Re: Animated – April 2015

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State of Horror Feature Author: Kenneth W. Cain

Originally posted on Charon Coin Press:

State of Horror North Carolina author Kenneth W Cain

Kenneth W. Cain story "By the Crescent Moon" Kenneth W. Cain bring his story, “By the Crescent Moon” to State of Horror: North Carolina

We continue our featured authors of State of Horror: North Carolina. By now, you have seen the features of authors from the February 10th release including: Frank J. Edler, Nathanael Gass, Frank Larnerd, Susan Hicks Wong, Armand Rosamilia, Stuart Conover/Kerry Lipp, and Margaret L. Colton. We continue our exploration of the state of North Carolina with author Kenneth W. Cain and his story, By the Crescent Moon.

Kenneth W. Cain became interested in the art of storytelling at a young age, listening to his grandfather spin tales beside the light of a barrel fire in southern Illinois.  Darkness, fear, mystery, and the unknown were all elements the old man wove into his stories, and Kenneth relies on these same techniques in his own stories.

His passion…

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2014 Bram Stoker awards® Preliminary Ballot announced

Reposting this to fix my error. This is the preliminary ballot. Sorry for any confusion.

I would like to congratulate all of these fantastic and talented people on making the preliminary ballot for the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards®. Click any link to find out more about that selection.

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Tim Burke – The Flesh Sutra (NobleFusion Press)
Adam Christopher – The Burning Dark (Tor Books)
Michaelbrent Collings – This Darkness Light (self-published)
Lawrence C. Connolly – Vortex (Fantasist Enterprises)
Craig DiLouie – Suffer the Children (Gallery Books of Simon & Schuster)
Patrick Freivald – Jade Sky (JournalStone)
Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You (Jonathan Cape, Vintage/Penguin Random House UK)
Christopher Rice – The Vines (47North)
Brett J. Talley – The Reborn (JournalStone)
Steve Rasnic Tem – Blood Kin (Solaris Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Maria Alexander – Mr. Wicker (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
J.D. Barker – Forsaken (Hampton Creek Press)
Janice Gable Bashman – Predator (Month9Books)
David Cronenberg – Consumed (Scribner)
Michael Knost – Return of the Mothman (Woodland Press)
Daniel Levine – Hyde (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Josh Malerman – Bird Box (Harper Collins)
Whitney Miller – The Violet Hour (Flux)
Chantal Noordeloos – Angel Manor (Horrific Tales Publishing)
C.J. Waller – Predator X (Severed Press)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Ari Berk – Lych Way (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Jake Bible – Intentional Haunting (Permuted Press)
Ilsa J. Bick – White Space (Egmont)
John Dixon – Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books)
Kami Garcia – Unmarked (The Legion Series Book 2) (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
S.E. Green – Killer Instinct (Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse)
Tonya Hurley – Passionaries (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Micol Ostow – Amity (Egmont)
Peter Adam Salomon – All Those Broken Angels (Flux)
Sam Swanson and Araminta Star Matthews – Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (Curiosity Quills Press)
Johnny Worthen – Eleanor: Book 1 (The Unseen) (Jolly Fish Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Charles Burns – Sugar Skull
Emily Carroll – Through the Woods
Victor Gischler – Kiss Me Satan
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love (Short, Scary Tales Publications)
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood (Dark Horse Books)
Paul Tobin – The Witcher

