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

Click on cover to order!


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.

Once again.

Once again I've dropped the ball on Free Read Friday. Once again my sciatica has made it nearly impossible for me to sit and concentrate for any real length of time. I have so much work piled up as a result. Blog posts I wanted to write, a novel that needs edited, new work to flesh out, and of course my ongoing series of short stories. 

I've built a stand up desk to help with the sitting part but it's proving to be a difficult change, going from writing while sitting down, to writing while standing up, it's hard to believe it would be so difficult to do that.

I've also invested in Dragon software to help speed the process along, again it's been interesting teaching the software to recognize my voice and inflection. First time I tried it after installing and going through the voice recognition set up it wrote the opposite of what I said.

Like learning to write while standing up, and writing by speaking, it's going to be a process I need to dig in my heels and keep focused on completing.

My goal is to finish Billy this week, and move on to the letter C

Any suggestions for titles?

This week in Horror

A selection of new releases coming this week.

Click on cover to order!


Guy de la Moroz is a direct descendant of a Dutch mercenary who had come over with William the Conqueror. As magic often attracts magic, natural evolution has made Guy into the most powerful witch in the country and he had risen to be a Madge. By travelling the world, he had also become a shaman in many cultures including Aboriginal, Hindu, American Indian and Amara, Inca and Nazca from South America.
Guy lives on a seventy-two foot Big Woolwich ex-working narrow boat named The Wizard of Oz. His boat is also magical and often talks to Guy. His brown and white spaniel called Dorothy is his witch’s familiar. Although never married he has two children in the village of Coven, his adopted home. His relationship with the mothers of his two children and various lovers in the village only complicates his life.
Coven is a quiet little village in Shropshire until one day the vicar’s wife is killed on the village green in broad daylight; another murder soon follows which embroils Guy in a merry-go-round of jealousy, madness, revenge and passion as he uses his magical abilities to help solve the case.

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 How did Roderick Helms' and Geofrey Anteil's journey as members of Fiat Lux begin? We find out this issue as a journey of another sort is underway for Fiat Lux — a race to rescue the Pope himself in Avignon! What knowledge of the zombie plague does the Pope possess? And will he share it with Roderick and his men before it's too late?

Written by the master of violence, gore, and mayhem, Frank Tieri (Marvel vs Capcom, Wolverine, Deadpool), with spectacular art from Disney illustrator, Oleg Okunev, and covers by Eisner Award-nominated artist Tim Bradstreet (The Punisher, Hellblazer)!

Click on cover to order!


Delaney Green may have found her way back to the living, but her new body isn't going to last. Without magic, and still separated from Percy, she is forced to rely on the tangled memory of what might be to find a way to reclaim her bones. With the help of an old ally, and the reluctant assistance of new enemies, Del must take the final steps down a long road home.

The Touch Trilogy is a series of Southern Gothic novellas, short novels with a lyrical style and eerie tone, perfect for fans of True Blood or Flannery O'Connor.

Click on cover to order!


Here it is in its entirety. You have twelve books and well over one million words of zombie goodness.


Welcome to the world of TW Brown's DEAD saga. This raw, violent, and brutal world isn't populated with military supermen and women, or preppers that have been waiting for the human extinction event to arrive. This is a world of normal people...some good, some bad...and some pure evil.

This is a global look at the end of the world. Follow Steve and his group as you see the apocalypse unfold through a single person's eyes. With The Geeks, you meet four young men who thought a zombie apocalypse would be cool...and quickly discover that it really isn't.

In the Vignettes, you will get short glimpses of the state the world has fallen into. Some will only be a single offering. Others might stick around for a while, but rest assured...NOBODY IS SAFE.

Welcome to TW Brown's DEAD world.

Click on cover to order!


Emily Sparrow takes a job at a run-down guest house in the strange and mysterious Tramman Court. There’s something wrong with the house and its owner, Mr Thresher, is hiding something. Why does Emily come across a seemingly abandoned battered brown suitcase as she cleans and tidies and what is the dark secret that the house holds? But Emily has secrets of her own and is running from something. When the her past and Thresher’s dark heritage collide, something terrible is bound to happen. Another short story based in the world of author Edwin Torr's Dead Means Dead series.


Free Read Friday: Billy Part IV

Reading over the past installments before writing this one I see I have a serious problem with repeating myself. Something I'm working hard on controlling. Will need some editing for sure to whip this one into shape. Let's get to it.


Part IV

He yanked his hand back from the poster, his finger coming free with an audible pop, and he turned and fled from the room. The image of those shadowy shapes leaping and jumping around one another in a primitive dance to some ancient god burned into his memory.

He raced down the hall, stopping when he spotted his dad standing in front of the mirror in his bedroom, his gaze fixed on some distant point that existed beyond the reflective surface.

