New Release: Dark at the End of the Tunnel

From Crystal Lake and Cemetery Dance comes ten gripping and darkly imaginative stories by Taylor Grant, one of the horror genre’s rising stars—including the Bram Stoker Award nominated tale “The Infected.”


Click on the cover for more info or to order!

Discover what happens when:

- An author stumbles upon an incomplete manuscript by his deceased father, and makes the grave mistake of trying to complete the story.

- A wealthy industrialist awakens after ten years in suspended animation, and finds out that the horrors of the past can never be left behind.

- A lonely man realizes that he’s gradually vanishing from existence, into a nightmarish limbo of his own making.

- A woman learns that the imaginary voices that haunt the delusional and criminally insane are, in fact, real.

These stories expose terrors beneath the surface of our ordinary world, behind people’s masks of normalcy, and lurking in the shadows at the farthest reaches of the universe.


“A master class in storytelling…one of the best collections of the last ten years."
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award Winner, Dead City, The Dead Won't Die

“A bold, unsettling new voice in suspense and horror.”
Scott Nicholson, Bestselling Thriller Author, The Red Church

“Once in a while new work gets through that is so full of talent and commitment, the two qualities I admire most, that it is an inspiration. And it's good to be inspired. The author of this book isn't kidding around. The stories are smart, filled with talent, and deserve to be read. So turn off the TV and start reading them. Now. Taylor Grant is keeping the faith.”
Dennis Etchison, Two-time World Fantasy Award Winner

“A cornucopia of horror from a master of the genre!"
Tim Waggoner, Eat The Night, The Way of All Flesh

“Written with the precise-concise language of a poet. Each story has an almost perfect closure…”
Gene O’Neill, Bram Stoker Award Winner, The Cal Wild Chronicles, The Hitchhiking Effect

“Grant is a writer who never fails to engage. Frankly, his stories frighten me…”
Christopher Ransom, International Bestselling Author, The Birthing House, The Fading


TAYLOR GRANT is a Bram Stoker Award Nominated Author, professional screenwriter, award-winning filmmaker and multiple award-winning copywriter. His work has been seen on network television, the big screen, the stage, the web, newspapers, comic books, national magazines, anthologies, and heard on the radio.

As an author, he has shared pages with some of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors in the horror industry, and his fiction and non-fiction has appeared in three Bram Stoker Award nominated books.





 

All Roads Lead to Terror: Chapter Six

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present





Chapter 6

“We better tie him up tight,” Meat said as he and Window dropped their captive to the dirt floor of the barn. He looked to be about ten years old, dressed in a loincloth fashioned from what looked like a set of curtains, the fabric heavy and stiff, with brocaded designs in the filthy green cloth. His exposed flesh, while deeply tanned, was covered by crude tattoos, many of which were faded, attesting to their age.

There were spirals and groups of jagged lines, thick bands were wrapped around his upper arms, and the flesh of both forearms was covered in odd swirling patterns that resembled pin striping. On each knuckle was a different letter that spelled out PAIN on one hand with LOVE on the other.

“Look at this,” Window said as he rolled the boy over onto his back. On his chest and stomach was the tattoo of a man crucified on a cross and wrapped in barbed wire. Though crudely drawn the shading of the image lent it a depth that made it appear to pop out of the boy’s chest. The image hung down from between his nipples, the man’s feet vanishing under the band of his loincloth. Above his left nipple was a Celtic trinity with a circle surrounding its central part.

Window grabbed a length of rope hanging from one of the upright posts and quickly bound their captive’s hands and feet, drawing them together behind his back. 

The boy groaned as he awakened, struggling to loosen his bonds. He fought harder, yanking at the rope as he rolled over onto his side. Meat and Window stepped back as Einstein, his hair a mess, and rubbing the sleep from his eyes, came over to see what they had found. Billie Bob was still asleep in the back of the barn.

“Where did he come from?” Einstein said.

“I caught him spying on us from the forest,” Meat said.

“Hey, you’re bleeding,” Window said, pointing at the blood on Meat’s arm.

Meat examined the wound, it was superficial yet was producing a good bit of blood making it look worse than it really was.

“Grab me the first aid kit, will ya?” Meat said and Einstein nodded before he turned and rummaged through his pack where he’d been sleeping. He returned with a dirty white box that he passed to Meat. With Window’s help he squirted a small amount of alcohol on the wound, gritting his teeth when the burning sensation hit him. It hurt like hell, but the alcohol would kill any germs that might get into the wound. Even a small cut like this was cause to be worried. Without hospitals, or clinics, or even readily available doctors, a small wound could quickly lead to death unless it was properly cared for.

Once Meat’s arm had been taken care of they turned their attention to the captive.

The boy’s eyes were open, dripping with hatred, “cut me loose now or the master will feed you his pain, he’ll eat your hearts out of you,” he growled with a venomous voice, exposing yellowed teeth that had been filed down to points.

Meat placed one booted foot on his chest as the boy strained against his bonds. He  stretched his neck to bite Meat’s foot, his teeth clicking together on empty air. It would be a comical sight if not for the sheer rage that smoldered in his eyes.

“Shut up,” Meat shouted and slapped the boy across the face, hard, with his open hand.

“Fuck you,” the boy screamed, spittle flying from his mouth as he thrashed about on the dirt floor, stirring up clouds of dust.

Meat raised his fist and the boy stopped for a moment, glaring at Meat, daring him to hit him.

“I will eat your heart out of you,” the boy hissed.

“Where are you from?” Meat said.

“Fuck you.”

“What the hell is going on out here?” Gregory said as he opened the door and stepped into the barn. “I heard shouting.”

“We caught this one spying on us,” Meat said, pointing at the young boy lying at his feet.

“He’s just a kid,” Gregory said as he entered the barn and crossed to their captive. He stopped at the boys figure, taking in the crude tattoos that covered his young body, “he’s one of them,” he said.

“One of who?” Einstein said.

“One of the group that killed my wife and daughter, they were all dressed like this, like they were playing cowboys and Indians only there weren’t any cowboys.”

“Did you do that?” Meat said, prodding the young boy with the toe of his boot.

“Fuck you,” the boy shouted, renewing his struggles to escape.

“Obviously that’s the only word he knows,” Window said as he drew his revolver and crossed to the boy. He squatted next to his supine figure and rested the long barrel of his pistol on his forearm. The boy settled down, mesmerized by the gun, his gaze softening as he traced the length of the barrel.

“What are you going to do?” Gregory said.

