Showing posts with label Feature Fiction. Show all posts

Published  December 30, 2022 by D&T Publishing Uninvited and unwelcomed, Dan’s estranged mother Margo shows up at his doorstep moments b...


Published December 30, 2022 by D&T Publishing

Uninvited and unwelcomed, Dan’s estranged mother Margo shows up at his doorstep moments before a freak snowstorm hits their small Texas town. The arctic storm comes fast and hard, trapping Dan and his wife, their teen daughter, and her boyfriend inside with the malicious old woman who seems hell-bent on destroying everything her son and daughter-in-law have built together. Long-buried family secrets are exhumed, causing tensions to flare and tempers to erupt. As things spiral out of control and anger consumes the household, inside is Hell. But outside in the snow, there’s something far more sinister. Something full of rage. Something violent. And that something has a taste for blood.

"A multi-layered thriller that'll chill your blood faster than a freak blizzard, Matt Micheli's The White proves there are scarier things than being trapped at home with family." - Jessica McHugh, Bram Stoker & Elgin Award nominated author of A Complex Accident of Life and Strange Nests

“Reading The White is like jumping naked into an ice-cold dunk tank filled with razor blades and smashed faces, Micheli’s writing is horrifically refreshing.” – Luke Kondor, co-founder and host of The Other Stories

“The White is a fun one-sitting romp dealing with high-tension family dynamics and the arrival of a freak snowstorm offering more than just a chill.” – Mark Towse, author of Nana and Crows

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Matt Micheli is a dark fiction and horror writer out of New Braunfels, TX, author of The White by D&T Publishing. He has several pieces featured in various magazines and anthologies. He is a loving husband and a girl and Husky dad who spends his days dabbling in domestication and his nights in Tequila, always searching for the next great story. Watch for his second novella Scratched in spring of 2023 and his 80's throwback horror novella Two Minutes with the Devil coming June of 2023 by D&T Publishing.

Published  November 22, 2022 by Brigids Gate Press, LLC B etrayal brings grave ending to a noble bloodline. Forced to flee, its sole survivi...


Published November 22, 2022 by Brigids Gate Press, LLC

Betrayal brings grave ending to a noble bloodline. Forced to flee, its sole surviving heir is spared this fate by the timely intervention of a haunter of the wilds. In his charge, the maiden embraces the lore of the dark arts and rises to become the watch-keep of the woods. As decades pass, with her legend growing, the ‘witch of root and earth’ weaves subtle deceits in a tangled web of vengeance.

But will there be a fairy tale ending, or will poisoned legacies and pacts with dark forces see ambition unravel in her relentless pursuit of power?

Bloody, and brilliantly realised, Baird’s dark fantasy nightmare spins a lavish tale of dread, desire, and fantastical fury.

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Black and white picture of Keith Anthony Baird

Keith Anthony Baird is the author of The Jesus Man: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Horror (Novel), Nexilexicon (Novel), And a Dark Horse Dreamt of Nightmares (Book of Shorts), This Will Break Every Bone In Your Heart (Novelette) and Snake Charmer Blues (Short), and a psychological/horror novella titled A Seed in a Soil of Sorrow. His works can be found on Amazon and Audible. 

He is currently querying a dystopian/cyberpunk novella titled SIN:THETICA.

The Diabolica Britannica horror anthology was his brainchild, in which you'll find his own contribution Walked a Pale Horse on Celtic Frost. 2021 saw the release of the Diabolica Americana and HEX-PERIMENTS anthologies, the latter in partnership with author Ross Jeffery.

He lives in Cumbria, in the United Kingdom, on the edge of the Lake District National Park.

Find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kabauthor

Published December 6, 2022 by Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC T he parents knew it had been a mistake to have a girl. At birth, the girl's...



Published December 6, 2022 by Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC

The parents knew it had been a mistake to have a girl. At birth, the girl's long, elegant fingers wriggled and grasped forward, motioning to strangle the very air from her mother's lungs. As she grew older, she grew more like her father, whose ancestors would dream of those soon to die. She walked and talked in her sleep, and her parents warded themselves, telling the girl that she was evil, unlovable, their burden to bear only until her eighteenth birthday released them.

The average person on the streets of Los Angeles would look at the girl and see a young woman with dark chocolate eyes, curly long hair, and tanned skin of her Filipina heritage. Her teachers praised her for her scholarly achievements and extracurricular activities, from academic decathlon to cheer.

The girl knew she was different, especially as she grew to accept that the other children's parents didn't despise them. Her parents whispered about their pact as odd and disturbing occurrences continued to happen around her. The girl thought being an evil demon should require the skies to bleed, the ground to tremble, an animal sacrifice to seal the bargain, or at least cause some general mayhem. Did other demons work so hard to find friends, do well on their homework, and protect their spoiled younger brother?

The demon was patient. It could afford to wait, to remind the girl when she was hurt that power was hers to take. She needed only embrace it. It could wait. The girl's parents were doing much of its work already.

