New Releases – Space Scout Series By Will Macmillan Jones

Here is a new series by my friend Will Macmillan Jones, Scout Pilot of the Free Union is available today.

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On release from 8 June, initially in paperback and ebook direct from Amazon comes an exciting space opera collection.

Starting with Scout Pilot of The Free Union, and quickly followed by Infinity is for Losers and Rogue Pilot, the novels follow the misadventures of Captain Frank Eric Russell. Sacked from a prestigious post, Frank ends up flying a preloved (clapped out) Speedbird scout ship around the galaxy. The missions are exotic, interesting, and considerably unsafe. Danger lurks behind every asteroid, and every new planet offers disaster or death as recreational possibilities.  Brilliant fun with some great chases, said an early reviewer.

Captain Frank Eric Russell is captain/pilot of a Valhalla Class Star Destroyer – until there is an embarrassing incident during a diplomatic mission to the border with the Imperium. Disciplined by being transferred to the Reconnaissance Unit of The Free Union’s Star Fleet, he finds himself assigned to an outdated Speedbird Scoutship. The missions are less prestigious, less rigorously overseen – and a lot less safe. Threats, terror and mortal danger lurk behind every planet and asteroid as Frank tries to survive the life of a Reconnaissance Unit Scout Pilot patrolling the barely defined border between The Free Union and the Imperium during the uneasy truce between the two Galactic Powers.

Frank and his ageing Speedbird are sent on a number of perilous missions around the galaxy, both for the mysterious Colonel Rosto and on normal Space Corps business. On the way he meets a new sentient species, a terrifying space spider, finds himself involved in a deal for new spaceships that goes horribly wrong and finally has to escape the clutches of The Imperium’s Chief Enforcer, the feared Colonel Starker, before becoming involved in a battle as the rivals for domination of the galaxy clash in space.

With everything against him, can Frank and his trusty Speedbird live to run away another day?

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Here’s the first review, from Jim Webster (a fellow sci fi and fantasy writer, noted for his series ‘The Land of The Three Seas)

Just to note that I received advanced copies in return for an unbiased review

The books follow the career (in this case, career as in ‘When the brakes failed, the wagon careered downhill’) of Captain Frank Eric Russell, who becomes a Scout pilot of the Free Union. The stories are told by the good Captain in the first person.

This means that we whilst we see events through the eyes of our hero, we also begin to realise that he is in some things an unreliable observer. It begins to dawn upon the reader that Russell is a far better pilot and far more generally competent than he admits.

The universe is divided between three main powers. The first two that we meet are the Free Union, which our hero serves, and the Imperium, who are the enemy in waiting. There is no war between the two but there is a constant bickering at the outposts and attempts to destabilise the other. Finally there are the Merchant Princes, who happily trade with anybody.

In the first book, ‘Scout Pilot of the Free Union’, each chapter seems to be a separate mission and a separate story. But eventually you start to realise that there is a common thread starting to pull them together, until by the time you get into the second book, ‘Infinity is for losers’, we see that our hero is caught up in something far more complicated and dangerous than he first thought. I have no intention of saying more and spoiling the plot for anybody.

This isn’t hard military SF; similarly we are spared being plunged into some dark angst ridden dystopia, these stories are Space Opera. Admittedly there are times when Russell sees his superiors as a bigger threat to his survival than the enemy, but I suspect many service personnel could empathise with this.

Will Macmillan Jones is a story teller and a fine one. As I read these books I found myself swept along by the story.

At some point it appears the modern reviewer has to award ‘stars’. It’s not longer good enough to describe something as a ‘cracking good read.’ But I am not a number, I am a free man. I will wave my hand airily and announce that these books are undoubtedly somewhere betwixt and between four and five stars.

The far more important question is will I read the rest of the series. Too damned right I will. I’m looking forward to them and when they arrive I’ll tear open the packet and start reading. They’re fun!

Will Rogue Pilot Mockup

 

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New Release – Gas Station Of The Dead By Anthony Renfro

Today I have a New Release for you Gas Station of The Dead, a horror short story by Anthony Renfro.  We also have an excerpt to give you a taste.

