Wednesday 29 June 2011

Storytime Wednesday: Satan’s Mirror by Roxanne Smolen

Welcome back to Storytime Wednesday, where we fire your imagination with the words from writers who share their stories or book excerpts.
Today's guest writer is Roxanne Smolen, with an excerpt from her chilling book, Satan's Mirror.

Excerpt of Satan’s Mirror  

Vanessa walked as if condemned, her limbs stiff, her gait slow. Dust kicked up, tainting the stale air, and she wondered if the stench of brimstone would soon replace such mundane odors.
She paused at the staircase, listening, gazing upward, drawn like a dog to a harsh master. As if her sandals were mired in muck, she climbed the stairs. No one spoke, but she heard quick breathing and knew the group was excited, anticipating a great show. She shuddered with an unwelcome thought--not all of them would be leaving tonight. The devil was hungry.
At the upstairs landing, she hesitated. Joey slipped his arm about her as if to keep her from running. She shrugged him off. "This way," she said, entering a room on the right. She glanced about. Yes, this was the place. "Do you have the powder?"
The boy rummaged inside his sack, pulling out a pouch of pickling alum.
Vanessa took a penknife from her pocket and punched a hole in the burlap wrapper. She drew a large pentagram on the floor with the powder.
Shoulders slumped, she held out her hand. "Candles."
"Here." The boy brought out a thick red candle. "I brought a lighter."
"It has to be wooden matches," she told him.
"I've got some." Joey rattled the box as he handed them to her.
She lit the candle. In its glow, she saw the rapt expressions of the four newcomers--three boys and one girl, their hair held back by beaded headbands, their clothing laced, not buttoned. She didn't know them. They were probably part of the multitude of college kids who flocked to Saint Augustine each spring. She wondered how much they'd paid to witness the ritual.
With the candle held sideways, she dribbled a puddle of wax onto the floor and set the candle upon a point of the pentagram. As the boy held out more candles, she set one at each of the other four points. At last, she stood back to appraise her work.
"Hand me the offering plate," she said.
He gave an excited giggle, and then pulled out an ornate brass dish on a pedestal. The discolored center boasted of service many times before. He offered it to her along with a final candle.
Vanessa knelt in the center of the pentagram. She lit the candle and set the dish over it, allowing the meager flame to heat the brass. Smoke rose, drawing leftover scents of incense and soot and blood.
From his sack, the boy drew out a baby rabbit. She cradled it in her hands, stroking it, feeling its tiny heart race in terror. She looked up with a last plea--did they really want her to do this?
The boy tossed the sack behind him and lit a joint.
Vanessa closed her eyes, wishing she were anywhere but there. She was innocent. Just doing as she was told.
The rabbit squirmed within her fingers. Nose wrinkled, she cupped the animal on its back in one hand and grasped her penknife with the other. She felt a pop as the point pierced its flesh--then she opened the rabbit from groin to gullet. Blood dripped down her wrist.
She held the creature over the offering plate and scooped out its innards with her fingers, careful to include its heart so the legs would stop kicking. The intestines sizzled as they hit the plate.
Silence filled the room.
After a moment, the boy who was passing around the joint said, "Shouldn't you say some special words?"
"Yes," Vanessa whispered. A familiar coldness coursed through her. "Be ready to run."
The wall before her shimmered as if a portion had turned to water. The patch solidified into an oval, shining like a silvery mirror--Satan's Mirror. A face grew within. Brimstone overpowered the smoke of marijuana and entrails.
Someone gasped. "Wow."
Lightheaded, Vanessa sat on her haunches. She felt both exhilarated and disgusted. She had done it--she had called forth the devil once again.
The face observed them malevolently. It looked like a caricature from a comic book--red skin, yellow eyes. Its lips parted in a sneer or a grin, showing sharp, needle-like teeth.
Vanessa froze as its gaze passed over her. Maybe if she held perfectly still, it wouldn't see her, wouldn't know she was responsible.
"Is it real?" the girl asked, her words slurred as if she were stoned.
The face in the mirror laughed and said in a voice that sounded far away, "You are so weak, yet you come so willingly."
Its words did not match its lips, and Vanessa wondered whether it was speaking English or she was merely hearing English.
The others moved as if entranced, stepping to either side of the pentagram. Vanessa looked up just as a second mirror formed in mid-air behind the boy with the joint. A bright red demon leaned out as if through an open window. It grabbed the boy before he could turn and pulled him through. The window vanished.
The girl screamed. Vanessa covered her ears. The remaining two boys scrambled around.
"What happened?" one of them yelled. "Where is he?"
In the mirror, the devil laughed.
The other boy ran toward the door. Before he could reach it, a new mirror swirled into existence, and he ran straight into the arms of a waiting demon. He struggled and kicked as it lifted him from the floor. "Help me! Don't let it take me!"
The third boy stepped forward then hesitated, his face stark with horror.
"Help me! Please!" His friend reached as if across a great distance.
The window closed on his cries.
"No!" The last boy rushed to where the mirror had been. He stared at the doorway, his face echoing a longing to go through it and a fear of being snatched if he did.
Joey leapt into the pentagram beside Vanessa, hunkering beside her. He was not grinning now.
The girl stumbled away, sobbing. She fell over the sack the first boy carried. On hands and knees, she crawled to the pentagram, blowing out the candles and shoving them into the bag. "Put it back," she said. "Put it all back."
Behind her, the air shimmered.
The boy yelped and ran out the open door, pelting down the stairs.
She looked up, her long, blonde hair spilling over her face just as the demon grabbed her. "Nooo," she wailed, trying to run away. "I'll be good. I won't do it anymore."
The demon's fingers raked her face, leaving dark trails. She screamed, arms flailing as it yanked her through the mirror. The window vanished, leaving silence.

