Free Read Friday: Alone Pt4


I've posted the entire short story, up to the end of this part on it's own page that you can find HERE!.


Alone


Moving closer he traced the outline of the object with his hand as it curved upward, the Cris-crossed object terminating at a scarred flat surface. The scarred surface curved down to another flat section and as his fingers traced the pattern embedded in its face he realized what it was.

A boot.


Just like the one he wore and as the realization filled his mine he came to understand that the Cris-crossed patter had been the laces. Someone had lost or discarded a boot in the mine, and it had lain there ignored until he came across it while searching for his tool bag. It wasn’t uncommon for miners to bring spare footwear with them when they ventured into the mines so the presence of the boot was not uncommon


Relieved by the sheer innocence of the object he tried to pull it from the ground, only to find it was securely held in place by the stony earth. And as he pulled he came to realize the boot was occupied by a foot.


Who was it?


 With fingers shaking at the revelation and the implications it contained he followed the outline of the boot in the opposite direction. Slipping his finger beneath the hem of that coarse fabric he came to a softer fabric bunched around a solid object. Beyond that his fingers came into contact with flesh as cold as the ground in which it had been buried.


An uncontrollable flash of panic drove him back and he scrabbled through the loose stone, loosing all sense of direction as a single thought blossomed in his mind like a poisonous flower.


There was a body with him.


He looked left, and then right, the emptiness pressing in on all sides as he focused on that singular notion. There was a body in the mine with him. It was followed by another that came with an ominous clarity. It was not where it should be to have been affected by the cave in.


Unless, he tried to convince himself, he had gotten turned around when he was crawling through the dark, and instead of being near the face of the mine, he had unknowingly returned to the collapsed section.


Who was it?


The others had gotten out, he was sure of it, he’d left them at the bottom of the vertical shaft leading to section 16B. Unless one of them had followed him back without him knowing about it, and had become buried by the falling stone.

It made sense, it was logical, and if anything was to be said about him, he was logical. Four years of college had made him that way. His time in school had also severed to distance him from his roots, but the roots of a boy raised in the West Virginia coal fields ran strong and deep. Roots that ran as far back as the late seventeen hundred when the first settlers ventured west, finding the rolling hills of the Appalachians that reminded them so much of the homelands they had left behind.  These roots might be weakened, but they could never be removed.


Reaching this conclusion helped to quell the panic simmering in the pit of his stomach, and he stopped moving so he could work out where he’d left his bag. The section he occupied was not very big, no more than thirty by forty feet. If he took his time, and approached his problem logically, he’d find his tool bag.


It was just a matter of remaining focused as he carefully worked his way back and forth across the open space. It wasn’t going to be quick, but it was preferable to running around in a blind panic.  Calmly he crawled forward until he reached the wall of the mine. Turning to his right he crawled two steps, then turned right again and crawled across the open space towards what he hoped was the other side of the mine.


As he worked, slow and careful, he became conscious of the sound of a steady pounding that came from his left. Turning his head in that direction he peered into the emptiness as a slow chill crawled the length of his mine when he realized it was the steady sound of a pick working the wall.


It was believed that when a miner died in the mine, his ghost returned to finish his shift. 


To be continued!

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Legion of the Damned Excerpt

Here's another little taste of Legion of the Damned, coming May 31, 2017. It's currently available as a pre-order at the low price of $.99 that will go up to  $2.99 the day after release. I've also lowered the prices of book 1, All Roads Lead to Terror, and book 2 The Reaping, to celebrate. You can grab all three for less than three bucks using the links above. . 
There has been a slight change to the cover to bring it in line with the story inside. Today's excerpt will make that perfectly clear, and I hope intrigue you enough to reserve your copy today.





Excerpt

As night approached and the shadows grew long the children gathered around a single fire as David stood before them. Meat and Einstein had become outsiders.

“Do you believe?” David said as he gazed at the faces gathered before him.

“Yes,” they whispered in response, hands clasped before their chests as they watched David with rapt attention.

“Do you believe with all your heart that God lives in each of us?”

“Yes,” they answered with more assurance as David moved back and forth in front of the fire, pointing at them as he spoke.

“He said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

“Amen,” the children whispered.