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Michael Bailey – Dandelion Clocks (Inkblots and Blood Spots) (Villipede Publications)
Taylor Grant – The Infected (Cemetery Dance #71) (Cemetery Dance)
Eric J. Guignard – Dreams of a Little Suicide (Hell Comes To Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales Of Tinseltown Terror (Volume 2)) (Big Time Books)
Kate Jonez – Ceremony of Flies (DarkFuse)
Joe R. Lansdale – Fishing for Dinosaurs (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Jonathan Maberry – Three Guys Walk Into a Bar (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Joe McKinney – Lost and Found (Limbus, Inc., Book II) (JournalStone)
Gene O’Neill – Ridin the Dawg (Mia Moja) (Thunderstorm Books)
John F.D. Taff – The Long Long Breakdown (The End in all Beginnings) (Grey Matter Press)
Gregor Xane – The Riggle Twins (Bad Apples) (Corpus Press)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Dale Bailey – Sleep Paralysis (Nightmare Magazine, April 2014) (Nightmare)
Hal Bodner – Hot Tub (Hell Comes to Hollywood II) (Big Time Books)
Patrick Freivald – Trigger Warning (Demonic Visions Book 4) (Chris Robertson)
Sydney Leigh – Baby’s Breath (Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl) (Great Old Ones Publishing)
Usman T. Malik – The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
Alessandro Manzetti – Nature’s Oddities (The Shaman: And Other Shadows) (self-published)
Rena Mason – Ruminations (Qualia Nous) (Written Backwards)
John Palisano – Splinterette (Widowmakers: A Benefit Anthology of Dark Fiction)
Sayuri Ueda – The Street of Fruiting Bodies (Phantasm Japan) (Haikasoru, an imprint of VIZ Media, LLC)
Genevieve Valentine – A Dweller in Amenty (Nightmare Magazine, March 2014) (Nightmare)
Damien Angelica Walters – The Floating Girls: A Documentary (Jamais Vu, Issue Three) (Post Mortem Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Michael Bailey – Inkblots and Blood Spots (Villipede Publications)
Stephen Graham Jones – After the People Lights Have Gone Off (Dark House Press)
John R. Little – Little by Little (Bad Moon Books)
Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications)
David Sakmyster – Escape Plans (Wordfire Press)
Terrence Scott – The Madeleine Wheel: Playing with Spiders (Amazon)
Lucy Snyder – Soft Apocalypses (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Robin Spriggs – The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom (Anomalous Books)
John F.D. Taff – The End In All Beginnings (Grey Matter Press)
Alexander Zelenyj – Songs for the Lost (Eibonvale Press)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey – The End Is Nigh (Broad Reach Publishing)
Michael Bailey – Qualia Nous (Written Backwards)
Jason V. Brock – A Darke Phantastique  (Cycatrix Press)
Ellen Datlow – Fearful Symmetries (ChiZine Publications)
Kate Jonez – Halloween Tales (Omnium Gatherum)
Eric Miller – Hell Comes to Hollywood II (Big Time Books)
Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer – Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press)
Brian M. Sammons – The Dark Rites of Cthulhu (April Moon Books)
Brett J. Talley – Limbus, Inc., Book II (JournalStone)
Terry M. West – Journals of Horror: Found Fiction (Pleasant Storm Entertainment)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Scott M. Gimple – The Walking Dead: The Grove, episode 4:14 (AMC)
James Hawes – Penny Dreadful: Possession (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Jennifer Kent – The Babadook (Causeway Films)
Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman – Sleepy Hollow: “Bad Blood” (Sketch Films/K/O Paper Products/20th Century Fox Television)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Séance (Desert Wolf Productions/Neal Street Productions)
Greg Mclean and Aaron Sterns – Wolf Creek 2 (Emu Creek Pictures)
Stephen Moffat – Doctor Who: Listen (British Broadcasting Corporation)
Cameron Porsendah – Helix: Pilot (Tall Ship Productions/Kaji Productions/Muse Entertainment/Lynda Obst Productions/in association with Sony Pictures Television)
Jack Thomas Smith –Infliction (Fox Trail Productions)
James Wong – American Horror Story: Coven: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” (FX Network)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Massimo Berruti, S.T. Joshi, and Sam Gafford – William Hope Hodgson: Voices from the Borderland (Hippocampus Press)
Jason V. Brock – Disorders of Magnitude (Rowman & Littlefield)
Hayley Campbell – The Art of Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins Publishers)
S.T. Joshi – Lovecraft and A World in Transition (Hippocampus Press)
Leslie S. Klinger – The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (Liveright Publishing Corp., a division of W.W. Norton & Co.)
Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley – Horror 101: The Way Forward (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Robert Damon Schneck – Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist (Tarcher/Penguin)
Lucy Snyder – Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide (Post Mortem Press)
Tom Weaver, David Schecter, and Steve Kronenberg – The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Robert Payne Cabeen – Fearworms: Selected Poems (Fanboy Comics)
G.O. Clark – Gravedigger’s Dance (Dark Renaissance Books)
David E. Cowen – The Madness of Empty Spaces (Weasel Press)
Corrinne De Winter and Alessandro Manzetti – Venus Intervention (Kipple Officina Libraria)
Wade German – Dreams from the Black Nebula (Hippocampus Press)
Tom Piccirilli – Forgiving Judas (Crossroad Press)
Michelle Scalise – The Manufacturer of Sorrow (Eldritch Press)
Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo – Sweet Poison (Dark Renaissance Books)
Tiffany Tang – Creepy Little Death Poems (Dreality Press)
Stephanie Wytovich – Mourning Jewelry (Raw Dog Screaming Press)