“What should have been done to begin with,” Window said as he cocked his pistol and aimed the barrel at the boys face.

The boy smiled, exposing his pointed teeth, his eyes alight with what could only be characterized as joy. It appeared he understood the purpose of Window’s pistol and was anxious to die. “Give me peace,” he whispered as he strained his head forward, willingly placing his forehead against the muzzle.

“You can’t do that, he’s just a boy,” Einstein said as he pushed Window to the side and placed himself between their captive and the rest of them.

The boy screamed behind him, thrashing about wildly, as he rolled around on the ground, struggling against his bonds.

“Get out of the way Einstein.”

“No.”

“I’ll shoot you first then,” Window said as he raised the muzzle of his pistol and aimed it at Einstein’s head.

“Put the gun down,” Meat said, placing his hand over Window’s pistol and pushing it down.

Window sidestepped Meat and raised his pistol. “I always said you were weak, you don’t have the stomach for what needs to be done.”

“But he’s just a kid,” Einstein said, “this isn’t like shooting a Zombie, they’re already dead so it doesn’t matter.”

“It was his kind that killed my wife and daughter,” Gregory said, clearly placing himself in Window’s camp.

 “How do you know it was him who did it? Maybe he’s running with them for protection., maybe he’s just a scared little kid like the rest of us,” Einstein said

“Speak for yourself,” Window said.

“What’s going on?” Billie Bob said, emerging from the dark recesses of the barn still wrapped in the blankets in which he’d slept. He crossed to the group and looked down at their captive. “Who’s this?”

“We caught him spying on us,” Window said, never once taking his eye off of Einstein.

Billie-Bob glanced at the crude tattoos that covered the boy’s body as his face blanched and his eye widened. “They roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws,” he whispered softly before turning and retreating into the shadows at the back of the barn.

“What in the hell was that all about?’ Window said.

“I don’t know,” Meat said, he was teetering on the fine edge of losing control over their small group. While there had never been an official decision as to who would lead them, everyone had naturally assumed Meat would as he had the most experience outside the fence. It was a role that fit him and if they were to succeed in this little endeavor, not to mention survive in the wilds, there had to be only one person who was clearly in charge.

There had to be control.

While he agreed with Window on what had to be done, he could understand Einstein’s reluctance to carry through. They were faced with a dilemma that would pale in significance as they progressed through their quest. But for now it was a tough call, one he had to make if he was to cement his role as the leader.

They couldn’t very well let the boy go, he’d only return to his group and let then know they were coming, giving them ample time to prepare for their arrival.

If what they planned was to work, with four against an unknown number, their arrival had to be a surprise. They couldn’t leave him, he’d get loose and tell his tribe, or whatever it was he belonged to about them, or he would die of exposure.

“We can’t let him go,” Meat said, stepping up and placing himself between Window and Einstein, he felt the muzzle of Windows .44 aimed at the back of his head, and he hoped to hell no one tried to stop him or ran into him, causing Window to squeezer the hair trigger Meat knew was on the pistol. Of course in that event his own personal problems would be solved.

“We can’t kill him,” Einstein said, “we’d be no better than them if we did.”

“Then what do you want us to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do we leave him tied up in here?”

“We can’t do that. How would he eat and drink? How would he get home?”

That was the crux of it. They all wanted to go home, not to Bremo Bluff, but to that time Gregory had told them about the night before. Where a fast food joint could be found on every corner, where you could walk the streets without fear of being attacked and eaten, though he had heard stories about some places before the awakening that one did not venture into alone, especially after dark, but that was not the whole world. Just a small corner of it confined to places he only knew of as names in a book.

“How about this, we leave him tied up with water close by so he can drink, and after we’re done, on our way back through, we release him.”

“What about food?”

Meat shook his head, “we only have enough for ourselves, and besides it will only be a few days, I doubt he’ll starve in that time.”

“What about other animals coming to get him?”

“We’ll keep the door locked from the outside so nothing can get to him.”

As they debated his future the young boy had worn himself out with his struggles. While Meat and Einstein reached an agreement they could each live with, the boy had fallen asleep and was softly snoring, curled up into a tight ball on the dusty ground.

“Is that fair?” Meat said turning to Window and Gregory. “We keep him prisoner until we return, then we let him go.”

“Once he’s out of the barn he becomes fair game,” Gregory said.

“What is wrong with you people?” Einstein said. “Whatever happened to compassion? To caring for those less fortunate than ourselves?”

“Have you been sleeping under a fucking rock or something?” Window said. “The world has changed, it’s not like it was described in the books we’ve read. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and if you’re not the biggest, baddest, son of a bitch out here, it’ll eat you up.”

“Like you?” Einstein said.

“Exactly like me,” Window said as he moved closer to Einstein, invading his space and forcing him to take a step back.

“Let it go, we’ll leave him in the barn until we come back through, after we release him he’s on his own. Now let’s get ready to go, we’ve already fallen behind because of this.” Meat purposely turned away to pack his belongings for the coming days hike.

Window and Einstein stood facing one another for a moment more, each refusing to be the first to step away, to concede to the other. Meat was amused by Einstein’s actions. He had always been the quiet one, dutifully doing what needed done without complaint Einstein did have a stubborn side to him and Meat had seen him stand up to others before yet he was concerned by what happened. There was nothing wrong with a bit of dissent in the ranks, as long as it didn’t get too out of hand and boil over into outright animosity. Right now it looked like Einstein and Window had become mortal enemies, and he’d have to keep a close watch over them to make sure that animosity didn’t get too out of hand.

Outside the sky lightened as the sun slowly emerged from the Eastern horizon, greeted by the incessant chatter of the birds in the forest. Golden rays of light flowed across the steel roof of the barn in which a struggle between life and death was being played out. Steam rose from the roof as the sun’s rays heated the metal, offering a preview of the day’s warmth.

#


They were gathered in front of the barn preparing to head out when Gregory raced from his house with a backpack slung over one shoulder, his rifle over the other.

“Where are you going?”

“I want to come along, help out where I can.”

‘Can you use that thing?” Window said.

“I can hit anything inside eight hundred yards.”

“That good enough for me,” Meat said.

“Wait a minute, I forgot something,” Window said and turned back to the barn. He vanished inside. From within came the roar of his pistol. Einstein screamed and raced back to the barn. Throwing open the doors he revealed Window standing over the still body of their captor, the boys blood staining the ground beneath his head.

“I did him a favor,” Window said, slipping his pistol back into the holster slung low on his hip.