Meat was reminded of the service he’d attended when he was younger, the preacher moving back and forth across the stage as he whipped up the emotions of those attending. Smoke and mirrors, he had thought then, but after his experience in Richmond where he'd learned belief could be a powerful weapon, it was with just a touch of unease that he watched David.

“What are they doing?” Einstein said, and Meat held up his hand to quiet him. There was no sense drawing attention to them, not now.

“Let us pray,” David said as he bowed his head and the others followed suit.

“Father, we stand before you, a lost flock without its shepherd. Taken from us by a world that has closed its mind and its heart to the glory that is your love. We are without hope, lost upon a sea of unease. Will you lead us to our rightful home? Will you guide us in the task we have undertaken? Amen.” David finished and lifted his head to look at the faces that turned up to meet his gaze.

“Amen,” the children responded dutifully.

“Jesus said. ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. “

“Amen,” the children answered in a growing voice that threatened the stillness of the darkening forest.

“Do we remember what Jesus said in Matthews twenty-six when Peter drew his sword as the Romans came to take him?”

“What did he say?” the children asked their combined voice a shout of righteous anger that stirred the short hairs on the nape of Meat’s neck.

“Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Our enemies have chosen to live by the sword, and so they shall perish by the sword.”

“Amen,” the children shouted and David leaned forward with one hand cupping his ear. He had them now, they’d follow him to hell itself if he asked, and what they planned to do was not far from it.

“Amen,” they repeated, louder this time, their voices carrying more conviction than before.

“I can’t hear you,” David said as he leaned over with a smile, his hand still next to his ear.

“Amen,” they screamed in a single voice that rocked the stillness of the forest around them.

“Jesus said, ‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

“Amen,” came the shout on cue, even louder than before as the children warmed up to David’s preaching.

“Are we not Father Henry’s legion of angels?”

Again their shout rocked the forest and David drank long and deep of the conviction that rolled off the assembled children. They had achieved a symbiotic relationship with one another, one feeding on the other, fueling their anger, their conviction, their belief

“But we failed him,” David said as he took a step back and crossed his arms over his chest. A feeling of quiet discomfort spread through Meat’s stomach as the gathered children groaned in response to David’s comment.

“I don’t like this,” Meat said.

“He’s just talking to them.”

“That’s the way it always starts, with just talk, I imagine that’s the way it began in Richmond.”

“I wasn’t there, so I don’t understand.”

“I know, but had you been you would. It was like,” and Meat paused as he sought out the word to best describe the feelings that were coming to him from the gathered children. Fanatical came to mind, but he felt that was too strong, it was something much more subtle. Loss, confusion, they were close, but not quite right.

“They had been taught from the Bible, but somewhere along the way it had become garbled, mixed up with other things that made little sense,” Meat said, trying his best to put his finger on the problem.

“We, his legion of angels, have failed our father,” David said in a near whisper as several cries of anguish rose from the gathered children.

“What can we do?” One of them cried out.

“Yes, what can we do?” another took up the call.

Soon they were all asking the same question, their voices rising in volume as the night slowly descended around them.

“We must pay penance for our failure,” David said and turned away from the crowd. He did something none of them could see. When he turned back, a black cross bisected his face. The upright started at the hairline of his forehead and followed the line of his nose, ending at the tip. The cross member made him look like he had a unibrow, following the line of the ridge above his eyes.

“We must take vengeance on those who have wronged us for they have chosen to live by the sword, and now they must die by the sword. Who will take penance with me?”

Hands shot up throughout the crowd as a babble of voices rose up through the trees. All repeating the same thing. “me, me, me, me,” they said, and if a god existed within the low gray clouds that hugged the earth, he would have surely heard the anger in their voices.

“We will become Father Henry’s legion of angels, and we will bring death to his enemies. For we are the lost legion, we are, the legion of the damned.”

End Excerpt


Synopsis:

Hell was coming to Paradise!


In a remote desert world that bore little semblance to their own, the boys corner and kill Nickoli. Unfortunately the act fails to release Window from his curse, and they discover that a much higher sacrifice must be made to free him.

Struggling to silence the voices from his past, Billie-Bob’s drinking results in his capture by the family of cannibals he once escaped from. This time he is taken to Paradise, a small compound along one of the many tributaries leading to the Chesapeake Bay. For those who lived there it was truly a paradise on earth, for its captives it was a different story as they were reduced to nothing more than livestock to feed a growing population.

