Halloween Promotion – Short Story Strands Halloween 2012 Edition

Today’s promotion is for Short Story Strands Halloween 2012 Edition, a great group of scary stories by some awesome story tellers.  This book is FREE so download and enjoy.

 

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Come celebrate Halloween in ways both spooky and fun in this collection of sixteen short stories spun by talented new voices in science fiction and fantasy.

Insecurity Complex, by Jade Kerrion
Empty Glass, by P.L. Blair
The Red Card, by Sheenah Freitas
Chanceus, by L’Poni Baldwin
My Soul To Take, by L.M. Boelz
The Nest, by Linell Jeppsen
The Medusa Touch, by Sam Kates
Skinshade, by T. Jackson King
Little Girls Squealing in the Yard, by Lalo LaFleur
Tender Moments, by Massimo Marino
Blood Relation, by Patrick Ottuso
Grandma to the Rescue, by Sharon L Reddy
The Power of Spirit, by Ch’Kara SilverWolf
Dominique, by Edwin Stark
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream, by Lisa Williamson
Spoils of Earth, by Michael Youngblood

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New Release – The Elevator by Sam Kates

Today I am bringing you a New Release, The Elevator, a Dark Fantasy by my friend Sam Kates.  Sam has also given us an excerpt to give us a taste.

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The Elevator – a long novella (or short novel) – dark fantasy with elements of science fiction and mild horror. Oh, and there’s an appearance by a dragon.

 

Description1

An ordinary elevator. An ordinary morning.

Four people step into the elevator and it begins to ascend. Just another dreary day in the office, they think.

Until the door opens…

 

Excerpt2

 

“Thanks, Tara,” I said.

She shrugged again. “Don’t go thinking we’re all mates here. As soon as that door opens onto what it’s supposed to, I’ll go to my sales meeting and blank all this—and you people—from my mind.”

“Oh, nice,” said Kim.

“Nah,” said Jack, without looking up. “She’s got the right idea. None of this can be real so treat it as a dream or something.”

“The blood on my hands is real,” I said.

“And your nose,” added Kim.

“And your head.”

Where the flying creatures had yanked out strands of Kim’s hair, bloody gaps showed. A trickle of blood, now dried, had run down to above her eyebrow.

“And that gunk on your binder is real,” said Kim to Tara.

Jack made a high-pitched sound and I glanced at him. He stared past me, his newfound poise gone.

“You telling me that’s real?” he said.

He held out a shaky finger, pointing out of the door.

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Excerpt – The Reckoning by Sam Kates

It is my pleasure to bring you an excerpt from my friend Sam Kates new novel The Reckoning, book 3 of the Earth Haven series.

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Description1

Unnatural calm prevails. Trepidation builds. Silently, a storm gathers.

Survivors from mainland Europe and North America converge on Britain. Weary, confused, all come seeking answers; some are spoiling for a fight.

What began with the Cleansing and was hastened by the Beacon nears fruition. But time is running out, and human numbers are too few to win the last battle alone. Unless help can be found from the unlikeliest of allies, failure is assured.

Humankind faces its ultimate test. The Reckoning is upon us.

Excerpt2

Blacker than jet, smoother than glass, vaster than a mountain range, it moved through space like an obsidian meteor. A large sun growled and flared like a blacksmith’s furnace at the blast of the bellows. The ship had already passed the fourth and final planet of the solar system, was accelerating into the furthest reaches of the system’s gravitational field, when the smaller craft appeared.

Eight vessels, little more than a scouting party, but still capable of inflicting severe damage with their antimatter-seeking missiles. Travelling at close to light speed when they came into view, the craft were already slowing as they entered the embrace of gravity.

The black ship was built for speed, not battle.

Trying to evade the smaller craft by vertical or horizontal thrusts would merely expend huge reserves of energy in an exercise in futility that would also slow its rate of acceleration. The smaller vessels were capable of changing direction within moments through deployment of on-board gyroscopes and would be able to train their missiles on the larger ship regardless of what manoeuvres it attempted.

No. Its best chance – likely its only chance – of escaping ruin lay in speed.

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Halloween Promotion – Ode to Autumn

Today’s Halloween offering is Ode to Autumn ~ A Season of Change, wonderful dark stories and poems by a talented group of authors.   I will put up my story to give you a taste.