Satan’s Mirror is available in print or ebook and can be found wherever books are sold.

Amazon Link

Author Bio:

Roxanne Smolen has written nine novels, all in the science fiction/horror realm. She enjoys placing ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances to see what they will do. Case in point, in her novel Satan’s Mirror, a paranormal investigator must break into hell and battle the denizens of the underworld in order to rescue her little girl. Smolen is currently writing a humorous romance in which a werewolf falls in love with a Wiccan. The Amazing Wolf Boy will be released this fall.


Wednesday 22 June 2011

Storytime Wednesday: The Mirror (part 2) by Dee Brown

Welcome back to Storytime Wednesday, where we fire your imagination with the words from writers who share their stories or book excerpts.

Today's guest writer is again Dee Brown, and she brings us part two of her haunting tale, The Mirror.

The Mirror: Part Two

I stood transfixed in front of the mirror. The gray was starting to lighten. I rubbed my eyes, not sure if what I saw was real or imagined. I looked again, and it was dull gray as it was before. Shaking my head I shrugged it off and walked away. When I had reached the doorway I looked back. It was still the same. "I know I saw something", I said to myself.
It was getting late and I had things yet to do. So I ended my sleuthing, and headed out. While driving, I kept thinking about the mirror and tried to remember that moment. I even tried to convince myself I hadn't seen anything. But another part of me said otherwise.

That night l drifted off to sleep, and the mirror and that moment played over and over in my dreams. I awoke the next morning and knew then I had to go back to that house. My next day off from work, I planned to take care of a few things, and return to the house once more. Getting an early start would leave me a good part of the afternoon.

I drove up to the house, got out of my old beater and started for the porch. Entering the same way I had before, through a window that had a loose board. Up those rickety stairs I climbed once more. Now in the doorway, I looked to the far part of the room where the mirror stood. Slowly I walked over to it, and stood once more in front of it. For minutes I stared at this non-reflecting glass. Nothing. I must have imagined it, I sighed. As I turned to walk away, the mirror started to lighten again. I stood back, my heart pounding, and frozen to my spot, it continued, till something vague started to appear. It was coming and going. I stayed rooted to my spot. I hadn't imagined anything. This mirror was doing something!

After who knows how much time, still standing in front of the mirror, a fuzzy picture of a woman, was now showing. She appeared to be dressed in clothes fashionable, from perhaps the late twenties or maybe early thirties. Her hair was in a bun and she looked somewhat matronly. Her expression seemed sad and forlorn. Then her lips moved. Her eyes were pleading. It seemed she was saying something. Then the words she seemed to mouth were, Innocent.....innocent!
With that the image disappeared.