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Victory Witherkeigh is a female Filipino/PI author originally from Los Angeles, CA, currently living in the Las Vegas area. Victory was a finalist for Wingless Dreamer’s 2020 Overcoming Fear Short Story award and a 2021 winner of the Two Sisters Writing and Publishing Short Story Contest. She has print publications in the horror anthologies Supernatural Drabbles of Dread through Macabre Ladies Publishing, Bodies Full of Burning through Sliced Up Press, and In Filth It Shall Be Found through OutCast Press. Written during NaNoWriMo, Victory’s first novel, set to debut in December 2022 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing, has been a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award, a 2020 Cinnamon Press Literature Award Honoree, and long-listed in the 2021 Voyage YA Book Pitch Contest. Find out more about her at: https://teikitu.com/

Published  October 15, 2022 by Grinning Skull Press M artin "Wags" Wagner, an aging catcher relegated to a minor-league affiliate ...


Published October 15, 2022 by Grinning Skull Press

Martin "Wags" Wagner, an aging catcher relegated to a minor-league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, is offered a new assignment—take a promising young pitcher under his wing and show him the ropes. Martin's manager is cagey about the new player, giving only his name, Andrei Dinescu, and his country of origin, Moldova. Despite the mysterious circumstances, Martin accepts the assignment, hoping to earn a return to the big leagues.

After his first bullpen session with the new pitcher, Martin is stunned by Andrei’s lack of physical ability and his unfamiliarity with baseball. However, with each passing week, Andrei’s strength and skill grow exponentially, and his miraculous leaps in both ability and pitch velocity frighten Martin. His fear is compounded by the organization’s obvious attempts to keep Andrei separated from the rest of the team.

When Martin discovers the shocking truth about Andrei Dinescu, he realizes his path back to the big leagues is one stained with horror and blood.


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Know a catcher by his knees, Martin Wagner thought as he taped bags of ice to his. He'd become an expert in the application of cold to torn ligaments and inflamed joints. As he ministered to his aching knees, he watched young men in their prime strut around in perfect injury-free bodies, laughing and joking, utterly confident in their indestructability. Martin tried not to hate them. Not easy for a thirty-seven-year-old catcher at the ass-end of his career who had to pop two Percocet to even get on the field, let alone play at something resembling a professional level. The aging athlete is a resentful creature.
 
Martin leaned against his locker. It was too small and too close to the others. Not like the cavernous, walk-in closet-sized joints in the big leagues. But he was not in the big leagues anymore. He'd been relegated to the minors last season, and in the minors, you made do with less. His head brushed the black-and-gray Sacramento Stars uniform hung above his locker. The Stars were a minor-league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Not so long ago, he'd worn the black and orange of the big team. Not so long ago, a big-league salary helped alleviate the pain in his knees, back, and neck. League minimum, sure, but that six-hundred grand let him pay his alimony and hang on to enough to live comfortably. Now, exiled to Triple-A, he made a fraction of that. He was two payments behind on his alimony, living in a one-room shit box—he couldn't bring himself to share a place with one of his embryonic teammates—his big-league career a swiftly fading memory. Veronica, his ex, was sympathetic to his predicament and let him slide on the alimony. Her magnanimity somehow made him feel worse about himself. The aging athlete is also a dumping ground for toxic male hang-ups





Aeryn Rudel is a writer from Tacoma, Washington. He is the author of the baseball horror novella Effectively Wild published by Grinning Skull Press and the Acts of War novels published by Privateer Press. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Matter Magazine, On Spec, and Pseudopod, among others. Aeryn is a heavy metal nerd, a baseball geek, and knows far more about dinosaurs than is healthy or socially acceptable. Learn more about his work at www.rejectomancy.com or on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.  

Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hat if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from ba...


Publication date: September 1st, 2021


What if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from battering her mother ever again?

What if a student had a secret weapon to end sexual assault by her predatory professor permanently?

What if a housewife had unusual means to get back at her controlling husband and walk away from her marriage alive?

In Giving the Devil His Due, The Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways.

Featuring stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Christina Henry, Peter Tieryas, Kelley Armstrong, Linda D. Addison, Hillary Monahan, and more, Giving the Devil His Due presents sixteen stories that will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all. 



"In Giving the Devil His Due, sixteen of speculative fiction's brightest authors tell the unflinching stories of survivors, of their strength and courage, as well as a righteous castigation of gender-based violence and the patriarchal societies all too willing to remain silent. This stirring, vital anthology demands your attention as it demands justice and the end of violence of against women." —Paul Tremblay, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
 
“A brilliant, wickedly-smart, scary as hell collection of creepy stories from some of today’s finest writers. Every single tale is a certified gold. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Relentless and V-Wars
 
"GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE burrows deep into the heart and inflames the spirit. A rallying cry against violence done to women and girls."—Tori Eldridge, Amazon bestselling author of The Ninja Betrayed --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Giving The Devil His Due is available on all major bookseller platforms in the United States and its territories, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from 1 September 2021 to 31 October 2023 only. The special edition is currently available to buy until 24 May 2022 and the classic edition can be pre-ordered ahead of 25 May 2022. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programmes, campaigns, and resources.