Ode to Autumn

Introducing~ An Ode to Autumn~ A Season of Change… An anthology of dark and deadly poems and short stories from over eighteen acclaimed, award-winning Indie authors, hosted by Linell Jeppsen!

Through The Porthole

Ch’kara SilverWolf © Copyright

 

Rhea had recovered from the passing of David; he had been her best friend as well as her lover. Although she had settled down into the daily routine of living, there was a part of her that was lost.

Her friend Kat had offered her some time out at her house in the mountains. She was looking forward to the solitude, time to think, to sort out what she wanted from life. To recharge and get herself ready to start life anew, instead of the mindless existence she had been drifting through.

She arrived at the cottage on a sunny November day, it was looked beautiful as she came up the drive, which was filled with gorgeous flowers, and the cottage looked warm and friendly.

She opened the door, and stood for a moment looking around; she had been here before with her friend and loved the peace and tranquility of the place. Walking into the kitchen with its oak furniture and pots hanging above the workbench, she discovered that the neighbor had been over and turned on the power and water, also she had left a basket of fruit and the essentials in the fridge such as milk, bread, butter, and eggs. They were such nice people, also in the fact that they would not come around uninvited.

The note with the food told Rhea if she needed anything, to call, otherwise she would not be bothered by anyone. They had been told she wanted quiet time and they understood. Over the next few days, Rhea slept late and took long walks, enjoying the fresh air and peace. She began to feel alive again, she could almost perceive of a new life.

One morning, she woke to the sound of rain on the roof, as she lay there listening, feeling in a sense, cleansed by the rain, she realized she could hear a window banging, so pulling on her slippers and bathrobe, she went upstairs to see where it was coming from.

At the top of the landing was Kat’s room, the sound was definitely coming from there and although she had not been in there before, she did not want anything to be damaged by the water. She went in and closed the window, checked there was no water damage, and as she scanned the room she thought how lovely it was. A big brass four-poster bed with a canopy draped in antique lace. Pillows of all sizes gave the bed a soft inviting look.

Rhea then turned back to the window; it seemed odd to be there. It was round like the window in a ship, a porthole, she stared at it for a while trying to decide why she was drawn to it, then noticed that the frame surrounding it was carved with intricate symbols. She had never seen anything like it, as she stood there; she reached out and traced her fingers over it. It was almost like a compulsion to do this, all of a sudden she pulled her hand away and stepped back, she thought she had seen somebody reflected in the glass. She spun around thinking there was someone in the house, but the room was empty.

Her heart was pounding; her mind was racing with all the possibilities of what it could have been. She was reluctant to focus on what she was really thinking could have happened. Could someone be looking through the glass at her? This seemed impossible as she was on the second floor, her analytical mind did not want to accept this. She knew her friend Kat was open to unusual phenomena, but not her. If you didn’t have a solid explanation for something, then it didn’t exist.

With her heart still pounding, she stepped in front of the window again; she was determined to discover the ‘logical’ explanation for it. So far, everything was normal, and then she put her hand up and once again traced the symbols.

There was a flickering, so steeling herself, she kept tracing them, suddenly the flickering stopped and she could see another room through the glass. There was a man standing there, he turned as though he sensed somebody, Rhea was stunned, standing there transfixed. Then he smiled, he had dark hair and deep brown eyes, which came alive when he smiled.

“Hello, don’t be frightened, my name is Jean-Claude, you must have traced the symbols, that could be the only way we are here like this.”

Where are you? How did you get here? I don’t understand this, it can’t be real, oh god, I must be having a breakdown.”

Jean-Claude saw how agitated Rhea was. He was afraid she would leave. “Please don’t go. Tell me your name, I won’t hurt you. I promise to answer any of your questions. I am as real as you are, you must know Kat, or I think you wouldn’t be here.”

“You can’t be real, this is not logical.” She lowered her head into her hands thinking that when she looked again it would all have been an illusion. However, when she looked up there he was looking out at her only this time she could see his hand on her side of the porthole.

“Please don’t be afraid, what is your name? I promise I am real, see you can touch me.”

