Free Read Friday: Covenant Part I

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

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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.

Winter Smith The Secrets of France by J.S. Strange

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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.

After fleeing from London, seventeen-year-old Winter Smith and her surviving friends learn that to survive in Paris means trusting those they don't know. An anti-government, known as The Union, are forming to take on V, a woman who has gained control of the world and has created the dead to establish a new world order.

But surviving in Paris is hard, as those who don't conform to V's new rules are quickly wiped out.

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.
Uncertain where to begin Kosar turns to A'Meer, an ex-lover and Shantasi warrior whose people, unbeknownst to him, have sworn to safeguard magic's return to the land of Noreela.

It is Rafe who bears this miracle of magic.

Now Kosar and a band of unexpected allies embark on a battle to protect one special boy. But horrific dark forces are closing in, and if they take magic for themselves dusk will fall forever.

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.

But when a brutal drug gang comes after the kid, Abel must risk everything to keep him safe and end The Family’s reign of terror, or die trying.

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  I'll be setting up a closed beta readers group on Facebook where everyone participating can share their thoughts. 

Thank you.

Richard Schiver


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

Free Read Friday: Billy, The End

Read the entire story from the start:  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.


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The Dark Tower Movie: Review

I've been a fan of Stephen Kings work since the mid seventies when I was in the military. Anyone who has served knows military service is comprised of long periods of unrelenting boredom punctuated by brief moments of sheer terror. It's during these down times that most people turn to books as a way to pass the time. I was no different and quickly amassed a library of paperbacks that followed me around the world. You always had a book handy for when it was time to hurry up and wait.

I see you there in the corner nodding your head, you understand what I'm talking about.

As a fan I read each of the  Dark Tower books as they were released, following Roland of Gilead in his travels as he sought out the man in black. So it was with a mix of trepidation and excitement that I watched as The Dark Tower movie came into being. I've seen many of the movies based on his books, and with the exception of The Shining, most were failures. Which I can understand, Stephen King is a writer whose prose tends to draw you into the story, making you feel as if you are a part of the action. A feat that is very difficult to pull off on the screen. There is an intimacy in his work that you either get, or you don't.

So back to my thoughts about the movie.

On my day off I attended the noon showing of The Dark Tower. I'd read the reviews, saw the low ratings on rotten tomatoes, but I had to see for myself. My first clue that things were amiss was when I entered the theater to find only three other people there. About twelve more showed up before the movie started. Of course the time of day could have been a factor, I kept hoping.

To say I'm disappointed in what they did, would be an understatement.

For those who haven't read the dark tower series I believe the movie would be great to see. It's got everything one would want in an action fantasy. The misunderstood child whose dreams are in fact reality. The brooding hero who grudgingly accepts the task of protecting the child. A villain everyone loves to hate, a man who can kill with a word, and doesn't hesitate to do so. And whose only purpose in life is to destroy that which stands in his way, while at the same time taking down the hero. 

The use of the children to attack the tower was reminiscent of The Shining and its sequel Doctor Sleep. Of course that psychic ability Uncle Steve refers to as The Shine, and alternate realities are a common thread that populates much of his work.

But if you've been a King follower for any length of time you will likely be sorely disappointed by the movie. While it's an action packed thrill ride that adheres to the main thread of the series, with impressive special effects, and likable characters, it falls far short of the depth and breadth of the book series. It might have been better to not even link it to the series, instead of saying based on The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, in the opening credits maybe they should have went with inspired by.

But there's enough there I believe, to draw new readers to the series to find out what all the fuss is about.

The previews for IT were astounding. Hopefully it fares much better than The Dark Tower.

Overall I rate the movie a solid 3.5 stars. 

Read for free on Kindle Unlimited


The Dreadland Chronicles is a post apocalyptic dark fantasy inspired by Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, that seeks to answer the following question.

If Roland Deschain was the last gunslinger, who will be the first?

They are three, bound by a fourth, coming together in a post apocalyptic world to confront a growing evil that threatens to destroy mankind once and for all. But can they overcome their own differences in time to save their world, and the fate of all the others?