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Description1

This short story is about a former tanker truck driver who decides to use his skills to deliver gas to those in need during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Bonus Short Story: Devil at the Wheel

A Joyride in a Chevy Chevelle. The car was just sitting there for the taking. What could possibly go wrong? Vinnie and Mike are about to find out what can and will go wrong once they turn the key. Evil awaits. Ride shotgun if you dare with this short story.

Bonus Short Story: The Dragon

A simple machine. Able to answer requests. Able to play music. Able to turn on lights and answer questions. Fun and enjoyable technology. But what happens when this machine is able to manifest actual things? In this short story two guys worst fears will come to life.

 

Excerpt2

 

Gas Station of the Dead

EXP: Donald Cal, or Cal to those who knew him, sat on top of a flat roof looking down at his two discoveries. The question running through is head was difficult to find the answer to. When so many zombies were shuffling about, how did he get from one place to the other and vice versa without getting bit or ripped apart? He knew that his plan was strong, it could work, it would work, but he wasn’t sure how he could keep himself alive long enough to see it put into action.

He sat back against the faded brick wall (which helped to give him shade), looked up at the sunny blue sky, and then out onto the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. He watched the waves for a while, trying to find some peace of mind as he ate a bit of processed snack food and sipped on a warm bottle of water. He closed his eyes when he was finished eating, and fell asleep, drifting off into the world of pleasant dreams and happier pre-zombie days. This current dream was one of his happiest, a girlfriend, a party, lots and lots of friends out on the beach drinking like idiots by a rip roaring fire.

A sound of thumping tore him out of his pleasant dreams and pushed him back into the harsh world he now called home.

He knew the zombies had found him.

 

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New Release – Nightlight Tales 2 By Anthony Renfro

Today I have a New Release for you, Nightlight Tales 2, a collection of horror short stories by Anthony Renfro.

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The Headless Fountain Man: A simple photo. A quick snap shot. One woman’s perfect picture is about to become her scariest nightmare.

Fear of the Scarecrow: This short story is about a desperate man hungry for revenge. Sometimes revenge comes with a price.

It Sleeps at Dawn: This short story is about a Vampire who stalks the Appalachian Mountains. A traditional Vampire who uses fangs instead of guns. He hunts. He kills. He sleeps at Dawn.

The Dead of Winter: This short story is about an apocalyptic nightmare in a crisp frozen landscape filled with winter and living corpses.Two men try to find safety in this dead world. Hoping to ride out the night. Hoping to find warmth and shelter. Hoping not to become food for the zombies.

Gluten-Free: Death by Gluten? One man commits suicide in a most unusual way.

The Lot: A Christmas Tree lot isn’t all it seems to be. It hides evil deadly secrets.

The Dragon: A simple machine. Able to answer requests. Able to play music. Able to turn on lights and answer questions. Fun and enjoyable technology, but what happens when this machine is able to manifest actual things. In this short story two guys worst fears will come to life.

Webs: A pyramid in the deep dry desert. What secrets lie within its walls? One explorer is about to find his greatest desire and his worst nightmare inside this ancient artifact.

Gas Station of the Dead: This short story is about a former tanker truck driver who decides to use his skills to deliver gas to those in need during the Zombie Apocalypse.

A Zombie Christmas: This short story is about three men who risk life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to bring happiness to surviving kids on Christmas Morning.

A Zombie Christmas 2: A boy lost. A family desperate. It’s Christmas in a Zombie Apocalypse and Mike Beem is once again aiming for another Holiday miracle. His goal this year isn’t toys for the kids in the neighborhood. His goal this time is trying to save one small life so another family doesn’t have to suffer the way he suffered.

Flesh for the Zombies: When Mike Beem’s community is savagely attacked, he must exact revenge on those who wronged him. He must put aside all the good he has ever accomplished in order to become someone else. A man without a moral compass. A man without right or wrong. A man who is a cold blooded killer. Will he get his justice or will he die trying? The answers lie within the pages of this short story.

Zombie Beach: Mike Beem has given it all up and run off to live by the beach. Life down on the coast isn’t all that it should be. Days of lying in the sun are replaced with brutal survival. Mike does his best to not only survive, but to rebuild a life among the ruins of these beach side towns.