About the Pixel Project


The Pixel Project is a completely virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 non-profit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using the power of the internet, social media, new technologies and popular culture/the arts.

https://www.thepixelproject.net/
  

Publication date: October 31st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hen Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, ...




Publication date: October 31st, 2021


When Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she’s reassured by the realtor that nothing evil has ever occurred there. What she doesn’t know is that the bridge near the back of the property is notoriously known in the town as Suicide Bridge. As she and her friends try to uncover why so many people have taken their lives there, they are shocked by what they find. Can the reunion of Ghost Healers, Inc. untether the troubling spirits near Ellen’s fixer-upper, or will their discoveries be too much for them this time?

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“Ready for our hike?” Tanya asked. “Do pigs fly?” Sue said with a laugh. “The sooner we do our hike, the sooner we can get on the road to Santa Fe,” Ellen pointed out. “Just think, in five hours, we could be shopping in the plaza.” “Is that supposed to motivate me? That’s just what I’m looking forward to, more walking.” “Oh, come on, Sue,” Tanya said. “This will be more of a stroll than a hike. I promise.” Ellen and her friends put on their walking shoes and then took the trail beside their cabin into the canyon. Ellen breathed in the cool, morning air. The beauty of the canyon elevated her mood. Some of the stone formations were thick and striated, while other rocks formed mounds of crushed granite. In the distance was a tall formation that reminded Ellen of the sphinx. “Watch your step,” Tanya said from up front as she stepped over a large rock. “This feels so good,” Ellen said from where she took up the rear. “I feel like we’re one with nature.” “And nature is so majestic, isn’t it?” Tanya said. “Doesn’t that big rock look like the tower of a magical castle?” “I thought it looked more like the sphinx,” Ellen said. Sue shook her head. “You see a castle and Ellen sees a sphinx. What does it say about me that I see a penis?” Tanya scoffed. “You know what it says about you.” “Don’t tell Tom,” Sue warned. “He’ll say my mind is in the gutter.” “Isn’t it?” Ellen asked. “Yes, but there’s no need for Tom to know that.” The three friends chuckled. Ellen realized that if someone had overheard Sue, they might think she was a promiscuous woman who hid her extramarital interests from her husband, but her friends knew she just liked to make people laugh. Tanya asked, “You think there’s any truth to what that psychic said about there being a shade in Santa Fe? What if there is? What if he confronts us?” “Oh, Tanya,” Sue said, “you know as well as we do that there are ghosts everywhere. I’m sure there’s more than one shade in Santa Fe.” “But why would the psychic warn us?” Tanya wanted to know. “If anyone can handle a confrontation with a ghost, it’s us,” Sue said. “Don’t let fear get in your way of having a good time.” Ellen heard a shriek as Tanya stopped short. “Tanya? What are you screaming about?” Ellen asked from the


After earning her Ph.D. in English and teaching writing and literature for over twenty years, Eva Pohler became a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels in multiple genres, including mysteries, thrillers, and young adult paranormal romance based on Greek mythology. Her books have been described as "addictive" and "sure to thrill"--Kirkus Reviews.



  
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Publication date: November 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A mong the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as th...



Publication date: November 1st, 2021


Among the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as the man who can fulfill your one true wish or who can also conjure your worst nightmares. 

Eight invitations are sent to eight immortals, and when Arnaud Demeure hosts a party, no one refuses his request. Why have they been summoned? Is it for a celebration or does a sinister fate await them? After all, in the ways of Magick, a party can also be a ritual to end the world. 

As the mystery deepens, the attendees must overcome their personal grudges to unravel the threads of Demeure’s grand plan that has been centuries in the making. But, with one of the guests secretly working with their host to sabotage the group’s every move, it seems impossible to look behind the curtain to learn Demeure’s true intentions. 

With each guest hiding dark secrets and darker intentions, will they be able to uncover Demeure’s mysterious motives or will the party prove to be the deadly nightmare that they each fear?.


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 The young sister ran through the silent city while the prophet waited for her to arrive. The old man knew she would come; he had seen her already. Hidden by the shadow of an old staircase, eyes fixed on the door, he tried not to get distracted by the creatures in his vision.

Thousands of them, maybe millions, all crammed within glass walls.

The youngest sat at the center of the glass prison. It was taller than the tallest mountain. It was quiet amid the frenzy of its brothers. Its head so high it saw beyond the ceiling of its prison, straight into the realm of the Eldest Lords. Light leaked from underneath its shaking, half-closed eyelids. It peeked into the future.

As the prophet watched them, the creatures stared at him from far away. He could see them, yet his mind could not make full sense of their shapes, only of a few features. A crowd of wings, fangs, stingers, and every piece of every animal he could think of, and some he had never seen, crawling on each other while human parts pushed their way through. The tall one, its eyes closed, hummed over and over.