Fourteen years have passed since the dead walked, and obscurity means survival in an increasingly dangerous world. For the survivors compound at Bremo Bluff that obscurity is threatened when a group of children are abducted.

Four boys embark on a quest to rescue the children. A journey that will lead them into adulthood, with a brief detour through the Dreadlands, as they come face to face with the harsh reality of a brutal world beyond the barriers that had served to protect them.

In the dead city of Richmond they will face a savage cult who worship a creature of the night. They are not gods, nor are they demons. Born of despair these creatures lived along the shadowy edges of our well lit world. Where misery dwelt hand in hand with anguish.

When the dead walked, and man fled the cities to the east, he left behind an offspring of man’s despair. Once viewed as the nightmare imaginings of a fevered mind, these creatures were now awake in a world where the population that served as their food source has been severely reduced.

Awake, and very, very, hungry.

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This Week in Horror 8/9/2017

The Secret of the Sculptures by Monika Thakur

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Lifelong friends Aditi and Maitreyi meet up in Delhi when Maitreyi returns for her holidays. The holidays start with innocent fun but before long the girls are embroiled in the theft of a priceless sculpture that is stolen from Aditi’s college. Mr. Seth, a mysterious stranger with hypnotic eyes, keeps crossing their path. For him, the sculpture seems to be more than just a relic of history. Events unfold rapidly which make the girls become the prime suspects of a heist. As if being at the center of crime and priceless history was not enough, the girls realize that there is a supernatural element to the sculptures that is directing the fates of everyone involved. What will the outcome be?

All in a Days Work by Brian Francis Slattery

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Magic is real . . . and hungry.

The new, secret Team Four-Asanti, Perry, and Frances-plans a small experiment with magic in order to test their control. But the magical servants they summon keep going . . . and going . . . and interpret Asanti's orders in a much more extreme way than intended. The Orb summons Team Three, and while Menchú and the others are able to contain the damage, they're left wondering just who started this outbreak-and who the servants were working for.

Things have changed for the Vatican's magic-fighting Team Three: their forces are depleted, and internal rifts are coming close to tearing this close-knit group apart. But some things never change. Magic still threatens to overwhelm our world, and when a startling appearance from Menchú's past reveals new dimensions to this danger, the team will have to reassess their loyalties-to their jobs, their beliefs, and even to each other.

The 7-8-9's by Todd C Elliott

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After an incident involving an escaped mental patient in upstate New York, Leslie Parkhurst tries to forget her deadly encounter with an elderly woman named Mament. Leslie and her brother, Declan, soon discover that Mament was part of the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which now has become a secret, religious sect within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) known to conspiracy theorists as "The 7-8-9s."

The Muse by Arjay Lewis

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Famed novelist Jack Court has a secret: the wealthy writer is a serial killer. He has another hidden treasure, a small antediluvian creature that dwells within his body and gives him youth, strength and a superhuman ability to avoid capture. On his trail is Sheriff Neil Trajan, who is certain Court murdered his wife three years earlier.
When the author is hit by a careless driver, the creature leaves him and through a series of events, ends up with lowly writer, Harold Godwine. Godwine begins to write faster and better, but is troubled by dreams of blood.
However, Jack is healing and devolving into something not quite human. As Court seeks the young author, he leaves a trail of destruction, pursued by Trajan and his FBI associate, Bill Morris.
Will Jack Court do anything to retrieve the companion that inspires his dark desires?

Lay Her Ghosts to Rest by Eda J. Vor

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The veil has been lifted and spirit counselor Catori Khan has been tasked with sending a never-ending stream of wayward spirits off to their final destination. But where she excels in communicating with ghosts, she falls short with the living and no amount of empathy can help mend her broken connections. It’s not until she recognizes the negative patterns of behavior in her work and her social life that she can move forward, practicing self-care and sympathy, and form healthy, fulfilling relationships both professionally and personally.

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Free Read Friday: Billy Part VI

Billy is being stubborn. Only 630 words this week. Apparently he does not want this story to end.  But the end is coming whether he likes its or not.