The Fear Project

A friend of mine, one K.T. Jayne, alerted me to this contest upon her being selected as one of the finalist. Beginning February 1st, this promises to prove a heated competition, as I know K.T.’s writing and she can bang out an eerie little tale in no time. It’s a weekly event that offers a hefty prize, but most of all it’s some free fiction for you all to check out. So get your peepers ready for some fun and head on over to check it out.

http://davidwellingtonsfearproject.com


“By The Crescent Moon”

Available from:

Synopsis of my story:
A disobedient cat leads its owner into a foggy night filled with chaos and happenstance.

State of Horror: North Carolina – Charon Coin Press:

Description:
Horror stories set in the state of North Carolina.

Table of Contents:

Dying Days: Grey Man by Armand Rosamilia

The Sacred Cave by Kathryn M. Hearst

The Devil You Know by Matt Andrew

By the Crescent Moon by Kenneth W. Cain

Chicken Bingo by Frank J. Edler

Death with Benefits by Randal Keith Jackson

Dead Girl Mary by Susan Hicks Wong

Fourth Point by Spencer Carvalho

Tools of the Trade by Margaret L. Colton

A Heartbeat in the Darkness by Stuart Conover/Kerry Lipp

Paddy Wagon Pete by L. J.  Heydorn

A Little More Mud in the Pasquotank by Nathanael Gass

A Feast of Sorrow by Frank Larnerd

 


Jack Wallen: Cry Zombie Cry excerpt

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chapter 3 | exit light, enter Rizzo

 

“Oh my God, turn that fucking thing off!” Joshua shouted over the Obliterator.

“What’s the matter, tough guy?” Morgan chided.

Jamal leaned forward, his head between the front seats, to address Josh and Morgan. “Tell me you have an ETA on your unit.”

“Aren’t you having fun? It’s like Camp of the Damned.” Joshua laughed at his attempted humor.

“Yeah, I’ve seen that film; it doesn’t end well—at least not for us.”

Morgan leaned over and smacked the back of Joshua’s head. “Stop being such a goofball, Josh. Tell the poor man how soon the cavalry will arrive.”

Josh laughed and glanced at his watch. “They should be here any minute.”

The distant sound of moans wafted up from the darkening sky.

“Please don’t get dark yet,” Echo whispered, as if to hide her plea. I wrapped my arms around her tiny frame and pulled her into me.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything hurt you.”

The words took me back to broken promises from the past. Susan—another young girl I’d promised to protect. That failure would eat at my heart for eternity. The only thing to be done was to finally make good on a similar promise and ensure nothing happened to Echo.

So far, so good.

“By the way, what’s the plan once we’re gassed up and on the road?” Jamal spoke softly. I loved that about him, how he always knew when to effect peace in a room—one of his many gifts.

“The plan hasn’t changed,” I started. “We hunt down and kill the Zero Day Collective and reclaim Jacob.”

Echo shuddered. “Jesus, when you put it that way it makes Jacob seem more property than prophet.”

The sentiment cut sharply. The thought that Jacob would ever be seen as a commodity to be tossed back and forth between enemy lines was insane. He was my baby, my joy, my hope for life. The idea threatened to spiral me down into emotional withdrawal. I had to change the subject before I reached critical psychological mass.

“Speaking of which,” I added, as I focused my attention back to the laptop, “I need to see if the tracker has any hits.”

It has always been rumored that technology would eventually be the ultimate demise of man. The singularity would occur and machines would take over. The tiniest fragment of my intelligence begged me to consider it possible the singularity had finally arrived—in human form. The lowest common denominator had won out and would overtake the planet with predictable stupidity and greed. Ignorance and power were the new currency.