While following the trail left by Billie-Bob’s captors, Meat, Window and Einstein come upon the shattered remnants of the church that had given them shelter on their trek north. Many of the church’s inhabitants had perished in the attack, but most of the children had been able to escape. They join the boys on their journey south to rescue Billie-Bob, and exact their vengeance on those who had shattered their peaceful existence.

Hell was coming to Paradise, and there would be no denying its vengeance.





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There was a flavor of “Lord of the Flies” expressed through the savage tribe of kids who kidnapped the children in the first place. They were viscous, brutal creatures grown from the cycle of abuse this book explores. And the religious practices they had cultivated in the absence of love and protection is truly horrifying. It’s the kind of horror that at once makes your stomach churn and your hand itch to draw it. (Or maybe that’s just my response to these kind of stories…)

Jeanette Andromeda
Horror Made

I would place Mister Schiver's talents in league with Neil Gaiman's. He shines in his ability to let dialogue propel a story. That is trickier than it may seem, but the talented writers do it with an effortless grace.
 
T.W Brown
Brutally Honest Reviews

Free Read Friday: Alone Pt 3

You know how sometimes you're working on a story you think is headed in one direction, and it suddenly decides to go off in another. Well that's what has happened with the continuing saga of our hapless miner.

If you're new, here's a link to part one so you can start at the beginning of the story. Part 1
There will be a link for part two at the end of part one so you can follow along.





Alone Part III




He struggled against the panic threatening to overwhelm him, taking in slow steady breaths after coming to a stop. He didn’t want to get turned around in the dark. After a few moments the panic passed and he continued on his hands and knees, the sharp edges of loose stone cutting into the flesh of his palms as he carefully worked his way across the stony ground.

He’d been less than twenty feet away from his tool bag and the spare battery when his light went out. An area that could be covered in just a few steps if he could see. Less than the distance across the front porch of his house where his wife and daughter had surely heard the news of he the cave in.

Would they know he was trapped?

Surely they’d figured that out by now and had told his wife. She would be waiting by the phone for any news while his daughter, Becky played nearby, blissfully unaware of the danger he was in. Later, after it was all said and done, maybe they would tell her. Of course that would depend on whether he survived or not. If he didn’t… He let that thought die the quiet death it deserved. As long as he was still breathing he would do everything in his power to get home to his family.

Without ventilation how long would that be? The question rose up in his mind and he quickly squashed it with a stubbornness born from years of hard work, and doing the right thing.

Carefully he reached into the emptiness ahead of him. His fingers splayed out as he slowly moved his hand back and forth across the space in front of him, searching for the familiar shape of his tool bag. In addition to a spare battery it contained his water as well. Another essential to his survival.

He had to find that bag!

Without light he was unable to see the landmarks that would help keep him straight. Making it possible he could crawl around in circles for hours as his panic grew to envelope him, driving him to run around blindly as he bounced off the walls, increasing the likelihood of another cave in that could bury him beneath tons of unrelenting earth.

Maybe that would be for the best, a quick death beneath the falling ceiling was preferable to the agonizing demise that awaited him if he didn’t find his water. Already his mouth was becoming parched, and the air around him was growing stale.

How long did he have?

He moved another few feet forward, the loose stone rattling beneath his knees as he searched the emptiness in front of him. Perspiration sheathed his body beneath the heavy coveralls he wore. It would be much cooler to shed them, but at the same time he would have only a thin layer of clothing to protect him from the sharp edges of the stone that surrounded him.

A mine was not a place to go without some form of protection. The stone had been shattered by explosions and drilling as miners worked to extract the treasures it contained. Unlike natural caves formed over the millennia’s by the carving action of running water, mines were places of jagged stone faces ready to exact their revenge for man’s intrusion.

His fingers brushed against coarse fabric and he grasped at it as a whimper of relief sounded in his throat. Stretching out his arm he searched wit his fingers for the familiar shape of a battery or his water bottle. What he found instead made little sense in the dark. The fabric ended in a hem, and beneath that was an object that felt familiar, yet alien. It wasn’t his bag and as he worked his hand along the fabric he realized it was half buried beneath the stony ground.