To read the entire story up to this point click here BILLY!


Part VI

“We’re home.”

“No we’re not,” she said as she shook her head. “have you looked around, do you know why nothing’s working like it’s supposed to?

Billy shrugged as his gaze was drawn once again to the poster over her bed. The shadows beneath the tree were moving in a slow, sinuous dance, slithering over and around one another with the patience of  one who was certain they would win. They had all the time in the world, and Billy was sure theirs was running out.

“I don’t have much longer,” she said as she lifted her hand, the flesh had grown translucent and he saw the faint outline of the bones of her hand, the dark lines that were the tendons, muscles and veins. In fact everything about her was taking on an ethereal air and the darkness from the poster behind her head was showing through her face. “I’ve been here too long.”

“Where are we?”

“We’re trapped between the ticks of a clock, within a slice of time that will slowly fade to nothingness, the echo of a moment that happened in the past. We have to go back, we can’t hide here much longer.”

The darkness of the poster had grown more pronounced through the reflection of her face and he realized they were both about to become lost forever. Lifting his own hand he saw the poster through his semi-transparent flesh.

“I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be.” She smiled, “I’ll be with you no matter what happens.”

“You promise.”

“Have I ever lied to you, no, don’t answer that,” she said as she held up her hand.

“What happened?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you kill yourself?”

“I,” she began then stopped, searching it seemed for the right way to phrase it, how did one explain the reasoning behind such an act?

“It all started in my dreams,” she said, choosing her words carefully as she recounted her story, “right after Dad got me the poster. They were calling to me, those things that lived in the shadows beneath the tree, and I went to them, freely at first. Later I had no choice, I had to go to them. They owned me then. I knew there was no escape, well there was one way, but it was permanent. When they started threatening to take mom, and dad, and you, I knew I had no options left. I’d entertained them as long as possible but they quickly grew bored with me.”

“What are they?”

Here she shrugged, “I don’t know, really, they always came to me as shadowy shapes that never stayed in one form for very long. I know they’re older than the cosmos. They’ve been around longer than the stars in the sky.”

“Does the light hurt them?”

She shook her head, her shoulders slumped, as her face grew even more transparent, and the shadows of the poster behind her grew even darker.

“We better get going, we don’t have much time left,” she said as she lifted her hand in front of her face and smiled at him through it.

Pushing himself down from her bed he crossed to the poster and stood staring at it for a moment. He saw those dark shapes dancing beneath the tree as a chill danced along his spine. He didn’t want to go in there, not with them, but what choice did he have. If they didn’t do anything soon they would both fade away to nothing.

Taking a deep breath he lifted his hand and pointed at the poster with his index finger. As before he touched the surface of the poster that resisted him for a moment before it slipped past the surface, into that nether region where the shadows of the night waited.

To Be Continued!

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New This Week 8/2/2017

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Step right up, enjoy the show, and pay no attention to the eyes watching from the darkness.

The carnival is back in town, and for Jack Heldon, that's not a good sign. Since the last time it had come to the small and quiet Lensfield, Connecticut, he’s been plagued with nightmares of burning walls, raspy chuckles, and fiery red eyes in the dark. Ted Barton’s killing spree is still fresh in his mind, and Jack knows the carnival was behind it all.

Now it’s back for more.

But the people of Lensfield are none the wiser. As they are drawn into the lights and music of Ebenezer’s Carnival, evil begins to feed again. Jack and his friends are forced to come face to face with the horrors of their past, and the evil that tore them apart. While trying to break the carnival’s hold, they quickly realize that debts must be paid, and promises cannot be ignored.

Because there’s no escaping the clutches of Ebenezer's Carnival and the screams within.

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The second in HellBound Books' flagship horror anthology - this one bursting at the seams with even more fantastically dark horror from the cream of the rising stars in today's horror scene!
Featuring: Tracey A. Cross, Charles Tillerman, Elizabeth Zemlicka, Matthew Gillies, Spinster Essie, Stephen Clements, Ken Goldman, Nathan Robinson, K.M. Campbell, Cody Grady, Sebastian Bendix, Leo X. Robertson, David Owain Hughes, Timothy McGivney, Kane Gordon, Todd Sullivan, Mike Mayak, Edward Ahern, Rose Garnett, Jaap Bolkestein, Brandy Delight, Stanley B. Webb, D. Norfolk, Thomas Gunther.

