Free Read Friday: Covenant Part I




Covenant
Some promises are kept for a lifetime

“Archie,” Patricia’s voice shrieked through the plastic mesh of the baby monitor on the counter top. He had installed them to keep tabs on his wife when he wasn’t in her room, and she needed him. All she said anymore was his name and even that was becoming an increasingly rare occurrence. It was if the disease had not only robbed her of her mind, and her memories, but was taking her voice as well.

Doctor Patterson had said it would eventually come to that as the disease progressed through its varied stages.

With her sandwich and a pile of potato chips on the Styrofoam plate he placed them on the plastic tray he used for her meals. There was already a Styrofoam cup full of lemon water, and a Styrofoam bowl of butterscotch pudding. Next to the plate were two napkins, and the only utensil, a plastic spoon for the pudding. Anything with sharp edges had to be avoided. She was past the physically violent stage, almost completely bedridden, with the exception of her bathroom visits that she insisted on continuing, even though a bed pan was available.  

Yet it was always wise to be careful.

With the monitor clipped to his belt he carried her tray down the hall towards her bedroom, and with every step the sadness settled deeper into his heart. She had once been a vibrant, loving, woman. A fiery redhead whose personality matched the color of her hair. To this day he was still in awe of the fact that she had chosen him over the array of suitors who were constantly at her beck and call.

At her door he paused, mentally preparing himself for what waited beyond the closed door. Once he was ready he stepped into the brightly lit room. The windows were open and a gentle breeze stirred the curtains as the steady sound of the oceans waves came crashing through. Birds twittered in the trees beyond the window as life contiued beyond the walls that surrounded them.

She had always loved the sound of the ocean

“Good morning Patricia,” Archie said as he placed her tray on the table next to her bed. The table was the kind found in every hospital, it looked like an angular letter C, mounted on four wheels that were capable of slipping under the hospital bed, so the surface could be brought close to the patient.

She watched him from the pillows under her head, her once vibrant red hair now the color of the sheets she lay on, her faced lined with age, eyes that once sparkled with a mischievous light now watched him with guarded mistrust as he moved around the foot of her bed, and crossed to the window.

“Is this too cold for you?”

She watched him silently as he pushed the window down, cutting off the sound of the ocean’s waves, and he turned to face her, the smile he’d plastered on his face faltering under her relentless gaze. She was in there somewhere, he knew it, it was just a matter of time before she managed to find her way back to him.

“I’ve brought you your favorite,” he said as he returned to the other side of the table, and settled into his seat as he slid the hospital table across in front of her. She looked from Archie to the sandwich, then back again.

He nodded at the sandwich and she cautiously picked it up from the plate, several pieces of chicken falling onto her chest as she brought it to her mouth.

After she had fallen asleep, he sought out the sanctuary of what she once called his man cave. Half the basement had been converted into a den of sorts for the assorted objects that Archie had come across in his travels.  The upper half of the walls were covered with signs from the past, advertising everything from Standard Oil to Wonder Bread, builds strong bodies eight ways. Beneath the signs, shelves overflowed with assorted small toys from the past, from cast iron to wind up tin toys all gaily painted in a variety of colors, many of which were also marked with the rust of neglect.

This was his sanctuary from the trials and tribulations of life and many a time he would just come down her and sit as he admired his collection, and listened to the music of the past, trying to recapture the innocence of the time period much of these items had come from.

His pride and joy was the nineteen forties telephone booth that occupied one corner of the room. It had been painstakingly restored to its former glory, its wood frame glistening in the light from a number of old style neon signs that were situated here and there among the other signs of the period. Every time he looked at the phone booth he imagined a line of GI’s waiting to use the phone for one last conversation with their sweethearts before they were shipped off the war.

An easy chair sat in one corner of the room, next to a bookcase filled with old volumes, and an old style table lamp whose surface reflected the light from above. Tonight he ignored the easy chair and turned towards the phone booth whose bench seat offered very little comfort.  The interior still smelled of old smoke, sweat, and the spilled tears of many a brave boy marching off to war. The phone mounted in the corner was black, its box like body designed with an eyes towards function over fashion. 

To be continued
 

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New This Week in Post Apocalyptic Fiction



Five Suns Saga Part III by Jim Heskett




Click on cover for more info!


Synopsis:

Kellen Richter survived the end of the world and the chaos that ensued. Now, he and a band of fighters will have to pull support from unlikely sources to prevent a familiar enemy from assuming control.

The final battle has begun. The warring factions will stop at nothing to destroy each other to seize control of what’s left of America.

Will Kellen and his friends maintain their freedom and find a way to live out their days in peace, or will the onslaught of power-hungry opportunists destroy everything?


The Blood Will Dry by Kate L. Mary

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Five years after an alien invasion, the earth is unrecognizable. The human race has been decimated and the sun completely blotted out by dark clouds that bring constant rain. All indigenous plant life has been killed off and replaced by vegetation that has proven to be as deadly as it is invasive, and the aliens that have taken over the planet are seemingly invincible.