There was something solid, yet yielding on the other side of the fabric and beneath the hem lay a cris-crossed pattern that was achingly familiar. His fingers traced the coarse fabric that made up the pattern to one side, finding a metal hole through which the  fabric passed.

What was it?


To be continued!

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Monday Motivation

I'm late as usual. Always working, and always behind. I don't think I'll ever catch up.

I'm sure by now you've noticed that I've updated the blog. I'm also raising the stakes on my mailing list. Instead of only one book when you sign up, I'm now giving away three full length novels to get you started. An introductory library if you will.

It's right over there, on the right, you know you want to click on the link, go ahead, I'll still be here when you get back.

You know it's really tough at times staying motivated. Being a writer is one of those jobs that's better performed alone. Sure, once the writing part is done there's a whole slew of other people who get involved in getting the story out. But in the beginning it's just the writer and the blank page, and one word after the next as we string together sentences we hope will enlighten, inspire, and maybe send a chill down the reader's spine.


Everyone draws inspiration from something, for me it's the readers response to my work, their reviews, good or bad, are what drive me to continue to create. To push the bar just a little higher with each completed project.

What inspires you in your work? What is it beside fame and fortune that compels you to climb out of bed each morning and do your thing?


Free read Friday: Alone Pt 2

Final edits are finished for Legion of the Damned. They have been formatted and uploaded to Amazon and Smashwords for distribution. I still have to format for the print version and that is the next project on my to do list. But before I move onto that I want to share the next part of my story in progress with you.

If you haven't read part one yet, here's a link to get caught up, there is a link to get back. Part 1


Alone

It was as silent as a tomb, and he shuddered at the thought that this might very well become his grave. In a perfect world they would do everything in their power to rescue him, working around the clock if necessary, unfortunately Tredwell was not known for expanding any more effort than necessary to protect its miners.


If the cave in wasn’t too bad they would put forth an effort to rescue him, on the other hand, and here he stopped this line of reasoning before it got too far ahead and the discomfort he felt blossomed into a full blown panic. There was nothing he could do but wait.


Turning off his light to conserve the battery he rested his head on his arms that he’d crossed over his knees, and listened to the earth around him as it slowly settled. The temperature was climbing, wrapping him in a suffocating cocoon of warmth.


Shaft 17C was so deep it was rumored that one had to be careful where they swung their pick for fear of knocking on the devil’s doorway. 


Without ventilation the temperature hovered around one hundred and five. With the shaft blocked it was anybody’s guess how hot it would get. As the heat seeped through his heavy work coat he reached for his water. Luckily he’d brought several bottles, but he only took a small sip. As much as it pained him to do so, he knew it would be best to conserve every drop of water he could.


Turning on his light he looked around to take stock of his situation. The dust had settled as much as it was likely to, and he found he was at the face of the mine. The deepest part they had worked to, the stone around him scarred by the marks of their passage. Gouged out lines from the drills that bored into solid stone to set explosives for blasting.


Pushing himself to his feet he crossed to the collapsed section of the roof. Here a pile of stones blocked the entrance, filling the opening completely. Taking his hammer from the loop on his pants he beat on the face of the largest boulder. He stopped, and leaned in close, pressing his ear against the silent face.


Was that knocking? He wondered, or just an echo of his own pounding. He was certain he’d heard an answering knock on the stone, faint, almost imperceptible, he was sure it was there. It had to be there, to believe otherwise would lead only to death.


He knocked again, leaning in close to listen, and once more was certain he heard a faint knock answering his own.


They were coming. How long it would take was anybody’s guess, but they were coming to get him. He turned back to where he’d left his tool bag, and was halfway to it when the light on his helmet flickered briefly before going out completely.


The battery was dead.


He stopped, and tried to recall how close he had been to his tool bag. There was another battery in it, If he could get to it he could replace the dead battery. Carefully he dropped to his hands and knees, his eyes wide open, yet completely blind, as he carefully worked his way forward, reaching out with one hand to feel for his tool bag.


A thought emerged at the edge of his consciousness and he struggled to keep it at bay. Yet it persisted, blossoming into his mind like a deadly flower, with a cold clarity that made his knees weak and turned his bowels to ice water.


So this is what it was like to be buried alive.

To be continued.