Rhea stepped back in fear, no this cannot be true. She ran from the room and slammed the door. What should she do? If she phoned Kat, she would probably think she was going mad. All her friends were so worried about her and had wanted her to see a doctor, a shrink, but there was no need for that, she was perfectly sane. Or was she? She went to the kitchen to make coffee, maybe if she cleared her head it would all make sense to her. She sat with the steaming coffee in her hands thinking how much she wished that it was a glass of wine instead. She had been drinking far too much since David had passed and therefore one of her reasons for being here was to be away from that temptation.

She dressed and walked in the beautiful gardens. This was normal and how it should be. She spent most of the day outside and as the sun began to set she returned to the house. She turned on all the lights and prepared something to eat. She laughed nervously, this was so silly, and it had all been such a stressful time for her she must have been imagining it.

After her meal, she went upstairs and hesitated outside Kat’s room. Maybe she should just go look, and prove to herself it had been her imagination. She went up to the porthole and there were the symbols. They looked perfectly harmless, just a beautifully carved decoration. She couldn’t stop herself, she felt compelled as she stepped closer and once again trace her finger around the symbols. The same shimmering occurred and she could see the other side, although there seemed to be nobody there. She tentatively put her hand up to the glass, and her hand went straight through, as though it didn’t exist. Just as she was about to bring her hand back something grabbed her. She screamed and struggled to pull her hand out of the porthole, but something was pulling her in. Oh god, how was this happing to her? She fought harder, but the more she struggled the more she was pulled in, she thought her arm would be pulled from its socket. Then one last pull and she felt as though she was falling. She hit solid ground with a bang and quickly jumped up. Standing in front of her was Jean-Claude.

“How did I get here? I want to go back, you can’t keep me here.”

He laughed, and suddenly it sounded so sinister. “Oh but I can my dear. You are mine now; Kat promised she would send me a new toy to play with. We are going to have so much fun together you and I.”

Rhea threw back her head and screamed and screamed but no one came. Everyone was told to leave her in peace. A peace she would never know now.

Jean-Claude took her hand and she shivered in fear. “I think my dear, the moral of the story should be. Never put your hand where you think it should not go.” With that, he laughed loudly as she ran to the porthole and banged her hands on the glass; for once again it was solid. There was no escape.

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An Ode To Autumn ~ Season of Change – FREE

Hi Everyone,

Today I have a FREE book for you, An Ode To Autumn ~ A Season of Change, by a great group of authors.  I humbly am privileged to be a part of this book.  So get your copy now and if you love it, please think about leaving a review.

Nell wordsmythDESCRIPTION

Introducing~ An Ode to Autumn~ A Season of Change… An anthology of dark and deadly poems and short stories from over eighteen acclaimed, award-winning Indie authors, hosted by Linell Jeppsen!

Welcome to an Ode to Autumn~Season of Change. This anthology includes over one hundred pages of spooky, poignant and strange autumnal short stories and poems from eighteen authors including: PL Blair, Edwin Stark, Simone Beaudelaire, T. Jackson King, Linda Walker, Elizabeth VanZwoll, Linell Jeppsen, Lisa Williamson, Sheenah Freitas, LM Boelz, Will MacMillan Jones, Holly Barbo, Brandye Flowers, Sam Kates, Jean Kilczer, Rebecca Stroud, John Patin, Ch’Kara Silverwolf and Yen Ooi.
Enter our dark world for a while and explore the vivid imaginings of these acclaimed, Indie authors!

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First Chapters – The Cleansing by Sam Kates

Today’s First Chapter is from The Cleansing by my friend Sam Kates.

TheCleansingDESCRIPTION

Apocalypse unleashed, the Cleansing begins. Relentless. Survival, uncertain.

Seven billion people inhabit this world, unaware our destruction is at hand. Death arrives unheralded—swift and nearly certain—not from meteors or nuclear holocaust or global warming, but from a source no one even knows exists.

The architects of doom have moved among us, hidden in plain sight, waiting for the signal to trigger our extinction.

Blindsided, humanity falls. A handful of survivors, bewildered and grief-stricken, must face the new reality, and quickly. For while the Cleansing threatens our existence, it is only the beginning. . . .

Earth Haven Book 1 : The Cleansing

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The message washed over her like a cold wave. She gasped and sank back into the armchair, which groaned beneath her bulk. She closed her eyes and saw the images, still so familiar to her after all this time: ebony spires and minarets and monoliths, great glass domes peering from the constantly shifting dunes, pyramids and ziggurats, obelisks and amphitheatres, and endless deserts of dark sands gleaming faintly in the baleful light of a dying sun.