I don't know how long it was before I could get my composure, and drink in all I have witnessed. But one thing was certain, a voice from the past was reaching out. But who? Was it the convicted nanny? "Innocent", she had said. It had to be, I thought. Shortly after, I left the house and did some research. I found some old articles on the trial. In one there was a picture of the nanny being lead to courthouse. The picture was the same woman in the mirror.

I took off from work, as I rarely did, and went back to the house. The mirror then told me the rest of the story that day. An image of the the nanny sitting near a bassinet. A man comes in and quickly leans over as if to kiss her. She puts a quivering finger to her lips, as if to say quiet. A moment later the man reaches in the bassinet and begins to shake the baby hard, then drops infant back in bassinet, and stumbles out of the picture. The Nanny rushes to the bassinet, then the image turns to the nanny pointing to something. I follow her gaze, trying to understand where she is pointing to and why. I walk around the room, trying to figure out her message. Then as I step past a part of the floor a piece pops up. I lift it from its spot, and with my flashlight, I point it down where the piece of floor was. I could see what looked like a small book and retrieved it. I carefully open it up. It's old and faded, but the ink legible. After a short spell of reading I realized that what I had was a diary of some kind and it was written by the nanny, whose name was Maggie Doyle

One faded page read, "He forces himself upon me. I try to resist, but he threatens me with ill repercussions. His breath reeks of alcohol. The wife is unknowing, as she sleeps down the hall. It becomes an almost nightly horror. I cry myself to sleep. I am defenseless against this man, and know his wife would never believe my words."

The images became clearer to me. It was another night she tried to resist. He is drunk. Fearful of him awakening the sleeping child she tries to hush him. In his drunken state this angers him. He then picks up the child and shakes him, where the child dies from the trauma. There was no way this poor immigrant woman could prove she was not guilty. Even had the book been revealed, she could not defend herself against his wealth. All she could do was proclaim innocence and take the truth to her grave.

Enough was read to understand the truth, along with the images of the mirror. But even with the truth in hand I could not vindicate this woman, no more than she could have, had she revealed the book herself, I thought. "So why did this image of the past reach out to me?"

I looked up from the book and at the mirror again. The images had vanished. I had the whole story, or at least enough. I went home taking the book with me. As I sat on my bed with the book in my lap, thinking about what I had learned, I began to wonder maybe I could help vindicate her, or try. It would never change what had happened to Maggie, but it would shed new light and present another possibility to the story.

There was a museum in town that had, among other things, a section on the history of our area. The Museum director there, Mrs Hayes, might know what to do with the book. Of course I could never tell her the whole story of how I come to have the book in my possession. But I was sure I could think of something. I then decided that was what I would do, and gently placed the old book in my end table for the time being.

For the next couple of days, it still haunted my thoughts. And for some reason was still drawn to the old house and the mirror." Why?" I asked myself. I knew I was still curious if the mirror would still do anything else, and thought maybe that was it. So as I did before, I made another trip. This time as, I stood in the doorway, I saw the mirror laying face down, and shards of glass were strewn about; I righted it. The mirror was now devoid of glass.

Maybe the mirror had done what it had intended. To let at least one person know the truth of their innocence so their soul could rest in peace, or maybe hope that the one person reached would let the truth be known to others. I knew now it was time to take that book to Mrs Hayes.

Author Bio:

Dee Brown is a Jersey native, who now resides in the South Western part of Kentucky. This mother of two, has always had the passion for writing stories and poetry, and only up to recently has learned to share that love of writing.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Back to the Future; A Review of Act of Will

My review of the book Act of Will by M. Darusha Wehm:

Act of Will by M. Darusha Wehm is the second book in the author’s Andersson Dexter novels and is as wonderful if not better than the first book, Self Made. It is a cyber-tech sci-fi novel rich in fascinating characters living in a world where the virtual and real have melded.

The book continues the story of detective Andersson Dexter (Dex) of the Cubicle Men, now in the middle of a complicated relationship with fellow squad member Annabelle Lewis. A missing co-worker leads him into an investigation and puts him on the trail of a serial killer.

The crime plotline of the book is fairly standard serial murderer story, but the author brings a fresh angle to it by tying both the killer and the crimes into her sci-fi world. She keeps the cat-and-mouse perspective creepy and suspenseful and the killer walks in the nameless shadows until the very end.

