An Excerpt From Changeling

Changeling is still available for free download through Thursday! If you haven’t downloaded a copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

“ Oh, human…” the banshee sighed. “What are you trying to do?”

“You say you sing death,” Bridget pressed. “Does it have to be anybody’s death in particular?”

The banshee raised its hands and shook its hooded head.

“Human…Bridget…no. Just stop. I’ve heard this so many times before. What you want is forbidden.”

“Ah, there now, that’s an interesting thing,” Bridget said triumphantly, pointing as she always did when she had someone good and pinned down. “You tell me it’s forbidden, but nobody bothers to forbid something that can’t be done. There’s no laws against counterfeiting by shitting gold coins, after all.”

“Bridget,” The banshee said, taking hold of the pointing hand and – not ungently – moving it away. “If I could do what you wish, not a child would die in this world as long as there was a parent left to say ‘take me instead’.”

Bridget just shook her head. “Oh, come now, what kind of fool do you take me for? Fool enough to think Old Man Death would find taking me sooner rather than later to be a deal worth making?”

“What deal are you making, then?”

Bridget grinned to herself. She had the spirit’s attention now. “This isn’t the first time you’ve been to these parts, you know. Do you remember?”

“I’ve been to all of Ireland,” The banshee answered “I remember it all, but I don’t know which part you want me to remember right now.”

“When last you were here, you sang for my husband.”

There was a long moment of silence. If the banshee had been human, Bridget would have guessed that it was stunned at being confronted by someone who’d been hurt by its work, at being forced to think of that person as someone who hurt instead of a simple singing engagement.

But it wasn’t human, now was it? Surely a creature who “sang death” couldn’t feel such things.

But sure, and didn’t that sound like a sigh that came out from under its hood before it spoke again. “Bridget, I’m sorry. I really am. But I’m afraid that doesn’t change anything.”

“I didna think it would. And there’s no need to be sorry.”

Pause.

“…what’s that again?”

“Jimmy Flanagan was a good man, God rest his soul, and I loved him.” Bridget said. “But his death was no harder than most I’ve seen – a heart attack is head and shoulders above what our Meaghan is facing right now – and my heart didn’t break when he died.”

“No?”

Bridget shook her head. “No. I loved him, but I never could love him the way other wives loved their husbands. When he took me to bed, it was doin’ me duty, not kickin’ up me heels like it is for most women at least once in a while.” She interrupted herself to shake a finger at her spectral companion. “And not because his idea of getting me ready was ‘brace yourself, Bridey’. Jimmy did the best he could, poor man.” She paused a moment then, and her eyes went very far away, and when she spoke it was much softer. “And I never knew why. Why I couldn’t love him like that, I mean…until I heard you sing, and it was like a mermaid instead of a banshee.”

The eerie blue lights within the cowl blinked, and the hooded head cocked. “What in the name of Oberon’s knickers do you mean by that?”

Bridget rolled her eyes. “Ye bewitched me, that’s what I mean. I couldn’t tear meself away. If I’d known ye would be this easy to find, I would’ve come to you on the moment.”

“Well most people don’t want to find – “ The banshee began. Then she realized what she was saying. “Are ye daft, woman?”

“Most likely,” Bridget admitted. “I certainly thought the other girls mad when they acted like I’m acting. Thought my way with my Jimmy was more sensible. Now they’re thirty years past it and I’m acting like a girl with her tits just starting to bud making calf eyes at a boy at her first dance.”

“And I’m…the boy?” The banshee asked, still struggling to understand just what this mad human was saying to her.

“You are.”

Hurry on over and pick up a free copy before it’s too late! And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

Changeling Is Available For Free Now Through Thursday!

The story of love and death is now available for free download on Amazon!

The banshee are spirits of death. Some were once human; some are of the Good Folk, come up from the darkest shadows under the hill. In the end, it makes no difference. The banshee sing death, and that is the whole of it. When the banshee come singing, death follows behind, and there is no fighting it. No appeal, no bargains to be made. But tonight, Bridget Flanagan has an offer that the banshee have never heard before…

Check out Changeling‘s homepage, or just go straight to Amazon and download yourself a free copy! And as always, while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.