“We are so close. It won’t be long.”

The others followed its chanting and moved back and forth in front of the glass holding them prisoners, just like animals expecting a bite of their prey.

The prophet almost missed the nun’s arrival. She ran up the stairs, hesitating as she put one foot on the first step.

Unseen, the prophet followed.

From the roof, he tasted the entire city. A forest of concrete and metal spreading in every direction, so much so that nothing existed if not within it. The sun blinded him, shining in white and gold. Dawn was a miracle. He stood still, in awe of the most magnificent city, and he almost forgot he had followed someone.

But there she was, the young sister, standing close to the balustrade, her arms raised to the sky, her shape dark against the sunlight.

The tall metallic tower pierced the sky and stabbed the sun, just like an arrow. The star bled, scattering its light all over the town.

White particles fell from the sky. Snow perhaps, or dust, he could not say. He dared to look up. The sky had turned dark despite the sun shining in it, light still leaking over the city.

In the cold air, no sound but the wind.

Nothing else made a noise. No sound of cars or their horns. No talking or music playing, no chirping of birds.

The prophet stood transfixed.

Cars were still on the asphalt, their lights on. Some stuck in place, some coasting along the streets. Many had slid, hitting nearby objects. Tombstones in an old graveyard, they lay against each other, against lampposts, or sat on the sidewalks.

Men and women, asleep, still clung to their steering wheels.

Their heads blasted out of the windshields or hung from the windows. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies covered the sidewalks and the streets. More must have been resting within the buildings, unmoving, untouched.

Here and there, white, black, and red stains, each tens of meters long, covered the streets—flocks of birds caught in whatever happened.

Nobody moved, nobody talked, everyone rested in this cemetery, testimony of a dark miracle.

The world had moved on. The city, now empty, stayed behind.

Paris was dead, and the Great Ones were free.




Born and raised in Sicily, M.L. spent most of his early life inventing stories and believing he could live in them.

In high school, he spent way too much time watching B movies, playing video games, and reading everything he could get his hands on, provided it wasn’t recommended by any authority figure.

M.L. spent most of his college years and adult life writing in languages only machines can understand until he decided to put some of his stories on the page.

After a few years spent in Scotland, now M.L. lives in Seattle with his wife, his cat, and a large assortment of books. When not writing, he still enjoys playing video games and explaining board game rules to his friends.

You can follow M.L. on: https://mylittleblackbird.com.

M.L. also writes as Sebastiano Merlino.
  

Publication date: October 5th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil. A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolati...


Publication date: October 5th, 2021


Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility.

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world.

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

The Devil Is In The Details!

Fans of The Silence of the Lambs, Clive Barker, John Connolly, old Stephen King, and Anne Rice will be fascinated by this edge of your seat psychological horror thriller with a story that tears out the heart of humanity and throws it on a slab to be feasted on.
 

Potential Trigger / Content Warnings


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Born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Westchester County, New York, living in South Florida since 1992. A child of the 90’s PD has coined a new genre, Alternative Fiction. Why? Because Multi-Genre Author sounds like you’ve got marbles between your cheeks. 

 Horror, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Supernatural, Dark Fiction, Thrillers and Mysteries, a little bit of sumpin sumpin for readers who enjoy intellectual and yet over the top lets blow our minds and rock out to amazing and extraordinary stories, heroes and villains. PD's latest release is The Rose Vol 1, a dystopian science fiction thriller, a series that features a sophisticated although primal and ravaging species of Alien Vampires living in hollow earth who have conspired with alien greys and elite humans in an attempt to subjugate the human population. Vol 1 was published on October 7, 2020 with Vol 2 slated for publication in early December 2021. PD will also publish his horror novel, Golem in early October 2021.

PD can best be described as a kind hearted, compassionate, hypnotizing, mesmerizing, do good save your life simpleton who would rather hang out all day with the characters in his books than venture too far away from home. A lover of isolation, meditating on the beach at sunrise, and howling at the moon after sunset, he’s either the life of the party or the oddball sitting alone in the corner with that really strange look in his eye as if he’s talking with people that are just not there, perhaps receiving a few concerned stares as he laughs at himself or maybe a funny joke one of those voices just told him. OH, All IS WELL ISN’T IT?

 PD loves the creative process that comes with writing. From the spawning of a new idea to jotting down notes or sending a hurried email to himself even during the most off time to do so (the book always come first), to the artful craft of editing all the way to publication, there is nothing better than producing an exceptional book. 

An avid reader who loves to talk books, PD will write short reaction reviews for the books he has finished and has not one issue answering questions from readers as they come.

So don’t miss a thing that PD has going on, check in often, like follow and share on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and lets all have the time of our lives discussing what we all love best, BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. 

Publication date: September 28th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads DEXTER meets DEATH WISH in this pulse-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced ...

Looking down a gun barrel at the person holding it

Publication date: September 28th, 2021


DEXTER meets DEATH WISH in this pulse-pounding, relentlessly fast-paced thriller from the author of Bad Parts.