Link for part three: PART 3


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Legion of the Damned: Excerpt #3

My goal had been to post another portion of the story I started last week, unfortunately the need to finish the final edits on Legion of the Damned, ate up much of the time I have available for writing. With that behind me now I can focus on finishing the story.

In the interim, here's another little taste of Legion of the Damned, coming May 31, 2017. Currently available as a pre-order at a special price of $.99 that will go up to the regular price of $2.99 the day of release. Reserve your copy today. Stay turned to the end of the post for a special offer.

I hope you enjoy it.

Reserve your copy HERE!

Excerpt

“Please,” he moaned as a solitary tear slid from the corner of his eye to trace a wet path down his cheek. As a child, he’d needed a night light to keep the creatures lurking in the shadows at bay, and as he had grown older, he thought he had been done with such childish things. Now, as he stood alone against the emptiness, he wished he could have that small light once again.

He shuddered at the thought as another emerged, sending a slow chill winding its way down his spine. With a light, he would be able to see what hid in the shadows and he realized then that sometimes it was better not to be able to see what waited in the dark.

He focused his attention on that single point of light, struggling to ignore the vast emptiness that stood behind him, and the denizens of the dark who sought the comfort his warmth could provide. Shadows passed across the face of that distant light as the steady sound of footsteps echoed through the emptiness. They faded in and out of focus, and he was reminded of what he’d seen when he crossed over.

He had returned to the interior of that cooler at the supermarket, Maria resting on his outstretched legs, but they were not alone. There was something else with them, something as old as the emptiness that shrouded them. Kneeling beside them as he comforted Maria in her final hours that ticked down with resolute steadiness. He had felt it as it caressed her battered and bleeding body, and the chill it awakened within him had taken root in the heart of his soul.

Those steady footsteps moved around him, circling him as the denizens of the dark backed away, and a single thought whispered through his mind.

Welcome home!

Around him, it was as silent as a tomb, the only sound that of his heavy breathing, and the whine of terror whispering softly in his throat.

“I’m sorry,” he whimpered as the light faded from view and the emptiness behind him reached out to wrap him in its chilled embrace. The loss of sight served to heighten his other senses, and he heard something slithering through the emptiness behind him. His sense of touch and smell exploded, and he felt the chilled caresses of those nameless things that stirred the hairs on his arms causing them to stand on end. The odors of ozone and excrement combined to create a noxious smell that set his teeth on edge and left a metallic tang in his mouth.

As the darkness filled the void around him his emotional sense of empathy was double, tripled, until he was overcome by a primitive terror that let him feel their pain. They were the creatures of the night, forever imprisoned in the shadowy corners of a well-lit world, fated to a bleak future. 

End Excerpt
Synopsis:

Hell was coming to Paradise!


In a remote desert world that bore little semblance to their own, the boys corner and kill Nickoli. Unfortunately the act fails to release Window from his curse, and they discover that a much higher price must be paid to free him.

Struggling to silence the voices from his past, Billie-Bob’s drinking results in his capture by the family of cannibals he once escaped from. This time he is taken to Paradise, a small compound along one of the many tributaries leading to the Chesapeake Bay. For those who lived there it was truly a paradise on earth, for its captives it was a different story as they were reduced to nothing more than livestock to feed a growing population.

While following the trail left by Billie-Bob’s captors, Meat, Window and Einstein come upon the shattered remnants of the church that had given them shelter on their trek north. Many of the church’s inhabitants had perished in the attack, but most of the children had been able to escape. They join the boys on their journey south to rescue Billie-Bob, and exact their vengeance on those who had shattered their peaceful existence.

Hell was coming to Paradise, and there would be no denying its vengeance.


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Dreadland Chronicles

Fourteen years ago a cataclysm shook the realms of multiple universes as a rising tide of evil rose up to battle those in power. Many worlds ceased to exist in the blink of an eye. On our world the dead walked, bringing society to its knees. The technology we had taken for granted stopped working as a new dark age filtered across the land. An age of unrestrained brutality where the only law was the firepower one carried, and the only hope was for a quick death followed by a dreamless sleep. 

It is into this world they have bee born. 

Four boys who have grown up knowing the brutality of a society teetering on the brink of extinction. Each of them alone is but a boy, however, together they are a force capable of defeating the evil that is slowly spreading across the land.


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