I propped the laptop back on my lap and minimized the Obliterator application. In its place came the tracker. The application ran in the background, collecting tons of data from the network at large. Any time specific suspect words were captured, traveling across the global network of connected computers and communication satellites, a flag would be raised and the data packets logged. Once the tracker had collected enough data, I could sift through the information and begin piecing together the location of the Zero Day Collective and Jacob. It was only a matter of time before they appeared on my radar. The NSA and Sherlock Holmes had nothing on me.

As soon as the tracker window was open, Jamal peered over my shoulder, his eyes wide and his mouth agape. I could feel his warm breath on my neck as my eyes ripped through the information. A pattern started to develop.

Mobile unit.

Biologist.

Zero Day Collective.

Jacob.

40.0176 degrees North.

105.2797 degrees West.

“Bethany,” Jamal whispered, “that’s Boulder, Colorado. But what does it mean by “Mobile unit”?”

“Well, Jamal, I would assume it means that whoever is sending out these communications happens to be on some sort of mobile Zero Day Collective biological unit. In other words, it’s moving.”

Jamal sighed. “So getting a fixed location isn’t likely.”

I nodded.

Jamal grinned. “Yes, but…if you get a number of consecutive coordinates, you can at least predict where the unit will be at a given time. Of course, that would require knowing what type of unit and at what speed they were traveling.”

Before Jamal could continue, I silenced him with a palm to the lips.

“Joshua, how quickly can you get us to Boulder?”

Josh laughed. “At this rate it’ll take, oh, forever!”

Again, Morgan smacked Josh across the back of the head.

“I’m just fucking with you. We get back up to speed soon, and I can have you there in a day…tops.”

“B, what do you have in mind?”

Before I could answer Jamal, a soul-destroying roar ripped through the truck. The prehistoric release was followed by the shattering of glass and a pale arm reaching into the truck. Dirty, blood-soaked fingers tangled deep into Echo’s hair and yanked hard. Echo released a cry that was almost too high in pitch to hear as the arm pulled her head toward the shattered glass.

“What the hell? The Obliterator is running strong.” Josh shouted, as he gave the volume knob for the Obliterator one last turn.

“Oh my God, look at its ears,” was all Morgan needed to say.

Blood was caked around both ears. A thick, viscous liquid bubbled from the holes on the side of his head.

“The fucker cracked his skull on the cement until he went deaf,” Joshua added. “Perfect immunity to the power of the Obliterator.”

The beast gave another tug that pulled Echo’s head nearer the shattered window. Echo’s arms flailed outward to thwart the thing’s attempts at commandeering her skull.

 

* *   *   *   *

 jack_hands

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

https://www.facebook.com/events/1524813084430035/?ref_notif_type=plan_user_joined&source=1

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/11/01/winter-of-zombie-post-list-winterzombie2014/


Wordslinger Shootout – Round 15

BE SURE TO VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE. AND COMMENT AT THE END. FOR THIS ROUND ANDREW NIENABER IS GIVING AWAY A SIGNED PAPERBACK COPY OF HIS LATEST BOOK, STZ  AND PETER SALOMON IS GIVING AWAY A PAPERBACK COPY OF HIS BOOK, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS. YOU HAVE TO COMMENT TO WIN. VOTING AND COMMENTING CLOSE ON SEPTEMBER 26th (around noon time).

Round15

MINOS

by Andrew Nienaber

At first, when the thing attached itself to the back of Todd’s neck, he barely even noticed. It wasn’t big, about the size of a large spider back home, and it barely weighed anything at all. He ran into the colony in the crag of a rock near the touchdown site shortly after disembarking from the lander.

It was a routine scouting mission for the mining company he worked for, one of dozens he’d done in the past several months. Land on an asteroid or small exo-planet, scan for valuable minerals, check to be sure the planet didn’t have hydrochloric acid for an atmosphere or meat-eating flora, and pop back up to the ship. In point of fact, he’d found very little in the way of life on his trips. Mostly they were just lifeless stones hurtling through space, their cores filled with tungsten and platinum.

But a few minutes into his time on the tiny, rapidly-spinning dustball the company was calling Minos he put his hand into an oddly-shaped indentation in a rock and stirred a nest of creatures he’d never seen before. They were transparent, glass-like, with an array of ten to twelve multi-segmented legs in a perfect circle around a central thorax. The organs were a blueish green, almost aqua, and the things appeared to have no eyes or apertures of any sort. Todd was fascinated and pulled out his scanner to record them scuttling over the surface of the stone.