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They have worked behind the scenes of society for centuries, protecting humans from threats beyond their understanding. They are The Shadow Council, and these Archives are the stories of their members and adventures throughout recorded history. From folk heroes to monsters out of darkest nightmare, the Shadow Council Archives explore the world beyond mundane understanding.

He is the original horror novel. He is the first science fiction hero. He is Adam, creation of Victor Frankenstein, and he is more than dead, but less than alive. And he is being hunted.

From the pages of the Quincy Harker novellas comes this original tale of Adam, Frankenstein's monster, in his earliest days. Wandering Europe shortly after the death of his "father," Victor, Adam encounters a secret society determined to unlock the mysteries of life and death. He's seen this obsession before. It never ends well.

Blood, lust, life, death, and friendship are all explored in this incredible look into the mind of the original monster.

This Shadow Council urban fantasy novella comes from the world of Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter. Similar in length to Bookshots, these novellas provide a glimpse behind the curtain at an urban fantasy world where demons walk the earth, and the monster may well be the hero.

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They all wait on their own terms, trapped within their self proclaimed utopia, waiting for an even better utopia. Or, at least, that's what they believe. There is one who has made promises to them, but some of them believe they have deluded themselves while others believe they have doomed themselves. The whole time they have waited, they argued who is right. Meanwhile, the only daughter born from their generation waits for something she knows nothing about, only that there is something to wait for. Has their waiting come to an end when a stranger shows up unconscious on their doorstep? What will some of them do to insure they get the ending they want?

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For thirty years, Elaina has sat in her tower, fingers caught in an eternal dance, cursed to weave the tapestry of life on her loom. Bound by an enchanted mirror whose magic shows her the distant lives of the people of Camelot, she must forever watch a land which remains ever beyond her reach. Elaina despairs that she will ever experience more than just the shadows of life, until one day a face appears in the mirror that will change her life, and possibly her fate, forever.

Guinevere is losing her mind. When a severe injury to her head nearly kills her and awakens alternate personalities suppressed from her past, Guinevere learns that one of them is plotting with a knight of the round table to murder King Arthur and take control of Camelot. In the midst of war, Guinevere fights to save both her own life and the man she loves, each day coming closer to succumbing to the violent personalities within her.

Inspired by Arthurian legend and Lord Alfred Tennyson’s ballad, “The Lady of Shalott”, Woven spins a tale of two women who must risk everything to save those they love most into an epic of enchantment, love, and madness.

Free Read Friday: Billy Part V

Read Billy from the start. BILLY


Part V

Reaching the hallway much sooner than he wanted, her door stood at the shadowy end. A bleak emptiness illuminated its perimeter as shadowy traces of night flowed through the gap like smoke that hung in the air, twisting and turning over and around one another. The door glowed with a soft white light as it began to swell in the middle, the sound of splintering wood coming to him as he stood rooted in place. It was like it could tell he was standing therem and against his will he was drawn to its bulging surface.

It lay just beyond the door. Drawing him with a sinister voice that spoke to him on a deep primitive level. He knew what waited for him beyond the door, as well as he knew the night, and the terrors it inspired. Shrouded in shadows it moved among the living like an errant thought that brought a brief chill on a warm sunny day. It was the essence of the night, of time immortal, and of a despair that knew no end.

It had claimed Sarah as its own. Driving her to the point of no return, filling her with a deepening sense of hopelessness that offered no light at the end of the tunnel. Driving her to the only option that remained.


It was as old as time itself, this thing that had laid claim to his sister’s soul, gathering her to it like a farmer reaping its fields. Walking among the living, spreading a boundless despair as it gathered the souls of those too weak to combat its touch.

Ebony traces of emptiness slithered through the shadows toward him, keeping to the dark corners as they sought out the essence of his life.