 

Excerpt2

EXP: The Headless Fountain Man

 Kim was approaching the annual Canadian Comicon when she was startled by a headless statue sitting inside a large silver fountain. This statue had black Chuck Taylor’s on its feet, red socks on its bare ankles, blue jeans, and was wearing a tee-shirt that read “Water you looking at.”  She took out her camera and instead of taking pictures of the various people in cos play costumes (Star Trek, Star Wars, and Frozen seemed to be the lead choices, Frozen, weird, I know, but hey it is a Comicon), she decided to take a picture of this statue, sitting there on its butt, dressed like it was heading for a skateboarding convention, with no head on top of its body. Its head had been replaced with a large white geyser of water that sailed into the air and splashed all over the headless figure and the ground around it.

Her finger froze before she took the shot, something about this statue felt all wrong, something about it didn’t seem right. She focused the lens, and thought she saw the statue raise an arm and wave at her. She paused, and pulled the camera away from her face, opening both eyes. She looked at the statue in the dusky light. It was still sitting there spewing water from its neck, arms and legs unmoving. She shook off the goose bumps, raised the camera to her eye, and snapped the shot. Then she snapped a couple more because you didn’t know which one would be the money shot, best to have backups.

 

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New Release – The Gryphon Stone by Thomas Watson

Today I have a New Release for you, The Gryphon Stone, the Autobiography of David K. Render, UNMS Retired, by my friend Thomas Watson.  Thomas has also given us an excerpt, enjoy.

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Of all the worlds in the multiverse, Adrathea is the last David Render would willingly revisit. What happened there broke his heart and drove him to retire from the UN Multiverse Survey. To hang up his sword forever.

Then Treyvar of the Alvehn brings disturbing news. Adrathea is in peril, and David’s old comrade needs his help to stop a rogue Alvehn from usurping the throne and ruling the planet forever as an immortal tyrant. To set things right, David must return to the one place he never wants to see again.

But Adrathea is a world to which David’s fate is bound by the most intimate of ties. He has no choice. Adrathea calls, and he must answer.

 

Excerpt2

 

In which David keeps a vigil while Sidraytha of the Isles of Wulde seek absolution for an episode of berserker rage…

We climbed into the hills soon after. The tallest shoulders of stone looked over the roundabout, down and past ranks of outcrops and boulders through which the stream tumbled before it flowed into a small lake. By then we’d changed into spare clothes; the condition of those we’d cleaned did not pass muster with Mistress Malley, who took them in hand. We wore our swords and great coats, and I carried a pair of blankets for sitting. These were all the comforts Island tradition allowed. We’d eaten a light supper, but brought no food or water with us. I could feel the eyes of our fellow travelers follow us up the slope. Word had spread; they knew where we went, and they knew why. This was made clear by so many of them making the sign of the Two, as we passed by.

Sid picked a flat boulder perched at the top of the hill and, as the sun slipped below the horizon, we climbed onto it. At that high point we arranged the blankets and stood facing each other. “Our blades will lie between us, unsheathed,” she said, drawing hers. “They must not touch. We will sit back-to-back, and we will not touch or speak or look upon one another until you see the sun rise. When it clears the horizon, you will tell me the vigil has ended.”

“Got it,” I said. I drew my sword, and it caught a gleam of red light from the fading sunset. It was completely quiescent in my hand. I could only hope the same was true of Sid’s weapon. We set them down, side by side, hers pointing south, mine north. Sid turned to face the sunset, and I followed her gaze.

How recently had we watched that fierce red glow fade in the west, and not long after made love beneath the stars? And now we would keep a vigil beneath those same stars, as my lover sought absolution from deities I didn’t even believe in. The strangeness and frightful beauty of this life I’ve led never ceases to amaze me. I suppose, on balance, that’s a good thing.

As the sky darkened overhead, Sid started to sing a hymn in the language of the Islands. I didn’t know the language then, but the pleading sound of her voice, and the tears I could hear beneath it, made my heart ache. All the more so, knowing there was nothing I could do. The hymn went on and on, with short pauses for breath. I didn’t dare so much as take her hand in mine. It wasn’t just that she’d told me not to touch her. It felt like the wrong thing to do.

Only a dark band of blue remained above the western horizon as the song ended, and Sid indicated that we should sit. I did so, facing east, Sid at my back, both of us wrapped in coats. I settled in for a long night.