Having gathered ten minutes or so of video and a wide variety of bio-scans, Todd was satisfied that the animals posed no threat to the potential of stripping Minos of its rich beryllium and, more excitingly, rhodium deposits. He turned his back on the hive and was heading toward the lander when he felt a feather-light brushing sensation on the back of his neck. He assumed it was the collar of his grimy work shirt or a small fleck of stone whisking around in the brisk breeze that Minos’ Earth-like atmosphere provided. He tugged on the bottom of his shirt to straighten it and took another few steps then screamed as he felt every nerve in his body come suddenly, explosively to life. He found himself on the rocky ground, rolling back and forth as though trying to put out flames, the agony abating just long enough for him to take stock of his situation before drowning him in pain again.

It was as though his entire nervous system was on fire. He felt his nerves individually, could track their paths through his body by the burning. His muscles were involuntarily contracting then spasming and jumping, causing him to flop around like a fish out of water in Minos’ lowered gravity. Eventually he passed out.

—–

When Todd awoke he was laying on his stomach on the table in the ship’s mess area. His pilot Anders was sitting at a chair on the other side of the room, just staring at him. The pain had subsided to a hazy but ceaseless throb, and his limbs still twitched occasionally.

“I was worried you’d never come to,” said Anders.

Todd barely had the strength to speak. “What…”

“Something on the back of your neck.” With a great effort, Todd tried to raise his hand to feel it, but he couldn’t get his arm much off of the table. “I wouldn’t move too much right now if I were you. I tried to pull it off, but it seems to have dug into your brain stem. Fascinating little thing.”

“Like a spider, but clear?”

“Yeah. So you saw it?”

“I found a nest of them on the surface. I didn’t notice that one managed to get itself on me.”

“I ran some scans on it,” Anders said, pulling out a tablet and putting it in front of Todd’s face. “I’ll have to leave it to science division to fully parse all this data, but it looks like it’s sending some sort of electrical pulse directly into your nervous system through two of those…I don’t know if ‘legs’ is exactly the right word, but…”

Todd shuddered with revulsion.

“There’s a third appendage that’s also dug in, closer to the spine. It doesn’t seem to have hit any nerves. I think it’s some sort of anchor, something to keep you from just plucking the thing out and tossing it out the airlock.”

“How did I get here?”

“You were gone for hours and not responding to my calls. I finally took the life raft down and found you. I dragged you into the drop ship and brought it back up. Had to leave the raft for now. You can help me retrieve it when you’re feeling better. After we get that thing off of you.”

“Speaking of…”

“Yeah, I wanted to wait a bit to see if you’d wake up before I did anything. It was impossible to tell whether the pain you were feeling was from the thing or from my attempts to remove it.”

“Well, I’m awake now and I’d really like it if you-”

“There’s one more thing, and it’s a doozy. The scans…well, this sounds ridiculous, but…” He swiped a few screens over on the tablet and held it back in front of Todd’s face. “See these metabolism spikes? Each one corresponds with a wave of tremors and screaming on your part. I think…I mean, I’m just a dumb space jockey so take this however you want, but…I think this thing is feeding on your pain, metabolizing it somehow. That would explain why it was so bad at first and then tapered off. I think it…I think it just got full.”

Todd’s mind was spinning. Anders was not a man prone to humor, but the whole experience was nearly impossible to process as anything other than an elaborate prank. It did, however, explain why a creature would evolve the peculiar talent to inflict instant and thorough agony. At the thought, Todd felt an echo of his previous torment shoot through his limbs.

“Pull it out, Anders. I don’t care what it takes.”

“It’s in your brain stem, man. I’m worried that if I move it too much you might end up paralyzed or worse.”

“I need you to get this thing out of me before it gets hungry again.”

Anders nodded and reached for the pair of tweezers sitting on a tray to his left. As he walked to the table, Todd closed his eyes and clenched his jaw. The second Anders touched the thing a new wave of pain shot through him, and his legs shook uncontrollably. Anders leaned hard on his back with his left forearm to stabilize him and got a solid grip on the creature.

“Oh fuck, Anders, I think it’s defending itself. It’s like hot metal is pouring through my bones.”

“Do you want me to stop?” Anders asked, his voice trembling slightly as he backed away from the table.”