But as brilliantly as Ms. Wehm weaves her thriller, it is the characters and the society of her virtually integrated world that make this novel truly shine. Her characters breathe and feel, are flawed, and have sticky, messy problems in a world where lines of gender, law and reality have blurred and often disappeared. It is a future world you can see evolving from our own, but one in which people are still seeking love and escape.

This is the second novel starring the character Andersson Dexter, but it can be easily read as a standalone novel (though I recommend reading both just for the delight of it). Act of Will it is a stellar book.

 Act of Will is also available on Smashwords and Nook as well as other online retailers.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Storytime Wednesday: The Mirror (part1) by Dee Brown

Welcome again to Storytime Wednesday, where we fire your imagination with the words from writers who share their stories or book excerpts.

Today's guest writer is Dee Brown, and she brings us the two part tale, the haunting story of, The Mirror.  

The Mirror:  Part One

The old house creaked and groaned as I slowly moved about. It had been empty for as long as I could remember. I was always curious about this decaying old Victorian home. It sat apart from many of the homes in the nearby community. It was reminiscent of a bygone era. One could smell history in the air, or was it just the musty smell, of being closed up for so many years?

What little I knew of this house was from a couple of elderly locals who still lived in the area. It had belonged to a wealthy family named O'Sullivan, who attained their wealth, in the hotel industry. As with most affluent families, they had a cook, housekeeper, groundskeeper, and a nanny for their only child, a son, named Henry. Unlike most Irish families, the O’Sullivans only had one child. Due to a medical condition, Mrs O'Sullivan could not bear anymore children. The O'Sullivans came to the United States, as Irish immigrants, in the early 1900's with hopes, dreams, and determination. And to make this country their new home.

They worked hard, and rose in the social ladder. Soon they became successful, and life was good. It was time to move from the ghetto like neighborhood, that most immigrants were bound too, and live as most of their social status did. But unlike many of their counterparts, they were still humble and never forgot their roots. A mansion in all its glory would not be reflective of their humbleness; however a large home would still be in fitting with their status. This old home was then built.

As a youth, I was always intrigued with the house, but my parents warned me to stay away. I was never really told why, except that it had a bad history. Of course as a youngster that only made me more curious, and one day, I rode my bike near the long driveway that lead to the house. My mother happened to be driving by, coming back from a store, and caught me. I got a tongue lashing soon afterwards. "Kara if I catch you trying to sneak over there one more time, you will be grounded for a week!" I never tried that again.

Some years later, now as an adult, I had the opportunity to find out a few things when speaking with one of the elderly residents of our community. I asked her what my parents, now deceased, might have meant. She relayed bits and pieces. Some of which I knew, and others I didn't. "Apparently even riches, could not shelter anyone from the pain that life can sometimes bring," she began. And sometimes those riches can change a humble person. She then started to recite from her memory as a young woman. She didn't recall all the details, but remembered the trial of the nanny, who was accused, of killing their son. The nanny was found guilty, and went to prison where sometime later, she committed suicide. She proclaimed her innocence up to that day. And never said more. Mrs O'Sullivan took the child's death the hardest it seemed. Mr O'Sullivan spent most of his time either submerged in his work, or in his office behind locked doors, rarely talking to anyone. Because Mrs O'Sullivan never got over losing her son, she soon became depressed, and despondent. Household staff and grounds keepers were let go. Everything began to deteriorate. And with it so did the lives of its occupants. Mrs O'Sullivan as the story goes, jumped out a second story window. Her neck was broken, as her sprits. Sometime afterwards the house was boarded up. Mr O'Sullivan left and was never heard from again. Some say he ended up in a mental ward, others say he went off to kill himself out of guilt. There are some who even say that her ghost still haunts the grounds. I thought about what the elderly woman had said and still couldn't understand my parents reasoning. Then I surmised maybe it wasn't really the history of the house, but the thought of my getting hurt in it. Either way I was still intrigued, with the old place. In some way even drawn to it.

I continued to walk around the house, with a flashlight by my side and what light streamed in from some of the now missing and cracked boards. Through the cobwebs, I could see where pictures must have hung. Carved moldings all around the living room. What were properly beautiful wooden floors were now laden with dust and rotting in places. On the far side I could see a huge brick fireplace, with ashes still strewn about in its pit, from the last fire. As I walked about, I could imagine the house stood in some glory at one time. I peered into other rooms in the lower half of the house, and could see that for the time period, it was good living. I then carefully climbed the stairs to the upper half of the house, brushing cobwebs, along the way. Some stairs didn't look as though they would hold me, even though I was of small stature. So I held on to the banister that too seemed wobbly, and carefully skipped steps, till I had made it to the top.