She gasped again as she saw the craft: vaster than a mountain range, blacker than night, sleeker than an otter’s hide. It was emerging from the desert floor, the sands broiling and parting; she could almost hear the slithering sound the sand made as it cascaded off the smooth sides of the craft.

Her jaw set into a determined line as she opened her eyes. At last they were coming.

It was time for her to send a message of her own.

The armchair creaked and complained, then sighed as she pulled herself upright. From habit – there was nobody before whom she had to make herself presentable – she smoothed down her housecoat and walked in a rolling gait across the apartment to the work station upon which stood her computer.

She eased herself into the chair that she’d had custom made; it supported her weight without so much as a creak. The work station stood before a picture window that looked out over Central Park. While she waited for the computer to boot up, she stared down at the people braving the December cold. Couples strolled beneath the weak morning sun, muffled and gloved and hooded against the biting winter breeze. Longcoated businessmen strode purposefully, clutching briefcases or portfolios, intent on reaching the cosy sanctuaries of their plush offices on Fifth or Madison. The occasional fitness enthusiast in jogging bottoms and sweat shirt bounded by. A chattering kindergarten class snaked along the paths, the children in woolly hats and gloves, the cold failing to douse their excitement at the field trip.

She watched this snapshot of humanity and for a moment, only a moment, felt a pang of sorrow. Her broad brow wrinkled into a frown and she shook her head to clear it. This was no time for regrets.

Returning her attention to the computer, she opened her e-mail application. The message had already been written. It had sat in her drafts folder for years, since she had first decided that e-mail would be a far simpler, relatively effortless way to spread the word. Of course, not every intended recipient of the message would have e-mail access. Even with today’s blanket coverage, some remote corners of the globe were out of reach or were blocked from communication with the outside world by isolationist governments. She had another method of reaching them; a method that would cost her a great deal of mental energy, but she was prepared. She had been prepared for many years.

She opened the message from the drafts folder. It was simple, only four short sentences:

They are coming. Begin immediately. Mercy is not an option. Acknowledge.

The e-mail was set up to be sent to almost five thousand addresses, addresses that she had painstakingly kept up to date.

Her right hand clutched the mouse, moving the cursor over the send button. Her index finger hovered over the left-click button of the mouse as she hesitated.

She allowed herself one more glance out of the window, at the people moving through the Park, and was powerless to prevent a profound look of sadness from moving across her face like a dark shadow.

Again she shook herself and her features hardened. Looking back at the computer screen, she pressed the send button.

Mankind’s fate was thus sealed by the click of a mouse.

*

Two thousand miles or so across the Atlantic Ocean, Tom Evans glanced up at the clock on the classroom wall. Ten past three.

He rose to his feet and stepped around the desk. Leaning back against it, he clapped his hands.

“Everybody! Pay attention, please!”

Twenty pairs of eyes turned towards him and two of those belonged to his teaching assistants. That was the beauty of teaching in a village school: manageable class sizes.

“Right, then,” said Tom. “As you know, children, from all the chocolates you’ve been eating every morning before coming to school, we’re well into December.” One or two children giggled and Tom smiled. “There are only two weeks left in school before we break up for the Christmas holidays. So – on Monday, we’ll be starting rehearsals for the Nativity.”

A murmur rippled through the class as children turned to each other and grinned or whispered excitedly.

Tom clapped his hands once more and the children all stared up at him raptly.

“Miss Jones and Mr Davies,” – Tom nodded towards his teaching assistants – “will be helping me decide which parts you’ll all be playing. There’s Mary and Joseph, and the kings and shepherds, and angels, even the star.”

“Mr Evans… Sir?”

“Yes, James?”

“Sir, can I be the baby Jesus? Sir, please?”

Immediately, hands shot into the air as other children vied to stake their claims.

“Sorry, James, but the baby Jesus is the one part that nobody will have.” Tom grinned wryly at his teaching assistants, recalling last year’s Nativity. The way that Mary had swung the baby Jesus by the legs, clonking His head on the manger, even dropping Him once or twice, had ensured that the part of the holy babe would always have to be played by a doll. “Hands down, everybody. You’ll all get a part, I promise.”

Tom glanced again at the clock and straightened.