“No, I want you to get the fucking thing off of me right fucking now.

Anders leaned on Todd’s back again and gripped the thing with his tweezers.

“One…”

A fresh round of hell hit Todd. He screamed.

“Two…”

White spots overtook his vision. Anders’ voice sounded a mile away. He could hear the rush of blood through his eardrums, feel every single nerve ending in his body vibrating like a bell.

“Th-“

Oblivion.

—–

It was six more days before the trip ended. There had been some persistent discomfort at the site where the thing had attached itself – a bit of mild swelling and an itch that refused to go away – but Anders had done a thorough job of getting all of its appendages out of Todd’s neck. They spent a day letting him recover, then retrieved the life raft and continued on with the mission.

Todd had experienced the occasional headache and, every so often, a Tourette’s-like spasm in one of his extremities, but on the whole he felt worlds better. The other four objects they scouted – two asteroids, a tiny moon and an unusually slow comet – had shown little promise for minerals and absolutely no life, much to Todd’s relief. When they at last docked back at the depot, he checked himself in to the medical unit to make sure no lasting damage was done to him.

The doctors put him through a battery of tests, some of them nearly as excruciating as what the creature had done to him. They examined its carcass and probed the red, swollen spot where it had pierced his brain stem. Finally, they did a series of resonance images. As Todd was changing out of the hospital robe and back into his street clothes, a doctor knocked politely on the exam room door then entered, tablet in hand.

“Mr. Ahrens, I’ve got the results of the resonance images here and…” He cleared his throat.

Todd’s palms began to sweat. He felt a headache stirring. “Something wrong?”

The doctor held out the tablet for him to take. He looked at the picture but couldn’t make out a thing. “What am I looking at here?”

“That’s the area around the wound. That comma-shaped thing taking up most of the screen is your brain stem. See the small cluster of red dots about two-thirds of the way down?”

“Yeah, I see it. What is that?”

“Mr. Lund told us that there were three points of ingress where the creature punctured you. The two that went into your nerves seem to have been there to stimulate pain. The third, we thought, was an anchor. It seems that that was a mistake.”

“So…” Todd felt a jolt of panic that made his stomach flip. “So what do you think it was?”

“We think…we can’t be sure, mind you…but we think it was an ovipositor.”

“A…”

The doctor leaned over and pointed at the cluster of red dots on the screen.

“I’m sorry to have to say this, Mr. Ahrens, but I don’t think you’re quite finished with this yet. These? These are eggs.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Nienaber has been an ice cream truck driver, a bartender, a teacher, a writer, a blogger, a director of operas, and all-around theater professional and a long-time observer of the human condition. He is one of the founders of FatalDownflaw.com and his short-lived blog about his experiences selling ice cream, The Ill Humor Man, drew hundreds of hits per day. Andrew’s premiere novel Truly, Deeply Disturbed was nominated for novel of the year by both Pulp Ark and his story “What We Found” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can receive periodic updates about his work – as well as a huge amount of snark – through Andrew Nienaber’s Grammar Correction Institute at http://facebook.com/ANGrammar.

*********************

BILLY

by Peter “Doc” Salomon

They met deep in the woods behind Billy’s house, following the map he’d sold them in lunch. Nothing much every really happened in Elk Grove Middle School, and promises of something dangerous and unusual ran like wildfire though the cafeteria. The rumor started in recess, that Billy had a secret he refused to tell. Could be anything. No one knew, and Billy wasn’t the sort to kiss and tell.

Not that anyone knew anyone who might have kissed Billy. But it was a rumor, of a secret, of a promise, of something dangerous. The four of them had pooled their lunch money, offered it to Billy in the bathroom, and Billy had taken the money with a smile. He drew a map on the back of a napkin, told them to bring their most prized possession in trade and then left, whistling while he counted his newfound wealth.

Now, they hoped it wasn’t too late as they tried to figure out which path was which on the balled up napkin. A ketchup stain covered most of the white square, making it more difficult that it needed to be. Still, they continued through the woods.

It was a little chilly, not cold yet. October in Elk Grove tended to mild more than anything, as average as the whole town really, where nothing much ever happened and every kid dreamed of nothing so much as getting out and only returning for reunions. The trees still had leaves, orange and red mostly, and they rustled in the wind.