ONE GUN. SIX BULLETS. NO CHOICE.

Ken Fujima, a downtrodden substitute teacher from suburban Pennsylvania, is trying to rebuild his life when his home is broken into by a pair of West Coast assassins. As part of a revenge scheme, they attack his wheelchair-bound father, forcing Ken to intervene.

During the scuffle Ken picks up a mysterious revolver to defend himself. What he soon learns is that the revolver is a cursed yakuza weapon that will remain fused to his hand until he either dies or kills six other people.

Tormented by this gruesome ultimatum, Ken teams up with his estranged brother, a recovering heroin addict, in hopes of targeting drug dealers responsible for recent overdoses among his high school students.

As hours tick away and other murderous opportunities arise, Ken strives to remain moral, but the haunted revolver has other ideas—if he won’t decide who dies, the gun will.


ADVANCE PRAISE FOR ENTRY WOUNDS:
“An action-packed, surprise-filled, outrageously thrilling novel!”
Jeff Strand, author of Wolf Hunt

“Entry Wounds is a harrowing supernatural thriller filled with shootouts, bloodshed, betrayal—and best of all, a cursed revolver. As the body count rises, so too does the action in a roller coaster ride of a story that concludes with a fantastic twist I never saw coming. Great stuff, and I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever Brandon McNulty puts out next.”
Jeremy Bates, author of Suicide Forest and The Sleep Experiment

“Clever and gripping, Entry Wounds is a tour de force that moves as fast as the bullets from the cursed gun within its pages. You’re going to want to read this ASAP.”
Robert Swartwood, USA Today bestselling author of The Serial Killer's Wife

“A thought-provoking book of bullets and blood about a thirst for vengeance so palpable that it has its own agency. Entry Wounds makes the reader question whether, in the face of unstoppable lust for death, a predator is as tormented as his victim.”
L.C. Barlow, award-winning author of The Jack Harper Trilogy

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Growing impatient, she slammed the revolver’s butt against the door. It was a humid late-September night, and sweat greased her armpits and lower back. She wanted to remove her jacket, but its deep pocket was the only reasonable hiding place for her gunhand.

        Yes, gunhand. All one word. That was how she’d come to think of it. Not as a gun in her hand but a complete fusion of flesh and steel. Since she first grabbed it yesterday, she’d been unable to let go.

 


Brandon McNulty grew up loving monsters, demons, and the thrill of a great scare. Now he writes supernatural thrillers, horror, and other dark fiction. He is a graduate of Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop and a winner of both Pitch Wars and RevPit. He writes from Pennsylvania.

Publication date: September 22nd, 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Innsmouth University is a place with a sinister past and a terrifying pr...



Publication date: September 22nd, 2020


Innsmouth University is a place with a sinister past and a terrifying present. Two brilliant students, involved in illicit and unethical practices, believe they have found a cure for fear. The unwitting subjects of their experiments are subjected to a range of horrors as the students try to discover if it is possible for any individual to be truly fearless.

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Ashley Lister is a prolific writer of fiction across a broad range of genres, having written more than fifty full length titles and over a hundred short stories. He is the co-host of Blackpool's Pub Poets and a regular participant (and occasional winner) in their monthly Haiku Death Match.

Aside from regularly blogging about writing, Ashley also teaches creative writing in the North West of England. He has recently completed a PhD in creative writing where he looked at the relationship between plot and genre in short fiction.  

Publication date: August 31st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads In a quest to set himself right with the universe, Marcel travels cross-cou...


Publication date: August 31st, 2021



In a quest to set himself right with the universe, Marcel travels cross-country, finding himself in a small town in Alabama, rife with political tension surrounding a mysterious cult and a sheriff's election that may very well decide the fate of the country. Marcel struggles to uncover the secrets of the cult, the town, and the world itself—all while facing criminal charges for a murder he can't remember committing.

Part Southern Gothic, part metaphysical noir, with a touch of magic realism and a dash of dark comedy, the Chapel St. Perilous dares the reader to take a chance with fate.


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    Chapter 1

I don’t remember coming home. I recall the morning clearly, but the rest of the day comprises flashes, and then a long darkness that starts around midday. When I woke this morning to the sound of heavy knocking on the door, I was completely naked. 

Antoinette and I had not been lovers. She was my housemate, or more accurately, my landlady. The tension had been there from the outset. Good sense had prevailed for the first few weeks, but a pair of clowns can only walk along a tightrope for so long. And as I lay in bed, listening to the sound of beating fists on the front door, I assumed that in a state of blackout drunkenness we’d crossed the great divide. 

I pulled on my pants, put on a t-shirt, and looked out the window onto the small street next to our house to see two, three, four police cars. Even though everything else in Chickasaw is old, the police cars are brand-new. I washed my hands, splashed my face, went down the stairs, and opened the door. Two large male officers stood there. 

“Marcel Swart?”

“Uh… yes, sir.”

They’d found Antoinette’s car, they said, down by the swamp, and clothes, or pieces of clothes, and blood. 