Einstein screamed and charged Window who sidestepped his attack. Einstein ran past his target, tripping over his own two feet, falling to the ground beside the body of their captive.

“Let it go,” Meat shouted as Einstein pushed himself to his feet and prepared to charge Window again.

Gregory stepped between them, holding out his hands. “It’s over,” he said, “let it go.”

Einstein dusted himself off and retrieved his gear from where he’d dropped it, glaring at Window who ignored him, a self satisfied smile on his face as he casually walked over to the group.

“Why did you do that?” Meat said.

“It had to be done,” Window said with a shrug.

“You’ll get no argument from me, but we agreed to keep the boy captive until we returned, then we would let him go.” Meat felt his control over the group slipping through his fingers, if he didn’t do something to establish control soon, they’d descend into anarchy.

But what could he do?

He had no experience with leadership. He knew if it got too out of hand the lives of the children counting on them would surely come to an end.

“Hey Gregory,” Billie-Bob said as he slung his rifle and stopped beside him, “do Zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?”

“What? I don’t know, what are you talking about? I guess.”

Window and Meat turned away as Billie-Bob draped his arm over Gregory’s shoulder.

“No, they save the fingers for last,” Billie-Bob said, “did you ever hear the one about the Zombie that went to the whorehouse?”

Gregory shook his head.

“He wanted his money back because he couldn’t get it up, he had DD, a dead dick.” Billie-Bob finished with a guffaw, “get it? Dead dick?” he said as he slapped Gregory on the shoulder and bent over with laughter. “I’ve got a hundred of em.”

Gregory shook his head as they trailed the rest of the group, Billie-Bob’s voice running a mile a minute as he entertained his new found audience.


Reserve your copy today!


Sign up for my Thunderclap Campaign to help me spread the word about All Roads Lead to Terror and be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two print copies I'll be giving away when the book is released in print.


Leave a comment letting me know you signed up so I can add your name to the entrant pool

I now have autographed bookmarks available. If you sign up to be notified of updates not only will you receive a free copy of my novel White Walker, I'll  send you a free, autographed bookmark like the one pictured below.
( sorry this offer is only available to persons residing in the lower 48 states)







Fridays 5 with Rita Lee Chapman

Rita Lee Chapman was born in London and moved to Australia in her early twenties.  It was only when she retired that she wrote her first novel, Missing in Egypt, a romantic travel mystery. 

Winston – A Horse’s Tale followed, written for horse lovers like herself.  “It was the book I had to write.” 

Her latest book, Dangerous Associations, is her first foray into crime mystery.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) It was after I retired. Over the years I had started a couple of times but I only had a typewriter, no computer and I didn’t get very far. Once I retired I had more time – and a computer!

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) I’d say it’s deciding what to write about. My first book was the hardest – with so many options what sort of story did I want to tell? I remembered a wonderful holiday in Egypt, a mysterious and intriguing country. Vast deserts and uninhabited areas, crowded cities, towering pyramids and ancient tombs are all found in Egypt. Even today new tombs are being discovered, many still containing the sarcophagus and a myriad of valuable jewellery and antiques provided to sustain the deceased on their journey to the after-life.  What better place to set a mystery? And so Missing in Egypt was born.

My second book, Winston – A Horse’s Tale, was the book I always wanted to write. It is told by Winston himself but it is very horsey.

Dangerous Associations, my latest book, is my first foray in to crime mystery and was written to appeal to a wider readership.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) I know every author says this, but to hold your first book in your hands is an amazing feeling. After finally coming up with a subject to write about, finding time to write it and going through the editing and publishing processes it is a very satisfying time. Little was I to know that the hardest part was still ahead – marketing!

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.)  I think the story is the more important to me than the character – I hope this doesn’t show in my writing! I don’t become as attached to my characters as some authors do – to me they are a tool through which the story is revealed.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)   Because I am retired I would have to say a typical day for me is pretty wonderful.  My husband and I play tennis, walk by the sear, or the rivers and lakes so close to our home and enjoy mixing with a wide circle of friends. Usually I do some housework in the morning and after that is my normal writing time. However, I don’t write every day, only when I’m in the mood!  After all, I am retired.


Click on cover for more info or to order

Synopsis: An ex-husband, a new love, a stalker. Cathy Thompson’s link to her ex-husband fills her life with threats and intimidation. She must either trap her stalker or find Geoffrey to put an end to her life of fear.

All Roads Lead to Terror: Chapter Five

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.





Chapter 5

In his stocking feet Meat moved away from the barn, crouching low and keeping to the shadows he quickly made his way into the forest that surrounded the small farm. His skin crawled as he vanished into the gloom, the remnants of the nightmare that had awakened him still fresh in his mind.

He had been dreaming about that lone house surrounded by an overgrown yard through which unseen things slithered within shadowy spaces. He and the man he called Dad had taken refuge within those silent walls that weren’t so quiet, the whispered memories of its past lying at the indistinct edge of consciousness as the ghosts of a happier time moved through shadowy rooms.

A swing set in the back yard offered mute testimony to the joy that had once inhabited the house. Its rusted chains squeaking with a plaintive cry as an errant breeze moved it to and fro. Pictures on the mantle piece, covered by a deep layer of dust, provided evidence that this dead place had once known life, light, and the happiness of a growing family. In one photo a man and woman stood together, the woman leaning back in the man’s strong arms, their entwined hands resting on her swollen belly.

The photo had both frightened him, and filled him with a sense of loss, sorrow for a child that might never know the joys life had to offer. Joys he himself had never known. A part of him understood, with a maturity beyond his years, that his sorrow was for himself and the other children he’d seen struggling to survive in a world turned upside down.  

Pushing away the dream, and the memories it awakened, he slowed his steps considerably to keep from stirring the dead leaves at his feet, and alerting the target. Carefully he worked his way around until the tractor was directly between he and the barn. He knew then he was getting close and he stopped to listen.

In the deep shadows ahead he heard movement. Turning his head to the side he watched from the corner of his eye, as he had been taught by the man he called Dad, and was rewarded with a glimpse of a shadowy form crouched at the tree line. The stranger was  watching the barn and house that glowed with the ghostly light of the full moon. Seemingly unaware of Meat’s presence.

Ever so carefully he worked his way around behind the watcher, maintaining his distance, the soft breeze stirring the leaves around them helped to mask any sound he made, while at the same time carrying away his scent. He was slowly approaching the figure when, warned of his approach by some primitive sixth sense, that shadowy form suddenly spun around to confront him. From the gloom came the sound of cold steel being drawn across leather and Meat spotted the faint glimmer of a blade.