The boys kept going until they reached the spot they thought corresponded to the ‘X’ Billy had drawn.

“Should be right here,” Steve said, pulling the napkin out of Mike’s hands.

“Give that back,” Mike said, but he didn’t try reaching for it. Steve had a good twenty pounds on him, most of it blubber, but still, twenty pounds was twenty pounds.

“Has to be around here somewhere,” Rami said. “Unless Billy just sent us on a wild goose chase and he’s at home laughing his ass off right now.”

“Nope,” Billy said, walking down another path. “No wild geese.”

“So, what’s the big secret?” Chris asked, looking around the woods.

“This way,” Billy said, waving them over.

As they walked, the sun played with the leaves, so they kept walking in and out of shadows. “What did you bring?” Billy asked as they entered a small clearing. A broken down car sat on the side, covered over with weeds. Most of it was rust.

It was the most fascinating thing they’d ever seen.

“Has to be a hundred years old,” Steve said, staring at it.

“More.”

“My old man says about sixty,” Billy said. “But that’s not the big secret.”

“Here,” Chris said, pulling a baseball out of his coat pocket and handing it over. “I caught it at a Red Sox game when we went last year.”

“Cool,” Billy said as he put it in his own pocket and then turned to Steve.

Steve pulled out a small plastic bag but didn’t let go. He looked at the comic book inside, a small smile on his face as he studied it. “It’s the first issue,” he said, before giving it to Billy. Still, he kept touching the bag as long as possible.

“Spawn,” Billy said, reading the cover. “Who wrote all over it?”

“Joss Whedon,” Steve said with a shrug.

“Joss Whedon didn’t have anything to do with Spawn,” Mike said. “Did he?”

“No,” Steve said. “I just didn’t have anything else on me for Joss Whedon to sign and it was Joss freaking Whedon.”

Everyone laughed at that, except Steve as he watched Billy roll the comic book up and shove it in his coat pocket.

Billy then turned to Mike. “What did you bring?”

Mike turned a couple different shades of red as the sun dipped behind a cloud. Then he fished a piece of cloth out of his back pocket and threw it at Billy.

The fabric smacked Billy in the face and then fell to the ground. Everyone stared at it. Small and pink, with lace trim. No one made a move to pick it up.

“What are those?” Billy asked.

Mike laughed, but it was a little too forced. “Panties,” he said. “Lisa left them at my house after a sleepover with my sister.”

“They’re probably your sister’s panties, you perv,” Steve said, punching Mike in the shoulder.

“No,” Mike said, “I heard Lisa complaining that she’d lost them.”

Billy picked them up, holding them in his hands for a moment. “Nice,” he said before hiding them away.

Everyone turned toward Rami, who shrugged. “Sorry,” he said, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a handful of scrunched up bills and some change. Coins fell through his fingers to the ground. “It’s $57.43. That’s all I could find.” He shrugged. “Could have brought you a pair of my mom’s panties if I thought anyone would want them.”

“I want your mom’s panties,” Mike said.

“Shut up,” Billy said, as he counted the bills, ignoring the coins on the ground. Then, he turned back to the car. “You can’t tell anyone, ok?”

They all promised.

“No one would believe you anyway, they’d just say you’re insane and lock you up.” He laughed, then opened the door to the car.

Rust flakes fell to the ground, and the squealing was loud enough to wake the dead. Inside, a pile of clothes filled the front seat, the smell of mold and decay strong now that it was open.

Billy picked up a quarter that Rami had dropped and tossed it onto the clothes. Then another, harder. “Wake up!” Another quarter bounced off the clothes before they started moving.

The boys took a step back, staring at the front seat of the ancient car as a thin, bony hand started pushing the clothes aside. But it wasn’t the hand that had them backing up. Not even the long dirty fingernails that looked as though they’d been filed to points. It was the skin. Dark green. Sickly green. Glowing green as the sun hit it.

Inhuman green.

Then, momentum took over and all the clothes fell to the floor of the car. Dust billowed up. The green hand was attached to a green arm, of course. An entire green body, no taller than a couple of feet. A large green head. Too large, really. With big green eyes that stared back at them.

Then, it hissed, exposing far too many teeth.

It reached for them, lunging, but was caught short on a hunter’s trap that bit into both its legs. Green blood dripped over the metal teeth.

