt the brief sharp pain as his fangs entered her. Some of the pain left her heart. Isranon's eyes opened and he pushed weakly at her.
"Don't, Merissa... I need too much." His eyes clenched shut as if riding a wave of sheerest agony. "Troyes?"
"I've bound him to the table. Spellcorded. Would mortgiefan heal you?"
"No, it would not heal you? Or no, you won't do it?"
"No, I won't do it. Death is... better. I've known... this was coming. Hold me."
Merissa shook her head. "Isranon! You could have his power! And live! Please, there must be a way."
Isranon's eyes slowly closed and then blinked open again. "Kill him, Merissa. With the blade he wounded me with. The same blade... must be the same blade."
"Will that save you?"
"Possibly. Dispel the death magics. The rest is chance... if I don't get enough strong blood in time."
Merissa nodded, and then ran to the spot where she had felled Troyes. The blade was not easy to find. She picked it up and could feel the darkness swirling in it. A soul. There was a soul in it. She carried it back.
"Wait," Isranon called. "It's best I do it... Help me up..." He struggled to breathe, to speak. "I don't understand why. But every time I do it, it works. But... but not always... for the others."
Merissa placed the blade in his hands.
"Dawnhand, give me strength."
The lycan clan-princess shouldered his weight, slipping her arm around his waist as she helped him rise. She steadied him as he stood over the bound sa'necari. Troyes sensed what they were about and screamed curses and spells, but corded, his power would not answer. Isranon raised the blade and brought it down in a single skilled strike into his heart. Troyes stilled.
"His throat, help me around to his throat..."
The table was angled and spelled for the draining of the body. Merissa settled Isranon against the table. He leaned his head on it, wedged between the cold stone and the cooling flesh of Troyes' neck and chin."Another minute or two, Merissa and I would have joined my family." His voice was soft, as if he did not quite want to say it but could not quite stop himself. Isranon fastened on the body and began sucking the fluids from it. He drank as much as he could before weakness claimed him and he fainted. Isranon slumped forward, his head pressed between the table and Troyes' neck.
Merissa went into the cave to search for blood in bottles and returned to find him there. She swallowed back a cry, thinking the death magics had claimed him after all, but his heart beat strongly. She retrieved their gear, wrapping him in blankets, built up a fire and made camp to watch over him. Troyes' cave was well stocked. Apparently, he had been feeding regularly. There were many, many shelves of the golden preserving bottles, all labeled. She drained Troyes' body, leaving it bound on the table as a trophy. A strange stirring of power drew her eyes to Troyes' body. As she watched, the blade in his heart moved and then the hilt fell away as the blade disintegrated.
Merissa woke from the nightmare sobbing and went to the cradle to gaze fondly at her child. Darmyk slept soundly, wrapped in a soft blanket. She resisted picking him up and waking him. She wanted to hold her child and cling to him. Considering how far Daree had traveled to reach her, her lover was either dying or already dead by now.
Dark Brothers of the Light Book One by Janrae Frank
Posted on October 30, 2013
For the sake of their toes,
Don't do nuthing under a Badree Nym's Nose.
(Old Gormondi Proverb)
What went wrong?
I developed gremlin problems.
I swear to the gods that I have developed ulcers. No, don't laugh. I'm serious.
Most people call them gremlins, but they call themselves the Badree Nym, the Children of Laughter. Hah! Laughter at everyone else's expense, I warrant.
It all started when the self-styled Drakengrim declared that he wanted a vampire as a pet like a bloody dog on a leash. Guess which one he chose?
That's why I'm standing here in threadbare clothes at the door of a sepulcher I hid in last night, my stomach growling with discomfort, and watching a perfectly lovely twilight spread a soft mist across the woodlands beyond the town of Hell's Widow. Frozbrodarbrin rose hungry, pushed open the door of the sepulcher he had appropriated, and glanced out at the mist. He would have preferred a fog. He loved deep fog. Sunlight had never troubled him; after all, he was a Lemyari vampire, not one of those wretched Lesser Bloods, the Ylesgaire.
Yet, he still preferred the night.
He weighed his choices as he strode toward the town. As powerful as he was, Frozbrodarbrin did not wish to draw the attention of the necromancers who ruled this realm by cadging a free meal off some unsuspecting farmer or the townsmyn. The necromancers would recognize any kills he made. He felt in his pockets, pulled the coins out, and counted them. Bronze, all bronze. Not enough to dine at those establishments that catered to obscene appetites like his own.