He stepped back, dodging the arc of the sharp edge that narrowly missed laying open his throat. Weaving to the right, away from the blade, Meat lunged forward, his right hand grasping what felt like a small neck, his fingers digging into pliable flesh. From the shadowy form came a strangled cry of surprise.

Meat felt a small hand wrapping itself about his wrist as the faint glimmer of the blade flashed in the shadows. He felt the blade as it passed across his forearm, the faint sting of  cold steel slicing through warm flesh. Meat drew back his left hand, balled into a fist, and slammed it into the unseen face above his right hand. The figure suddenly went limp as Meat held on, knowing that if he let go he might lose the watcher in the gloomy depths that filled the forest around him.

Holding onto the neck of the stranger he stepped out of the tree line into the overgrown field, and the pale light of the moon. It looked to be a boy, no more than ten, his torso bare, the flesh of his back and chest covered with black markings that made little sense. Meat looked up as Window crossed the field towards him.

“What did ya find?”

“You were right, someone was watching us, I don’t know how long they were there but we’ll find out soon enough.”

Window grabbed the young boy by his other arm and together they returned to the barn with their captive between them.

Reserve your copy today!


Sign up to help me spread the word about All Roads Lead to Terror and be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two print copies I'll be giving away when the book is released in print.


Leave a comment letting me know you signed up so I can add your name to the entrant pool

I now have bookmarks available. If you sign up to be notified of updates not only will you receive a free copy of my novel White Walker, I'll  send you a free, autographed bookmark like the one pictured below. ( sorry this offer is only available to persons residing in the lower 48 states :-)










 

Ogden by Corey Abernathy



Cory recently stopped by my blog to share some info about his recently published first novel, 'Ogden' an action packed zombie story set in his home town of Ogden, IL where he lives with his wife Stephanie and daughter Sydney. The two dogs (Indiana and Bailey) that appear in this novel are his own and make quite an impression on readers. This novel acts as a prequel to his upcoming 'Orange Band' series. You can follow Cory on Twitter @Cory_Abernathy.



Ogden


Click on cover for more info or to order

Synopsis:

A seemingly routine accident investigation just outside of the small town of Ogden, IL, pulls Detective Desmond King into a tempest of terror. What Detective King discovers at that scene causes him to realize that something terrible is happening in Ogden and he must act quickly to prevent the town from destroying itself. When Detective King recognizes he has only a small chance left to save any of the 1,200 citizens of Ogden from each other, a new threat presents itself. One that promises to destroy not only the town itself, but everyone within it.

Fridays 5 with KP Smith

I love to read and it was my love for reading that ignited my passion to write. I am currently penning the Growing Pains Series. The First Book Kendra’s Diaries is available for purchase. The Second Book New Beginnings will be available soon. The Third Book Decisions is currently being penned. When I am not reading and writing I have lots of other hobbies to occupy my time. I love Sports football, basketball, tennis, golf yeah basically all of them.

I’m also a big TV watcher (maybe too big? Nah no such thing). I love my soaps; soaper for life love my night time dramas. These are enjoyable and a perk also helps with my creative thinking/writing process. The only thing better than watching my favorite shows is watching it with millions of others via twitter!! I’m a major tweeter!
I also love a good movie. I am a Social Media junkie but it can’t replace some good old fashion talking…love good conversation.
I work in the insurance company by day. I have a wonderful family life including two wonderful sons.

I live in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) home of Mardi Gras, Jazz, great food and Southern Hospitality. WHO DAT!!

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) In 2007 after going through Hurricane Katrina I made several life changing decisions. One of the decisions was to get serious and  to begin to write the book I had been talking about for years.   The book turned into The Growing Pains Series.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Finding the time finding the time finding the time. Once I can find/make the time the rest is a cake walk.


3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) It was the biggest sense of accomplishment I felt since graduating from college. My writing journey has totally transformed the  way I look at success vs. failure. Every time I reach a milestone I know I’m that much closer to fulfilling my dream.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) What a difficult question! In my mind they are one in the same. But if I have to choose one I’m going with story but once you do it successfully great characters can’t be too far behind.   

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) 5 days a week I juggle my daytime job, family, and the daily routines of life while trying to find/make time to write and do marketing. On the weekends it’s much easier to invest time in my writing and I utilize them as much as possible.


Click on cover for more info or to order



Synopsis: Meet Kendra Foster. She’s right in the middle of the roller coaster ride of growing up. Her family seems to be in a permanent state of disarray. High school is right around the corner and there is only one school she wants to attend but it is going to take a miracle for her to go. She finally made the cheerleading team which is the best thing that has happened since forever. But much to her dismay this wreaks havoc in a completely unexpected way. Then she has one year left to get Jamie’s attention yet she hasn’t been able to do that since fourth grade. And with the new girl everyone is going crazy over she doesn’t have much of a chance does she? Life is coming at her from all sides and she is determined to keep it all together. Kendra’s Diaries is the first installment in the Growing Pains series. During the twists, turns, ups and downs Kendra will develop courage, faith and perseverance. She will learn no matter what happens in life always remain positive and never give up. Life has a way of working itself out.




Authors website: http://www.iamkpsmith.com/

All Road Lead to Terror: Chapter 4





Chapter 4

A soft breeze was blowing in from the East carrying with it the stench of burning rubber, and the faint cries of someone in distress, the sound fading in and out of focus as the direction of the wind shifted. Window sat with his back against the wall of the barn, hidden in the deep shadows cast by the light of the full moon that rode across the starry sky. Without light pollution to cloud the sky it looked like a million stars sparkling against the velvety blackness of the night, the cloudy band of the Milky Way cutting a wide swath across the sky.

He hated being alone, and with few exceptions, had found most of the survivors he knew to be tediously consumed with their own minor problems. Troubles that paled in comparison to the reality of the world in which they now lived. Holding his pistol in his lap, the intricate carving on the barrel coarse against the pads of his fingers, he watched the night as it slowly moved by him in an endless parade of shadows that pulsed and throbbed with sinister intent.

With no one to distract him his thoughts began to wander, returning to that cabin in the woods. He felt small, helpless, as the old images blossomed from the bleak depths of his memories. With his minds eye he saw the interior of the cabin, a simple table next to a fireplace where a roaring fire bathed everything in a yellow light. He could smell the wood smoke as it competed with the stench of unwashed bodies. Four men sat around the table passing around a jar, each taking a drink as it came to them, their voices muted as they spoke in low tones that sounded like the rumble distant thunder. Their words indistinct, their features cast in shadows as they ignored his presence and concentrated on the contents of the jar.