At the top of the stairs I could see a long hallway that stretched in both directions. I made a right turn, and was led to what I believed was a bedroom. Another room nearby, much larger than the last appeared as though it too may have been a bedroom. I surmised the smaller one might have been their son's. On down the other end, there was a room with two large doors that swung in opposite directions. The lever handles on the door, appeared to be made of gold, long since tarnished. It was a very large room, with big windows. This most likely was Mr O'Sullivan's office. Further down the hall, led me to another room, small, with flowered wallpaper, that was now faded and hanging. I know Nannies lived with their charges back then, and figured that this might had been her room. Off to the corner, my eye caught, what looked like something covered, in a sheet, now gray with dust.

So far this was the only thing I had found in the house, and with curiosity, I stepped over and slowly pulled the sheet off. After choking from the dust, I looked up to see what removing the sheet had revealed. Before me was a standing wooden framed mirror. It cast no reflection, as the glass was as gray as the dust that clung to the sheet that covered it. I stared at it for a few moments, and then proceeded to walk away, when something started to change in the mirror...


Author Bio:

Dee Brown is a Jersey native, who now resides in the South Western part of Kentucky. This mother of two, has always had the passion for writing stories and poetry, and only up to recently has learned to share that love of writing.

Monday 13 June 2011

Falling into Darkness: A Review of End of Mae

My Book Review of End of Mae by Angela Yuriko Smith:

End of Mae by Angela Yuriko Smith is an intriguingly delightful paranormal novel, with a surreal, creepy edge. It has a fast pace, a breezy tone, plus just the right touch of black humour and dark thrills.

The book tells the tale of Mae, a plucky, small-time reporter out to find her “big story”. What she finds instead is a vicious attacker and a strange world of trouble. One she might not be able to leave behind.

The author has a nice turn of phrase for setting a scene and a deft hand at weaving a character. Her villain, Heylel is sinister, complex and not the sort you want to meet in a dark alley, while the heroine, Mae, is feisty, flawed and maybe just a touch self-delusional. Her objectivity and judgement is definitely way off when it comes to handsome men. Both characters interact well and hold your interest.

The plot is solid, a nice straight line to a conclusion that was not quite what I had been expecting. The ending, which I loved, gives a creepy, edgy finish, sprinkled with black humour. It left me wondering if Heylel might have bitten off more than he counted on with Mae.

I did find the book probably could have benefited from more length; the lead up to the closing scenes seemed rushed and Mae’s sudden about face toward Heylel didn’t ring as true as it should have to me. And I would have liked some more background on the dark world Mae fell into; the author dishes out tantalising, mysterious glimpses that left me wanting to know additional details. Perhaps I can hope for a sequel.
Overall, though, End of Mae was very entertaining and I can easily recommend it.

End of Mae is also available on Smashwords

You can check out the Spotlight for this book here:

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Storytime Wednesday: The Alestrion Chronicles by LeAnna Shields

Welcome again to Storytime Wednesday, where we fire your imagination with the words from writers who share their stories or book excerpts.

Today's guest writer is LeAnna Shields, and she is bringing us a chapter of her novel, The Alestrion Chronicles: Slaves Redeemed.

Excerpt of The Alestrion Chronicles: Slaves Redeemed:

The Silent Performer

The clouds overhead threatened snow that day, but did nothing to stop the natives of this forlorn little moon from coming out to see the show. One lone man towered above the crowd, his seven foot height, snow white hair, and glowing teal eyes affirming the fact that he was no native. He sneered, shaking his head at the state of the tents that had once been a grand sight. Now the once proud flags were tattered, the royal blue fabric patched with scraps of cloth, and what was not patched was filthy. It’s hard to believe the Hygiene Commission hasn’t shut this place down. The scents of fried bread and sweets filled the air, mingling themselves with the unappetizing smells coming from the animal cages.