The shadows deepened around the trees as he considered whether he had any options at all and might have to take his chances. Soft crying came from his left. The sound made him hungry. His fangs came down and he considered whether this might be a runaway child, someone who would not be missed. Children were his favorite meals.
Frozbrodarbrin stole toward the sound, listened to it die down to broken sobbing and then cease entirely. He parted the branches that led into the little glade and saw what he had hoped to see: a small child, not more than eight or nine. The child appeared to have curled up and fallen asleep weeping. He licked his fangs and crept up to the child, looking down at him. How delicious the little one looked, how warm his blood smelled.
The child wore a brown homespun tunic and trousers with an oversize hat on his head. The vampire could just make out the freckles on the child's fair skin, and he froze. Most Waejontori children were dark skinned and black haired. What if this was not a child at all?
But one of the Badree Nym?
Frozbrodarbrin's thoughts sped into a spiral of panic at the thought of them.
Those ever cheerful, little walking disaster zones had been stalking him for half a century. He shuddered at the thought of them finally catching up to him again. They always wanted to help or play. No sane mon wanted anything to do with them. The Badree Nym had a bizarre range of magical talents, but the worst was the uncontrollable poltergeist effect that aroused spontaneously whenever someone angered, frightened, or otherwise upset them.
Frozbrodarbrin remembered the time that one of them caused an iceberg to run over a goblin village at the height of summer; another one demolished half the king's palace in
Cherdon'datar over a piece of pie; then there was the one who squashed a demon-eater with a tree for frightening her; and what about the time ... no that one was just too horrible to think of and Frozbrodarbrin sheered his thought away into another direction as a surge of terror seized his stomach.
"Don't be a Nym. Don't be a Nym."
Frozbrodarbrin knelt beside the child and peeked under his hat. A large pointed ear appeared and the vampire nearly fainted in fright. He eased the hat back down and retreated rapidly. Laughter sounded all around him.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" Children's - no, Badree Nym voices chanted all around him.
"Come play with us! Come play with us!"
Frozbrodarbrin did not answer, and fled into the fog, all the way back to the sepulcher. He sat down on the door step and listened to his stomach rumbling. If this kept up, he would have to either go home and beg scraps from Lord Brandrahoon's table or get a job to earn the money to purchase victims from the necromancers.
His pride was hurting almost as much as his tummy. "Great and holy, lord of Darkness,
Bellocar... why can't I eat just one child?"
And get away with it.
Frozbrodarbrin watched the fog thin as daylight approached and despaired. If he did not find something to eat soon, his body would start to dry out and he would fall into a torpor from hunger.
He decided to try striking out in another direction to find a meal.
The vampire walked until he was certain that he had outdistanced the Badree Nym and the outlines of a farmhouse came into view. The farmwife was already up and Frozbrodarbrin smelled fresh baked pies. He hated to admit it, but one of the things he missed most since becoming one of the undead was the taste of fresh baked pie.
Maybe he could trade the farmwife his bronze coins for a small sip from her neck? Yes, that seemed like a plan with potential. So, Frozbrodarbrin headed for the front door. As he came around the side of the house, he saw the baking pies on the windowsill. He licked his lips at the smell, and sighed as his fangs came down from their sheathes.
But he knew he could not keep a pie down, his body reacted to solid food as if it were poison and even a small taste would put him on the ground puking it up. Frozbrodarbrin hesitated, gazing at the pies in a fantasy of wish fulfillment in which he could eat all he wished of them. He shook himself loose from his daydream and started on when he saw a small form emerge wrapped in a heavy black cloak. It had to be a child. Frozbrodarbrin licked his fangs in anticipation as the child snatched a pie and ran off with it.
"Ha! A sneak thief! No one's going to miss that one."
Frozbrodarbrin set off in pursuit, dreaming now of the child's blood sliding pleasantly down his throat, of the feel of his fangs in the soft throat, of the way the child would shudder as it died.
The sound of eating drew the vampire to a clump of sweet pepper bushes beside a large willow tree. Frozbrodarbrin crouched down and stole closer. The little boy, noisily eating the pie, had curly black hair, olive-skin, and wonder of wonder (or was that relief?) rounded ears. It was a real child.