Living in a crowded building with other survivors, Diana Foster wants nothing more than to forget what she lost the day the aliens arrived. But an incoming platoon brings a familiar face, one that not only opens old wounds, but also forces her to deal with the painful memories she's worked hard to forget. Bryan may not be the same cocky kid he was before the invasion, but his sudden appearance still turns Diana's world upside down in ways she never expected. When he showed up she knew it would mean finally facing her past, but she never thought she’d find a future that was actually worth living.

After years of struggling to find a weakness in the aliens' defenses, Diana stumbles upon a solution just as a new and more deadly threat surfaces. Faced with an attraction she never expected and a battle that most believe can't be won, Diana must work through her painful past as the survivors mount a battle that may determine the fate of mankind. If her plan fails it very well could be the end of humanity, but if works it will mean having a real future, and a chance to allow the blood to dry once and for all.


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A new world order, a city under control, and a new breed of zombie known as The Martyrs living alongside humans. France isn't safe. It never has been.

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This not-so-typical zombie novel is the second instalment of the Winter Smith series. An action packed young adult horror that will keep you guessing, and wondering what could possibly happen next.


Dusk: A Dark Fantasy Novel by Tim Lebbon

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Kosar the thief senses that Rafe Baburn is no ordinary boy. After witnessing a Red Monk plunder Rafe's village and murder his parents, Kosar knows the boy needs his help. And now, for reasons he cannot fathom, others are seeking the boy's destruction.
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Knight of the Wasteland by Jon Cronshaw

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Finding hope in a hopeless world...

In a world ravaged by dust storms and poisonous rains, Abel has survived feral dogs, raiders, and drug addiction...but he’s done with just surviving — now, he wants to start living.

When Abel stumbles across a boy suffering from the same addiction that almost killed him, he takes the kid under his wing and offers him a new life...a life free from drugs.

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This Friday I will begin the next short story titled with the letter C, thank you Robert for the suggested title, Covenant. Nice juicy title, now which way do I go.

Help Wanted!






Beta Readers Needed

As I near the end of my current work in progress I want to try something different with this one. In the past I've always relied on an editor alone to get a second set of eyes on my work. This time I'd like to add 4 to 5 beta readers to the process. If you enjoy reading works in the horror / dark fantasy genre and wouldn't mind sharing your reaction to a work by completing a questionnaire at the end I'd like to talk to you. 

The work in progress had been titled A Father's Love and my goal is to win a kindle scout deal with it. I'm currently searching for a title that better reflects the story in a single word. But that's my problem, unless you as a beta reader come up with a better suggestion. 

I've added the first few paragraphs below so you can get a feel for the story.

I'm sorry, there is no compensation aside from a mention in the acknowledgements in the finished book, my eternal gratitude, and the chance to read something no one else has seen yet.

The manuscript will come in at a little over 80,000 words. I have the first 20 chapters ready for beta readers, though I still have to put together the questionnaire. 

If you're interested, drop me a line at rschiver@gmail.com  I'll be setting up a closed beta readers group on Facebook where everyone participating can share their thoughts. 

Thank you.

Richard Schiver

UNTITLED


At night the world slipped on a different mask, as the shadows grew long and deep. A menacing disguise that transformed even the most innocent objects into terrifying creatures. The stack of boxes sitting drunkenly in the corner had become a crouching beast, a thing of fangs and claws ready to leap out and devour her the moment she looked away. Even her Little Princess table, where she had served tea to her collection of stuffed animals on many an occasion, had become a frightening object, whose long shadow reached out for her with the searching fingers of some nameless thing.

“It’s okay, Puddles,” she whispered to the stuffed bunny tucked under the covers beside her, “it’s just your magination.” She pulled Puddles closer to her side, and as she did, she saw her father with her mind’s eye as he wound up to throw another ball. His face a mask of determination as he focused on the task at hand, fading into the dark recesses of her memory as another emerged.

“It’s the witch,” Marjorie, her best friend from school whispered in her mind, drawing her gaze to the pair of windows that looked out upon a night filled with myriad possibilities. The pale moonlight was broken by the passage of dark clouds across the face of the moon, creating alternating bands of light and dark that served to deepen the already threatening nature of the night.

She was out there, the Witch, if Marjorie was to be believed. Searching for her next victim, looking for the next bad little boy or girl to lure back to her lair. With the blankets pulled nearly up to her eyes, her gaze tracked around the darkened bedroom in an endless search for threats.

She was a good girl, she sought to convince herself as the shadows of the night swirled around her in an endless, primitive dance. She listened to her mommy as best she could, and at this thought, she remembered her dress lying on the floor of her closet. She had been told to hang it up.

But had she?

No. The answer chilled her to the bone.

Come join me in this adventure, it''ll be fun, I promise. Drop me a line rschiver@gmail.com
 




Free Read Friday: Billy, The End


Read the entire story from the start:  BILLY

Billy

Instantly they were transported to the black depths of that gloomy forest, Sarah was clinging to his hand as he ran through twisted branches that reached out to snatch at his clothing. Ahead of them, in the distance,  he saw a square of soft yellow light that offered safety from the creatures of the night that crashed through the forest all around them.

