Free read Friday: Alone

As promised in my last post I offer you a brief detour through the landscape of my mind. My intent is to weave a tale about superstition, and who would be more superstitious than a miner, after all these men who toil beneath the ground face death almost daily. When they climb onto the car for the trip down, I'm sure they wonder if this will  be the last time they see the sky.

This is a work in progress. Next Friday I'll add to the story, possibly finish it, maybe not as I work to uncover the fossil of the story that lies buried in my mind. Thanks for stopping by and don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments.

So without further adieu, I give you:


It felt as if the weight of the world was resting on his shoulders, and in a sense, it was, as a thousand feet of the earth stood between him and the sunlight bathing the ground above in a soft yellow light. Even with his kerchief pressed against his nose and mouth the dust that filled the air around him managed to find a way in, coating his teeth and tongue with a gritty film. He’d made the mistake of opening his eyes as he tried to assess his situation, and a piece of the grit had gotten into his right eye. Though it was tiny, it felt like a pebble had become lodged beneath his eyelid.

Given the circumstances, he did the only thing he could do, withdraw within himself, and wait for the dust to settle. Turning off the light on his hardhat, after all, he didn’t know how long he was going to be down here, he sat down and waited with his head resting on his knees.

An electrician with the Treadwell mine Pete and his crew had been removing the last of the lighting from shaft 17C in preparation for closing it permanently. Structural problems had been recently uncovered, and though the shaft was likely to produce for another six months, it would have been foolish to continue operations.

Did the others get out? He wondered.

They should have, all of them had reached the vertical shaft that would take them up to the next level when he realized he had forgotten his tool bag. Had it not been for that he’d be on the other side with the rest of them.

It was only a hundred dollars worth of tools, but hey, a hundred bucks was a hundred bucks. He dropped his hand to the tool bag next to him, comforted by its familiar shape. It was his link to who he was, and what lay beyond the plug of jumbled boulders that blocked his way out.

They should be working on it soon, he thought as a stream of pebbles cascaded down the stone on his right. 

A third generation miner who had gotten the education his father and grandfather lacked. He had not followed the path they wanted. They wanted him to become a doctor, or a  lawyer, anything but a miner who spent the better part of their life beneath the ground. But he had been drawn to the job by their stories of the deep mines, and the men who toiled in them. He wanted to belong to that select brotherhood who every day walked into harm's way to eek out a living and drive a nation.

After what felt like an hour he turned on his lamp, lifted his head, and slowly opened his eyes.  The beam of his light pierced the darkness that surrounded him, illuminating the wall of the tunnel across from him that carried the scars of their digging. Long narrow gouges marred the face of the stone. They looked like the claw marks of some ancient beast, and a chill ran the length of his spine as he turned his head to the right to illuminate the pile of boulders that blocked the tunnel.

He was alone. The realization hit him with the force of a physical blow, and though he had never been one to chatter, he now realized just how important the background noise of daily life could be.

To be continued!

Here's a link to Part 2

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Creativity and being out of touch.

It's been a little more than two weeks since I last wrote on this page, my plan had been to start writing a short story every week, starting it on Monday, and sharing whatever progress I had made here on the following Friday.

But you know what they say about best laid plans.

In addition to the sciatica that has been making it difficult for me to sit and concentrate on any one thing I got hit with a late winter bug that pretty much put me in bed for three days. I'm feeling much better now but the sciatica is still nagging at me, though not near as bad as when it first flared up. I've gone through MRI's and X-Rays only to be told that this is something I'm going to have to deal with.

When I remember to, I do my exercises. There is so much on my plate right now.  Dreadland chronicles book III, Legion of the Damned is in its final stages as we prepare it for a May 31 release date.

A Father's Love is pretty much finished but I haven't made the final decision yet as to whether I want to publish it myself or send it to a publisher. I know JournalStone is open right now and the story would dovetail perfectly into their line. The questions is am I willing to give up the control? Not to mention the potential earnings were it to take off.

I'm also working on the outlines for books four and five of the Dreadland Chronicles as well as a World War Two horror novella that I've yet to work out a title for.

If you'd liker to keep abreast of my releases you can sign up for my mailing list here.

I'll even throw in a free copy of White Walker.