"Look into my eyes!" Frozbrodarbrin commanded.
The boy dropped a slice of pie in his lap and stared into Frozbrodarbrin's eyes with a look of stunned shock.
Frozbrodarbrin knew he had the child under his power, and licked his fangs happily. His tummy rumbled again, reminding him of how hungry he was. He grabbed the little boy and sank his fangs eagerly into the child's neck, slurping and sucking with joyous abandon, taking the blood in huge pulls, gluttoning. The small heart stopped beating. The vampire drained the child and settled back on his haunches, wishing there had been more blood in it. He was still considering when the child's eyes snapped open.
Startled, Frozbrodarbrin fell on his butt.
"Gotcha!" the child shouted, its own fangs glinting in the moonlight.
Before he could act, the 'child's' fangs had buried in his throat and Frozbrodarbrin had only one second to realize just what he had bitten into before spiraling into darkness, certain that he was finally dying the true death: "Nym."
"I'm gonna call you Frozbie."
Frozbie opened his eyes, having no idea how long he had been unconscious, and gazed up into the face of the curly haired little boy, who now had huge pointed ears and a grin on his face.
"H - How?"
"I'm Drakengrim. Transmogrifications the game."
Frozbie swallowed nervously, feeling burning bile rising from his upset stomach into his throat. "Trans - transmogrification?"
"Yup. You and me."
"I - I think I'm going to be sick."
Drakengrim shook his head. "Nah. Just relax and go with the flow."
"Put your fingers on your fangs, old boy, and you tell me."
Frozbie let his fangs down from their sheathes, touching them gingerly, and almost fainted again. His big, ugly fangs had shrunk. No, worse than that even. The tiny hooks on the ends that distinguished vampire fangs from those of other hemovores - Frozbie gasped and tears ran down his face. The hooks were gone. "What have you done to me?"
Drakengrim shrugged. "Wrong question. You mean, what have I done to us?"
Frozbie swallowed again and nodded vigorously, his eyes saucering in fright.
"What?" Frozbie's voice squeaked and he covered his mouth in embarrassment.
"Yeah. Like the great Dracdoodla on a distant world called ... hmmn." Drakengrim scratched his cheek. "Can't remember the name now. I think Pieface called it Yurthropa?
Yurpterrora? Hmmn. Well you get the idea."
Frozbie shook his head slowly back and forth several times.
"Well, don't sweat it. Here, have some pie."
"But - but, I'm undead! I can't eat pie."
"That's what you think." Drakengrim winked at him.
Before Frozbie could recover enough to flee, five Badree Nym had grabbed him, forced his jaws open, and shoved a slice of pie down his throat.
Frozbie wept, expecting imminent doom from swallowing the pie. They crammed a second slice past his fangs as soon as the first one vanished into him. Frozbie blinked as his tummy felt pleasantly and happily full.
"Pie." Frozbie sighed in pleasure and opened his mouth wide as they came at him with a third slice. "Pumpkin. My favorite."
Posted on October 29, 2013
Closer and closer we clamber towards Halloween. So far we have featured vampires, monsters, witches and various other supernatural beings, intermingled with dark magic, in our daily free reads. Today, day five of Darkness before the Light, our attention turns to zombies. In this terrifying excerpt of Deadmoney by Paul Johnson, they are as slow as snail mail until they see their prey then, in relentless pursuit of their victims, they become deathly apt. Creatures of few words but with a particular tendency for human innards, you're more likely to smell them before you see them, giving you a chance to run undetected before your insides become their meal.
An excerpt of
Deadmoney by Paul Johnson
Newland stretched his arms out in front of him like Superman. He kept his legs tightly together, body rigid. But he still managed to tear his suit on the glass, a large shard ripping through, embedding itself into his thigh. Initially, he didn't feel a thing. His senses were numbed by adrenaline. He landed on his belly and slid across the lino-covered floor, the force of the impact driving the air from his lungs. Getting shakily to his feet, he looked around the room he had so spectacularly entered, seeing if there was a way out.
Two infected were clambering through the hole, impaling themselves on the glass. The glass crunched and splintered as they fought each other, making the hole bigger. More infected tried to get through, creating a bottleneck of writhing flesh. The man at the bottom of the pile was being impaled, cut in half. This didn't curb his enthusiasm to get at Newland. A crimson flow streamed from the man's midsection and pooled on the floor.