His path was lit by a soft glow that seemed to be coming from him and he held up his free hand to look at the splayed fingers, each glowing with a soft luminescence that emanated from his flesh.

“Keep going,” she said from behind him as his feet faltered and he slowed in awe at the light that was coming from his own body.

The sounds of trees being torn asunder came from the forest around them, the frustrated thrashing of those shadowy beasts that could do nothing more than keep time with his flight.

“Hurry,” she said and he looked back to see she had nearly vanished into the shadows. Fear blossomed in his heart and the effervescent glow of his body flickered. As it did the night intruded upon the small circle that around them, ebony claws piercing the illumination, adding to the terror thundering through him.

His steps faltered as the glow diminished and the night, filled to overflowing with those ancient things, pressed in close around them. So close they brushed against the bare skin of his arm and he was overwhelmed by a calming sensation that sought to lull him into a more relaxed frame of mind.

That was how they go into you. Not through terror, or fear, or even the promise of respite from all the bad that was going on in your life. No, they slipped in when you least expected them to, when you were drifting in the featureless void between the light of vigilance and the shadowy realm of your dreams. When you were off guard was the most dangerous time of any night.

But once they got their hooks into you it was all over, unless.

As the night pressed in all around them he looked into his sister’s fading eyes, fear battling the sorrow that was once more welling up from that bottomless void. He felt their touch on that deep primitive level.  They were coming for them and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. More claws cleaved the fading light as his terror swelled to overwhelm him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, reaching out for her with one hand. A shadowy appendage caressed his fingers, leaving a chill in it’s wake as she slowly faded into the shadows that now surrounded them. The light of safety was too far away, on the other side of a vast gulf of nothingness that seethed with the creatures of the night.

“It’s okay,” she whispered in his mind, “I will always love you,” the words were so alien coming from her. Words she had never once in his memory spoken, and the realization struck him with the force of a physical blow. He loved her too, as only a younger brother could love an older sister.

The light that had been waning suddenly flared as his love for her infused him with renewed strength and a desire to save her. Those shadowy things were overwhelmed by the pulse of light, several becoming trapped in its glow, their misshapen figures devoured by the light that turned them to ash upon its touch.

She came back to him, gaining more substance, fed by his love for her. Her grip tightened on his hand as he turned and ran through the shadowy depths with her in tow, straight for the small opening that offered them an escape from this place of shadows. Around them the forest crackled as those shadowy things fled in the wake of the light that burned from him.

Reaching the opening he dove through, into he light and the safety if offered. At the last moment her hand slipped from his. He bounced onto her bed once before rolling off the side onto the floor.

“Sara?” he called out as he scrambled to his feet and looked around her empty room, his gaze coming to rest on that poster.

“No,” he screamed as he attacked the poster on the wall. Jamming his hand into the shadows, coming up hard against the unyielding surface of the wall behind it. He had failed and the shadows had gotten what they wanted. Sara was still trapped on the other side, and he couldn’t get to her.

“Sara,” he screamed as his rage was deflated by the helplessness of a six year old. He had been crazy to think he could do anything to change what had happened. Sorrow overwhelmed him as he dropped to her bed and cried into her pillows that still carried her scent.

From outside came the sound of a car door closing and he pushed himself up from the bed, climbing down he crossed to the window and saw his father walking up the short walk to the front door. Turning from the window he crossed her room to the hallway, and took the stairs down to the first floor. His footsteps heavy with sorrow and bitter disappointment.

“Hey sport, let’s go, Sara’s awake, she wants to see you,” his father said and he stopped to state as him, his mouth hanging open.

“Don’t just stand there catching flies with your mouth hanging open, let’s go, Sara’s waiting. I wanted to call but she insisted I bring you to the hospital.”

“Sara’s okay?” Billy said as he slowly approached his father who stood by the front door. From outside came the sound of Mr. Winslow cutting his grass, and the Baker kids still playing.

She was okay? They had made it? But what happened at the end, when he lost her hand?

“She’s not one hundred percent yet, and she’ll have to stay in the hospital, but she woke up this morning.”

Then he remembered the poster still hanging over her bed.

“Hang on a second,” he said before he turned and raced back up the steps. In Sara’s room he crossed to the poster and pulled it from the wall, rolling it up as the sound of thrashing came from the shadows around the base of the tree. Once he was done he raced down the hallway to the attic doorway. In the attic he searched through the old Christmas stuff piled in the corner until he found what he was looking for. A cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper. Sliding the poster into the tube he crossed to the darkest part of the attic and hid the tube behind a pile of old boxes.

As he walked down the steps from the attic he heard a faint clicking coming from where he’d hidden the cardboard tube. It would be safe for her to come home now, and he promised himself that once he got home he would sneak that tube out of the house and bury it somewhere deep in the forest behind their house.

THE END


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free starter library.


That's 2 complete novels and a 
collection of short stories.
Absolutely Free!