An Excerpt from Hometown – #1

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Hey, all.

As promised, here is the first of the excerpts from my longest work, the horror novel Hometown:

It’s the Fall of 1994 in the small milltown of Belford, New York. The leaves are turning, the kids are going back to school, and the heat of Summer is giving way to a cool, misty season. It happens every Fall.

Only this Fall, people are disappearing into that mist. Some people are found torn apart, some people are found dead for no reason, and some people aren’t found at all. Other people see strange things in the mist: ghosts and campfire stories.

There’s something out there in that mist. Something old. Something that has slept for a long time, but has now woken up hungry. Maybe the people of Belford could resist it, but as the terrible Fall wears on, more and more of them start…changing. Acting bizarre and violent. In the end, only a small group of teenage defenders are left to make their stand.

That’s the cover blurb.  You’ll probably see it again.  Meanwhile, the plan here is to keep giving you excerpts at the rate of one or two per week, until you’ve seen everything that’s publicly available from Amazon, then give you a few previews from later in the book.  With that in mind, check below the fold (it’s a touch NSFW) for the opening scene to Hometown.

Continue reading “An Excerpt from Hometown – #1″

An Excerpt from Chrysalis

Chrysalis Cover

Tomorrow is the last day that Chrysalis is available for free download at Amazon.  If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

Overnight, the Old Pine Pass Meteorite made Corriman internationally famous in the scientific community, not to mention putting Old Pine Pass on the map for tourists and sightseers.

For one thing, it was huge. At ten feet by ten feet by ten feet, it was larger than even the Hoba meteorite. For another, it was made of some substance that had never been encountered on Earth before. Most meteorites the Old Pine’s size consist of iron or iron alloys, but the Old Pine seemed to be some kind of multicolored crystal or gemstone, which was fortunate: if it had, in fact, been iron, it would have stayed right in Jake Halsey’s north forty. Sixty tons is a lot harder to move than the three the Old Pine actually weighed.

Of no particular scientific interest but certainly helpful for tourism, the thing was breathtakingly beautiful. Instead of being scorched and pitted by atmospheric re-entry, it seemed to have been…polished. What was more, the bands and whorls and patterns of brilliant, gemlike colors – sapphire, ruby, emerald, amethyst, topaz – actually moved. Too slow for the eye to easily follow, to be sure, but quickly enough that you were never looking at the exact same stone any two days in a row. How that was possible for a rock was, of course, a mystery, so perhaps the Old Pine’s beauty was of scientific interest after all.

Other, bigger schools and museums tried to obtain the Old Pine, of course, and the faculty knew that they would probably have to let it go eventually. The money that any one of those schools or museums would “donate” to Corriman in exchange for the Old Pine would be a huge boon, of course, but there was something more important to consider: the Old Pine was just wasted as the primary exhibit of Corriman’s three-room “Hall of Geology”. It belonged in the Smithsonian. But until that day, Corriman and Old Pine Pass would enjoy their claim to fame, and geologists would continue to take samples and make observations and run analyses and perform experiments that always created more questions than they answered.

 

*

 

Again, in the normal course of things, that would have been enough to bring Old Pine Pass and Corriman lasting (if rather specialized) fame. But that spring, yet another strange, unprecedented occurrence brought scientific attention to Old Pine Pass. This time, the science in question was entomology.

It was a bright spring day very near to the end of the semester (which was the only time bright spring days really came to Corriman – once, it had snowed on Mother’s Day and the reaction had been annoyed, but not particularly surprised), and the school’s lawns were crowded with students playing Frisbee and classes being held outdoors. Several dorms and frat houses had moved their lounge furniture outside, and the hip hop blasting from the Beta house was blending with Pachelbel’s Canon in D blaring from the Artist Guild to create a surprisingly interesting hybrid. George himself was just out of his last class of the morning, heading to the Student Center for a burger and enjoying his favorite springtime sights (coeds in bikinis sunning themselves) when the Historical Event happened: a cloud of butterflies descended on the Quad.