There was a door to the rear. Making his way towards it, past swivel chairs, Newland caught a glimpse of himself in the long horizontal mirror on the wall. The pain registered when he noticed the shard sticking out of his thigh, the blood coursing down his leg. He reached down and pulled it out, crying out in pain as he did so. He tossed it aside. Tears streamed down his cheeks. He felt like he was going to pass out. He put a hand over the wound in an attempt stem the flow.
He got moving, through the door and into a corridor. At the end: stairs. He hobbled towards them, then took them as quick as he could. He was halfway up when the window gave way with a thunderous crash. He didn't look back.
Reaching the top, he could only go left. He set off down another short corridor, then stopped abruptly when be noticed a door that was ajar. He slipped through it and found himself inside a very dirty bathroom that was plastered in green mould. He shut the door. Threw the flimsy bolt across.
Only one way out now - through the window.
Heavy footfalls in the corridor. Pounding on the door.
"YEHHHH! YEEEGGGGGHHHH!" one of them yelled.
There was nothing Newland could use as a barricade.
Any second now the bolt would give ...
Newland left a trail of blood on the white tiled floor as he scrambled to the window. The sash opened wide enough for him to easily climb through, no problem. What was a problem, however, was the sheer drop to the ground: a good twenty feet. Had his leg not been in the state it was, he wouldn't have thought twice about lowering himself down, letting himself drop. Sticking his head out into the chilly air, he looked for a drainpipe to shimmy down. It was too far away. The yard below was unlit, so he pressed the button on his watch to activate the torch light.
The door burst open. Infected flooded in.
Newland clambered out onto the window ledge, in a squatting position, the pain in his thigh forgotten. I can't jump! he thought. I'II break my legs! Someone clattered into Newland, sending him flying. Springing from the ledge like a frog, he braced himself for impact, expecting to kiss concrete.
What he landed on instead was a flimsy shed roof, which gave way, the rotten wood breaking his fall. Next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor, wrestling to free himself from cabling he had become ensnared in. The more he struggled, the more entangled he became. It was pitch black in the shed. He couldn't see a thing. He pressed the watch's torch button, bathing the small area in light. He stood up and began unravelling himself from the cabling, well aware that if he didn't get a move on he would soon be trapped. By the time he had freed himself, three infected had already jumped out of the window.
Newland picked up a shovel and opened the shed's door. Stepping out, he swung the shovel wildly at anything that moved. He whacked one of the infected dead between the eyes, rocking the man's head back on his shoulders, knocking him cold. The other two charged and Newland dished out some punishment. He was beginning to enjoy himself. Then he noticed someone drop from the window.
Then another ...
The yard was surrounded by a six foot wall. The gate at the far end was shut. Locked? Newland had no way of knowing. Getting over the wall wasn't an option. With his leg wounded, the infected would be on him too quick. So he went for the gate, smashing anything that got in his way. Once he was through it, he took off running again.
The infected followed.
Deadmoney by Paul Johnson
is to be released soon so watch this space...
Posted on October 28, 2013
Flashes by Jane Timm Baxter
Cover Art by JB Productions
Eve of All Hallows
I love Halloween.
I dress in a costume made of a long black gown advertised as "Spiderella." My nails are long and sharp, painted crimson red. My hair is blonde and slightly wavy, setting off my deep red lipstick. I wear no makeup, as my skin is pale and fair. If you haven't guessed already, I am a vampire. Tonight is my night to shine.
I walk the neighborhood streets, looking at the children dressed as ghouls and goblins and witches. I carry a plastic pumpkin full of candy and give treats to those whose costumes I admire. I am looking for teenagers, those who are really too old to be trick or treating. Those who have abandoned common sense for fun and candy and "one last romp." They have no idea what kind of "last romp" they will be having.
I come upon two teenage boys who haven't even bothered to wear costumes. They are carrying pillowcases full of candy which they have stolen from younger children. They are just my type of bullies.
I lure them away with promises of beer. It is an easy lure, especially mixed with a seductive smile and a suggestive sway of my hips. The teens look fifteen and sixteen years old. Their brain cells are misted over by pot. Their judgment, which I'm guessing isn't the best to begin with, is now grossly under par. I take them to an abandoned house, claiming that it is mine and I have just purchased it.
A quick flick of my wrist breaks the lock on the door and I take them inside.