“Dad,” Billy said as he pushed into the room.

His father remained motionless, frozen in place, and when Billy slipped his little hand into his father’s larger one he felt how cold his father’s flesh had become. At one time his hands had provided a comforting warmth that offered a sense of well being and security that had been absent lately.

“Dad?” Billy said as he gazed up at his father’s immobile features, unblinking as he continued to gaze into the mirror.

“Dad?” Billy said again, more forcefully this time, yanking on his father’s hand, pulling him off balance. His father straightened up, his stare never leaving the mirror, and Billy released his hold.

Downstairs, in the kitchen, he found his mom standing at the sink, the water running into the bowl, slowly reaching the lip over which it would flow into the bowl next to it. Her hands were in the soapy water, her gaze fixed on the small window over the sink.’

“Mom,” he said with quiet fear that blossomed into unrelenting terror when she remained where she was, never acknowledging his presence, blinking, or looking away from the window where sunlight filled the day with warmth.

It was then he realized that not a single sound was coming from the neighborhood beyond the walls of the house. Racing to the front door, his heart clambering into his throat, he yanked the door open on a silent world that appeared to have stopped in mid-stride.

Mr. Winslow sat on his silent mower across the street, the spray of grass issuing from the chute on the side of the deck hung in mid-air. The Baker kids had ceased their rowdy yells, becoming frozen in place, the football they had been tossing back and forth suspended in mid-air between them.

Struggling to catch his breath he took a hesitant step back, then another, before he slammed the door on the silence that awaited him outside. When he did he became aware of a steady pounding that was coming from somewhere in the house. He went from room to room, searching for the source of the pounding that kept its distance. Once he’d finished with the first floor he stood at the bottom of the steps gazing into the shadowy hallway above as the pounding intensified.

He knew where it was coming from.

His sister’s bedroom, the poster over her bed, and with a slow gait he mounted the steps to the second floor. 

To be continued!

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This week in Horror

Time for a roundup of this week's releases in the horror genre.

Click on cover to grab a copy!


An elderly man aggressively defends his private domain against all comers?including his daughter;a policeman investigates an impossible horror show of a crime; a father witnesses one of the worst things a parent can imagine; the abuse of one child fuels another’s yearning; an Iraqi war veteran seeks a fellow soldier in his hometown but finds more than she bargains for . . .

The Best Horror of the Year showcases the previous year’s best offerings in short fiction horror. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Adam L. G. Nevill, Livia Llewellyn, Peter Straub, Gemma Files, Brian Hodge, and more.

For more than three decades, award-winning editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow has had her finger on the pulse of the latest and most terrifying in horror writing. Night Shade Books is proud to present the ninth volume in this annual series, a new collection of stories to keep you up at night.

Table of Contents: Summation 2016 - Ellen Datlow Nesters -- Siobhan Carroll The Oestridae -- Robert Levy The Process is a Process All its Own -- Peter Straub The Bad Hour -- Christopher Golden Red Rabbit -- Steve Rasnic Tem It's All the Same Road in the End -- Brian Hodge Fury -- DB Waters Grave Goods -- Gemma Files Between Dry Ribs -- Gregory Norman Bossert The Days of Our Lives -- Adam LG Nevill House of Wonders -- C.E. Ward The Numbers -- Christopher Burns Bright Crown of Joy -- Livia Llewellyn The Beautiful Thing We Will Become -- Kristi DeMeester Wish You Were Here -- Nadia Bulkin Ragman -- Rebecca Lloyd What’s Out There? -- Gary McMahon No Matter Which Way We Turned -- Brian Evenson The Castellmarch Man -- Ray Cluley The Ice Beneath Us -- Steve Duffy On These Blackened Shores of Time -- Brian Hodge Honorable Mentions

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Flowers. Chocolate. Scattered memories.Sam Davis returns to Downhope Hospital to apologise to the nurse he attacked in a drugged-out haze. But he’s nowhere near prepared for what awaits him. Can he make it out alive before Nurse Krahe exacts her revenge?
Read the first in the exciting new Horror Bites series from Anthony Morgan-Clark, author of the terrifying Tor trilogy.

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Jon Stanton should have been living the good life: a beautiful fiancé, a successful career, a home in paradise. But his job in Homicide has served up a bad case of insomnia and hallucinations, and just as his body, mind, and spirit are about to break, he begins investigating an intriguing series of merciless murders.

As his condition deteriorates, he refuses to turn the case over to his partner, knowing he couldn’t rest until justice is served. Unfortunately, justice is what the killers believe they’re delivering, and their next delivery comes a little too close for comfort.