Even if they’d been ordinary butterflies, that would have been enough to make everyone who hadn’t fallen asleep in the sun pause in what they were doing so they could ooh and aah. George had never seen such a huge swarm of butterflies in his life.

But they weren’t ordinary butterflies. Their wings were iridescent, and the very air seemed to shimmer as they filled the Quad.

“Look! Mommy, Daddy, look!” A little girl cried. Mommy and Daddy no doubt did exactly that. George himself couldn’t help but glance over out of sheer reflex. Larry Cooper from English had his family with him for some reason, and his five-year-old daughter was standing there with a glittering pane of iridescence balanced on her hand. “Look, Daddy!” Little…Jennifer, yes, that’s right, her name was Jennifer…repeated. “I just held out my hand, and one landed right on my finger!”

“Wow, that’s…” Larry’s eyes went very wide. “That’s great honey.” He raised his head, looked around, spotted George standing there, and waved him over. “George!” He whisper-shouted. “Get over here! You need to see this!”

George was already curious, so he hurried over willingly enough. When he got there, he was glad he had.

Little Jennifer thrust her hand out at him, proud to show off her “catch”. The butterfly didn’t seem to mind. It was pretty big as such things go, almost the size of a hummingbird, and its wings – in addition to being iridescent – were a gorgeous fractal pattern.

A pattern that kept changing.

Colors and patterns flowed and wheeled and spiraled across the butterfly’s wings like the northern lights had flowed and wheeled and spiraled across the sky.

“How is it doing that?” Larry asked. “Is it some kind of chameleon thing?”

“Heck if I know,” George answered. “Call Maria over in Biology and get her over here quick. I don’t have my cell phone.”

“I wanna keep it!” Jennifer announced as her father reached into his pocket.

“Oh, honey, I don’t know,” Her mother said. “We don’t know anything about it.”

“But I want it!” Jennifer protested, her whine reminding George why he’d never wanted kids as she cupped her hand over her new pet. “I promise I’ll – ow!

The butterfly fluttered away as she clutched her hand and wailed.

“Are you okay?” Mommy asked, kneeling to examine her wounded offspring. “What happened?”

It bit me!” Jennifer shrieked, cradling her hand against her chest.

“Take it easy now, little bear,” her father soothed. “Butterflies don’t – ”

This was, of course, the exact moment that Mommy managed to coax Little Bear’s hand away from her chest and reveal that the finger that had supported the butterfly was bleeding.

“- bite?”

Just then, other shouts and exclamations of pain started to spring up from here and there all over the Quad.

Beautiful as they were, these butterflies were apparently a touch nastier than was strictly standard.

The quad was clear in less than two minutes.

For the rest of the story, head on over to Amazon and download a copy.

And while you’re there, check out the rest of the library as well!

 

Chrysalis is Available for Free Download Now Through Thursday!

Chrysalis Cover

The world is ending not in fire or ice, but in terrible beauty.  Download the chronicle of beautiful doom free at Amazon now through Thursday!

And while you’re there, check out the rest of the library as well!

An Excerpt from Facing The Music

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Tomorrow is the last day of the free giveaway for Facing The Music.  If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, here’s a taste of what you’re missing:

New Year’s Day – Posted January 3, 2016

I woke up beside my boyfriend with a pounding headache, a throbbing bladder, and aches in places I didn’t know I could ache.

With a groan, I rolled out of bed so I could go to the bathroom and empty out all of the booze (Lewis Grizzard once wrote that a professional drinker drinks every night of the year except New Year’s Eve, because that’s Amateur Night. Steve and I might not be professional drinkers, but no one can say that we didn’t make the most of amateur night). On the way, I found myself having trouble walking. Go ahead and snicker, it means exactly what you think it means.