I sadly proclaim that I have forgotten the beer. They are disappointed, but not for long. I begin to take off my dress and I ask if they want to have some fun. They get excited, naturally, and that is when I strike at the fifteen year old.
I rush him and pin him against the wall. To my surprise, he does not fight. As I lower my head to his throat, I realize that something is wrong.
He laughs, as does the other boy behind me. I stop and turn to the sixteen year old. There are suddenly horns sticking out of his head. He has a tail.
He grabs me by the wrist and pulls me to him. The other demon has sprouted horns as well and takes my other wrist. Together, they play a game of tug-of-war with my body. I cry out, screaming that I did not know their true identities. They laugh again and I smell sulfur.
The two demons let go of me abruptly and begin chanting. I cannot understand the words, but my body is tingling. I cannot move as my body begins to tremble. Slowly, I feel myself shrink. Down and down I go, until I am the size of a mouse. One demon takes a box out of his pocket as the other gently picks me up.
My cries fall on deaf ears as the demon opens the box and puts me inside. They look at me in the velvet lined wooden box and they smile down at me.
"I've always wanted a pet vampire," the older demon says. He closes the lid on the box, leaving me in darkness.
An excerpt of
Standing tall, though to the side,
Is a woman as smooth as the tides
That move and turn the newborn sea -
And just as icy, this Witch she.
A Traditional, with heart as cold
As her precious trinkets, gold -
Which sets her hair a deeper red,
And causes the fire to further spread
To her cheeks, so easily turned
Almost as though she had been burned.
False Priestess is her truest name,
For her one desire rests in fame.
Though little money of her own,
She puts on airs and razored tone
To draw in those with faith so weak
That they believe what she would speak
In hopes of truth and higher power,
And so her knowledge has grown sour.
In her dress of desert sand,
She's like the hound who'll bite the hand,
Not of those who quench her thirst
But those who treat her as the worst.
She cares not for peace or love,
But only what she's in search of:
Material gain and vast control,
Although the cost may be her soul.
Jane Timm Baxter
will be released later this year.
Posted on October 27, 2013
It was a large place, several ways into it, the ceiling too high for their torches to reveal. Only none cared about such features. The heap of florescent eggs in the centre drew their attention, even more so did the gleaner upon them. As promised she was the biggest they had seen, yet was clearly an unnatural size: her black shell had split in places as her yellow insides grew to bulge through, while her legs hadn't grown so she struggled to move. She looked a revolting, disfigured creature. However she grinned at the puny humans and slid her claws together in anticipation.
"Surround her," Ivor commanded and they spread out.
Gleaners dropped onto them from above. These were the biggest they had seen of the males; they attacked with savagery but also cunning, ripping men apart and scuttling up walls away from spears before leaping to attack elsewhere. Ivor screamed as he was stung, then lost his weapon and arm to a sweeping claw. Dirk's shield was shredded. Thorn slammed his axe into the gleaner but had to let go to retain his head and the pair pressed together to fend the foe off.
A roar of triumph and rage came as the brutes poured in, barely over a dozen and all wounded but seeing their victory in sight. They dove into the fray, intent on gleaners yet apathetic if any human got in the way. Ivor was crushed in the melee. A gleaner was ripped apart by two brutes. Dirk and Thorn let a brute demolish their foe but when a claw stabbed into its head they finished the gleaner off. Now they could take it in, the humans saw there were only eight gleaners, all told, and then two more appeared, followed by the chief.
"Brother, kill them," hissed the queen, an order and plea in one. Unlike her, his size seemed right, more than a match for those already there, his form coated in his enemy's blood. He advanced, then staggered; some of that blood was his.
Monolith appeared behind him and lopped off his tail. The chief span. The pickaxe plunged into him below the waist and ripped upwards, until it came out from his chest. He lived; by now even the brutes knew most of the gleaners organs were in the hard shell-like body, but it was a horrific wound to endure. The chief raised his withered arms in desperate retaliation. Magnus stepped in, bodily blocking so that the scythe-claws could only flail over his solid shoulders, before splitting the chief open with a tremendous strike.
The queen screamed, a few gleaners ran; the rest soon died beneath brute fists and human weapons. Then all were focused on the queen. Tail twitching, claws ready; she had nowhere to go and refused to die easily. She surveyed her opposition before glaring at Monolith.
"You," she hissed, beckoning him to her. "You are special, I will devour you."