The sound of shuffling steps came from the shadowy depths of the back room. Something moved in the blackness and Window was suddenly overcome with a need to vomit, his stomach twisting with terror at the secrets that lay shrouded by the gloom.

The sound of a door opening pulled him from his thoughts and he looked up as Meat stepped out into the shadows beside Window, pulling him from his thoughts, washing away the image in his mind as a face materialized in the blackness. A face he recognized, twisted into the leer of a wild beast, with glowing eyes that bored into the very depths of his soul.

Window wiped his hand across his brow, trying to extinguish the images in his mind as Meat lowered himself to the ground next to him.

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” Window said as the last vestiges of those remembered images faded into the nighted abyss of his past.

“Did Billie Bob wake you in time?” Meat said.

As he turned to glance at Meat he saw it for a brief moment from the corner of his eye. A lone figure watching them from the shaded depths of the forest that bordered an overgrown field that lay awash in the pale light of the full moon. He looked back, searching for the figure, catching sight of a darker shadow as it shifted its position.

“Ssshhhh,” Window said placing his finger against his lips as he whispered, “there’s something out there.”

“Where?”

“In the tree line to the right of the old tractor.” Window pointed and Meat squinted, as he looked into the shadowy depths of the tree line beyond the old tractor sitting abandoned in the center of the field.

A deeper shadow moved in the gloom and Meat quietly slipped off his boots.

“Do you think he can see us?”

“I don’t know.”

“Keep him in sight, I’m gonna slip around whoever it is.”

“What if it’s a Zombie?” Window asked as Meat slipped out of his jacket and got to his feet.

“Then I’ll kill it,” Meat said before he vanished into the shadows.

Window watched his progress, what he could see of it, Meat had become one with the shadows that were gathered close to the outbuildings occupying the open spaces of the small yard. It wasn’t long before Window lost sight of him and he shook his head as he shifted his position, making just enough noise to keep whoever was watching interested.

He reacquired the target and settled back to watch, glancing to the right every so often as he searched for any sign of Meat. It was as if he’d become a ghost, and Window swore again he was going to have to have him teach him that trick.

All Roads Lead to Terror is currently available for pre order, reserve your copy today.


Sign up to be notified when a new post goes live, Click Here



New Release: Strange by Mark Taylor


Are dreams made of jello or of blackened hearts? What are the four shadows? From a career defined by darkness comes the unexplained, the unbelievable and the shocking.

Mark Taylor’s Strange is a collection of six. Six tales of woe, six tales of terror, six layers of hate. But more, so much more, they are the answers in the darkness, the shades no longer grey...or are they?

Within the trials of Networking and the totalitarian Total Entertainment are the terrifying consequences of technology, and Eternal Light sees the world extinct.  Inside and Elizabeth toy with the mind, and that just leaves Dead Game where you might like what you find.

Come, come and visit...come and play...where we are all a little...Strange.


Click on cover for more info or to order

Excerpt:
“Welcome to the Consternation Lounge.”

The calm, soothing voice of the Company echoed along the corridor as the door slid open silently. Massi looked to the ceiling as he listened to it. It was supposed to be a woman, but it was a machine. You could tell.

On the other side of the door a woman waited. She was real, he surmised. She was wearing a slim close-fitting trouser suit, her blond hair tied in a tight bunch at the back of her head. “Mr. Rubens?” She asked, smiling pleasantly, but she knew exactly who he was.

“Yes.” He returned the smile.

“Is this your first time?” The woman stepped forward and held out her hand to show him the way. She couldn’t touch him. That wasn’t allowed. Massi nodded and let her guide him. She led him across the shiny metal floor of the suite—perfectly smooth—his bare feet padding on the warm surface, to the single reclined booth. “There’s nothing to worry about. Have you experienced any of Absorption Entertainment’s catalogue?”

He eyed the booth nervously. “Yeah. ‘Bout two years back I tried one of the Darcy line. The booth looked different to this though.”

“Yes,” the woman nodded, “with each scenario the expected physical reaction is different. Darcy is a much mellower journey.”

“So, what will happen this time?”

“Oh, there really is nothing to worry about.” She gestured to the seat in the booth, “Please. I’ll set up the Experience.”

Massi pushed his doubts aside and slid into the booth, sitting back. This was too expensive to change your mind at the last minute. And besides, it was Absorption Entertainment. The last entertainment company left.

“Now,” she said, “as you have done this before do you want me to run through the procedures?” When he shook his head she continued. “When the play begins your vision will be altered, but not be too disoriented by it. If the last time you rented an Experience was two years ago, you should notice the wonder of the new Integrated Cerebral Platform,” She looked him in the eyes—she was attractive enough that he could have been aroused by her doing so, but she was staring deep beyond his face—looking into him.

“How long will it last?” he asked.

“Around two hours.” She smiled and tilted her head to the side like an air stewardess pandering to a frightened flier.

Then she was gone.

Massi had blinked from one reality to another.

The area smelled wretched. He couldn’t tell when or where he was, but the soft ground was covered in slicks of oil and grime. It looked like the pictures he had seen from the war. From within the darkness came a shuffling of feet…a mutter…followed by several moans.

The woman watched Massi’s vitals as he sank into The Experience, his fingers curling unconsciously around the arms of the booth. She slipped her hand into the Communications Imprint Device, the CIm-Dev, and interfaced with AI. “Client Rubens 4071 is in play.” A holographic countdown coagulated into being above Massi’s twitching body. It read 01:58:15.

She would return when his story was finished.

Giveaway 



About the Author:

Mark Taylor's debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark's work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.

Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.
 




Building a cover

As an independent author with limited resources, what I’m able to save to put into my writing is used to have my work edited before it is released. As such I’m unable to afford the covers I would like to see on my work so for the past couple of years I’ve been designing my own, while teaching myself how to use Photoshop to create covers. I’m pretty damned proud of what I came up with for All Roads Lead to Terror. I wanted to touch the potential reader on an emotional level while at the same time showing that the story within the covers was about leaving your childhood behind as one stepped into adulthood. Of course what better way of showing innocence lost than with an abandoned teddy bear. I tried several different routes, all with little success, until I staged the photo myself.




The original idea:



And the end result.



Getting from point A to point B was a very interesting journey, there was a lot of going back and forth with a couple of designers who were gracious enough to offer suggestions and feedback to help me realize what I had originally envisioned. Not to mention the feedback I received on here as well as on Facebook and Goodreads. Everybody was so helpful and I am so appreciative of the time they took to help me out.