After I finished taking care of business (more ouch…we must have been out of our minds last night), I returned to bed. Steve was still asleep – so deep he was still curled up facing the wall, instead of sprawled to fill the empty space like he usually did when I got up first. I wanted nothing more than to join him, but it was already past noon, and we both hated missing too much of the day, even for hangovers.

“Steve? Steve, baby—” I nudged him. Not even a groan. How much did we drink last night?

That brought me up short. How much did we drink last night? I couldn’t remember, and that was weird. I’d been pretty seriously drunk in my day (for an amateur), but I’d never had a blackout. All I could remember after maybe ten o’clock – and we weren’t really drinking that hard at that point – was something about…bells. Tolling bells, counting down to Midnight.

I shuddered, then wondered why. Counting down to Midnight was a good thing on New Year’s Eve, wasn’t it?

Enough with the weird thoughts. I must still be drunk. I nudged Steve again, then harder and more until finally I’m shaking him. “Steve? Steve, wake up, honey, it’s after noon. Steve? Steve? Steve?” By then, I was shaking him hard and he was kind of flopping around and I already knew why he wouldn’t wake up but I didn’t stop shaking because I must be wrong it’s just not possible, he’s only twenty-eight.

“Baby, wake up, baby please!” I finally pulled him far enough toward me that he flopped over on his back, and that’s when I started to scream.

His eyes were wide open and blank, staring at the ceiling. Worse, the pillow was all bloody where his head had been. My first thought was Alcohol poisoning, but there was no puke anywhere – not even on his breath – and besides, alcohol poisoning doesn’t make your ears bleed, does it?

I didn’t know CPR, not really – we’d had a few days on it in Health Class in High School, but that was nine years ago – so I didn’t even try. I just snatched up my cell and dialed 911.

Nothing. No answer. It just rang and rang and rang.

How is that possible? They don’t have holidays off at 911.

After two or three tries, I gave up on that and tried calling a hospital directly. But I didn’t know any hospital numbers, so I dialed 411, then 0.

Nothing.

That was when I ran out into the hallway and started pounding on doors, screaming for help. I started with Mrs. Rosario, who’s a nurse at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt.

Nothing. No one.

Finally, I just ran out into the street, barefoot and still in my PJs, screaming for help from someone, anyone, my boyfriend was dead.

Which was when I saw the New Year’s revelers, lining the sidewalks of Manhattan, still tricked out in their party clothes and hats and streamers and sparkles, lying still on the ground with dried trickles of blood coming from their ears.

And that’s where I lose track of myself for a little while. All I can remember after that point is running through the slushy streets of New York, trying to find anyone alive. That, and something about the sound of bells.

 

The Rest of The Story – Posted January 3, 2016

The next few hours are just…lost. I still have no idea what I did between the moment I started running and the time I woke up in a stranger’s apartment.

Well, that’s not completely true. There are a few fragments of memory, like bits of pottery dug up at an archaeological dig:

Running through streets, calling out for somebody, anybody, until my bare feet felt like dead, frozen fish slapping the pavement.

Calling friends and family, boss and co-workers, the guy I met in a bar and dated once back before I met Steve, my bank’s emergency number for if you get your card stolen – anything to make contact. Nothing.

Then I remember this…feeling. A pressure, like a vast weight hanging over my head or a storm front moving in, charging the air with something thick and dark and heavy and smothering, something that burned on the skin instead of tingled. Something that rang like bells instead of thundered.

That drove me inside when January in New York couldn’t. Some instinct told me that being outside under that pressure, that sound, the curtain of darkness advancing down Fifth Avenue, was the worst thing in the world, far worse than entering a dwelling of the dead. I was a mouse in a hawk’s shadow, and I took whatever shelter I could.

Anybody else know what I’m talking about? What was that thing? Could it have had something to do with

For the rest, head on over to Amazon and download yourself a copy.  And while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.  Keep watching for further promotions, and new stories coming soon.

Facing The Music Is Available For Free Download Now Through Thursday!

Facing music with title

The story of Lovecraftian doom and courage at the end of the world is available for free download at Amazon now through Thursday!