Magnus stepped forward.
There was a howl and the young brute from before leapt onto the mound of eggs, landing at the queen's side, his fists pounding her swollen torso. Her stinger drove into his chest. He bellowed in agony but still attacked, head-butting as well as punching, as creamy fluid gushed out, unborn eggs coming with it.
Olaf ran in and impaled her with a spear. He had found his brother, limbless, drooling, eyes rolled up in unbearable agony, and he had ended his suffering. Now he unleashed his rage on the queen. She beheaded him with a swipe.
Two hurled axes slashed into her, before another brute ripped off two of her legs and she fell into her cluster.
The young brute stood over his victim, barely able to breathe. Gleaner venom wasn't usually lethal, but he had taken more than a normal dose, and it was the queen's venom. He faced Magnus."I strong too," he growled, then toppled.
The seven remaining brutes raged and leapt onto the eggs, stamping them flat, beating the next generation of gleaners to death. They then roared again and stormed out of the cave.
"Make sure nothing lives," Dirk instructed intently, and the men walked over the gory area, smashing any shape.
"Look," said Thorn. He stood over an egg as it hatched, several hand-sized creatures coming from it. Dirk joined him as they began to kill and eat each other. "They're born savage," Thorn whispered in amazement.
is to be released in November 2013.
Sojourners in Shadow Beginnings
Cover Art by John Picot
"I can kill you whenever I want. I don't need tricks."
"As you can see, I've no medical appendages, I count myself human, but I'm hi-tech, and,unlike cyborgs, I don't want anyone joining me in superiority."
Available at Smashwords
Posted on October 26, 2013
Judging by the increasing members of The Undead Smart Set, raising the undead is something we know many of you have tried, whether it be for vengeance or just to have someone to talk to in the wee hours before daylight breaks. Today's Halloween treat is an excerpt of a short story involving the use of dark magic by a woman long scorned, which we're sure a lot of you will agree makes a dangerous combination...
"No! No! No!"
He was gasping and whimpering, his voice hoarse.
"Hello, Jimmy," Romany said.
She stepped into the room and gazed coolly at him. Jimmy could smell the ocean on her, and underneath that, something else - the pungent scent of death.
"I know who I am," she said, her voice husky and raspy with sea salt. "I remember. I remember everything now."
Jimmy was backing up, his hands outstretched, his mouth hanging open, his face the colour of wet cement. He couldn't tear his eyes away from her, from her white, water logged face and her bloodshot eyes, and from the gaping bloodless wound in her head that exposed her brain; a wound he had put there.
"I killed you. You're dead," he cried. "You're dead!"
Romany reached out for him. "Why did you have to kill me, Jimmy? I wouldn't have really told your wife about us."
She sniffed and he could hear the water in her throat and nasal passages. "I loved you," she said. She reached out closer and touched his face, and this time he did scream.
"Get off me! Get off me!" he yelled, staggering back against the dresser. He glanced at Mary. She was gazing at Romany blank faced, her skin pale and eyes scared and bright. For one second, Jimmy thought that he was having a deranged nightmare, but then a sharp pain in his arm forced the reality of the situation back into clear focus. He glanced down at his arm with shock and at the blood trickling from the gash running down his forearm. He looked back up at Romany. She was holding a knife; one from the block in his kitchen. His heart stuttered and he backed up, one hand clasping the cut.
"Crazy bitch!" he screeched.
He jumped onto the bed and stepped on Mary in his attempt to get away. He leapt onto the floor on the other side and headed for the window, desperately grappling at the curtains. Flinging them apart, he scrabbled at the window latch. He had just managed to turn it when he felt a searing pain in his back. He screamed and spun around, his hands reaching behind him. Romany was right there in front of him. Her hands were empty. The knife was in his back.
"Oh god," he moaned. "Help me, please!"
He felt a sudden numbness creeping throughout his body and his limbs felt heavy. He could feel a hot wetness on his back. Blood. The fear in him was alive and burning. He staggered to the bed. Mary was staring at him.
"Help me," he whispered, as he collapsed at her feet.
She said nothing. She just continued gazing at him. He reached out with one hand towards her. She reached back. Their hands touched. Then, with a very deliberate flick, she pushed his arm away. What he thought had been fear in her eyes, he now recognised as a fierce elation. He tried to speak but couldn't. As the darkness encroached on his vision and his breathing slowed, he heard Mary utter one word.