“Do we have your permission to search the house?”

They moved into the doorway with such authority I felt incapable of resistance. I stepped aside, mumbled yes, certainly, come in. 

With gloved hands they invaded every corner of the kitchen. As I watched them rifle through drawers, I kept wondering if I should stop them, demand they leave. But I was a tenant, after all, and my only thought at the time was—do not get yourself into any trouble; make them believe you’re a good person, then they will like you, and they won’t harm you. 

Upstairs a young officer dug through my underwear drawer. He found a packet of unopened condoms, held it up, turned it about—to make sure, I assume, that none had been used. If you’ve ever been singled out for a bag search at customs you know what it feels like to suddenly doubt everything about yourself, to wonder, if just for a second, Am I carrying drugs? 

Only here the fear ran deeper. There was something in my drawers, something beneath my bed, or in the bags I had not yet fully unpacked, that marked me not as a drug user, but as a murderer. There was something about a murderer’s socks, or his underwear, or the stain on his shirt pocket, invisible to most, but to the trained eye as clear as surveillance tape footage and a signed confession.

“Would you be willing to come to the station, to talk to us?” the young officer asked me. He looked to be in his early thirties, neatly shaven, hair trimmed. I could see beneath his jacket he had the kind of body that comes only through daily workouts, through a disciplined lifestyle. “Sir?” 

“Umm. Why do you want me to come down to the station?”

“Like to ask you a few questions. You’d drive yourself down there.”

I agreed  

I wished I’d asked for time to shower, eat breakfast, change into something that made me look less destitute. As I brushed my teeth I noticed all our toiletries had been unpacked, left lying on the bathroom counter, and spread across the table next to the window. 

A Northern Cardinal landed on the branch just a few feet from me, separated only by a thin pane of glass. I wished to be that bright red bird. Then I remembered for the first time since I’d woken that morning—I am a wealthy man. I have money. But the thought brought me no comfort as I walked down the stairs, into the living room, out the front door. 


It was cool outside, the road damp. It must have rained the night before. Droplets lined the dark windows of my 1970 Ford Torino. The leather seats were cold this morning, and as I started the engine, that awful smell of burnt flesh filled the car. He was warning me of danger; I hadn’t heard from him like this in a while. My chest tightened; my arms and fingers were cold. 

I followed the police cars down Grant Street, past the public swimming pool, the library, the white, wooden Episcopal church, the park, the rows of wooden houses, some well-kept, others falling into ruin, past the old trucks parked on the lawns, past the cats, always the cats, everywhere, and the park, and the trees that reach across the street, leaves touching in the middle. There was a sign: Re-elect Sheriff Jones. Directly across the road, in front of one of the better preserved houses in the neighborhood, stood a campaign poster for his rival: Jefferson Lee III, whose eyes stared out from beneath his black hat and clawed into my soul. The smell of burning flesh was so strong I almost retched. 


I followed the cops right onto Route 43 and up to the humble station, faded redbrick, like an old schoolhouse, better suited to this time-forgotten neighborhood than the shiny cars now parked in front of it. 

Inside the station I was asked to sit on a wooden bench. 

“Do you want a coke?” Sergeant Alexis, the younger officer, asked me. 

“Sure.” I tapped my pockets to show I was up for it. 

“Don’t worry.” 

He paid close attention to how I pulled back the tab, my hand trembling slightly. I looked into his light blue eyes, smiled. 


The interview room was tiny, more like a cubicle. A single surveillance camera in the top right-hand corner peered down at me. When the door opened, a different, older man—with gray hair, a gray goatee, a silver cross around his neck, podgy in the way men over sixty often are—came into the room, I saw the road that lay between me and the needle. Alabama’s black soil would be my rest.  

“Detective Drew Franklin,” the older man said, as he sat down. “You’ve met Detective Alexis.”

“Yes, sir.” 

“You don’t come from ‘round here,” Franklin said.

He had a deep Alabama accent, and there was something awful about the man’s eyes, as if they’d been whisked up from hell, burned by the fires. 

“No, sir.” 

I didn’t feel obliged to give him more than that.  

He put his fist beneath his chin. 

“You live with Antoinette Dubois?”

“I do. She’s my housemate. Landlady.” 

I took a sip of coke and watched his eyes as they watched my hands. 

“Just a landlady?”

“How do you mean?” I took another sip. Something shifted in both of them, like dogs who smell fear. 

“Did you two ever get intimate?” Alexis asked me.

“Did you have sex with Antoinette Dubois?” Franklin leaned in closer.

I saw my fingers as these two men saw them, fumbling, playing with themselves, fidgeting. 

“We wanted to be together… sometimes…” I stammered. I heard myself as they heard me, a guilty man, caught in his lies. 

“You wanted to be with her?” Alexis asked. 

Then Franklin: “But she didn’t want to be with you.”

“It drove you crazy.”

“No, no, no.” I tapped the desk with my knuckles, a sudden rush of anger fueling me. “You don’t know anything.”