I want to get back into the story a week idea I originally had a couple of weeks ago. This week I want to tackle superstition. Check back Friday to see what I come up with.

Recently on The Passive Voice I saw a story about renting Emily Dickinson's room for an hour. The first question that came to mind was, who would do that? And why? I can understand a fan wanting to visit the place where the work they've enjoyed was created. After all anyone can visit the cafĂ© in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, or tour Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West.

Who out there believes that staying in a room where a favorite story was created will somehow allow that same spark of creativity to rub off on them? I don't believe that's how creativity works. Or am I missing the point entirely?

The story about Emily Dickinson reminded me of the Stanley hotel writers retreat that was being hyped several years ago. Stay in the same room where Stephen King came up with the idea for The Shining. Did these writers believe that by paying an outrageous sum to stay in a room where a story was created would expand the horizons of their own creativity? That the same spark that inspired SK would somehow rub off on them?

What do you think?

Free Read Friday: Assimilation

For some time I've wanted to post short stories I've recently written, but held off on doing so. I think part of the reason for my hesitation is my fear that some won't like what I've written.

I know, that makes no sense.

There's also the issue that once I've posted the story here it is then classified as a reprint were I to submit it elsewhere. Recently I've come to the conclusion that these are just excuses. To be honest, while my goal is to make a living from writing, I know I'm not going to achieve that through short stories so why not give them away.

And what better place to do that than on my blog?

If all goes well every Friday I will be sharing a short story that I've recently written right here on these pages, along with a little background to show how the story came about.

First up is Assimilation (this is also the title of the as yet written third part of my Shadows of the Past series)

Do you remember the final scene in John Carpenter's The Thing?

Childs (Keith David) and McReady (Kurt Russell) are sitting amid the destruction of the camp sharing a final drink before the cold takes them.

 It is considered one of the most controversial movie endings of all time. I've seen ideas floated about for a sequel to the story, some involving a crew trapped on a submarine carrying the bodies back to the states. To me this made little sense. Why a sub when a C-130 could get them back to civilization faster? And what happened in those final moments before sleep claimed them.

Assimilation is my take on this.

I hope you enjoy it.


It watched from the burning rubble as the two men huddled together for warmth against the plunging temperatures. It felt no remorse, no anger, no fear. It knew only the need to survive, to expand its reach, to assimilate its enemies. It had no concept of love, nor the loneliness it entailed. It only knew the physical sensations that drove it onward, that need to feed, to propagate, to overwhelm all it confronted. 

It felt ragged, taxed to its limits. It had surrendered parts of the whole to keep that central core intact. The essence that made it what it was. That gave it the ability to become whatever it touched. It had tried to pass itself off as one of them, to blend into their tribe, so it could escape this desolate landscape that had been its prison for so long.

Upon first contact, it had marveled at the emotions of these creatures, the raw power that propelled them forward, but at the same time hindered them.

One of them had figured it out. Coming upon it before it could complete its transformation, and the battle of wits had been joined. It had endured this creature's attacks, confident in its ability to tolerate anything it threw at it, until its opponent had discovered the cleansing properties of fire.

Fire was the only thing it could not counter. Fire was a wild thing that consumed all it touched, no matter what it became, or how hard it tried to endure its relentless attack, fire was all consuming. It disrupted its cellular structure, boiling away the protective enzymes, and exposing its essence to the raw agony of its all-consuming embrace.

It would have to move soon. The fires of their last battle were quickly dwindling, the warmth it provided in sharp contrast to the pain it could inflict. It would soon be a memory as the endless winter of this desolate place invaded its essence, forcing it into another prolonged sleep.

It was amazed at the resourcefulness of its opponent, its willingness to surrender its own life to stop its encroachment. But in the end, all things would fall under its influence. Whether it took two thousand years or two million, it would prevail as it had prevailed on countless other worlds before this one.

As the cold penetrated it moved from the shadowy crevice it had inhabited as it watched the two men sharing a final drink. They spoke in soft tones, their words slurred by the advancing cold.

It would have to act now if it wanted to survive, and it moved across the ice that reflected the dwindling flames of the structure that once stood there. A structure that once provided warmth to its inhabitants and the possibility of survival to a species this world had never known before.