The man flipped up the collar of his plain leather coat to ward off the icy chill of the wind. This is where the captain’s tip on where to find the high king’s granddaughter has brought me? Hard to believe she would be in a dive like this? Kicking a can that someone had left on the path, he walked into the darkened tent. The show was beginning. Finding a seat between a three-headed Re’ab and a scaly, water breathing Glornark, he sat down on a wooden bench that gave a threatening creak.

The excitement was palpable as he gazed down at the center ring. A spotlight highlighted a lone figure, waving for silence. The ringmaster, wearing a long velvet overcoat and silken top hat, continued to motion for the audience to quiet down. “Ladies and gentle beings!” he shouted as the crowd seated themselves. “We humbly thank you for allowing our great show to appear before you today. We hope that our entertainment brings a smile to your hearts and many laughs to your spirits. Now for our first act…” He pointed upwards with the spotlight following, “We direct you to the top of the tent… The wondrous Salin and her cardonian poles!!!”

The stranger looked up and saw a girl about the age of twelve dressed in a glittery, low-cut gymnastic uniform and plumed headgear. She was standing ready to walk across a series of metal poles only wide enough for the ball of her foot.

Look at those support field generators! How long has it been since they’ve been replaced? The clanking and whirring of the two rusted servo-motors merely blended into the ecstatic cheers of the audience. They shuttered, sparked, and smoked as the field they produced wavered in and out of vision, causing the poles to either lean or stand up right.

The crowd held its collective breath as the girl jumped out to the first pole, then from one pole to another. The audience gasped, some closing their eyes with horror as she reached the middle, but missed her landing place. However she managed to grab the pole with split second timing and performed a series of spins and flips before pulling herself back up onto the pole. Then she resumed her graceful leaps and flips to the opposite platform as if nothing had happened. Her performance over, she turned her back on the ecstatic crowd and disappeared without taking a bow.

* * *

After the show, the stranger walked among the ragged tents searching for where the entertainers dressed. His pace quickened when he heard shouting and the sound of a whip crack. Stopping at the corner of a trailer he saw the ringmaster towering over the girl with a buggy whip in his hand. Since the show she had changed from her costume into a tunic and pants made from bits and pieces of drab scrap cloth.

“You completely botched that show and you expect to have the privilege of sleeping indoors?” The threatening crack of the buggy whip echoed in the still air. The ringmaster was about to lower the whip again, but this time aimed at the girl.

The outsider grabbed his wrist. “How dare you, Sir! This child hasn’t done anything to deserve being beaten!”

Reeking of alcohol, the ringmaster turned and snarled, “I can do anything I maknel please with my property.” Snarling with anger and hatred he picked up a shackle made of white metal in his gloved hands and placed it on the girl’s ankle as she whimpered softly.

Check out the The Alestrion Chronicles at:

Author Bio:

LeAnna Shields grew up and lives in Colorado. She went to public schools until high school and then chose a home school out of Chicago called Christian Liberty Academy Satellite School. Home school is where she excelled and learned to write. It was fun for her to write fan fiction about Star Wars. During college she started this series, Alestrion Chronicles. She has put much love and hard work into it. Hope you enjoy it as much as many of us have.

Website for LeAnna Shields:

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Storytime Wednesday: The Judging by Ellen C. Maze

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Storytime Wednesday, where we will enchant your imagination or tease your sense, with featured stories and book excerpts.
Today's guest writer is the talented writer Ellen C. Maze, author of the acclaimed vampire books of the Rabbit Trilogy.  Her wonderful contribution is an excerpt from The Judging, the first book in her series, The Corescu Chronicles:

An Excerpt from The Judging by Ellen C. Maze
(TreasureLine Publishing 2010)

This last one wouldn’t scream.

Tate rolled the corpse over for one last look. She was Emily all over again; it was uncanny. But why didn’t she scream? It really sucked the fun out of the exercise. Emily had screamed, and oh, what a sound.

With the toe of his work boot, Tate shoved the body over the edge of the bridge. Nobody would ever find her. He’d chosen this spot three years ago, and since weighted down and buried seven such Emilys. Deep in the Talladega National Forest, but no more than a mile from his granddaddy’s farm, the traffic on the abandoned road was nil. Only equestrians and hikers ambled by these days, and with the latest summer flooding, not even they traversed the treacherous terrain surrounding the defeated wooden crossing.

The eighth Emily made a surprisingly small splash and disappeared. The water was twelve feet deep and hardly moved. Tate thought about the others down there, what they must look like, wrapped in ropes, chains, and shower curtains, with only their long brown hair free to wave at the fishes that happened by.