“Then tell us.”

“Educate us.”

“You don’t even know that she was… that she is dead.”

“Nobody said she was dead.”

“You’re treating it like a murder. You’re treating me…”

“We’re treatin’ you like what?”  

“Nothing.” I looked down. 

“Her car,” Franklin continued, “was found down by the Chickasaw creek. Blood. Pieces of torn clothing. Her panties were found in the car. All been sent to the crime lab. Soon, we’ll have DNA. We’ll know everything we need to know. But by then it’s gonna be too late. So you got somethin’ to tell us, tell us now. Then we can help you.”

“I would never.” I partially crushed the coke can. “I could not do, whatever you’re thinking. You haven’t found a body.”

“Are you concerned about us finding that body?” the younger man asked.  

“Does that worry you, son?”

“No, it doesn’t worry me.”

“You don’t care if she’s alive or dead?”

“Of course I care. I hope you find her alive.” I looked up from the can, stared into the older eyes, the younger eyes, back. I could not outstare them; I looked down. 

“Would you be willing to submit to a DNA sample?” Alexis asked. 

“Yes, I would. I want to help you.”

“Good,” Alexis said. 

He exited, leaving Franklin and me alone. The older man wrapped his right hand around his clenched, left fist, and squeezed.

“If Antoinette Dubois is alive, we want to find her. And we need to find her soon. If she’s dead, we gotta find the son of a bitch that done this.”

“Yes, sir. I want to help you.”

“What kind of animal does somethin’ like this? Murder a young woman, and throw away her body like a piece a trash?”

“Why do you keep talking about her body, like it’s already been found?”

He twisted the thick gold ring on his finger, moved it up and down. 

“Clock’s tickin’.” He placed his hand on my wrist. “If she’s alive, we need to find her now. Sometimes these sickos hold onto their victims for a while. Or, she may just have had an altercation, but managed to escape. If you know somethin’, you need to talk.” He pointed his finger at the space between my eyes, leaning so close to me I could feel his breath. “What you not tellin’ us?”

“There’s nothing… sir.” I felt the back of my head shake. 

“You know what’s going on here at the moment?”

“Sir?”

“Sheriff’s election one week today. I know I shouldn’t be talkin’ about this. But the stakes are too high. The soul of our town’s at stake.”

“I understand, sir.”

“And you know the politics here, what’s going on here now, extends way beyond this little town.”

“Yes, I know, sir.” 

“You part of that cult, son?”

“It’s not a cult.”

He grabbed my wrist and slammed my arm against the table.

“Goddammit. You know Maggie?”

“Never met her.”

“You know what these folk think of her, don’t you?”

I looked up at the camera. What kind of game was this old man playing? Was he trying to create a faux-intimacy with me, to trick me into giving him what he wanted to hear? Or was he really on the side of re-electing Sheriff Jones? 

“They can’t hear us.” He glanced up at the camera. “They can only see. Now you need to speak and you need to speak quick before my partner gets back in here. I’m the only pro-Jones man in this building. You understand?”

“I hear you, sir. But what do you want me to tell you?”

“You know how they gonna make this look. Media gonna be all over this, like flies ‘round shit. They gonna say you done this ‘cuz you part of that cult. You know how things work round here, huh? Folks don’t take kindly to nothin’ that smells like… voodoo or black magic.”

“I didn’t come here to be a part of that…” 

“What else would some outta towner like yourself be doin’ here?” He stared at me for a long time, and I did my best to hold his gaze, certain now that this was all an act. He was no more for Jones than was anyone else in this building. He wanted to drive Maggie and all her followers out of town. “Well, did you do it?”

“Did I do what?”

“Kill her?” My hand shook as I reached for the coke can we both knew was empty. “If you killed her you need to tell me, so we can protect Maggie. And cut you a deal.”

“I didn’t…” My voice trembled.

“You looking at the needle, son. If you fess up, we can save you from that.”

“I didn’t do it.”

Alexis reentered. He wore blue plastic gloves and held a long cotton-tipped swab, which he inserted into my mouth. The tip brushed against the soft wall. 

“You drinkin’ last night?” Franklin asked as Alexis left the room. 

Telling the detective I couldn’t remember what had happened since sometime around midday would be as good as signing my own death warrant. I knew I had to start talking, but the longer I waited the colder my mind grew. I had to invent. If I’d woken up at home, in my bed, then I must have been at home in the evening. And we may very well have done what we often did.

“We drank in the lounge. After dinner. That was common.”

“You drank in the lounge?”

“Talking; listening to music. That was very normal for us. That was how I, how we, often spent our evenings.”

“How much you drink?”

The back of my neck tingled hot; spots of sweat pierced the skin. 

“A few glasses.”

“And then?”

“We finished up. We went to bed.” 

“You went to your bed, and she went to her bed?” 

“We didn’t have that kind of relationship, sir. We were friends.”

“It ain’t no crime sleepin’ with your landlady. ‘Specially not if she’s young, and you’s young. I don’t see no ring on your finger.” 