“Do you believe?” his sister whispered in his thoughts.

Believe in what? He wondered as he moved the length of the hallway, getting closer to her swelling door with every hesitant step. Here those shadowy tendrils of night caressed his legs with black tips that left a chilled touch in their wake. Every touch awakened an old memory that rose from the nighted abyss of his sub conscious, trailing oily bubbles of fear as it breached the light of his awareness, filling him with that overwhelming emptiness of despair.

He loved her, he knew it as well as he knew his own name. Though at times she had been brutally indifferent to his feelings, he still loved her as only a younger brother could love his older sister.

Each memory that rose to the surface of his consciousness contained a snapshot of her disdain for his existence. He saw her as she flipped her head impatiently as she walked away from him. She had no time for her younger brother, she had a life to live, people to meet, pleasures to yet enjoy.

Yet for each slight that rose to his consciousness, there lay another memory that stood in sharp contrast.

Her frantic terror the day he had become lost at the mall and she along with their parents had spent a hectic half hour searching for him.

Therein lay the key. His secret, his belief.

“Do you believe?” She asked with an urgent voice.

It was then he realized she was waiting for him on the other side of the door, trapped in the ebony grasp  of a ferocious beast that could turn any happiness into an endless despair. A creature that existed only in shadows, avoiding the light of day, of reason, and most importantly, the blinding light of love.

He loved her as she loved him, a love only siblings could truly understand. As he moved down the hall, deeper into the shadows, the gloominess was pushed back by a faint white light that came from everywhere, and nowhere. He was like a shining beacon pushing back the night, exposing those shadowy corners where nightmares held sway over the light of reason.

Those shadowy tendrils of night retreated in the face of his approach, drawing back to the door to vanish into the darkness that outlined its soft white façade. As he was reaching for the knob he realized the light was coming from within him. Filling him with calm as that crashing sound came from the other side of  his sister’s door.

It was waiting for him.

Taking a deep breath he turned the knob and pushed into the room.

She was sitting on the bed, her knees drawn up under her chin, watching him with wide, terror filled eyes.

“They’re out there,” she whispered as he crossed to her.

From the poster on the wall behind her came the sound of some massive beast as it crashed through the forest. Along the edges of the poster faint tendrils of night slithered over and around one another in a primitive dance to a forgotten god.

Billy took her hand and tried to lead her to her door.

“No,” she said as he yanked her hand from his grasp. “Not that way.”

“How?” he asked and she turned her head to look at the poster on the wall behind her. “It’s the only way.”

He recalled how it had felt, his finger vanishing beneath the surface of the poster, the cold chill that had crept the length of his arm, the soft whispers that invaded his thoughts. How could he touch it again?

“I can’t,” he said as he backed away.

“But we have to, we can’t stay here.”

“Why not, it’s where we belong.”

“You don’t understand do you?”

“Understand what?”

“We’re not where you think we are.”

To be continued!

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New this Week 7/26/2017

There are a couple of interesting anthologies this week. Definitely worth checking out.

Dark Rites by Heather Graham

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A series of bizarre assaults is mystifying Boston police: an unknown attacker is viciously beating random strangers and leaving a note quoting an old warning about witchcraft. History professor Alex Maple was one of the victims, and now he's gone missing. Vickie Preston is certain that someone has taken her friend for malicious purposes. She's having blood-drenched visions that seem to be staining her waking life, and the escalating attacks suggest that a dangerous cult is at work behind the scenes—a cult so powerful that its members would rather die than be apprehended.

Vickie is grateful to have Special Agent Griffin Pryce and the FBI's elite Krewe of Hunters on her side. She and Griffin are finding their way in an increasingly passionate relationship, and Griffin is desperately trying to keep her safe and the two of them sane amid the disturbing investigation. The search for Alex will take them deep into the wilderness of Massachusetts on the trail of a serial killer, and it will take everything they have to survive the ancient evil that awakens and threatens not just the man they're striving to save but their very souls.