They became aware of its presence but it was too late for all of them. Time had dwindled and it had to act now or face another long sleep. They tried to escape but the cold had robbed them of the ability to move and their attempts were feeble at best.

Settling into its new home it waited as the cold seeped in. It would sleep now, but it knew it would be a short nap, as others would come in an attempt to rescue what remained of this outpost at the edge of a vast ice cap.

Awareness dawned and it moved sluggishly as the last of the freezing cold slowly faded away. There was no real warmth, just an absence of the cold that had kept it in a suspended state, not even dreams could intrude upon this little death, that period of unconsciousness that stretched into the shadowy past. It had no sense of the passing time and as it explored its new surroundings it became aware of a bright white light above.

Suddenly it was infused with a burning sensation that was like the fire it had faced before, yet not of the same origin. It retreated from the encroaching sensation, drawing back within itself as it cowered in a shadowy chamber.

It waited.

Time passed, how much was anyone’s guess as there were no devices to measure the passage of the seconds piling into minutes that slowly unfolded into years. Time meant little to a creature that could sleep for millions of years and awaken into a new dawn.

It reached out, sensing that burning sensation again, yet not as powerful as before, a faint tingling that added some discomfort, nothing like the wild panic that had gripped it when originally introduced to the greedy hunger of the flames.

It infused its host with its essence, withdrawing immediately when that burning sensation overwhelmed it, retreating to the solitary chamber it inhabited.

It reached beyond the boundaries of its host, unable to open the eyes, it was forced to evacuate and it probed the perimeter of what confined it.

What it found was a metal chamber, long and narrow, draped in soft fabric. There was a lid, but it was locked, and it probed the corners of its prison as it sought to escape.

It would have to feed soon.

Finding an unfinished weld it forced itself through, emerging into another rectangular chamber, the walls of which were coarse and pitted. Probing the perimeter it soon found a seam between two pieces of the material used to construct the chamber and forced its way through into rocky soil.

Searching its vast memory it found what it sought and became what it imagined, transforming into a burrowing rodent. Powerful claws parted the earth before it as it pushed itself forward beneath the surface of the ground. It came to another of those oblong chambers and slipped around to the right as it burrowed through the loose earth.

Coming to another structure, this one much larger than the others, it probed along the wall, locating a crack that offered access into a large space shrouded in thick shadows. Sunlight came through several openings high in the walls, painting the floor with yellow rectangles of light. In one a furry creature lay sleeping.

Its hunger stirred at the sight.

Keeping to the shadows it flowed along the corner where floor and wall met until it was nearly on top of the sleeping creature. The animal stirred, lifting its head, and yawning to expose sharp fangs. It stretched out one leg, spreading its paw to reveal curved claws protruding from the tip of each toe.

As the creature lay its head back down it struck, immediately wrapping both sets of paws in a tight cocoon that would prevent the creature from lashing out at it.

The creature cried out in a shrieking voice as it invaded its body and began the process of assimilation. As it did it became aware of the creatures purpose, its past interactions with members of the same tribe it had confronted in that desolate place at the end of the world.

They were the masters of the flame, they controlled the fires that were its only weakness.

Footsteps sounded from above as it quickly infused the  creature with its essence, drawing much-needed strength from its new host. A door opened at the top of the steps and an old woman carefully took the steps one at a time as she came down into that shadowy place.

“How’s my little baby,” she said as she approached and bent down to pet the cat it was in the process of taking over. 

It lashed out, latching onto the flesh of the old woman's hand, the lined features of her face smoothing out in terror as she backpedaled. It slithered the length of her arm, around her shoulder, emerging from the collar of her shirt to wrap itself around her face, slipping into her mouth and nose as it invaded her body.

She fell back, hitting the floor hard enough to crack her skull, and she lay there helplessly as it fed upon her essence and took control of her body. No longer locked in a struggle to survive it learned more about this creature that could control the fires as it invaded its thoughts and memories and all it had learned over a lifetime.

For the first time, it experienced emotions beyond the primitive need to eat, sleep, and propagate. It felt fear tinged by a note of sadness that the end was to be in such a lonely manner. There had been hope to be surrounded by those she loved as death placed its claim upon her soul. Children who had long since fled the nest, starting families of their own, visiting only around the holidays, and never for very long as her partner had become verbally abusive to anyone who dared stray within range.