While you’re there, check out the rest of the library!

 

An Excerpt from Killing Time!

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Hey, all!  The free giveaway for Killing Time ends tomorrow, so if you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, I thought I’d just give you a taste of what you’re missing:

July 5, 2002

I thought I’d lost it. Totally flipped, tripped and fallen into strait-jacket land. But I went back this morning, and it was still gone.

Listen to this. Sounds crazy, but I swear it’s what happened.

Yesterday, I was down watching the fireworks over Liberty Island, when the Statue of Liberty disappeared. Just like that, just—ffft! —vanished in front of thousands of people.

That’s right. You probably don’t know what the Statue of Liberty is. Nobody else did.

It’s a good thing that New Yorkers are used to random street lunatics. If I’d been anywhere else, running around and screaming at people about a 300-foot statue that no one else remembers existing, I probably would’ve been locked up.

When I woke up this morning, I thought maybe it had been a dream, or a hallucination, so I went back downtown to check it out.

Still gone. Liberty Island was a major entry point of immigration, just like Ellis Island. And nothing more.

 

July 12, 2002

Patient is beginning to suffer from hallucinations. Further evidence of an organic-related dysfunction, perhaps damage or chemical imbalance effecting the sensory and memory areas of the brain. The need for that CAT scan is becoming urgent—a regimen of drug therapy should be started as soon as possible.

Dr. West

 

July 7, 2002

Now I get it. Now it makes sense. I know what’s wrong with the shape of the world, now. Things are missing.

I didn’t get lost, that day, looking for my deli. It really was gone—and isn’t it funny how I haven’t thought much about it since it vanished? I used to go there three times a week! I didn’t even bother trying to look for it.

How often has that happened? All along, I’ve been noticing—subconsciously—that things were missing, but I’ve explained it away, then forgotten about it. That must be what’s happening to everyone else.

So why do I remember?

 

August 3, 2002

(Rustling. Leaves? Wind? Footsteps.)

I’m walking in Central Park. Some monuments were missing—a statue here, a fountain there—but I expected that.

But the trees!

What I didn’t expect were the trees. Some of the trees are missing. Whatever’s happening, it’s happening to living things now, too?

What could be doing this?

 

August 16, 2002

(Whispered)

Fred didn’t come in to work today. Not that unusual, right? People take sick days and days off, right?

Wrong.

Someone else was sitting at Fred’s desk, and his cubicle was completely redecorated. So I asked what happened. Did Fred get fired? Did he finally retire, only really quietly to avoid all the fuss? They all looked at me like I’d just grown antlers. Who’s Fred? They asked. Mary has worked here for the last six years.

(Pause. Footsteps pass by)

Six years? What’s this horsehockey? Fred’s been in this company—in this same damn spot—for as long as anyone can remember. At least twenty years.

I looked around to make sure that I was in the right department. After all, I’m going crazy, right, doc? Maybe I just got confused. But no, I was in accounting, right enough.

(Pause. Footsteps pass.)

I tried to call Fred’s home, but I just got one of those damn sirens and the message that says the number’s no longer in service and there’s no further information.

So I find myself with two options: either I hallucinated eight years of stopping by this cubicle every day, Super Bowl parties, and stopping by the pub on the way home; or someone is messing with me and has ‘disappeared’ Fred and all evidence of his existence to do it.

Which is crazier?

(Phone rings. Pause. Phone rings several more times, then stops)

Or maybe there’s an option three: that Fred really doesn’t exist anymore. Just like the Statue.

My god, is it working on people now?

(Phone rings)

I have to answer that.

For the rest, head on over to Amazon and download yourself a copy.  And while you’re there, check out the rest of the library.  Keep watching for further promotions, and new stories coming soon.

 

Killing Time Available for Free Download Now Through Thursday!

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The Lovecraftian (or Twilight Zone-ish, if you ask my father) story of a man watching as time fragments around him is available for free download at Amazon now through Thursday!

While you’re there, check out the rest of the library!