I held up my hand to show him he was correct.

“Means you were sleeping with her?”

“No, sir. I didn’t say that.”

“Mr. Swart, last night, you and Antoinette Dubois, by your own admission, were alone in the house you shared, drinkin’ into the night. Next mornin’ she’s missin’, and her car’s found down at the Chickasaw Creek, bloodstained clothes. You understand how this looks, son?”

“Of course I understand, how it looks. But I didn’t do anything wrong.”

I looked up at the camera in the corner and pictured the other room full of cops, watching me, trying to decide if I sat like a killer, drank coke like a killer, spoke, breathed, moved like a killer.  

“I’m the most senior detective in this station. If I tell ‘em I want time alone with you, cameras off, you better know they gonna listen.” 

I looked up at the ceiling. Closing my eyes, I tried to recall the events of yesterday, but the last images I could access were on Maggie’s island. 

“You want me to turn off the cameras? We can talk alone, if you got something to say.”

He dragged his chair across the room, climbed onto it, and fiddled with the wires at the back of the video camera. For all I knew, this was just another trick, another attempt at creating intimacy. But as his hand rested on my shoulder, I felt genuine comfort for the first time since I’d woken up that morning. Sitting opposite me again, he asked: “Cigarette?” He took a pack from his pocket and held it toward me. He had thick fingers. 

“I wouldn’t mind one, thank you.” 

“I love these things.” He lit one and handed it to me; lit his own. “I don’t care what they say. I’ll go to an early grave a happy man ‘fore I give these up.”

I wanted to say something clever, but nothing came to mind. 

“Maybe you want to back up a little bit. Tell me about yourself. How you come to be in this part of the world?”

“How far back do you want me to go, sir?”

He took a drag of his cigarette, resting his elbows up on the table. 

“I want to help that girl. I want to find her. You want to find her too, don’t you?” He pointed at me with his cigarette finger.

“Of course. I haven’t lied to you.”

“I ain’t here to call you no liar. But if you won’t tell me what happened last night, then maybe you can tell me what happened to bring you to this little town of Chickasaw. Outsiders like you, they come here for one reason.” He raised his index finger. “And that reason is Maggie. And anyone who comes to be with Maggie, well, they had something go wrong in their life.”

“Ha.” I laughed involuntarily, put my cigarette on the edge of the table, wiped my sweaty hands on my pants. “That’s a bit presumptuous, isn’t it?”

“Tell me I’m wrong.”

I sat back, crossing my arms over my chest. 

“How do I know that camera’s not filming us? How do I know you really side with Sheriff Jones?”

“We can go someplace else, where there ain’t a camera. We can take a drive, if you like. My colleagues here, they know I got some… how d’ya say? Unconventional methods.”

I didn’t know what to make of that. Had he just confessed to me that this was all an act, a way of getting me to drop my guard?

“I’m the only Jones man in this station. I want to keep Chickasaw unique. I know some folk say Maggie does weird things, but she does good work. She helped me.” From his wallet he took out a lottery ticket, which he placed on the table in front of me. “Won a hundred fifty thousand dollars on this one.” 

“Things went bad for you after that?” 

“Didn’t understand why.”

“And she helped you?”

He nodded slowly, pursing his lips into an inverted smile. 

“How much time you got?” I asked him.

“As I told you, son, time is tight. But you our best hope at this moment of figuring out what’s going on. Now, I know I was pushin’ you earlier. That’s my job. But I trust my gut. And my gut says you ain’t harmed that girl.” He took my arm and held it tight. “But I’m the only one on your side. And I tell you for certain, I’m the only one who want to help keep Maggie safe. That election’s in one week.” He got up and walked to the door. “Come on. I’ll tell ‘em we’re takin’ a ride, just you and me.”

“Okay. Let’s go.” 


“1970 Ford Torino,” he said, running his hand over my car. “A true classic.”

“Sure is.” 

“But we gonna take a ride in my car,” Franklin said, pointing at an unmarked black truck. “We can smoke in here. We’ll take a drive down to the water, to where they found her car this mornin’.”

“Sounds good to me.” 

We pulled out onto Route 43.  

I took a deep drag on my cigarette and looked out the window at a white house rotting in the ground, a dog chained to a tree, barking at us as we went by. Calm settled over me as I exhaled. I was an innocent man, and soon enough I’d be able to prove it.





Michael Rands is the author of the satirical, dark comedy, Praise Routine Number Four, co-author of the economic satire The Yamaguchi Manuscripts, and Kamikaze Economics (a story of modern Japan). He’s co-author of the humorous dictionary Stay Away from Mthatha. He co-created the audio drama The Crystal Set, and is one of the hosts on the podcast Detours Ahead. In South Africa he worked in television as a writer, director and producer. He taught English in Japan. He holds an MFA from Louisiana State University, and currently teaches English and Creative Writing at the college level. He lives with his wife and toddler in Alabama, not too far from a bayou. The Chapel St. Perilous is his second published novel.