I picked up the stuffed bear from Goodwill for a couple of bucks. When I carried him out of the store he was in pretty good shape. Once I got him home it got a little interesting, even though I look like a grumpy old man, I can be rather emotional at times.



I believe a writer has to be very much in touch with their emotions in order to properly convey the feelings of their characters on the page. It was this familiarity with my own emotions that stopped me at first from doing what I knew I had to do. It’s just a stuffed bear, I kept telling myself. That might have been but before he went to live at the Goodwill it was obvious a child had taken good care of him.

In the end I quickly removed his left leg and ear. A bit of black paint and some hard rubbing gave me the look I wanted for with his fur, a matted, unwashed appearance. Adding the sling was a final touch to show that though he had been abandoned at one time he’d been cherished by a child that shared its sorrow for a world turned upside down.




He has no name, yet. But his sacrifice has earned him a place of honor in my office, he sits on the top shelf of my bookcase, watching over my shoulder as I work, occasionally he will sit in my lap as I write, to help me connect with the emotions that I strive to bring to the page. He will also appear on every subsequent cover in the Dreadland Chronicles series.

He serves as a constant reminder of what I hope to achieve with The Dreadland Chronicles that will focus not on the brutality of the world in which they live, but the undying hope of the young as they struggle to rebuild a shattered world that has been left to them, and make a better place for those who will follow.



All Roads Lead to Terror: Chapter Three





The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Chapter 3 


In a world without electricity night descended rather quickly. After burying the old man’s wife and daughter they returned to the front porch and made preparations to move on a bit before setting up camp. The old man, who had exhausted most of his sorrow before they arrived, would hear none of this, and after introducing himself properly he insisted that they stay for the night.

His name was Gregory and before the awakening he’d been the manager of a home improvement store just outside of Richmond. When the shit his the fan he had taken his wife and young daughter to his cabin in the mountains West of Richmond to ride everything out. Unfortunately the Zombies turned out to be the least of his troubles. They’d been found and driven from their home by a group of men and women who were better armed, and far more savage than he.

Sitting around the kitchen table, with several candles providing their light, Gregory finished his story and looked at each of them expectedly, his hands folded on the table before him.

“You lived in the world before all this happened?” Einstein said.

“We were in our thirties when it happened, our daughter was five.”

“So you know about fast food and grocery stores, what were they like? Could you really get a whole meal in less than a minute?” Billie Bob said.

Gregory shrugged, “absolutely, in the city there was a fast food joint on practically every corner.”

“That’s amazing, man I wish I could have seen that,” Billie-Bob said.

“Where are you four from?”

Window and Meat exchanged glances, Window tilted his head slightly and Meat agreed. “We’re from a place upriver called Bremo Bluff.”

“I’ve heard of it,” Gregory said, “isn’t there a co-generation plant there?”

“What’s a co-generation plant?” Window said.

“A place that makes electricity.”

“Yeah, we have electricity, we use it to make fresh water too,” Billie Bob said and Window scowled as Meat shrugged. They’d learned long ago to be cautious about what information they shared with strangers.

“What about libraries?” Meat said.

“What about them?”

“Do you know where one might be, one that hasn’t been torched or destroyed?”

Gregory shook his head, “I’m sorry, libraries weren’t exactly at the top of my list of priorities when I was trying to protect my family. How do you know about libraries?”

“An old lady where I live, she has a room filled with books, but they’re story books, not real books you can learn anything from. She does have a set of encyclopedias but they’re from the fifties. She told me about libraries.”

“You can read?”

“Of course, to live where we live it’s required, everyone has a job to do to ensure the survival of the group, and you have to be able to read to follow instructions.”

“Don’t they have any other books?”

“Only technical manuals for running the plant, how to books about making things, those sort of books. I’d like to read about our history, what the world was like before all this happened,” Meat said with a shrug.

“Do the children work?”

“Everyone has to work.”

“Then why are you outside?”

“The parents of the children who had been kidnapped hired us to find them. They agreed to take on our jobs until we return.”

“And if you don’t.”

Meat smiled at this, “we’ve been going outside the fence for over two years now, staying close, but scavenging what we could find. We know the risks we’re taking, but I know the other three with me, I know what we’re capable of, and I’m pretty confident we will return to Bremo Bluff with the children.”

“What about the kids who took them, what do you plan to do to them?”

“Nothing if they stay out of our way.”

“Why are you doing this? Are they paying you?”

Meat shook his head, “we’re doing it because we want to help, and if we’re successful we may be able to convince the council to award us a scavenging slot.”

“A scavenging slot?”

“There are scavenging teams that search for necessities beyond the fence, each one is assigned a particular item to look for and bring back.”

“So you’re doing this more for yourself?”

“Not really, I mean getting a slot would be nice, but even if it wasn’t available, we’d probably still be doing it.

“That’s pretty altruistic of you.”

“What does that mean?” Window said.

“It means we’re generous,” Meat said.

Window shrugged, “speak for yourself, I’m in it to find bullets and guns, you can never have too many guns.”

“Don’t mind Window, he hates Zombies and practically everybody else.”

“Why do they call him Window?”

“It’s a name we came up with for him, since he’s so open about his past, he’s as clear as a window.”

“I take it you’re being sarcastic.”

“Absolutely.” Meat smiled. “By the way, my name’s Meat, that’s Einstein on Window’s left and at the end of the table is Billie Bob.” Each of them in turn nodded their head as Meat pointed at them.

“Whatever happened to regular names, you know like Don and Mark, and Fred and Pete?” Gregory said with a bewildered expression,

“According to my Dad I was born during the awakening, my mom said I was nothing more than meat so that’s what they started calling me. I don’t think I was ever given a real name. Besides it fits, aren’t we all just walking bags of meat?”

“That’s a pretty dismal view of the world.”

“It’s a pretty dismal world in which we live.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” Gregory said, “I can understand Einstein, he’s the smartest, right?”

Meat nodded in agreement.

“But why Billie Bob?”

Meat smiled, “he’s one half of a set of twins, his name is Billie, and his brother’s name is Bobbie. When they were younger they would trade places with each other so everyone started calling them Billie Bob as they were never sure which of the twins they were really talking to.”

“How did it happen?” Billie Bob said.

“How did what happen?”

“The awakening? They told us in class it was because of a virus, that a company was trying to make a biological weapon that mutated into the virus. But they never really gave us any more details.”