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Our darkest nightmares can come from those who are supposed to protect us. Twisting our minds until we become the very thing that we fear. They say that time can heal all wounds but some injuries dig in deep and rot our souls from the inside out.

Hugh McKinney has been rescued from the living nightmare that had become his life. Only to find himself surrounded by people who claim to want to give him the family he’s never had. But dark voices are slowly invading his new found happiness and threatening to drag him back to the pit he barely escaped.

Can the handsome Alpha that saved him from hell on earth be the mate that Hugh has spent his life dreaming of? Or, will DeMatteo Santiago be the final blow that finally pushes Hugh too far?

The most dangerous monsters lurking in the shadows are not born that way, they are made...

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The beautiful thing about life is that it isn’t perfect.

Evan Lansing manages to eke out a living as a photographer, capturing the beauty of severely marred and deformed people. He’s content with his meager existence but his longtime girlfriend, Naomi, is looking for more out of life . . . things that cost money—marriage and children. Evan’s options are limited when he and Naomi resolve to split. He can stay with his brother and his brother’s insufferable wife and daughter or he can move into his deceased mother’s remote cabin and renovate it. The solitude of the cabin is an enticing alternative for Evan to start anew. But disturbing things begin to happen once Evan moves in and it leaves him to question if staying with his brother wasn’t the better option. And then there are the neighbors . . .

Free Read Friday: Billy Part 3

Welcome back.

Sorry I haven't posted all week, sciatica has been having its way with me making it difficult to sit and concentrate on anything. But I did manage to get part 3 of the current story done. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments.

Here's a link to the whole story if you would like to start from the beginning. Billy


Part III

After a breakfast of waffles with strawberries Billy was returning to his room when he stopped at the door to his sister’s bedroom. The mystery of what was waiting behind that closed facade had been dispelled when he’d come upon his mother standing in the doorway that morning. Beyond the door lay his sister’s bedroom as it was the day she passed away.

There was no secret forest, no babbling brook, no dark and slithering shapes that moved along the periphery. It was just a bedroom. Though the poster over her bed had disturbed him on a deep and primitive level, it was after all, just a poster.

Emboldened by what he had seen earlier he opened her door and slipped into the silent room. He stood just inside the door, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom, slats of morning sunlight lying across her unmade bed, segmented by the drawn blinds covering her window.

From beyond the window came the sound of everyday life, a lawnmower roaring as Mr. Winslow cut his grass. The Baker kids across the street yelling at one another as they played in their back yard. The occasional car gliding down the street as sunlight twinkled from the glass.

In her room it was as silent as a tomb.

To his right the door to her bathroom stood open, a white towel draped over the top, a pile of dirty clothes at the base. The bathroom was where they found her, and he flashed briefly on the memory of that night. The air alive with the crackle of radios as uniformed men moved down the hallway to her room. He had watched from his own room, the door slightly ajar, his parents standing to the side as the police and paramedics did their job. His father had wrapped his arm around his mother’s shoulder as she wept into her hands.

They brought her out on a stretcher, two paramedics maneuvering the wheeled gurney between them. He thought he would see her face and was disappointed when he realized they had wrapped her in a thick black plastic. After they were gone his mother and father  remained where they had stood the entire time the paramedics and police were here. The hallway beyond his room filled with their sorrow.

The memory receded like the waters of the ocean rushing out to greet the next incoming wave as he moved across the room towards the open bathroom door. He didn’t know what he would find, but when he stepped around the door to find a sparkling clean room he was relived.

Word was she had slit her wrists, lying in a tub of warm water as her life giving blood fled from her body. This he did not hear from his parents or anyone in a position of authority. It had come as most information did, via rumors and whispered gossip. So he was surprised, and not a little relieved to find the bathroom clean.

He didn’t know what to expect.

Turning from the bathroom his gaze tracked across the room until it came to rest on the poster over her bed. In the shadowy gloom of the room it glowed with a malicious intent. From the base of the tree came a hint of a breeze that carried with it the muted odors of decay.

He wanted to flee, to run from the presence of that poster, yet his feet had become rooted in place as the shadows around the tree slithered over and around one another with a sinister intent. It was calling to him on a dark, instinctive, level, drawing him to that emptiness like a moth to a flame.

He took a step towards the poster, his feet moving in accord to a sinister presence that offered little hope, and an eternity of despair. And though a part of his consciousness rebelled against everything this essence had to offer, he could not stop himself from taking another step closer.

He lifted his hand, reaching for the emptiness gathered around the base of the tree, his finger getting closer and closer. As his fingertip came into contact with the surface of the poster he felt a momentary resistance. It was overwhelmed as his finger vanished into the emptiness, and a cold chill washed the length of his outstretched arm, burying itself in his shoulder as the first knuckle of his finger slipped into the nothingness behind the wall.

To be continued!

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