It was a very long night indeed.

I’ve kept long watches, in my day, and gone without sleep more times than I care to count. But I’d never done anything quite like this before. Knowing where my friend’s head was at, what she had to be feeling, and yet not really understanding what she was about – I’m a thorough-going agnostic in such matters – all sorts of thoughts floated through my mind. The stars slowly turned from east to west over the wide, shadowy landscape around us. The sounds of the camp below died away and there was only the whisper of a light breeze sighing over the rocks, the chatter of the stream pouring over the stones of its narrow bed, and a single loud and persistent cricket that I swore I would one day hunt down and kill.

The air grew chilly, and I pulled the collar of my coat up around my neck. Sid sat behind me, as still as the stone beneath us. My mind wandered, and I found myself reliving snatches of memory. The dragons on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Moj hordes appearing in North Carolina and Texas, and kaiju rising from the sea. I remembered the day the Alvehn came and saved us from the Moj. I remembered fighting in the unit of militia my father formed when the black drakes appeared. I recalled his death, sometime later, as we fought the Moj. For not the first time, I took comfort in the knowledge that his sacrifice had saved a city. I contemplated many things from my past, that night; the beauty and love, the horror and grief, and the sheer wonder of the multiverse. It defies my meager skill with words.

I remained awake and at her back all through her vigil. Instead of falling asleep, I seemed to enter a strange sort of mental state that was neither wakeful nor unconscious. It was awareness and feeling only, without thought. My wandering recollections faded away. I was aware of the quiet night, and of the woman who sat behind me. Acutely aware of Sidraytha. Somehow, though we faced away from each other, I knew she remained awake. Time became a single, eternal moment; reality was as crystal clear as the stars overhead.

The sky was growing pale to the east. I watched as the stars faded and the thin, pale crescent of the old moon rose ahead of the dawn. Birds called out to each other in shrill, bubbling whistles from the shadowy land around us. The sky grew steadily brighter and more birds joined that dawn chorus. It seemed to take forever, but at last a fiery sliver of light burst over the rim of the world. In a moment it was too bright to look at directly, and in the fullness of time, the sun rose above the horizon. The vigil had ended.

Feeling stiff and a little shaky, I got my knees under me and turned toward Sid. “It’s done,” I said. I looked up into the sky, stretching my back, and saw gryphons circling overhead. They were still watching us. I had no problem with that, not after what had happened.

Sid let go a deep sigh and bent forward a little, then nodded. “It is done,” she agreed, and though she needed no assistance, accepted my hand as I helped her stand.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said with another nod. “It would seem the God and Goddess share your judgment of me, Daffyd.” And she smiled, then stepped forward and kissed me. It was a brief kiss, and after it we just stood there, holding each other for a moment as the day brightened around us.

I saw our companions just as she turned from me, and knew she did so as well when she let out a little gasp of surprise. There, on the rocks below us, with lanterns and candles and green glow lights that all still gleamed or flickered in the shadows cast by the hill, were what appeared to be most of the caravan’s company. Closest were Korl, Tensta, and Trey; arrayed around them were most of the surviving caravan guards. Not far down the hill I saw Grevin, the Prince, and the rest of the players. Master and Mistress Malley stood close together, holding hands. Beyond them, the rocks were liberally sprinkled with people, looking up at us. All of them looked utterly exhausted.

Our fellow travelers, aware of what Sid needed to do, and why, had chosen to keep the watch with me.

Sid stared out over them for a moment, speechless, then as tears spilled from her eyes she made the sign of the Two over them. After that, she went down on one knee and bowed her head.

I knelt beside her, and did the same.

 

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New Release – The Dragon By Anthony Renfro

Today I have a New Release for you, The Dragon by author Anthony Renfro.  Also an excerpt for you to enjoy as well as a couple of bonus short stories.

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Description1
What happens when they ask The Dragon to summon a demon? A simple machine. Able to answer requests. Able to play music. Able to turn on lights and answer questions. Fun and enjoyable technology, but what happens when this machine is able to manifest actual things. In this short story two guys worst fears will come to life.


Bonus Short Story: Webs

A pyramid in the deep dry desert. What secrets lie within its walls? One explorer is about to find his greatest desire and his worst nightmare inside this ancient artifact.