Mary watched as Romany suddenly dropped to the floor like a broken puppet. For a moment there was only the sound of the sea water spilling from the woman's mouth and Mary felt a moment of guilt for the way she had used her, however she also felt triumphant and free. She exhaled shakily, then pushed the covers back and tentatively lowered her thin legs to the floor.
This was only the third time that she had used her legs since she had performed the healing spell and she couldn't get used to the fact that she could walk again. Raising the dead though had been slightly more difficult, involving a highly dangerous black arts spell. She had been worried as she'd performed it that it wouldn't work and was elated when it obviously had.
She stood over Jimmy's body then carefully walked around his legs which were stuck straight out. She bent and slipped her shoes on before stepping over Romany's body. The smell made her gag but she ignored it and then opened the wardrobe. She moved aside rails of clothes and pulled out a small backpack. Inside were clothes and essentials as well as her passport and air ticket to America. She hefted it over her shoulder then took a last look back at Jimmy.
He'd imagined that he could get away with his little affairs but she had overheard him on the phone one evening two weeks ago and had picked up the extension. Through that conversation she had discovered about Romany and then tonight, she had followed Jimmy when he had left to go out for a drink. He had been all spruced up and smelling of Brut aftershave and she knew that he was going to see his lover. That night had been only the second time that she had used her legs and she had been slightly shaky as she'd followed Jimmy down to the beach and watched from behind a grassy dune as he met Romany. An argument had ensued.
"Why won't you leave her, Jimmy? She doesn't love you like I do. If you won't tell her then I will!"
Jimmy had completely lost his temper, which wasn't new to Mary. She bore many bruises of his violence. She had watched wide-eyed with her hands over her mouth as he had picked up a rock and struck Romany viciously on the head and body several times. He had then dragged her body to the foot of the cliff and Mary realised he was trying to make it look as if the girl had fallen from the top to her death. She hadn't stayed any longer but made her way home quickly before Jimmy could return.
She should have gone to the police there and then but an idea had begun to form in her mind, one of revenge aided by dark magic. Her initial interest in witchcraft had started as simple Wiccan spells a couple of years ago, unbeknown to Jimmy. That had escalated to dark, spectacular and dangerous magic, which had taken hold of her life and captivated her with its power. She had discovered that she was quite good at the dark arts. The spell to raise the dead had been difficult but she was relieved that nothing had gone wrong. Now, she was free and with her knowledge of black arts, could use it to her advantage.
Mary turned and bent to pick up her book of spells then she left the room.
Outside, the wind had dropped completely and the moon was peeping out from behind a cloud. She smiled as she climbed into the car and pulled away from the house, and for the first time in years, her smile touched her eyes.
In the bedroom, Romany jerked, opened her dead eyes and then slowly climbed to her feet again.
Posted on October 25, 2013
Cover Art by Owen Kuhn
With a roar I opened my eyes again, seeing the figure sit up on top of me - long, inhuman arms reaching down and hands wrapping around my throat as they leaned forward and put their pressure on me. The lizard screamed in hate and all the hatred roared up inside of me, burning away everything but the need to kill the person trying to strangle me.
Their hands weren't quite seated, but they were still starting to squeeze. I could see the white of their teeth, pulled back in a maniacal grin, in the darkness of the hallway.
Nagle was yelling, the flashlight beam skittering around the stairwell, silhouetting the figure's head but not revealing who it was.
They'd figured they'd won. I was on my back, and they thought I was dazed, lying on the stairwell landing unable to do anything. I had been underneath him, twitching, my hands at my side and my eyes glazed from the impact against the back of my head.
The roar was wordless, a primal noise that filled the stairwell and blotted away Nancy's voice. My hands came up, between their arms, and swept outward, just as I'd been taught, collapsing their arms at the elbows.
In the same motion I grabbed the back of their head in my hands, and I heard them squawk in surprise even as I still bellowed my hate at him.
I brought my head up as I pulled them down, still roaring in fury.
They screamed as my forehead hit their face, and I felt teeth cut my forehead. They punched at me as I let them pull back and then did it again, feeling something crunch against my brow as their face impacted my forehead.
I did it again, and this time they managed to slip their head out from under my hands when my forehead hit them in the face. They rolled off me, kicking, and the toe of a boot caught my shin even through the padding of the coveralls. I didn't care, and I drove my fist twice more into their head, neither one of them perfect shots, since they glanced off the person's head, but more than enough to keep fighting.