Tate frowned and looked toward the noise, his flashlight dark for the moment. It was half-past midnight and he was alone. Maybe an animal?


Tate switched on his halogen beam and it sliced into the dark of the tree-line fifteen yards north. The noise was deeper in, snuggled into the way he was to go. It might’ve been a “woodland creature,” as his mother Emily called them, but she’d been a whore—Tate spat out the bile that rose as his memory of her sharpened. Cursing under his breath, he puffed out his chest. The sound occurred again, but this time on the opposite side of the disrupted clay path that used to be a road.

“Who’s there?” he whispered, unnerved that the forest had fallen quiet. The only noise that filtered into his ears was the echo of the latest branch breaking. It wasn’t an animal; someone was toying with him.

Tate backed two steps from the last noise and swallowed. A list of possible suspects paraded past his consciousness as he worked to divine who might have followed him to his killing field. Whoever it was, they had to die. There were too many Emilys left to locate and destroy before his work was done. Tate opened his pocket knife and hid it in his palm. If somebody rushed him, he’d do what the Army trained him to do twenty years ago. He was an excellent killer.

“Tatian Murphy, you are being judged.” A raspy voice filled the clearing with no definite source or direction.

Tate whirled to his right and presented his blade with a stiff arm.

“Who’s there?” he shouted, jerking to the left, behind, and then right again.

“You have killed for the last time. Repent of your murderous deeds and you will find forgiveness.” The voice rumbled closer now, eerily emanating from the air itself.

Tate jabbed at nothing and sought a reply. Intending to scream curses, he ended up repeating himself, “Who’s there?”

Strong hands from behind took hold of his shoulders and held him fast as Tate yelled out, this time in surprise and fear. Twisting backward to see, he caught a glimpse of a pale face floating in a sea of black, the mouth open and red.

A hungry mouth with the sharp teeth of an animal.

“Your sins have called me here and the time of judgment has come. Repent,” the voice hissed into his ear.

Tate screamed and swiveled his upper body with all of his strength only to be pulled into the thing’s wide chest. Twice more, his attacker whispered for him to repent, now speaking telepathically, penetrating his mind with icy fingers.

“Get away from me! Help!” Tate shouted until his throat was raw, but didn’t expect rescue; he’d chosen this desolate location well.

Still behind him, his attacker repositioned to hold Tate immobile with one arm while the free hand yanked down the collars of his coat and T-Shirt. Tate’s panic level rose as the monster’s breath whispered across his bare skin.

Once more, Tatian Murphy,” the telepathic voice threatened, “repent of the murder and violence you have perpetrated. Repent and be saved…”

His assailant’s fang-like teeth touched his skin. Tate increased his struggle, accidentally pushing himself upward until blood trickled from the self-inflicted punctures. The monster inhaled, held him tighter, and sent him one last mental message.

You should’ve repented. Bye, bye, Mr. Murphy.”

With that, the fangs were thrust as far as they would go into his jugular. Tate’s eyes bulged as the fire that raged at the wound site was surpassed by the undeniable sensation of his life slipping away.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he shouted, his knuckles white where his fists grasped the attacker’s sleeve. “God, help me! I’m sorry!”

Did he make it in time? Who was God and was He listening? The vampire drank deeply, squeezing Tate’s chest until it was difficult to breathe. Whimpering, Tate’s knees buckled. The monster supported his weight and held him fast, still brutally draining his life.

“I don’t want to die. No…”

Tate’s pleas fell to a whisper and then became internal as a white fog encroached on his senses.

Would God help him? He’d worked hard to punish his mother for what she did to him. He was washing evil from the planet; wasn’t that a good deed in itself? Should he have left that job to God?

Tate moaned and realized the lub-dub thump in his ears had become irregular. Soon, it would stop altogether.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

He tried to say it, but he had no breath. Oh, but he was sorry.

Author Bio:
A recovering vampire/horror fanatic, Ellen uses her experience in that subculture to bring the Light into the vampire genre. Addicting and delicious, Ellen’s brand of story-telling is rife with deep character study and honest emotion. Ellen graduated from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology, and lives in Historic Montgomery, Alabama with her husband,   daughter, five cats, and one spoiled dog.


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