At one time they had loved one another with a passion that surprised this creature as it assimilated the old woman's memories into its own. Fear, anger and a growing need for vengeance washed through the creature as it explored every delicious sensation that presented itself.

Vengeance, the need to strike back, to take a pound of flesh for any slight. It was an emotion it had never encountered before, that need to strike out at one who has harmed them, burning with a shining light in the soul of this creature.

It fed upon this need, finding nourishment in a growing anger that reached far beyond the need to propagate, eat, and sleep like its other victims. It felt renewed, refreshed, as it embraced that churning rage.

“Hey, bring me up a beer, will ya?” A man shouted through the open door.

The old woman pushed herself to her feet and crossed to the steps. Her movements more assured than before, more graceful, almost predatory as she glided up the stairs with a renewed spring in her step.

She’d suffered years of abuse at the hands of the man who inhabited the house with her. There had been a time when she referred to him as a husband, but that had been long before the first punch was thrown, before the love that once blossomed between them was poisoned by his indifference.

He was sitting in his favorite chair when she crossed behind him and dropped a cold beer into his lap. He jumped, his bald head rising as he tried to push himself to his feet, and she clamped her hand onto the crown of his head. Driving him back into his seat as her fingers grew to invade his nose and mouth as it extended its influence in this brave new world.

It would bide its time, wait patiently for opportunities to present themselves. Given time it would establish a foothold on this planet, one individual at a time, spreading like a stain across the surface of the globe until it was too late for those who inhabited this place to stop it.


So what do you think?

Don't forget I'm running a special sale for my post apocalyptic coming of age series Dreadland Chronicles. Book three, Legion of the Damned that is currently in pre-order. Get the first two books in the series and reserve your copy of the third for only $0.99 ea. That's three books for less than the regular price of one. Over 550 pages of post apocalyptic action for only $2.97.

You better hurry, this sale won't last forever.

Grab yours HERE!
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Freebie Alert The Zee Brothers Zombie Exterminators

Grab this one fast it will only be free for a short time.

Click on cover to order!


Orgasms, Chocolate & Zombies? Just an average day for Jonah, Judas & JJ.

The Zee Brothers have a strange and dangerous vocation. While some hunt rodents or pests in the dark, Jonah and Judas tackle much larger prey… Zombies. Equipped with a well-loved artillery gun, DeeDee, and a much used and somewhat abused pickup truck called Sasha, the duo clear the night of undead pests, keeping the ever present threat of a Zombie Apocalypse at bay.

When the slap happy pair receives an after hours call for extermination that ends in a gurgle, they head out, guns locked and catch pole loaded. It seems that an incredibly foolish developer built a high cost, gated community atop an old indian Reservation – a Reservation that soon became a graveyard and home to magic much older than the flimsy walled homes that tried to take over. Lost in this sea of new houses, an ancient artifact lay buried till the obnoxious Home Owners Association President disturbed it – and awakened the Zombies from their slumber to retrieve it.

Now it’s up to the Brothers to find it and lay the walking dead to rest. Along the way they meet the woman of their dreams, JJ, her magical and disco imbued dog, Xanadu, a denture wearing Zombie and a High Priest that offers a bit more danger than DeeDee can handle.

Filled with pop culture nods and heroes that just don’t know when to quit, it’s a slap happy, blood filled adventure, as the trio fights off zombies and the brothers fight each other for JJ’s affection.

If you like Ash Vs Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and Scooby Doo, you’ll want to buy this action packed romp and dive into The Zee Brother’s adventures today!

About the Author

I take a look at ideas from different angles and write tales that I find interesting. What the heck is a zombie omelet? I didn't know either, until I started writing The Zee Brothers!

My characters tend to banter like eighties super-heroes, a sign of my childhood influence of comic books.

I tend to look for humor even when writing on a serious subject. Did someone just lose their arm? Perhaps we can use it as a weapon on the next page or maybe we try and put it back on because one of the characters once played a doctor during sexy time roll play!

Yes, sometimes its absurd humor, but if it gets you laughing than I've done my job!

My stories are often influenced by my real life events. The old axiom, "Write what you know" manifests to fill the pages.