“Okay, your mums and dads will be outside waiting to take you home so pack away quietly. Miss Jones and Mr Davies will help to make sure all your things go away into your trays. Oh, and one last thing – shush for one second, please…” He held up a hand and the bustling ceased. “A few of you have been away from school with coughs and colds and flu, but I want you all fit and healthy to make this year’s Nativity the best one yet. So, no playing outside this weekend unless you’re wrapped up warmly. I don’t want anybody catching chills and falling ill, okay?”

“Yes, Mr Evans,” the class chorused.

“Good! See you all on Monday, bright and breezy.”

*

On the other side of the world, darkness had long fallen in Sydney. The heat of the day had faded with the light, but the night breeze was balmy.

Troy Bishop lay on his bed, naked, covers thrown back, resting. Not sleeping, for he rarely felt the need to sleep. Indeed, it was only habit and boredom that drove him to inertness on this night; the day had been so filled with life-regenerating sunlight that he felt bursting with energy, like a fully charged battery. He experienced the same problem each summer and had learned that he shouldn’t expend that energy merely for the sake of it. He sometimes became reckless with the joy of renewal and allowed that joy to overcome the restraint that usually kept him from indulging in his greatest and darkest pleasure. Also his most dangerous pleasure.

So he lay still, listening to the sounds of the city through the open window and idly watching the curtain sway in the warm breeze. When his iphone pinged and the screen lit up to announce a message received, he didn’t turn to it immediately. He had been waiting so many years, so many hopes had been dashed, that he had stopped anticipating the only message that he yearned to receive.

By the time he languidly turned onto his side and stretched out one hand to retrieve the phone from the bedside cabinet, its screen had darkened. He turned onto his back and held the phone above him while he pressed a button to relight the screen. When he saw who the message was from, he sat bolt upright and a low whistle escaped his lips.

“Milandra,” he breathed. “At last.”

He quickly opened and read the message. His tanned features twisted into a grin that contained no humour. The grin of a wolf.

“Mercy is not an option?” Bishop snorted. “As if I need to be told that…”

*

In downtown Los Angeles, the background hum of traffic increased as the rush hour began in earnest. Diane Heidler had only recently moved from Beverly Hills and had not yet grown accustomed to the noisier environment. Traffic was much heavier here, even outside the rush hours, the strident klaxons and wails of emergency vehicles more prevalent. She had even heard the occasional sounds of gunfire while she lay awake in the small hours.

Diane had chosen to move after growing bored with the opulence of the Hills and what she considered the plasticity of its people. She was becoming increasingly fed up with L.A. in general and was considering moving further south, maybe to San Diego. She had already tried the north; had lived for many years in San Francisco, watching it grow and burn and grow again.

But she couldn’t leave California; it was her area, her responsibility when the time came, though another shared the responsibility. He lived in Sacramento and would take care of the northern part of the state before pushing into Oregon. Sometimes she could sense him.

Diane would look after the southern half of the state and would then head east towards Las Vegas, taking a winding, circuitous route to take in as many townships and smaller settlements along the way as she was equipped to handle.

It wasn’t just boredom that had driven Diane to move downtown. Restlessness had grown in her of late. A restlessness that had to do with more than the tedium of her friendless, joyless existence. A sense of urgency was growing inside her; a sensation she had felt before, but not for many, many years. Something momentous was about to happen, she knew, without knowing how she knew.

It therefore did not come as a huge surprise when her laptop made a sound like a light hammer blow on a tin bathtub that signalled the receipt of a message.

Diane rose from the settee where she was sipping a morning coffee and strode across the small living room of her apartment to where her laptop sat on a leather-topped desk. She opened and read the message.

Expressionless, she stared at the screen for a few moments. She didn’t know how to feel so she felt nothing. She sent a response to the message; just one word.

She finished her coffee before starting to pack.

*

All around the globe, in most major cities, in many major towns and in various places in between, in almost five thousand locations all told, home computers and laptops and iphones and pagers bleeped, pinged, flashed, vibrated or buzzed to signify that a message had been received.

Not every recipient was within earshot of the receiving medium; not every medium was turned on; not every message was received instantly it was sent: some had to be routed through a network of servers before reaching their destinations. But they all would arrive and be read within seven hours of Milandra pressing the send button.

Almost without exception, every recipient responded to the message within minutes of receiving it. Almost.

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