Bonus Short Story: The Headless Fountain Man

A simple photo. A quick snap shot. One woman’s perfect picture is about to become her scariest nightmare.

Excerpt2
EXP: The Dragon
Pat followed, looking around at the huge house, no, not looking, gawking would be the appropriate word. The place was huge with a dining room filled with a table that could sit twenty, a library full of books (some rare, some new), and further down the massive hallway with the vaulted ceilings stood four more rooms, all of them hidden behind closed doors. They opened each closed door, and found bedrooms with full baths behind them. They moved on, stopping at the end of the hall when they reached the staircase.

“Would you look at that?” Doug replied, as he stepped onto the bottom part of it. He ran his hand over the ivory railing, and eye balled the expensive carpet that covered each step.

“I bet this place has at least ten rooms in it.”

“Probably more if you consider the attic and basement,” Doug replied, shining his light up the curved staircase. He couldn’t see beyond the curve, but he knew there was another massive amount of space lurking upstairs.

Pat started to move. “Come on, let’s see what’s at the end?”

Doug followed, and at the end of the hall they found a kitchen big enough for a hotel. It was covered with cabinets and hanging cookware, all kinds of cookware, from cast iron to copper bottom. They took a few moments to raid the pantry and fridge, both of which had lots of supplies in them. It was the packaged food and cold beer that both boys took advantage of. They were under 21, but just above the age of 18 so the alcohol was the real treat. After pounding back a few beers, Doug got up to go find a bathroom and on his way back to the kitchen he stumbled upon The Dragon.

“Look what I found,” Doug replied.

“Is that one of those Dragon things that work only with your voice?” Pat asked, standing up, stumbling over to where his friend was standing.

“I wonder if the house is hooked up to it?” Doug asked, looking at his friend.

“Plug it in, find out.”

Doug found a USB outlet, and slipped the plug into the square hole. He was happy to discover that the power hadn’t been turned off in the house. Both boys let the machine warm up, watching the blue light spin around the top, waiting for it to be ready to use. When the light died, the machine sat cold and lifeless, waiting for a response to wake it from slumber.

 

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The Mike Beem Chronicles By Anthony Renfro

Today I have a book of tales for you from the Zombie Apocalypse.  The Mike Beem Chronicles by author Anthony Renfro.

 

 

Description1

What are the Mike Beem Chronicles? The Mike Beem Chronicles are a series of short stories that I wrote involving a character named Mike Beem. They are stories about hope, survival, and people trying to keep humanity alive in a world filled with the living dead. Descriptions for all six stories in this collection flow below. Enjoy.

A Zombie Thanksgiving: A short story about a woman who risks life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to keep the Thanksgiving tradition alive.

A Zombie Christmas: This short story is about three men who risk life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to bring happiness to surviving kids on Christmas Morning.

A Zombie New Year’s Eve: This short story is about Becky and Joe who are separated in a Zombie Apocalypse and risk life and limb in order to reunite for their New Year’s Eve kiss.

A Zombie Christmas 2: A boy lost. A family desperate. It’s Christmas in a Zombie Apocalypse and Mike Beem is once again aiming for another Holiday miracle. His goal this year isn’t toys for the kids in the neighborhood. His goal this time is trying to save one small life so another family doesn’t have to suffer the way he suffered.

Flesh for the Zombies: When Mike Beem’s community is savagely attacked, he must exact revenge on those who wronged him. He must put aside all the good he has ever accomplished in order to become someone else. A man without a moral compass. A man without right or wrong. A man who is a cold blooded killer. Will he get his justice or will he die trying? The answers lie within the pages of this short story.

Zombie Beach: Mike Beem has given it all up and run off to live by the beach. Life down on the coast isn’t all that it should be. Days of lying in the sun are replaced with brutal survival. Mike does his best to not only survive, but to rebuild a life among the ruins of these beach side towns.

 

Excerpt2

EXP. A Zombie Thanksgiving

Dawn stopped at the edge of the parking lot. What she saw in front of her was an apocalyptic nightmare. It was a picture of mass panic frozen in a time of chaos.