The hiss turned into a squeal and the creature opened its mouth in a scream. Green teeth, also filed to points, and a green tongue. The creature’s pain was obvious.

“Master will come for me,” it said, the words hissed out.

The boys shook as the voice crawled over their eardrums, down their spinal columns. It was English, but it didn’t sound like English. It sounded like a snake hacking up a smaller snake it was trying to eat, fingernails on a blackboard, and that threshing sound when the disposal in the sink had a spoon caught in it all rolled up together, then played back too quickly and in reverse. Still, they understood every word.

“Help me,” the creature said, wrapping long green fingers around the metal teeth, trying to pull the trap open. Then it gave up, turning back to the boys with another hiss.

“Feed me,” it hissed. “Master will reward you.”

“It says that a lot,” Billy said.

The boys looked back and forth from Billy to the creature. “What does it eat?”

Billy shrugged, then took the baseball out of his pocket. He underhanded it into the car. It bounced off the creature’s face.

“Hey!” Chris said, but he didn’t make a move to retrieve his ball.

The creature hissed but didn’t pay any attention to the baseball.

Billy placed his hand on Chris’ shoulder. “Sorry,” he said. “Had to test that, you know.”

Chris nodded. “I know,” he said but if he had anything else to say it disappeared as Billy shoved him toward the car. Chris tripped on a root, falling a little short. But close enough for the creature to reach at the end of his chain.

Long bony green fingers snaked out with another brutal hiss, pulling Chris closer. He screamed, but it was drowned out by the wind in the leaves, by the screams of the other boys as they yelled at Billy.

Steve spun around, starting to run away when he ran into someone standing at the edge of the clearing. Behind him, he could hear the hissing slurping sounds as the creature started eating. Chris screamed, but every scream was softer than the one before until finally the screams ended completely.

Steve stood absolutely still. Not that he had a choice as large green bony hands grabbed each of his arms. Steve looked up. And up. And up. At the giant green creature holding him. The creature hissed, dark and deep like boulders rubbing together.

“Master will be coming,” the creature said, dragging Steve back to the car. Other giant green creatures held the other boys. Except Billy, who bent over the creature in the car, pulling the teeth of the trap apart.

The small creature hissed, then grabbed Billy’s hand and limped out of the car.

“Tasty?” the largest creature hissed.

“Very.”

“We had a deal,” Billy said as the creatures started eating the other boys.

Screams filled the small clearing for a few minutes. Then, there was silence.

“Tasty,” the largest creature hissed.

When even the bones had been eaten, the creatures turned to Billy. The smallest one stood in front of him. “Master,” he said, before they all knelt in the clearing.

Billy picked up the littlest creature. “I hope it was worth it,” he said. “All this just to eat a human.” Then he took a bite out of the creature’s skull. He spit out a tuft of green hair before finishing his meal.

The larger creatures hissed and cried but made to move to stop him as he fed.

Finally, he sat down in the middle of the clearing, took out Lisa’s panties and used them to wipe the green blood off his face. Then he removed Spawn from its plastic bag and began to read while the large green creatures picked up the remains of their child and left their master alone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Adam Salomon graduated Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a BA in Theater and Film Studies in 1989.

He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, was published by Flux in September 2012. His next novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, a ghost story set in Savannah, GA, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2014 by Flux.

His short fiction has appeared in the Demonic Visions series and he was the featured author for Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. His poem ‘Electricity and Language and Me’ appeared on BBC Radio 6 performed by The Radiophonic Workshop in December 2013. In addition, he edited the first book of poetry released by the Horror Writers Association, Horror Poetry Showcase Volume 1.

He was also a Judge for the 2006 Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writer’s Contest and served on the Jury for the Poetry Category of the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards. He was a Judge for the Inaugural Horror Poetry Showcase of the Horror Writers Association. He is also the Chair for the Jury for the First Novel Category of the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards and serves as a Judge for the Royal Palm Literary Awards of the Florida Writers Association.

Peter Adam Salomon lives in St. Petersburg, FL with his wife Anna and their three sons: André Logan, Joshua Kyle and Adin Jeremy.

www.peteradamsalomon.com
www.henry-franks.com
www.allthosebrokenangels.com
www.facebook.com/peteradamsalomon
Twitter: @petersalomon

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