"ANT!" Nagle's voice was a scream.
I saw the dim flash of steel reflected in Nagle's frantically searching light, and instead of going for the knife I brought up one arm to block it.
First rule, son, is that you're going to get cut... My Father's voice echoed from when all of us boys were lined up learning another lesson at his knee.
My other hand reached out, fingers finding the ear...
The shock of the knife arm hitting my forearm made my shoulder groan in the socket. If he'd gotten me with the blade, I didn't care. A cut on my arm was a small price to pay for what I wanted from him.
His ear made a good handle, making it so it was easy for me to press my thumb into the dent of his eye socket. I crooked my thumb, pushing as hard as I could, and I felt it sink into the socket, the eyeball squishing to the side.
...eye or ear, motherfucker, you're gonna lose one or the other...
They screamed that time, the knife falling next to my head, and a punch drove my head against the stairs again, the same spot hitting the edge of the stair. I lost where I was and what I was doing, but still roared with rage back at whoever it was. Even with the rage powering me, my arms dropped again and I knew I was running out of steam. I roared in denial as everything went gray, and punched them in the face, aiming for the teeth I could still see clearly, and bright pain burst between my knuckles. They fell back, and I rolled over, trying to get up, but they were faster and above me.
They kicked me twice, scrambling up, and the second shot caught me under the chin, snapping my head back into the tiles. I sat back up and drove a punch into the knee, reaching around behind me frantically. My hand found the knife they'd dropped, the other one trying to block the kicks they were flailing at me, ignoring the ones aimed at my ribs and stomach and protecting my face. The boots thudded into my ribs and I yelled in triumph as my hands wrapped around the hilt. I brought it around, and slashed them across the shin, but another kick caught me on the side of the neck and my already numb and bruised body jerked.
My voice choked up as I coughed. He had missed my throat but it still felt like something had been broken inside. I got the knife up despite the fact the left side of my body was numb and tingling, and got ready to defend myself.
Three Little Snowmen by Tim Willard is available at
Posted on October 24, 2013
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Birthright by Christine Morgan
Both boys trembled, their faces pale, their eyes wide. From the throat of one came plaintive noises. Tears glistened on his cheeks. A spreading patch of wetness on white cloth testified that he had lost control of his bladder.
The other was silent, dry of cheek and of clothing. His solemn gaze roved the clearing. Apprehensive yes, but also curious. As if he felt the anticipation in the air, the power gathering up from the very earth beneath their feet.
The stones, moon silvered, cast oblong shadows on the grass. The robed figures stood motionless with their candles, flickering flames revealing glimpses of familiar visages hidden within the deep hoods.
The man wanted to speak, to tell the braver boy that he did his bloodline proud. But this was not the time for such words. And later? Later, it would not matter.
In truth, it did not matter now.
It had never mattered.
Whether they came to that fate with steadfast acceptance or quaking tears made no difference. They were here because it was what was meant to be.
Theirs, and his.
The time had come.
Another figure emerged from the woods. Clad in scarlet dark as blood, bearing a carved box in reverent hands.
The man led the boys to the center of the circle. When the timid one hesitated and tried to shrink back, the man gave him a stern but not ungentle push.
"But I " the boy began.
A harsh gesture shushed him, cowed him.
Chin quivering, the boy stepped into position. He glanced at the stone rings, and at the lengths of cord that hung from them. Rather than extend his arms, he thrust them behind his back, and sniffling, shook his head.
The other offered him a smile perhaps meant to embolden and encourage. To prove that there was nothing to fear, he held out his own arms and did not flinch as the man bound his wrists.
At last, the other boy complied. His watery gaze sought that of the man. Imploring. Trusting. Seeking reassurance that this would all be over soon.
It would be.
This part of it.
A tightness closed in the man's throat and, at the same time, a hollowness seemed to open in his chest.
He took his own place, and tried to ready himself for what would come next.
The blood and the pain. The power.
He only hoped that neither boy would scream. It was always so terrible when they screamed.
The red cloaked figure lifted the box's lid. Mingled gold and silver light danced like fairy fire upon what glittered within.
A collective sighing breath arose from the circle as the ancient blade was raised high.
Birthright by Christine Morgan is available at Smashwords