The parking lot looked like a war zone–cars burned to metal bodies, cars crashed together, cars turned over, shopping carts everywhere and in all kinds of positions, (food and supplies in these carts long since looted), and bodies, lots and lots of dead bodies. Most of them had been laying out here rotting in the hot sun for far too long, and they were now decayed and gooey, slipping back into the Earth one second at a time.

She closed her eyes, held the gold cross on a chain around her neck, prayed, and then crossed the parking lot.

She stopped when she reached the double doors that led into the grocery store. Sunlight gleamed off what was left of the glass in the frame, shards on the ground twinkled like stars. Two zombies shuffled out of the store, heading in her tasty direction. Dead things. Rotten things. Been walking around for a long time now as a corpse things. A couple of quick pops of her gun and both of them went down hard. Perfect, clean, head shots. Blood splattered ground.

Dawn looked to her left and right, back to the store in front of her, and then she turned around to make sure nothing was behind her. No other zombies shuffled about in the late fall heat, at least not from where she was standing; but there was a man, she did see a man, coming across the parking lot towards her. He stood about medium height, not too pudgy, not too thin. He had to be about 40 years old, she thought, as he put his hands up to show he wasn’t a threat.

 

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Halloween Promotion – Chill Bumps by Anthony Renfro

Today’s promotion is for Chill Bumps a collection of scary short stories by author Anthony Renfro.

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Description1

6 Tales of Horror and Suspense

The Man from the Road: A man suddenly appears on a road. He’s lost, confused, no clue as to how he got there. He starts to walk and stops suddenly. There’s a bonfire in a field nearby. He sees people dancing around this fire. They are performing some kind of ritual. He turns to flee, but he’s captured. No chance of escape. He hopes he is only dreaming, because all of this seems a bit too real.

A Haunted House Tale: Five college students on Halloween night set out to discover the secrets of the town’s most infamous haunted house. Will these students live to see the morning or will this house claim five more victims?

Demon Energy: A short story about 1 man possessed and tormented by a 1000 demons who must fight for a soul he is starting to lose. Will he ever find salvation or is his body now an eternal host of hell?

SHe: A monster stalks the city of Tampa Bay. This monster is only attacking women taking only the one thing it needs. Tim Roberts, a detective, is hot on this monster’s trail. Will he catch this monster in time or will this monster feed until it has its fill? Be careful Tim, this monster has a secret yet to be revealed.

Devil at the Wheel: A Joyride in a Chevy Chevelle. The car was just sitting there for the taking. What could possibly go wrong? Vinnie and Mike are about to find out what can and will go wrong once they turn the key. Evil awaits.

Killer Treads: A short story about a man who sees a flashy ad online advertising a twenty dollar treadmill. He buys the machine, too cheap to be scared, and realizes much to his dismay that this machine has a taste for blood. Big Bob better run like his life depends on it because in many ways it does.

 

Excerpt2

EXP: A Haunted House Tale

The passenger door opened.

Robert stumbled out of the car and into the busted, broken asphalt driveway. Weeds swished against his pants as he walked over to a nearby fountain and looked at it. In the center of this fountain was a moss-covered concrete statue of a kid on his knees about to roll a ball.

“Well, he’s out, better go after him,” Scott replied, pushing back the passenger seat so he could join his friend.

Kevin pulled the keys out of the ignition, and climbed out as well. Once outside the car, he leaned back in and looked at the girls. “We’ve come this far. Might as well see what all the fuss is about.”

The girls looked at each other as Kevin went around to the trunk and opened it up.

“What do you say, Suzy?”

“As long as you stay with me.”

“I’ll be right by your side, promise.”

“Let’s go then.”

The two girls climbed out of the car, and walked over to where Scott and Robert were standing in front of the fountain.

“Would you look at this place?” Kevin replied when he joined his friends.

“It is crazy scary,” Scott replied.

“Just the pot man. Come on. Let’s get the gear and get inside,” Kevin replied, walking back to the car.

His friends joined him a second later, and the gear was quickly swept up by all five of them. With gear in hand and five flashlights beaming, they walked over to the gate and stopped. This gate was attached to a silver rusty fence, which was broken in many spots as it made its way around the forgotten yard. Kevin pulled the gate open, and it let out a screech that sounded like a scream, as the rusty hinges were forced back into service. He stepped onto the broken sidewalk, which was mostly tall grass and weeds now, and led the way to the busted porch.

 

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