Bloodstone Book 2 by M.V. Stott & David Bussell

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Joseph Lake doesn’t know who he is or where he comes from, but he’s beginning to learn that the answer might just be the death of him.
Horror, humor, and fast-paced action collide in this thrilling urban fantasy series from the Uncanny Kingdom.

My name is Joseph Lake and I’m a warlock. Yes, this came as something of a surprise to me, too. Up until a few days ago, the worst thing I’d had to deal with was mopping up vomit from the floor of the hospital I work at, but now it seems that monsters and demons exist, and I’m expected to mop those up too.

There’s just one problem: I can barely pull off a convincing card trick, let alone toss around magical lightning bolts, which would be fine if I didn't have to contend with killer standing stones, a woman who sold her soul to the Devil, and the unexpected return of a dead sweetheart. I'm telling you, life was a whole lot easier back when I was an oblivious idiot.

Dark Screams Edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

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Robert McCammon, James Renner, Kaaron Warren, Brian Hodge, Bill Schweigart, and Mick Garris reveal sinister secrets and unsavory pasts in a haunting anthology of short stories collected by acclaimed horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.

LIZARDMAN by Robert McCammon
The lizardman thinks he knows about all the mysterious dangers of the Florida swamps, but there are things lurking in the bayou that are older and deadlier than his wildest dreams.

Although every child dreams of visiting Hundred Acre Wood, only one has ever actually frolicked in that fabled forest—and survived.

FURTHEREST by Kaaron Warren
She’s been going to the beach since she was a child, daring the other kids to go out past the dunes where those boys died all those years ago. Now she realizes that the farther out you go, the harder it is to come back.

After the success of their latest album, Sebastián, Sofia, and Enrique head to Mexico for a shoot under the statue of Santa Muerte. But they have fans south of the border who’d kill to know where they get their inspiration.

THE EXPEDITION by Bill Schweigart
On a quest to bring glory to the Führer, Lieutenant Dietrich Drexler leads his team into the ruins of the Carpathian Mountains. But the wolf that’s stalking them is no ordinary predator.

SNOW SHADOWS by Mick Garris
A schoolteacher’s impulsive tryst with a colleague becomes a haunting lesson in tragedy and terror when he’s targeted for revenge by an unlikely, unhinged rival.

Behold Oddities Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders Edited by Doug Murano

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Want to see something weird? Embrace the odd. Satisfy your curiosity. Surrender to wonder.

From Crystal Lake Publishing and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated co-editor of the smash hit Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories comes Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.

Sixteen stories and two poems take you into the spaces between the ordinary—and the imaginations of some of today's masters of dark and thrilling fiction.

  • A travel writer learns the terrible secrets at a hotel that's not at all as it seems.
  • A disfigured woman and her daughter explore methods of weaponizing beauty.
  • An amateur beekeeper acquires an object that shows her the true danger of the hive-mind.
  • Drifters ride the rails seeking something wondrous that could change their fates forever.
  • A strange creature that holds our very existence in its hands shapes the lives of two lovers to touching and devastating effect.
  • A young man helps his grandfather—and something much more monstrous—atone for bargains made during wartime.
  • And much, much more…
Featuring Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Erinn L. Kemper, John F.D. Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy A. Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read and Richard Thomas. Foreword by Josh Malerman. Illustrations by Luke Spooner. Cover art by John Coulthart. Brought to you by Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor Doug Murano and Crystal Lake Publishing. Tales from the Darkest Depths.

The Devil's Agent by John Alexander Steele

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On the day of his sixth birthday, Isaac Gale becomes the victim of a road traffic accident. The boy survives but lies in a coma, with his father dead and his mother lost in grief.

In the darkness only Sebastian, the boy's imaginary friend, can help him. But Sebastian is not a friend to be trusted. He is a dark and powerful force capable of creating terrible nightmares and dark psychological visions in order to prove his worth to the devil, eradicating anyone who stands in his way. Two such people are neurologist Dr. Harish Dhami and nurse Alison Clark, who believe something far more sinister lurks in the damaged mind of their six year old coma patient.

So begins a terrifying struggle between good and evil, reality, fantasy and everything we fear.