“I don’t think anyone is really sure what happened. I know it started in a small town outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, some said a train had derailed and one of the tankers carrying government cargo was ruptured. Others claimed a military transport plane had crashed into the woods outside the town. There were some who believed it was tied to Ebola that had been out of control in South Africa.

“Most of the people fled from the area, carrying the virus that quickly spread around the world. The next thing we knew anyone who had recently died woke up. Hospital morgues, funeral homes, places where those who had recently died were stored, saw the dead attacking the living.

“Panic set in as people fled from the cities. The normal restraints of civilization crumbled and it became a dog eat dog world. The undead were only half the problem, survivalists and militia groups who had been waiting for something like this to happen went on killing sprees. It was crazy, if you weren’t dead, or didn’t belong to one of the groups that sprung up in the aftermath, you were a target.”

“Just like now,” Meat said, “most of our problems come from survivors instead of the walking dead.”

“Man’s inhumanity to man, throughout history man has been his own worst enemy.”

“It’s getting late, if we want to get started by first light we need to get some sleep.”

“There’s plenty of floor space,” Gregory said, “just grab a spot.”

“Do you have any objections to us sleeping in your barn?” Meat said.

“No, but I don’t understand why.”

“Call it a precaution, I’ll take the first watch, Einstein you’ll be second, Billie Bob third, and Window you can wake me for the last two hours.”

“I can handle it.”

“I know you can, I’ll sit with you, keep you company.”

“If that’s what you want.”

Meat nodded as he pushed himself away from the table. He stuck his hand out for Gregory, “it’s been a pleasure, and thank you for your hospitality.”

“The pleasure was all mine, when do you plan to set out in the morning?”

“Early, I’d like to be gone before the sun comes up.”

The others pushed away from the table and crossed to the front door where they waited for Meat who led them to the barn.

End

If you enjoyed this sample I'd really appreciate it if you could throw your support behind the Thunderclap campaign I've started for All Roads Lead to Terror, the first book in the Dreadland Chronicles. It's really easy to do. Follow this link: All Roads Lead to Terror Thunderclap

If you'd like to be notified when my blog updates with new releases from other authors, author interviews, or new chapters of my upcoming releases sign up here: Updates


Fridays 5 with Pamela Crane

Pamela Crane is a North Carolinian writer of the best-selling psychological thriller The Admirer’s Secret, A Fatal Affair, and A Secondhand Life. Along with being a wife and mom of three rug rats, she is a wannabe psychologist, though most people just think she needs to see one. She’s a member of the ITW, ACFW, and EFA, and has been involved in the ECPA, Christy Awards, and Romance Writers of America. Along with delving into people’s minds—or being the subject of their research—she enjoys being a literary reviewer and riding her proud Arabian horse, when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of more good story material. Grab a free book on her website at www.pamelacrane.com, or check her out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I first started “competitive” writing at 8 years old when I wrote a poem dedicated to my grandfather after he died, which I submitted to a poetry contest and won $200. Though sadly, my mom didn’t let me spend it all on candy. I never stopped writing after that, but my next serious writing venture came after a traumatic stalker experience (no, I wasn’t the one doing the stalking, although my husband is convinced I stalked him, which I avidly deny) in which writing became my therapy. That “therapy” turned out to be my debut thriller novel, The Admirer’s Secret.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Writing comes naturally for me. I even became a publishing house editor because of my passion for the written word. However, for me it’s the time constraints that are the hardest to get around. I have three kids ages four and under, plus baby #4 on the way, so as you can imagine, finding time to write is tough. But I have a supportive family that gives me dedicated writing time—a must-have for this momma, since writing is the only alone time I get, and it keeps me sane!

Click on cover for more info or to order

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) There is nothing more thrilling than seeing your own words released to the public. Was I nervous it wouldn’t sell and end up a flop? Yes—it’s every writer’s worst nightmare. Was I prepared for the amount of post-writing work involved? No—I never even thought about marketing before. I only wanted to write. But it’s been a fantastic learning curve, and after putting the time and effort in, I’m finally able to reap the benefits of quitting my editorial day job to focus on writing.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) How can I pick? Characters without an emotional dynamic are flat, and a story without tension and release is boring. I think both are crucial to a story that leaves a footprint on the reader—characters we can relate to and a story that grips us.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) Chaos. I wake up to at least one whining kid and spend most of my day in a whirlwind of changing diapers, making meals, cleaning messes, distilling fights, and juggling demands. It’s not until after bedtime when I can sit down and relax, which usually consists of reading, writing, or catching up on work and e-mails (I still work part-time for a publisher since it prevents my mind from turning into mush from dealing with the kids every day). J

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Secondhand-Life-Pamela-Crane-ebook/dp/B00SU9NO9M/



Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-secondhand-life-pamela-crane/1121277910?ean=9781940662046
 
Website: www.pamelacrane.com
Blog: www.pamelacrane.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Crane/e/B00FOS91AI
Facebook:


www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52

All Roads Lead to Terror: Chapter Two



The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Chapter 2 

With a practiced ease earned over years of exploring the wilds around the compound where he now lived, Meat moved silently through the trees, following a straight line with Einstein and Window fanning out to his flanks. He wasn’t sure what to expect. It could be a few of the raiding party hanging back, waiting for them to pass through before following them in the hopes of catching then in a cross fire. Or it could be another survivor out traveling the empty roads in search of kindred spirits.

Nearing a clearing he stopped and dropped to a kneeling position. Ahead of him a lone house stood surrounded by empty fields, a ramshackle old structure with paint peeling from its outer walls, exposing the weathered wood beneath. Several of the windows had been covered with boards and the roof of the front porch was sagging in the middle.

A small trickle of smoke rose from the lone chimney.

Motioning for the others to stay back and indicating to Billie-Bob that he should get ready, he quietly approached the house. Reaching the tree line he stopped when he spotted a barn with a corral along one side. Two people stood in the corral, side by side at the fence, the top part of their bodies rocking back and forth in tine with one another.

They were dressed like women but he couldn’t get a clear look at their faces to be sure as they were facing away from him. They each wore a dress, the hem covered in mud that was slowly drying. They were barefoot, their hands resting on the top rail of the fence as they watched the house with unwavering gazes.

Cautiously Meat moved along the side of the corral. The women remained unaware as he slowly approached, his eyes never leaving their backs, and the house beyond them, watching for any sign of movement at any of the windows.

He noticed that they both had stopped rocking back and forth, their backs becoming ramrod straight, yet their hands remained in place on the top rail of the corral. As he got closer one of the women turned with a growl deep in her throat. The flesh of her face was gray, her eyes white with cataracts, filthy teeth half hidden behind snarling lips.

They had been turned, Meat realized as he faded back from the corral, the other woman followed the first, staggering towards Meat, their hands outstretched as they sought the comfort his body would provide.

“Stop it, both of you.” A shout came from the porch of the dilapidated structure and Meat spotted a large man standing in the open doorway, a rifle resting in the crook of his elbow. The women turned back towards the sound of the man’s voice, staggering to the fence of the corral where they watched him with rapt attention. He stepped out of the shadows, a long salt and pepper beard resting against his chest.

“I see you out there,” the man said, “hiding in the bushes. Come out with your hands up.” He settled the butt of the rifle against his shoulder and took aim through the telescopic sight.

Meat stood up, his hands held comfortably at shoulder height, with his fingers spread wide. It would serve as a signal for Billie Bob to hold fire. Meat was confident he was even now sighting through the scope of his M24, a present from his surrogate parents, the man on the porch squarely in his sights. As long as Meat’s hands remained open, the man on the porch would live. The moment he closed either hand into a fist, Billie Bob would take his shot.

It was a signal they had worked before they started venturing beyond the fence at Bremo Bluff. In this old new world it was not only Zombies one needed to worry about. Other survivors, struggling to live themselves, were a greater risk, as the only law one had to fall back upon was whatever weapons they carried.

“Drop your gun,” the man on the porch said, the muzzle of his rifle unwavering as Meat gazed down its length.

“I can’t do that,” Meat said.

“What do you want?”

“I’m looking for someone, a group of kids.”

“A group of kids?” The muzzle wavered unsteadily.

“They kidnapped several children from the compound where I live, we want them back.”

“What place are you talking about? Where do you live?”

“I can’t tell you that.” Meat was about to close his hand into a fist, worried that the large man on the porch was getting tired and might accidentally squeeze off a shot. The man lowered his rifle and sat down heavily on the top step.

“I tried to stop them,” the man said.

“Who?” Meat said as he approached the man.

“Those kids you’re looking for, they’re not children, oh they’re small all right, and they look just like kids, but they’re not. They’re savages. That’s what threw Maggie off. One of them came out of the forest several days ago, he was pretending like he was hurt, Maggie went to help him, and the others, they just came out of the forest. She tried to run.” Several tears traced wet paths down his cheeks as he relived that moment in his mind. “She ran, but they were too fast. Shelly tried to help her but there were too many of them.”

“Who are Maggie and Shelly?”

The man looked at him, the sorrow of the world resting upon his slumped shoulders. “They were my wife and daughter,” he said as his gaze drifted to the two women in the corral, “I knew I needed to take care of them, do the right thing, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, not to the woman I spent my life with, or the child I swore to protect.”

It all made sense now and Meat signaled for the others to come up. As they emerged from the forest the old man spotted them and suddenly became alarmed. “What do you want?”

“We’re not here to hurt you, I promise, we smelled the wood smoke and came to see what was going on.”

He reached for his rifle and Meat put his hand on the barrel.

“I don’t have anything you want.”

“We’re not after anything old man, we just want to find those kids, get our own kids back. Which way did they go?” He asked, trying to get the man’s mind off of his current line of thought.

“East,” the old man said as he warily watched the other three approach.

“We can help you,” Meat said, “if you need us to.”

“How? You’re nothing more than a child yourself?”

Meat shrugged, some people still held onto their old beliefs, unwilling to accept the reality in which they lived. Judging by the man’s age he had lived before the awakening so he still clung to the old viewpoint that children should not concern themselves with adult matters. “Your wife and daughter, they should have peace.”

The man’s eyes widened in shock as he leaned back in an attempt to escape Meat’s observation. “What do you know about anything? You’re just a damned kid.”

“I know they need to be put to rest. Everyone of us learned at a very young age that the only cure for what they have is a bullet to the brain.”

“That’s my wife and daughter you’re speaking about boy.” His hand strayed to his rifle and Meat rested his foot on the barrel, keeping it in place as the old man looked up at him with water-rimmed eyes.

“Window, you know what needs to be done,” Meat said, never taking his eyes off of the old man, “you should have done this sooner,” he said to the old man. “It’s not your wife and daughter anymore, you know that, why else would you be keeping them locked up in the corral?”

“Shut up, dammit.”

“Does she sleep with you at night? Do you tuck in your daughter with a kiss?”

“Shut the fuck up, you bastard. What do you know about anything?”

“I know I can’t leave them as they are. I know that somewhere deep down they’re begging to be released.”

The old man jumped when a shot shattered the stillness of the day. Several birds took to flight, startled from their roost, flapping away with angry cries as a second shot quickly followed the first. The sound of the shots faded into the distance like thunder. From the North Meat detected the faint sound of an engine growling in the distance, its tone rising and then falling before fading away to silence.

What was that? He wondered briefly before the man shoved him aside and raced down the steps, his boots throwing up little clouds of dust from the bare ground.

“Maggie, Shelly,” the old man said, his voice cracking with emotion. Einstein stood in his way but Meat motioned for him to let the old man go. Sitting down on the top step he waited as the old man’s cries came from the direction of the corral. The others came and joined him.

“Are we gonna bury them?” Window said.

“When he’s ready,” Meat answered as the afternoon slowly marched towards evening. If need be they’d spend the night here before continuing their journey. He knew Window was anxious to get going, not being one who liked to wait on anyone or anything, but Meat understood that it would be best to help the old man once he came to the realization that what they’d done was the best for his wife and daughter.

After waiting an hour they heard the unmistakable sound of a shovel biting into the earth. Led by Meat they crossed the small yard to help the old man lay his family to rest.


End


If you enjoyed this sample I'd really appreciate it if you could throw your support behind the Thunderclap campaign I've started for All Roads Lead to Terror, the first book in the Dreadland Chronicles. It's really easy to do. Follow this link: All Roads Lead to Terror Thunderclap

If you'd like to be notified when my blog updates with new releases from other authors, author interviews, or new chapters of my upcoming releases sign up here: Updates


All Gave Some and Some Gave All

Let us pause for a moment today to remember the heroes both present and past who gave of themselves to serve our great nation by raising their right hand and swearing an oath to protect our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Regardless of whether they stood guard through the dead of night on the Texas plains, or stormed the beaches of Normandy, or rolled into a firefight in Baghdad. These men and women gave of themselves so that others might know the fruits of freedom.










Take a moment today to thank a vet.